I am at the point in my healing where I am sick of feeling horrible. I want to stop thinking about him, what he is doing, how he is feeling, how he could do this to us. You know what? It doesn’t matter anymore. I cannot change him! He is a lost cause. I cannot save him. I need to stop trying. I need to choose joy!
I came out of the crap storm relatively ok. I still have my kids and they love me. I still have my grandchildren in my life. My friends and family support me. I have the love and support of my church family. Compared to him and what he has been left with (her), I have everything! I need to choose joy!
I need to stop focusing on losing him. He is only one piece, and not a very good one, of a very blessed and full life. He is not the end-all, be-all, of a my life. He left. I need to let him. He made his choice. I need to choose joy! So JOY is the focus of everything I will do in 2018. And in that spirit, my posts from here on out will be on how I am choosing to heal, things that work for me, and how I choose joy. It’s time to move on…
Here I am again, another Christmas, alone. This is not how I envisioned it when I discovered my husband’s multiple infidelities over two years ago. I thought by this Christmas that it would all be an ugly nightmare we could begin to put behind us. It would have been if he had the ability to take counsel…from anyone, but himself. It didn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t have been this way. If he had the capacity to listen, everything would have been different. I have said these things to him so many times. He doesn’t hear me. We don’t speak the same language anymore. If he were the man I married, he would hear, understand, and respond. But he isn’t the man I married. Instead, he justifies his actions to fit the narrative he has created about me in his mind. So here is my letter to him. One of many. Expressing again, what I would have chosen for us, if it was my choice to make. Sadly, there are some choices I will never get to make. This is one of them…
I can do little else besides think of you during Christmas. So many Christmas’ shared, so many memories. They are all around me, shattered pieces of our lives that I would gladly piece back together with you if you would just be willing to do the hard work needed to repair us, repair our family…repair our lives. I know you could…if you only wanted to do it. I guess knowing that you don’t want to is the worst part of my life now. I have a hard time understanding why you would not, did not, choose me, choose your family, over what your life has become now. It seems so clear that you chose wrong. You had it all. You gave us away, without a backwards glance. Whatever you have now is only an illusion of happiness. You and I both know you will never be happy again, unless you choose to repent, repair, and restore your family. It is what God sent you here to do. (But now appears you have turned your back on God too.) Without us, your life has no meaning, no happiness, no joy. Your life now is nothing but whole cloth. You had the real thing. You chose to throw it away. You cannot replace something fake with what was real.
No matter how much I may love you, there is nothing I can do about that now. I wish I could. I would if I could. Heaven knows I tried! You have your agency to use how you see fit. Where you are now, I cannot go. I don’t even want to go where you are now. I don’t belong there. I am better than that. YOU are better than that too! At least you were at one point.
I still love you. I will always love you. You are the choice of my heart and the love of my life! Nothing will ever change that for me. I guess you have a hard time understanding why I would divorce you then? You would understand if you knew the depth of my love for you. You are a part of me. You are as important to me as my own body. You are no less useful than my left hand is to me. I cannot survive my left hand anymore than I can survive without you. I am in love with you…still. I always will be. You don’t spend 37 years serving another person; caring for them, standing with them, supporting them, being there for them, making love to them, listening to them, building a family and a home with them, and just “fall out of love with them.” No. That doesn’t happen. Divorce has NOTHING to do with how much or little I love you. It has to do with survival. MY SURVIVAL! You would not stop cheating on me. For 18 months you kept another woman “on the side” just in case it did work out with me. I couldn’t handle that. I still can’t. To see how little you loved me stands up against the depth of feelings I had for you, was killing me…literally. You were found lacking. There is no comparison. If you understood how much what you were doing was hurting me, then you would understand why I had to let you go.
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30
Medically speaking, a part of my body had become as poisonous as gangrene. If I didn’t cut you off, you would have killed me. If you have cancer, you MUST cut it out before it destroys the whole body! You had become cancer to me. Love has nothing to do with it. It was about my survival. The fact that you cannot understand this, stands as a testimony of how little you care for me or my well-being. No one in their right mind would expect someone with cancer to just “live with it.” That is just cruel. It is inhumane.
In this case, “my cancer” is you. You are the cancer that refused to respond to any treatment. You wouldn’t allow me to seek treatment to heal you. You wouldn’t respond to the advice of professionals. You refused to get healthy. So you had to go. I had to remove you or die. I took no joy or happiness in being forced to cut the toxic poison from my life that you had become to me. It is not what I would have chosen for you, for me, for us, if it were my choice to make.
I would have chosen life. Healing. Supportive recovery. Forgiveness. Repentance. Restoration. I would have chosen you, if you just would have chosen me first. You will never know that, because you never gave me the opportunity to show you what I am made of.
