The following is a guest post by Anabelle Woods.
He has let out his nasty little secret. His burden has been put down; he feels relief and asks for forgiveness. You just got dumped on. You are in shock, angry, in disbelief, and cut to the core. Forgive? How? Do I stay? Do I go? How can I go? How far has he gone? With whom? How much do I need to know? How much can I handle? Am I safe? How could I ever trust him again? You have been traumatized.
Just what do you do?
Let the Tears Fall
They clear the heart and mind. Breathe. Slow and deep…just keep breathing.
Find Good Counsel
For me, my Pastor was my first go to, a safe haven, taking me to the Lord in prayer, helping me lay my burdens at His feet and learn to LET GO! Proverbs 3:5 | “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” 1Peter 5:7 | “Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you.”
I also found a secular counselor to deal with depression and anxiety. Finding a Christian counselor was not enough; he/she had to know the need for the Savior as well as understand addiction and the trauma to a spouse. For those reading this, you have the blessing of Conquerors Through Christ. Editor’s Note: Conquerors through Christ does not offer direct, professional counseling, but we are very willing and able to connect you professional, Christian counselors who understand the psychology and the Gospel.
Give Yourself Grace
Allow yourself to mourn the losses, be angry for a while, and go through the cycles of grief: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sorrow, and Acceptance. If you find yourself stuck in Angry-ville – get help! Anger is justified, but it should not last months on end and should never be violent in any way.
- Shock is often fleeting, lasting minutes, hours, maybe days.
- Denial: He just can’t be an addict; he is the model husband, a solid member of our church, a good father, a good man.
- Anger: You start to realize he MAY actually be an addict. You get the full force of the betrayal. Things start making sense – the missing money, the late work nights, the silence and alone feeling even sitting right next to him. You begin to understand the impact this will have on your life: STD testing, counseling, support groups, healing, time in prayer and study.
- Bargaining: God, if this isn’t true or if he isn’t an addict or if this could all go away, then I will promise to …
- Sorrow: The deep sadness that accompanies the realization your life, through no fault of your own, has been forever changed. The life you dreamed of with this man will never be. Who you thought he was, is shattered. You feel as though you don’t know him anymore.
- Acceptance: You accept his addiction. You stop blaming or looking for a magic fix. You begin recovery – your own. You become honest, even when it hurts. You can forgive.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Human nature doesn’t always allow us to forget such a painful act or the impact it has on our lives. I had a pastor years ago who taught us to forgive and remember – learn the lesson, but don’t hold a grudge. Forgiving helps you grow. Forgiving my husband gave me such peace! Withholding just kept the anger alive. And guilt – how could I accept God’s forgiveness for me and not forgive my husband? How could I go to communion and receive all it has to offer, when my heart held resentment – and worse? I would put my eternal life at risk. Colossians 3:13 | “Forgive, as the Lord forgave you.”
Forgiving also does not mean trusting. He has to earn that back through his actions. You are accepting and letting go of the past, starting anew, on to a new relationship with him, the old one is gone. If he is repentant, and even if he isn’t, forgive.
Oh, how important this one is! I debated putting it first. Pray every morning for help and guidance throughout your day. Pray during the day when life seems overwhelming. Pray every night, thanking God for helping you through the day, and ask for restful sleep. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 | Pray without ceasing. The un-uttered cries of your soul are heard by God. He knows what you need. Let Him give you His shelter, comfort and guidance. Philippians 4:6 | Be anxious (worry) for nothing. But in all things, by prayer and petition, ….present your requests to the Lord.
The Bible. Find a concordance and look up whatever you are feeling at the time: Sorrow, Forgiveness, Worthiness, Beauty, Marriage, Family, Trust, Divorce. Our church had a Bible reading challenge to read the New Testament in 40 days. That got me into the Bible regularly, showing me how much of it I had never read, had never heard – even growing up in a parochial grade school, attending Sunday School for 8 years, and High School. It made me more comfortable really searching for what I needed. Some friends said they would let the book fall open and read to whatever God lead them.
Spousal Recovery Books – there are so many!!! I found Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado. Dr. Weiss has written many books on the subject. The group I attended for spouses used his workbooks – a 12 step recovery program. The first read they recommend is Partners: Healing from His Addiction by Dr. Doug Weiss. I also recently finished reading Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, How Partners Can Cope and Heal by Steffens and Means. I wished I had read it second – the lady authors write from experience, giving understanding, direction and advice so needed. Co-Dependent No More, by Beattie is one I fought reading. I wasn’t co-dependent! I didn’t support and condone his behavior! After only a few chapters, I found out I understood co-dependency all wrong. It made many relationships in my life more clear. To save money, I turned to Amazon.com. It is much more affordable than hitting the local or counselor’s bookstore. I have 5 typed pages of suggested reading materials, most of which I have not begun to read in 5 years! Ask your counselor for suggestions for you.
Care for Yourself
Get what you need. A message, pedicure, manicure is worth every penny. Go for a walk in the park or favorite woods. Garden or craft or read for enjoyment. Even 5 minutes a day. Get your mind off the issues of the day for a little while. Learn Tai Chi or yoga. My counselor recommended taking a trip away, alone at least once a quarter. It felt weird at first – and every time! But it was good to get away from the routine and the everyday reminders and do what I wanted, when I wanted, stay up late or sleep in. Find a friend. Someone in a recovery group is best, but if you have one friend you can confide in, ask her to be there by the phone for when you need to vent, to cry, to share at any time. She doesn’t have to say or do anything, just let you process. It should be someone who will not make judgments, or will keep them to herself, someone who will not tell you what you need to do before you’re ready. She must be trustworthy.
Don’t Make Any Important Decisions
…for a while, at least. Some say a year. Don’t feel you have to choose to stay or divorce right away. Don’t make a decision today you may regret tomorrow. Give yourself time to calm down and think rationally again. Do your research. Talk to a lawyer – initial consultation can be free, even if you are certain you will never take that route. The knowledge you will obtain is empowering, freeing. With that information, make an action plan, both short term and long term. What do you need to leave? What do you need to stay? How can you obtain that goal? Schooling? A Job? How can you become independent? Counseling or group? Make it as detailed as you can. Utilize it when and if you need. It takes much off your mind just knowing you have an action plan.
Hearing your prince has a deal-breaking flaw, that he broke the vows he pledged at your wedding, can be devastating. Don’t let it rule your future. You can be whole again. You can find peace.
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless shame we bear
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations, is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful? Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in Prayer.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus vss. 1-2, by Joseph M. Scriven
John 14:27 | Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.