One night I was invited to a party where I met Jim. Jim was smooth and nice and caring and so care-free — the exact opposite of my own life. We fell in love, and he has no idea that, after seeing him on the weekends, I go back home to my husband and kids. He thinks I’m separated and that my husband is long gone and living on his own. He doesn’t know about the family dinners we have and the vacations we take.
I am so tangled in this other life it’s sickening. I’ve met Jim’s family and friends and they all love me and think I am perfect for Jim. Jim was so afraid of women all his life until he met me. He often tells me how women wronged him in the past and how he loves how honest and caring I am. I am a huge fraud. When I’m out with my husband, I am constantly looking over my shoulder wondering if Jim’s family or friends will see me, and, when I’m with Jim, I’m terrified my friends or my family will see me. I’ve become so depressed that I cry on a daily basis not believing my lies have lasted almost three years!
My husband knows what I’m doing and is so-so with it, but he asks me to stop and I don’t know if I can. I’ve tried breaking it off before, and I got so upset I threw up and called Jim immediately asking for him back.
Jim wants me to bring my kids and move in with him, and I stupidly told him I will in the summer, Knowing full well there is no way I can leave my husband. I am in love with both these men and I don’t know what to do. My husband and I get along so well that I don’t even know why I did this. I’m happy with him, but it scares me to think of living without Jim. And it breaks my heart thinking of hurting either man. I am the most selfish person I know. Please help me. — Tired of the Lies
You need to stop being a passive passenger in the journey of your life and take the driver’s wheel. Running from your problems — first, your “money issues, kid issues, boredom issues” and now all the lies you’ve told — only makes everything worse. Your only path to peace is the truth and the hard work it’s going to take to undo the damage that has been done, in your marriage, in your psyche, in your emotional well-being.
You have to let Jim go. He was never yours to begin with anyway. Your life with him isn’t real. It’s a fantasy that you’ve created to escape the problems weighing you down in your real life. And you can’t build anything on a fantasy. Unfortunately for Jim, he thinks your fantasy IS reality. It will be a blow to him to learn the truth, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be kept in the dark any longer. You have to come clean, you have to end things with him, you have to turn your focus inward and work on fixing the broken pieces inside you that led you down this path of lies.
Obviously, therapy. For both you individually and you and your husband as a couple. You say you love him, you have children together, you have a life together. Your marriage is worth trying to salvage. But you need professional help to get there. You need self-forgiveness and open communication and someone teaching you tools to cope with life’s problems in a healthy, productive manner rather than escaping into some fantasy land where you only create more problems for yourself.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.