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My partner is having an affair

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 15 April 2016
Three months ago I discovered my partner was having an affair - I was devastated. I adored him and thought he felt the same way. He even brought her to our house, though he denies this. I went to see her. She has a long-term partner, but he is completely clueless about the affair - maybe I should tell him. She cried, apologised and said that I was lovely and nothing like my partner had told her, and that he didn't deserve me.

I don't know which way to turn: there is still love there, but it's not the same. I now check his phone and emails- there is no trust left.

He gets annoyed with me and says I should be 'over it ' and it was a big mistake. Apparently the woman he was seeing said he had admitted to cheating on me a few months before with another.

We are both in our 50's and left our long term marriages for each other. I can't face having to sell our house and start again. We are talking about getting married, but would it be marriage for the wrong reason?

Patricia Marie says...

It is devastating if the person one loves has an affair, as everything previously felt and shared with each other is thrown into question, even if the unfaithful partner ends it and says they still love and want to be with the betrayed spouse. Alternatively, if their lover meant little to them, and is dismissed as just a passing fancy, it can be equally traumatic.

It sounds as if your partner's love for you is inferior to yours for him. You only discovered his infidelity three months ago, so it is totally unreasonable to be expected to 'just get over it'. As he has little empathy for your pain and lack of trust, caused by his adulterous behaviour, he would seem to be exhibiting little regret or respect for you. Trust can sometimes be rebuilt, although never easy to regain completely, but healing a betrayed heart is a lengthy process and perhaps should only be considered if you both can truly see a future together.

You mention that you visited his lover, and are now considering disclosing the affair to her partner. This is a natural reaction, but would not serve a purpose, especially if you are intending to work at your relationship. Perhaps you may benefit from attending Relate, as this type of counselling could help you both explore why the partnership has faltered, and could ultimately create a bond stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.

If your partner has a history of affairs, the risks are high that the cycle could be repeated, and it may be better to walk away. However, if you do believe you can make this work, I suggest you put thoughts of marriage to one side for now, until things are more settled between you. If you do then decide to marry, it should be because you really want to be with him, and he feels the same way, not because you can't face selling up and starting again.

I recommend: After The Affair: How to Build Trust and Love Again, by Julia Cole with Relate.
Relate: 0300 100 1234 www.relate.org.uk

Regretting my decision to retire

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on Friday, 18 March 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

I recently retired from a career I'd had for over 20 years. I thoroughly considered this decision and was excited about finally having the time to do the things that the demands of work wouldn't allow. However, 3 weeks later, I think I'm regretting my decision. I miss the purpose my job gave me and the people I used to work with, and actually feel bored at home. I know that I can't return to work but I'm struggling to move on. Do you have any advice?

Patricia Marie says...

Retirement can and should be an exciting time, bringing leisure and freedom to pursue a multitude of interests, to travel or just to slow down and 'smell the roses’. However, it can often leave a huge void in your life, and the important thing is to fill that void in such a way that you can remain physically fit, mentally agile, and continue to enjoy social interaction with other people. A pet could be the answer, particularly a dog, but if your circumstances prevent this, perhaps you could embark on a hobby, join a gym, or check out local clubs for upcoming activities.

Most importantly, stop being so hard on yourself. Three weeks is no time to adjust, as you are still at the transitional stage from working to taking life easier. Make this time count, and try to focus on what you would like to do next. Consider some voluntary work in the local hospice or charity shop. Hopefully you would then feel a sense of fulfilment by doing something useful, together with resuming a routine you so badly miss, but without the pressure.

Think about all those dreams you envisaged, and had to put off due to work commitments. Allow yourself some quality time to do just as you please. If you can learn to enjoy retirement, you could be rewarded with what may be the most meaningful, creative and fruitful time of your life, and have great fun in the process.

I recommend: Retirement Manual by Stuart Turner: The Step-by-step Guide to a Happy, Healthy, Retirement.


Mother's Day

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 03 March 2016
As Mother's Day approaches, not everyone will be happily celebrating. For those who have lost a mother, it can be a daunting day, especially if this is the first one without mum. The day may also bring mixed and complex feelings to women who have experienced the loss of a child, infertility or miscarriage. They may struggle to cope with the memories and emotions which this day triggers, and may feel very unsettled.

For those who need a little support at this time, I offer some guidance to help you get through...

The Loss of a Mother
If you have lost your mother, this day could prove to be overwhelming, so be gentle on yourself. Do something positive, and perhaps choose an activity that will connect you - be comforted by looking at photographs of her, revisiting places you know she loved, spraying some of her favourite perfume, or listening to significant pieces of music, to relive those special memories. You may find this upsetting at first, but it will allow you to feel her presence, and as time goes on, it could become your own ritual. To honour her memory, plant a living memorial in the form of a tree or rose bush. You may still want to buy a Mother's Day card, to celebrate this day in your own unique way. She may not be here - but is still very much your mum.

