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How to I forgive myself for my own affair - please help am desperate!

(24 Posts)
Anon5557 Sun 07-Jul-13 20:53:55

Please don't judge me/tell me how awful I am as I already know this and am seriously black and blue from mental self beatings

Ok so here is my story:

About 1 year ago I was happily working for a company (still there but on MAT leave) and was getting close to a male colleague despite being in a relationship with now DH for 3 years. For many reasons (mostly selfish/no ones fault) I was not that happy in my relationship and felt neglected (I think I am quite demanding)/not paid much attention to and generally under appreciated. I have never been that great about talking about these things and generally just 'act up' when things are going badly in a relationship (something I am really working on).

Anyway, as mentioned earlier a male colleague was paying me a lot of attention and we ended up going out for quite a few drinks (I did not fancy him at all at first but must admit I was realllllly flattered by the attention). I told my partner about this (don't ask me why - another attention thing maybe) - my partner is not very emotional and i guess I wanted a reaction/a sign that our relationship/me meant something (even though deep down I knew how much he cared about me so that is not an excuse). Anyway one night after a few drinks the colleague confessed that he liked me. I tried to stay away from him but over the next few weeks months we just got closer and closer and i really fell for him. He was charasmatic and all the girls loved him - I feel so stupid now but at the time my thoughts were wow look at all the girls fawning over him and he is after me! Naive and stupid I know.

Anyway to cut to the chase over a few months our 'affair' (it didn't seem it at the time) was like a relationship waiting to happen and I realised I wanted to be with this guy although I was too scared to end my relationship (maybe a comfort blanket). Anyway, this 'affair' cumulated in a kiss after a few drinks the day before I was meant to be going on holiday with my current partner. I knew after the kiss that I had seriously crossed the line. I have never been able to be faithful (awful I know) to ex bf's but I felt like I had dealt with my issues and had been faithful physically and mentally to my BF for the last 3 years and saw this as a major improvement. After the kiss I just felt absolutely rotten like I had proved to myself that I could never be faithful. I was and still am very angry at myself.

Anyway to move on... We then went on holiday (my bf and I) but I was so horrified at myself/distraught I ended up breaking down and admitting all to my bf (that I had feelings for the other guy and that we had kissed). On some level I feel like I was trying to punish him for what I saw as neglecting me over the last year or so which I know is cruel and seeing his reaction (he cried etc) I still can't forgive myself and have horrible flashbacks and think this proves I am a nasty person. I honestly still feel terrible about hurting him.

Anyway, I left the holiday early and assumed I would try and make a go at it with other guy after some cooling off time. My other half held on though and we eventually managed to agree to try again (this is last sep ish - the 'affair' probably lasted 2 months but was building before but I must state that it was only 1 kiss behind my other halfs back).

So as soon as I had decided to start again with OH I told the colleague at work it was over (i think I led him on too and felt bad for hurting him but knew i could not have both). He was hurt and angry (expected) - what I did not expect is that he told a lot of colleagues at work details of our 'relationship'. I am usually such a private person and am still beating myself up for being so stupid 1) for the affair and 2) for allowing someone like him (a male gossip) to talk about me/basically humilliated.

I went back to work and it was awful (my fault I know), this guy was very popular and I felt quite 'ganged up against' after ending it. I ended up in tears at the DR and was signed off for a month. I also feel manipulative for this as part of me just wanted to avoid him as he was leaving that month anyway and not go into work and I feel like I abused the system (paying for it now as now I am actually properly depressed and hurting still). I got some fairly strong/abusive texts from him asking why I was 'avoiding him' and was it 'coz he broke my little heart'.

Anyway after I returned from work things were awful. For a while I was pleased he was not there but I realised I had basically 'F**ked' my career - one which I had really been working at and was getting positive recognition for before. I had previously been told I was working at a high standard and had a good career to look forward to but after the months 'stress leave' (I am gutted now I didnt ask the dr for it to be called something else) I had a few of my 'extra' jobs taken away and was not included in lunches/gossip etc. I began to withdraw from others as I knew I only had myself to blame for this but I just ended up feeling more depressed.

