DEAR ABBY: I was married to my husband for 29 years. We were separated off and on more than 10 of those years. We were both in other relationships but would reconnect for months and sometimes years. Then, because our lifestyles are so different, we would split up again.
I divorced him two years ago, but we see each other off and on as friends. I haven’t been in a relationship since our divorce because I still love him. He couldn’t stop the street life, and I got tired of living on the edge with him.
He’s now in church, off drugs. He has gained back some weight and looks like the man I first fell in love with. I tell him every time I see him that I still love him, but he doesn’t believe me and acts like he hates me. We have a 27-year-old daughter he loves and sees.
I think of the good times we had together day and night. I can’t sleep sometimes and feel so unhappy without him. Abby, what can I do to move on? — LONELY AND LOST IN MARYLAND
DEAR LONELY AND LOST: You may love the person your ex-husband was in the beginning, but you divorced him for good reasons. Chief among them, he became someone else because of his addiction and his choices. He may blame you for divorcing him, but if you hadn’t done it, he probably would not have straightened out. Sometimes love is not enough, particularly when it’s a one-way street.
It is time to quit looking backward and concentrate on your future. See your ex as little as possible, and allow yourself to grieve the lost relationship for a specific period of time. When that time period is over, concentrate on meeting new people and cultivating new interests. If necessary, talking with a therapist may be helpful, and I hope you will consider it. There is life after this, but only if you will allow it.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend of 50 years was recently diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. Because her memory was beginning to slip, my husband and I moved her in with us. She pays us rent and contributes to meals.
The problem is, she has told friends that because she pays rent she shouldn’t have to help around the house. My husband and I both work. It would be nice if she would cook us dinner occasionally or do the dishes. I have asked, but she always has an excuse. I don’t know how to tell her we are not a bed and breakfast. She has the ability to help. Advice? — HELPER NEEDS HELP, TOO
DEAR HELPER: I hope you realize that as your friend’s dementia progresses she will no longer be able to help around the house, and it could actually be dangerous for her to cook. It would be better for all concerned if her family would start looking at dementia care facilities for her, THE EARLIER THE BETTER so she will have time to adjust. Some of them offer graduated levels of care to meet the patient’s increasing needs. Please consider it.