This is on you. The records of heaven will prove that to you someday. Someday, you will see clearly, what you have done. But not now. So I am left with no other choice, I have to go on with life as best as I can, having had to cut a part of me off. Trying my best to recover, even though you keep lashing out at me every chance you get. Your concern is not for my welfare, healing, or well-being. Your concern is to hurt me for doing what was best for me. I can only draw one conclusion from your actions; you would rather I not live at all. One day you will see the depravity of this behavior. But in spite of all of it, I have deep compassion for you. I know you are lonely. Hurting. Angry. You don’t understand. I know you carry a lot of guilt and shame. I forgive you for those things you did to me, and continue to do to me. You cannot hurt me any deeper than you already have. So I can finally forgive you. For all of it. I have turned you over to God and He will deal with you.
But my forgiveness doesn’t mean you can be in my life now. Far from it. Forgiveness is my part. Repentance is your part. To be allowed in my life again, even if it is nothing more than friends, requires you to change your behavior. It requires you to restore trust, safety and connection. It requires you to learn how to treat your family with decency and respect. These are the bare minimum requirements. When you do the things you need to do in order to heal and get healthy, your guilt and shame will go away. You will stop lashing out. The atonement cannot swallow up your guilt and shame until you choose to become a new creature in Christ. When you do that, had you done it already, you could have your family back. It really IS just that simple! That is what Christmas is all about, a baby who has the power to restore broken things. But you have to decide you want it. Not just say you want it…you have to really want it. More than you want anything else in your life.
In the meantime, all I can do is to wait from a safe distance. Pray for you to finally “get it.” I still wish with all my heart you had chosen me. But you didnt. I still wish you would. But I cannot count on that either. So all I can do is to try to heal and mend my broken heart. I have told you many times if you ever died I would never remarry. In a way, you have died. You are not the man who I thought you were. The person I fell in love with no longer exists. He is dead to me. Who you are now, is someone I would never want. I have a hard time believing you want to be who you are now. Why would you? But here we are. This is the reality. Our new normal. It’s all so sad.
I don’t know why I bother to keep repeating myself over and over and over. I don’t know. Maybe if I say it enough it will get through to you. Somehow. It seems so clear to me. It seems clear to everyone. Except you. Truth is easy to understand. I know these words fall of deaf ears. They have fallen on deaf ears for two years now. I suspect they will fall on deaf ears for many more years to come unless you change. The truth is, this is what I have said to you from the day I found out about your affairs. I have said the same thing to you nearly every day since then. I feel like a broken record. I will continue to say the same thing to the end of time, because this is the only path back to me. Back to our family. Back to God. There is no other way, no other short cut. Sadly, you can choose to sin in whatever way you want, but you cannot choose how to repent. Repentance is set in stone. Those terms are set by God. Bargaining with Him won’t change his mind.You have no choice but to submit to His will on this, no matter how stubborn you are or how right you think you are. Repentance has a set pattern. It requires your heart. Giving your heart cannot be faked. You do not know more than God and you cannot fool Him. You can’t trick Him into believing you have repented. You will know when you have really repented because your life will immediately improve! When you can finally submit your heart to Him, that is when you will know it is real. This is your ultimate test. The mother of all tests. I hope you don’t fail.
How long will it take for you to figure this out? Will anything get through to you?
Maybe by then, someday, none of us will have to spend another Christmas as a broken family.
Last night I was studying my scriptures. And as often happens to me, one reference leads me to another and I ended up on this General Conference Talk from October 2016: Repentance: A Joyful Choice by Dale G. Renlund. I highly recommend it to you for a clear concise explaination of what true repentance looks like. It is one of those moments when you know the Lord is guiding you to a place you needed to go and I definently needed to go to this talk. It was so validating. I need that.
Lately I have been struggling mightily over my Ex-husband’s failure to repent, at least he is not doing it in the way I have been taught to understand that repentance looks like. But everytime I mentioned to him over the past two years that he is not fully repenting, I am met with a constant barrage of accusations of being judgmental, critical, nonsupportive and mean. These kinds of accusations can take a toll on a person after a while, especially when I am already so hurt, wounded, and shattered. His failure to fully repent has left deep wounds in our family that keep getting torn open again and again. He doesn’t understand that if he truly repented it would provide a healing balm over the entire family, especially me.
Instead we get resistance, subborness, and stonewalling. He ABSOLUTELY REFUSES to repent. It feels like he refuses to repent so he can prove he isn’t really an addict, that he just made a few “bad choices.” So he treats his repentance as such. He expects to just say he is sorry and we will all forgive him and that will be that. This mindset, that what he has done is not that bad (minimizing) causes him to be astonished that I would have the nerve to divorce him, because why would anyone divorce a spouse that they love over a few “bad choices?” So he is able to rationalize in his mind that I am really the bad guy. He feels I bailed on him, not the other way around, which is really the case to any other rational human being.
Don’t get me wrong, he IS sorry. But it the “sorrow of the damned,” not “sorrow unto repentance” or “godly sorrow.” There is a huge difference. Just being sorry doesn’t cut it in the case of adultery and infidelity, not by anyone’s standards, and certainly not by the Lord’s standards.
