The fullness of now

Summer in Georgia is hot. Like sweltering, sticky, oppressively hot. The kind of hot that makes you imagine you’re a stick of butter melting into a puddle on the pavement. Which is why I find myself sitting in my room, lights off, curtains drawn, air conditioner blaring and fan blowing. 

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon nap in Georgia. A super cold dark room and some fluffy covers is like heaven when it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s much too hot to go out and do anything, so might as well enjoy just being still for a bit. 

It also gives me an excuse to sit and write, which is not something I’ve done much of this month, and I’ve missed it.
It’s been about a month since I last posted, and things have been going really well. We’ve spent some time at the lake, laid out by the pool, seen a few movies, and done some shopping for my oldest daughter’s apartment. I’m still pretending that she’s not moving out on her own in a couple of weeks. Mama’s. Not. Ready. Oh my heart. 

Overall we’ve had a great month. I did, however, have a couple of days where I struggled a little. Nothing really noticeable to anyone, (except Jeff, as usual). No particular reason, just had a hard time keeping my thoughts focused on the good ones and pushing out the bad ones. It happens occasionally. No major incident, just thoughts of insecurity, doubt, fear… you know, the usual suspects. 

They’re liars and thieves , those three. Really convincing ones. They are especially efficient in their attack. They bombard you with reminders of the past, and then they use that to fill you with fear of what could happen in the future. Because if they can keep you busy flip flopping back and forth from the pain of your yesterdays to the fear of what could happen in your tomorrows, they can very effectively steal today. And that’s all they want. Because your today, your now, is everything. Now is all we ever really have. 

So when you find yourself falling prey to doubt, insecurity, and fear, it’s important to get control of that as quickly as possible. 

To reclaim your now.

I clawed my way out of that fog and was feeling much better. But it seems those thieves wanted one more go at me that night.

We sat on the sofa that evening and decided we would find a new tv series to watch on Netflix. We weren’t sure what to choose. It can be difficult sometimes to find things that we can watch. A lot of the popular series are extremely explicit, and we try to avoid that due to the former porn issue. Some may think that’s silly, but it’s no different than the fact that you wouldn’t set up a fully stocked bar in front of an alcoholic or offer a recovering drug addict a sample of cocaine. They may be able to control it, but why take the risk?

Then there’s all the shows that have affairs as part of the main story line. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. It mostly just depends on how similar the details are to mine. 

Anyway, I had heard my sister and some coworkers talking about this series that they loved. They talked about it all the time, and so I suggested maybe we should try that one. 

I really had no idea what it was about, just that it was about this influential family that had all these secrets and that there were all these twists and turns to keep things interesting.

So we get cozy on the couch, start the show, and the scene, the very first scene, was a couple having sex in the back seat of a car. 

Of all the things. 

OF ALL THE THINGS. 

It had to be that. 

It could have started with any other sex scene and I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I don’t think it was super explicit or even involved much nudity, if any. Actually I’m really not sure if it did or not because I completely checked out. 

I saw 3, maybe 5 seconds of it. 

That’s when my brain did that thing it does and takes me somewhere else. Somewhere that I never actually saw with my own eyes but have seen in my minds eye a million different torturous times. 

I didn’t see the actors on the screen anymore. 

I saw Jeff. With her. 

That’s all I can see. His face, her hair, his hands. And I look away. I can’t look. Make it go away. Make it go away. Please make it go away.

But it doesn’t help because the image isn’t only on the screen. It’s in my head. And I just want it to stop. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear it. It was only a few seconds. But it was long enough. Long enough for the panic to set in. For the painful tightening in my chest. For the knot to form in my stomach. For my lungs to forget how to breathe again.  

“Is that what it was like?” I hear myself ask him, realizing that I actually said it out loud and not just in my head.

Another one of those questions that I need to know and yet also do not need to know. 

His face is pained, his hands searching feverishly for the remote. 

I leave the room, busy myself with loading some laundry to try and clear my head and learn to breathe correctly again. 

It happens. 

It kind of stinks that something as simple as watching tv can be so complicated. It kind of stinks that there are a lot of simple things that bring the past to the surface. 

But it is what it is. We deal with it, and we move on. 

A few days ago, I made the executive decision to watch the show anyway. 

It was just an unfortunate coincidence that it started with that particular scene. 

We just skipped to the next scene and started there. 

We have to live our lives, regardless of the triggers. I do my best to avoid them. The ones that I can’t avoid, I deal with the best that I can. Thankfully, there have been very few this year that affected me that way. 

I’ve gotten pretty good at controlling the thoughts. 

I can’t say that I’ve gone a whole day yet that I haven’t had some kind of thoughts about the affair. I guess I’m not sure that will ever happen. 

But it rarely affects my now. There’s more of a separation. The thoughts are there. But the pain attached to them is not as overpowering as it once was on a daily basis anyway. 

The goodness of my now has gotten bigger than the pain of my past. 

And I like to imagine that it will continue to get bigger, so much so that the panic stops even with the bigger triggers at some point.

Those few minutes were tough. They took me back to a very painful time. And it can be overwhelming. 

But it was only a few minutes. I’ve had a million other great minutes.  

And all I have to do is remember that the panic, the pain, those things are not my now. 

My now is full of goodness.                                    My now is full of joy.                                               My now is simply….full. 
❤️                                                                             Amy Thurston Gordy

Forgiveness. It’s no Lifetime Christmas movie.

A few weeks ago I decided to face my struggle with forgiveness head on. I struggle with it a lot. There’s the rational side of me that says my anger and contempt for her is justified. Not to mention I just can’t figure out how I’m supposed to think of the woman that had an affair with my husband and have any kind of good feelings about her or not feel the anger or see her as anything but pure evil. I just can’t fathom how it’s possible. The other side says that I should be Christ like. Extending mercy and grace and forgiveness and seeing her as a child of God that simply made a bad decision. This side says that I should care about her soul just as much as anyone else’s. 
So it sounds simple enough. Choose to be the good side. In my mind I can choose it. I can say yes, I want to be that. But then I think of her, and feel nothing but anger. So I can say it. I can say it over and over, but it seems insincere. Because I don’t really feel any differently about her. 

Yep. Forgiveness is hard. 
Jeff and I are doing great. There’s been a lot of healing, a lot of moving forward, and a whole lot of happy. We have found an unimaginable amount of redemption in this past year and a half. So this unforgiveness I held for the other woman seemed to be the one major thing still holding me back. Keeping me shackled to the past. And the thing I hated most about it, was the fact that it gave her power over my feelings, my emotions, and ultimately my healing. And she doesn’t deserve to have that. 
So what does she deserve? That’s a loaded question. 

And probably not the best one to ask me. 

I should definitely not be the one to pull the trigger on that one. 

Because my first instinct is that she deserves a punch in the nose. 

Shame. 

Heartache.

Distress.

Unhappiness.

Bad luck. 

For her skin to shrivel up.

Her hair to fall out. 

Her tires to go flat.

For birds to poop on her head…

..Every. Single. Day.

To gain 50 pounds and undo every bit of that liposuction she had. 

Bed bugs. 

For her husband to leave her. 

For her friends to turn their back on her.

To be alone. 

Miserable and alone.

(And here y’all were all thinking that I was all sweet and precious. I am. Like 99.5% sweet and precious. But that other .5%…maybe not so much. You probably really don’t want to be on the receiving end of that .5% 😜)

But then…that voice of reason: 

“Well then, does Jeff deserve all of that too?”

Ugh. 

I don’t want any of those things for him. 

Did he deserve them? At one time, I’d have to say yes. Yes he did. All that and more. 

But he was sorry. He is sorry. And he isn’t just sorry, he’s changed. 

Reformed. Renewed. Rebuilt, reborn, transformed , whatever name you want to give it. He is that. He embodies it. He lives it out every single day. 

