It’s What I Did, Not Who I Am

When I first began considering how to approach the subject of my affair on the blog, I planned to write some informative posts on the devastating effects of pornography and sex addiction in marriages. Explain the complete rejection and suffering of a sexless marriage. Describe the emotional abuse of intimacy anorexia. Basically, I wanted to set the stage to defend and justify my behaviour. Encourage you to nod your head in compassion and understanding. We would agree that an affair was inevitable.

Next came the notion that once the reasons and excuses were established, I would show overwhelming remorse and repentance. Write some flowery, weepy words of how truly wrong my sin was. Pull at your heart strings so that you would show up on my doorstep with hugs and chocolates and exclamations of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I wanted you to like me. To refrain from judgment. To forgive me. To believe with me that I am not a horrible person.

This is what I wanted to do. Until God started digging deeper into my heart a few weeks ago. When He showed me that there are only three people in my marriage. God, my husband and me. It is only within this trinity that forgiveness, mercy and grace matters. My unfaithfulness and sin was against my husband and God, and therefore the acceptance, approval, understanding or judgement of anyone else is irrelevant.

In the month between confessing my affair to my counsellor and then to my husband, God did a tremendous job of wrenching the poison of my infidelity from my heart. I was filled with shame and guilt. My emotions were more raw and confused than I remember feeling in the weeks, months and years after my affair occurred. I was remorseful. I was repentant. Enough to confess my unfaithfulness. After all, I was not caught in my affair. It is doubtful it would have been exposed after all this time had God not convicted me and shone a floodlight onto my own sexual sin.

I knew that cheating was morally wrong. I avoided the word adultery. It was a little too biblical sounding. Breaking of covenants and talk of stoning and all. Cheating just seemed less severe. More like stealing money in a Monopoly game. In my head, I knew it was sin. In my heart, my affair was a gift. A present that I didn’t want to return. My saving grace.

And this is my struggle today. Facing my long held, unwavering belief that my affair rescued me and saved my marriage. Trying to reconcile how something so immoral could also salvage the broken pieces of my heart. How the attention of another man, and abandoning my wedding vows, was a pivotal moment in committing to keeping my family intact.

My affair offered me something that my husband did not. Validation. Self worth. The belief that I was attractive and desirable. The knowledge that there wasn’t anything physically wrong with me. An awareness that I was okay, and that whatever the problem was, it was not me.

As my self esteem began to return, I grew stronger. For myself and my kids. I refocused, shut out the pain of my marriage, and entered survival mode. I had collected my two hundred dollars and passed go.

I also learned that I was capable of cheating on my husband and susceptible to accepting validation from men outside of my marriage. At one time, I was a woman who steadfastly believed that my character and values would never tolerate an affair. I would have been horrified by the idea. I did not pursue an affair, but when the opportunity grew, I did not flee. I welcomed it.

My affair did not have an emotional entanglement. There was no pretense of loving feelings or a possible relationship. We both used each other sexually to assuage our personal pain. But I was fine with that. I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

I have clung to the belief all these years that my affair carried me through the rejection and abandonment of my husband and provided me the strength and ability to stay in my marriage. In a way, it did. But I was deceived. Now I see that just when I had received an indication of my value, instead of being liberated, I chose to suppress my emotional and sexual needs, and accept a lonely and neglectful marriage. I lost the very woman I was trying to find. And I didn’t have to.

Then, and until recently, I didn’t understand that there was a much better way to find my worth as a woman. Through the eyes, and in the arms, of my Saviour Jesus Christ. The true lover of my soul. Sadly, I should have known this and could have prevented years of unnecessary suffering for myself, my husband and our children. I grew up in a Christian home and even spent a year at Bible College. God was not an unknown entity. But I drifted away. God was not a part of my marriage. And when I needed God most, when He would have drawn me close, breathed new life into my lungs, wiped the tears from my eyes, and delighted in my return to Him, I broke His heart too.

God has been patient with me. It has taken me a long time to realize that my truth of my affair is not God’s truth. Deception blinded me. And I let it. I chose a very wrong path. Adultery is never okay. It is never justified. It is not a gift. There is always a better choice for a broken heart. His name is Jesus.