Anyway, the effect on my relationship has been massive - I ended up falling pregnant almost a month after getting back with OH (I feel like maybe that was partly t try and make things work/as I knew my career was screwed) and now I feel so ashamed that my baby is going to have to be bought into the world with such a weak and shameful mother.

I feel like what I did has messed up my life and I just can't see how I can ever be a good mother as I am clearly such a weak person who can;t stay faithful to anyone.

On other levels I would say I am a kind person, I give to charity, try to support my friends and be a good sister and daughter and am a hard worker but just feel like none of this matters now I destroy every relationship that comes my way.

Me and my partner married shortly after the pregnancy and he has been so supportive (think he blames himself/long working hours for me getting close to this guy) but I feel like the 'power' I had in my relatioship and the sense of 'self' and happiness it gave me has gone but i know that this is all my fault which makes me hate myself even more to know how I could do this to both him and me.

my baby is due in a month but I have lost all faith in myself and feel that I will always just screw up the things that matter (marriage/motherhood etc). It hurts also that a lot of my friends and work know about the affair and I just feel so raw/exposed and just have felt so vulnerable at a time i wanted to feel good about myself.

I don't want to cheat on my partner ever again but I feel after this and past experiences that I have lost all faith in myself that I won't if the situation arises. I feel weak.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? How can I help myself??? Can a person like me ever be a good parent??

I have asked the DR for counselling but there is a massive waiting list in my area.

whattodoo Sun 07-Jul-13 21:03:06

This will be brief as my battery is about to run out!

I don't think you can link your history of infidelity with your abilities as a parent. They are completely separate.

You were tempted, you had feelings, but you tried to do the right thing and not let the relationships overlap. So you are not weak.

Your career might have hit a stumbling block, but you can work on getting it back on track after your mat leave.

Try not to dwell on what's happened. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and your future.

JennySense Sun 07-Jul-13 21:40:04

Just a quickie from me - didn't want to read and run. Don't keep punishing yourself, go back to the Drs and let them know what a state you're in so you can get some support now and for after the baby.

ITCouldBeWorse Sun 07-Jul-13 21:48:18

Sounds like shame and regret to me. But if your Dh is willing to forgive you, perhaps you can start to forgive yourself.

Varya Sun 07-Jul-13 21:59:52

Try not to be so hard on yourself and look forward to the baby. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. It is hard to forgive ourselves but you are not by any means alone in getting close to another guy, but the important thing now is to build on your relationship with your husband and enjoy the family life you will have together when your baby arrives.
Good luck - Varya XX

BlackDahlia11 Sun 07-Jul-13 22:03:21

What you need to do is realise that what has happened has happened and there is no going back to change it. What you can do however is learn from it. And to me it sounds like you have. So you need to forgive yourself and concentrate on the important things in your life - your family. Having a problem in your relationship doesn't stop you from being a good mum.

You are thinking of this all in a straight line (as my very logical husband would say to me about situations) when they are not linked. Having an emotional affair type thing and a kiss do not link to you having further affairs and being a bad mum. Yes the affair happened but if you learn from your mistakes then it doesn't need to happen again. It's time to compartmentalise. Something happened in the past, you got through it and now it's time for the future. It's time to create the future you want for yourself and throw yourself into it.

If you find yourself having an attraction to another man again, stop yourself in your tracks and think "I need to evaluate my relationship because my mind is wandering elsewhere".

It's good the guy has left your work so you don't need to see him. Colleagues will gossip about everything and we can't stop that. Let them believe what they wish - it will be someone else they are talking about by the time you return!

Always learn from your mistakes. We all make them. It's what we do after that counts.

mumcow Sun 07-Jul-13 22:08:26

Anon, the fact you hate yourself for what you've done is punishment enough and a deterrent for the future.
You say you're a good friend, sister and daughter,so you'll be a good mum too.
You're 8 months pregnant and have lost your self-esteem,it's normal that you feel like this right now,but you have an understanding husband so please don't feel like all is lost.

