Throughout my marriage, I truly thought that I didn’t matter. In reality, that feeling began way before that, but it was reiterated over and over throughout my marriage.
I was told that my thoughts and opinions mattered.
I was told that my feelings mattered.
I was told that my hurts and trauma mattered.
I was told that my preferences mattered.
I was told that everything we had was ours.
I was told that all I had done for him and our family made me irreplaceable.
I believed it all. I thought I had value to this person who told me everything that I wanted, and needed, to hear.
But I was wrong.
I learned post discovery of his struggles and acting out, that I really didn’t have value. All those times that I said something that wasn’t ‘remembered’, all the conflicts that were never resolved, all the times that I said something about him eyeing other women or flirting in front of me, all the times that we would discuss something and come to a conclusion only to learn he moved in a different direction without telling me. All the times that I said I felt like I could be anyone when we were intimate.
In my own healing and recovery I’ve learned and it’s been confirmed, that it isn’t so much the pornography use that is difficult to forgive. It’s the lies. It’s the secrets. It’s the demeaning behaviors. All of these speak to the fact that the words we were told were just that. Words.
The actions were completely opposite.
But that isn't what others saw. What others saw was completely contrary to how I felt. Complimentary. Serving. Godly. Faithful. Prayerful.
So when you try to tell anyone what you are experiencing behind the scenes or the feelings that you feel, no one gets it.
And understandably so.
That’s why it’s so confusing to the partner. It’s actually because we are gaslit. What we know to be true is being confused by what we are told or the actions played out when others are watching. It’s no wonder we feel so crazy!
I wanted to be wrong. That is, I wanted how I felt to be wrong. I wanted to have them just be unreliable feelings, like I had heard about feelings for so long. And I would still agree….you can’t live by how you feel or make decisions based on feelings. But you can use how you feel to discern if something isn’t right. Use feelings, that are God given, to determine and examine if something is off.
So getting back to my original point….I matter. And so do you.
Once I learned about what was going on behind the words, the scales came off my eyes and the anxiety calmed. I finally realized that something really was wrong. And it wasn’t all me like I had come to believe.
Learning all I could about sex addiction, because knowledge is power, I was stunned. All the words that I had been told, that maybe he had wanted to be true, weren’t. He didn’t have the ability to love me or anyone else, at least not until he would be able to face and heal from his own wounding. Which meant I was simply an object. I was a means to an end. And my body felt that.
I learned throughout our divorce process that most of what I was told was a lie. That’s when I learned that I had no value to this person to whom I committed my life, had never been unfaithful to, would have (and did) move mountains to work on our marriage, never loved me or valued me. Because he wasn't able to (no, that's not an excuse).
It was devastating to face.
It was hard to digest.
I thought I wasn’t worthy of being valued by anyone.
That’s a lie, straight from the enemy.
How do I know? Because first of all, I know and believe what God says about me! I chose to put my husband and his actions above what Jesus said and did. That is my sin.
I also know that without real addiction recovery, which means intentional, diligent facing of traumas and wounds, you can’t love anyone. You can’t value anyone. Not even yourself.
That began my journey of true forgiveness….I’ll save that for another post, but suffice it to say that I can now see truth. How do I know? Because I know that when facing recovery from addiction, real remorse and repentance and responsibility-taking happen. And it's painful. And it's palpable.
Here’s what my own intentional healing journey has meant for me.
I know that I matter.
I DO have value…not because of what others think about me or say about me, but because of what Jesus has said and done.
My opinions matter…even when others don’t agree.
My hurts matter….even when others don’t understand.
My boundaries matter….even when they inconvenience others.
My safety matters….because I need to feel safe and have safe people in my life.
And so do you.
Here’s my point.
Please don’t let anyone else’s voice define you or how important you are in this world, in your marriage, in your family or in your friendships. As partners, most of us have lost our voice. It was in regaining mine that I lost my marriage. As sad as that was, I know how those years affected me physically, spiritually and emotionally. I will never allow that in my life again.
As you may have read in my “Trusting, part two” post, Jake values me. How do I know that to be true? Because even when he’s stupid, he takes responsibility. Because when we argue, he doesn’t quit. He is engaged and wants to solve the conflict. Because even when our feelings are hurt, we can still be loving towards each other. That’s because his and my wounds don’t define how we place value on each other.
That’s how you know.
Words without action are gaslighting. Words and actions show value and worth. It shows how much you matter to someone else.
But even without someone else in the picture, I matter.
And so do you.
I pray you know that and believe that with every fiber of your being.
Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Friend….that means that He loves(ed) us right where we are. He wanted a relationship with us and we mattered so much to Him that He died to show us that.
Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
In what ways have you felt that you don't matter in your relationships?
How has God shown you that you do matter, regardless of what anyone else says or thinks or does?