"So reflective, deep and clear. Thanks for showing me it is okay to need and to feel. Thanks for persevering and recovering! I got a lot out of this exploration and I think I've sprung a leak--words and thoughts are coming
together for me. Thanks for sharing yourself."
Excerpts from Coming Through With Grace:
What I saw was a perfect, loving husband. What I felt was a dependent, absent, timid man. Were all of my connections with people this empty? I had many girlfriends who I connected with deeply, as well as family members and my children. No, this was all about my connection with Jack. It was strained, difficult, and frustrating. But I chose to believe what I saw over what I felt because that's what I had learned to do as a child. Feelings and intuitions weren't real, never to be relied upon for information. Rely only on how things look.
I saw the resentment in Jack's eyes every time I took advantage of his kindness and his need to please me, though he said nothing. I felt the same resentment toward him because he said nothing, because he wouldn't stand up for himself. It was always what I wanted. Jack was a piece of clay to mold as I wanted, and I hated it. I didn't want to control him. I didn't want to be the leader all the time. I longed for a fully-engaged partner.
What I hadn't realized yet was that I was dying emotionally, and it wasn't because our connection was gone during sex. It was because our connection was gone, period. It was dying right along with Jack's dying soul. The addiction was robbing Jack of his emotions. It was robbing Jack of his personality. It was robbing us of a marriage. But I couldn't have know that at the time. All I knew was that I felt exhausted. And I didn't have the answers to explain why our relationship wasn't flourishing.
We were perfect roommates, lacking total intimacy. While I continued putting tasks before any connection in our relationship, Jack continued retreating into his own isolation, the addiction sucking him empty. We were emotionally miles apart, and I denied there was a problem.
I hadn't trusted myself enough to believe that what my gut was telling me was true. I had believed Jack's reality. Never mind that my reality was painting a different picture, but because it seemed absurd to think that something was terribly wrong with our marriage, I chose to deny it. I had denied the feelings that told me otherwise. I handed my power and my trust over to a liar and discounted myself in the process.
On paper, my new life looked messy: single mom of three kids under five; a sex-addicted husband; a possible divorce; and lots of pain and grief. Yet, for the first time, I felt at peace and content with my imperfect life. Everything about my life was finally real. I no longer felt crazy.
The pain would come out of nowhere, prompted by nothing. In the car, at the park, in the store--I was consumed with a constant barrage of grief. I couldn't get away, not even for a moment. I'd have to remind myself, "breathe, just breathe," when a sudden catch in my breath startled me back to the moment. It felt as if my heart were falling to my toes as I gasped for air. I felt paralyzed in my steps, like I had gotten the wind knocked out of me. Imagining my husband with others was too much to bear.
"As I continued to grieve and write for eighteen long, exhausting months, I knew the depth of my pain wasn't only about Jack's infidelities. I knew at the time that I was also mourning something much larger, perhaps childhood pieces I hadn't yet identified. It felt like I was crying a river of brokenness. The grief was so intense, so deep, so aching, that it had to be coming from something much deeper than marital betrayal. I was grieving a lifetime of losses, but I still couldn't identify what those losses were (or I was too afraid to)."
"I realized that Jack was on a fast-moving train, speeding out of control. I wasn't on it with him, but I was getting dragged along. It was time for me to make a move. He wasn't in denial about his illness; he was in denial about needing help. Somehow that seemed much worse."
Despite the intensity of my grief, I knew I would go to any lengths to move through this devastation. This was going to change me for the better. I knew it even then, in those first ten minutes. It was a God moment--a moment so profound and so clear that I couldn't ignore it. I seized the seconds, allowing my body to go limp in the arms of a God who held me. I had been cracked open. I was gushing out, surrendering to the world outside of myself.