The affair that changed my life

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by Zionne Days, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. Zionne Days

    Zionne Days New Member

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    Hi there,

    I'm new here, and perhaps this isn't the most appropriate place to post this, (Please instruct me if so) but I'd really appreciate your words, advice and wisdom.

    I’m a 34 year old, bisexual woman from the UK.

    In my early twenties, I had a two-year affair with a woman while at the same time rekindled a relationship with an ex- boyfriend who at one point, I had loved. It was a terribly confusing time for me and I made a lot of poor decisions, not only hurting others but myself. Inevitably, it ended in tears after my affair was exposed. I have since moved on with my life, but I still feel terrible about what I did. Truth be told, I’m still not entirely sure why I did it now. After this chaotic chapter in my life ended, I wrote a book about it. I worked with a professional editor, and although I am not a trained writer, I gave it my all, working on it for seven years until it was completed. I’m now taking a creative break after my editor pretty much dismissed my work. That was six months ago- I am struggling to return to it.

    Fast-forward to now, and I have become engaged to an incredible woman who I love dearly. We’ve been dating for two years. She’s orginally from the US, and we now live in London, having agreed to spend a year here before we move to the US for a while. A prospect I'm finding a little daunting as it's such a big move to make when I feel I'm barely keeping things together here.

    Although I have a stable and happy relationship, I feel very lost in my life. I know I need therapy for what I did before as I've identified this is at the root of my low self esteem, confidence and anxiety, but basically, I'm 34, living in a city I can't afford, unemployed, unskilled and depressed. Basically, having spent seven years writing my book and working in a job I didn’t love to support my writing of it, I feel I’ve come out the other side realizing I never made a plan for my life, and never addressed the feelings that were holding me down. I no longer know what I want, who I am, or what skills I really have. Instead, all I’ve got is a useless book detailing my worst mistakes and no way of getting my life back.

    I feel anxious and lost daily, and even though I have found a wonderful fiancée, I’m having thoughts about suicide.
    Can anyone help?
     
    #1
  2. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    A therapist can help. A parent you have a loving relationship with can help. A close friend can help. (Random strangers on the internet can help... a little.)

    I think your absolute first step should be finding a therapist or counselor or support group or... something. You're actually going into therapy with a pretty concrete needs list, which is: a) to process this relationship from your past, b) help make an actionable, concrete plan for moving forward in your life, and c) build some coping strategies around anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

    The truth is, you have a lot of life left. I know that we tend to talk about your 30s like that's when you should have it All Figured Out, but that's nonsense; with luck, you've lived a little over a third of your life. You've learned a whole lot, you've tried some things (personally and professionally) that didn't work out but taught you some hard lessons, and you're ready for something new. What you do now is entirely up to you, but people switch careers, go back to school, build skills, try new things, move cities, and more all throughout their lives. That can feel overwhelming, which is why I think you should see a therapist for more than your unprocessed past relationship. Making that plan is hard work, but it is absolutely work that you can do with help!

    Feeling stuck, the way you do, reinforces a lot of anxious/depressive thoughts and behhaviors. Getting unstuck - seeing and celebrating little steps towards unstuckness - can really help combat those thoughts and behaviors.

    The other side of the "stuck" coin is often isolation, so... the other thing you can do is build up your support network. You have your fiancee; great. Who else is on your team? Who else might be support you with resume-writing, ice cream dates for moral support, help turning that book into a best-selling lesbian mini-series (mostly joking)? Often, in new relationships, we lose connection to all those other things - and if you're thinking about moving, I think it's extra important to connect to your team in the UK and practice flexing those social support muscles in advance of building a transcontinental network.
     
    #2
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  3. Zionne Days

    Zionne Days New Member

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    Dear Lorienczhiu,

    Thank you so much for your response. This subject is something that whirrs around my head every day like a silent movie playing as a sub narrative to the one happening in front of me, so to have someone reach out and lend their words is spellbindingly comforting to me. Thank you.

