Book Teaser: Life Goes On

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A nice reminder from The Village Magazine as I prepare to release my book in ten short days. Yesterday for the first time, I felt panic about this story of mine. What will people think? Was I too harsh? Too blunt? Will women even be encouraged? And the thoughts circled round. Reading this reminded me not to be afraid of failure. I am proud to release my book. It’s my story to tell and regardless of how people respond, I took the chance and did my thing. That’s enough for me.

Well, here you have it. The very last book teaser…

15. Life Goes On

“‘For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.’–Cynthia Occelli

I adore that Cynthia Occelli describes growth as complete destruction. People who haven’t experienced core-shattering growth wouldn’t quite understand this illustration, but for me, it spoke to every part of my being. Complete destruction happened. It happened to my marriage, my family, my future, my trust, my mind, my judgment, you name it … destruction happened. With all growth (destruction) the rebuilding is an articulate, careful and beautiful process. The rebuilding trumps the damage. This is true for any situation. I don’t wish hardship upon anyone, but the growth that comes from it is so unique that in some twisted way, I think humanity should endure it. Maybe we’d all be a tad less self-obsessed? Okay, another day, another book.

Life post affair can take one of two turns. Your marriage can be saved and restored tenfold. Your family could continue to grow, and you could live the life the two of you had planned, looking at this as a minor (some days major) hiccup. Your story could be the picture of encouragement and hope to all couples who’ve encountered such trouble. You and your spouse can be stronger than ever with a bond only created by hardship.  I pray this is the turn your marriage took. My heart hopes that your marriage is saved, and you can write to me telling me your beaming success story of redemption.

Or one of you will give up, and your marriage won’t survive. You will start a whole new life apart from the old.

For me, one of the hardest parts about picking up and starting over is leaving behind the old version of you. Of course, you are still the same individual you were, just with a newfound badass strength, but there are things and roles about yourself you must abandon. I say abandon because it portrays the harshness that needs to happen. Attempting to play the old with the new is always trouble.

Starting my life over was refreshing, but surely had moments of grief. I knew 110% that I had given my marriage every fiber of my heart and soul, making moving forward in life #2 a peaceful experience. Over time the hard moments got less. Remember to let yourself experience the sad moments for what they are worth, though. A divorce is a sad and devastating process, even if you’re handling it like a champ. Call it for what it is. Allow yourself those sad times because a beautiful time will come where the joyful moments are more than the sad ones. It’s bliss, and it happens.

If you are not ready to read about a life #2 yet, then put this book away and pick it up when that route doesn’t bring you sadness. It took me awhile to stomach starting life all over. I want to share the beautiful hope of a rich life post-divorce, but if you’re not ready, and you’re still grieving, that must take priority. Fully mourning life #1 in all of its losses must happen before moving forward.

For those who are in the place to read about the joy possible for life #2, read on.  Life #2 meant a second chance that I didn’t always want. It meant full circle in a way I didn’t anticipate. It meant reinvention. Reinvention spanned from new digs to finding love once again to drinks with the other woman…”

Image by The Village Magazine

 

 

 

Book Teaser: If You Have Littles

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Edits are coming back for the book and I can’t wait to share the final product with all of you in less than a month! All of it lined with a mixed bag of emotions, of course. Sometimes I weep at this story just because it happened. It’s awfully sad. Other times I weep because it was my daughter and I that it happened to. Again, sadness. And then most times, I weep at God’s restoration of the story. The joy of where we are now and all that has been redeemed through the sorrow. That, my friends, is worth weeping over.

This next book teaser is the second to last! It’s for the friends out there with kiddos. Or as I call my daughter, the brightest of all silver lining. Here’s a little preview on how to navigate through parenting and divorce.

  1. If You Have Littles

“… Do we agree on anything anymore? Religious beliefs? Nope. Moral life decisions? Definitely not. Basic conversation topics? Can’t even do that. I remember times where having a simple conversation (post affair) felt like pulling teeth with a stranger. There was nothing. Our unity was destroyed.

Then there was our daughter, who we’d both take a bullet for. This little being we created with the sweetest smile and the most darling personality. If you’re still fighting, trying to live through the long months of a dying marriage: focus on your little one. Remember that this small human being you created represents the love you once had for each other and the love you share for your child. Remember when you decided to have this child it was in the fine print that your family would stay together forever. Keep your eye on that fine print and fight for your family.

So here’s the deal straight up: Kids can’t be the reason that two people stay married. The couple needs the drive to keep their marriage a separate, thriving relationship, one that their children see as secure and loving, not based on a child. It’s far too much pressure for children to feel that they are what’s keeping their family together. It screams emotional immaturity.  Kids are a huge motivator to make things work, but you need more.

At times, our daughter was my only motivator and had there been a shared effort, she would have been a huge driving force. Let’s be real, no one wants to share their child with a step-parent. I would’ve done anything to avoid that. However, this decision was made for me.

As much as having a child from a broken marriage adds a level of raw difficulty, it also reminds you there was a purpose for your union. I remind myself daily: I’d go through it all again if it meant I had my daughter.

