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“You Create Your Own Pain.” Yeah, right…

Segueing from Jesus cheaters to other kinds of spiritual mindfuckery today, Gia wrote earlier to ask about certain New Age concepts which insinuate that pain is a decision. You don’t have to choose pain. She writes:

As I try to heal in the most graceful way (suppressing my revenge fantasies) this is what I am struggling with…

Like many of you, I buy self-help books, read blogs, watch videos. One of the major shifts for me has been on a spiritual level (not religious – more like healing circles, meditation, reiki etc.) and it’s been really helpful. However, I found that the message that keeps coming up is about the ego.

“If you’re suffering, that’s your ego – you’re not really hurt” or “You’re creating your own pain, no one can actually hurt you unless you allow them to.” Or “If you truly love someone unconditionally, they don’t need to love you back.” Somehow, these concepts have made me question the validity of my feelings. Are they not warranted or allowed? I feel guilty that I feel sad, hurt and angry. Am I only doing it to myself? So wait, HE didn’t cause my pain – it’s my ego? What the hell?

Can you offer any insight into the belief that we create our own pain regardless of the actions of others? I’m really struggling with this one.

– Gia

Ooh, that’s some tricky mindfuckery there. Don’t blame the cheater — blame your own ego!

It reminds me of that tomfoolery that generations of older, cruel siblings perpetrate on younger siblings, where you grab their arms and make them hit themselves. “Hey! Quit hitting yourself!” (whack!) A classic schtick illustrated nicely by these cartoon monkeys below.

Did you know that recent neuroscience shows that social pain (rejection, exclusion, romantic break ups) activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain? If someone cheats and betrays you — it hurts like a motherfucker. Chumps all know this. And guess what? Your body knows it too. It feels PAIN because it is PAIN.

If you got mugged, and your attacker pistol whipped you, no thinking person would say “That pain you’re feeling is a choice. Are you feeling concussed? Well, you should choose not to feel that way. Change your thought patterns and let’s skip the trip to the ER.”

No. You’ve been attacked and injured and it HURTS.

Now then, how you recover from that assault is a matter of personal resiliency, and I think this is the point on which the New Agey crap gets confused. Pain is not a decision. Pain and suffering are facts of life. Injustice is a fact of life. How you get through those experiences are a matter of character and tenacity.

To say that we choose pain is to say we’re complicit in creating that pain. That is bullshit. That denies basic human frailty and vulnerability. It’s hubris to think we alone control all of life’s unpleasantries and if we just led our lives correctly we could avoid muggers in dark corners who want to assault us and steal our wallets. We do our best to protect ourselves and use common sense, but no one is immune from Bad People.

Remember, you only control YOURSELF, you don’t control other people. Superstition (ahem, some New Age shit) likes to sell the notion that you can control outcomes through witchcraft and ritual. For example, if I rub the magic unicorn horn seven times and never step on a sidewalk crack, I will never be mugged. Or if my chakras are aligned properly and I eat enough kale and forswear gluten, I will avoid cancer.

Now, when a bad person fucks with you, you can respond a number of ways. This is where personal choice comes in (you’re controlling YOU). You can blame yourself. (I only rubbed the unicorn horn six times. Damn.) You can become agoraphophic and never leave the house for fear of muggers. Or you can say “Fuck YOU mugger! I will not let you rob anymore of my life or my sense of personal safety!”

If you take the Fuck You Mugger option, you have to face and wrestle with your fears, and live your life in spite of the pain. You don’t let the pain control you. You acknowledge the pain, but you don’t let it rule you. There is a life out there and it’s not all muggers. You intend to enjoy it. And maybe you’ll take a couple self defense classes and learn how to kick people in the solar plexus for good measure.

So that’s the answer to the bullshit of “pain is a choice.” No, pain is not a choice. How you respond to pain is a choice. Pain is fucking REAL. To deny its existence is to deny the injustice that created it. And to minimize the bravery that it takes to live your life in spite of pain.

Now to the unconditional love garbage. “If you truly love someone unconditionally, they don’t need to love you back.”

This is a moronic notion of love when applied to people. However, you can unconditionally love inanimate objects. I love cookies. They do not love me back. (Clearly, you should see my thighs.) You can love the Red Sox unconditionally. Doesn’t matter how many times they flub it, your love is unswerving. The Red Sox do not win pennants depending on your love. They are oblivious to it. But you can enjoy the glory of being part of Red Sox nation with all the other people engaging in this one-sided love affair.

When you love a narcissist, you are signing up for this inanimate object love. You can love this thing who doesn’t love you back. You can be one of a legion of adoring fans engaged in the one-sided love affair with the Great One. But most people do not find life as a satellite a satisfying, healthy sort of love.

Grown up love IS conditional love. Grown up love is reciprocal. Grown-up loves says if you abuse me, you’re out. Grown up love values itself and demonstrates its worth through conditions. Like fidelity and honesty. Narcissist love says “I’m okay with a lopsided investment. You love me and I’ll let you be in my orbit, deal?”

Healthy people NEED someone to love them back. Healthy people do not love into the void.

You want to “choose pain”? Love a narcissist. Tell your New Age gurus to put that in their hookahs and smoke it.

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  • Yep, I agree. Bad people and evil are realities in this world. And yes, we only get the choice how we respond to those situations. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose to avoid these individuals or situations. Good post on that, CL!

  • “Grown up love IS conditional love. Grown up love is reciprocal. Grown-up loves says if you abuse me, you’re out. Grown up love values itself and demonstrates its worth through conditions.”

    This is soooo true. Adult romantic love is not ever, never unconditional…perhaps for your kids, but even then, I’ve seen some adult children who were really pathological and abusive to their parents, and I don’t think the parents need to take crap from their adult children unconditionally, either.

    Regarding the “am I causing my pain” New Age/ Law of Attraction stuff, I heard Hay House author Caroline Myss address this exact issue brilliantly. She said something to the effect that you weren’t around when God/Whatever was creating the world and reality….. you can only choose how you’ll respond to it but you’re not creating you’re reality. And you’re definitely not “creating” a cheating, blame-shifting spouse or causing the spouse to cheat because your insecurities reflect a “low vibration” so you unconsciously brought it on yourself. Bull!

    Nevertheless, to Gia’s point, I would like to learn from other members how they got to a place of reconciliation within themselves (not with the cheater), because most of us are kind people, and I, for one, don’t want to lose the open, generous spirit I had before this Pandora’s Box of ugliness exploded in my life. I don’t want my current state of cynicism to become permanent. Any thoughts would be helpful.

    • Hi WTF2014,

      Your current state of cynicism is healthy–embrace it fully–because it will do you wonders as you move on to the next step which CL calls “fine tuning your picker.” At first you’ll be all hyper-diligent and just about everyone you meet with look like a fuckin’ asshole. But please give yourself time, gradually you’ll start to sniff out the discrepancies in certain people & you’ll even observe yourself spackling them. And then bingo! You’ll finally see how the crazy-ass-dance of narcissists & chump operates, and as you do, you’ll find your own personal well-honed skills how detangle yourself PRONTO. You’ll get quicker each time. It all takes practice, patience, and self-awareness. And it;s interesting because over time different people you come in contact with will provide different lessons. And I can promise you, thank dear Lord Above, as you keep progressing forward you’ll actually meet more & more very healthy & extremely kind people a long the way!!! There are TONS of them out there!! You can see them now because finally you recognize them for what they are–NORMAL!! Just regular folks–with their own extraordinary talents–living life, loving others, and sharing good karma and normalcy. And these folks will see it in you too. So please have faith, it’s tough now (the cynicism can be a heavy load) but see it as a journey right now and your final destination will be very rewarding on some many different levels. Everyone here in Chumpland will be cheering you on!! Good luck & best wishes to you.

      • I’m slowly letting cynicism go, but don’t ask me how I got to that place. My main problem is that I can’t stand people who’s talk is vastly different from the way things really are in their life. It’s not that I see it everywhere or anything, it’s just that when I do see it it’s so obvious and it drives me crazy. And it seems to be a standard quality with some of my family. I’m hoping eventually I’ll stop micro analyzing the discrepancy between actions and words and move on with my life. Heck, I hope I stop having to micro analyze everything I say or do to make sure it’s all true or accurate because between the mindfuck of my ex and my family I still question my reality.

    • WTF,
      I can’t describe how I keep from being cynical. Just like everyone here, we’ve been dealt more than we thought possible when we fell in love. And there are days it feels like I’m walking through water that’s waist deep, just to keep moving forward, to make it throughout this pool of negativity.

