Moving On, Part 2 — With Dr. Harriet Lerner

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“Dear Sugars, I’m a serial codependent. I’ve married and had children with two addicts,” begins a letter signed by “Mommy Messed Up.” Over the years, her second husband began to withdraw and stash money inside of old bottles. Now Mommy Messed Up is ready to end their toxic relationship. The only problem is she’ll have to disrupt her children’s lives for a second time. “I’m fine with breaking my own heart,” she writes. “But how do I break my boys’ hearts?”

In this second part of our series on moving on, the Sugars discuss how we can release ourselves from our past mistakes. Dr. Harriet Lerner drops in to answer a second letter from a woman who is haunted by her abortion, a decision she laments now that she’s experiencing early menopause. Like Mommy Messed Up, she is ruled by her regret.

“We have to beware of the stories that we tell about ourselves because we become them,” Dr. Lerner advises. “And a story like the one she’s constructed is so narrow and fixed that it’s going to edge out all other stories about her past and her present and her future possibilities.”

Dr. Lerner is a leading voice on the psychology of women and family relationships. She’s the author of 12 books including The New York Times best seller “The Dance of Anger” and most recently, “Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts.”

The Sugars Recommend

“The House of Mirth,” by Edith Wharton

New episodes of Dear Sugars are released weekly. Do you have a question for the Sugars? Email

Headshot of Caitlin O'Keefe

Caitlin O'Keefe Producer, Podcasts & New Programs
Caitlin O'Keefe was a producer of podcasts and new programming at WBUR.



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