Dear Chump Lady,
First, I’m a long time reader, commenter and fan.
Here’s my story — my ex-wife went through a midlife crisis about three years ago. Started with girl’s nights out and ended up with an affair. I caught the affair fairly quickly and filed for divorce ASAP. We were together 15 years and have two young kids.
The hardest part of the infidelity for me was the betrayal of my “best friend and partner.” For a long time I felt like something was wrong with me in that I picked someone who could do such a thing to me and our kids.
I got most of what I wanted out of the divorce (custody/financial) and at this point, I’m getting close to “meh” about my ex-wife.
I don’t regret the divorce — I’ve met a lot of great women who offer a lot more than my ex. I’m just nervous/scared/anxious about opening myself up again emotionally. The pain from the cheating was immense. I just don’t know how to let someone else in again. (And yes, I’ve been in therapy).
I’ve been dating for the past year or so. About 6 months ago, I started dating a woman who is everything the ex isn’t — honest, stable, thoughtful and mature. Things are progressing well and she is someone who I could potentially see a long-term future with.
Now here’s my question for Chumpland: How do you let yourself be open again? I’ve done my Amazon homework on recovering from infidelity, but I’d like to hear from some of you on how you did it — not just platitudes from a book or HuffPo article.
Keep up the good work,
Gee, I was just going to dust off my hard-bound copy of Moving On Platitudes. You mean I can’t say “you’ll find someone when you least expect it!” or “It’s always darkest before the dawn” or “A smile is just a frown turned upside down”?
Oh well. Walt, here is what I predict — you will open up, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, financially, cosmically — because that is who you ARE. Your cheating ex did not change who you are. Your core being. You’re still there, being Walt, every day. You don’t really have a problem. You just think that you do.
Yes, this shit shook you and nearly destroyed you. Except that Walt, it didn’t. There you are, getting up each day, going to work, being a good dad, and investing in a new relationship. Helloooo? Walt, you are opening up! You’re doing that thing that you didn’t think you could do. You’re not curled up in a fetal position on the sofa. You’re not living in a bunker playing World of Warcraft. You’re not some troll on HuffPo saying all women suck and no one should ever marry. You’re not that guy! You’re a guy writing to Chump Lady saying, hey, I’m meh about my ex and I met someone I can consider spending the rest of my life with. Walt — you ARE a success!
Except that you don’t trust that you are. You admit, like a lot of chumps, for awhile you wondered (as we all do) what was wrong with you to make your ex cheat.
NOTHING. You didn’t make her cheat. She didn’t appreciate what she had, and she didn’t have the guts to admit it and move on from the relationship honestly. Or commit herself to the relationship and fix it before she cheated. Her infidelity is no reflection on you, and your worthiness. You’re still internalizing that.
Here’s something I think you’ve learned from infidelity — you’ve got the smarts to realize New Lady is GOOD for you. She is “honest, stable, thoughtful and mature.” And you’re too much of a gentleman to say this Walt, but I bet she’s better looking than your ex and hotter in bed too. You just traded waaaaaay up. And you know it. Keep trusting your senses, Walt. Keep noticing when New Lady is honest and true, and her words match her actions.
That’s how you’ll know if you’ve healed. When you attract a giver and you begin to think, yeah, this is nice. This is reciprocal. I deserve this. This is sooo much different than what I had before.
I don’t like to blame chumps for choosing cheaters, because look, a lot of us were dumb and young when we met our exes. I don’t even have that excuse for my cheating ex (I was 38, however, I do have that excuse for the first horrible ex-husband). I was attracted to the sparkly guy. He seemed normal and solid enough. But now I have a whole new set of filters that I didn’t have before. I — very early on — accepted lopsidedness. I did dump my cheater ex once when we were dating because he kept breaking our dates, despite his professed ardor. THAT should’ve been a red flag. After he begged, I took him back and he was good as gold (NOT. He just took it underground…) until I married him, and moved — and then he let his Mr. Hyde abuser side out.
