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Dear Chump Lady, How do I get over my envy?

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Dear Chump Lady,

D-Day was over a year go and I have since filed for divorce. I am the mother of two young kids and am no contact with the ex except for communications regarding the kids and finances. I trust that he sucks and don’t want him back (although he has tried to reel me back in after I filed).

However, I still feel sad/envious at times when I see happy two-parent families walking about or even among my friends. I live in a neighborhood that just seems to be full of smiling young couples with kids in tow (it’s like stroller city here). I think I’m on the road to “meh”, but what do I do about my feelings of envy and sadness for a dream that will never be — a happy two-parent family with the father of my children?

I also do not currently have any potential suitors and I feel like my chances of finding a good man are pretty dim, given the fact that I’m in my mid-40s and have two young children, and, even if I did find someone, he would never be the father of my children. Chump Lady, how do I get over my envy and grieving over a dream that will never be? Thank you.

Best,

Dreamer

Dear Dreamer,

Envy isn’t very productive, or helpful for your healing. It’s human, I get it, but when you go there stop yourself. Measuring yourself against other people — especially people you don’t know — is a recipe for misery. You don’t control their life’s journey and you don’t know what they’ve suffered or are suffering now. That person whose happiness you envy may have lost a parent, or flunked his/her examinations, or have a cheating partner too. I’m not saying go with the schadenfreud, I’m saying recognize that you don’t know that person’s whole story. Yeah, even if you’re close to them. We all have struggles and hidden sorrows.

And let’s say by God, every strolling couple is deliriously happy — well, good for them. The world is a better place for every well-adjusted, happy family out there. If they’re smug about that? Okay, hate on. (No, not really… but I’ll allow you some snark.) But recognize that their happiness doesn’t take one whit of happiness from you. There isn’t a big happiness well and they’re drawing up more than their share, exhausting limited happiness resources. They’re happy. It’s zero reflection on you.

Unless you make it about you. Which is really what envy is, a kind of projection. I Want That. They Have That. I Hate That They Have That and I Don’t Have That.

So focus on what you can control here — YOU. Your path forward, your attitude, your resiliency.

Ever heard the expression “If first you don’t succeed, redefine success”? You need to redefine success. You’ve narrowed it to being partnered. Worse, even if you want to be partnered, you’ve excluded every potential man from your life because he’ll never be the father of your children. Way to give up there before you’ve even tried!

First off, fuck those definitions of success. That you have to be of some shiny, nuclear intact family. Most people don’t get that — moreover, they don’t get a CHOICE about it. So, how unfair is it to judge people by criteria they can’t even control? It’s like standards of beauty. I’m never going to be 6 feet tall and weigh 120. There will never be a gap between my thighs. My hair will never be straight and fall over my shoulders in a cascade of loveliness. So WHAT? Am I to never feel attractive because I cannot attain that standard? Fuck that. I do my best, take my squigdy middle-aged ass to the gym, eat pastries because I like them, and put a lot of conditioner in my hair on humid days.

I adapt. I overcome. I say, fuck your unrealistic standards of my worth, Society!

You need to do the same. Start redefining what happy is, what success looks like, and arrange your life to get some of your OWN defined happiness. When you do that — you’ll find the envy fades away, because you’re living your life on your terms. You’re not measuring yourself by some dumb one-size fits all standard.

You’re going to grieve what you lost. That takes time. You’re going to have to accept that you’re not going to get the life you thought you were going to have. The rewiring is a process. But don’t make this harder than it has to be, by measuring yourself against the neighborhood flotilla of baby strollers. We don’t get the life we thought we had, or prayed for — and trust me, that can be a GOOD thing. Thank God my reconciliation prayers were unanswered. Every day I spend married to a man who is not the father of my child — a guy I married at 43, being less than a perfect physical specimen — I feel like I won the lottery. Go ahead, hate my treacle. It’s insufferable. But that’s how I feel. So do I tell the universe, I’m sorry THIS WON’T DO. We didn’t meet at 18 and go on to have 50 years together, so I REJECT this as too little, too late?

I could’ve been happy many other ways than my husband. (But I’m glad for him, of course.)  I had a job I loved, a terrific garden, good friends. Geez, there are many good ways to build a life. Be open, be grateful. Some days that’s so hard, but will yourself forward. Don’t let that cheater win. Don’t let him define your life’s success. You’re somebody without that nobody. Put THAT in your stroller and meditate on it.

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Ask Chump Lady

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  • Well said. You have such a wonderful, intelligent way to look at things. I sometimes go to bad places in my mind and play the “never going to happen” for me too. It’s an all or nothing situation in my own head.

    To the initial poster, don’t rule out all men. Many of us are kind, hard working, empathetic, and loving. You have no idea how many of us are looking for an honest, loving partner too in our forties.

    You are not alone. Your ideal dream is dead. Mourn it. Carry on though, there are new adventures awaiting you. Don’t shut yourself off to other possibilities.

    • Scoops, thanks for that lovely reply.

      I gives me hope. Yet, if I said something disagreeing or offering an alternative opinion to the person you described, and they showed interest or offered to meet me half way?

      I don’t think I would know what to do. Fall even more in love with them, I think.

      • I had a therapist tell me also to mourn the death of the woman I was and create from scratch who I wanted to be. It was the most useful exercise so far, to dream about what I wish to become, with or without a mate. I’m a terribly envious person, and it’s a toxin.

  • After I finally filed for divorce and realized that being a single mom on a budget would be by “new normal” I threw a HUGE pity party for myself. It sucked. I knew that my dream was long gone and I woke up to the horror of my nightmare of a life. One where I didn’t have a partner to share my day with. I was responsible for my two teenage daughters, a home and all of the work. I suffered for a few weeks feeling depressed at the hand I was given and withdrew.

    What saved me was writing down the things, however small they were, that I was thankful for each day. Sometimes it was just that I had a job to go to or that I had a reliable car to drive. But that practice led me to realize just how many wonderful things I have in my life. I now have a wonderful man in my life to share time with but if he hadn’t walked into my life I would still have been okay. No one person should ever have the capability of sucking the joy out of your life, especially a cheating spouse who did not deserve YOU!!!!!

    You will get there, back to happiness, it just takes a bit of effort on your part to push past the envy. That will fade in time and be replaced with happiness and freedom!!!!

  • Funny, but I woke up from a nightmare last night and couldn’t get back to sleep. And I started thinking about what had been lost since I discovered ex was a man-ho. The kids are away and I’ve been working my ass all week, had a ton of meetings today and was generally exhausted and gripped by anxiety in the middle of the night. Very sad Nord at 3am.

    Then I woke up this morning, went to my meetings, got an unexpected offer, then another meeting went incredibly well and as I made my way home on the train a little kid started making silly faces at me. I laughed and made some back. We had a great time for 20 minutes and everyone around us smiled.

    Now I’m home, beyond tired and realise that while I won’t have that dream of growing old with the father of my children and looking back fondly on our lives I do have so much and a great deal of what I have is much better than I had with ex. I’m LIVING for the first time in a long time, with all the ups and downs and fears and joys that that entails. Would I – COULD I – have had any of this with ex? I’m not sure. Maybe, maybe not. Most likely not because our lives were about him and his needs, while mine were generally secondary. Partly my fault for allowing it to reach that point but hey, I thought we were doing this for our family.

    Now I’m doing what I do for my family, which is me and my kids. And you know what? My kids, having been with me every step of the way through this struggle, are so bloody proud of me. Are they proud of their dad? Not so much. They love him but they see that he took the easy way in life and while I was forced on to a much tougher path (putting back together a long-dormant career in middle age) I’m making it happen and more importantly I am making them a part of it – the good, the bad, the ugly.

    I still have my family, just with one less person (and no more nutty in laws). And I have something more important: a bond with my kids that is incredibly strong, along with my pride and self-respect.

    You can have your family, just in a different constellation. You can have everything you want as long as you make your life WHAT you want. You obviously don’t want a cheater so forget about that part and think very long and hard about how you want your life to look. Then get down and dirty making it happen, knowing it’s going to take a lot of work but that every time you achieve something you will be one step closer, setting an excellent example for your kids, and you will be living your life on your terms and with the love and affection of those who really and truly actually care about you.

    • Thanks Nord for encouraging us middle age stay home mom’s. I need to believe that I can start a career and be successful no matter that I have to start from scratch.

    • Oh Nord, that’s wonderful! Part of what you said is exactly me. And part of what you said is where I’m headed. Thanks for the encouragement.

      • 10yr SAHM here just had her second interview for a job I am really excited about. Your absence from the working world will not preclude you from finding a good job. Believe me, I was terrified, I am also confident I will find the right job for me. Best of luck – I hear about the job by the end of the week!!

        • Life requires us to jump in with both feet! I did not realize how living with a disordered unfaithful spouse limits every opportunity you have. But SAHMs (and Ds!) have life skills and gifts many employers seek. Best of luck!

          • I agree. So many opportunities were passed by due to me allowing ex to come first. Now? I grab all opportunities and see what they’re all about. Some are great, some not so much, but in doing this I am making things happen.

    • Wonderful post, Nord! thank you so much. I feel this deeply: “our lives were about him and his needs, while mine were generally secondary”

      • Nord,
        I love your courage. You are doing exactly what you should be doing! You remind me to keep moving forward even when there are bad days.

        • Well said Nord. 3 and a bit years on and I realise that I have everything that was ever important to me. I’m having the life I wanted all along… he’s just not in it.
          Like you, I am grabbing opportunities and have done things that would never have been possible with him around.

  • I too mourned the future we were going to have after being married for nearly 30 years. Our girls were leaving the nest and we were downsizing and I was looking forward to moving forward with the man I loved. He blindsided me with divorce as he started seeking happiness with his college girlfriend in the middle of the country.

    I have learned to let go of the dream and have bought a small apartment that I can afford on my salary. There’s room for my girls should they need to be there. But I wouldn’t have been able to move forward without the love and support of my friends and family. I feel very sorry for my STBX because I think he’s searching for a happiness that exists only in fairytales. Would I like to meet someone who cares for me? You bet! I think a positive attitude and seeking my own happiness will bring about a good result, but if I don’t every have that again, at least I have two wonderful girls and wonderful friends. Sometimes that’s all a girl needs!

  • Being married to the parent of your kids is nice, but it’s not as important as being married to someone you love who loves you and treats you well.

      • Exactly. As a lot of us have seen here, sometimes the person who fathers/births your children isn’t the person who really deserves you. Anyone can be a biological parent, but not anyone can be a father/mother. It takes more than just the contribution of chromosomes.

      • I agree completely. I realized that I did not have my dream relationship because he became so mean and disrespectful. I knew I could not sustain being with him as he was acting, but still had the opinion that he was a good person who was struggling. Once I found out that he was lying and had an affair— that was it. I no longer respected him and wanted to protect my son.

        Further, his OW had a beautiful home, kids and ‘what looked like’ a loving husband but she acted like a shit just like my ex. I was told that when my ex did not want to leave me for her she was ‘jealous” of me. What a horror.

        Jealousy fueled this shit Cabbage Patch to want my life and led my dumb husband to feel sorry for himself that he was not doing as well as his peers and seek comfort in Cabbage rather than me because, well, I was happy with what I was doing and he couldn’t commiserate enough and resented me.

        When I see other people’s happy homes I do get sad and feel sorry like why couldn’t I manage to have a loving safe marriage, but I know that I have to come to relationships honestly. I tried to make it happen with my disordered ex, giving him every excuse and believing his lies and look where that got me.

        Now I aspire to get my finances in order and finish my dissertation. I invited some good men into my son’s life to show him who kindness is. My brother is a beautiful person and he has stepped forward to care for my son and spend time with him. I hired a very kind 27 year old teacher to take my son from ex to my home so I could go NC and give my son another male role model.

        I view cheater-ex as my son’s biological father and respect my son’s love for him but am looking around to fill the void of spiritual/intellectual/empathic father. Cheater ex will only drop another ax and I have to be there for my son and fortify him with individuals I trust.

        Family and kinship come in all different styles. Don’t get too caught up in biology. Biology is not the same as love. Biology cannot give you respect. Biology is something to reflect and learn from but it’s not empathy or honesty.

        Live your own ideal with your kids. The dream is not dead, it was not in the person you picked.

        • Hiring a go-between is a GREAT idea! My ex uses every chance he gets to start arguments, which now the only chance he has is pick-up/drop-off since I won’t respond to his ridiculous text messages anymore. I’ll have to look into that!

          • Lale, having a go-between has improved the quality of my life and my child’s life. When I had to see ex each week I would get so upset prior. This jackass would start fights, be rude and also be happy go lucky—isn’t this all working out just fine! I wanted no part of his narrative on any level.

            I hired a really great person who worked as an afterschool teacher from my son’s school who my son liked a lot. I researched and also spent time with both of them after he brought my son to me. It’s good to have this young man in our lives. He comforts my son and relaxes me by just playing and being normal.

            And….I don’t ever have to see stupid regularly again. I actually feel less anxious, angry and “explain” less to him in my head. I can also mourn the loss of having my young son taken from me each week without ex’s narrative—and move on for both our sakes.

  • My feelings exactly. And Chump Lady..thanks for this advice. I plan on reading and re-reading it over and over, so I can get myself out of this envy quicksand I’m stuck in; along with the thought that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. (I’m 45..yikes lol)

    • I have to add..in my “I’ll be alone forever” thoughts..I don’t see myself as a “catch”. 45 years old, chunky, thin hair (CL I’ll take that full head of curly hair you have), 12 year old daughter at home, no money (thanks to lack of financial support from STBX), I could name my faults endlessly. Who’s going to want a fat, middle-aged, poor reject with a kid at home?

      • OK, then you work to change things you’re unhappy about. You go for walks and start taking Biotin for your hair. 😉

        You’re not a fat, middle-aged poor reject. You’re navigating some bullshit and that’s hard. But take it from me, sometimes you have to move. Even if it’s little steps, you have to actively move towards what you want. Everybody has faults and things we deal with, but the trick is to not focus on them and to focus instead on what you want in your life. What steps do I need to take to make things happen?

        When I go to sleep at night, I visualize what I want my life. (Camper, travel, cute little house). It’s fun, and it always puts me right out. 🙂

        • Rumblekitty..I’ve actually been walking for about a month or so now. I get frustrated because I don’t see immediate results, lol! I tell you..I have to force myself to get my lazy butt walking some nights, but so far I’ve made myself do it as often as I can. I need to figure out ways to change my emotional outlook. I have to stop throwing myself a constant pity-party. I have to stop making myself miserable! As you all know..that is SO hard to do when you’ve been discarded like yesterday’s trash by someone you thought you knew and loved..and still love, unfortunately. July 10th will be the 6 month anniversary of Dday. So far, 2014 has royally sucked. Here’s to hoping the second half of the year will be better!!

            • Beach..actually you are right! If I was ever laying on the couch he always said I was lazy and never did anything. Funny thing is..whenever he was home (OTR trucker) he did exactly that. Sat on the couch in front of the TV and dozed..didn’t do anything with me and the kids.

          • Sandy R

            You are still on the rollercoaster. Your ups will become more frequent but you are going to have some downs. It will get better.

            I, too, thought that I would be married for the rest of my life. I thank God more and more each day that I am being given another chance to have a happy life. I no longer have anyone in my life who is mean and disrespectful. People are kind to me.

            I’m still not healed but every day gets better. I realized my marriage was over in Aug 2012 and my divorce has been final almost ten months. I am ready to be 100% and I know that I don’t want to go back to what my life was. I still ask myself, “Why me?” but then I try to remember how fortunate I am. I have been given a gift.

            Hang in there.

            • JoyFilled, thank you for this: “I thank God more and more each day that I am being given another chance to have a happy life. I no longer have anyone in my life who is mean and disrespectful.” Those words really help to heal over the pain.. I too hope to feel that way soon.

          • SandyR, The other folks are right. And remembering that there are others who have it worse also helps. For example, be thankful that at least you are able to walk. I contracted an incurable disease that left me completely disabled, so I can’t even walk. Plus, I have 3 young kids, not just 1. And, believe it or not, but guys still ask me out! (OK, no one yet that I’ve been interested in, but still! If there’s hope for me, then there’s hope for you!) Also, I know there are others who have it worse than me, who don’t have food, or a house, or loved ones. And that helps me appreciate what I’ve got.

            Also, I know this sounds crazy, but you should be happy that you are the chump in your story. Much, much better than being the cheater or the OW. You can live happily, knowing that you are a good person! See, lots to be positive about 🙂

            Yes, it hurts when you still love the cheater. For me, it took about a year and a half after dday for my heart to catch up with my head and stop loving the POS. But you will eventually get there, if you keep following with your actions what you know to be right (no contact, taking care of yourself, etc). Hang in there, my dear, things will get better – especially if you work on what you want to change 🙂 Big hugs!!!

          • Sandy R. Don’t give up the activity. It is very very difficult to make this new habit. I am one year from Dday . I started to run about 8 months ago. Let me put that another way…I started to walk kinda fast. I was 30 pounds overweight. It helped me use energy and I was able to sleep better despite my endless thoughts of my lost life. I am now training for my first half marathon in Nov. There may be no one at the end of the race to cheer me ,as the other runners have ,and that makes me feel sad. Yet, this is for me and not for anyone else. I will be 60 and have been married for 37 years. I am now 27 pounds lighter and stronger. There are days I have to push push push. Days I just want to wallow and cry and drink wine. Days I don’t want to work and just want to sleep. I have no local friends and two family members with cancer…and the husband who follows the cheaters handbook word for word. So, I run. Kinda like Forest Gump. Got me some new shoes and I RAN.
            You won’t regret it. It doesn’t change your cheating spouse. It changes you for the better. So get going and KEEP GOING!! You are not alone..Chump Nation knows your pain and is there for the support you need.

            • I hope I have your get up and go at 60 Patticake.

              good for you! good luck with the half marathon in November.

              • Thanks Sammie D!!! I will put you in my imaginary cheering section at the end of the race.

            • Wow I’m impressed! (I wish I could run but my knees get very very angry.) You are mighty! Good luck in your 1st marathon.

              • Yes, indeed. Congratulations on unleashing your inner runner and going for it!

