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Before yesterdayMichelle Heathen

Explaining God – Akin To Teaching Science

26 February 2020 at 06:56

Speaking from a personal perspective only, I don’t know how people navigate through the trials and tribulations of life today without faith.

When I was just coming upon my teen years, I felt called to an alter at a southern Church of God. I don’t know if it was the atmosphere that was created by the people of which I was surrounded that persuaded me to take those steps, or a literal call from God on my soul.
I pose that as sort of a question because I didn’t ‘get all the answers I sought,’ nor did I feel drastically different afterwards. It was more of a blanket of peace.

Fast forward several years, as my home life began to deteriorate and my teen angst started to surface. I tossed my presence of God not in the back seat, but in the trunk of the car. It was not a pretty sight to behold. Nonetheless, I felt a pull and tug here and there that can only be explained as one of two ways – an undiagnosed mental illness, or the supernatural essence of God reminding me that He was there.

I know there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of theories on who God is – and if, in fact, there even is a God, and why people come to a conclusion of God.

I’m not here to debate whether His existence is real or not, I’m here to share why His voice convinced me that it was real. It is only by stories and studies of others that we ever gain knowledge in the first place, right? I’d say we gain by what we can feel and see, but some of us are born with a certain set of genetics that help us understand what we can see and feel without the knowledge of a science teacher, while others are inept. How would one begin to understand the vast education that lies before us without someone smarter than us, or more experience than us, or someone who just simply ‘gets it’ easier than us?

What if spiritual knowledge is this way? What if some are born with a fine tune signal to a ‘spiritual world’, while others need to rely on the experience and know- how of a previous generation?

Back to the gal in the story. Sadly, my ‘spiritual’ knowledge was not something that really became fine-tuned until I began searching and seeking, and began to truly humble myself in my 30’s. (I suppose it’s better late than never.)
Not everyone is going to hear the voice, feel the presence, nor know Him in the same way. Just like our fingerprints, our DNA, our entire essence, we are born differently – each with a unique code of how, when, and if God appears to us.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor wish to debate. I only know that when I let go of my faith, God, and what I have been created for, my hope dissipates rapidly.

Jesus hasn’t filled every void in my life and created an ever-lasting high, He has only given me purpose and a reason to keep reasoning with humanity.

Without Him, what would be my purpose? Because, God knows after the last several years of heartache, the pain could go away in the next minute. But because I believe there is a purpose to my pain, I push forward. I don’t mean in the cliché sense; I mean it in a visceral way.

My wish would be for every person alive to have at least one moment in their life that they would feel and hear Him the way I did on October 1, 2017.

But until someone experiences this on their own – you simply can’t explain it in such a human way as words. Isn’t that much like science sometimes? Or explaining why each individual snowflake (as pictured in my hair) has its own ‘print’, as our own fingerprints and DNA do? Some will just ‘get it’, others won’t.

Michelle H.

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heathenmichelle

A Confession, An Apology

8 November 2018 at 10:01

I wish I could attest that I’ve always walked with integrity as the Brene Brown quote says, but I digress. It’s easy to say you would NEVER do something, until you do that something.

I don’t fit exactly into any category squarely when it comes to the infidelity clicks.

Yes, I was betrayed. Yes, my H cheated with paid sex workers (and no, I didn’t have a clue). And yes, the pain is as deep when your husband pays a stranger as it is when they fall in love with someone else. My first husband left me pregnant with our 3rd child for another woman, so I’ve tasted both bitter dishes.

Anyhow, I was a betrayer as well. I wish I could pretend it was as innocent as some would play it off to be, but the fact remains that I had conversations that I surely wouldn’t want others to read.

I won’t get into detail, as there is no need to invoke more triggers, but the second emotional affair partner I had was, indeed, married.

I became the other woman.

I’ve felt called to write this post for a while, but how do you tell others you were a reason for their pain?

Reading the words of other betrayed women while remaining faithful to their husbands is hard to stomach sometimes – as it should be. There is no action without consequence.

I suppose a part of me felt what I did to be a sort of ‘just dessert’ to his wife. Seeing how my affair partner’s wife had slept with my ex-husband.

What can I say? Life in a small town can be quite trite.

Believe it or not, a need for vengeance upon her is not what stirred my indulgence in an affair with her husband. Mere circumstance, curiosity, history, and my selfish need for attention made the recipe for my willingness to cross a line I said I’d never.

Although payback was not initially on the agenda, it felt good to be on the giving end of pain for once.

That good feeling was short-lived. I know now that a need for vengeance shouldn’t be part of my character. (I’m still working on it)

God must’ve been shaking His head when I tried a million ways to rationalize my actions.

There was no sex, yet it was still an affair. There is just no way to sweeten it. That makes me one of the bad guys.

I knew that his story of his marriage being on the rocks and that he was separated was likely bogus. My rational brain knew better, it just wouldn’t make me do better at the time. The only piece of dignity I can walk away with is the fact that I refused to sleep with him. I still was not innocent.

For what it’s worth..

To the fellow betrayed, here’s the apology from the other woman.

Perhaps you can take a slight comfort in reading about how I did receive a penalty of my own – the knowledge that the love of my life did cross the sexual line with women – other than me – and paid to do so.

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heathenmichelle

Would I Tell Again?

22 February 2020 at 00:40

Never in my life have I wished or longed for death – nor considered speeding up the process of ceasing to live – until the aftermath of the infidelity.

Had I known what I would have to endure, the toll it would take on my mental and physical health, and the affect I would have on others around me – would I do it again? Would I make my confession if I knew I’d uncover his dark secret? Because the truth is when this all came out, I longed for God to take me.

I’d like to say no, I wouldn’t tell because all this “righteous truth” that got unloaded came at a great cost, but the answer is still yes. I’d tell my husband I had two emotional affairs again, because it is the truth. Without that, I’d never have uncovered the prostitute (among other things).. and I think we both deserved the consequences. Pain or no pain.

