I’m trying to decide where to start. How do you begin to tell a story about something that completely changed your life? Well, I guess I’ll start from the beginning. I was basically raised by a single mom off/on throughout my entire childhood. I am the oldest of several on both sides of the fence. It was very common practice to put your brave face on, deal with your reality, and be “happy” even if you aren’t. Being a people pleaser became the cornerstone of my life. In high school I wouldn’t leave the house if my mom was the least bit upset about me or anything else for that matter. I would always tend to worry constantly about so many people in my family, that I typically put myself last.
What does all of this have to do with my story? Everything. You see, for basically 15 years of marriage I never really knew myself. I kept playing the same tapes over and over in many different situations. Put on a good face, be happy, do what you have to. Being authentic, honest, open, and sharing every detail of my heart scared me to death.
There was one thing that I’ve known since I said “I do”, and that’s I really do love my wife. But for at least 10 years, I honestly didn’t know how to deal with real life and real issues. I was like a child in many ways. If I was sad, I’d curl up and cry. If I was mad, I’d throw things or punch walls. I’d fight to the death to prove I was right about any given subject. I believe that I was literally losing my mind at times. Trying to be the sole bread winner in a growing family. To lead this family and never make mistakes. To be the dad that I always wanted when I was little. And above all, to be loved by my wife.
So over the years I really struggled with feeling loved and it caused a lot of pain and suffering for both of us. But eventually it brought about so much pain that our entire world came crashing down. A situation that would kill 99% of all marriages. I fell to temptation and had an affair with my wife’s best friend. It’s such a foggy time when I think back now. But I’ll never forget how I just wanted to feel happy with my wife. I didn’t love this woman. I didn’t even like her most of the time. But for some reason I fell for it and made the worst mistake of my life. The actual physical affair was very short lived, as I completely cut it off. Knowing I only wanted my wife. But my other huge mistake was letting their friendship continue with this lingering secret of my horrific betrayal.
I think I actually learned more about how much I loved my wife through that time. I did a lot of soul searching during that time, and continued for years. We slowly started to have a more loving caring relationship. But not one built on honesty. So it was almost spring in 2010, and I had really been struggling with this secret which I had been holding in me for 8 years. I just wanted it over. I wanted her to hear me, forgive me, and honestly start all over from scratch. I even bought her a new wedding ring and wanted to be re-married. So one night we were talking and some questions came up which opened the window for the truth.
That’s when it happened. In a one minute period, my entire world came crashing down. I was about to lose everything that mattered to me. My wife of 15 years and my beautiful 4 children which my life revolves around. She was gone, and I had literally driven her to a new level of crazy. I cannot put into words how much that part of my life hurt. But how can I get her back? How can I make her see my true heart? She will never believe a word I say. Ever!!!
So after a few months of absolute hell, after reading as much as I can, and after counseling sessions (both professional and our many supportive friends), I run across a website for Relationship Lifeline. Man, I’m watching the clips and reading the stories. This sounds too good to be true. Heck, these guys are in Vancouver Canada (now in orange county CA), and we live in the Southeast US. But I’m desperate, so I call and speak to Margret. She is very helpful and we determine there is a class in a week that they may have to cancel due to low numbers. But she says if we are serious that they can probably keep the class in tact. I approach my wife, and she’s dead set against it. This marriage is over, and she wants nothing to do with it. I literally force her to come, with open acknowledgment that if she feels the same after the intensive program, then I would leave.
So we make it to the program, and it was hard. I was very emotional, and Ange was literally hanging on by a thread. Ron and Tina literally almost made her go to the hospital. But after a few days there was a small glimmer of hope in the air. We both started to not only see each other, but ourselves as well. I began to see how all of those childhood issues had played such an important role in my adult life. After Relationship Lifeline, I’m feeling ready to conquer the world. I am going to be an open book. Everything will be ok, right? Well, not yet. We left Lifeline holding hands and in love. 36 hours later, the wheels touch down on the plane and it’s back. More and more issues, and I’m defeated. She is just too hurt to ever come back from this, was all I could think. We were on an emotional roller coaster for the next couple of years. We had good days and bad. Our good days were typically magical fairytale type days, but our bad days were horrible and down right scary. And it wasn’t effecting just us, but our four kids. So after two years of trying to do this on our own, we come back to the Konkins. This time in Orange County, CA for a Couples Retreat. A more intimate type of intensive program.
It was here that Ange started to really become more open to our relationship and true forgiveness. Ron said some touching things to both of us, and sharing struggles that they had had in their relationship. You see, Ron and I had similar stories, and it really gave us hope. We left California with a more peaceful outlook of hope. Things were better when we returned home. Not perfect, but better. We still had the issues come up from time to time, but I had finally truly believed that we were going to make it. One fight per day, was now one per week. Then a few months later, we were once a month. Then somewhere around two years ago everything just clicked. We talk more than anyone we know. We share everything in our life. Our stories, our adventures, our everything. Ange truly makes me happy in everything we do. She literally has to make me see friends at times because I’d rather just be with her. We use the tools from Lifeline daily. We don’t always consciously use them, but it is definitely the tools we learned. We even have shirts made from Relationship Lifeline slogans, tattoos that reflect the program, and passwords to mutual social accounts. Ron and Tina Konkin opened up two hearts and finally made them connect at levels that nobody can believe. We are truly best friends, lovers, and soulmates that have become the envy of most all of our friends. They know who we were, and what we have been through. Most to this day cannot believe how we are together. We are typically the ones counseling others through their problems. We always encourage folks to attend Lifeline. Some have and some have not, but the tools and beliefs that we learned from our true heart doctors are shared almost daily. We will always be grateful to the Konkins for their help in our lives.
I often ask myself why in the world I’ve done the things I’ve done in my life. I have many regrets, that’s for sure. But I also struggle with the statement, “I wish that wouldn’t have happened”. I’m not sure that Ange and I would have ever reached the pinnacle of our relationship without the journey we have taken. We wouldn’t have met the wonderful people that helped us, and we wouldn’t be in a position to inspire others. I guess that’s a question I’ll never truly be able to answer. Maybe I’ll ask my good Dr. Ron the next time I see him. I can’t wait to have a good talk with him one day.
Until then, thank you very much for saving my life and my marriage. The generations that will be impacted from our decision to take a leap of faith in Canada of all places are immeasurable.
With the highest admiration and love,