Friday, April 25, 2014

"The Stumbling Stage"

Let me preface this by saying that I am not really a "fan" of T.D. Jakes... or any other TV preacher for that matter. However, a friend of mine shared this video on Facebook this morning and I am so glad that I decided to click on it. Check it out and then scroll down to read why I feel like it is relevant to marriage and more specifically, how it relates to infidelity.


After my last post, I'm Going to Fight, I received a lot of e-mails asking essentially the same thing. How do I overcome the pain, how do I get over it, how do I feel better about myself, how do I trust again, how do I forgive, etc. To be honest, I'm not always sure what to say. I am always scared of saying the wrong thing, giving bad advice, or stepping on someone's toes. However, after watching this video, I feel like I have a better handle on what I want to say. So here goes...

Being the victim of infidelity sucks. I know this. I don't want what I'm about to say to sound like I'm trying to downplay the pain that you may be experiencing. I've been there and I know that it is one of the most crushing emotional pains a human can experience. So then, how do you overcome it? How do you move past this pain that is crippling you?

          1. Decide that you want to overcome it.

Maybe this isn't true for you, but for me, I had to decide that I actually wanted to move past it. In the midst of hurting, letting go of what happened and moving on meant letting myself become vulnerable again. I would catch myself clinging to the pain and the hurt like a baby clings to a blanky. Letting go also meant forgiving my husband. That was hard because I thought that by forgiving him and moving on, it would somehow encourage him to do it again. By holding on to the hurt, I could continue to punish him and make him more sorry for what he did. (FYI - that is a crazy idea and it doesn't work. More on that subject later.)

          2. Track your emotions.

What does that mean? Stay with me for a minute... Carry a notebook with you for a while and every time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with the pain of what's happened, write about it. Write down what triggered it, what you're feeling, etc. After a few days or even weeks of doing this, you should start to see some repetition. -- When I did this.. I felt like this. When I went here.. I thought about this.

          3. Make a plan.

Once you start to understand what you're feeling and what triggers your feelings, make a plan on how to avoid these situations and/or how to respond to them. For example, there were whole sections of town that would cause me to completely fall apart just by driving through them. (Ray wrote about this here.) Now, obviously I couldn't avoid driving through half the city. So Ray and I decided that if/when I had to drive through these parts of town, I would call him. Distracting myself with a conversation was the best solution to this problem. I could call Ray and say "I'm on such-and-such street" and he would know exactly what I needed. After a while of doing this, I would catch myself driving down one of these streets and realize "Hey! I didn't call Ray but I'm ok!" -- It's almost like I had to train my brain to not think about the past. So make a concrete plan on how to deal with the pain. It's not going to magically go away. You have to work towards happiness and peace.



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It may sound simple.. maybe even dumb. But this is what worked for me! Now what does all of this have to do with the T.D. Jakes video? The point is.. don't get stuck. Don't let ten, twenty, thirty years pass you by only to look back and realize that you've been stuck in the pain of what happened. Don't let an affair ruin your life. Don't let someone else's mistakes keep you in the stumbling place. Fight to overcome it. If what I've written here doesn't help, keep looking for what will help. This problem, this pain is not so big that you can't get past it.  Decide you want to over come it, figure out what specifically causes you to feel stuck, then make a plan to move out of the stumbling place. And never stop fighting for your marriage!

(If the video link won't work, here is the direct link to the YouTube site -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLiJn720W04&feature=player_embedded)

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their journey to recovery after infidelity. Read this brief introduction and always feel free to contact us.

14 comments:

  1. i would love to be able to pin this post to pinterest, but i'm not finding a way. any suggestions?

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    1. That would be great! There should be a series of little blocks at the very bottom, under the "Posted by Hannah Hartsfield" section. The Pinterest link is the second to last one :) Let me know if that doesn't work!

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    2. hannah, yes i did try that earlier. apparently if you don't have a photo within the post, it won't allow others to save it? i don't know the logistics of it all, but that's just the experience with saving with pinterest i've had (and it's what it says when i try to save this, but won't let me). i know there's a video, but apparently if there's no picture, it won't work.

