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How to Quit Things

I’m back! Stuffed full of Christmas cookies and suffering a head cold (so I guess I’m stuffed full of snot as well as cookies…) I’ve got that post-Christmas ennui. Just want to lie on the sofa with a box full of tissues, under a fluffy duvet, and watch back-to-back BBC Dickens adaptions. (Bleak House anyone?) Call me when it’s 2014.

Yeah, New Years is coming. Which means it’s time to quit things. (New Years being like Lent only with gym memberships). Time to chuck what is bad for you, or at least promise to. Carbohydrates. Sloth. Booze. You know, all those things that sound really good right about now. No, no, no — you’re stronger than that.

So how about a New Year’s resolution to stop being a chump? Chuck the cheater. Quit pick me dancing. Give up spackle.

Don’t worry the usual resolutions about losing weight. Kicking the spackle habit sheds psychic pounds instantly.

But how to quit? How does anyone quit anything really? Force of will? Support groups? Gum? (Chump gum. There’s something I ought to invent. Instead of nicotine you get a synthetic version of hopium, to ease your cravings.)

Many years ago I had a single date with an addict, and it was a disastrous date, except that I found his addictions quite fascinating and spent the date interviewing the guy about how he quit things. Because he had many vices — and he quit all of them. He was quite keen to tell me how he did it. Years later, when I was kicking my cheater out of my life, it was much akin to kicking a drug. And weirdly, I thought of this bad date I’d had and the how to quit things conversation.

A little back story about the date — I was single then and my friend Dana from art class said she wanted to fix me up with her friend, who she knew I would like because he did crossword puzzles. I liked words. So, it was like kismet, and would I meet him, huh? Please?

Okay, I agree to coffee. We had nothing in common, turned out, other than crossword puzzles. He ran a nightclub. Not a fancy night club, but an edgy, punk nightclub. Cool if you were 22 like my friend Dana. Not so cool if you were a 37 year old single mom like I was then and you hate cigarette smoke and loud music.

Anyway, he was a nice person. He was just really, extravagantly emotionally sloppy. He told me EVERYTHING about himself. Like how he got his stomach pumped when he was 17 from alcohol poisoning, which is not a detail that endears a man as a suitor. FYI, gents. Every decade, he told me, he quit things. In his late teens, he quit drinking. In his 20s, he quit drugs. In his 30s, he quit smoking. In his 40s, he replaced his chemical addictions with exercise, so that he looked like an Olympic athlete from the neck down and from the neck up he looked like Keith Richards.

He had some pointers on quitting things, expert that he was, which I’ll pass on to you now. So hey, the date wasn’t a total loss.

1) Do so much of it, it makes you sick. When he was quitting drinking, he went on a binge. He really liked Guinness but he knew he could never drink Guinness again, because he had to quit drinking or his liver would go. So, as irrational as this is, he gave himself one last binge on Guinness, to the point he had to get his stomach pumped, so that all his good associations with Guinness became bad ones. Guinness = pumped stomach, poisoning.

My chump equivalent? I needed a big enough dose of my cheater to cure me. I suppose I required four D-Days to quit him. I had to puke my guts out, realize this isn’t fun any more, I really don’t love you, this hurts like a motherfucker, time to quit. Whatever good cheater associations I had were replaced with bad ones. Loving him = being cheated on.

2) Have little funerals for things. My addict date told me about a month or so before he gave things up, he had little funerals for them in his mind. “Today is the last time I will sit in this cafe and smoke a cigarette while doing the Times crossword.” “Today is the last time I will walk down this street smoking.” He felt bad about them. He grieved those moments. Each one. And he told himself — this is the last time you will do this, so soak it in. Good bye! Good bye!

My chump equivalent? I planned to leave my cheater months in advance. I had many little funerals in my head. (Which seems funny to me now. Christ, whatever did I think I was going to miss? I can’t even recall.) This is the last time I will go to this place with him, etc. It did help me let go. Gave it some ritual.

3) Replace your bad habit with a good habit. Addict date, as I mentioned, replaced his chemical addictions with exercise. He manically worked out, and I guess gets high off endorphins now.

The chump equivalent to me is — replace those sucktacular relationships with good ones. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you, who build you up, who love the parts of yourself that you love, those parts you’re most proud of. Dump the frienemies, the “neutral” halfwits, the energy suckers.

Replace spackle with clearsightedness, replace the pick me dance with the “I’ve retained a lawyer” boogaloo, walk away from the skein of fuckupedness and take up welding or organic farming instead.

Leave behind those bad chump habits. Have a little funeral in your head for your old chumpy self. And say hello to 2014 — it’s your year.  What are you doing to celebrate?

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  • I got a bill from my kick ass lawyer (that I don’t know if I can afford) and it occurred to me the x2bh jackhole is going to string this whole thing out and try to ruin me financially. I planned, oh dear God how I planned, this leaving and divorcing. I blasted his ass with divorce papers and only gave him the minimum amount of time legally to find a lawyer (4 business days) and sort it all out before the temp hearing. I don’t even care if I go broke. Freedom is not REALLY priceless, ask any war vet. I am however down in the dumps today because he is going to hold out on every single thing and it is going to take forever. THAT is what bums me out. A roller coaster ride can be the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but it is over in usually a 2-3 min timespan. It hit me today that I am 3 months into the divorce, 7 months out of his reach but it is so far from done.
    Due to child custody, I have to maintain my composure. I have to be the adult and mindful of every step I take, no matter what the circumstance is that he puts me in.
    I think my biggest thing about the new year is 1- only say what I mean, stop being the person who pacifies. and 2- figure out who this person living inside of me really is. She isn’t just a survivor, a fighter and a broken shell. She is some one who deserves to be nurtured and loved, but I have no idea how to do that. I hid her for so long to survive that I have no idea who the hell she COULD BE if she was allowed out to run in the sunshine and dance in the rain. The problem is, I don’t even know how to get her out of me. See what living with a fucking jack off for 15 years will do to ya? This lawyer better be worth it.

    • all4, you’re in the worst of it, but in a couple of years you will see that it was SO worth it, all this stress, and worry about finances. You NEED a kick-ass lawyer, and hopefully you’ll get a judge or system that doesn’t let your ex screw you over too badly or for too long.

      You have great resolutions for the new year and your new life. I bet you really like who you are, once you get her back!! For me it was such a revelation how peaceful my life became once I got the ex out (mostly – kids leave a little room for his dramas in my life, sigh), and that really helped me remember who I can be, plus just doing the little stuff, like dat says below, that the ex was such a pain in the butt about. That and staying in close touch with the people who DO care about me and appreciate me; their presence in my life reminded me often of who I am. If such fun, smart, honest, caring people like me and enjoy my company, I can’t be that bad! I bet you’ll find the same, hope your year goes well.

    • all4, I get it – my STBX is going the same route, intending on draining me of money now that he can’t drain me of my energy, my attention, my life. He insisted that we could negotiate, kept me as a kibble supply for nearly two years until I finally wised up and filed for divorce. Of course now it’s all my fault, and he seems set on punishing me as much as he can, but you know, I’m just that much closer to getting rid of the loser. Two things – it will be worth every penny. And every time he does something stupid he is paying his lawyer for it too.

      I was with him for 36 years. It is a long journey back to myself, but I’m sure I’m still in here, and I’m sure you are in there, too. At least we have both finally started on our new path. Things will be much, much better if we just keep on going.

      It is the little things that make the difference, like Dat and KarenE say. I went to midnight mass with my two youngest kids on Christmas Eve, spent a quiet day at home with the oldest on Christmas Day (watched the Queen’s message and the Dr. Who Christmas Special – really, do you need anything else?!?) and had a simple supper and ten hours of sleep. I couldn’t have done any of this three years ago. Today I gave myself a Dr. Who marathon on the laptop in the kitchen while I started going through the kitchen cabinets clearing out what didn’t need to be there any more. Over the next few days I’m looking forward to more sleep, long hot baths, a couple of nights out at the movies, brunch on Saturday, some long runs and lots of writing. It’s like Heaven, being able to just rest and putter and listen to silence if I want, watch what I want to without waiting for a snarky comment or being interrupted, do what I want to without plans changing at the last minute or being criticized for how I am doing it. And I can sleep, long luxuriant nights of sleep in a quiet, clean, nice smelling room.

      He might try to drain my money, but he can’t take anything else from me now. One day, a Tuesday from what I gather, I’ll be free of him forever. So will you be free of yours. Please let us know when that day comes, as I’d love to raise a glass to you that day! Hang in there – 2014 will be so much better.

      • Beautiful, exRM- you have found, and are continuing to find, yourself. That is something (for some reason), he wanted to deprive you of, and something you will never let go of again. Life away from a cheater is simple peace. God bless.

        • Thank you for that phrase, Kelly – “Life away from a cheater is simple peace.” I think I’ll take that as my touchstone this year, and I’m writing it down in my planner.

          Blessings to you and your family, and I hope 2014 brings you much peace and joy in your cheater-free life as well!

      • Ex..
        Interesting, sleep makes me so incredibly happy now. I’ve always loved sleep but felt “guilty” when I “slept in” he made sure of that and had very bad nightmares – often about him cheating even before I knew! A few weeks ago I read two really good really long books on my 2 days off..with NO guilt at all. AND, once Downton hits the US on Jan 5 I won’t have to watch it huddled in the corner on the computer…I can actually watch it on TV 🙂 !!!!!!!!

      • Thanks, xRM.

