This week Russ comes clean about a long-term affair he has been having behind his wife's back and deals with the psychological fallout. Grief, depression, and white-knuckled anxiety all play a role. Will it have a happy ending?
I have to come clean. Unknown to my wife and friends I have been having a relationship since the age of sixteen. It carried on even after I met my wife, got married and even since I've had children. It started with letters and then moved on to face to face meetings, visiting each other and sharing some of my most intimate details. It just happened -- it seemed we were destined to be together for the rest of our lives. They wouldn't discuss me with anyone else and I could only talk about them to a trusted friend who I even ended paying to help me in this 'affair'.
Over the last few days things have rapidly soured: accusations on both sides, feelings the other isn't taking things seriously and finally a total loss of trust. Clearly, we each blame the other and I don't see how it can ever be the same again. Sad, but there you go.
Who is it? The Taxman!
For reasons no one can explain he started sending requests for my income details at sixteen, which I returned saying NONE for more years than I care to remember. Over the years, due mainly to my own incompetence, he has stayed close and I seem for ever to have been owing him money. Finally though, the tables have turned and he now owes me money!
Well, as you can imagine he isn't giving it back without a fight. Talk of 4 weeks to process and a further 4 weeks to send a payment have driven me to distraction. When I suggested applying the same penalties he does to me he declined and finally the inevitable end point of 'that's the system'... and you can't change the system.
Well, I've come out the other side and, to be honest, I'm glad to put this relationship behind me and now will only be speaking to them via my 'trusted friend' my accountant.
More seriously, the end of a true relationship can be one of the most catastrophic psychological events in our lives and actually shares much in common with bereavement in the way we do or don't handle it.
Classically people go through five phases when a relationship ends:
1) Denial: You know logically the relationship has ended but your heart rules your head, maybe they will come back etc
2) Anger: This can be directed at your ex, yourself, the world, mutual friends or anyone who gets in the firing line. This phase is made worse by alcohol and texting!
3) Bargaining: Lets give it another go, 'I can change' and the immortal line 'it'll be different this time'.
4) Depression: Often accompanied by loss of interest in activities and friends, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
5) Acceptance: This doesn't mean you walk down the street skipping with a manic grin on your face but rather you are coming to terms with the end and becoming more realistic and balanced about the future.
People move through these phases at different speeds and can move backwards and forwards before they reach acceptance.
Although the process is 'normal' people can get 'stuck' and this is where psychological interventions may become appropriate.
As for me I have reached acceptance and moved on. The VAT man has started writing to me now and he seems much more my kind of guy!
The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers:
- My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder)
- I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer)
- After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman)
- My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader)
- My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser)
- I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer)
- My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)
- I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man)
- Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm)
- I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant)
Oh yes and finally if anyone from the inland revenue is reading this the blog was written by Dr Andres Fonseca.