Prior to Christmas I began a series on betrayal pain, looking predominantly at how the pain manifests. My one concern about ploughing through a series like this, using a left-brain, slightly academic approach, is that it fails to honor our pain.
This is why I asked Grace to share her story today. Her pain is sacred... so is yours, so is mine. Stopping for a moment to walk through the memory of that pain allows us all to recognize the sacredness. To give it its due.
Today's post ends with a video interview, on denial with Shelley Martinkus of Redemptive Living.
The pain of my latest discovery has me curled up in the fetal position on my closet floor. I’m entangled by the cords of grief so strongly, death would be preferable.
I cannot move. I’ve cried so hard I’m having a hard time breathing. Reaching for another kleenex, I realize I must stop or my eyeballs might explode. I feel as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest and is writhing on the floor next to me. I imagine chewing the cord off that keeps the blood pumping: just to get this over with.
But I cannot will myself to die, as hard as I try. So my next option is to tell myself, “calm down, just sleep, you will awake soon and find this is all a dream. Yes, take a sleeping pill, crawl in bed, it will all be fine in the morning.”
But morning comes, light dawns and I realize this is my reality. Grief like I have never known washes over me and I roll over and try to escape into sleep again. What happened? Why am I still breathing when my heart has died. Who is this man, this one I gave my life too? My life and all I have fought so many years for is gone forever.
One Month Later
I sit in my chair unable to move, not even aware if I am breathing. If I could, I would will myself to stop breathing. I once wondered if I could survive my own pain, but now I have seen the grief in my children’s eyes, and it is too much.
Today all four of them and their spouses came over for a family meeting. Happy faces. One brought brownies. They've always been so proud of their family, their heritage. I covered so well for so many years. Our family looked as if we had it all together.
But tonight their father confessed and their world has forever changed.
In his typical smoke-screen fashion, he explained to them how he'd fathered another child. Of course, "even David, a man after God’s own heart, slipped up once," he told them. He said it occurred years earlier when we were separated. (LIE: we never separated!)
He said he wants them to embrace the sister they've never known existed until tonight. They looked at me with disbelieve and anger, “How could you keep this from us?”
My daughter-in-law asked, “What kind of a woman puts up with this?” (She has no idea.) Out the door they went, with my husband shortly behind them. He didn't look me in the eye.
Now, I sit here empty, in the midst of all of this destruction: head hung in shame, tears running down my face. I didn’t think I had any tears left, but here they are again. “God where are you?”
The children still have no idea of the depth of sin that has been hiding under the surface; the lies, the countless women, the prostitutes, the arrests. They have the tip of the iceberg. But my ship has landed on the iceberg and split in half. I am drowning, gasping for air. I will not recover from this one. I didn’t know the pain could go any deeper, but now this… my children. I can no longer live in denial.
Please, please take me home, Jesus. I cannot bear this any longer. Death would be welcome. My heart cries, "someone please come and take me away."
4 Years Later: Overcoming
Jesus didn’t take me, but he held me, and in the depth of my wilderness He was there, even though I was unaware of it. Jesus sustains, Jesus heals.
I eventually crawled out of bed and sought help. Through connecting with counselors, and a community of women who understood, I gained strength and courage and was able to take my life back again. One little baby step at a time, I slipped out from underneath the rock of oppression and said, “No more.”
It took hard work as well as giving myself grace to grieve and permission to care for myself. I quit looking to my husband to be my life. I learned to find my value in the One who will never betray me, the one who loves me beyond measure. I embraced the reality that no one has control over us or the right to abuse us, even emotionally. I recognized that my husband’s addiction was not about a lack in me. God hates what has happened to me and was waiting to set me free. I have grown in ways I never would have without this pain. Today I embrace the road that brought me to where I am.
I have found joy, hope, and a new life. That's my prayer for all my fellow sisters on this journey of brokenness and pain: keep reaching out until you find hope and life again. Jesus heals. You can be whole again. You are worth the fight.
Enjoy part 1 of this two-part interview with Shelley Martinkus of Redemptive Living.