#113 Woman hides her body and her feelings / Is survival by deceit normal?
DEAR ABBY: I am 43, the mother of four children and just celebrated my 20th anniversary. Is it normal for someone to be married all this time and still not want your husband to see you naked?
I do not reveal myself to him. The lights must always be off, and I keep a shirt on. it's not because I am ashamed of my body; it's that I'm not attracted to him. I never was.
I married my husband for security and have learned to love him. But I love him like a brother, in a sisterly kind of way. I feel I owe him.
Should I tell my husband how I feel and risk losing my security after all this time? I had to talk to someone, so I confided in my best friend. She advised me to say nothing.
My husband had an affair a few years ago, and frankly, I was secretly relieved. Sometimes I wish he was still with her. Now that it's over, I'm back in hiding. Abby, please advise. -HIDING IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR HIDING: What a sad situation. By marrying your husband feeling as you did, you have cheated both of you. Not only have you not "revealed" yourself physically, you have not revealed yourself emotionally or in any other way. You wish he was still with his lover because it took the pressure off you.
Your husband had an affair because instinctively he knew something important was missing in your marriage, and if you were happy you would not have written to me.
What you have described is not a marriage; it is an "arrangement." My advice is to talk to your husband about making another kind of arrangement - one in which he supports the children and possibly makes some kind of settlement with you, while you both pursue your separate lives. Frankly, it won't be much different than what you are already experiencing. -ABBY
Hi Hiding: Even if it was normal for others, which it’s not, we know that it's a perpetration for you; it’s your integrity that prompted you to write. Specifically, it is out-integrity for you to deceive and withhold such thoughts from your husband. The costs to you and all with whom you relate are beyond description.
This reply will shift you into high-gear-mulling; that is to say, once you read this you won't be able to deny that you are choosing to deceive another, therefore, per your understanding of how karma works, the consequences will begin to compound. The longer you mull over whether to come clean with him the more it will bother you. You simply can't win (with things that are important) choosing to deceive another.
You didn’t mention children but I shudder at what they have learned from you. Everything gets communicated non verbally, it wreaks havoc on a child’s mind. I’d advise you both to set aside some therapy money for them as part of the divorce settlement.
You have a few lies running you. For example: "…it's not because…." The truth is you don't know the cause. You've been telling yourself your reasons for so long that you have come to believe they are the truth. We know your reasons are not the truth because when you tell the truth the problem will disappear. The problem with withholds is that they serve as barriers to the experience of communication, specifically, you can’t experience the deceits and withholds he has with you. I assure you, when you do come clean you will find that he has been perpetrating some huge fraud on you. In his universe he is cause for this condition.
Your taste in a "friend" is questionable. Understandably you would unconsciously choose someone who would support your continued deception, however, keep in mind that she too has some huge withhold in her life. What you’ve done is compounded the consequences she’s piling up for her own out-integrity; intending for her to support you in even more deception was not one of the finest moments for either of you. No doubt at some level you know her advice was not in your best interest else you wouldn't have written. I wonder what you would have done if she had replied, "Are you willing to come clean with him?" Followed by, "Please let me know when you have done so—till then, let’s take a recess from each other. I need to know that I have a positive supportive effect on my friends."
Can you imagine what life would be like for him to find someone who cherished and respected him? The chances are remote as long as you remain in control. Your contempt, punishing him as you do each day, verges on evil.
My advice? Keep doing what you’ve been doing. I don’t mean to come across as facetious, it’s just that it’s the one piece of advice you can be trusted to follow. You no longer have a choice in the matter, such is your addiction to survival-by-deceit; only a circumstance, a "happening" (an unconsciously created accident, a health problem, a loss) will force you to come clean. In the meantime, The Clearing House will be of value.
FYI: Everyone is driven by survival. Even a martyr does so to look good—better than.
Thank you for writing. Many will see themselves.