Concentrate on your health, your husband and preparations for the baby and let your workmates go to hell for a while.

secretcowgirl Sun 07-Jul-13 22:09:35

You sound quite depressed in the way that you are so negative about yourself and overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. You are only human and we all make mistakes. i think counselling is a good idea, or even therapy privately if funds allow? I think some private therapists/counsellors will operate reduced fees according to income. It sounds like you have some deep seated issues about how you feel about yourself (low self esteem) which therapy could help with. I think that low self esteem can make someone vulnerable to the kind of attention you got from this guy at work. In my area there are counselling services which one can self refer to and perhaps it is worth checking in your area. I am sorry you are going through this. Try to think more about enjoying the present than dwelling on the past. It sounds like you have a good partner who does really care for you. And try to just enjoy becoming a mother.

Fairenuff Sun 07-Jul-13 22:27:45

This is the result of an affair. This is how you are supposed to feel. Guilt and shame. These are normal reactions.

They should not, however, be related to becoming a parent. That is a completely separate issue. If your partner has forgiven you, just give it time. Time to prove to him, and yourself, that you can be trusted. Learn from this experience and you can make sure that neither of you have to suffer this pain again.

Ruralninja Sun 07-Jul-13 22:43:42

you almost sound addicted to the shame & guilt feelings - who are you & what is your relationship once those feelings are processed and moved on from? its stopping you from making the best of this next big phase in your life. I would sit down with your dh, tell him what he means to you and ask him what he needs from you - and listen to the answer!

skyeskyeskye Sun 07-Jul-13 22:52:40

As others have said, font confuse all the issues. Having an affair will not make you a crap mum. If it was "only" a kiss and you confessed all and feel shame and guilt, as somebody else said, that's quite normal.

Do you have a Children's Centre near you? You should be able to access free counselling through them. You might get that a bit quicker.

You do need to understand why you did it and how you can stop it happening again, but you have now married and made a commitment to your partner. He has obviously forgiven you. You now need to forgive yourself.

A career can be rebuilt, a relationship can be worked on. You can have a happy future. You need to concentrate in your baby for now, get some counselling and be happy with the person you are.

MarjorieAntrobus Sun 07-Jul-13 23:08:28

You are really putting yourself down, to an extreme degree.

It was a kiss and an emotional affair. Your current partner has forgiven you and you married soon after, and you are now pregnant, if I understand your OP correctly.

Move on. Maybe get some counselling for yourself. I believe you need to let go of your negative feelings. You seem to be very ashamed of yourself, possibly too much so.

apatchylass Sun 07-Jul-13 23:17:14

From what you've written, it sounds like you have really thought about this and have acknowledged 100% responsibility for what you did and why you did it, even though your reasons weren't necessarily fair or true at the time.

But your life has moved on dramatically since then and you must allow yourself to move with it. You have no control over the past but full control over the future. your partner wanted to marry you and have a baby with you and you wanted these things too. So you are in harmony with him on some of the major choices anyone ever makes in life. Acknowledge that, and focus on happiness with him, enjoying and developing your relationship, your family and your plans for a strong future together. Whatever you focus on will gain strength, so make it the present and the future.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 07-Jul-13 23:38:05

I'm probably in a minority of one but I just don't think you're where you want to be at all. I don't think it's the guilt of this 'affair' in isolation, I think it's that your life ever since has gone totally to shit. Sadly, I include getting married in that. One attention-seeking stunt goes spectacularly wrong and you've gone from being (in your eyes) a spirited and 'demanding' woman with a career to someone with no job, a baby on the way, and married to the very man that she wasn't that crazy about in the first place. A sort of Emma Bovary for modern times...

You're not being true to yourself at the moment & you're settling for what you think you deserve.... which isn't very much at all.

MarjorieAntrobus Sun 07-Jul-13 23:49:03

Hmm, think I agree with you, Cog.

Kione Mon 08-Jul-13 08:12:14

Agree with Cognito, but i'd like to add, you affair has nothing to do with being a good mum, its totally independent so don't beat yourself up with the motherhood. Hopefully when your baby is born you will feel differently and as someone said above, go to the doctor so you get support once the baby is born.

