Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Looking Back - Pre Fallout Days

This is an exert of some writing I did in late 2013 about our Pre Fall Out days. It's very helpful for me to look back in time and try to remember what life was like before and during those "dark" days. It's not pleasant to think about but it can be therapeutic if I let it. 
             At 22 years of age, we started our marriage journey, having no idea really, about what to expect. I’m not even sure I had a clue as to what a great marriage looked like, much less how to lead as a husband. Amy grew up in a broken home and experienced numerous disappointments as a child. As a result, she had hopes of a loving marriage, with children. She longed for and anticipated a “happily ever after” experience with me. It breaks my heart to know I would hurt her so deeply some 15 years later. Even the years leading up to that point weren’t so “glamorous.”
Our first six years, there were no children. We were starting careers, attending a church that enabled us to “do life” with other young couples, and getting to know each other. I remember having a lot of hobbies, such as soccer, running, golf, and occasionally church softball. Amy and I didn’t have a lot of “joint” activities together, though. Not a good thing. Career was also an issue for me, even back then. One year I had six W-2’s for my taxes! That’s nuts. Amy, however, always knew her calling: teaching elementary school (i.e. 3rd grade). She was great at it. Until our first child, she taught full-time and loved it.

Have you noticed a theme yet? Amy has always been the stable one – a clear direction for college, a clear career path, and a clear dream for marriage and family (relatively speaking). I, on the other, have been a bit of a “moving target,” unstable in so many ways. Lord, help us!

From 1997 to 2003, we both would say that things were pretty good in our marriage. It was far from perfect, though. Several challenges, some still present, caused bouts of difficulty, but overall it was manageable. We had a great church home, great friends, a great community, and we both had earned a master’s degree. We were also in the process of making plans for Amy to be a stay-at-home mom, as we prepared for the arrival of our first-born son, Caleb (January 2003). When he came along, we went from “us” to us plus 1. It was a joyous, celebration. 

Personally, however, I don’t think I was handling life well. Career difficulties, internal shame and self-hatred, high insecurity, anger and defensiveness – these seemed to linger on, despite my desire to pursue Christ, be a good husband, and now, be a good father. I had moments of laughter, compassion, giving, serving, and enjoyment. However, my internal battle was raging between letting God have His way in me, and remaining in my darkness and shame.

Amy longed to help me feel loved and “good enough.” She was a great cheerleader and encourager, but it becomes draining after a while, when your efforts don’t seem to make much difference. She constantly hit a wall when it came to helping me see myself as she and Christ did. I still wonder, “Why didn’t I just believe her, and Jesus, and let go of the shame and self-hatred? Why didn’t I trust and pursue healing?” That is one of the many regrets I have as I look back.

From 2005 to 2007, we took our family from “us plus one,” to “us plus three.” We called ourselves the “Rogers 5.” As often happens, life transitions left us vulnerable to difficulties. It was near the end of those years that I started down a very dark path of betrayal, deception, and sin. Instead of living a life of integrity as a Christian, father and husband, I let my selfishness, shame, and darkness take me down to the pits of adultery. The next four to five years (2007-2011) would eventually catch up with me and cause massive pain and heartache.
 To get a glimpse of how life was back then, there are numerous blog posts that Amy wrote, starting in 2008 (www.rogers5online.blogspot.com). Her writings are priceless to me, and I treasure them, especially now. They give insight to not only life back “then,” but now as we continue to recover. She may have suspected something was “off” with me, but never did she imagine I was living such a double life. She often posted about our children, our marriage and all God was teaching her. How could such “good times” be happening, while at the same time, such secret sin? It’s really quite overwhelming to think about. It’s those thoughts and questions that can cause Amy and me to feel a stronghold of emotional bondage – for different reasons obviously.

It’s October 8, 2008 - Amy types the following words…

Scotty and I had a bit of a "heated" discussion over the weekend. A much stronger adjective is needed, really, to describe the discussion. But, I can't think of the appropriate word; and, if I could, you would all probably start sending us the names of therapists. So, "heated" is best.

Sunday night, we are sitting in our newly formed small group at church. When I say newly formed, I mean FIRST meeting. We are sharing prayer requests. Four or five have been shared, and Scotty speaks up:  "Please pray for Amy and me. We are experiencing some 12 year marriage struggles..."

O.K. I don't know what else he says, because all I heard was that noise you hear in awkward situations in movies. It sounds like calm music playing on a record. Then the needle suddenly screeches across the record ending it total, unnerving silence. Are you with me? Can you feel my pain? I felt like I was wearing a mask and someone ripped it off of my face without any warning at all. (You know I'm exaggerating a bit, right?)

The group was very kind. And, I have to admit that it did show me he does truly care about us and our marriage. Also, we tend to put on "costumes" for church. We don't let others see that we don't always have it together. We want our small group to be a place where we are completely real with each other so that we really know each other. I just don't know that our group wanted to really KNOW us the first night.

Well, I shared that very long story to say that last night; Scotty and I were able to get away for a date night. I LOVE date night. We ate at Chili's and then went to see Fireproof.  So, date night was a success. We love our kids. But, they are kids. They require our full attention. We have to get away every now and then and do something for us. 

I guess I've given my secret away. Things are not always perfect in the Rogers' house. We have struggles just like everyone else. If life were easy, if I didn't have the struggles, I would think I could do it on my own. But, the struggles are there, and life is hard. We need strength that, humanly, we do not possess; and occasionally, we're brought to our knees by the awareness of our Dependence on God. In my case, this awareness is usually ushered in by some humiliating experiences. Apparently, I have some pride issues God is working on as well.

I remember that day vividly. I was desperately seeking a way out; to find healing; a fresh start. Guilt and shame may have prompted me to share, as well. What makes this post even harder to read is that Amy felt “responsible.” Though she admits that she had her own areas of growth personally and in our marriage, it wasn’t her fault we were in such a mess. It was my sin; my shame; my selfishness.  I was secretly trying to escape my predicament (i.e. adultery) and move toward a better marriage. But, it didn’t work. Without full confession and coming clean, it rarely does. I tried it without facing the pain and potential consequences. I wish I would have never gone down that sinful path, but since I did, I wish I would have confessed early on and sought help. It would take three more years and a lot more sin before the “fall out” and God saying, “Enough!”

Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. Romans 6:21, NASB

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