Hidden. Broken. Isolated. Empty. These are all things we have experienced in 2020. The added pressures and complexities of COVID coupled with living through the trauma of sexual betrayal have pushed many to the end of their rope.
Betrayal feels like our rock bottom. Add COVID to the mix, and the bottom of our rock bottom falls through. We have reached new lows many of us never thought possible.
Being a spouse of a porn addict tends to bring out what has been rooted in us before discovery of the addiction. For me, this was (and still is) shame.
Shame is such an ugly word to me. It was something I ignored for all of my life. It is something I pretend isn’t there. Before I discovered my husband’s addiction to porn, I felt shame about feeling shame.
It wasn’t until I started to acknowledge my own hurt from my spouse’s addiction that I began to see the deep-rooted effects of what I was feeling.
Shame had overtaken my life.
That is exactly what it does.
Shame hides and tells us to hide.
Shame lies to us and tells us to lie.
Shame covers itself up, masking itself behind other emotions and lies – and tells us to cover up and hide our true selves from the world. It tries to control and tells us the only way to escape hurt again is to control the people and environments we are in.
Unfortunately, I listened to all of these lies. I ran and hid, and, as a natural introvert, I told myself it was just who I was. Shame became my identity. I didn’t know a different way of life.
I didn’t know who I was outside these feelings.
Shame can be experienced in many different ways which is why it can take so many different forms. Someone says or does something that can cause the emotion of shame in us. It is when we internalize this stuff that it takes root and can begin to morph itself.
Adam and Eve had never felt the emotion of shame until God had called them in the Garden after they had taken the fruit from the tree of life (see Genesis 3). It was only then that they hid.
Shame was the first emotional response to the first sin. I believe this shows us plainly that shame is the primary tool the enemy of our souls would like to use, especially when dealing with the betrayal of a sex addiction.
Shame is experienced in relationship, but it is also only healed within relationship.
I don’t know one person who has not been touched by its devastating impacts. So why is it that we pretend we are untouchable and unaffected by shame?
When Adam and Eve hid from God, what did God do? He called to them. God provided a way for Adam and Eve to overcome their shame of nakedness (with clothing).
In the same way, I believe God is calling us to overcome the shame in betrayal we experience. God is calling us to believe His identity for our lives as daughters and highly loved.
Shame tells us, “I am not good enough.”
God says, “I am sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9)
Shame tells us, “Your spouse’s addiction is your fault.”
God says, “Sin has caused this – not you” (James 1:14)
Shame tells us, “Hide and cover-up for your husband. It’s your job to protect your husband.”
God says, “Come to me and give me your burdens” (Ps 55:22; Matthew 11:28-30)
Shame tells us, “Control your husband and the environment around you, or else you will get hurt again.”
God says, “I am Lord of your life, My plans and purposes are good for you. Trust me.” (Jer. 29:11; Provers 3:5-8)
When I first started to believe that my husband’s addiction was a reflection of his own heart, shame began to crumble in the light of God’s love. When I first joined a Live Free Wives community and heard other women say “Me too” I began to heal.
If you are in a safe community, please take the opportunity to share your emotions of shame. Allow your community to help you heal. If you do not have a community like this, I would highly recommend getting connected with Small Groups Online.
Shame doesn’t have to be the end of our story. Come out from the darkness.