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Ask Ellie: Don't allow past heartbreak to limit future possibilities

Believe in yourself and your future possibilities, not in the past as your destiny

Dear Ellie: I was 16 the first time I fell in love. My boyfriend was 18, and he seemed as excited as I was to become a couple. That’s how it was in high school then… if you were “with someone” you’d either go out on the weekend with other couples, or someone would have a party at their place. Or know where there was a “crash-able” one.

My boyfriend’s parents were pretty strict about his keeping his focus on schoolwork to get into university, so we only went out on weekends. Then, his parents went on a two-week trip, and suddenly the house was ours. That was the first time we had sex, and though I was nervous about it, he was very gentle and brought condoms to be careful.

Two weeks later, his parents returned and he suddenly stopped calling me. He said he had to get serious about his grades. I saw him in the hall at school and he just looked away. I was heartbroken. It took me years to ever trust a guy again.

And when I did finally date someone seriously, and married him when we were both 25, he walked out the door five years later. “I don’t like marriage,” he told me.

I’m 40 now, and I write this because nothing’s changed for me. I rarely respond to the men at my workplace who suddenly act chummy with me. I know if we “get together for just the one drink” it’ll end up with me struggling to get away.

I feel as if my first love stole my innocence. I was a healthy, normal person, who enjoyed sex with someone I cared for because it’s a special bond between two people.

But when the other person just uses you for a “score” or physical release, it leaves you feeling used and stupid, afraid to take another chance. I’ve been on my own for almost 10 years because of this history of having been a lovestruck fool who’s been discarded too many times to let it ever happen again. Do you have advice for me or is it too late?


Believe in yourself and your future possibilities, not in the past as your destiny.

You were an innocent teenager caught up in the emotions of feeling love as well as physical pleasure. It’s a heady combination for anyone so young … but then, the shock of your boyfriend’s sudden coldness was deeply painful. And it’s stayed with you.

Now, at 40, whatever happened in between is seen through that same focus. You can now recognize “users” immediately.

Put a new lens on your life, starting now. Tell this history to a therapist as old wounds for which you need psychological help in healing. You’re not that 16 year old, nor that woman who must endure pushy co-workers.

Once you hear and accept a fresh perspective on your past, you can toss off the burden of thinking you’ve been doomed to be alone. Instead, these haunting memories will fade completely once you get out with people whose company you enjoy as friends, or new people you meet from shared interests.

There are many new paths to try — joining a class in something new to you such as art, learning to play tennis, doing community work, etc.

If you give as much time to creating your future as you’ve done with anguishing about your past, the latter will fade out of mind.

Dear Ellie: My widowed mother is alone and depressed. I’m 38, married with two children in public school, and working full-time from home. I’ve told my mother my time constraints, yet she’ll call me several times daily when I’m working.

She also calls to tell me about bargains on foods from grocery chains, or to complain about her latest health scare, most of which her doctor says are minor problems.

I want to be a good daughter, and feel guilty when I’m too curt on the phone with her.

I can’t change my responsibilities for my children, work or partnership with my husband, so I end up constantly feeling pressured and like a bad daughter.



Include her on days when possible: Pick her up after you drop off the kids, have a coffee together, then suggest she make snacks for them to enjoy after school. Also, invite her to dinner on a weekend day whenever possible.

Ellie’s Tip of the Day

Define yourself as you are in the current time frame, based on hopes and plans for your future, not on your past.

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