While talking pure difficulty, your child also holds you to a completely new level of accountability in how you treat and respond to your ex-spouse. DivorceCare had some very helpful “easier said than done” reminders on the topic of co-parenting. This session was entitled, “KidCare: Effects of divorce on children. Mistakes parents make and how to avoid them.”  It started with a downer video clip about how pretty much all children of divorced parents are doomed as human beings and susceptible to drug use, suicide, poor grades, teen pregnancy, depression and every other worst case scenario a parent can imagine. Where’s the encouragement! This wasn’t my daughter’s fault. Then it got into how to prevent the terror described in the opening scene. Thank God.

Much like anything that children encounter in their upbringing, how the matter is handled by the parent drastically changes the long term effects that are had. Our children learn more by observing than any other way, so we must be careful how we handle our anger, conflict, and how we speak of our ex.

Here are the mistakes that parents make (according to Divorce Care):

  • Lack of Stability
  • Lower expectations
  • Trashing child’s parent
  • Keeping child from parent
  • Using child to spy on ex
  • Putting child in the middle
  • Making child choose
  • Treating child as an adult
  • Dumping child on counselor
  • Overindulging children

As a parent whose child will have divorced parents, I’d like to avoid all of the above. I’d say it’s a good idea to avoid all of the above as a parent, even if you’re married and simply in a rough patch. For me, I take basic parenting principles and apply them to the situation I will forever (I say forever, because we will always be co-parents) be in with BD. The type of parent I attempt to be is one who models unconditional love, forgiveness, self-respect, humility, and kindness regardless of circumstances.  I try to show my daughter these qualities in every situation I am faced with. Obviously, I am human and far from perfect, but I do my best.

I would say that all of these qualities are lumped into the most difficult discipline for me personally and that would be holding my tongue. He didn’t unconditionally love me, I can forgive but not forget. I have self-respect and that’s why he left, my pride often drowns out my humility, and what kind words are to be said about a cheating husband. Rant done. I say discipline because that’s exactly what it was. Implementing the no trash talking is a discipline that takes practice. It is not natural nor does it come easy. However, I love my daughter more. My love for her took over my need to be a petty shit talker about her father.  Bashing your spouse or ex-spouse is a horrible act any way you look at it. Now, I will say, venting is important, but also meant for the ears of close friends where children are not present.  

Remember your child knows that he/she is made up of both of you. If you are talking so negatively about half of them, they will start doubting their worth and self-esteem. If nothing else, remind yourself that your little one would not be here if it weren’t for that other parent. The child you adore is half of them and would not exist without them. And repeat …”

 

Book Teaser: Bang, Bang

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Happy September, friends! And hello! My summer blog hiatus is coming to a close. Between house renovations, wedding planning, going back to work full time, and launching my book, it’s been a bit of a crazy time. Not too crazy for God though. He always has a way of bringing me back to that the much-needed stillness, revealing my purpose in all that’s unfolded in this life of mine. And I thank you all for that. It is your raw stories and bold courage to reach out that humbly reminds me where I have been and how to show you the hope in it all.

Book launch, yes you read that right! You guys! It’s unreal that this book will be released NEXT MONTH. Mark your calendars for October 17th, which is also the one year mark of Her Soul Repair. So much to celebrate! I have three more teasers to share on the blog before you can read the book cover to cover. This next one is on triggers. Emotional ones, silly ones, physical ones … There’s just nothing easy or fun about them. Read on to see how I dealt.

  1. Bang, Bang

“…One step forward, two steps back. Damn you stupid triggers, leave me alone. Triggers of your former life can make your current life hard. They can take ecstatic joy and turn it into the real ugly kind of crying. They are the reality of letting go of anyone significant in your life. And they come when you least expect it. The best way I found to handle them was to experience the pain they bring and then redirect.  Pick up the phone and call a friend who will make you belly laugh. Or text a friend to tell them what a piece of shit your ex is. Or exercise! Get that hot bod you’ve always wanted. Grab a cocktail with your girlfriends. Take a nice long walk somewhere beautiful. Do whatever will pick you up. Riding the emotional roller coaster in Triggerland gets exhausting. Take the fast pass on the ride and then run for the emergency exit.

For me, triggers came from just about everywhere. When BD came home, we bought him a white Ranger, the same model of truck that he had when we first met. We were trying to be cute and go back in time. A sweet little plea to start our lives over together and go back to where it all started. At the time, I loved the idea and thought it was adorable. However, when trying to heal and move forward, it was much less adorable. White Rangers were following me. On every highway. In every parking lot. At every stoplight. They were out to get me. Until of course, BD bought the homewrecker a gray Mazda. It was then that the white Rangers backed off, and the gray Mazdas planned their sneaky attack …

As time goes on, certain triggers, once shot through your heart can actually be humorous. Two trigger stories during our divorce come to mind when reflecting upon the progress I had made.

When BD moved out, he took some of our dinner plates. These plates were wedding presents, ones we chose together while we were engaged. I found it odd that he’d want our wedding presents christening his new studio apartment he shared with the homewrecker. One day he came over and told me he had just bought some new plates, so he wanted to bring ours back. As he started, filing them back into my kitchen, I stopped and asked, “Who exactly has eaten off of these (knowing full well, the homewrecker had dined with them)?” His face said it all. The next day I took the complete set of Crate & Barrel plates to The Good Will. I imagine they were bought by someone who felt that they had hit the dinnerware jackpot and now reside in a wonderful kitchen. This experience was a good mark of growth. Had this happened earlier on, those plates would have most likely been Frisbees chucked at BD’s head. No Frisbee toss was had, simply a pay it forward donation. Deep breath and keep going.

