I had made up my mind. It was time to confess.
Time to get free from the dirty pit I found myself in. As much as I wanted to be clean again, I knew that there was only one way to break the grip of the dark secret I had been harboring inside, for good.
I needed to out myself to the one person I was most afraid of finding out – my husband.
I honestly didn’t know what I would say or how I would say it. Is there any good or easy way to ravage the heart of the one who has loved you deeply, of whom you love more than anyone else on earth?
I had been his whole world for the past nine years and I was about to walk in and wreck everything with one excruciating admission.
I knew that as ugly and horrible as it may be, I could not, I would not lay beside him another night living anything other than the truth.
And so, cell phone pressed tightly between my shoulder and my ear as I talked to “the other man” as I prepared dinner for our little family of four that night, knowing all the while that it would be the last time we would speak, the last time that our little secret affair would feel so light-hearted and free from the crushing weight of reality.
I never told him that by morning, this fantasy world we had together would be shattered into a million pieces.
I had my reasons. Mostly I didn’t want him to know I was about to out myself and destroy “us”, because I didn’t want anyone in the world to talk me out of what I knew I needed to do, and I was afraid he might. I had made my decision to walk away from a man who wasn’t mine, just as I had made my decision to run towards him on that cold, winter Sunday evening in December of 2010.
I’ll never forget that evening.
Somehow I managed to finish dinner, greet my husband, muddle my way through dinner and getting the kids off to bed.
I felt sick.
As if my entire body had come down with an awful flu of sorts. It was all I could do to lift my body off the couch and up the stairs to where my husband was. The physical and emotional agony of what I was about to do felt almost too much to bear.
Overwhelming guilt and fear, along with the realization that this unbearable burden was about to no longer be mine alone.
It all felt like a crushing weight that I couldn’t stand up under for even one second more.
Reluctantly, I made my way up the staircase that lead to our upstairs office where he was sitting alone, ironically enough, working on a Christmas present for me. Just as on that first night of the affair when I came home to him, there he was, so happy and full of life. I knew that he believed everything was so right in our world together.
And yet, my truth was about to shatter his world.
My heart was just beginning to break… I knew that his would too.
“Babe, please don’t give me anything for Christmas this year. I don’t deserve anything good from you, ever… I mean it.”
He turned and looked at me with a puzzled look.
“I need to tell you that I’ve been having an affair with _______.”
I said his name.
Just saying the name of another man I had been so intimate with out loud to my husband was a mixture of both horror and relief.
I watched his face change.
I know that it is possible to witness a human heart-break because I watched the heart of the man I love break that night. Over and over again without end.
Out of nowhere there was pain. Unimaginable pain. Waves of grief rolled across his face like waves in a turbulent ocean.
I saw so much hurt in his eyes when he looked at me.
It had been the first time in over nine years I had ever seen anything in his eyes but delight in me. And all in one moment, everything he had known and we had known together was permanently altered, changed forever.
Our hearts broke in two as we stood there in that first of many painful scenes amidst the horrible wreckage of a life, a heart, a marriage gone wrong.
I had never stopped to envision this scene on those nights when I was too wrapped up in a world with another man to count the cost. A cost that all of a sudden seemed much too high a price to pay. Far too much pain to endure.
That’s the thing with choosing to live outside of the boundaries of truth, nobody tells stories and paints pictures in their minds of the wreckage it brings in its wake until we are living the awful aftermath of the destruction it inevitably brings.
I witnessed the strongest man I know crumble that night.
I watched as his shock turned to hurt, his hurt turn to anger. The multitude of emotions the human heart is capable of feeling all at once can be staggering and unbearably overwhelming.
I had confessed and begged for his forgiveness, still I knew this was only the very beginning of a long road back to anything that resembled life. I was not naive enough to believe or expect that life would ever go on just as it had been before.
I knew he needed to feel everything he was feeling, and I wanted him to have that freedom and time. There wasn’t then, and there never will be a way for me to fully know the depth of pain my failure brought to his heart.
The weight of darkness I had been carrying had been placed on his shoulders, and it was too much to bear.
We are not islands to ourselves. Everything we do, every choice we make, every undisciplined action affects the lives of those around us; maybe in a more intimate and profound way than we have the human capacity to understand.
He walked away from where I stood to find his coat and grab his keys.
It was the first time that the full reality hit me that he did not have to stay. Because of what I had done, he was free to leave. After all, who would blame him?
I begged him not to leave. I didn’t know what his leaving meant. Was he leaving for good? Would he ever be back? Had I ruined everything forever?
I wrapped my arms around him, sobbing as I pleaded with him not to leave. I had never felt so wrecked and humiliated and distraught in all of my life. He peeled my arms from around his waist and firmly said, “I need to go! I just need to go.”
I watched the only man I’ve ever loved walk out our front door into the cold, dark night; not knowing if he would walk back in that same door. I knew there was no one to blame but myself.
I laid upstairs until the early hours of the morning and wept until I had no tears left. I felt sick from all the crying and the anguish of it all. I didn’t have the will or the energy to move my body. Besides, I felt far too dirty to sleep in the bed he and I had shared together for all those years.
I was beginning to break. Maybe for the first time in my life. I had come face to face with my own darkness, and I didn’t know what to do with it.
My hands were so dirty. All of my self-righteous pride hadn’t been enough to save me from the truth of myself this time.
I did not understand then, but this would be just the beginning of a process of brokenness that would not ever be completed.
But I knew this, no matter what he chose, to go or to stay, in the end, he could not save me from my darkness. He could never lift the weight of shame that had blanketed over my life like a thick dark fog.
I felt so separated from him, from everything that was good. It was the loneliest place I’ve ever been. I just wanted to undo everything. I would have traded every second of what pleasure I’d had for just one moment of my world being whole, for one even one small portion of healing.
That was the dark night our hearts broke, our world caved in, and everything changed forever.
But little did we know, this end would be just the beginning.
With sin present, fellowship is broken. A blackness of soul that leaves us alone in a world that is no longer good. We become marked sharp with blood-guilt, emptiness and pain.
We’ve been born with conflicting desires: the fellowship we were created for and the selfish sinfulness that fights for our allegiance. And the sinfulness will win over our desires for fellowship every time. We’re not strong enough to fight it, not good enough in ourselves.