He’s not the same person that made those bad choices. I forgive him. I forgive him for being that person. And I am thankful for the person he is now. 

Sounds easy right? In some ways, I guess it is. Now. But in truth it’s been nearly two years of continual hard work, effort, and intentional persistence on both of our parts. It did not happen overnight.

I forgave him then, but every day when the reminders come I have to choose to remember who he is now instead of letting the memories be the filter of how I see him, and I have to choose to forgive him over and over and over again. 

In a conversation about infidelity recently, a friend made the comment that when incidents happen in which trust is broken or brought into question, “those things never really go away.” And a truer statement has never been spoken. They can’t be undone. They can’t be erased. 

Ever. 

If only people were reminded of the levity of that before making such a mistake, many hearts, lives, and marriages would still be intact.

But Jeff’s renewed sense of self, commitment to God, and dedication to our marriage makes it pretty easy to choose to forgive him. To love him more than ever before. Even when the reminders come. 

And they come less frequently. I mean, there’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t have some thought about it. But not necessarily in the painful ways. It’s just a matter of fact. It’s my story. It’s our story. And it is what it is. I have to accept that. But occasionally I’ll still have a trigger. A few weeks ago it was a song I heard while driving home. I had never heard it before and I have yet to hear it since. So I couldn’t tell you what it was or who sings it. It was a duet, where the girl is singing something along the lines of “what if you’re not the one, what if you break my heart, what if you leave me… and the guy sings something like, “but what if I am the one, what if we grow old together, what if you’re my last first kiss”. I don’t know why any reference to that destroys me the way it does. But it just tears me apart. 

His last first kiss was supposed to be me. His last first everything was supposed to be me. It was mine. Mine. And she took it. And I can never be his last first kiss again. 

It will forever be her. 

And that’s a crack in my heart that can’t be easily repaired. You can’t restore that. Jeff can’t give me that back. That’s one of the cracks that only Jesus can fill in. And boy, does He ever have His work cut out for Him. Because the only thing I could think about in that moment listening to the words to that song about being his last first kiss was how much I hate her for that. 

I hate her for that. 
Wait…. I still hate her? I thought I’d moved beyond the level of hate. But that feeling I had when I thought of her taking that last first kiss, as much as I’d like to be able to deny it, is undeniable hatred.
The dictionary defines hatred as this: Extreme dislike, disgust, resentment. 

Yep, that pretty much covers it. 

I hate her for everything she stole from me. I hate her for never taking responsibility for her part in it and I hate her for never saying she was sorry and I hate her most of all for making me hate. I hate her for not wanting to do the right thing and for not having the decency or the conviction to reach out with a simple heartfelt apology for the pain she inflicted. 

Whew. That’s a lot. And here I had been thinking that I had made some progress in this area. I’d been praying about it. I’d been reading about it. And I don’t hate her at a level where I sit around constantly and think about how much I hate her. I’ve got way too much good stuff in my life to just sit and let thoughts of her consume my days. But in that moment, the hatred that I thought I had downgraded to a slightly less extreme dislike came back to the surface just as easily as a fizz bubble in a freshly poured Coca Cola. And I have to say, acknowledging this fact burns a little in the same way those fizzy bubbles sometimes do. 

And that’s when I realized that I’ve got a long way to go in this forgiveness stuff. 

And after hearing that song that day, I kind of put the whole subject on the back burner for a couple of weeks. 

Because it was….

Just. Too. Much. 

So I sat it aside and stopped thinking about forgiveness and stopped reading about forgiveness and basically just said “hey, I tried. Who needs it anyway? We’re doing really, really good.” 

And honestly I just enjoyed the heck out of these last couple of weeks. I had a week off of work and we did all kinds of things and I just gave myself a nice little break. 

Sometimes we need to do that. When a task is just a little too overwhelming, we just need to step back, lay it down, and let things settle. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves the time and space and grace to recharge.  

I guess I thought that if I just willed myself to make the decision to forgive her that it would be easy. That I’d somehow find the magic key to unlock the door and just let it all go.

And maybe one day I will. Or maybe it will just take time. And maybe part of the problem is that I’m just not ready yet to let her off the hook. Maybe, probably, if I’m being completely honest, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to not hate her. A part of me that can’t really fathom not hating her. 

I mean come on. I think most of you could admit you’d most likely feel the same. She SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND after all. Not only that, but she had a relationship with him. For 9 months. 9 MONTHS. And she helped set the stage for it to happen for months before that. Years really, in all actuality. She set out to take what was mine. She took something holy, and sacred. She had no regard for the pain and heartache she would cause not just me and my children, but her own husband and children. She lit the fire that destroyed the world as I knew it. 

Jeff took the bait, yes. He broke our vows. He utterly and completely broke my heart. 

The only difference between the two of them is that he owned it. Every bit of it. And he was sorry. He apologized to me. To God. To our children. To my family. To our friends. And to basically anyone and everyone that he came into contact with. He apologized to her husband. And he has spent every single day of his life since attempting to make amends to me and every one else for it and build a new life.

And yet, she is silent. 
Despite the fact that she knows how to contact me.

Still silent.
Despite the fact that I feel pretty certain that she got the message that I sent through one of her friends that accidentally sent me a friend request when checking out my Facebook page. (Yes, that happened. And yes it was awkward. Thankfully, her friend was kind and forgave me for my initial reaction to her accidental friend request.😳)
Still silent.
Despite the fact that I reached out last year and wrote her a letter.
No response. Still silent. 
Despite the fact that I feel sure she has read my posts on this blog. 
Still silent.
Despite the fact that I’ve given her opportunity after opportunity to show me she’s capable of being a decent human being. One that I could possibly learn not to hate.
Still, all there is, is silence. 
So, what then? At this point, am I to assume she truly has no remorse? Or at the very least, if she does, she has no intention of sharing that with me? Which again, makes me think that she isn’t truly remorseful. Because wouldn’t that a make a person want to do everything in their power to set things right, as much as possible anyway? I can’t imagine if I were in that position of having caused such damage to a person, and to life as they knew it, if I were truly sorry I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t tell them so. Is that just me? Am I wrong to think that when someone is truly sorry, they would be compelled to apologize? Or is it that she doesn’t have the nerve to reach out? Or does she indeed carry so much shame that she can’t bear the thought of facing me? (Texting or writing would do. It requires much less personal fortitude. I’m just sayin’ )
I’m pretty sure her marriage is still intact. So she’s apparently convinced her husband of her remorse. For his sake, I hope and pray it’s real. I really, really do. Honestly he’s the only person that makes me not truly wish all those horrible things I mentioned above on her, because he deserves a happy marriage. A happy life. I truly want her to be as remorseful as Jeff is, and to be able to build something new and real with her husband. He deserves absolutely nothing less. 

So many questions. Questions that she apparently has no intention to answer. 

Does it really even matter?

Would I be able to not hate her if I knew how sorry she was? Would it be easier to forgive her if I knew how sorry she was? I think so, but I guess I may never really know. Looks like she’s gonna make me have to do it the hard way. I’m just going to have to find a way to purge myself of the hatred that bubbles to the surface. 

I still believe one day I’m going to wake up and find that she is nothing more than a fact, an incident, a character in the story of our lives that is no longer capable of producing any real effect on my emotions, except for the gratefulness for the story that comes AFTER her brief but destructive presence in my life. 
One day the hatred WILL be overcome by grace. And the grace WILL allow for forgiveness. And forgiveness WILL allow for FULL redemption. 
As is evident by everything you’ve read in this post, I’m obviously not completely there yet. And I have kind of wanted to beat myself up about it. But I’m not going to. I’m just going to keep moving forward. And maybe not put so much pressure on myself to be able to do this overnight. Deep wounds require deep healing. You can’t just slap a bandaid on it or put some makeup on it to make it look pretty. Underneath the band aid or the makeup it’s still ugly, right up until the moment that it’s not. 
So I’ve still got a little ugly that I need to clean out of my wound. 

