Alli’s Story, Part One

What you are about to read is not an account written by myself, Allison Carroll (fallenpastorswife), but one written by another fallen woman who God has connected me with throughout my journey.  Her name just happens to be Allison too.  She has many people who refer to her as ‘Alli’ and I chose to as well, hoping to avoid any confusion.  I am grateful for her willingness to share. To learn more about Allie,  you can visit her blog, “Life in the Ripples.”

Alli’s Story,  Part One

WARNING:  My story is not intended to give a green light to having an affair, divorcing your spouse, or doing as you please because ‘God forgives’.  Our story doesn’t end with a ‘happily ever after’.  We are daily living out consequences from our sin.  Precious little innocent lives were affected and we cannot undo what has been done.  We hurt many people and most of all, sinned against God.   Though we choose not to wallow in our past and allow it to define us for the rest of our journey on this earth; it has forever tainted our integrity and how others view us.  We are open with our children that we have made bad choices, and we are open with our children that God has forgiven us.  We will forever live in the ripples of our past choices…God’s grace alone is sufficient.  It always is. 

This is my life.  A life I never thought would be mine.  A life seemingly now defined by choices I never thought I would 1make.  I was raised in a relatively small Baptist church and was brought up in the teachings of God’s Word.  I enjoyed learning about God, had a huge heart for the elderly in our congregation, and felt like an ‘overall good Christian girl’.

Yet here I am, happily married to a wonderful man with a precious baby boy, as well as two of the sweetest step-children. We do not have a glamorous story, and I honestly cringe when asked how my husband and I met.  Our story consists of bad choices, broken relationships, isolation, and sin…ugly sin.

I married my first husband straight out of high school.  He was five years older than me, and I thought things would be great.  He was a great guy who was responsible and dependable.  We were married for eleven years.

During those years, I knew God had called me to ministry, and not just any ministry.  I had the absolute privilege of working with children.  What started out as a part time job became everything to me.  I had a passion so deep that I lived and breathed Children’s Ministry.  I loved teaching, leading in worship, and guiding children to that moment they realized life is not all about them.  I loved planning programs and aligning all we did to our vision for the church and their families.  I loved the church I worked with, loved the parents, kids, and all the interaction with others who shared my passion.  I had huge visions that made life worth living.

2Everything was great…that is except my home life. I had put so much work into my passion for kids that my marriage was no longer where it needed to be, and I honestly thought it would be okay.  We could just live our own lives and things would work themselves out.  I invested in friendships outside of my husband, many of which were male friendships.  I had very little female interaction throughout my week and never once gave it a second thought.  It seems I could justify everything because I was happy in every other area of my life.  I loved church, the families that attended, and my friendships.  I just didn’t feel like I loved or liked my spouse any more.  It was a heart issue for me, and I can honestly say that my ex-husband never realized how bad I thought things were.

I was able to go on like this for so long that I just buried it.  It was easy to make my life look any way I wanted depending on the company I was in and my mood for the day.  I was comfortable and knew that sharing too much of how I really felt would make me uncomfortable.  Who wants to be uncomfortable?

My first husband and I lived separate lives.  We had separate friends, schedules, checking accounts, and views on life.  I enjoyed hanging out with my own friends and chasing after whatever passion had a hold of me that day.  There were many ups and downs.  My first husband adored me, loved me and would have done whatever he could for me…even if it meant going into debt.  I was selfish, greedy and prideful.  I had no desire to attain to the Proverbs 31 picture of a wife.  With me it was all or nothing, and I knew that I would never attain to all of it.  I invested my time, energy, thoughts and passions into everything else except for my marriage.  We drifted apart. Worlds apart.  I left my heart unguarded and was never the same again.

I had struggled with infertility for nine years, and it had been a roller coaster of emotions.  Depression, anxiety, worry, 3fear and self-pity gripped me in a way I was blind to.  Month after month was one failure after another, and my dreams of motherhood were broken.  People that knew me well knew I was bitter…knew I was frustrated and hurt.  I took all my pain, frustration, and hurts and instead of presenting them to God, slandered them to anyone that would hear my complaints about my predicament.  Why me?  Part of my job was supposed to be visiting mothers in the hospital that had just given birth.  I chose not to go to so many of those visits because I was so wrapped up in my hurt and bitterness that the very thought of walking into a maternity ward made me nauseous.

