Last week my partner told me she's leaving me after 16 years. This was a very big surprise. We've
had some rough spots, but we always seemed to work them out, and she never said she was thinking
about leaving. She says it's too late to fix it. She does have a new lover, but says that's not the reason
she's going, that it's been coming for a long time.
Now she wants to sit down with me and divide up all our joint possessions, and she wants me to buy her
out of the house. Do I have to sit down and talk with her? I haven't been sleeping, have lost 10 pounds
in the last week, and it hurts so much to see her. Please help.
My heart goes out to you--what a shock! There's no way to make the pain go away, but there are ways to manage
it. Here are some suggestions:
1. Mobilize your support system. Reach
out to your friends, family, spiritual leaders--anyone who will be nurturing
and supportive and will help you to take care of yourself.
2. Find a good therapist. You may want
to contact your local psychological association or gay/lesbian/bisexual
center. Make sure therapist has skills in working with lesbian relationship
3. You won't be able to manage any of the
stress very well if you aren't sleeping or eating. You may want to consider
seeing a psychiatrist about antidepressants and/or sleeping aids. Also,
some people find herbal approaches useful, especially herbal sleeping
4. Take your time. It's not a good idea
to make big decisions right after a major trauma. Just because your
partner wants to divide things up quickly doesn't mean you have to do
so. Wait until you feel ready to decide how you want to handle things.
You may want to have a third party, perhaps a professionally-trained
mediator, help with the division of household goods. You may also want
to hire an attorney to advise you about your legal rights and obligations.
Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein,
Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks
and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional
audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT
HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.