Authors Posts by Helen O'Brien

Helen O'Brien

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Beverley now
Beverley now
I’d always wanted to be a mum so when the unthinkable happened it set me on the road to destruction…
By Beverley Watt, 36, from Montrose, Scotland

When Beverley Watt began experiencing mood swings and suffering from erratic periods at 15, her doctors told her it was just her hormones but two years later she received the devastating news that she had already gone through the menopause.

It meant she would never conceive a child naturally and would age quicker, likely to suffer with conditions like osteoporosis at an early age.

Single Beverley was so rocked by the revelation she became depressed and turned to booze to cope. She gradually spiralled into alcoholism and at her worst would down two bottles of vodka a day.

“Finding out I would never have children when I was still just a child myself was absolutely horrific – I felt cheated and kept thinking, why me?” says Beverley, a carer from Montrose, Scotland.

“I became depressed and started drinking heavily which helped me forget but it soon got out of control and I ended up wasting 12 years of my life.

“But I’ve been sober now for three years and I’ve even started thinking about other ways to start a family – IVF or adopting. I’m determined to put the past behind me and live my life to the full.”

Beverley started having erratic periods aged 15 and suffered extreme mood swings. She went to her GP several times but was told it was just her hormones.

Beverley aged 17
Beverley aged 17

But when her periods stopped aged 18 she knew something was wrong and her GP referred her to a specialist.

“The specialist scanned my pelvis and showed me a picture of my ovaries and where there ought to have been eggs, there was just empty space. I was just 18 years old. He said I must have already gone through the menopause the year before, when I was 17. When I received the blood results it confirmed the diagnosis and that I’d never be able to conceive children naturally. The average woman doesn’t go through the menopause until she’s 51. I felt crushed and burst into tears. Even though I was young, I’d always wanted children. It was devastating.”

The diagnosis also meant that Beverley would have to take calcium pills every day to strengthen her bones and HRT to stabilize her hormones for the rest of her life.

“As the news sank in I felt angry and cheated. I was offered no counselling and as I left the hospital I rang my mum. We were devastated and cried together, I spent hours talking to her. She was my rock as I slowly tried to cope with my agonising diagnosis.”

She says: “I quit my job in a nursery as it was just too painful to be around children after my diagnosis. I moved to London with my boyfriend Simon*. I felt madly in love with him and I just wanted to get away.”

Simon, a road maintenance worker, promised her they’d try for a baby, but the relationship was erratic and the couple were on and off. “Simon said he wanted to settle down and marry me, but he was a big drinker too. It was a toxic relationship. All we did was drink and of course he’d never commit to the IVF, he’d always say ‘one day’.

“After that, I went into self-destruct mode. In London, away from my friends and family, I started mixing with the wrong crowd. That’s when my drinking became a problem.”

Beverley at 24
Beverley at 24

She says: “I’d binge on booze to black out the diagnosis. I went on weekend long binges starting on a Thursday and continuing drinking until the Monday. I was consuming up to 75 units a day at my worst.

“Some days I’d down two litres of vodka and as my depression worsened it became a more frequent choice. Other days, I’d swig a couple of bottles of wine. Living with Simon, I could easily hide it – he was a drinker too and so for years I thought nothing of my boozy lifestyle. I was emotional when I drank, I would leave my friends on nights out, putting myself in vulnerable situations. I became aggressive too. I intimidated the people around me so much that I forced any help away from me. All I wanted was to be left alone.

“I’d drink whatever I could get my hands on – wine, vodka and cheap cider. How much I drank depended on how much cash I had on me, but I’d rarely go a day without drinking.”

Beverley excused away her drinking as a partying lifestyle. Working in a bar in London she easily hid her alcoholism and living above a pub meant she had constant access to all the booze she needed.

“I pushed all my friends away and I swapped my circle to one that excused away my behaviour. All my new friends in London drank with me, and we would binge all weekend. It made me feel like it was normal,” says Beverley.

But her hangovers were a constant reminder of her dark decision. “I had terrible hangovers, I wouldn’t be able to move, I would be violently sick all day. It was horrible.

“When I started to get the shakes towards the end of my alcoholism, I scared myself. I’d never identified my emotional dependency on drink but now the signs were hitting me in the face.”

Then when Beverley discovered that Simon had been cheating on her five years into their relationship, it was the wake-up call she needed.

“I felt like he was my one last hope of having a family,” she says. “But it was all a pack of lies. I knew then I had to make a dramatic change to my life.”

Beverley now
Beverley now

After losing 12 years of her life to alcoholism, Beverley knew it would be difficult to turn her life around.

So in a bid to make a fresh start, she returned home to Montrose and moved back in with her mum.

She says: “I needed to get away from the party lifestyle. I needed my mum.”

Once back in Montrose, Beverley cut her boozy pals from her life and began her bid for a new life.

“Back at home I made a good circle of friends. They gave me the strength to quit my extreme binge drinking.”

The process of getting clean was tough and she relied on her family and friends as she went cold turkey. “It was the hardest thing I had to do,” says Beverley. “I’d just been getting to a point of physical dependency and combined with my shakes I was in a terrible state. Luckily with my amazing mum by my side I pulled through. I couldn’t have done this without my family.”

She says: “I’d always tried not to think about my early menopause diagnosis. I couldn’t talk about it – I’d just drink to forget about it.

“But now I feel able to talk openly about it. There’s no shame in admitting how badly it affected me.

“I’m still devastated about it, of course, but I’ve been approved to receive counselling and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m still living with Mum, but hopefully I’ll be strong enough to find my own place soon.” Luckily Beverley’s drinking has had no impact on her long term health, but she was diagnosed with osteoporosis aged 33, because of her early menopause.

Now, having been clean for three years, Beverley is concentrating on keeping fit and healthy and has completed a mentoring course for vulnerable young people.

She hopes to use her experiences in a positive way and help other young women.

She says: “I’d love to become a mum and I’d look into IVF or adoption if I met the right man but I’m happy as I am and I’ve come to terms with my condition.

Right now I’m just taking every day one step at a time and trying to stay positive.”

*Simon’s name has been changed

Beverley was crushed by what happened to her but she wanted to use her experiences in a positive way to help other women. We helped her sell her story to Closer magazine, getting the best price and raising awareness of early menopause. If you have a story you want to share, complete the form on the right and we’ll call you to discuss the process.

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Raisa sold her story to Thats Life!
Raisa sold her story to Thats Life!
I knew my sister’s new boyfriend wouldn’t be around for long. But I could never have predicted the chilling reason why…
By Raisa McKenna, 20, from Livingston, Scotland

 

Pulling my jacket around my shoulders, I called out to my mum in the kitchen.

‘I’m going to Alami’s, see you later,’ I shouted.

I was 15, and ever since my big sister had moved out to start a family of her own I missed her sorely.

Raisa with big sister Alami
Raisa with big sister Alami

At least she only lived up the road though. She’d rented a house a few doors up from ours, so I still saw her nearly every single day.

We were really close. She never minded me popping over unannounced. And, I loved spending time with my nieces Kayla*, then four, and little Maisie*, one.

So, I dashed down the road and rang the doorbell. Alami swung the door open, giving me a big smile.

‘I’m glad to see you,’ she said, relieved. ‘Will you read the girls a bedtime story while I clear up this mess?’

I looked around, and the living room was the usual chaotic jumble of toys. Alami loved to keep her home looking tidy, so clearing up after her kids drove her mad.

 

‘Sure, you know I don’t mind,’ I said.

It was the least I could do. When we were growing up, family life wasn’t always easy.

