Feels like freedom

Oh September. I try to ignore you. I really, really do.

And I was doing a pretty good job of it.

I mean, it’s usually around mid August, when the heaviness starts setting in. When I remember the date looming ahead, September 10th. The day life as I knew it irrevocably changed forever.

But this year, August was nearly over and I realized that I really hadn’t thought about it. That’s when it suddenly struck me how well we are doing. How far we’ve come. How far I’VE come.

How quiet the hum just underneath the surface has gotten. That hum used to be such a roar, I could barely focus on anything else. The thoughts and the pain, they not only ran through a never ending loop in my mind, but they seemed to course through my veins, seeping into every part of my existence. I learned to push it back, to try and drown it out so that I could function in a halfway normal manner for all outward appearances. But it was still SO loud for what seemed like so long.

I’m not sure exactly when it got so much quieter. I can’t really pin point it. I think it was so slow, so gradual, I just didn’t notice it. I mean, I did notice. I knew there had been healing. I knew it got easier. But I hadn’t really noticed the stark distance between where we were and where we are. I hadn’t really noticed the gradual lessening of the hum.

Most of the time, it’s nothing more than a faint whisper now. Echoes of the past. I don’t suppose it ever completely leaves you.

But to know it won’t always be so loud, so painfully loud, well, it feels…kind of like freedom.

Maybe not freedom in the sense that it has no bearing on you anymore. It certainly still affects the present sometimes. But sometimes maybe freedom isn’t necessarily a release from something, as much as it is learning to live your best life in spite of something. Learning to make the most of the changes it brought. Learning to live through it, and launch from it.

Maybe freedom is actually acceptance. Maybe, freedom is merely growth.

Maybe, freedom is simply gained not by trying to forget, or pretend as though that bad thing never happened, but maybe it’s in the ability….no, the insistence of moving forward in search of the good.

It definitely shaped the person I am today. In good ways and bad. It tore me down. Stripped me of almost everything I believed to be real. Shattered my heart.

It broke me.

EVERY SINGLE part of me.

But I survived it.

WE survived it.

I put myself back together. Although the pieces didn’t fit quite the same anymore. There were cracks. So many cracks. But if you allow it, God can fill those cracks with goodness. The cracks are still there, and you can still see the seams of every single one.

I’ll never be the same.

But eventually you won’t see the emptiness through the cracks anymore. Just the goodness shining through.

And sometimes, there’s goodness that was already hidden underneath the cracks. Gifts and talents and wisdom that’s always been there, but has been locked away, waiting for the outer layers to be torn away so it can rise to the surface.

I had to choose that. I had to choose to either dwell in those empty broken places, or let Him both draw out what was hidden away beneath them or fill them in with something I was missing. And if today, you are the one that is broken, at some point you will have to choose too.

Not all at once. But little by little, after you’ve spent some time exploring those broken pieces of yourself, and taking the time to grieve the parts you lost, you will have to decide if you want to dwell there, in that dark broken place, or if you want to look for the goodness to come. You have to choose to allow God to fill that space in, even when you’re not sure how it could possibly be filled. No, it won’t happen quickly, or all of a sudden. But your time will come. Your deafening hum will get quieter. You’ll suddenly realize that it isn’t so hard anymore.

That life can be good again.

Broken is hard. Shattered is painful. Being torn down is nothing less than completely devastating.

But being torn down is sometimes the only way to be built into your full potential. Being shattered is sometimes the only way to release the things hidden away inside of you.

And sometimes, broken is beautiful.

Because sometimes, broken is the only true way to wholeness.

Sometimes the broken you is the only way to the best you.

I woke up a few days ago, finally feeling the heavy pull of September. Feeling the pull of darker days; echoes of that awful September day three years ago, and the excruciating days that followed it, calling out to me. Drawing me back like some giant magnet into a dark hole. That hum that I had just recently realized was so quiet, threatening to get loud again. The images, the memories, trying to force their way in.

There’s no peace for you, they say.

You don’t get to be a normal couple, they say.

You’ll always be broken, they say.

And the worst one….

I can ruin you again, they say.

But I fight not to listen. Not to let the lies settle in to my spirit. I fight back with the truths that I’ve hidden away there.

It’s not easy. Because those whispers feel like loud, unavoidable truth sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like those dreams you have where you try to scream but you can’t get the sound out, or you try to fight but you’re frozen and can’t move.

So you have to dig deep, and let God’s truths you’ve hidden away in your heart speak for you until you find your strength and your voice again.

Because God says that He heals the broken-hearted, and He binds up our wounds.

Because God says no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Because God says He gives us a new heart.

