Life After Bad Break-up

November 12, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Dear Kathy,

     I’ve been with my son’s father for 14 years. He’s my high school sweetheart. I don’t even remember what my life was like without him in it. Since we broke up, I feel like I’m falling apart. I don’t know how to face the rest of my life alone, raising our son by myself.

     Last month, a woman called me on my cell and told me that she was with him now and I needed to move on. I was blind-sided and went totally ballistic. I felt like my legs were cut out from under me.

     I figured it was a one-time thing and we’d work it out, maybe go to couples therapy together. I never in a million years thought we’d break up over it!  He just packed up his stuff that night after I confronted him, though. He moved in with the woman he’s been seeing and he doesn’t even want to fight for us. He hasn’t even called his own son!

     I can barely take care of myself, let alone my child. I lie in bed all day crying, trying to understand how he could throw away everything we had together just like that. I can’t go to work because I feel so emotionally overwhelmed. I haven’t even called in because I don’t know what to say.

     How can I get him to see that we can get through this, that our son deserves to grow up with both of us? Neither of us had a dad growing up and we were both committed to making it different for our kids.

     We were planning to have another baby after our son started school in the fall. We talked about it only a couple of weeks before the other woman called! It’s like he pulled a Jekyll and Hyde on me. What happened to us and how do I deal with all this? I don’t think I could ever even trust another guy. How do I explain it to my little boy when I don’t even understand it myself?


Dear Tawana,

     I’m so sorry about what you’re going through. You are clearly experiencing a devastating loss. I suggest that you cope with your situation one day at a time. Don’t think about the future. Today has enough worry in it without speculating about tomorrow’s challenges.

     Surround yourself with positive people who love you and can offer you some practical help, like buying groceries, preparing food, and caring for your son. Call your boss immediately and put in a request to take some time off for a family emergency. Don’t go into details, keep your personal situation private.

     I strongly encourage you to seek counseling to help you get back on your feet and cope with your loss. If you call the Ackerman Institute for the Family, you can receive a referral for a clinician in your area. As you process your grief and confusion, you will be in a better position to answer your son’s questions.

     Although it may not seem like it now, this too shall pass. Be proactive regarding your daily obligations, reach out for emotional support, and take it one day at a time. The days will turn into weeks, the weeks into months, and little by little the strong woman you are will emerge. You’ll make it. For your son’s sake if not your own, you’ll make it. Please keep me updated on your situation.

My very best,