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Get a Life

There’s a good conversation underway at Chump Chat (thanks Kristina!) about the “Gain a life” portion of the Chump Lady manifesto. It’s very easy to get bogged down in the “leave a cheater” part. The logistics are hellish. It’s painful and draining. Understandably, we can get sidetracked away from the very important work of building a new life, and focusing on ourselves. But that’s where the pay off is — the new life.

If you’ve ever tangled with a narcissist, you know the default channel for your life is set at Narcissist. Their needs. Their reactions. What Fresh Hell Are They Up to Now?! We scramble around and waste precious time and energy trying to appease them, or decode them, or commiserate about them.

But what about YOU? How does it feel to have this idiot out of your life (or almost out of your life… keep going) Does the air breathe cleaner? Have you felt the relief? Does it feel a bit disorienting?

I know some days are lonely as hell. But take the opportunity to enjoy the free fall. The raw nerved excitement/terror of What Next?! And build, build, BUILD! Make this new life yours and fill it with awesomeness. People who love you right. Activities that you feel passionate about. Parenting with your values and your traditions.

Oh shut up Tracy, I hear you saying. My life is an endless drudge of single parenting and luke warm, limp Hot Pockets for dinner.   No one is tripping the light fandango here.

Well, that’s on you. Only you get to control your degree of awesomeness. They can cheat on you, lie to you, steal your 401K, malign you to the neighbors, and dress your kid funny — but they can’t take away your awesomeness. That’s the investment you get to control. How much you put into this new, improved life. Whether that’s making it through each day right now without sobbing on strangers, or going back to school, or buying new bed linens. (Get all new bed linens, you know that right? Burn the marital bed if you can, but at the very least invest in new sheets.)

It’s hard work. It’s important work and you’ve only got so much energy. So when you feel yourself obsessing over the injustice, or what stupid thing the affair nitwit is posting on FaceBook today, put that energy back on your new life. It needs you. Get cracking!

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    • I think you have an advantage on all the other chumps because you live in New Orleans, Nola. I could drown my sorrows and second line my way to a new life there pretty happily. 🙂

  • This is a great post, CL.

    You asked the question: “how does it feel for you?”

    My answer to that is: it depends. Because it really does depend on what’s going on in my day. When things are chugging along, when I’m busy, when I’m focused on myself in a positive way, then for me it feels fantastic.

    Hang on, let me say this: Not being in that marriage anymore, where I was so really very lonely and feeling totally undervalued and underappreciated and invisible, feels great all the time. What I’m talking about now is being on my own.

    And for the most part, being on my own feels really wonderful. I have my son, of course, so I always have him to look after. But it feels good to be able to do my own thing, make choices just for my son and myself. There is a physical sensation associated with it that is akin to stretching. It is as if I can stretch out and breathe. And I love that.

    There are times, though, when I have moments of distress. I had it for a moment this morning driving to work, I thought: “Oh man! I could be on my own forever. That’s kind of scary.” And for a moment I really did feel scared. But then I gave myself a shake and said to myself: Hang on, where is this REALLY coming from? It was because I’ve had a couple of less-than-satisfying days at work and my confidence was shaken a bit.

    One of the great things about working on myself in analysis has been that I tend to not project. I mean, I do project, we all do, but I’m able to really just stop and check in with myself when I have rough moments and push myself to figure out what I’m thinking and where it is coming from. So, feeling that way I *could* have gone down the: “oh it is all his fault for fucking things up…” route, but instead I chose (and always choose) to say: “Okay, what is going on with me here. What can I do to make this feel better?” And it always works. Because I can only control me.

    So, I know that this feeling of fear that I experienced this morning was borne of insecurity associated with the fact that my boss threw a curveball in my direction yesterday. And as I sorted through it in the car on the way in I thought: “right. so he threw me a curveball. Watch me knock it out of the park.”

    And as soon as I did that, got myself right in the head about it, guess what? I wasn’t worried about being alone in the future. LOL The future will take care of itself, and me worrying about it won’t make it take the shape I want it to. The best way for me to influence the future into the shape I want it to take is for me to focus on *doing* now. Not worrying. 🙂

      • I really like what you said about, taking the route of, “what’s going on here?” Instead of thinking how my life is screwed bc of him. Thanks!