Because God says He makes a way for us in the wilderness.

Because God says He will make all our paths straight.

Because God says He is for us.

Because God says He knows the plans He has for us, and they are always, always good.

Because God says what He has joined together, let no one tear apart.

Because God says we are more than conquerors.

Because He says He makes all things new.

Because He says He will give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Because God says let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

And I SAY so.

I am redeemed.

WE ARE REDEEMED.

So take that, September. Take your darkness. Take your sadness. Take your bad memories. Take your anxiety. Take your deafening hum.

You had your day. And that day has passed.

You tore us down, but He built us up.

You took away everything we had and everything we were, but He replaced it with something far better.

You won the battle on that dark September day, but Jesus, grace, and love,

Love won the war.

Matthew 7:25

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

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The Falling away

It’s the first official day of Fall. It’s still pretty hot here in Georgia, but you can feel it coming. You can feel it in the crispness of the cooler air early in the morning, and in the dusk that sets in just a little earlier at the end of every day. It used to be my favorite time of the year. It brought a cool breeze. It brought beautiful warm colors. It brought the ability to throw on cozy sweaters and jeans. It brought warm comfort foods and everything pumpkin. It brought bonfires and roasted marshmallows and Saturday night football viewing parties. Don’t get confused, I know y’all know I really don’t care about the football games. I’m just there for the snacks and the company, yeah, mostly the snacks. Ha. 

But I CAN tell you which team will win the game with at least 95% accuracy, based on my personally developed “super scientific uniform theory”. I kid you not. This is a real thing. Basically, I pick the winning team based on the uniform they are wearing. The colors, the fit, the presentation, I take it all into account, all the way from the helmet down to the shoes. Laugh if you want, Jeff certainly doubted my “super scientific theory” too. Until he saw how many times I was right! I guess that’s a little off subject. So I’ll get back to what I was saying. Y’all just let me know if you want me to choose a winner for ya. 😂

Fall still brings all of those things. But two years ago, Fall brought me something else. Something that would change life as I knew it forever. Well, in reality, that one Fall day didn’t alter the course of my life. The day Jeff first entertained the thought of becoming involved with her is the day that my life changed forever. My world was dismantled bit by bit with every thought, every text, every conversation, every meeting between the two of them over the course of that year. So that particular September day was not the one day my world was destroyed, it was just the day that I came to the full realization of it. 

Last year, I struggled a lot with it. The triggers were everywhere. The thoughts and memories sometimes overwhelming. Because that same crispness in the air that I used to love so much was the same crisp air that I ran out into to try and catch my breath on that awful day. Because those football games reminded me of the one he was getting ready to go watch when I saw those messages on his phone that were proof of his betrayal. 

This year, it doesn’t have as strong of an effect. I can’t say the anniversary of that day hasn’t affected me at all. I still had some level of anxiety about it. But it was more of an annoying quiet hum than the load roar that it used to be. 

Last year, I had wanted to plan something to mark the day. Something to try and give it new meaning, and new memories. This year, I didn’t feel as strongly about it. Earlier in the year I bought tickets to go to a Kari Jobe concert. When I saw the announcement for the concert, and saw that it was local and just happened to be on September 10th, I figured what better way to spend that evening than filling it with worship music? I figured that would be a good way to drown out any negative feelings that crept in that day. 

As it turned out, D-day came and went without leaving much of a footprint this year. September 10th fell on a Sunday. We got up and went to church as usual. We went to lunch together , just the two of us. Jeff was actually the one to bring it up. “So, today’s our happy anniversary I guess? Well, more of an unhappy anniversary? But happy because we survived. And because our lives are so much better now than they were.”

And that was the extent of our acknowledgment of the day. As it turned out, the concert, which I had actually forgotten about until that afternoon, was cancelled last minute because of Hurricane Irma’s impending arrival. So we stayed home, cozy on our sofa with bowls of chili and watched some tv. 

I guess my feelings kind of go back and forth on what this day should be. A part of me wants to fill it up with new things and new memories to give it new meaning. But another part wants to let it pass with no acknowledgment at all. To take its power away by making it just another day on the calendar. 

I think the reality will fall somewhere between the two. Because in reality, I’ll most likely never forget the date, so it will always be acknowledged in some way. But I never want it to be in a way that glorifies the ugliness of that day, or gives those memories the power to ruin my present day. Because September 10th, 2017, is not September 10th, 2015. And September 10th, 2018 and every September 10th after that won’t be either. That day is gone. It happened, and we can’t change it. And every year, though the date may be the same, our lives are not the same. So we will acknowledge it, but only with a sense of gratitude of the goodness that we live in now, and that we have put one more year in between us and that terrible time in our lives. 