      I just know that when I smile and someone smiles back at me, when I’m friendly to others (especially those close to me), when I help someone else, I feel worthwhile, “seen” (not invisible), even if it’s only for a second, I’ve found myself again. And there’s a brightness that shines through the darkness. More than anything I want that light to grow till the blackness is gone, And surprisingly, I’ve found that it’s easier to talk to people now that I’m on my own, I’m not uncomfortable, unsure, I no longer have this feeling deep down that no one wants me around or likes me. Just having someone smile back, and actually look like they want to talk to me lifts my spirits.
      Also, I know how much my XH and his AP, would love to see me become a bitter, cynical lonely person. They’ve told me as much. It would validate what they tell everyone that “see she really is this cold, horrible person that’s unlovable”. Who could blame us for doing all of this to her (despite her illness) and the kids, they deserved it.

      I refuse to let him take anything else from me, especially who I am as a person. It’s not about showing them, because I don’t want them to be anywhere near my life, or know anything about it, it’s about wanting to smile, and laugh, and love again. Feeling cynical and bitter feels awful, and I don’t want to feel that way for the rest of my life. It’s been a long, difficult process, because he’s spent decades tearing me down. But coming here, reading everyone’s posts, my kids and my family/friends give me strength to come out the other side.

      • Kathy, that is beautiful, and what we all need to aspire for. I too find myself so much happier and sure of myself, even when alone, than I ever was with my ex. No, it’s not about showing them because they will never see anyhow. We can still find the beauty in life and in people, and we can live in that grace for the rest of our days on this earth.

      • I was actually more cynical and angry when I was living with the Cheater Turd. I think it may have been a response to the mental and emotional abuse. Most days now I feel so much more like my former self and I am much more open than I was when living with him. I smile and talk to people because I feel light and airy. There is still that undercurrent of pain but it is not the center of my life. That is probably why it is so important to put distance between yourself and your Cheater Turd. That doesn’t mean that I’ve turned off my intellect and my intuition. In fact, going through this has actually given me knowledge which I obviously didn’t have before and heightened my intuition. CL’s incisive and spot on commentary has definitely been the gift that keeps on giving in that regard. I love CL and this community like a fat kid loves cake.

        I totally agree with you Kathy – I feel like he has stolen so much from me and I relinquished so much of myself (all of it?) in service and maintenance of the marriage, that I fight every day to reclaim who I know myself to be and not give him any more power over me. I am even polite and, at times, kind to him. Not because he deserves it but because I deserve peace.

        It is a process to reclaim what was lost and to move past what was done to you, New Age selfish, self-absorbed blathering notwithstanding. You don’t get there overnight, but what you will find is the more you smile at other people, the more smiling people you attract to you. The more pleasant you are, the more pleasant people you seem to encounter. At least that has been my experience. It doesn’t remove all the assholes from the equation, but they become easier to ignore because they become more the exception than the rule.

        Don’t be hard on yourself WTF2014. The best and easiest place to practice your kindness is with yourself.

        • Chump Princess – I agree with everything you said!! I talk to so many more people than I did before and am just in general so much happier. I did lose myself in the marriage and it’s so much fun discovering who I actually am now.

          Another good thing about being polite to the ex is that they don’t accuse you of being bitter anymore. And also we aren’t giving them any special power over us. Back when he upset me more often he would make these comments like “You’re so angry all the time” and how he hoped I would someday be able to “move on” and things like that. I would try to tell him that I’m actually only angry when I’m talking to HIM… and while true, either a) he doesn’t believe it or b) he thinks he’s special because he can upset you. And technically b) was fairly true at the time.

          • Chump Princess and anotherErica,

            Very well said, you were able to express exactly what I’ve been discovering if I stop focusing on the pain and see the changes in myself since my whole world changed.

            I have had to go no contact though (my kids went NC long before me, having a better perspective), so I will never be close enough to be polite, mainly for my sanity and to escape the drama he invents from even a one word reply from me. I could be a saint towards him, and he’d still paint me as evil. The two of them take every advantage if there’s even the slightest contact to twist things around and spread lies, no matter what I say or do, Noone in their circle is supposed to see me as a good person. While it doesn’t stop them from bad mouthing me, the distance is saving me from further heartache and anxiety.

        • I was with my ex so long (36 years) that I could barely remember who I was before I got married. The only small bit of experience I had being somewhat independent was the three years I was in college. I kept reaching back to that time to try and remember what it felt like to be just me.

      • When I was at my most miserable my counselor told me to pay attention to my feelings and notice whenever I did something that brought me joy. Well, at first I felt like I had nothing but misery, but low and behold a tiny moment of joy came along and I noticed it. So I remember what it was an tried to do more of those things that brought me joy. For me it was listening to live music, I noticed that I almost felt thrilled and sort of forgot everything when I was at a concert. So I started going to a lot of concerts and tried to get around music as much as possible.

        Well, I started noticing other things that brought me joy and did whatever I could to repeat those experiences as well. It took a year or so, but it was sort of like planting and nurturing a healthy garden among weeds. Eventually the healthy feelings started crowding out the upsetting ones. Now it’s the reverse for me and most the time I feel pretty happy, but there’s the occasional experience that sets me back from time to time.

  • Maybe I’m just grumpy this morning but how irritating is “you choose your own pain” from this new age crap? I KNOW all of us chumps on this board would not have “chosen” any of the things that are cheaters did to us & the pain/hurt/devastation it caused. I feel like that statement is the new age equivilent of “get over it”

    And as far as unconditional love in my life-it has been reserved for my mom, my child & my cat

  • I have a lot of time for Susan Jeffers book “Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway”. She isn’t new agey or wildly spiritual or anything weird but she wrote some really sensible stuff about choosing how we respond to the shit that life throws at us & how to be brave about taking action.

    Sadly, she died last year from cancer but I find her book really useful & re-read it to remind myself how to be proactive & write the story of my own life myself! If that makes sense.

    What I take away from CL is also about stopping being reactive & starting to be proactive. You can’t change what your cheater did & you probably can’t fix them either but what can you do? Shake yourself off, work on your picker and move forward without the cheater in your life (or if you have children, as safely isolated as possible).

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be angry, mourn the loss of what you thought was your relationship, want to curl up in a ball & howl for a while – but don’t let the cheater define you or your life.

    • I would like to say that I love reading anything that Susan Jeffers has written. I still read on a daily basis her quotes. When I 1st separated from my now ex husband a girl I worked with gave me a book for Christmas by Susan titled “The Journey from Lost to Found” (the search that begins with the end of a relationship). I came home after work, sat down with a glass of wine (sadly I don’t drink any more !!) and read the book 3 times without moving from the couch. I cried and I cried with each page I read. If any of you can find that back to read, do so. I have not read it since but I still have it and I have to say that it helped get me through those 1st agonising weeks.

  • When my X’s whoring came to light, my MIL kept telling me to remember that quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (I also saw the whore herself likes to post this particular gem on FB)

    It would infuriate me. Sorry….but when someone who made commitments to protect and love you turns into a raving lunatic monster who stabs you in the back with a machete, it not only makes you feel inferior and quite a few other lovely feelings, you certainly didn’t fucking consent. More likely you fought like bloody hell to stop it and had not an iota of control because you can’t control crazy.

    • I always hated that saying!
      More victim shaming is what that is. Like its your own fault for feeling anything in reaction to the actions of others. The only ones that don’t feel as a result of others’ words and actions are those that aren’t engaged or invested in the relationship.
      I suppose we could just not ever invest in relationships in order to spare our feelings from ever being wounded, but that leaves a very mercenary, sociopathic sort of existence.

      • My least favorite saying is “everything happens for a reason”. I’ve heard that gem during some incredibly difficult times. What frickin’ “reason” was there for my husband cheating on me? Well I wouldn’t have my son otherwise. That’s what people tell me. Um no. If my husband hadn’t been a cheating piece of shit, I’d still have my son and I’d have a faithful husband who was there for me through my pregnancy and we’d be loving co-parents of my kid. Yes, I will make something good out of this situation. But there is no sort of gentle guidance towards something greater as these morons indicate.

        The thing I have the greatest gratitude for in this situation is that I have rediscovered my compassion. Now to be fair, being in a relationship with my ex is sort of what killed it. The longer we were together the more my ex sort of set the tone that our “family” was selfish and shallow with others. I will also admit that I caught that cultural bug where I was less empathetic towards victims. So the truth is having something this shit happen to me reminded me that there are others suffering in incredible pain and that I would like to do something about it and give back at some point.