But I always knew that whatever happened I could depend on Alami. She was seven years older than me, and at times she was like my second mum.


She always made sure I got a decent breakfast down me before arriving at the school gate on time.

So, after everything she’d done for me it was time for me to repay her.

Alami
Alami

And, things had been especially hectic for her since splitting up from the girls’ dad, Simon*, a few months before.

They’d been together five years, and although they were sharing the parenting since the breakup, Alami had a lot on her plate.

I read the girls their bedtime story and gave them goodnight kisses. Then, I headed downstairs for a cuppa and a catchup.

‘What a day,’ Alami sighed, slumping on her big leather corner sofa. ‘I feel like I haven’t stopped.’

She worked hard in her job at the Inland Revenue.

‘I’ll put the kettle on,’ I said. But, before the water had even boiled the doorbell rang again. I silently rolled my eyes. I knew who that would be.

Jamie was Alami’s new boyfriend, and I didn’t like him much. His family was from the same area, so although he was a few years older I felt like I’d always known him.

When Alami told me they’d started seeing each other, my heart sank a little bit. He was only 18, four years younger than my sister.

Jamie Ellis
Jamie Ellis

I could see why having a toyboy would give her a bit of an ego boost.

But, I knew she was too good for him, even if she couldn’t see it. Alami was smart, sassy and independent while Jamie was just a bit of a no-hoper.

Secretly, I thought it was only a matter of time before Alami would get back together with Simon.

In the meantime, Jamie was always hanging around. It was like he was obsessed.

‘Alright?’ he said, giving me a nod as he came in.

I didn’t stick around long. Instead, I made my excuses and went home. As the week went on, I popped into Alami’s every day as I always did.

Then, midweek I went to stay with my uncle. I slept over there with my cousin every single Wednesday without fail. It had become a family tradition, starting when I was young.

We went up to bed, and just as I was drifting off to sleep I heard raised voices downstairs.

 

I sat up, trying to pick out who was talking. Whoever it was, I could tell something bad was happening.

I crept downstairs and followed the sound into the living room.

My aunt, who lived miles away, was there. As soon as I saw her I could tell that whatever had happened was serious.

As soon as she set eyes on me her face crumbled, tears gushing down her cheeks.

‘It’s Alami isn’t it? What’s happened?’ I cried. I couldn’t explain why, but I had a strange gut feeling that it was my sister.

‘She’s dead,’ my aunt sobbed, rushing forward to hold me.

I had so many questions but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. Instead, I was almost hyperventilating with shock.

Alami
Alami

My uncle pressed a cup of tea into my trembling hands and steered me to sit down.

 

‘We don’t know what’s happened yet,’ he explained, sadly.

‘I need to see my mum,’ I said, gulping down deep breaths as I tried to calm myself.

Alami had always been the one who was good in a crisis. But, suddenly, it was all on me. She was gone.

My uncle drove me home, and as soon as we pulled into my street I was blinded by the blue flashing lights.

There were police officers everywhere, and Alami’s house had been cordoned off with tape.

Even before I went through the front door of my house I could hear my mum screaming.

‘I want to see Alami, let me see my daughter,’ she wailed, as friends and relatives held her back. The house was full of people. But no-one could give us any answers.

The next few hours were a blur. It felt like a horrible surreal nightmare. Eventually the police were able to tell us a bit more. And, what they revealed was chilling.

 

Alami had been viciously stabbed, while her daughters slept upstairs. And, Jamie had been arrested.

‘We can’t tell you much more yet,’ the police officer said. ‘We’re still investigating.’

However, there was one thing they were clear about. They weren’t looking for anyone else in connection with her murder. It had been Jamie.

My mum was devastated, while I couldn’t help but feel angry.

How dare he take the life of my beautiful, amazing sister? I wanted to know every single detail, to try to understand why.

Raisa
Raisa

Over the coming weeks, more information became clear. Jamie had been cooking dinner for Raisa when an argument started.

She’d walked away to diffuse the situation, but he’d grabbed a kitchen knife. In a frenzied rage he’d stabbed her 34 times in her head, neck, wrist and upper chest.

 

Jamie then left her to die alone on her sofa, while Maisie and Kayla slept upstairs.

He went to his cousin’s house where he confessed to killing Alami, before phoning his mum in tears too.

Then, he handed himself into the police. It made my blood boil that he had the nerve to cry. How dare he feel sorry for himself?

That’s why, months later, I went Edinburgh High Court with my family to see Jamie appear charged with murder.

I wanted him to see the effect he’d had on us, and above all I wanted to know why.

The court heard that Jamie told police he was worried that Alami was going to dump him, and that he was jealous of how well she still got on with Simon.

Then, when she’d criticised him for not making garlic bread to go with the dinner, he’d flipped.

I couldn’t believe that my sister had lost her life over something as ridiculous as garlic bread.

Part of me knew that Alami wouldn’t have made a big deal over it, she wouldn’t have started an argument over that.

But, I also knew that Jamie was unhinged. It didn’t really matter what he said my sister did or didn’t do. He’d killed her, and nothing could change that.

Jamie Ellis, 18, pleaded guilty to the murder, and was jailed for a minimum of 15 years.

It was no justice. He’ll be released and get to live the rest of his life, while Alami will never get to see her kids grow up.

The only thing I could do was make sure Alami would be proud of me. At times I felt like crumbling, but I picked myself up and made myself work hard through school and college.

I could always imagine her nagging at me to make sure I got a good education. Now, I’m a nursing assistant in an old people’s home, which I know she would have supported.

Raisa sold her story to Thats Life!
Raisa sold her story to Thats Life!

I’ve also got plans to travel to parts of the world that Alami never had the opportunity to see.

 

I still miss her every day and it breaks my heart that my nieces lost their amazing mum too. I visit them all the time, and I’m determined they’ll grow up knowing just how much she loved them.

If only Alami had never met that lowlife. I knew he wasn’t good enough for her, but I never could have predicted how things would end.

I can’t believe he took my sister’s life – all over some garlic bread.

Raisa was devastated when her sister was brutally killed and wanted to share her story as a special tribute to her. We helped Raisa place her story in That’s Life! If you have a shocking crime story you’d like to tell, complete the form on the right and we’ll give you a call to gently and sensitively explain the process.

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Katy sold her story to Take a Break
Katy sold her story to Take a Break
I should have been over the moon when my Adrian proposed, but I had a big fat problem…
By Katy Little 36, from Swindon

Slumping on the sofa, I reached for the family-sized packet of crisps next to me. After a day of running around after the kids, I was often left feeling wiped out, so I ate to make myself feel better.

After the crisps, I then scoffed a whole packet of biscuits – and that was after having a plate of chips for tea.

But snacking only helped me feel better for about half an hour, and then I was back to feeling lethargic and depressed.

My weight became a problem after I gave birth to my kids, Bethany, 17 and Alexander, nine.

Katy before weight loss
Katy before weight loss

As a new mum, I felt isolated and soon going out became really difficult. I didn’t feel like I had anything in common with other parents and soon I was barely leaving the house. My social anxiety only got worse as I got bigger, and I comfort ate my way through the dark moments.

I snacked on huge bars of chocolate and almost every night I’d get dinner from my local chip shop. It was hardly a surprise when I tipped the scales at 19st 10lbs and was forced to hide my hulking frame underneath drab size 24 outfits. And although I tried to convince myself I didn’t care, I felt frumpy and unattractive.

It didn’t help that shopping was such a nightmare – I was limited to plus-sized shops like Evans and specialist stores online. I’d often end up crying in the changing rooms when I couldn’t get anything fashionable to fit me.