But there were signs of how selfish and shallow he really was. And signs of his easy frustration, anger, and his narcissism. I spackled. And — truth be told — deep down I probably still felt a bit unworthy. Chumpy. Grateful for kibbles. I was a single mom for years. That shit is hard. I was lonely. I didn’t filter like I should’ve. And at that point in my life, I had not been cheated on (to my knowledge anyway…. I am an epic chump…) I didn’t know what the signs were.
I do now. And you know too. This is VALUABLE knowledge. You know what it is to be devalued, to be gaslighted, to realize that words are not matching deeds. You know all this because you were married to it. And now you’re out.
So you have a whole new kind of litmus test for New Lady. Does she value you? Is she honest about the little things? Does she do the things she says she’s going to do? Is she reciprocal? Does it give her honest to God pleasure to do for you? Does she delight in making you happy? Can she cope? Does she shoulder her burdens in life and work hard? Can she apologize when she’s wrong?
Look for these things. These are green lights that you can be open with this person. When you start healing from a cheater, it’s important to realize that not everyone is a disordered wing nut. There ARE good people out there — bone up on recognizing them.
When I was dating my husband, it was VERY clear very early on that he was different. I hadn’t dated anyone like him before. That I felt so comfortable and secure with. He never did anything to give me pause. His attention was direct and honest. He pursued me — and not in a sparkly, narcissist, sweep you off your feet way. (But I do like to say that he sweet talked me all the way to Texas, because he did. He’s incredibly persuasive. Trial lawyering will do that to you.) It just built, slowly, from a friendship into something more.
I like to think of it as a game of catch. When he threw the ball at me, I always picked it up and threw it back. And then he picked it up and threw it back immediately, and further the next time. But he ALWAYS threw the ball back. He didn’t hide the ball. Or pretend I hadn’t thrown a ball at him. Or pretend that he hadn’t thrown a ball at me. It was an honest game of catch.
And then I caught him. Or he caught me. Hard to say which it was. Because it felt so mutual.
You’ll know, Walt, when you have a good one. Love is risk. Love makes us vulnerable. I don’t worry that my husband will cheat on me (he’s a former chump too). I do worry now, in a way I never worried before, what I would do without him. My life is so interwoven with his now. I feel a new sort of fear and vulnerability. I finally have a partner and I never want to lose him.
You don’t get to love somebody and not have fear. But if I didn’t accept that fear, I wouldn’t have this amazing man in my life. That’s the price of admission (well, that and having to live with his bad Texas art and polka pimp t-shirts). If the worst were to happen — I lost him — to death or betrayal, I know that am I a strong person. That’s another gift from infidelity. I’m forged steel. You are too. I would reinvent yet again. Because that’s who I am. And that’s who you are too.
Tracy, thank you for this. It was one year ago today I caught hasbeend in his affair.
I have come so far in one year. Learned so much. ESP that I am stronger and more kick-ass than I ever knew. Still in divorce process, but hopefully that will be finalized soon.
I just had a conversation with my sister yesterday that she has noticed that I appear to have a coat of armor on when I meet people because of what has happened (cheated on). She told me this is a shame because I have such a sunny, bright, fun personality that the coat of has happened keeps the spotlight of who I am hidden away. She is right. You are right. At some point, I have to be open to dating again. Not quite there yet.. Have to smooth out the divorce process wrinkles and become more settled. At some point, I have to be done with telling my story of being cheated on and let it go so people can get to know the real me, by letting my personality, my character, my strength–myself take front and center. Be ready to open up, be vulnerable, and be me. Take a risk in life and love.
Walt, you are an incredible person and wish you all the best. Thank you for writing in as all of us chumps are afraid to open up again. Good for you that you found a great lady to share your life with. Take that risk and be vulnerable. She is worth the risk. Good luck Walt!
I can’t prevent someone from cheating on me. I’ll just be as lovable as I know how to be. And choose better next time.
I now know that if someone cheats on me again, I will be ok. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me. I think I’ll know the signs. And I know I will be ok.
For me, the love of another man will be icing. And I am the cake.
