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Soldier's Widow Tries to Rebuild after His Death in Iraq

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I've been reading your columns since around 2006 when we were at Fort Campbell. I followed you to Heidelberg and now I follow you on SpouseBuzz. I'm really glad that you are still around. You should know that your advice is invaluable. I also like how candid you are while using humor at the same time.

My husband was killed in Iraq in 2007 and, after that, my life spiraled out of control. For the first three years, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I started drinking alcohol to excess and using other drugs. My parents took custody of our two sons, who are now 11 and 13 years old. It's taken me a long time to try and get my life back on track.

Yes, there were many services that reached out to me, but none of them could take away the private hell I was experiencing. I was depressed, angry and very lonely. Now I'm working as an administrative assistant in Kansas, where I live near my parents and other family members. My sons visit me very often, but they are not living with me full time. We are working on them moving in permanently sometime in the next few months.

I work near a government building that houses several military personnel. I recently met a man who's been in the Army for 15 years. He and I have been on a few dates, but he has never met my sons or any of my family.

He keeps saying he wants to take our relationship further, but I think he is moving too fast. I like him a lot, but I'm still so confused.

Do you think it's OK for me to try and find love again or should I wait and see what the future holds?

-- Trying to Get Stronger

Dear Stronger,

I really appreciate your letter. First, let me say that I will never forget your husband's sacrifice. Never. You are in my heart too, and I'm very sorry for your loss. Honestly, the way you signed the letter really says everything to me. You said you are trying to get stronger. What you are saying is that you are still trying, but you are not there yet.

It's OK to keep focusing on you and your children. Of course, you desperately miss your husband.

And guess what? Because you are human, you still have sexual desires and needs too. You want to be in another relationship -- a healthy one, one where you are at your best entering the relationship.

Right now, I'm not so sure you are at your best. You admitted to a history of alcohol dependency and other substance use. Your life spiraled so out of control that your parents had to take custody of your children and now you are trying to take care of them full time again.

Yes, you are experiencing an array of emotions, and I totally understand that. I'm concerned for you and for your children. They must be going through a lot emotionally. It's important that you listen to them and put your efforts on them first. They are at a crucial age in development.

I would definitely recommend individual therapy for you and for your children, and family therapy too. Not only do you need to process your grief and loss, but you also need to be treated for substance abuse.

The new guy may be great now, but you could be writing to me later saying that he's a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. You don't need that, and your children don't either.

I know that people don't always take my advice, and you may decide to start dating the new guy anyway. I get it, and I won't be angry or disappointed with you.

But, if you do, please keep your children away from the relationship. It needs to be a long time before a new man is invited into their inner circle. Too much has happened in all of your lives, and you have to be very careful with them.

Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep in touch with me, and let me know how you and your children are doing.

-- Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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