Don't know what to do


Nineteen months ago an old school friend contacted me through a renunion website. He'd lost his wife to breast cancer 13 months earlier. We began chatting and made arrangements to meet. We met and 6 hours flashed by in a matter of moments. We were very good friends at high school and it was like the 36 years in between, with no contact, were just momentary. In those first few months we could not talk often enough or manage to get to see each other frequently enough; then suddenly he began applying the dampers. We have bumbled along ever since

We live over an hour's drive apart. Weekends are not available for us because they are devoted to access to the stepson he raised from when he was a baby. He was with his mother 8 years. I understand his reluctance to involve a vulnerable boy in this friendship while he has no idea of its direction, but it limits time for possible meetings.

He was a lifesaver for me, because I am a domestic violence survivour and he is a kind, gentle soul. He managed to convince me to risk having a relationship with a man again. We appeared to be getting on so well, until he began retreating into his safe zone of work, home, family and friends from his life with his lost love.

We have had periods where we have not communicated. He has needed the space. I love this man and I want to do what is best for him. He says he has nothing to offer me. He is happy to exist in this time warp he has deliberately set up for himself to help him cope with his loss. He says he enjoys time with me, but finds it very stressful and draining. He is scared of making a mistake again and doubts whether he would recover a third time should he be pushed to the edge again.

This wonderful man made a disastrous marriage after his first wife and first born son were killed by a drunk driver when he was only in his mid twenties. He and his baby daughter survived the crash. Looking to regain what he'd lost and a mother for his daughter, he married quickly and then repented for twenty years. His third wife restored him after all that he suffered at the hands of his second wife.

Even though he thinks I should be finding someone else, something prevents him from severing all contact with me. He says he might never have anything more to offer me. Part of me says leave him alone if just knowing you is hurting him, but another part of me says hang in there, you might help him on his journey back to living a more balanced life. I know I will be grieving too if I say goodbye.

I don't want to make the wrong decision. I think perhaps he reached out to me because he remembered the type of friend I was and something inside him realised he needed a friend like me again. There were quite a few other people he could have contacted from the (reunion) website.

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