Tuesday, December 9, 2008

At the Foot of the Cross

Growing up in the Catholic church, communion was something that became routine and devoid of meaning for me. I made my First Commuion in the third grade, along with dozens of other kids, with no real knowledge of what I was doing. From then on, I took communion whenever we attended church because it is just what Catholics did.

I say the above not to start a debate, but just to frame my experience for what I am about to talk about. I have been a born-again Christian for about 15 years, but still can not get through a communion service without breaking into tears. Our pastor has a way of explaining it that touches the deepest place in my heart. A friend asked me to explain it to her the other day, and I couldn't do it adequately. I still can't. He talks about it being our hope and the entire reason we are here; about how everything else we do in our Christian life pales in comparison to accepting the reprentation of the living Christ.

This past Sunday, I strongly felt the presence of Jesus as our pastor spoke at communion. I told him I was broken; I am about to be divorced and bankrupt. He told me to place myself at the foot of the cross and leave it all there for Him. I cried "my husband is gone" and He told me that, because of Wayne's sin and mental illness, he didn't know how to be a husband to me and to try to forgive him for that. He said that Wayne was His job now! I need only be concerned about starting a new and victorious life for myself and our daughters. Talk about freedom! But Lord, I cried, "what if I get lonely?" Even as I cried, I was filled with peace that He would meet that need too.

In this life, people let us down. That is called being human. How awesome to know there is One who takes us in any condition, even bankrupt, broken and divorced.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

God and Divorce

I have struggled so long and so hard with this decision, until I finally felt God, in His tender mercy, release me from this marriage. Following are two posts, written only as someone who has BTDT in regards to being married to and divorced from a crossdresser/sexual addict, could do.

1. The law of Moses allows divorce. Jesus said in Matthew 19 "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives..." and also notes that the only grounds for divorce are adultery. Malachi 2 says "For I hate divorce, says he Lord the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence says the Lord of hosts."

I believe fully in the Bible; but I also fully believe that God and His law is far more complicated and larger then we can comprehend. Sometimes we need to step away from human boundaries and look at what is or isn't in God's will with His eyes. God hates divorce, but He also allows it. The limitations are that it must because of adultery. Yet, do we simplify this and say to a battered wife "You have to stay and get beat up because he's not committing adultery"? Do you really think that is God's will for the wife? What if there are children involved? Is it better for the mother to protect her children and leave with them or to have them witness her and possibly the children themselves be beaten? And what constitutes adultery? Jesus said "You have heard that is was said 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Well, that certainly covers the pornography and if you take it a step further, it covers cross-dressing and transsexual behavior because these men are lusting after the their "ideal" woman (themselves). A man who mistreats his wife is also breaking God's law because the husband is supposed to love his wife. A wife is supposed to respect her husband but how does anyone respect abuse? So a husband who puts his addictions before his wife isn't being a loving husband, which in a very big way causes his wife to sin because she can't respect him. And of course the opposite can be said to that how can a man love a wife who doesn't respect him. (Although I feel that the greater sin is the husband's as it is the sin that perpetrates the cycle.)

And then you can go back to Malachi 2 where it says "For I hate divorce, says he Lord the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence says the Lord of hosts." Violence doesn't always have to do with physical violence. Emotional and spiritual battering is also violent.

More importantly then the above argument is "What do you hear God telling you?" I struggled with my decision to divorce my husband and I struggled knowing that I was emotionally killing myself if I stayed. However, I always went back to the fact that I plainly heard God tell me "It's time to leave." Getting advise from several different sources is important at this time for you and for Lisa too. However, you also need to find a quite time to just pray and then listen to God.

2. I really love reading your posts because I hear my story over and over again and its reassuring that I was not the only one struggling with such issues. Some background so you know where I’m coming from. I was married to my husband for 10 years, he was an ordained minister, when he disclosed that he had been cross-dressing for the entire marriage. I tried hard to fit CD into my theology, but it just didn’t fit. I couldn’t get past Paul’s scripture in his letter to the Corinthians ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). This is why those of us who have been through this struggle for some time, rightly call it an addiction.

I’m interested in those who are struggling with the question of divorce. Really, only God can tell you where the boundaries lie on when divorce is necessary. For me, if I had of remained in the marriage I would have become a lesbian and I believe that is diabolically opposed to God’s plan of marriage. My ex-husband has now transitioned and is living as a woman. For others however, it is not as clear. It was a revelation when I realised, God’s highest goal for me was not my marriage to be fixed (or reconciled) but for me to remain holy and be sanctified and set an example of a Godly life. Yes God hates divorce, but he also hates unrighteousness. Of course, I believe that any move towards divorce must be tested first with a period of separation. This occurs normally as a consequence of boundaries having been broken, and creates an environment for both parties to evaluate whether they want to risk the marriage ending. Boundaries are necessary so that the relationship can continue to be healthy for both parties and not become abusive … whether it be emotional, psychological or spiritual.