  • Amazing timing! Today has been my “wake up” day. I finally do not care anymore. Can’t wait to spread my wings and fly…when and where I desire. A few loose ends to tie up and then, I am outta here. Never thought of burning the bed or sheets. Won’t do that, he is still using them. Let him. I have a paid for car and a few pennies with enough talent, education and experience to find “something” somewhere, anywhere. Friends have invited me to “come visit” and they live all over the world. The grown kids are saying “You go Mom!” wanting so much for me to be happy again. I am SOOOO glad I calmly took the time to make a “plan.” It makes all the difference in the world, even if, at the time, my heart was breaking. Today that broken heart is leaping with joy, excitement and anxiously awaiting that moment when I can simply run an errand, leaving a note in the refrigerator, and without further notice, never look back. Thank you Chump Lady, today, you are the wind beneath my wings.

  • I was just thinking about this, and once again you are reinforcing my feelings CL. Had a tough break last week, but I know I’ll pull out of it. Thank You. Thank you ALL

  • As I approached the 3 year mark of dday & 6 month date of the divorce, I realized I could no longer be the victim anymore. Everyone & everything had moved on but not me. I think it took so long to get over the shock & have my tear ducts finally dry out. I still have my moments & allow a little boohoo here & there.

    I’m struggling financially right now but went back to school to become a paralegal. After I find a paralegal job, it’ll be the last step in my move forward to a new life.

    • Hurt1,

      Why not make TODAY, the the first day of your new life…you have accomplished so much.

      • Financial independence is my goal. I do get alimony for 5 years but that alone or my current job alone won’t pay the bills. Supporting myself without relying on the ex via the alimony will official mean I’ve made it without him, his family & some friend who weren’t so friendly during this period in my life.

    • Way to go on the schooling! I hope you go work for a divorce attorney some day. 😉

      • No way on the divorce lawyer. Although my lawyer was a father figure to me, I wouldn’t be able to handle the drama & tears that I myself went through. I’m partial to bankruptcy, civil litigation & estate law.

  • One of the things I reflect on from time to time now is how I can have goddamn things I like.

    With my ex, we’d be standing in Tar-jay arguing about a frickin $3 dish towel. I couldnt understand why every tiny thing had to be a battle. When he wanted something, I said if it makes you happy, go for it. If I wanted it, it was like world war 3-4-5.

    I’ve never been a girlie girl per se… but I now have a set of bee-YOO-tiful sheets on my bed – kinda silvery-gold and grey and tan with a tiny sage green pinstripe… and if you look really closely you can see a little leopard pattern stripe in all of it. Plus I have a big fur throw and a big furry cushion. I know I know… you might be worrying that I’m 12 years old, but I’m not all of the time lol. It was v expensive and I think it’s v classy. And I love walking into my bedroom and seeing this big ol’ luxurious hedonistic bed.

    You just made me realise my ex would have hated it/never allowed it. Which makes me love it even more 🙂


    • After my first divorce, I got rid of the bed and bought silk sheets on eBay from India. I went all girly. Antique wrought iron bed. Freaking LOVED it. Fallulah, your bed sounds utterly hedonistic and gorgeous. Enjoy!

      • My ex hated throw pillows. Now I have them on the couch, chairs and bed. Whenever we checked into a hotel he always had to take off the fancy pillows & put them on the floor. Who does that?

        • After I got rid of him I moved the bed next to the fireplace, something I’d wanted to do for years and he wouldn’t allow. I light a fire every night and fall asleep with it crackling into embers. I so enjoy reading by the fire with NO television on. That is another happy thing, he had TV on 24/7, now blissful peaceful quiet, a good book and a fire crackling beside me. Summer is coming tho, so I need a new ritual to get me sleeping!

          PS: I live in a tiny house, I just realized it sounds like I have a mansion, LOL. I sleep in the finished half of the basement.

  • I really needed this today, CL. Thanks. I’ve been struggling all week with the fact that the MOW moved in with my H and they are now sending me messages asking me to leave them alone! so they can build their life together. Our divorce action has been on hold while I’m unemployed (and also because I wanted to pursue reconciliation). This gave me the “unleash the hounds” energy I needed to visit my attorney and plan our next steps to hasten the end of this horror story.

    But I’ve been feeling down this week because I’m wondering whether I’m just giving him what he wants by pushing the divorce over the finish line. I think a lot of these guys either want to continue eating cake by leaving you hanging while they pursue their extra-marital activities and/or because they think that if YOU file for divorce they can be seen as not such a bad guy and tell the world that the break-up was mutual (after all, HE didn’t file…). Yesterday a friend shared with me the recent posts on my husband’s facebook page (yes… I asked) because I’ve been blocked since his MOW skank moved in. (She uses that tool like a weapon to create a certain public persona.)