Final Destination: Hell (too much?). I always had a great time daydreaming about hilarious happenings I wished upon BD and the other woman. During our divorce, they went on a little vacation together. So romantic, right? I thought about sending a list of prayer requests to all of the local churches. Attention all prayer warriors! My adulterer of a husband is currently on vacation with the woman who took part in destroying my marriage. My prayer requests include: the runs (for one or both of them), bed bugs wherever they lie together, declined credit cards at all bars and restaurants they attend, irritating (but not fatal) car problems. This always brought a smile to my face. The tricky part is you have to know when the hilarity is taking up too much space in your mind. There’s a definite balance to the laugh and release! When you can joke about such things (even in a half kidding fashion), it’s sign of progress … “

Book Teaser: Square One

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Pictured above is my latest writing companion. My little one is at camp for the week, so I’ve been spending some real intense time finishing up my book. Working on the book has me at times fighting back tears of sorrow, re-reading the story in disbelief that all of this really happened. And then moments later, tears of overwhelming gladness seeing how beautifully God has pieced my life back together.

Here is the next book teaser in the blog series. It is 12 of 15! There is a bright light at the end of the book tunnel. I am feeling accomplished and excited to share the final product with all of you.

  1. SQUARE ONE

“…The label of being divorced frightened me. But the label of being divorced before 30 TERRIFIED me. Even though I fought for my marriage and was not at fault, I couldn’t possibly explain that to EVERY stranger on the street. I was now the target of so many assumptions I didn’t sign up for. I remember driving to my first job interview during the divorce in a total panic. All I could think of were ways to describe to this principal why I was unmarried with a two year old daughter. As if my marital status really had anything to do with my qualifications as an elementary school teacher. Either way, my happily ever after took a really wrong turn!

I would say starting all over was a long and gradual process. It took time, and that’s why it was genuine. When BD was in the affair (before I found out), he was acting very odd, and the whole double life was causing a huge disconnect. This started the gradual separation between him and I. When news hit, and he moved out, the general public knew nothing about the troubles in our marriage. We went to weddings together, we celebrated holidays together, and on the surface level, it appeared as if nothing was wrong. I was not ready for this reality, mostly because I was expecting the huge turnaround. I truly acted as if nothing was different. Then when BD came home, I tried desperately for things to go back to our happy go lucky fun couple self, but it was just impossible. His attachment to the homewrecker and his lack of desire to stay married gave me little to work with regarding the happy couple. It did help in the continued detachment and healing on my end, though. By the time he moved out the second time, he hadn’t hugged me in months, so I didn’t miss his affection. He hadn’t talked to me all that recently and the time spent together was nothing quality. Let’s just say when he left that second time I wasn’t sad because I missed the connection we built; I was just super disappointed that he gave up so easy.

With all that, I did feel like I was unmarried for about a year and a half before the divorce process started. Not because I wanted that status, but because my husband’s heart belonged to the other women.

At this new place in my life, I was not quite ready to jump into a dating relationship. I did make some fun new friends and would often laugh to myself about what my online dating profile would look like:

Hi! I love Jesus and drinking beer. I have a crazy fun group of girlfriends that are unlike anything I could describe. I don’t recycle. Oh! And I’m a mom! I believe in prayer and want my life to look like The Gospel. I also like road trips, picnics, and spontaneity.

Seeking: A man of God who will drink beer with me. A “real” Christian, who will love my daughter, as much as I do. A critical thinker. A man with mental stability, a non-alcoholic with no history of pill addiction. A real honest Abe. Sarcastic and attentive. Affirming, but not smothering. One who welcomes doing things God’s way. Oh and by the way, if we get married, I’ll most likely have many specific issues/requests such as NO female friends, mobile phones always in a central location, not allowed to come home late from work, and your wedding band must be super-glued to your skin … Take a number! Who wants a piece of this?

I challenged myself to get involved in “young adults” groups that offered social activities, bible studies, and overall outlets for me to meet other single people. I wasn’t looking for my next soul mate, but more just single friends. The majority of my friends were married and in some of those friendships the dynamic turned to a blurry awkward, something I wasn’t all that fond of. Husbands of my friends didn’t know how to treat me or what to say. Their cancer eyes were real, and they were as confused as I was. It was a healthy step for me to switch from couple mode to single mode.

Having our daughter helps a lot more than it hurts, but regarding moving forward socially, this brought a lot of sadness. I was involved in a Mom’s group and for a long time, I could not go to any of the organized family events. The idea of being around other young, growing families brought me to tears. Last year we were that adorable family in church, and now I am alone while my daughter spends the day at the beach with BD and the other woman. The brutal reality of this truth did help me to book my days by the hour when I wasn’t with my daughter. Instead of surrounding myself with married couples with young children, I would fill my time with all things I enjoy as an individual. It helped ease the pain my little family was in the company of the homewrecker.