    I know I am luckier than a lot of people, and that's perhaps the reason why I've stuffed this down inside of me so long. I hate to come across self-pitying as although this is tough I have blessings to be thankful for.

    Saying that, I don't have a huge extended network of support, so I feel somewhat isolated within this issue. This is why I have joined this forum in the hope of obtaining some friendly non-bias advice, which is exactly what I got! :)

    I totally agree with you about seeking therapy and I will. I'm frightened of doing the work and unearthing all that pain, but I know this is what I have to do to move forward. Thank you so so so much for all your suggestions. You have no idea how grateful I am to you.
     
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  4. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    Therapy isn't a thing that only the unlucky need! Like going to the doctor, many of us need support to stay mentally whole and develop healthy coping habits. I'm a super effective, high-performing person, who has lots of skills and credentials... and I've spent my whole adult life with severe anxiety and depression. It's the way my brain works, and it's part of what has made me successful; but I don't have to resign myself to feeling this way permanently, or accepting anxious misery as the price of my blessings.

    You can also go into therapy and be really up front with your provider. "What I need, first and foremost, is a way to get unstuck and figure out what happens next in my life. I've avoided this for a long time because the experience that derailed me was a painful one, and I'm haven't been ready to unpack that pain. I know that's coming up for me - but it isn't the most urgent thing in my life. Can we start with thinking through some career options and ways to move forward when I'm feeling unskilled and overwhelmed?"

    You are the expert on yourself. And if unearthing all that pain isn't actually the thing you need, it's okay to say "Hey, that happened, it informed who I am, and I'm working towards not being embarrassed or avoiding what I learned -- but these are the good things and goals I want to define my life around."
     
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  5. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    I am glad you are open to therapy because you seem like a good soul and I hope you are able to lay down this burden of guilt and not let the past define you. I hope that you see if you have a friend telling you all these things you would want her to forgive herself too. I hope you carry the same sense of compassion and forgiveness for yourself as you would for others.

    I admire that you did whatever it took to finish that book! I have met quite a few women who are in process of telling their stories but life gets in the way. I mean, I don't think you don't have a plan, you just finished one plan and you are onto the next phase. So, don't give up after 7 years, and don't let some editor bring you down.

    Any chance you are having cold feet and feeling guilty about having cold feet because your fiance is wonderful? A lot of people have cold feet no matter whom they are hitching up with and going across the pond is a big change. Give yourself some credit for managing how you feel about this. I am glad you are reaching out for help and I hope you get your support system in place as @lorienczhiu had mentioned.
     
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  6. Spygirl

    Spygirl Well-Known Member

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    I guess my question to you is....have you really moved on with your life? I read your post, then really thought about it.

    The point being...this affair was something that changed your life...and you continued to dwell on it through writing a book and throwing your entire being into that effort. Is it possible that -- in doing this...in latching onto the book -- you haven't moved on at all...and that's what scares you the most? That you held on to the affair and its ramifications because you didn't want to let go or move on or for some reason you couldn't allow yourself to move on? This all-consuming thing...this period in your life...by focusing so much on it and writing the book, did you forget to live in the present? Even though these were dark times in your life -- you at least knew the outcome. And predictability, good or bad, brings comfort.

    Now, you're dealing with a ton of uncertainty about a lot of things...fiancee, lack of a job, income, etc., and you don't know how this story ends. Guess what? We ALL deal with the what ifs and the fears of every day normal life -- at some point, most of us have lost a job, been depressed, had financial woes...but we get through it. You have to find that resolve within yourself to accept the fact that while you may have a lot on your plate right now, you can and will get through this. Everything may seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be.

    As people have said, therapy is a good place to start. Figure out who YOU are...and realize that although the "affair" helped shape who you are, it doesn't define you. When you let this go....really let it go for good...you might be surprised at the person you find yourself to be.

    Hang in there.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
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  7. Bluenote

    Bluenote Well-Known Member

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    So did Dan Savage's advice help you? Just curious.
     
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  8. alien30

    alien30 Member

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    Don't think about suicide, find a good therapist and everything will be ok.
     
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