Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Coming clean to the boyf ... How to :(

(14 Posts)
oftenlackingparentingskills Sun 15-May-16 01:49:04

I'm unsure what I need to hear, because I do know that I do need to tackle this issue, it's more a matter of how.
So my partner and I are insanely in love, one year in, and my daughter adores him etc etc , we have spoke of kids and marraige with ease.
However, there are things about me he doesn't know, i guess i have had a difficult past, emotionally and physicalky abusuve cgildhood and for instance that I had a severe eating disorder, or that I was raped when I was 18 and tried to take my life and ended up in a mental health facility for months. He knows I take medication for my mood, but I've never elaborated nor has he pushed.
I guess the issue is that I'm having a relapse of anorexic thinking, and I was talking to my best friend who basically balked at the fact that I haven't told my oh about my past. Her point was by not telling him I am denying a very important part of me and what has built me to be the person I am. I know I need to tell him, and he's a great guy I know he will only want to care but surely by not telling him I'm stopping myself from getting support I need.
I'm ashamed of being raped, and I've had plenty of therapy to help with that, I should be able to tell him but I can't bring myself to, as regards my eating disorder I guess I'm protecting that by not telling him. I know once he knows, innocent "diets" will be not let slide without a level of watching.
I don't want to do damege by having secrets on him, I want to be an adult and share my story without shame, but how!? I don't even know how to start.
Have ye had to tell your dark truths to your oh? How should I do this!?
I don't want to be a victim, to him I know I am a hero, I don't want him to pity me or think I'm needy. I want to continue to be the person he thinks I am without this past..... Any help on what I should/could do?
Or could I bury my head in the same and say nothing? I wish my past was not so yuck, I don't like it one bit. I'm confused and a little sad that he will be sad when he hears these things sad

BreakfastAtSquiffanys Sun 15-May-16 02:08:21

I can't tell you how to tell him about your past, but please don't feel ashamed of being raped.

sykadelic Sun 15-May-16 02:13:53

Contrary to your friend, I do not believe that everyone needs to know everything. He already knows you, he doesn't need to know everything about what brought you to be who you are.

Telling him these things will either:
1. Enable him to better help/support you; or
2. Show a side to him that you realise you do not like (watching what you eat all the time, judgment etc)

My DH does not know that my ex sexually assaulted me on a regular basis (though I often have a hard time myself admitting that's what it was). Telling him what happened will definitely upset him and it will most likely be something he thinks about and I'll be thinking about him thinking about it..

I had a depression relapse a couple of months ago and when I scheduled an appointment to see a therapist I really struggled to tell DH (though we've been married for 5+ years). He worries a lot about me, and worried that he'd been doing something wrong or not doing something and it upset me. I was just struggling with a lot of things and needed to talk to someone other than friends or DH, someone who could offer an unbiased ear and opinion.

With respect to the assault by my ex, there is no reason to tell my DH what happened It's something that is in my past and it doesn't (obviously) affect me now.

In the case of your anorexic thinking, what good will telling him have? He will be able to monitor you, but nagging and monitoring isn't what you need. You could simply tell him you're having some issues at the moment that you're going to seek help with, just to give him a heads up, but you've also "only" been together a year, that's not a long time.

I'd have a chat to a counsellor/therapist and see what they think about telling him, and they can support you in how to tell him or your feelings around telling him. You have nothing to be ashamed of BTW. I know you know that, but it's important to remember. It's something that happened to you, not something that defines you.

WeeHelena Sun 15-May-16 02:29:57

Skyadelic covered it really well, and I can't say much different than other than agree.

You are an autonomous person and no one has the rights to all of your inner most thoughts or past experiences be it good or bad.(I believe this 100% and tell myself this often enough)

What sky said is so true. " It's something that happened to you, not something that defines you.

A year isn't that long really and if there's a long term future then there is no hurry to open your wounds to him really.
Only share what you are comfortable with and when, on your terms.

SilverBirchWithout Sun 15-May-16 02:41:31

Firstly you have nothing to be ashamed of, you sound like a hero to me having survived an abusive childhood, being raped, getting healthy again after your eating disorder and managing your depression so well.

You can telly your DP as much or as little as you wish to, their are no rules here. I can understand why you wish to leave the events of your past behind you and also the fear that by telling him he will somehow pity you or treat you differently in someway. No doubt you enjoy him loving you for who you are now and it helps you to be that person and not who you were in the past.

There are of course benefits in disclosing your past to him, you may need his understanding if something happens to trigger something for you. For example, if there was a rape scene in a film you were due to see together, knowing that it could cause you additional stress would be helpful for him to know. It might also help you overcome this horrid (& certainly underserved) feeling of shame you have about the past. Being honest is also quite important for both of you, but it's also OK to keep some parts of yourself private if you wish.