The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

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11 thoughts on “It’s What I Did, Not Who I Am

  1. Truth is people are quick to judge and slow to forgive, no matter what they themselves may have done (or admit to doing) but it doesn’t really matter what people think of you. I know, from personal experience, that’s easier to say than it is to live because we’re around other people all the time, with their judgmental looks and hurtful words. It really only matters what God thinks, though, and we know from His Word that He loves you, no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done. I think that since God is mostly interested in growing our character to be more like Jesus, He would be proud that you have given up the lies and trying to justify your actions. You have learned from your mistake, grown closer to Him, and are brave enough to share your story in the hope that it will help others. Blessings and hugs to you, my sweet (virtual) friend 🤗

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    • I love that you called me your friend. Isn’t it amazing how God connects the dots and intersects the lives of those who need each other?! His grand design constantly amazes me. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.
      It is waaaay easier to say that it doesn’t matter what people think of me than it is to live that out. In the end, God is the only one that matters, but when we live on this earth surrounded by people, well, it does matter more than it should. I don’t need everyone to like me, but I also don’t want them to dislike me or think badly of me. People’s reactions and responses affect me. I am human. And in being honest, I still have improvement to make in my perceptions and judgments of others. My attitudes and compassion have changed significantly towards others because of my experiences, but sometimes there are still moments where my thoughts towards someone are far from Christlike. That’s when I need to receive and extend God’s grace. Thank goodness for amazing grace!

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  2. Thank you for being a person in this world who is willing to really look at things and speak your truth. I can not even begin to imagine how painful your situation must have been / is but I think I recognise true healing when I see it. I am not religious but I found that only if I do not cover up my destructive behaviour (sins?) there is time and place for healing and only then I do justice to the other.
    Thank you for your post.
    xx, Feeling

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    • Thank you for your encouraging comments. They were a powerful affirmation of my healing journey.
      I find the word “sin” difficult to use and swallow sometimes too. I don’t always understand what behaviours are simply unhealthy or harmful and which are actually sin. But I think what is most important is that I recognize it is not healthy, and like you, stop hiding it so that the light and air can bring healing. Blessings to you on your journey to healing and wholeness!

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      • I’m thinking for things to change we need to be able to grow, like plants we need light and air (well, we oxygen, plant CO2, but, hey). What I feel with the word ‘sin’ is the transferrance of shame. Shame is a handy emotion to set natural boundaries to big ego’s who would otherwise endanger themselves or others. But when ‘used’ too abundantly in the wrong situations it brings darkness and too much restriction – it does not allow growth, it does not allow healing. A child being obnoxious because he does not understand why he is forbidden to cross the street alone might respond instantly to shaming him, but it will not do him good in the long run. Same with any other excess of shaming people. And in the end we start shaming ourselves. Continously telling us ‘I am not good enough.’ and ‘I have no/less right to exist.’ Not good. Sad. That creates deformities in a character and heart. I do not think we were meant to build whole societies on shame, but we do.
        Thank you for your blessings.
        xx, Feeling

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      • Some societies are built on shame. I agree with your perceptions. Sadly, so are some churches and religious organizations. Fortunately, Jesus came to wash away and redeem our sins AND our shame. We don’t have to live in a state of shame and thinking we aren’t enough or that we are a bad person. But understanding (as you said earlier) that you are not religious, I have found Brene Brown’s books on shame and vulnerability incredibly enlightening and helpful in my recovery. If you haven’t read any of them, I highly recommend them. Basically, she says that shame tells us that we are a bad person, whereas guilt tells us that what we did was wrong/bad. Guilt can be a motivator to change our behaviour to something better. Admit it, even if only to ourselves, and then move forward. So it can be a good thing. But shame has the opposite affect of beating us down even more. We hide it and our worthiness suffers. We need to learn to switch gears from shame to guilt. Intentionally say, yikes, I messed up, not I am a screw up. Anyway, I do still struggle with shame. It’s hard to be intentional all the time, but remembering this differentiation really does help me to grow and heal. I am enough. And so are you!

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      • Dear Cynthia,
        I have read one book of Brene Brown partially but then lent it to a friend – I guess it is time to ask it back. 🙂
        I did not know Jesus also died for our shame. That is interesting. Indeed, specifically because some religious organisations live on spreading shame – which is one of my experiences with religion so… well… 🙂 I have become a bit hesistant.
        Still, addiction and a lot of unhealthy behaviour thrives on shame so yes, it is an important emotion to deal with. Let’s see what we can do. 🙂
        xx, Feeling

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      • Your hesitancy is understandable. When we are already living in our own shame, we certainly don’t need anyone or anything else to validate or magnify our feelings. The church is made up of imperfect flawed people, some of who are trying to hide their pain and sin. Therefore, church can become a place capable of bringing either healing or hurt to the wounded. But most assuredly, that is not the case with Jesus. He is always faithful, always good and always loving. With God, it is about relationship and not religion. I couldn’t walk this journey without Him.

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  3. I love this. Truth and honesty with your actions. Being completely open with your mistakes, but becoming a better person by owning the truth of things- no excuses. I think it is very admirable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for extending such kindness to me. It took me way too many years to get to this point, but the main thing is I have gotten here. Recovery has brought, and continues to bring me a healing and freedom I never would have imagined. God is so good!

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