Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

My friend has the life I want

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 28 July 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

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 my bills and don't seem to have the time for a relationship. I have been trying to just get on with everything, but I am now feeling completely stuck and resent my friend for having the 'perfect life'.

Patricia Marie says....


I believe that it's not so much that you're 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 her 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 as you have shared your growing years together, but you need to start meeting others 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 people 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 lots 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 her 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.
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My boyfriend constantly puts me down

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 21 July 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My boyfriend constantly puts me down, particularly when we are out with friends, and it is really starting to cause a problem. He says it is just his sarcastic sense of humour, and all his past girlfriends have found it amusing, but I am starting to lose my confidence when I am with him.

I am reasonably attractive, with a slim figure, but have always had low self esteem, ever since my mother walked out when I was 14 years old, and my father made it obvious I was a nuisance to him.

It has taken me a long time to accept myself as I am, and although I don't want to break up with him, I also don't want to start feeling bad about myself again. If I try to talk to him about it, he just gets angry, and says I have no sense of humour and that he is only joking, but he does seem to pick up on all the things I don't like about myself and make them into 'jokes'.

Is there anything I can do to make him stop?

Patricia Marie says...

People who constantly find fault in others, are generally insecure and unhappy within their own lives. It's unhealthy for any relationship to be filled with constant criticism and you need to let your partner aware of how much he is jeopardising yours. Perhaps he grew up with a critical parent, was bullied himself, or maybe he is carrying regrets or resentments from previous partners.

This man is able to make you feel worthless because you are allowing him to, and constantly facing such negativity is quite understandably wearing away your happiness. If you really want to salvage this partnership, calmly ask him why he feels the need to verbally attack and belittle you. I suggest you make it clear that you will not tolerate this behaviour any more. If he realises how much he is hurting you, and genuinely wants to address his issues, this will be a good start, but if not, you have to ask yourself why you would want to stay with a man who is making you so unhappy.

If you can't make a decision right now, have some time apart, to allow you to re-evaluate your feelings. It could be that your boyfriend's attitude has reignited in you painful memories from the past which you may not have dealt with at the time, and I therefore believe you could benefit from some counselling. This will empower you by building your self esteem, enabling you to think more clearly, and help you make better decisions both at this present time and in the future too.

You may come to a decision to sever ties, but remember, no relationship is ever a waste of time. If it doesn't bring you what you want, it teaches you what you don't want, and do keep in mind, all endings bring new beginnings.

I recommend you read: Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum: A Step by Step Guide to Help You Decide to Stay in or Get Out of Your Relationship.
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I've fallen in love with a man I met on the internet

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 07 July 2017
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 short break, or even an overnight stay. Spending quality time talking and relaxing together will hopefully enable you to start enjoying each other's company again. Nevertheless, to reconnect with your husband, you must let go of your fantasy and fully disconnect yourself from this other man. Go and 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) 0300 100 1234
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My dear friend found out a few months ago that she has cancer

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 23 June 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My dear friend found out a few months ago that she has cancer. In a few short months she has changed from a vibrant, feisty woman into a quiet, constantly complaining one.

When I visit her she spends the whole time telling me how hard her life now is, and how unfair it is that she has cancer. She nags her husband and barks out orders to him. She shows no interest in what is happening in my life at all. I try to entertain her with stories or offer to play cards with her, or take her out, but she does not want this.

I don't know what to do. I feel I have to push myself to visit her, and that makes me feel very sad as we used to be so very close, in saying this, I still very much want to be there for her.

Patricia Marie says...

When the threat of severe illness affects a loved one, it isn't always easy for family or friends to know how to deal with the situation. It is perfectly understandable that you are finding it hard to talk to your friend about her feelings and concerns, but if you can allow her to speak about what's making her angry, expressing her feelings may help her to feel better understood. It could be she is feeling anxious and hopeless, causing her to be irritable. She could resent you speaking about a way of life she may no longer have. For now, let your friend lead the conversation, and in time hopefully she will be better able to share your news.