I was lucky though – my partner Adrian, 47, loved me for who I was, and was more than happy to snuggle up with me on the sofa with a takeaway and a tub of ice-cream.

We got together in 1995 and hit if off straight away – I instantly knew he was the right man for me.  When he proposed in August 2003 I was over the moon and accepted immediately. But my excitement quickly turned to dread when my thoughts turned to our big day.

I was so terrified by the vision of me waddling down the aisle as a wide bride, that whenever Adrian mentioned setting a date I hastily changed the subject. I couldn’t get married like this!

The idea of a everyone’s eyes on me in a white dress filled me with so much horror, I wasn’t sure I could even find a dress to fit me – I would be a total embarrassment.

‘Let’s wait a while before setting the date,’ I told him, as we talked about wedding plans. ‘Let me lose a bit of weight first.’

 

But when he brought the subject up again a few months later, I hadn’t lost any weight, so I put him off again.

The thing was, every time I started a diet I soon gave it up – it just felt too difficult. I always started with the best of intentions, but a week later I would find myself giving in to sugary treats and junk food because I felt low and tired.

Katy before weight loss
Katy before weight loss

I deserve a treat – I’ll just start again on Monday, I always thought to myself, but then it would happen all over again.

More years passed by – an incredible 13 in fact – but still no wedding. While friends made harmless jokes about me putting off the wedding, Adrian started getting more and more impatient.

Every now and again, he would bring the subject up.

‘I’d like to set the date soon Katy,’ he said gently. ‘It’ll be wonderful to be a proper family at last. I really want you to be my wife.’

 

I felt my heart hammering in my chest. I said: ‘What’s the rush?’ feeling under pressure.

‘Everything is fine as it is, plus I want to lose some weight before I go near a wedding dress anyway.’

I could tell my response disappointed Adrian, but I just couldn’t get married while I was this fat.

I loved Adrian with all my heart and knew he loved me whatever my size, but I couldn’t bear the thought of all our guests’ eyes being on me in a tent-like size 24 frock.

But in July 2013, something finally snapped. I was desperate to get married and longed to be Adrian’s wife – and I realised the only obstacle standing in my way was me. So I vowed to make a change.

‘I’m going to lose this weight once and for all, so we can get married,’ I told Adrian one evening.

‘That’s amazing,’ he beamed. ‘You know I’ll support you every step of the way.’

 

So, I joined Slimming World, and swapped fish and chips for home cooked, healthy meals. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the challenge, and the meals were so delicious it didn’t even feel like I was on a diet. Adrian and the kids really liked the new routine too.

As the pounds dropped off, my confidence started to soar, and I  even sought counselling to tackle my anxiety.

The best part was, I finally felt able to book our wedding.

‘Let’s do it abroad,’ I suggested to Adrian. ‘With just a few friends and family. We can make a family holiday out of it. It’ll be intimate, romantic and amazing.’

Katy and Adrian wedding
Katy and Adrian wedding

We agreed to get married in Greece and booked it for October 2016. With a new goal in mind, I kept at it – with the vision of me wearing a beautiful wedding dress firmly in my mind.

Now, I’ve shed an amazing 8st 3lbs – and when we tied the knot I was a trim 11st 7lbs. I was on cloud nine as I glided down the aisle in a gorgeous size 12 dress, and I even wore a swimsuit for the first time in years!

 

Standing in that gorgeous dress, I beamed as I faced the mirror. I felt attractive – and amazing!

‘You look incredible,’ Adrian whispered to me as we got ready to exchange vows. And for the first time in my life, I believed him.

Katy at her wedding
Katy at her wedding

I can’t believe that after a 13-year engagement, it finally happened. I had my perfect man all along – but now I have the perfect wedding body to match!

Katy was horrified at the thought of waddling down the aisle as a wide bride, so she shed an incredible eight stone for her special day. She was so proud of her success, she wanted to share it with other women, so we helped her sell her story to Take a Break. If you have a weight loss story you’d like to tell, why not drop us a line and we’ll call you to explain how it works.

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Clare sold her story to Bella
Clare sold her story to Bella

 

Once I ditched my delicious doughnuts for dancing, even I couldn’t believe the results…
By Clare Doyle, 30, from Llanelli, Wales

Pulling my work uniform on, I tried to ignore my reflection in the mirror. I loved working in a bakery but I hated the unflattering, high-waisted trousers I had to wear.

As I strained the zip up over my size 22 belly, I left for work – but not before I caught sight of myself in the mirror out of the corner of my eye.

There was no ignoring my hulking reflection, no matter how hard I tried. I sighed as I ran my hands over my flabby frame, tugging at my uniform.

At 19 I’d had the dream figure. I’d been a slinky size 10 and had even tried a bit of modelling. Back then, I was the life and soul of the party and had loved flaunting my fab figure on nights out with my friends.

Clare sold her story to Bella
Clare sold her story to Bella

‘Those days are long gone now though,’ I whispered at the mirror. Over the years, my waistband had expanded.

After falling pregnant with my son, Aiden now seven, my body had changed and working in a bakery meant I could continuously snack on calorific treats.

 

I just couldn’t resist the sugary pastries and doughnuts I served our customers each day and as a result, I gained a huge seven stone in just over a year.  

At a massive 17 stone, I felt terrible about my bulging body. My confidence hit rock bottom and as I became withdrawn I sought comfort in food. It was a vicious circle.

Ashamed of my body, I avoided mirrors and shied away from the camera and instead, I threw myself into being the best mum I could be to Aiden.

Then in 2010, I was relieved when I went on holiday to France. A break was just what I needed and as I boarded the plane, I felt my worries melt away.

But a few days later, my phone rang. ‘Clare, it’s Jodie,’ came my cousin’s voice at the other end of the line. ‘Sorry to ring while you’re on holiday but it’s Nan – she’s died,’ she told me.

Clare on holiday
Clare on holiday

I was stunned. ‘Thanks for letting me know,’ I managed to whisper before hanging up in shock. I hadn’t been prepared for Nan’s death and suddenly I realised just how short life is.

I knew then I needed to make some serious changes and on the return journey home, I vowed to overhaul my life.

 

I couldn’t avoid all the tempting treats at work, but I also couldn’t leave my job at the bakery, I needed the money. Instead, I decided to exercise more and burn those cake calories off.

Confiding my plan in my cousin Jodie she instantly invited me to her Zumba class.

She explained it was a great way to get fit and have fun. I leapt at the chance to get out and make some new friends – and to lose weight too.

I knew I had to make a change and this seemed like the perfect way to do it. I loved shaking away the calories, and once I’d got into the swing of things, the Zumba class didn’t even feel like exercise.

I made a new group of fit friends and when one suggested I try her kettlebell class, I decided to give that a go too.

The class was tough and at points I didn’t think I’d get through it, but at the end of the session I felt elated that I’d finished.

‘When’s the next one?’ I puffed. ‘Sign me up!’

Feeling positive and more like myself than I had done in years, I was determined not to lose this feeling. Soon, I was hooked and after averaging six to eight Zumba and kettlebell classes a week, I began to see results.

Clare in her gym gear
Clare in her gym gear

I shimmied and shook away the dress sizes and after a year, I’d dropped from a size 22 to a size 18.

I felt fantastic but there was still work to be done. After finding the photos from my holiday to France the year before, I couldn’t believe the person staring back at me.

As I flicked through the album, it was only then I realised just how big I had been and I promised I’d never let it happen again.

So, I joined another gym and as well as Zumba, I started running and lifting weights too. It was difficult balancing my job at the bakery, as well as being a mum alongside my five-times-a-week gym sessions, but I knew I could do it.

