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My devastating affairs

(47 Posts)
howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 08:34:26

Im not even sure where to begin but I am feeling so desperate and realise I need advice. I have been married for 16 years and with my DH for 17 years.

About 11 years ago (I was 28) I had two affairs within about 6 months (people from work). Why? I just dont know. I could say I was flattered by the attention or my DH this or that but honestly they would all be excuses. No we were not happily married (we had a very rough start) but that is not a good enough reason to excuse what I did.

One night (11 years ago) DH and I were chatting and I blurted out about the one affair (the one that was happening at that moment). All hell broke loose but we both decided to let it go and work on it. Obviously DH had a couple of months of screaming, shouting and being really angry (rightfully). I gave up work almost immediately to be a SAHM, had another baby a year later and am still at home.

The world scares the daylights out of me and I only ever leave the house when DH is with me. I never go out (not even to the shops) and have become a complete recluse. I avoid people and just concentrate on my immediate family.

In around March the 1st guy I had an affair with (the one I didnt tell dh about) opened a facebook profile and contacted me. It was just a "how are you doing" thing and so, so stupidly, I responded. After a couple of "hows business, etc" mails - I got a mail from his wife saying that she knew he had contacted me again and took off (rightfully). I then told DH about it all and he was obviously angry I hadnt told him about it at the time.

It was so long ago that I really dont know what to say other than I am so sorry. My life is so withdrawn and different now to what I was then that it honestly feels like someones elses story when I look back to that period in my life. Anyway, DH and I are ok really but here is the problem. I am not ok at all. I feel like I cannot live with myself. The shame, the guilt the absolute disgust at my promiscuity - I just dont know how to live with myself. I literally feel like I have a heavy load sitting on my back, I am having palpatations, I feel sick at what I did. I feel like I cant function in the world so just keep to myself.

I dont know why I did it in the first place and am terrified that it will happen again (It wont but the fear is there). When I was younger I thrived on attention and know that somewhere in me, that must still be there.

I dont know how to describe the impact that it has had on me and the hopelessness I am feeling. How do I move forward with the guilt and shame? I fear constantly that people are going to find out, someone will know someone, who will know. I feel less that everyone else and not worthy. Its become a living nightmare that I dont know how to get out of.

oldenoughtowearpurple Thu 11-Aug-11 08:41:33

Personally I feel you would benefit from counselling or a talk with a sympathetic gp. Your reclusive behaviour and the depth of your guilt after all this time just aren't right. See someone soon, please.

TaudrieTattoo Thu 11-Aug-11 08:45:55

I couldn't let this go unanswered, you sound so upset.

You need to get some counselling. The way you feel about your past is probably linked to why you had your affairs in the first place, imo.

That is, you are too bothered about the opinion of others and your self-esteem is rock-bottom.

People are not that interested in other peoples' lives. They are too busy dealing with their own stuff. Promise. Even if someone did find out about what happened in your marriage, they would be interested for all of about, ooh, thirty seconds, then they'd either think, Christ, thank God no-one knows about mine, or, I wonder what to have for tea?

And fwiw, your situation is not as uncommon as you think. Life is messy, marriage is hard, and good people make mistakes. All the time.

Please, get some help. Pick up the phone today. You sound anxious and depressed and really, why? In the scheme of things, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.


howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 09:04:21

Thank you so much for answering. The thought of going to see someone and telling them what I did is so overwhelmingly frightning.

cumbria81 Thu 11-Aug-11 09:08:54

i really feel for you. You sound sad. My situation is slightly different in that it doesn't involve an affair, but I too have made a series of very injudicious decisions over the course of the last few years that have resulted in people I love getting hurt and changed my life irredemiably. I am really struggling with the knowledge that all this shame, guilt and upset is my fault and would not have happened were it not for my actions. I don't know how to move on and am not sure I ever will.

So you have my sympathies.

TaudrieTattoo Thu 11-Aug-11 09:13:09

I think you are suffering from anxiety, and if it wasn't this you were worrying about, it would be something else.

