By Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin & Arthur E. Nowlin, LMSW, CAADC
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This article was written by Dr. Kim and Arthur Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
When through guilt and shame Sharon surrendered her child, she never realized God would give her a second chance at being her mother.
Sean and Sharon contacted us about their marriage and requested counseling sessions. Sharon had given birth to a child prior to meeting her husband and never told him about it.
The child was born when Sharon was twenty years old in her third year of college. She took a semester off from school, had the child and returned to complete her education without telling her family. She decided to allow the father of the child to have full custody, but she would have no contact with the child, ever. Her parents never knew the child existed nor did her family or friends.
Sharon moved ahead automatically for more than ten years afterwards. One day a letter notified her that the child’s father had become very ill. He wanted her take custody of their child, had scheduled a court hearing, and hoped to relinquish full custody to Sharon.
The Court DateSharon became very fearful. This child was now 11 and it looked as if her old secret could destroy her marriage, she thought. Further, her entire family could reject her.
In spite of her anxiety, Sharon agreed to meet with her child’s father, but first she had to tell her husband about the situation. Sean was in total unbelief. “How do you keep a secret like this from your husband?”
As the history unraveled, Sharon explained that she did not want to have an abortion or give the child away for adoption to strangers. The right thing to do, as she thought at the time, was to let the father know and give him an opportunity to raise the baby in a good and spiritual environment.
“The condition of not seeing her was mine not Kevin’s,” she said. “He never wanted me out of her life. I did not have room in my life for a child. Call me selfish or heartless but I felt it was the right thing to do for her.”
Sean got up and left the room, hurt and frustrated. Sharon sat there, crying alone. She composed herself and then called her parents and asked to meet with them immediately. As she prepared to pull out of the driveway Sean jumped in the car with her. “I’ll be in court with you and I look forward to bringing her home,” he said
Sean had no reservations about this situation and he knew God was working things out. He knew something stood in the way whenever he would discuss having a child with Sharon. Sharon became so emotional that Sean had to drive.
” What kind of mother gives her child away?” Sharon asked sobbing. “I just could not bear the shame or guilt, so it was easier to avoid it at all cost.”
When You Hold The Family SecretWhile walking into her parents’ home Sharon realized that her two brothers and three sisters were all there. Sharon’s parents called them to come over right away and they all thought that the couple was either expecting or adopting a child. All the other siblings had children except for Sharon.
Tears of shame began to sneak down Sharon’s face. The sight of everyone overwhelmed her and she just didn’t have the courage to tell them all so she asked to speak to her parents privately and they agreed. Her parents had always been supportive towards her and all their other children. Sean with her as she told her parents the truth.
“We have a granddaughter and you never told us?” her father asked.
“You had sacrificed so much for me to attend college” Sharon explained. “I was so ashamed and I made a decision to have the child alone.”
“I remember you taking a semester off and you couldn’t come home,” her father said. “Now I know why.” Sharon’s mother reached out and held her, asking for no explanation. She only told her that she loved her and she wanted to meet her grandchild.
When after an hour Sharon went back into the other room and told her siblings, they held her with unconditional love and laughed. “We have a new addition to the family!
Three days later the entire family attended the custody hearing. Sharon had not spoken to Kevin in 11 years but when they greeted each other she knew everything would be fine.
Sharon and Sean signed the papers and promised Kevin that they would be good parents to Elise. Sharon shot a glance at Kevin when he said the child’s name.
“Is something wrong?” Sean asked her.
“No, it’s just that Elise was my grandmother’s name,” Sharon said.
” I knew how much you loved your grandmother and I prayed someday you would meet your daughter,” Kevin said. He had only one request for them: “please raise her continually in the will of God.”
They all agreed.
Two days later Sharon, Sean, Kevin, and Elise met for dinner. Elise was the reflection of Sharon they could have been twins. Sharon extended her hand to greet Elise and after a few silent moments Elise said “I have waited eleven years to meet you and my father gave me a picture of you and I prayed to meet you and God answered my prayers”.
She then gave her mother a huge hug and kiss and there was not a dry eye in the group, especially not Sharon’s. They spent the next few hours and many days ahead getting acquainted.
Kevin’s House Was In OrderElise was made aware of her father’s illness two years prior to this. Doctors diagnosed Kevin with leukemia and his prognosis wasn’t good. He knew he had to find Sharon and reconnect Elise with her. Kevin had a very successful law practice and he made wise choices regarding Elise’s financial stability and future education requirements. He also knew of Sharon’s and Sean’s success and knew his daughter would continue to excel.
Sharon’s parents gave Elise a welcome home party and she met all her mother’s family and Sean’s family also. Kevin had always told Elise that her mother loved her very much but needed him to care for her until the day came they would be reunited as mother and daughter.