While I struggled at the time of whether I should leave or not (my husband crossed the boundaries) the decision to divorce was not as difficult. Once I realised that divorce can be an vehicle through which God’s righteous judgment is defined, I realised it was necessary in some circumstances.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Their Daddy's Choice

Anyone who knows me even casually probably knows that on March 31, 2006, my world came crashing down. I have been fairly open about this experience with my husband's cross-dressing/sexual addiction and my own journey of recovery. I have had to be. If I didn't talk, the pain might have killed me. If I didn't try to use the experience for good and to bring glory to God, then there was no purpose in it. Unfortunately, he has never felt the same way.

I have had Biblical grounds for divorce from the start. When one thinks of infidelity, the first thought is probably a spouse having an affair with another person. Wayne did have an affair with another person - himself, dressed as a woman. Repeatedly. He figures the behavior started in his late teens, but I didn't know about it until we were married over 10 years. Not until that fateful day a week after my 38th birthday.

God was so faithful to me in those first months, and it is in crying out to Him that I managed to survive. He has remained faithful, of course; my dedication has, for lack of a better word here, "wayned" (and I know that's not how you spell it) and I have been unsure of His purpose. But I have fought for our marriage for the last 2 years and 9 months, defending my husband when my family and friends told me he wasn't really changing. The sexual acting out via crossdressing did stop, but he has remained the classic "dry drunk" and the emotional abuse has been devastating to me.

We endured a separation last fall. It was brief, a knee-jerk reaction to some serious health problems I'd had that were attributed to stress. (For over a week, I couldn't speak clearly or at all, I could barely stand and at times had to use a cane and a wheelchair.) I felt God lead me back to my husband and I was able to see him with the love that Christ has for him. However....even Christ did not have to live with a sexual addict who refused real recovery. Love was not enough.

I've had some no doubt well-intentioned things said to me that turned out to be very hurtful in the end. These comments put all the responsibility for Wayne's recovery and our marriage solely on me, and wracked me with guilt over things I could not control. Things like:

  • God hates divorce. I know He does, but I have also come to believe He loves me more than He hates divorce. He does not want to see me disrespected.
  • You can only change yourself. Again, I know this. I think this was along the lines how I choose to respond to my husband. I could choose love and forgiveness no matter how he behaved. Should I always enable his behavior and poor choices?
  • You allowed yourself to get sick. (With the neurological symptoms that were stress related.) Your relationship with God must not have been strong enough.
  • Another person can not mentally or emotionally abuse you unless you allow it.
  • Do you really want your children to grow up with divorced parents like you did? OF COURSE NOT! Wayne hid from me who he really was. I thought I had married a devoted Christian who would always treat me well, a far cry from my own father.
  • God will perform a miracle, just keep praying and waiting. I know God can and does perform miracles every day. For a while, I thought our marriage was one. I so wanted to be one of the few marriages that survive this kind of betrayal, and give all the glory to Him. I just have to try harder. Pray more. Love more. Forgive more. Exclude everyone from my life who criticizes Wayne. Don't try to change him. Don't share personal things about him with others.
  • You need to make yourself more physically attractive to him. No one can argue that I am both significantly overweight and out of style, but it would not have mattered if I *was* a Victoria's Secret model. He is a sexual addict with desires no human can satisfy.
  • You need to plan for how you are going to handle it if he relapses, without leaving him.
  • It is wrong to put away money or plan for an education, (in other words, a Plan B) because that is not trusting God enough.

After we got back together, I made it perfectly clear that I would not tolerate even one more slip-up, no matter how minor. Wayne made the choice to disregard that about 10 days ago; so in effect, pornography has won out over his family. I will proceed with divorce now.

As for our daughters, they were heartbroken to receive this news, but I think it may be in how it was delivered. I told Wayne that since he had chosen pornography over his family, it was going to be his job to tell the girls about the divorce. I asked him to talk to them yesterday and leave the house by 6, when I was coming home. Apparently, he told them a few minutes before I got there and then just left. I walked in to find two sobbing girls who didn't know what was going on. Rachel was hiding in her closet! I comforted them, hugged them and told them how much we both loved them. They seem to be doing much better today.

Everyone, so far, has been wonderful and understanding, but let me challenge you with this. When you are tempted to think people give up too easily on marriage these days, remind yourself that does not apply to everyone. Let the following words speak for me, and all wives who have lived this private hell on Earth. They are random comments taken from two online support groups I belong to.