When I think about it, it’s kind of fitting that this day happened in the Fall. 

We don’t necessarily think about it, because it can be so deceivingly beautiful, but in essence, Fall is a process of death. The vibrant green trees slowly fade to warm shades of yellow, orange, and red. They look so lovely on the outside, that we don’t often think about what might be happening on the inside. 

Slowly, the colorful leaves begin to loosen, and one by one, fall to the ground. There’s only a few at first, so we just walk through them, hearing them crunch under our feet but not really giving them much thought. But as the wind gets stronger, the dying leaves become weaker, and suddenly they are everywhere, covering the ground. Smothering the grass beneath them. 

Hiding the walkways and covering the paths that we could once see clearly. 

It is messy, this falling away. And once the leaves have all fallen, the trees look painfully bare. The falling away is followed by a season of emptiness. Or at least that’s the way it seems. But it is the Fall, the shedding of the old, that makes way for the new. It’s a painful process. There’s no getting around that. But it’s the only way to shed what no longer belongs. To get rid of the diseased leaves. To reset. So that when the Spring comes, and it always comes, there’s nothing hindering its growth. And what grows from those empty branches is fuller, and more beautiful than what it was before. So much stronger than it was before the falling away. 

The seasons of life can be painful. But there is beauty in all of it. Even in the falling away. Even in the dead of the barren winter. Because it’s making way for the beauty of Spring, and the fullness of Summer. Some years it brings varying levels of death and life. Sometimes the changes are small, and we come through it mostly unscathed, barely even noticing that the seasons changed, and other times, the changing of the seasons of our lives is so sudden and so devastating that we wonder if the winter will ever end. 

Don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. It always comes. And in the meantime, look for the beauty in the season you’re in. It’s there. It’s always there. 

When the spring comes, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be fuller. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Yes, there may be losses to mourn. You’ll certainly never be the same. You may bear the scars of the storms you weathered through the winter. But that will be what sets you apart. It will be your mark of the goodness of God. A symbol of how we can survive bad things. How the storms can wound us, but that those wounds can heal. A symbol of how all that we know can fall away, lost forever, but that something beautiful can grow in its place. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

It was a Thursday

During those few weeks leading up to this particular Thursday, things had been strained between us, because of the discovery of flirtatious Facebook messages between Jeff and a younger co-worker and then finding all the phone records documenting Jeff’s admitted “emotional affair” with another co-worker. 
During those few weeks after that had been discovered, he went off on a church men’s retreat and then he took me to see the War Room movie. I told him I was done. I was done settling for less than what I deserved. That I wanted to save our marriage too, but it was going to require big changes. No more porn. No more close friendships or messages with other women. No more “harmless” flirting. And a stronger commitment and effort to make our marriage work. 

He took me on special dates and doted on me, basically, promising to be different and to focus on making our marriage work. And I think he wanted to mean it. He said he knew he had been wrong, and that he knew he had taken me for granted and that he had not been as committed to our marriage as he should have been. He said he wanted to be a better husband and for us to have a better relationship. 

And I think the intent was there. I don’t think he was completely faking all that. I think there was a big part of him that really wanted all of those things, but he had not fully broken free. 

During those few weeks he was being sweeter and more attentive, but he was also always nervous and anxiety ridden. I constantly questioned him. Looking for signs that he was withholding things, not telling me the truth about his betrayals. I knew in my heart there was more. I felt it in my bones that he wasn’t telling me the whole truth. That there was more to their relationship than just an inappropriately close friendship. But he was very convincing when he said he wanted to commit to our marriage and start fresh. He swore to me. He swore to God. It was just a friendship that had gotten too close. But he had not crossed the line. There had been no physical contact. There were no real emotional ties. And the Facebook girl, that was just nothing. He had just been flattered by it, and let it go too far. He was terrified to tell me the truth. He thought it was bad enough in my eyes that he was having an emotional affair, and believed that if I knew the whole truth, He would lose me forever. He saw how hurt I was and told himself he was being kind by sparing me from knowing the whole truth. 

We had been married for 23 years. I needed to believe he was telling the truth. I wanted to believe we could really have a better marriage and that he would finally be 100% committed to having a good relationship and making it a priority. I wanted to believe that getting so close to screwing things up had finally been a wake up call for him. I wanted to believe he had not actually crossed the line. 
So here we were on a Thursday evening. I had just come home from work. We always went out to eat on Thursdays. It was sort of a family tradition I guess.
I noticed immediately upon seeing him that something wasn’t quite right. He was acting strange, distant. There was something so off about his demeanor and I felt it instantly. My spirit knew something was so very wrong. 

