Dear Annie: I have been a widow for almost 10 years. I'm financially secure, socially active and attractive. My old high school sweetheart contacted me a few years after I lost my husband. After months of phone contact, he came to visit. I had asked whether he was married. He said no, that he'd been divorced for over 25 years. What he didn't mention was that he was in a 25-year committed relationship with a woman he financially supported and lived with. When I discovered this, he told me she would be moving out in the near future. That took two years! She did leave when she found out about me. I should have run far away at that time, but he assured me that he would never hurt me and that I should trust him.
Imagine my surprise to have my doctor tell me at my yearly exam that I have HPV. I was heartbroken, angry and afraid for my future health, as this often leads to cervical cancer. I immediately broke up with him. He was my first love and could be very charming. I miss him today, three months later. I would like to have a limited relationship with him as an old friend, but he has blocked my phone number and email address.
How do I keep from wanting to tell my story to friends? The woman or women he's with need to know about the health risk. Should I try to alert them to this or fade away? — Stupid Senior
Dear Senior: I refuse to call you stupid. No more beating yourself up. Please extend the same compassion to yourself that you would to a friend in this situation. I'm sorry this man added insult to injury by leaving you with health concerns in addition to cheating. That being said, are you sure he was the source of the virus? According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, "it can take weeks, months, or even years after exposure to HPV before symptoms develop or the virus is detected," and this usually makes it "impossible to determine when or from whom HPV may have been contracted." (Visit http://www.nccc-online.org for more information.)
I think it's perfectly fine and healthy for you to talk to friends about what you're going through, but do not do so to get revenge on him; rather, do it to help heal yourself emotionally.
Dear Annie: "Are Obituaries Over?" wrote in about a friend who was upset that his son's widow hadn't published an obituary for his son. I'd like to point out that widows have good reason not to publish their deceased husbands' obituaries in the newspaper. Now that addresses and phone numbers are readily available on the internet, a grieving widow can find herself the target of shady solicitors or even criminal activity if the general public is aware of her husband's death. I even know of a woman whose home was burglarized while she was attending her husband's funeral. I understand the reason for a man's parents to want an obituary to commemorate their son's life, but the decision to publish the obituary of a married man should rest solely with his wife. The parents of the deceased should, at the very least, obtain the permission of the widow before publishing their son's obituary anywhere. — Against Obituaries
Dear Against Obituaries: I'm very sorry to hear your friend's home was burglarized. How horrible that this even has to be a concern. I'm printing your letter as a note of caution for others.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]