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Panicking - please advise - apologies, long(60 Posts)
I've namechanged for this. Am a longtime lurker but only have a few posts, still I don't want to out myself.
This is terrible. Last summer I had an affair with someone I'd known for about 8 years. He was then my boss, and previously had been in a position of trust in relation to me. I had very strong feelings for him, which I am working on resolving in individual counselling and in relationship counselling with my husband. The affair ended when OM told his wife, and I then told my husband. I am aware and remorseful of the damage that has been caused to innocent people, and have been terribly damaged myself by all of this.
We have not been in any contact since then. The nature of my work means that I can do it remotely, and so I have not set foot in the workplace (which is in another town) since the summer. He is no longer technically my boss, since he removed himself from the project and installed someone else in his stead.
Today I received an email from the funders of my project, with plans for the annual conference in the workplace of OM. OM's company are hosting the conference, and I am expected to attend to present my work, progress, research to date etc. This has prompted a massive panic attack - dry mouth, hyperventilating, pounding heart. I simply cannot bear to go to the conference - I don't want to see OM and be ignored/cut dead, and for my own sake I can't go and have any sort of conversation with him. After it all ended I went through a pretty bad period of self-harm and restricted eating, largely prompted by situations where OM would be mentioned to me by other people, and I really don't want to go back to that place. More than anything, I don't want to undermine the rebuilding that my DH and I have been doing by having a flood of old feelings come back when I haven't resolved it all yet.
WTF do I do?? Should I pull a sickie at the last minute? Claim to be double-booked? I'm pretty sure that some of the funders know about the affair (neither OM or I have told them, but let's just say that the line of work the funders deal in would make it in their interests to be aware of such things. Sorry, that sounds ridiculously cloak-and-dagger and drip-feeding, but I really can't say any more than that), which makes the whole thing even more difficult.
I'm so worried and frantic about this, am shaking and teary as I am writing. The email I got was a follow-up to a 'save the date' email which apparently had been sent round before, but I didn't get that one for some reason.
Please, please, please someone give me some advice on how to handle this.
I think you need to talk with the counselor re the presentation. Unless you can feel ok about it and it is ok with your dh I think you should back out with a good excuse (hols or op). It's not worry the stress frankly and will upset your dh / possibly bring back all kinds of feelings.
You are clearly still trying to work out how to move forward with your marriage and may or may not stay together. I wouldn't throw this presentation into the mix which will create its own set of issues tbh.
I think you should steel yourself and do the presentation.
Or with yourself, i should add.
I've been feeling similarly to AF while reading your thread I'm afraid. I think this inner turmoil is because you know that really you should not be, do not want to be, with your DH. You just haven't got the courage to be honest with him about it.
Bottom line, I would be wondering why it was all so much about you which is where I came into this thread.
Because if I were your husband I would be absolutely petrified about now, that despite you removing yourself from the situation for months, as soon as you have to be in the same room as the OM you go to pieces.
I would wonder why that was. I would wonder if I was the fall back position. It wouldn't make me feel secure.
How am I failing the challenge?
Is this the first real test of "doing as much as you can" which so far seems to have entirely consisted of removing yourself from all that terrible temptation and rather a lot of self punishment. ?
You are failing the challenge miserably, tbh.
Yes, am doing as much as I can to reassure DH. He knows there is no contact, he has passwords etc and the fact that I don't go to the place of work has been important I think. I think addressing my own turmoil is part of repairing our relationship, and so the individual counselling is just as important as the joint sessions. I don't see it as one detracting from the other.
Yes, my husband really does love me, something which has become sharply clear since I betrayed him. I know that. And I know I made choices, bad ones, and a lot of people were hurt. Yes I am ambivalent about staying with my husband, but I know it's the right thing to try and give it the best possible go, and that it can take some time to recover from that sort of betrayal. I am feeling much much more positive about our chances now than I was three months ago, and I really hope that positivity keeps on growing and that I can feel happy and connected into my life again.
Agree entirely with AF. Whatever your dh wants you to do is what you should do - regardless of how it makes you feel or what impact it has on your career. I hope you're putting as much energy into rebuilding your relationship and trying to repair the damage you have done to your dh as you are in dealing with your own turmoil.
I would have thought his wants and needs should be paramount if you truly want to make it work with your husband. Not yours, not OM's, not what it might do to your standing at work, what the conference organisers might think of you.
You are ambivalent about staying with him, aren't you ? How will punishing yourself make it any easier ? By doing that you keep the drama focussed on you. Those aren't the actions of someone putting his needs first.
I can see how you have been suffering, but you made choices all along the way. Your husband must really love you because I would have told you to get a grip a long time ago.
Maybe I've expressed myself badly. Am struggling with the apparent lack of anger on my Dh's part. So i suppose I feel I ought to be punished in some way. I take your point about doing what my DH wants, though.
Penance ? It really is all about you, isn't it ?
Just back from a gruelling relationship counselling session, so feeling a bit drained. Had hoped to discuss this, but other things came up and time ran out.