The Loss of a Child
The death of a child is a loss like no other. If you feel yourself struggling during this significant day, light a candle in their memory, which could make you feel especially close to your child at this time. You may feel anger, sadness, or guilt, because they died before you. These emotions are very common with grief - don't try to suppress them. No matter how long since your loss, if you are still suffering, consider joining a bereavement group which could help you to feel understood, and give you hope, that if others can survive their loss - so can you. In time your focus can hopefully shift away from your child's death towards remembering your child's life.

And celebrating the day...
If you are celebrating this Mother's Day with your family, relish and enjoy every single wonderful minute. If you are wanting to treat mum, try not to be influenced by the multitude of gifts on sale. Instead treat her to something far more worthwhile like breakfast in bed, an offer to clean the house, or work through that pile of ironing. Perhaps bake her a cake, and get to enjoy some quality time with her. These gestures from the heart would, I'm sure, mean far more to her. And if you know anyone who may be reminded of a heart breaking loss on this day, perhaps help ease their pain by a small act of kindness, such as offering a card, flowers, or words of encouragement, which could make a huge difference to the way they are feeling.

Life goes on, and we must embrace it. Hopefully there will be plenty to look forward to in the future, and, however you do, or don't celebrate this occasion, I wish each and every one of you a very happy Mother's Day.


For additional help, advice and support, contact:
Cruse Bereavement Care: 0844 477 9400 www.cruse.org.uk
SANDS is a national charity which can offer you support when your baby dies during pregnancy or after. 020 7436 5881 www.uk-sands.org

Valentine's Day

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 11 February 2016
Yet again another Valentine's Day is upon us. If you feel sad and frustrated because this is a reminder that you're single, it might help to realise that you are not alone, and many dread this time of year. Here's some tips to not just get you through, but also to help you have the best Valentine's Day ever!

Enhance your social life to encourage new relationships
Venture out of your comfort zone and find out what's happening on the singles scene. A number of bars and venues hold singles parties, especially at this time of year, where you can celebrate as an unattached person. Don't take your love expectations with you though. Just go for a great time and to discover new people with whom to converse and share cocktails. Also consider joining a reputable dating site, or embarking on new hobbies and interests. How about arranging a fun night out with friends? Who knows, any of these could lead to an unexpected encounter.

Treat yourself
Don't yearn for that Special Someone to treat you. Go and buy that beautiful bottle of perfume you love. Treat yourself to some flowers. Splash out on a yummy box of heart shaped chocolates. Even better, treat someone you love, such as a close friend or family member - Valentine's Day needn't just be about expressing love to a partner.

Celebrate being single, and be happy within yourself regardless of your relationship situation
Just because others are partnered up on Valentine's Day, doesn't necessarily mean that they are blissfully happy. Remember the advantages of being single, such as free time, less responsibilities, the ability to make your own decisions, staying up until midnight eating ice cream and watching a slushy film, not having to tolerate your partner's family or watch those football matches. Then think about how some of these would evaporate within a relationship. Enjoy this single time. Just because Valentine's is approaching, don't rush into the wrong relationship and settle for less than you deserve out of loneliness.

Get some perspective
Do remember, whilst at this moment you may be without a partner, there are plenty of Valentine's Days in a lifetime, and many possible people with whom you could eventually fall in love. Put away the soul searching love songs, and listen to energising music to lift your mood. Don't make the day about loneliness, make it about happiness, and instead of moping around, be inspired by Bridget Jones, who after having enough of being alone, and constantly belting out "All by myself" became determined to find love, and did just that.

Avoid being swept away by a tide of gloom
Sometimes we can feel desperation at our single status, because of the sheer bombardment of media suggesting we will risk missing the boat. Try not to make this day about what you haven't, more about what you have in your life. Celebrate the strengths and achievements that testify to you being a whole and healthy person, someone who has space for love should it come along, but who doesn't need such a relationship to create self-worth and happiness.

And finally.......
Make sure you acknowledge the people who do matter, and make this Valentine's a day about love, even if you are single. A day when you can strive to open yourself up to change and be willing to focus not just on the love you hope to receive, but on the love you can give.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

I want my husband to find someone else

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 02 October 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

This is very hard for me to write. I want my husband to leave me and find someone else.

Charles and I were childhood sweethearts. I was 16 and he was 17. We courted for some time and married on a glorious day back in 1974. We had the most wonderful life together and have never spent one night apart since then. However when I was in my early fifties I suddenly became very clumsy, dropping things and tripping, then I found I kept feeling dizzy, was becoming tired very easily and also starting to have problems with my speech. I went to the doctor and was shocked when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which up to then I knew scarcely anything about. My first reaction was that I was not going to give in to it. That I would fight it and everything would be fine. It was just a bad dream. The reality though has been quite different.

Unfortunately over the following years my health deteriorated quite rapidly and now I am 61 and almost entirely bedbound. Lately I have been feeling both angry and tearful, and these emotions appear to be worsening. I don't want my husband to see me constantly crying, as he has been amazing. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how caring and loving he has been to me. He did not want me to have a carer to help me as he thought I would lose my dignity and feel embarrassed when I was washed and dressed by a stranger. So he has, for the last 3 or 4 years in particular, had to do absolutely everything for me - feed me, wash me, brush my hair, read to me, dress me, even help me into my wheelchair and take me out sometimes into the garden so I can feel the sun on my face and listen to the birds.

