Virginia Ironside’s Dilemmas: I miss my children so much


Dear Virginia,



When my wife fell for another man, life became so intolerable I had to move out. But although I see my children, aged five and six, for one day at the weekends, the separation from them is unbearable. I cry every day and miss them so much. My wife's a good mother and I don't want to upset the children's routine, which seems to work well for them. But how can I overcome this terrible emptiness I feel? If it wouldn't harm the children, I'd kill myself.



Yours sincerely, Rick

You have two problems here, Rick, both almost unbearable. First, you are suffering the terrible grief you feel from missing your children. Second, you are having to make the tremendous and admirable effort of putting up a good front for the kids when you do see them, and selflessly suffering, even though you can see an easy way out, because you know that suicide would make things worse for them. You are not only grieving, but denying yourself the one thing that would relieve you of suffering, through your love for them.

These feelings combined are almost worthy of a Greek tragedy. And you are, it seems, suffering entirely on your own. This is a time when you need to talk to friends, and talk and talk and talk, until you almost bore yourself with the topic, until you are quite cried out. You will never get over the pain, but you might be able to ease it by sharing it.

I wonder if seeing your suffering as a way of being a good father, as a kind of exemplary parenting, might help you find some point in it? If you were to put these children out of your life, it might be easier for you, but what a devastating effect it would have on them. If you were to break down and weep every time you saw them, again, how wretched that would make them feel. If you were to apply for more access, it would cause, almost certainly, more trouble with your children's mother, and, as you say, their routine seems to suit them very well. More access might suit you, but it might not suit them.

In other words, someone's got to suffer, and rather than letting your kids suffer, you are taking the burden from them, in a near-heroic way. Don't diminish your courage and your nobility.

Finally, I wonder if you experienced feelings of any childhood separation yourself, or perhaps alienation from your father, that might have been rekindled by this situation? If so, it could account for the severity of your feelings. Many fathers miss their children desperately when faced with the same situation. Not many feel like killing themselves.

Not only would seeing a counsellor give you a chance just to unload your misery onto someone sympathetic, but it might uncover something in your past that makes this ghastly situation even more unbearable than it already must be. Whatever, you must see your doctor. I'm not saying antidepressants will work, but trying them might well help you pass the time until the raw agony of this separation starts, slightly, to heal.

Readers say...

Establish a routine

If you have not already, find a place to live with an extra bedroom for your children. Then either pick them up from school yourself, or use an after-school club/after-school carer. If that is not possible, agree with your wife that you will collect them from her and put them to bed at your home, taking them to school the next day. Do this a couple of days a week, and have them over at weekends, too.

You do not mention divorce, but if you follow that route, you are almost certain to have more time with them than at present. You are struggling emotionally and need help – your GP or Relate are good places to start.

Kate, By email

Face facts and move on

The same thing happened to me. It hurt, but I soon found my relationship with my boys was, if anything, stronger, because of the more-focused importance of the limited time I had with them. Someone told me it would take five years to get over and they were pretty much spot-on. Accept that and move on. I am now remarried, happier than ever and have a great relationship with my sons.

Alan, By email

***

Don't worry, be happy

Rick, stop wallowing in your situation. Your children are coping and you see them regularly. As for wishing you could kill yourself – people, like me, who did in childhood lose a parent to suicide, boil with exaggerated fury at such irresponsible talk.

Brace up, try to enjoy the freedom this arrangement gives you, and stop being a misery six days out of seven! Those times can be very precious and important – for your children. You're in danger of spoiling that.

Name and address supplied

***

Stand up for yourself

Your wife cheated on you, yet you moved out, and you barely see your kids. Stop being such a doormat! You need to get real, get mediation and get legal advice. For your children's sake, for your equal rights as a father and for your own self-respect, you've got to make a stand.

Christina Burton, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

    £50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

    Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

    £50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

    Primary Teaching Supply

    £130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

    Year 1/2 Teacher

    £130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

    Day In a Page

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories