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Feeling panicked

positivemind posted 6/17/2019 13:39 PM

I am feeling really panicky, Iím working on boundaries, for myself and what I want and will talk about and for him and what I will tolerate. Itís all around his family and also his behaviour. I was speaking to a friend today who has done a lot of self development and she said something that has made me panic that I havenít got what it takes to make my marriage work. My WH sister is dying and from what I have researched I donít think it will be long. Her circumstances are very sad as she is only 33 and has two young children but she is toxic. She played a part in my WH being unfaithful as she pushed him towards her friend and then when I found out told me she wanted her friend in her life more than me. I havenít spoken to her or the rest of his family for 2 years as they all decided that the OW needed to be part of my SIL life more than us. Now she is dying, my WH and I have always agreed that he would never be in the same room as the OW. He only sees his family fortnightly and doesnít attend any social events. My friend that I spoke to today said that I have no right to say that he canít be anywhere that the OW is, so if she decides to be with his sister in her last moments and he is too then I have to just suck it up. That if she decides to attend the funeral then I have to suck that up too, that I have no say in this as he will hold it against me forever!!!! I donít know if I have that in me!!! The thought of him being in the same room as her or of her being anywhere we are makes me so angry and I donít know if I could cope with it!!!! His family will have no regard for him or us and wonít care how awful we feel. I just donít know what to do!!!

Brennan87 posted 6/17/2019 14:34 PM


Deep breaths! :) Anxiety and panic are real and debilitating for sure. Understand this will pass for you.

Your friend is correct and incorrect. She is incorrect that you have no right. You have every RIGHT to expect your WS to abide by no contact in any situation. As this is a consequence of his actions. You have every right to divorce him if he breaks this boundary.
Where your friend is correct in my opinion is that yes, your husband may hold this against you. After all aren't affairs the fault of the BS anyway? I'm being flip, but the reality is you can't control the outcome. Other than how you react if he does go and the OW is there. You can't force him not to go, you can't make him not go.
It's a horrible situation for sure and I am sure he wants to be there for his sister, and you want him there to support her. (the OW won't be there 24/7), so a compromise can be achieved.
The comment your friend made about you not having what it takes to make your marriage work. F*** her. That's no friend. She has NO idea what you have been through, even if she's been betrayed, her situation is still different. This one totally pisses me off. You need to do what is best for you, but this type of friend, I'd say "see ya".
With all that being said, just take a deep breath, focus on you, not the situation, the outcome or your friend. Once you have gotten to a calmer state, then you think through all of these elements.....

Want2BHappyAgain posted 6/17/2019 14:39 PM

You have EVERY right to say your WH can't be anywhere near the adultery co-conspirator!!!

HE brought this on by having the A with HER. HE should face his consequences. If he can't handle it...he should have never had the A in the first place. If he holds this against you...he isn't worthy of you.

Having said all of do YOU feel? Do YOU feel he would do something with her if he sees the adultery co-conspirator again? Do YOU feel he would be with you as a united front against all of his family and the adultery co-conspirator? This MIGHT be a healing part for you IF your WH were to show everyone where HIS priorities are...with YOU.

But if you aren't ready for this...then so be it. This is NOT up for discussion if you don't want it to be Dear Lady. Because...consequences.

positivemind posted 6/17/2019 14:47 PM

The comment your friend made about you not having what it takes to make your marriage work

Sorry my fault, I didnít word it correctly, my friend didnít say this, itís just how I feel.

OwningItNow posted 6/17/2019 14:51 PM

I am sorry, but I am confused about onething: what do you plan to do if the OW shows up or is present at one of these events? Is your boundary clear, you will file for D? I get that "you can't handle it," but what does that mean in terms of your clear boundaries and consequences?

swmnbc posted 6/17/2019 15:39 PM

The first step is to calm your nervous system down and stop the panic loop. Do some deep breathing (look up alternate nostril breathing) or meditation.

A conversation with your friend has caused you panic. Have you had a conversation with your husband? You may be letting your imagination get carried away.

He will want to see his sister before she dies, and I would strongly consider being as strong and generous about that as you can. She has not been a good sister or SIL, but this is the end, and it would be nice for him to be at peace with his final moments with her. I don't see why he couldn't simply ask to see her when OW is not present?

For the funeral, I would recommend some strategies for how to handle avoiding contact with the OW. I would go together and sit at the end of an aisle so that no one can sit next to your husband. Focus on your nieces/nephews and being a calming presence for them. Your husband will be grieving, and he may gain comfort from talking to people. I would tell him that I understand that but that we need to remain together the whole time. I would expect him to be ready to leave if it becomes too much for me. I find that when my husband is going out of his way to accommodate me, I'm less likely to need the accommodation, if that makes sense. You should not feel that he is going to leave you high and dry where the OW is going to be, and that may help you focus on his grief and complicated feelings in return.

positivemind posted 6/18/2019 01:22 AM

Thank you for all your responses. We are still in MC and this is the subject I will bring up in our next session. I am unclear of my own boundaries and thatís why I am working on them. I recognise that I fear telling him what my boundaries are and Iím not sure what that fear is. I swing between ďjust let him do what he needs to do and trust you will survive it togetherĒ and ďwell itís his own fault for putting us in this position in the first placeĒ I know the latter is my inner child screaming the unfairness of this. I think if I am clearer on my boundaries then he will be strong enough to be clear on his with his family.

