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Guilt from cheating

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  • #389345
    Isabel
    Participant

    Really need some advice.  This year I got close to a work colleague.  We did not sleep together but we did cross the line a couple of times and then I stopped it.  We remained friends and had lunch together often and shared text messages.  Although at first there was a sexual attraction, we actually became quite close friends.

    At the start of November I started to get really bad anxiety and I put this down to the guilt I was feeling because of what I have just mentioned.  I told him that I wanted to stop completely which he was fine about and he has been so nice and respectful.  The guilt is just eating me up.

     

    I have been married for 18 years and have the most beautiful daughter.  i do love my husband but he is not always the easiest of people to live with.  He has high expectations from me and is very controlling over money and what we spend it on.  I guess after being in lock down it was nice to get attention from someone else and I got carried away.   It has made me realise I do love my husband.  If I confess I will loose everything.  My husband will never forgive me.  I will also probably loose my job if this got found out.  I feel like my world is about to fall apart and not sure how I have got to this head space.

    Thinking back on this year – we crossed the line back in April and then the relationship was just friendship, I have been fine mentally this year, it has just kind of hit me in the last few weeks.

    thanks for reading

    #389358
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabel:

    To resolve your guilty feelings and the anxiety that goes with it, I suggest: (1) Don’t add to your guilt by telling your husband about what happened: that will hurt his feelings and harm the daughter you share. Instead, protect your husband from this information and be a better wife to him. By being a better wife, I don’t mean being passive, never bringing up anything that bothers you. I mean be kind to him and be assertive with him: remind him that you too bring money into the household, and that regardless, the two of you are equal members of one partnership/ a marriage, a team of two people. Talk to him about strategies to handle your differences in regard to spending money, so that both of you get enough of what you individually need, physically and emotionally,

    (2) Kindly and assertively, tell your co-worker- friend that texting, meeting for lunch and communicating in any way that goes beyond being friendly co-workers in the context of the workplace is inappropriate and will not happen again.

    anita

    #389363
    Isabel
    Participant

    Thank you Anita for your response and for not judging me.  I still feel horrific but you are right I am going to feel even worse if I tell my husband, hurt him and break up our family.  I just have let myself down and gone against my moral compass.  I am a loyal and honest person and it goes against what I believe by being disloyal.  The only way I can justify it is that I need it at the time, but then I just feel selfish.

    #389364
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabel:

    You are welcome.  “I just have let myself down and gone against my moral compass“- there will be a time when your daughter will let herself (and you) down. I know that such time will come because we all let ourselves down from time to time, to one extent or another. And when that happens and your daughter feels badly about it, suffering for it, I am sure that you would not want her to forever-suffer over it. You would want her to feel badly for just the length of time it will take to learn from her experience, and make better choices as a result, am I correct?

    The only way I can justify it is that I need it at the time, but then I just feel selfish“- you are not a saint, Isabel, no one is. Learn from the experience, make better choices as a result and allow yourself to no longer suffer over it. Suffering further will only hurt you and your family. It is okay to let go of the guilt when it served its purpose.

    anita

    #389398
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Isabel,

    I agree you shouldn’t tell your husband because it would only make things worse. You’ve realized you don’t want to pursue the affair with your colleague and you drew the line.

    Based on your words, it seems to me you’re not too happy with your husband:

    i do love my husband but he is not always the easiest of people to live with. He has high expectations from me and is very controlling over money and what we spend it on. I guess after being in lock down it was nice to get attention from someone else and I got carried away.

    If your husband is often critical of you (He has high expectations from me) and controlling (is it just about the finances or other things too?), no wonder you crave for some positive attention sometimes.

    I am a loyal and honest person and it goes against what I believe by being disloyal. The only way I can justify it is that I need it at the time, but then I just feel selfish.

    Yes, you needed a positive, non-judgmental attention, which might be very different from what you’re getting from your husband? And it appears you feel selfish for having justified needs…? Of course, it doesn’t mean you should try to meet your emotional needs by getting into affairs, but I believe you should examine your relationship with your husband a bit better, and how much you’re allowed to be free, specially to enjoy life, spend money on things you like etc, without having to worry about every penny, and feeling restricted in general.

     

    #389399
    StarFlower
    Participant

    Hello Isabel. From what I’ve read, it sounds like you’re unhappy in your marriage. Cheating is never ok, and you should never make any justifications for it, but in this scenario, it seems like your husband was highly critical of you and wasn’t satisfied with the relationship, and neither are you. Usually, unhappy people under someone’s control usually try to undermine said control, even subconsciously. Now, you didn’t go as far as to sleep with your coworker, so you should absolve yourself physically at the very least. You are not perfect Isabel, no one is, and if you are truly not satisfied, then I suggest leaving the relationship. However, the fact that you have an 18 year old in attribution to your extensive marriage also might make this hard. You can explain to your husband that he should stop making you feel inadequate, and that you two are partners, not a parent and a child. Best wishes Isabel, StarSeed.

     

    #389388
    Ann
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I admire your vulnerability to seek for help on such a challenging situation. You’ve acknowledged your feelings of guilt and have acknowledged your mistake. Guilt is very much an uncomfortable emotion, but could it be viewed as a catalyst to something transformative? Often times, people seek or find outside pleasures due to an unmet need that is resolved, fulfilled, or distracted by a relationship with another person. I would encourage you to communicate with your spouse about what you need, what is helpful and not helpful in your relationship, what adjustments can be made (to make living with your husband a little less challenging so something like this doesn’t happen again). The intention of the conversation is not to point fingers at him and make it seem like everything will be better if he could just change. But the intention is about working together to find a happy medium.

