Hope lives here

I’m stalling. I’ve been stalling for weeks, and I know it. I sit down and think about picking it up. I know I should. But nothing comes. Then I tell myself all the other things that need to get done. The clutter picked up. The piles of laundry. The dishes in the sink. 

No. I can do that later. I need to write something. Stop stalling. Stop making excuses.2 hours. I can spare 2 hours. 

Ok. Here I go. 

But still. Nothing. Not so much as the first word is popping into my head. 

I’ve got nothing. 

Then I hear it. The thought in the back of my head. ….“That’s not true. You’ve got stuff. You just don’t want to write about it.” 

Gah. Couldn’t I have just folded the laundry and let myself off the hook instead of smacking myself in the face with the truth? Nooo. That would be too easy. Easier than dealing with my truth.

So here it is. 
I’ve got stuff. Some things I deal with. But it’s really just the same stuff. You’ve heard it all before. Fears. Insecurities. Issues with trust. Control. You know, the regulars. 

And so in trying to write this post, my thought process went a little like this, (basically, ALL over the place) : 
-“Does this part of it, the inability to fully trust, ever truly lessen significantly or do you always think you’re doing better just to have it sneak up and slap you in the face again forever?”
-“Do I even have anything else to say? Or more importantly, do I have anything NEW to say?”
-“Hellooo God, are you gonna tell me what to write about or just leave me hanging here?”
-“Maybe I thought this was my calling, but maybe it just isn’t.”
-“Is anybody even reading these posts anymore?”
-“Is the laundry EVER completely done?”
-“Do you really want to keep telling everyone in the entire universe what goes on in your life and in your mind?”
-“Do you even want to tell this story anymore or just tuck it away and hope it becomes such a distant buried memory that you can nearly completely forget it?” 
Yep. I’ll admit it. I got issues. 
(Am I the only one hearing that Julia Michael’s song “I got issues” in my head now? 😂)

Fear. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mostly it’s fear. Of so many things. 

Of being betrayed again. Of betraying myself by not seeing it before it’s too late. Of being so afraid of that happening that I sabotage the happiness of now. Of not having security. Of not knowing what comes next. Of not being enough. Of not losing the extra weight I’ve picked up. Of my blood pressure getting any higher. Of failing as a mom. Of writing a book. 

Of NOT writing a book. 

I sit for a minute. I hear Him say “Hope is the anchor.” Hmm. Maybe that wasn’t Him, I tell myself, maybe I just pulled that out of my mind because it’s the subject of the most recent series of sermons at my church. 
But one word stands out. THE. He didn’t say “Hope is an anchor”, or “Hope is my anchor.” I heard “Hope is THE anchor.” 

Ok. Alright then God. I’ll see where that leads me. 

Yes. Hope is my anchor. Hope has always been my anchor. Hasn’t it? I’m all about some hope right? The belief that no matter what, everything’s going to be ok. 

Yes. Sure. Hope is my anchor… I think?

And that’s when the little light comes on and shines itself directly all up into the dark little corners of my heart and says, “hey. See this stuff? Yeah. It’s still there. Maybe you want to think about dealing with that?”

Uh oh. 
IS hope my anchor? Is it what I cling to? Is it what I believe in? Is it what I’m living my life by? 

Or has something else taken it’s place?

Several times over the past few weeks, I’ve felt uneasy for reasons I literally don’t even know. 
You’d think by now I’d know the difference. The difference between an uneasiness that’s prompted by God to alert you of something you need to deal with or avoid or a danger ahead, and an uneasiness that’s not from God, and just a distraction to keep you stuck or drag you down. 

And I kind of do. I know the difference. But that’s where my fear kicks in and tries to make me second guess by throwing all the what if’s at me. “What if this is real? What if you ignore this feeling and you miss something?”

The fear of missing something, of not catching that something has gone wrong in time to fix it before it’s completely broken, it’s like a magnet that pulls me in. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m just stuck there. 

Trying to move forward, trying to let go of it, to break free of its hold on me. But the gravity, the crushing weight of that magnetic pull always pulling me back. 

Or is it? Is the fear holding me? Or maybe, just maybe, am I holding fear? 

