OFF MY CHEST: How do I forgive him and his family for the betrayal when I’m still bitter?

Over the years, I have confronted him about his unfaithfulness but somehow I was always talked into believing that it was all my imagination.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

I have been told to suck it up and build my home. The saying that ‘a woman makes or destroys her home’ has been drummed into my head for years. But I just don’t know now. Did I break it, or did he?

My husband has been cheating on me for a long time. Several times over the years, I have confronted him and somehow, I was always talked into believing that it was all my imagination. Cliché, I know. But I have lived this. One time when I called him, his girlfriend picked up and asked who I was. Apparently, my very married husband was quite the single and searching man according to this woman. And they were on holiday somewhere fancy. I was livid and hurt and confused. This man who said he had no money for some household expenses was busy taking women out on holiday, leaving me and his child enduring and counting pennies!

Needless to say, they broke up and the woman in question later met me and apologised. She said she had no clue he was married. By then, said husband had come back begging for forgiveness. Stupid me, a few tears later, and lots of begging from his family, I decided to forgive him.

It did not take long for strike two. Fast forward a few years, his philandering was getting out of hand and reached an almost breaking point when he began acting like a completely different person. He was hardly home, never had money, his phone was always off on business trips…I saw the red flags, yes. But I still had hope. And then they were photographed somewhere, and I saw the photo on social media.

My heart was broken, and this time I decided to live my life. He came home and I calmly asked him to leave, but he refused to do so. He argued, then begged, and finally ‘stamped his authority’ that it was his house and he would not leave. I don’t even know how I did it, but I just looked at him as he was shouting and did not respond. I was not going to fight over another woman. I bid my time and began slowly saving up more for my child and I.

Half term was around the corner and we were going for a family get-together. I had promised our child, so I couldn’t back down. We went. And while there, I was hit with another shocker. Surprise, surprise, the man had another family that I was unaware of, and his second wife had just given birth to baby number 2 a few months earlier. Their first child was a few years younger than mine. I couldn’t believe this. And the worst part of it is that I found out from my child after his cousins told him he had two sisters, one of them a new baby sister.

So I confronted my husband. And we argued that night. But I was done. And worse still, the rest of the family knew about his other wife. My in-laws knew and nobody said anything. Our mutual friends knew and they did not say anything. His sister, who was my friend and our match-maker years ago, knew and she said nothing. And had earlier convinced me to forgive her brother in his previous trysts. I was the last to find out about his other family and my child was traumatised by it too. His cousins had made fun of him.

I came back to Nairobi hurt but determined to make it.

I moved out and changed my child’s school. The change was tough at first, but my child and I are adjusting well and trying to make a new life for ourselves.

A few weeks ago, I finally decided to file for divorce. And then, suddenly, I was contacted by my in-laws. They wanted us to reconcile; they wanted to see my child; they said I shouldn't abandon my home, my son's home! And I was reminded again that a woman builds her home and should not let it crumble. I was civil with them on the phone, but it took so much strength just to be polite.

Now, they want to renew the relationship with my child and I. But how can I have a relationship with them when I feel they betrayed me? When their son/brother has not lifted a finger to find out how his child is doing despite her reaching out to him? How can I reconcile with them? I have tried to forgive them and most times I feel like I have, but the thought of meeting them brought back a taste of bitterness in my mouth, and I am not sure I can be civil with them one-on-one.

Or was I wrong in leaving a philandering man? Should I have stayed just to have a home? A family? I have asked myself so many questions; wondered if there is something I could have done differently; and tried to imagine my life if I go back to him. I am confused. I don’t know what I’ll do but I know his family contacting me has brought back so many emotions I thought I was trying to heal from. Perhaps I need time, perhaps I don’t.

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Off My Chest is an open forum for anyone who wants to share their story or write letters they have always wanted to write. If you would like to share your story, please email: [email protected]

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