DEAR DEIDRE: I’M haunted by the sexual fling I had with my cousin when I was a teenager.

It’s been years, and we both have families now, but I can’t shake the shame I feel inside.

I’m 29, he’s 32. I’m married to a 33-year-old man and have one child.

My cousin and I had always been close growing up. We spent a lot of time together and had quite a lot in common.

It wasn’t until we were in our mid-teens that things got a little strange.

When I was younger I had a lot of mixed feelings and hormones floating around that I didn’t understand.

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I was becoming curious about boys and sex, but I was too young to know better.
One evening at a family party he and I were sitting alone in my room and got close to one another.

I didn’t know what was happening at first, but we ended up kissing.
Initially, we acted as if nothing happened. I think we were both a little confused.

Over time it escalated and we ended up sending nudes to each other.

We’d take any opportunity we had to sneak around to each other’s homes to try sexual acts.

I know it may sound silly, but I didn’t really understand that I was doing anything wrong.

After some time we grew out of it and stopped.

I don’t think he remembers, but to this day I can’t get it off my mind.

Family gatherings always make me feel anxious, and sometimes I avoid them altogether because facing him feels like torture.

It was so long ago, but I’m struggling with the knowledge of what we did.

I still feel so disgusted with myself. How can I move on from it?

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DEIDRE SAYS: It isn’t unusual to have different types of sexual experimentation when you are younger.

What you did was normal, and there is nothing wrong in doing this with your cousin.

It’s legal for cousins to marry, though sometimes families can find it difficult to accept.

You may feel guilty about it and feel that this was a mistake but remember that you are a human being and we all do things that we regret.

It’s important that you don’t let it define you. You have both moved on. It is a closed chapter.

If you are struggling to cope, it may be useful to talk to someone. My support pack Counselling can help.

You will be able to get additional advice through Mind, the mental health charity (mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393).

Get in touch with Deidre

Every problem gets a personal reply, usually within 24 hours weekdays.

Send an email to [email protected]

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