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Overwhelming guilt?


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Old 5th May 2011, 11:24 AM   #1
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Overwhelming guilt?

hello. new here. have been reading, but not posting until today. a quick outline of my story: we actually knew each other in college. best friends, a couple of romantic interludes, but then our lives went in different directions. flash forward 27 years later...i get a friendly email from him. we reconnect, but only as friends for about a year. can't pinpoint exactly when it got romantic, but it did. at this point, i was widowed and he was married with two teenage daughters. and, we lived 800 miles from each other.

the first time we got together he lied and said he was coming here to see a ball game. we spent the entire weekend together. to say it was magic would be an understatement. we were both blown away. not just by the sex (which at the time was only good--now is fantastic!) but by the way we felt just being together. the last words in his email that monday morning were "pray that only death will separate us now."

we saw each other about twice a month until 8 months later, he left his wife. that lasted for about 3 weeks and then he said he "just couldn't be away from his daughters anymore." he broke my heart. i knew we were destined to be with each other so, after about a month, i sent him a note saying i was open to talking if he was ever so inclined. we started right back to where we had been and two months later, he left again. this time it stuck. that was two years ago.

he has been divorced now for 9 months. we share an apt here where i work and a condo in the town where he works. the plan is to have him move here next year after his youngest daughter graduates. (she's pregnant, btw and plans to keep it, but that's another story). oldest daughter has accepted situation (and me). youngest talks to him only when she needs something.

anyway, the reason i am writing is that i am struggling with guilt. guilt that i tore apart a family. guilt that i left his daughter to fend for herself during a difficult age. guilt that i pursued this man knowing that he was married. can anyone tell me how they may have gotten over this?
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Old 5th May 2011, 11:51 AM   #2
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a few more details. bf and his xw were/are pretty religious. she's a fundamentalist. i am sure this rocked her to her core. i got a few emails from her in the beginning, but she has long ago backed off. their situation at the time we originally got together was pretty typical: lack of intimacy (of both physical and emotional nature), she was sahm, he worked 80 hours a week to provide. he was incredibly unhappy, even had a countdown clock for the number of days until he could leave (set for when youngest was to graduate). they went through countless mc sessions, but nothing seemed to work. according to his side of the story, she felt everything was fine and every time he told her it wasn't she just wouldn't listen.

in some ways me coming into the picture merely accelerated something he already had planned. now, two years later...as happy as we are together, i worry that my guilt may end up coming between us.
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Old 5th May 2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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There is no way to know what tore thier family up. It seems he did what he wanted to do.
It's also HIS daughter and he needs to handle that, to reach out to her. If she is not ready then he will have to accept that.
Your situation is similiar to mine. You can not blame yourself for another persons actions.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhoward View Post
a few more details. bf and his xw were/are pretty religious. she's a fundamentalist. i am sure this rocked her to her core. i got a few emails from her in the beginning, but she has long ago backed off. their situation at the time we originally got together was pretty typical: lack of intimacy (of both physical and emotional nature), she was sahm, he worked 80 hours a week to provide. he was incredibly unhappy, even had a countdown clock for the number of days until he could leave (set for when youngest was to graduate). they went through countless mc sessions, but nothing seemed to work. according to his side of the story, she felt everything was fine and every time he told her it wasn't she just wouldn't listen.

in some ways me coming into the picture merely accelerated something he already had planned. now, two years later...as happy as we are together, i worry that my guilt may end up coming between us.
Don't you dare let anything tear you apart. If you love that man you stay with him. I think that would be considered a home wrecker. Stay happy. Let everyone heal no matter how much time it takes. Continue to be happy together. It's been a few years and you didn't come all this way to ruin it. Don't bring anything up and just be happy. That's my opinion. Good luck
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:06 PM   #5
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thanks, irish. i love him more than anyone i've ever known. we just "work" on so many levels...not planning on going anywhere at all! it is the best relationship i've ever had. it's me who is having a problem that just keeps the guilt preying on my mind.

this is already helping--being able to talk about it here.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:11 PM   #6
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oh, most definitely. you're right. we made these decisions together. i think maybe what is prompting this is the daughter's pregnancy...17 (16 when we found out) and the fact that the family just isn't dealing with it. she's due late july/early august and the first time xw and daughter were willing to talk to him about it was just 10 days ago. BUT, when the daughter found out the first one she reached out to was my bf. anyway, it is very dysfunctional and my type a nature just wants to "fix" it--even though i know i can't.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nhoward View Post
oh, most definitely. you're right. we made these decisions together. i think maybe what is prompting this is the daughter's pregnancy...17 (16 when we found out) and the fact that the family just isn't dealing with it. she's due late july/early august and the first time xw and daughter were willing to talk to him about it was just 10 days ago. BUT, when the daughter found out the first one she reached out to was my bf. anyway, it is very dysfunctional and my type a nature just wants to "fix" it--even though i know i can't.
read up on 'codependancy'
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:22 PM   #8
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irish...thank you for that reminder. have struggled with that my entire adult life. late H was an alcoholic and died from it. i healed through much work on my codependent nature...duh! didn't even see this as relapsing.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:28 PM   #9
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nhoward.....I'm not sure what to say to you other than this.