Would it help you to hear that I am not remotely shocked, know lots of people who have had affairs, they are not remotely bothered about their behaviour and the sky has not fallen in on their heads?

You're human. Human beings have affairs sometimes. You haven't killed anybody, for goodness sake.

Do you imagine your affair partners are beating themselves up as badly as you are? Or do you think they are getting on with their lives?

Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Go talk to someone. Therapists and gps hear a lot more shocking stuff than you have to say, believe me. Your story is small gravy.

This really isn't worth wrecking your life over. Really. REALLY.

howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 09:14:17

So sorry you feeling similar cumbria. Its really awful as logic says people make mistakes but that knowledge doesnt seem help at all.

howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 09:19:49

Thank you so much tawdry. Maybe there is a bigger issue as to why I cant let this go. Im going to have to go see a professional arnt I blush

DontGoCurly Thu 11-Aug-11 09:43:15

Definitely go to counselling.

You are punishing yourself excessively and that will poison your life. You are actually being harder on yourself than others would be.

Socially isolating yourself is a sign of depression. I find CBT brilliant, please give it a go. You can free yourself from this destructive pattern of thinking.

ImperialBlether Thu 11-Aug-11 10:57:27

You really need to see someone about your agraphobia. Why don't you write something similar to what you've written here and give it to them to read, so that you don't have to say it?

They will have heard far worse things - think of the things you read in Relationships here - they are nearly all worse than what you've told us here.

I can't help feeling that your husband is involved in this in a greater way than you describe. Has he called you names? Did he say you weren't fit to be in society? Does he try to control you in any way?

ameliagrey Thu 11-Aug-11 11:07:23

The guilt you are feeling is disproportionate to the events.

As everyone has said, you appear to lack perspective.

2 short affairs 10 years or more ago are not worth this angst.

Your reactions, along with your agraphobia etc, point to mental health issues.

Sorry to be blunt.

See your Gp about being afraid to go out- CBT is available on the NHS, or find a private counsellor on

You can't get the help you need from internet posts; but you can now take steps to find the help you need.

looner Thu 11-Aug-11 11:08:05

I'm so sorry you feel so desperately unhappy about this and I agree with what's been said in that you need to talk to someone in the first instance. Have you tried the Samaritans? the phone is anonymous, they won't know who you are and you can sort of try out what it feels like to talk to someone about it without having to make appointments etc. etc.
By the way, if you were my friend and I 'found out', I wouldn't think badly of you at all, as has also been said, people make mistakes and in my book, yours is not a very bad one smile

joblot Thu 11-Aug-11 11:42:37

Beware of using guilt and self loathing to keep an unhappy relationship functioning. If you take all the blame you are not being fair to anyone. And its a pretty short life, too short to feel sowretched

lazarusb Thu 11-Aug-11 12:17:25

If you access counselling through your GP they won't be judgemental. You made mistakes,we all do. (I had a relationship while with my abusive ex. I felt that it was right at the time). Sometimes you just need to let it go. You sound like you have bigger issues to tackle to be honest, with regard to your self-esteem and agoraphobia. You sound like a nice person and your husband loves you.

I second looner's suggestion about the Samaritans - they are fantastic and can point you in the direction of help. Again, don't worry about what people may or not think of you - your family unit is what matters most. All the best.

geraldinetheluckygoat Thu 11-Aug-11 12:32:14

Don't beat yourself up about the affairs, these things happen, they really, really, do. All the time. You haven't killed anyone. I think counselling would be great to get this into perspective, and to deal with your agrophobia. If you can get a handle on that and build a fuller life, you will probably find that these affairs of the past will occupy much less of your thoughts anyway.

good luck xxxx

howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 13:58:27

Yes ImperialBlether he does use it against me but I dont feel like I have a leg to stand on tbh. I did do it and I feel like I was a bit of a slag for doing it in the first place and I didnt put my family (DH and children) first. I shamed him and made him look like a fool so what can I really say/do to defend myself. I avoid people and life really so that everyone knows where I am and what Im doing at any given time but I feel like it has actually become who I am if that makes sense?

howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 14:00:08

Sorry just to add: I am so grateful for your replies, I really am.

