The voices in her head are taunting.
Cruel, hateful words come from their lips…
So very Trusting.
“The sky is green and the grass is blue today, Tonya!”
She responds, “Oh really?! How lovely that must be!”
She is Stupid.
How could she be SO incredibly blind?
How could she not feel her in the bedroom with them?
Who is HER you ask?
Why, the other woman of course.
The day I was told the truth, my heart fell down. Down, down, down, until it fell out.
I felt it.
I heard it fall to the floor and shatter.
Or maybe that was the sound of the glass Cinderella Happily Ever After Castle I had lived in for nearly 10 wonderful years. As it came crashing to the ground, millions of tiny shards of glass pierced my body. My chest felt as if an elephant was sitting on it, my breath coming in short gasps, my stomach churned and I feared I would vomit.
All this as I stood in the laundry room, staring over the heads of our 4 children, to a man with haunted, sorrowful eyes. Our 4 precious ones were between us, lined up to wash hands for supper, after returning home from an evening at church.
Desperately trying to keep the smile pasted to my face, I cheerfully say: “Let’s wash hands and then eat some supper!“
Anything to protect them from what I knew was coming.
Let’s back up a bit:
It was July 10th, 2011. We had gone to pick up Dale from a weekend away at Men’s Encounter. A Spiritual “tear you down and build you up again, lay it all before the cross” kind of weekend. He said we’d talk after the kids were in bed about all the Lord showed him. I was excited, anticipating our quiet time! Anticipating the changes I knew I’d see in him, hoping he’d be ready to kick things up a notch in our home, to really step into the position of the Spiritual leader.
As I was sorting Dale’s laundry, just moments after we arrived home, I found a note, written on a yellow piece of paper. I had already read another stack of yellow notes, encouraging words from roommates from Encounter, so I figured this one was one he had missed.
There was a reason this one was isolated. This one was alone because it housed a dark, ugly secret. No, this one HINTED at a dark ugly secret, but I knew, instantly I knew. The sweet letter to Dale from a leader, suggested another couple to “help us through this difficult time”. As soon as I saw the couples name he suggested we speak with, I knew. I knew their story; the lies, the women, the betrayal. I knew, and it was all I could do to keep it together for the 2 hours until bedtime. I am still not sure how I stood to make supper, my body in such a state of shock.
As Dale tucked the children in, I walked to the laundry room, I’m still not sure why. Maybe to see if I could find my heart? Maybe to re-live what occurred only moments before, or was it hours by now? It all was a blur, I was moving in a cloud, no, my worst nightmare. Unable to stand another moment, I sunk to the floor, back against the cold dryer and wrapped my arms around my knees, burying my face in them. Pressing my forehead down HARD on them. Shaking from head to toe, wanting to bawl, yet nothing. Not one single tear came. Is it possible to be too hurt to cry?!
I heard, rather than saw, Dale enter the laundry room once the kids were settled. The familiar pop-pop of his knees as he sunk to the floor, was another stab to the heart. Everything I knew was a lie, the familiar and strangely comforting sounds, yet another painful reminder of all that was lost. This man I loved and adored now represented hurt, betrayal, & indescribable heartache.
Head still on my knees, I hear a whispered, tearful, broken….
”I’m so sorry, Tonya. So, so very sorry.”
I cannot write the words that spewed from my mouth, the vomit in word form that came. They are too awful. I am too ashamed that those words were in me. But they were, and they spewed forward like hot lava.
“Who was she and how many times?”
I spoke through clenched teeth. Hate pouring through every pore of my being, pulsing with every beat of my broken heart.
If looks could’ve killed, Dale would’ve been dead in an instant, joining the cold, lifeless “Old Tonya“ on the floor. She died the moment she heard the news, you know. She died, along with all of her childhood hopes and dreams of one day having her own happily ever after.
I could only look at him a split second at a time before looking up, down, re-burying my head in my knees, ANYTHING except looking at my betrayer.
This- this disgusting thing across from me, was my HUSBAND.
MY SOUL MATE.
MY BEST FRIEND.
The man I loved most. The man I SAVED myself for. The man I gave EVERYTHING to. How could I feel so much hate for someone I loved so dearly?
LoveD so dearly? Past tense? In that moment I didn’t know what I felt. It was so jumbled I couldn’t make sense of it.
So I just poured putrid, hateful words from my lips, calling him every bad name I had ever heard.
And do you know what?
He just wept and took it.
“I know,” he said, “I know. You aren’t calling me anything I haven’t called myself 1000 times.”