            • patticake..to steal a line from Forrest Gump: “Run Sandy, run!” lol. I have really wanted to start running again, like I did in college..which was only about 25 years ago, lol. Since Dday in January, I have shed 35 pounds since I couldn’t eat or sleep. Now, my appetite has returned, and I’m having to really control myself..I do NOT want to gain back a single pound! Honestly I was about 90 pounds overweight, so I still have a long way to go. But I’m working on it, starting out walking. I am just 5″2′, so I need to continue to lose weight. I have always had the thought in the back of my mind that I want to do some sort of marathon before I die, and I hope that I can keep kicking myself in the butt and keep exercising. I want to do a marathon so bad!! This will sound dumb..but STBX is a BIG guy..6″1 and probably 350 pounds. .I want to kick his ASS in weight loss..Kinda like “see what you threw away” lol!

              • Sandy R. I ran in college too. So I also remember how much I liked to do it. I also had the initial weight loss and started to return to the old habit of eating when stressed and the pounds came back. To change that took some real self discipline. I realized that I no longer had to buy food for a person who was unhealthy and very limited in his food choices. I was finally able to buy the good stuff for me. In my marriage I was constantly struggling to maintain a healthy weight. I begged H to help me lose by eating healthy and walking but he never did. It seemed he purposely would buy foods that tempted me. I think that was a control thing too. He was able to keep me where he wanted me and my self esteem stayed low. I was dependent on him to feel good about myself. BUT IT IS CHANGING. I am changing. I also have a marathon plan for 2015. One step/one day at a time. I also want to show STBX that I can do it without him and be able to say the same…”see what you threw away”!! HAHAHA

              • Dreamer, Sandy, Patticake and all who are forcing themselves into a better life, I so relate to your paths/journeys/challenges.

                In mid-October of last year I could hardly walk. I was 100 lbs overweight and had many physical and emotional problems. When my husband cheated and we separated I vowed to stop killing myself, and to get healthy.

                Tomorrow is a sort of marker for me. I’ll be 57, I’ll have lost 70 pounds, and I feel (physically) terrific. Many people say how they have to “force” themselves and I’m the same. I force myself five or six days a week to go to the local pool and swim for an hour.

                It’s funny how you resist doing something and yet when you’re in the middle of it, or done with it, you feel almost high and wonder why would I not want to do this every day?

                Swimming has now become a habit for me. The longest habit of exercise I’ve ever had in my life and I plan to do it for the rest of my life. Swimming is also the best anti-depressant I’ve ever tried and I’m sure that’s true with pretty much any physical activity.

                Swimming is a unique form of non impact aerobics and weight training and while you’re doing it you almost feel as though you’re in deep meditation. For anyone with weak knees, and a love of water, I recommend it. And trust me, there are people of all sizes and ages there.

                The emotional stuff, including envy of others, is just something I work on every single day. Somedays it’s easier than others and sometimes I feel real setbacks. But I have finally realized that the overall trend is what is important not only with my weight, but with my emotional health.

                No matter our age, weight, or circumstances, we can do this.

              • Happy Birthday MovingLiquid!!!!
                Swim an extra lap for Chump Nation tomorrow, we’ll be with you!
                I don’t swim, but I WALK every day, very soothing. I love it so much, and I’m down to 126 lbs 🙂
                Gain a life- Yes, I think I will, thanks!

              • ML- I love swimming too! I gained 65lbs during my pregnancy. After I gave birth to my son I started going on walks almost immediately. At first they were short because…well, it still felt like the bottom was going to fall out of me. Once my lady parts got cleared at 6 weeks I started swimming twice a week too. It’s such a wonderful feeling. I’m still 35lbs heavier than I was before I got pregnant but I think 10lbs of that is muscle now. It’s also a nice break from my almost three month old.

                Being rejected while going through pregnancy sucks because you can’t really put on lipstick and then waddle out and feel sexy. Getting hit on while pregnant is weird. But I’m starting to feel like me again. But wow to those of you training for marathons and stuff. I’m 35 and my knees just can’t handle that. Patticake please put me in your cheering section too!

              • You know something else I noticed while swimming is that the natural supplement I’m taking to help with mood is really working. Between finding out my ex was a cheating piece of crap, seasonal affective disorder and postpartum hormones I was struggling a little bit. Especially with obsessive thoughts about my situation. My mind had moved on, but my brain just keep repeating it over and over. It’s very noticeable when swimming because that’s an activity where my mind is normally peaceful. After about three weeks my brain is much quieter. I’m not usually a huge advocate of antidepressants or meds in general but what we go through is so hugely traumatic it would be surprising if our brains always jump back into normal without help. So for those who are having obsessive thoughts they can’t seem to get rid of or who are unable to move on very well after a good long time, taking something might be worth looking into. Hey, it’s not normal to feel like nothing good will ever happen to you again even though you’re doing everything right and making good steps towards your new life. I’m taking 5htp which is natural and relatively inexpensive.

              • Moving Liquid is right about all exercising being a good anti-depressant. When I started working out regularly, I noticed the more vigorous I worked the less depressed I became.

                To quote Elle Woods from legally blonde ” Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. ” I guess in our case it would be “ex” husbands!

              • Exercise does help. It wasn’t enough to make the complete difference for me though. But I am starting to get rockin’ arms.

                Lol, your Elle Woods quote reminds me of the conversation I had with the insurance rep while signing up for renter’s insurance today. He was asking me a couple of questions and the last one was “do you own any assault riffles?” I started cracking up. I said “No, but do you think I would tell you if I did?” I’m living in a totally paranoid pro gun state. Do you think the endorphins keep us from wanting to kick them in the balls? I don’t think there’s enough swimlaps in the whole world for that.

              • Congrats on your weight loss, MovingLiquid!! I would love to swim for exercise..I am a water person. But unfortunately where I live, it isn’t an option.

              • And happy birthday a day early to our dear MovingLiquid. How mighty is it to get chumped and drop 70 pounds. I love to swim, too but the chlorine is so hard on 60+ year-old skin and hair. If I hit the lottery, I’d build a non-chlorine pool! So happy that you are in the zone and determined to reclaim every part of your life, especially your body and your health.

              • LovedaJackass: I’m really excited to hear that someone else has discovered swimming! I’ve been swimming since I was very young and did it competitively for awhile. It absolutely wreaks havoc on hair at any age. (I’m 29, but my hair is frizzy enough without a daily chlorine treatment.) Here’s a trick I picked up that really works: use one of those ugly swim team bathing caps. Before you put it on, completely wet down your hair. Then, put a bunch of heavy conditioner in it. If it’s long, twist it into a tight bun on the back of your head. If it’s chin length, french braid it or twist it back and secure it. The, put your cap on and go to town! The conditioner and water already in your hair keep what little water gets under the cap from damaging your hair. It really works, trust me. (I have semi-unnatural red highlights in my hair and I swim laps regularly. They aren’t fading any quicker than usual, and I credit the fact that I follow the previously-outlined procedure.)

                Hope that helps and enjoy the endorphin hit.

            • Your goals sound like mine! Married 40 years and I am 58 years old, but I have been training to run! Like you, there will be no one cheering for me at the finish line, but I will have my own sense of pride knowing I did it! I miss the life I thought I had, but I am going about the business of adjusting my sails and waiting for the wind to catch me!!

              • Roberta..I will be there is spirit for you at the end of the race. We can be spirit sisters. I get a great feeling and am smiling to know there are others with these same goals and circumstances. GO GIRLS!!!

              • I can’t run worth a damn but the quote I have stuck to my mirror says “She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.” -Elizabeth Edwards
                So inspirational in getting through and creating something new!

              • OK, there’s go to be a virtual way that chumps running in marathons can be supported by Chump nation. Maybe we could text our support? Maybe you all could set up closed Facebook pages where you could share your progress?

              • Ha! Have to say I think running sounds like the top chump sport. I began running too in sept /October. I’ve been pretty fit up until then, but now I am leaner and looking more like I did in my late teen thru 20’s but with stretch marks and twin skin.

                I know the running was and is to run away from the shit at hand. I am training for my first 5-15k in the Big City this November. The endorphins help tremendously with sorting my mess out.

                Great job to all who are moving. I know I need the physical aspect of moving to actually move forward and out of my current life.

            • Patti, if I knew where you were going to run I’d show up and cheer you on. Anyone in her area? Go give her some cheers!

            • Congrats patticake on your impending first half marathon! If it makes you feel any better, when I had a husband, I rarely had a cheering section. When I started doing halfs in my late 20s, he never wanted to support me because it was too early for him. Waa! Then I stopped doing them because it was such an inconvenience for him. Then when he got sober, he did them with me because he was so f’ing competitive, he couldn’t let me show him up. Then he hurt his foot (ran too fast – haha!) and couldn’t do them anymore and now he and his whore hike together. I have done two since he left and got better times in my early 40s than I did in my late 20s – with no cheering section at all. Kind of nice to focus on the training and running for me and to be free of all his whining and drama!

            • Patticake (and other runners!)
              I would totally come cheer you on. Put me in your mental cheering section at the hard bits. I marvel at runners.

              • I just returned from a very long, emotion filled day and got back on CL. I was ready to eat whatever I could find and drown my sorrows. I read all that was written and put the food down. Instead I will get a cup of tea and feel at peace. You are all so caring to total strangers with the only known similarity of being chumped by someone we loved with all our hearts. I did not feel alone any longer. Thank you for all the supportive words and sharing. We all know what we need to do to become whole again. Activity, improve our overall health, seek support from those who understand. It’s all here. I would love to meet for a race. If anyone gets in my area or goes to locations anywhere in the country for a race, post it and maybe we could share the experience.

            • I’ve been a runner for years. I have cried many tears during my runs. I pound my stress out on the road and always feel better afterward. I am 51 and did not expect to find myself single again either. My kids are all wonderful but are grown with lives of their own. I am finally enjoying being on my own and staring to look forward to what the future holds. We never know what is waiting around the next bend. Find things that make you happy. No matter how small.

              • Running helps me too Kerrie. I actually went for a two your run right after he told me he had been cheating on me and was being blackmailed by the OW. He was looking at me with amazement as I put on my running shoes and headed out the door. Then I found the space to scream and cry my heart out for two hours. Glad I was not wearing my heart rate monitor, it would have been beeping out of control!!!

              • During my darkest days after d-day I forced myself to swim. There were more than a few days when I screamed underwater, or more commonly, cried tears into my goggles. And then I just kept swimming.

                Physical activity is one of the most important things one can do to get through this.

          • Keep with it Sandy! My experience with walking is that it takes about three months for the body to take you seriously. Hopefully you’re having some beautiful weather wherever you are.

            You already sound stronger. I’m 11 months out. It gets better.

          • Sandy R, I just had my Dday anniversary June 24, so I know where you are. I am just beginning to understand what it means to take care of yourself and do things that will make me happy. There are still bad days but they are being outnumbered my good days. Hang in there, this is still very fresh in your heart and mind. They both need time to heal. Give both your heart and mind what it needs to heal everyday. Keep walking, you will eventually see the results. Keep your mind clear of pity-parties and fill it up with What-makes-Sandy-happy-parties. You can make the second half of 2014 better, because you have love in your heart and that is something to be cherished, so start loving yourself more and be kind to yourself. You are not yesterday’s trash, he threw away treasure and may never realize it, but you my dear are worthy of all the good things that will come your way, because you keep moving forward even on those days you just want to sit and not get your “lazy butt walking some nights, but so far I’ve made myself do it as often as I can. Keep it UP!

        • Rumblekitty, the visualisation thing is really important, I think. At night I go over my day and find good things that happened, then look to the following day and find something to look forward to. I lost a ton of weight after dday then put a bunch on so I now go to the gym at least 3 times a week and bike with my kids. It’s dropping off the healthy way this time (meaning sloooowwwly) but it is dropping off.

          And poor? Ha! I have been so scarily poor for the past two years that I think I slept about half the time a grown adult should. What I’ve done is get up every day and make phone calls, network like mad, been a bit pushy, really reached out to every single person I know and basically busted my ass. I’m still quite poor but less so … and if the groundwork I’ve laid pays off at all I’ll be in a better position in the next year or two. Probably never rich or where I was with ex but I’ll be fine. Fingers crossed.

          • Yeah, I am doing about a pound a week and am maybe 3 pounds from my goal. I run and use the rower but also do weight training and hot yoga and self-defense boxing. But mostly I stopped treating food like a cross between a mother, a lover, a bff, and the comedy actor to cheer me up. Food is fuel. I enjoy it while I’m eating it and then look for other things to make me happy. Now staying this way is the new hard goal.

            • LovedaJackassm, thanks for your comment to me above and b-day greetings. I agree about the chlorine — that is the only downside. There are salt water pools in my area, but they’re more than I can afford at this time.

      • Your kid wants it. Own it, embrace how strong you are! Come on, a strong woman or anyone, is one who navigates this.

        Be glad he left, you don’t need that.

      • If your hair is thinning due to approaching middle age, you may want to try Ladies’ Rogaine. (I buy a 3 pack of the generic version at Walmart. I think it works out to about $10 a bottle which lasts over a month. Now, I only apply it before bedtime.) It took 3-6 months for me to see new baby hairs, most of which turned into real hair. You can also ask your doctor about meds if the generic Rogaine doesn’t work.

        I also use Biotin which seems to help my hair thickness a little more and also gave my hair a healthier texture.

        Try to enjoy the life that you have and before you get out of bed in the morning remember to think optimistic thoughts…greet each day. Practicing gratitude really does help your attitude which, in turn, helps your future life.

        • I switched to a non-sulphate shampoo (Everclear by L’Oreal) and that helped a lot. It’s also a lot cheaper than the expensive salon brand I was using. So glad we are talking about some of this stuff. As chumps, we’ve spent a lot of time taking care of other people and making sure, or trying to, that they were happy. Now as we begin again, we can start by making sure we are taking care of ourselves, making sure we are learning to be happy, making sure our own needs don’t fall off the radar again.

      • Sandy R, I bet it wouldn’t take me long to discover something wonderful about how you look (for example, I’ve seen Chump Lady’s hair and it is really quite splendid).

        I want to give you a hug and a tube of sassy lipgloss!

    • If you are hung up on your age, then everyone else will be too! I’m in my 50’s and there are plenty of nice available men looking for loving partners. I have two very good lady friends in their 60’s who just found wonderful men and are making wedding plans. You really NEVER know what life has in store, just around the corner. But if you’re mired in self-pity and telling yourself that there are no good men, then that’s what your life will be – by your own creation.

      • I’m in 50tys was thinking since he wouldn’t come back I would be true to the marriage vows I took anyway. The more the sanity comes back, the more I realize that is such hogwash. There is no reason I can’t have a relationship if I decide to, I am just going to be picky, I absolutely don’t want anyone who comes up with lines like we grew apart, there was a lot of drama, vague things, because being solid in a marriage isn’t vague and there is a reason a marriage falls apart, and I really sort of feel almost all of them fall apart because of affairs. Could be my new deciphering sunglasses, but I like them for sifting.

        There are some good looking men I have been noticing 🙂

        • eek, but mostly, I have been noticing interactions in couples and I don’t know, my radar is up, it feels better than sad and crying in stores and running out of them leaving a cart of things.

          • I am in my early 40’s and I have to say I think it is a bit early to be looking to fill the gap just yet as I am only 7 months post D’Day. and the funny bit is that many people around me including STBX are thinking if I just sit by and wait that eventually I will wake up to myself and decide that 8 years of lying and cheating is not that big a deal and I will take him back. he just needs time to work though his issues so he is not tempted to do it again. BUT our 15 yr old son has already asked me if I would consider marriage again and even went as far as to let me know that he has a preferred candidate in mind. LOL

            • You know what? It sounds like you still have a divorce to get through. Some will disagree, but I’d get the divorce over with and wait till I was emotionally level before dating. I’m in my early 50’s, have been divorced for about a year and feel no rush to date. When and if I do date, I plan to be picky. It’s good to feel like you don’t *need* a man…puts you in a better position and seems to be more attractive:-)

              • This.

                I still have the divorce, but I certainly have noticed–especially after I lost a lot of weight–that some of the single guys at my work notice me. I feel flattered, especially since STBX has not been physical at all with me for nearly the entire time of the affair (thank goodness!), but hey, it’s nice to feel that you’re still attractive.

                I wouldn’t act on it, though. I have to get divorced first, then heal up. If I want a relationship after all that, I am confident I’ll find one, but I’m certainly in no hurry!

              • yeah, here you have to wait 12 months and 1 day before filing for divorce. and to get legal custody of my kids I have to go through government required mediation first. and as expected he has only acted on that at the last minute to prevent me getting a letter of non compliance so it is going to take a while, and at this stage that is fine because the longer it takes for him to piss about the more time I have to strengthen my position.

        • Beach,
          I think you’re right about vague answers and couples ‘drifting apart.’ Bet anything it was called an ‘affair.’ Unless there was addiction or physical abuse I’m guessing most marriages end because someone was screwing around. My daughter left her husband and four kids because ‘she wasn’t happy anymore.’ Our entire family was looking at her like, ‘yeah, right’ which she got scorched earth furious about and quit speaking to all of us over. You’re not going to believe this but NINE minutes after her divorce was final she got a boyfriend and he moved in with her.

          • Right nine minutes, like she really thinks you are all so stupid to believe that. Oh, her poor kids.

      • FinallyDone, I agree. I know a woman who is pushing 65 and after two marriages and 20 years alone she is marrying a fabulous man. He’s handsome, successful, and very wonderful to her. They’re ridiculously in love. What she did was get on with her life and when it happened it was unexpected. She was a prize because she wasn’t waiting around for a man.

        • I read this and thought, “that’s me!” Fix me first, focus on a new life, work towards my goals and see what sifts out. I am not waiting on anyone. I won’t exclude possibilities either!

    • SandyR – You’ve got this… I promise. It gets better. The first 6 months are terrible and YOU DO obsess about what you aren’t, or don’t have. And I can totally sympathize with the “poor” part of it. Much of the advice on here is to do things like “remodel a room” or “buy a new bed” or “take up a new hobby”. Well, all of that costs MONEY. I do NOT have extra money. Since my divorce, I am living on my salary, and mine alone. I have made lots of emotional progress… and I have a bazillion ideas of things that will make my life, easier or better, but it really comes down to money. I survive, but don’t have enough for extras (and I have a decent paying job that I love). It’s just really expensive to raise a kiddo on your own.

      That being said, you are in the thick of it… even if you don’t ever get a single red cent from your cheater… you will continue to make progress towards you new life. Without the gas-lighting, without the second guessing, without the chaos, things just continue to get better.