    • Um, if I may say this…if you are still on the whore’s FB, you might wanna end that. You don’t need to see her asinine posts to trust that she sucks–the chump nation believes you.

    • kept telling me to remember that quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

      I think had a demotivational poster that covered this called “Intimidation”:


    • This was said by Eleanor Roosevelt and I have taken it to mean something different in regards to infidelity…My stbx always thought she was superior to me (and everyone else), I consented to it…But once I kicked her out I withdrew my consent I no longer feel inferior to her…it helps that I am so close to Meh I can taste it.

    • I think that quote was originally attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. FDR was quite a ladies man and she was stuck on the campaign trail and the Whitehouse with him. I wonder how she put that quote to practice in her own life. I think she ended up having some babies and then doing her own thing. Nearly twenty years later, there was Jackie Kennedy with the same dilemma. Mamie Eisenhower as well, if the history books are to be believed. Bottom line: That line may sound empowering but in the world of infidelity, it is the tail wagging the dog. Without your knowledge or consent the cheater places his spouse and family subordinate to his own desires and happiness.

      • Lol – I think Eleanor preferred the company of women in her own separate residence after a time. It wasn’t exactly a secret, and they will even tell you as much if you go do that Hyde Park tourist thing.

  • “I would like to learn from other members how they got to a place of reconciliation within themselves (not with the cheater), because most of us are kind people, and I, for one, don’t want to lose the open, generous spirit I had before this Pandora’s Box of ugliness exploded in my life. I don’t want my current state of cynicism to become permanent”
    I couldn’t agree more, WTF. The hurt is absolutely killing me; however, my bitterness scares me. I have always considered myself to be very kind-hearted, which is in some ways a bad attribute, because I have found that people tend to take advantage of that. But this absolute ripping apart of my heart has put me in a state of cynicism as well. And that bitterness just overwhelms me..along with extreme jealousy of the H and the OW. How do we move past that? How can we heal? Time helps, that I know. But what can we do in the meantime, just to get up each day?

    • I think it’s okay to feel bitter for awhile. After all, someone you gave your heart to betrayed you. It hurts like shit for a time, sometimes a long time. When my kids were little, we loved to read ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.’ The refrain was,”You can’t go under it, you can’t go over it, you have to go through it.” You are going through it. You will eventually come out the other side, but it takes time and thoughtfulness.

      As I have aged,though ,I have begun to realize that alot of life involves loss. More importantly, if we are open to love, we must be open to loss. To love is to risk being broken- hearted, because no matter how loving the relaionship is, the odds are that, if you are a woman,you are going to outlive your spouse. In other words, we come into this world alone and will leave it alone. So what we have is this limited time on earth to decide the kind of life we want to live and who we want to live it with.

      I have been fortunate to find peace in my life because what I do gives me meaning and keeps me engaged with the world. I think staying active in things that matter to you is very important.Find somethig you like to do everyday and do it!

      Where I fail in the moving on department is my complete inability to let any kind of romantic relationship into my life. It’s not that I’m afraid to “date” (whatever that means these days). I enjoy my life. After years of doing for everyone else, I’m doing what I want for myself. I like not being accountable to anyone in my free time. I can watch what I want on T.V; I can eat cereal for dinner! I can drink milk out of the carton…

      So I worry that maybe I haven’t really moved on, maybe I’ve merely cut myself off from the ability to experience life fully, geniunely. I want to go on the bear hunt, again, but at my age I’m not sure I can rejoin the pursuit. I have loved deeply. I’m not sure I can ever love that way again.The bitterness eventually passes (to a degree). What remains is the more difficult part- whether to open your heart again. This is especially true for those of us who have lost a long term marriage. I wish I had the answer to that dilemma, but I’m still hunting for it.

      • Louise, I love what you have written. I too loved my ex deeply, and there were many things to love at first. He worked hard. He was a good father when the children were little. He had a good job. He seemed to care for me. It has taken me many years to process what happened and his choice to abandon our family has not only hurt me but our children as well. Five years and 500 miles between us and I still feel blindsided. My children are still reeling from his inability to be the father they once knew. Was I that great at spackling? I know there is no good answer to my ex’s behavior but I still wonder, “How can anyone do this to someone they once loved?” I too can’t imagine being in another relationship. Those 20+ years were brutal looking back. I am happy by myself. And I recognize I am still working on me. Which is okay. I want a partner who is truly capable of being a grown up but I really don’t know if that exists.

      • Great advice, Louise. I too loved him very deeply..he was my best friend. And when I hear the Bryan Adams song “Cuts Like A Knife” I know exactly what he means. I’m just about 3 months out, and am still feeling that combination of emotions: The anger, the bitterness, the shock, the absolute’s like I’m in a dream. Or nightmare I should say. I know this experience is horrible for everyone..I don’t take away anything from those who had a shorter marriage or relationship..but when you spend more than half of your life with someone, in my case 26 years, it’s a blow that flattens you in an instant. I hope I can move on past these emotions. I want to get to the point where it doesn’t consume every minute of my life. That’s why I have come to depend on CL, and advice from all of you here. It’s been a lifesaver for me!

        • Sandy, I know what you mean. For me the abandonment took place at the same time my sons married and moved away so it felt like everyone I’d lived most my life for disappeared. I suppose that’s what I get for putting too much of my identity into my role as a mother and wife. Still, when my ex first left I thought “well, I have loved and not everyone gets to experience that” so I was okay with the thought of not being in another relationship. However, I’ve been dating someone for a year and there’s something wonderful about being held, and talked to, and someone to have fun with. Still, I just can’t bring myself to take a chance on getting married again. The experience of being abandoned and blamed for my ex’s cheating has made me feel distrustful. I will never again sacrifice myself for someone else.

          • Sandy, take time to take care of you. So many of us put everyone else’s needs before our own, often with zero appreciation. Find that one small thing that gives you pleasure and indulge. And find a new song or even alot of songs. I couldn’t have made in through without Joni Mitchell’s ‘Lessons in Survival’ and lots of her other music.

      • Louise; I like your correlation to a bear hunt, so true. If there was ever a situation (for me anyway)I couldn’t go around, this was it, and it wasn’t easy to go through or a short trip. I can see why investing in a relationship again has been hard for you, as you gave many years of your life to what turned out to be a not so great investment of your time and effort. It is only natural that you would not be eager to run out there & chance it again. In the days before the internet, people met each other in natural ways when they weren’t even looking. and this works even when you are not “looking.”
        I wanted to suggest that not every relationship that is worthwhile is another marriage. I now have love again, but we live in separate residences, both have our private time & together time too. This suits me fine, as I also love to not be concerned about leaving a dish in the sink, buying myself something I wanted without answering to someone, etc. I very much doubt I will marry again. I am so glad you have work that fulfills you.

        • Also wanted to add that I am going to be 60 this year and put my “life” in this marriage relationship myself, 25+ years. Betrayal is always painful, but when you are older you don’t have your whole life ahead to redo it. Most of us wanted a whole life with our children’s father, and you only get one shot at that. I think the loss of the dream of accomplishing that (or thinking we had) feels like a huge failure even if it wasn’t our fault. That is how it felt to me. Thank God for CL to let us see that we did all we could and some people are selfish & disordered. We can do this & there is no doubt it will be hard to fool a Chump again, especially with Chump Nation for perspective & support.

  • I think this part of our immediate gratification culture. Deny pain, and it will go away. Right away.

    Like CL said, pain happens. Pretending it doesn’t happen because you chose it, or perceive it “wrong”, or saying you’re stronger than that, is like trying to put a Mickey Mouse bandaid on multiple stab wounds.

    Getting over the pain takes time. There’s grief. There’s learning. There’s questioning and evaluating. You can’t just “un-choose pain”. Personally, I put people who spew out that stupidity to be in the same category as those who demand forgiveness from the chump: they have a personal agenda. And their agenda is this: don’t be all messy around me, because a) then it implies what I did to you was wrong, and b) I really don’t want to deal with your mess anyways.

    Granted, there is a difference between working through the pain, and choosing to relive it and beat yourself up for it. It’s like a friend of mine, who calls me up crying, and repeats to herself about how worthless she is because someone said that to her. Instead of acknowledging, hey that hurt, but going through the pain, realizing, hey that’s bullshit, she chooses to continuously re-hurt herself by repeating it like a mantra, with no intention of learning how to move on.

    I realize it may be strange to see a Canadian Germastani put a country song, but I do this one is apt:

  • Ooh, that’s some tricky mindfuckery there. Don’t blame the cheater — blame your own ego!

    To me this all sounds like extremely shallow misinterpretations of Buddhist concepts.

