Trading Labels for Tiaras

I’m feeling kind of lost these days. Not sure where I belong. As much as I dislike labels, right now I am struggling because none of them fit. Or maybe because all of them fit and therefore none of them just right.

When I began guest writing on this blog, I knew I was going to share my story of being married to a sex addict. And how God has miraculously healed and transformed my husband, my marriage, and most of all, me. The gift of pain and the gift of recovery.

I also knew that to be authentic, I would one day confess my own affair. In my feeble attempt to share the magnitude of God’s goodness and redemption, both sides of the sexual sin equation needed to be brought into the light. The abounding grace and forgiveness of our marriage redemption story grows exponentially in my eyes with the hurt of both a betrayed wife and a betrayed husband.

What I didn’t count on was my identity shifting in the process. Switching name tags from wife of a sex addict to cheating wife has left them both crumpled on the floor with me having one foot in each group and not fulling belonging to either.

This happened to me once before. Feeling like a fraud. Which is ironic when it is my transparency and honesty that leaves me standing alone in the center of the playground.

I read and write comments on other blogs. Mostly of other women who have been sexually betrayed by their partner. Women who have been devastated by pornography, affairs, emotional abuse. Because I was too. And my heart passionately wants to offer them the hope for their own healing and freedom that I have found.

But then I wonder……what if they knew the truth about me? What if they knew that I had been the same liar and cheater as the husband that has ripped their heart and life apart? Would they feel betrayed by me too? I couldn’t bear the thought of causing anyone additional pain.

At the second partner’s recovery support group meeting I attended, my eyes scanned the circle of broken and beautiful women, all in different parts of their journey and varying degrees of healing. My heart dropped at the possibility of further hurting these precious souls because of my past infidelity.

I didn’t speak a word that day. After the meeting, I hung around and spoke to the leader. I confessed my affair to her and told her that I could not return. I felt that I was betraying these women simply by being present in the same room with them. I did not belong there. The leader assured me that I was welcome. My counsellor said the same. I was still wounded and seeking healing from my husband’s sex addiction and intimacy anorexia regardless of my own infidelity.

I didn’t know how to wear both labels. I couldn’t. So I didn’t. I stopped participating in the support group and focused on healing the damage caused by my own sinful behaviours. Two months later, God nudged me and whispered to my weakly beating heart that it was time to return to the support group. I did.

And since that day, the two have co-existed as I have sought complete healing and wholeness from the wounds that were created by myself, my husband and others. All separate offenses that together make my story what it is. Mine.

The women in my recovery support group, unless they have read my blog, do not know of my affair. That no longer troubles my heart. I have come to an understanding that not everyone needs to know. It does not change anything. I am in recovery. I belong standing alongside the courageous women mending hearts shattered by sexual betrayal and emotional abuse.

But this is where things differ here in the blogging world. Everyone knows. Everything. Both sides. And I haven’t fully reconciled in my mind how that works. Surely it will matter to some and not to others. It may very well change things. Sometimes there are consequences to disclosing flaws and sin. But there are also blessings. I was willing to take that chance.

I could worry about which team will accept me as a member. I could fear rejection from both sides. I could anxiously hold my breath pridefully hoping that both groups will welcome me.

The best choice would be to stand tall, identify myself as a woman receiving God’s unrelenting outpouring of grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, redemption, restoration and healing, and wear the only name tag that matters – Daughter of God. And logically, since God is the King of Kings, that would make me a princess.

I am trading in my labels. Now I just need to decide if I want a sparkly tiara or a jewelled crown.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.            1 John 3:1-3

I like emeralds. My crown will have gleaming emeralds.