Kevin made sure, through God’s guidance, to secure a safe and godly environment for their child. Elise had moved in with Sean and Sharon and they began a new journey together. The couple repeatedly thanked Kevin for his kindness and love for God that showed them that God never stops loving or forgiving us and they helped him in his final months until he passed away. Elise was by her father’s bedside the evening he died when she told him, “I’ll see you in the morning; rest daddy, just rest.”
Restoration Eased the Guilt and ShameThe family was so moved by her love for her father and God. Kevin had raised his daughter to fear and love God as he was raised by his parents who had passed away several years ago. That witness lead Sean and Sharon to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Today, Sean, Sharon and Elise attend family counseling with Arthur and me and they are blending, adjusting, and growing well together.
Sharon has said that she allowed fear, selfishness and disappointment to interfere with God’s plan for her life. She had to work through her personal pain–the knowledge that she missed eleven years of her daughter’s life. But, overriding that was the unselfish, forgiving love of her child’s father, a dear friend, who restored a mother and daughter together once again.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
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This article was written by Dr. Kim and Arthur Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
Edward and Natalie met through a mutual friend while attending a graduation celebration. They dated for two years and have been married for 13 years. During that time they traveled and built a wonderful life together, so it seemed.
Edward works as an executive for a major company and Natalie is a dentist in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Together they worked very hard to save their finances for their agreed-upon future endeavors.
One day as Natalie reviewed the transactions in one of their accounts she noted expenditures that were not clearly justified. She decided that before calling Edward, she would go to the bank herself. The banker told her $10,000 had been withdrawn from their joint account. When he showed her a printout of the debit card usage she thought there had to be an error. The card number belonged to Edward, but they could not determine where the money had gone.
That evening Natalie waited up for Edward to come home, but decided to go to bed when he didn’t show. When he tried to leave the house early the next morning, Natalie was already awake. She asked him what he had been doing and what happened to the $10,000 from the joint bank account. Edward, furious with her for questioning him, walked out slamming the door.
After a few days of avoiding Natalie, Edward told her that he had been gambling for a long time and was taking money out of the account over the months, just a little at time. She trusted his version of events and told him that she would go to counseling with him to work through his problem. Although he was very reluctant to attend he agreed.
Unfortunately, the storm lurked just ahead, threatening to sink and destroy their entire relationship because Edward was still lying regarding his true addiction. After three months in counseling and all appeared to be mending between Edward and Natalie the real truth came to light.
Open Up, In the Name of the Law
One afternoon a probation officer came to meet with Edward for his monthly visit. Usually, Edward visited his probation officer in his office in downtown Detroit. On this day, however, the PO visited and Natalie happened to have take the day off from work.
It turned out that Edward was serving three years probation for soliciting an undercover female police officer for sex. He had been going to strip clubs and soliciting prostitutes for five years and in addition to probation, he had to pay fines and lawyer fees.
While she was meeting with the probation officer Edward walked in on their meeting and was stunned. He finally admitted that he had an addiction to pornography for more than twenty years, managed to stop after they were married, but went off the rails at his new job. His colleagues there routinely patronized strip clubs during lunch and after work.
At first, Edward said, no one missed a few dollars from the account, but one day he noticed that almost all the money was gone. He got comfortable in his lies when no one detected that the money was gone, and Natalie didn’t know. He convinced himself that there would be no consequences. His lies covered his whereabouts when she tried to reach him at his office or on his cell phone. Edward convinced himself that as a habitual liar, he was pretty good.
Help For the Habitual Liar
Edward and Natalie attend counseling with Arthur and me to work through and understand the consequences of his lies. Compulsive lying disorder affects the sufferer and those that care about them tremendously. She has forgiven her husband and he has worked diligently to repay the money to their account. He also attends sex addiction therapy, meets regularly with his probation officer and attends church services with Natalie.
Treatment options for this disorder can only be effective if the person with the compulsive lying disorder agrees to treatment. In most cases, friends and family have to learn to adapt in order to maintain the relationship. Therapy addresses the addictive aspect of the disorder and helps the individual understand his or her behavior and how it impacts others. Later, we introduce measures to help change the way of thinking. Some psychiatrists prescribe antidepressants to treat underlying depression and self-esteem. Further, they may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to decrease the feelings of anxiety that may unconsciously prompt the individual to lie.
Hiding and Lying versus Openness and Honesty
A lie that one has told over and over can become one’s reality, at least in that person’s mind. We know our clients who have habitual lying disorder carry a heavy burden on a daily basis. They accrue very damaging and long-range effects too. One lie turns into many lies and the well gets deeper and deeper until there is no way out. When Edward hid from his inner demons, he trapped himself, a factor that reminds us all to meet issues head on rather than running and hiding. Throughout the recovery period, individuals with habitual lying disorder need help setting boundaries and maintaining them. Every part of recovery must be based on not reliving the past but learning from the past.
One must stop looking for the happiness in lust and through a sinful nature and find inner peace in Christ and within yourself. During the treatment process Edward re-dedicated his life to God, his wife and to himself.
We changed the names to protect the innocent.