    Yesterday, he said “before I share where and what I have been doing these last six months, I thought I would share exactly where I am now” and posted a link to a Kelly Clarkson song. A few hours later he said “Two years ago I was not in a good place (don’t worry, much better now) and posted a link to Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.” Today, he posted “Then, about a year and a half ago I saw a possibility” with yet another song link. Of course, 18 months ago is when he started screwing the MOW.

    I know I need to get working on me and building my new future but it’s just been so hard to disengage and worry about myself ONLY. I need your regular pep talks to get there.

    • Try to keep in mind that no matter how good or bad the Ex’s life is (esp if its with their AP) they will make every effort to portray to the world that they are so blissfully happy that rainbows are shooting out their ass. *meh* From personal observation regarding fakebook, the more someone goes on and on, gushing about how happy and in luuuuvvvve they are, how super-freaking-tastic their partner is – the truth is usually the exact opposite. Because people that are really happy and living a great life are too busy living said life to spend so much time vomiting all that crap on their fb page.

      Don’t look it as “giving him what he wants by pushing the divorce over the finish line”, thats keeping you stuck with him in your head. I try to look at it more as Im setting myself free. He can and will think of you whatever supports his bs exchuses for his behavior and nothing on earth will change that. *meh* Never argue with an idiot, they only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

      Do your best to stop getting info on what he is or isnt doing. The more time and headspace you give him, the less you have for yourself. Its self-inflicted torture. Get the divorce, and then do your best to evict him from your life. Ifs YOUR life, dont spent it letting him keep you bogged down in misery.

    • Suzanne… When you say you are wondering if you are just giving him what he wants by pushing the divorce… I say YES you probably are. And you should!!!!! Is sounds like you want him to feel regret or sorrow or own some of this. He won’t. He ate cake because it felt good for him to do so. And because you let him. Don’t give him a divorce because it’s what he wants or doesn’t want… give it to him because you deserve to be free of this asshat who clearly doesn’t give a fuck about you.

      Disengaging is very hard… but once you do it. It feels great! When I finally started to disengage (well as much as I could since we have a kid together) I had so much peace in my life. No drama felt so good. Then I had all this energy… all this time and space in my head that used to be taken up by him and his antics. It felt difficult at first, because I wasn’t used to it. But slowly other things took up that space. Lots of time with friends… Lots of time at the gym… Lots of time with my daughter doing things we never did before. It really does get better… I never thought I would be the one saying this, considering I was a blubbering, ridiculous mess on this site 6 months ago. But it does! It will get better for you sooner if you let go of the idea you have of him (he isn’t what you think he is) and the let go of your visions for the future (that future is gone). I never thought I would stop obsessing about all the people around me who wore wedding rings and looked happy, but I did. I never thought I would stop worrying about the stigma of being a single mama, but I did. I never thought I would have a day where I didn’t hope he would reach out to me in some way, but I did. And you know what life is pretty good these days.

      Divorce this jackass and let life get better!!!!

    • Don’t look at his FB unless it’s of some use to your attorney. And then let him/her look at it for you. Otherwise, you’re just torturing yourself. Don’t worry who files — YOU file. WHo cares what the he thinks? Imagine he wears a tinfoil hat to go with his tinfoil dick. He doesn’t live in reality. Go after that new life without him, and with a good divorce settlement. Sending you mojo on the job hunt too!

      • Imagine he wears a tinfoil hat to go with his tinfoil dick

        OOooohhh – this is an awesome image. Too bad the accompanying cartoon would probably be NSFW. Because looking at that every time I took a sip of coffee would really make me smile. Which is not to say you shouldn’t do it anyway. We could just bring it out and share it when a group of chumps get together.

  • I don’t think the pain of this kind of betrayal ever goes away completely. However, when we start a new life, and I mean start it in earnest, taking chances, stepping out into the world, even beginning new relationships, that new life has a way of ***crowding out the old life.*** The way lush, green grass tends to crowd out the weeds in a healthy lawn. So I don’t view this as a two step process (i.e., 1) dump cheater; 2) get a life) so much as I see the “second step” as the corollary to the “first step”: We often get past the betrayal by moving forward.