      • dani..the buttfart isn’t even paying child support! My daughter and I had a change of lifestyle OVERNIGHT. Suddenly we are down to my little salary, trying to make that spread out, but it just doesn’t work without his salary..which is 3 times what I make. And I’m sloshing along, trying to pay the bills that are in BOTH of our names, so it doesn’t fall back on me, and I get garnished. I’m so frustrated in every which way, but good grief the financial aspect is killing me. I would LOVE to remodel, buy new furniture, go on vacation for a weekend..anything to get my mind off the situation, but it isn’t in the cards for me financially. Heck..my daughter cashed in her quarter collection earlier this week so she could get $3 to go swimming with her friends. What does that tell you about what a pathetic asshole he is, not even helping out his kid!

          • Court hearing is this coming Monday at 11 am. I honestly don’t know how he and his attorney are going to defend this! Once the child support is court-ordered, since he’s being a buttwipe, it will automatically come out of his paycheck and sent to the local courthouse. Which, by the way, he bitched about..because his employer will charge him $50 a YEAR..yes, I said year, not a month..for the service of taking the money out of his paycheck. I am hope hope hoping that I will be awarded the money he owes not only in child support..but the money he truthfully should be paying to help out with OUR bills. But wish and shit and see what you get, my Dad always says.

            • Good luck and give him hell.

              Docking for CS was the best thing I ever did. Makes the state the heavy and not you. He fucks around, he fucks with the state — who keeps a record of these things. 🙂

              Let him flaunt his entitlement to the judge, who’s seen it all, I’m sure.

            • Gook luck in court on Monday. I know you expect him to care, but he won’t. The sooner you let go of the idea that HE SHOULD care, and just accept that he doesn’t care, the sooner you will be able to get on with things. He is who he is. Let go and let him have the life he’s decided he wants. And you can get on with yours. Once you get some relief from the courts, and some $$ in your pockets, things will start to feel better. I promise! Let us know how it goes, okay. You have the whole Chump Nation behind you. You are not alone. Hugs!!!!!

              • Thanks, dani..and thanks to ALL of you who have been so supportive! My friend pointed out this morning that just because the judge rules in my favor on Monday, the only thing that can be enforced is the child support, because that will be taken directly from his paycheck. Any other financial support that he should pay me stemming from the bills that I have paid myself that were both our responsibility is not enforceable the way child support is..he can just not pay it, and I’d have to drag him back into court for contempt, etc. I’m trying to reconcile myself to the fact that all of the money that I have paid on bills since January is gone out the window, and I’ll never see a dime of the amount he should have been paying. It just burns my butt!!

            • You should get the child support. If you’ve got a list of joint bills, he should be paying his proportional share. The bills thing is tricky because you never want to just pay the minimum, but if you see a division of assets coming, your attorney should have a strategy for making sure you come out OK. Best of luck on Monday. But you probably won’t need luck. Your STBX can’t defend not paying support and not paying his share of joint obligations. Just make sure not to minimize anything and ask for arrearages. (Sure your attorney is onto that but I’ve seen them drop the ball on big matters. So don’t be afraid to speak up if you need to.)

              • Oh trust me..my binder is filled to the brim with evidence! I’ve kept copies of every bill I paid, and printed out bank records that show what I paid and when I paid them..all things that should have been paid by both of us. I found out yesterday that he took his paycheck last week and paid everything for himself..made sure all of HIS stuff was taken care of, with not a dime for me. I just can’t jeopardize myself and stop paying..I’m doing the best that I can for now! I had to borrow money from my bank to pay my cell phone bill..which he ran up to almost $1000..or my daughter and I would be disconnected this Saturday. We have no landline, and cells are the only way we can communicate. I had agreed at the beginning of the mess (me being the stupid idiot I am) that I would keep him on our cell plan, which is in my name, provided he pay me his share. Surprise surprise..he ran up the bill and didn’t pay me a penny.

              • Take those bill copies to the child support hearing – even though CS is calculated by a formula, judges (here at least) do have some leeway and sometimes will go over the figured amount if they’re so inclined. And see about having him pay for your lawyer!!!

  • It is true that you mourn what you wanted your life to be, but you can’t spend the rest of your life wishing for something that isn’t going to happen.

    For example . . my Dad is a complete asshole. I spent years of my life wishing that he was like some of my girlfriend’s fathers; I wanted a dad who treated me like a princess and adored me, someone that was proud of me and protective. I got a narc who fucked with my head my entire life. Eventually I cut him completely out like a cancer and never regretted it. But prior to me doing that, I’d feel bad that I didn’t have what other people had, envious even. That was such a waste of time to do that to myself.

    The only thing you can control is YOU and your reactions to things. You can’t pick your parents, you can’t control what others do, and if you’ve idealized something you MUST have in order to be happy, but you can’t make it happen, all you’ve really done is made yourself miserable.

    Don’t limit yourself to what your idea of happy was. The world and circumstances change, you have no control over that. You just control you. You make your own new happy.

    • Sorry to hear about you dad he sounds perfect for my mother. I have had to do the same with her and there are no regrets.

      the biggest shock for me lately was realizing I had married a male version of my mother and that his support of my going nc with her was a way of not having my loyalty divided between him and her.
      you can’t serve two masters.

    • Me, too, only it was a narcissist mother in my case. I see mothers who really love their daughters for themselves and still get that sadness sometimes. But then I think of what I’ve learned because I had that hard education as a child and how hard I’ve had to work to transcend that craziness.

      I’m not sure where these idealized dreams come from. When I talk to my therapist about why it’s so hard to recover from what the cheater did, she points out that I had these hopes and dreams of building a business together, of restoring an old car or two, of road trips and drive-in movies, of sitting on the porch and watching the fireflies put on a light show. We had lists of things to do for the house, plans to pay off the mortgage early so I can spend more time writing. Plans to buy a new car we could take on the road trips. Some of those dreams, not the romantic ones, go back 30 years or more. Now it’s just me at 62 and this house and a huge yard I was not prepared to take care of. But I’m learning. What I am doing is figuring out which of these are actually my dreams, not “our dreams.” I bought my dream car (within financial reason.) I made a list of the things I need to do for the house this summer (painting the outside, mulching and planting, putting up a birdhouse, paving the path near the hammock, replenishing the gravel in the driveway) and I check them off one by one as I get the money to do the job. There is enormous satisfaction in figuring out how to clean the gutters without getting on the roof, in buying a new mower that I can start, in accepting help for the first time in my life and seeing my relationships bloom as a result. I’m still going to pay off the house early, still thinking someday about having an old vehicle, maybe a truck, even if I can’t fix it up like a show pony. I can still go to the drive-in and on road trips. Only I won’t be sitting in the shotgun seat wondering if the guy whose driving is having a FB affair with some chicky-poo who “worships” him. Or if he’s going to dump me at my house on my birthday so he can go home and text his worshipper.

      Dreamer: I strongly recommend starting a gratitude journal and writing down what you are grateful for each day, anything you can think of. The rain. Having the utilities paid. Cable TV. Payday. The flowers in the garden. Unexpected kindness from a stranger. I also keep a Pinterest Board with quotations and thoughts about gratitude. I literally used Pinterest as a design board for my life, but the same thing can be accomplished with paper images or computer programs that make collages and slideshows. Imagine your life is a building and you get to plan it. Garth Brooks did a song called “Unanswered Prayers” about how we learn that our old dreams might not have been the best we could attain. You trust that he sucks. Now trust that you don’t and that you can make a better life for yourself. I am older than you are, and I have no idea whether I will ever experience “romantic love” again. I hope so. But I do know that if it does come, this woman will be ready for it and will be making use of her remodeled picker. The world is full of things to love, including yourself.

      • I like this post. 🙂

        In regards to the yard . . . I wasn’t really prepared to take care of mine either, but now every Saturday I get a lady boner looking at the lines in my freshly cut grass. I absolutely love edging and planting and making it look great. I’m really grateful everyday, just to be here and through the worst.

        • Rumblekitty…I have borrowing your term ‘lady boner’ a lot lately. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve always been a complete girl. Married twice for a total of 27 years. Had to get rid of a dead mouse in my garage last night. Eewww. Been getting a lot of lady boner’s lately though figuring out stuff by myself. Bought a new SUV last week by myself!! Hooray for our side!~

          • Woo Congrats on the SUV! 🙂

            It is fun figuring stuff out isn’t it!? Early on in the divorce process, there was no way I was going to call that asshole for help. I just plowed through things and just learned as I went. It took me longer to do some things, but I still did them.

            I even bought myself a drill not too long ago and fixed some shelves and curtain rod which weren’t installed correctly (ahem) in the first place. Yesterday, I found the circuit breaker and shut the power off in the bathroom to replace a light fixture. I swear my balls dropped. lol

            • That’s some funny shit RK. I also installed new hardware on all my doors. With a drill!! Later I found out I had installed some of the levers upside down. Oops. No one has ever noticed.

            • Going through the same exact thing right now re: stuff around the house.

              And I say “ladywood” so I am in great company! 😀

        • I so love the term “lady boner.” I got a big one cleaning out the gutter the other day. I spent a few months whining about how hard everything is and getting teary at Home Depot every time I need to fix something I don’t understand. But every single think I master moves me forward. And boy, if we can get through D-Day and those bad weeks after, we can manage whatever life throws at us. That’s the hidden gift in these horrible betrayals–rebuilding our lives can set us free.

          • Yes – every time I figure something out, that perception I had that I “needed” the X gets blown out of the water. I need that idiot like a lobotomy.

            • So true, LovedaJackass and Rumblekitty. It turns out that shit they were doing really isn’t that hard. Giggle.

              • I KNOW! Like starting the lawn mower. I look at this thing, and there’s little idiot-proof stick figure pictures that show you how to do it. And YouTube is a wealth of information. I bet I could look up brain surgery and somebody has a tutorial on it.

      • So how do you clean the gutters without getting on the roof??? I have this problem! I had to farm out the mowing after I nearly ripped my hand off on my mailbox (long story). Luckily there is a guy in my neighborhood who gives me a cheap deal on that. But the gutters, oy!

        • Yeah . . . I’m going to keep paying a dude to take care of the gutters in the fall. I ain’t got time for that!!

            • After I got my gutters cleaned this summer the fellow put in a fairly cheap mesh to keep stuff out of them. How novel – wonder why that wasn’t thought of before! Yes, I’m finding that all that shit he so manly-did around here is easy, now that I’m getting the hang of a few things. Love the lady-boner!

          • I have trees, trees, trees–300 year-old ones, big oaks and maples. They drop shit everywhere all the time. But I have a single-story house and there’s a tool you can hook up to your hose. I got it at Lowe’s. I can reach the gutter and wash a lot of it out. There is a metal nozzle on the end and I use it to dig around and shove stuff out if the water doesn’t finish the job. There is a similar took that is more like a scooper, they tell me, but Tractor Supply won’t have it until August for leaf season. And thankfully, the young man who is painting my house will do the gutters if they need a big cleanout in the fall. What I will outsource big time is leaf cleanup.

            • And (heh heh) I used my Swiffer extender-duster thingy to clear the gutter I can reach from the deck.

            • Get you a leaf vac/mulcher! 🙂 My house is smothered in trees too and it was so hard raking them all up last fall. My brother has a leaf vac/mulcher and swears by it.

              • Hmmmm….a leaf vac/mulcher. I’ll need to look into that this fall. Another thing I found out but it’s too late to do anything now. I have two giant cherry trees in my yard and you can get them sprayed early spring so they don’t bear OR get a pressure washer and knock the blossoms off. Lady boner tricks (<;

          • “I bet I could look up brain surgery and somebody has a tutorial on it.”

            You can. I just looked up “How to perform brain surgery” on YouTube and was going to put the link here for fun. But the main photo was so gross I couldn’t do it.

            But seriously, you can learn everything from YouTube.

            • My daughter just had brain surgery two weeks ago. The neurosurgeon told us beforehand to “Look it up on YouTube, they’ve got beautiful videos of the procedure”. I just hope he didn’t take an online course to learn it:)

        • I guess the I’m not in all the secrets of the man club, because I want to know how to clean the gutters without getting on the roof, too

          • ANR…I refuse to get on ladders and hire that stuff done. If I fall and hurt myself I’m alone and there is no one gonna help me with that one.

            • That’s a good plan. I don’t mind getting on ladders, and assume I won’t fall and hurt myself. Of course, I assumed my wife wouldn’t cheat on me either …

        • I got up on the roof a couple of weeks ago and cleaned the gutters… first time ever!!! So proud of myself 🙂 Probably look a sight

          • Lol – I had to get up on the roof to clean out the gutters even when he was here. Poor petal didn’t like heights. This year, I’m getting that gutter mesh installed so I don’t have to get up on the roof by myself.

        • You’re welcome. And I’m grateful for all the wonderful people who post things here every day.

      • Before I married STBX, I did a lot of the handy”man” chores. One of the gifts I receive prior to going to grad school was the book, How to fix damn near everything. Great books!

        After I married, STBX wanted to do those chores, so I let him. He’s since co-opted my toolbox, and for a man who’s so picky about his desk and work place cleanliness, he’s terrible at putting away tools. I’ve found items in the rain.

        He can have all the tools save my reciprocating saw. That’s mine. I have construction projects in mind for when divorce goes through and I have my own place. There’s nothing so satisfying as seeing there’s something tangible that you’ve done!

        For fixing stuff, I

      • Getting Past Your Break up by Susan J Elliot is a good read. It has lots of helpful information to help you through the rough times. I agree that finding things to be thankful for each day helps. Also finding things to look forward too. It can be as small as eating an ice cream cone on the beach or saving up for a trip on your bucket list. I just returned from a cruise in the Mediterranean. It was wonderful.

    • ” if you’ve idealized something you MUST have in order to be happy, but you can’t make it happen, all you’ve really done is made yourself miserable.”

      THIS.

    • Rumblekitty, so wise. “You make your own…happy.” I was happy in my marriage, just unaware of spouse’s cheating! Lol. Looking back, my best days were spent raising my three beautiful kids, building a house, and spending time with friends and family. No doubt we struggle. Betrayal sucks. I do however believe in fairy tales and they never resemble children’s lit! I want a real life. Drama free. One day I will stumble across a kindred spirit. I know I am lovable. Fluffy, approaching 50, and my hair has always been thin! (The guys on my fire crew all under 25 said “we will love you when you go bald!” I was 23 then.). Life is too short. Make opportunities is my new mantra. So, while I needed time to move through the grieving process I now recognize that if I am ever given the chance to fall in love again I will take it. A lot wiser now. 😉

  • Dear Dreamer, I understand where you’re coming from and often find myself looking wistfully at my friends with grown children who live nearby and are involved in their lives. I miss so much being around my kids, especially during the holidays. Seeing other families taking vacations together is also hard when I can’t afford to travel. I always wanted to travel and hoped I could after the divorce, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way.

    When I get to feeling down I pick up my gratitude journal and start writing about the things I’m grateful for. It really does help to refocus your mind on being grateful for what you have.

    I like this phrase “You can have everything you want as long as you make your life WHAT you want.” I’m slowly but surely starting to realize who I am and what I like to do. I’m figuring out how to make myself happy. Learning to love and care for myself is the biggest lesson I’ve learned since my marriage fell apart. Before that I would drive myself to meet others’ needs to the point that I was completely empty. I was often sick.

    When my ex first left, I was sure I’d never have a relationship with a man again. In fact, I thought I might as well join a convent. The thought was actually appealing! Removing myself from the world of relationships seemed so peaceful. Boy was I surprised when an old friend and I started spending time together, and he actually found me attractive and sexy. OMG, I couldn’t believe ANYONE found me sexy. We’ve been dating for over a year and I really enjoy spending time with him, although I don’t feel like I want to get married again. I’m trying hard to just be open to whatever experiences come my way. It’s an adventure.

    So Dreamer, you may not find another man to share your life with, but then again you could. You just don’t know what the future holds. Stay open to the possibilities. Count your blessings and develop strategies to distract yourself when the lonely feelings come. For me, putting on an iPod and listening to my favorite music while taking a walk can turn my mind around. There are also tons of great motivational podcasts that can lift you up during rough patches. I’ve been known to put on my iPod in the middle of the night and listen to inspirational podcasts until I fall asleep again. It sure beats laying awake with my own anxious thoughts.

    Pay attention to what brings you joy, then find ways to get more of it into your life. You can do this.

    • This is so wise: “We’ve been dating for over a year and I really enjoy spending time with him, although I don’t feel like I want to get married again. I’m trying hard to just be open to whatever experiences come my way. It’s an adventure.”

  • I never wanted my kids to be “those kids” the ones from the broken home and just typing this makes me want to cry.
    To come to realize the dreams I had for the future are just. ‘ dreams I had’ because despite all the talk and plans they were never going to happen as they were not our dreams. He just pretended that this ( me, us , our home) was what he wanted. So to realize that is agonizing. To find that the man I hoped to spend the rest of my life with never really existed because that person was fake and the more I tried to hold out hope for that person and what he represented (our future together) the harder the relationship became. I miss the friend that I thought I had the person who would email me many times a day with funny things, and with the weight our daughters illness yes it would be a blessing to have someone to just hug me and tell me it will be ok. But the person who use to email me many times a day was codependent and would manipulate any other friendships I had so that they would contact him instead of me if they need to be in touch, and the man who use to hug me and assure me all was ok would then prefer to read a book when we went to bed and I have since come to understand that his version of ok and mine are not the same.
    I know in my heart that my kids are going to be ok even if it still upsets me, because I know that they are no longer going to see a destructive relationship played out in front of them. And as I travel the road to meh, I can show my kids that it is ok to be alone.
    I too struggle with the question of are there any genuine me out their in their mid forties who don’t have a mac truck full of issues. And with that comes the whole self doubt of my being attractive etc etc. All these emotions are like a freaking yo-yo some days. So Stuff it. is my current moto. If it is meant to happen, It will happen and in the mean time I will do my best to grow into the healthiest me I can be, and If I don’t meet someone when my kids are grown there is a big wide world out there to explore. I have never been overseas. Life is now mine for what ever I want to make it.

    • Sammy D, I know where you’re coming from. I grew up with a mother who was abandoned by her father after she was born. It was during the depression. I would have moved heaven and earth to stop our family from being broken apart after seeing what happened to my mom’s family. The legacy of my grandfather’s abandonment carried itself down through the generations with disastrous effect. It’s very hard to accept that my family broke apart when I tried so hard to keep it together.