Guilt comes because we know something we did was wrong and yes it can be a good thing but yet at the same time it's not a good thing when we let it destroy us. I struggle with it myself (and I didn't end up with xmm, thank goodness).

I'm of the mindset that the guilt I feel is one of the things that I will have to find some peace with and part of that is owning what I did, not making excuses for it, not bs'ing myself, not rationalizing it, nor justifying but to OWN it. I would say that I'm not 100% there in letting it go yet, but owning it is healing, no matter how much it hurts.

As for how it will affect and is affecting your relationship with mm, you probably should address it in some counseling and more than likely he feels a lot of guilt himself. You've got a lot of strikes against you and that is the reality of where you are now.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:34 PM   #10
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I know where you're coming from with the guilt issue. At the same time, you didn't force him to do anything he didn't want to do on his own. Reading all the stories here should show you that you couldn't have made him leave his marriage if he didn't want to. So that was his decision. Yes you played a part in it but all you can do is look forward, not back. If you love each other then be good to each other & focus on forgiving each other & your selves.

There's a poster named TinaniT that has written about this issue fairly recently. She is married to her xMM & happy with him but has felt guilt about his wife now that she is a wife. I think you may find her insights helpful.

I think that whether or not we OWs end up with the MMs, the journey for ourselves is about figuring out why we got involved with them in the first place & what we want out of our lives & our relationships-- it's about forgiving & loving ourselves. If you are happy with your man then in my opinion that's a blessing even if it came about in a bad way, & you can use your love for each other as additional support in moving forward. Good luck.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:45 PM   #11
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thanks everyone. this is helping...don't know why i didn't try this before.

yes, wife knew why he left first time and why he left the second time, but only saw it as PA, not an EA. there was lots of drama on her part, constant texting/emailing, etc but eventually, it sunk in that he was not coming back. she now has a boyfriend so, has obviously moved on herself.

not to sound too cliche here, but i know he is a much happier person and, for that i am grateful. his mother even thanked me for "giving her son back" to her. we are good and solid and very much in love. i just haven't been able to shake this nagging feeling of guilt...
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Old 5th May 2011, 3:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
You feel guilt because you are a good person. If you were a sociopath you would feel nothing. It will get better with time.

This marriage was broken before you got there. He was on his way out sooner or later.

How come you did not marry him when you were young?
THIS is why you shouldn't feel any guilt! You already said it yourself, he was "counting down the days" to when he could leave.

And Pierre? You're using the word sociopath incorrectly. If an OW/OM doesn't feel guilty because their partner left a M to be with them DOES NOT make them a "sociopath".
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Old 5th May 2011, 3:38 PM   #13
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Don't mean to t/j but it's interesting that some posters are trying to talk the OP out of feeling guilt when the OP has already said she FEELS it.

BTW.......there is nothing anyone can say that will cause you or me to wash it away IF you do feel it. It's there and it doesn't go away just because someone else tells you that you shouldn't feel it. IMO, it's something that the person who feels it has to deal with and dealing with it, is not something that magically goes away just because someone else said you shouldn't feel it. (General you, not you specifically)
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Old 5th May 2011, 5:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhoward View Post
anyway, the reason i am writing is that i am struggling with guilt. guilt that i tore apart a family. guilt that i left his daughter to fend for herself during a difficult age. guilt that i pursued this man knowing that he was married. can anyone tell me how they may have gotten over this?
Guilt is a deeply personal and powerful emotion. It drives some to suicide when left unattended. At best, unattended guilt simply kills some part of your soul - leaving you somewhat "less" than before. It is a cancer of the soul.

Guilt is the signal that something is wrong INSIDE you. A need to make amends to or for those wronged - to make what is wrong right.

First question, should you choose to reply, WHY do you feel guilt specifically. I quoted your answer above.

Second question then becomes to WHOM do you feel guilt? His xW? The daughters? The family that once was? Yourself?

Once you have an idea of why and to whom you feel guilt, it may be readily apparent on how to make those amends and soothe it.
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Old 10th May 2011, 8:23 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Persons with antisocial personality disorder do not feel guilt or remorse for their actions. They tend to rationalize everything they do.

Some OWs do not feel remorse or guilt when they are seeing a married man.

I think the guilt is a good mechanism of defense that prevents a person from doing harm to others. I am not saying she is doing harm to the wife and kids since this marriage was ending. However, not every case is as clean as this one. IN any event this is a good thing for the poster because this poor man needed to leave his wife.
I agree with Pierre. I'm sorry you feel guilty, but, to me, this is a sign you don't have a deeper soul sickness that can never be "fixed" by affairs or new relationships, even though infidelity can be a marker for it --- narcissism. Lack of empathy for others is a #1 marker for narcissism. So be relieved in a way. You're exhibiting mental health, even though it probably doesn't feel that way right now.

Hang in there. I'm sure this will get better in time.
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