Dear Annie

I want to ask you to please keep my letter anonymous and I am thinking how ironic that is, because the idyllic life that I have carved out for myself is about to blow up in my face and everyone will think of me as a fraud.

I am so scared to lose all that I have, especially when my husband finds out that I have been lying to him for years.

I have been happily married to a wonderful man for the past eight years, who treats me like a queen. We have two lovely children. We moved to a golf estate last year and although I battled in the beginning, I have been accepted by the other ladies and I enjoy belonging and socialising as often as we do.

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Our husbands play golf together and the ladies meet in the clubhouse to socialise and we all work for the same children’s charity together.

My problem is this: my life was not always so perfect

My husband knows nothing about my former life except that I went to a Catholic girls’ boarding school. My mother has passed on and I don’t get on with my stepfather or my stepsister. What he doesn’t know is that the reason that I don’t get on with my stepfather is because he sexually abused me.

I begged to go to boarding school to get away from him. He is a very wealthy man and my mother was afraid to lose the security he brought her. She agreed to send me to boarding school on condition that I kept quiet about the “nonsense” that I told her was going on between my stepfather and myself.

She agreed to send me to boarding school on condition that I kept quiet about the “nonsense” that I told her was going on between my stepfather and myself

I was really messed up as a teen and after school I got into drugs and earned money for this habit in the most shameful way possible.

One night a colleague of my stepfather paid for my services. When I bumped into my stepfather a month later he made it very clear that he knew what I was doing. He threatened to tell my mother if I didn’t give him a free service. My mother was ill with cancer and I did not want to break her heart.

Soon after I started going to a meeting with an old school friend and came to know God

I put my past behind me and started making better choices. I got a waitressing job and saved until I could complete a hotel management course. I studied hard and it was in the hotel business that I met my husband. We happen to attend the same church. He loved that I had the same values and beliefs as he has.

I never told him about my past and thought that it was truly behind me, another life. Now I have just discovered that my stepfather has put in an offer on a house in the estate that we live in!

I am shattered! There is no way I will meet the lewd demands that I know he will make when he discovers where I live. If he threatens to tell my husband about my past, my husband will be horrified. He was a virgin when we married.

I can’t sleep or eat from worry. My past is catching up with me and I am going to lose everything. Please help me! I am beyond desperate!

From
‘Maria’

Dear ‘Maria’

Thank you for your letter. You are clearly happily married to a man who knows who you are now and he loves you. He may not know all the adversity that you faced before or the challenges that you have had to overcome.

Our behaviour does not define us

In our humanness we make bad choices and mistakes at times. The responsibility that we do or don’t take for the mistakes we make is what defines us.

You were the victim of abuse. This is even more painful when the closest person to you, the person who should protect and care for you – your mother, chooses to turn a blind eye to such a dreadful situation.

Perhaps you feel that your husband will respond in the same way?

You made some bad choices to numb the pain that you had experienced by your abuser and your mother who refused to hear you. When you found a better option to find peace and healing – God – you embraced that. You managed to give up drugs and you applied yourself and worked hard to achieve the goals that you set for yourself.

You were the victim of abuse. This is even more painful when the closest person to you, the person who should protect and care for you – your mother, chooses to turn a blind eye to such a dreadful situation

You show strength of character, resilience and determination

Those are clearly characteristics that your husband sees in you too. He sees who you have become. Maybe it is time to trust him and to tell him how you became those things. You can hold your head up high. You deserve to have a loving husband and good friends.

Tell your husband that you have something very serious to talk to him about. Maybe arrange for a friend to take your children so that you can have uninterrupted time together. No matter what his past, for him to be in Church with you, he must understand that grace was once extended to him too.

I am sure that he will know that God’s grace extends to you too and that your past is not who you are now.

When he knows about your stepfather he can support and protect you

Perhaps he will be able to tell the board about him. You can still press criminal charges against him if you choose to and this knowledge could greatly deter him from relocating to your estate.

You have overcome a lot. Hold your head high and focus on the victories that you found, as opposed to the problems that you faced. We don’t know what others have had to overcome in their lives. Trust that the people who love you will support you and not judge you.

You are beautiful
Love and blessings
Annie