  • “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~Dalai Lama.

    Envy too is my primary sin and so this post is very helpful for me. Comparing myself to others is not only a recipe for misery but almost entirely an illusion. Looking back, every time I imagined something about another’s life, once I got to know them I discovered I was always wrong. Always! And for those who are genuinely happy… good for them! I don’t know what hell they’ve been through in the past and what a blessing it is now for them to find happiness. I also don’t know what hell awaits them in the future. It has nothing to do with me. Most of all, it’s none of my business. I think we’d all be SO much happier if we went back to the old-fashioned notion of minding our own business. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about or help other people – I’m saying that using them as a yardstick against which we measure ourselves is absolute poison.

    Tracy, I loved your line “Thank God my reconciliation prayers were unanswered.” I’m sure those prayers were sincere and fervent at the time! I sure you honestly believed that this is what you needed to be happy. And wasn’t it wonderful to be wrong! It’s a great example in realizing that there is so much more to happiness and to life than just focusing on getting what we *think* we want. A wise spiritual teacher once said something like “Most people pray for God to mend their broken toys.” I’m learning how to adjust my prayers from “Gimme what I want or I can’t be happy” to “Help me to be happy no matter what happens.”

    • “Comparing myself to others is not only a recipe for misery but almost entirely an illusion.”

      It’s just like when you browse other people’s photos in Facebook; NOBODY is that nauseatingly happy 24/7. You’re just seeing the good moments. Nobody posts pictures of themselves having not showered all weekend, laying on the couch with Cheezy Poofs, watching Deadliest Catch.

        • I love Deadliest Catch, too. Except for the Alaskan deckhand that bites the head off a raw fish at the start of every season, lol!

            • Me too ML! I love criminal minds too but the creep factor on that is kind of high!

              The ex watched/probably still watches deadliest catch so I skip that one.

              • Cheaterssuck…DITTO about it all. I think I watched all of the back seasons of Criminal Minds while pregnant this last fall. For some reason crime shows worked the best for escape for me.

                Ex loves Deadliest Catch.

                I also watched massive amounts of Law and Order SVU. Good lord, there were some story lines in that show that hit home. All of those situations you see on tv that seem so out there, like the guy who has a family in the suburbs but tricks another woman into believing he’s in the CIA and maintains a whole relationship with her too. He even fools her parents. Now I’m like wow, I know people with similar stories.

  • I still get in a sad rut and compare and then spiral. Only if he wanted to return, I see I have changed a lot, I would have to give up a lot even in my head, for him to return. I caught myself thinking, if he came back how would I be able to do that?

    I mean, I am not the same now, and I like the new me or the actual me, the me that doesn’t come in second or never in plans, it is nice to not have to put him first and move and quit jobs because we are moving because of him.

    Sure you won’t have the man who is the father of your children if you do find someone, but wow, it won’t be the man who cheated on you and your children. You know.

    The father of your children, look what he did, ewwww.

    As Seinfelds baboo said, ‘bad man, very bad man’

  • I love this Sex & the City quote for those down moments:

    “But we keep trying, because you have to figure…
    …if the world’s fattest twins can find love, there’s hope for all of us.
    Somewhere out there is another little freak who will love us, understand us…
    …and kiss our three heads and make it all better.
    And in the meantime, we always have Manhattan.”

    Hang in there, Dreamer. I know how much it sucks when people tell you “lots of families are blended, it’s a regular thing now” while they themselves are happily married and planning their next baby. I think that’s what’s tough about being single with a young child – most people seem to make it together until their kids are a little bit older at least. But just know that a lot of other people will be right there with you as time goes on, including men who’ve been discarded by cheaters and are looking for someone just like you.

    And I know those small bonuses to being single seem trite when you’re thinking about a split family, but they do add up. I think some of my married friends would gladly switch places with me, to raise their kids how they want to, to not argue with someone about housework, to have the chance to find someone that treats them and their kids better. It’s not all bad on our side, even though it seems like it sometimes 🙂

  • Gosh did I need to hear your thoughts on this very subject today Chump Lady so thanks . I know and get exactly your perspective just struggle putting it into practice some days. It doesnt help having him and his new life paraded infront of me on a continuous basis with social occassions where Im alone and they are there large as life as if they have done nothing imoral or unpalatable at all !!!!
    I have had a fantastic family life for 15 yrs so am really struggling being a single mum now and yes feel stigmatised and ashamed of my solo status – I believed in marriage for life and guess am very traditional so its extra hard adapting. I keep wanting to scream at everyone not to judge me and my kids for being here in this position as if we are in some way less than we were before his adultery and abandonment but of course no one really gives a damn except me as people just get on with their own lives right. Im 14 months out and am kind of feeling its worse now than say 6 months ago because we are just a statistic now, a broken family left to struggle whilst he as he puts it has a very happy new life thats affluent and luxurious with no financial worries as she came with cash!! Tell myself its ok as Im doing the living every day with the kids and count my blessings but it does stick in my throat a bit as he has said he feels no guilt for what he did and shows no signs of loss or upset in any way …… thanks for reading

    • hopestar, I hear you, I’m sorry you are so down right now. Most people are not judging you, the ones that do, they suck, so you shouldn’t care about them at all. You have nothing to feel ashamed of, you are mighty and you will raise mighty children.

      You are not a broken family, you are a family minus an extra large asshole (I know someone else could come up with a better descriptor). Stop worrying about whether the giant sucking asshole cares, he doesn’t, that’s all you need to know. Take care of yourself and your kids, turn your eyes away from your ex, he doesn’t merit your attention. Jedi Hugs!

      • Thank you for replying – only just looked now and suprised to see comments ! You are right of course and I will re read your comments often. I have to do the time and change my mindset !

    • hopestar, I definitely relate to this: I live in an area (X moved us here, I have been trapped here by divorce agreement) where it’s so expensive to reside, almost everyone (except for me, apparently) is two-professional-income-married. Longterm married. Like, the divorced people besides me just all must have the good sense and better lawyers that allowed them to move, cause I have literally never met a single divorced or widowed person in my town. I have been waiting for my kid to grow up so I can move — getting there now. So, for last 8 years, I have been to all school events, dance recitals, soccer games, etc., by myself with lots and lots of couples (including my X and his wifestress, whom he married immediately after the divorce, and who live a mile away). Wow, did I project the soccer moms and dance moms and school event parents judging me.

      I think it’s quite possible that my radar was occasionally right: some may have been judging me, and/or finding me threatening to their couplehood (all except one really terrific woman, who told me she could see my X was a dick, and that she admired me). Most really didn’t notice, I think.

      But who cares? I realized that all I had to do was smile with this look of glittery delight, as though I felt that *they* were so lucky to have me there because I have other places to be, and raise my eyebrows the faintest bit to indicate polite interest but nothing more, and I’m bulletproof. Kevlar. Folks don’t mess with me. Some of them are even friends of sorts.

      Dat is so right: anyone judging you ? those folks suck. As you heal, their irrelevance will wipe out their mental presence in your life.

      Meanwhile, go on and be awesome, you and your children. The folks who matter will see it and rejoice.

      • Hugs to you andstillirise! Golly that would suck. This town is not super judgmental about single moms getting aid. (My situation) It’s almost a thing here. So all I have really is my own judgement. But when I move to go to school it will be a different culture. I’m gonna rock my education and hopefully make my son proud some day. I don’t know if I’ll ever meet a man who will make me consider remarrying, but my son and I will make our own awesome family without worrying about it. I hope some day you get to be in a lovely place that makes you happy.

        • Thank you, friend. I find great wisdom in your words about making a meaningful, satisfying, awesome life with the family that you *really* have. I believe I will be in a more comfortable place soon. And I am grateful for what my best friend calls the ninja-warrior life-skills (basically, the core boundary-maintenance tools) that living in this uncomfortable place taught me.

      • I very much liked ” go on and be awsome, you and your children ” thats how I plan to be for my young daughter especially as she needs a positive female role model ! I have learnt to value people in a diffeent way since D day – I try not to refuse any offer of social interaction even though my single status makes me feel awkward for I know people put themselve out for me by asking.
        Its good to get anothers perspective so thank you .

        • Hopestar, people are not putting themselves out for you by asking you to be around! They LIKE you, that’s why they ask you. 🙂

    • Hopestar, remember you and your children are better off without the disordered. My greatest joys in life are my children. Not the guy who tripped through a twenty eight year relationship and said to me on the way out, “everything about my life is great except for you.” I can laugh at this now, five years out. Because that man was never there for me in ways that mattered. Your ex’s “happy, new, affluent” life does NOT exist. He’s the same grass is always greener little man he always was. I’ll even bet that when life got rough he ran. When he wasn’t the life of the party he was pouting. On your best days, he was miserable. Money will not make anyone happy, I know this. My ex is still cashing out everything he owns to make himself feel… I don’t know what. You are rich because you have a whole family now. Celebrate that every day. We never get time back. I almost lost my son in an accident, he spent eight days in a come. Two weeks later my girls slid off an icy road and totaled the family car. When my daughter called upset after the accident I told her that her father and I could always replace a car….Three years later my ex walked. I know I am blessed. I don’t count on people or things that don’t matter.

      • Wow your comments are a leveller and so so true ! Yes I know Im better off without my ex as I deserve better – he never was what I believed right ! My head knows this and my behaviour this past year has shown that but here I can admit my heart is far behind so Im a way to go …. my kids are my life always were and always will be … hate so much that they have suffered but proud as punch also at what they have achieved since he abandoned us …you ladies get it so thank you for commenting

  • Thanks, CL and everyone at Chump Nation. Your posts have helped me a lot. I also go by “blue.” I read here everyday and shudder to think where I would be without you all–probably reading the Marriage Builders site religiously and waiting desperately for my cheater to come out of the “fog.”

    I do not regret filing for divorce, and I know I’m better off alone than without my XH. Looking back, when I was with XH, we weren’t a happy family–he was always so “stressed” from work, blaming me for everything wrong in his life and working all the time, so I was already a single mom in some sense. He typically came home after the kids went to bed and was still sleeping when the kids and I left in the morning. It was always pulling teeth to get him to do something with the children and me on the weekends–he was either working or sleeping or “too tired.”

    And he always complained about being so “miserable” about this or that and “working like a dog,” and this was somehow all my fault. I often tried to avoid him as I thought he was going to bring our whole family down with him into his pit of misery. I think I was always waiting for XH to complete his next career milestone so that we could all “relax” and be that happy family. On paper we seemed like the happy family, but, in reality, I was just waiting for it to happen.

    It’s funny, a couple months after he completed his big career milestone, he started his affair (with someone 20 years younger). While I was waiting for him to achieve the next milestone so that he could de-stress and join our family he again, he saw it as a reason to be free of our family. I don’t miss him or our family life together; I miss the hope for what I thought we would be once XH was no longer stressed and miserable because he made a certain amount of money or achieved a certain level of career success. But I think that, no matter what, he would always be miserable (though some part of me thinks that maybe he will be this happy, content person with OW or another woman). He was like a bottomless pit that needed constant validation, attention and prestige. Although he makes more money than 99.5% of the American population and is in a well-regarded profession, he was always saying that he felt like a career “failure,” “loser,” that we were so “poor,” never had enough money.” I still get emails from him about how I’m taking all “his” money and he has to work like a dog in order to pay me and how I’ve “destroyed” the children’s lives by filing for divorce, but at least I don’t have to live with that kind of negativity. I notice these emails usually come around the time he has to write me the monthly child support check.

    • “I don’t miss him or our family life together; I miss the hope for what I thought we would be once XH was no longer stressed and miserable because he made a certain amount of money or achieved a certain level of career success.”

      THIS! That’s what I was waiting for too…and it never came. The day he could slow down and relax and didn’t feel like he had to work like a dog 24/7 so he could be a part of our family.

    • My XH always had to be miserable about something too. For the first 12 years of our marriage, it was his job. When people would ask him if he liked what he did he would always reply “I have hated this industry since day 2.” So damn negative. Then he quit to start his dream business, saying it was going to make him sooooo happy and he’d quit drinking. Guess what? He was still miserable and drank more! Then he quit drinking after the business failed and went back to the original industry and so the house was the cause of his misery. It was the house he always wanted. But I think he knew he couldn’t blame the job anymore, that was getting old. So, finally, it was me that was making him miserable. So I got kicked to the curb. In a few months, he’ll be living in his miserable house, working in an industry that has hated since day 2, most likely with his ex-GF (who made him miserable 20 years ago) turned current Porn Princess. Sounds like a recipe for happiness for sure!!
      I struggle with thinking he’s going to be happy with someone else as well but then I read what I just wrote above and realize freaks like this can never be happy and it is ALWAYS the fault of something outside of themselves.

    • I’m no psychologist, but he sounds like a narcissist to me–“a bottomless pitthat needed constant validation, attention and prestige” and feels like a “failure” and “poor” while he has plenty of money. I’ve been reading here for four or five months. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how someone could love me one minute and then end it the next to take up with a woman married to someone else. I know a good bit about narcissism, because of my mother, but until I came here I never connected what happened to me with the typical patterns of some narcissists, who devalue and discard relationships without a second thought. Even living with my mother (who used a million ways to create distance and de-value but stayed with the family because she did not work) I had no idea that people could be such users, so cold-blooded. It’s helped me a lot to read about narcissists and to begin the process of internalizing the fact that whatever the cheater thinks “love” is, it doesn’t match what I have to give or what I want to receive. Pigs are more likely to fly than he is to love anyone. Now I see many, many signs that he is disordered. Amazing what happens when we stop spackling.

      • And if he didn’t want to write those child support checks, he should have stayed away from his Schmoopie. If you figure how much support you will receive until the kids are grown, and divide by the number of times he “gets lucky” with one or another Schmoopie, they’ll have to fuck like rabbits for him to feel like he’s getting his money’s worth.

      • The further I get away from my ex the more he presents as a textbook narc.

        What do a sperm and a narcissist have in common? Both have about a one in three million chance of becoming a human being.

    • Hi Dreamer, I took the symptoms (workaholic etc) you described to a counsellor.

      Now, the most helpful thing they could have said was ‘is it possible he might be fucking someone else?’, but they didn’t.
      But they did say something extremely interesting and helpful: that people who cannot do intimacy, organise their lives so that they can’t be close to someone. They are workaholics, have consuming hobbies, organise shift work so they start work when you go to bed, work on contracts away from home, etc etc.

      It was a real eye opener.

        • My alcoholic X (not the cheater) left the house to “exercise” every Saturday at 7 am and spent the rest of the time he was home on the weekends and every holiday except Thanksgiving and Christmas drunk. I never thought of it as a way to avoid intimacy–just as a way to avoid ME. Huh.

    • Are you sure he wasn’t having affairs earlier?

      Basically, he sounds to me like a) a martyr and b) someone who thinks that you get love by giving people money.

    • I can total relate. My STBX was always stressed too because of his job and I thought he would stop being so miserable when he finally found one he seemed to like. He blamed OT on a midlife crisis when he emotionally shut down. Appears the crisis was his affair partner he met while travelling in his new job. He met her in Eastern Europe and of course her goal was to come here. Now two years later she’s moved out. We all deserve someone in our lives that loves us without us carrying the load waiting for them to treat us right.

  • Dreamer,
    We’ve all been there, watching other people enviously knowing that this was not the life we envisioned. I would watch old people walking down the street holding hands and just crumple. That was supposed to be us! We put our house on a 15 year contract so it would be paid off early and we could retire and travel the country. I refinanced it last summer on a 30 year loan so I can afford the payment. That little dream shot down. It’ll be paid off when I’m around 90 now.

    A book that really helped me is Dr. Dyer’s book ‘Wishes Fulfilled.’ I learned from it how to mediate at night before dozing off and only putting positive thoughts in my mind and after the words ‘I am…’

    Will I find love again? I certainly hope so. But I’ve spent a long time working on my picker and this time I’m looking for someone I’m truly compatible with and I’m not going to overlook those ‘little’ things that tug at my gut. I wouldn’t even consider a man who cheated on a spouse or significant other. You’d be surprised. I’ve had more than a few men admit that they have done that to me. Of course, they’ve ‘learned their lesson.’ I think to myself, ‘tell it to someone else’ as I fade to grey.

    • Thanks, Syringa. Looking back, there was a big red flag when I met XH more than 20 years ago as a college student. When we started dating, he already had a girlfriend, who was long distance, but he was always saying how she had “forced” him to be her boyfriend, she was the one who pursued him, he was never in love with her or attracted to her, just felt obligated to her, and that he cared about her, as she was “nice” and “sweet,” but she was more like a sister to him. Probably similar things he said to OW about me (or at least similar to what other cheating husbands say to their OWs), but, back then, I thought we were “soul mates,” and he was soo in love with me. Back then, he apparently thought it was okay to start a new relationship (with me) before ending the old one (and I guess I did as well). His previous girlfriend eventually dumped him, and I was “there for him” for his heartache over that. Perhaps there is some karma for what I did when I was 19, or perhaps our relationship should have never even happened.

  • I think the best cure for intact-family envy is knowing a chump who reconciles, which truth be told is usually done to preserve a material standard of living and/or avoid the unfathomable pain the comes with confronting a life-long con game. I’ve known several such folks, and though on the surface they may “have it all,” I wouldn’t trade places with any of them for anything in the world. Nothing there to envy, at all. They live lives that seem to me at once frantic and terribly lonely.

    My dignity is more valuable to me than any house, car, or wardrobe, and my example of setting boundaries and knowing right from wrong has been more valuable to my children’s upbringing than any electronic gadget or private school–and certainly preferable to setting an example of spackle, lopsidedness, and dishonesty.

    • Nomar, I was one of those for over 20 years. Twice chumped, twice reconciled, fighting so hard to be “normal.” There isn’t enough money in the world to make me do that again if I had a do-over chance. No way. It’s purely messed up.

      Dreamer, I get what you’re saying and that’s why I reconciled. Once I accepted that I married a cheater who wasn’t going to change for himself or for our family, I filed for divorce. In my case, fighting what is just caused more misery and suffering. Instead, I focused on the gift of a new life – a life of peace and authenticity, and maybe even an opportunity for a relationship based on mutual love and respect if that is what will come. I am not hung up on the outcome (another relationship) but at least now I am in control of my life. I can make decisions based on the facts and not be subjected to someone’s lies and manipulations. In the meantime, I am gaining more and more self-awareness and strength that I can spot a user a mile away and be done with them immediately, and this includes friends. I live a life of peace now and intend to keep going on this path.

