On where my heart is at today…

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Okay, so I’m kinda scared to write this post.  I’m specifically afraid that you all might run for the hills.  And yet, it isn’t fair for me to ask you to shine the light on your truth if I’m not willing to do the same.  And sure, there are some things that I’m probably not going to share on this blog that I feel a little more comfortable sharing in one of the groups I facilitate or with a close friend.  I guess I do have to be careful.  But this I feel like I need to get out of me and I’m willing to do it here.


These last few weeks have been a little too real with triggers and memories and bitter thoughts and the like. It’s kinda been one thing after another – from being triggered at church to finding an old journal from when I was 18 and Jason and I just started dating to dealing with a slightly embarrassing situation involving my underwear (it’s a long story).

So that takes me to today.  And after my morning call, I was processing some of what was shared.  I went for a run.  Upon my return home, I was listening to one of the songs in my running play list.  It’s a song by Mat Kearney.  (On a side note, I love the dancing in this song and I appreciate the fact that the women look like normal women.)  And you might or might not relate to this part that I’m choosing {not} to shame myself over.  I saw a picture of his wife (on the cover of the album) and I wondered what she was up to.  One thing led to another and I found myself cyber-stalking her Instagram feed.  Yep, I do it, too.  And what I saw was innocence.  Pure love.  Joy.  {And I know, I know, I know – who knows what their life is really like. Yada-yada.  It’s just from the outside looking in, I couldn’t help but to think he is probably faithful to her.  And that’s all she will ever know.  And then I started thinking….buster, don’t mess her up!  Don’t mess that sweet innocent girl up!}

Somehow, some way, I snapped myself back to my reality and not her life.  (Because for real, y’all, I have really been trying to stay present in my own life and not someone’s life that I don’t even know.)

And then while taking a shower, I sensed what I’ve sensed for the last couple of weeks – that maybe there is more grieving for me to do.  And then I want to say…  Excuse me?!  Please tell me this is a joke because I’ve grieved SO much.  I’m twelve years into this process.  Puh-lease, more grieving?!

As I process and write, it makes sense.  When I was 18, this wasn’t my story.  I was innocent.  I was looking for pure love.  I believed it was possible.

And this is where my brain starts to hurt.  I have the most amazing husband on the planet.  I don’t want to be with anyone else.  I’m crazy about Jason.  (You don’t understand how huge this is.  I used to have the opposite kind of thoughts when I thought of him.  For years.)   And yet, I can’t run away from my story.  I will never know what it’s like to have my husband be faithful to just me.  That’s my reality.  And part of our connection today is because of what we’ve been through.  Our love is deep.  We are one because of our experience.  And yet, there is still grief.  There is still sadness.  There are still triggers.  There are still moments to forgive.

So that’s me.  Today.  That’s my heart.  Please don’t run away.

18 thoughts on “On where my heart is at today…

  1. carolyn

    January 30, 2016  |  07:55 pm

    Oh! Shelley-at-18,

    I wish I could give you a huge hug and a cup of hot cocoa and tell you just how much Jesus loves you and that any (ANY!!) human love can only try and mimic what HE has already given fully, completely, and running over.

    I wish I could teach you to rest in His love and just BE all that you are: a full height, full volume, full sized, and full strength Shelley.


    You are beautiful and unique and not TOO MUCH.

    You do not need to make yourself small or “less” in any way to fit.

    You are Imago Dei, the image of God, and being accepted OR rejected by men cannot change your value.

    Shelley-at-18, I wish I could show you (and ME!) how to live from the blessing, instead of living for the blessing.


  2. Lisa Taylor

    January 30, 2016  |  07:56 pm

    Thank you. So good to know that this is the battle of… well, more than a decade… and that some things get better (Jason is the guy you want to be married to… not just “occasionally” anymore) but somethings just require going deeper. When will we hit the last layer of this onion, huh? (Tell us when you do, because I’ll tell God… “Hey, Shelley was all done grieving in year 15… don’t you dare make me go beyond that!”) Ok that’s asinine, but it helps me not start moaning… “how long, O Lord?” 😉