This new stage was very freeing. Even though it was not the outcome I wanted, it was an outcome. One I could accept, pick up the pieces from, and move forward with. It gave me time to bring back some of the confidence I had lost. It gave me time to become comfortable as a single person, a single mom, a Ms., and the list goes on. I let go of many roles I once loved and embraced ones I thought I forever let go of at the altar.  It was a tough pill to swallow, and there were some real difficult moments in there. But like everything as long as you focus on seeing these hard moments as refining your character and transforming you into a stronger person, there’s purpose. And there you have it, that’s what any hardship is about, finding the stronger you…”

Book Teaser: Soul Repair

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This chapter talks about how I started to rebuild and the importance of self-care when you’ve endured the trauma of divorce. When you are in pieces yourself it’s hard to even know where to start with trying to rebuild a life. You must rebuild your ego, your trust, your instincts, your thoughts… Every part of you that has been crushed by the divorce must be carefully handled and put back together. Slow and steady would be my big take home for this portion of the healing. This doesn’t happen overnight. I will say looking back, the two solid years I went through of rebuilding seems like a short time span, even though the days felt long and suffocating at times. This chapter is choppy. I didn’t like how the first draft read so I am in the process of rewriting most of it. Here is what I’ve decided to keep.

  1. SOUL REPAIR

“Time is a revealer and an enabler. If you plant a seed in the ground and water it, in time it will grow and reveal its species. If you plant that same seed and never give it water, it will never grow. In the same way, if you go through the process of healing, in time you will be made whole. But if you skip the healing process, you’ll be left wondering why you are the way you are.”

…You are responsible for your own healing. This is both your best friend and your worst enemy. It cannot be dependent on the choices of anyone else. Keep reminding yourself of this truth.

Before deciding to act as Mother Theresa and dive into full forgiveness, I beg you not to rush the necessary recovery needed from the pain you’ve encountered. It will get better, but take every moment as it comes. Experience the pain and move forward. Every single emotion that you feel and every single loss that you grieve is part of your recovery process. Own it. There’s no need in skipping any of it. Fully experiencing it will produce the stronger version of you. And by fully experiencing it, I mean sobbing over a song during your manicure or going back to a familiar “marriage spot” and making a new memory. The spectrum is long and every point will help in the healing.

There is much beauty in forgiveness, even if it seems utterly impossible. Keep your mind on that you are forgiving to create the better version of yourself, not because they deserve it. They don’t, but who really does? When push comes to shove, no one really deserves forgiveness.

There were months where all I could do was think in terms of forgiveness. The act of it was mind-blowing. I knew this was what I eventually needed to accomplish, yet it all seemed so impossible. I read, I prayed, I researched all things forgiveness. I found a helpful book, The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness by Kris and Jason Vallotton. This book described a similar betrayal that I had been faced with.

Supernatural Power of Forgiveness is a great resource for picking up the pieces and moving forward in your marriage as well. It gives practical ways to rebuild trust. “Trust is not built by the absence of mistakes, but rather on how well we clean up our messes.” If you are working to save your marriage, make this your mantra! Your marriage will thank you in twenty years.

DivorceCare also had many grand ideas on forgiveness. It was Session 11 of 13. They knew it was going to take some easing into. I debated skipping this session many times. They broke it down as follows:

Consequences of Unforgiveness

  • Emotional Prison
  • Physical Effects
  • Hurts Relationships
  • Bitterness

Forgiveness Is Not

  • Minimizing the hurt or offense
  • Trust
  • Reconciliation
  • Forgetting
  • A one-time thing

Forgiveness Is

  • A promise to cancel a debt
  • Liberating and healing
  • A hard thing to offer
  • First a decision, not a feeling
  • Motivated by God’s forgiveness

How Do I Forgive?

  • Don’t give up!
  • Don’t wait until you FEEL like it)

Experiencing God’s Forgiveness

  • There’s nothing God can’t bring us back from

I made the commitment to forgive BD. I use the word commitment because it’s a continual choice. Nothing about it is easy. Nothing about it is deserved. However, the one thing about this particular commitment is that it pieced my heart back together. This choice I make day in and day out is for the greater good. For my daughter, for the other loves in my life, for the better version of myself. The only alternative to forgiveness is unforgiveness and as Joyce Meyer puts it, “unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping that the other person dies.”

Image by The Hipster Housewife

Book Teaser: The D Word

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This book teaser is the point in my book where the divorce was decided and officially happening. Up until this point in my story, I was fighting for my marriage and all in to do whatever it took. I can’t believe I have already shared now 10 book teasers with all of you and that the release date of my book is this year! As always, thank YOU for all of the support in this venture.  

  1. THE D WORD

“‘In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.’ –Robert Anderson

If you and your spouse are still fighting FOR your marriage, keep at it! I am proud of you. Hold on to the truth that you WILL be a stronger couple because of it. I have seen many beautiful love stories come from the trials of an affair. If you come out of this, you will have a new level of closeness that only comes from overcoming something this awful. There is a way back from all of this heartache. I have seen it! I was surprised to find out all of the couples who have experienced some sort of infidelity in their marriages. When this happened to me, suddenly those amazing wives you feel like you’d never be even on your best day, were telling me about the dark and horrible periods in their marriage. What!? In those marriages that look totally perfect and all put together? Yes, in those marriages. Keep going!! It will ALL be worth it!