    One of the central tenets of Buddhism is that attachment (to people and things) brings suffering. In relationships, Buddhists posit that attachment is the result of the delusion of separateness (hence… ego), but the opposite of separateness is unity. Do you think any seriously devout Buddhist would argue infidelity is an act of unity? I don’t. In fact, if anything infidelity is very egotistical and narcissistic, and I’d have to think long and hard to come up with an example more indicative of ‘separateness’ (and hence ‘delusion’ as defined by Buddhists) than betraying your marriage partner, lying to them, and so on.

    It’s downright projecting to imply that because a betrayed spouse didn’t see themselves as totally separate that’s all about their ego. Quite the opposite.

    And in keeping with Buddhism, yeah attachment leads to suffering, and that’s unavoidable to a large extent. Even the Dalai Lama found dealing with the death of his brother very difficult, but the thing he said he had to remember was not to allow his grief to allow him to feel separated and isolated from others because that type of egoism leads to depression and a downward spiral. He said, it helped for him to think about the fact that millions of people were experience similar grief, and that he wasn’t alone in his grief.

    You aren’t alone. Look at all the chumps here! If somebody says something that, in effect, is saying that you are alone in this because of some deficiency in you (you’re too egostical?) , then screw that. That’s the most separated, egotistical and uncompassionate thing I can imagine somebody saying about somebody’s suffering. The suffering is real, but don’t let it convince you that you are alone because that is egoism.

    • Really good point, TimeHeals-everyone is ultimately answerable to their own conscience, in my book (not that I follow any book). Pain does make you want to isolate yourself-and the particular headfuck that comes with cheaters is something only a chump would understand.

      WTF2014- I try to look at it this way-Cheaters want cake, and someone to spackle for them-so they target GOOD people. I have clung to that. I would rather be a chump,and skin my knees from time to time, having been proactive, than turn into a manipulating narkle-merchant, or be ruled by pain any more. That pain belongs to an abusive past relationship which is OVER. That is where the mightiness starts, I think-realizing it didn’t kill you then, and it won’t kill you now. Chump Nation is where the common pain can transform into humor, because we ‘get it’. What Chump Princess and English Lady say is correct-it really is as simple as learning to be kind to yourself.

      If there has to be any new-agey spin on this, mine would be that we are all the sum of our experiences, good and bad, and cursing the darkness is necessary, as long as you keep lighting the candles.

      love to all Chump Nation

    • TimeHeals, your thoughtful and informed explanation of the Buddhist concepts of attachment and separation (not equivalent to “married” and “otherwise”) remind us that any kind of terminology can be yanked out of its original context and deployed by people who have their own agendas, and often to excuse terrible behavior. For someone who is actually harming another person to say to that person or about that person, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” is just another insult–as if to say, “you are letting me abuse you and that is why you feel inferior.” And we all know people who work hard to make others feel inferior–poor treatment of service people, secretaries and assistants, customers, the poor, on and on. The people who spout that ought to spend a week in food service or retail. I have a friend who deals with wealthy customers who will drop merchandise on a table or even the floor and tell her to pick it up, as if she is a servant. Of course there is intention there to DEMONSTRATE she is “inferior” in that person’s view. How about “People can treat you as if you are inferior but that doesn’t make it so.” That’s more like the truth of the matter. A lot of this BS comes because so many people recoil from anyone who is victimized or wounded because it reminds them they are vulnerable so they tell themselves fairy stories because they are so afraid.

  • I’m all about ways to feel a little more in control of a situation, I think the key here is to be able to do that in the aftermath – NOT blame yourself for what happened, but to be able to decide (after however much time you need to get there) that you’re worth more than what they did to you…maybe if it said “no one can CONTINUE to hurt you unless you allow them to”. For some reason this reminded me of this kid (or maybe I’m just always looking for excuses to refer to him 🙂

  • “. . . pain is not a choice. How you respond to pain is a choice. “

    This is the heart of the matter, I think.

    There is a saying often attributed to the Buddha: “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” While the attribution is questionable, this aphorism is powerful because it highlights the distinction between the undesirable and usually physical sensation of harm being done to us (pain) and our mental reaction to that pain, often arising from that pain continuing over time (suffering). For example, stepping on a thorn causes us pain. In contrast, we experience suffering when we refuse to pluck out the thorn, insisting instead on walking around on an infected foot, cursing and swearing with every step and bemoaning our wretched state.

    The application to infidelity is clear. We experience pain—awful and undeniable—when we discover that our spouse has pummeled our marriage vows and our family. We experience suffering when we refuse to confront that infidelity, when we stay for further pummelings out of fear or guilt or a sense of obligation, experience disappointment again and again, and ponder our terrible misfortune. It is those further pummelings (months or years of blame-shifting, half-truths and lies, gas-lighting, additional D-days, etc.) that are optional and that this site does so much to prevent.

    • true! I am so proud of all of us on this site for how we’ve responded to the pain our cheaters inflicted!

    • This echoes and extends backwards in time, as well… Before the infidelity, how many times did we suck it up and accept bad behavior (“Marriage is about compromise”) rather than call it out?

      In my case, his exit affair (although devastating and “surprising”) was, in retrospect, no surprise at all. For years I experienced the pain from his judgments of me (“You don’t know how to have fun.” “You worry too much. “Why can’t you just relax?’ Read: Why can’t you be a selfish, entitled child, too?). In the name of “compromise” (as well as a healthy dose of codependency) I let him convince me that I was hurting myself by not adopting his “twig-on-the-shoulders-of-a-mighty-stream attitude – an easy attitude to adopt when someone else is shouldering all the responsibility in a marriage. Most of the pain today is from the constant forehead slap – how could I have been so stupid as to fall for his bullshit? Why didn’t I stand up for myself? It’s letting go of those self-judgments that are the challenge now.

      • Mzmama – this is how I feel too. Aside from dealing with the grief of losing my life, trying to help my children through this and the mind fuck of realising that someone I trusted completely had been manipulating and deceiving me for years, I am now coming to realise how much shit I actually put up with for 20 years of marriage. When I complained about his spending habits early on in our relationship he put me down for being materialistic, conservative and boring. An easy accusation to make when I was doing all the earning and he was doing all the laziness and spending. I find myself so angry at myself that I put up with it for so long and believed his criticisms of me. For years I thought maybe I was actually boring and no fun but sadly, that’s what happens when you are shouldering all of the heavy lifting in a family.

        I am coming to understand that I cannot get those years back, but I can start living my own life now and being myself again without the shallow, self-centred fuckwit sitting around here, sneakily putting me down and leeching my energy and self-esteem away.

  • Like Gandalf said, or rather J.R.R. Tolkien said:

    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

  • Revenge fantasies are good for you. Maybe grace isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least until you reach the zen state of MEH.

    “What is so interesting about these fantasies is that they are functional. They are not, as people commonly believe, the dangerous aggressive tendencies of people who are too petty or too incapable of forgiving others. Nor are they immoral mental habits of people who are too petty to know right from wrong. Instead, revenge fantasies have been shown to have a number of psychological benefits.”

  • Thank you CL! Especially for the bit on “unconditional love”. This was what my STBX liked to say a lot post-D-day. “You don’t understand what it means to love someone unconditionally!” TRANSLATION – “Oh, you don’t want to keep feeding me kibbles and support me financially while I have affairs with as many other married fathers as I want? – then you don’t know what love is!” I took the Fuck You Mugger option and feel so much better now.

    • I second that thanks. I got a lot of “you don’t even know how to love unconditionally” from my EX. And I knew he was right. I didn’t love him because he was treating me horribly, but I still felt guilt for not being able to love him “unconditionally.” I had genuinely expected to give and receive that kind of love within marriage. I so appreciate hearing that such an expectation is misguided–and generally only wielded by people (I use the term loosely) who know they aren’t meeting any of the “conditions” that normally signal loveability.

      I think “unconditional love” might have some relationship to hopium and unicorns.

  • This really pisses me off. Any physical pain I have experienced in my past (like…birthing two babies, needing stitches, sprains, etc.) pales in comparison to the pain I felt when I discovered that my husband of 20 years was cheating on me with another woman! Yes… ego was and is hurt by this. My HEART is hurt and was hurt by this. You know the pain I’m talking about chumps……the heavy weight that feels like it is sitting on your chest, the upset stomach, the inability to take deep breathes. I can remember the day I found out like it just happened yesterday!!!!! It’s not that I am TRYING to remember it…..the memory just doesn’t go away. Just like the memory of a bad car accident I was in when I was 15! I can remember EVERYTHING about it in detail.