 

I couldn’t believe it when I gradually began to enjoy exercise. And no one was more surprised than me when I even entered marathons!

Finally, after a year of early morning runs and night-time gym classes, I’d shed an incredible seven stone.

At a slinky size 10, I looked – and felt – fabulous. And I was so proud of losing the weight naturally and doing it the hard way.

I’ve scaled back my Zumba and gym classes from eight classes a week to five, but I love my active lifestyle and have even taken up surfing too.

Clare now
Clare now

I still love my job at the bakery and allow myself the odd cake as a treat, knowing that my gym sessions will keep my 10 stone frame in trim.

Since slimming down, I love flaunting my new figure. I feel like I can be the person I always was on the inside. Life is short and I no longer have to live it in the shadows.

Now I’ve swapped doughnuts for dancing, I’ve never been happier!

Bakery worker Clare shaped up and lost seven stone when she swapped cream cakes for gym classes. She was really proud of her achievement so we help her sell her story to Bella magazine. If you’d like to share your slimming success too, our team will make sure you get paid the best price.

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Rhea and twin sister Sasha
Rhea and twin sister Sasha
I was pleased my twin sister and fiance were so close. Then I spotted something on my iPad that made me see red…
 By Rhea Still, 21, from Waltham Abbey, Essex

 

I rolled my eyes as the guy made a beeline for me and my twin sister, Sasha. ‘Here we go,’ I whispered, as the man drew closer.

‘Alright ladies? How about you give me your phone numbers?’ the cocky stranger asked, grinning.

I cringed with embarrassment but when I turned to Sasha, I watched her dig her mobile out of her handbag and pass her number to the guy, who’d introduced himself as Chris.

‘He’s harmless, it’s just a bit of fun,’ Sasha giggled, as we linked arms and walked on to the local fair we were visiting.

Sasha and Chris exchanged a few messages but she soon lost interest. Born one minute before me, she’d always been the more outgoing, flighty twin.

Despite our differences, we were never far apart. In fact, we were two peas in a pod. ‘Why don’t you get in touch with him though?’ she suggested.

Rhea and Sasha
Rhea and Sasha

Chris and I swapped a few messages and soon he began flirting with me too. A year later, in June 2011, we became an official couple.

Our relationship moved quickly from there. ‘I’m pregnant,’ I announced just two months later. Chris and I hadn’t been planning on a baby so soon, but when I watched his face break into that cheeky grin of his, I knew we’d be just fine.

‘That’s great news,’ Chris replied, wrapping me up in a huge hug. ‘I can’t wait to be a dad.’

I was ecstatic and just a couple of months later, Sasha had some news of her own. ‘I’m expecting too,’ she smiled. ‘Looks like our babies are going to be almost as close as we are!’

A few months later, Sasha split from the father of her unborn baby, and Chris and I agreed she could move in with us.

‘Are you sure you’re going to be able to cope with two hormonal pregnant women at home?’ I laughed as we unpacked our things in the four-bedroom house we’d got together.

‘I’m sure I’ll cope,’ Chris replied, lugging the next case up the stairs.

Truth was, we all got on brilliantly. It was great having Sasha so close at such a special time in our lives, sharing all the cramps and cravings.

Then when our little boy, Alfie, was born in April 2012, he lit up our world. Chris was a doting dad. ‘He’s gorgeous,’ he cooed, as we admired Alfie’s perfect little features.

Rhea and Chris
Rhea and Chris

‘It’ll be you soon,’ he smiled, looking up at Sasha,

Just two months later, in June, Sasha gave birth to another little boy, Ronnie. ‘Alfie’s got a little playmate now,’ I said, cradling Sasha’s little one.

 

With the three of us and two newborn babies, the place was chaotic but there was nowhere else I’d have rather been.

‘You know I’ll be a dad to your son too, Sasha,’ Chris turned to my sister one day. I could tell it meant a lot to her, Ronnie’s dad wasn’t around, but his words stung somehow.

Chris was my son’s dad, and my fiance. I told myself he was just trying to be nice and let it slide, but Sasha and Chris seemed to be getting really close.

The pair of them loved to party and enjoyed nights out, while I was more of a home bird. ‘Are you sure you don’t mind babysitting again?’ Sasha said, as they grabbed their coats while I was left holding the babies.

‘No, it’s fine. I’m happier here. Have a good night,’ I smiled as I waved them off. After splitting with Ronnie’s dad, Sasha had gone through a tough time, so I didn’t begrudge her a night out.

 

And if Chris was with her, at least I knew they could look after each other.

Then after one particularly heavy weekend in September 2012, we were all sitting in the living room while Sasha and Chris furiously tapped out texts on their iPhones.

I was just browsing through Facebook when a message from Chris popped up on our iPad. My stomach lurched as I realised his sexy text wasn’t for me… it was for Sasha, my twin sister.

His phone was synched to the tablet, and I felt sick as I watched their conversation unfold live.

Rhea sold her story to Take a Break
Rhea sold her story to Take a Break

Now I’ve had your sexy body, it’s like a drug to me, he typed. I looked on in horror as Sasha, sitting just inches away from me, typed back. I feel bad for Rhea and Alfie, she replied.

But not bad enough! How could they? I couldn’t bear to watch the sickening betrayal play out in front of me.

My head was spinning as I ran out of the room and dialled my mum’s number. ‘Can you come and pick me up?’ I pleaded. ‘I need to get out.’

 

I couldn’t even look at them and didn’t say a word as I grabbed Alfie, and headed to my mum’s. I just couldn’t take it all in. It was like my whole world had caved in.

I’d been betrayed by the two people I loved most in the world. For two days, I holed myself up at Mum’s while I thought things through.

Are you coming back? Sasha sent me a text later that evening. But there was no way I could go back there, not yet.

I didn’t hear a word from Chris – he knew he’d been rumbled. A couple of days later I was feeling stronger, and I returned to the house.

The minute I walked through the door, Chris ran past me. Coward. I confronted Sasha and said: ‘I’ve seen all the messages, Sasha. I know you’ve been cheating with Chris.’

Her face went white as a sheet as the excuses came tumbling out. ‘It was all Chris, he came onto me. He started texting me. It was just the one night, I’m sorry,’ she blurted.

I was devastated – I knew it takes two to tango – but Sasha was my sister, my twin, and I couldn’t bear to see her and my baby nephew out on the street.

Rhea and Sasha
Rhea and Sasha

I picked up my phone and tapped out a text to Chris. I know everything, I told him. Just tell me the truth. Why did you do it?

I felt the bile rise in my throat as his reply flashed back. After Alfie was born you neglected me, you weren’t showing me love. It just happened, he snivelled.

It was pathetic. I knew then it was over. I kicked Chris out and he went to live with his nan. He still visited to see Alfie and I remained civil for his sake, but I was crushed.

I was still reeling from the betrayal when, a month later, Sasha dropped another bombshell.

‘I don’t want to tell you this, but I’ve missed my period,’ she told me. ‘I think I’m pregnant… and Chris is the father,’

It was almost too much to bear. I was furious but I felt sorry for Sasha too. ‘We need to know for sure,’ I told her. ‘You have to take a test.’

 

Together, we went to the shops to pick up a home pregnancy test and I felt a nervous knot tighten in my stomach as I watched her go upstairs to the bathroom.

The look on her face as she came out three minutes later, said it all. ‘It’s positive,’ she whispered. ‘I’m pregnant.’

I just couldn’t believe it. My twin sister was pregnant by my fiance.