In my case, the choice was made for me. BD left and a divorce was what he wanted. As I said before, I was convinced this was not how our story would end. However, the cards were dealt and I am not a big fan of denying reality. My reality was the big D. We took the affordable route and actually went through mediation. Our mediator was really peppy and always misspelled our names. She was grinning ear to ear through the entire first meeting. I just wanted to scream, “Why are you smiling! There’s nothing to smile about!” At first, every time I got an email from her my stomach went to knots. Over time, the emails got easier and easier to read (not because there were less typos), but because emotionally I was healing and detaching. There’s absolutely nothing easy or pain-free about a divorce. 

Being the lover of all things self-help and personal growth, I joined a DivorceCare support group. For me, this particular group was equal parts helpful and depressing. Were there really other people in the world going through the same screwed up saga I was? What the hell was wrong with humanity?

It was helpful to commiserate with fellow victims. All of these people were left because of their spouse’s poor choices. The part of the group that was tricky for me was the self-evaluation part. What did we all contribute to our marriages that led to this. Well, for me (not to sound conceited), I did not contribute to the end of this marriage. BD would agree with this. On any day of the week. To anyone who asked him. I didn’t like that everyone in the group looked at me like I was a crazy person because I had a clear conscience about the fact I really didn’t contribute to the destruction of my marriage.

This group did help me through a lot of the shame that is tacked on with the D label. ‘Divorce is not something that defines you, it is something that happened to you.’ This is a very important point to remember even if you aren’t going through a divorce, but simply recovering from an affair. It doesn’t define you. It happened to you. It’s not who you are. It’s something you experienced. Don’t allow it too much hold on your future.

It taught me that in this shit storm you’re not just processing the loss of a marriage, but in actuality a full inventory of losses. You must grieve the loss of your spouse, your friend, your lover, your partner, your co-parent, the family you had planned, your next three kids, the bigger house, your travel plans. The list is long and each one must be grieved.

Divorce is beyond painful.

It’s painful because:

You loved your husband with all your heart.

You gave so much of yourself to him.

You worked at the relationship.

You trusted him.

You were faithful.

You thought you’d be together forever.

As you may recall, I advised the succinct response for when you’re in limbo, well same goes for when you are going through a divorce. If you are going through a divorce or are already divorced, come up with a standard and succinct response for anyone who asks, how you two are doing. It gets easier the more people you tell. The first time I said it out loud, I thought about dropping to the fetal position and sobbing. “We are actually going through a divorce right now … Yes, it is too bad, but completely out of my control, so I am doing what I can to move forward.” And scene! That covers how you’re doing and where you stand on all of it. Boom.

Breaking the news to people varies by the person, their level of friendship, the setting, and how many drinks have been had. Oh, the rants I’ve given after one too many beers. In all honesty, I felt like I always had to be ready and on guard for a run-in. That family from your old church or your next door neighbor who moved away or an acquaintance from high school or your hair stylist or the family members you kept in the dark … The list is long, but more often than not, I’ve found people to be mature and respectful. More often than not, people just give you “the best is yet to come” pep talk. Then there was the shock reaction. This always validated and depressed me all at the same time. ‘Right?! I know! We were a great couple and I was just as surprised!’ and in a different light, ‘Yes, I know… We were a great couple and I was completely shocked by it all.’

As I said before, there’s nothing easy about divorce. ‘Divorce is the ripping apart of two souls that were meant to be glued together for life. It’s never a clean tear, so the mending is not an easy road.’”

Image by Kelli Murray

Book Teaser: For the Jesus Folk

This chapter of the book is designed for those who share my same faith. I wanted to write a book that ALL victims of infidelity could relate to. I specifically chose not to publish in the “Christian self-help” genre, because I wanted my story to reach everyone, regardless of their beliefs. If you’ve followed me for awhile or know me personally, you know that my faith is a HUGE part of my life. With that, I couldn’t skip it all together in my story as it was God’s care for me that kept me afloat through all of the heartache. If this chapter doesn’t line up with your beliefs, that’s fine. The book is written so that you can skip this chapter and move on to the next, without feeling like you’re missing a chunk of the story. If you are a Jesus follower, do read on!

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9. For the Jesus Folk

“‘Let us run with patience.’ Hebrews 12:1

…I hope this chapter doesn’t get skipped all too much as it was the glue that kept me functioning during this hellish season of my life. One of the most amazing parts of this experience was the closeness I felt to God. It was incredible, something I’d never encountered in all of my years as a Christ follower. You cannot fully experience God’s peace and comfort until you’ve experienced the pits of sorrow. The reassurance I felt from God’s word provided me with all the peace I needed.

Speaking of God’s word, let’s review how God feels about the other woman and cheating husbands!

And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be trapped by her.’ Ecclesiastes 7:26

‘But the man who commits adultery is a fool, for he destroys himself.’ Proverbs 6:32

I remember feeling so empowered after reading these verses. As in, THANK YOU GOD! Yes! You know what I mean! This is as awful as it feels!

