Every 'Fuck It' is Worth a Thousand Words


IMG_3626

“Fuck it! Fuck it! Fuck it! Just Fuck it!”

        Thus began Friday morning of a marriage intensive with a tentatively hopeful couple. The husband started the morning with his F-bomb proclamation. I looked around to see if somebody in charge would know what to do. My face looked calm while my insides freaked as I realized the person in charge was me.

The intensive began Wednesday night with Ann and I sharing our story and answering questions from this couple. Thursday we taught on betrayal, grief, guilt and shame. You know, the lighter stuff to ease them in. Interspersed in each topic are reflective exercises to ponder, write and then share their thoughts. We chiseled into some longstanding walls separating these two. Thursday evening as they left the 1930’s vintage Rocky Mountain cabin I felt tired. It was a good tired. A hopeful tired. Friday morning after enjoying the cool of the morning and peaceful gurgling of the backyard brook the F-bombs snapped Ann and I out of our overconfidence.

For over a year I met weekly with this man and later in our time his wife joined us. He has a hard story. A story he knew was hard but also denied the extent of the difficulty on his soul as a boy.

After charming the boy’s mom his father charmed the world as a charismatic salesman. They moved thousands of miles away from family and support. Before the boy would carry his backpack on a yellow bus to kindergarten Dad bolted from the family. How does this type of abandonment pound the heart and soul of a little boy? Security and safety vanish. Innocence lost. A world with mom and dad and a cocoon of love leaves the little caterpillar exposed to harsh elements before his butterfly wings form. He has no ability to fly through and above storms.

Mom was left with two small boys in an unfamiliar state. She leaned into her nonexistent friends and crashed to the ground. She drifted and numbed her pain with substances and younger men. The little boys grew into tweens with immature men only a decade or so older ‘guiding’ their paths.

Once, my f-bomb man got into big trouble for stealing the pot stash in mom’s bedroom. The boyfriend of the time erupted in acidic shame pouring it on my guy. What is wrong with this picture? I could go at it from 50 different angles but suffice it to say nothing of substance about being a man was being passed down. He learned that he had to take care of himself; he couldn’t count on the adults in his life and began to act accordingly.

A couple older girls in the apartments enticed him into sex before he was in high school. At the time this seems like such a thrilling triumph. Damage goes unnoticed.  The illusion cemented into the boy is that closeness and safety only happened during sex.  He carried this tilted view of life and love into marriage.

We tend to marry another at the same emotional level as our current state. This couple was no exception. They didn’t realize the wounds and immaturity of their souls when they pronounced their vows of fidelity in perpetuity. Why would they? Life seemed to progress in good order as a decent job allowed mom to stay home with the kids.

But remember that myth that closeness and safety are only found during sex. The boy who carried this deception into manhood demanded more and more sex. The girl who carried her lack of sense of solid womanhood partly due to a demeaning mother determined that she had no other course than to submit to his sexual demands.

She wore the color of underwear he wanted. Awoke at the time he wanted. Went to sleep when he wanted. She offered her body to him morning and evening, every day. Fourteen times a week they had sex. The man concluded he had hit the jackpot; his lotto numbers matched up and he had the wife of all wives. All the sex he wanted to support his myth. He was a real man. But like all idols eventually this one falls in on itself after satisfying for a time.

The woman eventually shared her story to a newfound friend. The friend informed her that her husband was abusing her.  After a time of gaining strength the woman left for a shelter. The man was pissed! Who did she think she was to leave him like this?!

Somewhere about this time I began meeting with him. He was angry at her, didn’t want to look at his past (“I’ve left all that behind me”) but also wanted her home. For a year they lived separately. She healed and grew stronger while he and I met with some progress in owning how he had hurt her. But deep inside he wanted things to go back the way they were.

He did grow but occasionally the myth broke through the surface. This husband voiced demands but the wife now had the strength of NO. Fights ensued.  Enough positive occurred for her to move back home. We decided on a marriage intensive to power through what continued to snag their ankles as they reached for freedom.

Fuck it! Fuck it! Fuck it! Just fuck it!! He was stuck. He realized he can be an ass but didn’t know what else to do. He still wanted lots of sex but also was tired of the stress around it. He knew his past ensnared him but hated to admit it. Then he screamed words of hope. “I don’t know what else to do.”

He was done scrambling, done trying to do it in his power. He found the end of his self-centered self. His myth shattered and crashed like a glass shower door. He put more trust in us and importantly more trust in God.

A month ago the four of us met. I saw a new man. He relaxed into the couch. Fear didn’t control him. Instead of intensity I saw security. He didn’t need to prove himself or vigilantly scan the room to stay safe. He rested as the tender, strong man who was finally able to fly. 


Anne Lamott, Grace Bats Last

466825_139537379509247_832190603_o

What beautiful words from Anne Lamott today. 


On July 7, 1986, 29 years ago, I woke up sick, shamed, hungover, and in deep animal confusion. I woke up this way most mornings. Why couldn't I stop after 6 or 7 drinks? Why didn't I have an "off" switch when I had that first drink every day?