I feel so desolately sad for him. Such a wonderful man with such a burdened life cruelly thrust upon him. I want him to have a life for himself while he still can. To find a lovely lady who he can do the normal things with - go out for meals, walk along the beach, go on holidays etc, but he won't entertain the idea when I suggest it. I also don't want him to have to deal with seeing me get any worse, and presumably die before him as I know it would totally break his heart, and I love him so very much.

How can I convince him that this would be the best thing?

Patricia Marie says...

Living with the physical difficulties associated with this crippling disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), can take its toll emotionally, causing unstable moods and depression, of which I feel you may be suffering.

To have met and loved so closely for almost your whole lives, yet for you to be so selfless in suggesting your husband leave you for another, due to your perceived burden upon him with your health issues, particularly saddens me.

Your husband seems totally devoted to you in his uncomplaining attitude and readiness to attend to any of your needs. I feel that were you to push him to meet another, this would leave you both heartbroken, as I do believe this is not really what you are wanting, more that you are feeling overwhelmed by the situation you find yourself in. After all, if your current state was reversed, and he suggested the same, how would you react? Often, if we put ourselves in another's situation, it allows us to see things more clearly. Nevertheless, I do understand your concerns for his happiness.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society offer outstanding advice and emotional help, including supportive listening, either on the telephone or in your home, which I feel you would greatly benefit from at this time. Their specialist counsellors could allow you to share your deepest concerns with regards to your deteriorating health, and help encourage you to live in the moment, rather than be fearful of the future. The Society can also organise practical help in your home, which would enable your husband to have time to pursue hobbies or pastimes that he may have found necessary to put aside whilst caring for you. This would certainly make you feel less of a burden and thus bring you some peace of mind.

As you love your husband dearly, let him continue with what he's doing best - caring for you - and waste no more time, but go ahead and utterly enjoy each and every precious moment with this selfless man who loves you unconditionally. You both deserve nothing less.

Multiple Sclerosis Society: 0808 800 8000, helpline@mssociety.org.uk

Moving House Stress

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 18 September 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

We are trying to sell our house and the long drawn out process is infuriating me. The constant attempt to keep our home looking like a show house, whilst also having a very untidy husband and two young unruly children. The final presumption that the house is sold, only to find out a few weeks later that the buyers have changed their mind. The exhaustive forms and questions from the solicitor. The extortionate quotations from removal companies. The hours and hours spent trawling through the property sale sites on the internet hoping to find the perfect house, but within our price bracket.

Yet again a potential buyer has pulled out and I cannot bear the thought of starting the whole process again. We need to relocate as my husband's company is now based some 100 miles away. How can I get through this?

Patricia Marie says...

Research has shown that moving house is one of the most stressful events in life, second only to divorce and bereavement. Understanding this can help us be more accepting of the situation.

It seems you have exhausted yourself worrying about matters beyond your control, and any positive thoughts are being masked by negative ones. During a house move, with the multitude of tasks that need to be completed, it can seem like there is no time to relax. You must allow yourself some time out to think without pressure. Do something that makes you feel good – a pamper day, a yoga session, a walk in the country, or even just a long relaxing soak in the bath. Also, talk to your children, as they may well feel unsettled by the thought of moving, and seem to have picked up on your anxieties, hence their rebellious behaviour. Having time out and some distraction from the move will make you feel calmer and more in control, and hopefully rewarded with better behaved children.

I wonder if you could then seek some outside help with the move? Pass more responsibility on to your estate agents, who could provide accompanied viewings of your home whilst you are out, arriving early to present it at its best. They may also offer a service to help you source your next property. A professional removal company should be able to provide a packing service, which will save you both time and energy in the lead up to the big day, and decluttering services could assist in minimising the amount of items to be packed. You will find all this practical help will prove far more effective than your current unachievable deadlines. The inherent cost will be worth every penny if it eases the pressure.

Not only do you have the stress of selling your home, but you also have the anxiety of moving far away. Temporarily renting could be the answer, and may make the transition less overwhelming, as you can get to know the new area without feeling so pressurised. Would your husband's employers set you both up in a rented property for a while, which would also give you some breathing space? If not, can you stretch your budget to allow for this?

I do understand that you feel the whole legal process has to be started all over again, but much of the work carried out so far by your solicitor will not need to be repeated.

As difficult as it may seem at the moment, try to remain positive during this unsettling time, make those requests for assistance, and the chances are you will soon be on your way. The help and support you are clearly needing may be just a few phone calls away.

My mother is an alcoholic

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on Friday, 11 September 2015
My mother is an alcoholic and it's affecting us all. I now live quite a distance away so only visit a couple of times a month. Mother is supposed to be caring for my dad as he is disabled. He has a carer but not at weekends now as someone from social services has to come, as she forgets to give him his medication and cook for him. The family have done so much to try to help her. My brother took her to the doctors who did liver tests and said she would die soon if she did not stop drinking. She refused to go back to Alcoholics Anonymous after two sessions. She says she is seeking help, but it's all lies. She has antidepressants but doesn't take them. She hides alcohol all over the house. If we throw it away she buys more. Bills are not getting paid. The grandchildren don't want to visit her as she is always intoxicated. I am getting married soon and would love her to be at the wedding, but I know she will be drunk. My sister has advised me not to go out of my way to help, as she tried and it made her ill. How can I get my mother to stop drinking?