TaudrieTattoo Thu 11-Aug-11 14:11:28

NO! This is not 'who you are'!

It is something you DID, a long time ago. Something that people do all the time.

We all make mistakes. All of us. A lot of people go through a phase of shoplifting in their teens - does nicking a couple of Rimmel lipsticks from Boots brand you as a thief for the rest of your life? Of course it doesn't.

Your affairs were about YOU. Something YOU went through, that maybe you have learnt from. Don't make YOUR life all about your husband. You aren't living for him, you are living for YOU. Yes, your behaviour affected him but you told him and apologised, and he forgave you.

I have a feeling there might be more to this. Is he continuing to punish you? Because if so, that's not fair on either of you.

Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend in a similar situation. Because at the end of the day, you are the best friend you will ever have, and the only one who will be with you right to the end. So it's YOURSELF you have to take care of and answer to.

Please get help. Your response is disproportionate.

boogiewoogie Thu 11-Aug-11 14:12:08

You need to learn to forgive yourself. Steer clear of further attempts of contact from ex oms. Delete their emails so that you are not even tempted to respond even with bland neutral messages.

If your dh has truly forgiven you then he shouldn't really keep bringing up the past against you. I concur with getting counselling. For yourself and for your marriage.

TaudrieTattoo Thu 11-Aug-11 14:12:44

And I don't like the word 'slag'. Don't call yourself that, please. You sound lovely and you don't deserve it.

Pigglesworth Thu 11-Aug-11 14:13:02

How did this reclusiveness/ fear of the world/ lack of going out unless with your husband develop, OP? Have you ever felt any pressure from him to "prove yourself" by restricting your movements so that he knew what you were doing and could "trust" you?

Like others I believe you are suffering from anxiety, which is causing you to feel so disproportionately bad/ obsessive about this mistake that happened over a decade ago.

I also think that your reclusiveness is hugely perpetuating this because it has "shrunk" your world so that you have less to think about.

These problems develop through a series of small steps, and they can also be resolved through a series of small steps. I would encourage you to talk to a psychologist especially one who is good at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, so that you can get these thoughts and feelings into perspective.

Wishing you all the best.

Eurostar Thu 11-Aug-11 14:23:41

OP - great advice on this thread so far - it is something to look at yourself but also as a couple.

Your DH was hurt but if he wants a downtrodden wife who leads a shell of a life and children who will be aware of their mother's difficulties and saddened by them he needs to change as much as you do.

howdoilive Thu 11-Aug-11 14:51:37

Yes Piggles he does check my phone, fb and things and would NOT be happy with me going out or I would have no way to prove where I was and who I was with. I end up between a rock and a hard place because although I am most certainly not having an affair, I couldnt prove it.

I approached him earlier saying that I thought I should see someone as I am struggling to actually live. He just yelled and told me I must not come to him to speak about anything as he will never give an unbiased opinion and its not his problem to sort (which I understand). He said if I was so desperate to speak to someone why didnt I just phone R (one of the men), he is sure he would give me a shoulder to cry on sad

lazarusb Thu 11-Aug-11 14:52:24

You really don't deserve what you have done to yourself OP and calling yourself names is not helping anyone. Your dcs don't need a shadow for a Mum, they need who you really are. Please don't define yourself by past behaviour you regret, you are so much more than that.

fluffyanimal Thu 11-Aug-11 15:07:04

OP, your last post is really worrying, because it now seems like your H is using your past mistakes as a way of controlling you, emotionally and practically. It seems to me like your extreme feelings of guilt and anxiety after confessing the second affair are because he has conditioned you to blow the severity of your mistakes out of all proportion over the years. He now gives you no opportunity to earn back his trust - this can only be done by you having normal freedoms, not by him closing down even the smallest potential opening for you.

If your H can't be supportive of you trying to get help for yourself that is a really big sign. Please stay on MN and let us help you build up the confidence to get the help you need.

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