The Wilderness of Recovery

Initially, when infidelity is discovered, life is thrown upside down. Jobs and careers are sometimes lost, families are rocked like never before, children are disoriented, the trauma ensues and all you’ve ever known seems a million miles away. It’s in many ways just like death, although there are wilful choices involved which make infidelity worse. It’s like leaving all you’ve ever known or understood and being launched suddenly into the wilderness of insecurity, uncertainty and disillusionment - without a map, no water, no food, and like you’re about to suffocate every step you take.

In this wilderness there are beasts that roam throughout the territory as well. Whether it is beasts of outright rage or hopelessness, or the best of depression, they roam with free abandon. If you’re not guarded they will overtake you and overtake your situation with the hopes of causing even more collateral damage. Beasts look for prey, and when you least expect it these beasts are larger than you’ve ever imagined and are more elaborate and cunning than what you have experienced heretofore. To think you can suck it up and self-navigate is not only dangerous for you, but it puts at risk all those who are on the trail with you. Make no mistake; you’re not the only one on this trail.  

I’m more convinced than ever before that without a tour guide and without remaining on the trail, you’ll more than likely get eaten alive or remain walking in the wilderness for years. I’m fortunate enough to work with hundreds of couples every year and it’s not uncommon to see some couples stuck in their recovery with little to no progress for years at a time. Call it codependency, or call it incredible patience, but at the core of these struggling recoveries remains the painful reality that things are not what they could be or should be. The wreckage is obvious and the pain is ongoing.

The trail you utilize to get out of the wilderness is not a guarantee, but is one of the most reliable tools you can use to get out. Those who have never had to find their way out of the wilderness are not going to be helpful. Often times, these trail guides will help you get more and more lost, camping out in the wilderness believing that this is normal when it’s backwards and only reinforcing the hopelessness you are trying to escape from.

Please don’t think that finding the right tour guide will make all your problems disappear. Not at all. You still need to walk, sometimes run through the wilderness. You or your spouse most likely did not end up in this wilderness overnight, and it will not be fixed or remedied without having to navigate through some very tough terrain, wild rivers and enemy camps.

It’s also not uncommon that there are multiple wildernesses. For example, you may conquer the wilderness of forgiveness and reconnection, but then have to navigate through the wilderness of triggers and intrusive thoughts. Both spouses may have to navigate these reminders with great dedication to the trail and trail guide.

It’s been eight years. We are navigating a new wilderness in life, which although does not relate to infidelity, what we’ve learned through that devastating wilderness is helping us navigate through the newest one.  God never wastes our sorrows friend. NEVER. Stay on the right trail, with the right trail guide and keep going forward.  

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