I feel extreme guilt

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q I am a married woman with 2 wonderful kids. I am very in love with my husband of 12 yrs. About 3and a half years ago I cheated with another man who was giving me a lot of attention. I was severely depressed (and having another ocd episode as I have all my life)! I didn’t have sex with this man but we masterbated eachother (That isn’t sex right?),I think. Anyway, I told my husband I had cheated on him cause I felt so very bad about it. I tried to tell him everything but I couldn’t bring myself to cause I just realized, back then, I truly love my husband and I know I will Never do that again!! My husband said as long as we didn’t have intercourse he forgave me but he’d prefer not to know the details. I don’t think my husband realizes it went as far as it did. I know I am not the kind of person who does such things and Never in a million years did I think I would do such a thing to my hubby. My problem is I am pretty sure I did other bad things with this guy and I can’t forgive myself, every time my head replays the incident ( which I am sure is worse cause of my ocd and depression) I don’t derive any good feelings from it at all and I don’t want to. but it seems like it will never go away! I love my husband and he says if I ever even bring it up again he will divorce me. Am I being selfish for not telling my husband everything in the beginning? I cut off all ties with the guy right away and actually know nothing would’ve ever come of it if he didn’t persue me in the 1st place. I love my husband but I don’t know what to do. I feel so horrible and it’s been 3 and a half years.

A: No, you are not being selfish. Guilt plus OCD is a terrible combination. You feel guilty and angry with yourself for doing something foolish but your OCD won’t let you let it go so you can move on. Your husband is right to draw a line. He doesn’t need to hear any more. It only hurts him. You don’t need to tell him any more. He has forgiven you. Now you need to forgive yourself. If you haven’t been able to do that for yourself in 3 1/2 years, it’s time to call in some help. There are medicines that can give you some relief from the constant rehash of your mistake. Talk therapy can help you learn to forgive yourself and focus on building a solid marriage and family for now and the future. Look for a therapist who has experience with OCD. Your doctor can help you with a referral or you can go to the therapist finder on our homepage.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jan 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). I feel extreme guilt. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/01/29/feel-extreme-guilt/

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