Shame and Secrecy:  Gone

It was a Saturday like any other in San Antonio, Texas — a beautiful, blustery October morning in 2007, the perfect day for our family outing at the zoo — until I discovered a secret so painful, I nearly collapsed. 

D-Day, I called it. Discovery Day. The day I discovered my husband was leading a double life. Mind-blowing, earth-shattering, unthinkable, that’s how I would describe it. At the time I had been married ten years and had two children, ages 4 and 10. 

It was shocking enough to learn of my husband’s infidelity, but a husband who is having affairs with other men? A double dagger ripping through my heart with an additional heaping of shame to address. 

I didn’t tell a soul. 

I kept quiet for years, too embarrassed to confide in anyone, stuck in a downward spiral of shame and secrecy. I could have secured an Emmy with my acting facade. 

My husband promised he would do anything to hold our marriage together and keep our family intact. We tried EVERYTHING, but the impossibility of learning to trust again after repeated betrayals edged into my new normal. With each act of adultery, it was increasingly unbearable to pick myself up by my bootstraps. 

Over the next 12 years, I couldn’t extricate myself from the emotional roller coaster of hope and despair. 

I was hopeful, believing my husband to be on a path of healing and recovery, only to be followed by despair when I yet again learned of another infidelity. The deceitfulness never ended. 

I knew the absurdity of being a doormat but persevered through the abuse. I was confused as to what the response of a Christian wife should be. Over and over I’d hear in Christian circles how much God hates divorce, and being told to forgive and forget, try harder, have faith, submit. I kept asking myself if this was the life God intended for me. 

In 2013, I started a Beth Moore Bible Study. The Women’s Ministry at my church was offering it, and because I really didn’t know any other women there, I could go and learn while remaining undercover. No one attending knew me, allowing a safe zone from anyone asking questions that were too personal. In addition to our daily homework, participants were encouraged to memorize two scripture verses each month. We could choose our own, or use the ones Beth shared with us. 

The first verse I committed to memory was Proverbs 31:25, I am clothed in strength and dignity. I can laugh at the days to come. Initially, I didn’t believe this verse was about me. Clothed in strength? I wasn’t strong, I was weak! Dignity? What was that? I had no dignity or self-worth left! Laughing at the days to come? It appeared my future would be filled with tears, not laughter. This verse couldn’t apply to me, I thought. Surely this was about the Proverbs 31 Bible Study Ladies, but not me. Feeling hopeless and helpless, I decided to give memorizing it a try anyway. 

I wasn’t a new Christian and had studied the Bible, but part of my problem lay in the fact that I had been married and divorced before. My thinking was, If my own husband didn’t love me, how could God possibly love me? But soon, the Holy Spirit started whispering to me, breathing new life into me. 

I can’t even put into words the feelings I had when I realized God truly loves and cares about me. I realized that nothing can separate God’s love from me. Even if a husband was not trustworthy, God could still be trusted! God helped me believe this verse was about ME! 

I spent months crying out to God. My husband’s behavior and choices had not changed, but I still desperately desired to keep my family intact. Over the summer months, God faithfully revealed His answer with confirmation: It was OK to move on. 

My 22-year-old marriage ended in divorce last April. Bittersweet, I grieve the loss over our broken family and what could have been, yet I sensed God’s peace and provision in His future plans for me. 

Signing the divorce paperwork, I had so many mixed emotions, but through it all, I prayed to God for His will, not mine. God’s peace washed over me. I knew it was the right decision. Even when life gets messy, and it doesn’t always turn out in ways we hope for, God remains constant and faithful. He is my rock, redeemer and sure foundation.

As a single mom, Debra enjoys spending time with her two kids and two cats. Residing in Texas, she finds any excuse to make frequent visits to her cabin in New Mexico. When she’s not reading, knitting, or writing her book, you may find her hiking, biking, or natural dyeing. She’d love to connect with you! Find her website here  or on Facebook  and Instagram: bee_ofgoodcheer