The Adulterer Who Destroyed My Ability to Live in Reality / by Michael Nichols

I hate him. Hate is the worst thing you can feel toward someone, second only to apathy.

But do you know what he did to me?

If you did, I'm sure you would understand.

He was an adulterer. Cunning. Crafty. A liar. Did whatever he could to get whatever he could from whomever he could.

The first time he told me what he was planning to do, whom he was planning to go after, I was disgusted. It was abhorrent. I yelled in his face about how terrible it was.

For a while, he minded his own business. Peace and quiet, just the way I liked it, at least on days full of chaos.

One day, he started gloating to me about the fact that he could do what he was planning on. It was like he saw it as a strength. Some sickening talent. A source of pride. But why would I be impressed by the ability to drive a wedge in the already-growing cracks of someone else's marriage, to break it apart even quicker? No. Disgusting. I don't even know why I tolerated this so-called friend.

Or better yet, why did he feel the need to talk to me about it? We were such vastly different people. Marriage is something I've always had respect for. It's valuable. It's something to be desired, not destroyed. It's something to be nurtured, not suffocated.

When I woke up the next day, it was all he could do to keep from gloating about what he did. Rubbing it in my face. While I was wasting away alone with my morals and my religion and my values, he was doing exactly what he wanted, taking exactly what he wanted. He didn't care whom he had to break to get high. 'Cause it was a drug to him, you know? The lust. The pride. The power. The attention. The touch.

He was a chronic relationship seeker. He didn't always get his way, but when he did, he latched onto it. He drained it of everything it had, then threw it away when it was no longer useful to keep it. Why keep a styrofoam cup when you've already emptied the contents of everything valuable?

Just when I thought he couldn't make things worse, he did exactly that. When he was done with her, he just abandoned her. He could have just let her down easy, but no. He just abandoned her. Left her with a gaping wound. I'd say, "At least he put an end to the madness," but "at least" is a pathetic consolation prize. Everything was done in the worst possible manner, as though the equally-adulterous soul were valueless.

I held his mistakes over his head for a very long time. He deserved it, right? The man was not even a man. He was filth. You want to talk about a worthless soul? That was him. It's one thing to do something wrong that makes things feel right. It's another thing entirely to knowingly destroy something that was meant to be good for your own personal gain. Or maybe making things feel right qualifies as personal gain.

Honestly, I might as well have put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. "What God has joined let no man separate." If a marriage is new life, he was its murderer, and justice would be his death. Unfortunately, pummelling a person with bricks in the town square is no longer acceptable. But could I put a bullet between his eyes? Could I tie him up and bleed him dry?

I did tie him up, though. I restrained him from seeing the world. But no matter what I did, he just wailed and gnashed his teeth at me, fully in contempt of his punishment, the sentence that he deserved. Eventually, the neighbors started to notice, so I gagged him.

Night after night, I carried out his punishment, his torment, in order to draw a confession of guilt. But he just fought me more. And when a glimmer of a glamourous girl could be seen through the basement windows, he would stare and begin to plan. But what could he do in his chains? The more he did that, the more I punished him.

He didn't deserve to be loved. He didn't deserve companionship. He didn't deserve the high. Yet he would not relent, no matter how hopeless his attempts to escape were.

It was exhausting. I wanted to put an end to it.

I threatened him with bullets.

I threatened him with fire.

I threatened him with drowning.

I threatened him with starvation.

I threatened him with blades.

But one night, I was done threatening him.

One night, I couldn't take it anymore.

I told him to leave and never come back.

When I finally went to bed that night, I could barely sleep.

I got up and walked into the bathroom.

I looked in the mirror.

I cried.

And every tear I cried washed a bit of his face off of mine, and I could finally see myself again.


 

I am the adulterer who destroyed my ability to live in reality.


 

I've spent the past five years unsure what happened. All of my life, I valued marriage. It was a dream. It was something I wanted more than anything. Considering how far south my parents' marriage is, and how much damage came from that to all of us, it was something I wanted to not mess up.

I never imagined that I would be the person to drive the nails in the coffin of a soul made of two sewn together. But that was my identity at the end of 2010.

There is no qualification, no excuse for what I did. But I should have seen this coming. I have lived a life full of little else than desperation. In reality, it wasn't marriage that I craved. It was an escape that I've always wanted, an escape from a reality I didn't like.