I picked up the phone and punched in Chris’ number. ‘You’ve got my sister pregnant!’ I spat, as Sasha sat next to me. There was silence at the end of the line and then the dialling tone, as Chris hung up. Rat.

Two weeks later, Sasha and I were sitting in the living room when she clutched her belly in pain. ‘These cramps are awful, I feel like I’m going into labour,’ she winced.

‘Something’s not right, you need to dial 101,’ I told her.

Blood was gushing from her as an ambulance rushed her to hospital, where doctors confirmed she’d miscarried Chris’ baby.

 

She was kept in overnight, before coming home. ‘Maybe it’s for the best,’ she said, as I nodded and gave her a hug.

Meanwhile, Chris was begging me for forgiveness. He bought bouquets of flowers and even gave up drinking in a bid to prove his commitment to me and Alfie.

I made him work – the depth of his betrayal had cut me deep – but eventually, two months later, I relented and agreed to give him a second chance.

Sasha moved out and the pair deleted each other’s numbers and blocked one another from Facebook. ‘I’ll still come and visit you and Alfie,’ she said as she stuffed the last of her things into a bag. ‘But I can’t be around Chris.’

I understood. Although I was willing to work on my relationship with Chris for Alfie’s sake, I still didn’t trust him around Sasha.

Chris
Chris

It was tough to start with, but in time, we slotted back into family life. And three months ago, in July, we completed our family when I gave birth to a gorgeous daughter, Maisie.

When I discovered Chris and Sasha’s fling, I was crushed. I’m just glad Chris and I were able to work through it.

And as for Sasha, our twincredible bond could never be broken.

Chris says: “I was out one night. I had too much to drink. It was spontaneous. It just happened. We slept together. Afterwards we kept it quiet. I didn’t know how to explain what had happened to Rhea. I thought it might get forgotten about. A month later, Sasha told me she was late and she’d done a test and she was pregnant with my baby. Sasha told Rhea and I couldn’t deny it. I do feel bad about what happened but I worked hard to win Rhea back. I even gave up booze.”

Sasha says: “Chris was really flirty. We used to go shopping together and then one night we ended up in the pub. It was a drunken mistake. I felt terrible. She’s my sister, I shouldn’t have done it. I should have been loyal to her. It was awful telling Rhea I was pregnant, but then I lost the baby. It’s awkward with Chris now. I go round there but we don’t speak to each other.”

Rhea was devastated when she realised her fiance was cheating with her twin sister, of all people. Thankfully, the three of them were able to work through the betrayal but Rhea wanted to share her story with other women.  The team at Sell My Story helped her sell her story for the best price to Take a Break. If you have a betrayal story you want to talk about, fill in the form on the right and we’ll be in touch to discuss the process.

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Lorna and Joseph
Lorna and Joseph
I was having a spring clean when I cleared out my boyfriend’s wardrobe. I never expected to make such a grim discovery…
By Lorna-May Anslow, 19, from Portsmouth

Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as my mobile phone pinged with another text message from my man.

‘Hello my princess! Just wanted  to let you know I’m thinking of you.’

I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. My boyfriend Joseph, 24, always knew how to make me feel special.

We met in May 2014, on Facebook, and immediately hit it off.  We chatted for a while online and then decided to meet up.

For me, it was love at first sight. As well as being gorgeous, Joseph was warm, friendly and charming. He was a real gentleman and treated me like a queen. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

Lorna and Joseph
Lorna and Joseph

Soon enough, we were in a serious relationship and just four months later, in September, I found out I was pregnant.

Although I knew I loved Joseph, it still was a huge shock. I had been feeling unwell for a few weeks, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be pregnant.

Joseph was stunned too. When I told him the news, his face went white with shock.

“What are we going to do?” he stammered, while my mind raced with all the possibilities.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t know if I’m ready to be a mother.”

We promised each other that we wouldn’t make any rash decisions, but each day that passed I found myself longing to meet the little life which was growing inside me.

A few weeks later I had an ectopic pregnancy scare, and had to have an early scan to determine if the baby was developing in my fallopian tube.

 

Luckily, the baby was fine and was right where it should be. But the fear of not knowing forced me to make up my mind once and for all.

“Now I know the baby is safe, I want to keep it,” I told Joseph. “But there’s no pressure on you. You can be as involved as you want to be.”

I braced myself for his response, but unexpectedly, a smile crept across his face.

“So we’re doing it then?” he asked brightly. “I’m going to be a dad?”

Lorna pregnant
Lorna pregnant

I was thrilled – although I would never have forced Joseph to stay with me, deep down I didn’t want to have this baby alone.

I moved into his mum’s house so we could be together while we prepared for the baby’s arrival, and spent hours talking about what life would be like when we would be a family.

Then, when I was 16 weeks pregnant, I decided to clean out his room while he was out at football practice.

“This place is such a mess,” I said to myself as I made the bed.

 

I picked up a pile of clothes from the floor and opened his wardrobe. I put the clothes away but as I was about to shut the door something caught my eye.

There was a fat bundle of paperwork stuffed into a carrier bag. I pulled the papers out and started to leaf through them curiously. What I saw made me feel sick to my stomach.

Joseph had been charged with having sexual activity with an underage girl. The papers revealed text messages between Joseph and the 14-year-old, dating back to a few months before I had met him.

My stomach knotted tightly as I thought about what this meant for us – for the baby. Everything had happened so fast with Joseph – did I even know him at all?

Angry and disgusted, I waited until he returned from football to confront him.

“Why are you being charged with sexual activity with a 14 year old?” I demanded as soon as he walked into the bedroom.

Lorna and Joseph
Lorna and Joseph

His smile froze as his eyes fell to the pile of papers on the bed.

 

“Where did you find those?” he asked. “Have you been looking through my things?”

“That’s all you’ve got to say?” I said. “I’m carrying your baby and that’s all you’ve got to say to me?”

He took a deep breath and sat down on the bed.

“It was a girl I was seeing before I met you,” Joseph said. “It was a mistake, and it’s in the past now. I didn’t exactly expect to get charged for it. I was really immature back then, but I’ve changed for you and the baby – I swear.”

My head swam and I didn’t know what to think. I was pregnant and living in his house with his family – I badly wanted to believe that he was telling the truth. But I couldn’t be sure.

“Ok,” I said eventually. “We’ll see how things go.”

“Good,” he said. “Because you’re my future now – you and the baby. I’ll prove it to you. I can’t wait for us to be a proper family.”

 

I tried to push the issue out of my head and focus on the baby. And when we discovered we were having a little girl at the 20 week scan, we were over the moon.

For a few weeks, everything was perfect. We made a list of girls names we loved and as my bump grew, so did my anticipation to meet our daughter.

But in February 2015, Joseph had to attend court. I agreed to support him, but couldn’t help feeling unsettled as we walked up the court steps.

I didn’t want to go into the courtroom, so I waited outside. When he emerged after what felt like forever, his face was white and I could tell he had been crying.

“I was found guilty and placed on the sex offenders register,” he said quietly. “Let’s go home.”

I felt sick. The idea that Joseph was a paedophile in the eyes of the law went around and around in my head for the following few weeks and eventually, in March 2015, I decided I just couldn’t be with him anymore.

I had the safety of my unborn child to think about  – I didn’t want to raise a child with a sex offender. I also couldn’t bear the idea of him touching me.

 

Our beautiful daughter Grace was born in May 2015, after a four day labour, and she was the most amazing thing I had ever set my eyes on.

“Hello my beautiful girl,” I whispered to her as I held her for the first time. “You’re completely worth the wait.”