  3. BethW

    January 30, 2016  |  09:42 pm

    Thank you for validating how we feel Shelley. I had a similar situation yesterday. I was showing a coworker some pictures on my phone of my brother as a young boy and interspersed in them were pictures from when my son was a toddler. 2 pictures of my son with my husband in the picture too , my husband so handsome and having sex with prostitutes ,since our son was a baby, for 20 years. We are almost15 months post discovery. I could barely hold in the years until I got in my car. Now I felt I had turned a corner because I hadn’t cried in several weeks but it all came barreling back last night. Profound grief and pain and anger at the unfairness that my precious son’s childhood memories, for me, are so covered with my pain of my husband’s double life. I long for a day that those pictures bring only joy about my son . I prayed last night that God would help me compartmentalize that time to somehow separate the SA from my memories of my son’s first 20 years. If my husband could do it so easily, then why can’t I? I know this is not possible for me most likely and may not even be healthy. All that to say, thank you Shelley for being real and honest and baring your heart for us. It makes me feel more normal and helps me know what to expect on this journey. I also , like you,get depressed over the fact that this is our story and wonder how it would feel to know your husband was faithful. But seeing God bring beauty from the ashes and how He is healing our marriage is a miracle. I am crazy about my husband too- hard to believe you still can be after what they have done.

  4. Brianne

    January 31, 2016  |  04:38 am

    Wow…powerful Shelley. Not something any of us what to hear, yet at the same time so true. We will carry this with us for the rest of our lives. Maybe when we get to heaven it will all go away. So there is hope. Until then we must live with the reality we are damaged. But isn’t everyone damaged in their own way? God tells us we cannot carry the burdens ourselves. Which is why we all need God.

  5. Anonymous

    January 31, 2016  |  01:12 am

    Oh Shelley, I hear your voice, I walk your walk and I am so deeply scarred already knowing the lifelong clothing of grief I will wear. I was the “love of his life” and we were two of one heart — I was the lyrics to his music and he was the rhythm to my dance. Yes, we wrote those sappy vows.

    I knew he had a nepharious past — no details, mind you, but that was before Jesus entered his life! He threw out the Playboys stashed in his closet after coming to the Lord. “They were somebody’s daughters,” he had lamented. Fast forward 15 perfect years of marriage and he arrogantly chooses to return to a former lifestyle in secret. After all, isn’t he the most wonderful husband and father on the planet and doesn’t he deserve a little “treat” now and then? 6 years of a double life exposed in August of 2013.

    And 2 + years of Hell brings us to today. In recovery and praying together, seeking God’s will for our new lives as we reach out to others to warn of the dangers of porn and the path of destruction. Because — if they do not heed the warning, wives will join the ranks of all of us who grieve a loss of innocence. Who grieve knowing we will never be “the only one.” Because for a time, someone else had been chosen over us.

  6. Brigid

    February 1, 2016  |  11:29 pm

    Oh boy…Shelley, you rock. Your leadership is so raw and so real. How could you ever know what you give to all of us by your living this grief, this process, this pain so openly? Thank you, sweet friend.

    Reading these responses hurts. Just the reality that there are others out there weeping, wounded, as far into this process of “recovery” as I am, and that the grief goes on and on. Yes, for me knowing that I will never again be able to see myself as “the only one” to MY husband…that crushes me time and again. Even with a “husband” working his program, doing it every day, so badly wanting to remain married, I don’t know if that will ever be good enough for me.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 15, 2016  |  09:51 pm

      Thanks Brigid. I appreciate your words more than you’ll ever know. TRF forever! xo-Shelley

  7. muchalone

    February 2, 2016  |  04:59 am

    Thank you for your honesty! It is helpful to know ‘real’ and how re-grieving the reruns of our experiences return us to our real life.
    This especially struck a chord with me: ** I can’t run away from my story. I will never know what it’s like to have my husband be faithful to just me. That’s my reality. **
    That is the thing that feels most unbearable to me…the part of all this that leaves me undone…unworthy…unloveable…unable to move forward. This is the one area of my life that leaves my heart abandoned and asking ‘how long?’
    I really needed to hear that long can build together and be better in the long run…

    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 15, 2016  |  09:50 pm

      I’m so sorry for your pain. I so relate. I’m thankful you feel hope from what I shared. Thank you for reaching out to me. xo-Shelley

  8. Stephanie

    February 2, 2016  |  03:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing that Shelley. I started my journey through this a year ago this week. I have been doing pretty good for the last several months. Then on Saturday, I was majorly triggered and it was awful.
    Thoughts of what I thought my marriage was and realizing it was a lie were running rampant through my mind. Fear, anger, grief and realizing that I have so far to go. Sigh…
    I don’t know God’s plan, but I do know that I do trust in Him. I am so grateful that I am not alone in this journey.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 15, 2016  |  09:49 pm

