I recently accepted the advice of a trusted friend to start receiving counseling. I’d been of the mindset that any healing I needed could be done on my own and in church with God’s help. I gave no respect to the “counseling” idea. It was time to do so. I’m finding it hard to find the words to explain to you exactly how much these counseling sessions are helping.
Some of the effects really surprise me, however. Take for example the seemingly endless nights of crying. I’m talking about that cry where it feels like you’re ejecting your guts out of your mouth. Tears drop like they came from a sprinkler. You cry out unintelligible sentences. You feel like you’re losing your mind. Finally you’re so exhausted that you can’t keep your eyes open, so you fall asleep for a few hours, only to awaken and start the process again.
Especially at night. It always seems worse at night.
What’s causing this? I’d have to say “responsibility”. Finally facing some. Part of the healing process is being responsible and accountable.
It was a lot easier, for example, to be go through my day angry at Belinda and the way she hurt me than it is to face the fact that I pushed her into doing something she never wanted to do… that all she wanted to do was love ME and I couldn’t accept that. I thought she needed something more. I insisted that she take the “more” even after she’d let me know it wasn’t what she wanted. That fantasy wasn’t reality. The feelings that developed inside of her because of what I encouraged her to do… those are the feelings that led to the things she did which hurt me. She felt unloved. Why would someone who loved her allow and even encourage her to “play” with someone else?
Accountability. It hurts.
At the same time, I’ve also been addressing how my marriage to Wendy was ended. How I ripped HER apart too. How I sent her through the same things I’ve been experiencing (and more). How, when she thought she was going to lose her mind, I’d get on the phone and yell at her about it and tell her to stop listening to the people in her church. Those people were trying to help her. I told her she needed a prescription.
I can’t imagine going through what I’ve been experiencing, and having to take care of an infant alone at the same time. That’s what I sent my beautiful ex-wife through. The man she’d loved so well was off in a world of porn production. The man she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with was off living with another woman, and had “moved on” to that other woman so painfully quickly.
I remember her asking me why I’d moved on so quickly. I always felt justified by telling her, “I need someone. I’m all alone here. You have Caden, but I have nobody.” At the time it seemed like a really good explanation. How depraved. I guess some of us need to experience the same things we put others through in order to actually understand them.
What really blows me away about Wendy is that she sees what I’ve been going through and fully understands it. She doesn’t say, “I told you so” or laugh that I’m being paid back. She tells me it’s normal to wail. She tells me it will get better. She tells me to stop thinking of it as a bad thing, because it’s a very normal, healthy part of healing. About what I put her through, she tells me she wouldn’t have had it any other way because this horror and pain builds a much stronger person. She tells me it’s okay to grieve and mourn.
She loves me despite all of the things I’ve done to her. Isn’t that amazing? And when we talk I don’t hide any of the feelings I’ve been having about Belinda. Do you know what she does when I tell her those things? She mourns for Belinda. Her heart cries out to God to heal Belinda. I cannot tell you how much that touches me. I cannot begin to describe how much I see Jesus in her when she does stuff like that.
Then there’s Caden: I can’t express how horrible I feel that he’s had to live in a home without his daddy for as long as he can remember. Yeah, I’d see him very regularly and several times per week, but it’s not the same. He wasn’t meant to be unable to remember the times his daddy used to live in the same house. I only pray he’s never given crap from others about the work his daddy used to do. People can be cruel.
These are the things I’ve begun addressing on a much deeper level since counseling began. It has been excruciating.
EVERY MAN’S BATTLE
Every Man’s Battle continued this path of accountability.
What is Every Man’s Battle, you ask? It’s a program run by New Life Ministries. I’ll copy and paste their description for you:
“Every month, around the country, we offer the Every Man’s Battle Workshop three-day intensive program for men who are struggling with sexual integrity. It is Christ-centered, and uses a combination of teaching sessions and small group work, led by licensed Christian counselors.”
Several weeks ago I was asked if I’d come to one of these 3 day programs and share my story with the men in attendance. On Friday night I’d share my personal story, from Pastor’s son to porn producer to surrendering my life to God. On Saturday night I’d attempt to shed some light on the reality of pornography. Men that struggle with a porn addiction struggle with the FANTASY porn presents. The reality of porn is much different.
Those in attendance have either repeatedly cheated on their wives, have a very hard time keeping away from massage parlors or strip clubs, have had their relationships harmed by pornography, or have been affected in some other way by sexual sin.
During the day I was invited to sit in on the sessions if I’d like. This led to something very unexpected: although my marriage ended 6 years ago, I was yet another man in attendance who had deeply hurt his wife with my sexual sins. I was another man this program had been designed to help.
Much of the time I sat at the back of the room with tears streaming down my face, just like most of the other men.
My words can’t possibly describe what a great program New Life Ministries has put together. Every Man’s Battle offers men a huge tool to win their battles with sex addiction and repair their relationships.
While speaking, I struggled with the flow of words coming out of my mouth. I rambled a bit, but the intended message was communicated. Feedback was positive. I’m sure many of the men were given another tool to use in their personal struggles.
One of the counselors emailed me afterward and paid me a huge compliment:
“You have an amazing maturity so early in your walk and a zeal that is contagious – I learned a lot from you this weekend (not just the porn stuff). I love the way you love God without the ‘infection’ of the American church culture (I think you know what I mean by that, don’t know how else to put it). Quite refreshing to say the least.
I know you played a major part in touching the men’s lives this weekend and in causing major casualties in the enemy’s armies.”
Reading that email this morning was very uplifting.
AND ABOUT THAT EX-WIFE
Following the second night came a question and answer period. One of the men asked if I thought I’d reconcile with Wendy. That’s a common question. It’s probably been asked a few hundred times, both to me and to Wendy as well. What a beautiful story it would be if things went full circle and our relationship was re-established and healed. Many think it will be.
But I’ll answer that question with a question of my own:
Do any of you think it’s fair to Wendy for me to pursue such a reconciliation while I’m still a complete mess inside? Until I can honestly say that all feelings for Belinda have gone away and that God has completely healed my soul I wouldn’t dare disrespect Wendy by trying to make her my wife again. She’s a truly remarkable, beautiful person who loved me better than anyone I know, and she’s continued to do so despite the hell I put her through. She’s an amazing, amazing woman who deserves an equally amazing man.
I’ll admit, however: the thought is never far from my mind. Perhaps someday… only God knows, I guess.