During the time BD and I were separated, I prayed my heart out. I prayed 100% for the miracle of God restoring our marriage. I prayed nonstop. I would wake up in the middle of the night and before I even realized I was awake, I was already praying for him. I prayed for conviction in his heart. I prayed that he would desire a righteous life with our little family. I prayed for his girlfriend to get fat. I had the faith that God could do anything at any time (which He still can) and that we could have this incredible testimony as a married couple. I was convinced this was going to be the outcome of our story.

I saw how real the power of prayer was. I felt as if I was in a literal battle for his soul. There is an insane spiritual realm in our world. Satan is wanting your marriage and family to fail. God loves marriage and family SO much. Of course, Satan is attacking it like a serial killer.

We had many times where I saw my prayers coming alive in BD, but the battle is real. Every step he took toward our marriage, Satan’s lies pulled him one step away from it. You may think I’m exaggerating, but there would be days where we would have really great “normal” days together as a couple, feelings were fun and there, good times were being had. As soon as those days would end, BD would go to sleep and have nightmares of the homewrecker. He said, he felt as if there was a weight on his chest and it was suffocating him as he slept. God hears our prayers and honors our obedience, but free will and sin still exist. God does not make us obey and sin is very destructive. It is full of every evil in the world and it is on a mission to destroy anything good.

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis does a phenomenal job of describing just how intricately Satan attacks humans.

‘Whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out…’

‘Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is took weak and fuddled to shake off.’

‘It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.’

‘Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s (God’s) ground…He [God] made the pleasure: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy [God] has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He [God] has forbidden. ‘

‘We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.’

Even though my husband’s sin destroyed our marriage, God completely sustained me. He taught me that His timing is not mine. That all He really wanted was my complete trust in Him. That all I needed to do was, be still. He would fight for me! He brought me peace through so much devastation. I learned full well that regardless of what the outcome looks like, God will bring good for those who love and seek Him. He is enough and clinging to His truth will bring peace in even the most chaotic madness life brings. A deep reliance on God can heal even the most broken of hearts. I am living proof of this. The Lord refined my character like never before. THIS was worth all of the bullshit (can I use that word in the Jesus chapter?).”

Image by She Reads Truth

Book Teaser: The Magical Garden

This next chapter could easily be a book of its own. Here I go into the hilarious stories that came about during the counseling sessions of trying to save my marriage. Now, these are only my personal encounters with therapy. I have dear friends who are incredible therapists, so before you go on thinking I am totally anti, that’s not the case. Catch the teasers of chapters 1-7 here and enjoy a laugh on this Monday morning as you try to visualize a few of the looney sessions I nodded and smiled through.

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8. The Magical Garden

“Friends are therapists you can drink with.” -Unknown

“I would have labeled myself anti-counseling before my life fell apart. My mind operates in an incredibly reasonable fashion and I am not a very emotionally driven individual. With that, I never understood why people needed a counselor’s opinion to guide them through anything. To be clear, this was not an arrogant stance I took, but more so legitimately how my mind processed things. Spelling out the most reasonable and logical choice has always come easy to me.

When I heard BD’s first (G-rated) version of the story, I called a counseling hotline from an organization I trusted. I felt as if I needed a little guidance as to what the hell to do when your husband is involved with another woman. This was outside of my “reasonable” sphere. When I first called for a free over the phone counseling session, I got a recording saying if I left my name and number I’d get a call back in 72 hours. I thought this was hilarious. I felt like I was being put on hold after calling a suicide hotline. Nevertheless, they called me back the next day and told me something that seemed generic at the time, yet I think of it often. They said, “You can’t go outside the marriage to fix the marriage, you must stay in the marriage to fix the marriage.” Truth right there. If something about a marriage is not satisfying or meeting an expectation you have, you work with what you have in the marriage, you don’t try to satisfy it elsewhere.

During the time we were separated I went to a counselor who looked liked a spitting image of Mr. Bean. He was a pretty sensitive guy who drank a lot of green tea (and in turn was frantically running to the bathroom in between clients). When I first started seeing this particular shrink, I was really hoping he would advise me not to expose our daughter to BD’s filth or immorality. I thought maybe this counselor would take my side on this one. I was afterall the victim here! Well, he didn’t. He encouraged me to let BD see our daughter for her sake. She was still so young and needed to bond with her father. Their relationship needed this time together in order to thrive. After some convincing on his part, I saw where he was coming from and am thankful for that advice he gave. I never regretted letting our daughter see her father. That was my main take home from Mr. Bean. All of our other sessions included finding the balance between giving BD time and being a patient wife, while protecting myself from the pain and torture his affair was causing. A simple feat, really. Not.

When BD and I started “working” on our marriage, we began a counseling program that was designed to help restore marriages after an affair. The counselor who designed this program was recommended to us by another couple who’d gone through a similar ordeal. Now, because this man was so well-known for helping couples just like us (in theory), we thought he was completely worth the rate and the drive. The rate was $175/hour (anyone else in the wrong profession?). The drive was about an hour and a half from where we were living. Long drives are super fun when you are with someone you enjoy being with. Long drives are super miserable if you were BD and I on our way to “save” our marriage. On more than one occasion we arrived early to counseling and would head down the street to the local Island’s (the only place close by with a bar) and chug a few beers to ease the nerves. A sweet bartender once asked us, ‘why we were laughing and what was the big hurry?’ ‘Oh us? Just on our way to a marriage counseling program that allegedly saves marriages after an affair’ … Cricket. Cricket. She responded with sad puppy dog eyes, saying that she was proud of us for wanting to help our marriage.

