“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts”
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
I’m going to expose more of my weakness with this post – I’m going to be real. I realize most people don’t keep secrets for the only purpose of self preservation, but sometimes it’s to shield those they love as well, but let me demonstrate the ripple effect it had on one marriage.
I can’t blame my husband for everything – he has asked me to share a post stating the cost of his secret and what resulted thereafter. I know what I did is all on me – and so does he, but he does feel much pain could’ve been avoided had he not carried the weight of the shame and guilt of soliciting a prostitute for so long.
I must’ve had my head in the sand. The hard truth? I came to a point in my marriage (somewhere around the 6 year mark) when I knew with every ounce of my being, that my intuition was sounding alarms – something in my marriage was terribly wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what that “wrong” was. Everything seemed fine from the outside. He was reliable. He didn’t go out with the boys or drink excessively. He didn’t do drugs. He worked. He was trustworthy, but I felt something stirring in my gut. He was not “present” when he was present.
I tried to ignore my intuition and numb myself. I wanted so desperately to shut up that loud – mouthed, unrelenting voice in my head. I was successful – for about about 7 years.
First, I used work to escape. At the time my job was my source of confidence. I was in demand. I was needed. I felt important, so that distracted me for a while.
Then one day I received a Facebook message from an old friend, that progressed to an inappropriate relationship. Simply put- I was greedy and egotistical. I thought I deserved attention that my husband neglected to give me. That ego – she sure can be a conniving sneak.
I am not blaming my husband for my actions, my infidelity was wrong, inexcusable – but there is no doubt that his need to try to keep his horrendous secret of the prostitute indirectly trickled into our lives, and part of that cost was his emotional abandonment.
My husband had an unfair advantage though – he knew why he was emotionally disconnected, while I was in the dark trying to make my own sense of it. I made up my own reality. I had concluded that he never really loved me, convinced that he never got over his ex.
I kept trying to cope with my husband’s emotional distance in ways that were usually unhealthy – instead of dealing with the issue of myself and why I accepted what was going on or facing it, I chose to numb.
First it was work. Then the first emotional affair, but I came to the realization that sex outside of my marriage was not what was going to make me feel better. It felt more like self- betrayal and so I backed off of the relationship.
I tried to just lay low for a while after that, feeling extremely guilty for the relationship I had outside of my marriage. I stopped searching for something else, just living complacently, day-to-day, trying to press forward with a brave face, but it wouldn’t last.
Sometime thereafter, I began to suffer from a lot of physical pain due to the toll my job had taken on my body over the years. Then, I discovered the magical relief just one drink could bring, (not to mention – the reprieve of my emotional pain). Oh, how wonderful it was to just not feel for a while. Then there was another drink.
Then, when my physical pain eventually became too much to bear, I had to turn to medicine. The pain pills became a fix- all for a while, numbing all of my pain – helping me move forward when I would have been unable.
The problem : eventually even the pills stopped working. Pain comes to tell us something is wrong. When we are so busy numbing it, we start sleepwalking through life, but eventually it will just manifest elsewhere if you don’t deal with it appropriately.
Then came affair #2 for me. This one was different because this man had been my best friend years prior to my marriage, and he loved me. I thought my husband was checked out and was done with our marriage anyway, so I figured I might as well “check out” too.
Then that stirring in my soul again – it needed to stop, even if my marriage felt void, it was still legal and we were still married. I just couldn’t go any further, and I stopped the affair short of sex. I decided after that to try to work on my marriage, and that maybe, the problem never was my marriage. Maybe it was just me and my insecurities after all.
Then came that study of 1 John. There was an awakening that come over me like never before in my life. I felt like God was telling me it was time to clean up my act, He’d flipped that hourglass of sand over and my time on earth was quickly dissolving- and I had to stop putting band-aids on canyon- sized wounds. It would no longer do.
When it came time to clear the air with my husband about my affairs, I was not thinking anything except making my amends while I had the chance. I had come to realize how sick this secret was making me. I was now going to take responsibility for my life and happiness.
I never, in a million years, would have believed my husband’s emotional distance was caused by his own secret.
The work, the alcohol, the affairs, the drugs – none of that worked (more than temporarily) to mask the pain that was caused from living in a marriage with a monumental secret, followed by many, many other little lies – to each other, and ourselves.
Today we are in a decent place, but I won’t sugarcoat- somedays it’s an all-day, uphill climb, pushing what feels like all 16 years of crap between us. Trying to find a new way of dealing with my unpredictable triggers and the trauma that my brain has incurred, has been our biggest challenge.
It’s not just the betrayed part – it’s the knowing the layers of complexity that one lie lead to another, and another.
I won’t lie. We still discuss separation – to keep from torturing each other indefinitely, because we can’t stand to see the pain that we have caused one another, and wish to cease inflicting anymore pain to the other. We constantly look for that little ray of light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes it feels like it’s just void.
We do know one thing – we know the cost of secrets on a level that most people will never understand, and we do appreciate every good and sweet moment we have each other- even if it is just for now❤️