I imagine in the opinion of most, the attitude is ‘Who cares about the emotional upheaval for the Betrayer!’ They have caused destruction and heartache. Why should I care about the impact on their soul? Because the Betrayer has a soul. She has a soul that has been wounded, not just from the impact of the betrayal, but most likely deep wounding that has been carefully and not-so-expertly hidden for years. So opening the floodgates of hell on her soul has a similar impact as it does on the Betrayed.
The initial trauma of the revelation of the affair is significant. It is tied to the disbelief that we could actually be that person. That we could make those choices. People who know me only post-healing from the affair say, ‘That wasn’t really you, right?’ Well, part of what I have had to come to terms with, and accept God’s grace over, is that it was really me.
The dark expanses of my soul had grown and covered the light that had dimmed to the point I wasn’t even sure it was there any more. Not really anyway. An artificial light was there, kind of like fluorescent bulbs in an office. They flicker and just become annoying and kind of hurt your eyes if you’re exposed to them too long cause they’re not real, they’re artificial…just like me. The real light – the light that is like sunshine on a beautiful, clear Colorado morning – that light wasn’t there anymore either. And the trauma of the revelation not only broke all the fluorescent bulbs, but also all but extinguished the life-giving light.
Not even having the artificial light to sustain me, I began to feel incredibly numb. Part of it was I didn’t have the light to enable me to feel, even if it was false feelings. But part of it was that I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t want to feel the pain I had caused Ben. I didn’t want to feel the pain I had caused my beautiful children. I didn’t want to feel the pain that I had begun to feel as I peeled back the layers covering my wounds and shame. Some days I walked around like a zombie. No real purpose. I was having difficulty carrying out routine tasks around the house cause all I wanted to do was ‘play dead’ because that’s how I felt. Dead. I wished I was dead.
This desire for death was compounded by my frustration with Ben’s constant demands for details. We would go through one round of Twenty Questions, he would seem somewhat satisfied with my answers and I would begin to breathe when he would start with another set. Combined with his need (and it really is a need in the beginning of healing and rebuilding trust) to know my whereabouts and activities every second of every day, I felt trapped some days. Zero freedom. Zero life.
What began to create a shift in me was to see that what was bringing me death was a worldly sorrow about being found out rather than experiencing the Godly sorrow of being truly impacted by my sin. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 it says “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.” I was on my deathbed from the trauma, numbness and frustration rather than allowing the experience of my pain drive me to God.
Once I began to allow myself to experience the pain, ALL of it, even the years-old variety, I began to experience what Paul goes on to describe as the overflow of Godly sorrow: “And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart.” (emphasis mine) Wow. That’s what I really wanted. That’s what my soul had always longed for. I just never knew it. I had just gone about finding it in ALL the wrong ways.
Once I could truly begin to grieve the carnage that was created by my actions, once I could truly begin to grieve the pain I had caused my husband, once I could truly begin to grieve the pain I had caused my children, once I could truly begin to grieve the pain buried deep in my soul, then I could begin to truly believe the radiant light that God placed in my soul was truly there. For God to see. For others to see. For me to see.