22 thoughts on “Trading Labels for Tiaras

  1. I love you my beautiful, friend…..I am so thrilled that you chose to throw off the label, let it go and choose the crown!
    And I think emeralds will bring out the color of your eyes and you will look even more radiant.
    And if we, you and I, are going to let a label stick to us then let it be these labels….Wanted. Loved. Approved. Cherished. His.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I, too, am glad you’re throwing off the old labels and taking on the label of “Daughter of God.” And that label is rightfully yours, rightfully ours—all of us who’ve proven our humanity by giving in to our weaknesses at some point—yet have been forgiven and redeemed by a loving God. He offers it to us whether we feel like we deserve it or not. We’ve just got to be willing to discard everything that hinders us from accepting it from Him, and most times that means getting rid of the old labels to make room for the new one.
    Being a fraud or hypocrite is the last thing you are, by the way. You have been so honest, so transparent, that it challenges the rest of us to be as brave as you are. You’re a witness to the grace and mercy of God, to the beauty than can come from ashes, to the growth that can come from being real.
    Keep being you, the beloved daughter of the King, and an inspiration and encouragement to those in your ever-widening circle of influence.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am soaking in these beautiful words of affirmation and encouragement. You have become such a blessing and support to me as I write my story. And that now makes you a part of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We’ve all made mistakes and have some shame or guilt that go along with them, but that doesn’t have to define who you are. No one has had to be in your shoes and has no right to judge you for the things you’ve done. My husband struggled with pornography for twelve years and it would be a lie to say it’s still not a temptation, but he has broken free from falling back into it. I never cheated in with an actual person, but I sure was jealous of the girls at church because I thought they were so lucky to never have to go through with all the emotional baggage that comes with an unfaithful husband. I would wonder what it would be like to have other men at church as my husband instead. It’s just as bad, to God sin is sin, only humans put varying levels on it. Keep strong and it sounds like you are on the right track. The devil wants us to hide in shame and guilt, but God wants us to move on and follow him. Go for the crown!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh girl! “There is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus!” Don’t fall back to self condemnation. You’ve brought darkness into Light where Jesus brings real healing. You are a Daughter of the Living King, my sister and fellow princess!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My heart breaks for you, I agree with the above comment..There is no condemnation in Christ. I work with women all the time that have sinful baggage in one form or another,we all do. your story will help many women who find themselves in your exact or similar position. Your affair does not make the abuse you suffered any less valid..no one deserves to be abused ever. Praise the Lord, the Lord has transformed you and your husbands life. That is such good news and gives hope to all of us! The enemy would like nothing better than for you to continue to feel ashamed. You are a new creation in Christ, rejoice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your empowering words of encouragement. Myself, my husband, and my marriage are all living proof that God still performs miracles of healing and redemption. Hope is truly alive for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am blessed! I am fortunate that my husband came along for the journey and did his own healing. But the best part has been my deeper relationship with God and knowing that I will always be okay no matter what my husband does or doesn’t do. The addict and/or abuser may choose not to change, but healing is always available to us. We can not only be okay, we can thrive!

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  6. Those of us who have been on more than one side in our journey of mistakes are blessed with empathy beyond measure. We are given the gift to love the down trodden and sent to lift heavy hands. We are blessed beyond measure knowing that Christ covers it all and has suffered for it all. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is so meaningful to me. What a wonderful perspective to see receiving both sides of the journey of mistakes as a blessing and gift. I have never thought of it quite that way but certainly see and feel the truth of those words. I am humbled to accept the responsibility that goes with them. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Labels are dangerous things because it traps a person to be and act a certain way. “I am an addict.” “I am a victim.” “I am…” Good job for throwing away the labels and just being you- a loved daughter of God. Which, I guess, is also a label. But the difference with being labeled “a daughter of God” is that it does not trap. It only gives you freedom to grow and love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I cannot even begin to express how much your blog has been an oasis in the desert to me. I’ve been reading and rereading your posts all day long, and feel a sad relief that there actually IS someone out there like me. I identify with you about a husband who regularly viewed pornography and feeling trapped in a sexless marriage with her own concealed past adultery.

    My own marriage is currently struggling to rise from the ashes of the utter ruin and devastation of joint infidelity. I too feel like I don’t “fit” in any label either: I’m both the betrayed AND the betrayer. Since my betrayals came first and were “worse” than my husband’s betrayal (serial infidelity on my end), I am wracked with guilt and consumed with shame.

    The Lord has been gracious and is restoring our marriage, but the past year since our D-Day has been beyond brutal, for both of us. It took me several “D-days” to fully admit to the extent of my adultery; even now, the specific details which I’ve not shared continue to haunt me. Some of my previous statements made to my husband that were less than the full truth are now coming back to bite me; I was a coward and downplayed certain affair details which he specifically asked about. Now I feel obligated to confess every detail, although doing so would greatly injure my poor husband’s slowly-healing heart.

    My husband, following my confession, engaged in a revenge affair. He ended up ensnared in this affair for several months and now suffers his own guilt and shame. I feel responsible for his affair.

    Please pray for me.

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    • Oh precious, beautiful M. Let me start by giving you a big (((hug))). I did pray for you the moment I finished reading your comment, and I will continue to do so. I very much appreciate you sharing your heart and experience with me. And I am both sorry and glad that you can relate to my story. I also have felt very alone in my situation of being both the betrayer and the betrayed. I very rarely find or read about anyone else wearing both hats, and yet as much as it feels like it, I can’t believe we are the only ones.