Walt, I agree with CL–you got this one. Be your best, and if that woman plays her cards right, the two of you will be very happy.
Love that “The love of another man will be icicng. And I am the cake.
How do you know to answer just the question I have been mulling and mulling? Your answer to Walt is a relief to me. Thank you.
I think deep down we all wonder if we’ll ever be able to really love again in that beautiful no-holds barred kind of way. We’ve been hurt so deeply and it is scary to think about opening up to that sort of hurt again.
I love this site because it talks about these issues openly and with such honesty. Thanks CL: 🙂
Nord the no holds barred kind ogf love is utopian .it doesn’t and shouldn’t exist.
When we chumps talk about no holds barred love its unconditional love where we loved the man, irrespective,
We ignored the abuse, the inattentiveness, the insults, the rages, the absences , and even the cheating when we tried the big R.
Its the cheaters that want us to love them unconditionally in a no holds barred kind of love.
I too wanted to love completely wholly fully and that is what made me ignore all the red flags, his deceit, his inconsistencies, his absences, how he shammed a separation, how he hid a wife, how he hid all the fuck buddies and all the whores.
So what chumpdom taught me is that love is conditional, love is not blind and I never ever want a no holds barred type of love.
The opposite of that is not a love that is non trusting or always on alert kind of love but a love that is alert to all the red flags that are sighted as soon as they pop up and not when they practically become a coffin like sheath .
Lovely answer, CL, really, really lovely.
We all have it in us to be great partners. Nah, we’re not perfect and probably at times downright irritating. But then, so are most people. What we aren’t are liars and cheaters and people who have it in us to hurt someone deeply. We’re the type to do anything to NOT do that, even when we’re hurting ourselves.
Walt, take it slowly and tell your nice lady that you need to do that. She’ll understand as long as you stay honest, steady and true. And if it goes further? The honesty of saying what you need will help forge a deeper and more true bond, one you can both trust in.
As usual, CL gives a GREAT answer.
I think that what happens here is that there is some nostalgia sometimes in us for that earlier, innocent, gah-gah young love. That feeling that everything is wonderful. The sparkly narcs can give you that feeling. But it’s temporary and not real. It’s like a roller coaster ride: up and down, agony and ecstasy, nerves and emotion. Frankly, it gets old. Spackle and sparkles are just that, very insubstantial stuff.
After the crash with the iceberg, you learn much better how to navigate. You put on some armor. You stick up for yourself. Sure, at first, you are in defense mode, and you should be, by Golly! You are a chump, and niceness is your thing, but it’s also your weakness. So, one should go with care. And one should accept the fact that life has risks. There is no guarantee, except, as CL says, the knowledge that you will survive, no matter what.
Then the opening up process takes its own course. Walt sounds like he’s on course, as CL says. His caution is there, but he’s not closing doors. He’s examining carefully. He doesn’t describe his new possibility as a princess, as perfect, but as steady, solid, giving, trustworthy. All this is good. It shows that people can learn. I also think that, in the long run, a site like this one can help pass on those lessons. I think part of what got people caught was the sparkle of that slightly edgy, maybe even dangerous seeming but terribly exciting relationship that really proved to be a dingy dungeon of one-way giving (particularly after marriage). Beware of sparkles and ask questions. Look for the signs. And take your time. There is no rush to get hitched again. And know that, no matter what, you have what it takes to survive. All that is new stuff that’s good, that’s in your favor, that’s nothing to worry about. This is the armor and ballast and good navigational sense that will get you around the icebergs!
Another great comment from CL. CL, you are on a roll lately. You are the Shakespeare of blunt trauma reality-therapy, and it’s great to read your stuff and the thoughtful comments it provokes. I think of you as a combination of Dear Abby and Marine Corps Drill Instructor. You call ’em as you see ’em, and you call ’em really well.
Walt, no worries. All you are doing is describing a stage on the journey to greater strength and greater discernment. That’s pretty much what life is anyway!
Chump Son’s two cents.
Great, uplifting response, CL!