“The word repent connotes “to perceive afterwards” and implies “change.”4 In Swedish, the word is omvänd,which simply means “to turn around.”5 The Christian writer C. S. Lewis wrote about the need and the method for change. He noted that repentance involves “being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put right,” he said, “but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”6Changing our behavior and returning to the “right road” are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin.7 As explained in Ezekiel, to repent is to “turn from … sin, … do that which is lawful and right; … restore the pledge, … [and] walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity.”8
“Never by simply going on!” This is exactly what my Cheater wants to do! He just wants to go on from here! He refuses to go back to the beginning of he errors and working forward from that point. This is the crux of the pain he has caused and is continuing to cause within his devastated family. He had the audacity to tell my daughter last week, that he is moving on with a different woman, in yet another relationship, because ” HE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY!” My daughter was agasted at his extreme selfishness. Her response; “You took a baseball bat to our family and destroyed everyone, but you deserve to move on and be happy, while everyone else is left broken and bruised?”
Does this sound like real repentance to you? No. Me either.
He will tell anyone who will listen that he is repenting. But he is not. It is not possible to say you are repenting, and at the same time, continuing in sin. If he were truly repenting we would all be able to tell, we would all see it, we would all know it. He would change. His behavior would change, his words would change, his countenance would change. The righteous can clearly judge this mighty change of heart. It is as clear as the daylight from the dark night. Elder Runland continues:
Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives. When we “perceive afterwards” and “turn around” with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification. But by exercising faith in Him, we become converted to His ability and willingness to forgive sin.
All sorts of lightbulbs went on in my head! My Cheater is just in “Miserable Behavior Modification.” He is trying to do this on his own, without help from anyone, using his own wisdom, and he is failing miserably. He has not made his repentance real because he isn’t following the steps for real repentance laid out by our Savior in the scriptures. With, what my therapist Home Teacher calls, “cheap repentance,” he will NEVER have joy. He can seek for “happiness” all he wants, but he will never find joy! This is the lot of the damned. No joy.
Elder Packer explains:
“The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”9
“The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. …
“… The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”10
“The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us. As the prophet Lehi explained, after we “are instructed sufficiently” to “know good from evil,”11 we “are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.”12In other words, repentance is a choice.”
We must choose to repent. Stunning in its simplicty. Profound in its appliction! This was another place in the talk that struck me. Hard. A few months before I made the decision to divorce my husband I spent days in the temple, praying and seeking for guidance on what I should or needed to do next. I had some very sacred experiences during this time, but one thing stands out above the others. The Lord said to me, very clearly…”Your husband has not chosen you.” As I think back on this now I understand that the Lord was also telling me, “he has not chosen me either.” My Ex did not, and has not chosen US; the Lord, his family and me. He has not chosen any of us. If he would choose all of us, everything for him would change practically overnight. He would be a changed man, with “no more desire to do evil [to his family], but to do good [to his family] continually.” He doesn’t want to do the hard work of repentance, real repentance, so he believes it will be simpler to just walk away. Not so.
Remarkably Elder Rutland list a few things that keep us from choosing to repent. To my astonishment they were the same symptoms of denial! He says:
“We can—and sometimes do—make different choices. Such choices may not seem intrinsically wrong, but they prevent us from becoming truly penitent and thus preclude our pursuit of real repentance.”
For instance, we may choose to blame others. But blaming others, even if justified, allows us to excuse our behavior. By so doing, we shift responsibility for our actions to others. When the responsibility is shifted, we diminish both the need and our ability to act. We turn ourselves into hapless victims rather than agents capable of independent action.13
Another choice that impedes repentance is minimizing our mistakes... It would have been easy to say that there was no reason to repent. But minimizing our mistakes, even if no immediate consequences are apparent, removes the motivation to change. This thinking prevents us from seeing that our mistakes and sins have eternal consequences.
Yet another way is to think that our sins do not matter because God loves us no matter what we do. It is tempting to believe what the deceitful Nehor taught the people of Zarahemla: “That all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, … and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”14 But this seductive idea is false. God does love us. However, what we do matters to Him and to us. He has given clear directives about how we should behave. We call these commandments. His approbation and our eternal life depend on our behavior, including our willingness to humbly seek real repentance.15
Additionally, we forgo real repentance when we choose to separate God from His commandments…We should be wary of discounting sinful behavior by undermining or dismissing God’s authorship of His commandments. Real repentance requires recognizing the Savior’s divinity and the truthfulness of His latter-day work.
My Cheater has used all of these excuses, and others, to shirk his responsibilites to himself, to me and to his family to do the hard work of real repentance. It is interesting that these excuses are also the behaviors of an addict in denial.
“Instead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable,16 and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better.”
When faced with temptation, we are more likely to ask ourselves, in the words of William Shakespeare:
My Cheater has a new “toy.” That will not bring him lasting joy. True repentance will. Healing the wounds of his family will. Binding up our broken hearts will. But he would rather play with his new toy instead of repairing a family he has spent a lifetime in building. This makes no sense to me.
Elder Runland explains:
“If we have lost sight of eternity for the sake of a toy, we can choose to repent. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have another chance. Metaphorically, we can exchange the toy we so ill-advisedly purchased in the first place and receive again the hope of eternity. As the Savior explained, “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”18
My Cheater still continues to make bad choices, including refusing to do the hard work of real repentance. It’s nice to know, I am not the only one who thinks so.