I was hired by a private ambulance service in Tacoma when I moved to Washington in 1994. The short time that I worked there left a bitter taste in my mouth. I despised the drunks, drug addicts and mentally ill people that we transported every day. In 1995 I would go to work for the fire department, but I would return to Tacoma 7 years later. God told me He had a different plan, though it would be four more years before I understood what it was.
The alienation between my wife and I grew worse every day. After losing my job with the fire department, and returning to Tacoma, she saw me as a failure. When we spoke it was out of mistrust or bitterness. We could barely tolerate being in the same house.
Our spending habits had not changed since the bankruptcy. We still took too many vacations we could not afford at her insistence. To pay for them, I worked as much overtime as possible – usually 80 to 90 hours a week. Part of my drive to work so many hours was financial but part of it was avoidance behavior. Deep inside, I didn’t want to be around her any more than I had to. The pain of hearing her accusations was growing unbearable. I thrive on companionship, acceptance and cooperation from others and the lack of it in our marriage was slowly killing me.
I had a co-worker who was younger, attractive and interested in hearing about my problems at home. Foolishly, I began to confide in her. She listened intently and always took my side. I felt like I’d finally found someone who understood and accepted me. I continued sharing the drama at home with her and we became very close.
One day, out of the blue, she made her move. Sensing that I was ready to give up on trying to save my marriage and that I would welcome her advances, she began taking my clothes off. I did nothing to stop her. Though I knew what she was about to do was wrong, I so badly wanted to feel loved by someone, I put up no resistance. Although part of me was enthralled to have some kind of intimacy again, my conscience burned with guilt night and day.
If you’ve never been involved in an extra-marital affair, let me assure you — the feelings of fear, guilt and worthlessness are just as strong as the feelings of freedom, fulfillment and exhilaration. I was elated to be at work and near my new lover, but I absolutely hated being at home. The roller-coaster of emotions turned my days and nights into a living hell.
One day, my wife found out that I was having an affair. We were at school, picking up our kids. She was understandably furious and tried to punch me in the face. The commotion was noticed by others, who called 911 for help. Assuming that I was the aggressor, the police arrested me for domestic violence. A no-contact order was imposed that prevented me from speaking to her or contacting her in any way for the next three years. The no-contact order effectively ended our marriage. She hired an attorney and began the divorce process, beginning with a legal separation. The divorce would be finalized two years later.
I was forced to move out of our house so I rented a house closer to where I worked. My new girlfriend lived with me for a year. During that time, my wife didn’t make the house payments, so the house went into foreclosure. It was sold it before it was seized by the bank and my wife moved out of state with our twins, who were 13 years old.
My daughter was devastated by what she perceived as my betrayal of her trust. Our close friendship had been destroyed. She refused to speak with me, text me or acknowledge my existence for the next 6 months. This is a girl who had never held a grudge against anyone for more than a day. I was heartbroken every time I thought about what I had done to my precious daughter’s trust in me and in God.
For the next year I would not go near a church or read the bible once. Every time I thought about it, the voice of God would call me back. And I didn’t want to go back. The prodigal never returns until he comes to the end of himself and I had a long way to go.
After moving in with my girlfriend, we began working opposite shifts. It was strange, but we rarely saw each other from that point on. I took care of her kids while she was on duty and did what I could to keep things running smoothly. It wasn’t long before she wanted to hang out with her friends instead of me. The new thing was quickly growing old.
A year after I moved out, my kids returned to Washington and paid me a visit. The said their mom wanted to move back but she needed me to have a place for them to stay, because she didn’t have one. I was ecstatic just thinking about getting back together with the kids. This was the news I’d been waiting for.
I gave my landlord notice that I was moving out. My girlfriend had already begun cheating on me with another man, so I told her it was over between us. I rented an apartment next to the High School where the kids would go when they returned.