And you sound like you’re doing good to me, Walt. I hope to be having your problems in a year 🙂 I just went on my first date a couple weeks ago.
Many years ago, when I was 19, I had a child, I was not married, and he cheated within a year. Over.
I swore I would never ever ever have another child, even though my world revolved around my daughter, unless I found a really Good, Mature man, was financially secure, and married. 8 years later I married the man of my dreams, that I had known for years, who was a long time friend first, who loved, nurtured and cherished me.
We got married, we had a child, he died a year later.
I think, no I know (!) that I fell into destructive relationships from that point on.
This latest one is surely proof that I was easy to fool because of what I wanted to see in someone, and he was happy to show me a lie till I stopped giving – giving-giving because I couldn’t keep up the charade. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, or more willing to look at my behaviors, but this has been THE most pain that is ongoing and relenting and baffling because I am going through this with my eyes wide open. But that does not mean that I don’t believe there are people worth loving and trusting out there!
i say to you Walt, you are doing the right thing by being cautious, just tell her what’s in your heart and I’m sure she will respect and love you even more for it. And we will all dance (figuratively of course!) at your wedding! 🙂
Toni, I’m so sorry your beloved husband died. A loss like that can make you wobbly and vulnerable to bad sorts. Eyes wide open now is definitely the way to be!
I’m not there yet, still wading through the throngs of reconciliation vs. divorce, but you wanted to hear from people in your position on how they did it. So I will offer no advice and simply return to this post in 12 months and read the advice from those who have, like Chump Lady, fallen deeply, and openly, in love again. (Either that or I’ll be a card-carrying member of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex piping out platitudes on how to trust again.)
Chump Lady for Time Person of the Year?
Thanks HM — that’s very kind of you. I can’t let you swell my head though. 🙂 I’ve got the HuffPo trolls to ground me.
Been through it twice. Rebounded okay the first time. Second time killed something within me. I am happy. Have a great GF. Still, I am just too damaged now to be normal.
This shit is really damaging, scarring.
Hope your mileage is different. I am happy. I have a good life etc. But, just really damaged in the intimacy realm. Not much I can do about it. It is what it is.
Unfortunately Arnold, I’m with you. I wish I was the same person I was before the whole clusterfuck that was my life with my abuser. That I had the same energy and joy, but I just don’t. I hate that it makes me feel like my ex won.. that he abused me to the point of changing me, which is what he set out to do in the first place. I am damaged goods. I hope not to the point that I will always be alone, but if that’s the way it is, so be it.
My life is good, but I have a hard time even letting friends close.
If you lose yourself ~ the best part of yourself ~ to this. Then the terrorists win. Because in the end you prove the abuser’s self-centered, narcissistic fantasy to be true: it was really all about him/her.
Don’t do that. Never give that person the satisfaction of being (or even thinking) that (s)he had the power to ruin your life. Heal and move on. Put the harm and the abuser in their rightful place.
Then you won’t care if they ever regret losing you. It really won’t matter.
CL, I read your response a second and third time (and recommend that Arnold read your response daily for 30 days!) and got more out of it each time. I love your list of green flags. That list of nine things could easily be turned into a book. On a sour note, my current WS demonstrates only 1 out of the 9: she does the things she says she is going to do, but unfortunately she doesn’t say much and she does things she doesn’t say she is going to do.
But what I love most is the playing-catch metaphor. That sounds so appealing. I wonder what it would be like to have a relationship like that.
Currently, after throwing the ball, if I don’t run over and catch the ball I threw, it will hit her in the head and she will storm off in anger. So I run and catch the same ball I threw, then walk back and throw it again. She would probably say I am throwing the wrong type of ball, or not throwing it correctly, and simply say she is too tired to play catch.
“she does the things she says she is going to do, but unfortunately she doesn’t say much and she does things she doesn’t say she is going to”
BF, I played that awful game too when I was in “R.” (Mine was false.) I didn’t throw the ball right. Now is not a good time to throw balls. He WOULD’VE caught the ball but I was just too angry for him to catch it. You get the idea.