        I’ve talked with a few lawyers in town. To be quite honest, we should be able to have a DIY divorce. The state makes it easy, and the local courts even have online disclosure forms. All we have to do is disclose finances, agree on the split, and sign. Wait 60 days and we’d be divorced.

        I know that won’t happen, since STBX won’t believe that really, it’s 50%. His little affair will cost him 50% of his retirement, his 401K, his company pension. He can drag it out in court all day, but that’s what the courts will decide.

        The different lawyers all agree on this, but one lawyer is a bit more cut-throat than the others. She thinks that with our history of income difference, the fact that his pension is bigger, that he’s been paying the OW money for her mortgage, health insurance–that I’d get a bigger slice of the pie.

        I don’t think I’d be able to do so, but I think having a lawyer with that kind of confidence is a good thing.

        • I find it really puzzling that these cheaters don’t seem to think that there will be any consequences when they are finally caught. Our divorce should be straight forward too, but just like your STBX mine just doesn’t believe that he has to “give up” 50% of the house, the business, the pension – he really doesn’t see why he should have to give up anything. In the mediation session in November he told the judge that he doesn’t think I deserve anything, after 36 years and three kids and endless drama and goddess-knows-how-much cheating. Which is why I have a lawyer and why this is costing so much.

          My kids borrowed his truck yesterday to go out and see their (equally dysfunctional) grandfather. Their dad hemmed and hawed when they tried to arrange a time to pick up the truck, and he wouldn’t commit. Finally one said to him, “Can you just give me a straight answer?”. And in an atypical fit of what I assume is honesty, he replied that he had never given anyone a straight answer in his life. Which sums up our relationship pretty neatly, and explains why this divorce will be so stupidly complicated and drawn out when it doesn’t have to be.

          When the boys returned the truck, OW was talking to them about their dad’s health, which she says isn’t good – he won’t go see the doctor and is a heart attack waiting to happen. She was asking my kids which one of them would take care of him if he did get sick. Real devotion there, trying to set up teenagers to look after their cheater, lying dad. I guess the chickens are finally coming home to roost, as my mother would say. I can’t tell you how happy I will be when I and my kids are finally free of this loser.

    • All4, my advice is–you are smart to what this over with quickly. Mine dragged the divorce out for two years. This gave him plenty of time to hide assets and plead poverty, so I got out of a 24-year marriage and he got out of paying me anything other than child support. I basically got nothing out of it, not even the house, because I had to leave (talk about entitlement–he cheated and wanted me to stay, and refused to leave the house).

      Best of luck to you! Don’t let your STBX or the attorneys prolong anything. Remember, time is money!

      • did court ordered custody mediation yesterday. he wants 50/50 shared. he is under the impression he won’t have to pay child support if we do that.
        Long story short, I was in a car accident 4 years ago and my neck is plated and screwed together. I am disabled but since I was a stay at home mom, disability credits expired. I can get SSI but that is a totally dif story. He is claiming I can work and must work. uh, judge gave me alimony jackhole bcz my medical records back up my medical history.
        I also have a history of postpartum depression, took 2 years with each child to level out.
        He is planning on using my PRESCRIPTIONs as evidence of drug abuse, none are ever refilled early and rarely on the date I can get them.
        He is planning on using my “history of mental illness” as well as my inability to keep the house spotless (disability) as evidence that I am an unfit mother. He is going to fight me for full custody.
        Hence the reason I got the shark cut throat lawyer, aside from the financial aspects of the whole thing.
        BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE… after saying all of this to the mediator he then said he still loves me and still thinks our marriage can work out.
        This is the man who was fired along with OW from their jobs for (I suspect but didn’t get an admission or see the penis/vagina show) having sex (he was her district manager).
        The jagged little pill of what a wingnut he truly is went down so much easier just knowing he still loves me. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In order for me to agree to a 50/50 custody arrangement he will have to agree to drop dead.

        • all4freedom, don’t see how your STBX can say you are not able to care for the kids when he had you doing just that for years….and yeah, he’ll keep telling you he loves you and wants to work it out because he thinks it will weaken your resolve, HAH! Like hell!

          if it makes you feel any better ; this is how assholes roll, the entitlement is big. My ex also wanted half of everything, even my house which I bought long before he came around, AND he wanted alimony on top of it. Yes, I made more money than he did, but before he lost his job due to alcoholism he made decent cash.

          In the end he got 40% of my secondary retirement account because he said it was OUR investment account and he got $10K out of my house. And HELL no, he did not get alimony.

      • I spent a lot of money too. Ran though all savings and went into debt. I am only two months post divorce and I know in my heart it was some of the best money spent. This was my life, my daughter’s life messed up by a selfish asshole and his dishonorable whore. It was worth every dollar to ensure I got the best possible outcome given the unfair circumstances.

        You are going through a very hard time, all4freedom, but hang onto that kick ass lawyer. Use that lawyer to ream your cheater’s ass. Good luck! We are rooting for you!

  • I just had a great Christmas, my BFF spent two days here. Among much else, We watched Jeopardy together and it was so cool to be able to share that and realize that I got back that simple thing after my ex was gone. I love Jeopardy but my ex hated it and over time I just never got to watch it. After he was gone I started recording it and enjoyed it again. It was a whole nother joy to watch it with my friend while we both tried “win” and learned new stuff and laughed. Thanks CL for reminding us it is the little things and our relationships that sustain us and that take us forward

    • Me too! I love jeopardy and never could watch bc my ex was a moron and found no entertainment in it. Instead, we “compromised” and watched all sports, all the time. I learned to love sports and he learned that he was the remote control to our lives.

  • Hello everyone
    Hope each of you gave it your best shot to get through Christmas. Its so hard spending time without your X especially knowing he’s with his OW. Your mind goes crazy in imagining what a wonderful time they are having. I was all right up until mid morning on Christmas morning. Privately I cried not only for me but for him as he missed out on seeing the looks on our 2 grandsons faces when they came downstairs to see that Santa came. I am so very fortunate to have that memory in my mind forever. I on the other hand can not figure out how a Whore could be so much more important than his own daughter and grandsons. Maby 2014 will bring to me the realization that everything I feel is unwarranted and will never be reciprocated again. And I will try to stop looking for answers. I want to wish CL and everyone on this site PEACE in 2014. I just want my heart to stop hurting.

    • Frannie, it’s really hard right now, but by next Xmas you’ll find it so much easier and more natural, and so much more peaceful!

      That’s one thing I have never been able to figure out; why my ex didn’t value those day-to-day contacts w/his children enough to make some small effort to make our relationship work. Finally had to conclude that he just is NOT wired like me, like all us chumps. He doesn’t understand what is truly rewarding in life, he just looks for the immediate gratification and ego kibbles, and his life will always be empty and unsatisfying because of that. You and I, however, have those memories in our minds forever, enriching us for the rest of our lives.

    • This was my first Christmas since my divorce, and thankfully I was able to spend most of the day with the kids.

      Hoping it will be better for all of us.

    • Frannie, it is so hard and painful, but it WILL get better and fade. It is a constant struggle to try to understand something that is simply unfathomable. These cheaters are simply not wired like we are– call them narcissists, sociopaths, callous losers, whatever gets through to our chumpy brains. I have to remind myself periodically even 2 years down the road to “let it go, it doesn’t matter”, when I periodically still wonder how he could so blithely give up every single big and little thing that (to me) seems to matter in life. (((Hugs))) Here is to a better 2014.

      • Kelly, I gave up figuring out my ex when I finally came to terms that he thinks differently than I do. All I can do is assess a situation based on my values and belief system, and once it became crystal clear that my ex and I did not share them , it never occurred to me again to wonder why he did what he did.

        • Yes, it’s the skein!


          By the way, no contact really helps with this. Any new information about an action X takes leads me to wonder anew, “Why did he do that? How could he do that?” My best defense is to not receive any information about him!

    • “I on the other hand can not figure out how a Whore could be so much more important than his own daughter and grandsons.”

      OW’s not “more important,” Frannie; she’s just the most pleasant option right now. He’d rather sacrifice seeing his grandsons than deal with any flack from your daughter. It’s spineless and cowardly, but so are most cheaters. Who WOULDN’T rather be called “Hot Stuff” by an adoring AP than “Ass Wipe” by a bitter child? He’s not avoiding his family – he’s avoiding feeling guilty.

      But it WILL come back to bite him. It always does.

      It may take two months, it could take 10 years, but eventually, the karma bus WILL come back around and mow him down. Because relationships built on deceit don’t last.

      Meanwhile, just be there for your kids and grandkids. Enjoy those precious moments with them. Laugh. Have fun. Be silly. Build memories. When your grandkids look back at their childhood, they’ll remember that you were an integral part of it. Their grandfather? No so much. They may not even remember his name.

      But you can’t control that, so don’t try.

      Instead, just put him out of your mind this holiday season and go have fun with your family and friends. Stop giving him so much real estate in your head. I know it’s hard, but try.

      And just remember: “Mr. Wonderful and the Downgrade.”

      I forgot who wrote that on this board a few weeks ago, but it has stuck in my head ever since because it applies to EVERY ONE of the dozens of affair situations I’ve learned about over the course of my life. The grass is NEVER greener, the AP is NEVER welcomed by the kids, and the cheater NEVER solves any problems by leaving the marriage. He just adds to them ten-fold. For what? Someone who doesn’t respect committed relationships.

      A downgrade. From the A-List to the D-List overnight. Reality will set it once the dopamine wears off. It always does….

