I grew up living what some might call the “America Dream.” My mom and Dad seemed to love each other; we had nice clothes and never went without food. My older brother and I got along great, and I was a happy kid. I was saved at the age of 8 in a small Baptist church where my families were members. I will never forget kneeling on those church steps as an AWANA leader led me to Christ. I remember the prayer and what I felt just like it was yesterday. I wish I could say I lived for Christ every since that moment, but that wouldn’t be true.
Starting in middle school I became a “school athlete.” I played sports when I was younger, but something changes in adolescence when you become an athlete for the school you attend. Every one looks at you differently and you have a special type of confidence. Not only did I play sports, but I was actually pretty good. The feeling of being invincible started to grow in me. I always loved being around people, and it never really mattered if they were male or female. I always wanted to feel liked and accepted. So I began doing whatever it took to make that happen. Starting in eighth grade, I began forgetting a lot of the morals and integrity that had been instilled in me from the beginning. I gave into peer pressure and began experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Some might think that eight grade is pretty young to be pressured like that, but I am a living example that you’re never too young for the enemy to begin to tempt. God was the last thing on my mind, and I was just living to have a good time. I still played the part on Sunday mornings. My parents would drag me to church and I would put on my “Christian Face,” even though the night before I would have snuck out to a party somewhere. I had been conditioned in my family that even if things are not good at home, behind closed doors, when you go out in public you pretend as if they are.
So that was basically my life through middle and part of high school. My junior year of high school I hit a wall. You can only let sin in your life for a season without it literally eating you alive. By my junior year, it was starting to get to me. From the outside would have thought I had it all. I was very popular in school and my volleyball team had never lost a game since we were in 7th grade. We had a pack of 5 girls, me included, who never left each other’s side. It was a joke at my high school that you never saw one of us without the other. We always wrote it off as being “BFF’s” and thinking it was normal. We were extremely dependent on one another and didn’t do anything without each other.
My friends and I were at a party on a Friday night, like we did many nights, but this night was different. The police showed up and we were busted! Up to this point I had been very
sneaky and almost led two lives. Now it was as if these two lives were colliding. My parents were called and of course they were very disappointed. This prompted them to go through my room, where they found bottles of alcohol I had stashed. This was extremely painful and confusing for them because they had only seen the “good” side of me and now they didn’t even know who was. From that point on I was forced to cut ties with many of my friends and I’ll never forget my Dad saying, “Sometimes you just have to stand alone.” So basically that is what I did. For an entire summer I had no friends, when just a few months earlier, I had too many to count. I knew though that I wanted to get closer to God and that was the only way to do it. So I recommitted my life to Christ and became closer to him than ever before. God had allowed me to go through this trial and storm, but I ran back into His arms. My senior year of high school was amazing. God had put new people in my life that I knew loved God and truly loved me. I was content in being who I was, a daughter of Christ. I really wish my testimony could end right there, but life continues, wrong choices continue to be made sometimes and yet God works all things to good.
Towards the end of my senior year, I met the man I would later marry. He had been a friend from church for years and our parents were very good friends too. I never really wanted to date anyone seriously in high school, mostly because I was too busy sneaking around, trying to party. I didn’t have time for boyfriends. Tyler came into my life at the perfect time though. I was on fire for Christ, and I had reached a new maturity. We began dating and after graduation I began attending the university attended. It did not take me long to know that he was the one God had made for me. We were so in love and could not wait to start our lives together. We dated for three and half years before we were married. It was a fairy tale wedding at my family’s farm, and we were so excited. We felt like we had waited forever and it was finally our chance to become “One”. There was no doubt in my mind on that day that Tyler was the one I wanted to marry and spend the rest of my life with.
Throughout our entire dating relationship and into our marriage I was very attached to him. I never wanted him to do anything without me, and I would get very jealous if he did. If he ever wanted to do something on his own, it usually turned into a huge fight, so eventually he just stopped trying. In my mind I thought it was normal how dependent I was on him. I thought that’s how all relationships were supposed to be. Now I know how unhealthy that really is.