A cancer diagnosis can cause doubts and uncertainty, and the future could seem suddenly dark and unpredictable, which can be very frightening and may cause your friend to feel she has lost control of her life. Empower her. Encourage her to decide what she thinks would make her situation more bearable. Perhaps you could both work together on accomplishing even the smallest realistic goals that could have a huge positive impact on the way she feels. It is also important for you to receive some help at this time. Do call the Macmillan Support Line, as their dedicated team are there to advise on ways to care for those suffering from cancer. Their knowledge and experience will give you a greater understanding of this brutal disease, and enable you to be more empathic of your friend's emotions.

You may have to accept that your friend is unable to be as she was, but the most valuable thing you can do for her now is simply be there for her and no matter how low her mood, continue to be the devoted friend you clearly are. Do remember, caring for someone with cancer is a strain, but it can be intensely rewarding and make one feel proud of finding the strength, courage and kindness to help a sufferer going through possibly the toughest battle of their life. Through your compassion you will experience the true value of what's important in life - both love and life itself.
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I feel like I am beginning to hate my newborn son

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 16 June 2017
Hello Patricia,

I'm sorry to bother you, but I just don't know what to do, and I am embarrassed to talk to my husband or friends. Six weeks ago I gave birth to my son. My husband and I have been trying for so long for me to become pregnant, and I had almost given up hope, and then suddenly my pregnancy test came out positive. We were over the moon, decorated the nursery, went out and bought all the nursery furniture, buggy, car seat, clothes and so on, and waited with eager anticipation for the day to come when I could hold my child in my arms. We had a few minor worries with the scans, and I did put on quite a lot of weight during pregnancy, but we were quite literally counting the days until he arrived.

But now he is here I just can't bond with him. He cries all the time, I am getting no sleep, my body looks saggy and flabby, and I actually feel I am beginning to hate him, which I know is a dreadful way to feel, and I could never explain that to anyone who knows me. And I am just so tired, keep bursting into tears for no reason, and can't cope with the fact I can't do anything as he is so demanding. I know it is taboo to say so, but I wish he had never been born. I don't want him anymore. I hate myself for thinking this way, and you are the only one who knows. I have family and friends I could turn to, but worry they will think me a failure. Please don't reply if you are going to judge me. I don't know where else to turn. If I tell the midwife, she will probably have him taken away from me and then everyone will hate me. Help me, please!

Patricia Marie says...

Do not apologise for seeking the help of which you are very much in need. Indeed, I am extremely saddened by your letter, and hope that I can enable you to see why you may be feeling the way you do. Commonly known as the 'baby blues', most women feel emotional and overwhelmed after experiencing childbirth and becoming a parent, particularly when having to cope with new demands on both their time and attention, as well as getting little sleep. However, this wouldn't normally last for more than a few weeks. Nevertheless, Post Natal Depression (PND), which I believe is what you are suffering from, is when there are intense feelings of unhappiness, lasting for weeks or months, and a difficult struggle to bond with the baby. Whilst this must be extremely upsetting for you, please remember, you are not alone. In fact, around 1 in 10 new mothers suffer from this, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. PND, is an illness that often requires treatment, therefore, I urge you to seek professional assistance as soon as possible. Your GP, will not judge or criticise, but want to help you and discuss a treatment plan for your recovery. You could be offered counselling, antidepressants, or a combination of both. Your health visitor too, is there to support you and could offer solutions to assist your crying baby.

There are ways you can help yourself, such as taking baby for walks in the fresh air, which is an enjoyable form of exercise and should lighten your mood. Ensure you sleep when you can, eat healthily, and also, do try to open up to your family and friends. After all, a problem shared, really is a problem halved. Bear in mind too, that every new mum has issues around their post-baby body, so please stop being so hard on yourself. In time you can get back into shape, but for now your priority is getting the appropriate help so you can start to embrace motherhood. Once you begin to feel better, and you will, I recommend you join one of the many mother and baby classes available, where you won't feel so isolated, as you would be able to share any fears or anxieties with other new mums who are experiencing similar - and your little one would have great fun making friends too. I feel by receiving the help and support you deserve will make a huge difference to the way you are feeling. Hopefully you will soon begin to see yourself not as a failure, but be proud to have created a beautiful baby son who you will go on to very much enjoy and cherish forever.
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