Brian and I continued to explore and live in our faith in Jesus. Our lives felt new and we believed God had meaning and purpose for us.
As I continued to immerse myself in God’s word, I felt a tug on my heart. I felt that God was calling me to move out from living with Brian. It wasn’t just to stop living with him because we weren’t married, but I really felt that God wanted me to Himself for a while. I told Brian. It was hard for both of us, but this was very clear to me. I told Brian that I needed to be on my own, grow in my relationship with God and decide where my life was going to go.
Since Brian put his faith in Jesus, he had been feeling the desire to get married. Brian had hope that in my time away I would decide that I did too. In fact, he was so certain that when I moved out, he bought me an engagement ring. But, I was not so certain. I wasn’t clear if God was going to guide me back to Brian. The uncertainty was scary but I knew that God was asking me to trust Him and that the path He had for me was good because He was good.
So in the Fall of 2005 I moved out. To this day, writing this, I get choked up. Brian and I had been together at this point for over 7 years. I knew that Brian loved me and that he believed all along that we would be together forever. We had been through so much together. Why was God calling me away from him? Later, this time in deepening my relationship with God would prove to be important in what challenges I would endure.
A couple months went by and I was glued to God. I read His word day and night and fell in love with Jesus deeply. I did not feel that I was to go back to Brian. The heartache I felt was awful. Part of me could not bear it, but I had been on my own with God and listening for His guidance and I very much trusted Him so I followed the call. I told Brian and we officially ended our relationship. Brian returned the ring.
This time apart was difficult for both of us at first but we started to adapt to our new lives. During this time, I grew closer to God and started pursuing new things on my own. God was my everything, I felt His presence with me always. I knew that God was crazy about me and I loved and trusted Him.
During this time, Brian was still battling the addiction. Things had gotten a little better but it was still a struggle. He just kept hoping that God would change things.
Then, in the Summer of 2006 Brian and I reconnected (we don’t remember how) and started chatting on the phone every now and then. We talked about all the new things that we were doing. We started seeing each other. It felt new all over again. We went out on dates and had the “butterflies” and everything. We both talked about that perhaps God had called us apart for just that time to have us all to Himself and to find ourselves in Him as individuals. We both prayed about our reconnecting and to make sure that it was God’s direction for us.
In March of 2007 Brian asked me to marry him. I said yes and was happy. Looking back on this time, however, I realize that underneath the excitement was an anxiousness. Was Brian still struggling with the addiction? We talked about it some, he said that he still got tempted but that it wasn’t a problem. He seemed like he was doing well, he seemed to be close to God. So, again, in denial that something may still be wrong, I pushed down those thoughts and went about starting our lives together.
Pushing down the thoughts only made them surface in other ways. I started binging on food again, a lot. I can see now that the binging was clearly due to the anxiety and uncertainty of marrying a man that may still be involved in an addiction that could shatter a marriage.
It turns out that my thoughts were not off. Brian was indeed still involved in the addiction. And, just before he and I reconnected, he got back together with the woman from the couple that he had a sexual relationship with before. As we got back together, he continued to see her. When Brian asked me to marry him, this woman knew about it. At that point, she actually called things off with Brian. I still had no knowledge of this.
True to the nature of the addiction, Brian was able to lead the double life. Deep down, he continued to be riddled with guilt and shame about what he was doing and lying to me about it. He had gotten me back, and now for life, but was still unable to stop. Just as I pushed my fears aside, so did he. He hated that he was still doing this but hoped now that he was getting married, surely things would get better.
In August 2007, we got married in Argentina on a mission trip with our church. I had been there the year before and it had been a very meaningful experience. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding that has an amazing story all it’s own that I won’t go into here, but it was very much blessed. Now, I believe that God so clearly blessed the wedding because I would later need to hold that in my heart in the belief that God really did intend for us to be together.
It wasn’t long before I would need to start believing that our marriage would survive. — 2 weeks after Brian and I got home from Argentina, I found pornography on our computer. I was absolutely devastated. We just had an amazing wedding and he had promised to love me and care for me for the rest of our lives. How could it have gone so wrong so soon? The fear I had pushed down was real.
I fell into a depression and had a difficult time coming out of it. I stayed in bed quite a bit and had some serious binging episodes. Brian and I talked about it. He told me that he was only struggling with pornography and promised that nothing else was going on (which was untrue).
I don’t remember much of what happened in the following months — so much of it is foggy because I kept myself pretty numb with food and t.v. My relationship with God was okay but, I didn’t feel as close. I distanced my self a bit from God because going to God meant that I would have to face the pain and I just wanted to avoid it.
Once again, Brian suffered great guilt and shame. Almost more so now because I had become so depressed. He got some books about sexual integrity and would read a bit here and there, but generally he felt uncertain about how to handle this. He was confused about why God hadn’t cured him yet. His relationship with God grew more and more distant.