      • Red, if I read your post a year ago, I would not have believed you. Too formulaic that the karma bus will roll around. And yet what you described is exactly what transpired in my life. It’s almost surreal. Ex was so “happy,” flaunting OW on FB, introducing her to family before we even file d for divorce, strutting around beaming and then … it all came crushing down. In the past year, he. has spent thousands of dollars on her (she chooses not to work) to maintain her supposedly high class lifestyle, extravagant vacations, etc, but in the process she also revealed who she was. She even monitors his emails. LOL. Moving in with someone you barely know can be a shock to anyone’s system. Ex is still with OW but a broken man. Our only adult child refuses to have anything to do with him, co-workers are disgusted with him and he is on anxiety meds. I am sick of people asking me if he is alright because they said he is no longer the same person he used to. The most recurring words they use are, “he appears defeated.”

        So yes, no one can escape consequences of their actions even though on the outside they may appear otherwise. They can maintain the facade for so long. For my ex, it was a swift one year. The rest may take 10 years as Red said, but trust that any relationship built on deceit is doomed. In the meantime, let that burden fall on forces outside of yourself and use the time and energy to heal and practice extreme self care. I went completely no contact and that was the best thing I ever did. I intend to continue on this path.

        • Uniquelyme,

          It IS formulaic, but I’ve seen it happen too many times to count to know that it wouldn’t happen to XH. What surprised me was how long it took: seven YEARS.

          Yours only took one because they moved in together and all the magical affairy dust evaporated the first time she clogged the toilet and overdrafted the checking account. My XH and OW never moved in together, so they kept the fantasy going for years…right up until she turned into the relationship Nazi a few months ago and started demanding to know where he was at all times and why he didn’t answer her calls on the first ring. When she told him she didn’t trust him, he ended it. Sounds like your ex may be experiencing the same thing.

          Yep, the karma bus is coming…

          • Red, I had to laugh when you mentioned the clogged toilet and overdraft. So true. Karma bus already came when I told him I’m moved on a few weeks ago when he told me he was sorry and regrets what he did. More karma is coming, though, because he’s stuck with her since she literally has no place to go, no job, no money. Before the marriage ended, my ex spoke of retiring in a couple of years. He definitely could have but now he probably will have to work for a lot more years to catch up. I can’t make this up. This is going better than I expected.

          • When she told him she didn’t trust him, he ended it. Sounds like your ex may be experiencing the same thing.

            And you know this how? 🙂

            See… I don’t trust the honesty of people who cheat or the people who have affairs with married people, so… chances are you are getting a “spun” story still yet.

            Better to disengage.

            • TimeHeals, I’m with you on that. When my ex kept on telling me he was sorry over and over again, I kept on replying that I didn’t believe him. I don’t. She can have him any day.

              • Yep, Karma Bus will roll into town eventually, for all the Mr Fabulous/Wonderful/(Insert Delusion Here) and the Downgrades.

                But I am not sure I want to see it, I am turning to face Meh It has been of true support, of the sanity and lifesaving kind to see this pattern in our stories- awful as it is for all of us as individuals, it helps.

                I gotta get on with raising a young woman to whom this sort of shit will never happen.

                The funeral idea is a good one, in this season of open fires. Been writing all those damn little annoyances, and flicking them into the fireplace. And twenty years’ worth of bank statements sure does burn prettily!

      • Red, in my head I believe everything you’ve said. The trouble is, I find it hard to believe in my heart 🙁 I’m in a situation where the EX married the OW last month. My kids are only 10 and 7 so do not know the situation or what exactly went down between their dad and I. So they DO welcome the OW. The “love” her. I feel like I’ve been replaced…struggling to put my life back together; living in my parent’s basement, all while he’s moved on, happy, married. How do I not let the waiting for karma dictate my life? It’s been 3 years since I found out about her and I’ve been divorced for 1 year. I’m devastated that SHE is their step mom. She makes more money that me as I was a stay at home mom for 7 years. How do I believe the grass isn’t greener in the meantime?

  • I plan to welcome 2014 with gratitude that I am out of the nightmare I chose to live for over 20 years. A year ago, my heart was in pieces and I felt I was living a life I didn’t want. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I worked on myself, rediscovered myself, saw the ex for who he truly is, and spent a lot of time with friends and family. Today, I cannot even imagine how joyful and at peace I am. Like Tracy, I, too, had little funerals but they eventually gave way to being joyous for celebrating new experiences without wondering if the ex is secretly seeing someone or scoping the landscape for other women. The dark cloud hanging over me has lifted. Life has taken on a new meaning because I am FREE to be me.

    I heard this a couple of days ago, “No relationship is worth considering if they hurt you.” Time to let go of the cheaters that hurt us.

    • Thank you for that, Uniquelyme. I’m waking up from my own 20 year coma, and the view is getting clearer every day. It’s hard not to kick my own ass for trying to make it work with such a loser for so long, but I’m working on that, too. My resolution for 2014 is to be nicer to myself. And I’m going to learn how to line dance!

      • I think one of the hardest things to do is to forgive yourself. Sounds like you’re making great headway in that department

  • It sounds trite, but spending Christmas with REALLY needy people helps to get me off my hamster-wheel of fretting. This was the second year that my ailing 84-year-old mother and I went to a local church for their Christmas celebration and amazing dinner. About half of the people there were fellow caregivers who were as fatigued as I, accompanied by their sickly parents/husbands/wives/etc. The other half of the attendees seemed REALLY bad off, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that they were living in their cars or in homes with no electricity and the water shut off. It was truly that grim.

    However, the lovely parishioners (one of whom is my mother’s visiting nurse) cooked and served an amazing spread of incredibly delicious high-end food, prepared by a member who is also a professional chef. There was prime rib, roast pork, turkey, delicious side dishes, and a dessert table that definitely outranked that of a high-end restaurant. The appetizers and the desserts were prepared by the church members or caregivers, and the feast was absolutely spectacular. It was a real treat to see people enjoying themselves so immensely, both the generous providers AND the guests.

    Caregivers were relieved of mundane responsibility for a few hours, the afflicted were guilt-free for an afternoon, and the impoverished were treated to a healthy meal in a stress-free and fun environment. Everybody was able to shelve their problems for part of the day, and it was a real celebration. No flashy presents, no holiday stress or guilt, just a diverse group of nice, caring people coming together to celebrate kindness.

    These past two Christmases were wonderful for me and exactly how I wish each of the last 23 years of miserably-married holidays had been: relaxed, fun, interesting, and memorable. And yes, this long ramble does actually have something to do with CL’s essay:

    1) DO SO MUCH OF IT, IT MAKES YOU SICK: Enough said about the incredible buffet.
    2) HAVE LITTLE FUNERALS FOR THINGS: A parishioner’s ailing lap dog actually died during the service, and they buried it outside afterwards in a quite moving ceremony.
    3) REPLACE YOUR BAD HABIT WITH A GOOD HABIT: No more “holidays” with a lying, cheating, spackling narcissist. Only good, kind, caring people in my future!!!

    • ColdTurkey, I agree that spending the time with really needy people could distract us from our own issues however my NPD CA/PA XH did just that last year, announcing to everyone that he was spending Xmas helping the homeless (after he effectively made me homeless) “cos he was really a nice guy doncha know?” not the monster I ‘allegedly’ portrayed him to be. It was a real ‘eye opener’ for him, yeah, really, no shit Sherlock -I had been telling him that for years , actually, in fact, helping the homeless had always been my idea at Xmas……hmmm

      That kinda put me off volunteering for a bit, maybe next year, however I did make myself spend Xmas this year with family and friends and it was not too bad once I got my own breathing space back……….

  • Thank God, you’re back!! This holiday was my first “alone” with my son. The EX tried being oh so nice and I could feel myself slipping out of sheer sadness for my little boy. I held strong, but this is a tough time of year to go through. I guess the EX was having difficulty as well, but the difference would be that he wouldn’t end up hurting in the end. He’d get his fill and move on. I’m so glad I proved I was stronger than he wanted to believe. I still want to hide under the covers with some Xanax on New Years though…

    • So hide under the covers w/some Xanax – or better yet, a big box of chocolate! Sometimes we have to let ourselves be tired, weak and sad, for a while. Then we can come out stronger and looking for the life we really want, with the people we really want to share it with.. It’s only a problem if the hiding goes on for too long!

        • Michelle,

          You are stronger than YOU believe too. Good for you to make it through your first Christmas. It was mine too and it wasn’t easy. And my STBX tried to put on the “I’m actually nice!” bit but I wasn’t having it. Not this year.

          You’ll make it through. Do what you need to do. Don’t judge yourself and take each day as it comes. Distraction, keeping up with friends and family help me. And yes, I sleep when I’m tired which is a nice change because my STBX thought napping was a sign of being lazy. So I say rest and take care of yourself. You can do it!

          • thensome- good for you too! I think all of us on here are much stronger than our insignificant others, but have the disadvantage of kindness when it comes to them. It will be nice to focus the energy that we wasted on them onto ourselves. Can you just imagine how great we can become? And they will still be themselves. I’m determined to make 2014 a happy year no matter what. Good luck to you!!