  • Dreamer,

    Sometimes the life you thought you were going to have gets taken away because of some selfish asshole’s actions. Sometimes the life you thought you were going to have gets taken away through the fault of no one.

    It sucks either way, and trust me, I’ve been in both sets of shoes. I can tell you that in either case, the only way that you’re going to learn to love your new life is if you are a Warrior Woman and get damned determined that you absolutely WILL have a good life.

    If you’ll do that, if you’ll dig deep and refuse to let this define and determine whether or not your life can be awesome, I’ll make you a promise. Three promises, actually…

    I promise you will learn some amazing things about yourself. I promise that you will do things that you never thought you could do. I promise that you’ll look back later and realize that some of the astounding things you’ve accomplished were things you never would have stepped up and done had your life not been changed from what you previously imagined it was going to be.

    PS: Pushing mid-50’s and found the kindest, most generous and loving man who I intend to marry as soon as we can clear our calendars and get it done. Life’s not over… He may get taken away, too, but dammit, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of my happiness for every second it’s there!

  • Never compare yourself to other people, it’ll just drive you crazy. Pretty much for the reasons CL said. You just don’t know what their lives are actually like. Maybe something you thought would be really great isn’t all that much. It’s the whole “grass is greener” outlook.

    You have to realize that what works for others may not work for you, and the other way around. What strangers are doing with their lives shouldn’t impact how you see yourself. Because whether you are happy or not, they will be going about their lives on their own.

    So worry about what works for you. Find a space in your life where you can feel happy with yourself. Be that through a hobby, a project, etc. Don’t depend on a romantic relationship to make you happy and don’t let it define your idea of happiness. Honestly, I used to think that being in a relationship was the only way I could be successfully happy and I found myself in a lot of really shitty relationships out of a need to just be in one, rather than with someone who was really right for me.

    I’m married now, but I found happiness elsewhere before then. Re-discovering interests I’d lost, finding new ones, opening back up to a world I’d shut out because I figured that without a relationship, I was nothing and there was something wrong with ME.

    That wasn’t true, and I don’t believe that’s the case with you. There’s a whole world out there of new things and interests to try, other sources of happiness and success. Once you find your niche on your own, it will be easier, and more fulfilling once you meet someone who loves you the way you deserve. Because they get you as a whole person. They “add” to you, so to speak, rather than act as a filler for a hole in your life.

    • Never compare yourself to other people, it’ll just drive you crazy.

      I don’t think the problem is comparing yourself to others exactly. I think it’s comparing a rather selective view of yourself to an imaginary ideal of what you think others’ lives are like. It’s biased sampling, if you will.

      Somewhere somebody just had their life ripped apart by war atrocities, for example. If I compare myself to somebody going through that sort of trauma and grief right now, I feel pretty lucky to be living such a relatively peaceful life.

      • My mother has a lot of health issues. More than anyone should have to bear. She is often depressed and down. But something happened the other day that made her see life from a different angle. One of her new doctors was located in the cancer clinic and as she sat in the lobby waiting with patients who had no hair, were missing limbs, parts of their faces, she started to realize that her life could be worse. She’s had 5 back surgeries, but she still has all her arms and legs and they’re functioning. Her face isn’t disfigured. She told me she realized then that she could have it much worse than she does now.

  • Wow, oh wow, this was a timely post.

    In so many ways I am at a peaceful meh but envy remains my biggest challenge.

    Oddly, mine seems to be a “retroactive envy”. When my kids were little, my ex and I lived in a lovely part of very urban area. All us moms took pre-natal yoga and had zen birthing plans. We pureed organic vegetables for our babies and every item purchased for our offspring was earnestly researched and fair trade. Ah, looking back it was a bit ridiculous.

    But now, when I’m in that part of the city and see the young families, I am awash with envy and sadness. Those wee ones for whom I fretted over every pretentious enrichment activity and every 100% cotton onsie are now 18 and 22 and a million kinds of messed up. Thankfully they are good citizens who value education and hard work but they are bewildered and bitter and no longer believe in romantic love. Fat lot of good toddler Thi Chi accomplished… When I see those young families, doing everything in their affected power to do right by their offspring, it makes my heart sink. We were those families. That was us.

    And even though the day after my divorce was final, I got a small (tasteful) tattoo on my shoulder symbolizing the transition from a family of 4 to a family of three – even though my mind is now still and quiet and happy – I look at those precious young families and wince at my naiveté and smug cluelessness.

    • I was that mom pureeing organic vegetables! But I became a single mom at 34. Those were hard years, living around the naive and smug. But I pushed through it — and boy, if some of those smug people’s lives didn’t implode later, just like mine had earlier.

      I look back and I’m proud of myself for getting out of a toxic marriage and raising my son. I wouldn’t trade. I missed a lot of the hallmarks of Young Family Life. The Disney vacations, the full family array at the holiday concerts and sporting events. I’m sorry my son didn’t have that — but I gave him the best life I could, and so far so good. My blended “intact” came later… so maybe I just appreciate it more than I would’ve at 30.

      • Yes CL – all those tiny details that seemed important when my children were babies all proved to be pointless when our world imploded. The rites and rituals have lost their meaning as I see my kids still struggle with the long term affair, yucky divorce and random fall-out.

        Fingers crossed that the peaceful home and gentle routine we now live will help them eventually heal. And maybe, that I was stand up and didn’t talk smack (and sweet mother of God was there some shit to share) to them about their stinkin father will serve them well, too!!

    • This! I look at young couples. That was us so many years ago. And yeah my kids (in their teens when dad began affair and now in their early twenties) are really struggling. The full impact of my ex’s decision has hit them full on. I pray for the day they realize their worth isn’t measured by someone’s absence.

      • Ha, I totally wanted the prenatal yoga, organic baby food, crunchy granola life. But moving from a granola mecca to a place that’s a little less hip made me realize that my kid isn’t going to turn out horrible if he doesn’t have %100 organic food, clothes, lotions, etc. In fact not having those luxuries sort of jolted me into recognizing things that actually matter in life. At the local coffee shop there’s a collection jar. The paper on the front of it has a picture of an adorable baby boy with down syndrome. The story reads “My son and daughter in laws’ third child Jonathan who is my namesake has been diagnosed with leukemia. He is in Seattle for treatment. Please consider donating to help with the medical costs. Thank you, Jonathan.” I look at that and I’m broke as hell but damn do I want to contribute because that’s the kind of stuff that means something in life.

        Or my mom’s friend who just lost her 25 year old son to a brain aneurism after multiple surgeries to try to save him and the fund that’s been started to try help with their medical costs.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think organic is important. I look at my son though and think that he and I will both be better people because we didn’t end up with the perfect yuppy lifestyle. There’s some wise saying that I’m totally going to mangle here, but basically a man is asking a guru how to get over the bad things that have happened to him and the guru answers that the best way is to help others with their struggles.

        Btw, this was not a judgment or admonishment to anyone else. I’m really only applying it to my life. What happened to each of us was/is awful. We each deserve to mourn what our hopes and dreams were for our life. And damn it if I still don’t want the soccer mom black suv. And maybe someday I’ll get one. But hopefully it will be just a small part of a larger life that actually has meaning. I just have to remember to balance my yoga with actual compassion.

        • Ugh – I hate that I came off sounding so shallow and yucky. My intent was to express that my family got blown to smithereens and my kids are wounded by explosion and that my pre-emptive mothering meant so little.

          For what it’s worth – I work at a non-profit, live amongst severe Appalachian poverty, shop at thrift stores and am a really, really nice person.

          I love being a part of Chumpnation and want to remain in the good graces of this wonderful fold.

          • Don’t worry Paula, my response wasn’t to you. It was more of a healing moment for Me to realize that missing out on My idealized lifestyle isn’t really as important as I thought it was. I’ve got nothing but compassion for what you’re going through. 😉 We’re all mourning different things and I don’t think any of those is less legitimate. All I see is a mom who worked her damnedest to ensure the well being of her kids and who is expressing grief over not being able to protect them from such a horrible experience. Love and luck for you and your kids!

  • I’ve worked on not comparing myself to other people, and fixing my picker. I’m 2 + years out, mostly love my life, and the hard thing for me is accepting that I probably will not have a partner in the near future. Full time parenting three kids + work + other things means almost zero time to date more than casually. I could make finding a partner a priority, but something, probably my kids, would be shortchanged, and the kids come first. I’m looking at about 5 years before everyone is reasonably self-sufficient, 10 years before everyone is launched.
    I miss intimacy, not just the sex. But this is the life I have for now. I am a reasonably good catch, except that I don’t have time to build a relationship from the ground up at this point in my life. 2-3 dates a month doesn’t cut it.

  • Once you’ve taken care of the most basic human requirements–food, shelter, water, air, and some kind of compassionate social interaction–the rest is just a potential bonus. Envy is weird: it’ll keep you on a treadmill and unhappy because even if you get what you want, the pleasure is short-lived, IMO, and it will keep you from enjoying yourself.

    That being said, enjoying yourself usually isn’t on the radar much or for very long when you’re grieving 🙁 The thing to remember, I think, is that everybody (provided they aren’t super screwed up or brain damaged) is going to grieve at points in their life. Millions and millions of folks are grieving right now. Millions are probably going through almost exactly whatever you are going through. Sometimes it helps to remember that so that grief doesn’t lead to egocentric preoccupation and, then, isolation and depression.

    • This helps me too, to think of the big picture and not just myself. There’s millions of people who have it a hell of lot worse than I do. I’ve got a good job, great friends and family, and my health. Every day you have to be grateful for what you DO have.

      Another thing that used to help me, is when I would talk to fellow chumps on this site and others who have been through so much, I realized they all thought their cheater was the worst and had affected them so badly. It got me to thinking that, my cheater sure isn’t special. I learned to kind of separate myself from what he did, because he’s just one more in the nameless rabble of assholes who do this kind of thing. He’s not a big loss because others out there are going through the same shit with their idiots. I’m sure I’m not explaining this right, but there it is. There was such a strong common thread in everything that I didn’t feel like I was carrying all the pain by myself. I just learned that yes this sucks, this is unfair, but I’m not the first person this has happened to so it kind of lessened the intensity of the pain.

      • Yep, the first question I stopped asking was “How could she do this to me “? Why not me? It happens to a lot of other people who didn’t deserve it either. The next question I stopped asking was the shorter version, “How could she do this”? Well, because she wanted to, and it wasn’t exactly difficult; it’s not like she was playing Vivaldi on the violin while simultaneously performing Cirque du Soleil gymnastics. When I stopped making it all about myself and stopped of thinking of it as peculiarly special, it got a lot easier.

      • Rumblekitty, I get what you are saying. When I was going through the months before finding out about the MOW, it all felt so unique and personal–the sudden change in how he treated me, the distance, the smirking (blah blah). Of course I knew I wasn’t the first woman to experience all that and then find out about an affair, but that was just a thought in my mind, not an experience that was common to many others, men and women. And while I knew perfectly well that I was lucky I was not married to the Jackass, and I had only a few years ago been through a very difficult mourning for a great friend, I was gobsmacked by the sheer intensity of the pain of betrayal and by how it overwhelmed my life. If gratitude for the good things in my life was essential to getting through that, reading the stories of other people on this board was essential to putting my loss in some larger perspective. I could see that it was normal to not be able to sleep or eat, that it was normal to cry in public when someone did an unexpected kindness, that is was normal to want the Jackass back at the same time I knew I could never do that. That betrayal, while devastating, is just another experience to move through and learn from, and one that can help us become more connected to others. This actually is the very thing many cheaters cannot do–connect to other people in ways that moves their own experience from the center of the universe.

    • Brain damaged…? I know some people who have made brilliant recoveries from traumatic brain injuries. Brain science is a great field, and new studies show a brain can “rewire.” Neural plasticity much? but I don’t believe my ex cheated (and lied, and stole, and rewrote history) because his brain was damaged or chemically unbalanced. Think it had something to do with those “crap life skills.”

  • It’s hard sometimes, but I agree that trying to stay focused on and enjoy the positive things you do have is key. I actually felt a litty envy when I read that you have 2 little kids. My husband and I went through years of infertility hell; I have a great husband and daughter but feel sad that she will never have a sibling. So I often feel a little pang of jealousy when I see all you moms out and about with your 2 and 3 kids. I guess my point is that there are probably people seeing what you have and are envious. I force myself to remember how grateful and lucky I am to have my daughter, who is the biggest blessing of my life. Journaling really helps me to refocus when I am feeling like this. I think ultimately what is important in life isn’t so much what you are handed, but what you decide to do and think about it. Sorry for all of the cliches, I know it is hard.

  • I wish that depression was just a matter of hiking up my waders and getting going. I wish it happened because of “egocentric preoccupation”. What an easy (and contemptuous) view. It’s hard enough to live with major depression–then you realize that people think you’re just a big baby, and egoist. I should just reset my goals. Redefine my perspective.

    But it’s brain chemistry–and in my case, epigenetic, hereditary and lifelong.

    Many of the issues that Dreamer raises trigger depressive episodes (an improvement from panic attacks!) Since I’ve been living and doing my best to cope with MDD (Major depressive disorder) for years now, more shit sandwiches do not help.

    On the bright side, however, I tend to think there is not much I have left to lose. Material things, yes, absolutely. And I am grateful each and every day for being able to survive materially.

    But emotionally? Done been scoured out. Nothing left. Nothing left to be taken away, either. It’s just so, so hard to try again, after you’ve been knocked down to suicidal level repeatedly. And that’s not just about guts and gumption and imagination. There’s a point when the marriage/cheater stuff is just one more failure–not THE failure.

    I guess that’s the depressed person’s version of Meh. See? it is possible to look for the funny or good in the compost heap.

    But just like it doesn’t “take two in a marriage” to cause cheating, depression is not about attitude and willpower.

      • Nope. Not my failure (although like most of us I wish I had a better picker…). But it still weighs. It can’t not. That’s the problem with depression–no matter how much your rational brain says, “oh, hells bells, that’s all on him, not me”…. you feel like you should have done better. Not at the marriage. At life.

        • Oh, nfv, I know where you’re coming from. I feel like I should have done better all the time, at everything.

    • The idea that egoistic preoccupation is a real hazard when you are grieving or upset and can lead to depression and that one way of dealing with it is to practice compassion, empathy, and loving connection with others or to “meditate” on these things is a Buddhist precept, and honestly, it’s an idea that has a fair amount of support coming from the fields of Neuroscience and Positive Psychology.

      I am sorry this upsets you, but speaking only from my own experience, I have found it to be very accurate. If I allowed myself to get so caught up in whatever my personal misfortunes are, I could pretty much tune everybody and everything else out. That is by definition, egocentric, and it also leads to feelings of isolation.

      On the flip-side, even if me and a bunch of Buddhists, some neuroscientics and people who practice positive psychology are all completely wrong about that, then the downside is people practice being more compassionate and more kind and empathetic.

      • If you have an actual physical chemical imbalance, it’s not going to be enough to practice compassion and empathy or meditate. Your advice is not compassionate and could be dangerous for some people.

        All of the things you talk about can be helpful and can prevent depression, but they are not enough for someone who struggles with a chronic illness. Some people are going to need to get stronger medicine at first and then add things like exercise, massage, meditation, etc.

        • Blindly assuming “chemical imbalances” can be and sometimes is a dangerous assumption. About 10% of the people tested in double-blind studies who had been prescribed SNRIs and SSRIs develop thoughts of suicide 2-3 weeks after they begin taking the medications. That’s why it’s on the list of side-effects: swelling in the hands and feet, dry mouth, weight gain, loss of sexual desire, and suicide.

          More importantly, that assumption kind of overlooks the mind-body connection, I think. SSRIs and SNRIs (the majority of prescribed anti-depressants) work (when they work) by blocking seratonin and norepinephrine/noradrenaline. The hypothesis is that depression is the result of over-stimulation, so blocking uptake of one of those pairs is thought to result in lower stimulation.

          Optimistic remission rates are highest for a class of SNRIs at about 45% of the patients treated in 3-5 weeks, and relapse rates are about 25%. Double-blind studies comparing treatment patients with Major Depressive Disorder with either SNRIs or a combination CBT combined with mindfulness training have demonstrated higher remission rates and–more importantly–lower relapse rates without 10% of the patients becoming suicidal.

          What could we learn from that? That learned behavior can mitigate depression (even Major Depressive Disorder). That’s something Buddhists have been teaching for centuries, but it really didn’t get a lot of attention until neuroscience researchers started doing brain scans of Buddhist monks while they meditated, and that’s kind of how the whole 21st century positive psychology field started: hey, let’s study what makes some people more resilient and more content than others.

          I’m not saying that anti-depressants don’t have a place in treating people ( but I do suspect they are prescribed with no insight whatsoever into the individual patient’s peculiar brain chemistry or behavior patterns quite often, and they are by no means whatsoever a panacea). If in the future, however, there is a pill that will make people content, mindful, and compassionate without terrible side-effects, that would probably be a lot easier than learning to be more mindful of our own thoughts.

          • Time Heals,

            I completely agree with your assertion that, blindly assuming “chemical imbalances” can be and sometimes is a dangerous assumption.”

            I’ve seen way to many overmedicated people, most particularly children (pediatric polypharmacy) whose acting out or acting in behaviors “mimicked” conditions such as ADHD, etc. They had triggering factors other than brain chemical imbalances which manifested in dysfunctional behaviors. Many of them were perfectly healthy children who were under severe and multiple psycho-social stressors, which when removed alleviated the problem. This is the value of truly comprehensive work ups which include medical history, social history, and psychological testing to help tweak out possible need for medications and, if so, which medications.

            Psychiatrists who utilize “best practice” typically have a consulting clinical psychologist who does an extensive work up and then collaborates with the psychiatrist on diagnostic impressions. Not only does the psychologist provide a second set of clinical impressions, typically s/he conducts fairly extensive normed testing of personality, affective and cognitive functioning that psychiatrists don’t have the time or in many cases the training and experience to do.

            But there are people whose depression is chronic, debilitating, and even physically painful. Have you ever seen the Cymbalta commercial that says, “Depression hurts?” Well it does because the neural pathways and brain parts that transmit physical pain and pleasure are involved and to some extent overlap with the ones that transmit mental pain and pleasure.

