Most church leaders know me as the woman who writes and speaks about worship. What only a few know is that I have spent the last decade experiencing the effects of my spouse's sexual addiction, an addiction that began in late childhood and was never treated.
As untreated addictions go, my husband's escalated. In the 1990s, his secret life overtook his life as pastor and resulted in a felony sex offense: molestation of a child by a person in a position of trust. The girl was my daughter's best friend who lived next door; a special needs teen who was eight years older than my daughter, but her exact mental age: eight.
What an unspeakable tragedy. This young woman is still living with her parents, afraid of men, incapable of living a normal life. And the damage didn't stop there. My daughter's childhood was shattered. She entered her teens without a father, the memory of what father she'd had tarnished beyond recognition. At thirteen, my son assigned himself the role of man-of-the-family, and has carried way too many burdens into his adult life.
I never imagined such a nightmare.
Since the offense had actually been a series of about fifty molestations over a two-year period, and since the victim was an underage, special needs child, my spouse's bail topped that set for some murder suspects. He was convicted, incarcerated, and subsequently sentenced to eight years in a halfway house for sex offenders. To date, he has served five of those years.
I became a separated (and subsequently divorced) parent; a single woman with baggage the size of a small continent, and sole provider for my children. What had looked to outsiders like television's 7th Heaven somehow morphed into film noir: American Beauty.
Addiction of any kind leaves its ...