Don't Get Another Bad Haircut

forgiveness isn't an ending act, but rather the beginning of a journey - survivors blog - chase

I drive a relatively new truck so I found it especially frustrating to pull out of the dealership repair shop only to find my "check engine" light was on. Again. This was the 4th time in a month I had gone back to the same dealership for the same repair. My witty and wise 14-year-old daughter was enjoying my frustration when she asked,

"Why do you keep going back to the bad haircut place?"

"What?" I replied confused and irritated.

In her light but direct way she explained, "You have been back to this dealership again and again, but each time you leave with the same result. If you get a bad haircut, why would you go back to the same place next time expecting a good one?"

My original D-day was 8:00 p.m. Thursday, May 4, 2017. It's a night I will always vividly remember. By that point in life my faith had been tested a few times, but never like this. I remember doing what I thought was praying . . . demanding that God do something... immediately. Anything . . . scorched earth, revenge, judgment day on earth, a Zen like peace to wash over me, even death . . . ANYTHING . . . just to get me out of it. In a desperate attempt to regain control of myself I told my wife, "I forgive you" two days after discovery.

At the time my rationale was something like: "Okay God, I did the Christian thing and forgave; now You do Your part and relieve me of all this pain." When this didn't work, I responded in anger and frustration and dismissed my faith. I lashed out at others, tried to ignore my circumstances, sought comfort from fine bourbon but nothing worked. Each time I was left empty, I'd circle back to declare my forgiveness yet again and expect the pain to disappear. This became my "bad haircut place."

I can now see that the problem wasn't that my efforts were towards the wrong goal, but in the expectation that my declaration of forgiveness should be the end act, and not the beginning of the journey.

After all the return trips to the "bad haircut place," I think I'm finally starting to see some clarity. Forgiveness has crystalized as an alternative lens through which to see my day; another option to the inevitable daily darkness of the pain of being betrayed. Therein lies its power. Practically, I needed a long time (about 9 months to be exact) to work through material and counseling in order to gain an understanding of what forgiveness for a transgression as large as infidelity even looked like. Only after gaining this understanding could I really commit myself to the process. For me, this commitment involved writing a letter where I listed every specific loss I had experienced. This letter is over 7 pages and took several months to write. It includes not only obvious losses like the comfort of a faithful wife and the joy of uninhibited sex, but also residual losses like the ability to be known by my closest friends who are not aware of the betrayal. This letter has served as a reference point when the pain resurfaces. Each time I begin to feel pain, I evaluate if I'm going back to a transgression I have already dealt with (a loss on my list) or if it's something new. If it is new then I ask myself a few questions:

  1. Has she owned it?
  2. Is it something that needs to be discussed?
  3. Do I have a role in it that needs to be owned?
Depending on the answers, I add it to the list.

I've come to realize that forgiveness is simply a commitment to evaluate what I'm doing and whether it's consistent with God's purpose for my life. Though I have forgiven my wife for betraying me, I have to consistently remind myself. The intense pain still surfaces. But for me, forgiveness is not undermined by this fact; rather, it is proven by my response to it. As I read, receive professional help, take classes, continue to understand how I got here, and begin to seriously contemplate a future relationship with my wife, I now crosscheck my actions to see if it they are consistent with my path to be free from being defined by the sins of another.

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Good hair days thanks to a good haircut

Thank you for this share - I am at the beginning of my Forgiveness journey…the entire journey, I think!
The closing statement really resonated with me and I’m going to add to my daily journal prompts “Are my actions consistent with my path to be free from being defined by the sins of another?”

Thanks

I hope the process begins to bring you peace and restore confidence in who you are, independent of the transgressions against you. Merry Christmas and take care of yourself during these holidays.

thanks for your post

I love reading your posts. I find such comfort in your writing. Sometimes I think "this is exactly how I feel"! Our situations seem quite similar- or perhaps it is the way you write that lets the reader feel their pain while reading about yours. I am also an attorney - I have put way too much of my identity into a profession, a marriage, and an image...none of which are really who I truly am.
Thank you for your posts- I look forward to them. You truly have a great talent in writing.

Your work

I'm reading as an unfaithful, looking to see if a man's perspective as a Betrayed gives me some help with my own situation. I just wanted to encourage you that you are a thoughtful and gifted writer, and I hope you will keep it up. You're going to help lots of us on both sides of the track.

Thank you

I appreciate your encouragement. I see now I had many wounds and unhealthy behaviors that needed work long before the infidelity. Being betrayed by my wife was the transgression that finally brought me to my knees and humbled me to the point I finally broke and sought help... admitted I couldn't fix and control my world on my own. I find this part of the journey has been similar for my wife and I as well as many I have met on either side of the isle. It has become a quest for authenticity.

I hope this holiday season has some peace in it for you. healing! Merry Christmas

Very insightful Chase. I did

Very insightful Chase. I did the list of costs in EMSO, but hadn't really thought to revisit all the things I need to work through forgiveness. I believe I have forgiven, but as you said and I am inferring, it is an ongoing process. I've thought of forgiveness as a road that you walk. Each step you take is a deliberate decision to work toward forgiveness. You probably won't have a moment that you take that step that gets you there, but at some point on the journey, you realize you have forgiven, and can't really put your finger on when it "happened". Thats what my experience is like.

However reading your blog I am realizing that while I have forgiven her, and I think that I really have - there are still hurts that probably need specific work. I will begin making that list. It may be helpful to look at those things toward her AP as well as he was a friend of mine as well, so there's betrayal beyond hers too.

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