Heart Wide-Open

my cheeks are soaking wet at the moment, you guys. i’ve known for the last year this is message i want to share and have been easing my way into it.

do i really go that far? will it be beneficial to share with the fb public before sharing in a book or on a stage?

many of my friends already know, thanks to an intensive emotional training a lot of us experienced together, where the point was to expose our deepest, darkest and get to the root of it all – because it wasn’t until we do, that we relinquish the power of shame and clear space for healing.

i’m aware my grandma’s on facebook, so is my former boss, so is my sister and best friends, and many acquaintances, but the longer we *aren’t* talking about things, the more we perpetuate the guilt, the stuck-ness, the loneliness, the fear.

exposing what we think is the worst will only reveal grace and the beautiful parts of humanity, and the truth – i can be fully known AND fully loved.

of course there will be some who are offended, who take it personally, who have been hurt in this way so the hurt is all they see, but my prayer is the message bypasses your ego and lands in your heart.

because so much of the pain we endure begins in the heart. it’s all a heart issue.

and my heart was hurting for awhile, you guys.

in trying to be more attune to hearing God, to hearing *something* – i felt these words, “GO FIRST,”

and it makes sense. we want to change the world and try to do it with half commitment. we want to hide pieces of ourselves and still experience the freedom of living 100% – open, honest, VULNERABLE.

so here goes –

*if you decide to read from here, promise you’ll read until the end – deal?*

i’ve publicly expressed the pain of divorce. it’s been a journey i walked the past year and a half and would have been inauthentic to share without sharing the hurt. worst pain i’ve experienced by far – when you take two people so interconnected, bonded, in so many ways at so many levels, and rip them apart.

and though i’ve touched on the pain – i’ve never detailed the cause, the breakdown, the ugly parts of the story which led to the fading of what was intended to be one of the most beautiful gifts.

at the time it was to protect others involved in the story. now i want to share with whoever will listen simply at the hope of exposing lies and building bridges – if you resonate at all – you are NOT alone, which is how i felt for several years.

my passion is to open up conversation and establish true connection, not alienation, with one another. because – y’all – you are so SO worthy of love.

*ehem* so, this i’ve learned. LIFE requires community. life requires other people. marriage especially requires community. because it’s easy to get into our heads about things and begin elaborating or dramatizing situations that hurt us. we begin making up lies and gathering evidence to support those lies. without outside perspective, we can begin to live out the distorted view we make up about our life and circumstances, about ourselves.

i was there.

i hadn’t been intentional about community, so by the time i was married, and it was the two of us, i was afraid to reach out to others about the thoughts i had. marriage was a great deal more difficult than i imagined and i thought i was broken because of it.

a few years in, i felt disappointed. culture (especially the Christian culture i’d absorbed being in a church 18-22) told me – or at least this was my interpretation – if I “did the right thing,” and was patient enough, i’d meet the guy for me and we’d be married and we’d have all the sex we wanted because we were allowed to within marriage and he would adore me and tell me i’m beautiful every day of the week – and – i’d never be lonely again.

phew. the weight of those expectations alone.

well, it turns out the formula for marriage is human + human. not saint + human or saint + saint.

it’s broken, hurting, hopefully healing human + the same.

and i get we don’t know how to navigate something we’ve never entered into before, though i will always communicate the absolute necessity of community.

so, a few years into marriage, i’ve constructed the story in my mind that because my husband is not verbally affirming me daily, because he doesn’t want me in the bedroom as much as the average male, because we both had stuff we didn’t yet know how to navigate – the verdict is simple –

i’m unlovable. i’m not enough. i’m not desirable. i made a mistake in getting married in the first place. i have no options. i compromised. i’m not understood. my needs don’t matter.

thoughts began to creep into my mind.

i begged my husband to go to counseling with me – at the fear of my own thoughts – and how close i was to acting on them.

this was a scary thought for him at the time.

i didn’t know what to do. i felt alone. forgotten. didn’t God know what I desperately needed in these moments? didn’t he know what I was thinking? how self-sabotage was at my fingertips?

commence the depth of the negative feedback loop – *i’m unlovable. i’m not enough. i’m not desirable*

and being action-oriented is rooted deep in my bones, so sitting it out, waiting for an answer, anything involving patience wasn’t my MO.

so, i downloaded an app on my phone.

if he was checking out, why can’t I?

the list of justifications was as long as the lies i recited – over and over

so, i excused myself mentally, spiritually from the marriage and began engaging with strangers. i knew if i put up a few photos i could begin to attract the attention i’d been desperate for at home.

easy enough.

so instead of a focus on repair. i’d shifted to intentional destruction.

i actually wanted to get caught.

i wanted him to be pissed.

i wanted him to hear my cry. my SOS. my – look at how far i’ve gone and how ridiculous i’ve become.

slowly, i entertained the thoughts popping into my head. one guy in particular was especially good at the compliments. telling me i was breathtaking and being specific about what he enjoyed about me.

attention – check.

the perfect bandaid for a diseased marriage.

i felt so empty but the fix made me forget.

soon, i entertained what it might be like to drive to this guy’s house. spend one on one time with this human who temporarily filled the void.

it was July. i remember. in my head, my husband and i were one fight away from me disappearing for a night (or two).

