Ana Name: AnaLocation: TexasOccupation: Educator Spouse Testimonial: Read Charles' Story HereChildren: 2Discovery Date: Spring 2011Story: My infidelity started when my son was about a year old, in late 2005. I was heavily involved in theatre, and there was a man in the show I was performing in at that time who complimented me and flirted with me, and it felt good to be noticed and told I was attractive by someone who didn't “have to”. Although there was some physicality to the relationship, it was limited to the theatre; we didn't talk outside of rehearsals or performances, didn't meet up secretly, etc. About a year later, I confessed to my husband what had happened. I had been battling with it, and finally couldn't carry it with me anymore. He forgave me and I promised it would never happen again. I meant it when I made that promise, and was sure I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. In the winter of 2009, I met another man, also in a show I was in, and he contacted me on Facebook one day. It started as friendly conversation, and progressed to flirting, then meeting up outside of the theatre, private messaging throughout the day, etc. It was a physical relationship. I ended it shortly after the show wrapped. I felt guilty, ashamed. This was now a pattern. I had not only been unfaithful to my husband two times, I had allowed it to go further the second time than it did the first. On one hand I wanted to tell someone, to get help for this hole I was obviously trying to fill, but who was I going to tell? My husband is a pastor. What would people think of me?? I stuffed it, and resolved never to do it again. By this point I could tell that my behavior was more like a compulsion; I wanted so badly to never do this again, and yet here I was. Fast forward to Spring of 2011. This time it was a man I was on the worship team with at church. It also started through social media. Friendly conversation became flirting, which became a plan to meet up one night while my husband was out of town and the kids were with my parents. Just a few days later, I sent what was supposed to be a private message to him. I accidentally posted it publicly on Facebook instead. It wasn't anything incriminating, but it was enough to make my husband ask questions, and I had nothing to say but what had been going on. Struggle: I wasn't completely forthcoming. I gave enough information to pacify, but he knew better, and kept digging. Over the next few hours, he heard everything I had been doing over the last 2 years. I was ashamed, scared of what would happen next, and afraid I had completely destroyed my marriage. My husband told our pastor later that week, and he referred us to Rick, who we met with a few days later. Rick didn't justify what I had done, but he did assure me that I wasn't permanently broken, and assured me that, with his help and God's help, I would find the deeper reason behind the decisions I had been making, and I would be whole again. My infidelity was never about my husband. I tried to make it about him. I fabricated scenarios in my head, overreacted to comments, blamed him for being gone too much or more interested in the church and other people. None of this was true, but it's what I told myself when I would feel guilty. My affairs weren't about connecting with someone emotionally, or even about sex. I never had sexual intercourse with any of these men, I always stopped at oral sex. In my twisted warped mind, that was just too far; I would never do that to my husband. No, my affairs were about me and my ego. I liked the attention. I liked having the things said to me by men that didn't “have to” say them. Course of Action: After discovery, I felt a freedom. I had been carrying this weight around with me for years, and now it had been brought to the light. I had people I could talk to if I had a moment of weakness. I didn't have to do it on my own anymore. The weight that had been lifted off of me dropped on my husband. I took a Hope for Healing class which was helpful, but I didn’t quite connect. Most women, because we are emotional, think they are in love with their affair partner, and some in my group were even still trying to break ties with him, or decide if they wanted to break ties with him. A lot of the talk was centered around that kind of thing. I'm just wired differently, and my motivation behind my infidelity was different, so we didn’t have the long-lasting bonds that I’ve seen some of the other Hope for Healing girls have. It did, however, help me to know that I wasn't crazy, or dirty, or hopeless. The real turning point for our marriage was EMS Weekend in August of that year. It gave us some great tools to communicate and understand each other better. Lessons Learned: I learned not to jump to conclusions or make assumptions about people based on past experiences. The exercises we did and conversations we had helped me to really see the pain I had caused my husband, and made me so grateful that he was willing to fight for our marriage and not give up on me. Encouragement: The main thing to know in all this, and the reason I'm sharing with you, is to tell you that there is hope. Your marriage is worth fighting for, and you're in the right place to move towards wholeness and healing. It's a long road, and how long is different for each couple, so don't base the distance of yours on anyone else's. If you're willing to commit to the process and lean on others that are available and willing to help, you'll come out on the other side.