My girlfriend left after I lost custody of my kids

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I met the love of my life in early 2020. We would have been enjoying our two year anniversary and the holidays all at the same time (how romantic).

I had gained temporary custody of my two children, both under 12, due to domestic violence in their mom’s relationship. We recently had our last hearing, and with many stipulations keeping her ex away, the kids were granted custody to their mom. The kids going back to their mom is the thing that made my girlfriend tell me she "doesn’t trust my judgment," and pushed her to break up during this very, very hard time, and right before the holidays. I feel as though it is entirely unfair as it was never just my decision.

She had allowed me to fully integrate into her family, get to know her kids ... so clearly my judgement couldn’t have been that terrible. I'm writing this sitting in my house alone with a Christmas tree up, which is just mocking me, because I just don’t care this year. My whole world has been torn out from under me due to a decision only the judge could make. I've lost all hope at this point for any relationship to ever work out.

- broken

I'm so sorry. I can understand why this is so upsetting – that you'd lose a relationship based on a decision that wasn't solely yours. It sounds like you would have kept custody had it been up to you.

I do have to wonder whether your ex has been honest with you – and herself – about why she walked away. She said this is about judgement, and maybe it is, but perhaps it's also about her own family's needs and an unwillingness to ride out whatever changes you'll face in the years to come. You want a partner who will accept that sharing custody will be complicated. Maybe this woman just wasn't up for it. Best to learn that now.

A breakup – especially an unexpected one – can make you feel like things will never get better, that there is no reason to hope for happiness in love. But who knew you'd meet someone and have a nice relationship with them only two years ago .. and through a pandemic. Please accept that right now, you have no idea what’s possible. There are a lot of people out there in complicated family situations hoping that someone will see and love them.

Instead of making proclamations about the future of your romantic life, focus on what you're feeling now, which is grief. It's sad, and ... well, there’s no getting around that. But it will get better over time. That's how time works. Maybe take one of your open days and reconnect with an old friend, plan a day trip for yourself, and work on filling up your calendar, even with small projects. This is a time to remind yourself that you had a world before 2020. You can keep adding to it.

Start with the next few days, maybe small plans, even a walk, a movie, or a phone call with someone funny. Reach out.

Also, if the tree is still up, take it down. It's a new year. You shouldn't have to look at anything that makes you feel stuck.

– Meredith

Readers? How to you find hope after something like this?