Am trying to make things work with my DH LessMiss, but the question of separation is something I am thinking about. But your point about me being a passenger in my life is perceptive. I tend to do what I think other people expect of me, have always been a perfectionist in every aspect of my life, and find it very hard to disappoint anyone. My Dh wants to stay together more than anything, and I'm finding the pressure and responsibility of having to decide what happens for both of us almost crushing. I don't resent moving to this new town - as things stand, we currently plan to move to another town for my new job over the summer - but it has added yet more upheaval to what is already a stressful time.
lavender haven't seen the OM since July. Am hoping to discuss this with my counsellor next week, and see what she says. It's nobody's fault but my own, though, so part of me thinks that I should just accept the pain of going to the conf as just penance.
I am going to go against the grain here. I think you should do what your H wants you to do.
This thread has been all about you. About the OM. About how hard it is for you. About how you are struggling with this. About how OM may react to this.
Not much has been said about how this may affect your H. I think his feelings should come first here. By a very long way.
Is this the first time in 4 years you will see him? Or have dealings with him? If he is the host then he will have seen the list of presenters. Maybe he won't turn up on the day then you will feel worse for not just doing it.
I understand your dh not wanting you to go, it's so raw for you both and he must hate to see you so stressed by it. But if you dont go, what will you achieve? Lettng the spectre of him spoil things for you. I still suggest you go, but with safety nets, like not staying , taking a friend to be your support, they could be explained as your new assistant, and practising your pitch, and imagining how well it will go. Reassuring your dh that he is the one for you even if the other chap wanted you back etc
Your councillor could help you with this, as it's a few months away?
Sounds odd, but I found hypnosos worked really quickly for me when suffering from a similar situation. You have to be really careful about who you use though. And yes, I didn't believe in it, but it did actually work. After one session, nearly all the anxiety went, and after two, I felt quite different.
A word of warning though - it made me see things in clarity and enabled me to take control of my life. I can't help thinking from your posts that a lot of your anxiety might be caused by your seeming to play the role of passenger - you had an affair with this OM, who has treated you very badly, you have moved to another town where you have no friends with your husband - what decisions do you make about your own life? You worry about the way this OM might treat you at work, yet you have the protection of the law behind you if you are discriminated against (do you really think he would want such a scandal to come out?)
And if in doubt, always act professionally at work.
Is it too personal to ask why you haven't considered divorce if you still have feelings for the OM and were going to leave your husband for him?
My first thought was to say "go and face your demons" but actually I think not going will be better for you and your DH. He will be worried all the time you are there, even if you only zip in and out for the speech bit. You need to find a sensible excuse, that is plausible or as close to reality as possible and offer to do a video or skype presentation. You need to rebuild DH's faith in you, and since you are leaving the company I don't think it will impact that much on your career. Impossible situation, but I think staying away will have be the least damaging option to you both.
Does anyone else at work know the situation? Does your counsellor think you are up to presenting?
Not sure you should be too swayed by your dh's advice - advice always comes with an agenda, and he must be very hurt, as you are too.
Would you previously have presented your work without too much stressing? I'm annoyed on your behalf that you are in this position!
Thanks everyone. I've been mulling it over this weekend. I should say that the conf isn't for a couple of months, so I have some time to prepare and/or get even more stressed about it...
I've spoken to my DH, he wanted to know if OM was going to be there, I said "yes, I expect so". He thinks I should pull out and come up with an excuse along the lines of illness/family funeral/double-booking etc. Which is the opposite of what most advice I've received here.
Yes, Imperial, it's betablockers that I'm taking. They have helped with the more severe levels of anxiety, so I'm trying to reduce taking them now. As for reasons for self-harm, jynier: same as everyone, I suppose - a means of expressing a pain that seemed overwhelming at times. Yes, I still care for OM, although I wish I didn't. I don't know if he is alarmed at the prospect of seeing me, I suspect he is. I know that he has withdrawn from an event at which we were both supposed to be speaking in 2014. But he can't withdraw from this as he is hosting it.
I genuinely don't know what to do - I veer wildly from "there's no way, I can go, it will be far too distressing for me" to "I should go and be professional, and not let OM affect me so much". So confusing.
Imagine you are on that stage giving a great presentation - you know you can do that as you're obviously confident and experienced in your professional life.
Imagine how good you are going to feel afterwards, knowing you've faced up to all the fears and anxieties and emotional stress of the past year.
Imaging the boost in confidence that will give you gong forward. And the strenght that will give you in rebuilding your relationship with your H.
Having said, that if you decide you genuinely can't do it at this point in time DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT! Easier said than done, I know. But just because you're maybe not up to facing something today, it doesn't mean you won't be able to face it tomorrow, or next week or next month.
OP, I had betablockers to help cope with stress. They took a couple of weeks to work (not sure whether this is normal) but then I did feel OK. They stop the adrenaline rush that you feel when you're stressed.
I am so sorry, but I really think you have to go and present. Even though you have plans to leave this job, I just think it's too dangerous, professionally, for you to not go.
Can you use the family commitment/emergency excuse to go only for the day of your presentation, so that you don't have to stay overnight? I think that's the best way to deal with it, b/c you still look professional but won't have to upset yourself and probably your husband by staying over.
And can you get some help from your therapist and your GP to prepare you for being there for the one day and giving the presentation? I know how debilitating anxiety and panic attacks are, but if you have some preparation time I would hope you could sort of train up to this, if that makes sense.
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