Dear Annie: Two and a half years ago, while my business was doing well, my marriage of 30-plus years wasn’t.

It was that same old case of drifting apart due to the pressures of life. Our kids had left home except for one, and we looked at downsizing. We signed up for a new apartment, so we had to get our house ready for sale.

My wife and I had this almighty fight — we’d had these before — and our relationship was becoming toxic for me, so when we had this fight I finally called it a day. We did counseling but instead of getting us back together, it was suggested we separate, much to my now ex’s disgust.

I wanted out, and she didn’t. But it was either stay with her and harm myself or leave.

I had to stay at the house as I was renovating it, which made it difficult. A few months later, I’d met my now-partner, who is much younger than me. We fell for each other pretty quickly during that period in which I was still at the house but my wife and I were over. A few months later, my now-partner became pregnant.

No one knew about my new relationship. In November, my wife and I told the kids we were separating, and, naturally, they were upset. I moved in with my partner to look after her while she was pregnant but still kept her and the pregnancy a secret.

After Christmas this year, I told my ex and my kids about my partner, but not the fact that she was pregnant. My ex didn’t take it well at all. My eldest daughter and youngest son took it pretty well, but my middle daughter took it the hardest. Based on her reaction, I was afraid to tell them anything else and, as such, my new daughter is a secret.

I have agonized for all this time over telling them, and know I need to let them know very soon.

My daughter turned 1 the other day, and it was sad because her half siblings missed out.

My ex had been to a clairvoyant who told her that she saw a newborn, and the day after my ex asked me, “Is this girl pregnant?” I was stunned. I just said no. My son brought up the clairvoyant thing to me, and I laughed it off. I said: “It’s more than likely in the cards sometime soon, though. Would you have a problem with having a younger sibling?” He said he’d like to be an older brother.

Part of the reason why I haven’t said anything is because I care for my ex and know she will take it very hard. She has a lot of animosity towards me, as does my middle daughter.

I think I’ll need to tell them one by one, with my ex finding out last.

— Fearful Father

Dear Fearful: It’s time to rip the Band-Aid off so that the real healing can begin.

Your plan — to tell each of your children and then your ex-wife, individually, about your new daughter — is a good one. Be sure to execute it swiftly, all on the same day, as word will travel fast. Give them the space to process and be angry.

Your lies have deprived your older children from the joy of a new sister and from having an honest relationship with their father. Their first reactions won’t be their final reactions.

Your ex-wife will have an especially hard time with the news, no doubt, and things may always be tense between you two. But that might have been the case even if it weren’t for the baby.

Dear Annie: I was glad to see your column mention the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings available on Zoom. In the small state of New Hampshire alone (where I live), there are hundreds of Zoom meetings weekly, as of this writing.

— Paul

Dear Paul: These virtual support group meetings have been a lifeline to many during the pandemic. There are also meetings available by telephone, so you don’t even need a computer to participate.

Other support groups have made virtual and dial-in meetings available, including Al-Anon Family Groups (http://al-anon.org/), Families Anonymous (https://www.familiesanonymous.org), Narcotics Anonymous (https://www.na.org) and LifeRing Secular Recovery (https://www.lifering.org), to name just a handful.

For anyone who’s been considering attending a support group meeting but never gotten around to it: There’s no time like the present.

Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to dearannie@creators.com.

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