Please help me to at least have a chance at getting my head together: I am a 45 yr old man (divorced 10 yrs) and the love of my life is a 50 yr old woman–she is married & has been for 21 years.We have been together and intimate for 6 years (prior to that we worked in the same department of our firm for 8 years and this is how we grew so close). It started out innocently enough: small talk in the mornings; extended lunch breaks because we obviously liked each other’s company; then a declaration by her–about 7 years ago–that she was ‘re-evaluating’ her then 15-year marriage (seems they quit being lovers and became more like roommates).After her declaration, we started talking on the phone during the evenings & leaving each other notes in the other’s mailbox at work. She repeatedly told me how much she was attracted to the fact that I was a ‘free spirit,’ and I admitted to her that I was VERY attracted to her as a woman & that I simply felt close/centered/warm (choose your cliche) when I was near her.As you can suppose, we fell in love (please don’t tell me it wasn’t/isn’t real because this hurts too much to be a bi-product of some neurosis) and for many years I was quite happy. I told her–just once & for the record–that IF she decided to leave her husband I wanted it to be because she could no longer stay married. . .I didn’t want her to leave under some imagined pressure from me, and I never did pressure her to leave–I just wanted her to keep spending loving/happy times with me. And that bring me to my problem: While she still claims–with words only these days–that I am still the love of her life, she won’t budge: her marriage remains the EXACT SAME as it was 7 years ago, but what’s worse now is that something always ‘comes up’ so we can never see each other like we used to.She says that it is always just a coincidence, but I know that she is–in some way–pulling back. What has me completely screwed up is this: 1) She says that she loves me, but she can’t seem to find time to be with me anymore; 2) When I try to talk about how lonely/left out I feel, she says that I am over-reacting; 3) Just when I feel like there is no hope for ‘us’ and I resolve to figure out how to live without her, she yanks me back with some mind-bending passion; 4) I know I have to leave this unbalanced, one-sided affair but I don’t know how.How can I leave AND get myself together when the desire to be with her is as strong today as it was when we first started exchanging office laughs years & years ago? I will do the best that I can regarding any advice that you give me, but please be compassionate: I am hurting SO much these days and I am in such a constant state of melancholy that I don’t even know myself–I am no fun to be around and this seems to hinder my broader social skills.I am not suicidal. I am truly depressed, though, and I am so screwed up right now that I feel the only cure for me is to be in her arms–pretty messed up, huh? (FYI: I believe that I have always had my share of abandonment issues to deal with.) How can I begin to get my head together? Thanks for listening
I do understand your pain. There is no worse sufffering than unrequited love. You mentioned that you have your own share of abandonment issues. I assume you know that her pulling back is reawakening your previous abandonment scars.You ask how you can begin to get yourself together. Perhaps you could use this experience as an opportunity to not only work through your loss of her, but also to heal the larger abandonment issues that plague you. Your first step would be to understand why your unconscious chose a woman who was married. What secret fantasies lurked behind that choice? That she would eventually leave her husband?You might also want to explore why you were willing to be in a relationship that offered you no future? Why were you willing to settle for less than you deserved? How does that relate to your abandonment issues?I sense that this woman you love is very afraid of becoming intimate and that she was only comfortable in a marriage without connection, or in a relationship with you that had built-in limits. The big question is what changed for her? Did she sense that you wanted more from her?You made the remark that nothing has changed in seven years, and I was wondering if you secretly conveyed your hope that your love for her would eventually win her heart. It is possible that she felt your unspoken hope and became uneasy?At this point you need to decide what you want to do. Do you want to have her back under any circumstances? Or do you want to let her go? If you want to keep her then the only chance of getting her back is for you to back-off even farther than she is. Then her own terror of being crowded should subside, and she may come back to you.You need to be very sure that this is what you want. Make sure that you are willing to settle for what she is offering. I understand that you love her, and perhaps having some part of her seems preferable to have all of another woman. Only you can say.Again, I think that if you enter therapy now and explore your abandonment issues, you will find that they are tied up with why you feel that she is the only woman for you. You will need to follow the trail of breadcrumbs, and keep asking yourself why am I attached to someone who can’t return my love?When you understand why, you will feel less hooked to her. I’m not saying that you won’t love her any longer, or that your love isn’t real, I am just saying that you will feel less addicted to her, like she is the only one for you. This will help ease your pain, and will make you less vulnerable to her own fluctuations of mood.I hope that I have given you the direction you need to get on top of this situation. In order to lift your depression you must act upon your life rather than be acted upon.So, I encourage you to take charge by entering therapy, and by either pulling back or letting go. Chasing her and begging her for attention will only drive her farther away, and will make you suffer more abandonment pain.