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How To Rediscover Hope and Freedom After Betrayal

Explore Lynn Marie Cherry's journey after betrayal. Rediscover hope and freedom with bite-sized insights for moving forward.

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When Lynn Marie Cherry discovered her husband using pornography right after her second son was born, rediscovering hope and freedom weren’t even on her radar.
Eventually, she was able to use her emotions as a catalyst to move toward safety. Establishing boundaries, learning self-care, becoming educated about trauma and abuse, and sharing her story helped Lynn to begin the journey to hope and freedom. Listen to The BTR.ORG Podcast for her full interview and read the full transcript below.

You Can Find Hope and Freedom, Too

At BTR.ORG, we believe that every woman can seek safety for herself by setting and maintaining effective boundaries. Safety is the foundation for hope and freedom.

“Don’t feel bad. Everyone goes through this denial and pushing away of doubts. It’s totally normal.”

Anne Blythe, founder of BTR.ORG

Denial is a powerful tool that our brains use to cope with devastating trauma. It is completely normal and understandable. However, if you are here, you have probably realized that something isn’t quite right.

Emotional Abuse Victims Find Hope and Freedom as They Shed Denial and Embrace Safety

“I walked over and opened the door and instantly felt this horrible flood of emotions. Shame and loss. It felt so tangible. I saw pornography on the computer screen. So now this thing that I think isn’t quite right is right in front of my eyes. I shut the door and walked away and continued pretending and coping for another four years.”

Lynn Marie Cherry, author of Keep Walking: 50 Days to Hope and Freedom After Betrayal

Choosing to see the betrayal and abuse for what it is can be extremely difficult for victims. It is important for women to find at least one safe person to share their journey with as they begin to shed the denial and begin making choices to protect themselves from abuse.

Only when women choose to shed denial, can hope and freedom begin to flood into their lives. 

Hope and Freedom Come as Victims Find Safety

“There is peace available and regardless of what ends up happening in your marriage, there is a way for you to move forward…there is a life for you beyond the pain and trauma being experienced right now.”

Lynn Marie Cherry, author of Keep Walking: 50 Days to Hope and Freedom After Betrayal

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

You are not alone on your journey to hope and freedom.

Consider attending a BTR.ORG Group Session today.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00): Today I have Lynn Marie Cherry, who is an engaging speaker and the author of “Keep Walking: 40 Days to Hope and Freedom After Betrayal.” Welcome, Lynn.

Lynn (00:10): Thank you so much for having me.

Anne (00:12): So, Lynn, you decided to share your betrayal story by writing a book. Why did you decide to write about your story?

“It’s the book you don’t dream of writing when you’re a little girl”

Lynn (00:22): It’s the book you don’t dream of writing when you’re a little girl in sixth grade thinking you’d like to write someday. Yeah, the book really was birthed out of my journey and the pain that I experienced. It was so difficult and so altering, but at the same time, I felt like I found a way through.

I knew it was something that I had to share, and I knew early on in the journey that I would share my story, that my husband and I would both talk about it. So that’s kind of how the book came to be. But just going back to our story, it’s like the slowest, most drawn-out discovery story you’ve ever heard. We were married in 1991, and I had a feeling really early, even on my honeymoon, something’s not right, something’s not quite right, but at the same time, just thinking, oh, that’s not a big deal.

(01:19): I really don’t know what husbands are like. This is my first experience. Just did the best I could to dismiss those feelings. In 1997, I was pregnant with our first son. It just happened to be the same year that our house was wired for this brand new amazing thing called the internet and the Worldwide web.

So that was just, I was a setup. I was big and tired and commuting two hours and struggling with my body image, and then my husband was in the office at home, and I remember thinking, something’s not right there, what’s happening in there? But at the same time just thinking, I don’t care. I am building a human. I’m tired. I am working, I’m commuting. Whatever he wants to do in there, I don’t care. And told myself that for, oh, another three years or so. So sad, kind of embarrassing to go through the slow discovery.

“Everyone goes through that denial, “push away your doubts” phase.”

Anne (02:25): Don’t feel bad. Everyone goes through that denial, push away or doubts kind of phase. That’s totally normal. Welcome to the club.