      • KarenE-as soon as all the chocolates are eaten, I’m putting on the gloves and coming out to win. Going to spend the next year focusing my energy on ME. Actually looking forward to it 🙂

    • Michelle, I gave myself permission to do what I needed to do to grieve as long as it didn’t land me in jail or sent me to hell. I even would tell myself, okay, I’ll rant and yell (alone) for 15 minutes and pretty soon, 15 minutes was way too much time on spend on an f-Tard. It didn’t get better overnight and there were setbacks but I trusted that I was going forward because I focused on taking care of myself first. I didn’t give myself a time table to heal either, because I knew people heal differently, and I, again, gave myself permission to heal on my on time. The key is to not stay stuck. Furiously cleaning the house was therapeutic to me. The physical energy exerted in doing something productive helped me focus on something else other than feeling sorry for myself.

      • Uniquelyme- 2 steps forward and 1 step back…but I’m determined to continue forward. Trying to forgive myself for any setbacks, but even my setbacks have ended up on a smaller scale. I’m doing a lot of soul searching and everyone on here has been such an inspiration. Nice to know you’re not alone 🙂

  • The more time I spend with the guy I’ve been dating the past 2.5 months, the more I realize how little I lost when I divorced Mr. Dancing Freak. The road out of hellville sure was a horrible ride, but I finally feel like the sun is starting to shine instead of darkness, and I think I see the city of Meh up ahead.

    • GladIt’sOver- can I ask you how long you waited to date? I’m 9 months out from being separated and my STBX’s rage is something that I don’t want to deal with when it comes to this. While I’m not fully ready to date yet I have had some opportunity and thought it might boost my esteem a little. I also then think, “who would want to date someone who is only just ‘seperated’?” I dont have the money for the retainer for my lawyer yet. I’m just curious how long it took you to start seeing someone. I hope you don’t mind me asking 🙂

      • Michelle, I waited a long time. Official separation date was Dec 15, 2009. There was an unfortunate attempt at reconciliation that lasted about eight months, but then final divorce date was Feb 9, 2012. I decided not to even think about dating until the divorce was final. Once it was, I slowly started dipping my toes in the online dating pool. Whooeee, there are some weird guys out there! I had a handful of coffee dates, but nothing beyond that. Met the guy I’m currently dating in middle of October. While it is far too soon to know if it will last, so far, there are no red flags. He is sane, he is stable, he is employed, he is NOT sparkly or an attention whore. He seems to genuinely like me and want to be with me. He is definitely not gay. In other words, he is nothing like my ex. I am very cautious, though, and find it difficult to fully trust. I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that I’ll find out new guy is really crazy, or a cheater, or bad in some way similar to my ex. I think this caution is normal after what I went through, and I’ll bet many here can relate.

        Anyway, Michelle, I do recommend waiting if possible, especially if your divorce is not final. It takes awhile to recover from these abusive marriages, and it’s really easy to get chumped again if you aren’t careful. I definitely needed a LOT of time without the complications of a relationship, and I’m still not entirely sure I’m ready. Cautious optimism is my motto these days.

        • Glad, I’ve been divorced over 8 months now and I am not remotely interested in dating. When my ex and I split up, my messed-up mood was telling me that finding another guy would heal my hurt. My counselor told me to NOT do it because I would be attracted to men like my ex, and men like my ex would be attracted to me. I didn’t want that at all, but the appeal of a new love to take away all my pain was tempting in the beginning. Looking back, I’m glad I listened to my wise counselor. She told me to use the time to get to know myself better, love myself unconditionally and fix my picker. If I ever come to a point where I it’ll be interested in dating again, I will only do so if the man enhances my life.

          • Glad, if anyone deserves a good, stable relationship, it’s you.

            For me, it’s been 7 months separated and about two weeks “officially” divorced (I count the divorce date back to the separation date since there was zero chance of reconciliation), and I know I’ll blow through the 1-year mark. I’m probably looking at 2-4 years before I really seriously consider dating. Maybe I’ll gift myself with a membership when I turn 40 in a couple years? Right now the couple of times I’ve looked at dating sites has only proven to me that I need to stay away from them. My dad dated soon after my parents broke up, and he ended up marrying someone worse. I don’t want to imagine worse, I’d rather be single the rest of my days than go through something worse.

            • CW, my sentiments exactly. The thought of marrying someone worse is enough to scare me. In my case, I have no desire to date because I feel so unencumbered, free and at peace. Life is so simple. I may feel differently in the future but for now, status quo works.

      • Michelle, looking back in hindsight, I should have stayed single for at least a year (because we don’t know it at the time, but we are in a terrible state). I was lost and alone so got on the dating sites and got pulled in by a man who swept me off my feet with all his sweet talk and attention. Looking back I was cactus really; so vulnerable and my self esteem was non existent. I got involved with him, bought a house etc…. making it extremely difficult to get out of the relationship when I found out that it was toxic and he was an abusive arsehole …. took me 3 years to get out of that relationship. It was the worst mistake of my life and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t have dated so soon after my divorce. Anyway we live and learn I guess.

        However, I’m in “not a bad” relationship now. He is great etc but I constantly question whether I’d want to marry him (or any man again in fact) because I’ve found myself again and am finding it difficult to BE with another man fulltime because of that. I found that when I was married that that was my lot and I didn’t really question that, I was at his and the children’s beck and call….. but now that my kids have all grown up, do I really want to even get hitched again?????

        • I feel the same way. I enjoy spending time with my companion but really want to take care of myself first. For 31 years I sacrificed myself for others, but I never want to do that again. I have a lot of tension inside about fear of being alone vs fear of getting trapped in another bad relationship.

      • I met someone several months after my split and he was also in process of going thru divorce after being chumped. Neither one of us was looking to date anyone but we crossed paths and dated on/off for 2 years.

        On one hand I’d say to wait on dating. It’s a tumultuous time and emotions and logistics are hard to work through. You risk losing objectivity and taking care of yourself when it just feels great to have some fun with someone who likes you.

        On the other hand, I’d be lying if I didn’t look back on those two years with a great degree of affection. It was passionate, fun, and liberating – and the guy was a sweetheart who taught me what it’s like to be treated very well. Lessons I applied and held as a standard in later dating – and which led me to eventually meet and remarry my current normal, stable, good husband. We both knew we were dating at a sensitive juncture and just lived it for what it was worth knowing it would eventually likely fizzle out (it did). We weren’t attached at the hip and worked individually through things but build a sturdy friendship and it did mean something.

  • Michelle, this was my first christmas alone as well. Dday was december 3. Ditto to everything you said… Just want to hide underneath something and sleep through half of january.

      • Thanks! As much as i want to slip into an “eff him” dress and heels i think i will sit this new years out and stay in bed. Im so tired all the time anyway trying to process all that has happened. To boot, my damn therapist is on holiday for another two weeks! The byotch.

        • Happy New Year! I stayed under the covers just like I planned to do while that ball dropped. I think it was the smartest thing to do this year. The best part about that is I did what I WANTED. I hope you did ok! Although it’s the time of year to make fresh starts it doesn’t mean you can’t start fresh on any random day. So, feel better and enjoy the coming year. You deserve it!

    • It’s way to early to feel any sort of relief but believe me/us when we say it will get better. I was in your shoes last year as Dday1 was at the very end of Nov/12. Then another 5 days before Christmas.
      Let the emotions out. scream, cry, sob, etc. Get it out of your system. at the same time remember to stay healthy. eat right, get outside, get fresh air. keep moving. Then one day you will not feel as sad as often and you will get down to business and quit being a chump and divorce your cheater.

  • 1) Do so much of it, it makes you sick. Check and check. In fact, quite more than necessary, since the thought of being with a significant other makes me sick, seeing romance makes me feel ill, most movie/tv plot lines have either romance or cheating or families or something that makes me feel sick. I’m hoping this will mellow and fade.

    2) Have little funerals for things. Yep, did this. It did help.

    3) Replace your bad habit with a good habit. This is where I struggle. I’m in the “sad, tired and weak” phase (as KarenE mentioned above) and haven’t yet re-emerged into the world as my normally happy, fun self. I know I need to find some good habits, but I don’t feel like I have much to contribute right now….plus with my young children I’m busy and/or tired most of the time. I guess I should try to find something small, maybe a hobby that I can do on my lunch break at work, that doesn’t require me to do things that generally make me feel sick (see #1, above).

    • Ducks, it’s ok to be sad and tired. I can assure you that you aren’t weak, taking care of your kids and going through all this! And you are contributing hugely, raising those kids, so never think that just because you aren’t volunteering right now you aren’t doing something wonderful for society.

      When D day happened my two youngest were still in high school and I was volunteering for several positions related to their activities. I realized that I couldn’t keep it up and do a good job, so I gradually withdrew to give myself some space. It was a good decision. It was hard and I felt really selfish but I realized I needed to concentrate on myself if I was ever going to get over this.

      The first thing that really helped me was a walk at lunchtime, which was time to think, breathe some fresh air, look at something other than a computer screen. It’s simple and doesn’t cost anything and it made me feel so much better.

      The second thing was turning off the tv. I got rid of the cable, and now I only watch what I want to watch – Dr. Who, of course, Sherlock, select movies. No commercials, nothing that makes me feel inadequate or old or stressed. STBX had the tv on all the time at high volume, so now I glory in the silence.

      The third thing was sleep. I never got enough sleep living with Toddler Boi, and I had no idea how sleep deprived I was. I remember how weird I felt finally getting a full nights sleep, how strange it was, but how much better I felt. Ours is not a society that respects sleep but we really should as it cures a lot of what ails us.

      It’s ok to be tired – it’s your body’s way of letting you know that you need to rest, that you need to replenish your energy. Turn off the tv and just don’t watch the romantic fantasies. Learn to nap when you can, go to bed when your kids do one night a week. Get outside and move and you’ll sleep better too. Your happy fun self is still there, and will be back sooner than you think, just wiser and more compassionate and happier.