Anon5557 Mon 08-Jul-13 09:33:04

Hi all, thanks for your honest messages and advice. I have a DR appointment this week and am trying to get help/counseling from the NHS (have been trying for a while now but its been more difficult than I thought maybe due to the fact I live in a large city). Private is an option but my DH would be paying for it and due to what has set off me feeling like this and other reasons I feel that to take more money from him would be losing even more of my independence than I currently am.

Sometimes I think I am 'addicted' to the shame as it confirms what I think of myself (pretty rotten) and makes me feel safe and in control and that at least I am right about the sort of person I am (not to be trusted in relationships etc).

I just feel so devasated though everytime I think of what I have done and why I can't be like other women who seem to have no problem staying faithful. I genuinely love my Husband and have loved the other men that I cheated on when I was younger which makes me feel so cruel as its like they can never do enough for me and what sort of a person hurts the people they are supporting then expects to be able to live at all/be happy.

I only seem to realise this after I have done things but agree with some of the posts and feel that in relation to past relationships I did handle the emotional affair 'kiss' situation as best as I could and did not try and carry on two relationships or take things physicaly further with the OM whilst I was with my BF.

I think what has made it difficult was that I desperately knew that I needed a clean break from work (where the affair started and where OM still has a lot of friends even though he left) and had applied for jobs but then when I became pregnant I needed the money from my OMP so chose to stay until MAT leave (currently on) and I just felt so judged by others (especially friends of OM) and humiliated. I still managed to work hard but due to the close knit of the organization I can't help thinking that if it was not for the OM working at the org and telling people what had happened between us I could have used work to get over the affair instead it has been what feels like torture. I can only hope that the financial benefits give my LO and OH some source of comfort.

Another point (not relationships I know) is how I am still (even though I have 1 year ish left and not yet had LO) even now dreading going back to this office (my boss was a nightmare before I left and the head of my department not much better/making quite personal comments which I would never make - he was quite good friends with the OM) and I feel like there is a guillotine over my head in the form of this job. It does not help that when I try to explain my feelings to my husband and best friend he does not seem to get it and just tells me what am I worrying about to forget about it and enjoy the time off (I know it must be hard to hear me say this but I don't feel I want to confide in many people other than him since this 'incident') and I just feel so selfish for having this feelings about a job I once enjoyed and seem to have caused all the agro myself. I work in a very stressful environment with very high turnover which probably has not helped the atmosphere at work. I just wish I could make people forget what happened and get on with my life but the OM's name was still getting bought up in front of me even 9 months after he left and even though I had made it clear I just wanted to forget about it. I just feel so dragged through the mud which I know I deserve but I just did not feel supported at all after the affair but the OM seemed to emerge some kind of hero. He even sent me blank texts and stuff after he left acting all nice. I ignored all bar one where he sent me a text in the middle of the night. I mentioned it to a girl I knew he was friends with and she said she asked him and he said it was not true and made it all up and she then became quite abusive of me saying she was wrong to believe me etc etc... i was hurt as I was honestly telling the truth but that event just made me realise that sometimes maybe when people have a 'thing' against you there is no way on earth they are going to believe a thing I said. I know i hurt the OM by breaking it off but I didn't think he would go so far as to make me look like such a fool as as far as i was concerned we were actually very good friends and I honestly do mean just friends before anything happened. He was going through quite a transition in life and I supported him with honest intentions so to have him want to humiliate me sometimes seems like it hurts the most even though I know he is within his right.

anyway again, thanks for all of your honest messages and support, I know I just need to move on but I just cannot seem to stop hating myself. Hoping DR / counsellor will help although I really don't want to be put on some kind of risk register and am worried about being judged which would not surprise me given my track record of hurting those I love.

missbopeep Mon 08-Jul-13 09:41:06

I agree with the others to an extent. TBH your shame seems out of proportion to the 'deed'. You had a kiss. You got close to a man. Okay- it was a mistake. It wasn't months or years of shagging in secret- which is how some affairs are. Some might argue that this doesn't matter and there is no difference between a kiss and months of shagging, but I don't see it like that.

I think you are pinning your distress- about what you need to find out- on this 'kiss'.

It all comes over as rather school girlish and overly dramatic- your embarrassment at work etc etc.

If your DH respects you and your marriage then I don't understand why using your joint money for private counselling is such a bad idea.

