Dear Annie: I am a man in my 50s with a lot of problems. First, my wife of nearly 20 years left me for a much younger man. (She now lives in a foreign country.) For three years, I’ve been raising three kids alone. I’m under-employed and nearly broke. Despite my education and years of experience, I can only find part-time, low-paying work. My kids and I greatly benefit from the love and generosity of my mom, who has allowed us to live with her.
Aside from that, my wife refuses to sign divorce papers. I wasn’t looking to end my marriage, but I have told her that I don’t want to waste my life waiting for her to come back. She gives no indication that she wants to reconcile, but she procrastinates about the papers, and I can’t afford a lawyer.
I have gained too much weight and was drinking too much, although I am trying to control my bad habits. The women I meet seem to want someone thinner, richer and less complicated.
I have no health insurance, so I’m getting free psychological counseling at a local clinic. I feel hopeless and anxious. I don’t know what to do or where to turn. Any suggestions? – Life Isn’t Easy
Dear Life: Counseling is a good first step. You are understandably depressed and likely have been spiraling downward for three years, but it sounds as if you are finally ready to dig out of the hole. Contact any local bar association or law school for free or low-cost advice on extricating yourself from your marriage. Refresh your resume, network, check online work postings, and let friends and family know you are looking for a better job. Stop self-medicating with alcohol, which can exacerbate your depression, and start exercising. It not only will help with your weight, but it will lift your spirits by boosting endorphins. A brighter attitude will attract people. We’ll be rooting for you.