      (((((Hugs)))))! 2014 will be so much better!

      • Thank you, I am very much hoping for a better 2014. I am hard on myself because I’m not doing all the things I used to do (head of my MOPs club, doing crafts with my kids, mostly just having lots of patience with them during the tough moments). Nowadays, I feel like I’ve lost everything and am working my way up out of the hole I’m in. I also was very sleep-deprived while living with my own Peter Pan man, and am slowly starting to realize that I can sleep in peace…finally. Thank you for the kind words, I will try some walks and turning off the TV for mental peace.

        • LiningUpDucks, compared with your posts when you started coming here, I think you’ve gotten a long way on the road to OK. (jedi hugs)

          exrepeatedmeme, “STBX had the tv on all the time at high volume, so now I glory in the silence”. This resonates with me big time. My ex had the tv on every second he was in the house. I too glory in the silence, or should I say that I indulge in it? Either way, it’s lovely to only HEAR the tv when you want to do so and not have constant noise all the time.

          • Did your X also have the TV going during every holiday or birthday dinner? When our sons got to teen years, even they started complaining about that one. So rude. I always felt he was afraid we’d be boring and tedious to have to talk to, when actually, we aren’t.
            Being in charge of my TV is still such a strange feeling! And sometimes, I get to be still, and quiet, for as long as I want. Such simple pleasures.

            • The TV was on all the time, and yes, even at birthdays and holidays. If one of us turned it off (the boys didn’t like it much either) the STBX got very uncomfortable and could hardly wait to leave the table and turn it back on. Of course it had to be in the living room, right in the middle of the house so that everyone had to listen to it all the time. The worst was at night – he would fall asleep to the tv, and if I turned it down or off he would wake up angry and turn it back on. It was so loud that even in the bedroom I could hear everything, all the time, part of the reason I was so sleep deprived.

              Maybe he can’t live with silence. He might actually have to listen to his conscience then, without it.

              One of the boys told me that the first thing he did when he moved out was buy the biggest tv he could find. I hope the OW enjoys the constant noise as much as he seems to.

              • You nailed it — they can’t be alone with themselves.

                “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
                Blaise Pascal

            • My ex used to sit like a stone man in front of the TV watching football through all the holidays. So glad to be around people who actually want to interact these days.

              • If I ever date again, he’s going to have to pass the “no television” test. My ex always had it on for hours each day. One time when I was literally crying and begging him for ONE hour without television, he looked directly at me and refused. What a jerk. Thanks, guys; you reminded me of a memory so horrible that I will NEVER romanticize the past.

          • What’s with these losers and TV? My EX couldn’t go to sleep without it. Since he left I never turn it on. I even lowered my cable subscription and plan to cut it even further. They must use it to drown out any conscience they might have telling them what bad people they are.

        • Hey Ducks,

          If there is an art gallery near your work, or a pretty, natural spot to just stand and behold for a bit each day, it might help. It’s a mindfulness thing, really works for me-I look at the same tree every day for about five minutes. Hippy nonsense, perhaps, but it works.

          Oh yeah, and kill your television- except Dr Who and Sherlock (I am Downton-ambivalent).


  • Putting a twist on this – I think it is a lesson our cheaters need to learn. It is their addictive personality and such that put us all in the situation we are in. Personally, I like to think that I have the character and discipline to kick habbits and addictions if I decide I want to. As to my husband, not so much. In his case this goes for drinking, smoking, stupid hobbies, food diets, wasting his time doing nothing…

  • Here’s something else some of you might find helpful. If you were married to a person — as I was — who excels in presenting a mask of Mr Wonderful, yet underneath is nothing but evil, it can be very, very hard to wrap your brain around the confusion. When a cheater is highly skilled at fooling most people into believing he (or she) is a great person, it tends to leave you wondering if the problem really was YOU, as the cheater undoubtedly told you it was.

    Anyway, I can’t remember if I first read the term “glitter on a turd” here or on another list I’m on. My therapist liked that so much, she recommended I make my own, personal glittering turd I could look at whenever I started to forget what my ex really is. So I went to the craft store and bought a small piece of brown Fimo clay and a bottle of gold glitter glue. I formed the clay into a remarkably realistic piece of turd, then covered the whole thing with gold glitter glue. I have it tucked away in my bedroom, and occasionally I still look at it and laugh. My ex truly is nothing but a piece of shit covered in glitter, yet many people are fooled by that outer shininess and sparkle. For me, I’ve been close enough to smell the stench underneath, and I never want to smell it again.

    Anyway, I recommend making your own glittering turd if you want a nice symbol of what a really sparkly, narcissistic, “I’m so Wonderful” cheater really is.

    • I did that very recently myself, GIO. Made a sparkly turd just as you described it. For about a month, I kept it within sight on a shelf in my bedroom, so I could have a ridiculous but spot-on reminder of who my former spouse actually is.

      He’s extremely skilled at creating a false impression of someone who is super fun, easy to be around, friendly, funny, charming, happy. That alone is a mindfuck, because in the past, it has felt like it must be me who has the massive problem. That’s one of the great dangers of being with someone who is an expert at impression management and can turn it on for any audience. Including your child.

      The turd is an immediate reminder of all the things about him that probably only I know. The real him, when the mask has slipped.

      I put the sparkly turd in a drawer this week. I don’t need the reminder anymore. It started to become a visual that would prompt me to think of him, instead of focusing on my new life. Sure was fun to make, though! And I will keep it tucked away for any moments of self-doubt. I highly recommend making one for anybody who has had the misfortune of partnering with someone who glitters.

      • I love that. So much.

        I am NC with the ex. Now and then I have to see him at a school function. It is my youngest son’s last year for high school, then we will taper to just the college graduations and eventually weddings, I suppose. What a relief. Most of the time I am just disgusted by the sight of my ex–like Tracy’s apt metaphor: he’s the turd that shows up in the punch bowl, unexpectedly and unwelcomed. Well, if I could remember it like that, I’d have a good giggle. Now, I look right through him or past him, and stay as far away as possible. If I mistakenly get within ear shot of his mother, she will speak to me as if nothing happened. I am briefly polite–cheery, even–then I move on.

        Once I saw him when I was out with a friend of mine. (I miss her!) She gasped at the sight of him, all small and sort of unkempt and frail-looking, and then we laughed together in shock. That was fun. I felt a little guilty over it, but I got past it.

        The nasty twat he scurried off with is still in the picture, here to stay. I suppose eventually I will run into her one day, as well. It’ll be a two-fer: two turds in the punch bowl, bobbing around, fouling things up. On a good day, I’ll laugh and turn away.

    • I too was dealing with a “glitter on a turd” type. He would always try to do simple nice things or favors for me all the while he was screwing his nutty ex-wife or this other woman that would grovel for his attention. When we had arguments because I was suspecting that he was up to no good, he would always say things like “You’re the only person that talks to me that way or treats me like crap” – and stuff like “You know, I’m really a nice guy”. Yeah right, they give just enough to give the illusion that they are nice, all the while they are screwing nasty women and lying nonstop to your face. From my personal experience, any man that I knew that was truly a “nice guy” never had to convince you with saying that about himself because decent people don’t have to convince you that they are kind with words, you can just tell by their actions and the way they sincerely treat people. I’m sure the sparkly turd that I knew is still up to his old deceptive ways – publicly doing some “nice” things while he is covering up his true evil self.

  • 1) Do so much of it, it makes you sick: I’ve been maintaining no contact with this dirt bag, so instead of seeing his stupid face to make me sick, I’m constantly writing in my journal about what happened to clear my head. Since Nov 1st, I’ve wrote 56,851 words about it. When I feel like I might be wavering and allowing myself to feel too depressed over it all, I go back and reread what I wrote from the beginning. This is damn near 80 pages of pain and misery. After I do that, some delicious hate and rage takes over.

    2) Have little funerals for things: Yes, I’ve done this all along. And tonight I’m having a little funeral pyre with some articles he left at the house. Included in this bonfire will be pictures, letters, cards, honeymoon bear, clothes, documents and mementos from our marriage. This shit is going up like a roman fucking candle.

    3) Replace your bad habit with a good habit: I opened a gym membership but haven’t went yet. I’m going to force myself to go twice a week and work up from there. (It’s been hard right now because I really don’t eat enough to have the energy to work out.)

    2014 can’t get here quick enough. My goal is to reach the shiny city of Meh. I want to get to a place where I don’t even care about Karma.

  • Thank you so much Karen and Kelly for commenting on my post. It is the first time that anyone has answered any of my posts on any sight. I keep reading everyones posts hoping I get more and more insight into what the heck happened and how to move on. I try so hard not to have feelings but I had been with him 35 years and married 28. I guess its hard to turn off feeling, like he has. I am really trying to get to the indifferent stage. I feel that would be the best place and then I can move on. He has filed for a divorce but hasn’t even signed a separation agreement yet. Keeps lying that he didn’t get one from my lawyer, anyways as much as he says he wants it over he keeps stalling. I have taken the absolute HIGH road in all matters and just want all the financial stuff over. He seems to say one thing and do another. So confusing. I have no contact whats so ever not do I want any. Would only hurt too much and that way he can’t manipulate. I still want to rant and rave at him as to what hurt he has caused everyone but I know it would fall on deaf ears. Do they all fray ignorance as to the hurt and pain they have caused? Can’t understand how people can go around being so unfeeling. Him professing not to have anything to do with the family ( daughter and grandsons ) is because it hurts so much to see them, is the biggest cop out as far as I’m concerned. Most men and women would die for their families. JUST A COWARD!!!???? I just don’t know this person, not the wonderful caring man I married. Like I said its so confusing. He never showed this side of him, ever.

