So I went back to the states and, for a couple years, was constantly trying to keep in touch with them although they never answered any of my mail or phone calls. I got remarried and had a baby, but, after a year, that marriage ended, and I decided to stay single for a long time. Five years ago I started to date someone and a year later my long-lost kids from Greece called me up out of the blue and said that they needed to come back to the United States — that they did not like living in Greece anymore. So they came and it was very awkward for everyone. After a while they went their own way and now they live in different towns and they keep to themselves.
I know I made the mistake of not telling my boyfriend about them and about that prior life, but I was just too ashamed, embarrassed, and heartbroken to relive it. Plus, I didn’t want him to judge me. He thought I was the greatest thing on earth and I honestly did not want to shatter that image he had of me with two broken marriages and two other kids. After I was done apologizing to him and telling him the whole story, he packed all of his stuff and left. It’s been three months since he’s been gone and I’m desperately trying to win him back. His whole family has forgiven me and they are currently trying to convince him to come back home but to no avail; he continues to tell me that I’m a liar and that he could never trust me again. It wasn’t until a month and a half ago that he came by and we got intimate. Since then, we constantly have sex whenever we see each other by chance — we have this crazy chemistry. I know he loves me and I know it’s wrong for me to be having sex with him being that he’s my ex. I don’t know what else to do honestly… — Heartbroken With Regret
Your long-lost kids came back into your life, telling you that they could no longer live in the same country as the man who verbally and physically abused you and kidnapped them, and, rather than focus your time and energy into rebuilding and repairing your relationship with them, you decided things were too “awkward,” kept them a secret from your boyfriend for years, and let them go their own way in a country they hadn’t lived in since young kids?! I’m not sure the reluctant ex who can’t forgive you should be your biggest concern.
You need some help in the form of dedicated therapy. Obviously, continuing to have sex with your ex, whom you keep running into “by chance,” isn’t the smartest idea, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You need more guidance and therapy than I’m qualified or able to provide in an advice column. Two broken marriages, one of which was abusive and ended with a kidnapping of your children (!) needs to be properly processed. You need healing — not just internally, but with your kids. You need to fill some of the cracks of your life before you try to build, or even rebuild, a serious romantic relationship on the crumbling foundation that is your personal history. Even if your ex forgave you, you are still the same person who lied to him for years, lost her kids to an abusive ex, and basically didn’t fight for a relationship with them when they re-entered her life years later. Those are a lot of cracks that haven’t been filled, and you need to fill them to stabilize the foundation of your personal life or nothing — no relationship with anyone — is going to be able to grow steady and strong on top of it. In short order: therapy, reconnecting with your kids and trying to rebuild a relationship with them, making sure your son who (I assume) still lives with you feels loved and secure, lots of soul-searching and self-care, and then maybe eventually a relationship with someone you can trust enough to share all of the cracked pieces of your past with.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.