A Journey From 8,868 Miles Away

My story begins 15 years ago, and 3 weeks into my marriage.  I was still the blushing bride.  We were young and in love and were living with my in-laws for the summer as my husband was completing his internship to be a youth pastor.  My younger sister was graduating from High School and I flew home to celebrate with her.  Upon returning my husband confessed that he had looked at pornography while I was away.  I was shattered..completely devastated.  You see, I had just lost my virginity to him three weeks prior.  I had just committed to spend the rest of my life with him.  He had just promised to love, honor, and cherish me.  I sobbed for what felt like days.  How was this love, how was this honoring me, and the biggest question of all was why am I not good enough?  I felt trapped, overwhelmed, shocked, depressed, and all alone.  I never told anyone because I was humiliated. He apologized, cried, asked for forgiveness, and promised to never do it again. 

A few months prior to our wedding he told me he had looked at pornography, but made it seem like a thing of the past.  But here we were, and it was very much the present.  It took me a few days, but I forgave him.  However, I can not say I ever forgot what happened, and was never the same again.  We returned to college, he graduated, and we moved to ** where he had his first youth pastor position.  Shortly after our first anniversary he again confessed to looking at porn.  I was yet again devastated.  All I could think was, "You PROMISED" and again the haunting thought that somehow I am just not good enough. 

Fast forward a  few years and we were back in ** where he worked as a youth pastor.   All seemed ok.  I never really trusted him.  I always wondered what he was doing and who he was doing it with.  We had ups and downs.  However, I wanted so badly to believe that he had overcome his "problem" and that he was doing well.  I loved him.  We moved again for him to work at another church. Two years later things started going down hill.  I could always tell when he was making bad choices.  He would become more forgetful, more irritable, more distant.  One day I found him chatting with a woman on line.  He of course lied, but eventually confessed to talking with her because he thought she was pretty.  I started noticing the curtains were often closed in the office in the morning.  One afternoon I found naked pictures of him.  I knew he was making bad choices again.  When I confronted him he initially lied, but eventually told the truth. 

I finally cried out for help and told our parents what he was doing.  This led to him resigning from the church and taking a regular job.  He went to a weekly counseling group for men with sexual addiction, and I thought things were improving.  They weren't though.  I soon found out that he was chatting with women, sexting, and sending/receiving naked pictures.  My heart was broken.  He moved out for a few weeks.  How could this be happening?  Eventually he apologized again, promised again, and I tried to forgive, again.  Every year I felt more distant though, and wanted to protect myself more and more from what I knew would happen again.  I ate and ate and ate.  I felt like I was unlovable, unattractive, and unwanted.  Yet I wanted him to love me and to be a godly husband.  He had so many good qualities.  I wanted more than anything in the world to believe that he would stop doing these things and choose to be better. 

A year or so went by and we were doing well.  We were getting along.  I turned 30, and felt happy.  We felt the Lord was calling us back into ministry, and into missions, and began exploring and praying.  Eventually the doors opened for us to come to ***.  We began pursuing it.  And then, it happened again.  He went online and began setting up accounts and meeting women, sexting, cyber sex, online relationships, pictures, etc.  Everything came crashing down.  How could I keep letting him do this to me, to us, to our family?  Again tears and apologies, admittance of meeting up with a woman to discuss sex, and more apologies.  We were six or so months away from leaving.  What would people say?  What would people think? How can we give up our dreams of going to ***? 

I chose to forgive and we continued with our plans to move.  We arrived in *** in 2009.  It was one of the most amazing days of my life.  We were here.  We were starting a fresh.  We were going to serve.  Things were fine for only a few months.  Five months into arriving I again found that he was on-line, had set up accounts, and having multiple sexual relationships with women on line.  I again cried out for help from our families.  Why, How, Why?????  How could a man who is a missionary, pastor, a Christian, continue to do these things?  Again pleas for forgiveness and promises to never repeat the behavior again. The desperation I was beginning to feel almost overwhelmed me. But we were called to be here, weren't we?  I needed to forgive again, didn't I?  We have remained in *** for 4.5 years now.  We have worked and served well.  We have seen and done amazing things.  But, he continued to cheat.  Every single year we have been here I have caught him doing terrible, terrible things. 

