John asks :

Hi Lucy, 

I am a happily married man of 16 years with a ten year old son. I have a great job and life is good. Recently an old flame contacted me after 24 years. Basically she was my first love but it ended badly when she cheated on me. So badly that I attempted suicide. It took me a long time to move on from her and I'm not sure that contact is a good thing. However, she is a recovering alcoholic and making amends to those she hurt is part of the twelve step program. She wants to speak by phone to apologize. My wife is supportive as she believes in forgiving and thinks it would be unfair to let her remain in turmoil. We live in separate countries, she in England and me in Ireland. Chances of meeting are remote. I am just afraid that the memories I tried hard to deal with will overwhelm me. I'd appreciate your advice.


Hi John,

Agony Aunts on Female First

Agony Aunts on Female First

Perhaps her getting in touch has made you realise that you still haven't dealt with the feelings that arose in that time of your life? If you feel anxious about delving into that part of your history then maybe some counselling would help to go alongside being in touch with her again? (If that is what you decide to do). She has been advised to get support, but in helping her, you might also need some professional guidance at your end too.

If you have a supportive partner and your life is going well, then you may be in better place to approach this period in your past again and deal with some of the issues it brought up for you. If your wife is encouraging of this then perhaps you are stronger than you think you are.

Although it's very admirable to want to help your ex, you also have a duty of care to yourself and your family. If your gut is telling you aren't ready for this, then it might be wise to decline. If she makes contact with everyone else, then perhaps that will be enough to help her in her healing process. If you tell her why you don't want to be involved, then she may understand. She might be able to tell the people in her circle about the time you spent together rather than with you so she can explore what she would like to say to you.

Depending on how she got back in touch- could she use this method to write you a letter? Via Facebook or email maybe? That could help her express her apologies- but you don't have to read it and open that chapter again if you don't want to. Perhaps your wife could read it for you and just tell you the parts you need to know without getting too in depth?

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