      I am glad to hear that God is being gracious and restoring your marriage. You are seeing and experiencing that flicker of hope. I have begun to see my marriage as being rebuilt rather than restored. Because it was never a good marriage, there really wasn’t anything to restore it to. It is brand new, and although we are still struggling and learning, it is better than anything I could have imagined. When I began recovery, my goal was just to not hurt anymore. I couldn’t even dream of joy, happiness or peace. But my husband and I have both found it. It truly is possible.

      Because both of us were both the betrayed and the betrayer, it did offer each of us the opportunity to both extend and receive grace and forgiveness. The magnitude of our own and each other’s sins combined was beyond overwhelming. But I do think it allowed me to forgive my husband more easily as I had to face my own sin. It was harder to forgive myself, especially as you also believe, that our sin was “worse.” Now I don’t think it was. My husband and I both engaged in sexual sin and committed adultery, just in different ways.

      Dear one, you are not responsible for your husband’s affair. He is. He had a choice in how he would respond to your infidelity, and that was the option he chose. He made every decision and step in that process, not you. No matter what you did beforehand.

      Have you shared the haunting details of your affair with a counsellor or someone you can trust? I was fortunate that my counsellor helped me write my disclosure to provide my husband only with what he thought was the necessary and need to know details. And then while our counsellor told me to fully and honestly answer anything my husband asked me, he also advised my husband to be cautious in what other details he thought he needed to know. It also went the other way. Yes, I know that my husband viewed porn and masturbated daily, but what other details could possibly be helpful? My husband knows I had sex with another man and a few other details but not everything. If your husband insists on knowing, then yes, you need to tell him. But if it is your own guilt, you don’t necessarily need to spew out the details on him. Your husband needs to see your remorse and repentance. He doesn’t need to carry your guilt for you. That can be done by a therapist, recovery support group, trusted friend or accountability partner. It is a tricky balance and not the same for everyone.

      Please remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but also our shame. There is no condemnation. I pray that you will be able to see yourself through Jesus’ eyes as the beautiful, loved woman you are. Hurting and broken, yes, but forgiven and redeemed and worthy of healing. It is for me, and it is for you too. Blessings to you.

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      • Cynthia,

        A thousand THANK YOUS for your kind, Spirit-led, and timely reply. I’ve read it several times and cry each and every one of them. You’ve no idea—or perhaps, unfortunately, you do—how lonely and isolating this “joint infidelity” has been. The healing is slow, the pain great, and the results travel at a seemingly miniscule speed.

        I wholeheartedly believe that God is using your blog here as a ministry to heal hearts. I just want you to know that your words are not in vain, your suffering is not in vain, that God is using your awful experience and turning it for the good! Thank you for sharing your heart openly on such a public forum.

        I have spoken to our marriage counselor privately concerning the unconfessed details. Right now I’m pleading with the Lord to show me the cause of this guilty burden which I carry 24/7: Whether it’s the Holy Spirit’s conviction that I don’t want to obey, whether it’s the devil’s condemnation that causes me such torment of soul, or perhaps my own guilty conscious has been trained by carrying a load of guilt for years and is now entirely too strong. Whatever the answer is, I want to obey. I want to be open, honest, and transparent with my husband, yet I don’t want to cause him additional pain or to harm him further in any way.

        I have prayed for you as well and will continue to do so. I will continue to follow your journey on here and hope we can, somehow, help one another along the way.

        Peace.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Your comments and kind, supportive words of my writing and journey have helped me tremendously. As has connecting with someone who “gets” the complexities of joint infidelity. This is not a journey to walk alone, and so I welcome joining our hearts and hands together. ❤️

        I think it is really positive that you are talking to your counsellor and seeking God’s direction and discernment on the unconfessed details of your affair. Whatever decision you make, it will be intentional. Made from gathering information and seeking God’s guidance. It is possible the choice you make may still seem “wrong” afterwards, but remember it won’t surprise God. None of us do recovery perfectly. And that would look different for each individual and marriage anyway. You are in the process of clearing out the excess noise so you can hear the whisper of God’s voice to your soul. It takes practice to recognize it. And that is okay. One step forward, and a few back or sideways, is still moving, growing, and learning. (((Hugs))), prayers, and blessings.

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  9. Because you are so brave and gifted in sharing your heart in words in the telling of these things, I have been able to forgive and understand my mother so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by. It is a mixed blessing when we can relate to each other’s posts, isn’t it?! Sharing the pain and the healing.

      Like

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