One of the most difficult tasks of this journey called betrayal and sex addiction recovery is the wading through of past memories and those days spent having to drown in documents from the past. Everyone has to clean out their files once in a while…..it just happens to be a very painful process when those memories used to be attached to wonderful moments in life and now…..NOW they produce the most painful questions, doubts, fears, memories of conversations read online and time stamped with a precious moment that you didn’t know was being destroyed………..
I am finally weeding my garden……cleaning my files…..purging my memories of many of the places that felt too painful until now.
It is difficult to come to the bankruptcy documents and the final divorce decree…….the summons to court or the lawyer’s documents surrounding the trail……but they pale in comparison to having to wade through those papers from the hospital surrounding the birth of each girl…..the photos and cards from precious friends congratulating you on such a beautiful family.
Oh God….help my heart.
The documents on the short sale of the house and the arrangements for shared custody and parenting while he was waiting to go to trial……are painful but bearable. There is no second set of memories attached to them that used to be beautiful and very close to my heart.
It is the hospital bands that I wore while we were in Sewickley General supposedly cherishing that third……the tiny footprints of the first and second and the stories around their births…..the baptism picture as he held the youngest baby and brought her into the household of faith……..those memories need rearranged…..reordered……resurrected and made new…….
Those memories are the ones that used to be reminders that he was faithful and loved me….me, his girls, and no other. Those memories were the cement that held my world in place and kept me moving forward even when there seemed no light or hope or feeling of goodness attached to anything. It is those memories that a sex addiction survivor must reassemble and make sense of in order to move forward.
At the beginning…the “How could he?” and the “What did I do wrong?” are so loud and need immediate attention.
Then later the “It wasn’t about me.” And the “He is and has been choosing to destroy himself,” take over and get explored.
Now here…..five years plus out from a d-day that rocked the foundations of my world…….I can finally relive those memories….I can face them and cry. I can see that I was present there. I was loving my family. I was loving those tiny babies and their tiny feet. I loved nursing them and smelling the tops of their heads. I loved making dinner and gardening and managing a house. I loved dreaming about summer vacations and holding hands with a man who I thought was loving all those things as well. I can look at that and even grant that there were parts of him that enjoyed some of that too. But I can also face that there was a monster growing daily that hated all that and desired to destroy anything good, true, or beautiful about that life.
And the monster won.
He did in the end get what he deeply desired. He got the single life of adventure….the ability to chase women……the wide open playing field of a sexual candy land……unperturbed or judged by a nagging, moralistic wife who wouldn’t understand.
I do understand.
I understand completely some days and only in part on others…..but the understanding is finally not what I need anymore.
I don’t have to understand why….why he would choose those other people….that other life….that appetite over what he had. I don’t really care anymore. I made it through that need…..and now I simply need closure. The kind that comes when you can burn some…..mail some….and pack some away to give away when the time is right. I finally am at the point where I need to move forward and quit looking back. The past will not define me…..nor will it hold me down. I will choose to make it into a story about how much I loved my girls and worked toward the goals of a healthy marriage. There are places I failed miserably…..but I did have solid goals and a solid plan for achieving them through the grace of Christ.
So the understanding of all this mess….is burning now in the fireplace. It is keeping me warm on a chilly New Year’s day. It is interesting to watch the coils of flame and the silver smoke playing in the air. It is dangerous if it should burn out of control….so slowly……slowly I will burn this away one memory at a time this evening. My heart will wake tomorrow……ready and willing to start new memories.
My heart is finally strong enough to make new memories.
Walking this journey has never been in a straight line. It has never been only on solid ground. Sometimes I have been drowned by tidal waves of grief. Other nights I have trod in a desert of emptiness. Tonight, I am comforted by the release of memories into a burning fire.
Who knows…..perhaps the next step is entering into a new garden….of delight.
I am ready in 2018 for a little delight.