I think the real problem I’m having with forgiveness is that I’ve been trying too hard to figure out how “I” can do it. I’ve been looking to solve my own problem, to find my own answer, my own solution. I’ve been trying to find a logical equation that adds up to an answer that makes sense to me. But the truth is, forgiveness doesn’t make logical sense. 

Wikipedia says that forgiveness means letting go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. (I can’t even believe I just quoted the wikipedia🤦🏻‍♀️but hey, they had a good definition) 

The hardest part for me has been that no matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out a way that it makes sense to me to not feel negatively towards her. Not of my own capacity anyway. I can read all the books in the world. I can comb over every logical written fact about the subject, and possibly even be able to make sense of it in my head, but all the while still be unable to reconcile that with the feelings in my heart. And I can beat myself up about it until I’m black and blue.

The fact of that matter is, I. Can’t. Do. It. 

If true forgiveness comes, it will not be because I’m a woman of such strength, or of such virtue. It will be because God himself stepped in and made it happen. It will be a true miracle of miracles. It’s going to take God working on my heart in a way I can’t even imagine. And I mean it when I say I literally. can’t. even. 

So I guess it’s a good thing we serve the God of miracles. 

I guess I’ve just painted a pretty ugly picture of myself here. Reading back through it, I can’t help but feel a little vulnerable. I can’t help but think that I probably should paint myself a little prettier. A little more like the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” or “Reader’s Digest” or “Lifetime Christmas movie” version of forgiveness and a quick tidy little story all wrapped up with a bow and life lesson. I could have come here and only written the things my head knows, without revealing the darkest corners of my heart. My head knows I need to forgive. And I could have just said that I did it. I’ve forgiven her. Easy peasey. Tied it all up in a pretty little package for you with a pretty little bow on top. I could have gone with that whole “Forgiving is the right thing to do so I’m just gonna say that I do forgive her” scenario. I could paint you a nice little tidy picture of perfect little me, easily offering forgiveness with not so much as a drop of sweat off my brow. I could have made myself look like the pillar of strength, Godly woman I’d surely like you all to perceive me as. 
But it wouldn’t be the truth. 
It would probably get me more blog followers. 
Probably a lot more Facebook shares. 

But it wouldn’t be real. 
Real isn’t always neat. Real isn’t always pretty. So even though I wish I had a pretty little easy package of forgiveness to present to you, I don’t. All I have is the reality of how truly hard it is. 

Those stories are out there. Those “forgiveness is easy” stories. Maybe they make some of you feel better, but I think the more likely truth is that if you find yourself on the forgiving end of heartache, those stories will just make you feel like you’re somehow not Godly enough or inadequate because it hasn’t come quite that easily to you. So I’m not going to hide my ugly. I’m going to share my truth. The truth is forgiveness is hard. And something tells me that I’m not the only one that needs to hear that it’s ok that it’s hard. It’s ok that it doesn’t come easy. It’s ok. We will get there when we get there. We just have to keep walking. 

As I was trying to finish this up tonight, I had to leave and go pick up my daughter. On the way home, the radio deejay said something about how sometimes there were scriptures that were just really hard to hear. He went on to quote several verses from Luke 6:27-36:
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.

28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 
31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 

36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

🤔 Well, that was no coincidence. He was speaking directly to me. 

I got the message God. I did. But love? Love’s a strong word. How about just: slightly dislike but not completely hate? 
Or could we go with: not quite love but not wishing for birds to poop on her head daily either?
No? 
No. The message is clear. I have to find a way to not hate her. I don’t have to “love” her. Not like I love my husband or my kids or my very best friends. I don’t think that is what this verse is saying when it refers to love. I think it means that I have to not hold her in contempt, I have to find a way to see her through the eyes of God, and I have to find a way to truly wish her well. 
I don’t think God was calling me out on the way home. I don’t think he was saying “Hey. You’re gonna do this or else!” I think it was more of a “Hey kid. I feel ya. It’s hard. But it’s possible. Come with me. We’ll do this thing together.”
I know it’s possible. I’ve seen real live examples of it. Of people who truly no longer feel the feelings of hate for the affair partner. I’ve seen the example of a woman who has come to actually care for the well being of the one night stand that had her husband’s baby. And truly want good things for her. You know why? It’s not because she’s a martyr. It’s not because she has some super human strength and the biggest heart on the face of the planet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s pretty amazing. An awesome, awesome person. But the fact that she can do the one thing that I haven’t figured out how to do sincerely yet, is because of what I said before. It’s because God is a God of miracles. 
I’m not completely sure how to get there, to the point where I don’t feel the contempt and I sincerely wish her nothing but goodness, other than submitting this wounded heart of mine to the Father and asking Him to work His miracle in me. 
That, and simply, time. 
I just have to trust that the things I know about forgiveness in my head, will eventually soak into my heart, and fill in the space where that hatred hides. My head knows the truth. My head knows the answer. I’m just waiting for my heart to catch up. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

A whole other blog for a whole other day.

So this is a subject that I’ve touched on in the past here and there, and made mention of from time to time. But I’d always include a quick reference or a few sentences, only to follow with: “but that’s a whole other blog for a whole other day.” I just haven’t really been able to bring myself to write about it, or to share in detail this part of my story. So I’ve put it off. Mainly I’ve just told myself, “you can’t write about this yet, because you haven’t figured it out yet. Not all of it anyway.” And I really, really like things to be neat and tidy. A nice little package that I can present. Something that even though it may start out ugly and messy and chaotic, I can eventually make some sense out of and give some order and hopefully help not just myself but others in the process.
Which is why sometimes I find it very ironic that this situation, these circumstances were the path life gave me. Because there is absolutely nothing neat or sensical or orderly about infidelity, betrayal, or the process you go through to heal from it. 

Yet somehow, we’ve found our way. And I wish I could tell you there was a trick. A specific way to survive it. While there is a long list of things I can and have shared with you that you could and should do that will help you tremendously in your recovery and rebuilding of your life, no matter the circumstance, there’s one basic thing that it comes down to. 

Keep moving. One foot in front of the other.    One NEW day at a time. 

It’s worked to get us through everything else, and so I have to believe that it will help me find my way to a better place with this too. 

So, for as long as I’ve put this off, I’ve decided putting it off just serves to keep me stuck. The only way to work through it is to work through it. I can choose to be complacent and say that I’ll never be able to figure this out and stay stuck, or I can keep moving, keep pushing forward and find a fullness in the redemption of our story that I know we haven’t begun to touch yet. As good as we are, I can’t shake this feeling that there’s so much more, something so much bigger that we haven’t even imagined. 

So that whole other day is today I guess. Might as well go ahead and dive on in. One foot in front of the other right? 

The subject I’m talking about is forgiveness. It’s something I never had to give much thought to before. No one had ever truly hurt me. Not in a big way anyway. But this. This was betrayal on another level. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Not the little stuff, but the life changing, selfish, cruel, and deceitful kind of transgressions.

And when you’re faced with that kind of pain, those kinds of scars, and especially when you’re faced with someone that is seemingly unapologetic for the damage they have done; you suddenly realize that forgiveness doesn’t make sense. You wonder what forgiveness truly means. What it actually looks like. And mostly you wonder what it’s supposed to feel like. And how to know when it’s real, and not just empty words said because you know it’s the right thing to do. Especially when you can’t even think the words without still feeling the contempt rise up within you. How do you find a way to truly mean it and not have those feelings of resentment and anger?                                                                     How do you move past wanting to be able to say you forgive someone, but also still having an overwhelming desire to punch them in the face? 

