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Panicking - please advise - apologies, long

(60 Posts)
BlackBlackBlack Fri 22-Feb-13 14:58:03

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.

BlackBlackBlack Fri 22-Feb-13 17:10:33

meditrina Thankfully I have a new job - I start in the summer and am looking forward v much to a new start and some new colleagues. One of the consequences of all of this is that for the last six months I have worked from home every day so have had next to no human interaction. We moved to a new city for my husband's new job, so I have very few friends here. Our families live in another country as well. Maybe it's just me, but I have found it hard to make friends when I don't have the automatic peer group of new colleagues to open up social circles. So I am longing for some company when I start my new job. I'm trying very hard not to obsess about OM, and have made good progress in that regard in the last few months. Am feeling more plugged into my life and enjoying things a bit more, and DH and I are being very honest with each other about what happened and why I did what I did. Which was wrong, I'm not denying that at all. It's just that this email has really thrown me and prompted a panicked resurgence of all the old feelings. I want more than anything for things to work out between DH and I, and for us both to feel happy together.

Squirted - yes, I'll discuss this with my husband tonight and see what he says. But even if he is ok with me going, I just don't want to go.

TheOwlService Fri 22-Feb-13 17:39:20

I think Chin Ups post has some very good advice.
The only thing I can add is that it seems a real shame to resign and possible regret it greatly at a later date when you feel alot more in control.

If it was me I think I would go and do the 1hr presentation but not stay over in the hotel under any circumstances. Just make up whatever excuse is needed - you have been and done the presentation thats as much as they can expect and you certainly haven't bottled out.

You never know when you see this guy you might actually surprise yourself and feel nothing at all and it will all be killed stone dead. Sometimes avoidance isnt necessarily the best thing to get over someone.

Good luck whatever you decide.

alittletime2 Fri 22-Feb-13 17:54:32

I think the video idea is fab. You can make it even better than a presentation. Have the minor op (gynae) excuse on standby if anyone queries why you aren't there in person - I don't think they can check on that, maybe check with your dr as you do have a medical condition which is preventing you from going.

Try to forgive yourself for the affair. Endless self blame isn't going to help you or your dh. It's over, you have spoken about it with dh and are having counselling to move on, that's all you can do. And well done for getting the new job!

BranchingOut Fri 22-Feb-13 18:11:18

I think another idea might be to get the first meeting with the OM out of the way in advance. Arrange to go to his offices for something about a week before the conference, see him, get it over and done with.

Otherwise you are trying to combine two very stressful events - get this out of the way then just concentrate on your presentation.

BlackBlackBlack Fri 22-Feb-13 18:56:00

Some helpful thoughts chinup thanks. I'm glad you were able to face your difficult situation and come out the other side. I'm terrified of having a very public meltdown to be honest. I genuinely don't know if I would be able to keep a rein on my emotions.

branching I don't think forcing an encounter with OM ahead of the conference would help at all. He would either cut me dead, which would devastate me all over again, or else it would open up all that old stuff gain which is pointless.

Would it be terrible to have a death in my family at the last minute so I would have to travel overseas unavoidably?

Charlesroi Fri 22-Feb-13 19:09:12

You work remotely, do the presentation remotely (you can rent teleconferencing facilities for this). Just tell your co that you have something booked so you are unable to attend in person.

TippiShagpile Fri 22-Feb-13 19:41:03

Death in the family necessitating a trip abroad sounds perfect. Or a minor op. Imvho there's no point calling in sick at the last minute. You need to resolve this right now - preferably by the end of the weekend.

Good luck smile

ImperialBlether Sat 23-Feb-13 00:03:24

No, don't back out of this now.

Go to your GP and explain you'll be in a very stressful situation. You should be given something to help you cope.

You will feel MILES better if you cope with this. Why should you risk your professional reputation when he is not? It's disgraceful that he should feel perfectly free to attend when you feel you can't.

Get angry. Don't stay overnight if you'd prefer not to. Go, give the presentation, talk to everyone but him and then go home and thank your lucky stars you're leaving.

If you refuse to go, you're giving everyone the message that you are still bothered about this man.

Tbh, I think his wife will be in a bad position, too, as well as your husband. Reassure him nothing will happen and you won't speak to him on a one to one basis. Then go, do your job and come home again.

Lavenderhoney Sat 23-Feb-13 05:20:12

Unless you plan to change jobs there will be a next time?
I think you should do your pitch. Can you take someone, a friend who can be your "secretary" to divert anyone? Though you might cope better alone. she can stay in your room. You could stay offsite somewhere.

You can just sit at the back, do your pitch, sit at the back. If it looks like you have to sit near him then feign a call you have to make and push off somewhere. Same with the dinner.

It must be hard for your dh to know how this man affects you still.

jynier Sat 23-Feb-13 06:43:41

OP - Do you still care for OM? Why did you self-harm? Do you think that OM is going through the same trauma as you about the conference? Has the counselling helped with your relationship with your H?

Sorry to ask so many questions.

KeatsiePie Sat 23-Feb-13 06:56:21

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.

ImperialBlether Sat 23-Feb-13 11:14:21

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.

Twitterqueen Mon 25-Feb-13 09:37:54

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.

BlackBlackBlack Mon 25-Feb-13 13:24:49

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.

alittletime2 Mon 25-Feb-13 14:58:45

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!

frostyfingers Mon 25-Feb-13 16:41:25

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.

LessMissAbs Mon 25-Feb-13 17:01:02

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?

Lavenderhoney Mon 25-Feb-13 20:08:58

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?

AnyFucker Mon 25-Feb-13 20:35:17

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.

BlackBlackBlack Mon 25-Feb-13 20:37:12

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.

AnyFucker Mon 25-Feb-13 20:40:49

Penance ? It really is all about you, isn't it ?

BlackBlackBlack Mon 25-Feb-13 20:55:43

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.

AnyFucker Mon 25-Feb-13 21:05:00

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.

catwalker Mon 25-Feb-13 21:07:19

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.

BlackBlackBlack Mon 25-Feb-13 21:15:45

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.

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