Patricia Marie says...

Family members of an alcohol dependent person often ask the same question you have, but sadly, the reply is never straightforward. Alcoholism effectively becomes a family disease - if one person is drinking to excess, everyone around them is affected. Alcoholics are often in denial, blaming bad circumstances or other people for their addiction. Drink becomes so important to them that they are unable to see the damage caused by their destructive and hurtful behaviour to those who love and want to help them, and efforts to force them to admit to their problem usually cause more resentment. Generally, only when the consequences of their drinking become too painful will they reach out for help.

Alcoholics Anonymous recommends 'detachment with love'. As your sister has discovered, if you don't allow yourself to stand back a little, it can seriously affect your health. You have to understand that you cannot stop your mum from drinking - only she can choose to do this. Pouring away, watering down or hiding her alcohol may make matters worse, and she could become angry or secretive.

Do remind your mother how much you love her, but you cannot help her if she is not willing to help herself, as it is destroying your life too. She needs to take responsibility for her own life. Be firm, and emphasise you are extremely concerned that unless she gets professional help soon, she will cause lasting grief to all her family.
You are about to get married - your own happiness should be priority. Make it clear to your mum that it would ruin your special day if she became drunk at your wedding, which may prompt her to finally address the alcoholism.

Whether your mum chooses to get help or not, ensure you seek the support you deserve. Contact The National Association for the family of Alcoholics, an excellent organisation offering tremendous support for people in your situation. And of course, Alcoholics Anonymous can be contacted if your mother could find the courage to call them.

The National association for the family of Alcoholics: 0800 358 3456 www.nacoa.org.uk
Alcoholics Anonymous: 020 7833 0022 www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Age gap relationship

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 04 September 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

Two years ago I met and fell in love with a wonderful man. We adore each other and all the time we are together we are constantly laughing and being happy. He has now asked me to marry him and wants us to move in together. This should make me the happiest woman in the world, but there is a problem – our age gap – I am 29 and he is 58.

My parents are very much against our relationship and won't even allow him in their house. They insult him, insist he is trying to control me and wanting to change me, which is absolute rubbish. My friends say they don't understand why I would want to be with a man who is almost an old age pensioner, and never ask us out as a couple because they say it would be like having their parents there. My sister is the only one who seems to accept us as a couple, and she says she is just happy that I am happy.

I want to marry him and make our future together but am torn as I don't wish to lose my friends and family over it.

What should I do?

Thank you.

Patricia Marie says...

It is so irritating that people have an opinion about age gaps, even when they don't know the particular people involved. There are certain types of problems that can arise from dating a much older person. However, some young women have entered into blissfully happy marriages with wonderful, caring, older men, just as others have found misery with men of their own generation. There is no blueprint for human happiness in a relationship.

You are being overly influenced by your parents' emotional reaction. Parents can often be slightly irrational when it comes to accepting their children's life decisions. Even the most understanding ones can overreact if they feel what you are planning is not in your best interest.

Perhaps your parents are too negatively focused. Encourage them to see the positive side, such as the financial security your partner may have, a wealth of experience he could bring to your relationship, the fact that if you were to have children together, he would likely be wiser with them than in his youth.

I wonder if your parents are concerned that you could become this man's carer in later life, or that he could die and leave your children fatherless? Often it is presumed that the older one of the partnership will die first, but of course this is not necessarily the case. When Joan Collins married a man 32 years her junior, and sceptics commented that she may not last the pace, she laughed off the age difference, quipping 'If he dies, he dies!'

Talk to your parents. Tell them you are strongly considering marrying your partner, and that it would mean so much to you if they could try to accept him. Perhaps your sister could act as a mediator at this time to help encourage them to see how happy he makes you. Let your unsupportive friends know how disappointed you are by their judgmental views, and suggest that they may surprise themselves if they were to get to know him, and actually enjoy his company.

Whether you choose to marry a man who is older, younger, or a similar age, there will naturally be some necessary compromises. By stating that your age gap is a problem, you are expressing there are doubts in your mind. You must listen to these doubts, and be absolutely sure of this relationship, but do not make your decision solely based on the opinions of your parents and friends.

My daughter is beside herself with grief at the news of One Direction splitting

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on Friday, 28 August 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,
I am very worried about my 14 year old daughter since the recent news of the impending split of One Direction. She is completely obsessed with them and is now beside herself with grief. Her bedroom is adorned with a huge mural of them, she has One Direction bed linen, curtains, calendars, books etc. She has idolised them since the band were first formed a few years ago, and I just don't know how to deal with her. I do remember how I myself felt when Wham and Bros split, but I don't remember feeling anything like her depth of anguish.

How can I help her come to terms with the news?

Patricia Marie says...

