I expect to pass through this  world but once. Any good things, therefore, that I can do, any good kindness that I can show a fellow being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again
Stephen Grellet (1773-1855, French Quaker missionary)

My husband abandoned me three years ago but I still burn with rage



Every week I read your column and for the past three years I’ve taken great comfort in knowing I’m not alone in suffering the heart-destroying pain of discovering that my husband of 29 years was betraying me with a very young family friend.

The very fact that I could read about other people out there who (like you, in your book) were getting on with their daily lives and turning a brave and smiling face to the world gave me the strength to carry on. 

I search desperately for a light at the end of this deep, dark tunnel and long to feel happy again

I search desperately for a light at the end of this deep, dark tunnel and long to feel happy again

Three years after that discovery — and 18 months from when I eventually took legal advice — I’d hoped that I’d feel much better.

I do pretend I’m feeling great so my family and friends don’t worry.

But at times I find the pain unbearable. I have two adult children living with me who are still suffering too.

To hear my daughter say, ‘I wish a bus would drive into our house and kill the three of us so that we would be put out of our misery,’ is so agonising. I don’t show them how awful I feel and try to remain upbeat.

They are intelligent, lovely young people on the brink of exciting fulfilling careers and relationships, yet even that doesn’t obliterate the misery they still feel because of their father’s actions.

Now, at 58, I am looking for more work and struggling to keep my home.

I search desperately for a light at the end of this deep, dark tunnel and long to feel happy again.

Just being able to write this down is helpful.


Telling me that  reading this column gave you ‘the strength to carry on’ is like  presenting me with an enormous, beautiful bouquet — in return I say an equally big thank you.

The process you describe is of  inestimable importance.

We share each other’s stories with honesty and generosity in order to help make sense of the world.

Sometimes in a dark hour, something read or perhaps heard on the radio can act like a small electric shock, connecting you to the pain of another and helping you (even in a tiny way) to cope with your own. In desperation we cry, ‘Why me?’ to the silent sky.

Then one day the pitiful — or brave — sound of another human soul can make us wonder: ‘Why not me?’ Because we really are all in  this together.

That process of give and take is why I suggest that it’s time for you to be utterly honest with your two offspring who are still sharing your life.

If you insist on being falsely bright and brave, you are allowing them to continue behaving like hurt, disappointed children rather than adults.

When your daughter expressed that wish for a collective family death, she was indulging in self-pity at the expense of her own mother, who is miserable and struggling to keep a roof over her head.

If she expresses such negative thoughts again, it’s time for you to briskly rebuke her with: ‘None of us want to die, thank you very much, just because yet another man followed his stupid loins!’

Yes, her father let her down and hurt them both but things do change — if we let them. I’m afraid it’s about moving on, coming to terms with things, getting over it — and other clichés. Truisms are true!

Soon, as you say, those two will go on to live their own lives. But you are the one who’ll go on bearing the brunt of the grief.

You are the one who will have to cope when they move on to their ‘exciting, fulfilling careers and relationships’.

So you need to sit down with them and be honest about what you feel.

As long as they allow their father’s actions to go on making them suffer then he is the victor — and as long as they give him that power, they are making things harder for their mother.


Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to: Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters, but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Reassure them that you do understand the extent of their loss. It’s one of the great mistakes that society makes to assume that separation and divorce hit young children harder than grown ones.

Adult children feel furious and humiliated when their father goes off in search of lost youth with a younger woman.

It can affect their self-image as well as destroying the pedestal on which they perhaps placed him.

And, after all, they’ve had longer than young children in which to build fantasies about what it will be like to bring home a serious love to meet Mum and Dad.

Believe me, I understand all that and sympathise with what they’ve endured.

But still, enough is enough. It’s time for them to support you instead of making you feel worse.

I’m wondering if being open and firm with them at last might prove helpful to you, too.

With luck, speaking your mind and talking through how you can all move forward will enable you to see more clearly.

I can’t promise light at the end of the tunnel yet — just a match to light the way.

When you discovered that your husband was unfaithful (and with a young family friend, to add insult to injury), life, as you had known it, ended. Eighteen months ago you finally realised he was gone for good, and took legal advice.

But, you see, it’s all still very fresh. There’s no quick-fix sticking plaster for such wounds. Had your husband died three years ago, you’d still be going through the drawn-out process of grieving.

Yet in a crucial way he did die. The man you’d loved and trusted for 29 years was no more.

You said that writing the email to me was helpful. Building on that thought, I suggest you ask your children each to write a letter to their father, letting him know exactly what they felt when he left and what they think of him now.

Ask them to do this for your sake — and you do the same.

Take time over it. Tell him why you loved him, put down what was best about your life together (you’ll probably find this very moving, but that’s OK) and then berate him for what he did and its long-term effects. Hold nothing back.

The three of you will then discuss what to do with the sealed letters — which you won’t be posting.

A ceremonial burning is the best option, so see if you can make  that work.

Fire purifies — and when the smoke drifts upwards into the atmosphere, with the three of you watching it, I guarantee you will experience a mysterious cleansing.

You have reached the end of one phase in your life, Annie, and the next one is just around the corner.

The three of you should raise a glass to that future.

Why can’t men see past my disability?


I’ve never written for help before and I guess I’m only doing so now because it’s late and I’m feeling rejected, again.

It’s also because I’ve just watched the Paralympics opening ceremony.

I am an amputee and single and lonely.

I have joined a couple of dating websites but I don’t disclose my disability as there are a lot of odd people out there and I really don’t want to attract anyone with less than good intentions.

However, once I tell the men I do meet about my disability, they don’t want to know.

I realise that not all men will be like that and eventually there’ll be someone who can see beyond it — but at the moment I am so fed-up of being rejected time and time again.

One chap even told me that if he had known, he would never have contacted me.

What chance do I stand?

I do have a positive  mental attitude and am generally happy with my lot but would really like to find someone to share life with.

I get out there and do things so I’m not sitting at home, wallowing in self-pity. But I never meet any single men.

Sorry, I realise that there are people out there with things that are much worse to worry about but, like I said at the beginning, it’s late and I’m feeling rejected again.

I also appreciate that I haven’t given you too much detail but I’d be grateful for any advice.


Allow the message of the Paralympic Games be one of hope, letting those athletes to inspire you not to give up your quest for true companionship

Allow the message of the Paralympic Games be one of hope, letting those athletes to inspire you not to give up your quest for true companionship

Anonymity is (in 99 per cent of cases) the rule in this column, but I choose names to make it friendlier.

I’ve given you a made-up name that nods respectfully at two of our astonishing Paralympian women, and I do so not for fun but to try to imbue you with a spirit of optimism.

Watching that stunning, uplifting opening ceremony inspired your email, and I’m glad.

I, too, was overwhelmed, especially as my brother was disabled in a terrible car accident when he was 19, and struggled bravely until his death at the age of 66 in 2010.

Seeing disabled athletes ‘flying’ over the stadium felt like a blessing on all those who wish they, too, could float high above the  physical conditions that keep them grounded, frustrated and sad . . . but determined too.

Truthfully, I’m not that convinced by dating sites, if all faith is put in them. I know two happy couples who met that way, but I hear from many who find the process agonising.

Not being honest about your disability makes you very vulnerable to insensitive men, yet I can understand why you’re reluctant to be open. I have no answer for that, I’m afraid.

You say you get out and about — obviously the best way to meet people is through shared activities where prospective partners can get to know the real you.

So always be open to fresh experiences.

On the other hand, I wonder if you’ve ever tried dedicated websites for people with disabilities?

For example, has this wonderfully encouraging message:

‘We are all different and all special . . . Some people have mobility problems and challenges that can stem from a genetic issue or an accident. We all have hopes and dreams . . . the essence of our shared humanity.

‘When you start looking for a partner either online or through social groups it is important to focus on the type of person you want to spend your time with — personality, opinions and beliefs.

‘It might well turn out that the person you choose has a disability or challenge or you yourself might have a physical impairment that needs to be taken into account . . . the majority of our members face such challenges.

This site will help them meet people who are either disabled themselves or who look beyond an obvious disability and focus on the whole person and a possible relationship they might enjoy.’

Allow the message of the Paralympic Games be one of hope, letting those athletes — and all their devoted partners, of which there are many — inspire you not to give up your quest for true companionship.

PS: I’m happy to tell you that my brother found love after his accident and had a long and happy marriage.

...and finally

Inspired by the sound of silence

Last Saturday it was my niece’s Quaker wedding — in a rough-and-ready working farm building (used for building chicken coops) in a Devon village, with 150 folding chairs in rows.

A Quaker Elder explained what would happen.

I was at the bride’s parents’ wedding, so I knew — but others found the sitting in silence a shock.

After about eight minutes the couple rose of their own accord to make this simple declaration: ‘Friends, I take this my friend (name) to be my spouse, promising, through divine assistance (or with God’s help) to be unto him (her) a loving and faithful spouse, so long as we both on Earth shall live.’

They exchanged rings and an Elder confirmed what had happened, then everybody waited.

In slow time, anybody could speak or read a  passage that felt right.

There was no structure, no celebrant, no music. Just the faint smell of sawdust, the sound of birdsong from outside, and the peace (sometimes awkward) of a large group of people doing what they never do in daily life. Keeping quiet and still.

After an hour everybody rose, shook hands with neighbours and signed the certificate of marriage.

After tea and cakes in the farmyard, we followed the groom and his beautiful bride back though a field and the parish churchyard, as the church bells pealed in joyous celebration.

After that it was a ‘normal’ — and perfect — wedding: children scampering; English champagne in late summer sunlight; sweet, loving speeches; long trestles in a marquee for a hog roast; and plenty of wine and dancing.

The lesson of the silence stays with me. The practise of Mindfulness in Buddhism and modern psychology encourages you to focus on ‘being’ fully within the present moment.

To be still, hear your own breathing and heartbeat, and notice what’s there — even something as simple as the pattern on a favourite mug. It’s immensely calming.

Try it — communing with your own spirit.


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