Wedding Woes

Foundation of lies

Dear Prudence,

My first marriage ended 20 years ago. I knew my husband was sleeping with someone else, but I never found out who. “Helen,” my friend and neighbor, made me coffee and held my hand when I broke down. She even helped me while she was pregnant, and I often referred to her sons as my “other nephews.” Recently I learned her younger son did an ancestry test and learned that Helen’s husband wasn’t his father and that he was first cousins with people still living in my former town. That’s the name of my former in-laws: My ex-husband was the father. My “nephew” ended up calling me to ask for the truth since Helen was stonewalling him and his father refused to deal with it. I told him I knew my ex had had an affair but not with whom, gave him my former mother-in-law’s contact information, and wished him well.

I only had one conversation with Helen. She tried to apologize, and I asked her if she got off more from sleeping with my husband or gloating over my stupidity and misery. She said that wasn’t “fair,” and I asked her if they ever slept together in my bed and whether any of this was “fair” for me or her son. Then I hung up. My new husband thinks it would be easier to let this go and forgive since it’s been so long, but can anyone forgive a betrayal like this? I feel sick. I miss Helen, I hate Helen, and I wish none of this had ever happened. I feel like such a stupid, naïve fool—a betrayed wife crying to her husband’s mistress, what a farce. I don’t know what to do.

—The End, Again

Re: Foundation of lies

  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    This is so shitty. I feel so bad for LW. And I have to say, that was pretty ballsy of the nephew to call and ask. 

  • Let yourself feel all of this. It’s horrible and the people you trusted the most betrayed you. 

    You don’t have to forgive and you definitely don’t have to decide that now. 
  • I think that the LW needs the help of a good therapist.  She's unpacked a lot of old feelings with new ones added and she needs to process all of this.  

    I feel so bad for her and can't blame her for her response.   But this is now 20 years in the past and while the news is fresh she can't go back so she therefore needs to move on.

    I can't tell her what she should do but at first pulse if it was me I'd probably tell Helen that I have no desire to have any contact from her at this time and should I want any contact I'll let her know.   She betrayed the trust of too many people to attempt to be the arbiter of fairness. 
  • This makes me see a little red, b/c I have a friend who dealt with this situation, albeit not with a 20 year gap. 

    LW absolutely gets to feel what she feels, b/c this is about a friendship betrayal now and that's the issue.  She doesn't have to forgive until, and if, she's ready no matter when that is.  I feel terrible for LW.
  • That's a horrible thing for neighbour to do! I'm seething for LW!

    While LW's new husband is right, she needs to just leave it be - he also needs to know this is like a fresh wound for LW

    Kudos for LW to pass along info to 'nephew'. Kid did nothing wrong and should know his family if he wants.

    I do think LW should see someone since this is a 20yr gap and a new wound basically. At least a therapist could explain her feelings are valid and how to deal with this new information without letting it take over her life.
  • Holy crap. I knew the moment she said that Helen was pregnant where this was going. But still, holy crap.

    You're under no obligation to forgive anyone. If you want to forgive them, do it for yourself. But you're going to need some serious time with a therapist before you can even consider that.  
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think it's wrong of LW's current husband to tell her to forgive and move on. This may be a 20 year old betrayal, but the wound is fresh now. She deserves to process and work through this on her own time. If that's with the help of a professional or just with the help of some friends, LW has the right to work through this. 

    I don't know if she ever needs to forgive Helen. I can say that I would never speak to her again, ever, forgiveness or not. 
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ugh. I feel awful for LW. 

    I also agree that it's wrong of LW's current husband to tell her to forgive and move on. She just found this out. She's allowed to be an angry and hurt and pissed about it as she wants. 

  • She needs to see a therapist.  This is a lot of feelings and emotion to be taking on.

    The main thing I would tell the LW is that she needs to forgive and love herself first!  I'm reading a lot of self-blame in her letter.  Like there is a recording going on her head over and over again, "How could I have been so stupid?  How could I have been such a fool?"  She trusted someone who presented themselves as a good friend.  There is nothing foolish or stupid about that.

    As for what to do about her friendship with Helen and with Helen's sons.  Apparently one of them her ex's son also (sigh).  I say she can do carte blanche whatever she feels like.  Helen has already been written off and told as much.  At least for now.  I'm not sure how close she still is to the sons but, if the relationship with them also hurts her, I think it's fair to give them a head's up that because of the bad blood there is between her and their mother, she needs to take a break from her contact with them also.
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  • kerbohl said:
    I find the line "I miss Helen, I hate Helen" to be so sad.  This is a new wound because she just lost her closest friend!  Or, should I say, found out that her closest friend was not so close if she was more than willing to betray LW and lie to her for years.
    Right?  Like, "She helped me while she was pregnant" = She was having my husband's child and assisted me in guilt.

  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    So wait - she remained friends with Helen the while time?  Even after the divorce? Im confused

  • So wait - she remained friends with Helen the while time?  Even after the divorce? Im confused
    Yes. She didn't know it was her until long later
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