He said he wasn’t going to dinner, that he was going to his cousin’s house to watch a football game. It wasn’t like him to bail on family dinner night at the last minute. I asked him what was wrong, that I was getting a weird vibe and something didn’t feel right. He said he was fine, that he had just told them he would come hang out with them and that he felt bad not going.

When he went to get in the shower, something told me to look at his phone. So I did, and saw that he had been in a game app. When I opened the game app, it was on the message page, and what I read there, changed everything. 

There were messages sent earlier that day. To her. 
He was still talking to her. He had sworn there was no more contact. 

One of them said, “I’m here at the park, in our special spot, thinking about you.” 
Another message asked her if he really meant anything to her or if he was just one of her many boyfriends.(she had had other affairs). 

I read them all again. I read the words over and over. 
“I’m at the park”

“Our special spot”

“Thinking of you”

“special to you” 

“Just one of your boyfriends”

OUR SPECIAL SPOT.           THINKING OF YOU.          BOYFRIEND.                 BOYFRIEND???                               OUR SPECIAL SPOT!?? 
The words jumped off of that screen like daggers to my soul. 
I think I died a little that day. 
I know I did. 

It was confirmation of everything I had suspected in my heart , but oh my goodness how I wanted to believe it wasn’t so. I know God had been preparing me for the possibility of it, deep down I already knew it, but I don’t think you can ever really be prepared for the reality. 

I’m not sure how to describe what that felt like. 

The all at once knowing.
It’s as if a speeding train has suddenly appeared out of nowhere and hits you full force. All at once excruciating, searing, unbearable pain that reaches every tiny crevice of your being but at the same time a numbness, a complete nothingness. 
It’s as if your body splits into two and somehow you feel everything and nothing all at once. 
The images in your head. Repulsive awful images. The monsoon of questions. So many questions. You start to question every moment of the past , wait, how long? You don’t even know how long so basically every memory is suddenly on a side by side screen, one the image of the life you thought you had, and the moment you thought you experienced, and the other screen full of the ugly awful deceit of this other life, the one you didn’t know about. Which of these is real? Your memories are now neither what you remember or the awful image on the other screen, but somehow both all at once, yet the two realities can not be reconciled and nothing, absolutely nothing makes sense. It’s as if your life ceases to exist because you don’t even know what it was. It was all an illusion. And suddenly you understand what insanity is. It is this. The inability to tell the difference between what parts are real and what parts are the illusion. 
My heart is racing. Or maybe it stopped? 
I can’t tell. 

I read it again. 
And again. 

I’m shaking. 
I can’t move. Yet I can’t stand still. 

I need to sit down. Or maybe I just need to run? 

I feel trapped. 

Like those times when you wake up but you’re not fully awake and you can’t move or talk and you are just stuck there. Immobilized and terrified. 

I can’t stop reading it. 
Maybe if I keep reading it, it will change. 

These can’t be his words. 
How are these his words?

What is happening? 
This isn’t happening. It’s not real. 
It’s not real. 

Wake up wake up wake up.
I can’t breathe. 
Read it again. 
No no no no no no.
No. God, please. 

He’s sleeping with her.                   He is sleeping with her.                     I was right all along. I didn’t want to believe it. 
How long? Oh God! How long has this been going on? 
I had searched back at least 4 months of the phone records before I had stopped looking. So it was at least that long. How far back did this start? How long have I been living a complete lie?

He met her 10 years ago. 

Has it been 4 months? 10 months? Could it even be years?

Oh my God. 
He’s having an affair. 

They are having a full blown, all out affair. 

No, not just an affair.                     Not just sex. Not just friendship.    This is a RELATIONSHIP. 

The realization is like a searing hot knife cutting through me. Dicing me painfully bit by bit into a million tiny pieces. 
What do I do?
I still can’t breathe.

He gets out of the shower. 
I’m sitting on the edge of the bed. Still staring at the phone. Willing what I’m seeing to disappear. 

He takes one look at me and he knows. 
He knows I know.

“You slept with her”
“Amy, just listen, please listen”

Oh my God. Oh my God.
“Answer the question. ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!”
Looking down, the shame keeping his voice barely above a whisper…”yes.”
“And you love her! Do you love her?”
He hangs his head again. “Please, I know it looks bad, just let me talk to you.”
No. No. No. No. 
Don’t come near me. 

“How long? How long has this been going on?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH HER?”