Millions of fans were left heartbroken on hearing the announcement that One Direction are splitting up. Reacting to the break up of a band can feel similar to the end of a relationship or another loss. Grieving fans cope in different ways. Some may sulk or have a good cry. Others could even resort to self-harm or use other destructive ways to cope. Being a fan of any celebrity gives passion and a sense of belonging. It can be exciting to look at their photographs, watch their interviews, follow their tweets and see them perform, making you almost feel part of their lives, which is why this news is so hard for traumatised fans to accept.

Your daughter might find it difficult to concentrate, and may be very tearful or anxious at the moment, finding it hard to think about anything else other than One Direction. If she has never experienced loss before, she could feel overwhelmed. Alternatively, if she has, the band's split may reignite the emotions she felt at that time.

Be careful not to dismiss or minimise your daughter's feelings. Encourage her to talk to you, as this will create an opportunity for her to explore her emotions. Listen, and share how you felt when your idols split, and you may be reminded that your feelings then were actually very similar to hers now. Help her to understand she will feel sad for a while, but that her low mood will soon lift when she becomes more accepting of the situation. It would also be a good idea to encourage your daughter to talk to other fans, as she will gain much strength and comfort from those experiencing the same heartache.

As a fan, she has contributed to the band's success, and even after they split, she can still continue to support them by following the respective lives of each member. It won't be the end of the individuals, just the band. Tell your daughter how brave they are splitting at the height of their fame. Ask her to be happy for them, to wish them luck and look forward to seeing what they can produce as solo artists in the future. Remind her that it may be the end of the group, but her memories of One Direction and their music will forever remain.

A Level results

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on Friday, 21 August 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am reasonably intelligent, and have worked really hard at school, but somehow have managed to achieve dreadfully low grades in my exams. I have so far managed to avoid revealing my results to my parents, by staying at a friend's for the last few days, but I know I have to tell them, and they are going to be so disappointed in me. I am writing to you as some time ago my mum told me that you had really helped her through a difficult problem she had (she won't tell me what that was, though).

Would they know if I made up my results? Is there any way they could find out?

Patricia Marie says...

It can be difficult to predict the outcome of examinations. Whether a student is confident in their chosen subjects or not, exams can often be so stressful that students are not able to perform at their best. If this happens, and grades are therefore lower than expected, it can be a very upsetting experience.

Your disappointing results have come as a shock, and you are understandably unsure how to deal with telling your parents. However, fabricating your grades, isn't the answer, and could cause severe complications in the future. Nevertheless, I am concerned about your fear of approaching your parents, and wondering if you could share your anxieties with someone you trust who could offer support when you speak to them.

Try to look at this situation from their point of view. Surely far more than the importance of their daughter receiving top grades, would be for them to know that you will make the best of what you did achieve. I expect they would be devastated if they knew how much torment you are suffering.

If you haven't done so already, contact the Exam Results Helpline, which is open every day until 24th August. Their dedicated team can offer advice and guidance, as well as information on potential options that may suit you, such as embarking on a college course, enrolling in a Modern Apprenticeship, or gaining some work experience. The National Careers Service also offer invaluable ongoing support. Instead of dwelling on so much uncertainty, pick up the phone and use these services to help explore plans for your future, which will enable you to feel more in control of your life, and better equipped to speak to your parents.

I need you to know that not making your desired grades may mean looking at alternative options, but it will certainly not make you any less able to achieve what you want. Be proud of yourself for working so hard to obtain the grades you did receive. Life is full of uncertainties, but what you can be sure of is there is a new exciting future ahead. Go ahead and embrace it!

The Exam Results Helpline: 0808 100 8000
The National Careers Service 0800 100 900 www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

Suicidal thoughts

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on Friday, 31 July 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,
Two years ago, when I was pregnant (unplanned) with my third child, I found a note in the pocket of my husband's suit, which transpired to be from his secretary, who had, I then realised, been his lover for the last five years. My whole world disintegrated.

When I told him that I knew about his affair, he was not in the slightest apologetic, and seemed relieved that it was now out in the open. He said he loved her and that he had stayed with me for the sake of the children. It was obvious that he intended to keep seeing her.

I felt trapped, as I did not want him anywhere near me, but I was pregnant with his child, and had nowhere else to go. I sank into a deep depression and found it almost impossible to continue with a normal life. He forbade me from speaking about his affair with anyone, and so my friends, and especially my children, had no idea why I had become so withdrawn and desperately unhappy. My doctor prescribed strong anti-depressants, but these made me feel totally detached and still troubled.

My husband began to stay away for longer periods, and started to treat me with contempt. And I just became a shell of my former self. I gave birth to my son, but found it very difficult to bond with him, as he was so demanding. Since then, I have been trying to cope but as I am so down all the time most of my friends have gradually drifted away and I am left with no support and feeling suicidal.

It has taken me a few attempts to write this email as I don't really know how to put this into words or what I expect you to be able to do to help me. But I remember one of my friends some months ago telling me about you and that you had really helped her with her problem, so I thought I would try.
I do appreciate you taking the time to read this.
Thank you

Patricia Marie says...

