X

Cookies on SurvivingInfidelity.com®

SurvivingInfidelity.com® uses cookies to enhance your visit to our website. This is a requirement for participants to login, post and use other features. Visitors may opt out, but the website will be less functional for you.

more information about cookies...

Return to Forum List

Return to General

SurvivingInfidelity.com® > General

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

Telling family members

Sickwithgrief posted 9/16/2020 08:46 AM

I'm sorry, this topic has probably been covered lots over this site, but I'm about to ask again because I couldn't find anything... that's on my addlebrain. Addlebrain also doesn't lend itself to brevity or actual sense either... forgive me :/

My WH's brother and sister-in-law are coming for lunch tomorrow at my invitation. I am sharing with them what's been happening in our home for the past few years, and what is about to happen in the near future.

WH is a lifelong porn addict, which I didn't know for more than twenty years (until it caught up to him physically and, well, that's kinda hard to lie your way out of). Until almost two years ago he was addicted to weed (yes it is possible, just like most viewers don't get addicted to porn, most people who smoke a joint don't get addicted either... But when they do, have mercy on whoever has to live with it). I always knew he was a smoker but never identified problems until asking him to give it a break for health reasons. He couldn't stop, we spent the next few years with him gaslighting and torturing me with lies, I forced him into NA somehow, he half-asses the program but somehow he's about 17? 18? months clean. I only know that because I still randomly drug test him. Last time was two weeks ago.

Anyway, ugh, more backstory. My family knows about both addictions because I told them. They are supportive of him getting treatment and us remaining married. They believe he is a good man with problems that can be overcome if I'm just patient enough (sigh). FWIW, my parents had a nightmare of a relationship until retirement when I think my father must have acquired brain damage and ceased to be abusive somehow. She is the walking epitome of Stockholm syndrome.

His family knows nothing about anything. His parents are deceased, he has a sibling in the US, another sibling in Hong Kong, and one sibling (brother) in the city where we live in Canada. They are only arm's length close, emotionally, due to WH having FOO issues he never dealt with. We see each other for holidays and occasionally to see the kids. I know they love him, but they are completely clueless about him and would be the first to say so. They love him but WH has never given them the chance to have a relationship (big age difference, didn't really grow up together).

Like a lot of addicts WH would rather keep everyone at arms length so never the lies shall meet.

Well tomorrow that changes. I asked them (brother and his wife) to discuss something important about WH, which would be the first conversation of this kind in 25 years. I am disclosing to them everything I have told my own family.

I am tired of keeping secrets and by proxy absorbing all blame for people being estranged (I'm bipolar and other stuff, have been in and out of hospitals and treatments, and poor WH has looked after this broke crazy lady for 25 years is pretty much the narrative).

Keeping his secrets has left me completely isolated and now barely even in contact with my own family. It is making me far more sick than I should be on seven medications. Keeping his secrets has kept him sicker, too, and kept him away from the only people left on earth who love him and would support him besides me.

I don't want to give too much detail. It isn't important. I am struggling to find the best way to make the mud clear without creating any unnecessary drama or self-imposed stupid crisis.

I don't want them to be estranged anymore over lies. If they're going to hate each other they can do it for proper reasons!

I know I might be inserting an agenda that isn't my place. I also know I've lost sleep knowing that when I leave, he has no one left. As angry as I am, I still love him. I still think of him as my own family. As I close my door, even for six months if that's all it is (yeah right), I want to open a window for him. Another chance to be someone he is actually proud of. Because he sure isn't right now, and the point of all this isn't to shame him, it's to show him he is already enough to accept help and kinship.

I don't fear he will trash me or my reputation or whatever when I leave. That would embarrass him. And even if he did, it wouldn't really impact my life much anyway, since there's pretty much no one left to trash me to. Also, I've lived all these years knowing people already see me incorrectly, why would I start caring now lol?


I feel like after letting all these secrets go, real life can begin again. They won't be my burden anymore. I feel not like I'm passing the burden on, but like I'm blowing open a hole in a wall that should never been built. Like I'm letting sunshine in to his life AND mine. It feels scary but peaceful, just like the thought of being alone feels.

It feels like the right thing to do even if it's only for me - I get to be authentic even if they don't accept what I have to say.

Anything truthful feels so very good right now. I have thought a lot about if I'm just doing this out of being sick of his behaviour, or frustration, or some weird revenge. It doesn't feel like "that" kind of satisfaction though. It feels like a parting gift, the last offering of help or hope that I have for him (for him, not us).

Has anyone ever done this? Told WS family before you left, even if only temporarily? WH knows this is scheduled and has been invited to attend if he would like. He did not say "don't do it", but he also didn't say he'd attend. I don't know if it matters anyway, my words are still the same.

