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LifeDestroyer posted 12/22/2019 17:19 PM

I repeated history and had our daughter keep a secret. When I first moved out, I told her that we arenít to talk about whatís going on with our family while at school. I told her that no one needed to know because it wasnít any of their business. I didnít want people hearing her talk about having two homes and ask me whatís going on. I didnít want to have to explain to them why I had to move out. I didnít want any of them to possibly find out about my affair and then look at either of us differently. There is always the risk that I could get fired which would mean she wouldnít be able to go to school in this district, which is a really good one. Whenever she would start to talk about having two homes or spending nights with mommy or daddy, I would quickly change the subject. I eventually stopped and wouldnít say anything.

Thursday evening, bh asked me to come over a little bit earlier so we can discuss something regarding our daughter. I had no idea what he wanted to talk about. I thought it had to do with talking about our feelings while in front of her. Sheís a smart kid, she knows when we are happy or sad or upset. When I got there, I told him I had something to say first about her. I told him what I had done. It ended up being exactly what he wanted to discuss. Thursday night, she had told him that she had a secret (that she couldnít talk about her two homes). He told me that I was acting like my mom, making a child keep a secret. He talked about the pressure that she must feel to not talk about things, how she will do whatever I tell her, how she will think itís ok to lie to adults. I completely agreed with him on everything. I was doing what I did as a kid, acting like my family was perfectly fine, and I was asking my daughter to do the same.

When she woke up Friday morning, I sat down with her and apologized to her for asking her to keep it a secret. I told her that she can talk about her two homes and anything else she wants to talk about. She then said ďno mommy I canít.Ē Again, I told her that it was ok to talk about it. She then asked ďwhat if strangers find out? They canít know about that.Ē That kind of threw me off, but I told her she didnít have to worry about that because we donít talk to strangers.

I honestly did think I was making improvements, and then I put her in that situation and let it go on for a month.

Darkness Falls posted 12/22/2019 17:28 PM

I actually donít think there is anything wrong with explaining to children that family business is private. Itís how I was raised, and now as an adult I agree with it. JMHO.

LifeDestroyer posted 12/22/2019 17:32 PM

That's what I told her, our family stuff is no one else's business, BUT that's a lot of pressure for a 5 year old. I imagine she had to worry about saying something in front of someone and wondering if she was allowed to or not. Then there is the chance that she would do what I did and be in denial about her family. That wasn't fun to do as a kid.

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 12/22/2019 17:33 PM

You donít have anyone to bounce ideas and thoughts off of so you will have to try to question decisions on your own. Ask yourself who does your decision benefit? Your daughter? Your husband? Or you? Then ask why. Why would your decision benefit her? Why would it benefit him? Why would it benefit you?

When it comes to parental decisions you should still try to work as a team with your husband, even if itís uncomfortable (meaning putting you in a position to answer difficult questions).

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 12/22/2019 17:35 PM

our family stuff is no one else's business,

She may need to express her emotions so that they donít manifest in unhealthy ways.

Unhinged posted 12/22/2019 17:42 PM

You can let fear rule your decision making, if that's what you want to do. Passing that on to your kids, though, is another betrayal. Your 5yo will need someone to HELP her adjust, which means talking about fer feelings and thoughts, not sweeping under a toddler's little rug.

ibonnie posted 12/22/2019 17:59 PM

I actually donít think there is anything wrong with explaining to children that family business is private. Itís how I was raised, and now as an adult I agree with it. JMHO.

That's what I told her, our family stuff is no one else's business, BUT that's a lot of pressure for a 5 year old.

BS here, no stop sign. I firmly believe in the saying, "you're only as sick as your secrets," and my parenting philosophy is basically do as I do, meaning that if I would be ashamed for my children to know about it, or wouldn't want them to be doing in, then I shouldn't/won't be doing it, either. (Which means that I don't even lie about my very tiny three year olds age to get the "2 and under is free" pricing for zoos, because I don't want her older brother thinking that it's okay to lie sometimes, especially for financial gain.)

If you haven't already, I highly recommend putting your daughter in therapy so she has a safe space to discuss these feelings.

