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Complicated and Compound Losses

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From the U.S.: All of this happened in the past ten months: My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers and cancer.. . my mom and stepfather were forced into assisted living. at my moms’ I found evidence I possibly had a different birth father, my mom had an affair with a married man when I was little. My mother said he was NOT my father. He recently died.

My husband of 15 years then cheated on me and left me suddenly- shocking everyone. my son moved away. . . Then I lost my dream job was let go. I am still unemployed… .

I ended up starting a passionate affair with a married man who lives hours away. He told me he wanted to leave his wife somehow without admitting the affair It’s a very complicated relationship and we are still talking daily.I feel relentlessly heartbroken.

The man I am seeing is mostly unavailable to me and so are most of my friends. He and I text, video call and see each other when we can, we have perfect chemistry sexually which has never happened in my life or his. He was a loyal husband for 16 years and he is sick with guilt and depression. He wants to turn back time and say this didn’t happen. It is very hard on us both- but he says he loves me and we make no progress breaking up- we just hurt each other over and over. But I am in love with him. He says he is bipolar and I believe him. I want him to commit to me and leave his wife.

I am suffering and lost, feeling just bewildered with pain and confusion, grief and anger. I am trying to navigate through divorce, I feel at rock bottom, I don’t have money for therapy. I am looking for resources and advice. any help.

Complicated and Compound Losses

Answered by on -


(We don’t usually edit letters but for your privacy, I have done so.) What a terrible pile up of tragedies and problems! It is no wonder you are suffering. It is no wonder that you are at times swamped with emotions. You do need support and help — far more than I can offer in an advice column.

All I can do is affirm that you have every reason to be sad and angry and confused. I can also encourage you to go slow with the relationship with a married man who is wracked with guilt and who has a diagnosis of bi-polar. Not all harbors in a storm are ultimately safe. However much you two may care for each other and comfort each other, neither of you is in any shape to make a commitment to another person. You both have serious issues that deserve your attention. Left untreated, those issues will make any relationship extremely difficult over the long run.

I strongly urge you to explore options for getting help. I wrote this article a number of years ago for people like yourself who don’t have immediate access to therapy:

Please take care of yourself. You made a good start by writing to us here at PsychCentral. Now, please, reach out and get the help you need and deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Complicated and Compound Losses

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Complicated and Compound Losses. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 20 Dec 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.