Chapter 26 – My Mistress

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From my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

One of the many spurious lies spread by Dale Robinson during the fall of 2005 was that he suspected that I was having an affair. To support his specious charge he claimed to have “discovered me sleeping at the church one night and that he suspected that I was not alone”. On another occasion he told a church member that Lou Alvarez came to the church in the middle of the night and found me asleep in the sound booth. I have never had an affair, nor as an adult have I ever slept or spent the night in any church including Highland Park.  Those lies were just the beginning. He told Wilma Cooper and Irene Lowe that I was on top of Kelly beating her and Gene Cole had to pull me off. I could go on for quite some time. I can only speculate why Dale would say such things or who was pulling his strings at that particular time, but I will pass on that opportunity.

This is not a story about others, but one about me and my failures of which there were many. But I must say that to hear such falsehoods hurt me to the quick because they came from one called “friend” – albeit one with quite an agenda! However, the honest to God truth was I indeed had a mistress for some time. I am sure Dale did not know about her because I did not until early one morning in October of 2005. I was walking in the desert at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains talking to God, begging Him not to take her away from me. I bargained with Him and I promised Him as I emotionally pleaded my case. I admitted to Him that I did not think I could live without her. I reminded Him that my whole being was tied up in her as tightly as the DNA is to my genome. “God we are one!” I screamed. In a process which I am woefully inadequate to explain, that morning with the sun just beginning to reflect off those magnificent mountains, amid the awakening sounds of a desert’s new day, God began the final phases in the process of making me whole. Walking on that trail with tears streaming down my cheeks, I finally saw her for what she really was.  I knew in my heart that God’s plan did not include a return to the safety of her loving arms. Our twelve year relationship and my devotion to her were at an end. Oh God! How that pained me! My entire identity and self-worth were tethered to her like sand in an hour glass. How could I live without her?  She was Highland Park Church! At that moment in time I knew I would never see her again.

Many months and bucket loads of tears beyond that talk with God He allowed me to see the truth. What was the truth? Well the truth was my entire life from the time that my dad and I went on our ill-fated fishing trip until that sacred moment in the Sonoran Desert could be summed up in the word “Codependency”. Nearly all my life I had been codependent on this or that or this person or the other. The shame that I had carried since I was a little boy, the shame that was squared when I was abused and the shame I carried from every failure, physical flaw and sin I had ever committed had conditioned me to look outside of myself for my worth. When I was a little boy it was to be perfect so my mom would be proud and she would not talk about jumping into the river. When I got into high school my worth was in being popular, getting good grades and pretty girlfriends, and not getting expelled like my older brothers. It was in being a people pleaser, having the answer for everybody’s problem. In college I added to my repertoire being the life of the party, drinking as much beer as anybody in the room, being “Cool Gould” and being everybody’s friend while all the time staying on the Dean’s List. When Cathy and I married I affixed being the perfect husband and later the perfect dad. When we started the church I added the somewhat vague and overused description “different kind of church”. In other words HPC was not screwed up like the others. Perfection! Perfection! In everything it had to be perfect. To the point that after we built our building, and very few people know this, I was there 12 hours a day doing all the stuff a pastor does, but that was not enough. No way! I had to find more to help me escape from me. I started buffing the floors. It was insane, but at the time made perfect sense. One day I decided that the floors did not suit me. I bought a commercial buffer and I assumed the job as not only pastor but also senior custodian. The more shine those tiles had the better I felt. Soon that was not enough. Now I turned to the porcelain. While I was there you could see your refection in the urinals! There was not a cleaner pot or a more sparkling mirror this side of the Ritz Carlton. It was a slow tedious, almost imperceptible process; somewhere along my journey Highland Park Church became more important to me than my wife, my family and my God. Sadly, my situation is not an anomaly. High achieving men and women around the globe are becoming so immersed into their good and noble deeds that the very good that they do becomes bad for them. All the while the more I did to prove my worth the footsteps of the past were closing in faster than I could run.

Coming up next  Chapter 27 “Hope Rising”

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

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