I didn’t ask for the thing that brought this fear into my mind, my heart, my life. I didn’t invite it in. It’s a natural byproduct of what I’ve been through. And it didn’t just creep in. It crashed into and enveloped me in a fierce crushing wave, and instead of leaving when the storm subsided, it settled itself right in my heart and made itself at home.

But my life is good now.
I don’t wake up every morning anymore with visions of what Jeff did and questions of what life looks like for all of us when I divorce him. I don’t spend my days sick to my stomach at the thought of what they did. I don’t cry myself to sleep or wake up gasping for air because I feel as if I’m literally drowning. I don’t go lie in a sobbing heap on my bathroom floor because a crushing wave of sadness hits me out of nowhere as I’m chopping vegetables in my kitchen. 

That is not my life today. 
My life is full and good and all kinds of lovely. 

I wake up every morning with a man that treasures me. A man who gives me no real reason to ever doubt or question his devotion to me. Yet, I do. 

I continually question it, because I have a fear of being blindsided. Because I have fear of being deceived. Because I once lived a life believing it was one thing, when the reality of that life was not at all what I perceived and believed it to be. But I don’t live in that life now. I live with a man who hasn’t forgotten what it was like to lose me. A good and decent man. A man who doesn’t want to live that life, the life in which he betrayed me, and God, and himself, ever again.

Why is it so hard for me to just trust in that? 

One word. Fear.
Fear of rejection. Fear of pain. Fear of not having control. Fear of regret. Fear of being made a fool of. Fear of loss. 

Well, maybe there is something else too. Self protection. Defense mechanisms. 

Those two things aren’t always bad. They can be helpful, and sometimes even necessary. But there’s a fine line. A line that is crossed when you begin to LIVE from it. 

Too often, I cross that line.

Too often I live from that self protection. 

Too often I live from those defense mechanisms.

And much, much too often, I live from fear. 

It’s taken me some time to really see that. It’s taken me even longer to face it.

Does the fear hold me, or is it me holding too tight to the fear? 

I think, it’s a little bit of both. It’s a codependency.

I’ve become codependent with the fear.

I battle it, yet I also tend to feed it. I fight it, but I also use it as a source of self preservation. 

That’s not the self I really want to preserve. So it’s time me and fear have a little chat.

Dear fear,

This relationship between you and I really isn’t working out for me. I would say that’s it’s not you, it’s me. But truthfully, we both have contributed to this toxic relationship. It’s time for us to part ways. You’re just taking up too much space here. You cause issues with my real relationships. You keep me from the things I’m supposed to do, and the person I’m meant to be. So, I’m gonna have to break up with you now. 

Sincerely,                                                                  Amy

What are you living your life from? Not on the surface, but really, really deep beneath it? What, truthfully, is your anchor? 

Is it fear? Is it insecurity? Is it doubt or pain or anger? 

Maybe you need to write a hypothetical Dear John letter today to whatever it is that’s holding you back. 

And that’s just the start. Overcoming whatever it is that holds you, or whatever you are holding on to isn’t solved by making this one declaration. It’s something we have to continually work at. It’s a process of waking up every morning with gratitude for where we are, and countering all the negative thoughts that bombard us with God’s truth. Learning how to lean into discernment instead of paranoia. Learning to live in the goodness of today, and not let the circumstances of the past overshadow it. 

Learning how to enjoy the “It is”, instead of constantly worrying over the “what if’s”
This is where I have to admit to you that all of that is easier said than done. This is also the part where Jeff looks at me and says “You need to read your own blog. There’s some really good and helpful stuff in there, maybe you should listen to yourself.” Ha! 
It’s not easy. It’s a spiritual battle. It’s something that I can write about pretty easily because I can clearly see it and identify it and come to terms with it in my head. The truth is in there, but the actual application of it in our lives is where most of us tend to get stuck, myself included. 
You can’t get unstuck by just acknowledging that you’re stuck. You can’t get unstuck by just thinking through why you’re stuck or even what you need to do to get unstuck. The only way to get unstuck is to actually move. You have to apply the right thoughts and then take that course of action. And then, we just have to be a little more aware and careful of the places we drop our anchors. 

