It was a gorgeous summer day, just months before my wedding, and I received a phone call from my fiancé asking me to come over. I knew by the sound of his voice that whatever it was, my world was about to change. The drive to his house was the longest of my life.
When I arrived, I followed him to his room and he sat me down on the bed next to him. He began to confess that over the last four years of our relationship he had been unfaithful, not with just one woman, with many.
As I watched my entire world shatter into a thousand pieces on the floor, there was nothing more in that moment that I wanted than to be strong enough to walk away. The truth was, I was too weak to leave. You would think I would have been overwhelmed with devastation that the one man I trusted with my heart just revealed the ultimate act of betrayal, yet my main concern was, What is everyone going to think?
There were two-hundred and fifty invitations in the mail, the venue was booked, and the gifts were registered for. On top of it, the embarrassment and shame of having to tell our friends and family who invested in our fairytale romance over the last four years that none of it was true.
The pressure was too much and I made a choice that day. I didn’t tell a soul. The day of our wedding arrived and I knew I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Before we headed to the church, I looked in the mirror and I saw what most girls dream of their whole life. A flawless, stunning bride who looked like Cinderella heading to the ball. The real woman who stood there was broken, sad, and lonely wearing my dress that so eloquently covered her scars.
One year into our marriage I found myself right back at the edge of the bed as my husband professed that he had been unfaithful once again. He fell to his knees, begging and pleading for me to let him stay and promised for a second time that it would never happen again.
Something inside of me kept saying, “This isn’t our first time here, and I was able to move past it before, and so I will do it again.” Three more years continued of highs and lows, “working on it,” and his unhealthy relationship with porn and I finally found the courage to ask for a divorce.
When I left my husband, I thought that everything was going to magically feel better, because I had the strength to leave.
Over the next four years I found myself in a vicious cycle of chaos and self-destruction. I allowed what happened to me to control my circumstances and keep me in unhealthy relationships. I turned to a woman who became my drug and when the high wore off I found myself in and out of every bed I could find. My own life was a dirty little secret, it was a lie, and it was a sham. I just kept expanding my closet so I could fit more skeletons in it without anyone noticing.
This was when I hit my rock bottom. I woke up one morning and I decided I couldn’t live like this anymore and I had to take back control of my life. The journey ahead of me was going to be a long and grueling one, but I knew if I didn’t start making changes, my life was never going to change. There are many lessons I have had to work through since leaving my husband, but there are three that saved my life.
1. It wasn’t about what was done to me, it was about why I allowed the behaviors to continue for so long.
2. I would only ever be loved to the extent that I loved myself.
3. I didn’t have to walk my journey alone.
The first thing I had to do was become accountable for my behaviors and the decisions I made that caused a decade of destruction. It was time to be honest with myself.
Why did I marry a man who was unfaithful and why did I stay after it happened again in our marriage? Why did I allow myself to be manipulated to feel less than worthy? Why did I continue in an unhealthy relationship cycle following my divorce for years? Why did I keep going back? It was time to stop making excuses. I didn’t have time for that in my life anymore.
I was ready to free myself from the troubles of my past, live for the blessings of my today, and reap the benefits of a better me tomorrow. I now understood that I was always searching for validation in other people to tell me I was good enough and to make me feel desired.
The only person I needed validation from was myself and no one could take that away from me. I let go of the need to be someone else and I was ready to be loved for who I was.
There were so many times throughout the last decade of betrayal, lies, and secrets that I felt alone. I felt like there was no one I could talk to, because no one would understand. I had been severely ashamed and embarrassed for years over the decisions I had made.
I thought if I were to tell anyone, the only response would be judgement and criticism. I refused to live in a space of fear of what other’s thought anymore and I found support from people who motivated, inspired, and lifted me up. I could literally feel the shift in my heart as I was peeling off the layers of betrayal and lies. I was breaking the chains of my past and my soul was being wiped clean.
I was becoming a new woman, the woman I was created to be.