Posts Tagged ‘affair’

So now I am making amends. I didn’t expect this to happen this way. I don’t know what I expected. I guess I expected the big emotional scene. The one you see on TV and the movies. I tearfully lay out my shortcomings and take responsibility for my past and how I caused such damage to each and every person I hurt. We both cry and talk about how much we love each other and that things will be different and the past is the past and we have a bright new future to look forward to together. That’s not how it has gone for me. Or for the people I have on my list.

As I mentioned before, I have three different categories. First is my wife. Her amends are different and special. Quite honestly, her amends are up to her. I came to her to lay bare my character flaws, the ways that I recognized that I had damaged her, and to listen to how she felt based upon how I had hurt her. There was no tearful scene that led to a shared view of a hopeful new day. She was honest with her hurt, the damage she felt from me, and the destruction that my acting out had caused to her personally and to our marriage. She was clear about the end of her trust in me and in other people because of me. She said she didn’t know if she could forgive me. She also said she was guarded about telling me she loved me and that she was hopeful for the future because she didn’t know if I would stay in recovery. Amends with my wife is a day to day undertaking. Not something that is immediate or instant.

Second is those that I make amends with face to face. My family including my kids, my friends, my parents. People that I have hurt that are still in my life and will most likely stay in my life. I met with my kids and talked them through what I had done, how I had not been engaged and had not been the father God called me to be or the man I should be as an example to them. I asked them how my behavior had impacted them. They told me that my absence impacted them. That even when I was here, it was obvious that I was distracted or didn’t have time for them. One of my kids told me that this version of me now was different, that it was obvious I was trying to change and that he hoped I would stay this way. I met face to face with my close friends who are not in recovery but are my accountability partners. I saw the impact of my lies and my manipulation on them and the struggle they have to remain in my life, that its only through Christ acting through them that they can be here with me in accountability. I didn’t see before the damage I had done to them.

Finally, there are those that I can’t see face to face. People that aren’t reachable in person. Former bosses that I had to send a letter or email to apologize for my previous behavior, to ask how that impacted them, and to ask forgiveness for the man I was and the selfishness and behavior that impacted them. One former boss told me that he appreciated my candor and that he was thankful that I was seeking to improve my life. Several didn’t respond. There are also those letters that I can’t and won’t send. The ones that I wrote to former affair partners. I apologized for my part in manipulating them to meet my own selfish needs. Then I shredded those letters.

I didn’t expect amends to be this way. I didn’t expect this depth of feeling. I didn’t expect to see this depth of damage in all those around me.

Turning my life over to God was something I thought I did a long time ago. It’s the combination of turning my life AND will over to God that I missed…and am struggling with now.

Almost every person I have met in recovery has mentioned to me that they dreaded the same exact thing when working the 12 steps. Step nine. “We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Yep, that Step nine. Facing the fallout is what I call it. That is how it has felt to me throughout these last several months of recovery and working through the steps with my sponsor. How on earth am I going to be able to make amends to everyone I hurt?

In step eight, I made a list of all those I had harmed and became willing to make amends. The steps are in order for a reason. Amazing how sanctification works. Webster’s dictionary defines sanctification as “the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment.” Note it says the state of growing, not of instantly becoming. I hate that part of the definition. I would prefer it to happen instantly. Growing means over a long time period. A continuous act of becoming more mature. Not what I wanted to hear.

As I continue this journey down the path of sanctification, patience and trust have been two areas of growth in my life. I have struggled with these areas before and after recovery. In my life before recovery, I didn’t trust God and therefore didn’t have patience to wait for Him to work in my life. As I work through the 12 steps and in my recovery, daily I am learning to lean into God with my life and my will. That also means stepping into His timing as well. Which for me means practicing an immense amount of patience. And that brings me to step nine.

We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. – Step Nine.

Amends. According to Miriam-Webster, amends is “to compensate for a loss or injury.”  I wouldn’t have been ready for this a month ago, or two months ago or when I entered recovery. I thought I would never be ready for this. I was like many other people I know in recovery. I was afraid of this step. Afraid to face the people that I had harmed in my addiction. Those that I had disregarded in my descent into self destruction and selfishness. My wife, my kids, my mother in law, my friends and family. All those that I had lied to, damaged from my selfishness and manipulation. I did not think I would ever be at a point where I was ready to face them with rigorous honesty, seeking to make amends for the damage I had caused them.

Yet…here I am. I have a list. I have prayed over it. I have divided those on my list in three groups. Group one has only one name…my wife. Her amends is special and only for her. Group two are those I will meet with face to face, those that I believe I can talk to without causing them or my wife or children any further damage. Group three are those I can’t make direct amends with, those that seeing would further injure them or cause my wife and children damage.

So now its time to make amends.

Life in recovery is a Rollercoaster. The ups and downs are intense, terrifying, and rewarding.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. – excerpt from The Promises, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous

My niece got married this weekend, my brother’s daughter. The wedding was beautiful. I had the opportunity to toast the new bride and groom. I said some things…don’t go to bed angry, support and love each other, innocuous words. Flowery words. Words with meaning but without depth or any of my truth. I told myself later that I didn’t want to say anything further because I didn’t want to embarrass my wife, my brother, or really myself. I held back.

My sister and her daughters stayed with us over the weekend for the wedding. I relished the time with my younger sister, getting to be a big brother again and an uncle to my nieces. Sharing and laughing and being serious about the future care of our parents, how we had gotten to this point in our lives, good memories, bad ones. But not too bad or too in depth.

Late on Saturday, we were just all laying on our bed. It was my wife, my sister, and me. We were talking about the past year, about how difficult it had been, the impact on my kids. But not too in depth. My wife and sister were talking. I was participating as well, or so I thought. It was a great conversation. But not too challenging. Safe.

That night, my wife asked me a question. Why can’t you be more open with your story? Why are you holding back? I had ready answers. It wasn’t a safe situation. I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit telling me to share. I didn’t think I had anything to add.

I told my sponsor about this conversation a couple days later. He asked me why didn’t I feel comfortable sharing? I answered with similar words: I wasn’t comfortable, I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s urging. I didn’t think it was the right time. He asked me if that was really it? Or was I like Mary, Martha, and the disciples in John 11. Did I not trust God enough?

In John 11, Lazarus died. Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Jesus knew he would die but he didn’t rush back to save him. He wanted to do something different. To use Lazarus dying for His glory in His timing. So He came back and raised him from the dead, as only He could. Ok, I get it. He saved me from death and addiction as only He could.

My sponsor told me exactly. That’s what He did. He did it for His glory so all would know that only He could save from death and destruction. Every day that I was unwilling to share my story, I was suppressing God’s ability to bring glory to Him saving me from death and destruction and addiction as only He could.

I brought this up with my counselor who reminded me of truths he had previously shared. There are three tests for determining whether or not I should share my story. They are:

    • Do I need to tell my story to get more out of me, to benefit me
    • Do I need to tell my story to benefit the other person
    • Is my story relevant to the situation

Damn. I missed an opportunity. Sometimes truths are not comfortable or safe or nice to hear or pretty or reassuring. Sometimes they are convicting. By not being open with my story and determining whether or not I should share, I am not allowing God to use it for His purpose. I am wasting the good works He has done in my life. God, I am sorry. I will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. I will use your opportunities to share my story, not for my glory but for yours.

Isolating for me is easy. Changing that behavior is hard. Walk with me as I respond to challenges from my counselor to reach out to other men. I am trying to break out of isolation and move into building intimacy with other men and modeling that for a future relationship with my wife.


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