    • I don’t think it ever really goes away completely, either. When dday hit and I spent a lot of time with a friend who had been through this she reached a point where she said she could not talk about it anymore because all it did was make her remember the enormous pain she went through and she said it has always stayed, just a little bit, somewhere deep inside of her.

      She’s remarried and her life is pretty great but I know that her first husband hurt her very, very deeply and she has never completely gotten over it or forgotten it.

      • I can’t relate to the long marriage you and nomar have had. But I had 10 years before with a fucktard preceding the cheater. At this stage, I just regret the wasted time. And I regret the wasted money spent in court with a looney toon suing me pro se. But what they did to hurt me doesn’t pain me any more. I just marvel at myself, why I stood there as long as I did. Both of them feel dead to me. Dead strangers.

        • Agree CL. I have no pain anymore from it at all. Moments of worry about the future, sure. But nothing that feels even close to pain about the past.

          It can happen.

        • Maybe pain is the wrong word. Maybe it’s more like a scar or a place where a bone broke and healed up slightly bent. Enough that, suddenly and for just a second or two, you’re extremely aware of it. I was in a car accident when I was 15 and put my face through a windshield. I can still see that moment in my minds eye 34 years later, and I flinch at the thought. No pain, but a conspicuous flinch. My first marriage was a lot like a 22-year-long car wreck.

  • I agree. I don’t think you really ever get over it in a way, it just gets better to manage the pain of betrayal. I recenlty had came across my EXH’s profile pic on fb. I blocked him long ago, but his profile pic came up as I was going through deleting old pics. The profile pic stung a little, because it was of him and his new love, (which is his affair partner.) But, I have to remember that “they” don’t have to get to me. I choose to let it get to me. We only have control over ourselves, not them. And really, When I look at him, I don’t miss him. I miss the image in my head that I have of him. I miss who I wanted him to be. I know that things do get better, and the reality of it all is that I don’t have to worry about what he is doing, It’s so nice to only worry about me. What makes me happy, and discovering who I want to be for the rest of my life. We choose our own happiness, it is time to do it!!! “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

  • Working on it! I have my first date since the ending of my marriage (or actually my first date in 14 years!) tonight… I’m nervous as hell!

    • My first two dates were not great because I wasn’t ready. I was still a mess. So I stopped dating and then recently went on one. It didn’t take but the evening was fun, nice enough guy, just not for me.

      What I learned was that I was ready and was totally relaxed and just taking it as it came during the evening.

      Dating isn’t all that bad…I’m older (much) and know who I am so it’s easy to just go with the flow and not stress.

      • yeah, I tried to get out there about 5 ish months ago (way before my divorce was even final 🙂 and I wasn’t ready at all.

        I feel much more ready now than I was then, and somebody has to be first, so might as well go with it…. I think I’m more excited than nervous. Though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at all. This is all via the internet, btw, so I’m hoping I just haven’t built this guy up too much either…

        • yes, honey. Take it from one who did exactly that. Tread lightly. Assume that what you see is NOT what you get until you REALLY get to know him and if there are any red flags at all, believe those too.

          Also, and I can’t stress this enough. Do not get into the instant message thing. Its not real life. If he’s at all articulate he can come across and the sweetest, funniest most charming being on the face of the earth.

          until he’s not.

          If he insists on communicating in this fashion, please move on. Same if he’s cagey about where he lives or has some cockamamie story about room-mates or something like that.

          Lots of dudes will SAY that they’re single and they are anything but… chatting is a way for a married/attached guy to cheat so that the little missus will never find out. (until he leaves it open on her lap top, by “accident”) :[

  • I’ve found the silver lining to the almost unbearable pain of my STBXH’s lying, cheating, effectively ruining my dream career, moving straight into a new home with Mistress, and stealing my dog.

    I know that I can survive anything. The things that used to hold me back now seem so inconsequential and simple to fix. I’m vanquishing a lifelong struggle with my weight – 10% down in 3 months and I’m running a 5k in May. It turns out I really love running! Also, my arms look fantastic because I imagine my gym’s punching bag is Mistress’ face. I found a career in a new field that I love. And although I’m an introvert, I’m forcing myself to go out, have fun, and make new friends rather than stay at home crying.

    I wish it had all never happened. I wish STBXH had had the fortitude and emotional maturity to work on his 8 year relationship rather than drop it the second something “better” came along.