I feel really really nervous about HOW to say some things. It's a lot easier to talk about the drugs than the porn. I want to convey that this is an issue going all the way back to when brother-in-law's boys are now... that he was a kid who really needed help but never told. BIL is now raising two boys he adopted from a seriously abusive home - he had to learn from professionals about what sorts of acting out goes on and why and how to handle it with empathy and boundaries. My hope is that he can see WH in that light.

Then all that's left is what needs to be cleaned from my side of the street before I go. My conscience already feels better in anticipation.

If anyone has experience and did this well or had it turn out TERRIBLE, could you share it with me?

As always thank you all for just being here. I hope one day I'm in a position to be the wise supportive woman helping someone else!

thatbpguy posted 9/16/2020 09:37 AM

I am a fan of full exposure.

Outing the betrayal and such is usually a positive thing. It lets the betrayers family & friends understand just who did the betraying and allows them to place things in best perspective. It also brings peer pressure on the betrayer to get help and start making better life decisions. And that peer pressure continues into other areas (such as demanding they be fair if there is a divorce...). To me, exposure to family, friends, the other betrayed spouse... is a win/win for all involved.

gmc94 posted 9/16/2020 09:50 AM

After dday, I urged my WH to tell his closest friend and his siblings. He refused. I ended up telling them when WH was in an ambulance bc he'd attempted suicide.

So - my advice is always to tell folks that I think can be helpful & supportive (ie folks that truly love the WS), and let the chips fall where they may.

And my WH's narrative to his family about me was similar to yours - that he was propping me up our entire M, that he was the "solid" one in the family, etc. That was pretty much bullshit (even w/o his As), but I'm the one who allowed that dynamic to fester in ways that weren't very healthy. By "keeping the peace" between WH and his family, I helped foster a narrative that not only hurt me, but I believe hurt my WH as well by providing unearned ego kibble.

ETA:

Keeping his secrets has kept him sicker, too, and kept him away from the only people left on earth who love him and would support him besides me.
couldn't have said it better.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 10:11 AM, September 16th, 2020 (Wednesday)]

sisoon posted 9/16/2020 09:53 AM

I can understand thinking hard about how to say it, but this looks pretty good:

WH is a lifelong porn addict, which I didn't know for more than twenty years (until it caught up to him physically and, well, that's kinda hard to lie your way out of). Until almost two years ago he was addicted to weed (yes it is possible, just like most viewers don't get addicted to porn, most people who smoke a joint don't get addicted either... But when they do, have mercy on whoever has to live with it). I always knew he was a smoker but never identified problems until asking him to give it a break for health reasons. He couldn't stop, we spent the next few years with him gaslighting and torturing me with lies, I forced him into NA somehow, he half-asses the program but somehow he's about 17? 18? months clean. I only know that because I still randomly drug test him. Last time was two weeks ago.

My reco is to say it in a way that a 6 year old would understand - simply and straight.

I think you're making a good choice for yourself. I hope you get a lot of support, but no matter what, you'll no longer have to carry the burden of keeping the secret.

Stay strong. Let us know how lunch goes.

The1stWife posted 9/16/2020 10:01 AM

What are you expecting his family to do? There been a very distant relationship for decades.

WithGrace posted 9/16/2020 12:18 PM

I did this. XWH was a severe alcoholic (30 plus ounces of hard alcohol per day at his worst) and I had already involved his family members to help try to support him in recovery. After two years of treatment and relapses, I learned XWH had been cheating with three women that I knew of, but realistically there were likely many more.

I worked to get XWH back into inpatient addictions treatment (this took two months) and filed for divorce the day after he left. I then called a family meeting with his close family members (parents, aunt, sister and brother-in-law) to inform them of everything. Unfortunately this happened on Boxing Day due to the timing of everything. I was able to stay calm and solution-focused during the meeting. I gave them the facts of what had been happening and then answered all of their questions. I informed them I had already filed for divorce and there was no chance of reconciliation because infidelity was a deal breaker for me. I left the door open for them to contact me if they had any further questions (important when dealing with someone with a serious addiction), said my goodbyes and left them each with a letter and small gift. The letters stated the things I didn't trust myself to say out loud without becoming overly emotional (I expressed appreciation for having them in my lives the past ten years and thanked them for the kindness they had showed me). I managed to get through all of that without crying and left. I then went home and cried for hours.

I chose to have the family meeting because I was very close with XWH's family and I wanted to be transparent about what was happening and why. I also wanted a chance to say goodbye to them before I officially left the family. I stuck to the facts and made sure to avoid making value judgments or insults toward XWH. I had already made up my mind to divorce so there was no need to add any further commentary about XWH's actions.