My advice would be to do what feels comfortable for you. Maybe book a couple of sessions with a counsellor to help you decide how you would like to proceed. Personally if I was going to share this info with my DP, I would do it in small chunks not blurt it all out at once. Possibly starting off with saying I had a really difficult childhood and then take it from there, you don't have to give every detail, just as much as you feel OK with.

WilLiAmHerschel Sun 15-May-16 02:53:03

Only do what you feel comfortable with but please don't refer to this as your dark past as you are not the one at fault here. It's not like you lived a life of crime before you met him!

My dp knows I was a victim of rape and suffered some traumatic events in childhood but he still sees me as the strong person I am today. That stuff happened but it's in the past and it doesn't define you. You may have been a victim then but it doesn't make you a victim for life. As I said only tell him what you feel comfortable with, but I do think if the relationship is as serious as you say I think I'd want to open up if I were you.

Good luck with it whatever you decide, and good luck with the eating issues. I think it is really positive that you recognised the signs that your thinking had relapsed so you can stop it before it sets in. flowers

LeaLeander Sun 15-May-16 03:02:15

Your boyfriend is not your therapist. (I hope you have one of those).

It really is unnecessary and unfair to download our every issue into our romantic partners. What is the point? Either you can put the past behind you and live life fully in the present or you can't. It's not fair to put the pressure of healing you on someone else. See a professional if that's what you need.

daisychain01 Sun 15-May-16 03:27:47

I agree with what PPs have said.

Please don't feel ashamed about your past. Use your therapy to come to terms with who you are as a person, and to feel proud of how far you've come.

There is no rule you have to do a full disclosure about everything in your past life. My DH doesn't know every last thing about me, and I have never thought I absolutely must tell him everything, because none of it is relevant to who I am now. It's just stuff.

If you love each other now, that must mean the person you have become is who your BF cares about. That alone should give you huge self esteem, which is the foundation of all good relationships.

oftenlackingparentingskills Sun 15-May-16 04:58:43

Oh thanks so much, your all right, I guess my bestie is quite a strong character and her reaction to me not having told him things made me think, shit , I'm doing something wrong here, I'm gonna fuck this up by being closed off.
But your right, maybe I could just start with a small bit of information, it's not that I want a therapist, I have one, I guess it's that I think honesty is the best policy Lealeander, I certainly don't believe anyone would have the ability to "heal" me!!! I am the master of that journey.
Wiliamhershel how did you tell your other half about the rape? God I'm so sorry that you had to endure that , life is fucking tricky to be mild about it.
Skyadelic, your advice totally resonates with me, I know how that telling him will upset him and I'll be upset thinking about him thinking about it.......
I mean I have a right to remain quiet about my past, but the niggling feeling is that telling him would be a good thing, I just don't want to yet, nor can I actually even picture the words coming out of my mouth.
By burying my past does that not risk me invalidating it and feeling worse..... Rather than owning my past...... I really have two completely different views on this I guess.
Also having him monitor food would be awful as I am at a healthy weight now, I don't need supervising I just need the odd bit of support like us all.
I guess if I was in the height of a relapse telling him would be wise, but ATM I'm grand, just thinking a bit funny with summer coming and perceptions around size being a bit skewed, but nothing that would make me too off the wall.
I think your right, a few sessions of counselling to get a good grip on what I need to do versus what I want to do.
It's not weird to want to keep some parts private forever is it? .....
But then that feeds into the shame, which I know is irrational , but it does affect my ability to talk about it. Hence I'm anonymous ly doing it online lol.
I wouldn't talk about the rape to anyone in real life except in the treatment centre afterward , maybe all that therapy didn't heal that one fully eh sad
I have come so far, I'm a successful career woman with a super child, but put me in front of these issues and I'm completely an adolescent again.
Counselling it is methinks confused
Definitely confused and a bit sad.

Joysmum Sun 15-May-16 08:57:29

I agree you can tell him as much or as little as you want.

For me, I trusted my now DH implicitly. My rape and subsequent eating disorder affect who I am now, I have triggers. One of those is now that my DD is approaching the age I was when I first got involved with the person who raped me. My DH knowing this will allow him to be my voice of reason and quell my fears. This in turn should mean I'm not inadvertently parenting my DD differently and affecting our relationship. It should also quell my insecurity which helps me to keep my eating under control.

It felt like a weight has been lifted when I told him. I've also been sure to tell him how and when I need support, and more importantly what I don't need.

