Dear Mary: I just discovered my partner of nine years was living a double life - how can I get over his betrayal?
Q: I am a divorced woman in my early 50s, and was in a relationship with a divorced man, who has grown-up children, for nearly nine years. We lived two hours apart, and we met every weekend.
He is a recovering alcoholic in a supposed AA programme. He left his wife around 12 years ago for another woman but it fell through.
I thought we had a great relationship. We could talk about anything, had great laughs and had a similar sense of fun. I thought he was sincere and honest, and that is why I am totally devastated and cannot possibly get around the incredible hurt and unbelievable pain that he has caused with his lies.
Around nine weeks ago he and I were out for the day, and I had arranged a weekend away for the following weekend. We came home, and he told me I was a wonderful woman, and he was so lucky to have met me. About an hour later, he pulled a silly argument with a young relative of mine with whom he had a great friendship and left the house.
I didn't hear from him and so I went to see him, but he wouldn't let me in. He wouldn't answer his phone either. What followed was eight weeks of rude, disgusting behaviour. He never apologised to my young relative or contacted us. After nearly nine years in my home he had disappeared into thin air.
Like a fool, I was worried about him because to me it was totally out of character. Silly me! I was advised to go to see him, and ambush him in public. I met him and he said all the right things - his head was a mess and he missed me very much. But I knew there was something wrong. I employed a detective, and caught him 24 hours later with an individual.
Now, to find him with a woman was one thing, but the type he was with was another. Suffice to say the class was low. I cannot stop wanting to vomit when the picture of them comes into my mind. It has been going on since the middle of last year.
He has been leading a double life, humiliating us and desecrating my home. Words will never ever describe the utter hurt and disbelief I feel. I cannot believe he would do this again to his children. I feel I am going to crack. I am getting lots of support although I have not told the story to many. I feel people would find this hilarious - the oldest swinger in town making a prize dope of himself, and by association I am one too. Since catching him I can only describe him as a prize brute.
And as for AA, he has been lying his way through it.
Mary, in our home we were told that if we told the truth we would never get into trouble, so honesty was the norm. Besides this I have had many problems in my life which he knew about, and he discussed these with her. I never thought it was possible to feel such betrayal. I suppose the good thing is I have been offered a great new job, but of course this crap has taken the shine from it.
Any advice please?
Mary replies: Your anger and disgust are totally understandable. This man has treated you in a most reprehensible way instead of being upfront with you and explaining what was going on. You shouldn't however feel that people will think you have made a fool of yourself. Those who know the story will have nothing but derision for him and sympathy for you. He had been in your life for almost a decade and you deserved better.
He has a history of leaving one woman for another and no doubt will repeat this behaviour in the future. You need a safe place in which to discuss all of this, and if you feel that you cannot fully offload to your close circle of friends, then a few sessions with a qualified psychotherapist would be of great benefit. You have a huge amount of hurt and anger to work through. It would also help you to write a letter to him, telling him exactly what you think of him and how you feel. Then tear up the letter and assign it to the rubbish.
You will feel so much better but without losing any of your dignity.
It is indeed fortuitous that you have a new job to look forward to. That is always exciting and you will find that this will be a great way of diverting your mind from going over past events. Try to look forward rather than back and keep yourself busy. In time the hurt will decrease.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
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