Finally at the end of August last year I said no more.  When I confronted him he told me he cant help it, that he likes to meet new women and talk with them about sex.  He said that he needs more sex, and fun sex, and what we do is neither enough, nor is it fun.  I told him he needed to leave and that I would not hide or cover for him anymore.  My heart, body, soul could not take it any more.  I felt like I was going to die, literally.  And, he did.  He left within a week.  He reconnected with a high school friend on Facebook before leaving and was sexting and sending naked pictures before he ever left us.  He left us..in ***, without ever looking back.  He has sex with this woman within a week of returning.  She then claimed to be pregnant, and a week or so later recanted.  He confessed to having multiple affairs over the last 7 years.  This woman informed me he told her it was significantly more than what he has confessed to.  He has had affairs with women in other countries and the US.  I had to go to our village hospital and get tested for HIV and STD's.  The humiliation is something I will never forget.  I never imagined he would actually have sex with other women, but he did, repeatedly. 

The last 6 months have been traumatic, and literally more than I could bare.  I have had moments where I didn't think I could go on, and didn't want to. I have felt overwhelming grief, sadness, anger, hurt, fear, and shock.  However, my children are my reason to live and to try to recover and move forward.  Since leaving he has told me it is my fault he has done these things.  He said I did not meet my obligations to him, did not work to keep my eyes on him, did not keep myself up for him, and if I had been a better wife he would have never done these things.  He has filed for divorce and we each have lawyers now.  In the last six months he has apologized, says he is sorry, says he has changed.  However, he has another girlfriend again, other than the one he was with when he first returned.  How is this change?  He says he no longer has those "problems" now that he has ended his relationship with me. 

I was in no way perfect.  I was hurt, angry, increasingly short tempered, and closed off.  I really think I am traumatized by the 15 years of lies and deceit I have lived through and did not know how to verbalize my feelings, nor did I think he cared as he continued to do these things, and since leaving the things I have found out he did are really almost unbelievable.  In April last year his cousin was killed in a tragic car accident.  He flew home to the states to be with family and attend the funeral.  Recently, I found an email exchange between him and a woman he solicited on Craigslist and their plans to have sex before he flew back.  It is like something out of a movie, and I just can't believe it is my reality.  

My husband says he has repented and is forgiven.  I guess that is between him and God.  I just do not understand how he lived such a double life.  Preaching on Wednesday and Sunday, ministering to teenagers and youth throughout the week, teaching at a school in *** about Jesus and Christianity, and wallowing in sexual sin as much as he possibly could.  I know he loves Jesus.  How then, did he choose to live in such opposition to the truth he knows?  I can't understand. I don't understand how I continued to forgive all the while knowing it would happen again.  I am angry with myself as well I think for allowing someone to treat me this way for so long.  I want to protect my children from this dark and disgusting world of sin that he brought into our home for such a long time. So, the children and I are here, 8,868 miles away from family, trying to serve Jesus, yet are broken and doing our best to pick up the pieces. 

I am learning more about me each day.  I have lost almost 30 lbs since he left.  I take care of everything, and that is no easy feat here.  Yet, with God's help, I am doing it.  I have good days and bad, but  I have supportive friends and family who are walking this journey with me.  A journey I never wanted and tried to avoid.  I do not know what the future holds for my children and I.  I do know that I trust Jesus.  I do know that I am not alone.  I may never have answers to all of the very many questions I have still, and at some point I hope I just stop asking and wondering and trying to figure them all out.  But as for today I am trying to walk this journey the best I know how, and that is one step at a time with Jesus as my guide.