OwningItNow posted 6/18/2019 03:29 AM

I think what you fear is what many BS fear: when I set my boundary, I know he will cross it and I'll have to do what I said I would do (kick him out, leave him, file for D, whatever). In other words, you know what kind of boundary you are going to set but are panicked over him doing the wrong thing. You can't control what he does, but you are trying to. Why does it panic you to think of leaving someone who wrongs you? I can tell you, that is what a codependent feels about their relationship--panic.

It's easy to say, "I will not tolerate this," and people are not uncomfortable. It is a lack of firm action when our boundaries get crossed that is in my view a BS's most common contribution to a dysfunctional partnership. The WS doesn't do the work, and our contribution is to stay anyway.

You will only feel calm if you know you will be ok no matter what choices he makes regarding his completely disrespectful family and/or the OW. There are so many toxic people that you figure, "He is going to be disloyal. It's going to happen. There's too much that can go wrong. He's going to hurt me somehow." You can't change that he is going to do what he is going to do, that's true. You cannot control him or his family, so you need to work on feeling good about yourself and your life and your boundaries anyway. Remind yourself that you do not need him. You can want someone but you should not need them.

We make ourselves strong not by learning to numb ourselves to the hurts but by learning to love ourselves no matter what our friends and family members do. They are not us. We are us. We decide our value. We decide to be happy. We are not ruled by puppet masters; we detach from their foolishness and love ourselves no matter what.

Tell yourself that no matter what any of them do or say, you are an awesome person and your H is lucky to have you. How can you establish and keep that feeling throughout the day?

1. Ask him to hold your hand frequently, and definitely if OW is in the room. Have a signal (cough, tap him three times on the back) if he needs to grab your hand.
2. Ask him to stay with you, by your side, at all times. Have a phrase that indicates he is messing up. "Oh, there you are. I have such a headache," for example. That's his signal to stay with you.
3. Ask him for a time limit on the day. Point out the time ONCE if he is forgetting. "Wow, it's already 3 pm."
4. Ask him to walk away with you if anyone says this, that, or whatever offense. Scratch the inside of his hand as a sign if he forgets that you aren't tolerating that insulting crap.
5. Be clear about what you will do (leave) if he breaks any of these agreements. Do not compromise your comfort. Be strong for you.
6. Probably avoid saying you will file for D if x, y, z happen unless you are sure you would follow through. If you really would, then say it.
7. Review and practice your signals several times so that you are both clear.

This is a highly toxic environment for you. This family is not a friend of the M, and if he values you, he will appreciate the necessity of protecting you in this openly hostile situation. But you also need to work on separating your worth and happiness from his dumb choices. Fake it til you make it. Do not let these people get to you. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. They only hurt you if you let them, so never let them see you upset. Don't give them that satisfaction. Review your plan carefully and have your exit if he messes up. You can decide later on how badly he messed up (hopefully he doesn't) and if the R can be saved. I remember exiting a wedding once when I was young because my boyfriend broke our agreement and kept getting sucked in to some chick's flirting, so I left. I thought, "F this humiliation." But he left five minutes after me, so he ended up getting it once he saw that I was not messing around with my boundary. I felt better because he shut her down fast when I left. Your H may need some reminders, but your protective boundaries are your job to enforce in your M, not his. Just see what happens. But have a system of protections for you that you and your H have set up.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 3:35 AM, June 18th (Tuesday)]

positivemind posted 6/18/2019 06:14 AM

Thank you OwningItNow there is some really helpful information in there. I havenít made any boundaries clear at all. I have told him what I want to happen, I have told him what I donít want to happen but I havenít made it clear about what I am willing to do if my boundaries are crossed and thatís something I feel needs to be crystal clear in this situation. I struggle with knowing what is being codependent and telling him what to do and having boundaries. We have MC tomorrow so I will make sure I talk about it regardless of my anxiety and fear.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/18/2019 08:40 AM

I think the family has every right to designate a time for friends and a time for family at SIL's bedside. Unfortunately, it sounds like his family won't do that. In this situation, I'm afraid you will have to suck it up.

You can certainly discuss with him ways that he can be with his sister while avoiding the OW. Maybe someone else in his family would be willing to coordinate when each of them could be there separately.

WRT the funeral, that's just going to suck. Make sure your WH understands that your anxiety is his doing. If he hadn't cheated, none of this would be an issue.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/18/2019 09:29 AM

telling him what to do and having boundaries.

