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Wistful melancholy

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Relationship advice Since walking out on my wife just six months ago, I can't seem to stop thinking about her. Not in any sort of romantic way, but simply because I would love to know how she's doing, whether she's found happiness with someone else or if she's wallowing in a pit of despair that I'm completely responsible for.

My wife and I met almost 13 years ago, when I was 21 and she was 18. We grew together through our relationship and it was really good in the beginning. She is one of the most loving and loyal people I've ever met and we supported each other through the challenges that life threw at us. I supported her emotionally and financially when she took a few years out to study, and she was always there for me when I had a bad day at work, or during one of my impulsive get-rich-quick schemes!

Several years ago (before we got married), my wife (let's call her Carol for the purposes of this back-story) was diagnosed with a mental health issue which meant she couldn't work. It was so bad some days, she couldn't even get out of bed. Like all good boyfriends are supposed to do, I took care of her, cramming in as much overtime at work as possible and looking after her as best I could. Carol didn't want me to come to any of her medical appointments with her, but she often told me that I was her rock and she felt the support I was giving her was really helping her face the world each day. Carol didn't want to take medication for her condition (several of the medications she initially tried didn't agree with her) and preferred to use counselling instead.

I proposed to Carol and we set about planning our wedding. Because of her condition, we changed venue twice (losing several thousand pounds in the process) however, we finally got married and I honestly thought that we would live happily ever after. Throughout all of this process, she was still unable to work, and I had moved to a job where I was working shifts, and still doing as much overtime as I could.

After we got married, Carol kind of 'fell through the cracks' in the health system. I encouraged her to try to re-establish contact with the mental health teams, but she always came up with some sort of excuse not to (I don't want stress on my birthday month, it's summer and everyone is on holiday, it's almost Christmas - I'll do it in the new year!) I was still working long shifts and topping this up with overtime to make ends meet.

As the new year rolled around, I reflected on my marriage. I came to realise that Carol and I had grown apart in the 13 years of our relationship. Despite my asking, pleading and even nagging, she didn't seem to want to get help. I felt disgusted with myself for thinking it (and I still do), but it struck me that she saw me as a meal ticket - someone who would pay for all of her extravagances in life and she got to sit back and do nothing all day. She didn't WANT to get better.

After discussing it with a friend, I sat down with Carol one day and told her that I wasn't happy in the relationship, and that I thought we needed to take some time to think about what we wanted. She was understandably devastated and said that she wanted me, but I went to live with a friend for a week to clear my head and think about my marriage.

After a week, I went back and told her that I wanted a divorce. She was devastated. In my week, I realised that I would only be staying with her because I felt guilty, and that didn't seem to be a solid foundation for a marriage. Over the next few weeks, I moved my things out and stayed with a friend. She moved out of the shared house and I haven't been in contact with her since. Before she moved out, her dad died suddenly. I was absolutely devastated. I loved this man like a father and I knew that it would have a huge impact on Carol, as she was very much a daddy's girl. Because of everything that had gone on, I didn't attend the funeral.

Since then, I've started a new relationship with an awesome girl. We were close friends for a long time before and she helped me through the break-up (nothing inappropriate happened while I was with Carol - that's not who I am!). I love her and she loves me, and I'm pretty sure that we're going to spend the rest of our lives together. Despite this, there's not a day goes by where I don't think about Carol. I want to know how she is; I really want to know that she's getting the help she needs; I want to find out if there's anything I can do to help her get back on her feet.

I know that it'd be completely wrong of me to contact her. I'm the one that caused her pain, so contacting her to satisfy my own curiosity isn't fair on her. I also know that it's not fair on my current girlfriend, as I know that I'd feel hurt if the shoe were on the other foot...

My question is: how do I stop thinking about my ex every day? It's been 6 months and, although I have no regrets about leaving, I think I'll always feel like a piece of shit that I caused someone so loving to go through so much heartache.

Wistful melancholy

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I suggest that you use a mutual friend to ask about your ex wife - if she is coping and getting along.

I hope you sent the family a card about the death of this man you thought of like a father figure to you. The entire family is hurting, not just your ex.

It sounds like you feel you did all you could to hold things together. Too bad she did not make an effort to treat her mental illness, but that's one of the symptoms, too (avoiding/refusing/fearful of help) She almost sounds like she should have been hospitalized.

Regret is a bitch. You need to come to terms with what you think you did to save yourself. Counseling would help you forgive yourself and put you at ease.

Good luck.

Wistful melancholy

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Hello JASON4263,

I have to say that I think you did the right thing.

We promise to support each other during the good and the bad times. But we're supposed to help each other and not become a burden out of comfort.

About that "or if she's wallowing in a pit of despair that I'm completely responsible for", you're not responsible for any of that if it's happening at all. She is.

We can love and take care of a person, but they need to help themselves. If they don't we can't let them sink us alongside with them.

We have to survive, whatever the means.

It's sad, it's hard and sometimes it seems to be selfish, but that's how it is.

You were frontal, truthful and honest. Neither she nor yourself can ask anything more from you.

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