A Problem Shared: Mourning my secret love

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I became close to a man at work. He was married with children. We used to spend lunch together and I had never felt so comfortable with someone before.

Eventually we fell in love. We tried to resist each other but couldn’t. We started an affair which lasted for over six years. I moved jobs but we still found time to see each other most days. He said he would wait until his children were older, then leave his wife. We planned a future together. A few months ago we had an argument about when it would happen. I was impatient; I wanted us to have children. He asked if I could wait another year and I exploded. He was crying and asking me not to end it but I pushed him out of the door.

For a week he bombarded me with calls and texts but I’d gone to stay with my mother and couldn’t answer (only one friend knew of my relationship). I was devastated but needed time to think.

His calls and texts made it clear he genuinely loved me, felt as torn as I did and asked me to see that his children came first. I decided I loved him enough to wait another year and texted to tell him.

I had no response. I tried repeatedly for a week but heard nothing. I couldn’t take it any more and called his work. You couldn’t imagine how shocked I was when a former colleague told me he had died a week before of a brain haemorrhage. I couldn’t breathe.

I haven’t been able to show my feelings and have to act like everything is normal but inside I am dying.

Jo Davison’s advice:

What a desperately sad situation. It sounds like one of those tear-jerking fictional stories in a women’s magazine you speed-read in the dentist’s waiting room.

Or something penned by Nora Ephron and turned into a movie starring Meg Ryan. Though reality is so very different to the idealistic world of romantic fiction.

You’re not only mourning the man you’ve lost, you’re weeping for a dream that has come crashing to an end - in a way you never anticipated. You will now always be the mistress, never the wife. Or his widow.

You can’t even share your grief with the people who know and care about you and that must be incredibly difficult. It’s a price you are having to pay for having embarked on an illicit affair with a married father of two. You’ve paid the fee all along - silence and secrecy have been a fundamental part of the relationship. For six years, you had to hide it from work colleagues, friends, family - and of course, his wife.

And while I honestly do feel sorrow for you, let’s not forget the mother of his children in all of this.

Your loss is only a fraction of hers. If you’re in pain, imagine what she is going through as she also tries to deal with two devastated, bewildered children who will never see their father again.

On top of that, she is having to pull herself together enough to deal with a host of practical issues that must be sorted out now he is gone -everything from the family finances to who now drives the kids to school and puts the bins out.

You have lost someone you had only brief glimpses of. Every other aspect of your life is exactly as it was before. She has lost the other half of her marriage and the person she went to bed with every single night when he wasn’t sneaking off to be with you.

I do wonder if, in the midst of her grief and turmoil, she is also having to deal with the fact that he had a mistress. Did she ever know or suspect when he was alive? Has she found out since his death? You tried to contact him numerous times after his death; it’s highly likely she has seen your increasingly frantic text messages. Poor woman.

Accept your loss is far less than hers and be grateful for that. Show some remorse for the life you gave her for the last six years and put your affair into perspective. Instead of pining away on what might have been, tell yourself that although he loved you, he probably also loved her and would never have left his family for you.

A man who asks for another year is not someone trapped in a desperately unhappy marriage. It’s someone having his cake and eating it.

Molly Lynch’s advice:

Glancing at the first few lines of your problem, I thought this was the typical badly-done-to mistress tale.

The sort which frequent the pages of Dear Deirdre and Dr Miriam almost as much as women prancing about in their underwear in the photo-stories.

I was mentally preparing myself to tell you to cut all ties with this man, to give you the literary equivalent of a finger-wagging telling off for being incredibly naive for thinking he would ever leave his wife.

But then tragedy struck. Right slap bang in the penultimate paragraph. And for once - for a short while, anyway - I really didn’t know what to say.

This story is so sad on so many levels. Sad for the family who have been left without this bloke, sad for the kids forced to grow up without a father, sad for the widow who will never know what a love rat her hubby was and exceptionally sad for you - the woman who was clearly madly in

They say you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but I beg to differ on this occasion. Your deceased colleague sounds like a complete cretin. Never mind all this ‘staying together for the kids’ nonsense. Families come in all shapes and sizes these days and if he loved you as much as you seemed to love him he’d have shacked up with you a long time ago.

Real men have the courage to admit when relationships aren’t working and walk away.

However, the fact that Mr Dead was a love rat of the highest order does not change the fact that you were in love with him and no doubt shared some very intimate and happy memories.

Anyone who loses someone they love needs to grieve. Bottling it up will only lead to more heartache.

If I were you I would confide in one person you can trust, anyone from a counsellor to a closest friend, and let it all out. Tell them everything. You need someone else to see how much this person meant to you. You need to talk about them.

But once that initial period of shock and upset is over, what you really have to do is start afresh. This man has already robbed you of six years of your life. Do a Shirley Valentine. Join an online dating site. Do what ever it takes to claw back some of the time you’ve lost waiting for him to leave his missus.

He might’ve told you he loved you behind closed doors, in seedy bars or hotel room hide-outs, but it doesn’t count for much when you don’t even get an invite to the funeral.

Your story should serve as a warning to mistresses everywhere - you are never truly part of a man’s life if you’re the other woman.

Susan Sigger (51), of Penistone, a hypnotherapist at Lifechange Therapy advises:

My heart goes out to you; the nature of your relationship means you cannot openly grieve. You need some emotional support; I think you should confide in someone you trust who will be sympathetic. If you can’t do that, I recommend you find some bereavement counselling, or even speak in confidence to the Samaritans. Six years of your hopes and dreams have vanished. It will take time for you to adjust and to heal. But don’t try it alone; you need help now.

Something troubling you? Share it with your new BFs, Jo Davison and Molly Lynch:

Is there a problem we could give you a view on? We’re not experts,but we’ll listen, then tell it like it is. Send your 300-word letter to jo.davison@thestar.co.uk (we will need your age and area of

Sheffield you live in but your letter will remain anonymous).Davison’s