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heathenmichelle

The Passing of D-day Anniversary #1

18 October 2018 at 04:00

The memories that seem to have scarred most of all are the ones from the unearthing of information and the disclosure period itself. It’s everything surrounding that time frame. It’s the music heard, the chill in the air that began to envelope us. So many seemingly minuscule details that were never anticipated to have a deep or lingering impact, yet they stir a sadness. A sadness at the loss of our facade of fidelity to one another.

Then comes regrets. The regret of time passed. Almost a decade of living in denial had to go by before I faced the truth of what not only my relationship was, but how it affected who I had become.

Accountability is something I refuse to lack in this situation. I knew there were signs. The reason I stayed encompassed in the usual sidebars- work, children, drugs, alcohol, and then emotional affairs of my own, were all a result of me refusing to look at things with the lights on, so to speak.

Prior to getting married there was a night that my husband, (then fiancé), refused to take me to a company party. I made excuses at the time for his decision. One reason I made up for the non-invite was my presumption of his coyness with women. His history was limited to only one real serious relationship prior to ours, so it seemed reasonable somewhere in this noggin of mine that he might not understand the pleasantries that come along when being hitched to someone else’s wagon.

Nonetheless, I now find it quite comical that I allowed myself to not just make up such excuses of apathetic tendencies, but it’s even more comical that I swallowed the lies I had fabricated about why I couldn’t tag along.

I was both confused and disheartened at his choice of going to this event stag. Playing it off as insignificant at the time, those seemingly superficial wounds began running deeper and deeper as time moved onward.

I imagine these emotional wounds akin to something like ignoring you have a tapeworm or a parasite of some sort within your body. You can live with it for a while, but eventually it’s going to make its presence known and cause havoc, threatening the entire system.

Fast forward a decade and half from the infamous company picnic, and I discover that the “solo” company picnic evening was just as suspected. He was with another woman that night.

The saddest part about that (for me) is not just the betrayal, but my chosen ignorance. The tactics I used with distracting, slowly snowballed over a decade, eventually contributing to my (literal) physically and spiritually broken heart.

So, a year after disclosure, I reflect on something new, but yet it’s always been my best gift – my intuition.

I lived as the queen of denial for over a decade. While it’s a relief to know the truth, it has come with a lot of anger towards both him, and myself.

Facing my own insecurities, but remembering my strengths has been a lifeline that was much needed to gain back control of this ship – and my sanity. I’ve not rode this ride in vain. I intend to put every parcel of this experience to some use.

Moving forward will be the true test to the character of both of us. He is human, as am I. I have to succumb to the fact that an authentic attempt at becoming a better person has to count for something. If I don’t believe this, I myself will be doomed.

I think back to the day I confessed my affairs to my husband, and although I feel almost an entirely different person than I was then, with the wounds freshly busted open, bleeding, and unbearably raw, I still know that it was God’s hand in that situation.

Had I not softened my own heart and faced my own transgressions, he never would have softened enough to confess his own. That is the truth of the matter.

Whatever your belief, if you ever feel called by a higher power to take a leap of faith in the name of making wrongs right, you may very well be surprised where the fall lands you. Not to overuse the cliche, but that blind jump -when it’s a humble step towards righteousness- I don’t believe will ever fail you on your path.

You may not initially like the landing. It may be unsteady. It might be horrifyingly painful at first. It may also bring you to the necessary position of being down on your knees.

I knew in my heart of hearts that something was off, and my refusal to face it like a woman made it worse. I didn’t get any easement of my inner turmoil until I faced my own failures. Humbled.

I thought I was just appeasing God by telling the truth of my infidelity, but that blind step of speaking the truth with a humble heart transformed everything.

Funny how humility works; it remains completely underrated.

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heathenmichelle

Day 872 – Elijah in Hiding

20 February 2020 at 13:47

Wonder what it’s like to stay in a marriage after infidelity disclosure?

Two and a half years post-disclosure, and this is a small glimpse of the toll it’s taken and how it is (according to the ‘gospel of M.H.’).

It’s been 872 days since disclosure, and for about 400 of those days I’ve remained in neutral gear- just coasting. I’ve shed tears roughly 800 days of the last 872, and grown exponentially in the field of empathy for others.

I’ve also hid in my corner of the world for most of that time. Thinking that the fog would suddenly lift, and one day I would wake and automatically be healed from the pain. But it doesn’t work that way.

Like Elijah in the cave, I have had moments that I not only questioned the reasoning and value of my existence, I felt such despair that I wished for God to take me out. Yes, I had moments that I longed for death. During the initial phase of post-disclosure, a recurrent theme lingered in my head. “At least when I die I won’t feel this pain anymore.” That is not being melodramatic, nor figurative.

When life began to settle post-disclosure, and I moved from denial to acceptance, an ominous feeling shadowed my existence. This is by my own allowance. Granted, I did not cause the scars the prostitute inflicted onto my heart; I did however allow bitterness and apathy to replace my softness. I chose this, but could find no way to escape. Despite prayer after prayer, depression had taken a firm grip on my spirit.

A couple of weeks ago I had made a video journal, (enjoying one of my pity parties), crying and asking God why He doesn’t see fit to put me out of my misery (triggered by the J-Lo halftime show), when I decided to flip open my bible and read wherever I landed. That’s where Elijah came in.

I had landed on a story of a kindred spirit! 1 Kings 19:4. Elijah had asked God to take his life while he hid in a cave from Jezebel. (If you are unfamiliar with Elijah know he was a very righteous man of God – a prophet- probably one of the most honorable and righteous to ever exist).

Coincidence? Skeptics might say so, but I choose to believe it was a message crafted for me. In re-reading Elijah’s wish for death my guilt of pondering death lessened, and that mustard seed of faith was brought back into focus. Maybe, just maybe, if such a man of God can have a moment of questioning his existence and life, then maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for doing the same.

It had been a vicious cycle of depression- guilt for being depressed – guilt and shame induced depression – anger for feeling guilty and depressed – hopelessness – then temporarily okay. Rinse, cycle, repeat.

But Elijah was granted not only grace for his human emotion of self-pity, he was given the means to move forward. He’d had a moment of insecurity. He was just a man – and I am just a woman, after all.