We both were not doing well. We would function and have some times of normalcy, but things definitely felt dark and heavy, for both of us. I felt myself feeling more distant from Brian. I started pulling away from him emotionally.
This continued as a way of life for us. I constantly checked his wallet, car, drawers and receipts for evidence of the addiction. I would question Brian a lot about what he was doing. The more I questioned him (if he had been acting out) the more aggravated he became. Then I got aggravated. We fought a lot.
Every time I would question him and he would lie, he would feel horrible and then it was back to covering up more bad feelings with the addiction. As things kept worsening in our marriage, and the more disappointed he felt with himself, with God and with life, he was covering up extremely difficult emotions with these false, brief moments of excitement and pleasure.
In the Fall of 2008, I found a text on Brian’s phone while he was not home. Someone had texted him “I am flattered!” I looked at the text this person was responding to that was sent by Brian. He had sent an indecent photo of himself with a message that said “I miss you…” and some other things that I won’t mention here. He had texted the woman that he was seeing previously. When Brian got home I confronted him. I was furious and boy did I let him know it. I asked him what it was and he was too stunned to say much of anything. The less he said the more enraged I became and I told him to leave. He called a friend and promptly gathered some things and went over to his house.
Immediately after Brian left the house, after the rage wore off, I fell once again into a depression. The only time I left bed was to binge. I called into work sick for the entire week that Brian was gone. I didn’t know what to do or how we were going to recover from this. This had taken things to a new level. He was betraying our marriage with actual people. I blamed myself for not handling things well for not being a good enough or attractive enough wife. I blamed God – how could he let this happen to us? I blamed Brian. I had gone beyond compassion for him and now I was just fed up with what he was doing. I had pretty much had it with life at this point. I was in total despair.
Brian went to his friends and confessed to him what we were going through. Brian, in the battle with the addiction had started to act out in more ways again. I had password protected the computer but every once in a while he would get onto it if I had left it open and left the house. He had also been back into some of the heavier stuff; massage parlors, phone sex etc., and then had the urge to see the other woman again. The text I found was his attempt to reconnect with her.
Brian called me at the end of the week and asked if he could come talk to me. He sensed that he needed to come clean completely. He had a couple friends encourage him to bring everything into the light. One friend in particular would often tell Brian that this was not who he was. She encouraged him to kill the shame and confess everything and fight for his freedom in Christ and his marriage. So, he told me in what ways he had acted out over the years. He told me everything that he had done and I sensed a relief in him doing so. I just felt sick.
The next week I was let go from my job. I had taken too much time off work with the depression and they had to let me go. Brian came back home but I was still very upset. I had turned resentful and angry. Everything was totally falling apart and I believed it was all his fault. Looking back now, I can see that I used the anger to try to control Brian and make him stop.
Some friends strongly suggested that I get help. There was a healing group starting at church. Brian and I both started attending it. We worked through this as individuals. Brian started to realize some of the deeper issues that kept him stuck in the addiction. He learned to get closer to Jesus through pain and started to feel God’s love for him. We met with the counselor who led the group who talked with us about what we had been through. There were times when we started to feel like there may yet be hope for us. But, we were still struggling to get back to normal.
In a journal entry from that time I wrote, “I’m afraid to hope, but I’m afraid not to hope.” The love I had for Brian was being buried under the trauma and pain of what his addiction was doing to me and our marriage. It was getting harder to see the real Brian through this.
I tried to bring all this to God but I was frustrated with God. Then I would feel bad that I was angry at God and that I wasn’t “good enough” and therefore didn’t feel like I could go to Him. But, seek Him I did and eventually I felt God speaking to me again. During a time of prayer I sensed God asking me to “choose life.” This phrase echoed in my heart. I looked it up and found it in Deuteronomy 30:19-20. These are not the exact words but here is what God spoke to me through those versus:
“Before you is life and death. Now CHOOSE LIFE, so that you may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life…”
God showed me that I was choosing death. Even though things were rough and life was hard, I still had a choice between life or death. I could continue to stay angry and depressed or I could get up and follow God again and let him love me and let him show me how to handle all of this. I had indeed been trying to handle it all on my own. By shutting God out, I shut out his love and care for me in the most difficult time in my life. So, I started to believe that God was good, no matter what happened. As I got back into His Word I started to soften some. Even though it was hard, I brought the pain and heartache in time of prayer and worship. It wasn’t until I started really feeling all the painful emotions that I had kept pushing down and feeling it in the presence of God that I started to be able to come out of the darkness that had been holding me captive. Brian was not the only one enslaved to darkness. God showed me that I had let Brian’s addiction enslave me as well. God was calling me to freedom in Him. He wanted me back so that He could show me how to get through this.
The days that I wanted to stay in bed, I would hear, “choose life” and get up. The times that I wanted to abuse myself and hide in food, I would hear, “choose life” and stop. God reminded me back when it was just Him and me that He had plans for me. So, I started to get my focus back on God and learn to walk with him again.
…To be continued in Part 5.