Forgiveness is something that in one case, such as someone like my husband that is so incredibly sorry, though it didn’t happen overnight is almost easy now, and allows me to have a relationship and a future that would have otherwise been impossible. 
Yet in another; the case of forgiveness of someone that offers no apology, someone that gives no indication that they regret causing you pain, like the woman he had the affair with, brings me anxiety, frustration, anger ,and resentment. 

People tend to oversimplify it. They say “The bible says you have to forgive, so you just have to do it.” Or they say, “just keep saying it until you mean it.” Which is not actually terrible advice, there’s some real truth and power in speaking things not as they are but as you want them to be. But also… man, that can take a really long time. I mean, I’ve tried this method off and on for nearly 2 years now, and I’m still not feeling it. But I do agree that it’s a good place to start. It’s the getting to the place where you actually mean it, the place where you can actually wish them well, the place where you are able to see them with some semblance of compassion instead of hatred, that I’ve struggled with. 
So what DO I know about forgiveness? 
Nothing about forgiveness is easy. 

Forgiveness is costly. While it is freely given, it is most certainly not free, not for the one doing the forgiving anyway. 

However, not forgiving is also costly.

Forgiveness always includes sacrifice. 

Forgiveness is precious. 

Forgiveness brings freedom. 

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a continual choice.

Forgiveness is not just a gift to the offender, but a gift to yourself.  

Forgiveness is not always deserved, but always necessary. …. I think.                                               Ok, ok. I know it is. But this is one of the thought processes that I struggle with. I think to myself, “do I really HAVE to forgive her?” 

And the answer is honestly a resounding “NO”. I absolutely don’t have to. There is always a choice. I can choose not to. And a really big part of me doesn’t want to. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t want my forgiveness. And I mostly imagine that she certainly doesn’t deserve it. Mostly because she hasn’t asked for it. So why should I forgive her? 

It’s pretty easy to just choose not to forgive. Sooo much easier than doing the work to try to figure out a way to forgive and mean it. So yes, I could definitely choose not to forgive her. 
But does that choice bring anything good to my life? The answer to that is also a resounding “NO”. 

I want the good stuff in my life, and to get that, I have to choose the stuff that brings the goodness. 

So true forgiveness is a mystery that I will continue to intentionally pursue, an understanding that I do not have in full yet, but I choose to believe that through this process, I will find it. 
I say that, having no idea even what the process is really going to look like, but just stepping forward with God’s promise that says “seek and you shall find.” And one of my favorites, Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

How to truly forgive someone that doesn’t seem to be sorry definitely falls into the category of a great and mighty thing that I do not know. 
Also I believe there’s a great and mighty thing that he is working in our lives, the fullness of which we do not know yet, so that verse speaks to my soul in many different ways. 
And seeing as how I’ve taken you all with me through everything else, I’m going to bring you along for this too. The good the bad and the ugly, that’s what I have said I would share from the beginning, and I’m pretty sure this subject is going to cover all three of those adjectives. With everything else, writing about it has seemed to help me work through it and find what I’m looking for, or to see things in a different light, or at the very least help me come to terms with it, and I’m hopeful that will be the case with this too. 
To be continued…

❤️                                                                             Amy Thurston Gordy 

This is my cup

He’s been asking me for weeks if I’m ok. “Yes”, I’d say. “I’m fine.” And I’d think to myself, everything is great. I am fine. I. Am. Fine. 

And for the most part I was. 

As I’ve been telling y’all, things are good for us. Really, really good. We are in such a good place in our relationship and in our lives.

Yet it was there. That little knawing feeling. That undercurrent of sadness. That heaviness in my chest. Creeping back yet again. It had been gone for so long this time. But they were back. Those tiny little thought bubbles, trying so hard to make their way to the surface, releasing their rancid contents of painful memories when they make it to the top. They were stupid random things. 

Like making dinner. Just standing there making dinner, and my mind wandered back to the first time they were together. 

I had made a nice dinner that night. I don’t cook big meals a lot, so I thought “he’s going to be excited to come home to this.” 

I was excited to see him. I remember missing him that day. When you’ve been together as long as we have, you don’t necessarily miss them as often during the work day the way you do in the beginning. You take each other for granted a little I guess. But that day, I remember missing him, and wanting him to be home. 

I had timed dinner to be done at just the right time so it would still be fresh and hot, knowing how long it would take him to get home from Forsyth. That time came and went. And I waited. The girls were hungry, so I told them to go ahead and eat. I texted him. No response. I remember a feeling of anxiety coming over me. I fixed him a plate, thinking he was probably going to pull up any minute. 

He’s really late now. 

I’m sitting alone. The nice dinner on the plates in front of me is getting cold. I text again. 

This time I get a reply. He’s so sorry, but his replacement showed up late and he had to wait on her, so he could give report. But he should be leaving soon. 

His replacement wasn’t late. He wasn’t completely lying. He WAS still at the hospital. But not in the building. Not working. Not waiting on anyone. 

And I was sitting. Waiting on him. With a beautiful plate of food on the table. 

And it was cold. 
It’s amazing how a vision of something as simple as a cold plate of food can tear your heart apart. 
Then there was the car. Her car. 
A black SUV. 

It’s where it happened, so black SUV’s have always been a bit of a trigger for me. The only details I knew were that it had dark tinted windows, which provided privacy for them, oh and her initials on the back. When I would notice one, I couldn’t help but do a double take. Is that her? Is that one her? Wait, was it a Ford? A Chevrolet? A Toyota? 

I didn’t know. And so since I didn’t know, I saw them in EVERY one. 

And over the past few weeks, for whatever reason I don’t know, it was as if they were always in my line of vision. They. Were. EVERYWHERE. And every one I saw brought me visions of him getting into the car with her. Being in the car with her. Every. Single. One. 

Do y’all know how many black suv’s you see on a daily basis? 

A lot. 

I haven’t asked him for any details in a long time. But this weekend I asked him for just this one. The actual make and model of her black SUV. So I could maybe at least stop picturing them in every single one I see. It sounds nuts, I realize that. The pain of betrayal does crazy things to a person. This was one of my triggers and believe it or not, knowing the specific make of her car helped to weaken that trigger so I can move beyond it. One specific model of car is easier to avoid than a million black SUV’s. 

I don’t like to think about her. And most of the time , I really don’t anymore. But sometimes it feels as if she’s a ghost, popping in to haunt me. To torment me. And sometimes it’s harder than others to make her disappear. 
Honestly, I think my brain has just been on a bit of affair overload. It seemed like every other day for almost a month, someone else was having an affair, or finding out that their spouse was. Some people I knew as acquaintances, some I knew as friends, and some I didn’t even know on a personal basis. But regardless, each time, my heart just sank. Knowing the pain each one was feeling. And I wanted to help. To give support. To give advice. But mostly to try and give them a little comfort. A little hope. 

Maybe all of that played into this undercurrent of sadness I mentioned earlier. I just felt, for lack of a better word, heavy.  And heavier. And heavier, until Jeff finally looks at me and says, “you’re not fine. You’re pretending you’re fine. But I know when you’re struggling.” 

I’ve learned to hide it. To control it and push it back enough that if you were to see me on one of these days, you couldn’t see it. It’s just an undercurrent. Not enough of a nuisance to keep me from being able to function fully on the surface. I can mostly ignore it until the still and quiet of night sets in, and the busy-ness of the day wears off. But Jeff sees it. He always sees it. 

“What can I do? I don’t like it when you get sad. It means I’m missing something. I’m afraid it means I’m not giving you what you need to feel happy or secure. It means I’m not doing my job.”
That sweet man. 
I look at that sweet, sweet man of mine, and I say, “it’s not you. At least not really. Not this you. You are doing everything right. It’s what that other guy, the old you. It’s what he did. And it’s stupid. It’s stupid because he doesn’t even exist anymore. And I don’t know why I let someone that doesn’t exist anymore still hurt me so much.” 
 And I don’t know why the smallest details that bubble up from that undercurrent , like the thought of that cold plate of food, or a black SUV, hold the most stinging venoms. And to some degree, I had been fighting that slow spreading venom for weeks. 