Women with children stay in trapped marriages because leaving is so complicated - but nothing can be worse than living as you are. You have allowed yourself to be treated appallingly, with neither love nor respect. I urge you to set yourself free from this intolerable situation. Your husband wants to be with this other woman, yet is too cowardly to make a complete break. My advice to you is to take control, pack his bags and tell him it's over. There is no other choice. By standing up to him you should hopefully regain your self respect and no longer feel open to his abuse. Ask a family member or someone you can trust to be in the house to support you when you confront him.

Having to deal with so much emotional trauma has resulted in you suffering from depression. You could be associating your son with the exposure of your husband's infidelity, causing you to struggle with bonding. With the right help, you can get through these difficulties. Make a call to your GP right now and explain how you are feeling. Clearly the antidepressants he prescribed are not working, but you can work together to find the correct medication, which will make all the difference to how you feel.

Women's Aid are there for victims of domestic abuse, so phone them without delay. They can offer you legal advice, as well as individual and group therapy to improve your self worth and help you move on from this destructive relationship. They can also refer you to Home Start, a charity run organisation, which could assign you a dedicated helper to assist you at home with all your family concerns. In addition, if at any time you are experiencing feelings of suicide, please, pick up the phone and call the Samaritans. They offer excellent support at times of distress and loneliness.

In time you should begin to feel stronger and believe that life is very much worth living again. Focus your mind on a new door opening on to the rest of your life, free from the past heartache and misery - then bravely walk through to the new chapter that awaits you.

Women's Aid: 0808 2000 247 www.womensaid.org.uk
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 www.samaritans.org

I have just found out I was adopted

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 23 July 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,
I am 44 years old, married with two children, and have just found out that I was adopted as a baby.

This has shaken me to the core. I received a letter two weeks ago purporting to be from my birth mother, desperately pleading to arrange a meeting between us. I immediately drove round to my parents' house to confront them, and was told that Yes I had been adopted. I cannot believe they would hide such a devastating piece of information from me.

I met with the woman, as I wanted to establish how she could possibly have given her child up, and how she had located me after such a long time. The meeting was very awkward and I found myself feeling nothing for her at all, other than extreme anger when she explained that she had become pregnant as a 15 year old. Her parents had insisted she have an abortion, but apparently she had not agreed and so had run away from home, only returning when her pregnancy was too far advanced to be halted. When I was born though, despite her protestations I was put up for adoption at my grandparents' wish, with the express instruction that my whereabouts should never be disclosed to my mother.

I feel such mixed emotions, but mostly anger. Anger towards my adoptive parents, my actual mother, my actual grandparents, even anger towards my husband as he is so dismissive of the enormous impact this knowledge has had on me. I feel I no longer know who I am. How ever will I recover from this?

Patrica Marie says...

You have recently received the most shocking news, and are clearly struggling with such a revelation. Finding out in adult life you were adopted can throw up a range of turbulent emotions. It is perfectly understandable you are angry with everyone, and wanting answers from those who you feel have betrayed you. I notice that when you referred to your meeting with your birth mother, you significantly called her ' The Woman' for clarity.

Rushing into confrontations without allowing yourself time to come to terms with this disclosure may result in you saying things you don't mean, and could cause you even more upset. It's common to want to know more about one's origins, and even if you have a close and loving relationship with your adoptive parents, it's perfectly natural to want to know about your birth parents in order to forge some sense of identity.

It seems as well as being angry, you are feeling hurt, rejected, confused, and lost. Expressing how you feel to your adoptive parents may help to resolve such painful emotions. Remember, you can still love them as well as be angry with them for not telling you. They may have been trying to protect you by withholding the truth. Perhaps they were bound by your grandmother's instruction to remain silent. Be gentle with their feelings, as, after all, they have been there for you from the very beginning, and I feel sure because you're hurting they must be too.

I doubt your husband is being deliberately dismissive, rather it is possibly a case of him not knowing what to say or how to support you, which is why I urge you to seek professional help, and I promise you then won't feel so alone.

Do call Adoption UK for professional help, support and guidance from their specialist team. They can put you in touch with local support groups where you could meet with others who have been adopted. Hearing their experiences, I believe, will benefit you greatly to feel understood and will help to reinstate your sense of belonging.

Adoption Uk: (0844 848 7900) www.adoptionuk.org

My relationship is falling apart

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 17 July 2015
Dear Patricia Marie
I've been with my other half for 6 years and we've been friends for what seems like forever. He's always been a very confident person and I know he can be a bit of a flirt. We've always joked about it before and I've always trusted him, but now I feel he's taken it a bit too far and is taking advantage of my laid back attitude. Whenever we go out he ignores me and speaks to other women instead and some of our mutual friends have mentioned to me how inappropriate he is. Also, he left his iPad connected to Facebook when he went out the other night and when I went to use it there were countless messages from women I'd never even heard of on the screen. I didn't even know he used Facebook that much. I don't want to speak to him about it and make things awkward as we're due to get married in a month. Also I think I'm worried about what he'll say. However, I feel he deserves to be confronted as it's not fair and I'm doubting whether he's the right man for me to commit to. I can't believe this is happening and I feel completely overwhelmed. It's like I don't know him anymore. Please help me. I want to get to the bottom of this, even if all I discover is that I'm overreacting. Thank you.

