The next days following that first night would continue to feel like a whirlwind of about every emotion I had ever experienced up until this point.
My husband began working out of town on weekdays, I was left alone again and things were about to get dark.
Plans on how to sneak a new man around my children, into my bedroom and back out in the mornings without them knowing, were the musings of my mind. My thought life became like a ripe sewage pit of indecent schemes and lies, crowding out what little bit of common sense, self-respect, and dignity I had left.
Darkness when left to run rampant in the heart, takes a person down a path towards steady, slow, but sure destruction.
And because I’m an all or nothing person, I had decided that if I was going to do this, I was going all the way. I spent much of my mental energy constructing scenarios in my mind on how would I leave him, imagining my life without the man I had built a life with for nine years.
My heart felt cold and numb, like all life had been removed. I hardly even knew who I was becoming.
How could this be the sum of the girl who grew up on a church pew and sang the name of Jesus for the past twenty something years of my life? I knew everything there was to know about right and wrong. I felt like a fraud, a pretender. And had there ever been anything good in me that had ever been real to begin with? In my own blindness, I began to question the goodness of the very One whom I had believed in since I was just a girl just old enough to hold a hymnal and pray prayers in my room before bed at night.
Maybe it was high time to just leave it all behind to exist in a brand new world of my own making. I wanted something, I needed something. Something to satisfy that I had desperately been searching for for a long time and I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what it was. Maybe I had found it here.
Yet, smack dab in the midst of the exciting rush of a secret affair that still not another soul knew about, inside of my heart were the first cracks an inner collapse.
Everything irritated me.
I was intoxicated with all these strange new emotions, yet the first buds of internal unrest were setting in on me like a dark, sinister cloud overtaking a sunny day at sea.
It is completely possible to park one’s life smack dab in the tension between dark and light. Still, there is no refuge of rest, peace and contentment to be found in that place. I know that well.
Sleep and rest eluded me. I barely ate, I stopped answering phone calls from anyone else, I wasn’t doing a great job holding together the basic responsibilities of mothering, and I was completely mentally absent from my work. I was losing control.
No one would have ever suspected it because well, I was good at saving face. Religion teaches that well.
I struggled just to muddle my way through the basic routine of daily life. There was a moment in which my six year old daughter and four year old son burst through the closed door of my bedroom while I was on the phone with the other man and I completely lost it. I knew they didn’t understand why. I will never forget the hurt on their faces when it became ever clear that mommy was too busy living in another world to want to be with them.
Truth was, I didn’t even like myself.
This charade that had begun as a fun little harmless rendezvous was wrapping it’s dark tentacles more tightly around my soul with every passing day. It felt like a forcefield in which I had become captive to something of another world. I desperately wanted and needed the madness of it all and the dizzying speed at which the darkness was accelerating to stop a minute, so that I could catch my breath and breathe freely again. But it was becoming harder and harder to think straight, it was suffocating my life like a wet blanket over fire.
In chasing after freedom, I was losing it.
Sin can never bring freedom, life, or anything that is good for that matter. I was choosing to go on pretending that it could, that the rules didn’t apply to me.
The actual days in which I lived in that exhilarating and excruciating tension between light and dark were few, yet it felt like an entire lifetime.
Part of me wanted to run and free myself, another part of me wanted to stay. Part of me wanted to live, but mostly I needed to die. This was becoming the daily torment of living in that tiny margin between good and evil.
I woke up the next Sunday morning that rolled around, sat up in my bed and told God out loud that I was going to church anyways. Only to prove that if He cared anything at all about me enough to want me to turn from the path I was headed down, He would figure out how to stop me. Send me a sign, knock me off my horse, send somebody with a word to call me out in my mess…something! As if it is possible to intimidate and manipulate God with bitter words.
I sat alone in church that Sunday morning.
I wanted to be alone.
Alone because there, I could hide.
There are two things alone that break the hold of darkness. Confession and accountability.
But for now, solitude felt most comfortable because there I could sit in my disappointment and disillusionment with life. I could wallow in my shame, my anger at myself, and at God. Yes, I was mad at God. I never hid that from Him, but then again, I’m pretty sure the same shoulders the carried the cross can handle the weight of our human disappointment.
I was plain disappointed in life and so tired of being angry about everything in my past I was still hurt about and couldn’t seem to get over.
“There has to be something more!”
These were painfully honest words my lips uttered often on teary evenings alone curled up in the corner of my bedroom and on late night fights with my husband throughout the years
I had been searching for more than the ordinariness of this earthly life. Like that I had been made made for something that couldn’t be found here, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but wanted it so desperately.
Much to my disappointment, I had not managed to find more in possessions or accomplishments or marriage, so this was my go at finding it in pleasure.
Inner turmoil isn’t a mere concept found in books on the human psyche, it was becoming my constant and ever-growing reality. As clearly as I’ll ever know anything in life I know that there was a war going onside inside of my soul. I wanted out, but I felt helplessly powerless to fight back the force of darkness that was overtaking my whole life.
As the pastor preached that morning, I was riddled with so much chaos inside I’m not even sure I heard a word he said. Truth, words weren’t what my soul needed that day. I had heard them all my life. I needed something so much richer and deeper than head knowledge and belief systems.
As I sat there, I took out my phone and tweeted one word that morning sitting there in church alone: “Wrestling.”
Strange as it may seem, that word was my random cry out into the dark. Mostly I didn’t want to be seen, but there was a small part of me that wanted to be heard. I wanted both to live in the pleasure and thrill of a dark world, and to know the freedom of the light again.
My heart desperately cried out for something, someone to help me get a grip on myself and stop this out of control carousel I had jumped on. Something to stop this dark force that had taken my heart hostage. Someone to see into my pain, into my longing, into my self-made wreckage. Someone to love me anyways.
And if by some ridiculous chance I were to call the whole thing off and decide to stay, who then would not turn away from the wreckage I had created, and the woman I had become? Who could ever bear the crushing weight of my shame and darkness?
“Do not abandon me, O LORD. Do not stand at a distance, my God.” – Psalm 38:21