This is the hard part. I must step out of the cave I’ve made my comfort cocoon for almost 2 years.

I had let this event become such a headline for my life story, that I forgot all of the other important aspects and value I brought to the table as a woman, mother, friend, nurse, and child of God.

The “triggers” are different, and impact differently as time progresses, but they do lessen.

My biggest piece of advice to another that has uncovered infidelity – that I cannot stress enough is this: Do not isolate yourself. Whether you decide to stay married after infidelity, separate, or divorce – seek counseling. If you are going to stay married and your partner refuses to seek at least an intensive counseling weekend, I would make that a dealbreaker. And if you have to move forward alone, seek counseling for yourself. The belief that you can “wing it” will gradually smother your soul as you uncover that you cannot “wing it” at all. It’s unlikely you will progress in a healthy way if you go it alone.

Know that it requires work and it can be done, but time itself will not change you. Doing things, moving forward, is what will begin to change your life.

Author and speaker Barbara Sher talks about isolation being a killer. I have found this to be particularly true after infidelity.

If you have not seen her Ted Talk, I highly recommend it.

She also once referenced that whatever it is that we are put on this earth to do- whether it be write, create music, share a story, etc. that it is none of our business what happens with it, it is only our job to do it.

That’s what brought me here – sharing another small piece of my story and testimony.

I’m not looking for followers, recognition, or validation with my posts. Someone, somewhere, may just need to know that another human has experienced the same kind of trauma and pain and muddled through it.

Here’s someone making it – still within the confines of my marriage. Some days I want to quit, some days he wants to quit. The effort is immense on the bad days, but we are one couple still here and working on it.

Here’s to day 872- and another attempt at stepping toward the exit of my cave, hoping I eventually reach that light again.

 

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heathenmichelle

The Unpopular Opinion Of Hope

15 November 2018 at 08:05

“Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some…………

It’s easy to see when there’s nothing to bring me down.

But what will I say, when I’m held to the flame, like I am right now?

I know You’re able, and I know You can, save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t,

My hope is You alone.”

– MercyMe

I’ve listened to this almost repeatedly for days now. Amongst the marital struggles, I face even more new uncertainty with my health, and now, discovering we must move from our home that we were purchasing because of some fluke in the mortgage process, makes it difficult to hold on to that hope.

I say this not for sympathy or pity, (so please don’t even comment on my health or loss please).

The inspiration today is simply given to me by MercyMe, and the lyrics of the song I’ve quoted.

And I thought someone out there might find comfort in the song as well.

I care not if it’s cliche, I know there is a reason all this has come to pass.

God help me, continue to give me hope. No matter what comes my way.

“Even if”…

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heathenmichelle

The One Year Mark, The “B” Word, And The Hero Of This Story

11 November 2018 at 10:00

Whether you make it happen solo, or together..

Of late, I’ve written several posts about anything other than directly relating to where my marriage stands.

Discussing my own imperfections and guilt is not only cathartic, it’s something within MY CONTROL. I find a sense of relief, because I’m not dealing with the direct pain from being betrayed. Guilt and self-inflicted pain is much more tolerable than the alternative, which is rehashing what my H did, (and the most excruciating part – that he enjoyed another woman’s body).

That just plain sucks.

Remembering facts, and my inability to stop it from happening again, paralyzes me. I’ve avoided reflecting on the one year mark of D-Day in my marriage because things have been better lately.

That being said, I haven’t been living in a bubble of denial. I was born a realist, bordering on the cynical side. If you read small pieces of my story, one might be inclined to think I’m naive or blind, but I’ve simply chosen to keep certain things ‘in the vault’ until the time came to share.

My goals of writing were not only to connect with others, but to share a story of struggle and redemption, but most importantly, how God came in to play. So, I feel I need to press on – even when it hurts.

When I first started treading the waters of WordPress, I was a rambling mess. Not just because of my poor writing skills, (while those could use sprucing up), but also because I was simply still in shock.

I had what I like to refer to as ‘diarrhea of the mouth.’ I told too much, and yet, not enough.

Then I veered off course altogether.

So now, for the sake of anyone out there that may stumble upon my page in the fresh aftermath of disclosure, I’d like to plant a seed of hope.

Feelings wax and wane, and before you know it another spring and summer will come to pass, but as they say, “The truth remains the same.” You and your partner will, of course, not ever be the same again, but that can be a blessing.

I am not attempting to delude anyone with some peachy scenario and a tidy, happy ending adorned with a bow, by the means of a simple wing and a prayer. Nor will you be able to just close your eyes, click your red slippers together thrice and magically be back in Kansas.

It will require perseverance and the patience of Job, but if both parties are willing to put in the elbow grease – it can be done.

So, where does this marriage stand after the one year D-Day mark?

We are together. Of course, we are both scarred, somewhat enlightened, and empowered by the knowledge of truth.

Triggers still emerge, but with the work we’ve put in together, the pain evoked has lessened.

I could very well find out at the 2 year D-Day mark that he has an Ashley Madison account and a mix of girlfriends to which I’m oblivious. But since that’s not what my gut tells me right now, I press onward – in faith instead of fear.

And if he has stepped outside the marriage again, I now take heed in the fact that I did what was within my power to attempt to heal it, and God will deal with him – just as He will deal with me.

I surrender all… I surrender all..

That’s simply all I am capable of now – letting go and giving him to God.

We can’t control what another person will do in our absence, nor the future.

What I do with myself to heal is, however, within reach. I’m trying to choose to be a glass half-full kind of person these days, but there are still moments of crippling fear.

Yet, somewhere along the way I realized its not all about me anymore anyway. God has made that abundantly clear.

Besides, ‘Sometimes destruction is a form of creation, right?’

More than what my husband does, God’s grace has been the key to begin healing – even more than my husband.

Have I forgotten? How I wish! The other day the “b” word, a.k.a ‘brothel’ in my house, came across the TV. It felt as if someone sucked all the air out of the room. Instead of being dismissive or angry at my pain, my husband embraced me. We stayed there together – me crying in his arms saying nothing – for about 10 minutes. Then, like a colicky baby, the need to cry from pain suddenly dissipated. I succumbed to the fact that the past is just that, and it has passed.

I like to imagine this might be what it looks like as you put the pieces back together: A willingness to sit together, acknowledging you’re the source of the pain – instead of deflecting or running.

The biggest part that makes this story special is not me, nor my husband, or even the details. It is God, and how He brought the things done in the dark out in the light of day – in a surreal manner. There’s nothing He doesn’t see or know, and that is part of my comfort when I feel insecure.

And the key to my healing now is knowing God, God knowing me, and remembering He is my Redeemer – not my husband.

That’s where our year has led. We are are trying to move forward as a solitary unit, yet two individuals with separate needs.

So, to a person who may just be uncovering infidelity: there is hope.

And for every person that has a story, remember that there is a story behind the story. So, try not to compare yourself to a solitary person or couple, but know that you are definitely not alone in your pain and suffering.

God Bless ❤

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heathenmichelle

Funny Hair

7 November 2018 at 06:40

Recently I had a run in with a gentleman with whom we used to attend church. He and I had an additional thread in common besides the house of worship. That is, a love for photography. So naturally the conversation turned to his latest gigs and triumphs in the industry, of which I was super stoked to hear about, when an unfamiliar woman came and perched herself alongside him. She began staring at me with great intensity, and what felt like a hint of disdain.

I figured she was a new girlfriend that might have mistakenly assumed I was an old flame. Being cognizant of her presumption, I quickly threw my husband’s name in mix of the conversation.

To which she responded, “Is _____ your husband?”

To which I retorted, “Yes, yes he is!”

In an attempt to ease her mind even more, I began telling him about my recent heart problems, while continuing to mention my husband and children somewhere in between my recent setbacks.

I’ve been her. I know how it feels to have run-ins with my love’s past interests, (although he was not one of mine). While we realize ‘everyone has a past,’ nobody ever wants to actually encounter it in real life. It’s safe, so long as our loved one’s history stays suspended in that theoretical sense and not in actual live form – looking you dead in the eye.

Anyhow, my attempt to secure her stand with her man didn’t lessen her gaze upon me. As the conversation continued, my platonic friend was totally oblivious to her searing eyes – or my increasingly uncomfortable foot shuffling.

I finally mustered up an excuse to leave, when she spoke up again.

“You have beautiful hair!” She stated, completely throwing me a curve ball.

I didn’t believe her. I felt it was a ploy, and that when she got out of earshot, she would be immediately mocking my 1990’s Mariah Carey hair to my friend.

Terrible at hiding my emotions from my face, I mustered a thank you and almost snickered.

She sensed my seemingly inappropriate response and inquired, “What is it? Is it not real? Or is it not your natural hair?”

I laughed (sincerely), at the remark. “Oh, yes! It’s mine, it’s just that I’m self-conscious about it. That’s all.”

She seemed bewildered by my statement. She might have even mistakened my laugh for haughtiness, but it was just the opposite.

I went on to tell her about a childhood and adolescent riddled with jokes in the name of my hair’s sake.

She said, “Has nobody ever told you it was beautiful before? It is absolutely gorgeous!”

Sometimes I do not believe you. The adolescent inside won’t permit it.

Anyone who knows me can usually recognize me a mile way from my locks alone. They are big and pretentious.

I’ve considered covering my head altogether.

(But that topic will have to be saved for another blog post)

For now, I will leave you with this, in tying in with the topic of hair..

Luke 12:6- 7 NKJV

(6) Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. (7) But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than sparrows.

Since God knows the hairs on my head, I’d say He’s had to get to know more about me than some others;)

And I’m thankful for every wirey, unruly strand of it, and most importantly that the conversation I got to have with an old friend and his new one – without any tension.

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heathenmichelle

Quiet Scares Me

12 October 2018 at 15:55

I don’t like the quiet. I don’t like the stillness. I suppose it’s because it makes my own thoughts and voices become louder and unbearable. I don’t like what my “inner voice” says sometimes.

It tells me to be insecure, be ashamed, feel guilty, feel dirty, be mad for the horrid things that not only I myself have done, but for the things that people I have entrusted have done to break me.

That’s why I’ve been silent. I’ve been busy trying to muffle the yelling and bad breath of my inner self.

Lately I’ve noticed bouts of feelings that I haven’t felt in years..

Worthiness.

Wholeness.

Acceptance… of myself.

“Popularity breeds contempt.”

-some dude

Not that I was ever that popular- far from it.

I was certainly liked by my people though. That’s what matters. Getting to the root of who we are, and coming to a place where we are settled with it.

Here’s to all the others out there looking for your lost mojo today. Whether it’s self-guilt riddling you, or the mark of a scar left by another.. don’t stay down for the count. Get back up, and when you do- don’t be surprised when some try to hinder your success of standing on your own. There will always be haters tossing objects at you from the cheap seats.

And tell any of those people that may have quieted you because of your shine to go suck a lemon. Get your voice back. Even if it squeaks at first- it will get stronger. Just like any other muscle, that voice (box) can learn to strengthen with steady practice.

Polish it. Nurture it. It will come in due time.

Happy Friday Friends

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heathenmichelle

The Middle (Being Lukewarm)

13 September 2018 at 07:35

Like one of favorite fellow WordPress blogs Fractured Faith, I too, have struggled with my relationship with God. I was not one of the fortunate children who were homeschooled, sheltered from the secular world. I was brought up in and of the world, complete with cable TV and a 40 year-old Dad who took his 17 year-old-wife to my prom.

There were basic morals, ethics, and the like, but as far as a relationship with Jesus – it lacked.

My parents were hardcore republican/conservative – at least that’s what was claimed when I was a child. There absolutely was a God, and I better believe in Him. I just never understood why, other than to fear Hell itself. The gift of the Spirit did not get bestowed upon me until much later in life.

Innately, I always understood and knew that there was a God, but I couldn’t relate to those who threw their hands up in awe, shedding tears of joy, swaying side to side with eyes closed while they sang songs of worship to God. A God whose number I couldn’t obtain. The entire thing eluded me, feeling like I was watching a foreign movie without subtitles. I couldn’t relate.

