The Agony and the Ecstasy

This is a safe place where you can get advice with things that have been troubling you. Your new agony aunt, Aunt Silver, will guide you safely through life’s tumultuous waves. Send questions to Not all questions will be featured or answered. Confidentiality assured. Absolutely no liability accepted for anything, regardless of outcome… Follow advice at your own risk.


Dear Aunt Silver,

I’ve never written in to anything like this before but I am in the depths of despair and feel as if I have nowhere to turn. I have been in a relationship with a woman for the last five years. I have always only been with women and have been certain of my sexuality for as long as I can remember. When people ask ‘How long have you known you were gay?’, I answer their question with the question, ‘Well, how long have you known you were straight?’ Anyway, this really isn’t the issue at hand. Recently, I had a brief affair with a much younger man I met through work. It was the first time I had been with a man and, for the life of me, still cannot quite figure out what compelled me to do it. It was if I had no control over the situation, as if it was just happening to me. There was nothing particularly meaningful between me and the guy and it ended almost as soon as it began. The situation imploded nevertheless when I fessed up and my girlfriend has left me and refuses even to speak to me. What is almost equally as bad is that all of our friends have ostracised me and no longer want anything to do with me either. I feel so alone and have no one to talk to about it. I haven’t got a friend in the world. I am so lost, confused and feel like I’m losing my mind; afraid I might be going crazy even. I’ve been drinking a lot to ease the pain. I am so upset with myself for sabotaging my life. I just don’t know what to do with myself and fear I may never be happy again; not even sure I believe I have the right to after causing someone I love so much heartbreak. Help. Will I ever find my way again?





Dear Brokenhearted,

I am truly sorry to hear you have been suffering. It may not feel like much of a consolation now but I really do believe that suffering makes you a deeper, stronger and overall better person. That probably doesn’t keep you warm at night when you are lonely, though, or lift you up out of your despair. If it helps I really do know how it feels. Nevertheless, it pains me to think of you, hurt and alone, feeling ostracized and broken, regardless of the actions that led you there. And I’m sorry to hear about the reaction of your friends. You have to be there for your friends, whatever happens. Right and wrong is never just as simple as black and white. It takes a highly evolved person to muster the ability to forgive. More importantly, you must forgive yourself. Time does heal. What you are feeling now will not last forever.

Try to hang in there. The best thing you can do for yourself if you are feeling crazy is to really try to look after your health. Eat well, exercise, swim, do yoga, meditate, read, write, try not to drink too much- mind, body and soul in harmony and all that jazz. Personally, I find walking, writing, making music and chanting really makes me feel better and more focused and revitalized. Seek out activities and experiences that do this for you. If you look after yourself, your hormones will level out much more easily. You may also find acupuncture or other holistic therapies very good for this.

Spend some time by yourself to try to figure out what led you here in the first place. Being alone is so much better than being with people that drag you down anyway. There are kindred spirits out there and you will make new friends and you will, most likely, even fall in love again. If you are alone, enjoy your solitude- you can stop being alone whenever you choose. This helps being alone feel much less lonely. Learning to be comfortable alone in your own skin is such a joyous experience.

Use the time to be creative. What a wonderful opportunity to create! I have always found the most miserable times of my life to be the most creatively fruitful. That energy is happy to have somewhere positive and constructive to go; it also makes you feel less like your guts are gnawing at you from the inside. Learn something new. Sing aloud. Put a Roy Orbison record on and dance around the room. Make yourself some chicken soup. And don’t forget to Breathe!

It sounds to me as if you are an extremely intelligent and lovable person and your friends and lover may come around, particularly if you are able to address the real issues lurking underneath all the drama and chaos and become the best version of yourself that you can be. Things will get better. The only certainty in life is that things will change. In the immortal words of Neil Young ‘I know that things are gonna change, but I can’t say bad or good’. Try not to cling to all the beauty that life fleetingly offers and just follow the voice of your heart (that is the only guide we have) and somehow you will find your way. I am sending you my love.

Aunt Silver



Dear Aunt Silver,

I am beginning to emerge from an intense bout of self-denial and I am now starting to accept (at least to myself) that have been living a lie. You see, I’m in love with a beautiful girl, and she and her friends are the epitome of cool. She listens to bands like Fuck Buttons and Oneohtrix Point Never, hangs out at White Cube, Hix and Pollen Street Social sporting fashionable haircuts and snorting the drugs de rigueur. The problem? All this posturing and trying to keep up is giving me an insatiable lust for the low-brow. When she is not around, I slip into my Blackburn football jersey, scoff a Nandos take-away and read the Daily Mail online. And I never miss an episode of Gossip Girl. Last week, she came home from work early and caught me, ahem, enjoying some private time to the soundtrack of T.H.E (The Hardest Ever), the new track (feat. Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez). I laughed it off and managed to convince her that the song had just somehow come on the shuffle and that I had downloaded it ironically, but I think that she is now suspicious. I do love her but I don’t know how I can go on living a lie when I know that deep down, I am just the type of person she would ridicule. I am like an overused, overstretched rubber band and am at breaking point. What can I do? How do I consolidate my private, inner life with the false illusion I must maintain in order to keep the heart of the girl I love?

Confused in Clapton

Dear CiC,

My heart goes out to you. Many is the man who walks the earth with the world none the wiser of what lurks beneath. Scratch the surface and you often find a very different story. I guarantee that those folks that play at being so super cool have a few secret passions all their own; probably even more so that the average Joe. There is also a price for being so concerned with your image at the cost of all else. This is part of what you have been experiencing: the denial of your own inner reality leading to a fracture of your spiritual self. This can have serious psychological consequences; haven’t you ever heard of Sybil: the girl who split into 16 different personalities? There is also no doubt that a repression of your natural urges can lead to the development of perversions and an unhealthy interest in things that otherwise might never interest you in the slightest. This may explain your sudden compulsion to seek refuge with members of the Black Eyed Peas. As you know, this is not normal or healthy behaviour. Having said that, I have often been heard to say that ‘irony is the enemy’. It is the refuge of the hopelessly cool. It says, ‘I didn’t mean it’. This stems from a lack of confidence in one’s self and choices. The truly secure person can stand up, be himself, and shout from the tallest hill in London, ‘I love Nandos!!!’. Besides, there is a reason that people eat what they do when they are drunk and feeling less concerned what their peers think of them. Everyone knows how tasty is a Nandos. With regards to your trenchant lady friend, if she truly loves you, she will accept you for who you really are. Obviously, this can only happen once you have learned to love and accept yourself. There really is nothing quite as attractive as true confidence paired with self love and acceptance. And not merely limited to the specific branch of self love you mentioned. My advice would be to confess all, dump the bitch and follow your heart into a career in sports journalism. This would give you a valid reason for openly enjoying the football jersey, the Daily Mail and the Nandos, while pehaps meeting some kindred spirits in the process. You sound as if you have far too much time on your hands anyway. As you have been discovering, idle hands are the devil’s playthings. I am willing to bet that if you were engaged in the gainful employ of following your heart’s true desire, doing all that which you secretly long to enjoy, your extra-curricular exploits would suddenly return to the realm of the culturally elite. This, paired with your new-found confidence and sense of purpose, may eventually have the effect of making you irresistible again to your snobby little girlfriend.

Aunt Silver

3 Responses to The Agony and the Ecstasy

  1. Penelope G says:

    Love it!!!

  2. Rachel says:

    “Aunt Silver” I never knew you were so damn wise. I know who I’m writing to if I ever need some enlightenment.
    Love from Malibu.

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