“I don’t know… Since the beginning of this year….Like 8 months. 9 months maybe…”
I need to get out of here. The walls are closing in. I’m sucked into this vortex and there’s no air in here and I CAN’T BREATHE. 
My heart and mind just couldn’t process that this was really happening. How is this real? This is not us. This can’t be us.
I think I’m in shock. 

I run out of the house. He’s yelling after me to please stop, please don’t go. I’m not sure what he’s saying really. The rushing noise I’m hearing in my ears is drowning everything else out. 
I pull out of the driveway. I’m not sure what I’m doing. What do I do? 
Melanie. My sister, Melanie lives closest. I can make it to Melanie’s house. It’s just up the street.

I pull in the driveway. 

She’s not there. 

Where is she? 

I’ll call her. She will get here.

Voicemail. I dial again. She always answers. 

Voicemail. 

Now I’m hyperventilating. 

Where are you? You’re always here. You always answer the phone. 

What do I do? I don’t know what to do. 

I suddenly realize I’m saying these things out loud. 

I think I’m losing it a little. 

I start driving again. Towards town. The tears are streaming. The sobs catching in my throat. I realize that I shouldn’t be driving. And where am I going? I should turn around. Marla’s house? No, Marla’s house is too far. And I can’t see. I can’t see where I’m going.

Mama. I need to go there. I need my Mama. It’s not far and she will be home. 
I have a key so I don’t even knock. I just walk in. 

Adam’s kids are there. Sweet babies. They are always happy to see me. They are all smiles. “Amy’s here!”

I just stand there. I can’t cry in front of the babies. I don’t want to scare them. So I’m a statue. 

She immediately says, “what’s wrong?”

All I can do is shake my head.          I can’t talk. I can’t move.              She knows. Just like that she knows. Without me having to say a word.                                          Because Mama’s have that gift. She asks the kids to go downstairs. And then I lose it.                                 I cry. She cries.                                She tells me to stay.                         Just stay here for a bit.                   But I have to go. 

Oh God I have to go back. My girls! 

My youngest was in her room when I left. She was getting ready for us to go out to dinner. I know she heard me leave. Jeff was upset when I left, Oh God I left her there. I left her there to find him falling apart. What would he tell her? How would he explain what was happening? She must be terrified. And my oldest is coming home. She’s going to walk into this. I have to get it together and go take care of my kids. 

How do I take care of my kids? 
Why did they have to be there for this? Why couldn’t they at least have been spared these moments? 
She’s texting me now. 
“Mama, daddy’s crying. Please come home. Where are you Mama?”

What does she know? What did he tell her?
My mind is spinning.                      My sweet babies.                                   I don’t know how to do this. 
I walk in. I see her face. My sweet precious girl’s face. Tear streaked and terrified. 
My oldest had just arrived and was putting her stuff in her room. She walks to her door as I meet her there and says,
“What is wrong? What happened?”

She thought someone had died. That’s what she expected me to say. 

In reality, I felt like I was dying. Minute by excruciating minute. Everything I’d ever known or believed about myself and my life was being crushed into dust. 
“I don’t know how to tell you this. It’s your dad, he’s been having an affair.”
A sudden look of confusion flashes across her face. 
This, she was not expecting. Those were not the words she thought were coming. 

“Wait, what?”

Then her confusion turns to anger, then a gentleness that shows the sweet, amazing spirit and the maturity of the young woman she had grown into. She says, “oh Mom. I’m so sorry Mama.” And she reaches up and kisses my forehead and wraps her arms around me. 

I’m supposed to be taking care of her, but instead, my beautiful sweet girl is taking care of me. 

We go into the living room and sit on the couch. She looks at him, the anger welling in her eyes. “What the hell, Dad?!!”
He just sits across the room on the other sofa, not able to look any of us in the eye, and cries. 

And I hate him. I hate him so much. He destroyed our family. I can’t stop thinking, ” How could you do this to me? To them?!!”

And we sit. We sit there for what seems like eternity. No one knows what to do. It’s as if we are trapped here in this never ending moment of pure hell. 
The silence is painful.

I thought when I saw those messages, I thought that was the moment. I thought that was the worst moment of my life. But this. This is so much worse. Seeing my girls so devastated, so confused. Knowing there is NOTHING I can do to protect them from this moment.                                                It is this moment that is the worst. 
The room is heavy. The air is literally so heavy I still haven’t figured out when I’m breathing and when I stop. 
Everything is soul crushing, heart breaking pain. 

And I can’t even think. I need to do something. We can’t just sit here. But I can’t think straight. Nothing feels right. Talking, not talking, staying, leaving. 

Nothing feels right. 

I don’t know what’s real. 