and then we fought. i begged again, telling him i had some seriously negative patterns i needed to heal and, for the love of God, let’s do this.

for whatever reason, he was not on the same page at the same time and i gathered the insanity to decide this was it, i’m going to go spend time with other people.

and i did.

i drove out to said stranger’s house. enjoyed the company and had been negotiating with myself if i would be physical. if i would actually blatantly cross the dangerous line.

it had been like i was another person.

fully checked out of the married Amanda. disassociated enough that i could do whatever without taking ownership. it was like a fantasy world. i could disconnect from reality and blame the hurt.

and i was physical that night.

i remember the moment. my heart was pounding. my soul was crying out – this is not okay, Amanda. and i remember thinking –

why the hell does any of this matter? 

i was so good for so long and this is where it got me.

what other choice do i have? 

i lied to my husband and told him i was at a friend’s house. i said i’d be home in the morning.

the next morning i sobbed the hour drive home.

and before i went inside, i tucked it away, disconnected again, like really – really it didn’t happen right? this isn’t my life right?

a few days later when my husband and i were about to be intimate, i started sobbing again. all i desperately wanted was to be close to him, to feel adoration and desire from him – which is all fair, but then i idolized these needs. i made them more important than learning to love myself and having grace with another human – my husband.

i told him. i told him what i did because i did it on purpose.

i wanted him to fight for me. i wanted him to be so disgusted with me. i wanted consequence. i wanted to know this wasn’t ok. i wanted to know this mattered. that it all mattered. that I MATTERED.

of course he was dealing with his own shock, his own betrayal. he left that night and i fell apart in our bed. crying hysterically. missing him. not knowing when he would be home.

the next day he was back. outwardly i was forgiven. told to not do it again. the hurt was suppressed.

he “moved past it” with rapid speed. this hurt too.

i remember not being able to say i wouldn’t do it again because i didn’t trust myself. i didn’t know what to do when the same feelings rose up again. after giving into the escape, i began believing i was the “bad one.” instead of identifying my thoughts as thoughts and not me, i surrendered to believing i was wired wrong.

i didn’t think any other women dealt with the same because i never heard anyone talking about it. this was *culturally* always a man’s issue. i added more to the negative feedback loop – *too needy, demanding, bad wife, dysfunctional, broken beyond repair*

how could i say i wouldn’t when i hadn’t examined the root of the issue?

the pain deep deep down. the pain perpetuating the lies, which perpetuated the thoughts, which perpetuated the actions.

man, i am a shitty wife.

i need too much. i ask too much. i’m broken and can’t be fixed.

the dialogue between my ears was no longer – I cheated – instead –

I am a cheater. 

the thing as a child i swore i’d never do, i have become.

the negative talk became stronger and i kept fighting harder.

i’d love to say the incident was isolated, but it wasn’t. because i was not intentional about eradicating the rotting root, the negative patterns would lie latent for a year or two. i’d think, “wow, i’ve really overcome this,” and then the perfect storm would stir up the disease.

life seemed to be working on the outside, and meanwhile my soul was chaos.

my husband had his own way of dealing – stuffing it, suppressing it. not blaming him at all – it’s a lot to process.

and i want to be clear – i am not claiming to be the victim or the villain. i will claim being very very human. and also not having the life experience or know how before of course – going through it myself.

oh the hurt i spread like infection borne out of my own pain.

fast forward to the summer of 2016.

randomly, i was invited to a workshop.

reluctantly, i attended.

and my life spun so quickly, all the pieces out of integrity flew into the open – i like to call this time, the clearing.

post workshop, God put a friend in my life who would sit with me in the ugly and process through all of it. she’s certified as a life coach, and served as a mentor and counselor. and thank you, thank you God – i needed someone to assist me in putting the necessary pieces back together.

she led me through a formational prayer process frequently. in this process (similar to a meditation) past pain would be revealed.

through these sessions, i pealed layer after layer. revealing why i thought the way i thought. revealing why i thought i was the “bad girl,” years before i put it into action.

in these sessions i began to open myself to the possibility of seeing me the way God sees me.

perfectly imperfect.

desperately in need of grace, and always allowed the sufficient amount


more than my mistakes.

because we are human, and all actions come with natural consequences, my marriage still ended.

the hurt i caused was deep. and while it broke my heart to feel i was too far past destruction to save the relationship,

i’ve learned.

oh, how i’ve learned.

and the empathy. the depth to which i now feel. the capacity to which my heart breaks over someone else’s struggles. i’m considering it a gift.

and what i take away most is this –

it all matters. 

when we’re so deep in our own pain, we don’t see it. vision is cloudy and distorted. but the power we all have individually – i pray we get the healing we need and use it, to throw a stone in the water and positively impact the other souls on this planet.

because something else i’ve learned –

the depth of my sin portrays the ability i have for LOVE in the opposite direction.

and my plea –

if you find yourself anywhere in (the abridged version) of my story – be intentional. SEEK CONVERSATION. share your secrets. SEEK HEALING. your action matters. your marriage matters. your relationships matter. your hurt matters. YOUR HEALING MATTERS.


we weren’t meant to do any of this alone. we weren’t meant to be perfect and prideful.

so, let’s start talking. find someone to share the messy with. and remember the underlying story – YOU ARE THE LIGHT in this messy, hurting world.

thank you for your grace in listening.

your turn.

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