He is so much fun to be around. He’s funny, engaging, and the life of the party. He’s very touchy when he’s with me, always has a hand on my back, my neck, my leg. He’s sweet and so charming and says all the right things, how beautiful I am, how he loves to touch me, how I’m so funny and smart and sexy. He was the first to say I love you while dating and he still says he always will love me, more than he’ll ever love anyone. We talked for hours while dating and sometimes still do. He was so ready to settle down and have a family. He couldn’t wait to be a husband and a father. He talked about all the things he was going to do with his kids and the many things he was going to teach them. He was done with partying and screwing around and just wanted to be with me and share a life together.
Why so much talk about lament? Because I lived in denial for many years. I know from experience that it is much harder to live that way than live in truth. I hid the truth from everyone, including myself. Deciding to just keep moving forward and not deal with the past just keeps life the same. The same problems, the same choices, the same outcomes. When I didn’t live the truth of what I was experiencing, I just kept getting the exact same life. I lived without lament. I lived in denial. And doing that made me lose myself. I lost who God created me to be. I lost my purpose. I lost my strength. It was all I could to do to just survive.
About six months before his affair, I gave up on him. I was so tired of the verbal and emotional abuse, and the physical abuse was ramping up on a regular basis and even being noticed by others. There was a night that we had friends over and he got mad at me and shook his finger in my face and yelled at me that he could do whatever he wanted. I was exhausted by his neediness. He wouldn’t help with anything around the house or with the boys. I couldn’t get a break from anything. On top of all that, I had to constantly affirm him. He seeks out validation from everyone- women, employers, friends. When he doesn’t get it, he moves to find it elsewhere. When he doesn’t feel valued at work, he finds another job. When he doesn’t feel valued at home, he turns to porn and looking up old girlfriends. For the first time in our marriage, I was beginning to see the truth of who he was. I began to think about divorce. I also began to shut down to him. I quit caring about what he did, and I quit doing things with him. I didn’t want to go out with him or spend time with him alone. I was no longer interested in being a part of his life. I was tired of affirming a man who didn’t do anything to deserve that affirmation. He had lost me, and he knew it, so he had an affair. This is his typical coping mechanism to feeling lonely, he just finds another woman to fill the void. It’s what he’s always done and still does.
This change in our marriage threw me for a loop. Rather than just walking away, I made a choice to stay. I truly thought that his regret for what he did to our family by betraying us would finally change him. He would become the husband and father he had always told me he wanted to be. Once again, all the beautiful words he said and the tears he cried, made me think things would be different and wonderful. He gave me hope that I would finally have the marriage I knew God wanted for me. I had begged God for so long for a miracle in my husband and I thought this was it. The affair hurt so deeply, I wanted to die every day, but I just knew that the pain I was going through would be the catalyst for his change.
When things didn’t change, when he didn’t change, when he just continued to be arrogant and entitled and didn’t do the work necessary to keep his family, I lost my faith. I lost myself in my denial of the truth. I continued to make excuses for him, mainly because his words were still telling me he was trying his hardest. I ignored his poor choices, I moved boundaries to fit his actions, and I sacrificed the truth of what I was living to keep my family together. I no longer listened to God because He had abandoned me. He didn’t give me what I begged for. I resorted to my own poor coping mechanism of hiding what was going on. I was right back where I started, living the same life, hiding from the truth. It’s an incredibly painful place to be.
Once again, I slowly began to see the truth. I knew I had to get away from his manipulation if I wanted to have a chance at a life in reality. I still had hope that one day he would see what he was losing out on and missing by choosing to live in denial of his own actions. I still had hope that deep inside his heart he would find his way out and begin to feel something true and real, not the feelings he manufactures to manipulate others. I began to realize that I had not lost my faith, I was just hiding from it in my denial. I was just so angry with God, I buried it down deep because I thought He had left me, but He hadn’t. He was still reaching for me. I began to climb my way out of the hole and had hope again that life could be better. But my abuser wasn’t done with me, yet.
I had asked him to move out and filed for divorce a few weeks after. His words began again. He begged me to date him, to start over. He was going to change and get help and finally be the man he had promised all those years ago. He had never felt worthy of me and he beat me down so that he could feel better about himself. He never thought he was good enough for me and He just wanted his family back and he was going to fight forever for my love again, he would never stop loving me. Honestly, if I wasn’t so focused on dealing with my Mom’s illness and then her death, I may have fallen for it all again. He just seemed so sincere.
But this is a man who needs attention and affirmation, and I was no longer giving it to him. I didn’t have time or the desire. I know that I am the one who keeps him centered and keeps the shame and guilt of his choices at bay so that he can continue in life feeling ok about what he does, but I didn’t have time for all that anymore. There were much bigger issues going on than his constant need for validation. So, he quickly found someone new to fill his lonely nights. He kept it secret from me though, because he was still very much wanting to be with me. He was still making promises to me and we were still seeing each other and talking daily. This was a whole new level of betrayal for him. While declaring his love and desire for me, he was with another woman on the side. He was keeping it a secret from me yet telling friends about her and taking her out where he would be seen by people we know. He wanted me to find out, so he could get the same response he got from the last affair. He wanted me to fight for him again. He was broken when I filed for divorce, and he needed me. With my focus on my mom, dad, and my boys, I didn’t really catch what was going on. So, in a conversation with me, he let it slip that he went on a trip with another woman. And then he got what he wanted. I was livid! I was so angry! He was once again getting the validation from me that he so desperately needed. If he couldn’t get it with love, he would take it in anger. Lying and manipulation or love bombing and sex, he would use whatever tactic he needed to keep me engaged and in communication with him.
That trauma bond is strong. It worked for a short time. I was angry, but he was once again getting the daily affirmation of my love for him and his for me, and our relationship rekindled. Twenty-five years of loving him makes it hard to let go, and the chemical bond we share through trauma makes me want to fight for him at all costs. But to continue with him, I would once again have to deny the truth of who he is and let go of who I want to be. I knew he still hadn’t changed when he told me that his relationship with me was none of the other woman’s business. He wanted to keep me secret, too. All the passion in the world is not worth losing yourself.
This time I refuse to get sucked back down his rabbit hole of denial. I am sharing this, my own personal lament, so I can be held accountable to what I know is true and can never go back to denial. I know the truth and I will continue to live in it. I have spent enough years dealing with the pain and hurt of trying to just move forward without first dealing with the past. There are always consequences to the choices we make in life, and we will face them at some point. It’s much easier to face them and learn from them in truth, than to wonder why suddenly your life is so out of control. Live in truth and deal with your past or live in denial and your past will follow you everywhere you go, in everything you do. Lament to God, give it to Him, face your demons, and ask Him for help. If you have to do it every day, then do it. Whatever it takes to finally get you to a place where you can be honest with God, those you love, and especially yourself.