Tell Me About It: Tell that nice guy how you messed up
Question: I always wanted kids, but fate and life being as they are, I managed to get to my early 40s with no husband or children. Not from lack of trying, I assure you, but nothing took.
Three months ago, I started seeing a nice guy. He has potential. But I feared he'd go the way so many had: dating for a while, then moving on. This time I was determined to at least try to get something of what I want, so I did what I never thought I'd do. I lied when he asked whether I was taking birth control. My bad luck coupled with the pure statistical improbability of it all really led me to believe I had little to no chance of getting pregnant.
Well, I'm looking at a positive pregnancy test. How do I tell this man I barely know that I lied to him and, hey, sorry but I'm about to torpedo your life?
I've made a huge mess, and I don't know how to fix it. I think I just didn't realize until now how badly I wanted the whole white-picket-fence thing, too.
Answer: I'll let Bernard Malamud get this one. "We have two lives," he wrote in The Natural. "The life we learn with and the life we live with after that."
Now you live with what you learned: From now on, it's integrity first. Make an appointment with a reputable therapist, since you need to figure out when and why you let emotions push your judgment off a cliff. That's the surest path toward keeping it from happening again.
Also, you've just become rudely acquainted with what a bad person you're capable of being. It's not an easy thing to live with. Having someone to guide you through it can help.
Next, tell the nice guy you are pregnant, and lied about birth control. You tell him why. You tell him how wrong you were - that you were self-indulgent without any regard for the consequences to him. You tell him you are prepared to absorb as many of the consequences you can, including that of raising this child entirely on your own.
You tell him you're seeking therapy.
If you care about him as a person and not just as a squandered potential picket-fencing contractor, then say that, too. But don't if you don't. (See "Integrity first," above.)
Stay this honest course, and you will be a better, more self-aware, more compassionate person than you were before you sank to deceit. It will make you a better mom. I realize how perverse that is for me to say, but there's no getting what we want; we all get what we get.
Chat with Carolyn Hax online
at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.