    This is just BS! When you are injured it takes time to heal. This kind of injury is the same. Scars remain after an injury. This is no different. This cut was VERY deep and the scar will always be there.

    BTW…….my STBXH is in his words “tired of me playing the victim”! Really????

    • “my STBXH is in his words “tired of me playing the victim”! Really????”

      Yes, he really is tired of you playing the victim. Because being the victim is HIS job–he was just fulfilling his fate! He was just actualizing his true inner self! He can’t help that nothing else tastes better than cake, and now…cake’s all gone. So he doesn’t know what YOU’RE complaining about, taking up his valuable airspace.

    • I’ve got news for your ex, Kimmy. You’re not playing the victim, YOU ARE THE VICTIM. He is offended that he lied to you and betrayed you? He is offended that he hurt you so profoundly? That he blew up your marriage and your family? That he caused an overwhelming harm so severe that it can (probably) never fully be healed or fixed? There is a simple answer for this problem– HE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT!

      Jeez, you’d think these guys had aliens take over their bodies while they were in a coma. Choices, they all made bad choices, hundreds of bad choices every day, every week, every month, and for many many years. And they all knew that these bad choices were morally wrong, and they certainly knew what the consequences could be.

      It’s not bad enough that we have to live with the terrible fall-out of their choices for ourselves and our children. We have to also deal with them stomping their feet because they don’t like the consequences of their own deliberate acts. Oh how I hate these pathetic twisted losers.

      • ‘It’s not bad enough that we have to live with the terrible fall-out of their choices for ourselves and our children. We have to also deal with them stomping their feet because they don’t like the consequences of their own deliberate acts. Oh how I hate these pathetic twisted losers.’
        This all day long…. It’s almost comical that they all have that moment when they think “oh shit, I let my cake slip out of my fingers”. Do you think that they realize that all of it was their doing ever???? And the back pedaling that they try with playing the victim. They truly are pathetic twisted losers.

  • At the end, my ex was fond of saying that he couldn’t make me unhappy, I was the one making myself unhappy.

    I LOATHE most of the New Agey aphorisms so casually tossed around these days. It makes me sick to hear any version of:

    Follow your dreams, no matter what.
    Never let anyone tell you no.
    Create your own reality.
    Your own happiness is all that matters.
    Doing what you love is the most important thing in life.

    My ex is proud to live a life based on those types of statements, and considers himself a tremendously inspirational, motivational person. The stench of such a self-centered philosophy covers a lot of disordered bad behavior.

    • Hmmm, how about something like this,

      “If it’s on a bumper sticker, don’t live by it.”

      I could actually own a bumper sticker like that….;-)

      • Lale, I get a lot of ‘it is what it is’ too.

        I have realised that is the kind of meaningless but ‘deep’ comment he makes when he is backed into a corner and can’t think quickly enough to come up with a convincing lie that makes him look good. I have taken to asking him to explain what he means by it. He never answers.

        (Yes, I know I shouldn’t engage but I do take a small and bitter pleasure from calling him out on word salad. I only wish I’d started doing it twenty years ago).

    • Glad, your ex has certainly “created his own reality,” mine too, pitiful evil creatures.

      Well, they cannot pretend that anyone is holding them back from their manifest destiny now. And look at just how well they have fared.

    • Once again, these f’ers are NOT original…

      I also got quite a bit of the “but if you loved me, you’d want me to be HAPPPYYYYY…..” (said in the totally whiny voice of an obnoxious child). Vomit.

      The fact that these freaks can even claim to be happy while leaving behind the shattered rubble of their former spouses and children speaks volumes as to how completley soul-less and heartless they are.

      • Do you think that emotional blindness becomes their way of life? You can be laying there emotionally battered, and they look at you like some kind of psycho scientist discovering a new bug that it can’t understand. That cold, heartless, soulless stare is evil and creepy. There truly is nothing in there. Everything that you thought they were was a reflection of what they took from you. They mimic the best in us and then when they feel like venturing forth they leave it all behind and just take the mask with nothing in the eye socket but abject blackness.

        • Deel, I think it always was their way and they learn to act like what they think people want. I think you expressed that so well, that emptiness, especially this sentence:
          “Everything that you thought they were was a reflection of what they took from you.”

        • DeeL,

          I think it is their way of life, but I don’t know that they BECOME that, or maybe were always that way, but we didn’t see it, because we ARE real, we DO feel, and the idea that some people can be so soul-less and empty is just too odd to comprehend – until we live it.

          Lots of us chumps have mentioned that creepy, empty, blank, dark, evil stare – the empty eyes – it isn’t an accident or rare – it’s who they are – and maybe who they’ve always been. They are excellent actors if they have something to gain, but when they realize the show is over, then the mask comes off, and you see the creepy eyes and the empty soul. And it is terrifying.

          I’ve explained to people – and even found the courage to say this to the exH – that the 15 years with him were like watching a great movie. You sink right into it, you’re absorbed by it, and you fall in love with the “leading man” – but then the movie ends. And the lights come on in the dark theater, and you realize that what you loved – what you THOUGHT you loved, was never real. It was all an act, and the show is over.

          And now, since my dday has been a while ago, I’ve realized that it’s like walking past the amazing, famous actor from that movie in the street, and doing a double take – because he’s a lot shorter, and not as good-looking, and not at all exciting in “real life” – and you realize what a disappointment he is, and that you can’t imagine why you were “so in love” with him. Ever.

          • ReDefiningMe,

            That was so perfect! Such a beautiful summation of what so many of us have experienced. Thank you so much for your insight and sharing your wisdom.

        • Everything that you thought they were was a reflection of what they took from you.

          That! that is perfect. Thankyou so much for that insight, and that way of expressing what I’m feeling. When I look at him now there’s nothing. No generosity, kindness, heart, humanity even. He is nothing that I thought he was. And I think this is why. He was just leeching all those qualities from me and the kids.
          And slowly I am starting to realise that maybe other people don’t see me the way he did. That he is not the everything I thought and I am not the nothing that I thought.
          I need to start to see myself the way that others see me?
          I say that with a question mark because it’s early days here and I’m not sure if I’m imagining the kindness and compliments of others.

          • jodezter, the kindness and compliments of others…. That is what got me through the early days and even by Chump standards I’m relatively new cause I’m only 7 months out from d day 2 and straight up abandonment. Other people sometimes “see” what we have been missing from our relationships the whole time and we don’t. Early on, the advise is, treat yourself with kindness cause your ex sure as hell hasn’t been kind to you. I’m realizing that the person I married never existed, a whole new kind of mindfuck.

            • I’m 4 months from D-day, 3 and a half from straight up abandonment. Except he can’t leave it at that and is using financial stuff to keep the abuse going, and the OW lives just around the corner so I see him coming and going (which is like a knife in my side).
              It’s like he’s not happy with the amount of pain he’s caused and wants to inflict more and more…. I feel like the person I married died and now there’s this imposter wearing his skin….total mindfuck. Because, like you say, did that person ever really exist? or did we create them? *sigh*

              • Jodezter; feel so badly that you are at this early stage of WTF?? My guess is there is something inside him all along that did not feel good about himself, and this person (OW) can fill it for awhile, but all relationships get “real” sooner or later. I think even the ones who marry the OW are often at their own WTF?? a ways down the road but will not admit it. I think what most of us Chumps want is that feeling of safety back we certainly can never have back with a person who went the equivalent of relationship “postal” on us. Who was that masked man? comes to mind. Having her right around the corner is a bitch too. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone, much less a Chump. (i.e. good person) Hang in there!

              • We believed what we were told and what was presented. That we were Real and they weren’t is on them. It is hard to see our ex walking around and knowing that that Thing that is in their bodies isn’t who we thought they were. We were lied to and gas lighted. We are Real and they are mimics. Do Not take that upon yourself cause they will never get the fact that they are messed up or that the pain they caused is so huge and so very hurtful.

  • But Chump lady, I think that most of your advice is pointing out that pain is a choice, and we don’t have to chose it. Choosing to stay with a cheating louse is choosing pain. Choosing to care about someone who has demonstrated to you fully that he sucks is choosing pain. All your advice about getting to meh is about recognizing that you dont have to choose to associate with, care about or even think about someone who will bring you nothing but pain. Right? Or have I fundamentally misunderstood your message?

    Of course being cheated on causes incredible pain, and you can’t blame yourself for that betrayal (though as some one with a very broken picker I have to acknowledge that I seem to choose people who will cause me pain). But your message is that “Fire is hot, it will burn you. Don’t stick your hand into the fire. Cheaters suck, they will hurt you, dont stick your heart back into the cheater”

    Maybe someone can clarify for me?