Surely this isn’t real. My kids have to live with this moment engrained in their minds forever? And I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t protect them. It’s not fair. None of this is fair. None of this is right. Everything is just wrong.               So, so wrong. 

I suddenly realize we never ate. The thought of food makes me nauseous. I don’t care if I never eat again, but the girls, the girls should eat. That’s something Mom’s do to take care of their kids. I can do that. That’s one thing I can do. Feed the kids. I’ll do that. 
This is the only way my mind could process things in those early days. Grab one thought, focus, do this one little thing. One little thing at a time. It’s all I could handle. 
The pizza comes. They get pizza and I think they eat it. Maybe they ate it. I can’t remember. 
They go to bed. Jeff and I are alone now. I tell him I need him to get his stuff and go. He’s devastated.

 When I see him sitting there, I don’t even recognize him. This shell of a man on my sofa was not the man I knew. Or at least not the man I thought I knew. He literally doesn’t even look like my Jeff. He looks old. Weak. The heaviness of all the lies and all the deception and all of the sins of his past were like a visible shroud hanging over him. They had consumed the man that I thought I knew and made him into someone else. I don’t know this person sitting on my couch, and I’ve never been more confused. My whole life was a sham. And for how long? Nothing makes sense anymore.

It’s late. I tell him he can stay that night, For the girls sake, because they had been through enough trauma for one night. They didn’t need to have to watch him leave too. 
And I’m just so tired. I’ve never been so tired. I can’t handle any more big things. Not tonight. 

I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know how to do this. But I know I can’t look at you right now. Tomorrow, tomorrow you have to go. 

So I go to our bedroom. Alone. 
I lie there. And I look around and I realize I’m alone. Alone.                For almost 24 years he’s laid in that spot beside me. But not tonight. And not tomorrow. Not ever again. 

Our marriage is over. 

I can’t breathe. I have to keep reminding myself to breathe. 
I feel sick. 

This isn’t real. It can’t be real. 

Sleep did not find me that night, and the next morning, he tearfully packed his bags and walked out the door. 
That is the story of that day.        Just like that, our life was forever changed. And there was no way back. 

That was one year ago today. 
Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of our story. As sure as I was in that moment, it was not the end of our marriage. 
It was the beginning. 
Today I am thankful there was no way back to what we were before that day. 

I still hate that Thursday and all the pain it brought us. But the thing is, when you can’t go back, you can only go forward. 

And we did. Step by painful step we moved forward. We didn’t get our life back. We weren’t restored to what we once had. And I couldn’t be more grateful. 

That day was full of pain, the result of the decay of our marriage, the result of Jeff’s addiction, the result of a lifetime of bad choices and lack of real commitment and a result of not knowing who we really were and who God was in us. And we don’t want to go back. 

Not Ever. 

Today though, today is not just the anniversary of the worst day of our lives. 
I’ve called it D-day, because that is what people call it in infidelity victim’s circles, this club I didn’t want to be a member of. 

D-day is the common word used to label the day the truth is revealed. But I’m not going to call it that anymore. 

I’ve decided it’s kind of our birthday. 

It’s the day that everything that once was, ceased to exist, and made room for something new to come.

Birth is a painful process. But it also brings new life. Something completely new and full of possibilities. A new lease on life. A chance to begin again. An opportunity to get it right. 
So today we have reason to celebrate. We celebrate all our victories. We celebrate Jeff’s one year sobriety from his pornography addiction. We celebrate the new life we have built. We celebrate this new marriage, this new commitment we have to each other. Today we will remember the pain and the significance of the brokenness of that day, but only because it is in remembering that brokenness, that we can see how truly miraculous the new life we have now is. We endured so much darkness, but we faced it and we not only survived, but came out as better people, and with a better marriage than we’ve ever had before.
2 Corinthians 5:17                           The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

So today we will celebrate all these things. We celebrate all the goodness we have found since that terrible day, and all the goodness that lies ahead of us.
Psalm 23:6.                                   Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
Today we are thankful, for the goodness and the love and the blessings upon blessings that God has bestowed on us. And for all of you, near and far, that have walked with us through this past year. 
Today is not a day of sorrow. 
Today is a day of joy.                         🎂                                                           Today, is our first birthday. 
Amy Thurston Gordy 

Wake me up when September ends

September.
I used to love it.
Still enough summer left to enjoy the pool, but also just a hint of fall in the air. There was always a kind of crispness to September. New school routines becoming more settled, pumpkins popping up in front of the stores. Scents of cinnamon and spice and pumpkin and baked goods signaling the impending arrival of fall and all the comforts that season brings. Cozy nights with a fire and a fluffy blanket. Chili, hot chocolate, apple cider, candy corn, caramel apples, pumpkin cupcakes, football food, fall festivals. Planning fall vacations. Holidays.
(And suddenly as I read this back I’m realizing that almost all of that consists of references to food. Ha;)
So much goodness.
These are the things I used to think of in September.