Well, "Why?" is not a useful question.

I thought about having a cool refreshing beer, just to get all the flies going in one direction.

I was 32, with three published books, and the huge local love of my family and life-long friends. I was loved out of all sense of proportion. I gave talks and readings that hundreds of people came to. I had won a Guggenheim Fellowship, although, like many fabulous writers, I was drunk as a skunk every day. I was penniless and bulimic, but adorable, and cherished.

But there was one tiny problem. I was dying. Oh, also, my soul was rotted out from mental illness and physical abuse. My insides felt like Swiss cheese, until I had that first cool, refreshing drink.

So, not ideal. The elevator was going. It ONLY goes down; until you finally get off. As a clean, sober junkie told me weeks later, "At the end, I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards."

And against all odds, I picked up the 200 pound phone, and called the same sober alkie that my older brother had called two years earlier, when he had hit his coked-out bottom. The man, a Jack Lemmon type, said, "I will come get you at 11:30. Take a shower, and try not to drink till then. The shower is optional."

I didn't; when all else fails, follow Instructions. I couldn't imagine there was a way out of all that sickness and self-will, all those lies and secrets, but God always makes a way out of No Way.

So I showed up. Before I turned on Woody Allen, he said that 80% of life is just showing up. And I did. There were all these other women who had what I had, who'd thought what I'd thought, who'd done what I'd done, who had betrayed their families and deepest values, who sat with me that day, and said "Guess what? Me, too! I have that too. Let me get you a glass of water." Those are the words of salvation: Gess what? Me, too."

Then I blinked, and today is my 29th recovery birthday. I hope someday it will be yours, too, or at least your 1st. Don't give up on yourself. In recovery, we never EVER give up on anyone, no matter what it looks like, no matter how long it takes.

Because Grace bats last. That spiritual WD-40, those water wings, that second wind--it bats last. That is my promise to you.

Happy birthday to me, and maybe to you. As my beloved ee Cummings wrote, "(I who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birthday of life and love and wings.)"

Don't. Give. Up. Because guess what? Me too.


In Loves Service Only Wounded Soldiers Can Serve

Brennanmanning

This quote from a Thornton Wilder three minute play has been making the rounds. I first heard it from Brennan Manning in a video about Rich Mullins after Mullins died a car wreck. Manning grieved the loss of his fellow ragamuffin and remembered him with, 'In loves service, only wounded soldiers can serve. God I miss him.'

The line speaks to me as Ann and I reach out to couples dealing with infidelity. Part of me longs to be totally healed, to not ever hit my scars, to not remember my heart splitting. 

If that happened I wouldn't have diddly to offer those in pain. 

A deeper part of me doesn't want to forget. When I hear your story of heartache, I'm in touch with my pain, though I'm still focused on you. I remember. Remembering helps my to speak truthfully and tenderly, and humbly. In my best moments my voice may actually tremble as I recall the soulsplosion from twenty years ago while walking with you in yours today. 

Richmullins

Here is the complete play:

The Angel That Troubled the Waters
(A short play by Thornton Wilder)

The Pool – A vast gray hall with a hole in the ceiling open to the sky. Broad stone steps lead up from the water on its four sides. The water is continuously restless and throws blue reflections upon the walls. The sick, the blind and the malformed are lying on the steps. The long stretches of silence and despair are broken from time to time when one or another groans and turns in his rags, or raises a fretful wail or a sudden cry of exasperation at long continued pain.

A door leads out upon the porch where the attendants of the sick are playing at dice, waiting for the call to fling their masters into the water when the angel of healing stirs the pool. Beyond the porch there is a glimpse of the fierce sunlight and the empty streets of an oriental noonday.

Suddenly the ANGEL appears upon the top step. His face and robe shine with a colour that is both silver and gold, and the wings of blue and green, tipped with rose, shimmer in the tremulous light. He walks slowly down among the shapeless sleepers and stands gazing into the water that already trembles in anticipation of its virtue.

(A new invalid enters.)

THE NEWCOMER
Come, long-expected love. Come, long-expected love. Let the sacred finger and the sacred breath stir up the
pool. Here on the lowest step I wait with festering limbs, with my heart in pain. Free me, long-expected love,
from this old burden. Since I cannot stay, since I must return into the city, come now, renewal, come, release.

(Another invalid wakes suddenly out of a nightmare, calling: “The Angel! The Angel has come. I am cured.”

He flings himself into the pool, splashing his companions. They come to life and gaze eagerly at the water. They hang over the brink and several slide in. Then a great cry of derision rises: “The fool! Fool! His nightmare again. Beat him! Drive him out into the porch.”

The mistaken invalid and his dupes drag themselves out of the water and lie dripping
disconsolately upon the steps.)

THE MISTAKEN INVALID
I dreamt that an angel stood by me and that at last I should be free of this hateful place and its company. Better a mistake and this jeering than an opportunity lost.