Patricia Marie says...

Finding messages from women on your partner's Facebook does not necessarily reflect how he feels about you. It's more likely this type of social networking has become a habit to him. However, to initiate a stable married life, it's a habit that needs to stop. After all, I doubt he would approve if you were chatting online to different men. You need to confront him and set some boundaries, which your relationship clearly doesn't have, and take responsibility for the way your partner has been treating you. It seems you have allowed him to behave unreasonably until it suited you to question otherwise. As harsh as this may seem, the reality is unless you start to respect yourself, nothing in the relationship will ever change, and you are wise to question matters now, before getting married. You both need to have a serious talk about the future you are planning together, as communication is key to a relationship's health, and speaking openly about concerns should help reduce your anxiety.

Although expecting your future husband to make you happy all the time is unreasonable, being with the right person should bring a sense of security as well as fun and laughter. You will know you're marrying the right person if he treats you with care and respect, and you don't feel the need to monitor his phone calls or computer. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that the two of you won't have problems to deal with. A successful marriage is not just about sharing the good times, but dealing with the difficulties life brings, and bonding from such experiences.

Sometimes real problems surface nearer the wedding date, because you're moving closer to a lifetime commitment. By ignoring them, or putting them off, you may be trying to convince yourself they'll go away by themselves. Please don't allow yourself to feel pressurised, and let the cost of any financial losses influence your decision in any way.

Remember, doubts don't mean doom, but must be addressed. You are right to be feeling overwhelmed and anxious, but anxiety and doubts are not the same thing. If you are really unsure about getting married, believe in your instincts, be strong and take action.

I want to stop my jealousy

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 12 June 2015
My friend has the life I want. We met at university where we were both studying the same subject. Since then she has always been one step ahead of me. She secured a job first at a place where I also applied for a position, has a lovely husband, 2 children and a beautiful house. I hardly get to see her now and miss the times we used to share. Meanwhile, I am struggling to pay bills and don't seem to have the time for a relationship. I have tried to just get on with my life and be happy for her but I can't help but get jealous. I know this makes me an awful friend and it's not the type of person I want to be. How can I stop comparing my life to hers?

Patricia Marie says.....

The first thing to understand about jealousy is that it has everything to do with you and very little to do with the person with whom you are jealous. I believe jealousy is based on the fear of losing something important.

It seems to me it may not be so much that your jealous of your friend for what she has, but now that her family prioritise her attention, it's more the friendship you're missing and fearful of losing. Speak with your friend and suggest whilst you fully understand she has commitments to her family, it would be good to spend some time together as her friendship is very important to you.

By writing to me you have taken an important step in acknowledging you are not happy with your life. Make this a turning point. Yes, your friend will always be special, you have shared your growing years together, but you need to start making other friends with whom you can now share more common interests. Start looking for a new job that pays more and will offer you a change of environment. This will enable you to meet new friends and also improve your cash flow.

We can often be easily seduced by the fairytale of other people's lives and become blinded by the reality of how things really are. Remember that very true saying; 'the grass isn't always greener on the other side'. Have you considered your friend may be just as envious of you for different reasons? She has huge responsibilities, whereas you have bucket loads of freedom to do as you please. You are so concerned with what you don't have, that you are failing to see what you do have.

Be happy for your friend, and see what she has achieved is something you can too, and more. Your life is full of great potential, but you will only find the happiness you are seeking when you stop comparing your life to your friend's and start embracing your own.

My daughter is being difficult

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 05 June 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have one daughter aged 16. Her father left us when she was a baby, and we were on our own until I met my partner 2 years ago. She is the most adorable daughter, and it was wonderful to see how well the two of them got on. Everything was perfect until just recently when we told her we were expecting a baby of our own.

Since then she refuses to speak to us, slams doors and is rude to us. We have tried to reassure her that having this baby won't make any difference in her life or between us, but any mention of the baby and she either becomes angry or bursts into tears. I have tried to be patient, but she is spoiling what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. Please advise.

Patricia Marie says.....

I can understand how worried and upset you are feeling. As you say, this should be a 'happy' time for you. At the moment you are seeing your daughter's behaviour as unreasonable and unfair.

Nevertheless, labelling her doesn't help. Understanding her feelings can. Step into your daughter's shoes and start to see things from her point of view. After all, having a baby may be exciting and wonderful for you and your partner, but your daughter perceives this news as a threat to her place in the family. Of course she's upset. For 16 years she's been the number one in your life. She's scared she's no longer important, and is feeling rejected and hurt.