SEXUAL ANOREXIC SEX ADDICT - 29% of sex addicts are this kind. These people have a problem on two levels. They are sexually addicted and they actively withhold themselves spiritually, emotionally and sexually from their partner. Characteristics of the Sexual Anorexic:

*Stays busy so there is no time for the spouse. Work, TV watching, video games, hobbies *Blaming - the spouse is always the problem

*Withholding love

*Withholding praise

*Withholding sex - the Sex Anorexic can have sex but he will not connect

*Unwilling or unable to share feelings - to talk about himself

*Uses anger or silence to control and punish partner

*ongoing or ungrounded criticisms. they always give hoops for the partner to jump through. Offering hope by getting the partner to change.

*Control and shame around finances

These are very difficult people to work with. They don't really know how to attach to people and are all about avoidance. Never really dealing with the real issues.

A partner who lives/lived with this kind of person can be traumatized. They are the most horrendous to live with for the partners of these kinds of addicts. Dr. Weiss called it living in purgatory. Most women only last ten years in this kind of relationship and possibly up to 20 if they are a saint. (13 years of marriage; ironically, it started to unravel at 10. September was 16 years we have been together.)

For these addicts to truly heal they must address both areas of acting out sexually and avoidance of intimacy, and have strong consequences in both areas or they will never heal. If they just stop acting out that is not enough. They must address the issue of avoiding intimacy too. If they do not, they will guaranteed go back to acting out sexually.

Many of my health problems are at least partly from stress and now there is so much tension because of the safeeyesprogram. I WON'T back down - but the tension is making me physically sicker already. (When I was a child.. tension and refusal to bendusually culminated in a bad beating so its hard to handle now.. even though ___ would never hit a woman and I'm not afraid of him.. it'st he post-traumatic stress disorder.. but its really affecting me right now and I don't feel good. I'm starting to hurt all over). *My "neurological" problems have returned on the left side, but only when he's around.* **That's me talking**

reality is reality, and facing it is sometimes best for us in the long run. Again, it comes down to how much they want recovery and walk in it. Most ofthese guys have been crossdressing for a long time, and since it is anaddiction, if he is still opening pornographic sites, lying, etc andmanipulating, well, that isnt recovery. (This was actually written to me specifically)

he still acts childish and immature, and basically like a jerk. Which is what I would normally notice most around the time of a relapse. I understand that having an addiction like this kind of halts your maturity in it's tracks...

I can't stand it. I feel like I'm in some sort of surreal, nightmare movie where some monster is messing with your mind, making you see things, and twisting reality.

I've tried to communicate this to my husband. This suffocating desperation or not_being_able_to_communicate.

but with him not.....growing up, and not even trying, I don't know how long I can go on like this before I just have to break away for the sake of having a real human relationship with someone somewhere.

Porn is a lie and it does ruin relationships. I wish it didn't exist because I believe it's ruining how the opposite sexes relate.

I recently divorced my SA Husband (SA=sex addict) We went to therapy, one on one, together, group sessions with shrinks and then 12 step groups, etc... for several years. His behavior never changed... it just gave him the right to say I AM TRYING... BE PATIENT.

It has been a huge relief to be away from him, his lies, his betrayal, his sickness or evilness, whichever one it truly is... and I am not being brought flowers one day (guilt) and then treated like crap the next day... it was a very confusing relationship and it will take a lot of time for me to heal and I don't know if I will ever be able to believe in someone again or trust them. I have no interest in a relationship or closeness with any man. The man I loved never even existed, I was just his big cover up to make himself look like a normal man.

I wish I could tell you it goes away. It can for a while. If they really try. My husband is triggered by stress. Sometimes you think everything is fine. Then you find something, and your world comes crashing down. It's hard not to let it change you. I am so sensitive to the slightest thing now. Bikini commercials and lingerie ads can really blow my day.

Do I want to save this... Well, yes I fight so hard all the time for this marriage!! However, there comes a point where you get sick of being the only one fighting.

....I have been married for 6 years to a man that I was madly in love with...I truly thought I found the love of my life....Not long after the marriage started, I found porn on the computer...to make a long story shorter, I confronted him, he weeped, apologize, asked for another chance...I gave it to him...

All I know is that his habit (which he denies is an addiction) has made me into someone I don't want to be and weakened our relationship.

So - here I am with the man that I always dreamed I would be with and never believed that this would be an issue.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Time Flies When You're Not Having Fun

Wow, three weeks since I've been here. In that time, I have been ill, which turned out to be an ovarian cyst. It's not as scary as it sounds, but it did have me out of commission for a while.