My son was 8 when we separated. He knew why -- he had overheard us fighting one night when we thought he was asleep, and when we talked to him about daddy moving out a few weeks later, he asked if it had to do with a coworker and pictures on a phone. We chose not to lie and gave him a somewhat sanitized version of the truth -- daddy started dating someone else while he was still married to mommy, which wasn't okay. When you get married you make a promise not to have other boyfriends or girlfriends. And yes, that's why he had noticed me feeling so sad lately, and we needed some space so I could work on feeling better.

My WH was deep in the controversial "affair fog" though, so he was doing pretty messed up things, like texting my phone pictures of his AP's house and pets so DS could see them, after he moved out and DS and WH would use my phone to talk before bedtime. He also yelled at our (at the time) 8yo for calling his AP a "fucking bitch," and had the gall to tell our kid that she was a really nice person that didn't deserve to be talked about like that.

Anyways, our kid knew. And one day it was his turn to share and instead of bringing a toy to class or some other item to talk about, he decided to tell his teachers and classmates all about his dad moving out because of his new evil girlfriend.

Oy.

The teachers cut his share short, and then emailed me to tell me what happened. He was saying none of these things to me, and we've always been very open about talking about anything. With me, he was angry for my part in kicking daddy out.

Anyways, the point in sharing all of this is that your daughter probably has a lot of thoughts and feelings about what's going on in her life right now, and by telling her not to talk about it, you've probably conveyed the message that it's shameful and/or wrong to talk about separation/divorce which is (sadly) pretty common these days. She might have been able to commiserate with a fellow classmate who has two houses, or a single house/parent.

If I were you, I would continue to talk to her about how family business is not necessarily everyone's business (the cashier at the grocery store doesn't need to know), but she shouldn't be ashamed to talk about it with her family and/or friends. And again, I would highly recommend therapy for her and/or you two together, possibly with your BH/MH, too.

Her entire world has been uprooted. Even though she's only 5, she needs to know it's okay to have a lot of feelings about what happened, and more importantly, it's okay to talk about them.

[This message edited by ibonnie at 6:03 PM, December 22nd (Sunday)]

LifeDestroyer posted 12/22/2019 18:05 PM

My therapist gave me a list of some local therapists for children.

I ask her all the time how she is feeling, what does she think, try to reassure her and explain as best as possible for her age, but I do know she needs a third party to talk to. She needs someone that she can talk freely with and not worry about mommy and daddy's feelings.

gmc94 posted 12/22/2019 21:52 PM

by telling her not to talk about it, you've probably conveyed the message that it's shameful and/or wrong to talk about separation/divorce
THIS is the problem. And IMO, it's not limited to separation/divorce. It's telling her not to talk about difficult things, hurtful things, painful things, angry things, etc. That is not a healthy way to interact with the world or with one's self.

At five years old, I'd wager she doesn't fully understand where the boundaries of what is or is not other people's "business". I'm over 50, have a graduate degree and years of therapy and still get confused on this front.

LD, I know you are very much aware that what is happening with your M and your family is not "just" happening to you, or to your BH, but that it is also happening to her. These are HER experiences too and she may need to talk about that with others. I get the impression that you now see that as well - which is wonderful.

Let her have her experiences. Let her have her feelings. Let her share her feelings. Let her know that feelings are just that, they are normal, they are Ok (tho the behaviors that come from those feelings do need boundaries). Let her know that she can share any feeling with you without judgment. That whatever she is feeling - even if it's anger (even if its anger at you) is OK, and that she can talk about it and you can hold that space for her and still love her.

IMO, the word "secret" should ONLY be used for surprise gifts or parties. Any other secret is a fast track to shame.

And I would be super mindful of how you use the concept of "benefit" to you or her or whatever. IOW, if I try and put on my wayward hat (as best as a BS can), I can totally see how I could tell myself that keeping the S a "secret" would "benefit" DD bc if details of your A were to get around school you could be fired and she'd lose her school.... kind of the way that a WS can tell themself that it's Ok to TT bc those details would only hurt the BS, and the refusal to disclose has nothing to do with protecting the WS (FWIW, I do NOT mean that as a dig or a 2x4, as I believe you are working as hard as you can to rewire the thinking... but as the patterns rewire, there can still be short circuits that one must be mindful of, whether it's about being a WS or any other experience that makes us uncomfortable and brings feelings of shame or pain or whatever).