Lynn (02:36): Oh man, that is my MO for sure. Denial. It was my coping mechanism of choice for so long. So then in 2000, our second son was born, and I remember being awake to feed him in the night, and I noticed the light was on in the home office, and I just thought, oh wow, my husband’s awake too and walked right over and opened the door, but instantly felt just this horrible flood of emotion, like shame and lust, and it felt so tangible and I saw pornography on the computer screen.

So now this thing that I think is not quite right is right in front of my eyes, but I shut the door and walked away and continued pretending and coping for another four years. Wow. I know

Anne (03:35): You didn’t say anything about it.

“We did not talk about it”

Lynn (03:37): We did not talk about it. I think there was an awareness on his part that I had seen what happened, but my mom was in town. I just had a baby. My mom’s in town. She was sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room, and she was with us for another week. I couldn’t go there. And then really, I didn’t go there for another four years and just going through the motions and coping and existing and busy life with two little boys, it just kind of dragged on.

Anne (04:13): Did you have a religious background or just an ethical background that you felt pornography was wrong in and of itself, or was it just from the feeling that you got from observing him watching pornography that made you feel like, Ugh.

“I knew [pornography] wasn’t right”

Lynn (04:28): Definitely the ethical spiritual upbringing was the first thing that made me feel uncomfortable about pornography. That feeling was just sort of a confirmation of what I believed. I didn’t think pornography was okay. I remember the first time I saw it in the sixth grade reading corner when someone flashed a magazine inside my book I was reading. And I knew it wasn’t right. I knew that it was degrading to women and that it wasn’t at all the way women should be perceived.

Anne (05:03): So what brought you out of this denial after four years of not talking about it?

The Gift of Anger

Lynn (05:08): Well, I like to say I got a gift. It wasn’t in a pretty package with a matching bow, but it was a gift to me, and that’s the gift of anger. I ended up being a very angry woman, lived with this constant low level irritation and blow up over little stupid things, really on the fringe with my boys and thinking, I don’t like who I’m becoming.

This anger is scaring me. I was okay being sad, and I was okay being lonely, and I was okay being depressed, but the anger terrified me. It really was the catalyst that forced my hand and made me say, I need help. I have to get help. Something has to change inside of me. I can’t live like this.

Anne (06:01): For our listeners, I want to know what brought you out of denial. At what point were you like, I need help. We want to hear your stories and your experiences just like we’re listening to Lynn today. So when did you realize that what you were experiencing was trauma?

How did trauma affect Lynn?

Lynn (06:24): Right. Well, we would never use the word pornography addiction until we started therapy. I never used the word trauma until we started therapy, and so it really was the working through owning the reality of my life through counseling where now suddenly coming out of denial, I began to feel the effects of that trauma. I had chest pain, I had insomnia, I had anxiety, especially at night. And I would lay in bed at night, just feel like my heart is going to fly out of my chest and feeling so anxious about the reality of my life that I had denied and stuffed and coped with for so many years. So it was really traumatic to pull my proverbial ostrich head out of the sand, and it was a shock to my system. I remember learning about pretend normal in therapy and thinking, I like pretend normal. Can we go back and live there? Because dealing with what actually is happening in my life felt worse than pretending. It really did for a while.

Anne (07:42): Yeah, I felt the same way. My most traumatic experience and the time I felt the most trauma was after my husband’s arrest. So I lived with him being abusive for seven years, not feeling that much trauma because I was in denial or I was just not understanding what was happening or living that pretend normal. And then after his arrest, it really hit me and that’s when the trauma waves just came and came and it was very intense. For a long time.

“I was a little bit offended with God that this was my story.”

Lynn (08:10): I was a little bit offended with God that this was my story. I didn’t deserve it. I never asked for this to be in my story and here I was and how was that okay with him? So God and I were on the outs for a little while. I was on the outs with him. The bottom line for me is I didn’t know where else to go. When I did begin to seek God for comfort and for help, he was faithful to bring it, and so my faith really helped me deal with the trauma as well.

