When Mr. Wrong’s Time Is Up
Dear Margo: I was in a relationship with a man who was separated and living alone. This lasted nearly two years. I felt he was the person I should have met 20 years ago, that finally everything made sense in my life. Then one day, without warning, he dumped me, saying he was going to try to reconcile with his wife. I was beyond devastated. I went crazy and tried for two years to get him back. He cheated on her with me, and I did everything wrong. I still love him. I have no history of this sort of behavior, but I do see a therapist and am on medication, which helps.
My dilemma is that I really miss male attention and have been advised to start dating other people. The idea is both intriguing and repulsive. My main concern is whether or not it’s really OK to try to form a new relationship when you are still in love with someone else. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving this man, and I know I would cheat, given the opportunity. What can I do? — Ruined
Dear Ru: Well, good that you are seeing a therapist. I would try to work harder to understand why you wish to hang on to this man who is not available, does not reciprocate your feelings, and is not adding anything to your life except mental commotion. If he doesn’t put a high value on you, then you must put a high value on yourself. He is using you — with no concern for you as a person.
I think it a form of masochism to imagine you’ll never stop loving this man — an idea that works well only in poems and novels. I would definitely date new people and am betting you will be surprised. I can tell you, though, that you must be resolutely done, emotionally, with the Bad Boyfriend … for then and only then will you be able to be open to recognizing someone of quality. — Margo, historically
Diffusing an Uncomfortable Situation
Dear Margo: I find myself in an odd situation. A few months ago, I did not go to work. I was severely depressed and was involuntarily committed to the psychiatric ward in a hospital. What caused my depression was ongoing workplace bullying that my supervisors did nothing about combined with a high-stress and somewhat dangerous job. (I work with homeless, mentally ill and addicted persons.) I did not call my employer to say where I was because, well, I had no access to a phone for many hours after I was checked in. My employer called the police and my parents. By the time I managed to call my parents, 16 police officers had been out looking for me, and my apartment had been searched for any evidence of foul play. I was so embarrassed by everything.
Thankfully, I am on the road to recovery and am not ashamed of my hospital stay. It was something I needed in order to get back on the right path and find happiness again. All of my co-workers know what happened. I am going back to work soon and don’t know how to handle the questions and looks. Any advice? — Back in the Saddle
Dear Back: Because you say your co-workers know where you spent your “vacation,” I would go with humor. Something like, “It’s so good to be out of the bin, though it really was the pause that refreshes.” This will tell people you are not ashamed of your mini-breakdown and that it’s OK to talk about it. My hope is that your employer did something about the bullying. — Margo, restoratively
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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