IHatePickingName posted 12/22/2019 22:32 PM

Ok, i am going to try to post without breaking rules about MH not posting as BS sorry if i fail mods. I really struggle with this.

This summer, we had the local version of CPS visit us because my daughter (i believe) told people at her summer child care place that mommy and daddy were fighting and might be divorcing because daddy hurt mommy [by cheating, it wasnt clear how she explained it though, they didnt tell me].

I talked to both kids after, and told them they can ALWAYS tell me, their dad, teachers, etc things that make them scared or worried or feel unsafe. I told them they had done the right thing, telling a trusted adult.

Being investigated to see if our home is safe for our children was pretty much the last thing i wanted to do when i was actively suicidal, days after getting a full disclosure. It is basically what many people fear as a "worst case" scenario of kids talking about what is going on. But you know what? As much as it sucked to go through, this was the system working as it should. My kid overheard stuff. We had talked about what she overheard but she was still uncomfortable and she told someone. That person did their job and reported it. People checked on my kids. They are safe, and the investigation was closed, but i ak glad someone checked.

You are a mandated reporter. You [should] know many kids are not safe, and most wont tell anyone. You should want your kid to seek help if she is scared, or worried or unsafe. From you or from others, but keep telling until someone helps. This is why family secrets are so dangerous. And it is why i used this admittedly uncomfortable, scary, and even embarassing experience to reiterate to my kids that they can always tell someone.

I know you already owned you were wrong, and i dont post this to pile on. Instead, i wanted to offer you a story that may hit close to what you fear if she does tell people. Or it may be more than you even thought. I wanted to share that it happened, it sucked, and we survived. It was ok. And my kids saw they could get help if they felt we needed it. Sometimes it helps to really look at our fears and see if they are really as scary as we believe.

The other thing i wanted to address was this:

I honestly did think I was making improvements, and then I put her in that situation and let it go on for a month.

Look, i havent met a single person on this site who made a perfect first go at fixing their shit. When i read your post, what struck me was how many parallels i saw between you and my husband.

He has done a lot of good work, but its early for him and he screws up. Its been a progression for him, a bit like this:
1) i want to try but i dont know how and cant start. I suck and should give up now.
2) i try but nothing works
3) tell me what to do
4) i think i need to do this, do you agree?
5) i did a lot that worked, yay! OMFG I BROKE IT WTF NOW?!? I suck and should give up!
6) something went wrong, please tell me what i did wrong so i can improve
7) this is where i screwed up. I am sorry. Here is how i plan to fix it. Comments?

You did a lot of the early numbers in the past. You panicked, saw it as hopeless, didnt know what to do.

In this post, you mentioned identifying the possible problem to your husband. You discussed why it was problematic with him. You apologized to her and addressed it. This IS progress. This is good work. Obviously it isnt the end of the road and there is more to do. But there always will be. The important part is you now seem to be doing it

LifeDestroyer posted 12/24/2019 09:43 AM

Those steps sound about right IHPN, especially when you're separated and can't talk to the other person.

Our daughter thinks anything is a secret. "Mommy, I have a secret. I have Troll socks. I have two crushes. I went into Mrs. C's room and helped her clean." I didn't call this a secret to her, but I also didn't really explain why I thought that some family things shouldn't be talked about with other people. If she talks about it now and people ask questions, then it is what it is. This is life now and it's not changing.

The teacher across the hall who knows we are separated is also divorced. Her ex was very abusive to her and their daughter. The daughter and mine are friends. One day the other girl told mine some scary things about what her dad to her and her mom, threats of killing. I had to explain to my daughter that he is not allowed anywhere near them because of the scary things he has said. She was worried about her little friend.