I'd be very hurt if DH had kept such a big part of himself private, even though I'd of course respected his right to that privacy. I trust in him to be what I need him to be and he's never let me down and any wish I had to protect his feelings was not as important as our need for an open an honest relationship. I couldn't be with anyone whom didn't know me well.

That said, each and every one of deals with things differently and has different needs. My need is for his understanding and support. If yours isn't, then you have every right to keep this part of you private.

pocketsaviour Sun 15-May-16 13:24:33

My point of view as a survivor of two years worth of sexual assaults as a child.

If your past affects how you react to things today, then explaining that to people close to you can be a massive relief.

"I find it upsetting to watch TV programmes with sexual violence in them, because I'm a survivor of rape" for example. Rather than just sitting there on the settee feeling trapped into silence, desperately wanting to switch the channel but not being able to think of a reason to do so. Then spending the next 12-72 hours in a rictus of strained muscles because you're fighting off constant flashbacks. Not being able to explain to your partner why today you can't bear them to cuddle you in bed whereas yesterday it was fine.

Being open about what you've survived is a very freeing thing. Often as survivors we have built walls of silence around us and we think those walls protect us. What they actually do is isolate us and prevent us from getting the support we need. Every time you say to someone "I was raped" or "I was molested", you're taking a brick out of that wall.

Don't get me wrong, it's fucking terrifying at first, because we've been conditioned to believe that we should be ashamed for being victims. That anyone we tell will throw up their hands and go "Eurgh!" or ask "Why didn't you fight him off?"

(If you get that last reaction, you know you're talking to a complete twat and you can then just not bother ever talking to them again.)

For all the times I've been open and said "Yes I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse" I have not really had any negative reactions at all. Some people just go "Erm" and quite clearly don't know what to say, but that's their problem, not mine. Most people are immediately supportive. Nobody has ever asked me to tell them the details, or to justify anything.

The most rewarding thing about being open like this is when someone approaches you privately afterwards and discloses that they too are a survivor, and they wish they were brave enough to speak about it, and that you've made them think maybe they shouldn't be ashamed.

I had one guy - my last LTR actually - who said he had never met a rape survivor before.
I said "How many women do you know on a more than acquaintance level? How many women colleagues and clients do you have? How many women are in your family - your mum, sisters, all your many cousins? How many women friends outside of that? How much do you think all that adds up to?"
He thought for a minute and said "I suppose about 100, why?"
I said "Then statistically, you know at least 10 survivors of rape or sexual assault. You just don't know that you know them."
He was gobsmacked. He'd never really thought about sexual violence before, because he didn't think he knew anyone it affected. It totally changed his attitudes.

SeaCabbage Sun 15-May-16 13:48:59

Pocketsaviour I find your point of view interesting though hard to understand I must admit.

The brick wall you refer to is surely not one of isolation necessarily but privacy.

Why would you want various people who aren't close to you, to know that about you? It doesn't mean it is a shameful thing to keep secret, but just a personal thing that, well, is just private. I can't think of another word for it.

Perhaps it is as pp have suggested to the OP, different ways help different people.

OP I think one year isn't very long and the idea of counselling to discuss when and how to bring these things up with your partner in the future, is a good one.

pocketsaviour Sun 15-May-16 14:45:23

Why would you want various people who aren't close to you, to know that about you?

Why would you not, though? My colleagues and friends know all kinds of things about me, after all. My relationship status, my sexuality, the names and ages of any DC, my professional background, my political views, what I like to watch on TV, that I had a severe accident which has left me with mobility problems, that I'm a widow, that I had surgery last year... Ultimately it's a fact about my past which is not hugely relevant to my life now. I'm much more reticent about my DS's MH problems and various trouble he's got himself into, because I feel that could reflect badly on me as a parent.

But also, every person who's willing to stand up and say "Hello! I am a healthy and happy human being who is going through life succeeding at some things and failing at others, just like everyone else. Oh and I'm a survivor of sexual violence" is contributing to chipping away at the media-led view of survivors being either terrified traumatised victims for life who need looking after, or that we're probably going to become sex workers or be horribly promiscuous and develop a drug habit hmm.

Silence only benefits abusers. Speaking out brings us strength, because being able to own your truth is very freeing.

That said, it's an intensely personal decision. I'm mid 40s now, I've done a huge amount of work in recovery. It wasn't until my late 20s that I began to stop taking on my abuser's shame and keep covering up for him (in an emotional sense) and realised how much stronger I feel through honesty and openness. But it's an individual decision and I'd never pressure anyone to feel they had to disclose more than they were comfortable with.

pocketsaviour Tue 17-May-16 17:20:27

Just saw an interesting post on Facebook on the topic of survivors speaking out.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now