You may think I’m pathetic and you’d be right. Eight years ago, my husband declared he was leaving (after 20 years of marriage and two children aged 16 and 19) because he was ‘not happy’ and ‘not getting the kind of sex he wants’.
Thought of the day
We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand . . . [so] choose a place where you won’t do harm — yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.
From A Room With A View, by E.M.Forster (English novelist, 1879-1970)
He swore there was no one else but of course there was — although I didn’t realise this for some weeks. When I confronted him, he didn’t deny it and said there had been several flings over the years when he was away on business.
I cannot describe the pain and hurt this caused me and my children, who didn’t see much of him for a couple of years. Maybe our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I thought we were happy and had no reason to think otherwise.
After six months and some counselling, I met someone lovely, but my ex couldn’t handle it and said he wanted us to try again. I agreed, then found he was still seeing his girlfriend.
To cut a very long story short, this became a pattern: we have reunited for a few months and then after some minor disagreement he goes off in a sulk, then reacquaints with one of his lady friends who are only too willing because he spends money on them.
I always resolve not do it again because I cannot cope with the hurt and jealousy. But my children have left home and although I have lovely friends I am very lonely, so when he pops up it’s too difficult to refuse.
This year has been particularly so. We spent most of the first lockdown together with no problems, but no sooner did normal life begin again, he went into a sulk because I spent an evening with my children and he wasn’t included, although they both saw him on another evening.
Somehow he seems to punish me for what he considers a wrongdoing on my part. He has now taken up with the woman he has been seeing on and off and has cut me off again.
Bel, my question is: how do I stop this destructive pattern? We have now been divorced for five years and during this time I have ventured into online dating but never met anyone I wanted to pursue a relationship with.
What is wrong with me that I wait for this man to beckon, only to find again and again that he has not a shred of integrity and uses me when he feels like it and then leaves sulking?
I am now 60 and he is 54, so he was quite young when we got together. You’d think love should have died by now, but I still feel the same as ever about him.
What shall I do?
This week Bel advises a reader who doesn’t know how to break her obsession with her toxic ex
Forgive me, but I have to ask you if the emotion you are feeling truly deserves the name of ‘love’.
What you describe (as you well know) is an abject obsession for a man who treats you with a mixture of casual cruelty and horrible sexual exploitation, both of which you accept, like any masochist in an appalling master-slave relationship.
You are quite right (of course) to call the cycle of exploitation and hurt ‘a destructive pattern’ — and yet every time your abuser beckons, you lie down, roll over and offer yourself for another serious kicking.
You may think it over-the-top when I call him an ‘abuser’, but just look at your story.
He left you and his children because he wanted more sex. When counselling gave you the courage to start a new relationship, this selfish man stopped it dead. And you let him.
You allowed him to come and go, even though it must have driven your poor children to despair, watching him pick you up, then put you down because he was bored again and wanted the kind of sex he craves with another woman. And another. And another.
Now your children have grown up, what do they think?
That their beloved mother is a fool — and still lets them down every time she turns herself (yet again) into an abject minion with no confidence and no dignity. What else is there to think?
But you know all this, and must have written knowing I would tell you the same in no uncertain terms. So what else can you want from me?
Since you are clearly an articulate woman, you must know about ways to get help, from Relate to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
You know you need help to break the destructive pattern and these days there are myriad ways to find it. Perhaps your obsession with this vile man is a form of addiction; whatever the truth, counselling will help you to analyse it.
For now, read advice on womenworking.com/6-ways-to-break-the-cycle-of-unhealthy-relationships and make up your mind to discover what is really going on.
This man you say you ‘love’ has ruined what might have been left of your self-esteem and you need to rid your life of his toxic influence.
Covid, Brexit . . . can life get any worse?
Add me to the long list of struggling people. I’m not sure I even care about getting Covid or really anything much any more.
I’ve been in lockdown virtually alone since March. My relationship broke up around then and I had to move to my current location, where I didn’t know anyone (I’d moved jobs just before the first lockdown).
I live in a low-risk area, mainly countryside. It’s been purgatory for many weeks and I cry each day from loneliness, boredom, frustration and anger. Various organisations can help but only so far and volunteer work has also been put on hold.
I’m now officially unemployed, living off £616 a month for everything, including my mortgage. I’m nearly 60, not able to retire, applying for jobs every day, but realising there may not be anything for me out there. This is one of the worst aspects: no hope. We are in Tier 2, but where can I go outside? I can’t afford a pub meal or even a takeaway coffee. A walk round the park in the cold and rain?
I would like to visit my adult children over Christmas, but they are in the North-West and the South-East, both in Tier 3 and both working from their homes for months.
But why would I when there would be no hugging, no pubs/clubs/theatres etc open, and restaurants operating on reduced space and bookings?
And how would we distance in their small-ish residences, which they share with other tenants? Ditto them coming to me — I have even less space.