(He sees the NEWCOMER beside him and turns on him plaintively.)
Aie! You have no right to be here, at all events. You are able to walk about. You pass your days in the city. You come here only at great intervals, and it may be that by some unlucky chance you might be the first one to see the sign. You would rush into the water and a cure would be wasted. You are yourself a physician. You have restored my own children. Go back to your work and leave these miracles to us who need them.

THE NEWCOMER
(Ignoring him; under his breath.)
My work grows faint. Heal me, long-expected Love; heal me that I may continue. Renewal, release; let me begin again without this fault that bears me down.2

THE MISTAKEN INVALID
I shall sit here without ever lifting my eyes from the surface of the pool. I shall be the next. Many times, even since I have been here, many times the Angel has passed and has stirred the water, and hundreds have left the hall leaping and crying out with joy. I shall be the next.

THE ANGEL
(Kneels down on the lowest step and meditatively holds his finger poised above the shuddering water.)
Joy and fulfillment, completion, content, rest and release have been promised.

THE NEWCOMER
Come, long-expected Love.

THE ANGEL
(Without turning makes himself apparent to the NEWCOMER and addresses him.)
Draw back physician, this moment is not for you.

THE NEWCOMER
Angelic visitor, I pray thee, listen to my prayer.

THE ANGEL
Healing is not for you.

THE NEWCOMER
Surely, surely, the angels are wise. Surely, O, Prince, you are not deceived by my apparent wholeness. Your eyes can see the nets in which my wings are caught; the sin into which all my endeavours sink half-performed cannot be concealed from you.

THE ANGEL
I know.

THE NEWCOMER
It is no shame to boast to an Angel of what I might yet do in Love’s service were I but freed from this bondage.

THE MISTAKEN INVALID
Surely the water is stirring strangely today! Surely I shall be whole.3

THE ANGEL
I must make haste. Already the sky is afire with the gathering host, for it is the hour of the new song among us. The earth itself feels the preparation in the skies and attempts its hymn. Children born in this hour spend all their lives in a sharper longing for the perfection that awaits them.

THE NEWCOMER
Oh, in such an hour was I born, and doubly fearful to me is the flaw in my heart. Must I drag my shame, Prince and singer, all my days more bowed than my neighbour?

THE ANGEL
(Stands for a moment in silence.)
Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.

(He swiftly kneels and draws his finger through the water. The pool is presently astir with running ripples. They increase and a divine wind strikes the gay surface. The waves are flung upon the steps. The MISTAKEN MAN casts himself into the Pool, and the whole company lurches, rolls, or hobbles in. The servants rush in from the porch. Turmoil. Finally, the no longer MISTAKEN INVALID emerges and leaps joyfully up the steps. The rest, coughing and
sighing, follow him. The ANGEL smiles for a moment and disappears.)

THE HEALED MAN
Look, my hand is new as a child’s. Glory be to God! I have begun again. (To the NEWCOMER.) May you be the next, my brother. But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I –I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour… my daughter since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us…

The End


It was a long, dark road...We stand together today

Wow! We are always thrilled to receive redemption notes like this. Thanks for taking the time to send it. Ben & Ann

Andy

I wanted to write a brief note of thanks to you two.  I have been reading your blog for a little over 3 years now, after my own marriage was destroyed by infidelities on both sides.  

Many times your story and your restoration was something I, with hope for my own life, recalled again and again.  Your story made me believe the impossible could really happen when God works in us.

 

It was a long, dark road.  We walked down it, not always willingly, and with an almost unbearable level of pain.  

We stand together today.  

Thank you so much for sharing your story and having the courage to put it right out in the open for broken souls like me to find in our worst hour.  You'll never know how much your writings helped.  Bless you both. 

After I asked permission to share the above I received this follow up. BW

A testimony breaks the chains of shame in a way nothing else can!  Sharing your testimony of love and God's redemption helped me hold on to the hope for the healing of my marriage.  The entries were so encouraging that I felt like even if our marriage wasn't going to be okay, I was deeply happy that some couples can make it through.  Thank you again and keep up this very important work of helping God mend families.

Thank you again too. Words like this carry us Wilsons a long way. Story is so powerful. 

 Ben and Ann Wilson

Authors of upcoming book Betrayed and Betrayer: Rescuing your marriage after the affair

Support us through prayer

and/or

Support us through Kickstarter 


Tangible Evidence of God's Grace

So can God really make good out of an affair? No really? I know you're supposed to say that but where is proof of it?

Well, today at Reviving Identity, during Krista's salute to women's history month, there is evidence. Our good friend Sara Garcia made us both cry by sharing her story and when she has felt beautiful. It will surprise you. It is an extravagent gift that Ann and I have had the privelege of walking a spell with Sara and Michael. Without having had to deal with an affair we most likely never would have walked this road with them. That's their video on our home page. Read her post here


Buy Not Marked & Get Free Healing Resources | Mary DeMuth

Buy Not Marked & Get Free Healing Resources | Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth writes in a hopeful, yet painfully honest manner about her childhood sexual abuse. She shares her struggles, her healing and the impact this has had and continues to have on her journey in marriage and overall life. Pick up $80 in free resources by buying this week.