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    3. hey...i just tried it again just now. there is a picture showing up with it now. did you fix it? or was the picture just not coming through no matter how i tried earlier (i tried several different ways)?

      *please post these last 2 comments so i don't look like an idiot, lol. because of course i know what a pinterest button looks like. it just wasn't working earlier. :) haha.

      great blog, btw. thanks for being so honest. love honesty!

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    4. Ray added the photo because he knew about that the Pinterest link wouldn't work without a photo included in the post. I didn't know that.. haha. Learn something new every day ;)

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  2. I have read several of yours and Ray's posts now. I am amazed by your courage to be able to share such a personal story! (I imagine it was not an easy decision) Unfortunately, we have had to deal with many of the same issues early in our marriage as well. It is encouraging to know a couple who are going through (and staying together through) the same things. Keep up the good work! God is using y'all for great things!

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    1. Thanks Raegan! It was definitely not an easy decision. It can be very trying to expose our dirty laundry but we definitely see the impact that sharing our victory can have. Thanks of reading!

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  3. I have read this post over and over. I can't begin to express hiw much if a difference this has made for me. I am 3 months into my journey if trying to forgive my husband and start over rebuilding my marriage. I so appreciated your strength in your post "I'm going to fight", but this post has changed so much for me. I feel so empowered, and not so helpless. My husband has been very repentant and trying to help me get over this, but my emotions were all over the map, seemingly uncontrollable. Thanks yo your advice in this post I have found there are triggers. We have had to hard, but helpful talks about these and it has helped tremendously. It will still be a long journey, but now I don't feel nearly as powerless. Thank you thank you thank you and please keep blogging!

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! The first 6 months are the hardest.. hang in there! You guys can overcome this obstacle. Fight together and don't ever hesitate to ask for help! Your comment has blessed me more than you know. Praying for you, your husband, and your marriage! And thank you so much for reading :)

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  4. Hannah, I really appreciated these tips too. I know that those triggers really increased my prayer life! And as a worship leader, I used those streets and neighborhoods and whatever other triggers that came up around me as moments to worship... And it really helped having my focus on something so life-giving rather than the feelings of death and dread and pain that I had otherwise. I was lucky enough to be in the process of moving away when I found out, so now I only have to deal with the triggers when we go back to visit. I also have really gotten disciplined at saying good things about my husband to myself and others so that I'm calling out his identity even in my own mind's eye, rather than seeing him in his worst moments.

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  5. Hi Hannah,

    I have a question for you ... what would happen if he had to do it again?

    Im asking because i have forgiven my husband once and hes done it again 3 months later, after pulling myself together i have had to go all the way back to the hell i went through.

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    1. Hi Nadine! Honestly, I don't know what I would do. I told my husband in the early stages of our recovery that I wouldn't be able to forgive him a second time. But I also always said that adultery was the one thing I would never forgive in a marriage. You never know what you are capable of surviving until you have to.

      Only you and your husband know the details of your situation. You have every justification to walk away from your marriage and only you can determine whether or not your marriage is worth the work it will take to overcome this a second time.

      If you do decide to stay with your husband, I definitely encourage you to do so with some very strict ground rules. If your husband can't comply to some simple boundaries and rules until he's earned your trust back, then I would question whether or not he's willing to actually change.

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  6. Hannah:

    This may go against the grain of what you are hearing and doing, but exit this relationship....now!

    Once a cheater, always a cheater. Let him work out his own issues.... alone! What you are experiencing now is very typical. He is saying and doing everything you want to to hear and see.

    Be an independent woman and move on.

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    1. Eli... despite your apparent insistence that I can't change and shouldn't be forgiven, I want to thank you for your comment. I've heard "once a cheater, always a cheater" a lot lately, so I just wrote a post addressing the issue. Take a look.

      http://www.themeaningofrepentance.blogspot.com/2014/05/beyond-redemption.html

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