Irish Daily Mail

CAN’T GET OVER HURT OF LOVE RAT EX

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DEAR Bel,

MY EX husband left me seven years ago. We were married for 14 years and have two beautiful children, a girl and a boy, both healthy.

My husband had insisted on putting our daughter into private school but that had to end when he left me. She and her brother are at an outstandin­g school and doing really well.

My ex-husband married the woman he left me for. She was a work colleague 12 years his junior. They now have a two-year-old child. My ex-husband seems to be doing everything to please his new wife, even buying a hot tub!

I keep asking myself why any man would leave two beautiful healthy young children, then in their preteens. Why? It goes round and round in my head. At 50 — three years older than he is — I feel washed up and no use to anyone. How can I get over this?

REBECCA

THIS letter was so short it read like the staccato beat of a heart under strain. Used as I am to having to edit long letters, here I supplied additional words to make your fragmented phrases clearer.

You have waited a long time to stutter out a shock undiminish­ed by time. I am so sorry you have not yet entered the period of adjustment needed to continue with life. Not healing necessary but acceptance of heartbreak. Of course, each day when you wake with that awful ‘Why’ tolling in your brain, you still rise and continue with the all-important task of being a loving mother to your two children.

Much of the on-going hurt you feel is on their behalf, isn’t it? You love them so much it’s inconceiva­ble that their father would voluntaril­y separate his life from theirs.

Children can be more resilient than we imagine. Although divorce may leave them a legacy of confusion and regret, they must also get on with their young lives. You don’t mention their relationsh­ip with their father, but I suspect that if it were bad or non-existent, you’d have said. But what about you?

Seven years have passed since your husband fell for another woman and left your family home because his passion and need to be with her was more powerful than his love for you and his children. This is a truth incredibly difficult to accept but we have to, you know. I have nothing but sympathy for you but after seven years you must stop the obsessive question, ‘Why did he leave me?’ and start asking, ’What shall I do with the rest of my precious life?’

It would be easy to suggest counsellin­g and it might help you. But now, just look at that question I posed, repeat it aloud, and then (looking in the mirror) again. You have to stop regarding yourself as the pitiful woman whose husband left her.

Stop defining yourself in terms of marriage to that one man. Stop describing yourself as ‘washed up and no use to anyone’. You are not! Feeling pangs of envy at their lifestyle will not help you; dwelling on the past and feeling bitter will gradually corrode your spirit.

You have control over your own life. Nobody suggests it is easy to take back ownership of your fate but I beg you to listen to me when I say ... your life depends on it.

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