            One of the things that hacks me off the most is when people are seriously clinically depressed, in DENIAL, and won’t be treatment compliant. Another thing that pisses me off is when people won’t do all the adjunct treatment for their depression and “unhappiness” ….such as insight therapy, cognitive restructuring, eliminating destructive physical habits from their lives, and instituting healthy, happiness creating behaviors that help “over write” the negative “data” they have on their mental hard drive.

            Believe it or not there ARE people who revel and almost gloat in their misery. They have been miserable for so long and are so comfortable in their misery that they resist change. They fear change. [I suspect there are one or two right on this forum.] As you put it, “Learning to be more mindful of their thoughts in a critical way goes a long way toward positive progress; but, as you say, it is one hell of a lot of work.

            ***I do need to make a correction in you statement that, “the hypothesis is that depression is the result of over-stimulation, so blocking uptake of one of those pairs is thought to result in lower stimulation.”

            The actual hypothesis is that that the chemical imbalance is a result of UNDER stimulation, that NOT ENOUGH of the appropriate neurotransmitter is getting to the post-synaptic receiver for it. Not enough coverage=under stimulation.

            There are neurons (presynaptic cells) which eject neurotransmitters into what is called the synaptic cleft (a microscopic fluid filled space across which it floats) and these neurotransmitters are then “received” by a post synaptic cell on the other side of the synaptic cleft. [It’s a form of chemical communication which when interrupted or has a “weak” signal causes a disruption analogous to static on a two-way radio.]

            The ejecting and the receiving cells are perfectly engineered to have a precise “fit” with the neurotransmitter. The receiving cell will only take in the neurotransmitter specifically designed to fit it.

            The ejecting cell is also designed to suck back in any excess transmitter and recycle it, as the human body is a marvelously thrifty organism. Sometimes the “suck back” (re-uptake) mechanism in the ejector cell is too efficient and sucks the neurotransmitter back into itself prematurely BEFORE all of the receiving cells are covered. Hence the name RE-UPTAKE INHIBITOR.

            SSRI’s slow down the re-uptake mechanism of serotonin in the ejector cell, thus allowing the transmitter molecules to remain in the synaptic cleft for a longer period of time in order to get better coverage for the receiving cells. Therefore more as opposed to less stimulation is the object of the drug’s mechanism.

            You are also very on target with the mind-body connection. I know psychiatrists who also literally prescribe exercise for depressed patients. Why? Because regular exercise helps the brain produce more “feel good” transmitters. One example we’ve all heard of is the “runner’s high” when endorphins are released in massive amounts into the brain.

            And, too, some forms of mild depression such as dysthymia or Seasonal Affective Disorder don’t necessarily have to be treated with medication. Every year, like clockwork, I will have SAD during February, March, and part of April. Since it is predictable and I “know it’s face,” I have a personal program to deal with it without taking meds, because I know that it is time limited. I find ways to get more sunlight, exercise more, busy myself with projects and social activities than will take my mind off my “cabin fever” and get me out and about. It always passes if I take care of business.

            • Thanks for the correction on how re-uptake inhibitors work. Mea culpa there–working from a selective memory apparently (it’s not a subject I deal with daily, and it shows).

              I am only aware enough to know that the general public perception of the efficacy of medications is at odds with population studies of outcomes.

              I’m also glad you added the bit about moderate exercise. That was a big help to me when dealing with the initial trauma and grief, and we could probably add “sleep” and “diet” to basics of self-care

              I think it’s also good that there are psychiatrists that do adhere to best practices and employ consulting psychologists and physicians who are looking at behavioral, environmental and possible contributing medical conditions as well. The population studies of people under treatment probably wouldn’t be so bleak if more practitioners took a more holistic approach to treatment rather than taking more of an alchemist’s approach and just reaching for particular magic bullets without admitting the obvious: a lot of people are being helped, but a lot more people aren’t being helped by their prescribed medications, and it’s not like there is a lot of physical diagnostic testing going on to confirm the intuition that lead to choosing particular medications either. That’s almost non-existent as far as I know, and I am not sure if most insurance would even cover that.

            • Now you not only diagnose people on the internet, you judge them based only on their posts, just wow, I have no words.

          • Say what you want, but my 5htp kicks ass.

            BTW, there are brain clinics where they do SPECT scans to better determine what the patient actually needs as far as meds. They can tell by different patterns and by a very specific intake form what things are more likely to work for an individual. They also provide info on natural supplements that will help. I’m big into natural if you can do it.

            Sometimes no matter how savvy you are about mind health you can’t think or meditate your way out of depression. Especially if you’ve been serotonin depleted for a while. I have to believe that what some of us experience is almost injurious to the brain. I’ve spent 17 years learning to balance my brain chemistry and thought process through nutrition, vitamins, cognitive behavioral therapy, nlp, eft, yoga, self hypnosis, light therapy, and yes meditation etc. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. I was in a pretty good and balanced place for a long time. What my ex did to me threw me for a good loop and despite cognitively and emotionally being in a better place and yes, meditating, my brain chemistry refused to move on. Not even with the beautiful sunshine of May and exorcise. Whoops, meant exercise. Although I did sage a lot so if I had any demons I’m sure they’re gone too!

            So yeah. Do the homework for long term mood success for sure. But sometimes whether we like it or not we can’t think ourselves into a healed brain anymore than we can nice our cheating spouses into not being rat bastards.

          • SSRIs do not work by blocking serotonin. They block the reuptake of serotonin so that there is more serotonin available. Depression is believed to be related to a lack of serotonin, not over-stimulation.

            The modern positive psychology movement was started by Martin Seligman. It had nothing to do with Buddhism; Seligman was simply trying to figure out ways to use psychology for more than treating mental health problems.

            Positive psychology is an effort to use psychology to improve normal life rather than just treating mental illness. It’s insights are not cures for mental illness.

            Having said all that, yes, it is also true that cognitive behavioral therapy may be more effective than medication. People with chronic depression need to see a good therapist and figure out what works. There are downsides to taking medication long-term. Some people can thrive with just CBT, some will need medication or both.

            I do not, however, believe that being compassionate or religious/spiritual will be enough for people with chronic depression. If someone talks about having chronic, hereditary, lifelong depression, I assume they know what they are talking about and that they need to bring in the big guns for depression.

      • Being Cheated on and left like yesterdays newspaper for others to wipe there feet on sucks, and we then are left to acknowledge that due to their actions They Suck. And yes due to depression and anxiety and a broad spectrum of FOO issues most of my married life in relation to the cheater and only in relation to the cheater Sucked!
        And I am hell bent on making sure that the next 20-40+ years don’t suck. Friends ask me at times if I think I might me depressed, and I think ‘cheating husband, seriously ill kid, a church who turned their back when I needed them most, and I lost my job,(and that was just in the first three months) yeah probably but so would anyone. So I don’t buy into the past predicting my future idea. I go to clinic with my daughter for Chemo and I make sure I talk to people, I pick up my phone and make sure I text and encourage those who have emotionally held my head above water these past months. I reach out to people when my girls are with me STBX and go for dinner or coffee. I have actively sort more new friendships in the past few months than I have in the past 10 years. By not always looking inwards (at times we need to so we are kept on the right track), we can fill needs for others. I have been shocked at how many people lately have come to me and shared their secrets when life is not as it should be and I have felt encouraged that I can put my arm around them and say, it will be ok.

      • I’ve been on both sides of this experience. I’ve been in therapy for depression and PTSD for years. And I knew a woman when I was growing up who suffered terribly from depression and chose to end her life. So I know exactly how real it is to have a brain that needs to be chemically “re-set,” for lack of a better term. 90 days after I started an anti-depressant, I told the therapist that it was like going from black and white to Technicolor. At the same time, I understand what TimeHeals is saying about “egocentric preoccupation,” as my therapist gently corrects those thought patterns as “not helpful” to making a life that is happy and fulfilled. I will say that as a person with a history of depression, a family history of alcoholism and NPD, and a problem with codependency, it is essential for me to manage times when I feel preoccupied with my own problems and unable to find happiness and peace internally.

      • Time Heals,

        Even those who need medication for depression can benefit from the wisdom in your paragraph above. Medication is only ONE intervention. People build up tolerances for psychotropic drugs…just like they do for any other drugs. To be truly successful, they MUST learn and add strong coping mechanisms and permanent life style changes to their behavioral repertoire. This take persistence and an incredible amount of repetition.

        Comprehensive interventions MUST encompass behavioral change. Behavioral change begins with cognitive restructuring AND simultaneously physically putting one foot in front of the other and making steady constructive life changes.

        I hope this won’t embarrass her, but there is a contributor here who is doing just that in the face of some pretty strong diagnoses, having taken some pretty hard knocks due to her own personal problems in conjunction with a previously poor “picker.” She continues to push ahead and through her pain by making her behavioral interventions a consistent part of her life. She has completely owned her shit and is determined to eliminate it. Swimming is her game; progress is the name. She will be more than just a survivor, she will have achieved the damn near impossible. And she ain’t backing off of it one bit.

        • NotYou, your comment brought tears to my eyes. And no, I’m not embarrassed — I’m pretty much an open book in that regard.

          Today is my 57th birthday. Eight months ago, at d-day, I would never have imagined that I am glad to be alive and am hopeful about my future.

          I do feel as though I’m achieving “the damn near impossible” and it is glorious. Thank you for your support.

      • For whom should I be compassionate? My abuser? That’s what I’m hearing here, when I see “forgiveness”. As in, it takes 2; forgive the cheater and you’ll feel better. Even my non-depressed brain calls bullshit on that one.

        (And I do meditate. I just don’t forgive. My ex really did a number on my kid, and as one sage here said, I would stab myself with rusty car keys before I hurt her–or something to that effect. For hurting her so badly, I do not forgive.)

        No–I have plenty of good help, I’m just realistic about what I face, and how deeply embedded in the family it is (my mother had an uncle who shot himself, for one example. Not me, no worries.)

        There is no question that 25 years of living with a passive-aggressive narcissistic cheating spouse has contributed to my depression. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I’m so grateful–especially to this site, for reals–for the community and the strong messages to get the hell out.

        Moreover, I am not my depression; like my crappy back, it’s just part of who I am and what I face when I get up each day.

        As I get closer to 60 though, I find I just call out stuff like calling depressed people egotistical and self absorbed. I mean, are schizophrenics also too concerned with their own thoughts?

        • namedforvera, you are mighty, every day you get up and you do what needs to be done. That is no small thing. When my Dad died I lost all will for a long time but I don’t have clinical depression and I got through it. My Mom died in my arms when my stepfather pulled the plug, my ex started his affair because I spiraled into a deep depression, I could not do shit, I felt that everything wrong was my fault. Even in that despair I do not think I can say I know how you feel. It is different when your brain is wired for depression, when you are depressed and hopeless for no reason that you can grasp. I am so sorry that you must deal with that, please do the best self care you can. Know that I care, know that you are mighty, your struggle may not be understood to its depths but we’ve seen at least the edges of your pain in our own grief. Jedi hugs and I’ll help you do laundry any time! Please check out The Bloggess blog, you may find it a good place.

          • Well said, DDW. There are many days when I need to take what pride I can in having done the very very basics — eating, getting my children to school, doing the dishes. I hate those days, and I hate having seemingly so little to be proud of, but on better days I can see those days for what they are — days where I was swimming through liquid concrete. NFV, if you’re swimming through liquid concrete and still getting things done, you’re a heroine. You’re MY heroine.

        • For whom should I be compassionate? First and foremost YOU!

          I personally am beginning to dislike the word ‘Forgiveness’ as is conjures such a weight of expectation. I was constantly told in the beginning that I had to forgive my STBX even if it was a cold hearted decision, when I challenged those who said this and asked what was that forgiveness meant to look like I got word salad.

          This is what I want.
          1.I want to be able to stand in the same room as my STBX with my head held high and not shake uncontrollably.
          2.I want to be able to read when he is pushing my buttons so I do not give him ‘kibble’ by reacting to his PA shit.
          3.I want to be an example to my kids of how good life can be even if we are currently living of the smell of an oily rag.
          4.I want a life full of love and piece and joy.
          5.I want to be pleasant to him so he can never use me as an excuse to play the victim.
          What I also would really like is for him to contract a serious disease as a direct result of his cheating and die a long and painful death.

          I may not get the last one but I am confident I can achieve 1-5.
          For me forgiveness is being able to look him in the face and not wanting to drop him like the sack of crap that he is.

          namedforvera, no one can tell you how, when, or even if you should forgive your cheater. But compassion can be show to anyone. even smiling at the person you pass in the street that appears to be downcast may change their future.

          • Sammie D. Such a sad and poignant post. Thank you and for lightening it up with your #6. Coughed up my interesting-look of mouthful of salad. Some of this stuff needs to be read w/o food or drink in mouth!

            • I cannot forgive my cheater either. I only forgive myself for being too numb to stop the crap. I just feel stupid.

              I want to develop a level of acceptance. Not accept the crap the guy did to me. Only find acceptance that this episode is part of my history and not a defining part of me.

          • I like Oprah’s take on forgiveness (of all people, right?). Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different, letting go of the past so it doesn’t hold you prisoner. I can get on board with that. Or, as my grandmother said “you can’t change the past, you learn, you never forget, you never forgive and you don’t get fooled again”. Her other favorite saying regarding people fucking you over (she would never use that word but who knows what the Italian word she did use meant? not me); “the wheel turns, let it turn, if you can put your foot on it, maybe you do, better you let it turn on it’s own.” I think this was her way of saying “what comes around goes around” heh. She was the strongest, happiest person I’ve ever known.

          • Thanks DDW & Sammie. For myself, I am not especially fond of the highly technical know it all posts from those among us who practice in related fields. I myself hold a Ph.D. in the Sociology of the Family–but it obviously didn’t do squat for me in my marriage! 😉 shoe-makers children and all that. I know shit-tons about what the literature says families do, and do not (per Yoda),and have historically done, but I don’t feel like I need to throw it around here. I feel like this is a place where we come to be vulnerable and share and support each other, not be bossy know it alls.

            But I also know that that could just be my perspective. Other folks might like the lectures. I understand the issues w/r/t neurotransmitters, medications, talk therapy and what ever the fuck, and don’t like being talked down to on this, the one safe board there is that I know about. I would be most grateful if contributors assumed, as most nearly everyone *does*, that we are all intelligent people, and have the courtesy to ask if more technical info is wanted, not give lectures.

            But that’s my beef.

            Anyway, thanks all, and as for envy–I agree with CL–you don’t know what other people are carrying in their tote bags. The may have just had a wretched diagnosis; they may be an unaware chump; somebody may have lost a job.

            I could blather on about social norms and the power of their impact on our expectations of ourselves (see for example: women’s body image….), but I think we all understand how powerful the message is that it’s better to be partnered, even while most of us also know that a lousy partner is worse than singlehood any day. But it still stings. That’s the power of a social norm. Sucks, huh?

            • namedforvera,

              Why don’t you say how you really feel? 😉
              (Except I’m not that one-dimensional ..nor is anyone else.)

              “I could blather on about social norms and the power of their impact on our expectations of ourselves (see for example: women’s body image….), but I think we all understand how powerful the message is that it’s better to be partnered, even while most of us also know that a lousy partner is worse than singlehood any day. But it still stings. That’s the power of a social norm. Sucks, huh?”

              Why not talk about what you know well? You might be surprised at the number of people here who may just find you expertise interesting and useful. I doubt that Sociology of the Family is concerned solely with societal pressure to be partnered or only with two parent families.

              Yanno, chronic, persistent negative venting of hatred and bitterness can exacerbate one’s depression. Also, one can publicly ruminate about their bitterness just so many times until people start skipping their posts because they’ve read the same sentiments over and over until they have them memorized.

              Damn, there I go again being bossy and technical.

              • “Yanno, chronic, persistent negative venting of hatred and bitterness can exacerbate one’s depression. Also, one can publicly ruminate about their bitterness just so many times until people start skipping their posts because they’ve read the same sentiments over and over until they have them memorized.

                Damn, there I go again being bossy and technical.”

                How very unpleasant, and to a person who has named herself as struggling with depression.

                I have noticed how many folks on this board have doctorates (yep, me too).

                That raises the possibility that it’s probably better to approach Chump Nation/the CL community with the humility of thinking that for all I know, *everyone* here is a published, blind-peer-reviewed, recognized, working expert in their field (I am).

                And yet, one reason we might *NOT* come to this place for the fruits of such professional expertise is that, as I would explain to one of my graduate students if zie were so foolish as to rely on an anonymous poster off an infidelity website as a source of “expert” technical neurological data: grownups don’t do that shit.

                That’s not how authoritative knowledge is produced or disseminated. This is especially true when it comes to life-and-death issues like severe clinical depression.

                If you really want to use this forum to share expertise, please begin a practice of citing the published study, source, etc., of your data. Otherwise it’s all so much self-important dreck.

                Since you call for insights that arise from subjects that folks know well: there’s the fruit of my expertise in the field of knowledge production (which is my day job, with a degree from a premier program, and a more-than-25-year career in top-rank research institutions — but how will you verify that? through your ‘expertise’?). Hope it’s at the level of bossy and technical that, yanno, you grok.

                Conversely, when people share their own lived experiences of infidelity and recovery therefrom on this site, those postings speak with a power beyond measure. As in, there is no metric for it. The best of the community, the stone soup of lived experiences and life-wisdom shared.

                The site’s platform for those voices is democratic — no special degree needed, and (as namedforvera notes), academic degrees/professional standing are only obliquely and inconsistently useful.

                As I have experienced it, the platform has been *emotionally safe* in that posters who are striving to recover from the body-blow of vicious deception practiced by partners they had trusted whose choices have harmed them in the most intimate ways — nomar’s alternate definition of colonoscopy — are not required to put on a happy face here. One person’s ‘negative venting of hatred’ is another person’s honest life experience. You have counseled others to take what they value and leave the rest; that advice requires logically that you do the same, rather than seeking to manage other posters’ contributions according to your own (self-appointed) scale of posting decorum.

                On balance, I am attending to your ‘take what you need’ advice. Life is short, even for those who live long. Thank you, notyou, for excusing me from ever reading another one of your posts again.

              • I think many people find it valuable to be able to vent their feelings here. They have to hold them in in the rest of their lives.

                I did not think there was anything in namedforvera’s post that was a venting of hatred and bitterness. I thought it was a heart-felt expression of being tired of depression. Depression sucks and when something bad happens to you on top of it, it is hard to deal with. In fact, namedforvera’s tone was partly joking, although it’s the kind of humor that I think is funnier to people who have been through a lot.

