Dedication: To my Celebrate Recovery ladies that gave me strength and hope during the most vulnerable time in my life.
As each and every woman out there, I am good enough. I am a dedicated wife who admires my husband. I am a mom of three precious boys. I am a first grade teacher who adores my students. I am a woman who hit rock bottom, partied hard, and had an affair. With the grace of God, and the power of redemption and reconciliation, my life has changed. The judgement and doubt of others did not matter. My faith in Christ and strength to hold on as I stumbled and dug through my life during my recovery program is what mattered.
I grew up in a very close family. My parents were loving, caring, and responsible parents. They always showed respect to us and to each other. This is one reason I felt comfortable, yet guilty going to their house to see if my fears were valid…
Sitting on the side of the tub in my parents’ bathroom, I stared at the two lines on the pregnancy test. I felt numb. I felt scared. I felt ashamed. What was I going to tell my husband? It was not his.
The last few years had been full of tragedy and chaos for our family. During this time, there was a disconnect in my marriage that we were not able to address at the time. My husband was in an accident, and because of this he was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. I felt I had lost the man I married. My previous outgoing and full of life husband became a recluse alone in his room. My weekends previously filled with fun family outings became quiet nights in front of a television or trips without daddy. My previous nights laying with my husband talking for hours, became hours of loneliness and tears. The man I fell in love with was no longer with me. As time went on, I had found my own therapy for these stressors. Making sure things were set in place at home, I would tuck our two boys in for the night, and I would head out with friends for what I justified as a much deserved break. What started as once every other month became twice a week. What started as one drink led to countless. I had hit my very lowest point in life. Far too often, a friend would bring me home, and I would quietly stumble inside, collapsing wherever was closest or most convenient. One morning, as I sat on the toilet with my head against the wall, I woke up to my son’s voice in the bathroom saying, “What are you doing Mommy?” I looked down and noticed my clothes were on the floor. I felt embarrassed, but I numbly stated, “I’m just going potty.” I had convinced myself that everything was fine, but I was in great denial. While my nightly excursions gave me a reprieve from my new daily reality, it could not fill the void that was created by the changes in my husband. I yearned for his affection. I yearned for praise, for comfort, for attention. When I felt like I was not receiving this at home, I selfishly found it from another guy. He would send me flirty texts, give me compliments, and I felt appreciated. After making this connection, we had an emotional affair for a little over a month. What started as an emotional affair became physical. I broke the covenant I thought I never would. Although I felt some guilt, I continued to justify living two different lives.
One day after work, I walked into the bathroom feeling exhausted, and I looked in the mirror. I can remember the circles under my eyes, the pure exhaustion showing itself on my face, and I knew that my immoral actions would now be affecting my family. I kept putting it off, but finally made myself buy a pregnancy test. After the results truly sank in, I had no clue how I was going to handle this.
When I could no longer contain the guilt, I told my husband that I had some important things to tell him. I had a false sense that it was going to be simple. We ate breakfast at a pancake shop that morning. Each sweet, sticky bite I chewed seemed to allow me to delay telling the truth. When we finished eating, we sat in a parking lot, and I told him about the affair, “I’ve been having a relationship with someone else.” His eyes turned towards me, and he, “What kind of relationship? Who is he? Have you had sex?” I responded quietly, “Just a guy I met, yes, I’m so…,” I started to apologize, and he interrupted with gruff words, “Don’t say another word. Don’t speak to me right now.” As the door to car slammed, I was shaking and my eyes were filled with tears. He stiffly walked to the end of the parking lot, and rammed his fist into a street sign causing it to swing back and forth. As the door opened again, he stated with barely veiled anger, “Take me home.” He packed a bag for the night, and he left. There was so much tension and draining emotions between us, I was not upset to see him go, I was relieved. The next day, he came back, I was not only in shock, but selfishly disappointed.
The next couple months we went through the normal steps of trying to save a relationship. We saw therapists, we talked to friends, and went to church. During this process we told my family about the pregnancy. My dad made a statement I will always remember, “You can both give 100%, but that does not mean this will work out.” At the time, I took this as a pessimistic idea. As we moved forward with broken hearts, we both focused on our own hurts, our own needs, and our own happiness. I had come to a point of giving up, and I did. I told him I could no longer fight this fight. I continued to grow a child inside of me, and build walls around me. We both hired attorneys, and the tension between us grew. Our divorce date was set. I could not stand to be around him or hear his voice. Every time I spoke with him, I was raging with anger. The majority of time we spoke, he would speak to me so calm, and it would make me question him more. The constant question was, how could he even be treating me with respect right now? There was no way he was sincere.
When I was about 8 months pregnant, I called him in anger, but when I hung up, I had this constant feeling of “what if?” Could it be possible for us to be a family again? After I texted him my feelings, he brought me a recording of a message from church on forgiveness. “Please listen to this,” he pleaded. Connecting to this message, I cried tears that I had not shed in three years. Due to the intense emotions and big decisions at stake, we decided we would wait until the baby was here to discuss anything regarding our relationship. Staying guarded with our feelings, we continued to live our separated, yet parallel lives including our boys.
The day I was scheduled to have Garrett via c-section, Josh brought me breakfast. It was kind of surreal. As he stood there, with no words spoken, I could feel the connection between us. My heart felt content.
When Garrett was born, I sat in the hospital room by myself for many hours. I cried and reviewed events from the past year in my head. “Why, Sarah? What were you thinking? Who will help you take care of your new son? What are people going to be saying? What’s going to happen to your marriage? Is this even possible to save?“ My heart now yearned for grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Although my heart was now open to reconciliation, the next two months were still difficult. Josh doubted my intentions and his ability to trust me again after what I had done. I knew that I had to show him that my change of heart was sincere and that I was recommitted to our marriage.
After several sessions with our therapist, Josh and I made a commitment to each other to save our marriage. Although we knew this would not be an easy process, we were resolved to be steadfastly dedicated to one another. The following months proved to be an emotional roller coaster. We had to both be giving 100%, sometimes more. At times life would just about seem normal, and one of us would have a wound that would appear from the past. We had to focus on each others’ needs, not just our own. We had to be able to allow each other to heal at the speed best for them. We had to remember we were a team. We surrounded ourselves with people that supported us, showed us love, and held us accountable. We had to put our lives back together as one after we had already started building lives without each other. Our hearts were humble, our hearts were open, and our hearts were redeemed.
Perhaps the biggest blessing to come out of this difficult time is that our three boys were able to watch the true definition of forgiveness and redemption played out in front of them. From the moment they met, Garrett and Josh looked at each other with absolute adoration. Garrett was automatically a daddy’s boy in heart, and when he was two, Josh officially adopted him. He constantly asks, “Where’s Daddy?” He would be happy attached to his side. I watch in humble amazement as our youngest has such a precious place in so many people’s hearts. After five years, there are times where it seems surreal, like the whole thing was a dream. There are other times where we have to rewind and address wounds we did not know existed. Then there are my favorite times, the times we lay together in the dark, snuggled up tight, as Josh rubs my head, talking out the past and being so very grateful for being willing to stick through the hurts and mistakes, so that we are able to have the marriage and family we have now.
As human flesh, I have made mistakes. We all make mistakes. However, the past is the past. I have moved on. When people see that I have faced my demons of the past, and I am able to move forward without them holding me back, those people are not able to hold my own actions against me. The experience I had in my life has allowed me to minister to other women when it comes to marriage, confidence, forgiveness for themselves, and pregnancy crisis.