DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I've been with my boyfriend three years. We started dating about two months after he and his short-term ex split up, only to find out a week later that she was pregnant -- but didn't want a relationship with him anymore. We decided to keep dating and see where it went and it got really strong. Then his baby was born, and she wouldn't let him see the child, but I made him go to the hospital as I knew he really wanted to be there. I have never gotten in the way. The problem is he has never told his ex that he's with me -- and when he does get to see his boy, she has to be around -- no set days or overnights to see his child. She says if he sees someone, she won't let him see his child. We were talking about moving in together over a month ago and I got really excited because I'm at the point where I want to move forward. I have a six year-old, but now he says he's scared to move in with me, because he will see my son more than his own, though he already told his friends we're moving in together. Am I wrong to say that he is living two lives: playing family with his ex; and having his girlfriend on the side when its convenient? Do I wait for him to find out what he wants or do I leave completely heart broken? -- Completely Heartbroken, Winnipeg
Dear Heartbroken: You boyfriend has fallen in love with his baby, or the child he thinks is his baby. He is totally at his ex's whim right now because he loves that child so much. Be proactive and suggest the two of you see a counsellor and a lawyer for advice. Your boyfriend needs to try to set up legal visitation and monthly support for his child. But, there should also be a paternity test to make 100 per cent sure this is his baby. It's odd this woman wanted nothing to do with "the father" during her pregnancy, but now she's entirely possessive of him and dictating his love life and using visitation as weapon against his having any other woman. Something is strange about this situation. Do you get the feeling he's caring less for you and more for her, or simply that he's terrified of losing visitation of his child?
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is for the writer of Super Anxious, I just thought I needed to write and share some information that has been a real find for me. Recommended to me by a psychiatrist and to another friend by a doctor, this resource obviously has some credibility. It is The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, MD. I made a course of it for myself this winter and found it immensely helpful. Its size makes it look a little intimidating, but a big chunk of the book is about medications. It's worth a try, probably for lots of us. -- Calm & Serene ...Now, Winnipeg
Dear Calm: Thanks for taking the time to write in with a self-help book suggestion that you have actually used and found to work. These are very valuable references. People who are experiencing anxiety need all the help they can get. It's shocking to start feeling fear and upset than can run to panic in a very short time. Not every calming skill works for every person. One needs to experiment with a number of tools. Your book is clearly one that can work for some people. It could be used in combination with other aids such as yoga, meditation, and individual therapy. The Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM, 925-0600) offers a course for handling anxiety that is excellent for some people. Their website www.adam.mb.ca offers resources for different types of anxiety.
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