Recognise the confusion and pain your daughter is feeling. What she needs is plenty of love and understanding. Don't pressure her to be more accepting of the news, or make her feel guilty about not having a happy response. Instead, give her time and space to get used to the idea. Perhaps she would like to help decorate the nursery. Ask her opinion on name choices. Involving your daughter in plans around the forthcoming birth will make her feel very much included, and will also help her to come to terms with your pregnancy.
Be honest and tell her things will be different, but the love you have for her will never change. As your daughter gets used to the idea of having a sister or brother she will become far less angry and anxious. Gently explain to her that although the baby will initially demand your attention, you will also ensure the two of you get to enjoy special time together. When she trusts the fact she's still loved and wanted, she will soon grow to accept and adore her new sibling, and in time you can all get to enjoy the special times that lie ahead.

For further help, advice and guidance, I highly recommend Family Lives (formerly Parent Line Plus) There help line is open 24 hours.

0808 800 2222 www.familylives.org.uk  

I know what I am doing is wrong

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 22 May 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

Three months ago I met a man on the internet, and we speak at least once a day. It sounds quite ridiculous for me to say this, but we have fallen in love, even though we are both married to other people. He has two young children and I have three. Luckily he lives a great distance away, otherwise I would be tempted to meet up and embark on an affair.

My husband and I just don't communicate anymore, and every time I speak with this other extremely attentive man, who makes me feel wanted and desirable, it reinforces how bad my marriage has become.

I know what I'm doing is wrong, and I do still have some feelings for my husband, but I am struggling to give up the excitement of the other man.

Can you see a way forward for me?

Patricia Marie says.....

The online environment is the perfect breeding ground for fantasies because it allows us to ascribe all the wonderful qualities we want in a partner to someone we've never met. It may seem harsh to digest, but falling in love on the web is more desperation than reality.

You have stepped into a dangerous make-believe world and, if allowed to continue, you could become depressed, and resent your husband for what you cannot have, which could turn into a very difficult situation. Your relationship with this man is not real. It is simply a form of escapism from what has become a dull marriage.

What is real is what you have, which you should be working on keeping, not putting your energy into something that could become your downfall. Maybe your husband would start to communicate better if you focused more on your family life, and stopped betraying him for fantasy passion. You need to realise that at times every marriage has problems, and working together to solve and get through such difficulties, is what bonds and enhances the relationship.

You say you still have feelings for your husband, so build on those feelings. Get away with your husband for a break, or even an overnight stay - anywhere away from the house. Try to talk, and have some fun together. However, to reconnect with your husband - you must fully disconnect yourself from the other man. Let go of your fantasy - pull the plug on that computer, and get back in the real world.

For further help and support, I feel you and your husband could benefit from attending Relate for some counselling sessions.

relate.org.uk

My daughter aged 13 died 6 months ago

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Wednesday, 06 May 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I do not know what to do, or where to go for help. I keep having panic attacks, and can't go on feeling this way for much longer. My daughter aged 13, died 6 months ago, after suffering a devastating degenerative condition. She gave me the greatest purpose in life, and now she's no longer here, I feel lonely and abandoned.

When my daughter was alive, I received much support from family and friends. However, since she's gone I have had little or no understanding from my close ones. In fact, if I mention my daughter, the conversation soon changes, leaving me frustrated and tearful. They insist time is a great healer, which offers no comfort whatsoever. I don't want counselling as this will not bring my daughter back, just wanting my friends and family to listen to me.

I am lucky to have another child, and a caring husband, but he gets annoyed with me for expecting too much from people. I am very close to my mother, but as soon as I mention my daughter, she becomes extremely upset, so I withdraw from opening up about my feelings. So I ask you, am I wrong for expecting others to be there for me?

Patricia Marie says.....

The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face, and you should not be expected to 'get over' the pain it causes at any stage.

For thirteen years you took care of your daughter who was totally dependant on you, and as you so rightly say, gave you a purpose. I make a heartfelt request to you to see that your purpose as a mother still goes on with your living child.

Let me ask you not to see your husband as annoyed, nor your friends as lacking compassion. It's not uncommon for friends to pull away during a grieving period, as they often do not know what to say. Have you considered your friends could be feeling guilty that they have children who are alive and well? They may well want to help, but don't know how - so tell them what you need. And don't push your husband away, as he too is having to deal with his own grief, as indeed is your mother who seems to be struggling to come to terms with the loss of her granddaughter. Your quarrel is not with them, but with what life has thrown at you - taking your beautiful daughter from you. Whilst you have every right to feel angry, by expressing it to others, you will only be hurting yourself.

Counselling won't bring your daughter back. Nothing will. But it will allow you to explore the feelings that you are clearly both needing and wanting to express. Grief can feel very lonely, even when your loved ones are close. I think you would benefit greatly from attending a bereavement group, as sharing your sorrow with others who are going through similar experiences could be comforting, and will help you to feel understood. Furthermore, I urge you to see your G.P for help with your panic attacks.

When you're lonely and wanting to feel close to your daughter, light a candle and enjoy those special memories you have - which can never be taken from you.

Your life is forever changed - but it's not over. It must seem at this moment that you won't ever recover from your loss, but be patient, and allow yourself time to heal. I believe with the right help and support, you may begin to find a way forward that acknowledges and continues to incorporate the love you will always feel for your daughter.

Cruse offer bereavement support groups in most areas: 0844 477 9400 www.cruse.org.uk 


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