    But I won’t lie. Despite the tears, anguish, depression, rage, and intense loneliness… my life is better now in so many ways.

    Onward and upward.

    • Allison, Your strength, attitude, and fortitude is truly inspiring! So awesome you have taken control of your and making it awesome. Pushing beyond a negative, horrible experience and turning this toward positive goals in your life. Onward and upward. All the best!!

  • You are so right on! I need to reminded of this! I am in a totally different place, than I was last year on this aspect. But this is where I want to be headed.. Putting all that energy, spent on thinking of the OW (a “friend”) and that dickhead, that still wants a reconcilliation, but wants me to rugsweep, and “get over it”, without actually acting remorseful or doing any hard work like therapy or talking about the affair! Fuck him once and for all!

  • Getting out of the relationship with the X was like getting off the roller coaster of emotions. All the years that I spent with him were always high drama.

    Not only his separation and divorce filings turned out to be a sham , but I also had to contend with serial..naah…multi time cheating.he was having sex with 5…6 women, grooming quite a few, in contact with all the women in his past, picking up women from adult friend finder n various other sites and did I mention the hookers??.oh yes, a couple in every city he visited.

    A person with so much going, so many balls to juggle can not but be a complete fucktard.

    Add to that the total mind games he played.It all reached a point where I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

    It all blew up when I hacked his mailbox.

    Apart from the pain , misery, a desire to end my life, PTSDwhatever whatever what was toughest was deaddicting myself from the high drama and the heightened emotions that were the norm .with their fuckery, your brains too get wired .It was like getting off a highly potent drug.

    Walikng away was the decision I took instantaneously, actually doing it took a while.

    Being able to stick to that decision n not relapsing is where this blog and CL absolutely helped.

    Heartfelt gratitude , Tracy.

    • You know, I think that’s a lot of my problem, without worrying, fighting, stressing, wondering, and being upset so much I just feel empty. The first few weeks I went into a furious burst of doing things, I think now I was in shock and running, the 2nd two weeks, no more like a month I had to get rid of all his shit, and stop him from coming by…now I am isolating again. But as I shared on the forums I did just have a major setback in my family so hopefully I will level out soon and start to want to climb again. My daughter took the day off Monday and she’s going to come by and try to inspire me to “fix up” my place. I’m sick of feeling numb, Thanks ya’ll!

    • Ditto to “I also had to contend with serial..naah…multi time cheating.he was having sex with 5…6 women, grooming quite a few, in contact with all the women in his past, picking up women from adult friend finder n various other sites and did I mention the hookers??.oh yes, a couple in every city he visited.
      A person with so much going, so many balls to juggle can not but be a complete fucktard.”
      Add to that the total mind games he played.It all reached a point where I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.”
      Sanity Regained, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I get strength from reading postings here like yours and so many others.
      I no longer am trying to figure out the why and how of what he did, but things do bubble up from dark places regularly that I have to hold to the light, understand and hope to move on–like how I can’t stand to look in a mirror at myself. All those years he told me how beautiful I was and how he saw so many men watch me walk by (really? never noticed, maybe because I loved him so much or maybe it was something he liked, ick.) All those years I was hearing that, he was doing what Sanity Regained husband was doing. What does that do to my sense of self? Makes me thing he compared me to all those very young whores every time we were together being affectionate or he looked at me from across the kitchen table or in bed and I came up short. He stopped taking pictures of me–he fancies himself a photographer- and would wait until I had moved on to take a photo of something. He’d take a series of pictures of me and then as he looked through them would say, “That’s not a good one, you have a funny look on your face, you won’t like this one…” and then show me one that was clearly not my best look. Funny, but pictures when I was with friends always turned out pleasant enough. Anyway, what lingers is this feeling that I am ugly. It’s now my problem to deal with obviously. I can see how his cruel betrayals should not change how I feel about myself, but it has and now it’s my responsibility to regain my self-confidence. Easy to say, harder to do even with the help of friends and an excellent therapist and diligent adherence to therapy homework. A few weeks ago, I had realized where all these horrible things I was thinking about my looks came from and said aloud to myself before I could censure myself, “REALLY! That’s the most important thing about me?? How I look?” I guess I was saying it to him, but eventually, that’s what I want to believe internally.
      Makes me so gawd damn mad that this is one of the affects of his despicable behavior that I’ll be damned that I will let it control me.
      Go me!

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