You appear to have low self esteem plus an addiction to drama, as a means of creating some sort of identity for yourself. Try to get some professional help.

Anon5557 Mon 08-Jul-13 09:51:25

Thanks missbopeep. It might seem schoolgirlish to you but I have to admit I do find that a little belittling. Maybe I am dramatic though, I think sometimes I act out from unsettling things that happened in my childhood (my Dad's depression/suicidal behavior when I was very young, sister's illness from the age of 14 meaning she was in hospital and often ill throughout my teens..but anyway that's another story maybe best saved for a counselor)

skyeskyeskye Mon 08-Jul-13 10:31:50

you feel the way that you feel and other people telling you not to, is not going to change that, but with counselling, you can address those feelings.

It must be very difficult at work, but that is something that can be addressed when you go back, if people even remember it by then. Do not spend your ML worrying about it. You need to enjoy your baby.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Jul-13 10:56:45

It could easily be a MH issue. A history of 'self-destructive' attention-seeking behaviour, the excessive self-reproach and willingness to volunteer for punishment .... could be symptomatic of all kinds of things ranging from depression to acute insecurity to low self-esteem. You're not Catholic are you? Wallowing in guilt, the hair-shirt stuff, the belief that everyone else behaves better than you (when they don't) ... is right up their alley

Anon5557 Mon 08-Jul-13 11:04:43

No, but I was bought up in a very 'respectable' christian family and my grandfather was a layman preacher and we often attended church. I am not particularly religious but I do remember feeling a very 'high moral standard' was set by my parents. My parents both worked alot and we at times had nannies and au pairs to look after us. I missed my mum alot so when I was younger I was very attention seeking. The funny thing is that now, being pregnant I absolutely hate the attention that comes with it.

I know I am a very insecure person and starting to think that this might be rooted in a fairly emotionally unstable (although I do not think it was much worse - we were materially very well off compared to most) childhood and teenage years. My mum always tried to hide my Dad's mental health problems and I have struggled to accept mine as anything but weakness in myself. I have dabbled with counseling in the past and have become a avid reader of 'self help' books recently but I just don't seem to be able to stick with one concept/form of help almost like I need these bad feelings to validate myself. I have heard this 'catholic guilt' mentioned before.

missbopeep Mon 08-Jul-13 11:08:48

I'm sorry if it sounded belittling- I didn't mean it to be hurtful. I meant, and I think you picked this up, that your behaviour sounded like someone much younger , who was over dramatising something.

I doubt if your work colleagues care that much really- office tittle tattle is what it is, and although this OM was a complete dick head by the sounds of it, you can have the upper hand by behaving in a mature and dignified way if and when you go back to work.

I do keep thinking though that this kiss etc is something convenient to hang your hang-ups on- and if it hadn't happened you would find something else in its place.

There's a theme of 'I just can't help myself' running through your post- ie I haven't been able to be faithful, I can't move on,...it's almost as if you are detached from who behaviour in some senses, but want attention for the consequences.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Jul-13 11:19:55

There you go... 'respectable christian' is too often shorthand for screwing people up about all things sex-related and heaping huge amounts of guilt on them for no good reason except to keep them under control. You didn't like the attention that came from being pregnant because pregnant means proof you've had sex and sex is something you enjoy but which makes you feel ashamed.

In the Catholic prayer-book, did you know there are still incantations that can be said over a new mother to absolve her of the terrible 'sin' of having had sex to produce a child? Even if she's legitimately married etc. 'Churching' they called it. Insulting, I call it.

If you believe you have to be morally perfect in order to be accepted by your family you will torture yourself every time you prove to be a plain old flawed human being like the rest of us. If you crave attention, confuse 'sex' with 'love' and rely on men to provide that attention, you can easily go the promiscuous route. You've been told sex is bad and you've been told you must be 100% faithful to whichever man you happen to be going out with at the time. So you realise you are yet again not morally perfect.... out comes the hair shirt again. Vicious circle.

Mental health problems are not a weakness, they are an illness. If you had been born into a family with a history of breast cancer you wouldn't describe that as a weakness. Neither would you be relying on self-help books. You'd be getting checked out and treated.

Good luck

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