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 attended 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 also 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 out 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 friends 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 heard 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 he 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 it 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.