But it was time to deal with it. 

So I told him. I told him about the cold food. About the black SUV’s. About how it felt sometimes like she was a ghost that wouldn’t leave. 

“Have you tried forgiving her?”, he asked. 
[Insert large, heavy sigh here.]
I’ve tried.  Oh goodness, I’ve tried. 

A million different times in a million different ways. I’ve tried thinking it. I’ve tried telling myself that I forgive her. I’ve tried praying. I’ve tried analyzing. I’ve tried to see her in a different light. I’ve tried to make myself say it out loud. I literally couldn’t get the words out. I’ve tried. I haven’t figured it out yet. And I know that I need to. I know that I won’t see God’s full potential in our story until I figure this out. 
People look to me. They look to me as a pillar of hope. And maybe I am that. I hope that I am that. But they also believe that I’m this pillar of strength and forgiveness. 

But in that moment when I’m baring my soul to Jeff that night, I tell him that I don’t feel like I am actually those things. That it’s just not true. 

I forgive Jeff. I really, really do. It’s not even hard. He’s amazing. As a matter of fact, he’s so amazing and wonderful that people actually forget that he ever did it. My own sister, when talking about someone else that had a history of cheating, made the comment about that person in a conversation last week. She said, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” 
It’s a phrase that for those of us that have chosen to stay in a relationship after infidelity , makes us cringe a little. Because honestly, for some people, that statement can prove to be true. And it’s probably our innermost fear. 

And I feel certain she saw the look in my eyes when she said it. 

“Oh! I mean, not everyone! Not Jeff. It’s not true of Jeff. He’s different. Oh gosh, I’m sorry. Honestly, he’s redeemed himself so much , I forget he ever actually did that.”

And it’s true. He’s gone above and beyond. 

But the other woman, I don’t know. I don’t know the effort she’s made to redeem herself. With God. With her family. Her husband. Or her friends. But I do know she never made the effort to redeem herself with me. 

Forgiving someone that isn’t sorry. It’s hard to figure out. 

And that, I think is a whole other blog for a whole other day. 
“It sounds to me like you are listening to a lot of negative things about yourself that just aren’t true”, Jeff said. “You ARE a pillar of forgiveness. You forgave me for the unforgivable. For things that most people could never forgive, much less choose to love again. And you ARE a pillar of strength.”

(He says as my face is streaming rivers of tears and I’m sniffling away.) 

I responded, “Am I? Does this look like the face of a person that is a pillar of strength?”

He says, “That face is the face of the strongest person I’ve ever known.” 
Pastor Buren said something recently in a sermon a few weeks ago, in the Easter service. He was speaking about Jesus when He prayed before his crucifixion. “Lord, if there be any way, please take this cup from me.”
And for these past few weeks… maybe this past year and a half, I think I’ve been praying the same thing. In that moment of despair, He wished there was another way. That human side of him wanted a different cup. 

But it was his cup. It was the cup he was given. 

I too wanted a different cup. 

I told Jeff, “I just want so desperately to change something that can’t be changed. I want it to never have happened. I want more than anything something that I can never have. I want to go back to that night and I want you to say no. I want you to have seen in that moment the pain and destruction it would cause and I want you to have seen in your minds eye the way that it would torture me and I want you to have walked away and gotten in your own car and drove home to me and sat with me and that the food that I put on your plate that night had never gotten cold. I’m not ungrateful for what we have now. But right now. In this moment, I’d rather have you there, eating that warm food. I don’t care if that means that I wouldn’t be this person now, I don’t care if I’d never started writing. I don’t care if I never wrote a single word. I don’t care if it means that we couldn’t have helped any of the people that have come to us. I don’t want to be the example. ”

Wow. 

Yep. I said all of that. 
But basically, what I was really saying , was 

“I. Don’t. Want. This. Cup. ”

And I’d say that wasn’t just me not wanting the cup. I’m pretty sure that was me not just refusing to accept it, but hurling it as hard as I could at the wall in an attempt to shatter it. 
[insert large heavy sigh, here…again]
Back to what Pastor Buren said. He said “sometimes, you just have to drink the cup you’re given.” 
It didn’t really click with me when he said it. Matter of fact, I thought, “well, that’s not real encouraging or positive.” I mean, aren’t we supposed to think positively and expect better for our lives, and doesn’t God want the very best for us?” And I wasn’t sure how this statement he had made fit in with that theology. 
And it took me a few weeks. 

But now I get it.

I had a weak moment. Ok, maybe I’ve had a LOT of moments. 

I didn’t want the cup I was given. That’s ok. 

Neither did Jesus.

And maybe I took that a step further when I figured out I couldn’t do anything to change the past. It’s unchangeable. Nothing and no one can ever make it cease to exist, or change the fact that it happened. 

My blog may be named “Not My Story”, but this IS my story. 

This IS my cup. 

And I’ve held it. Although for the most part reluctantly. I’ve looked for the good. I’ve been thankful for the blessings. I’ve allowed it to be used for the good of others. 

But such a big part of me, has really just been like Jesus in that garden. Knowing what was required of Him. Knowing what needed to be done. Wanting the goodness that He knew would come from it, but also so overwhelmed with the sorrow of it that he desperately wanted that cup to be taken from Him. 

He didn’t choose his cup any more than I did. His cup was the result of the sins of man. Not his own, but all of ours. It was our bad choices that filled his cup. My cup was also the result of sin. And also not my own. The bad choices of the man I loved and the woman I’ve despised filled my cup. 

But in the end there was no other way. 

He had to drink the cup that was given him. 
If he had chosen not to, there would be no redemption. 

There would be no goodness.

There would be no hope.
My cup has been poured. I can’t give the cup back. There’s a strict no returns policy. 

I can throw it against the wall as much as I want. But it will still be mine. 

I can’t just keep glaring at it, willing it to disappear. Not only does that not work, it’s exhausting.

Sure, I’ve taken a few sips here and there. I’ve allowed God to turn some of the sour wine into something sweeter. 

But it’s time I drink the cup. 

Jesus had a moment, but he worked through the pain and then he drank the cup. And because of that, the world was forever changed. Men’s hearts were changed. The course of eternity was changed. 
Not thy will but thine. 
It was only when Jesus accepted the cup he was given and gave up his own will that God was able to use Him to redeem everything that needed to be redeemed. And so it also is with us. It is only when we accept our cup that He can use it to redeem everything that He wants to redeem with it. 

It’s there, in the acceptance, that the power of change is found. 

It’s there, when we finally drink the cup that’s given us, that we can find true redemption. It’s there that He works all things for our good. It’s there that we find God’s best for us. The beauty for the ashes. The joy instead of mourning.

And it’s not just for us. The redemption that pours from that cup spreads to others. 

If you want to see how big God really is, if you want to see how good He really is, if you want to see the fullness of His plan for your life….

you have to drink the cup.

I didn’t mean what I said that night about giving it all back. Do I wish it didn’t happen? Of course I do. 

But it happened. And I love the life I have now. I love my husband and the amazing person he has become. I love the friendships that have been born out of the aftermath. I love the blessings that God has so abundantly poured out on us. I love that Jeff found deliverance from his addiction. I love that we are both becoming our true selves. I love writing. I love the freedom that our transparency and authenticity has brought us. I love sharing the goodness of God and I love that we can give people hope. 

I don’t love the steep price it all came at. I don’t love the scars it left behind. A part of me may always wish that I could have had all of this without the price we had to pay for it. But it is what it is. 

Life is not perfect. 
But God’s plan for us is. 

So we can choose to keep trying to give the cup back. Or maybe even keep smashing it against the wall. 
Or we can choose to just accept it, and watch how God uses it to redeem us. Watch how He turns it from sour to sweet. Maybe, just maybe, even watch how He uses it to change the world, to change the hearts of men, to change eternity.