Now, what struck me as funnier than pre-gaming at Island’s was the fact that this counselor was renting an office above a used car lot. Does it get any more sleezy? How do you take anyone seriously that has an office space at that location? Moving on. We would walk to the lobby and wait to get buzzed in as another couple was leaving. Every time this shameful transaction took place, each couple staring the other one down, wondering who was the cheater and who was the victim. You’d be surprised. Okay, enough trash talking about the used car lot.

This program was full of valuable information if two people were willing and committed. At first, the exercises we did to rebuild trust were very helpful. BD would assure me daily. He would take pictures of where he was and show me that he was wearing his ring proudly and brag about the type of husband he knew he could be. He would happily talk of our future and simply, I thought, I can see how we will rebuild and come back stronger! Wow! This is totally possible. Sadly, this didn’t last long, and our counseling sessions started to look like this: BD asking what a professional time frame looked like for improvement in the marriage before calling it quits, BD saying he wasn’t attracted to me, didn’t want to spend time with me, and had stronger chemistry with the other woman. The counselor looking at me with cancer eyes (a term I created after about the millionth person looked at me, blank gaze, as if I just broke the news that I had terminal cancer) and telling me how bad he felt for me. Um, can I get my money back because your pity just made me feel worse!

After not completing this program in full due to the hopeless prognosis from the counselor and BD’s mind on his way to being made up already, we tried another counselor who specialized in emotional intimacy. This was one area of our marriage BD felt that we lacked. This guy had some good things to say, but his prices were outrageous. Once again, BD was a skeptic about all people or things that would potentially help us. This particular counselor did say it may take BD years to get over the affair and that I should be “open” in helping ease his transition back to the marriage. This made me want to throw up. We didn’t go back to that million dollar joker.

After BD checked out from all counseling endeavors, I started seeking some counseling for myself. In hindsight, this was hilarious. I went to two women. I had only gone to men counselors before because I felt as if I would connect with them better. I had the preconceived notion that female counselors would just be sobbing at the story I told and would only give me emotional advice. I know in reality this was a silly thought and had little truth to it.

Anyhow, I made an appointment with a lady whose office was close by and who was covered under our insurance. Our first and last appointment went a little something like this… Me telling her our story, her looking at me with a blank stare. Me judging her velvet choker and the fact that she still had the price tag stickers on the bottom of her hideous heels, her ranting about how there’s no magic number in terms of a time frame for emotional attachment between BD and the homewrecker. After hearing the phrase, “magic number” 100+ times that hour, I decided to just say no to the velvet choker.

A preview of the next lady I saw includes a garden, chanting, communes of open marriages, and a whole lot more crazy where that came from. (more on those sessions in the book).

Even through all of the laughable moments of counseling, I do now see how they are beneficial. In a marriage, sometimes that third party is necessary (and not how BD would define “third party”). I did learn a lot from the advice of these professionals. I would encourage women and couples to seek a counselor you connect with and that shares your beliefs. With that being said, I wholeheartedly stand behind that trusted friends who share your beliefs and know you intricately can at times be the best counselors. I suppose, for what it’s worth, that’s where I stand on counseling. Not quite as anti as I was before, but not completely sold either.”

Book Teaser: All You Need is Love (not)

As I read through what I have for this chapter of the book, I felt that it started off a tad too cynical for my liking. The point that I was trying to make was that the love you need for marriage is not one solely based on infatuation, but on committing to the action of love. You’ve heard it before, love is a verb. Anyhow, I took this teaser from a little further into the chapter. The time frame for this chapter was 9 months into the affair, 5 months since he had moved out. This chapter was our turning point, the period of time where everyone thought a miracle had happened in our marriage. My ex-husband came home, wanting me back, wanting our life back, scared to death that he almost lost it all. Well, spoiler alert! These desires weren’t exactly genuine. Here’s a little preview of the chapter that could have been a turning point toward a restored marriage, but instead was a turning point toward the new life God wanted for me. And as always, read chapters 1-6 if you haven’t already!

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7. All You Need is Love (not)

“…I love holidays, probably more than the average female. The flowers, the cards, the gifts, the dinners, the cocktails … I just love celebrating! With this in mind, BD took full of advantage of making his grand take me back plea on Mother’s Day. And was it ever grand. Had he followed through with anything he said that day, we would be sipping pina coladas on a beach in Mexico right now. Mother’s Day morning we went to our favorite restaurant where we’d celebrated many occasions in the past. It’s not a real kid type of place, but we brought our daughter anyhow and it made it all the more wonderful. I sipped mimosas, she was smiley and adorable, and there was the man I married returning from a five month “deployment” from our family.

After we had been sitting and sipping for a little while, BD handed me an envelope. Inside the envelope was a heartfelt card (he always had a way with words) and some hand-made coupons. After I read each coupon, he then went through each promise adding his own personal explanation. As we both had tears in our eyes looking at one another, he said, ‘if it’s okay with you, I’d like to put this back on for good’ and pulled his wedding ring out of his pocket.

