The only one of our 4 children who knows about her father's infidelity is struggling mightily with it. She is a highly intelligent, sensitive, beautiful young woman who now has so many fears and issues about relationships, commitment, intimacy. Outwardly, she has it all together (and she does; she's not a basket case), but she's truly hurting inside, knows she resents her dad (and me, too), and is seeking the same rapport and understanding we find here.
She has sought help from an ecclesiastical leader and from a counselor and from a best friend. While all have been sympathetic and have responded kindly, none of them "gets it." She feels like they don't understand her worries, her scars, her distrust of men now, her fear that she'll attract a sex addict, too. She has reached out to people she thought would be able to relate (someone who'd written a blogpost about it, another someone who authored a book) and has not heard anything. She has searched the internet for a support like this forum or for a book like the ones I've been reading for myself and she keeps coming up empty.
Any suggestions? Any success stories out there?
I would love to know if you find anything for your daughter. Maybe it might help me help my son?? He doesn't want anything to do with counseling. He just asks me every couple of weeks how daddy could have done what he did to me and the family. He cannot reconcile it. No matter how hard I try to explain broken people, and that humans can learn and become better his response is always the same… "But daddy still did it."
Is she in IC at all?
Me- BW, 30
Him- fWh, 36
Mostly R'd, minus a few scars...bought a house and got a puppy...And baby makes 3! She arrived August 2013
KeepCalm, your experience is definitely what she's afraid of. Even so, there's so much she could learn from you. If YOU could go back, what would you do differently? What red flags did you miss (if any?)? What DID bring you the most comfort after finding out about your dad? It soothes my soul to see that your WH has earned a "former" designation and that you two have welcomed a little one into your family. Bless you! And, yes, she's tried IC. But she only went once while at college and felt patronized by the therapist. While she's home for a semester, she's going to use our health insurance to see a counselor. Hopefully, she'll find a good fit and she'll get several months of help before leaving again. It won't end there, I know, but hopefully she'll have a good enough experience to convert her to the process. Still, I think she needs someone near her age or someone who's been, recently, in her shoes for a more peer-like experience.
Thanks for your input, both of you!
I'm so sorry that your daughter is going through this.
I'm not much older than her, I'm 27. And although at the moment I'm a MH, I was first and foremost a betrayed child. It was my mother that had an affair and I found that very difficult to reconcile with during my teenage years. And, more recent events in my own marriage have brought up a whole load of FOO issues for me.
If I could go back what would I do differently? I would have gone to IC. I feel if I had proper guidance from someone, things would have been very different for me. As it was, no one talked to me about it at all and I had to cope with everything completely alone. I was so ashamed of it that I didn't even tell my friends, I wish now that I had been more open about it because I would have got a lot of support.
My mum did sit me down years later and explain her reasons for her A and why she left my dad. At the time I accepted that as her truth and I felt lots better, we have had a better relationship since then. But since coming to SI I realise she has blameshifted her A onto my dad and I recently called her on it. This has lead to some difficulties in our relationship now but she is being honest with me in a way she never was before and I cannot tell you how much better that is. Obviously she hasn't disclosed intimate details but she has shared her feelings with me and treated me like an adult.
I was very, very angry with my mum for a really long time as a teenager. The best advice I could give would be to let that anger out. I kept it bottled up for so many years and it destroyed me. If she's angry and resentful she needs a safe place to express that to both of you and have her feelings heard without either of you becoming defensive (a bit like a BS!)
I'm not sure if any of that helps at all. I feel for her, it's such an unfair situation to be in. You're obviously doing a great job of supporting her RS, she will look back and thank you for it, I promise.
Chin up. Unwavering. Fight. We can do this.
You say she’s a smart girl so I am confident her mind will craft solutions custom built for her. The hard part is you having to watch her hurt while she tackles it.
I was afraid of my father so my suggestion is for her to (<baby baby steps>) learn to say what she needs to say, without being captivated by anger (once she finds her voice) or staying trapped in fear, or retreating and losing the relationship.
I can tell her one trick that worked wonders for me while I practiced strengthening my spine: keeping reasonable-sounding obstacles ready if I needed them. As a young adult she will have plenty of activities that she can decide to keep those plans rather than cancel (or just leave a reply ambiguous with “Oh, I’m so sorry – I already have commitments for that day”) if he expects her to participate in something that she feels reluctant about. Have plausible excuses to truncate phone calls if they start going south. Take small bites of courage to say what is important when she feels strongest, and forgive herself when she can’t do it. Until I felt confident in my own boundaries, artificial barriers I could throw into place were my salvation. Mail cards for "lesser" holidays.
I wish I had more help, but again, it’s that old devil time. It works miracles. I live as a testament. She’ll be ok with you on her side.
Sorry for the length.