Anne (08:42): So knowing that women who are married to active pornography users also experienced the related behaviors like lying, gaslighting, emotional abuse, sometimes narcissistic traits, what made you decide to stay in your marriage?

Why did Lynn decide to stay?

Lynn (08:56): Well, I think there are a few different reasons. Some of them are good reasons and some of them are bad reasons. Just an example of a bad reason. I remember thinking, if I stay, then at least I can keep an eye on him and I can sort of be there to protect my boys.

That sort of became, if I stay, then I can make sure he is moving forward and my kids don’t end up growing up with a pornography addict for a father because whether or not our marriage makes it, that was a big question and neither one of us knew the answer to that, and we’re an addict and a trauma victim trying to live together in the same house and both walk their own recovery journeys and then somehow consider the fact that there’s a recovery. Also for the relationship, things were iffy, really iffy.

(09:49): For a long time, I thought, well, if I stay, I can make sure he’s really doing the work and he’s moving forward, and then that’ll make him a better father for my boys. And so I’m staying really to keep an eye on him. Not the best reason, of course, to stay in a marriage. Ultimately, a better reason was that I really began to see the fruit of change in his life. I watched him do the work of recovery. I saw the fruit of change in his life. And I saw his behavior change.

So ultimately that’s what weighed into that decision in a good way. Once he discovered the tools that he needed to break this pattern of behavior, and he picked them up and he began to use them, he realized there was hope for him and he could live a life without,

“A man really, truly in recovery is awesome.”

Anne (10:42): In my experience, as I’ve witnessed men in recovery who really are in recovery and their behavior proves it, they are kind, they are gentle, they are empathetic, they’re understanding. A man really, truly in recovery is awesome. There’s such a difference between a porn user who is not in recovery and one who is. It’s just night and day.

Lynn (11:06): I can see that. I think about the porn that my husband grew up with was mainly magazines and then VHSI look at what women and men are having to deal with now, where you have pornography in your pocket live streaming, interactive video. I do think it’s a completely different beast, and I think it’s a lot harder to recover from what’s happening in your brain with that kind of pornography,

Anne (11:39): With really easy access to it. And also the types of pornography that they’re viewing too. Not just the access, but the content itself.

Lynn (11:47): I agree. Yeah.

Lynn’s book: “40 Days to Hope and Freedom After Betrayal”

Anne (11:49): So knowing all of the women who are married to pornography addicts struggle with the related behaviors, how can women find help in your book?

Lynn (11:58): One of the things I love is that it’s a small bite-sized serving of hope. It really is a one to two page daily reading with one thought to carry you a couple of things to take action on or to reflect on. I love that it’s so manageable for women in trauma. I remember getting some books, you’re like, how am I supposed to actually read this while I’m dealing with the mess in my life? My book is not about my marriage. It’s really about moving forward. There is a way for every woman to move forward. It’s not about whether or not your relationship is restored, but knowing that there is restoration for your soul

Anne (12:48): And peace. Peace available.

Lynn (12:50): Yes, there is peace available and regardless of what ends up happening in your marriage, there’s a way for you to move forward. There’s a life for you beyond this pain and trauma that you’re dealing with right now.

The BTR.ORG Podcast and Lynn’s book are accessible for traumatized women

Anne (13:03): Absolutely, and I love that you said it’s in little bite-size pieces. I had the hardest time processing written information, and many of the women that come to BTR have that same problem too, which is why I decided to do a podcast, both because of the stress that women experience, and so they don’t have a ton of time they can listen to a podcast while they’re folding laundry or while they’re doing the dishes or while they’re waiting for their son at a soccer practice. Same thing with your book. You’re making it accessible for women who have a hard time processing information.

Lynn (13:33): Exactly in the middle of the trauma of owning the reality of my life. I couldn’t even read two pages. I wanted to be able to give women something that they could chew and they could swallow and it would just carry them through one day. Maybe help them take one step and you just need something to hold onto. However your story ends, there is hope for you.

recovering from betrayal trauma
Have you been lied to? Manipulated?

Discovered porn or inappropriate texts on your husband's phone?
Are you baffled by illogical conversations with him?

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