    • Frannie, if he filed there should be a court date. He cannot stall past that or you and he will pay out the ass for a day or days in court. So, he will settle before the court date, keep your eye on that.

      Don’t try to figure our your STBX, try to figure out what you want and need, focus on yourself. See a therapist if you feel stuck, no shame in it and can be very helpful. You can rage out at your STBX on your own, get your anger out there, own it and you will get past it. Losing a long term relationship is like your partner died, only problem is that the ex is still walking around. But, I think it really is like your STBX died, he’s not the person you loved – that person is dead. Grieve, rail, come to peace over the death of him. It will take time (jedi hugs Frannie)

    • You said it Frannie, they are terrible cowards, and shallow people who turned off the little bit of emotions they may have had. I remember being simply stunned that my (now ex) husband overnight seemed to turn into someone who just did not care and backed away from every emotion, and could not even feign remorse, despite the tragic impact on his family. I could not believe it, and at first thought (and secretly hoped) he would eventually look over his shoulder, but he never did.

      My ex walked away after 25 years of marriage and 3 children. I think he thought if he waited long enough the children would come around without questioning him about difficult issues, but instead that just added to their disgust with him. Stay no contact, because to me it is the only way to stay sane. And as hard as it is, the silver lining with his refusing to see your daughter and grandsons is that he pretty much out of your life.

      There is no way to understand if the man you thought you married and loved ever existed, and if so where he went. The mind reels, but there is and will be no answer.

      It does get better, it truly does, Frannie. Hang in there.

    • Frannie I was married for 31 years, together 36. I certainly understand your confusion about who your STBX is. I still remember the moment I realized my ex was NOT the person I believed him to be all those years. I agree with you that their shame causes them to run away.

    • Oh Frannie, I recommend the book “Runaway Husbands.” There is a website you can buy it from and it really helped me.

  • My divorce is about 1-1/2 months out and I’m hanging in there. I come to this site and read all comments for reinforcement, support, reality check, etc and it’s been a lifeline during this process. What I often wonder about are the comments from people who are 1 or more years out, particularly when they are happy with themselves or in another relationship, reached “meh”, acknowledge that they are much better off, and provide much needed encouragement to others that they too will be in a better place with time. I’m not at all doubting their voracity, but I’m wondering about myself. If/when I reach that state, will I continue to come to this site, and if so, why? Is it for continued reinforcement in times of doubt? As a service to others who are earlier in the process? I guess I (perhaps naively) believe that when I reach “meh”, and particularly if I ever find myself in a relationship that makes me wonder why in hell I stayed in this one so long, I won’t have a need for this site anymore, regardless of how much I love and need it now. As I make my way on this journey, on many levels I often wonder how I will feel, what I will think, what I will be doing…. and this is just one of the many aspects of that thinking. For example, this week I couldn’t help but ruminate on: “what will I be doing/feeling/thinking next year at Christmas?” I should probably just take things one step at a time and not worry about it so much, but that’s just me. One the other hand, I feel like I’ve made progress in that I’m no longer ruminating on the past, but am focusing on the future instead. Would love your insight.

    • I’m in meh, newly, and had cheater ex unexpectedly show up a few weeks ago, apologizing over and over until I told him to stop, and please leave me alone. I still come to this site to learn from others and also to offer support if I can. Right now, it’s what’s right for me. I find that even though I’ve reached meh, reading CL still continues to contribute to my healing and he humor allows me to not take myself too seriously and to appreciate that good can come out of it.

      • I’m a year past finalization of divorce. I am much better and in a new relationship, but I still have hard days. I very much miss the sense of family I once had now that my boys are married and didn’t come home for the holidays. I come here to get ideas on how to help myself keep moving forward and to help others who are at the beginning of the process.

  • What helped me was getting rid of reminders. Photos, clothing, furniture, anything that had a shared memory between us. Also, during false reconciliation my x gave me a fancy diamond ring. After the final split I had put it into a box in a drawer but every time I opened the drawer – boom – punch in the stomach feeling. So, I gave it away to a guy that does odd jobs around the house. Gave it away like it had zero value. Like the trash sentiment behind it. It felt great! Like a load was lifted.

  • There is an interesting book on this on It’s called:

    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Hardcover
    by Charles Duhigg (Author)

    I haven’t finished it yet, but, from what I recall, the author recommends that we substitute good habits for bad ones. I think that’s good advice.

    But I also think toxic relationships are more than just habits. They become addictions. One can really become an NPD-aholic. Life is sparkly one moment and then catastrophic the next. What a roller coaster ride! And was it my fault? Did I do something? Damn. I should have been better. I should have been quieter. I should have known that I should have been standing on my head with a Cherry Diet Coke held between my feet when he came home. How could I have not known this? Oh, next time I’ll try, try, try and remember…..

    And, of course, the rhythm of hurt and relief reminds me of the dental scenes from the movie “Marathon Man.” (The Nazi Doctor drills and drills into Dustin Hoffman’s tooth, then oil of cloves, and…relief! Then more drilling…. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.)

    The agony of conflict, rebuke, anger, and then…peace! Some normality! All given by Lord NPD. He who can undulate the whip at will.

    In my house, the most titanic yelling from my father would be followed the next day by…utter normality. No one even questioned last nights artillery barrage, everyone was so happy. We just concentrated on our French Toast. (Mom would make something nice.)

    This whole back-and-forth thing makes the boat rock so much that the crew is just happy when it stabilizes. No one has time to notice where the boat is going. (Nowhere.) And the kids absorb all the wrong lessons.

    So, those who break these patterns are sometimes fighting something like an addiction. Crack highs and lows. Hopium dreams and hurtful realities. All paired together. If you can get off this circus ride — even it takes you years (or, as in my case, decades) — then congratulate yourself. You’ve really done something.

    Chump Son

    • David, very well said. I was stuck in accepting the bad because I was too unconscious to process it any other way. Change was too scary, until it became necessary for my survival. I finally woke up and broke the addiction. I couldn’t get there, though, until I valued myself. Sounds cliche and trite, but once it became my truth, it was clear sailing and it made it possible for me to step out of the drama/nightmare.

      • I agree that the biggest gift I’ve received from being discarded and abandoned is that I’ve learned to value myself and meet my own needs. Sometimes I feel alone but I’m no longer lonely.

      • Thanks for the kind comments.

        The way that these NPD types can impose their own surreality on the rest of us is quite amazing. Part of it is that they are relentless. In the case of my own upbringing, my father would “go nuclear” to get what he wanted. He would up the anger ante so quickly and so loudly (and could go on for so long) that he would get his way. Then when things finally quieted down, everyone was so grateful that no one — no one — dared bring up the fact that Dad had just blown fifty gaskets over some minor thing. We’d get up the next day and find my mother smiling like June Cleaver saying, “So, what would you kids like for breakfast? Pancakes or French Toast?”

        That kind of surreal atmosphere is not good. Now, I know someone could accuse me of ingratitude. We were not poor. (Nor rich.) And there was plenty of food. But I still think that jarring people that way — especially kids — is wrong, and accommodating to it, making it possible (as the clean-up Chump does [the Chump who habitually cleans up after the NPD]) is not all that good either.

        In any case, the NPD roller coaster ride can be a really dangerous seduction, an enmeshment that leaves you vulnerable to abuse in the future, that leaves wounds and unresolved issues. Fortunately, CL points the way to closure. Get angry. Grieve you loss. And then hike out on that Road to Meh. That’s painful, but it’s the best alternative out there.

        Thanks again for the kind words.


  • Due to adverse weather conditions, I ended up spending Christmas and the days before and after on my own.

    I tried to enjoy myself and treat myself and watch what I wanted on TV, eat what I wanted, etc. I would lie if I said I had peace. I probably spent half of it thinking about the ex, knowing that he was spending Xmas at his parents, with his brother, and little nephew, having a lovely time (because they are lovely), and how I was on my own and how unfair this all is. Especially since I was there last year, thinking that was going to be my life, and how happy I was. Then, not now.

    So I have been craving the CL posts to keep me strong. Today, I think I am feeling a bit stronger, because there is no way in hell he would have been able to spend a day on his own.

    He did send me a text today “forgot to say Happy Xmas”. So I really need to stop being a Chump. Desperately. I thought about him a LOT and he FORGOT?? Not that I wanted a happy xmas but saying that he forgot to say it, two days after Xmas sucks. HE sucks.

    Thanks CL!

    • But talking about replacing bad habits with good ones. I am also into replacing bad memories with good ones. So I have been going to places I went with him with people who care about me and had a fab time. So now when I think of that place or I go past it, I remember the good times with my friends, not the previous one.

      So next on my list is going on holiday next year to the same place I went last year with the ex, where I found out about his affair. I’ll go with my friends and we’ll replace the memories, and I’ll have nice photographs to go with instead of his.

      Re: funerals, I have deleted all emails, all texts, returned all gifts and things that reminded me of him (gave them TO him). And leftovers from our relationship I just gave to charity. Some people thought it was harsh, but I wanted NOTHING to remind me of him.

      May we all have a better year, a stronger year, a more successful year.