    • I think the point of contention is about blaming the pain of betrayal on the person who was betrayed.

    • But Chump Lady does NOT say, “You created the relationship/universal vibe to be cheated on. You CHOSE to be cheated on.”

      She acknowledges that the pain is real, it exists, and try your best to a) protect yourself from it, and b) deal with it and c) be honest and real about it (no spackling!).

      The guru stuff would begin with line one of this post.

    • I agree that “you create your own pain” is a load of crap (generally served up as a shit sandwich). To me that is basically saying you MADE your own shit sandwich.

      However, I do see some truth in the sentiment that you can choose what to do with your pain. Maybe not in the moment, that white-hot moment of discovery, those initial days and weeks of figuring out how deep the lies and betrayal goes, the period of time you can’t breathe and walk around like a zombie, but yes, in the longer run, I think it is up to each of us to decide what we’re going to do with the pain that life and yes, even someone we loved, has dealt to us.

      Bear with me now…

      I had a craptastic childhood with an angry, abusive mother. I remember, even as a young child, being determined that I would NEVER treat my own children the way she treated my brothers and I. I also (stubbornness has it’s benefits) REFUSED to let her ruin my life. I ate a lot of shit sandwiches back in those days, but I knew it wouldn’t be forever, and when I became an adult with a family of my own, I removed her like a cancer from my life. My older brother, who she hated the most, took a lot more abuse than I did, and he struggled as a young adult, with anger issues and a drug problem. He’d always bring her up, blaming her for his problems, until one day I said to him that he could probably always find people that would feel sorry for him, and people who would excuse his problems based on what he’d endured, BUT he was only going to live today one time, and he was only going to get one life on this earth. I asked him if he really wanted to waste today and the rest of his life being miserable and making excuses as to why he was screwed up, or did he want to leave it in the past and be determined to live his life the best way he knew how. I’m pleased to say he made the right choice and has married happily and raised a beautiful family.

      Being cheated on is fucked up, no matter how you slice it. It guts you, undermines your very core and rips everything you know right out from under you. But you still get to choose whether to let this define you as a person. Maybe going through what I did as a child helped me in this respect, because I was able to turn and walk away the moment I knew the truth, because I immediately knew it was just another form of abuse.

      I KNOW it wasn’t my fault. I KNOW it wasn’t anything I did or didn’t do. I KNOW I didn’t deserve it. I KNOW I am worthy of more and better, and I’m going to rock the life I have.

      • “I had a craptastic childhood with an angry, abusive mother. I remember, even as a young child, being determined that I would NEVER treat my own children the way she treated my brothers and I. ”
        I suffered the same childhood, makes me a perfect target cause I wanna “fix” things.
        “Being cheated on is fucked up, no matter how you slice it. It guts you, undermines your very core and rips everything you know right out from under you. But you still get to choose whether to let this define you as a person. ” Thank you for this cause I will not let this define me, been through that and don’t wanna go there again, now that I know what I’ve been dealing with all I have to say is, Screw this shit and screw that asswipe, cause that is Not what I want.

  • You mean new-agers (is that what they are called) would suggest that if someone doused you in gasoline and set you on fire, you can choose or not choose to feel pain? You attracted an arsonist? OK that is dumb. I thought that they were talking about the *continuing* pain of trying to hang onto something that is actually bad for you, like a so-called relationship with a cheater.

    • I think nomar addressed it well in his post above. We don’t choose to be cheated on and experience that pain. It’s how we respond to that injustice — go back for another kick in the teeth? (stay with the person abusing you?) blame yourself? (pain) relive it? (pain) or rebuild your new life (pain, but gain).

      I’m not great at the succinct summation, but yes, New Agey people aren’t really thinking it through. They are saying stupid shit like, you attract this energy, or WTF ever. Pain is a choice, blah blah.

      • Just like to add another perspective on ‘bringing on our own pain’. I’ve always been physically active and healthy. After Dday, I had a series of very painful physical problems. I won’t mention the 2 times I ran into the garage door (once when it was closed I tried backing out, fast – oops). Ran 2 or 3 red lights, w/o realizing it. I should NOT have been driving and glad it wasn’t worse. The fog was unreal. Then I fell hard – blunt-force injury, working with my dogs. Caused bad back problems. Then, bear with me – loading shitfuck’s stuff up seemed to have caused 2 hernias that had me doubled over in pain for 2 wks. (just out of surgery and feeling great)

        I have no doubt I brought on this pain due to the incredible emotional pain I was going through. Somehow they have got to be related. But, did I cause the physical pain? yeah, for sure. (should have been home under the covers, I guess)
        But, that damn emotional pain was not my choice and I do believe it was responsible for all the errors I did to cause the rest.

  • “No, pain is not a choice. How you respond to pain is a choice. Pain is fucking REAL. To deny its existence is to deny the injustice that created it. And to minimize the bravery that it takes to live your life in spite of pain.”

    That’s what we’re doing, isn’t it? Finding a way to live our lives in spite of the pain. How well you see it Tracy.

    And how dumb and smug and silly of these self-annointed gurus. Just another unacceptable way to try to blame everyone but the perpetrators of the massive frauds that we chumps thought were loving marriages.

    • I think there will always be a market for “You are responsible for things happening to you that no perfectly rational person would think you are responsible for happening to you and you are not responsible for doing things any perfectly rational person would say you are responsible for doing”.

      There’s a pretty big niche market for this stuff, and the customers keep coming back because the underlying problem doesn’t ever change, and you are pretending to sell them change 🙂

      • Yes, TimeHeals and CL, it would be better than a magic talisman filled with ground unicorn horn if it actually worked. And by the way, if it actually worked, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? (And by the way, if simply willing and wishing made it so, wouldn’t my ex have died in a fiery crash by now?)

        • You want to know irony? I was reading a Deepak Chopra book about manifesting what you want from your life and the ex and I had actually written down a list of things that we wanted……and then I had my D day. Lol, nothing on my list came true, that’s for sure. If I end up with the opposite of everything I ever wanted does that mean I have some sort of reverse bizarro power that they’re talking about?

  • Gia, I think the concepts where you are experiencing the disconnect are macro and philosophical, not micro and personal. That, or extremely misguided.

    In Buddhism, there is the Four Noble Truths (basically, life is suffering and we alleviate suffering by enlightenment) and the Eightfold Path (how to live your life to achieve enlightenment).

    In mindfulness, you are asked to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, acknowledge them, and let them go. “Letting go” of satiating or painful attachments is a central theme in Buddhism. Monks and nuns devote entire lifetimes to this because it is indeed “saintly”.

    But infidelity and abuse is trauma. If you do not appropriately acknowledge the trauma and hurt you feel, especially by being “saintly”, those thoughts and feelings will continually resurface. You can run, but you can’t hide. It will continue to nip at your heels. What is helpful, though, is radical acceptance. That is a process. A long process.

    Keep up the meditation or prayer or whatever gets you through the night. But for chrissake, feel everything you feel. You are allowed.

  • BTW, as Chump Lady pointed out to another poster some time ago, I am not earning a PhD in psychology. However, as a chump, I found Jesus, Buddha, the Holy Virgin, therapy and whoever else wanted to hop on the train when it was going south.

    In a strange way, I there were more fulfilling moments during my separation than after the divorce was final, which I attribute to “trying” to be happy, okay, all better, better than better. I often think the journey would have been more tolerable if I just allowed myself to just be: Wrathful, pissed, angry, and hurt.

  • It’s also worth noting that “You Create Your Own Pain” is just a new-age take on the idea that we control everything.

    • EXACTLY! But then there’s that idea that what’s happening to us is God’s (the universe’s, etc) way of teaching us that we can’t control everything. So either you feel bad because you can’t, or you feel bad because you’re being taught a lesson because you tried. 😉

  • I’ve always hated the idea that we are in control of how we feel, through letting go of ego, or changing how we think, etc. Shit does happen, and it hurts like hell, and we should be angry about it. What we can do, through ego and negative thinking, is make that WORSE. We can blame ourselves for our ex’s cheating ways, we can tell ourselves we don’t deserve better, we can make victim our identity, instead of where we are at a given moment.