 

Thank you Pastor Buren, for speaking to my heart, even if I didn’t know at first that it was for me. I have a feeling it was actually for a lot of people. Thank you Jeff, for not growing weary of waiting on my heart to heal and for being a man that wants nothing more than to piece it back together. 

And thanks to all of you, who keep coming back here and reading my words. Thank you for not judging us in our failures, for being our cheerleaders, for praying for us. For being faithful, faithful friends. 

And as I finally try to fully accept this cup that’s been given me, I pray that the goodness and the sweetness and the redemption that pours from it touches every single one of you. 

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

Oh, sciatica. 

How is it April already? This year is flying by! I’ve been missing in action on the blog here for a little bit. It wasn’t really an intentional break from writing, but between house stuff and a health issue, March was a bit challenging for me. 

The next step in our home renovations was to tear out the carpet in the bedrooms and replace it with hardwood floors. So over the weekends in March, we did one room at a time, and painted the walls and trim in each room as we went. There was so much stuff piled into my living room , it looked like a hoarder lived there. SO stressful! It also involved A WHOLE LOT of moving furniture in and out of rooms, and at some point during room # 2, I woke up with intense pain and muscle cramps from my lower back all the way down my right leg to my foot. 

I think the issue really started when I helped move the old oven out and the new oven up the stairs and into the house a couple months ago. I had been having some lower back stiffness since then, but nothing I paid much attention to. I think moving all the furniture around and the painting may have pushed it over the edge. 

The pain was nearly incapacitating for the first few days. Sitting was uncomfortable. Laying down was pretty much excruciating, so sleep was not something I was getting much of, and driving would literally bring me to tears. 

Sciatica is the devil. The devil, I tell ya. 

I made a couple of trips to the chiropractor, even though the thought of all that scary sounding bone popping absolutely terrified me. Especially that neck thing they do…that gives me the heebie jeebies! But at that point I was willing to try anything that might make me feel comfortable enough to just be able to get a few minutes of sleep. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to be helping. So I made a visit to the doctor, and they gave me steroids and anti inflammatories. I had to get a shot, so Jeff insisted that I have this ice cream on the way home. 😊


The meds thankfully got me well enough that the pain was more tolerable. I had X-rays and an MRI, and the diagnosis was a bulging disc at L5-S1. 

I walked with a limp due to a mixture of the muscle soreness and the loss of sensation in a portion of my foot, and spent the majority of each day on my feet, unable to relax, because the pain sitting or laying was almost too much to bear. It was exhausting.

But despite the pain and a very serious lack of sleep, I have found so much to be thankful for over these last few weeks. 
-I didn’t have to stay out of work. 
-My sisters. They checked on me all the time, and one of them brought me her tens unit. That thing felt like a million little bees stinging me but in an oddly good way. Those things really do help with back pain. 

-I had sweet friends and family members that gave me meds and creams to help with with the muscle spasms.

-One precious friend that was a former teacher at my kids elementary school insisted on bringing us a dinner of chicken salad, fresh bread, broccoli cheese soup, and also the most delicious muffins you’ve ever had in your life.💗 This was just so, so thoughtful and sweet.

-I got so many messages from friends telling me about their own experiences with sciatica, giving me tips on stretches and exercises and also giving me hope that it does go away! 

-My Mom sent over a heating pad, a back brace, and food. Really good food like fried chicken and barbecue pork. Oh and M&M’s. Let us not forget the goodness of the M&M’s! 

– My Daddy delivered the food, and said the sweetest prayer for healing over me before he left. There’s not much sweeter in this world than the heartfelt prayers of a parent for one of their children. Especially my parents. If you’ve ever met them, then you know they are precious. Just the best of the best. 

-My MRI cost me a lot less than I was expecting. 

– I’m getting better. The limp is pretty much gone. The numbness in my foot is going away. The muscle spasms are few and far between. I can sit pain free most of the time. Driving doesn’t make me want to cry anymore, and most importantly, I am able to sleep. 

– I put myself on a no bread, no sugar, no fun anti-inflammatory diet last week (ok, so maybe I still have a little caramel creamer in my coffee in the morning. Don’t judge. Ha. I gave up bread and chips y’all. That’s huge for me. So I’m cutting myself a little slack for this tiny daily cheat!) and as an added bonus, I’ve lost 6 pounds this week. 

-My floors look amazing.

Seriously, just look at them. Jeff did good!


-And last, but certainly not least, I have an amazing husband that takes care of me so, so well. 
He single-handedly finished out the floors and took over my painting of the walls and trim. He moved all the furniture back in the rooms, and cleaned up all the mess. He also has done the majority of the house cleaning. He sat with me through my Doctor’s appointments. He rubbed my leg and foot every night to help with the muscle cramps. He brought me my meds and propped pillows under my legs and drove Anna Kate wherever she needed to go whenever he could so I could rest and so I wouldn’t have to drive. He made my coffee and fixed my lunches. All of this on top of working every day and being on call. And he did every bit of it with a happy heart and a sweet smile. 
I looked at him the other day and said, “you are a good, good husband.”
I don’t take saying that lightly, given where we were two years ago. 

And neither does he. 

It’s kind of a big deal. Huge, actually. That I can look at the man that shattered my heart and our lives into a million little jagged pieces, and say that to him, and mean it. Like really mean it. 

I took him back believing for something better. Hoping for something better. In our relationship, and in him as a person, and in every aspect of our lives. And I wasn’t sure about it. I wasn’t sure it was possible. Any of it. But I chose to believe that it could be. 
And every day, I’m continually amazed at how good our life is. 
He’s a good, good God.                 And Jeff is a good, good husband. 

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Amy Thurston Gordy

 

The ring

When we got engaged, I picked out my own ring. I knew exactly what I wanted. A round solitaire, cut just right so that it had lots of sparkle when the light hit it. I wanted it set on a thin delicate gold band, with a wedding band that was the same thin band, with a small diamond that wrapped around each side of the solitaire. It was perfect. Classic, nothing trendy or flashy. I thought it was a simple, but truly beautiful ring that would stand the test of time, the same way I believed our marriage would.
And it did. It sparkled more than most diamonds I’d seen, and did not dull over the years. The prongs held strong, and the dainty gold bands, although they looked as though they should be fragile, were just as strong as the day we bought them.

Right up until the year of the affair.

Suddenly, I noticed that one of the six prongs holding the diamond had broken off.

Then another. And another.

Then one day, the band got caught on something, which had happened plenty of times before, but this time it bent, leaving it slightly misshapen.

I remember thinking how odd it was. All of these years, the rings had been nearly perfect. Like new. But now, all at once, they seemed to be falling apart.

Was it a coincidence that my ring started falling apart at the same time that unbeknownst to me, my marriage was falling apart? That the rings that represented our wedding vows began to break at the same time that the vows themselves were broken?

Maybe.

Maybe not.
Shortly after finding out about the affair, I remember going and getting a manicure. It was not something I normally did. I would occasionally go get my toes done, but normally kept my nails fairly short and rarely painted them. As they were about to get started, I took off my wedding ring for the first time in a long time. There was such an indentation there where the ring had been for so long, and I remember being so struck in that moment by how that part of my finger had been seemingly permanently disfigured from years of wear. And I remember thinking to myself, “much like my heart.”

I stopped wearing my ring that day. I couldn’t bring myself to put it back on. I just couldn’t bear to look down and see it there on my finger. It was supposed to be a symbol of love. A token worn as a reminder of the vows that were made. But now, it only reminded me of vows that had been broken. Now it only brought me pain.