Dale came across the laundry room and wrapped his arms around me, the tenderness finally provoking tears, and I cried into the chest of the man who caused this pain. Loving him and hating him so fiercely I didn’t know which way was up. Sobbing, pounding his chest with my fist calling him names, yet clinging to his neck like a life line. He is all I know. My heart and body so inner-twined with this man that I feared I would never be just “me” again. I shove away from him, no longer able to tolerate his touch.
For 6 hours, we were in separate rooms of the house. 6 long hours I was locked in hell, being kept captive by my ugly thoughts, by the imagining of horrible details far worse than the truth I was told later.
Dale kindly asked if I’d like him to move out?
I spewed from my mouth:
“NO. You deserve to stay here and see what you pissed away. What you lost for 15 minutes on your office floor. You deserve to see those kids faces and imagine your life “Every Other Weekend.”
He made a bed on the couch that night.
Bastard. Served him right.
I sent an email to a trusted mentor of mine, who had helped us through some of the hurdles before our courtship:
“I sent Dale to a Men’s Encounter weekend, well, what a weekend it was. My marriage is over.
Who’d have thought that me sending Dale, hoping he’d come back ready to be the leader of our home, would unleash a year-long secret. A secret of ultimate betrayal. Every moment of every day for the past year, my husband has lied to me with his silence. Has held me in his arms and made love to me, promising me the world, telling me how good we were together, how much he loved our life…..lies. I want to puke.
Did I tell you my dad cheated on my mom? That it rocked my world at age 17 when we found out? I remember my mom sitting on the front porch, sobbing.
I didn’t speak to the Lord or my dad for a year. My earthly father had broken my heart, what did I have to say to my Heavenly Father?
Fathers couldn’t be trusted.
Now? I am living my very own hell on earth. I have been so fearful of this from the get go. I begged Dale to be true to me. I checked Dale’s phone often for weird numbers, asked questions about what I thought were lip stick stains on his shirt etc. I’ve spent our entire marriage, begging him to be truthful, I constantly asked him about temptation and porn.
He told me he wasn’t like other guys, that he didn’t have wandering eyes since I was the only girl for him.
My trust and questions got me nowhere. And look at me now. Naive and stupidly trusting, blinded to the truth. Thinking we were happy when we obviously weren’t. Thinking I was all Dale needed, when that was not the case.
I am a happily ever after kinda girl. I just wrote out our whole love story on my blog in May, prompted by the Lord to share, so others could see how the Lord had taken a man who had made some big mistakes, healed him, and used him to teach me about forgiveness. To share how He brought us together, scripting us a beautiful love story, healed my heart and allowed us to become one. 4 beautiful children later, I am living my very own dream come true. How could things be going so WRONG!?
I saved everything for Dale. I prayed for him every day from age 13 on. I wrote him love letters each and every birthday, promising him I was still praying for him, waiting for him, anticipating the day the Lord brought him into my life. When I turned 19 I was able to finally replace “Dear Future Husband” at the beginning of the letter with “My Dearest Dale”. What a moment! What a thrill it gave my heart to finally have a name at the top of these letters!
He didn’t save himself for marriage like I did, but I forgave him, trusting him to change. Guess I wasn’t worth waiting for then or now.
Married to my first love at 20, having our first child at 21. 8 pregnancy’s in 8 years did a number on us.
He stole my everything.
My kisses, my love, my purity, my heart.
I have been robbed. Robbed by a slut named xxxxxxx, an agent he was running appointments with, who took it upon herself to reach across the car and feel him up. Dale’s ring didn’t stop her from trying. Worst of all, DALE didn’t stop her from trying. No wonder we’ve gone through 10 of our hardest months financially. The Lord spewed us from His mouth. No wonder He removed His hand of blessing on us. We all suffered because of Dale’s stupid mistake.
I am so angry right now I could puke. Scream. Sob.
So there you are. One ugly spewing email. I am scared to tell anyone of this. Scared because I already get flack for my life being too sunshine-y. Too happy. But I really meant it. Every stinkin’ word. I really was THAT happy. I thought he was too.
I have an 8-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 10 month old. What in the world am I going to do?
Please don’t tell anyone.
I am so ashamed. ~T
I pushed send, no longer caring if someone found out my ugly secret, I needed counsel, I needed to be told how to breathe, how to live with this pain. After I pushed send, I crawled to bed, alone.
So alone, faith shaken.
Someone pinch me. This can’t be my new life. This can’t be real.
I crawl to bed and roll over. My hand naturally falls to Dale’s side of the bed, as is my habit of nearly 10 years. Except this time, it finds no warm body to draw comfort from. Instead, it rests in the dip of the mattress where Dale used to be found. My heart aches with the emptiness of my new life, my new reality.
Then, the tears came…..
