Karen, 48

On my daughter's 12th birthday, I found out that my husband of 13 years (together for 18) was leaving. It was a bolt from the blue, I had no clue he'd been seeing someone else. Admittedly, things between us had been tense for months, but I thought he was just stressed due to work pressures. I spent months trying to talk to him, arranged appointments with the doctor, tried 'date' nights - all to no avail. Finally, he admitted that he didn't love me 'the way that he should'. I had to drag it out of him. Worse was to come.

Not only was his new love living in a different country (he'd met her online) she was six months' pregnant. He didn't tell me this straightaway. I had to wait for that little nugget of information.

He moved out after Christmas, we let the kids have their precious festive time. It was horrendous, having to smile over the turkey and play Scrabble. I self-medicated with wine and went to bed with the kids on Christmas Night. The following day, we told them. My son, then 8, cried for hours. We left and went to my sister's - when we returned a few days later, he was gone, as arranged. He'd left a note full of remorse and self-loathing. I still have it. It's the only thing of his that I kept.

What followed was tough. First the shock, then the reality. Within three months, he'd left the country and his job - and the maintenance disappeared once his new baby was born. The first year was a blur. I didn't eat and lost a lot of weight. I stayed working and remained strong. My father died six months later and I think I have yet to grieve him. I was too busy mourning for the husband who was still very much alive.

It is now over two years later and I thought I'd be further along - but my counsellor (who I have just started seeing) says not to put a time limit on it. She tells me I have 'unprocessed grief' because I had to just 'get on with it' when it first happened. I am allowed to feel angry, and anxious, and upset. And that's ok.

I have come a long way. I have two wonderful children who still love both their parents in spite of one of them being absent and I'm glad of that. Their relationship with him is largely through text messaging but they don't seem to be bothered by that or damaged by what has transpired. I have dated, somewhat tentatively - and I don't rule out meeting someone new. I work hard, I pay my bills, I have a lovely home and some really good family and friends.

Initially I tried to maintain communication with my ex, to involve him in their education, health, welfare - but he no longer speaks to me. 

I wish it had been different but I'm glad he's gone. I deserve better. There will come a day when I won't think about him at all. It will take time but that day will come. And I look forward to it. I have a life ahead of me, I know that.

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