I vowed there and then to protect her against anything, and although I let Joseph meet her in the hospital, I made it clear I didn’t want him in our lives.

Lorna and baby Grace
Lorna and baby Grace

He was devastated and begged to be given another chance, but I stood firm. It was hard, but I was convinced it was the right thing to do.

Just a month later, in June, I was certain of it. I was idly scrolling through Instagram when I came across a comment Joseph had left on a teenage girl’s photo.

I could tell she was under 16. He was obviously up to his old tricks again – despite already being banned from contacting girls online.

 

I immediately called the police and reported him, and they approached the girl in question, who agreed to press charges.

In October 2015, thanks to my tip-off, Joseph was convicted for breaching his ban and handed a 12 month suspended sentence. He’ll be on the sex offenders register for ten years too.

Meanwhile, I’ve met a new man – Connor, 20, and Grace and I are moving on with our lives.

But I’ll never forget the day I was cleaning the closet and discovered the father of my baby is a paedophile.

Lorna-May was devastated after her shocking discovery but she knew selling her story to the national press would help raise awareness of grooming and sexual abuse. We sold her story to Real People magazine as well as various news websites, reaching a huge readership. If you want to speak out about your experiences, complete the form on the right and we’ll call you for a no-obligation chat to discuss how it works.

 

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Nabil and Angela
Nabil and Angela
When I split from my pregnant wife I could never have guessed the terrible length she’d go to to punish me…
By Nabil Dahane, 36, from Oxford

I looked at my wife’s flat tummy and pictured our tiny child growing in her womb.

Angela had been pregnant for a couple months and it wouldn’t be long until she started to show.

My stomach churned. We both couldn’t wait to become parents but the pregnancy couldn’t save our marriage.

Our child couldn’t erase all the arguments and the months of verbal abuse. I’d had enough.

‘I’m sorry Angela,’ I stuttered, ‘but I can’t do this any more.’

 

She glared at me with her large brown eyes.

‘You’re not leaving the house,’ she growled. I’d grown terrified of her.

‘I’ll still support you and our child,’ I replied. ‘That goes without saying, of course.’

When I realised she wasn’t going to back down, I changed my tactic. ‘Just give me a few weeks break. Maybe it’s just the pregnancy hormones and everything will return to normal.’

Finally she relented and I packed my bags and left.

Angela and I first met in Morocco, where we fell in love and married in 2007. We moved to the UK to start a new life together and settled in Oxford. But by the time Angela fell pregnant, there was no denying our relationship had disintegrated.

We argued constantly and the wonderful woman I fell in love with seemed to no longer exist. Angela had grown so controlling and abusive that despite our situation, I felt I had no choice but to escape.

Nabil and Angela
Nabil and Angela

When she invited me to the 20-week scan and we found out we were having a girl, I was delighted.

 

That was until the police showed up at my door to tell me Angela had accused me of attacking her because she wasn’t giving me a son.

She’d made it crystal clear. Angela was going to make my life a misery until she got her way. Thankfully I was finally able to reason with her.

‘We have to give our daughter the best possible upbringing and two arguing parents won’t help,’ I reasoned. Angela nodded and we agreed to keep our relationship amicable for the sake of our child.

However once little Sarah was born in September 2011 nothing else mattered. As I held her in my arms, something inside me changed. I’d fallen instantly in love. Everything I did from now on, I did for Sarah.  

‘Look at you two,’ Angela gushed. ‘Daddy’s little girl already.’

I smiled. She was right.

‘Why do we have to separate?’ She asked. ‘Why don’t we try again for the sake of Sarah? We could be a happy family together.’

I loved Sarah and the thought of being able to see her everyday filled me with joy. But I couldn’t take Angela back. I’d felt like a caged animal in our relationship and now I was finally free.

Nabil with Sarah
Nabil with Sarah

‘You know I can’t,’ I sighed. ‘I’m here for you though and I want to see Sarah as much as possible.’

‘No!’ She spat. ‘You’ll never see Sarah again.’

‘You can’t do this to me,’ I pleaded. I was distraught. We’d agreed to put our differences aside for the sake of Sarah but Angela seemed hellbent on getting her way. Compromise wasn’t in Angela’s vocabulary.   

‘Yes I can,’ she cried. ‘I am her mother and I can do what I like. I’ll move her to Kenya and make sure she’s out of your life for good.’

I was devastated. Angela had always been stubborn and selfish but using my child against me was a new low – even for her.

 

Heartbroken and betrayed, I went through the courts to win visitor rights and over the course of 18 months we endured a bitter custody battle for our child.

It was hell. During that time Angela made false allegations against me including domestic violence and child abduction and as a result I was forced to see Sarah in contact centres with supervision for seven months. I felt like a common criminal. All I wanted was my chance to be a dad.

Over that period she tried her best to disrupt my time with Sarah, relocating to several distant towns as far away as possible within the legal jurisdiction set by the family courts.

But this was a battle I wasn’t prepared to lose, after all my daughter was at stake and I persevered to increase my visitation rights from just one hour to three full days, including two overnight stays.

Nabil and Sarah
Nabil and Sarah

Although I saw Sarah under supervision, they were the most precious moments of my life. I lived to see my little girl’s happy, beaming smile and to hear her shout ‘Dada’ was like music to my ears. So when I was told a court report in May 2013 had ruled in my favour, I was over the moon.

The very next day, I was due to see my daughter at 9am. I always picked areas where there were lots of CCTV cameras as Angela’s made-up allegations knew no bounds.

 

I couldn’t wait and arrived at our agreed venue, the local Tesco Express, but there was no sign of her. I waited and waited but when she didn’t pick up her phone, I had an ominous feeling something was wrong. Angela had broken court orders before. She was a law unto herself.

There was nothing else I could do, I had to call the police. They directed me to the nearest station to wait while they carried out checks.

An hour-and-a-half after I was due to see my beautiful 20-month-old girl, an officer guided me into a side room.

‘We are sorry Mr Dahane, but Angela is in Kenya,’ the officer explained.

I burst into tears. Angela had fulfilled her promise and taken Sarah to another continent so I’d never see her again.

‘We searched Ms Whitworth’s property and have found the body of a child,’ continued the officer.

 

The room began to spin. This can’t possibly be happening.

‘Is it Sarah?’ I sobbed. The officer’s pause said everything. In that instant my world fell apart.

Angela
Angela

The following day I was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to identify the body of the child I had spent 18 months fighting tirelessly for.  

I knew Angela could be cruel but I had no idea she was capable of such evil. She had told me I’d never see Sarah again but if I’d known of her sickening plan, I would have stayed with her to protect our daughter.

I would have done anything. She murdered our daughter to punish me. If she couldn’t have her, no one could.

Angela’s deceit and manipulative ways had caught up with her so she had used her trump card, Sarah, our daughter.  She was a sick psychopath.

She’d booked a same-day flight then hopped on a plane to Kenya leaving me to deal with the loss of my child, the police, the investigation, the media… Everything.

Angela fled to Nairobi but was seized in March this year by Ugandan police. In August she admitted murdering our daughter and in October she was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 15 years.

The prosecution revealed that the police had broken into Angela’s flat and found it in a state of disarray. They’d discovered Sarah’s lifeless body on her tummy in the middle of a bed.  

Angela had gagged Sarah with a pair of tights, then smothered her with a bin bag before fleeing.

Watching her shed tears as details of the murder were laid bear for the first time in court made my blood boil. She wasn’t crying for Sarah, she was crying because she’d been caught.  

Nabil and Sarah
Nabil and Sarah

In the period between finding out about Sarah’s death and Angela’s sentence, I have been to hell and back.

