Four years ago, I had a five-month affair with my friend's husband.
I'm a single mother in a neighbourhood group where our children played together. I was often the one to watch them all.
My friend and her husband have three children whom I watched.
The wife complained endlessly about her "alcoholic, abusive, woman-hating” husband. He started spending more time out with the kids and me.
He complained about his wife not wanting the same things as him, including intimacy.
He’s a very angry man, misogynist, alcoholic, addicted to porn. My part in the affair came from my wanting to be wanted.
If this man who hates women could say I'm worth something, maybe I wasn't “nothing.”
His wife found out, as did the neighbourhood. Their relationship survived.
My daughter became the target of bullying, and, understandably, I'm universally hated here.
My dog was poisoned in my yard. I attempted suicide, ending up in hospital.
Depression has forever been my struggle including a previous major breakdown.
These past six months I’ve been in and out of hospital for self-harm.
But I have my daughter to consider. I'm on new meds and see a psychologist who gives me advice I can't follow – to forgive myself, to understand that many people have affairs, to find things that I enjoy.
I can't forgive myself. My lies and bad decisions have ruined my daughter's life, yet I have to stay here.
I'm hoping for a way to get through without causing more hurt to my daughter.
You are the mother your daughter needs. She’s learning through you to understand that any of us can make mistakes, it’s rising above them that matters.
You don’t want the message she gets from you to be one of abandonment. That’s not how you’ve worked to raise her.
You are not “nothing,” neither to her nor yourself. You’ve experienced tough times, and now can do more than just survive.
Talk with your psychologist about why enjoyment is important to your self-confidence. Listen to music that makes you happy, watch a TV show that gives you a laugh, get out of the neighbourhood with your daughter to a park, and something interesting to see.
On behalf of everyone who’s made mistakes and moved on to accept themselves, I encourage you to stay with your therapy and learn that you do have value.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “newbie” worker who keeps getting hit on while job-hunting (Feb. 9):
Reader – “If she's in the U.S., she could look into government work (state and local). There are currently strict standards in place in government jobs to curb sexual harassment and it’s much easier to report and get action on sexual harassment claims.
“Of course, sexual harassment isn’t unheard of in government work, but if it does happen, there are established departments (especially at the state level) to handle and resolve complaints.
“Also, offenders are more likely to be punished or fired for inappropriate advances.”
Reader #2 – “Sexual harassment’s unacceptable and shouldn’t go unreported. Workplace Newbie's employer has a responsibility to act and to end the patterns of harassment. Your advice was too short.”
Ellie – Yes, this is a topic that deserves more space since I’d mostly dealt with assuring her it wasn’t her fault, and she had the right to refuse those suggested meetings in hotel rooms.
Hopefully readers will send accounts of how they handled sexual harassment incidents.
My pet has an incurable but treatable disease. He’s not in any pain/distress and continues to have a quality life - eating well, sleeping well, and having fun playing with his toys.
He’s still an excellent, loving pet and companion. He needs additional care and attention, but it’s manageable for me.
I’m going to explode if one more person tells me I should "put him down.”
I’m sure my excellent veterinarian knows to inform me if it’s time to have him depart to heaven.
Should I keep ignoring these people or say something to them?
Love My Pet
Don’t “explode,” but do react.
Despite your natural annoyance at intrusive suggestions, try to separate those who truly care about you and feel they’re “helping” you face the inevitable, from those who just speak to hear themselves.
Try this: “My pet and I are both pain-free for now. I hope that future caregivers for you and me don’t share your impatience.”
Tip of the day:
To paraphrase the renowned American writer/poet civil-rights activist Maya Angelou: “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”