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Cheated and can't forgive myself

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Eliana 1 week, 1 day ago.

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  • #172995

    insparagus
    Participant

    As a teenager I had two long-term relationships years apart. They both ended the same way: the relationships slowly died because I was too ignorant to do anything to our problems but too scared of being alone that I didn't end them immediately. Close to the end of them both, I kissed another person while drunk and then got the courage to end the relationships. So I didn't learn from my first mistake, I repeated it. I don't remember how I felt about my cheating back then, I was really selfish I think. I didn't tell them about my cheating, because I was scared and because I didn't want to hurt them.

    It's been 7 years now since those mistakes. I've been with my husband for five years and in the beginning of our relationship I got to the root of why I acted the way I did and what my problem was even as an adult. Back then I wanted to feel wanted and kept trying to validate myself by attention from others. I had a bad self-esteem and no sympathy for myself. In the first year of our marriage I still drank but when I noticed I was getting close to something that might lead to my teenage mistakes, I declined and went home to my husband because I love him. Nowadays I have stopped drinking and realized the cause of my cheating and because of it, feel positive that I will never cheat again. I don't want the attention anymore, compliments might feel nice, but they don't do anything for me. My love and respect for myself are the ones that make me feel truly wanted. Also, I never want to add to this regret I'm feeling still about my cheating.

    The problem is, I am still filled with regret. Maybe it's because I don't feel like I did enough or any repentance back then, but now, seven years later, I feel anxiety over what I've done. Sometimes I'm in a pit of despair where I can't see how I can ever not be a terrible person since I am a cheater. You know what they say, once a cheater always a cheater. It helps that my husband knows and accepts me with my past, but I told my friend about these mistakes I've done and she replied, “How does it feel to know you're always going to be 9/10? You can never be 10/10 since you're a cheater.” I know I shouldn't look at the past since I can't change it, the future I can, but I still can't help but feel miserable. I just wish I could change it. I thought now being an adult and understanding why I acted the way I did would help, but it doesn't. I have no idea how I could break my own morals in that way, how I could take the risk of hurting other people that way. Every time I think about it, every time someone mentions cheating somehow, I get this sunken feeling in my chest and tears burning down my throat. I'm a cheater.

    #173051

    anita
    Participant

    Dear insparagus:

    You wrote: “I got to the root of why I acted the way (cheating, as a teenager)…Back then I I had a bad self-esteem and no sympathy for myself”-

    This means you had no sympathy for yourself before you cheated. It means that you believed, before those teenage relationships, that you don't deserve sympathy, that there is something bad that you have done that makes you unworthy of sympathy.

    It is that thing, or those things you believe that you have done wrong that are fueling your anxiety about cheating, I believe.

    The issue to be looked at is located before the cheating, only it is more difficult to look at, I am thinking, than the cheating. So you've been focusing on the cheating.

    Your thoughts?

    anita

    #173027

    Serg
    Participant

    I registered just to post on this topic.  Let go of that “Once a cheater, always a cheater” thing. You're a human being. You are subject to growth, change; you can be 10/10 if you let it happen, because after all we've control over our actions. Your friend might see you as 9/10 – you can't control that, but you can influence how your partner sees you.

     

    Trust me, I know how it is, because I am a cheater myself, and I've tortured myself over this. It's not always possible to understand why. Hormones, long distance, a person who reminds you of someone else – it's multi-variable calculus  which rules we don't really understand, and I don't think that's average people's job – leave it to scientists and psychologists. And yeah, it hurts our moral muscles, which we don't realize we have at the time. But dwelling on this issue won't help either.

    It doesn't happen in an instant, but try to realize that your past became a fact. Not a variable process which is now. Past is a fact. And when someone mentions cheating, remember that it's not your doing; those are actions and story of other people, and you have your own story. At least be kind to yourself, and moderate the drinking.

    #173113

    insparagus
    Participant

    I don't know how to quote with mobile, but…

    Anita, thank you for your answer. I think you are correct in that the problem isn't the fact I cheated back then but the underlying issue that has been present since I was a child of which the cheating was a symptom, I think. I started to suffer from anxiety as a child since my parents were perfectionists, very critical and sometimes even emotionally abusive. I have fought hard to teach myself forgiveness and sympathy for me, but it's still a work in progress. It takes a lot of effort to battle thought patterns you've been taught as a child, such as I am a bad person. So mistakes like these that actually are bad wreck me.

    Serg, thank you for your words. It is relieving to read your message since I'm sometimes and now have been for a few days in a pit where sympathy for myself seems impossible. I am thankful that despite my actions I can receive sympathy too. I am being too hard at myself and it seems like you have at some time been too. I hope little by little I can achieve a peace of mind regarding this subject. I am not a monster, I think the regret I'm feeling is at least proof of that.

    #173121

    anita
    Participant

    Dear insparagus:

    Your last sentence, above, is: “I think the regret I'm feeling is at least proof of that (of “I am not a monster”).

    The obsession or rumination over the teenage incidents may be a way for you to prove to yourself that you are not a bad person, not a monster. As long as you feel badly about the mistakes you made, that means you are not a bad person. Can it be?

    It is painful to live life believing you are a bad person, a monster. Every mistake, every imperfection seems like “proof” that indeed you are a bad person. And a bad person does not deserve to live a good life, to experience well-being. Did you consider attending quality psychotherapy so to tackle this core belief, to look into it, challenge it?

    anita

    #173167

    Eliana
    Participant

    Hi Insparagus,

    You were a teenager when all this happened, you were drinking and you made a mistake and ended the relationships. Don't listen to negativity..or the 9/10 stuff, whatever it may mean. You have changed and grown. You have not cheated since you have been with your husband. I really do not think “once a cheater always a cheater” is true. I know plenty of people who made a mistake in their youth, and now they are in long term marriages and have not cheated since.

    Please don't punish yourself that happened when you were a teenager. Will punishing and analyzing it change anything? Of course not. Don't go there. Focus on the positive. Your wonderful relationship with your husband, that you have grown and changed. Leave the past where it belongs, in the past.

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