I don’t think my anchor has been completely entrenched in fear. I know it hasn’t, because there is SO much hope in our story. And because we have so much goodness and I can see the progress we’ve made in our marriage and in our lives. The bottom wasn’t an easy place to start from, but despite the difficulties , there’s been a LOT of beauty and joy and happy days. 
I think we’ve been moving forward, sailing ahead, but my anchor just keeps getting caught on the rocks and debris. It doesn’t bring us to a screeching halt but it does a pretty good job of keeping us from getting to where we are going. 

So that brings me back to the whole writers block situation. I told myself it’s because maybe I just didn’t have anything to say. But the truth is that I just didn’t want to say it. And the reason behind that was fear. Fear of being misunderstood or of being judged or of my words just not being anything meaningful to anyone. And there’s the fear of sharing my deepest hidden thoughts with basically the entire WORLD. I am here to tell you, being vulnerable like that is not for the faint of heart. But mostly the fear of facing the things that hold me back. 
I haven’t been writing my book. I did for a while, and then, I just stopped. Mostly because I’ve reached the part that gets into the hardest and most painful days of my life.  I’ve worked so hard to not let it take center stage in my thoughts, so to have to go through the process of writing it out, basically reliving those moments, I just haven’t been able to find the strength to face that challenge yet. I know I could do it. I could recite the story and be capable of separating myself from the pain of it, but I also feel that it’s important that I be able to tell it from that place of heartache, as authentically as I can, because that’s what people will connect with. It’s important that anyone reading it that is going through something similar, or through any kind of heartache, is able to read it and know that they aren’t alone in that place. 

I just have to find a way to be able to write from the recollection of that pain, without being drawn back into it, if that makes sense. Really, when it comes down to it, the procrastination of writing that chapter comes from that same root of fear. I’ve been afraid to face it, and I’ve allowed the fear to convince me that going there and writing out that part of the story will drag me back to a place in my mind I don’t want to be. If I keep telling myself that, then the book never gets written, the story never leaves the pages of this blog, and maybe someone who needs it, who needs the hope of our story, and the hope of God’s goodness, never sees it. And then fear wins. 

The truth is, I can do it. I just have to choose to make it happen. To push through the hard to reach the good, and finish the work set before me. I have to anchor myself in hope. Hope that everything will be ok. Hope that even if at anytime it suddenly isn’t, God will find a way to work things for my good. 

Hope is the thing that holds you steadily in place, yet also the thing that when lifted up, puts the wind in your sails and drives you forward. 

Hope is THE anchor. 

The ONLY anchor.

Anything else is just an anvil pulling you down. 
Fear knocks on the door of all of our hearts everyday. Sometimes it’s just an annoying tap, and other times it beats so hard that it seems the door could cave in. May we all learn to answer that knock with this reply:
“This is not your home. Hope lives here, and there’s no room for anything else.”

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

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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

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

Finding my focus

I’ve started trying to write something over the last couple of weeks on several occasions , but for some reason, the words just weren’t coming. I’ve just felt a little off.

These feelings started a couple of weeks ago when we had our first real argument since Jeff’s been back home. This may sound somewhat silly, but it actually kind of took me by surprise. I guess I thought somehow we wouldn’t fight over things anymore. I thought that if we survived the biggest fight a couple can have, then there was surely nothing else important enough to fight over. And I guess truthfully, a part of me thought he didn’t really have the right to get mad at me for anything. Ever. Because I’d forgiven him the biggest hurt he could have possibly inflicted on me. And he was surely so grateful that he would never find a reason to get upset with me. Of course I realize now that all those thoughts were ridiculous. Of course he’s allowed to have his own opinions and feelings. Going through this didn’t somehow make us some super couple that is so exceedingly wise and hopelessly in love that we could never disagree on anything again. There are going to be disagreements and for me to believe otherwise was just completely unrealistic. But still, I don’t think I was prepared for it just yet, and it set the stage for some insecurity to take hold.

That brought about more moments of struggle. More flashes of that imaginary movie reel that plays in my head of the affair. It happens when I least expect it. I don’t try to think about what happened. I try very hard not to think about it, but sometimes I’ll just be sitting there, and suddenly an image of them together will play through my mind. I immediately get up, and find something to do. Try to push it out of my mind with some kind of busy work. But that’s all it takes, just that one flash of a thought, and the pain settles in.
So I let the thoughts and memories get to me. I held on to them a little too long this time, trying to pretend I was ok, trying to spare Jeff from seeing my heartache. I put on my “I’m perfectly fine” face, which I’ve told y’all before never actually fools him. But I still insisted I was fine. I don’t want him to feel like he has to relive his mistakes day after day. I don’t want him to feel like I’m trying to punish him for it by bringing it up. If I just let the tears come and talk about what’s bothering me with him and get it out of my system, I’m ok again. But sometimes I want to protect him and anyone else around me from it, so instead of letting it out, I hold onto it , and it grows. And before I know it, I’ve been enveloped by it, and the thoughts start racing, and the questions come. The same unanswerable questions. And I finally reach the point that I can’t hold it in anymore, and I start asking those questions. The ones he can’t answer. The ones there is no good answer for. Although he’d much rather forget it all than ever speak of it again, he patiently talks me through it. But I can sense the frustration. And I don’t blame him for feeling it. Yet seeing that frustration scares me a little. And that fear brings more questions. If years from now, these bad moments still happen from time to time , will he reach a point where he can’t handle it anymore? Will he eventually tire of having to take care of my broken heart? Resent me for it even? Will he decide it’s just not worth it? Of course I know the fears that brought that particular set of questions to mind aren’t real. I know that he would do whatever it takes , until the end of time to help my heart heal. I know how sorry he is. I know it doesn’t feel good to watch me feel the pain that he caused. I know it doesn’t feel good to go through the same questions and answers that we’ve rehashed a dozen times. He hates what he did, and of course he doesn’t enjoy revisiting it.
I know these things are all normal. I know the healing process is complicated, and that sometimes we are going to feel like we are doing so great, only to feel in the next moment like we’ve taken 3 steps backwards.

But I can also see the progression. I know that it only gets better. Despite the occasional setbacks, I know we are taking steps forward, and into the amazing things we have ahead of us.
I know why I’ve not felt quite right the past couple of weeks. I know why the thoughts popped up more and I know why I had a harder time letting them go. I know why I couldn’t find the words to write. It’s because I was stuck. I lost my focus. I was letting the busyness of my days keep me from some important things. I wasn’t reading my Bible or my daily devotionals. I let my current self-help book sit by my bedside collecting dust. I haven’t spent enough time talking to…or listening to God. While I was gladly investing some of my time in trying to help other people in their healing process, which is definitely important and worthy of my time, and something that I feel blessed to do, I wasn’t investing that same amount of effort into my own healing. And Jeff and I weren’t spending enough time with each other. I could feel a disconnect of sorts. Which in turn brought about some feelings of fear and insecurity, and no doubt gave those negative thoughts I had been having room to grow.

The good thing is that when I stop to figure out how to get back on track, I know exactly how I got here. I know I have to take control of my thoughts and my focus, because these are the things that happen when the focus isn’t where it should be.
I have to remind myself to purge the bad thoughts as soon as they come. I have to remember to allow myself to release the pain they bring. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to protect anyone from those feelings, and that nobody expects me to. If I let it go right then and there, the flood of those unanswerable questions that those moments bring with them stays where it belongs… in the past.

So today, and every day, I have to remind myself to focus on the here and now. To focus not on the hurtful things that Jeff did, but on the person he is now. I am so proud of who he has become and I am so thankful for it. I have to remind myself to read my daily devotions, to spend time talking to and listening to God, and to take care of this marriage, this second chance at real love that we’ve been given.

I have to remind myself to focus not on the painful moments of our past, but the beauty in the moments we share now. I have to remind myself that I can’t change the past, I can’t change the fact that those things happened. I can’t control the pain that thoughts of it bring. It’s inevitable, and no amount of healing seems to make the thoughts of what happened hurt any less. But I can change my focus, and learn how to let that pain go when those thoughts come instead of staying there in that moment and allowing it to control me.

I can’t change yesterday, but I can choose how to spend today.
I’ve said before, that when you focus on the good , the goodness grows. So, I’m resetting my focus. Do you need to reset yours?

Philippians 4:8
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Amy Thurston Gordy