But I have survived to see justice served for my innocent child who would have turned five this year had her life not been cruelly and prematurely ended by her mum.

I’ve waited three long painful years but now Angela is finally where she belongs – behind bars.

I still battle every day to come to terms with not just my daughter’s loss but how she died. Sometimes it’s too much to bear.

Parents are supposed to protect their children, above all others. If only I could have protected Sarah from her murderous mother.   

Nabil will never get over the tragic loss of his daughter, but he wanted to share his story as a tribute to his precious girl. We helped him sell his story to That’s Life! magazine. If you have a crime story to share, why not drop us a line via the form on the right and we’ll ring you to explain how it works.

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Jennifer and Dale wedding
Jennifer and Dale wedding
I was fighting for my life in hospital but where was my hubby?
By Jennifer Allen, 30, from Bromley, London

As I clutched my chest, I coughed and spluttered, wincing in pain. ‘You really ought to get that checked out,’ my husband Dale, said, rubbing my back.

I nodded, as I was choked with another cough. I’d had a nasty cold for a few weeks now and hadn’t been able to shift it.

With two young children, Charlotte, now nine and George, now six, I’d just got on with the school run and the shopping. But Dale was right, I needed to get this sorted out.

I’d known Dale since I was just 14. He was best friends with my big brother, Peter, and I’d always fancied him.

But at seven years younger, I didn’t get a look in. That was until 2006 when, both adults, we started dating.

People say you just know when you find The One – and with Dale, I did. I fell pregnant very quickly but I’d already known Dale my whole life, it didn’t matter that it was quick.

Charlotte was born in 2007 and we married two years later. When George arrive the year after that, my perfect family was complete. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of.

Jennifer and Dale wedding
Jennifer and Dale wedding

But now, in late August 2013, I was feeling really under the weather. ‘I’m referring you to the hospital for tests,’ my doctor said.

I was admitted onto the ward – and didn’t leave. What had started as a common cold, became a chest infection and then developed into pneumonia and eventually life-threatening septicemia.

 

‘Will you look after the kids for me, Mum?’ I phoned her from hospital. ‘Dale needs to go to work, he won’t be able to do all the school runs.’

Mum was amazing. ‘Of course, Charlotte and George can stay here with us, they’re no trouble. You just concentrate on getting better.’

With Mum and Dad babysitting the kids, I thought it would free Dale up to go to work – and visit me. But he never came.

As the days turned into weeks, Dale kept coming up with excuse after excuse. ‘Sorry babe, I’m stuck at work I’m not going to make it tonight,’ he told me one night when I rang from the hospital phone.

It didn’t stack up. He never usually worked that late in his job as a print finisher. Dale’s boss was best mates with my uncle, so I gave my uncle a call to see if he could shed any light on it.

‘That’s strange,’ he said. ‘It’s been really quiet at work. In fact, Dale’s had a week off. He said he was visiting you…’

Alarm bells rang then. Apart from a couple of odd visits, Dale was nowhere to be seen. So where was he?

In mid-December my condition deteriorated rapidly. I was fighting for my life and didn’t have the strength to worry about Dale.

‘Oh love, the doctors told us to bring everyone to the hospital, to say their goodbyes,’ my mum told me, pain etched on her face. ‘They didn’t think you were going to make it.’

Thankfully, I’d pulled through. But Dale hadn’t shown up. Three months after I’d arrived in hospital, on Christmas Eve, I was discharged.

Jennifer sold her story to Chat
Jennifer sold her story to Chat

‘I want to come home to spend Christmas with the kids,’ I rang my mum. ‘The doctors would rather I stay here but I have to see them.’

I’d hoped Dale had prepared the house for my arrival. Now I was feeling better, it would be a Christmas to remember.

‘Umm, probably best you come straight to ours,’ my mum said. ‘Dale’s here too. He hasn’t had a chance to do any Christmas shopping or decorate. You can spend Christmas with us, put your feet up.’

 

I knew then there was a problem. Dale had become so distant. In three months, he’d visited me three times in hospital.

He’d had loads of time on his hands but he hadn’t bothered to get the house ready for Christmas. What was he playing at?

‘Welcome home, love,’ my mum said as I arrived back. ‘Here, let me take that,’ she soothed, taking my bag from me.

The kids were in bed, excitedly waiting for Santa to arrive the next morning, but Dale wasn’t there to greet me.

‘Where is he?’ I turned to Mum. ‘There,’ she whispered, pointing to the living room where Dale was lying asleep on the sofa.

I padded into the room and found him crashed out, his phone hanging out of his hand. I took it from him to stop it smashing on the floor but then curiosity got the better of me.

 

Clicking it on, the screen flashed into life. I could see he was trying to delete a call from his log, to a number I didn’t recognise. He’d listed the contact as simply, ‘B’.

It was all very suspicious and quietly, so as not to wake Dale, I dialled the number. When a woman answered, I hung up, in shock.

Dale
Dale

My heart pounding, I checked Dale was still asleep. I needed to know more – who was she? So I dialled again and this time, came up with a story to explain who I was, pretending to be Dale’s sister-in-law.

‘I don’t know if you can help me, but I’m looking for my sister and her partner, Dale West,’ I lied.

‘I know Dale, but I haven’t seen him since the weekend when he stayed the night at mine,’ she replied.

I tried to stay calm while a sickening knot tightened in my stomach. ‘Thanks anyway for your help,’ I managed to say, before hanging up.

My mind raced. Dale had cheated while I was in hospital. I was fighting for my life, while he was having a one-night stand. Rat.

‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Dale whimpered when I hurled the phone at him and demanded answers. He tried to deny it but when I called the woman back a third time and she explained the panther tattoo Dale had on his back, he’d been caught red-handed.

‘Can we talk about it after Christmas?’ he said sheepishly. I was fuming but determined to give the kids the Christmas they deserved.

So the next morning, even though I could barely look at Dale, I put on a brave face and played happily families for their sake.

It was agony and for the next few days, I stayed at Mum’s while Dale went home. ‘Mummy needs to get properly better and Nana’s going to look after me,’ I explained to George and Charlotte.

A few days later, on New Year’s Eve, I returned home. It was as if nothing had happened. Dale was caring and attentive and although I was angry, I agreed our marriage was worth fighting for.

 

Over the next few months, I tried to rebuild the trust between us but when I found emails on Dale’s phone at Easter 2014, declaring his love for another woman, it was the final straw.

The only thing keeping me alive is knowing you’re there, he’d typed to his mystery floozy. This time it was over, for good.

Jennifer now
Jennifer now

In May 2014, on our sixth wedding anniversary, Dale walked out. ‘I’m sorry, I just don’t love you any more,’ he said, barely giving me a backward glance.

Now, I’m seeing someone new. It’s early days but I’m moving on with my life without Dale. But I’ll never forget the day I discovered my hubby stuffing another bird at Christmas.

Dale says: “Yeah it was Christmas Eve, sure, but she had been out of hospital for a couple of days. I do feel bad that she found out at Christmas but in all honesty I wanted to wait until after Christmas to tell her.”

Jennifer was devastated when she found her husband cheating at Christmas time. Have you revealed your rat at a particularly upsetting time or in an unusual way? I you want to share your betrayal story in the press, have a look at our ‘how to’ guide and complete the form on the right. We’ll then call to talk you through the process.

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Tracie and Paul
Tracie and Paul

 

I made a promise to my fiance, Paul, to lose weight. Then when he died, I was determined to keep that promise…
By Tracie Reid, 49, from Darlington, County Durham

As I grabbed the TV remote and settled in for another night on the sofa, my fiance Paul slipped his arm around me.

“Shall we get a takeaway love?” he asked, and I nodded enthusiastically.

Paul and I would spend most evenings like this, slumped together on the couch, watching a film. Usually we would order in a large pizza or a takeaway curry. We were so in love, we didn’t need anyone else – we were always in our own little bubble.

 

We met in November 1997, and it was love at first sight. Paul was charming, warm and loyal – everything I wanted in a partner. We quickly moved in together and got engaged in April 1998, and I excitedly looked forward to our future.

Tracie and Paul
Tracie and Paul

But while I was head over heels in love with Paul, I had a completely different relationship with myself.

My confidence was at an all time low, due to my unhealthy lifestyle. I’ve always had issues with food, but after my mum died when I was 20, I really began to pile on the pounds.

I was a typical comfort eater and by the time I hit my 30s I weighed 21st 9lbs and was a hulking size 32.

I knew Paul, loved me for me, but my confidence was at rock bottom and I kept putting off our wedding because I couldn’t bear the thought of me waddling up the aisle as a bulging bride.

When my GP put me forward for gastric surgery on the NHS, I thought it was the answer to my problems. I spent two years on the waiting list before Paul begged me not to go ahead with the operation, insisting it would limit me for life.

 

 

“You’ll never be able to eat proper-sized meals again,” he moaned. “You can do it naturally, I know you can – without surgery.”

So when a Slimming World leaflet dropped through the letterbox in February 2011, it felt like a sign. I joined my local group and was thrilled when I started losing weight. Maybe I could do it by myself after all.

By May 2012, I’d lost an incredible 12 stone. I’d never been happier and Paul was delighted for me too. He’d take me shopping for new clothes, and clapped with delight as I stepped out of the changing rooms to show him a new outfit.

“You look amazing my love,” he would beam at me. But as happy as Paul was for me, he was struggling with health problems of his own.

Complications from diabetes led to charcot foot syndrome and cellulitis, and soon Paul needed a wheelchair to get around.

Tracie before weight loss
Tracie before weight loss

When he had a stroke in April 2013, I struggled to adapt to my new role as his full-time carer. I ordered takeaways four times a week to cheer myself up and, soon enough, I’d gained back a whopping eight stone.

 

I’d undone all my good work. Feeling fat and frumpy again, I hated leaving the house and I struggled with simple tasks like helping Paul out of bed.

Despite his own suffering, Paul desperately wanted me to be happy and healthy again.

“Go back to Slimming World, I’ll be ok,” he suggested.

So in April 2015, I re-joined my local group. Paul loved hearing how well I was doing at my weekly weigh-ins but a couple of months later, he turned to me with a serious look on his face.

“Whatever happens, I want you to stick at it, no matter what,” he urged. “Promise me you’ll never give up again. I just want you to be happy.”

I smiled at him.

“Of course I will,” I said. “I’m not giving up again, I promise.”

As I made my vow to Paul, I didn’t realise how poignant his words would become.

 

Just two months later, in September 2015, I had just put the kettle on and we were watching television when Paul looked at me strangely.

“I don’t feel very well my love,” he said quietly.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, rushing over to him..

“I don’t know,” he said, before passing out.

I immediately called for an ambulance, and Paul was whisked to hospital. The doctors did their best but it was too late – Paul had suffered a massive stroke and had died at the age of 53.

I was devastated – but determined to keep my promise. With Paul’s words of encouragement ringing in my ears, I went to my slimming class the next week…and the next, and the next.

Tracie now
Tracie now

Now, I’ve lost a staggering 11 stone and have shrunk to a svelte size 10. The transformation has completely changed my life.

My only regret is that Paul didn’t live long enough to see me flaunting my fab new figure – but I know he’s looking down on me with a proud smile on his face.

Tracie was determined to keep her weight loss promise to her beloved fiance, Paul, even beyond the grave. We helped her share her slimming success with a huge readership, targeting the biggest women’s magazine in the country, Take a Break. If you have a weight loss story you’d like to sell, fill in the form here on the right and we’ll get in touch to explain how it works.

 

by -
The happy couple
The happy couple
When my beloved black labrador, Wellington, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was determined to make the most of time he had left…
By Amy Loveless, 39, from Taunton, Somerset

I picked up the tennis ball and hurled it as far as I could along Berrow beach, Burnham-on Sea. As I watched Wellington, my black labrador, bound after it, I couldn’t help but smile.

‘Well done, boy,’ I said, ruffling his fur, as he dropped the slobbery ball at my feet. ‘You’re still full of beans, aren’t you?’

At 13-years-old, it had been no dog’s life for my pampered pooch. Welly had enjoyed a completely clean bill of health – until July when our lives changed forever.

‘We’ve found a tumour in his hind leg,’ the vet told me after an MRI scan. ‘I’m afraid it’s malignant.’

Amy sold her story to two magazines
Amy sold her story to two magazines

Tears welled in my eyes, as I looked at my old boy, tail wagging. Why now?

 

The vet suggested amputation but I didn’t want to reduce Welly’s quality of life in his doggy ‘golden’ years, so instead, we left the surgery armed with canine chemo capsules.

My precious pooch’s life expectancy was fairly short and I was determined to make the most of the time he had left.

There wasn’t a moment to lose, so I set about compiling a bucket list of Welly’s favourite things.

Weekly steak dinners, a Christmas holiday to the New Forest, meet Simon Cowell… I chuckled as I read the zany list back to an expectant Welly, who sat there happily wagging his tail.

Next on the list was something we all want in our later years, someone to grow old with. Welly had a long-term lady labrador friend called Elsa, who he’d met two years ago at the doggy hydro clinic I run.

Also an old girl who suffers from arthritis, it was puppy love at first sight for Elsa and Welly, who labr-adored each other.

Sharing a love for swimming they’d go for doggy dates in the pool as well as camping trips and frequent dips in the sea, which is where their romance really blossomed.

 

‘What do you reckon, boy? Is it time for you to make an honest woman of Elsa?’ I smiled, nuzzling into his fur.

So after chatting with Elsa’s owner, Susie, it was settled and I broke the news to him. ‘Welly, we’re getting you hitched!’

Wedding
Wedding

We decided on a local beach wedding at the pair’s favourite spot, Berrow beach. The date was set and the invites were sent out to over 20 guests.

The turnout was remarkable as the sun beamed down on the two love-sick pups. Elsa looked beautiful in her veil, while Welly looked suitably dapper in his tuxedo and real flower corsage.

The two had a ball as they paraded around in front of the guests, lapping up the limelight. No details were spared during the ceremony, which was performed by my husband Michael and led by 16-year-old flower dog, Millie.

‘I promise you Elsa, that I will be a faithful companion, that we will share the relationship throughout the remaining seasons of this life together, that we will plod together in all weathers and will try and stay strong enough in my woof health to enjoy another camping trip with you,’ I read out Welly’s vows as he barked along enthusiastically.

Susie then recited Elsa’s special words and the pair exchanged collars with each other’s name engraved on them.

Next came the ‘biting’ of the dog-friendly wedding cake, followed by a barbecue sausage dinner which all the guests tucked into.

Wedding cake
Wedding cake

I was so proud of my precious pet as he tied the knot. They say every dog has its day, and now Welly’s had his, he can live out the rest happily ever after.

Amy was determined to make the most of the time her beloved labrador had left and shared her precious pooch’s wedding with the readers of Take a Break and Love Sunday magazines. If you’re particularly proud of your pet and have a story you’d like to sell, fill in the form on the right and we’ll get in touch to discuss the process.