I still had one year left in college before I graduated. Tyler had graduated a few weeks before our wedding, so he was trying to find a job in Charlotte where we lived. Our plan was to move back to the mountains, our hometown, after I graduated. He became a firefighter for the city while I was doing my student teaching. Part of being a paid firefighter means you are gone 24 hours at a time. So my dependence towards him was put to the test. For months I would sulk and pout when he would go to work. It made him feel terrible and it made me not want to do anything but sit around. My relationship with God slowly diminished after we got married because I thought I had it all and took my focus off of Him and placed it onto everything else; a great husband, a home, graduation…why would I need a relationship with Jesus? God was totally put on the back burner and I lived my life the way I felt I should.
After I graduated and received a teaching job that next fall and really started to put down roots in Charlotte. I slowly began to really enjoy living there and started to develop professional friendships. Tyler on the other hand, still very desperately wanted to be back in the mountains. However, the move was always put on hold because we couldn’t go without jobs there. I started my professional career and was feeling so blessed about the position I had gotten. Only a few months of being an itinerant teacher, where I had to travel to multiple schools, I landed a job at one of the best elementary schools in the state as their full-time PE teacher. Just like in high school, I was getting the feeling that I was on top of the world, but my relationship with God was almost non-existent because I didn’t feel as if I “needed” him at that point. In my life, when things are going “well” I have a tendency to really put God on the backburner. That is exactly what was happening at this stage of my life.
In December of 201, I struck up a friendship with one of the music teachers at the school where I was teaching. I had known of her from the beginning, but never really got to know her because she was only there a few days a week. We began to build a friendship though as we served on a drama team together. The friendship seemed to be one out of the ordinary from the start. We became fast friends and spent time together even outside of school. By the summer of 2012 we had become inseparable. Our husbands had became good friends as well and the four of us would do things together almost on a daily basis. Her husband and I had a lot in common and shared a passion for exercising. We became close friends and would train for various running and obstacle races. Our lives quickly became intertwined.
That fall, another school year had begun and she and I were as close as ever. I had plenty of girl friends in the past, who I felt really close to, but for some reason that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, this one was different. That thought was always in the back of my mind, but I usually just pushed it away and thought “This must just be what true best friends are like.” Every day our relationship got closer and closer. By Christmas of that year, we couldn’t go one day without speaking to one another. Really for that matter, we didn’t go too many days, if any, without seeing each other. Her husband was away a lot as was mine because being a firefighter meant he was gone for 24 hours at a time. Almost always, we were together during those times. I could tell a change in Tyler around this time. He began getting very jealous; it seemed, of my relationship with her. If he ever suggested we do something, I usually followed it by suggesting we invite the other couple too. If Tyler ever tried to say anything about how much time I was spending with her, I became very defensive and would get angry that he would even think that way. After a while, he just gave up trying to bring it to my attention. All the while, my marriage was starting to crumble and I didn’t even realize it. Tyler was very unhappy with living in the city and I wanted nothing more than to put down roots there. We wanted totally separate things now, which was a first in our relationship. We always seemed to be on the same page before but not anymore. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t because of her that I wanted to stay so badly, but I think in the back of my mind I knew I couldn’t go one day without seeing her.
By spring of 2013 a major shift started happening in me. The further I pulled away from Tyler, the closer I would gravitate towards her. Our relationship had become something supernatural. I was angry at Tyler for wanting us to move and I was angry at God for putting that desire in him. My friend always seemed to understand me and I was constantly confiding my angry feelings with her. For about two weeks during that spring, she was all I could think about. She was the last thing I thought of going to bed and the first thing to think about when I woke up. I wanted to be in constant communication with her and for some strange reason I needed to be physically close to her too. I had never had any homosexual thoughts in my life, and still at this point I wasn’t physically “attracted” to her in the sense that a man and woman are, but I needed to be close to her. I didn’t understand it and I was so confused. I got very little sleep during those two weeks, and I was searching for answers. There was no one to talk to except her. The person I was closest to was the one I was having these abnormal thoughts about and I wasn’t about to tell her. I was very scared that she would think I was a freak and want to end our friendship, which
was the absolute last thing I wanted to happen. Finally, at the end of this two weeks I had came to the decision that I had to tell her or I was going to go crazy. When I finally told her, to my surprise she felt the exact same way. I couldn’t believe it and it gave validity to my own thoughts. I told her I wasn’t attracted to her, but I needed to be in close proximity to her at all times. It was all so confusing, but she seemed to agree with everything I was saying. We were so enmeshed that I didn’t know where I began and she started.