But now…well, I still think of all those things.
But September is also a terrible reminder of the worst day of my life.

And I know that I have to choose to not focus on that. I’m doing my best. But if I’m being honest, it’s not always particularly easy. I’m trying not to think about it. But it’s there. Always under the surface. Sometimes closer to the surface than others.
I don’t choose to have thoughts or memories pop up, I don’t choose to feel the sadness those things bring. But when they come I have to choose to fight them.
It’s still a struggle sometimes. Those thoughts and feelings are a pretty strong adversary, but I AM stronger.
And getting stronger by the day.

Things are good.
Really, really good. I know this. I’m happy.
I’m thankful. So thankful. Rebuilding this marriage, what we have been able to do, I do not take it for granted.
God continues to pour out His blessings on us every day.
One of my favorite songs at the moment has a verse that says “I know you hear me, I know you see me Lord. Your plans are for me, goodness you have in store.”
And He does. He has nothing but goodness for us.
That’s what I want to focus on.

But despite that, sometimes the ache still gets to me.
It’s like an old injury that you can almost forget you had.
Almost.

Someone swings a bat, oblivious to anyone around them and it comes around and makes contact with your leg.
The sound is deafening.
Cracking, splintering, shattering. The pain is searing.
Nearly unbearable.
You go into shock. It immobilizes you.
Weeks and months pass. After many prayers, therapy, determination and hard work, you are back on your feet again. The fact that you are walking is nothing short of a miracle.
And the searing hot pain is gone….mostly.
Sometimes you almost forget about it. Except that there always seems to be that dull ache. You’ve become so accustom to it, that you almost don’t notice it.
It just is.
So you just learn to live with it. You learn coping mechanisms, some good, some probably not so good. But you just keep pushing through. You find a way to live with it. Because you decide, for you, there really is no other option. You could choose to wallow in the pain, which just intensifies the pain, or you suck it up and you push the pain away and focus on everything else so you can live your life.

And the person that caused you that injury, they are sorry. So very sorry. And you forgive them.
And it’s easy for them now. Easy for them to forget and live their lives. They don’t have any lingering pain or scars or after effects. They’ve become a new person. They aren’t that person that hurt you anymore.
Except for having to deal with the occasional moments you allow them to see your ache, they can easily wipe the memory of the person they used to be from their minds.
They are just a clean slate.
And you envy that.
You envy that so much that sometimes you secretly wish that you were them and they were you.
It’s so simple for them.

You want it to be that simple for you too.

The words ARE simple.
Easy.

You’re healed.
You’re walking.
Life is great.
Let it go.

But although that bone has healed so much, it’s not the same. The fracture lines are still there, and there’s always that dull ache. And sometimes, with just the slightest change in the weather, that dull ache can become so loud, and so insistent that you just can’t block it out. It doesn’t happen quite as often anymore, but still, you find yourself wondering sometimes if these episodes of increased pain will ever completely stop. And you find yourself wondering if that deep dull ache ever truly ends, or if it’s there to stay.
It’s a constant reminder.
And you wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Maybe it’s a little of both.

Bad because pain is, well…painful.
And distracting.
Makes it harder to focus.
But it’s also a constant reminder that despite how bad things were, how truly good things are now.

It’s a reminder of the fact that you didn’t stay there.
A reminder of how far you’ve come.
A reminder that you don’t live there anymore.

You live in light and joy and redemption.

So maybe one day the ache will completely disappear, or maybe you have to learn to view that ache as Paul did when God wouldn’t remove “the thorn in his flesh”. Maybe you have to learn to let that be a reminder of God’s grace and your gratitude and “count it all joy”.

Either way, the goodness wins. Either way, the goodness defeats the ache.

The day is coming. D-day. The anniversary of the worst day ever.
I don’t want to let it be that. It’s a date on a calendar. It shouldn’t own me or my emotions.
So I’m trying to think of something to do or somewhere to go. Some way to fill that day up this year with fun and happiness and joy. Just something to create some new memories for that day. (Suggestions and ideas are appreciated 🙂 I have thought that one day we might even use that day to renew our vows. But if I decide to do that, not this year. I want a little more prep time to plan for that!)
I just want to find some way to spend our day focusing on each other and all the things we have to celebrate. Our new and better marriage. His one year mark of being porn free. The many, many blessings we have been given in this past year. I want to celebrate the goodness.

