I was reading back through my journal today, and came across this entry. It’s something that I wrote just a few weeks after the day I discovered the affair.
Jeff had moved out and my existence was full of confusion, sadness, anxiety, fear and mostly, pain. Emotional, spiritual, physical pain that I can only describe as nearly unbearable. The kind where you go back and forth between feeling like you are being torn apart to this feeling of numbness, of nothing at all, because your heart, mind and body can only stand the pain in increments, so you simply shut down.
Some days I just honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I mostly wanted to lay in the floor and cry and hide from everything.
From the reality of the world that had so cruelly crashed in on me. To just crawl out of my skin. I suddenly understood why people want to lose themselves in alcohol or whatever their vice is. Anything to just make you forget. You can’t change what happened, so the closest thing to it is to be able to forget.
To drown it out.
But I had no intention of letting myself actually do it. I knew that those things, they can’t actually make you forget. Nothing can make you forget. They only dull the pain momentarily. Thankfully I knew that path only leads to more pain.
So I tried to find things to keep me busy. So that I would have something to focus on besides the fact of how devastated, heartbroken, scared and angry I was.
So on that particular day, I picked a room and started cleaning stuff out. I wasn’t sure at the time that I would be able to afford to keep the house after the divorce, so I felt like I needed to start getting things in order and cleaning stuff out so it would be less overwhelming when and if that time came. But mostly, I just couldn’t sit still.
Anyway, that is what inspired this journal entry that day.
September 26, 2015
“With all of the craziness and confusion that has been my life for the last few weeks, I have found myself feeling compelled to clean things out. To get rid of the clutter, put things in order, make my world a little cleaner, and more organized.
I don’t know why I’ve felt so compelled to do it.
Yes, I do.
I do know why.
I need to feel like I have some control.
Maybe because doing this gives me just a hint of the feeling that I have even a tiny bit of control over at least something in this mess that has become my life.
For this entire year up until that awful day, I had no control at all. I was in the dark. There were signs, yes. But I brushed them off. Until those last couple of weeks, there was nothing substantial that made me believe he had or ever would ACTUALLY betray me. And even in those last couple of weeks, before I knew the whole truth, I wanted to believe that it wasn’t what my instincts were telling me. He wouldn’t do that. He really wouldn’t actually do that. But….he did. I had no say. Jeff had been living a whole different existence while I’d been oblivious to it all, just going about our life. The life I was living was a deception. The movie of my life that was showing on my screen only hid the play that was happening on the stage behind it. I only saw the illusion. I had no control over what the reality was behind the scenes. I only thought I was in control of my life. Of what happens to me. Of what happens to my family. Knowing now that I wasn’t, it’s disarming.
Everything about an affair is horrible. But the deception, the deception is the worst. And that loss of control leaves you feeling vulnerable and victimized and so you search for anything to try and get that feeling of control back. So that.
That’s what this is really about.
As I went through stuff today, I realized how symbolic cleaning it all out was. How cleaning out the literal junk was very much the same process as cleaning out the figurative junk. The junk in our minds. In our hearts. In our lives.
Something happens when you start to clean out the junk. You start picking away at the pile of stuff. At first it seems that you’ll never reach the bottom of the pile.
So. much. JUNK.
You see that there is stuff there that you had tossed aside. Out of sight, out of mind.
You dig a little deeper and you see stuff that maybe you had wanted to hold on to, although now you’re not really sure why.
And you keep digging, and you find junk that you didn’t even know was there. Where did this stuff come from? How did I not know that this was here, hiding underneath the surface?
And you realize that junk isn’t yours. You aren’t the one that put it there. Yet here you are, literally drowning in it.
You didn’t even know it was there. You couldn’t see it because it was hidden from you. It was hidden so well, and you didn’t have access to it before. Yet somehow, without even knowing it, you had lost yourself in it.
Slowly, you start to sift your way through. You even find a few hidden treasures. Some bright spots. Tokens of light and memories of happier times. Proof that God’s goodness is there. Always. Even in the midst of all the junk.
Finally, as the pile begins to clear, you see an open space. One that’s been hidden by all this junk for far too long.
You suddenly realize the weight of all that junk. You suddenly realize how it had been crushing you, how it had been blocking out all the light.
In that clear space, you feel a sliver of freedom. Freedom from the bondage of all that weight. And although you can’t fully see it yet, and you don’t know exactly where this path will take you, you know that there is light ahead. That underneath all this junk, there is a clear path.
That there is peace to be found beyond the junk.”
Reading that entry now, I’m not even sure how I was able to write that then. How I was able for even a moment to see past the pain and believe there could be peace ahead. There were so many more moments of darkness than light during that time in my life. But to read this now, and remember all the moments in that darkness that He spoke peace and comfort to me, it’s proof of how near God is in our sorrow. It’s proof of his goodness in the midst of our pain.
I’ve got a lot more cleaning out left to do.
It’s not an easy task. There are times that I feel like it’s just too much.
There are times that as I’m digging that junk out, I trip over it and fall.
How grateful I am that I have people to pick me back up. How grateful I am that I have people that not only pick me back up, but help me clear the path.
How grateful I am that we can set those piles of junk on fire, and that the ashes left behind can be replaced with beauty, and the burden of the weight of all that junk can be replaced with freedom. And eventually, hopefully… No…I refuse to only hope.
I have to EXPECT.
I have to expect that cleared path that I find will lead to peace.
Not only peace, but also joy.
We just have to believe it,
And keep cleaning out the junk.
Amy Thurston Gordy