After that conversation, the door was fully opened for Satan. It wasn’t long after that, this relationship, that had started off so innocent, became physical, one of impurity. We began an affair that would last throughout the summer. During those months, there were times of elation followed by deep conviction and depression. It was like a roller-coaster ride. We would both feel guilty and tell ourselves we would end it, but the sin was just too powerful, and we were not seeking God’s guidance but instead following our flesh. We went together to a secular counselor, who quiet frankly just listened to our crazy roller-coaster relationship and nodded along. Through that experience and listening to the world’s view, we contemplated just saying goodbye to everything we knew and leaving together. Maybe be were gay? Looking back on it now, I am still so amazed how strong this thing was in me. We both decided we were going to tell our husbands about our affair. I didn’t know how Tyler would react, all I knew was I had to tell him because I couldn’t stand living this lie any longer. The night I told him was one of the hardest of my life. He was devastated and I was stone-cold. The only word I can think of to describe myself was confused and numb. The next day I felt led to call my brother, who is a minister back home and one of my good friends. I told him a synopsis of the past few months and what had happened the night before with Tyler. He was very calm about it and gave me small steps to take that day until he came to us. In that phone conversation I was struck with conviction. My brother was saying things I had heard a few of my friends (who I had recently told about the affair) say, but for some reason it sounded different coming from him. I knew if I wanted to save my marriage I was going to have to make some major changes.
Over the course of the next few days, I cut ties with my relationship with her and I was fully on board in doing whatever I needed to do to save my marriage…at least I thought I was. One of the things my brother told us was “You are going to have to move back home.” At the time I agreed, but deep down I hated those words. I would do everything but that. Looking back on it now, Tyler and I realized we did a lot of things right during this time, but so many things
wrong. For one, I went back to the school where I would see her on a weekly basis. We still only lived a few miles from them and every place in that town sparked memories for both of us. We went to counseling, but neither of us received any counseling separately. God in his infinite wisdom however made a path for Tyler to be hired in Asheville. We were set to move in a few months and started making preparations. I knew I would have to quit the job that I loved so much and leave all the relationships I had built there. I was so angry at God for “letting” this happen and in turn was secretly mad at Tyler. I thought God was so disappointed with me already, why even try to regain a relationship with him? He wouldn’t receive me back into his arms, right?
I tried to keep my distance from her during these months, but Satan made ways for us to run into each other. Slowly our relationship started back up again and in my mind I thought, “Well, I’ve already screwed up. I’m already leaving in a few weeks, so why not?” That is exactly what the Devil wanted me to be thinking, because only a few short days until the big move, he pulled back the curtain to my sin and revealed it to Tyler. This time, it was more than hurt, it was devastation. I knew that he was through trying and I was left with nothing. That night, I contemplated ending it all. I always kept a handgun in my bedside table. I went to pull the drawer out and retrieve it and by God’s grace the gun was not there. Tyler had taken it with him when he left. I thank God everyday he gave Tyler the thought to take it because there is a good possibility I would not be typing this today had he not. From that day on, I have decided God has a purpose for my life and he spared it for a reason. I believe to bring good out of this horrible situation.
I was literally at rock bottom, but the first thing I knew I had to do was end the relationship with her. I called and told her I had decided we must end this and for good this time. That is the last time I spoke to her. My next step was to resign from my position, which I did immediately. I said goodbye and was out of our apartment and back home living with my parents in two days. I told our entire family about everything that had happened. That was hard but as I see now, smart. The accountability it provided was crucial to my healing. Also over the next few months Tyler, my family and his family would show me God’s grace in ways I had never experienced before.
In those first few days at home, I remember just laying down on my stomach with my face on the floor crying and praying to God. I read any book that our previous marriage counselor had recommended and stayed in those and God’s Word for days. It was a very dark
time for me because I felt so alone, and so much shame. Yet the more I read and prayed, the more at home I felt with Jesus. My brother, who I truly thank God for everyday, never gave up on me. He knew I could get through it and encouraged me on an hourly basis in those first few days home. He got me in contact with a local counselor at New Beginning Support Ministry, who specialized in issues like this. Who ever knew someone like that existed?! I was in her office within a week of coming home and my healing truly went into high gear. She was able to give me so many resources that I felt were written just for me.
