A couple of very hot topics currently in media and social outlets are shame and courage. The two are opposing forces. They literally repel against each other. Brené Brown has done years of studies on shame and hours of interviews on what shame and vulnerability mean. (You can find out more about what she and her studies are about by checking out her stuff below.)
She says that being vulnerable is where the courage lies.
This is why I started the blog. The purpose is not to “lift myself” and feel I am more important, but I absolutely know that my story is like, yet at the same time it is unlike many others. My story began with the courage to step out into the unknown.
The morning I woke up and confessed my emotional affairs to my husband, there was no ruse. There was no threat of someone’s spouse ratting me out. There was no hesitation in my husband’s kiss that made me doubt that he believed my love for him, nor my faithfulness to our marriage. He was clueless. I was not going to be found out by anyone else – at least the facade of who I had portrayed was not being threatened, but inside – my soul was rotting.
I was being untrue to myself more than anything. That is the biggest reason why I confessed. My marriage felt like a huge shamble. My husband and I had harbored secrets for our entire marriage that affected every corner of our lives together for well over a decade. But I didn’t see it because I was afflicted with the “disease to please”.
The day that I confessed to my husband what I had done and what was unfair to him, I was also giving myself the gift of freedom.
– I was free from worrying about him leaving me. If he stayed after this, he must love me. If he left, I would survive.
– I was free from covering up the shame of the lie I had lived. No longer could anyone “find me out”. I had shed my fake skin.
– I was free from living with the idea of perfection. Perfection is unattainable. Brené Brown mentions that ‘when we are striving for perfection that shame is riding shotgun’. Shame had been riding in the driver’s seat of our marriage for the entire 14 years of it’s life.
-Most importantly, I was free to now live joyfully, and smile again. Guilt and shame had robbed me and made me feel unworthy of happiness of any kind. That’s the biggest shame of all.
I’d love to get even more “real” and write under my name, instead of anonymity, but out of respect for my husband and his request I will continue for now to write under a pen. Perhaps one day he will not be afraid, and that will be the day that every ounce of shame will have lost its hold. Until then, this is Michelle Heathen, wishing anyone else out there going through affair recovery or disclosure of infidelity- healing and peace, and also the release of shame and guilt.
In working through our infidelity, here’s just a few of the books we’ve found helpful, although I will undoubtedly say Unfaithful was our favorite of the below listed, followed by The Meaning of Marriage.
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
Unfaithful by Gary and Mona Shriver
A Marriage Without Regrets by Kay Arthur
Living Past the Affair by Douglas Snyder, Donald Bacon, and Kristina Coop Gordon