After we decided to reconcile, at some point, I did put it back on. But it never really held quite the same value for me. It didn’t bring me pain to look at it so much as it did before, but still felt a little like it represented a marriage that was in our past, if that makes sense. I had come to have an appreciation for the ring again, because that marriage held some good memories too over 24 years, but still, that marriage was broken, and we were building a new one. So maybe a new ring should represent this new beginning.
The funny thing about Jeff’s ring is that he actually went out and bought it a couple of weeks after I kicked him out of the house. I remember when he told me that he had bought one, I thought he was nuts. Because as far as I was concerned we had a slim to , ohhh, zero chance of staying married at that time. He had not worn a ring in years, and he said he was going to wear it, proudly, every day for the rest of his life. Alrighty then, I thought. You go right ahead.

I guess that’s a good example of his insistence, and persistence in trying to get me back. Ha. He was heavily putting into practice the whole speaking things into existence theology by claiming things as he wanted them to be instead of how they were. His life coach Joey’s lessons on positive thinking and how the world you create for yourself begins with your thoughts had already taken root. I couldn’t see this world he was creating in his thoughts, where we were happily married. Not yet anyway.

But he wanted a ring, so after carefully searching for the perfect one, he bought one.

“It’s made of tungsten”, he said. “It’s supposedly very strong and tough and durable, but still not too heavy. You can’t bend it or dent it, it doesn’t scratch easily and is almost impossible to break.”

My reply to him:

“I wish my heart was made of tungsten.”
Well, my heart wasn’t made of tungsten. But it turns out that it was a lot more durable than I had believed it to be. And now, over a year later, I can see the world he created with his thoughts and actions back when he first bought that ring. And now I treasure seeing that ring made of tungsten on his finger, and knowing that he treasures it, and the second chance that it represents.
Just before Christmas, I decided it was time to start looking for a ring of my own. This time, I wanted something completely different. Something that would represent this new beginning.

I didn’t want a diamond as the main stone this time. I wanted a gem stone of some sort.

I’m not one of those people that is into crystals and gems having special powers or anything of that sort. But y’all do know I’m a big fan of symbolism. Of things having special meanings.

One day as I was browsing Pinterest boards, I saw the most beautiful ring. It was love at first sight. And it was a beautiful pale pink stone set in diamonds and rose gold. Rose gold, y’all. It looked vintage and new all at the same time. Absolute perfection.

The description said the stone was morganite, and after a quick google search of what that stone represents, I knew it was the one.

It represents several things; the healing of a broken heart, trust, inner strength, peace, calmness, and joy.

It also represents love that is constant, maintained and lasting.

Do I believe that a stone will bring us all of that? No. No I don’t. Our thoughts, choices and actions will bring us all of that. But I sure do love that my ring can be an outward representation of our innermost desires for our marriage, and that I can wear it as a symbol of my healing broken heart, the rebuilding of trust, inner strength, peace, calmness, joy, and a love that is constant, maintained, and lasting.

And it doesn’t hurt that it is the most amazingly beautiful shade of peachy pink blush. The stone is oval shaped, surrounded by small diamonds, set on a thin rose gold band with a row of small diamonds on each side.
I don’t feel sad when I see my ring anymore. I don’t see the broken vows. When I look at the ring on my finger now, I see beauty. I see strength. I see goodness. I see all the goodness that’s come from our past, all the goodness in this present moment, and I see a promise for so much goodness in our future.

It is with those thoughts, and God at the center, that we build this new life. And now every time I look down and see this new symbol of our commitment, this symbol of everything good in our lives, past and present and future, I’m reminded to focus on just that.

What do you see when you look at your ring? Do you even notice it anymore? Do you even wear it?

Maybe take a minute today to remember what it represents. Maybe you’ve forgotten. Maybe somewhere in the busy noise of your every day life you’ve forgotten the value of the marriage that ring represents. Remind yourself of all the goodness from the past, all the goodness in the present, and all the goodness that is yet to come, and if necessary, start rebuilding your own marriage with those positive thoughts. When you stop taking each other for granted, when you fully engage in a commitment to the vows those rings represent and start truly valuing and loving each other with intention, what you will find, is a treasure.

Amy Thurston Gordy

Triggers

Let’s talk about triggers. They are nasty, mean, persistent little buggers. 

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, a trigger is something that reminds you of a trauma you’ve experienced, and brings back the emotional and physical reactions to that trauma as if it’s just happened. And they come in all shapes and sizes. There can be big triggers, such as an actual location, or a person, or thing closely associated with the trauma. Or they can be the most tiny minute thing, such as a smell, a taste, a phrase, or a sound. Sometimes you see them coming, so you can be somewhat prepared. 
One example of that is when I hear of another person going through the aftermath of infidelity. Hearing their story, and seeing those emotions could sometimes be a trigger for me. But over time I have learned how to prepare myself for those interactions so that they don’t affect me in a negative way and I am able to engage with and empathize with the person and offer help and support without it taking me back too deeply into my own place of grief. It’s a trigger that I believe I’ve conquered in large part because of my desire to be that lifeline and that ray of hope to others that are going through what I went through, and my desire to see them find healing and happiness too. It’s actually therapeutic for me to know that what I’ve been through can be used to help someone else. So that’s not really a trigger at all for me anymore.  

With some of the bigger triggers, such as places or people, you just know to avoid them if at all possible. For me, there’s the hospital parking spot where he would meet her at night after work to tell her goodbye. That one I had to drive by daily, so I’ve trained myself not to let my eyes look that direction when passing by, because if I did, I would see them there in my minds eye, and imagine their kisses goodnight. Not a good visual for me.
The city park is also a big trigger for me. I still have yet to go there. Unfortunately for me, due to the location of my work, I had to pass the entrance to it on a daily basis too up until a few weeks ago, and it always bothered me on some level. But over time I’ve learned to ignore it and just not look that direction if at all possible. Will I ever be able to take the next step and actually go into the park? I don’t know. As of now, I can’t think of a reason that would really require me to have to. There are other locations that I can’t bring myself to go to either. I don’t know if I’ll be required to actually go any of these places and have to overcome these triggers at some point in the future. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, but for now avoidance is the way I handle those types of triggers. 

Then there’s the small ones. Those are the ones that are really unavoidable, and also the ones that take you by surprise. Sometimes it’s a smell. Such as the way Jeff’s breath smells after he has a certain drink. It triggers memories of times I would smell a hint of it and taste it on his breath and ask if he had been drinking, and he would say no, it was this chapstick he’d used or something of the sort. But in reality it was the smell of their favorite drink, and it was on his breath because he’d been drinking it with her. So now when I smell that it takes my mind back to those moments. To thoughts of him spending hours with her, drinking and… and this is the point where I have to stop the thought right there or my heart will start racing, the feeling of being punched in the gut overtakes my stomach, my entire body tenses up and my breath gets shallow and the feeling of panic and then grief and sadness washes over me from head to toe. 
Sometimes it’s a situation, such as him working late. Those aren’t too bad anymore because he is so, so good about letting me know where he is at all times and checking in regularly to ease my anxiety in those situations.
A trigger can also be a certain date, or time of year. Even when a good bit of time has passed and even if you’ve had a lot of healing, our bodies and minds can sometimes retain what’s called cellular memory. It literally means that our bodies recall the trauma on a cellular level and will react to those stimulators whether we like it or not. And we may not recognize on an intellectual level right away that those cellular memories are the cause. Like now for instance. My triggers and bad thoughts and the effect they have on me were a little worse this past week. This is around the time of year that his affair started. So the simple act of looking at a calendar or the similarity in weather patterns can be a reminder. 
Sometimes it’s a song. Maybe it’s just that it was overplayed during that time period so it takes me back to those emotions. Or it’s the actual lyrics. Like the one that gets played constantly that says “baby pull me closer in the back seat of your rover” that instantly brings images of him with her in the backseat of her SUV to my mind, since that was where their encounters took place.
It can even be an analogy that the pastor uses in his sermon during Sunday service. Like the time a few weeks ago he was asking the congregation if they remembered their last first kiss, the excitement and the passion and the feeling you got in your stomach. And all I could hear in my head was “Jeff’s last kiss was only a little over a year ago. And when he thinks of his last first kiss, it won’t be me. I will never be his last first kiss again.” And it took everything I had not to burst into tears in the middle of the service. 
My point in telling you all this is, that the triggers are literally everywhere. You can’t escape them. 