These are 2 different things. Boundaries are for you, not him. He can do whatever he wants about your boundaries. It's up to you to decide whether or not what he does is ok. You are not telling him what he can and cannot do. You are simply telling him what you will and will not accept.

OwningItNow posted 6/18/2019 16:32 PM

Positivemind, try to separate the OW simply being there (awful for you) from your husband (judge his response only). He cannot control if she is there.

I do not remember who the poster was several years ago, but she and her WH still worked with the OW (although departments and shifts had been switched). These were good jobs and nobody was leaving. She stressed and stressed about seeing OW--when, where, how often. It was inevitable. Their MC worked with them to form a plan for how they would handle seeing her.

The day finally came and the OW was walking toward them as they were entering work. The poster's WS grabbed her hand, as they had practiced. They stuck close together and averted their eyes, chatting about something mundane (the weather, sports). I remember how good she felt when it was over, even though she knew it would sometime happen again. She made a point of saying, "We had a plan, we practiced the plan, and that helped us handle it really well."

You and your H cannot control another human being, but you both can control your actions and reactions. I am sorry about this shit sandwich, but given these terribly sad extenuating circumstances, confronting this with a plan is much better for you and your WS emotionally than living with too much guilt over not seeing her at all. That guilt could chip away at your marriage, and I'd hate to see that happen.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 4:41 PM, June 18th (Tuesday)]

Hurtbeyondtime posted 6/18/2019 23:03 PM

So you are family and that OW is nothing and your WH should tell his parents and family that the OW cannot be there or else he wonít attend any functions much less the funeral.
Sorry the SIL nor OW have any say in this one. And donít be afraid to tell his family what a pos their daughter really is!!!
Stand strong 💪

Carissima posted 6/19/2019 03:49 AM

"And donít be afraid to tell his family what a pos their daughter really is!!!"

Really? Completely inappropriate considering it's the woman's funeral we're discussing in this thread.

OP, what you do is you go to the funeral taking with the mindset of your username. You show your husband's family you are a unit despite their best efforts and you are there to support them.

While there your WH should be at your side, be attentive, have prearranged signals if you need to leave. Already have agreed length of time to stay at any wake or other get together after the funeral, leave immediately if things get toxic or you get disrespected. All these things can be arranged beforehand so you feel as safe as possible.

IMO your husband should get the opportunity to say goodbye to his sister in person. It's the kind of thing that could cause major resentment if he holds you responsible for it, even subconsciously.

Hippo16 posted 6/19/2019 07:28 AM


While there your WH should be at your side, be attentive, have prearranged signals if you need to leave. Already have agreed length of time to stay at any wake or other get together after the funeral, leave immediately if things get toxic or you get disrespected. All these things can be arranged beforehand so you feel as safe as possible.

IMO your husband should get the opportunity to say goodbye to his sister in person. It's the kind of thing that could cause major resentment if he holds you responsible for it, even subconsciously.


But being graceful and living with grace mean that you put that grace before these other emotions because grace is much more important. It means gracefully letting things go that are not meant for you. It means going beyond your inclinations of trying to get the upper hand or revenge on someone who hurt you.

What Carrisima said - I would change to "you stay by your husbands side"

Also - arrange what to do if people decide to bring up subject other than pertaining to the funeral.

and Behave with grace -

rehearse in your mind the worst and plan your reaction - "I'm sorry you feel that way" or something like that and move away from them.

Set a length of time to spend at the gatherings.
Avoid booze and anyone partaking - wake an funeral not an appropriate place for alcohol consumption!

Thought - why do "we" have funerals? It is for the LIVING to get over the loss of a loved one.

Does your husband really love his sister? Or is he going for "family appearances?"

comment (not to be taken to cause hurt tho it will):
Your husband made many choices to get to the place where he had his clothes off with a woman (similarly attired) not his wife. He needs to do some introspection and learn to behave with respect to his wife.

From your many posts (see your profile) - I get the impression your husband is more of a follower and is letting his family orient his actions.

Not a bible-thumper - but somewhere in the teaching there is the words about "a man shall cleave unto his wife" - and I don't get the feeling that he has done this for you.

something I would bring up in MC

Short story:

When dating my wife, went to see aunt/uncle and some other family. Aunt/uncle always had a mean little dog. Family get-together was a Sunday afternoon picnic on their farm etc. Knowing the mean little dog, they were asked to restrain (pen/lock up or ??) the mean dog... they did - for about 30 min. Someone let the dog loose and it immediately bit my wife - we left immediately and
never visited again. When uncle died, I attended the funeral by myself.

Point is they had "morals" such that I chose to include them out of my life. (lots of other crap over the years)

Long term - who will be at your side when your time comes (In sickness and health, till death do us part)

I would work on that relationship and not give a snort about toxic family.

Choice is yours - screw up your courage, swallow hard and move on.

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