    May I also suggest self-forgiveness? It looks like you’ve already started on this journey. You’ve noticed your feelings. You’ve noticed the things you’d like to stop or change. You’re noticing your inner critic and the negative messages of your inner critic. No amount of self criticism will make the feeling of guilt go away. It’s time to embrace self-compassion. Being compassionate toward yourself is not letting yourself get by with excuses. It’s clearing your mind of negative emotions. It is having an understanding and nonjudgmental attitude toward your inadequacies during times of desperation. Don’t torture yourself with rumination about the things that you did. When we revisit the past, especially if it’s a situation that we feel we could have prevented or we wished we did things differently, we’re usually also visiting anxiety, depression, shame, guilt, fear. Feeling resentful toward yourself can be exhausting. So, focus on the present. How would you like your marriage to look like today? What conversations can you have today to close the gap? I hope you well, my friend.

    #389417
    anita
    Participant

    * Dear StarFlower: I read your original post in the thread you started, but it looks like you accidently reported your own thread for inappropriate content, so I cannot reply to it. If you want to repost your original post in a new thread, I will reply to you there. Otherwise, I will wait for the mistake to be corrected.

    *Dear Ann: you mistakenly addressed your reply to me, instead of Isabel, the original poster.

    anita

    #389628
    Isabel
    Participant

    Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to me I am so very grateful.

    Unfortunately the guilt is still eating me up and I cannot shift the anxiety.  I have so much self loathing right now.  I spoke to my colleague yesterday to say how I was feeling and he said he didn’t understand and that he must be a selfish person because he doesn’t feel guilty.

    I look at my little girl and feel like such a bad mum.  I don’t know what is wrong with me, just wish I could pull myself out of this black hole.

     

     

    #389630
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabel:

    You are welcome. I am sorry you still feel so badly. Considering how badly you feel when not much happened with your co-worker, and that what happened, happened a long time ago, I figure that your guilt and self-loathing are from way before you ever met your co-worker, and that what happened with your co-worker ignited guilt and self-loathing that existed earlier, maybe since you were a child (?)

    Looking at the roots of your guilt can help put your guilt regarding your co-worker in perspective, so that you can see where the problem is, and where it is not. Does this make sense to you?

    anita

    #389632
    Isabel
    Participant

    Yes it does.  I have always worried what people think of me and about making mistakes and the wrong decisions.  I know if I am honest with myself although what I did was very wrong, I did stop it and it did not result in a full blown affair.  I also stopped this back in April/ May and managed to get through the whole summer feeling just fine.  I now feel like I have lost myself and am stuck, overthinking this and not letting it go.

    I feel like everything is on my shoulders as if I confessed I would ruin so many lives.  My Coworker is a grandad and has many children and grandchildren and it would break his family apart.  i would also lose my job which I absolutely love.

    #389633
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabel:

    If you committed a crime and it would have benefited the victim/s of your crime, or society in general, if you confessed- then I would have suggested that you confess and suffer the consequences, but you did not commit a crime and it wasn’t a full-blown affair: there are no victims (other than you, for feeling so badly).

    There are two possibilities as I see it: (1) As a child, you felt like a bad daughter, feeling that you made terrible mistakes that made any one of your parents’ lives difficult, and that guilt shifted to the not-quite an affair that you had, (2) You really want out of your marriage, but you don’t know how to make it happen, so you are tempted to confess to your husband, so that he will leave you.

    Any of these possibilities, or both, true?

    anita

     

    #389634
    Isabel
    Participant

    Hi Anita, thank you for your support.

    No 2 is a definite no.  I think this situation has made me realise that I do love my husband but perhaps there is some work to do in our marriage.  I have also realised that I need to look for happiness from him and not from someone else.  I just feel like he deserves better than me and should no the truth.  He would never forgive me though I no that for 100% certain.  Truth and honesty is what he is about.

    #389636
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Isabel:

    You are welcome. No 2 is a definite No, what about No 1?

    I imagine that you don’t feel like going back to your childhood and that you are focused on your marriage. But going back to your long-gone childhood so to look for the roots of the current guilt and self-hate, and the unreasonable urge to confess, has the potential to help your mental health and your marriage in the present time.

    anita

    #389650
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Isabel,

    you are welcome.

    I think this situation has made me realise that I do love my husband but perhaps there is some work to do in our marriage.

    There probably is some work in your marriage, since you earlier said that he is very controlling around money and has high expectations of you. You haven’t said anything else about your marriage, but it seems to me you are blaming yourself excessively for everything that happened, and freeing him from any responsibility.

    I have also realised that I need to look for happiness from him and not from someone else.

    What if he cannot give you happiness and joy, at least the way he is now?

    I just feel like he deserves better than me

    This is the problem: your lack of self-worth. You believe you are bad and worthy of judgment, and probably he is quite judgmental (“has high expectations of you”), and this is the dynamic you are in. Maybe he is blaming you for spending too much, or for not being good enough in this or that way. And you believe him, because that’s what you believe about yourself (and this, as you said, stems from your childhood).

    He would never forgive me though I no that for 100% certain. Truth and honesty is what he is about.

    If he would never forgive you, that tells something about him, doesn’t it? It’s all fine and good that he is about truth and honesty, but what about other qualities, such as compassion, understanding and forgiveness?

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by TeaK.
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