DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to "The Other Woman, Anywhere, USA" (March 11). Please tell your readers if they find themselves in her shoes, they should RUN in the opposite direction.
My husband, "John," and I both left our spouses to be together. It has been 10 years, and I regret leaving my ex-husband every day. I traded a wonderful marriage for an obnoxious, self-absorbed, arrogant man.
John still spends Christmas Day with his ex and his adult children. He says it's out of guilt. He paid for his daughter's wedding reception with money from our joint account. John went alone. I was "forbidden" to attend.
My "soul mate" usually forgets my birthday, and one year he also "forgot" Christmas. If only I could turn back time. I find myself praying for the end of time and realize I'm probably getting what I deserve. -- LIVING WITH REGRET
DEAR LIVING: You letter is a reminder that there is dignity in being alone and filling one's "down time" with good friends and helping the less fortunate. As I expected, "Other Woman's" letter generated a ton of mail. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your reply to "The Other Woman" was 100 percent right on. I was once in love with a married woman and won her heart. I thought, "All's fair in love and war," and had little regard for her husband. Then I met him.
When I looked into his eyes, I knew what I was doing was wrong and bad karma. Here was a human being with a soul, who loved and trusted his wife, who was true to his marriage vows and trusted her to be true, too. If the situation were reversed, I wouldn't want my wife to have an affair with another man. Spiritually, it was an important and painful lesson.
My advice to married people having an affair is to ask yourselves how you would feel if you were being cheated on. Do the right thing. Honesty and integrity matter. -- FORMER OTHER MAN, ANYWERE, USA
DEAR ABBY: I was the other woman for six years. It has taken me a year to realize how unhealthy the relationship was for me. Not only did it damage my self-esteem, but the guilt became unbearable. I wish I could go back and undo what I have done. Luckily, I now have someone who cares about me and accepts me -- flaws and all -- and loves me for who I am all the time, not just one or two hours a week. -- WISER NOW IN VIRGINIA
DEAR ABBY: I was the other woman. Over time I have come to understand that I believed what I wanted to believe because I was lonely, needy and vulnerable. I learned as time went on that my lover was incapable of developing a mature, responsible and meaningful relationship. I experienced the calamitous consequences emotionally, psychologically and financially -- as did our child.
Through counseling, friendships and networking with other women and getting to know myself in a rigorously honest way, I became too healthy to be the other woman. I'm now in the marriage I always dreamed of to a man with character and heart, who is devoted to me and "our" child. I learned that the right man would find me when I became the person he was looking for. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. -- FINALLY FULFILLED
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the letter from "The Other Woman" and your reply. I have been divorced 12 years and involved with a married man for more than a year. The affair has been lonely, degrading, unfulfilling and a real self-esteem buster.
Your answer reminded me of what I have always known. Because of it, I have decided to end my affair and get back into the real world. I hope "Other Woman" wakes up and does the same. And soon. -- GRATEFUL IN ALABAMA
READERS: More tomorrow!