My story is one of someone who is now celebrating many years of freedom from the guilt of adultery and divorce, and the pain of rejection and low self-esteem.
I was raised in a fairly steady home and, being the eldest of 5 siblings, I would help my Mum a lot in the home as my father was often away – although I was a relatively happy child, I was also from an early age very shy and was always wanting to please people.
As was the norm in my day, I married at the age of 19 and I can clearly remember at the age of 24 thinking my life was complete – I had my two sons who were an absolute joy to me, and my husband and I were surrounded by good friends and a very active social life, which often found us either entertaining in our home or supporting people around us who were struggling.
But gradually things started to change; indeed, I believe the busyness of our lives caused us to drift apart, as we didn’t make time for each other – I had buried myself in raising my boys and running our home and he had buried himself in his work. This went on for several years, until my husband was forced through ill-health to leave his job – and we had to reverse our roles – he became the stay at home Dad and I returned to full time employment.
Very quickly we found that those small cracks in our relationship, became huge chasms, as my world started to open up and his world slowly became diminished.
Instead of navigating this as a team, we became two individuals focussed on the fact that our needs were not being met, and so in our selfishness we began to display some very destructive and disrespectful behaviour towards each other.
As I look back now I can see that I had not taken notice of the warnings in my life; I had become complacent over certain things, and my life had subtly begun to steer off course – it started small, only a couple of degrees to start with:
- ignoring the mounting problems in my marriage
- being too proud to ask for help
- backing away from friends and family and isolating on my own
But those small degrees soon led to me being quite significantly off course, and I found myself starting to make some serious errors of judgement and decision making, leading eventually to me having an adulterous relationship.
As a result of this, I lost my marriage, my home, my job, and my friendship group – all of which left me freefalling in a downward spiral of emotional and spiritual emptiness for a period of 13 years – hating who I was and what I was doing but not sure of where to find the answers or how to change any of it – in fact every attempt at trying to make things better, actually seemed to just make things worse. And the painful impact this was having on my family just compounded my self-hatred.
So I did what I do best, and found as many ways as I could to ‘drown out’ the noise – through making myself busy, studying for a degree, building my career, renovating my house – anything so I didn’t have to deal with what was going on inside my head. Then in 2010 one of my sons developed an unhealthy addiction to alcohol leading to mental health issues, which resulted in him making several attempts at suicide – I knew he was in pain and very much believed that this was my fault because of our broken marriage. This was my rock bottom and I knew I couldn’t ignore what was going on around me anymore.
So in 2011, I plucked up all my courage, swallowed my pride and attended a 12 step programme called Celebrate Recovery which provides support for any of life’s hurts, hangups or habits. I came seeking hope, answers, anything I could cling on to – I was desperate, confused, filled to overflowing with fear, shame, loneliness and self-loathing – basically I was a shell that existed day to day with no end in sight to my internal daily torment.
I really wasn’t sure what sort of welcome I would receive or how people would judge me. However, I’m delighted to say, I found a place where I was accepted, and received support and help to rebuild my life and some key relationships. And over time the people there basically loved me back to life.
I’m not going to pretend that this has been an easy process, but foundational to this has been coming to understand that I am loved unconditionally – with my mess, with my pain and with my stubborn pride.
As I have examined each of my past failures one by one, I have experienced deep in my heart the grace and forgiveness of my Higher Power in a whole new way. This in turn has helped me to forgive myself – and to forgive the people who hurt me – and as I have come to know the truth about myself and those around me, that truth has indeed set me free!
I now have the amazing privilege of leading other groups in the Celebrate Recovery programme and also in the Adullam programme – and these roles have given me the privilege of being able to witness first-hand the lives of others around me also being transformed. Having a safe community where we can be open with each other and share our lives, helps us to see that we are not alone, there are others who we can identify with and learn from, and we can heal and grow into the best version of ourselves.
I still can have days where I feel unloveable and can be very down on myself and find myself going back to some of those unhelpful thought processes – but having the ongoing support of the Celebrate Recovery and Adullam groups, and being able to share honestly about my struggles and my victories, have helped to both keep me accountable as well as remind me that I am not the person I once was; that I have been given a second chance at life and this new life now has purpose and meaning far greater than anything I ever believed it would – which is to help and support others!
If you are someone who has heard my story, or other stories on this page, and you want to find that same kind of support – please can I encourage you not to leave it any longer, but get in touch and begin the journey towards freedom for yourself. The Adullam Programme exists specifically for people like you.
Thank you for listening to my story.