Sounds like the scene of a (somewhat twisted) romantic comedy, right? Well, in the months to come there was nothing romantic or comedic about anything in our marriage. I knew this was going to be real hard. I knew that trust needed to be rebuilt and restored. I knew there’d be sad days and even more awkward ones. I knew that we needed joint determination for our marriage to be salvaged. Most disturbing, in a sense, I knew I was going to have to watch my husband go through a breakup. Well, the homewrecker was not ready to let him go and her hold on him was pretty damn strong.

The day BD moved all of his belongings back into our home was full of crazed emotions. I left for the day with our daughter and gave him time to sift through and re-organize his life back into ours. I recall this day being difficult for him. We didn’t go into details of sorts, but he was leaving behind this disgusting life that he wasn’t ready to completely let go of. Leaving behind a whirlwind of elated forbidden experiences. Both of our hearts were sad this day, but for different reasons. That night was a fun and familiar one. We watched a movie together, enjoyed some favorite foods, and drank some beers. We felt like us again. The fun was there. Smiles, laughter, and our familiar love for one another. If only we could ride that high out for longer than an evening.

The happy would happen and then, what felt like immediately, the sad came to match it. The next day, I was reorganizing our closet and dresser. Finding places for his clothing to once again live. As I was unpacking his bright blue duffle bag, I started noticing shirts I didn’t recognize. Ones he had most likely purchased with her. A style that wasn’t quite mine or his …

The first month BD was home, he was still in contact with the other woman (behind my back). Their attachment was strong and seemed to have this delusional power over him. Emotional attachment is a bitch and is not easily broken. When the attachment is strong and still alive, no real work can be done on the marriage. And any work on the marriage that is attempted while the supposed attachment is still alive is not beneficial. It gave BD a false sense of ‘impossible’ in terms of the outcome of our marriage. All he could focus on was the fresh ‘heartbreak’/loss of ‘real love’. It became pretty clear, BD was not really ready to fight …”

Image by Philip Leclerc

Book Teaser: Judge Not

First off, I want to keep you in the loop and let you know that Her Soul Repair is officially on Pinterest and Bloglovin. If either of these sites interest you, please follow along! 

My book has been at the forefront of my mind lately as a release date has been put in place. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I have a lot more to do in order to complete it on time, but there have been many moments of inspiration lately that have once again confirmed this endeavor. If you haven’t read the teasers of chapters 1-5, you can catch them here. The teasers may seem choppy, but only because you’re getting bits and pieces of a full chapter. Everything you read actually happened. The events, conversations, reactions and so on are not exaggerated. Chapter 6 has been one of the biggest life lessons learned from this saga. Read on for a glimpse at that lesson.

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6. JUDGE NOT

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” -Mother Theresa

“I would say I generally like myself. There’s not a whole lot I would change about who I am. However, the one thing that I could do without is what feels like the constant judgments that float around in my mind. I’ve always been more judgey than I’d like to admit. Some days it seems that before noon I’ve already judged your outfit, your boyfriend, your bedding, your parenting, and your choice of Instagram filter. If I’m not careful, my mind will be on the slippery slope toward Judgey McJudgerson. That being said, I do try to redirect my thoughts and not fixate on the tendencies that leave me judging everything in sight.

My perspective definitely shifted during my time of limbo. I was all of a sudden feeling judgment from total strangers. Yes, I brought my 1 year old daughter to happy hour and yes, she is crying and yes, I need this drink more than you and your fake boobs (insert the irony of me making a judgment about her latest enhancement).

I look like death at Target? Puffy eyes and pissed off scowl? Well, turn your dirty look the other way. My husband just left me, out of nowhere, and for no good reason. Back off!

Then, there’s the age old comparison/judgment among mothers. Your kid is speaking in full sentences at the age of one? Awesome. Mine is fed and alive. Considering my current circumstances, I’d call that even.

And last, but certainly not least, there was the acquaintance judgment. People who didn’t really know me and only knew half of our story. I could just read their thoughts by that look on their face … Oh your husband had an affair? Well, I bet you can’t even remember the last time the two of you had sex? Do you even own a piece of lingerie? I bet you never let him go out with friends, probably suffocate all aspirations he has and demean the hobbies that make him feel alive. YOU must try to micro-manage and control his every move. No wonder he did this. Do you blame him?

Disclaimer: Even if each component I listed above contributed to the crumbling of your marriage, it does not give reason for the selfish act of an affair.

For me, it was worse because I wasn’t the stereotype. Our sex life was plenty healthy. And I love lingerie. BD spent countless nights playing ping pong with his brother. He is a very talented man and I encouraged him daily to use that talent in every way he could. Hobbies? Oh he had em! From playing drums to making cheese! I stood by every side of him. The confusion lay all the more thick.

You don’t know what people are going through or what their story is. If they look like hell in Trader Joe’s, give em a smile or look the other way. No need for the concerned look of disgust. I am not going to beat a dead horse in this chapter. Just be careful of the look you give the lady with a baby in the bar. You don’t know what her life looks like behind the scenes.”