If I fill that day up year after year with new and better memories, then the negative memories will fade more and more and the goodness will overtake the bad.

One day this season in our lives will be just a season. Just a fact in the story of our lives. One day I will be so far out from this injury my heart has endured, that I won’t notice the ache anymore. One day when I see my scars, I won’t think of the pain anymore. Only the beauty that came after the pain.

So I’m gonna retract the title of this blog. Don’t wake me up when September ends. I’m not hiding out or sleeping through it.

There’s goodness to be found, and I don’t want to waste a single day of it.

Bring it on September.
I think I’m ready for you.

Amy Thurston Gordy

We don’t live there anymore.

Today was the day last year that marked the beginning of the unraveling of my marriage. Not the D-day. That comes in September. But today was the day that the first clue was revealed. The first hint that something was terribly wrong. I had found messages between him and another girl. Not the one he was actually having an affair with. I didn’t know about that yet. This was someone else. A much, much younger girl from work. They were not having an affair, but the messages were very flirtatious, and he was not discouraging it. It was definitely flirtatious enough that one could see that it was headed in that direction. I was devastated. 

Over a Facebook message. 

Little did I know that was small potatoes compared to what was truly happening. I just thought we had problems. I thought we had problems just knowing that he was entertaining the idea of having an affair, little did I know at the time that he was actually already engaged in one with someone completely different. 

The girl he was sending these flirtatious messages with, actually started messaging him again months later, during our separation, this time including some pictures in which she was in a state of , ahem, undress. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t realize that Jeff wasn’t getting those messages. They were coming to ME. I sent her a message back letting her know. I have to admit, sending that message to let her know that she had actually not sent those messages to Jeff, but instead to me, HIS WIFE, was kind of fun. Just imagining the look on her face when she read that first sentence was a pretty entertaining thought. I mean , I kind of imagined it to look kind of like this. 


I was harsh, but kinder than most people would be in this situation. She is very young. Unmarried. Naive. So I decided to show her a little grace and explain to her that going after someone else’s husband has a much far reaching effect than just her and the husband. I explained to her the devastation it brings to everyone involved. 

To my surprise, she actually responded. Said that she was sorry. That she actually had been raised better than to do what she was doing. 

Turns out, she comes from a broken home and knows first hand what that fallout is like. So why then, I asked her, would you want to possibly have a part in causing someone else’s kids to go through what you went through? 

I have recently heard that she is pregnant. I wonder, now that she has a relationship, and a child of her own, if she realizes the seriousness of her actions. If she thinks about what it would be like to find those kinds of messages from another woman to her husband? I wonder if she understands better now all the things I said to her. I hope she does and that she never does something like that again. And I hope she never has to experience it herself and that her baby grows up in a loving home that stays whole. 

A couple of nights ago I had started having some anxiety about this upcoming season of unfortunate anniversaries. The thought of them brought about some triggers, and sometimes when I’m working through battling those triggers I get particularly quiet. Jeff always notices. So we talked about it. We talked about how the triggers affect me. And then we talked about all the good things, and how thankful we are for where we are now in comparison. We talked about how proud I am of him and the transformation he’s made in himself. We talked about all of our victories in the battles we have faced in this past year. We talked about how far we’ve come and our belief that things will just keep getting better. 

He told me how every night when he goes to bed he thanks God that he has been given the gift of going to sleep in this house with me and our family. He said every morning when he wakes up he thanks God again that he has the privilege of waking up with me by his side. 
I know from my support group and from talking to so many others that are trying to rebuild their marriage that Jeff’s commitment to this marriage, to our family, and to this process is a rarity. He is truly 100% committed to whatever it takes, and he goes above and beyond in his effort to making it work. I know what a true blessing that is and I do not take that for granted. 
So I told him that although I couldn’t promise that the memories and triggers in the coming months wouldn’t sometimes make me feel sad, that I was going to do my very best to intently choose to focus on all the goodness of the present day and not let the memories and the triggers steal that from us. And in response he snuggled me right up and kissed me gently on the top of my head, and said he knows how hard those memories are, and that we would just try our best to focus on making new happy ones to replace them. 

So that’s the plan. 

I recently gave a woman in my support group some advice on how to get through a particularly hard day. I told her that when those memories pop up to just keep reminding herself that she doesn’t live there anymore, and to try and focus on all the goodness in this present moment. So I’m going to do my best to take my own advice. And I hope y’all will pray for us in these coming weeks too. That the pain of those memories will continually weaken, as we focus on building new and happier memories and reclaiming those days that were tarnished. 
❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy