How difficult was it to write our story? Bloody hard…
After decades striving to maintain an image and hide truths, the journey to owning my own story as a cheat, liar and unfaithful husband, has been slow and arduous.
I’d done everything within my power to prevent my brokenness from seeing daylight. Even when the truth finally found its way out, the urge to hide was still ever present. No one wants to be identified as someone who casts unimaginable pain on those they love and vow to protect.
My personal mission to take a lifetime of secrets to my grave was no longer possible once I was faced with losing everything I held dear. The agonising reality of losing my family, once they knew the full truth about me, was fuelled with risk and insurmountable fear. It was a risk I had to take.
Initially sharing the complete and shameful truth with Noni, I stood by, watching as she had to painfully digest and process what was to become our new reality.
The first step completed, my wife stood by me with strength and dignity when she had every right to get up and go.
Before telling our children, and with Noni’s encouragement I told a small handfull of trusted and close friends who could prayerfully support us.
Each time I disclosed more of myself I discovered, to my surprise, that the world didn’t end. For sure there was pain and disappointment—but it was for a period—and I realised that I could experience forgiveness, even compassion, rather than the fear of rejection I’d courted for years.
Being the broken and contrite person bought me closer to my family than I ever dreamed of and I was able to humbly accept that I was worthy of their love despite all of my failings.
Decades of maintaining a superficial image, and striving to control my environment, acheived nothing more than unwelcome separation and disconnection from the love I desired and longed for.
This was still miles off writing a book for the world to see.
The prospect of acquaintances or even strangers seeing my life in its ugliness was extremely confronting. Over time I recognised the discomfort and fear were remnants of my wanting to preserve an “admirable façade”.
An innate desire to preserve an image to people who didn’t know me and were unlikely to ever really know me!
Finally, I realised—I have cared too much, for too long, what people think of me—and this was the crux of letting go.
Letting go of pride and letting go of shame.
Severing ties with these lying parasites was crucial in allowing me to be vulnerable and honest throughout writing our story. This didn’t happen quickly, but I was determined I would perservere.
During the process, many pages and hours of work were deleted or binned, as I found I had chosen words too carefully in attempts to soften the harsh truth. Writing the story down has a way of exposing any hidden narrative.
In the same period, I participated in regular meetings with similarly flawed men who were committed to recovering their lives and repairing the damage they had created in their relationships. Their ruthless honesty and bravery emboldened me when I needed it most.
The similarities in our stories and the universal anguish we each felt, for havoc we had wreaked, gave me the purpose.
The purpose to share my story as a warning to others, to bring encouragement that there is hope for a much better life, without the shadow of lies.
The grace and acceptance of a broken me was much more satisfying than striving for the admiration of the false image, an image I struggled to maintain for so long while holding my secrets tight.
Not one of us is irredeemable, if we surrender ourselves to a safe space. Be brave, be honest, and be real. Remove the shackles of shame in return for freedom and peace.