I didn’t even get a whisper from God, with the exception of the time I walked down that aisle to the alter at age 12 and fell to my knees.

Coming to the conclusion that it was a one-time only supernatural event, and that God either abandoned me thereafter or it turned out he missed something on my initial application and now I was denied access.

Somewhat confused and disappointed, I went on with my life thinking, “Well, I guess I’m saved from Hell now. Maybe..?”

As I grew older and had children of my own, I still had some work to do before being prepared to really understand God. Finally, He did begin to fill me with His spirit again, as He once had when I was 12. This time it was not the smack to the soul as it had felt when I was an adolescent.

Truthfully, I only began attending church services again in my 30’s out of desperation. I felt a shift in my life, a hunger that would not be satiated, and a relentless torment of anxiety. This began the opening of my heart – when I started an in-depth study of His word. It was more than the reading a daily devotion. It was cross-references of putting the back of the Book to the front, and all that is in between.

Prior to me getting to know God in my 30’s, I thrived on being hard core. I got off on the image of being a cut-throat, take-nothing-from-nobody woman and mom. To embellish my facade, I learned to flawlessly juggle it all with one hand – while singing the alphabet backwards.

But like all good things, it gradually came to end. It wasn’t an abrupt awakening this time, but a gentle shaking of the shoulder – as you would awaken your sleeping child.

He allowed me to start putting the pieces together gradually, but with certainty. Unbeknownst to me, the timing was impeccable. (Isn’t His timing always such?)

All the while He began sifting the sleep from my eyes, my life was beginning to unthread behind the scenes.

Luckily, He’d shown me just prior to the unraveling, how to adorn the armor that would see me through my tragedies. And, if by happenstance I didn’t survive, I would still be okay.

It was so much more than knowing I’d be copacetic with life, but a knowledge that even if death arrived, I’d be copacetic with Him.

Until the Bible studies, I simply wasn’t ready. I had a journey to begin.. Only after that trek, did my eyes completely open. I had been flaky in so many aspects of my life. I frequently walked the line of holding on to my secular life, and succumbing to my faith.

It was hard to let that life go. Who was I alone in Christ? I just didn’t know if that would be enough.

Then the morning of October 1st came. It was D-Day – the confessing my emotional infidelities to my husband. I had tortured myself all that weekend with the ‘what ifs.’ I had anxiously wrung my hands together so many times that I’m surprised my husband didn’t call me out on my anxiety.

Suddenly that small little voice said, “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.” And it finally clicked. GOD WAS WITH ME, ME. HE WAS WITH ME- the woman who cheated on her husband and simply been a wretched, poor excuse of a person at times. It didn’t matter. He was still with me.

I felt He was telling me there was a reason behind why I had to tell my husband. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s still true. I knew there was a reason, I just didn’t know why. Never did I imagine what would get unearthed.

So, I took a deep breath, and held tightly to my faith in Him. Whatever the reason for telling him about my sins now, it was clear it had to be done.

After the truth came out, began the unpredictable ride of emotions. There was no normal, and I was still okay.

Now that leads me to a current state of normalcy, slowly gliding into complacency. This is when I begin to hear the lies of the adversary loudly. He twists and turn truths into lies, and vice versa. I must hold steady and not bow out now.

So this is where I am, feeling somewhat lukewarm again, in my faith and marriage.

I’m trying to keep it in perspective, and not allow the cooler waters make me fear, becoming indifferent.

It happens. Inevitably the water will heat back up, only to cool once again.

If you find yourself in the middle try to heed advice from this Jimmy Eats World song,

“It just takes some time,

little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.

Everything, everything will be just fine.

Everything, everything will be all right.

All right.”

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heathenmichelle

The Load Feels Slightly Lighter

25 August 2018 at 19:57

I’m writing this with hesitation, for fear of having that other shoe drop, but at least for the last month I feel some sense of normalcy again. Attempting to explain the emotions that ebb and flow after infidelity disclosure is almost indescribable to someone who hasn’t experienced it. FINALLY I feel somewhat stable and have found a little consistency with my feelings. It no longer feels like I’m on a runaway train. Thank God!

I realize this peace will disperse again and chaos is bound to re-emerge eventually -especially with D-Day anniversary approaching – but I am trying to soak in every moment of ‘normalcy’ I can while it has permeated me for the moment.

So grateful just feeling mundane. Normal. I’m appreciative of the lack of nausea with merely the mention of the word prostitute or stripper. How nice it is to not have flashes of images scroll in front of me when a scantily clad woman crossing my path while in my husband’s presence.

I finally feel the relief from releasing the breath I’ve been holding, at least for now.

It’s about time.

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heathenmichelle

I Refused To Be A Prude – So I Offered Him Another Woman

19 July 2018 at 00:05

You read that correctly.

Years ago, approximately the 7 year itch mark, I refused to allow my marriage to become stale. I prided myself on not being a prude. I watched porn with my husband, I performed whenever I thought he desired, there even came a point that I offered a threesome. Yep. I truly, wholeheartedly believed that if I was exciting and adventurous enough, that those attributes alone would keep my man not only happy, but faithful.

I was one of those women that you might have overheard self- righteously saying, “If she kept her man happy, he wouldn’t have to cheat.”

Change the circumstances to a man being busted with a prostitute, and yep, some similarly atrocious statement would have undoubtedly come from my mouth.

Eh..

Why did I think porn, acting as a sex maniac, and offering up a threesome would keep my husband faithful? Who knows, but I did. I was prideful and haughty. I was a hot mess, desperately trying to figure out why my husband had a wall between us.

Of course, during that time frame I was about as far away from my faith as I’d ever been, and surprisingly, my husband did not take me up on that offer for the extra in the bedroom. I had no idea at the time that it was because of his own insecurities and that he’d already been cheating. He didn’t need added excitement, he already had it on the side.

I told myself he’s just quiet and reserved. He’s insecure. He’s not like most men.

I was married previously to a man that I dated in high school. He was a serial cheater, and I knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of infidelity. After that experience, I refused to be turned into a bitter prude. I was determined to be a different woman next time around – and I was.

It was an extravagant cost. I sold my dignity, self – respect, and trust in God to a man that I made the center of my world. A man I was determined to keep happy at all costs – so long as he came home to me, and remained faithful. The price I ponied up was a complete loss. God got me on this one. He revealed to me what my pride and ego refused to allow me to see before – that I needed Him.

So, coming back around to what I used to be – the woman who was liberated, free, and judging of other women who were betrayed by their spouses with prostitutes, porn, affairs, etc. I am no more. There still remains a plethora of these women though. I was shown my own, old reflection not long ago in a stigmatic way. She was a pastor’s wife working alongside me one day.

The topic of prostitution came up. (Keep in mind this was about two weeks after I discovered my own husband’s unfaithfulness with a prostitute). Somewhere amid the conversation she turned to me and said something along the lines of the following :

‘You know, as women, we have a responsibility to perform in the bedroom and keep our husbands satisfied. That is one of our duties God calls on us as a wife. If a man seeks sex with a prostitute it may be because she is not doing as she should.’

Ladies & gents- this is why people don’t go to church..

What a gracious thing to say. I wanted to smile and sarcastically say, “Wow, ‘Susan’! Thanks for the profound reminder and keeping me in check!”

It took everything in me not to gouge her eyes out with the pen I held clinched in my fist. My flesh was overtaken; my blood began to boil.

Somehow, I managed to paste together some form of intelligence and said something along the lines of, ‘You need to shut up. You have no idea what you’re talking about.’

She didn’t press on. What could she say? What could I say though? I used to be her. I would have made a foolish statement such as that at one time, until God humbled me.

I hope one can appreciate the contrast of the person I once was, and how the foolish tools I used to attempt to control my life and relationship ironically, backfired.

I don’t like to think of myself a prude now, but I’m definitely enlightened. To say I’ve broken my own heart would be, a massive understatement.

Have you ever been so humbled?

How far would you be willing to go for another person?

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heathenmichelle

Just another 3 am bedtime

28 June 2018 at 13:59

It was a long night of the tortured heart again. Unproductive conversations that turned into an all-nighter filled with accusations and presumptions. Today I’m left with an emotional hangover – laced with no pride, only guilt and regret. (And some binging on carbs)

I struggle as much with my moments of peace as I do my bouts of animosity, because I know that inevitably, the dark night of souls will rear its ugly head again. It’s always just a matter of time before I once again let insecurity unjustifiably poke fun.

Well, perhaps it’s not all unjustified, given the circumstances of the infidelity that occurred in my marriage.

Regardless of whether my insecurities are justified or not, the demeaning taunts ranging from undisclosed effeminate tendency, to emasculating my significant other, was pointless. There was nothing cathartic about disclosure of my feelings – once again.

Now, more than as a younger version of the stranger I once was, I find myself reflecting much more, prior to opening my mouth and letting words stain the air between us. Just like all the other battles in my life, I’ve had to learn the hard way that the process of expressing myself in words can have as dire consequences as actions. Even if unintentional.

It’s been crucial on my journey the past year to repeat a mantra in my head of Proverbs- “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

Although I attempt to let my thoughts stew in my mouth before engaging in that uncontrollable protest of righteousness, I’m not always successful.

So leads to this – another day after. A day after a long night of contention that’s led to reverse, instead of the desired progression.

It saddens my heart and soul, but at least neither of us have packed a bag yet..

It always seems like it’s the right thing to do in the start of these conversations, but my attempt to reach out and communicate, inevitably, finished with no progress. Only discontent and disdain lingered in the aftermath.

I know God will see us through the process one way or another.

I’m not naively saying that we are unbreakable, but we are re-shapable, malleable. It’s the allowing ourselves to be remolded and restructured that’s the hard part.

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heathenmichelle

The Time Paradox – What I Once Felt A Joke

24 August 2018 at 15:42

I have no clever quotes or catchy photos for this post, All I have is just this raw, sincere glimpse into my past.

One of the paradoxes regarding time is how the perspective of one moment can change so drastically. What you once thought happy you might find yourself cringing with angst. Or, maybe you’ve lost someone who you didn’t appreciate, and now you see the loss. You get the jest.

Then, sometimes, you have a meltdown and you simply have to face reality. Maybe the one you once held in such high regard, is not the saint envisioned. Whatever the case, it’s interesting how the passing of time has the ability to change emotions, while the memory in itself stays the same.

At 14, my mom was almost killed in a wreck. It ended up being not only the catalyst to ending her marriage, but it exposed me to the world of medicine. At the time, I saw it as a curse and devastation, instead of an event that would change the trajectory of my life. This included the developement as a career choice later down the road.

Reflecting at different points, especially after accumulating some greys, those monumental moments can shift from something that seems horrific, to almost comical. Other times, what you made a joke and found to be funny – well, they weren’t so funny after all. Such was the case of my dad and his second wife.

I’ve touched a little about when I was 15 and my father married a 17-year-old. As a sophomore in the early 90’s, I would hop into the backseat of the car and my father would drive my stepmom and myself to high school every morning. I made this a joke for a very long time.

Looking back now, I see it was really a front seat to a something akin to a freak show. I’d watch my stepmother, a senior, hop into the passenger’s side and interlock fingers with my dad while we darted down the road. As we headed to the school, she’d light a cigarette, take a drag, and lean it over to my father’s lips so that he could partake. It was truly a site.
Meanwhile, my mother was drinking herself to an oblivion, location unbeknownst to me most of the time. That was my reality.
Denial is such an awesome coping mechanism, right?
I used to say to people who thought my situation odd, “So. This is not that big of a deal.”
It was a big deal.
Lying to myself wasn’t productive, but what else was I to do?
Accepting that sometimes people are just selfish, or simply don’t care about us like we want to believe is more than just a bitter pill to swallow – it’s more the equivalent of an asphyxiating plastic bag to the face. As a teen, had I accepted my father really didn’t care much about anything but his hormones and resolving his mid-life crisis, I couldn’t have survived in my habitat at that time. I would have choked on my reality.

It’s a complex story, and could not possibly be confounded in a solitary post, but it begs the question:

Is there something, or things, that you swallowed as a child or young adult that you pretended didn’t happen or wasn’t a big deal at the time, but time changed your perspective?

If so, what are YOU going to do with it now?

How have you allowed it to affect your life?

Personally speaking, I allowed people to treat me in ways that were unacceptable. In turn, unfortunately, I’ve done the same to others. Now I must be acccountable for both.

heathenmichelle

Another Day

14 July 2018 at 00:05

Another day of struggle.

Another day of triggers.

Another day of carefully layered mascara.

Another day with an hour spent on careful preparation of my appearance. Then I recant -wipe away half of my art. (I do not want to appear to be trying too hard) So, it’s just

Another wasted effort. Re-entrance to the outside atmosphere, where other women wait, and it just becomes

Another moment I wish to crawl out of my skin.

Another day, day of the past – you were soft and humble. You spoke gently. Your smile was warm, hopeful. But today is not that day.

Today is the day an unrelenting demon whispers in my ear. He reminds me that you desire the beautiful women only, the plastics.

But, today there is a counterpart to this caveat. The demon of pride stokes my soul. He turns, grimacing, reminding me that I am worthy of more. He induces flashbacks. It’s the silence and cold air that you held between us for a decade. The remembrance of loneliness is almost unbearable. Then he reminds me to continue –

Another day of questioning the truth.

Another day of wanting answers I may never receive.

Another day that I realize that I was married to a facade – a loyal one.

Another day of small glimpses of the old you starting to emerge again.

Another day that I fear something even scarier than the reemergence of the old you – that is the old me.

Another day turned to a night of prayer:

Please God, let tomorrow be not another today.

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heathenmichelle

Missing that running playlist

29 June 2018 at 01:00

Photo credit to Hotblack via morguefile

There are hundreds of songs in my phone, but lately there are ones that have provoked an itch that needs scratched. It’s those songs I commonly listened to when I first began my venture into running a few years ago. There’s just something about these particular melodies and beats that bring a special joy to my heart, along with a desire to run. It’s not necessarily lyrics, nor a particular beat. It’s the feelings and memories they evoke that make me happy.

It’s magical. I can’t explain it to one who’s never had the infamous runner’s high or that need to go run the day’s frustrations off, but the closest thing I can come to describing it is like that of an addict. Whether it is adrenaline, endorphins, or maybe my imagination – there’s definitely something triggered in my noggin when certain songs run through my shuffle play.

I find myself craving the pavement scrolling under my feet. I want to feel the sweat running down my back as I lap another block. I need the memories of that snarky comment from my coworker and the misplaced anger from my teenager to be burned away alongside the calories as I approach that next mile mark. All the while enjoying my favorite beats. There’s nothing quite like it.

I’ve not ran since the dizzy spells began almost a year ago, that subsequently resulted in a heart stent two months ago. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed my running until recently. I miss it dearly, especially when these songs randomly play now.

I go back to the cardiologist today. Part of my visit will be inquiring about my clearance for the go ahead to run once more. I’m so looking forward to the satisfaction that is only experienced after pushing myself past the zone of comfort.

Fingers crossed that I’ll soon again have that pavement under my feet, wind on face, sweat drenching my clothes, whilst The Distance blares in my headphones.

I’ve quite a bit of new mental baggage that I’ve accumulated over the last year. I need to unpack that junk – via a good run. I’m sure it will be more therapeutic than any professional counseling I’ve received.

M.H.

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heathenmichelle

What can happen in a year?

8 June 2018 at 01:00

I’ve been a total wreck for almost a year when it comes to caring for my body. I had previously lost 45 pounds a few years ago and had done well at keeping it off with diet and exercise – until last year.

I had also gotten my body built up to be able to run 3 to 5 miles, 3 or 4 times a week. I’m sure this is very unimpressive to my fellow runners who do marathons, but this was a big feat for me. I started out unable to walk a mile without sometimes getting winded, and (sadly) – very tired.

Then I began to backslide with diet and exercise after the unexpected death of my father last January.

*Cue ** my favorite addiction: sweets – especially anything soft, gooey, and chocolatey😋 what was it going to hurt? I was grieving a huge loss, after all.

Then I had a maternal aunt (whom I helped care for and saw almost daily the last 10 years) die approximately 2 weeks after my father.

*Cue*** even more sweets.. and why not an occasional roll? Exercise? That’s going to have to stay on hold with all the extra care I’ve had to give everyone else – my body needs the break. “It won’t hurt to rest, ” I lied to myself.

Then there was the sudden death of two neighbors- one lived directly across the street, the other was next door to us…(one might begin to suspect a curse, or God trying to hint something.. or is it just me?)

*Cue*** stress hormones & sweets again, but this time instead of an occasional Little Debbie cake, it was 2 or 3.. and instead of one roll a week, I had 3 or 4.

Then my father’s only living sister followed my dad in death – approximately 8 weeks after him. This was as devastating for me as was the loss of my father.

*Cue*** cortisol (stress hormones), whatever dang sweets I please, and more than ‘occasional’ rolls… I have no idea why all these people are dying around me?! Although it’s disturbing, I won’t lose all composure.. yet. No thought to even brisk walking, much less running.

3 weeks go by after my second aunt’s passing, when her son – my cousin – dies.

[In case you lost count, this is a total of 6 deaths of people near me – 3 of them extremely close, within 3 months]

*Cue*** whatever meat, bread, salt, or carb-o-licious delight that my heart desires. Limits done away with – secondary to the rate people are dropping around me.. for fear that death is on my very own tail I see that I might as well eat what I want.

But death didn’t come. Instead, time continued to move forward, and my body began turning on me. I’ve gained a new titanium stent in my heart for the blockage that had accumulated (over years) and 12 pounds back on.

So, given the new lease (and second chance) on life – I’d say my body deserves to be treated a little more properly going forward.