One of the first healing realizations was that there was an actual name for the relationship this woman and I had created: Emotional Dependency or Emotional Enmeshment. Just one little booklet on this subject shed light onto so many things. It was describing exactly how I had felt and also gave some insight as to why these type of relationships form. One thing that stuck out to me was the fact that people in these relationships are broken in some way and are using the other person to mask their emotions or to fill an empty space. I was broken, empty? Through many counseling sessions, books, prayer and discussions I have uncovered so many ways I was broken and empty and using people and things to mask and fill myself. We are allowing God to repair all those broken parts and fill all those empty spaces.
God gave Tyler a forgiving and graceful heart, and he eventually was able to tell me that he forgave me and was not giving up on me or us. I was able to share with him the few things I had already discovered and throughout the next months he and I would both discover things that led us down this path. We have been able to dig up issues, reveal them, deal with them, forgive each other and see our marriage grow stronger. Experiencing the grace Tyler has shown me has grown me even closer to God because I know that if it wasn’t for God, Tyler in himself could never have shown me all of his grace. My family and Tyler’s family have also been instrumental in my healing. They have been prayer warriors and received me back with open arms. Every time I experienced a welcoming hug from any of my family members, I can feel God doing the same.
Also through counseling I have discovered that my childhood was anything but “normal.” I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and even though my parents did some of the most important things right; they took us to church and taught us about Jesus, because they are imperfect and broken people too they made some serious mistakes as well. Even though I was told I was loved daily and believed that to a degree I never felt liked or understood. My mother was very controlling and critical. I’m sure she thought what she was doing would push me into
being better but instead it made me feel like I was never good enough. She held expectations that were unattainable for me to live up to. I never heard the words, “I’m proud of you,” from my mom, and I desperately needed to hear those words. Any type of affection from her always seemed forced and fake to me. My father was non-existent much of my childhood. Men work to show their love and are often gone. He developed an addiction to alcohol (as his coping strategy) and became an alcoholic during my later years. I grew up with a mindset, I believe instilled from my upbringing, that if you ever do anything seriously wrong, there is no going back. God is so disappointed whenever you sin in really bad ways, the shame should keep you away from him and him you. Now I know that nothing I could ever do, would tear God away from me. He is always there with open arms and always eager to talk to me and work through me. I have been able to dig up many roots of my past and deal with them. God has healed so many holes in my heart. I know now that my relationship, almost from the beginning, with this woman was just one of trying to fill spaces in me that had never been filled, mainly by my mother and ultimately by God. That relationship now has no hold on me or my life, like it once did. My mother and I have had some healing conversations and she told me not long ago as we were sitting on a swing, “I am proud of you.” Even typing those words right now brings tears to my eyes. For the first time in my life, I know she meant those words, and it was so incredibly healing for me. In that moment I could feel God smiling down, and I could hear him through those 6 simple words.
I have also found healing in other female relationships. Homosexuality has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with relationships. I have been able to share my story with a few friends and receiving their understanding and unconditional love has blessed me beyond measure. The relationship I have with these women is so real because I know that they accept me over any sin I have committed. It is becoming easier and easier to share my story with people in my life, because I have been so blessed in sharing it. And I have a strong desire to see it help others.
My relationship with my Heavenly Father has become the most important relationship of all. He is my best friend, my Dad, my Mom and my true confidant. He sees me in my lows and highs and yet, still loves and accepts me. He has delivered me from a storm, and I have come out the other side stronger than ever. There is no way I would be where I am today with God. This is still an ongoing healing process, and I am continuing to build a relationship with Him. I know I have made mistakes and will make many more. I also know that God will be there; even if I can’t
see Him…he will be there. I said so many times in my past that I never wanted to move back “home.” At the time I thought I was just talking about the mountains of NC. Now I know that no matter where I am, my home is with the Lord. He is my true resting place and He is where I want to be.
“You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” -2 Samuel 22:29