I have also been struggling mightily with my emotions, namely anger and depression. I have wanted to resort to my coping mechanism of old, which is to avoid everyone and sleep a lot. The thing is, God won't let me get away with that anymore! We are in a battle of wills, He and I. I know good and well that He will win in the end and that I will be glad He did, but right now, I'm struggling. I want my own way. Thank goodness that just as we never stop loving our own children during their tantrums and testing us, God loves us all the more. In fact, He loves us so much, that He tells us to have at it with the tantrums, then come to me and see what you needed to learn.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Greater Need

I haven't been to church three of the past four Sundays due to taking care of my nephew and another temp job. I thought tonight would be a good time to go to the much smaller evening service for a spiritual shot in the arm. Imagine my surprise when I walked in, and our pastor pulled me aside and asked me to....babysit. I had been doing that all day!

A man came to the service tonight with his four sons, thinking there would be childcare. He has only been to our church a couple of times. Our pastor, wisely sensing that the man's need to be ministered to was much greater than my own, asked me to keep an eye on the boys for the hour.

God is so wise. He provides for my needs before I even know what they are or can vocalize them. He also gives me a push when I need to be serving others and letting Him worry about my own stuff. I got two pushes this weekend alone.

Yesterday, I was called to visit two sick church members in the hospital who are older people I don't know well. I didn't want to go; I didn't know what to say. Yet, awkward as I felt being out of my comfort zone, I was also humbled to have earned this level of trust amongst my peers. It took just minutes of my time to let these two people know that their church family cares about them.

I can't wait for my next opportunity to serve others by being the hands and feet of Christ. What an honor.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

He wants ALL of us

I have come through an experience the last two weeks that has left me feeling embarrassed to the core and very exposed, yet through it all I have realized that is exactly what God wanted. This is an area of my life, that while obvious to close friends and family, is something I have talked very little about and never addressed.

So here goes. I am a chronic job-hopper. Since getting my first job at the age of 16 (24 years ago, oh my) I have bounced from job to job, to self- employment and unemployment, quickly growing bored and restless and rarely lasting more than a year. I also had this tendency with other commitments. The fact I have been at the same address for 12 years and with the same man for 16 just goes to show God did know what He was doing partnering me with someone who balances me out.

In a person's early 20's, this could be expected, at 40, it's most likely called attention deficit disorder. The ADD, coupled with clinical depression, made stability a real challenge for me, but instead of being honest with that, I made more and more desperate attempts to hide it. I found it humiliating and often had no explanation as to why I behaved the way I did. Are you familiar with Romans 7:19 in which Paul laments "19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." That was me.

The company I received an offer from two weeks ago discovered my attempts to hide my past instability by stretching dates of employment. My past instinct would have said forget about them and try scamming someone else. The Holy Spirit said otherwise. I was instructed to write them a note apologizing for my omission and to try to explain it. I didn't get a clear sense on whether they would still be willing to hire me. I was expected to act in obedience and let God worry about the outcome.

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. (Ironically, this was the theme of a Beth Moore conference I attended about a week and a half ago.) I was desperate for work; it has been over a year since I worked steadily and I had received dozens of rejections in that time from other companies. Yet, I was outright admitting to them that I had lied. I couldn't outrun my past anymore. Whatever the outcome, I had to start being honest with people, so without excuse, I did just that.

In deep humility, I am happy to say I still got the job and I start on August 5. This is absolutely and act of grace and mercy that happened only by being obedient to the Holy Spirit. I have come clean that I faced significant mental health challenges and lived to tell about it. I can't help but think that I will be a testimony to this company. They have to wonder how I got well and, if given the opportunity, I will tell them: By surrendering my life fully to Christ.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Steadfast Friend

Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Thank goodness! I guess that's why He is God and I am not. How I am day to day often depends on my circumstances.

In the past few weeks, I have felt justified in pulling away from my Savior and friend. Life has been tough. Everyone has struggles, of course, but I felt particulary entitled to stress out and give myself permission to unravel.

My husband and I hadn't been getting along. In March 2006, I learned he had a secret addiction and though our relationship is significantly better, the behaviors and attitudes can continue to challenge. Sometimes it gets to be too much and I wonder if God knew what He was doing calling me toward reconciliation with my husband.

Then, June 15 marked one year of unemployment for me. I have had some self-employment and a few temp jobs, but nothing steady. I was feeling lower than low this week. The Bible and prayer just seemed like words meant for other people.

Then, lo and behold, I got a job and tensions eased at home. I felt great. I sought after my Savior and friend again, but I didn't have to seek far. He hadn't gone anywhere.

A friend like this is rare to find. In fact, there is none like Him. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. And those aren't just words on a page.