Recovering addicts are haunted by desires of infidelity

Dear Amy,

I am a wife and a mother.

I had an affair six years ago. It went on like this for about three months. At the time my son was 3 years old and I was actively addicted and made so many bad decisions.

My husband noticed all of this and wanted to come to terms with it.

I fully expected that he would divorce me and take our son with him because I was not a good mother or wife.

I’ve been sober for six years now and I still feel so guilty.

I used to dream of infidelity at least once a week, regardless of whether it was me or my husband.

After these dreams, I woke up crying and hyperventilating.

Now the dreams occur every four to six months.

How can i stop this? My husband forgave me and I thought I had forgiven myself, but obviously there are still some unresolved feelings on my part.

Do you have any ideas for me

– Guilty dreamer

My first thought is that you are making great strides. You are married to a graceful man and you have the privilege of being a parent of your son.

You have these dreams less often. You are sober, take responsibility for your own actions and work – very appropriately – on the next step towards better health and healing.

Forgiving yourself is a big job, and using your own maternal skills could be helpful. If your son makes a mistake, feels guilty, and beats himself up for it, you are likely using the gentlest self to comfort him.

You have to learn to use this skill, that parental gentleness, on yourself.

Your challenging tendency to be unforgiving to yourself probably goes back further than your addiction and infidelity.

Your addiction could have been a way to numb or numb these harsher feelings and reactions. A sobriety counselor or support group would help you keep integrating your past into your past.

Hope you will continue to work through this to be the best version of yourself.

Dreams are the way your mind tells your story. But you actually write this story during your waking life. Keep going. Keep writing.

Dear Amy,

I have three longtime friends who have planted large Black Lives Matter signs in their front yards.

I’ve invited them to rallies and to help out at five different NAACP events.

You always have an excuse not to get involved.

We all go to churches with all-white congregations and send our children to (only white) private schools.

I’m starting to put some effort into trying to make change.

They only show boats with signs that they bought from Staples.

Any suggestions?

– Cheese in Cambridge, MA

You should probably stop trying to get your three friends to become an ally. They obviously have no interest in doing this with you. Stop asking.

The institutions you belong to (your church and the school your children attend) could be good places for you to continue advocacy.

You could start an activist reading group and / or connect with black (or at least less white) institutions in other neighborhoods to offer support and allies, or just hang out with people and listen to them, the stories and lessons of people whose relocation experiences Made by this world can be radically different from your own.

Read “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi (2019, One World). Part memoirs, part polemics, Kendi’s book offers provocative points of discussion and concrete action plans for people who want to know – and do – more to connect across racial segregation.

Dear Amy,

You have published many letters from people describing surprising or shocking discoveries made through DNA testing.

For example, “No Longer Bewildered” reported that her DNA test showed she was her niece’s half-sister, an impossibility, she pointed out.

It was different for me. It showed that my half-brother was my cousin. So I think maybe all of the half-siblings found could actually be cousins.

– Understand now

DTC (direct to consumer) home DNA tests include important standard language in their usage agreements: “… for entertainment purposes only.”

I assume the data generally doesn’t lie, but the testing itself can be buggy.

It is important for people to understand that any results they get should be viewed as the beginning – not the end – of their search for answers.

Write to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068, or email

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