              • andistillirise,

                “If you really want to use this forum to share expertise, please begin a practice of citing the published study, source, etc., of your data. Otherwise it’s all so much self-important dreck.”

                Frequently I do, so in this instance?
                No Problem:

                http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201303/internet-ranting-and-the-myth-catharsis

                Cited at the bottom of it are several studies (from among hundreds) that support the premise of the “catharsis myth.”…An outdated Freudian notion at best.

                Interestingly, internet “rant” sites are also addressed.

                ***

                “rather than seeking to manage other posters’ contributions according to your own (self-appointed) scale of posting decorum. ”

                My Response? Pot meet kettle.

              • I could spam this board with hundreds more, but people who are determined to have a nice long pity party and using catharsis myth as their self-justification aren’t going to pay attention anyway. They will, however, attempt to “kill the messenger” at the slightest provocation.

          • Sammie, I think a lot of people don’t understand forgiveness very well or the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.

            • I agree, Diana, and andstillirise. I come here in humility (as best I can) to share my own lived experience, as best I can. If I want to publish a paper on the effects of infidelity on adult children (and heaven knows I do Not!), I would do that in a peer ref journal.

              Here, this board, to me is a special place where we all come on equal footing, each with our stories. At the best of times, we learn from each other, hold each other up, help each other laugh (where’s my Hallmark card residuals?).

              Seriously, it’s a special, special place, where nobody–except our fearless leader, whose board it is, after all, pulls rank. I like that.

              I like the underscoring of the commonality of our experiences (e.g., the famous Cheater’s manual), b/c it makes me, anyway, feel that as one of many, I really am OK, I will be OK….someday I may even be mighty.

              That’s so powerful.

              • The validation of our experiences and the helping hands when we fall down is special and helpful. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, help each other stand and share laughter in the dark it is indeed powerful. I’ve always like that song, I get by with a little help from my friends.

            • Notyou–I would value hearing more of your own experience and how you, yourself feel about it, and less professional appraisal of others. That is all.

              I really would welcome hearing your own authentic voice, about the experiences that bring you to this board.

              • vera,

                I am going to explain this once; and if your perspective causes you to take offense, that is your issue and your responsibility.

                The way I see it, when we continue to “recycle the garbage” indefinitely, it drains off too much of the emotional energy needed to become solution focused and immersed in solutions.

                You stated that you would “…welcome hearing your [my] own authentic voice, about the experiences that bring you to this board.” My question to you is how are you able to determine that what I do and say are NOT my authentic voice? I’m not one-dimensional. What my cheater did does not define me. My posts range from humorous to very serious.

                My take away from your statement (correct me if I’m wrong) is that you are curious about my personal “story” in all its lurid details. I’ve been on and off this forum almost since its beginning. My “story” was related here months ago, and I still occasionally post little snippets pertaining to it when they seem relevant. I’m well past the need to recycle it, as there is an abundance of stories here almost identical to it.

                Not only do I find it redundant to keep telling my personal story over and over, I detached and gained perspective on it years ago. I can’t change the past; what constructive purpose would it serve for me to keep revisiting it, since my thrust is to be forward looking?

                Additionally, I feel that doing such would add to what I perceive as an often overwhelming atmosphere of, “rant site” as opposed to “help” site. Yes, there are many here who don’t “rant.” They convey their information and questions in a much more measured and thoughtful way than some others do. Good for them. They are moving forward.

                My “authentic voice about the experiences that bring me to this board” IS what I do here. I’m a pretty well integrated individual, my professional knowledge & expertise and my life experiences merge and factor into the individual I am today. I am always my “authentic” self…..flaws and all.

                If some people can call me vain, narcissistic, a pedantic “know it all,” or even Grendel’s Mother; it won’t be the worst I’ve been called, and my ego structure is sufficiently intact that I’m not going to change who I am or (worse) fall into the trap of telling people what they like to hear.

                The truth is I do know the dangers of such things as (a) stereotyping [as in, “the mental health field seems ripe for cheaters”–I call bullshit on that or for any other profession because it isn’t logical.], or (b) extracting parts from wholes and hanging onto those as gospel [nobody is truly one-dimensional–even cheaters]. I have a good grasp of what works and does not work when dealing with personal trauma and maladaptive behavior, regardless of it’s cause(s).

                If I see dissemination of erroneous information (such as how SSRIs work) I’m going to correct it. While you, personally, may have not the slightest interest in such things, others here who are taking medications for depression may be interested.

                Cheaters do not have the lock on maladaptive defense mechanisms. So, when I perceive that someone is trying to manipulate me into adhering blindly to every single premise of some party line over my own better judgment, and most especially when they do it in a snarky, childishly sarcastic, PA way (like mocking baby talk..as in “zie” does this and “zie” does that…)? I’m going to bite back–hard–when I call them out on it.

                Further, if an individual continues to do that over a sustained period of time, I’m going to call it what it is…a veiled but purposeful personal agenda to discredit and nullify. I don’t participate in cult-like behavior. Never did. Not going to start now.

                I posted specifically to Time Heals, whose posts had a large amount of very good sentiments (and a bit of erroneous medical information) and it seems to have offended you personally. The bulk of that post was a generic and balanced post about treating and overcoming depression based on the experiences of not just me but hundred of professionals–backed up by data and research, and “best practice.” I have neither the time nor inclination to cite masses of supporting data which is readily available on the internet just for the searching.

                That post was not intended as a personal attack upon you; but something in it apparently stuck a nerve, and you appear to have interpreted and responded to it that way. That’s on you.

                As for mounting an assertive and even harsh defense of myself? I’m not a doormat and am quite capable of responding in kind. Sometimes I do.

                If we dissent respectfully, we’ll be addressed respectfully in return. If we dissent disrespectfully, there is a high probability that someone is going to fire back… in kind.

                Chumps on here quite often say that the cheater’s dysfunctions, FOO issues or stressors (or whatever motivated them to cheat) are no excuse for cheating. I agree.

                On the flip side, a “Chump’s” dysfunction, FOO issues, or stressors are also not an excuse for going on the personal attack because they disagree with, or don’t like a particular poster’s style.

                This fits in with my view that sometimes ‘an asshole is just an asshole’ and an “unhappy/angry person is just an unhappy/angry person’ That sometimes it’s not necessarily a mood disorder, it’s just their personality.

                Even though Big Pharma would have people believe differently, there is NO pill for personality. Personality work is hard as hell; it requires the examination of very ugly things about ourselves that many (probably most) people remain in denial about for their life span, preferring to blame another or other for their problems. Cheaters don’t have a monopoly on denial either.

                There is much congruence between Tracy and me about how to handle having been victimized by cheating, but the fact that I don’t agree completely with her on everything pertaining to the “why” (or some of the outcomes) doesn’t seem to cause her grief. When she perceives that I’m, “pulling rank,” the two of us can address that at the time.

                I don’t HAVE to be here, I volunteer the time I spend posting and some have found it informative and useful.

                You can read this carefully and process it, or you can seize upon portions of it to take umbrage. That’s your choice.

              • “most especially when they do it in a snarky, childishly sarcastic, PA way (like mocking baby talk..as in “zie” does this and “zie” does that…)? I’m going to bite back–hard–when I call them out on it.”

                Apparently you do not know and can’t be bothered to find out why the term “zie” is used when discussing issues, easier to take offense I suppose. This is a gender neutral term used by many people, it is not meant to mock anyone, in fact your determination that it was directed at you speaks volumes.

                As to your contention that you were only responding to timeheals is rather lame as it ignores the fact that his post was directed at namedforvera.

        • “As I get closer to 60 though, I find I just call out stuff like calling depressed people egotistical and self absorbed. I mean, are schizophrenics also too concerned with their own thoughts?”

          Exactly.

  • Dreamer,

    Reading your letter, I hear grief more than envy. The intact families that you see are triggering your sense of loss. I know for me that somethings trigger my grief as well more than others. That’s okay.

    Have you spent time writing out what you loss? Have you done any sort of ritual to bury your losses–e.g. type an email of losses and delete it, burn pages of losses from divorce, etc? Rituals involving physical activity can help in processing significant loss.

    Chump Lady has given you some sound advice for ways to come to grips with your loss and move forward into a place of new wholeness. However, these will always be losses. Grieving is an emotional process, and that means it does not always make rational sense. Don’t run from it or deny it. You’re pissed and/or that you lost an intact family due to your cheater’s choices. That’s okay. Feel the emotions. Find a safe place to vent them verbally or by writing. Then when you feel you are ready, start dreaming about a new life as Chump Lady so well explains in her response.

    I guess my last point is that I take your response as a normal response to loss. Be kind to yourself. You only grieve that which you valued. And your new normal will never be the same. But it CAN STILL BE VERY GOOD! Never forget that even if that is not your experienced reality right now.

    Hugs!

    • I know this will sound pretty petty compared to so many heavier losses, but this is motorhome season in my tourist town and me and ex went everywhere in ours. I really miss the experience of traveling the country together with the dogs. Every other vehicle going down my road is an r/v and I really envied that for a long time….until I realized I was nothing but a well worked maid on these trips. It’s all work, especially with always cooking, cleaning up such a small area and dogs don’t make that easier. I realized that he was living out his ‘ trucker-dream to drive a big rig. Then, sit down with a Martini when the days was done so I’d be madly making dinner, cleaning the joint, doing dishes/laundry, cleaning up his BBQ mess from outside…..yeah, sometimes you have to look a little harder at the things ‘you lose out on’. Just once, I would have loved a little romantic room with actual room service.

    • I also hear grief (not envy) in Dreamer’s post. As, Chaplain David says, grief is a normal response to a great loss.

      Resolving grief is terribly difficult which is why the process is referred to as, “grief work.” A wonderful book for those grieving the loss of a spouse is, “The Healing Power of Grief, The journey through loss to life and laugher,” by Gloria Lintermans & Marilyn Stolzman, PhD. L.M.F.T. While it is written for those who lost a spouse to death, there is much in this book that would be applicable to those who “lose” a spouse due to unanticipated divorce.

      Because many here have some degree of PTSD accompanying their grief, I would also recommend reading up on what we call Complicated Grief. They may find that information useful, too.

      • Agreed, notyou. I would add another good book to consider is C.S. Lewis’ classic: A GRIEF OBSERVED. He is a Christian but is raw about the loss of his wife. So honest that he initially did not publish it in his name. I appreciated it in helping me process and understand grief.

        Also, divorce is a matter of complicated grief especially when it comes after adultery. A book I read (listed in the CL resources: NOT JUST FRIENDS, I think) described moving forward after being rejected by a cheating spouse as trying to figure out how to make a building without the blue print. That’s complicated. But to some extent, I would second CL in saying it is a matter of getting to the point where you just trust that they just suck.

        • Chaplain David,

          Yes, I am big fan of Lewis’ work, both fiction and nonfiction.

          It goes without saying that cheaters “suck.” My thrust is and will continue to be what are you going to do to do to remove yourself from that quagmire of “suckiness” once you go ahead and internalize that you can do not one thing about the other’s problems?” Not just in the literal sense of removing self from the situation (leave the cheater), which is relatively easy compared to the real task… the more important and much more difficult job of healing self emotionally and spiritually from the damage (gain a life).

  • Wow….a lot of good stuff today! I am really enjoying all the posts, and Tracy, as usual you are right on!
    I too mourned the loss of dreams, of what I wanted out “family life” to be. What was reality ….family life was more like hell on earth the last few years before I took my kids and ran like hell. The lying, smearing, gas lighting, sicko mind games, not to mention the OW, well it made me feel like I was absolutely worthless. I was in survival mode for so long just trying to get me and my kids through each day. After I left It slowly dawned on me how much easier life was without shithead hubby #2. Even I was struggling financially It was better on so many ways because I no longer had to drag his sorry ass behind. The day came I found myself feeling really grateful he had moved on to another woman.
    Within the next 4 years a lot of crap came down the pipe, most engineered by either shithead hubby #2 or his family. It was bad crap. Shithead hubby #2 kidnapped and murdered my youngest son 2 years after the divorce. He killed himself within a week in another state. My mother died week after my son’s funeral. I survived that, the loss of a child, the thing I absolutely knew would kill me if it ever happened. I survived the loss of my mother. My eldest 18 yo son moved out on his own. I survived that. Two years after that, shithead’s family had my house burned down. (I can’t prove it, but I know it was them.) I survived the loss of my home, my belongings and all my pets.
    Things got really simple. All I had was me, my life. The rest of my life was going to be what I decided to make of it.
    I love quotes. They lift me up, make me think, and change my attitude. The one that came floating through my brain was one from Abraham Lincoln. “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It reminded me that it isn’t so much what happens to me, but what I do with it. I realized that here were people who wanted to destroy me. They took everything they could from me except my job, and my life. Was I going to hand over my peace of mind, my sanity, and my mental health to them too? Oh HELL NO! They had taken all they were going to take. The rest of my life is mine.
    I rebuilt….. My house,… my life. I realized that as the daughter of two narcissists, I had a lot of work to do on ME. I set out to live my life proactively instead of reactively. I started to decide what I liked, not what someone told me to like. I set out to be the best, most authentic me I could be.
    Have there been tears along the way…..yep…lots, but lots of laughter too. Has the rest of my life been easy? Nope. had to deal with being laid off and finding out the reality of age bias. Was not able to get another job in much of anything especially my field that I had 25 years of experience in. I used up my pension, all my savings and was down to my last 5 dollars when I finally found a job. It was in something else entirely, pays a fraction of my former salary. but gives me enough to scrape by on. I am grateful to have it. It suits me to a “T”. I get to still make a difference in others lives and get to pay the bills too. I feel so lucky. My home is mine, and paid off, so I can get by on very little. I am lucky.
    I am 61. in six months I can begin to collect social security. I will continue to work my current job and play catch up with some things I couldn’t afford.
    Meanwhile, I now own my own life. I have gotten to know me. I get to say to the world…this is me, and I am enough. Whether on not I ever have another partner, I will be just fine.
    I have big plans. I discovered I love cycling. I love the fresh air, the wind in my face, the smells of the countryside. My arthritic knees, back shoulders and spine do not love a regular bike, however. So what did I do? I found myself an affordable used recumbent trike …..problem solved! Enter lots of fun, exercise and a new hobby! If I can work out the logistics, I’m going to ride that trike coast to coast next year.
    I know I will have a problem eventually with maintaining my home and three acres out in the country as I get older. Having gotten interested in the tiny house movement, I am designing myself a tiny house. I plan on building it in the next few years, mostly by myself. I have the skills, and what I don’t know, I will either learn or ask for help. When the day comes for me to downsize…..I will be ready.
    So what I want to say is that when life hands us crap, it is up to us to decide what to do with it. We can make our lives happy and fulfilling regardless of what comes down the pipe. What we need to let ourselves know is that we are already strong, resourceful, loving and resillient. We had to be to survive living with the nasty people we were married to. It is the secret they did not want us to know. We are so much stronger than they ever could be. You will be just fine, Sweetie.

    • Tessie, I continue to be in awe of your strength and generosity of spirit. You really are an inspiration.

    • Dearest Tessie

      You, dear lady, are the embodiment of mighty. You are an inspiration to all of us, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story today.

      I am humbled by your strength, and in awe of your amazing attitude. The world would be a much richer place if there were more like you out there.

      You are a wonderful soul and I wish the best for you on your journey. I will think of you often as I travel my own.

      Thank you…you’ve done more good than you will ever know.

      🙂

    • I agree! I was feeling sorry for myself today because I have to leave my house soon. This puts it in perspective – it’s just a house. I have so much to be thankful for. Thanks for the pep talk, Tessie. You are amazing.

        • Tess. Needed that very much today! Just want to reach through this keyboard and hug you. Tiny home living sounds fascinating…been reading up on it myself. You are such an inspiration for us dealing with so much less.

    • Holy f ! Thank you so much for putting my shitty lil problems right into perspective ! God bless your heart Ms. Tessie.

    • Oh, Tessie. You are inspiring. And this is brilliant: “What we need to let ourselves know is that we are already strong, resourceful, loving and resillient. We had to be to survive living with the nasty people we were married to. It is the secret they did not want us to know. We are so much stronger than they ever could be.” It is the secret they did not want us to know. I’ll think of that every time I tackle one of those things that scares me.

    • Tessie, you are a gift. Your comment “I was in survival mode…” That was what I did those last few years. And to lose a son. My heart aches… IRL I would hug you now. Ditto also To all those wonderful comments from fellow Chumps. Tessie, You are mighty. I picture you pedaling through the countryside and I can see you building that house. One of my favorite quotes comes from Shawshank, ” Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” I look forward, and back, and count my blessings.

  • I sometimes feel envy. I have five kids (who wants that!), and life is still in turmoil. My friends have all moved on with their partners and not even the ones whose husbands are deployed who all get together and no one remembers me. I am across the ocean from family. I just had to watch my oldest son graduate from behind the ex and the puta who paid for the divorce, watching her touch my children and him draped on her. I feel soooo lonely.
    I was a SAHM for 12 years and am trying to get a job and finish my degree but now all the career options I was going for during the marriage can’t be done. Because I’m stuck on an island that doesn’t offer those degrees. So then I wander into self pity because it’s because of his fucking choices.
    Sometimes I look back fondly to the days 4 years ago when I was gasping for life on the bathroom floor, dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (a disabling form of morning sickness) blissfully unaware that they were already flirting…
    But then I realize I need this time alone, my kids need this time too.I want to make sure I never end up with an asshole like him. I want to make sure I can do things by myself. I like going out by myself. I went to a luau where everyone was all coupled up. I had a great time because I didn’t have to make sure someone else was enjoying it too. I get to enjoy my kids and they get to enjoy me.
    Life without that coward is really better.

    • Your situation sucks and I can understand why it’s hard to deal with. But here’s my advice, for what it’s worth: if you can’t get the degree you want locally then look into what they do offer that might offer some opportunities that are of interest to you. Anything close to what you want to study? There is also the option of studying online/distance, although that can be dodgy and those degrees, depending on the institution, are not always worth even the paper they’re printed on. If you go that route make sure it’s with a reputable school.

      In the meantime look into what else you can do to move yourself forward. I’m not sure how much money is an issue but if you can take a part time job or volunteer as little or as much as you can in something related to your interest.