There are real ball players out there. And the contrast is absolutely wonderful and astounding and you wonder why you ever spent a minute playing Crazy Ball.
Walt, I’m only at the stage where I’m going to meetups to connect with people, make some friends but I do have issues in the same area. My ex was abusive (not just cheating abusive), I went through a lot of therapy for PTSD, I’ve had to come to terms with self blame for living with an abuser for so long and not recognizing it as well. The fear of being vulnerable is well founded. I realize now that although I had revealed my deepest emotional self to my ex, my worst moments and some of the best; he had not. I really didn’t know as much about him as I should have. To be simple about it, he knew how to hurt me, he knew me very well but he didn’t share himself the same way. This is maybe what CL means with the ball throwing metaphor. Anyway, when I’m afraid to open up to someone I ask myself, have they opened up to me.
No platitudes intended but if you have not read it, the single book that helped me more than anything is “Gift of Fear”. It allowed me to reclaim my intuition, my inner self. Now that I trust it again, listen to it again, I’m finding it much easier to be open with people (IRL, not just online). When you trust yourself being open is not as hard.
Alright wuf… seems we have a bit in common. My abuser was more than just a cheater as well, and there’s PTSD et al., involved. I have read the book you mentioned, but I still just can’t get past this. I am assuming it will just take more time, but hearing you speak about self trust helps…
Tamara, I didn’t get past the PTSD with that book alone, I spent almost a year doing EMDR therapy to work through my memories. And honestly, I am not completely past the PTSD either. I am about to go to court to try and renew my protective order and it’s stirred shit up so I’m now back with the EMDR therapist for a few sessions. Google EMDR and find a certified therapist – really saved me.
Me too re the abuse. It was horrific. I think it damaged me more than the cheating and gaslighting. I had no clue about personality disorders before this. The infidelity was a blessing. Got me out.
I am trying to overcome this. Living in the community where all know I was cuckolded is embarrasing and somewhat humiliating.
I will move, soon, when I retire and leave this behind me. Hopefully, my kids will visit and my GF will be with me.
Arnold, I find that interesting, I dealt with so much abuse and crap and stayed and it really was the infidelity that made me open my eyes and get out, so as you say – a blessing. In my opinion, anyone who thinks poorly of you because of the abuse or the cheating doesn’t deserve your respect and is not important enough for you to care about, kick those people to the curb. Please do not be embarrassed or feel humiliated, there is no shame in loving/trusting someone who did you wrong.
I’m about “Meh” about the stbxw too Walt, but like you say, the opening up thing is hard after the gutting we received from our “best friend and partner”. I’m not there yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be there. I had two women I was engaged to cheat on me, followed by my wife of 24 years. Something’s appeared to have died in me, but I’m giving it my best shot. I thinks the odds are best if you really take the time to find the right woman, check for all the red flags and ask your friends for back up on your observations because our “Picker” is subject to “Relationship Goggles”.
From the ones I know that have got there, they say it’s a very gradual process. One guy I know went out with the same woman off and on a “friend” basis for 5 years before they moved in together ( he didn’t remarry). Others who were close to “Checking themselves out” after their wives took off have told me they hold a chunk of themselves back now, believing the one with the least to lose in the relationship holds the best cards.
That’s sad Duncan. I don’t think you should play those games of holding back to “win” the power balance. Reciprocity YES. Power games? NO.
Dear Walt – I think what you’re doing is amazing! Going from being knocked down and getting back up. That’s wonderful. All of you chumplings out there going on dates, my hat is off to you. Haven’t gotten there myself….. can’t quite connect yet to pulling all those favorite feelings out again (well said Chump Son)….
But, doing a lot of other wonderful stuff I haven’t done in years, old and new things. AND just got a great new job. Full-time, better pay, with the full complement of benefits. At 57 no less!!! I just feel incredibly lucky. I took a risk and I’m glad I did. No question that I feel a new, energy washing over me. I so needed this (and like a couple of others said above tho, I still feel stunned and shellshocked, it’s better but, still raw WTF – not Tuesday yet I guess) ….