IHatePickingName posted 12/24/2019 11:23 AM

My 5 year old thinks everything is a secret too. And he cant keep secrets he does have 🤣🤣🤣 he told everyone what he got them for Christmas. But its a secret because he whispered it. 🙈🤣 My 7 year old can finally keep presents a surprise and she and i have some good ones this year.

She may learn a lesson here about secrets, she may not. And that is ok. She has time. But she also saw mommy correcting a mistake, apologizing, and advocating honesty. That is a very important lesson for her too.

I am glad the steps sounded logical to you. We never separated, but i can see how that would complicate your processing. You lack the immediate feedback to your actions and words, both positive and negative. But that can also be a gift because it gives you time to process your own thoughts and reactions. My husband lacked time because of my suicidal response when i got full disclosure, and it was hard for him. Conversely, he was never upset about the lines i crossed in online relationships. I was the one who labelled them infidelity. It gave me time to process at my own pace. It was more comfortable than the runaway train ride he was on. I know you dont want the space, especially not the way you got it. But it can still be a gift you can use.

In the end, you need to be able to be accountable to yourself, before you can be safe for anyone else. Hopefully you can find other good ways to hold up a mirror to your actions, so your husband and daughter (and you!) Benefit from your improvements. I know SI has been good for that for you and for me.

LifeDestroyer posted 12/24/2019 11:34 AM

Yup, in order for it to be a secret, she has to whisper it to you. She will probably tell her daddy what she made him for Christmas, but say she didn't tell him everything about it so it will be ok and still be a surprise.

IHatePickingName posted 12/24/2019 11:57 AM

I deliberately mislead my son about some of daddy's presents, so the "secret" he shared was inaccurate. 🤣🤣🤣 Oh kids.

IHatePickingName posted 12/24/2019 11:59 AM

I wish i could post a pic. I wrapped one so it looked like a teddy bear. Told my son i got daddy a teddy bear. It isnt a teddy bear. Daddy know that. My son does not. He was so sneaky in teoling daddy what it was and he doesnt know why we laugh when he giggles about the secret.

TimSC posted 12/25/2019 08:39 AM

Years ago I was walking down the stairs from our bedroom. My wife and my daughter were on the first floor sitting on the sofa.

I heard my wife say "Don't tell your Dad, it will only make him mad."

I already knew my wife had secrets that she would not tell me. As a result, I never fully trusted her.

I was pissed that she was now teaching my daughter to do the same thing.

Justsomelady posted 12/25/2019 09:46 AM

I agree that kids canít take the burden of secrets. I was burdened w many and ended up sharing private stuff w people my family wouldnít have wanted me to share with as I needed that outlet. That said, sometimes they have a place. My friend has an emotionally abusive husband and she and they have to keep secrets in order to survive. They canít even enjoy ice cream or make a human error without him flipping out abusively and ruining everyoneís week. So they have to keep secrets as the lesser evil until she can get out of the situation.

forgettableDad posted 12/25/2019 17:47 PM

honestly did think I was making improvements, and then I put her in that situation and let it go on for a month.
We make mistakes. Healing is a process.

When my wife and I went through the worst of it I did go and speak with my kids' class teachers (I'm not sure what they do in the USA but in Israel each class is assign a teacher to act as a main social educator responsible for the class for the duration of the school, 3 or 6 years at a time). I wanted to make sure they knew and catch any behavior changes early so we could help our children with coping.

It's good that you're finding your daughter someone external to speak with; my eldest (11 at the time) eventually went to a therapist for a while and it did help - a lot.

LifeDestroyer posted 12/25/2019 17:50 PM

Both her teacher and our school guidance counselor know that we are separated. We wanted them to be aware so they can look for any changes in her behavior. There have been a few times when she got upset, her teacher noticed and called the counselor to come speak with her. I also told our assistant principal the other day.

forgettableDad posted 12/25/2019 17:57 PM

She sounds like she has two loving parents and is in good hands

We make mistakes as parents. With or without our infidelity. Owning up to them and changing/healing is the best example you can give your kids.

One of my driving forces in IC to change myself was so I could be a better man and a better father for my children.

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