I have been divorced for over three years. I still see XWH's sister and brother-in-law about once a year when they are in town for the holidays. We don't talk about XWH and have been able to maintain a friendship. I have also been invited to visit them overseas and may take them up on that after the pandemic. I believe this is only possible because we had a strong relationship and all have good boundaries (don't talk about XWH).

If you plan to proceed with this meeting I strongly suggest you get clarity on the purpose of the meeting and plan what you will say ahead of time. Stay focused on the desired outcome and figure out how to get there. Try to stick to the facts and leave emotion out of it (as much as possible).

Sickwithgrief posted 9/22/2020 08:35 AM

Thank you all for validating that honesty and transparency are so appropriate, so necessary even.

The talk could not have gone better. I am so glad I told them. It is a huge weight gone, knowing I can be honest with his family at any time I or he needs help.

There has always been a lot of resentment and discord between WH and my BIL (the whole family really, but this one the most). I was a little bit unsure that the mostly estranged relationship would keep BIL from wanting to get involved.

He responded (as did wife SIL) that he was so very glad to know and immediately wanted to know exactly what WH needed from him that he could provide, any help at all, wanting information about specific actions he could take to help him succeed in his recovery. What would help him most to get over the PA, understanding and not judging. They both showed compassion for both of us and said I was brave to talk about something so embarrassing, something no one talks about.

We talked about their newly adolescent sons and knew this was already an issue that would need to be addressed. I was able to explain the nature of free, fast, and infinitely varied porn and how we as a society are just figuring out that this is a problem, especially for kids, a monster we didn't anticipate so none of us knows about it until it's too late. And for them the neurological effects are worse. They were very very glad for the information and were glad I was honest so WH and I could help them understand on a very personal level how this happened.

WH was told exactly what I was doing,breaking the silence to the most embarrassing people in the whole world. I even invited him to be present so he would know without a doubt what was said.

He didn't say "don't". He said he was too embarrassed to be there. I was shocked and still don't know what to think. He's still acting out, even more often. So why the sudden honesty (to everyone but me, I still get all the gaslighting and resentful lies).

BIL has contacted WH to let him know that we had talked, and that he would leave it up to him when to tell the other siblings, but that he would be uncomfortable keeping a secret for him just among family. They're physically so far apart but Zoom and email have kept them in touch (especially now). I thought that was a loving boundary to extend. WH did not disagree.

I still don't get it. Why is WH so calm about this?

I didn't tell them anything about my experience in living with this, or the damage done, but they were surprised and saddened that I am planning to leave for at least six months because it has become that unbearable for me. They hugged me despite covid and said they were going to do their very best to see that we don't divorce. I cried.

Maybe at some point I'll be able to explain why this is abusive and how my physical and mental health have been so depleted I can barely function. Maybe someone who cares will help me too, in the same city, so I dont have to hear "move in with us" in the middle of the woods two hours away from the place you love living and have made roots here. I love my family dearly but I think I'd end up in exactly the same situation (family dynamics would become as intolerable). Even if not the in-laws, somebody.

Thank you as always for letting me purge this. It's a no good very bad day again, and I'm back in that place where I can't do this and will just cry my way through the pillows all day. Oh this is such a rewarding journey, yeah, like the sexual abuse from childhood. I'm so grateful to have survived that too, uh huh, gee it made me so much healthier and more resilient! Not.

SlapJacks posted 9/23/2020 10:28 AM

My WW's AP was out of our friend circle. Just some random dude she met on FB.

I wanted to keep it VERY quiet. I did not want to deal with extraneous drama. But she told her mom, her sister, and 2 friends that I know of.

And that pissed me off royally, because, now I feel really awkward whenever I am in their presence. I already have enough elephants in the room when I am w/ my WW.

gmc94 posted 9/23/2020 10:45 AM

I was brave to talk about something so embarrassing, something no one talks about
It IS brave. Good for you!!!

And as to trying to explain to others the harm from all of it, I have been pretty successful by getting my family to listen to Marnie Breecker's 2-part interview on Duane Osterlind's "The Addicted Mind" podcast. A couple of folks in my circle/family are former APs and I think listening to that helped them not only "get" the pain I was experiencing, but to revisit and process the harm they also caused (albeit decades ago) to some other unsuspecting wife.

I also always recommend listening to anything by Dr. Omar Minwalla.

Godspeed in these next steps.

Return to Forum List

Return to General

© 2002-2020 SurvivingInfidelity.com ®. All Rights Reserved.     Privacy Policy