The big question is, how do we deal with them? 
I know that I’ve come a long way in dealing with the triggers and the flood of emotions they bring. 
In the beginning, they weren’t just a daily occurrence, but a constant torment. Literally constant. Every minute of every single day was a constant struggle with the chaos and pain that had become my mind. 

Everyone that’s gone through the trauma of infidelity experiences this on some level. For some reason, it’s worse for some than others, and in scientific circles, it’s thought to be worse for some because of how your brain reacted to the trauma and rewired itself in response. The pathways that process your thoughts affiliated with the trauma actually become altered. They call it Post traumatic infidelity disorder, and the effects are much the same as post traumatic stress disorder that soldiers or victims of other types of trauma experience. There is more and more research being done and for the people that this affects for an extended time past their trauma there are treatments that can help you retrain your brain to process these memories in a way that helps you to be able to recall them without that uncontrollable flood of emotions and pain. It’s called EMDR, and although it’s slightly strange, it appears to be a very promising treatment. So for those of you that are really having a hard time keeping the triggers at bay, it is something you may want to do more research on too. I’d love to hear from someone that has tried it and if it has been helpful or not for you. 

Outside of that, the best way to handle the triggers is to get better at refocusing on something good in the current moment and then finding a way to keep your mind there. 
As time has gone by, my triggers have gotten progressively less frequent, and less powerful. 
And like I said, I know the key to overcoming them is my thought process, and gaining control when the triggers hit me. I’m so thankful for Jeff’s life coach and for our church who have taught us both the power of positive thinking and how life changing it can be, and I attribute so much of our success and ability to get as far as we have in this healing process and in the rebuilding of our marriage to that very thing. 

In some ways, I’ve gotten really good at it, the replacement thinking, and that is evident because of the decrease in the occurrence of the triggers.  

But occasionally one will still hit me really hard. Especially if several triggers happen back to back. I might bat off the first one pretty easily, but then a second one pops up and maybe a third, and that tension and anxiety builds and it’s harder to fight off the flooding of emotion and thoughts that start firing off and carrying you down rabbit holes of grief and questions and doubt and mostly, just pain. And once it’s gotten that far it takes a good bit of effort to pull yourself back out of that spiral. 

The secret is to be able to recognize the triggers right when they happen so you can grab control and redirect those thoughts immediately. It sounds simple, yes. And it is when it really comes down to it. But just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The problem is that sometimes, when the trigger is subtle, you think you’re ok, so you just kind of let that first one ride. But then sometimes another one comes right behind it and before you know it you’re sucked in and your thoughts are suddenly dragging you forcefully through the mud. 

The replacement thinking works, and I’m able to do it a good bit of the time, but I obviously have not completely mastered it yet. So this is something that I’m going to continue to work on. 

This healing process is not something that happens overnight. And sometimes you may feel like so much time has gone by and you’re doing so good and something, even something small can seem to pull you backwards. And it can be so discouraging to feel like you maybe haven’t made quite as much progress as you thought. So you have to be intentional. You have to be aware and vigilant and learn how to see the triggers coming, and how to deal with the ones you don’t see coming, and continue to take care of yourself and put in the work and read the books and do the research and talk to whoever you need to talk to. 
As much as we might wish it could be, the healing is not instantaneous. You don’t just say “ok I forgive you and we are all good”, and magically have no recollection or lingering effects of what you’ve been through. I wish it were that easy. It’s a process and it also has to be maintained in order to stay healthy. So I’m going to do my best to make sure I stay focused and continue to learn and find ways to improve my ability to control my thoughts and heal my heart and mind. 

As for the spouses out there, the ones who were unfaithful. I have some really, really important advice for you. And it may be a little harsh,so brace yourself. If you truly want to accommodate your spouse’s healing and the rebuilding of your marriage, this advice is imperative. And at its core, it’s only two words. 
Be patient. 

BE PATIENT. 
We get it. It’s not easy for you either. You’re tired. You’re frustrated. You’re not proud of what you did, and you’ve done your best to try and make amends. You really desperately just want to forget it and put it all behind you. You wonder if we will ever really just get over it. 
I hate to be the one to break it to you, I really do. 
But, the answer to that question, is no. 

No. 

We will never just get over it. Not in the way you are imagining it in your head anyway. And you would do very well to never, ever, ever say those words to us. 

We will never just get over it, but if you will be patient, and kind, and empathetic, and truly remorseful, and supportive, and open, and honest, and willing to do whatever it takes to make us feel secure, and if you will be attentive and comforting and most of all just love us with everything that you are, we CAN move beyond it. We CAN learn how to control the triggers, we CAN find a way to forgive you, and we CAN be filled with gratitude for the person you have become and the amazing marriage that we have now. 
So my best advice for you when you are feeling frustrated and maybe even a little angry that even though you’ve changed and you do your best to be the best husband and person you can be that you still have to deal with the aftermath of what you’ve done, is to take a deep breath. Do a little replacement of your own thoughts. Reroute those thoughts of frustration and anger you are having, such as: “This is hard. Seeing her still in pain after all this time is not fun and makes me feel as though I can’t win, that no matter what I do she will never be able to let it go. She just needs to forget about it and move on.” and turn them to thoughts of gratitude and love: “I put her through so much. It must be so hard to be bombarded with the tormenting thoughts and memories she has to deal with. She’s the love of my life and I’m so thankful that she didn’t give up on me. That despite the pain and heartache, she still loves me and fights through the pain, and being a part of her life is a gift.”
If you respond to one of her (or his) emotional responses to a trigger with anger and frustration, it’s just going to give those bad thoughts of doubt and insecurity and pain she’s having more power and make it harder for her to fight her way out. Try to remember that she didn’t ask for this. She didn’t want this pain. She doesn’t want to remember it any more than you do. As a matter of fact, selective amnesia would be a welcomed malady. When you feel yourself wanting to get upset or frustrated that she isn’t moving on as fast as you think she should or as quickly as you’d like, take a minute to remember that it was your actions that caused her to have to fight this battle in her mind. It was your actions that broke her mind, her spirit, and her heart. And for you, who has never been on this side of it, to decide that you think you can judge how long it should take to heal, is absurd, and quite frankly unfair and maybe even a little selfish and mean. 
So don’t do it.

Be patient, and be grateful that she is making the effort at all. 
During the triggers and the flooding of thoughts and emotions the betrayed spouse is experiencing, what they need from you the most is comfort and security. They need reassurance that your love is real. That your remorse is real. And that your commitment to your relationship is real and that you are willing to be humble and kind and understanding even when it’s not easy. And they need your help in being reminded of how good a place your marriage is in now. Of all the goodness in this present moment. And all the goodness that’s still ahead. 

Whew. 
This week’s post has been heavy. But I hope it has also been helpful to some of you that are making your way through the healing process too. 

In keeping with my belief system that all negatives need to be replaced with a positive… let’s end this on a positive note. I successfully pulled myself out of my emotional spiral this past week. It took longer than I (and Jeff 😉) would have liked, but that just helped me to see that I need to do a little more work, and that’s ok. I want to get stronger in my ability to control the triggers and the way my brain and body reacts to them, and I’m “positive” that I’m going to find a way to do it. 😊 And as far as my regular, everyday life goes, it couldn’t be better. I have beautiful healthy children, an amazing husband that makes me laugh and is a better husband than I ever could have imagined him to be, and I have a new job that I absolutely love. I also finally have a beautiful, working double oven , which nearly completes our kitchen renovation! 
Life is good. It’s really, really good. 

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy