THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK…
I am not alone while my love is near me,
I know it will be so until it's time to go,
So come the storms of winter and then the birds of spring again,
I have no fear of time.
Sandy Denny (singer-songwriter 1947-78)
My selfish ex and his mistress are trying to steal my children
21:23 GMT, 17 August 2012
Three years ago my husband announced he wanted a divorce.
The shock was so intense I lost three stone and was put on medication for depression and anxiety.
We’d had a rough few years, but as he worked a seven-day week, and I was home alone with three children (one born with a serious congenital condition), I didn’t expect moonlight and roses.
I just figured that we’d been together since we were children, loved each other, and we’d get through bad times.
Now, however, just when things have eased and life could be so much better, he has left and I am bereft.
Lynda has joined a sorrowing army of women whose husbands have left them behind when freedom (and other women) beckoned
For the first 18 months after his announcement, he still lived at home (separate rooms) and I kept it all secret to protect our children and, also, in the vain hope he’d change his mind.
Then he moved out completely, devastating our family.
My oldest child refuses to speak to him or see him. My younger two are caught in the middle.
Two weeks ago, he told me of an affair with a colleague and he has already attempted to take the children to stay overnight at her house, reacting with angry astonishment when I protested that it was unfair to expect them to adapt so quickly.
He seems incapable of understanding that it would cause great distress to me after knowing about the girlfriend only a fortnight, and also that introductions should progress slowly and gently.
He swears he’s only been with her ‘a couple of months’, but already seems convinced she’ll be his new wife once he’s rid of the inconvenient old one.
I despise her for accepting the role of mistress, and for seeming to want the role of stepmother when she’s never really met my children!
The pair of them seem to have insulated themselves in a little bubble and I feel they are elbowing me out of my own life.
To complicate matters our finances are very bleak — multiple debts accrued when I had to give up work to be solely responsible for our children, and an enormous mortgage well into negative equity.
Yet he believes he can just walk away from this mess and live happily ever after while I struggle on with no hope of a future.
There are days when I wish my children were older and independent so that I could feel less guilty if I just took myself out of the equation altogether.
I feel utterly betrayed and grief-stricken. I don’t see the point of getting up when each day just brings new pain and loss.
My husband and family have been my whole life and now my family is with another woman and I am alone and can’t see any hope.
This is a sad, sad story, but one which is all-too common, as you will realise. You have joined a sorrowing army of women whose husbands have left them behind when freedom (and other women) beckoned.
Although your email was long, it left me with many questions — for example, did he tell you why he wanted a divorce three years ago Did you think about counselling How old are the children
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Did you suspect he was involved with a woman (maybe even this one) at the time
To be honest, this man is swearing that he’s only known this lady a couple of months, but a warning bell is sounding in my brain.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this other woman hadn’t been on the scene for much longer.
It may seem futile to lay all these questions on you, but I do so because I think it’s very important for you to get angry, rather than depressed.
I glimpse signs of anger in your letter, but not enough. This man has behaved with callous selfishness and you have to square up to his behaviour and give it a killer jab worthy of boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams.
But how It seems impossible when you’re lying on the floor, I know. Make a list of tasks you have to accomplish and try to take action on one each day. It may help you feel there is something to get up for.
You say you were put on medication for depression three years ago, but you are still depressed, and must therefore address this before anything else. I’m not saying you need medication, but you do need help.
Since money is an issue, I think the best thing would be for you to talk to your GP and ask for treatment on the NHS. You need to be able to talk openly with a professional trained to ask the right questions.
After the initial shock, you kept a heartbreaking secret, and have had to deal with your poor children as well as the money worries.
No wonder you feel so desperate. I repeat, please talk to your GP and don’t leave without a referral to someone who can give you real help.
You hint at suicidal impulses, and that’s enough for me to beg you to take this seriously.
While on the subject of professional help, have you consulted a solicitor
I don’t see how you can face up to the financial problems alone, and your ex-husband (sorry to use that phrase when it’s not strictly true, but I think you have to use it, too, to face the reality) has to support his children.
Since he is clearly very selfish as well as obsessed with this woman, he’s unlikely to offer — so you have to be assertive.
I suggest you start by visiting the National Family Mediation website (nfm.org.uk) and read it through carefully to familiarise yourself with all the questions and answers to give you a steer on how to move forward.
Then it would be good to find a solicitor who works within the legal aid scheme and make an appointment to see if you would be eligible.
Lynda, there’s a slip in your last statement, when you say: ‘My family is with another woman.’ You should have written ‘my husband’ — because your children are most emphatically with you.
There’s no reason why they should stay the night at the other woman’s place for a long time and you must not let your ex bully you into agreeing to it.
He has driven this whole thing, hurting you terribly, and now he needs to understand that you are no longer his victim. I’m not suggesting confrontation, just quiet resolution.
Lastly, you say (understandably) that you feel there is no hope for you.
Your children are your hope — but there’s more.
I don’t know how old you are, but ask that you accept this truth: that there is always, always hope and you can have no idea who you will meet or what good things will happen in the future.
The pain of never having said goodbye
My mother-in-law has just passed away after succumbing to breast cancer. I didn’t visit her since October last year because of moving house and, after that, a cancer relapse on my part.
I am a stage-four thymoma cancer survivor. I had surgery in early March this year, followed by a crisis in April. Mostly confined to home, I need help in bathing.
But we live near my in-laws and so I could have insisted on visiting her in her dying days. She was gone too soon.
My body was never the same after the crisis, but I feel I should have insisted that my husband take me and our child to see her.
My father-in-law is still around. How can I make things up I miss my mother-in-law so much — though I’m pleased I did rush to hospital to see her for the final time.
My husband is grieving and I am, too.
He says things are not going to be the same — and I feel lost and don’t know what to do.
Your email contained the single-word subject line of ‘Regrets’ — pointing us to that pitiless spectre that weighs down so many human hearts.
Those things that we failed to say do stay with us, usually for ever, and so do the excruciating moments we heartily wish had never happened.
That is precisely why regrets are such an important part of the Anglican confession: ‘We have left undone those things which we ought to have done / And we have done those things which we ought not to have done…’
The Christian ‘answer’ is, of course, penitence — although you do not have to be a believer to recognise that saying that you are truly sorry is the first stage towards forgiveness.
Never put off those visits to very sick people, because one goodbye may be the last (file photo)
You’re telling me — a stranger — how sorry you feel when, of course, the people you must tell are your father-in-law and your husband.
Anyone can see that you must have been horribly preoccupied with your own illness, but that doesn’t explain to me why your husband didn’t scoop you up and take you to visit his mum.
Surely it wasn’t so much for you to ‘insist’ as him
There is a very important general message here, which I pass on to all my readers: never put off those visits to very sick people, because one goodbye may be the last.
What’s more, gently insisting that someone very close to you does the right thing may ultimately save them from the very real pain displayed in your letter.
There are certain pieties that must be upheld — and one of them is visiting the sick and/or old, even if you don’t really want to.
Your husband is right to say that things won’t be the same, because when someone dies, a space is left, like the small clearing in a wood made when a tree is chopped down.
Surely you can do much to make up for what you now regard as an error of judgment by being a support to your husband and father-in-law — yes, even though you are not physically strong.
They will need your emotional strength — and (to be blunt) allowing yourself to ‘feel lost’ isn’t very helpful.
Find yourself by taking care of those who need you.
Be honest with your father-in-law, tell him how much you regret the fact that your pre-occupation with your house and health led you to neglect the mother-in-law you loved so much — and ask him to forgive you.
Be sure you give him all the attention he needs at this painful time.
Perhaps it might help to make a memory box of your mother-in-law for your child to remember their grandmother by, and your father-in-law could help by looking out old photographs and letters.
Why not ask him to help you with what could be a healing family project
And finally: Sometimes it's good to get it wrong
Don’t you love being wrong Not just making a small mistake, but being totally, colossally, in-your-face, stupidly-bonkers wrong
It won’t surprise you to learn that I’m talking about the Olympics. I was one of those dreary nay-sayers who moaned about the cost of the Games while proudly proclaiming a lack of interest in sport — yet there I was loving every minute of the glorious Olympics.
Awestruck by Mo and Usain. Cheering my boxing heroines Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor and those magnificent cycling and rowing women. Star-struck by them all. Moved. Humbled.
I was thinking this last weekend when we spent three nights in a camper van at Fairport Convention’s annual festival in the Oxfordshire village of Cropredy. I wrote last year about being determined to try new things, even ones I thought not ‘me’ at all.
HOW TO CONTACT BEL
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.
Write to: Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail [email protected]
A pseudonym will be used if you wish.
Bel reads all letters, but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
We had such a great time at the perfect folk-rock festival that we went back this year — to hang out in a field with lovely people of all ages and all types and listen to some terrific music.
Much of it was played by up-and-coming bands such as Leeds-based Ellen and the Escapades, Brother and Bones, Dead Flamingoes and the stunning American girls, Larkin Poe.
I found myself thinking how I wouldn’t know about all this vibrant, young talent if I hadn’t gone back to Cropredy to hear great oldsters of my generation such as guitar and song-writing genius Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention themselves, who’ve been delighting fans (like me) for 45 years.
Similarly, I wouldn’t have known I’d be so blown away by the vibrant talent of our young sportsmen and women if I hadn’t decided to start watching the Olympics, even though sport isn’t ‘me’, any more than camping.
There’s a lesson here, isn’t there Yes, there’s always a lesson! How many times do I tell readers to try new things
Honestly, I was standing listening to Bob Marley tribute band Legend, with my trainer Debbie on the phone reporting on the women’s boxing, and I just wanted to leap with joy, asking the heavens, ‘Who’d have thought it’
Yes, moved and humbled, indeed.