People tell stories for all sorts of reasons, but most commonly, when one tells a story from one's own life, it is designed to present either some funny anecdote, or perhaps more often, the subject in a positive light.  We like to tell of our trials and triumphs in which we appear as the hero.

What I'm about to embark upon in this next chapter of my story may have precisely the opposite effect. I've struggled with how to share this bit and at the same time avoid judgement.  It can be a fearful thing to lay bare past indiscretions.  On the other hand, it can bring freedom in that there is no longer anything to hide.

The events of the next 8 months or so of my life are rather jumbled in my mind, so that I can't accurately recall the order of them and that may serve to invite confusion over the course of the retelling. I apologize in advance. To add to that, I missed something important, choices that formed dark places in my soul, from the period when I was with Chad.  I'll start there.

During my relationship with Chad, before our marriage if memory serves, I continued to stoke a flame for another man.  He was a man I'd been attracted to for a long time but who had, up to that point, seemed out of reach. He had a way of listening to me when we talked that spoke to my heart and gave it value.  Or at least, that is how it seemed to me at the time. His name was Mike and he was beautiful to me.

At the same time, my feelings toward Chad were not especially filled with affection.  How can I explain staying with a man I didn't even like very much?  My understanding of the reasons are this, Chad and I had things in common that were unhealthy, primarily, the desperate need to be accepted and loved, at any cost. I think that is why I stayed. Chad was a sure thing. Because of his own desperation, I was certain that he would not leave me and so I stayed.

But the flame that I stoked for Mike continued to grow as I pursued him (this is important, if I hadn't pursued him, that flame could have died a natural death).  Perhaps I was hoping to discover that he'd choose me over the things that kept us apart and then I could more easily let Chad go. Isn't this the desire of adulterous women everywhere? At any rate, there was finally a point where our relationship did become physical.  In the dark.  Hidden. Wrong.

And that is always the nature of cheating.

There wasn't any romance, there were only secrets and fear of being discovered and, at least for me, a decided feeling of cheapness. Back seats of cars in dark, deserted parking lots never will bring about an awareness of actual love.  They are all about lust and the hope of gratification. They are cheap.  And yet the irony is they cost everything!  Dignity and integrity are fully lost.  What I bought with my actions was shame. Shame that I would carry for many, many years following.  I bought a question stuck on repeat, 'Are you really a trustworthy woman at all?'.

In all of that, I did KNOW that what I was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong.  But the power of justifying ones choices is extraordinary.  Justification held me in a tight grip, it had me doing it's bidding, willingly destroying myself and Mike and another friend as well. I was entering into what is known in the psychological world as 'escalation of commitment'.

As things progressed with Mike and I, I shared our relationship with a friend.  And then, at some point, invited her to join the party.

Shame grew.

I was responsible for every choice that led me to participate in this deviant affair. At the same time, I believe it is important to recognize that the Enemy of my heart, Satan, was also participating.  I cannot blame Satan and thereby exonerate myself from responsibility, but I do think it's important to understand that Satan has a very real, substantial goal in enticing people to sin.  His goal is to crush them under the weight of SHAME.

The more shame we carry, the more we will hide who we are.  The more we hide who were are from others, the more we hide who we are from ourselves as well. Finally, we don't even know ourselves who we are.

One of the results of hiding our real selves is that we end up inventing a 'cover' self. That is the person we present to the world and we secretly hope that the world will not get too curious and start to poke around to learn more about us.

To keep that from happening, we have a few resources up our sleeves.  Some of us retreat.  We shrink back into the shadows, never letting anyone see us at all. We say very little, stay mostly to ourselves and keep building up an image of who we are inside our minds.

Some of us become VIP's.  We're the ones who get things done.  We keep you from probing by being very necessary to the fabric of life.  We are the doers and you'll never have the chance to know what we may be hiding because we are always so busy being productive that there's never time to ask the first question.

Still others respond quite the opposite, and this was me. We set the stage and begin an acting career.  We become the people who are always presenting something interesting and exciting. We may even borrow pieces of our story from our past, but you can be certain that we've dressed them up to look just so.  We're painting you a picture of our heroics and perhaps, making you laugh uproariously in the process. You'll never even consider getting past our facade because we've been sure to tell you just how transparent we are.

Or maybe we combine all of those options.  In the end, we remain hidden and that just means lonely.......and did I mention ashamed?

Read the whole story here.


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