Roots: Part 2

affairrecovery-survivors Blog-Elizabeth-Roots-Part-2-the stories that remain untold are the ones that remain a stronghold

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
A puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
Not as they pretend to be.
Jeremiah 17:9-10

Roots: Part 1

Remember those shallow roots we are developing?

Experiencing "ah-ha" moments, as Oprah calls them, was one of the first steps of my true growth for recovering from infidelity. For me, it was the beginning of realizing just how deceitful I had been. To stop pretending. My life has always looked so good on paper, but behind the scenes I have been a raging mess.

For me, it was always lying by omission. Author and theologian Dan Allender would say that "the stories that remain untold are the ones that remain a stronghold". For most of my life, I believed that those parts of me could just remain hidden. They would just be there to fester and rot. I assumed (wrongly) they would only affect me and that what people didn't know wouldn't hurt them.

One of the best ways I have come to discover the roots of my deception has been through the work of a seasoned therapist.

The hours I have spent in individual counseling have been instrumental for us to get behind the "why's" of my infidelity. I know I am 100% responsible for choosing to betray my husband, but I have also found it true that there were definitely unspoken and unhealed events in my life that caused a chain reaction to my brokenness acting out.

After D-day, we had some initial difficulty in locating the right therapist. I wish that this were an easier process for all of us out there, but unfortunately it isn't. Through the recommendation of a trusted friend (one of the few we told about what was going on in our marriage), we finally found a Christian psychotherapist that had been practicing for over 30 years.

As most of you know, triggers seem to lurk in every corner when a couple is trying to navigate how to find help, and we were no exception. Because both of my affairs (my first one emotional, my second one, emotional and then physical) were with men old enough to be my father, it was difficult at first for us to overcome the fact that my new therapist was an older man. So every time I went to therapy there was this big underlying irony of the possibility of transference and weirdness. But we chose to trust. This was not easy for my husband at all. But in our case, this was exactly what I needed to begin my healing.

For the first year of recovery, twice a week I found myself in therapy. The first few months we solely focused on my childhood. To say this was painful would be an understatement. But I was committed and I was determined to do anything to save our marriage; I began the process of diving into my roots.

What I discovered was not pretty. I am the youngest of four children and my father was an alcoholic. My dad has been gone nearly three years and I still have a really difficult time putting to words how I feel about him. Yesterday was his birthday and I find myself eating too many cookies and willing myself not to feel anything about him, but I think underneath it is a lot of sadness. When I was in my affairs, I remember feeling the foolishness of how cliché it felt to be with someone two decades older than me, but shame is a funny thing. It caused me to bypass clichés, norms and vows and get my needs met, however dysfunctional those needs were.

My therapist very tenderly helped me assemble the pieces of my life that would reveal to me that I was definitely abuse reactive. I had a lot of nightmares in the beginning months. I began to learn that it was not normal for a ten-year old girl to be with high school boys on a Friday night. Or that dad's do not throw up all of the time or have that many stomach bugs. I am working hard at accepting myself and not judging myself, so I am not making a joke or a funny remark to mask my pain about how screwed up that sounds. It is actually quite sad, and I know so many readers out there can relate to the dysfunction.

Over many weeks and months, healing started to take place. I owe an eternity of debt to my therapist, who I still maintain contact with, just less frequently. Through time and patience, he heard me and saw through my pain. He helped me, in a very non-threatening way, come to the root of my own deception. One of the most powerful ways he would do this was feeling sadness for my story when I would simply be numb. By mirroring and reading his facial expressions, I was able to come to some sort of terms with how much I have avoided and "refused to go there". He took my pain, and carefully and tenderly held it.

Sharing my own story with you all has been a privilege and I thank you for reading and for holding our life so carefully. It still hurts to share, but I definitely feel like my life is less of a tragedy and more of a story of resiliency.

Since you began your recovery, have you been in the care of a therapist? If so, how is that process going? Certainly, it is extremely time consuming and costly. If you are not, what is the reason that holds you back? What have you done with your story?

Keep growing those roots. . .

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What a precious post! Thanks

What a precious post! Thanks Elizabeth once again for your transparency!

Your post reminds me of a confession I used to say to myself everyday after I started walking with the Lord 30 some odd years ago. It gave me a visual of how I wanted my roots planted so deep in the Word of God that even when the winds of adversity came, and they certainly have, I would still be standing and not blown over or uprooted.

I'm just like a tree, planted by the river of Living Waters, I shall not be moved!

To Having Deep Roots,

Thank you for your kind

Thank you for your kind comment and for the encouragement. Reading your comment made me smile. I am glad we are in this together and I look forward to the day I can be like you and have even deeper roots.

Great post

Thanks for another inspiring post. I am almost 5 mos. past DDay. We found a Christian counselor right away, but she wasn't much help. We have started EMSO and I am in H4H, so that is helpful, but it is indeed hard to find a good therapist. I know that AR does have some therapists that you can sign up to have online meetings with, but my husband and I would prefer to work with someone face to face. It is so expensive, and every time you try a new therapist it is like starting over. Do you have any suggestions for pre-qualifying a therapist that will work?

Thanks for writing. I wish i

Thanks for writing. I wish i knew an easier way to find the right fit for a good therapist. If you want a qualified Christian therapist, are you near a big city? If so, I would try to find a mega church there that often times will have a panel of therapists they refer out to. I think experience matters, so I don't think it is ever inappropriate to ask for someone older, or someone with AT LEAST 15 years experience. Another idea is to see if there are local seminaries with counseling programs. If they have them, ask their dean or department head of who they would recommend. It's going to require some vulnerability on your part, but I think it's worth it. It always tells me a lot about a potential therapist if they get back to you in a timely manner regardless of how busy they are.

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