The thing is, if I was still with him, I’d be waiting around trying to figure out when he’d like to officially start our life together. I became like everything and everyone in his life, just in a perpetual state of being stalled. Everything was stuck. Endlessly. We never would have “started” “our” life together as he didn’t actually like to start or end things…… just kept adding on, putting things in piles and walking away from them half finished. I wouldn’t have done any of this if we were still together. Its kind of frightening actually – how did I lose myself, I just don’t know.
Its really nice to have the experience of being valued and wanted again…… like I made an impression somewhere and it mattered. So now I know/remember that feeling and maybe I can recreate it someplace else.
Congrats on the new job! Squee for you!
SO happy for you! You DO matter! We ARE worth something, ALOT! I found myself really opening up and communicating with a couple of guests today (I’m a Concierge) and I have some really great stories about the town where I work, I should…I grew up here…and when they walked away I thought ” Now where the hell did THAT come from?” And it hit me…that was me, Toni and what hit me the most was they couldn’t Thank me enough, and I was just being myself…and they liked me! That used to be normal behavior for me, say anything, without being ashamed of being ME, Toni…big eye opener. What happened to me?
And what you said about waiting…that describes it exactly, I just knew when he woke up…our REAL lives would begin. Shudder. What a joke huh?
Dear Toni – I know exactly what you’re talking about – suddenly I showed up for my own life…. like long enough for an interview! Hell, I would have hired me! These wonderful women interviewed me and I have to say, no fake, no stagecraft, I really really enjoyed them. I found I was genuinely interested in them. I had a really GOOD time. You know when you’re just your charming self – Toni – the things you describe are heart wrenching and that kind of pain has a long long trajectory. Must leave you vulnerable to all kinds of trouble. You can do this – a conversation with guests – you invite them in with nothing to lose or to gain for that matter… and hey, it works! So, you think to yourself….”I can repeat this” and you build on success because you start to remember and feel what success feels like. Repeat – in a good way. I sit quietly by myself and I conjure up how happy I was coming out of that interview – and I think…… so where the hell have YOU been?? Honestly, it makes me feel like holding my stomach in again…..
I feel like I was asleep and it freaks me out because, I didn’t know – like when you’re dreaming….. you know without knowing.
God, it feels so good to connect again, doesn’t it? Just a little bit at a time and just in time. Take care of you!
Thank you for your responses!
I think CL nailed my thoughts when she wrote “Love is risk. Love makes us vulnerable.” I’m just afraid to be vulnerable….
I’m in my early 40’s, so I’ve got a lot of years left to find someone. Dating has been relatively easy – turns out someone with integrity, a pretty good income, in decent shape, a degree from a top university, and is a responsible father is in pretty high demand. Who knew? 😉
The New Girl makes it easy to be with her. She easily passes all of CL’s litmus tests (Does she value you? Is she honest about the little things? Does she do the things she says she’s going to do? Is she reciprocal? Does it give her honest to God pleasure to do for you? Does she delight in making you happy? Can she cope? Does she shoulder her burdens in life and work hard? Can she apologize when she’s wrong?)
On my end – I’ve been upfront and honest with her about my XW’s infidelity and how it has affected my ability to open up. Fortunately, she gets it and she’s willing to stick around. So far, so good.
However, my next hurdle will be introducing her to my kids. They don’t know about her and I’m extremely hesitant to introduce her. This would be the first boyfriend/girlfriend they’ve met since the D (the OM disappeared before the D was finalized). Part of me is protecting my kids, but I think I’m really just protecting myself.
It would be really easy to have an ongoing series of short-term (4-6 month) relationships. I just don’t want that anymore. I liked be married. I liked taking care of someone else and being taken care of by them. That’s my goal. I just need to find a way to get over this hurdle…
Thanks for reading.
You had me at integrity 🙂
Vulnerability is the price of admission Walt. But from what you write, it doesn’t sound like you have much to worry about with New Girl.