      • AC, for me now that I’ve reached meh, going to places I’ve been to with him just makes me more grateful when I think, “I am actually enjoying his better since I no longer have to worry what he’s thinking or doing.” May be different for me since I was married to a serial cheater.

      • I have treated myself to some fantastic getaways and meals this year because I was on a mission to reclaim all the places I love that I had shared with the X.

        • That really is a fantastic idea. That’s what I’m going to do in 2014. I’m going to reclaim all those places I brought him to, and make them mine again. I ain’t hiding!

          • I recently visited our honeymoon destination with my son and we had a great time! Now, that’s a new, wonderful memory. Spending time with someone who honors and values me. Besides, to be honest, I don’t really remember much of my honeymoon since it seems like it was a different lifetime!

  • I’m still in the process of replacing bad habits with good ones. I just ate a bowl of chocolate ice cream for dinner but boy was it good!

    Anyway, Christmas was bittersweet. I did my very best to make the most of it and I had a better day than anticipated. My family cooked a dinner Christmas Eve and we opened presents Christmas morning. I went out with more family for another dinner Christmas Day. It was actually a really enjoyable evening.

    I have to share custody of my child and my STBX wanted to come in during the pick up. I said I’d rather not. I go 100% NC except by text. And it really does help. He texted me a ‘Merry Christmas’ but meh, no. No response from me. Less is really more when it comes to getting over, through, around or whatever I need to do to get me to ‘meh.’

    I did have some difficult moments when I started to wonder what he got his new girlfriend and blah, blah, blah but then I realized that getting that gift meant having to be with him and well, there’s no gift more lovely than freedom from his f*ckery.

    I really do think that 2014 will be better. I’ll have my struggles and I’ve yet to finalize my divorce but I don’t anticipate any delays. And yes, I do need to get rid of the things that remind me of my former life. That’s the next step. It’s really one step at a time, but I keep moving in the direction AWAY from my cheater.

  • Newly Betrayed Spouse asked why some of us are here and my answer got really long.

    Why do I still come here? My protective order (PO) went into effect March 2011, my divorce was final April 2012. I just renewed my PO March 2013 (only good for two years). So why do I still come here?

    I started coming here for reasons and I keep coming here for reasons, here are a few:

    1) Cheating is abuse, in my case it was accompanied by escalating abuse from rages to life threatening. I spent a great deal of time in therapy and have overcome most PTSD symptoms but as you can see my divorce was final right before CL started her blog. What you can’t see is that my ex violated the PO less than 3 weeks later, a few days after CLs first blog post. I had to go to court, had to see him, I got triggered, I was hyper vigilant and having a lot of fear issues and being overwhelmed with having no one in my life save for 2 close friends and my cats. CL and the first Chumps helped me stay sane in 2012. I will always be grateful for that.

    2) CL nailed one of my anger points; I too want to write a book to counter the Reconciliation Industrial Complex, the advice kept me in my relationship far longer than I should have stayed. Long enough to come within a trigger pull of losing my life. CL is doing what I wish I could do, and her blog is point on, so I keep reading here and commenting, I want to support her site.

    3) I was completely past wanting my ex back a long time ago, but I remember what it was like, so I hope I can help others starting that road by posting here, lending support.

    4) Reading CL and other posters validates my experiences in a way my friends or therapist could not and cannot because they never lived it, they never rode the crazy train. CL and fellow Chumps lived similar crazy to what I experienced, sometimes exactly the same shit! Not just what the cheater did but what I/we did in response. Reading others stories helped me feel OK about ME. I found validation from Chump Lady and fellow chumps that I wasn’t crazy or stupid, only human, honest and trusting. I hope my stories are doing the same for others.

    5) I am not alone, others have taken this journey. Chump Nation is here and I want to give back to anyone struggling. And share some laughter at the shit that went down without feeling judged, can you imagine trying to explain “5 Pagan Scythes” to anyone that isn’t on this site? And that barely made it in to the “12 Days of Chump Christmas” because there were so many crazy stories…

    • My therapist is very good but even she asked how I couldn’t see my ex for who he is years ago. My response was that I wasn’t the only person he fooled. Many of our friends and my kids were shocked after D-day. People who visit this site understand better than most what it’s truly like to live with manipulation and how to recover from this kind of betrayal.

      • Damdatwuf, Lyn,

        These NPD types follow very defined patterns. That’s one reason they like to keep things private, to keep their families isolated. Light, exposure, fresh air, contact with others all drain away their controlling power. They are utterly unoriginal, following deep abusive patterns that be exactly the same from one family to another, right down to the same words. It almost seems like behavior plagiarism, but it’s not. They just aren’t all that original/are very predictable.

        A rattlesnake strikes the same way every time.

        But, as Lyn points out, they can be really good deceivers. They can be charming to others. They feel that they are entitled to certain behaviors in the homes they dominate, but that doesn’t mean they can’t turn on the charm to outsiders. They also don’t start off with the worst behaviors, but can work up to them. Sometimes it’s a question of getting more money/hitting a midlife crisis, though those are ancillary issues at best. In any case, yep, they can sure suck you in. CS knows. Sucked in for years. But if you are a nice person, if maybe you didn’t have a good parent figure, if you have a need, the NPDs/dangerous narcs will leverage that. Don’t blame yourself for being stuck. Celebrate that you un-stuck yourself and that your helping to un-stick others.

        Thanks again to CL for creating this forum.

        • David, yes the abuse is predictable and the pattern is easy to see when it reaches a point where a boundary is crossed that is insupportable, when you are out of it and looking back.

          • Very true David. Thanks for writing that.

            There is NOTHING original about a cheater. I used to think my STBX was all that and a bag of chips. I really did! To realize he was a plain ‘ol cheater type has been hard to accept. He’s as predictable as it comes. Sad, but true.

            I really need to work on my picker!

    • Same here DDF…same here. I keep visiting CL’s site. It is validating and strengthening to come here, spend a while with fellow chumps and return to our own worlds fresh with shared nuggets of wisdom. Thank you, Tracy 🙂 May you be blessed to be an even more prolific writer in the New Year!

      News: I have another Casanova following me and guys are filling me in with details about how he is trying to woo me over. Not any more, Mr. Casanova…not any more. I have worked through my issues, which once attracted your kinds to me. Now, I will laugh you away like another bad joke.

  • Hey fellow chumps-
    Wonder if any of you are in a similar situation than mine: SAHM (4 yrs), trying to come up with best plan to leave his cheating ass in a realistic time frame when main thing I need to focus on is finding a job. Sad to admit but before I got pregnant and decided to stay at home to raise my child, I’ve freelanced and had what I called “gigs”, so babysitting, dog walking, tutoring, etc. and never actually earned more than 35k, which in my state is below median salary. Based on my calculations, I’d need 40k in order to support myself and that still includes a major lifestyle change, gone will be luxuries like German cars, expensive vacations, designer clothes…. this is what I’ll need in order to survive with my child. I’m also inclined to believe that getting child support might be tricky, he’s already threatened to go for full custody to avoid paying me CS. Anyway, I’m looking for ideas, motivation, words of support and encouragement on how to make this happen. Ideally, my fantasy is to be on my own within 6 months. Of course, he doesn’t know that’s my plan. On a relevant note, I’ve got absolutely no access to any substantial funds, everything is in his name, including CCs. I’ve been lifting $50 here and there from his wallet but realizing it won’t get me far in trying to save any significant amount in a few months. Sorry for venting but this post really struck a cord. Just this morning, I was speaking to my brother who reminded me that I should get my ass in gear. It’s been 4 months since DD, I’m still anxious, depressed, confused but I feel like the fog is slowely lifting and it’s giving me hope. One last thing, before I go, I know CL always says that one time is enough and if a friend insists I’m making a mistake by leaving a relationship over cheating, the friend has to go, but I’m still a little perplexed why so many people in my life, my parents included, are advising me against leaving. They all cite the difficulties of being in my own without having a career, raising a child as a single mom, and finally, reminding me that his 2 affairs were very short lived (1 month for each one) and should be forgiven. Wtf? Why does my intuition tells me that even one night stand is a reason to leave and all these other people think I’m too quick to leave? My parents reaction really threw me for a loop.

    • Fear makes ppl tell you to stick it out. Listen to your intuition, read Gift of Fear if you need strength, intuition is your brain correlating data you do not even know you have.

      Sounds like you are well off in your current family “unit”. People can say to stay because they are not you, they just see the financial hardship, not the soul sucking pain you have to endure to keep it. Only you can decide what you can endure or whether you can step over to a different life. Sounds like it will be hard for you to give up financial security and have to fight for custody. You can prepare, you can get credit cards in your own name, gather financial records, too many things to list, Linigupducks can tell you better. You need a lawyer, or at least you need to find out divorce law in your state, sounds like you have time to plan your escape a bit. (Jedi hugs)

    • Sheesh heartbroken, I’m sorry but you should NOT stay with a cheater. You appear to know your own worth even if others do not. See a lawyer and find out where you would stand custody-wise and financially. Start looking for a job, and see what you may be able to come up with and review that with the lawyer. And I don’t know your state, but whether assets are in his name or not you may be entitled to half or a portion if accumulated during marriage. Know your rights, our what you would expect for alimony and child support, know if he has a snowball’s chance of truly getting custody, know if in your state he can be forced to pay for your legal fees, and start from there. These guys talk a good game; you need to know the truth. Oh and if your family wants to really help you, ask them to lend you money to pay for the divorce.