This is all so very hopeless. There is no one in government or in high places going through all this alone every day, with insufficient funds. And with no real hope that it will be better even when Covid passes on. Just the insecurity of Brexit to come.
Could life get any worse?
Even when I can easily understand why somebody sees no hope on the horizon, I always find it hard to agree with total negativity.
As you say, you are not the only one struggling with the perfect storm of this awful year. Apart from Covid and the current uncertainty over Brexit, you moved home and lost both your relationship and your job.
Living in isolation has clearly taken you to the brink and I feel so much sympathy for you, feeling so lost, hard-up and full of despair (remember, you can always call the Samaritans day or night for free on 116 123 or email [email protected]).
More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…
- BEL MOONEY: Should I blame my son-in-law for bitter family rift? 04/12/20
- BEL MOONEY: I’ve lost so much and my cat… how will I ever cope? 27/11/20
- BEL MOONEY: Should my grandchild have frozen me out for my views? 20/11/20
- BEL MOONEY: Is it time to walk away from my narcissistic, toxic mum? 13/11/20
- A monument to naked idiocy: A new statue celebrating the icon of feminism Mary Wollstonecraft will have schoolboys sniggering and evokes NONE of her brilliance, rages BEL MOONEY 12/11/20
- BEL MOONEY: Do I have to put up with my husband’s porn habit? 06/11/20
- BEL MOONEY: Why won’t anyone make a fuss of me on my birthday? 30/10/20
- BEL MOONEY: Can I find love after my bitter, seven-year break-up? 23/10/20
- BEL MOONEY: I’m isolated and feel so jealous of my friend’s perfect life 16/10/20
- VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
And, yes, I think you are right when you suggest the powers-that-be haven’t a clue what it’s like to live like that. Personally, I have never in my life felt so disillusioned with our ruling class, from the Prime Minister down to all the quangocrats and cronies and virtue-signalling ‘stars’ who wouldn’t survive two days in real life with real problems like yours.
But I said I will not give in to negativity — and let us not. It seems to me that your unwillingness to make any plans to be with family at Christmas is a great pity — and indicative of a depressed state of mind.
You ask, ‘Why would I?’ and my answer is simple: ‘To spend time with people whom you (I hope) care about.’ If the alternative is staying at home all alone, then I urge you to contact your adult children and make a plan.
Even if you pledge to wear a wretched mask indoors in one of their homes, and make a real effort to stay two metres away (surely that is possible?), you can then work out a short visit.
I believe it could do you the world of good. Why won’t you even think about it? Because you are miserable. Will staying home alone make you much, much more miserable? Of course it will. So phone one or other of them and make a plan today.
You see a future that is irredeemably worse even than what we know today. I do not.
Recently, I was standing in the street with my 96-year-old mother (we go out and about because we choose to take responsibility for our own lives), when she sighed and said: ‘Isn’t it strange, hundreds of years ago people suffered plagues and things like that.’
Yes, the human race has suffered and survived and gradually life improves, despite despair, despite war, despite every setback. Surely it’s vital to remember that whatever Brexit delivers, it will still be nothing like the aftermath of World War II?
So plan a Christmas outing. Even if you tell your family you don’t need a present, just a ticket — please go!
And finally…Sending a card is a sign of love
The wood-burner was lit, lovely music was playing and I was writing Christmas cards. For some years now we’ve designed our own and I hope people realise that the effort means something special.
The tradition of sending cards — writing, ‘Thinking of you’ and similar messages — means a lot to me and I hope it always will.
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email [email protected]
A pseudonym will be used if you wish.
Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
Our lovely postie Jane tells me people seem to be sending more cards this year, because of being kept apart from friends and family by the virus.
Good! I really don’t like e-cards or virtuous messages from well-off folk telling me they’re not sending cards but giving money to charity. Why not do both?
But each year when I get out my two address books (one old) I have to fight flutters of melancholy.
Robin felt them, too, as he wrote cards for his family. He also realised he really didn’t feel much like writing ones to a couple of people he was once good friends with.
Every year you wonder how and why you lost touch with that person who used to be a pal. There was no quarrel; nothing dramatic. Just a drifting apart as you move on through life. Quite normal, but still a bit sad.
Just as you can’t keep all the clothes you have owned and enjoyed wearing, so you can’t cling on to people from the past who may have only been friends because you worked together.
New friends have taken their places — so let’s write cards to them.
The deepest sadness comes when you come across the addresses with a line through them — not because somebody has moved, but because they no longer inhabit this world of ours at all.
The name and address of my beloved late mother-in-law brings a tear. It simply can’t be helped.
When I see her name I imagine I could pick up the phone and she would be there, saying, ‘Hello, darling!’ in that wonderful deep, warm voice.
But you know, just in that moment . . . why, she is.
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BEL MOONEY: How do I break my obsession with my toxic ex? have 2502 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at December 11, 2020. This is cached page on Game Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.