    And all that ‘The Secret’ ‘law of attraction BULLSHIT? Makes me hurl, makes me really really angry. People buy into it because they want to believe they do have control over their lives, and that the stupid book or whatever will teach them how to exercise that control. HAH! The best we can possibly do is improve our odds (exercise, wear your seatbelt/helmet, improve your picker), it is delusional to believe we ‘attract’ whatever comes our way. And it’s so harmful to believe that crap, because people end up blaming themselves or judging others for the bad stuff that DOES and WILL happen. And feeling smug and satisfied w/themselves when it’s good stuff – much of which depends on the combo of talent, hard work, and LUCK.

    I don’t believe at all in book burning, but if I did, ‘The Secret’ would be the one I would burn.

    • The only secret to “The Secret” is that it is a load of shit. Once upon a time, I “visioned” myself “married and happy.” When that actually happened, I was like, “Holy shitballs. It worked!”

      We see how that turned out.

    • Yeah, that “Secret” stuff was popular when I was trying to have a baby, but instead having miscarriage after miscarriage. Not only was my body failing me, but apparently my brain/spirit just could not put the right energy out into the universe either. Made me feel like a complete failure that I could not control the universe with the power of my mind! Not helpful.

      • river, sorry you went through that and with the added burden of feeling that it was something you should have been able to control. I hated that kind of thinking when my dad was ill, like cancer was his fault rather than likely exposure to toxins.

        • Well, toxins can have a mutagenic effect, but… basically all cancers are genetic. They’re just deleterious INDEL point mutations for the most part (the same thing that drives evolution) at the chemical level.

          I figure if we live long enough, we’ll all get some kind of cancer if something else doesn’t get us first 😉

          At any rate, it’s not like you are going to control the biochemical processes by simply trying to wish them to behave differently. It’s like praying to win the lottery, IMO. It doesn’t work that way.

          • Oh, in case it’s not clear, by “genetic”, I don’t mean inherited. You can inherit point mutations that predispose you to some cancers, but more generally… it happens because transcription errors just happen eventually. If something has odds of many trillions-to-one of happening, then eventually….

            • Interesting, TimeHeals. sounds like you really know this stuff. Still, if someone has continued exposure to a toxin like benzene from working around it wouldn’t that or other later exposures to things be said to be a possible causative agent? causing mutation that would have probably been delayed to a normal lifespan if it hadn’t occurred? Also, do you know/think early exposure, say early adulthood could be a factor in effects of exposure turning up decades later? Could toxins do their damage early almost dooming a person to those mutations happening sooner than otherwise?

              • Well, yes… environment can predispose one to more mutations. So can exposure to viruses and certain pathogenic proteins. But even if you managed to control for all of that, it still will eventually happen most likely, and if your immune system doesn’t jump on that because it looks a lot like your own DNA, well? So sure, don’t huff benzine, but controlling everything in your environment is not doable 🙁

                The weird thing about cancer is… a lot of people still think of it according to where in the body it manifests, and that’s kind of meaningless. The genomic information is what is important, I think, going forward. There have been, for example, genetically engineered antibodies that have successfully eliminated malignant tumors by targeting the specific point mutation. That kind of thing is gong to be important going forward with cancer treatments.

                We’re just emerging from the dark ages with cancer… thanks to largely to advances in genome sequencing and computers.

  • Another way to look at it Gia, is that the New Age theory of pain is saying that what you do can’t hurt anybody else. If they feel bad, it’s their fault, not your. That’s a pretty selfish, immoral way to look at life, isn’t it?

    In terms of unconditional love, I think that’s a different kind of love. We can love all humanity just for being human. Most of the time, this is not an easy thing to do. I think you need God to help you get to that. An important thing to remember, though, is that loving someone in this kind of way does not mean you have to let them abuse you.

    In some sense, I suppose no one can make you feel bad unless you care about them or about what they say. For example, if someone accused me of not knowing how to spell, I would just think they were deranged. If a stranger insulted my hair, I would be upset, but I wouldn’t care as much as if someone I cared about did. If I were a perfect person who didn’t care about my hair, I wouldn’t care if someone insulted it. I’m not, though.

    I’m not a Buddhist because I do feel attachment and care about other people and I prefer life that way. That means you are at risk for being hurt.

    However, I think New Age philosophy often warps Buddhism. There is a huge gap between you can follow the Eightfold Path and achieve Enlightenment through non-attachment versus making feel people bad because they have feelings. And I think you have to assume that getting to Enlightenment takes a long time, maybe even longer than your whole life.

  • Here’s one bit of wisdom that I picked up in a Buddhist meditation class. We practiced loving-kindness meditation — a way of generating positive feelings for other living beings (including friends, family, acquaintances, and people with whom we are having difficulties).

    When you practice loving kindness in this manner, you start with yourself. You recognize any pain or suffering that you are experiencing, empathize with that suffering, and then give yourself the gift of loving-kindness.

    I’m still fairly new to the practice, but that made such a huge difference for me at the time. It shifted my thinking. The message was not: “Feel no pain” or “Take the blame for your pain.” Neither was I told to run away from it or cover it or destroy it. Just notice the pain, and give yourself a bit of love and understanding instead of beating yourself up for it.

    I am still figuring a lot out myself, but I suspect that the folks who take credit for their own luck and blame others for their misfortunes are living in a neck-high pile of bullshit.

    • Lily Bart, lovingkindness meditation has helped me quite a bit. Also, living consciously in the now has been a life saver and life changer for me, in addition to my faith.

  • To me, the only way I got over the pain was to accept that I was in pain and to feel the pain. It didn’t kill me. Instead by allowing myself to feel it, didn’t judge it or give it s story, it eventually went away. Resisting what is just causes more pain. Think about it – when you stub your toe and keep on cussing and cursing and telling yourself you’re an idiot just intensifies the pain. But when you just let the pain be (it is what it is) and feel it (initial cursing allowed), it goes away faster. No resistance. What do we do when our young kids get hurt? We soothe them and allow them to feel the pain. We don’t say, “Oh my God, you’re going to die” or act as if it’s the end of the world. We can but they’re wailing will intensify because they are now frightened in addition to the physical pain.

    • Very true. I think I had to learn to overcome the urge to run from pain, which only caused me more pain. I was in a long, painful cycle for a long time before I learned to just let go and feel it. Then I felt better, strangely.

      You know, you couldn’t pay me to go through all of this infidelity pain again — no way. But if there’s an upside to all of this awful darkness, it’s the insight gained. I feel like I’ve been through samurai training.

    • Uniquely, this was super important for me, too, and very hard. My tendency is to keep trying to understand, keep trying to find a solution, keep having conversations in my head … Learning to just stop all that and let myself feel that pain, cry if I needed to, alone or on someone’s shoulder, that was hard. But when I did, the pain passed so much more quickly!

      Just realized I haven’t had an imaginary conversation with my ex in a long time! must be a signpost on the road to meh!

  • I have to say that for me ego was a problem. I didn’t want him back. I just wanted him to want me back. Dance with me, dance with ME. It was when I realized that it was my ego that was injured that the healing began.

  • This reminds me again of dumb Gwenny-P. I don’t really understand this need to run from reality, to pretend that divorce is all part of a grand plan where everyone’s life is enriched. If you love someone who didn’t love you back in a real way, that’s just really hard and you cry in your car on the way home from work every day and when you get home you calmly make dinner for the baby and do the laundry. Your pain just gets inserted into mundane tasks until you heal and move on. Why do we try and make it something awesome or something you can mold, like the force? Maybe if I try hard enough, I can use my jedi powers to make my pain load the dishwasher.

  • Some (maybe most) of these “Guru People” are Narcissists themselves, putting themselves high above the worldly plane of devastating PAIN!! If you never really love, never really trust , and never allow anyone to mean so much to you they could devastate you…then you are right, you will not be able to relate to this deep level of pain we Chumps are experiencing. I know I personally have never known such pain and I know fellow Chumps will agree. Wish I would have been above this level of pain!
    “Gurus” often make others feel beneath them with their “ordinary-ness.”

  • I have heard those, in fact, when hearing them those that are saying them really mean it. It is being hurt all over again that I am not this pure free thinker, that if I love him let him go maybe he will return it isn’t my business if he does or not and I should respect him enough to just let go. In fact, I bought into that new age crap when I was half out of my mind and one cd had so many things to do, you could be laying there listening to it all day, and a long section of it was listening to the universe and thinking …let go… and to remember what it is like to let go and to remember a time before this life where it is similar to this pain as I put this pain here to finally LEARN FROM IT.

    That this is a lesson I gave to myself to progress.

    And my chakaras are not aligned and I don’t understand how they are wheels of light and sitting around thinking all this, while….

    the spouse of mine is doing god knows what in what contortions with that WHORE.

    I have heard all that, I also heard I am really angry and I can’t align myself with so much anger, and yes yes yes it is I heard myself I am angry at not the cheating contortionist.