Take it slow on the kiddos. We introduced ourselves at around 6-7 months in. It’s an adjustment, but kids adapt. My son wasn’t thrilled with the idea of moving his life so I could marry my husband (to put it lightly, he was 13) — it’s nearly three years later and he’s a super happy kid with a wonderful relationship with his step dad. That relationship is a huge blessing in his life. If she’s a good one, just take it easy and stay the course.
You sound like my husband — he also realized he prefers married life.
As for the vulnerable hurdle — I really think you’ll get past that, because the benefits of being open with a wonderful person are so great, you won’t want to miss out on the joys of deeper intimacy. New life crowds out Bad Old Life. The more new memories you make with this good person, the less relevant Bad Old Life is.
“I’m in my early 40′s, so I’ve got a lot of years left to find someone. Dating has been relatively easy – turns out someone with integrity, a pretty good income, in decent shape, a degree from a top university, and is a responsible father is in pretty high demand. Who knew? ”
[waves hand] ME! I knew!
You sound dreamy. And you give me hope.
No rushing the kids into this. I really believe that–unless they ask. But their time with you should be really protected. They are vulnerable and they need you. That’s my opinion. And I’m a good mom.
My youngest is still in HS and I have him full time, thanks be to God. I love him dearly. The other two are away at school but live with me full time on breaks. I’m not going to date until the youngest is off to school away. Or unless I meet someone like you. 🙂
Good going, Walt! You’re doing fine.
The good news is that YOU DO know how to love–really, really LOVE. And so I think you’ll be fine, if you appreciate the love of a GOOD woman. You seem to be discerning. We’re all out here cheering for you!
Your question is how do you open up again emotionally? I don’t want to get all “new-agie” on you, but meditation is a really useful tool to do exactly that. After my divorce I became involved with a local Buddhist community and regularly did meditation retreats for the next couple of years. It made a huge difference in my life and not only that, I met my second wife there. I have other friends who have used Transcendental Meditation to equally good effect. I know some folks resist meditation practice that derives from eastern religion because they feel it’s “un-Christian,” but when I was on retreat I met several Catholic priests and nuns and a couple of Rabbis, so you don’t have to “join up” with any religion in order to gain the benefit of the practice. The combination of therapy and meditation is also mutually complimentary. Perhaps your therapist can suggest meditation groups near where you live. The trick is to do a little bit every day. Your heart will open like the proverbial lotus blossom.
So, I read the e-mail from Walt and it really rang a chord with me. I am dating a guy who went through cheating. I went through a divorce as well – my situation was different as cheating was the least of my issues – I was in an extremely emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. Candidly, who my ex stuck his penis inside was the absolute least of my problems.
So, Walt is dating this “honest, stable and mature” woman. How does she feel about your inability to get over you ex? Is it fair to the new woman to be still holding on to the anger, hurt, resentment, etc. and carrying your baggage from the ex in the relationship with her? How do you think that makes her feel?
I am currently involved with someone that does the same thing. It is so hurtful and so agonizing and I keep praying that he will magically just “pick me” and move on from the ex. I want him to like and hopefully love me more than he hates, misses and is hurt by the ex. It hurts me to be compared to her even though I am somehow the victor of the comparison. It hurts me watch him come so close to intimacy with me and retreat.
He still has pictures of the ex in his house, a wedding picture on facebook. Repeatedly, I have suggested he take them down as I think it is disrespectful to me and unhealthy. The pictures still hang and I don’t say a word about them.
I guess my question is, Walt, how do you think this makes your current girlfriend feel? I am sure her heart has been broken before too. We all have had our share of heartbreak.
Should you be dating and potentially breaking other people’s hearts? Are my feelings and her feeling just acceptable collateral damage in the wake of your hurt?
Julia, forget about the Walts of the world. You got out of one verbally abusive marriage and then replaced it with a guy who is emotionally UNavailable. Forget the pick me dance and focusing energy on what the guy can or cannot do — you only get to control YOU. Your BF is clearly not ready for prime time. Dump him and find someone who is available. Nothing says “I resent carrying your baggage” than stop carrying it.