Q: As I read the article on the girl involved with a married man, I felt I was part of this relationship. I was with a married man for more than 10 years but he left me for a 23-year-old colleague.
When we first fell for each other more than 10 years ago, he was married.
Year after year, he assured me that he would be with me for the rest of my life. Then he moved in with me. Neighbours all knew him as my husband. I wanted us to get married officially but did not press him as we were both in our 40s. Plus I thought that since I was his second woman, there would not be a third.
All these years I was financially independent and when he had financial problems, I did all I could to help with my savings. Then he got a new job and was doing well, so I thought he would be able to support me. As my income was dwindling, I asked that he return some of my money.
This was the turning point in our downhill relationship. Soon he was coming home late. I became depressed when another girl I knew kept calling him. Soon, I found out that he had became involved with other women. I was devastated and thought of ending my life.
He moved out 11/2 years ago.
I could not bring myself to go back to my old job and took up a temporary position. He refused to pay back my loan.
He challenged me a few times to sue him for bankruptcy but I never did. I am out of a job now and do not have the financial means to seek legal help. I am still very upset. Sources mentioned he is enjoying life and driving a new car. What should I do?
A If he could leave his wife 10 years ago for you, he could leave you now for a younger woman.
Some men do learn from their mistakes and failures made in their previous relationships, and they do become good, faithful and communicative partners. Some men do not learn, and they repeat the pattern of infidelity and cruelty in subsequent relationships.
There is very little you can do to change him now. He is no longer your problem.
There is plenty you can do for yourself.
For some free counselling and legal advice, you may want to turn to the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware). You have been through a betrayal and financial loss. Do not be alone in this. If you cannot turn to friends and relatives for support, you can turn to professionals or trained volunteers. It is not worth it to end your life over a man's betrayal.
Since you were not married, you may find that it is hard to petition for financial support. You may not have proof that you loaned him the money, and that it was not just a gift. Losing a lover is hard enough; losing your money to a loser of a lover is worse.
Thus, you feel angry with him, angry with yourself for trusting him, and angry for feeling stupid. Allow yourself to experience your anger in a safe environment. Either with a trained counsellor, or a trusted neutral friend, express your anger. Talk about it, write about it, cry about it.
You have the right to be angry. Just be careful that you do not act out of anger. For instance, it will not be smart to scratch his new car, or confront his new lover in the office, or beat yourself up. When you have safely and constructively dealt with your anger, you will be surprised that you are more clear-headed about what you can do FOR YOURSELF.
You used to be financially independent. This means that within you, you have the intelligence and skills to have a good job and manage your money.
Do not let this break-up and financial setback put you down forever.
Believe in yourself. Set yourself some new goals that are realistic and achievable.
For example, get another temporary job - at least you have some income. Then get a permanent job. Save $100 a month. Walk in the garden for 30 minutes. Learn a new skill. Make new friends. Read an inspiring book.
You are in your 40s. I know of many women who find themselves divorced and left with children to support. They have not much time to wallow in self-pity or self-destructive thoughts. They have children to feed and babies to rock to sleep. They know that spending all day in regret, guilt, shame and fear will not put food on the table.
They keep working, or return to work. Somehow, they have an inner drive to keep going.
You need to find your self-preservation drive.
Ask yourself: 'In a year's time, what would I like my life to be like? How would I like my body and health to be like? How much money would I like to have in my bank account? What difference can I make to others less fortunate than myself?'
Move on with your life, one step at a time.
The best payback to your former lover is for him to see you walking confidently, with your head held high, showing that he could not put you down forever. You are stronger than that. And you just got stronger, wiser and lovelier.
The writer is author of All Kids R Gifted, a life coach and founder of Wand Inspiration. Her latest inspirational self-help book, Break To Dawn: New Challenges, New Commitments, is available at Kinokuniya.
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