      REach out, NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. I thought I was the crappest networker on earth but made myself go to any event I could get into (printed up biz cards and all) and you know what? Turns out I’m a really good networker and have gotten quite a few opportunities through doing it, and have made connections with an enormous amount of people in my field or with people related to it in some way.

      Networking also showed me that there were things I hadn’t thought of that I could be doing for work and opened up a lot of doors and possibilities. It was hard at first but the more I did it the more I saw that it was a great way into different worlds.

      If the local wives are treating you like you’re a disease because of the divorce forget about them. Research on the internet ANYTHING you can get an invite to in your area. I promise you that the initial weirdness and even shyness will wear off and you will slowly build a new group of people in your life and you will find people who will admire and respect you and you will hopefully find one or two who will believe in you so much that they will help you.

      I met a woman at an event by just going up to her and introducing myself. We ended up talking quite a bit, exchanged info and now, almost two years later, she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders and someone I turn to when I feel like I’m floundering. We don’t really work in the same area but there are connections and we try to help each other but most importantly she’s been an amazing sounding board – always tough on me but always supportive. She snaps me out of it when I’m feeling ‘poor me’.

      I have other examples but you get the idea. Put yourself out there. Don’t just look for opportunities but be OPEN to opportunities, especially stuff you might not have considered or even been aware of.

      And as I always say, I KNOW how hard it is but you’ll be surprised at how great people are. Not everyone and not overnight but really, the world is filled with fabulous, wonderful people and they will help you realise just how great you are and how much you have to offer if you just take the chance.

      Now go kick ass!

  • i am 46. I have lost weight but still need some more. either way i am not worried about it. nor am i worried about finding someone either. my divorce was in march, 2014. i kicked him out jan 1 2014. i am very pretty (not beautiful but pretty) have heard it all my life.

    i completely hate it when someone finds out i am divorced. i get well you are still pretty, you will find a man right a way. or if you stop looking for love it will come to you. ugh. i am not looking thank you.

    i also hate the other thing, well dont worry. when you least expect it you will find mr right, or God will send you the man you need. well unless mr wonderful falls out of the sky at my feet. i will never notice. i go to work, i come home, i stay home. on weekends, guess what, you will find me home with my kids. i do the mom thing, we go to the park, we go to soccer practices and games. but even if i go around, i am not looking. i am a little anti social, dont really care for people, dont really care if anyone talks to me or about me, i hate making polite chit chat, and when i ask “how are you” i really dont care, it was just the way i was raised to be polite (so many strangers love to tell me their business). Basically i dont notice people, even when i drive. so yeah, this man would have to be seriously something or would seriously have to fall at my feet.

    • So six years from now MrsM when Mr Wonderful (aka Mr Seriously Something) lands on your feet will you let me know? If your love comes into your life as fast as your divorce (out in Jan and divorced in March! ) you may be writing to me in two months. I too am a little aloof at times but that Mom thing may well have you blundering into Mr. Right soon and small talk is what got me into trouble in the first place. My friends all say you need to go through eight relationships to know what you want, so we both better get busy. We are not getting any younger. And you have a great sense of humor! Don’t allow one rotten egg to spoil the dozen.

  • Okay, so I’m not going to have the long and happy marriage my parents did. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a happy marriage–if I meet the right person and decide to allow myself to enter into a relationship again. The plural of anecdote may not be data, but I’ve known too many second marriages that have worked well.

    My cousin was married 10 years to a cheater. She found out, kicked his ass to the curb, and has now celebrated over 25 years with her current husband. They have a great lifestyle, collecting and retrofitting classic cars–not a cheap hobby!–and while the two of them do not have kids, my cousin really loves spending time with the grandchildren of her current husband as well as her nephews. Given that my cousin is around 60, she hooked up with her current husband in her mid-to-late 30s.

    One of my friends is a grandmother who, no kidding, plays online games because she can stay in touch with her extended family that way. She divorced her abusive first husband after 25 years of marriage. She met and married her current husband when she was in her mid-50s. Their extended family of grandchildren and step-grandchildren is very larger. She’s now in her late 70s, and her husband worships the ground she walks on, and she clearly loves him dearly.

    And, for those of you who worry about finding a spouse who’ll care for your children as much as you do, I used to live near a guy who had never married. In his late 30s, he was a successful businessman, but had never found the right woman. He fell head over heels in love with a woman his same age who had 4 children. He decided that she was The One, and then adjusted his portfolio so that he could afford to send all 4 kids to college.

    Another guy I know married the love of his life who had a daughter by a previous marriage. That man loved that little girl. She’s now all grown up, married, and has children of her own who call him “grampa.” He’s the father she had for all of her life, and she is the only child he had, even though she is not his biological child.

    So, even though from where we stand now, it may look a bit bleak, it doesn’t have to be bleak. Work through the initial pain, heal, fix our pickers so that we see the red flags, and be open to the possibilities. We may decide we don’t need anyone, yet be surprised when the right person happens to cross our paths. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing KB. You know, I never looked for examples of blended or second chance families because my parents have a strange and sometimes miserable, but long term marriage. The idea of these examples you shared wasn’t even on my radar as a kid. I think I’m going to pay far more attention. So that my definition of successful family and love expands.

  • Dreamer,
    I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I too had intact family envy. I was sad that my son was never going to have a full brother or sister. I was sad that I didn’t have a partner to go through pregnancy and delivery with me. I was sad that I no longer had someone to partner with and plan with. Everyone else has given you great advice. This envy for the most part will pass. It is a normal part of the mourning you’re experiencing. Sometimes the only thing for what we go through is time.

    Now I mostly envy people who get to sleep in. Or sleep through the night. My almost three month old sure likes his early wake up times. Four hours of sleep, today was zombielicious for sure.

    • And of course you would feel sad about those things, Kat. But because you are mighty, you put that in perspective and move forward, even without the sleep!

    • Kat, the greatest gifts from my marriage were our three kids. When they were young older people would come up to me and say, “Treasure the time you spend with your kids because it goes by so fast.” Twenty years raced by. I chose to stay home for some of those years and was fortunate to do so and don’t regret a moment spent with my children. If you don’t yet have a group of young parents in for play groups and just sharing the challenges young babies bring-Coffee in!- I encourage you to do so! Some of the best and hardest working parents I know (and their happy infants) are single parents. Poor and struggling to make ends meet they love their babies and are pursuing degrees.

  • Dreamer-

    I understand how you feel. I have been divorced for almost 6 months and in the beginning, I would absolutely dread weekends. I would hear from my co-workers about the fun things they had planned with their spouses and I wasn’t part of a couple anymore. It sucked. For the first time in my life I looked forward to Mondays and I dreaded Fridays!? What kind of fucked up bizzaro world is that, right?

    Then one weekend during one of my big ole pity parties, I asked myself “what am I really missing?”. I wrote in a journal all the the things that we used to do as a couple on the weekends and what I discovered was that it was a horrible routine; especially after dday (which was 3.5 years before my divorce). I spent most weekends getting way too drunk, eating way too much, doing the pick me polka and always walking on eggshells; wondering if I was making the marriage a better place for him to be. Why the hell did I miss that? I think it was because it was a routine, albeit a bad one, but nonetheless, one to which I had grown accustomed. Most people don’t like change-even if it’s positive change and apparently I was no exception.

    We were one of those couples that people envied too-they just had no idea how screwed up things were. Our children are grown, we both worked and made very good salaries, and we bought our house at the right time so we had lots of disposable income which we used to travel at least twice a year. I was so miserable but I put on a happy face and waited for him to do something different than feel entitled to my forgiveness. I realize now that the reason I stayed with him for so long was because I did not want to become inconvenienced with a lesser lifestyle but I was killing myself slowly.

    It gets better I promise. Without doing the pick me polka (which is strangely not nearly as calorically challenging as the name might imply), I spend time on me-doing vigorous aerobic and weight lifting exercises at the gym. I’m so much closer to work that my total commute (to and from) is actually less than I used to drive one way! I’ve lost a lot of weight since I left and I still have some to lose, but I don’t worry about what effect that’s going to have on the asshat anymore. He would get angry and jealous if I started to orbit near my healthy weight range and get pissy that I wasn’t spending enough time serving him. Of course that didn’t stop him from insulting me if I got too fat.

    Seriously, you really do gain a life once you leave a cheater! It’s a different life than the one we thought we’d have and it’s important to grieve that. It’s also important to move on from that grief eventually.

    Chump nation is here for you!

    • When I was married I was often so depressed by the end of the weekend I was looking forward to going back to work. My goal every weekend was to somehow connect with my husband, try to get him to interact with me. I wanted my weekends to be a break from work, a time to have some fun, spend time with friends, enjoy life.

      My husband’s idea of a great weekend was catching up on work he didn’t get done during the week. He worked long hours, traveled all the time, and when he came home he would decompress by doing physical labor around our small hobby farm. Maybe he’d mow the pastures for the whole weekend, or weed whack, or chop wood or whatever. There was always something for him to do. It’s hard to spend time with someone who’s always working. I did try to help, I pitched in with the chores, but it wasn’t like being emotionally intimate. I tried to tell myself that he just wasn’t a talker, and that I needed to do these chores with him to show him I loved him. Occasionally I would talk him into going out to eat, or to a movie, but he was always antsy and wanted to get back home to his farm work, or his real work. Work always came first in his life, and it was never done.

      Now I look forward to my weekends and they’re filled with friends, dancing, music, and church activities. I often meet girlfriends for breakfast at a local diner. I attend art shows and music festivals. I laugh so much more now.

      • Wow Lyn I can sure relate. My ex is a work acholic and would sit in his office downstairs until 9pm on weeknights and all day on weekends. It was like pulling teeth to get him to do family things. He thought he was doing me a huge favor going out for dinner once and a while. I would always be ready o go waiting for him to finish his workmthatbwas never done. Now I see my poor step daughter dealing with the same things I was. She is 12 and sits up stairs waiting for him to come up and have dinner. They don’t eat until 8-830 after she has bugged him to come up. He also travelled for work and the woman he cheated on me with from Eastern Europe packed up and left. I guess she got tired of waiting too. Oh course he was so much more engaging and attentive in the beginning. Which leaves the hope that eventually that will come back. Now I see what my poor step daughter goes through and I know he really sucks.

    • Good for you–getting back to your healthy weight and exercising. Isn’t it funny how, when you do something HEALTHY and GREAT for yourself like lose weight, the Cheaters are unhappy with that? That’s sure a red flag warning to add to the picker.

  • Oh Dreamer…You have come to the right place for validation and a community that understands where you are and how you feel! Read and RE READ all of the Chump Lady posts when you are feeling down and out. You are not alone!

    We all know how it feels to have your dreams crushed by cheating, lying, legal and financial fuck-ups…AND how easy it was for them to totally discard you…your life together…your kids… and move on to another city…another family…You are left to pick up all the messy pieces…be the responsible one…be the perfect parent…do all the right things and keep your head held high…Watch all the neighbors that you see as having these “perfect lives”…Yeah, as Chump Lady would say “Fuck That”. It really sucks to have someone else take the life that you wanted and just send it all to you-know-where…OK…so how do we all get over this and get the life that we so desperately want back?!!

    You have these beautiful kids that you love, but we all bought into their love bombing, even though that little voice in our head said that this was really over the top romance…and our family and friends were questioning our relationship…we spackled… and were gas lighted. We played the word salad game with them…some of us even resorted to writing those conversations down to prove that we weren’t “crazy” or “drunk” or “forgetful”…we gave up all we had for the “good for all”…we gave up friends and family…we lost ourselves in the perpetual hope that we would have a good marriage if only we were “better”…Our kids paid a price…A lot of us were left feeling we had NOTHING LEFT…

    SO…take one day at a time…start taking care of yourself…as they say “put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST…then you can save everyone else”…what did you do before you had kids? What makes YOU happy? Try to forget, for now how painful it is to be lonely and miss the comfort of marriage…(there is a difference between being lonely and enjoying alone time)…Fill your time with dedication to your job, AND…forget about your old rules and responsibilities!

    Have fun with your kids! Believe me, they grow up too fast…Bust out the board games, play twister, make jello, put peanut butter on the roof of your dog’s mouth and post the video on youtube, watch movies with popcorn thrown all around the room, go to Costco and make a game out of who can eat the most free food…have rootbeer floats for dinner, snuggle in bed and smell their sweetness as they fall asleep..

    I’m writing this to you as I am going through my second divorce…first one I grew up and he didn’t…Had one super duper intelligent great sweet kid…Second one…divorcing an evil, narcissistic, pathological liar, cheater, thief, con man and wish I could turn back the clock 15 years…Logged on tonight because I was feeling just like you! 49 years old and watching life pass me by…

    So, it can only get better! OK…STILL sucks to be here right now…Aw jeez…when do the tears STOP?!!!!

    I logged into this website tonight

    • Crazy Cat Lady, thank you, you summed it up perfectly, board games, sprinklers, movie nights cuddling, friends & playdates, gotta take advantage every moment we can. I just met an old colleague today whom I hadn’t seen in 7 years, he talked about the beautiful children he & his wife had adopted out of foster care, after realizing they were unable to have children of their own, and I thought again how you never know what cards you may be dealt but to make the best of them.. . I have one beautiful child whom I miss dearly every second he is with the crazy lying cheating unemployed ex & OW, but god am I lucky that boy came into my life:) I used to struggle with the envy of ‘intact’ families too but realize we are WAY better off without the evil role modeling, cutting off from fam and friends, and abuse.

  • Dear Dreamer,
    At some point, you’re right. You can always find someone who is richer, taller, skinner, all that. The point is – it does not matter. You can always find someone who is poorer, shorter and over weight as well.
    The only thing that matters is what you do. How you raise your daughter, treat those around you, handle your business. What you do now, how you conduct yourself has a direct impact on your daughter. Be a good mom, a strong woman, be the mother she needs. In a year or two everything will change for her and you need to be there to guide her through it.
    And have a little faith in yourself. The nuns used to tell me that God won’t give you anything that you can’t handle – although sometimes I wonder – and after what you’ve been through you certainly can handle this.
    Finding something to do physically is important on several levels. I find it helps me to relieve stress, to do something just for me, to keep me healthy. And it sets a good example for your daughter.
    I think that marriages are like airplane flights – you only hear about the ones who crash. Many husbands and not a few wives cheat, hence this site, but most don’t. They work hard, try to raise their kids the best that they can, and since they are normal you don’t hear much about them. From a guy’s perspective and experience, people tend to show up in your life when you least expect them to. I’ve met more women in the library than in bars, at least those who were worthwhile.
    You had a life before you married; you had interests, take another look at getting back into them. On the one hand, yes divorce can be very destructive but on the other side of the coin you have an opportunity to start over, to build the life that you want. For that matter – maybe try something new. Maybe try sky-diving.

  • Sometimes I feel we dream and envy the potential of what our partner can become but not the reality of the situation… I was married for 17 years and dedicated my life to my husband, my kids and our family business. We had a wonderful family and a lot of people were in shocked when my husband left me and the kids. We “seemed” so perfect but we always think that the grass is greener on the other side. My husband cheated on me on several occasions and I never accepted his behavior, never forgave him. I was getting emotionally and physically sick over this situation. Drinking the poison and expecting him to die from it… A metaphor, of course 🙂 He took me for granted and never thought I would file for divorce and I did. No regrets, it is true sometimes I cry by myself and wonder why? Because I truly believe in my heart I did the best I could to save my marriage but I cannot control anyone but ME. Create and transform yourself to the new you. Do all the things you never had a chance to do when you were a couple. Please yourself, take care of yourself. From doing yoga and meditation to relax, salsa classes to meet people, attend to a bead club for jewelry making, created a zen garden in my backyard… I have bigger project, saving for a trip to Africa!! I am doing things for me to please me and I am happy most of the time, it is a process with patience we will get through it. In the meantime, it is a journey and enjoying our children is part of it, there are a blessing in my life. Count your blessings everyday, you will see your life in a totally different angle. Hugs and stay strong, we are too good to cry over douchebags 🙂

    • I agree! I always gave my ex more credit than he deserved. He was never the present supportive husband/father although friends thought so! He looked good. So sparkly and a great actor. I waited twenty years for him to realize he had it all. It wasn’t enough. He wants perfect. Or new. Or WTF-ever. I know I rock, I was a good wife (almost right up till dday!) and an excellent mom, and I live with great intention. I know there’s a good man out there who will bump into me one day. I do need to take more risks though.
      Trying to be more selfish. Lol. When my life blew up, when I learned of my ex’s infidelity, I thought Nobody that deceitful will ever have a happy marriage.

  • I totally understand this. I moved out exactly a year ago, after finally getting proof of the affair. Cheater refused to move stating”he would never abandon his family”….also saying that I was overreacting etc. So I moved with my 3 children…..right next door is this adorable in tact family. I would tear up listening to them play with their kids in the yard. I don’t know if it was jealousy or, more of the reality of the dream/ fantasy I was letting go of. I have spent a year chiseling away at the very thick spackle I layered over an 18 year marriage. It is easy to present the image that you want …especially when you are with a narc who sparkles to all. It is so hard to accept the truth, look rejection in the face and let go.

    I am now fine with seeing other families but have a new challenge as STBX is showing up at kid functions with the OW. When I see this it is a physical reaction. I feel like I have been punched in the gut. He is bringing her to activities that he would always refuse to come to with me. Sports/school events etc. I can’t wait for this not to bother me. It is taking way too long!

  • The envy factor has been a real big part in my issues over my breakup. My XW left me for someone who I expect is far wealthier and is a polar opposite of me in terms of interests and personality. I now accept this fact, and he can now have her. Integrity, conscience, and dignity are more important. I would rather be single the rest of my life than be married to someone like that again.

  • Gosh, I thought I was alone in feeling envious of all the intact families. My son is only 6 almost 7 and I hate saying this, but it’s still early in a lot of families lives. They unfortunately might go through the same thing in the future that my son and I are going through now. I just feel so alone somedays and I’m the fifth wheel constantly. But I’m very thankful that I have the great friends around me to be a wheel at all. I love the idea of becoming a new woman. I’ve been doing a lot of work on my house and am finding out a lot about myself through it. If I ran into a guy somewhere that peaked my interest I’d love to flirt a little, but I’m definitely not interested in anything more yet. I feel good about that because it feels like the first decision I’ve had any control over. This post came at just the right time as usual. Thank God for everyone on here!!

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