    • heartbroken – yes, talk with a lawyer right now. they are the ones who can actually tell you where you stand financially and legally regarding custody. That was extremely helpful for me, when I left my STBX. I saw a lawyer right away and got the facts. Once I knew where I stood, I felt much, much better and could accurately plan my exit. If you don’t see a lawyer, you can spend all your time worrying about the “ifs” and believing all the horsesh** your STBX will say about what he’ll “get”. Most of it isn’t true, I bet.

  • I came late to this cheater thing. I was one of those wives who believed that the person I’d spent my entire adult life with (28 years), the one I’d had three children with, the one I’d built a home with, the one who had supported him in his career and interests, would never wake up one day and hear him say to me all those crazy things. I’m not in love with you. Blah, blah, blah. Words that destroyed my belief in any goodness he may have had. Who are these people? I never once thought he’d destroy what we had worked so hard to accomplish. l wish I had never met him because when he chose to f*@k someone else he chose to destroy his family. Who does that? Looking back I know people like this exist. They are the spouses who believe the grass on the other side is greener, they are competitive with those they should support, they are the ones who fold when real life-goodandbad- intrudes (a death in the family, children-time and money away from them, illness, vacations, growing older). They are the ones you have all those shitty holidays with and you can’t quite figure out why, they belittle you, subtlety, and they are the ones who on your most memorable days do everything in their power to screw it up. Looking back on my wedding day I knew I should have never said I do. Trust when they say you are defined by your actions. I now believe that you should do everything you can to protect yourself. A prenup can spell out expectations, both personal and financial. I wish my ex had left me sooner. I know his OW is exactly who and what he deserves. Sparkle away. As for me and my children we have a new pact. In 2014 no more toxic people in our lives.

    • Drew, you said this so well. I know I should not,look back, but sometimes (after 25 years if marriage during most of which I know he lead a double life), I wish I had simply said no on my wedding day,

  • Things I quit in 2013:
    1) pretending I could fix things; 2) thinking he had feelings that involved ANYONE but himself; 3) believing that he would do what he promised to do and be a father; 4) getting caught up in the ‘what if’ over and over again; 5) having any desire to have a conversation with him because this person I do not like; 6) talking to those ‘friends’ that knew his true self and kept it hidden because it was easier for them.
    Things I will quit in 2014:
    1) blaming myself in any way – this is his malfunction; 2) feeling guilt for things that I need; 3) taking any thing he says at face value; 4) worrying about the future; 5) assuming that everyone is like him and everyone will abandon me.

    I read this website all the time – you all seem to be the only people that truly understand what it is like to live with this crazy. I try to explain the mindfuckery and it always sounds like I’m making mountains out of mole hills – but I truly think that is part of the art form of it. It’s what makes us chumps think ‘they aren’t that bad – they didn’t mean it’. Yes, it is that bad and they meant every word. When I look at straight facts with no BS from him invadi g the logic – he lead a double life for at least 7 years, lying about who he was so I would continue to be useful for him. He slept with multiple people (known and unknown – including my best friend), gaslighted me about all of it, abused my trust, mind, and heart to get what he wanted. My marriage is the BEST thing I’ve ever quit!

    Thank you CL and all the commentors for being the voices I’ve needed to hear this past year. I don’t know if I would be this far along with out you!

  • I quit my charming double-life leading serial cheating gaslighting ex in 2012. In 2013, I achieved my version of Meh (literally on a Tuesday) when I realized that I was happier and that my life was infinitely better without him, and I no longer cared for him or about him.

    In 2014, I want to quit the anger I still sometimes periodically feel over the years my ex stole from me.

    • In 2013, I quit having contact with him.

      I quit sharing a home and a life with a liar (the dogs and cat stayed…and they are as honest and as loyal as the day is long!).

      I quit trying to understand “how could he do this to me?” (He did, it happened, they suck.)

      I quit believing the little lies I’d told myself, too. Before I quit that, I had let myself overlook a lot of warning signs and small, soul-crushing indignities in the name of “unconditional love and forgiveness” and “because I made a vow.”

      I quit allowing myself to tolerate a smaller, less fulfilling than I deserved because “he is going through a hard time” or “his parents did not teach him what a healthy marriage looks like” or “his addictions are a disease and he is doing the best he can.” (Perhaps. But given all the opportunities to heal that I helped present him with, he still chose to live a small life of addiction and without integrity.)

      Now, in 2014, I want to quit thinking about him on a daily basis.

  • RJam, It truly does look like an art form. I remember thinking myself how nuts I sounded trying to describe what he did to me, and describing my reactions to it was even worse. It reached a point where some pathetic “voice of reason” told me, “He did that two years ago, what does it matter now?”, as if I was holding an unreasonable grudge while I was trying to explain a pattern of behaviour. The individual circumstances were the sort that one might break up with a boyfriend for but were not considered anything worth ending a marriage over – illustrating how much worse marriage has to be before there’s any semblance of social support for leaving it. Getting my own support for it was hard enough. So, it is an art form: the abuser pushes as far as possible to cause intense misery without causing a split. For them, “screwing up” is crossing the line and losing their kibbles and cake.

    • I remember in one of our first counseling sessions, the therapist asked me why I felt like my self esteem was so low. I couldn’t figure it out. I’ve always been someone that knows I’ll land on my feet. I know who I am, what I like and that I can take care of myself. I like being that person. But after the birth of our child, my husband had inch by inch undermined and stolen that confidence from me. His true colors stared to show, the facade started to crack, and he didn’t want to go down alone. So he dragged me down with him. Subtlely at first and then it just turned into war. Now that I look back, I can see even more ways he made me doubt myself, doubt my ability, stole inch by inch, until I found myself sobbing in therapy every stupid week while he sat stone faced. You are so right – they know how to push you right to the edge. Good people, when they’ve done something wrong, acknowledge what they’ve done, apologize, and hopefully learn something. He spent years laying this foundation of doubt and deception – he’s a great actor! Too bad they don’t use their ‘talents’ for good instead of evil.

  • I’m nearly 3 years in. Divorce was final 6 months ago. I’ve reclaimed all those special places we shared while getting rid of everything that I ever associated with him. My new home is filled with MY stuff, I do what I want, eat, sleep, read, write, listen to music, play endless solitaire and sometimes even have a 3rd glass of wine!
    I’m re-building, it’s taking time, I have grandchildren now, I’m having exactly the life I always wanted… just without him.
    He came to my house late Christmas Eve to put a card through the letterbox ( I was out), he wants to come here for coffee, sort through photos, walk down memory lane… I won’t be replying.
    He’s a bad habit that I’d given up, grieved and had a funeral for. I’m done.

    • Good for you, Verity. When my ex unexpectedly showed up a few weeks ago after having no contact for a year, I told him never to come back again.

  • I wanna know about the dating thing too. Cut x off from sex 18 months ago. separated for 7 months and filed 3 months ago. Aside from him reacting to it like throwing a lit case of dynamite into a fireworks factory, I don’t know if I am ready to date. How long until ya’ll took the plunge? Mentally, I was done 18 months ago so my healing time is leaps and bounds ahead of just the leaving/filing day. I don’t know if I want a bf or just a dude to deliver orgasms and chocolate. Either way, I suppose I would actually have to go out and meet someone. Funny, men aren’t alllll over at the playground and at my kids basketball practice. lol

    • all3freedom, not sure about chocolates but if you just want to get some orgasm I think you can do that. I went to a new upscale bar a few weeks ago. I met and chatted with some people including a couple of pretty younger men and played pool them – either one would have come home with me but I was afraid to do it. I went on one date so far and the guy wasn’t all that but at least I’ve put a toe in the dating water a little bit.

    • I started going out with a friend I’d known through work 10 months after D-day. At that point I felt like I just wanted a friend to talk to and have fun with. It took another 5 months before I found myself interested in him as more than a friend. I was pretty flabbergasted because by the time my marriage was over I felt completely used up and damaged. I was sure no one would ever be interested in me again.

  • Datdamwulf, Lyn,
    When it comes to dating, how soon is too soon? I am seperated for almost 1 month now and have been NC since day 1. Ive been out a few times and get lots of attention as u mention. It baffles me because the one person i wanted clearly didnt want me (seven years, 2 affairs, and flirting with god knows how many others) Am i crazy to drag a perfectly nice man into the shit storm that is my life so soon after D day? While im still in therapy and trying to get my son through this nightmare? While my ex is still emailing apologies and trying to get his family back? (Again) shoot i think i answered my own question.

    • Sounds like you did answer your own question, Lisa! You need a little breathing time, from the sounds of it. Why not make a point of seeing friends, cultivating good relationships with people who are fun to be around, and get your adult company that way for a while? Or even flirt and date, but don’t start anything serious yet … both you and your son probably need some calmer time, without more changes for a bit. And if you start a ‘relationship’ at this point, there’s so much going on emotionally, you may not have your eyes open to who you’re dating. A lot of seriously disordered guys pick women who are in emotional turmoil or who may be feeling vulnerable (Am I still attractive? Can I cope w/single parenting?), come in all supportive and helpful, and then turn out to be rats ….

      • Thank you Karen. Im not going to lie, your advice cuts deep because i do wonder if im still attractive, young, interesting. Etc. Getting attention makes me feel alive again. Im doing new things and hanging out with family and friends… And ughh got a gym membership. You know, the usual. But men are part of the scene and dont want to avoid the right one if he should finally decide to show up. I have lost so much time already. Happy New year to everyone. Better days coming!

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