      Stephanie – I’m so grateful you aren’t alone either. xoxo

  9. debra

    February 2, 2016  |  05:11 pm


    i’ve read your blog for a long time and you and jason both have filled a meaningful space in the five years i’ve lived since disclosure in my marriage. i have often related to and felt validated by what both of you share. i am grateful for the courage and honesty you two put into the world.

    i have also benefited from hard work in alanon and found great change in my life as a result of working the 12 steps on my side of the street as we say. i loved your humor as you shared about something i am guilty of…”comparing my insides to others’ outsides”. and yet, you poignantly revealed it is about more than just comparing in a vein or useless way…it is a way we can access and process our own grief for our losses.

    i get triggered by all kinds of things-lockerrooms, underwear i see in lockerooms (so pretty compared to my cotton wearing self!), hearing another woman’s pain or story, seeing images of brides (haven’t even attempted my wedding album since this), the list goes on. sometimes they just appear in everyday life and i am blindsided, sometimes i sort of seek them out -not because i want to cause myself pain, but because i need to release the pain i already have. i am not sure it is a well that will ever run dry. i’m not sure it would be good for me if it did or if i pretended it did. hope edelman writes about early mother loss and in one of her writings talks about you don’t get used to the loss, you get used to never getting used to it. i thought that was insightful and modeled a kind of acceptance i am ever working toward.

    ok, this is long and i really wanted to say that i admired your writing about this. i get that some things are best said not on cyberspace for all to see, but i thought i heard you feeling vulnerable that sharing your actual experience would scare away others…i get wanting to help others, and not wanting to say things that may make newly processing women daunted, but it’s in our real sharing of experience, strength, and hope that we can help each other. i try to remember not only can i model having good days and acceptance for someone else, i can model that bad days are part of this, that my onion isn’t totally unpeeled either, that we are all just as g-d made us, works in progress and all. i send you lots of love and gratitude for your bravery and your heart.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 15, 2016  |  09:48 pm

      Thank you Debra! I so appreciate your words of encouragement. xo-Shelley

  10. diane

    February 4, 2016  |  01:00 am

    Shelly, you amaze me with your ability to share with all of us who feel the pain and hurt that you do to this day. I am also one who looks at happily married couples, for example Jo Jo and Chip on HGTV fixer upper….. They so much seem to love each other and have only been with and for each other. I am only 5 months into this and don’t know if I can continue to live with these thoughts and pain each and everyday. How you did it amazes me. I listen to God telling me to follow him and he will take care of me. I just want it to all go away. The trust will never be rebuilt. So sad.
    God Bless you and Thank you for all you do for us women.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 15, 2016  |  09:47 pm

      Did I meet you this last weekend at the marriage weekend? I might be confusing you with someone else…but wondering if you are the same Diane. xo-Shelley

  11. Katherine

    February 7, 2016  |  06:02 pm

    Thank you for writing this and to everyone commenting as well. I discovered my husbands infidelity only this past October. He vowed not to be in contact with her a d then broke that vow, betrayed me once again a few weeks ago when I recognized his secretive behavior returning and he admitted it. He says he fees guilty because we (read: he) were her only support as she’s in an abusive marriage. He told her again that they couldn’t communicate. She used a friends cell (I’ve had to become a sleuth through all of this and was able to find the cell owner name and that they worked together) and turned to call but he wouldn’t answer her text nor call, which I verified on phone records.

    All of that to say, I’m scared and insecure and hurt and grieving. We’ve agreed to work together on our marriage and I do think that we will make it, but I have no dreams of it being “done ” soon, or even in ten years or more. I feel the same as others mentioned – I will never be his only. We will be married 25 years in a few years and I don’t see myself being celebratory at that time. I thought at our 25 and 50, we’d be able to say that we were faithful to each other all of those years, but no more. That’s over. I had been looking into cruises because he always wanted to take one, but I have no desire to do that now.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 15, 2016  |  09:45 pm

      I’m so sorry for your pain. Thank you for sharing a little of your story here. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go on a cruise with him now. Maybe you can plan a nice get away for yourself with some girlfriends instead. I pray he will do everything it takes to restore what he has broken in your marriage. xo-Shelley

  12. Sally

    February 22, 2016  |  03:30 pm

    I want to CLING to you girl. Your truth. The real you – who could run away from that beauty? And I’m going to forgive you for smashing my dream of grief having a end point. 🙂 Thank you for going to those hard places. Because it must be done (crap really??) and yet it’s so scary and real. You step forward knowing that that’s where freedom lies – but curling up in the fetal position sounds like such a better plan. And when I read your words I know that other strong, brave, vulnerable, tired, fragile and beautiful women are doing it. Day in and day out. xoxo friend.

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