In elementary school, my escape from bullying was violence, video games, and pornography. In middle school, it was the same. In high school, it was any relationship I could get my hands on, which were few. Oh, and music, sometimes. In hindsight, in fact, I can't think of a single relationship I've been in that I haven't approached selfishly. There are *certain* lines I never crossed, but that doesn't actually matter. The line I did cross was drawn with selfishness and treachery, and that's what matters. As I told a friend of mine who was trying to be sure I wasn't being too hard on myself, I still trampled the first covenant that God ever made for mankind.

Even after I finally let the real Jesus into my life in June 2009 and asked Him to teach me to really love and for Him to be my Lord, the selfishness didn't go away.

I think that's probably the point. I had to come to Christ to defeat my selfishness. I simply hadn't recognized a lot of it yet, and I was still blaming my circumstances for a lot, instead of my own choices. In 2009, I still hadn't learned to see things clearly. It was in the wake of losing a friendship in the end of 2010 that I found a way to justify the affair that began soon after and ended by the start of March 2011.

It was yet another false love that I used as a patch for the hole in my life that I asked for God to fill, and that He was trying to fill, but I was doing a terrible job of letting Him. I knew He was God, but for some reason, I didn't understand yet that He was meant to fill more than just the throne of my life, but my entire life, my every wound, my every need.

For every selfish relationship I have been in, I've had to force myself to see things as better than they are. I've had to ignore the fact that I was saying what they wanted to hear, doing what they wanted to do, to fill a void, to stay high on a feeling, regardless of the impact on either soul. That was only truer with the affair. I had to close my eyes to the fact that I was breaking even further something God never intended to come to harm.

Otherwise, I would have had to look my own sin in the face.

But if you really sit down and think about it, in order for me to have been able to do that, I must have had this problem long before it ever reared its head. My desperation, my hollowness, my selfishness, my need for a high goes way back. Back to my experiences as a kid, back to nobody keeping me in check, back to the very nature of sinful man, back to an arrogant spirit I never admitted I had before 2009.

It was a long time coming, and I didn't even know it.

See, I was confusing legitimate dreams for a lust that cannot be satisfied by fulfilling any human desire. I brought myself to the place where it looked almost the same to pursue such vain ambitions as it looked to genuinely love someone. The worst part about being a dreamer is that you don't always see things as they are. You can become easily caught up in fulfilling that dream by whatever means possible that you selfishly trample on God's dream for you. That's exactly what I did.

I had only recently begun to see what true love looks like because of a church family that let me in and accepted me for who I was. I had even more recently asked God to put His love in me and begun to put my faith in Him. I barely knew what that looked like. I barely knew what it looked like to see a couple actually love each other. And I did want that kind of love. It was my dream, even though I didn't know what it looked like, and failed miserably to make it happen, even failed to patch the holes with my sinful counterfeit of love.

Sometimes,  you make it a point to not see things as they are.

My life has been characterized by that.

Every relationship I've been in has been characterized by not seeing things as they are.

It's easy to imagine things as better than they are when "better" is something you're desperately searching for.

Maybe that means that none of the relationships I've been in have been real for me.

It seems like situations like this are:

impossible.

unforgivable.

But they aren't.

They can only hold you hostage as long as  you hold onto them.

I held a grudge against myself for a long time. I did wrong. I deserved to hurt. Nothing can change what I did, and nothing can make up for it. It made sense for me to want to slash my wrists, jump stories into shallow water, hold a gun to my head. It made sense to want to protect the world from me. I didn't want to hurt anyone else. I didn't want to be the cause of anymore destruction. I didn't want to take that risk. I locked myself away, tormented myself, and begged for death.

But through the few friends who walked with me through that, not congratulating me, not advocating for me, yet inexplicably not condemning me or throwing me away... through them, I came out of the darkest chapter of my life.

They mourned with me.

They picked me up when I could not stand.

They pointed me to Christ when I could barely open my eyes enough to see reality, let alone look Him, the Incarnate Truth, in His.

Forgiveness is still not easy for me to believe.

But in spite of where I've been, how can this be for nothing?

Nothing is worth destroying good things.

And nothing is worth ignoring the truth.

And the truth is forgiveness.

Forgiveness sets you free.

There is no story that Christ cannot redeem.

Nobody is beyond reach.

Nobody is beyond repair.

Nobody is beyond redemption.