All of this led to a slow fade.  A slow descent into a pit I would not wish on my worst enemy.  I opened up my heart.  Not to a girlfriend I trusted.  To a man I worked with.  A man that listened to me and cared about my hurts and fears.  A man I had been in ministry with for over five years and even became part of his family.  I was Aunt Alli to his kids.  I loved my friendship with his wife.  She and I enjoyed each other’s company when we could find time to catch up with all that was going on in life.  I loved her mothering, her creativity and purposeful 4living.  I admired their family.  He was a great father every time I saw him with his kids and they were the perfect team.  At least to the naked eye.  That’s the problem with sin.  It happens to us all, and then we feel we cannot be real, we cannot share our times in the pit and figure that we can act like it isn’t a pit at all in front of others.  We begin to think it isn’t really as deep a pit as others.  If there is ground beneath our feet, we could be lower than we are.  So we believe we can keep things together and just get through our days.  If we can take one good day at a time, we can take one bad day at a time.

Adam and I became close friends.  He made me laugh, my husband didn’t.  He noticed things about me that my husband hadn’t noticed in years.  He loved leading worship, I loved leading with him.  I began the comparison game…which never ends well.  I opened my heart to the possibility that I had made a poor choice at much too young an age in choosing God’s man for me and was no longer in a spot to admit it to anyone or ask for help.  Adam and I got 5closer.  Nothing physical, but we enjoyed hanging out and being around each other.  I enjoyed his company more than my own husbands.  So many warning signs along the way, and I saw them, but chose to look the other way.  I was happier this way.  Adam and I then got closer.  It was no longer about friendship but we added in flirting and making jokes that we should have never made with each other.  We spiraled into an affair.

I was happy again…at least during the moments.  Then the time came for him to go home to his family and me to go home to mine.  That was never easy.  I had broken my commitment to my spouse, to the family and friends who witnessed our vows and to God who saw us as one flesh.  I had messed up and could not fix what had happened.  Then the time came to figure out where it was going.  Were we just a fling?  Did we want to just leave our spouses and be together?  Would that ever work? Would we lose our salvation and spend eternity in hell if we pursued what we knew to be wrong?  Then things got worse…

Continue reading by clicking  Alli’s Story,  Part Two

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Lisa’s Story, Part One

This is a guest blog written by my friend, “Lisa“.  I think you will enjoy reading her story.  I appreciate her willingness to share.

The names and some of the circumstances are changed to protect those in my life and help me maintain my anoynominity – but the events are true.

I write this to help those that feel alone. I want to help those who have been in an emotional affair – or who are presently involved in one. I also hope to encourage and give insight to those who have a spouse involved in one.

My name is Lisa. I felt alone. I had no one to talk to. These things happened almost 5 years ago. I am learning to go on with life in a “normal” way – but it has been a long journey.

My husband of 28 years, Jed and I were on staff at a large church in Colorado. I was in business for myself and worked from home.

I became reacquainted with a man, recently divorced with a small son. He fbattended our church and I knew him casually. One day he “friended” me on facebook and began a long conversation with me online. Jack was very eager to chat and because he was 10 years younger I did not see the harm. I actually seemed to “lift” his spirits. He confided in me about his divorce and looked up to both Jed and me. We had “spiritual” conversations sharing the same beliefs – talking about everything under the sun.

When I first started talking with Jack there were some ‘cyber bullies’ online and they made me feel small and stupid by their remarks on a facebook page. Jack was right there protecting me from them adding comments in my defense. I thought it was so sweet of him to “rescue” me.

He made me laugh out loud with some of the absurdities of people and life in general. He even created a page on facebook and made me a partner. Again it was harmless fun and it made me laugh because he was witty and made me feel alive.

As time went by – he and his son would visit our home and we would have fun conversations in person too – but always connected again online. He could cindy8also be difficult and demanding – something that I noticed from time to time – but just ignored it. After all – I was helping him, right? I remember a cold chill coming over me a couple of times when I recalled what I had confided in him – but he seemed so safe and steady – really “spiritual” and I saw no real harm in telling him some of my feelings. He made me feel like I could say anything and that it would be okay. He even gave great advice – and from a man divorced it had much more weight.

When we would argue – which was often – it was exciting and new. My own husband had never argued and challenged me. He had always been safe and non confrontational. It was slowly lulling me to sleep. I began to question whether I had ever loved Jed. Did I settle for something safe and bland? Did he really understand me like Jack? At the time it didn’t seem like it. Jed always shut me down when I became too “emotional” and “irrational” – and Jack encouraged me to be myself and say anything I wanted.

I was unhappy with the ministry and my life in it. I saw the years stretching cindy9out in front on me and I didn’t like what I saw. Jack was making me feel younger and alive. And I was enjoying it. So many people in my life, starting with my parents had always tried to control me and make me settle down – not get so excited and not be so “self indulgent” so I learned to stuff everything. Even in my marriage. There were things I could never say to Jed and I found myself telling Jack everything. How could he know me so well when I had only known him for a few months?

