Today is Sunday, and Sundays always bring my heart a bit closer to God. I spend time in worship. I read a lot from God’s word. I love to reflect on the week that has gone by as well as ask God’s blessings on the week to come.
Today’s meditative thoughts were hard for me. I’ve had several emails in the past few weeks from people asking me about my faith, my children’s faith, and life in general since finding out that the man I married, the father of my children, was a practicing pedophile all of the days of our almost forty-year marriage. This walk back through memory lane has been difficult. I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about the past because it stirs up emotions in me that are most often best left to rest.
But, today I’ll share some with you. I think it’s important for you to know some of what this kind of trauma does to a family.
If you’re new to this blog, I’d suggest that you begin with my first post about being married to a pedophile. For the most part, I’ve been writing in chronological order so that you can see what life was like living with a man who really was two different people — the awesome, wonderful preacher, father, and beloved community leader AND the man who stalked children, who planned on how to molest them, and who carried out his plans leaving behind a lifetime of hellish trauma for many of those little girls he took as “his own.”
I’m going to answer five questions that have been most often asked of me since beginning this blog. I know you have many, many more questions, and you can email me your questions to cover at a later time on this blog as we progress with my story about what it was like being married to a man I didn’t know. Not only being married to a man I didn’t know, but being to a married to a man who committed some of the most heinous crimes known to mankind.
1. When did you become and Christian and how has the knowledge of who your husband really was affect your faith?
When I was twelve-years-old I was baptized and made a commitment to give my life to Christ. I was so thankful for the gift of knowing God and my Lord that I wanted every part of my being to live according to the Bible. That is 99.9% why I married John. I thought he was “my gift from God.” “The answer to my prayers.” “The man God sent to me.” I prayed daily from before the age of twelve for a Christian husband.
Marriage was a huge disappointment for me almost immediately because I soon realized there was something very wrong with my marriage. However, I believed the problem was “me.” I continued to work harder at trying to be a more loving, harder working, more understanding wife in order to be loved more. Obviously, it didn’t work. John’s affections and thoughts were elsewhere unknown to me.
What has this knowledge of finding out that the man I married was a child molester done to my faith? In all honesty, for a while I distanced myself from God. I couldn’t pray because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to read the Bible because it didn’t make sense. I didn’t want to go to church because I lost trust in everyone. I still believed in God, but I was no longer “sure” of the part God played in my life.
Where am I now in my faith? I’m climbing back slowly. I pray many times every day. I read from God’s word daily. I don’t understand why God allowed me to marry this man, but I know one thing: I sure am thankful for the blessings of my children and grandchildren. Had I not married John I would not have them and I can’t imagine one day without my family!
One thing I find incredibly difficult to do is to set foot back into the building where John preached. My son Jimmy is the preacher there, and I love him so much, I love his pure heart, and I love having spiritual discussions with him, but………to sit in that building brings on an inner trembling that to date I cannot stop. For thirty plus years I sat faithfully and listened to John preach from that pulpit. I believed him. I honored him. I respected him.
In truthfulness, it’s just too hard on my heart yet to sit in that same building. That is a “trauma trigger” for me. I make no excuses. It’s just a fact. It’s going to take some more time.
2. Did you ever imagine yourself as divorced?
This is a hard one. Just the other day I was faced with a difficult situation. I was in a group setting and we were talking about large families and a lady asked, “What kind of job does your husband have? I can’t imagine how he was able to put food on the table for all of the kids.” Then, she went on and one talking about how happy I must be to be almost retired with my husband, how much she bets we are looking forward to our golden years together, and on and on.
Obviously, she didn’t know that I’m not married, and that my ex-husband is sitting out the remainder of his life in prison for molesting children.
Instead of answering her, I took the coward’s way out and just nodded and smiled.
It is so hard for me to say, “I am divorced.” I’ve practiced saying it. I’ve practiced writing it. I’ve practiced thinking it. But, it still doesn’t feel like a good fit. An even worse fit, though, would be married to the man I thought I knew. That’s incomprehensible to me!
So, the answer is no. I never, ever thought I’d be divorced. In fact, when I said “I do” those words were eternally sealed for me, or so I thought.
My feelings range from feeling like someone who is cheap and used, to being worthless, to being made a mockery, to being stupid……you get the picture.
Every day I have to work on building up my self-esteem. It’s a slow process. Sometimes I look in the mirror and mouth the words, “Is this really my life?”
This is a very different life than I planned on having, a very different life that I prayed God would give me, and not one that I’ve settled into yet. I’m a work in progress.
3. Do you feel bitter?
That’s an easy one for me to answer. “No.” I’m old enough to realize that my blessings far outweigh my pain. I’m not bitter. Bitterness accomplishes nothing. I’m sad. That’s a better descriptive word of how I feel. Mostly sad.
4. Do you worry about your children?
Every minute of every day my children are on my mind. Their father is in prison which makes them children of a prisoner. That’s an entirely new role for them. The pain of finding out about their dad’s double life has been indescribable! Some of them have had their faith increased by a thousand-fold. Others of them have a hard time believing there is a God.
Think about it. This is their father — the man who took care of their physical needs such as a home, clothing, food, doctor’s visits……..and this is the man who was also their spiritual example. He was their preacher. He was their Sunday school teacher. He was their youth group leader. He was the one who baptized them.
And, now…..he’s the one who sits in prison writing them letters — not begging for forgiveness, but preaching to them about how they must forgive him. He has shamed them, used them, made a mockery of the position “minister — man of God”, and he has certainly caused pain and confusion like none other. This was the man they loved with all of their hearts, trusted with all of their minds, and who they went to for guidance and counsel. He lied. He deceived. He cheated. He molested. He did evil things. And, this does terrible things to the hearts and minds of children. This one man has caused not just his children, but countless others, so much pain!!!!!
If you can’t trust your father, who can you trust?
5. Do you think about the future?
Yes, I do. But, not a lot just yet. I wonder what God has in mind. Is there a purpose in all of this? If so, what is that purpose and when will it be revealed?
I mostly take things a day at a time. This rocked me — knocked me off of my feet — and has left me a bit shaky. I’m getting stronger each day, but it’s a daily progression. Little-by-little…….a step at a time.
I worry about facing the future alone. The kids are all grown and most have families of their own which is wonderful. But, I wonder what life will be like for me, and then I’m drawn back to the beautiful thought that I’ll leave you with:
“There are no mistakes.”
I just love that! I believe that with all of my heart! I may not see the reason or purpose just yet, but someday I will. Thank you for reading. Thanks so much for learning. Thanks so much for asking. Together we will become a strong, unified voice working to create awareness for child abuse and to create a safe place for all children!
If you have other questions you’d like answered in future blog posts, please email me at: email@example.com . If you are in need of a speaker to come talk to your group about how to recognize the red flags of abuse, how to create safe guidelines to prevent abuse, and to hear more of my story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
My love to you!
PS Next time, we’ll pick up in the ongoing story of recognizing the red flags of child abuse.