I miss my son and still love my ex but she’s moved on

Dear Coleen

I’m feeling so lost. I’ve been single for two years after my ex told me she didn’t think she loved me any more and wanted time to herself. I moved out to give her space, which worked for her and that was it.

We have joint custody of our son and get on very well, which I find difficult because I’m still in love with her and never wanted to break up. I know it’s good we get along for the sake of our son, but her life seems to be going forward while mine has stood still.

My son is my world and he has a heart condition, which he’ll need more surgery for.

I want to spend as much time with him as possible just in case the worst happens, which I think about a lot. I can’t help it – it’s just always at the back of my mind.

I’m more than happy to help my ex when she asks – we had a day out together last week and next month we’re planning an evening out for the three of us to a magical forest.

Recently, I saw a photo of my ex with someone else and think she’s dating him. I don’t want to quiz her because I don’t want to be “that” ex, but I’m struggling to move on and feel very alone. I tried talking to someone once, but all they said was that I shouldn’t complain and their problems are worse than mine! So I just keep ­everything to myself.

I’ve taken antidepressants a lot, but always take myself off them.

I hate feeling like I’m a burden to anyone and that my son can do better than me. I don’t know what to do – can you help?

Coleen says

The positive side of this is that you have a good relationship with your ex regarding your son, so I hope you can maintain that. No one can replace you in your son’s life and you sound like a wonderful father despite your personal struggles, and I admire that about you.

I understand how hard it is to find the motivation to get up and do ­something for yourself. But it does help to start focusing on what you do have rather than what you don’t and no one else can change the situation but you.

Your next partner isn’t going to knock on your door – allow yourself to be open to ­opportunities. In the same way you help your ex, maybe she can help with childcare if you need time.

It seems ­antidepressants haven’t helped, so I’d speak to your GP about counselling. I know there’s a waiting list on the NHS, but in the meantime you could check out the private route.

You have a lot to contend with so please don’t let this friend you confided in put you off – you simply chose the wrong person to talk to.

It’s hard as your partner doesn’t want a reconciliation, but she cares for you as a friend and as her son’s father, and you have a great relationship with your son, which you can cherish.

You can help yourself – you’ve taken a great first step by reaching out to me – and you can be helped by others.

Try the British Association for ­Counselling and Psychotherapy ­– (bacp.co.uk) and mental health charity Mind (mind.org.uk), which has groups and services across the country, as well as helplines, counselling and befriending. Good luck.

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