But it felt secretive –though part of me loved the thrill of it. And my feelings were scary – how could I feel happy and yet so sad at the same time? One time after a particularly intense debate I tried to walk away and say that it wasn’t good for us to be friends anymore – I think I said something like, “I can’t help you” or something like that. He didn’t like it and I felt his grasp on me intensify. The emotions I was feeling was so confusing. Did I love him? Yes. I believed I did. But he also scared me.

There was one time when I went to bed after one of our long conversations online that I thought, “what would happen if I told Jack we couldn’t be cindy10friends anymore?” – and I knew it would not be good. Jack had shown me a side to his personality that was dark and scary. I did not know what he was capable of – and yet I was addicted to the “high” of the feeling too. It was very confusing. He was the nicest guy normally – very shy and unassuming. How could he be both?

Finally things came to a head for us as Jed began to suspect more than just a casual “friendship” going on. Oh he knew that we talked and were good friends – again because of the age difference he didn’t worry about anything either. I had even tried to talk to him more about my feelings of self doubt and unhappiness in ministry and with the way things were as Jack had encouraged me to do – but he was not ready to hear it.

Then there was the day that changed everything for me forever. It was a day like any other. The night before Jack and his son were over at our house playing games and watching TV. Jed began to question me on my “friendship” with Jack. As he began to ask he became increasingly agitated. I had never seen him this way before and it honestly surprised me and scared me a little too! Again – I felt justified in having a friend that would listen – never dreaming I was so in over my head. But I was.

So – hard as it was – I called Jack and told him how upset Jed was – and that I couldn’t talk to him anymore. It was a tough conversation and I was very emotional. Jack was quiet but seemed to take it well – like we both knew that the rest of the world was not going to take kindly to us being friends – especially close friends who were kindred spirits. Ah, such is life – cut your losses, hard as it is and move on.

That would have been fine – sad, but fine IF that were the end to the story. But it was not. A few hours later Jed received a phone call from our pastor the same man who was also my husband’s boss. He told Jed that he had just had a visit from Jack. My heart stopped. I never in a million years expected that Jack would go to our PASTOR and tell him what he did. He confessed to having an “inappropriate affair” with me.

He and our pastor called it an “emotional affair” – the first time I had ever cindy3heard that term. Isn’t an affair supposed to be about sex? Ours was NOT. Not even close. I was not even physically attracted to Jack – so it seemed ridiculous to me. It was like the rug was pulled out from me. Where was the friend who was supposed to protect and have my back? The one I just knew would never betray me?

Jed and I were called in to talk to pastor Dave. Dave is a big man – but seemed even bigger to me during that meeting. He did NOT understand. It was then that I learned that Jack had actually made copies of all our conversations. You know the ones where I felt “safe”? I said WAY TOO MUCH I should not have. It’s embarrassing to me – even almost 5 years later.

Things were conveniently left out of those emails – and my remarks and confessions seemed even more provocative. Not only did pastor Dave share those with Jed – but also made copies and everyone on the board got a copy too! Talk about humiliating. My husband was hurt – I was in disbelief and reeling from the loss and betrayal of a good friend.

Pastor Dave was not a counselor and should not have said some of the things imagesCAZD4XXGhe said. He took Jack’s side and was convinced that I was sinful and sick and needed to be in counseling right away. It was planned that both Jed and I would go to a place in up state New York for a week of “marriage counseling”.

I did not want to go and fought it – but Jed would have lost his position at the church if I did not cooperate. We were set to go about 4 weeks later. Before we went – at the end of June – even though Jack had sent me a text saying that he would leave the church – Jed and I decided to turn in our resignation. Pastor Dave only wanted us back if we were healthy. Healthy? What is that?

Before we were slated to go on our counseling trip – Jed and I had hours and HOURS to really talk and reconnect again. We did more talking in that couple of weeks than we had done in 28 years before that!

We did a few counseling sessions locally too at the insistence of Pastor Dave. At first it was hard to reconnect – our patterns were pretty well established. But we got used to a “new normal” and we explored the reasons why I was drawn to Jack and that connection that we had.

Because of all of talking – we both decided to write a note to Jack. We wrote itimagesCA1H8U8U together. Pastor Dave had demanded NO CONTACT with him – but Jack had contacted me through text and then gone on this strange “silent treatment” everything from facebook to email.

We knew it was because of what Pastor Dave had told him – and not his idea. He simply was not that kind of person – and we were anxious to forgive and forget – let God heal the hurt and all be friends again. I was anxious to know why he had done what he did – and was ready even then to forgive him for doing something when obviously he was in turmoil and so much pain.

_______________

Please stay tuned for part two of Lisa’s story tomorrow.