This past year and a half has been filled with more than I’ve ever had to endure in all of my years confounded together, but in some ways has been a welcomed gift from God as well. It’s only because of these struggles that I’ve grown as a person and child of God. He has been abundantly clear on how my actions not only impact me, but every person around me – and even some I don’t know.

That “mirror” stays pretty darn close to my face most nowadays, but for the opposite of vanity – it reminds me the importance of humility that I need to attempt to maintain as a believer.

Thanks to the deaths, my own medical problems, the infidelity disclosure, and my study of 1 John, I move forward confidently now, knowing that at least I’m finally walking with some integrity and – to the best of my ability – as God commands.

Here’s to my attempt at walking that walk lighter – not only physically, but spiritually as well.

Blessings,

M.H.

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heathenmichelle

Grieving those alive

31 May 2018 at 11:34

I know about grief – at least, I thought I did.

For several years I worked in a level one trauma unit – which means that when a hospital couldn’t care for a patient because they were too ‘broken’, they sent them to us to put back together.

We cared for the sickest of the sick. We handled the bloodiest, most mangled (sometimes literal) train wrecks you’d see. It was a spectacular, awe-inspiring experience to partake in a workplace where I saved a life of one that was previously deemed unable to save.

There was a cost of working in such an environment- loss. Witnessing the cross-over from life to death and the toll of grief it took on others, and myself.

In my years on the unit, I transported more bodies to the morgue than I could count. Of course, at the time, I shoved those thoughts and emotions of witnessed and perceived grief and loss of others neatly into a box. Then I duct-taped that sucker shut.

I couldn’t allow myself to process these things in the moment, otherwise I would have never been able to go from dropping off one body to the morgue, to saving the next trauma already waiting in the same bed upstairs. It was a survival mechanism – “boxing”.

But the grief always comes, even if it doesn’t show up as the face of sadness we envision. Even when we try to deny it, distracting ourselves with more work, more play, more whatever coping mechanism – it’s a form of pain, and that will not be denied.

Tougher than the grief of my own father’s death last year, (followed a month later by the death of his sister – who was like my grandmother), rougher still was the grief of someone that is still physically alive. The facade of the person and the relationship I grew to love is dead. It is no more. That’s a tough concept for me to succumb.

Not realizing this was what was happening earlier on has brought me some substantial setbacks in my recovery process. My rational brain knew that things would never be the same, but secondary to the hormones and shock that is going on initially, you don’t see the death part yet.

It has took me 242 days to come to this hard realization. I knew, but I didn’t. I’d been suffering some debilitating depression for the last couple of weeks – almost bed-bound the majority of it. I just couldn’t place my finger on what was different. I’d come to acceptance and forgiveness, but I’ve felt an almost inconsolable sadness.

Then it hit me. I’m grief stricken. Just like a physical death, this entails a death as well. My husband will never again be the same man in my eyes that he once was, nor will I be the same woman he once saw. Along with that is the illusion I had of our marriage – the death of what I thought I had.

It saddens me in a way that’s indescribable, but with it has come a rebirth. We know and appreciate that both of us are human in a world of sin and madness – with the devil constantly testing God’s children, who would love nothing more than to see a family split apart, yet here we still are today.

I’m still sad and somewhat depressed, but seeing it as the acceptance stage of grief is somewhat comforting. God loves me, in spite of the disgusting things I’ve done, and He will not allow pain without a rebirth of some kind, or growth at a minimum.

One thing is certain though – neither my husband, myself, or our relationship will be the same again..I hope.

Blessings

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18

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heathenmichelle

Why am I ashamed?

2 May 2018 at 12:46

A couple of very hot topics currently in media and social outlets are shame and courage. The two are opposing forces. They literally repel against each other. Brené Brown has done years of studies on shame and hours of interviews on what shame and vulnerability mean. (You can find out more about what she and her studies are about by checking out her stuff below.)

https://brenebrown.com/

She says that being vulnerable is where the courage lies.

This is why I started the blog. The purpose is not to “lift myself” and feel I am more important, but I absolutely know that my story is like, yet at the same time it is unlike many others. My story began with the courage to step out into the unknown.

The morning I woke up and confessed my emotional affairs to my husband, there was no ruse. There was no threat of someone’s spouse ratting me out. There was no hesitation in my husband’s kiss that made me doubt that he believed my love for him, nor my faithfulness to our marriage. He was clueless. I was not going to be found out by anyone else – at least the facade of who I had portrayed was not being threatened, but inside – my soul was rotting.

I was being untrue to myself more than anything. That is the biggest reason why I confessed. My marriage felt like a huge shamble. My husband and I had harbored secrets for our entire marriage that affected every corner of our lives together for well over a decade. But I didn’t see it because I was afflicted with the “disease to please”.

The day that I confessed to my husband what I had done and what was unfair to him, I was also giving myself the gift of freedom.

– I was free from worrying about him leaving me. If he stayed after this, he must love me. If he left, I would survive.

– I was free from covering up the shame of the lie I had lived. No longer could anyone “find me out”. I had shed my fake skin.

– I was free from living with the idea of perfection. Perfection is unattainable. Brené Brown mentions that ‘when we are striving for perfection that shame is riding shotgun’. Shame had been riding in the driver’s seat of our marriage for the entire 14 years of it’s life.

-Most importantly, I was free to now live joyfully, and smile again. Guilt and shame had robbed me and made me feel unworthy of happiness of any kind. That’s the biggest shame of all.

I’d love to get even more “real” and write under my name, instead of anonymity, but out of respect for my husband and his request I will continue for now to write under a pen. Perhaps one day he will not be afraid, and that will be the day that every ounce of shame will have lost its hold. Until then, this is Michelle Heathen, wishing anyone else out there going through affair recovery or disclosure of infidelity- healing and peace, and also the release of shame and guilt.

In working through our infidelity, here’s just a few of the books we’ve found helpful, although I will undoubtedly say Unfaithful was our favorite of the below listed, followed by The Meaning of Marriage.

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

Unfaithful by Gary and Mona Shriver

A Marriage Without Regrets by Kay Arthur

Living Past the Affair by Douglas Snyder, Donald Bacon, and Kristina Coop Gordon

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heathenmichelle

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