    Its like I shouldn’t feel I have a right to be appauled at his …whatever he is doing and sticking his face and he is just a monster now, how was I in the marriage so long with him, how did I not notice this?

    I am in this place of not feeling like I have a right to feel like I was in it, I am feeling really weird about it all. How dare I think I can tell him and the whore I am uspet, you know.

    I hope I work through this phase.

    • I was given one of those CD’s Deb. It told me, in a very calming voice, to imagine the time that made me angry and to feel all that anger, and let it come. And then to let it go, and feel it being released from my body.

      Hell no. I’m nursing my wrath to keep it warm. That shit is the only thing that protects me and my kids from that creep. If I ‘let go’ of my anger he will see that as forgiveness and try and manipulate me again! Nope. My anger is my friend at the moment because it keeps him at bay. He doesn’t know what to do with it. And we have the right to it. Our anger is justified!! You have every right to be appalled and hurt.
      My GP gave me some counsel when everything went to hell, he said something like, “Go back to him if it’s what you feel you need to do. You will see very quickly whether he is going to change. Then you will know you’ve tried, and you will be able to walk away with no regret. Try if you want but you don’t EXPECT people to act this way and you SHOULDN”T EXPECT people to act this way.”

      [He also told me that one day my kids would be grown and did I really want to be left with him? lol
      I think he was on Chump Lady’s team 😉 ]

      And he was right. You should not expect anybody to act like your cheater did.
      So, I say for now, while this is the way you feel, own it. Be angry at him, the whore, his family, anyone else who knew what was happening….

      And then when we’re ready I’m sure we’ll both be able to let go of the anger and move on. But I’m right there with you.

      Oh, and I just have to say this is not a lesson you gave to yourself. He gave it to you. His choices, his fuck ups. Not yours. You did not bring this on yourself.

    • You can substitute kale for spinach, cook it in any of the same ways or eat it raw. That is, if you like greens that are bitter and tough. I was in Whole Foods yesterday and saw a sign that says, “Collards are the new kale,” so I guess kale is already on its way out.

  • My not very STBX because he won’t move out is reading self-enlightenment books. He orders them frequently along with titles such as “She Comes First,” “The Female Orgasm,” and “Erotic Hypnosis.” But he says he is not cheating and I have no right to judge his reading choices. These all read like “how to” manuals. He sees himself as new age and enlightened too. One of his books is about past lives. We had a past life until he became a lying cheater. He has never cared how much he hurt me and was in a fury when I was outraged about his book collection. This pain is very real and cannot heal until he is out of the picture and I can start a new life.

      • Thank you, Rosie. It is creepy, isn’t it? Sometimes I doubt my own common sense and it is good to know someone agrees!

  • “Did you know that recent neuroscience shows that social pain (rejection, exclusion, romantic break ups) activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain?”

    Yes, very true. It feels like physical pain, starting in your heart and gut and moving on from there. In fact, it even responds to painkillers similarly to physical pain. That’s why it’s so easy for people to use pain killing drugs to numb emotional pain – because it works. (Not a good idea, though – best to feel the pain and heal the regular way.)

    • I see this all the time! People would be surprised, and perhaps a little less judgemental,if they understood that some opiate addicts are using to try to alleviate their emotional pain. One of the best examples I can remember is a man in his fifties, who lost the love of his life in a quick but horrendous battle against cancer. Despite the fact that the strongest substance he had ever used was an occasional beer, he quickly became addicted to his wife’s leftover morphine (which is huge problem in this area of care). He was so judged by many of his so-called friends. Fortunately, a group of friends he had known many years ago, moved him out of town, found him a great job, helped him find his bearings, and he is now doing great. He was in pain, it just wasn’t the pain our society is prepared to recognize in any meaningful way.

      Genuine grief is unacceptable in our culture, to the point that the recently revised DSM has a new diagnosis of “you’re not getting over your grief fast enough.” Now that really pisses me off! Grief is what heals us, what makes us human. Anyone who isn’t willing to acknowledge your grief is not someone worth having as a friend! But sadly, many of us have been told to just get over it, as if we lack sufficient emotional fortitude to stop feeling the pain. Well, let them be hit by a train and see how quickly they jump up from the tracks, whistle a happy tune and dance off into the sunset.

  • In the 3 mos since dday, I’ve been told by friends that I’m overreacting, overly emotional, hanging on to being the victim like a martyr because I choose to, behaving manically. If I throw up in public it’s because I choose to. The truth? My head and my heart (and digestive tract) have been hijacked by thoughts and emotions over which I have no control. I don’t want the ow in my head, i barely know her, and I didn’t break my own heart. I dont like the conversations i have with myself. Am I proud of everything I’ve done? No but I’m not mortified either – I had no manual for this, and as a creative artistic chump, I’m emotional. Some of my friends have let me down, some totally get it, and my h is contrite and trying. I check in here daily so I can keep it real. Raw emotions are frightening to some people, mainly those who are afraid to deal with their own and dig deep. Frankly by being cuckoo for coco puffs for a spell, now I feel like I’m on the other side of the shit pile. I’m saner and more logical and more realistic about what I need to heal. Best advice I was given was by a wacky new age loony toon who only told me this: Think of a color, a pure blue, pink sunset, whatever is soothing to you and envision yourself inhaling that with each breath. And with every exhale, envision the color of your pain, problem, dilemma – puce, bile green, whatevs, and blow it out of your body. Fill yourself with what makes you feel great, expel what doesn’t, even on such a simple level. I figured I was breathing anyway, so what the fuck. And it felt good to feel like I was in control of what I took in and let out. You guys rock, really.

    • Yeah no shit. To use an overused word, I’m going to ‘curate’ friendships. The cream has risen to the top, I’m learning who will hold my hand and fetch me tissue and tell me I’m awesome lol. I’ve always been the no drama pal, so this ugly sitch has made people turn away from me, some have been ows in the past….hmmmm.

  • I went through some friends myself, used to my NOT having many problems. I feel they see me differently because my usual strength was decimated. They got sick of it when I couldn’t move on faster.

  • Just found it on

    Submitted by Joe – 1776 on April 10, 2014 – 1:40pm.
    Jeremy, help me clarify your position. Would you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    1) We cannot be made to feel inferior unless we allow it.

    2) We cannot be made to feel anger unless we allow it.

    I think both statements are true. What we are really here with this point is self-control.


    Thanks for asking. I agree
    Submitted by Dr. Jeremy Sherman on April 10, 2014 – 3:28pm.
    Thanks for asking. I agree with those statements whole-halfedly, Joe. I can easily come up with exceptions to those, situations in which, try as you might you can’t control your feelings, and so no, as a rule I’d say the statements don’t hold.

    And I can think of plenty of ways the statements can be used to cause harm: “Slave? You’re angry? That’s not my problem. You have a choice so just get over it.”

    So I encourage you to see if you can find a way to edit those statements to cover all the cases you mean to have them cover and not the cases like my slave example which I assume you don’t want them to cover.

    I wrote this article years ago on the very interesting question you raise.

    I think we’re some-nipotent. For example, we have the power to control some feelings in some situations, not all.

    And here’s another thing: Psychologists distinguish between feelings and emotions. My favorite working distinction is that feelings have no narrative. For example, we feel pain or pleasure. Emotions are already cognitively laced, “I feel anger because I attribute the pain I’m in to your behavior.” That sort of thing. Controlling feelings seems to me more far-fetched than controlling emotions, which I still think we can do only incompletely.

    I’m not much on overriding intuition. If my intuition (the combination of all my faculties, emotional cognitive biological social, etc.) tells me consistently and convincingly that someone is hurting me, yes I can override that intuition for a little while with self-doubt, but not for long. I’m much more interested in honing my intuition than overriding it.

    And thank you for your curiosity about these things. They are serious questions we wouldn’t want to handle lightly. Aphorisms can be useful prescriptions for a particular case. There have been plenty of times in my life when I should have concentrated more on changing my attitudes than changing my situation, and there, these aphorisms would come in handy, but as absolutes? Nope not for me.

    Yesterday I wrote an article about wedding such statements you might find interesting:


  • Thank you Tracy. So, so much. I feel like I needed backup with this – I’m so tired, literally, of beating myself up. I will read and reread this as many times as I need to.

    And thank all of you for your input. While I want to spend all night expressing my gratitude for your detailed responses and support, I am in the midst of finalizing my divorce. I feel relieved and heartbroken at the same time. But I will get through.

    Thanks again Chumps. You are all an inspiration to Meh.

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