Wracking sobs; the ugly kind of cry where you scream, choke and do the ooh-ooh-ooh between sobs, trying to catch your breath. I kept thinking I was going to vomit. Maybe I would’ve felt better had I been able to.
Sleep evades me that night, my mind returning to the scene he described to me….its ugly beginnings in the car, then on the floor of his office with a woman I don’t know, but HATE. HATE!
Literally pinching myself to make sure this isn’t a nightmare. All I want to do, is go to bed, curl up next to my loving, faithful husband and fall into a peaceful slumber………
But, those days are gone.
I cried all night in my lonely bed; hurting, imagining, despising. Dividing up our home, our furniture; trying to decide where I would live, how I could support 4 young children, how I could take Dale for all he had, how I could make him as hurt and miserable as he made me. Thinking of the “D” word we swore we’d never speak:
Well, all other promises had been broken, why not this one too?
Little did I know, that Dale was out on the couch, weeping along with me and praying his heart out. He knew he didn’t dare come offer me comfort. He said it about killed him, he’d never felt so helpless. So hopeless.
All this as I sobbed myself into an exhausted slumber, the last thing I recall is the clock reading 3:12 am.
5 am comes and I wake suddenly and sit up all in the same moment. What a bad dream!
I glance behind me and see an empty spot in the bed. Dear God. It wasn’t a dream, but my new ugly reality. Instantly the tears were back and I WAILED at the injustice of it all. WAILED.
Instantly, Dale came from the living room to my side, offering his arms, wanting so badly to bring me comfort. Repulsed by his touch, I shoved him away. I needed to clear my head, so I left out the front door, sitting at the end of the sidewalk crying out to God, crying:
WHY? WHY? OH GOD WHY? in to the still, silent morning. Birds just starting to stir and sing their cheerful song, the sun turning the sky a lovely pink color as another day dawned.
How could life go on as if nothing had changed?
Hadn’t the World stopped turning last night at 6 pm?
I‘ll never forget that sunrise as long as I live. It was beautiful; pinks, oranges and purple.
As I cried out to the Lord out there at the end of the sidewalk, watching the dawn of a new day, something inside of me broke. I felt it occur. In the same instance, I knew as sure as I know my name, that He spoke something over me.
“Divorce is NOT the answer.”
“Yes, Lord. I know.”
I had known it all along, but was trying to justify it.
Just like that, peace that surpasses understanding washed me from head to toe. Instantly, my churning, sick gut silenced. In the next second, a thought flitted across my mind, and I was on my feet before the thought even finished:
Our marriage is worth fighting for.
Our marriage IS worth fighting for.
OUR MARRIAGE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!
Yes, Lord, yes! It is!
I marched back inside, thankful it was still early and the kids were sleeping through this, and I walked past the couch where Dale was sitting. Just sitting there, head hung, lonely and broken in the darkened office. I went to my jewelry box and got out my wedding rings, placed them in a velvet box and walked back out to the office. I slide them across the desk to him, looked him in the eye for the first time since he told me his truth, and said that we had 4 very good reasons to stay together; that I still loved him inside all the hate, that the love was still there. I went on to say:
“Our marriage IS worth fighting for. And one day you will be able to slide these rings back on my finger and make me yours again because I. Choose. Us.”
He wept. Just held the ring box and wept.
“I don’t deserve you.” he whispered.
“No, you don’t!” I spouted, “But I love you and I said I do until death do us part, and unlike you, I meant my vows when I said them. You know the crazy part? I don‘t know HOW to be Tonya without Dale. You are all I know, and I am too entwined in you to remove myself. I‘d never be a whole again. There’d always be jagged edges from where I unwound my life from yours. I love you too much to give up on us.”
Less than 12 hours after the lovely Castle I lived in came crashing around me, I had made my peace that Divorce was not an option.
So, now what?
Little did I know, the Lord was already beginning a work in us.
A Supernatural one.
Listen, before I go and before you begin to comment and send me messages, I ask you this:
Remember that I choose to stay with Dale. That I love him, and that I am rebuilding a life with him. That you just now, got put emotionally where I was in July. We have been fighting tooth and nail for our marriage the 9 months since then, so please, temper your words accordingly.
Also, please pray for us to be protected from the attacks of satan. We know we may lose “friends” over this. We know the rumor mill will fly and in the days to come, we will have to answer lots of questions and may have to defend ourselves and our decision to stay together, as even good friends can give bad advice.
Please pray that our words would be seasoned with salt, that we would be able to show the Love of Christ to all we share about this matter in the days to come. That this ugly could be used for HIS glory. That beauty could come from these ashes we call our marriage.
God is a God of restoration, of total healing…….
Trust me, I’m experiencing it with each and every breath I take.
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