Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, How did you experience the stages of grief?

Hi Chump Lady,

I would like to know your take on the Stages of Grief. I know we have to work through all of them, but I feel like Chumps go through it in a different order? I think denial is a pretty quick one for us, and we are done bargaining as soon as we realize what our deal breakers are. How did you go through the stages of grief? I have been using my anger to stay strong, but I don’t feel like I’m already done with depression, because I have had glimpses of “meh”.

Any thoughts on this? I know you have said that going no contact reduces or eliminates denial and bargaining. No contact helps me not think about my ex-shithead, and focus on my own life, which has always been pretty awesome. I’m only a few months out of a 10 year dysfunctional relationship, but I have been no contact (other than a few texts and lots of financial emails) since the first 3 weeks. I have been tested with pathetic “I’m sorry” and “poor me” emails and all sorts of other mindfuckery, been angry for a while and gotten back to a “not my monkey, not my circus” mindset. I don’t know if I’m just doing wishful thinking, hoping that I fly through to the promised land of meh in a couple months like Dorothy clicking her heels?

Thanks so much- you guys are the best!

Grateful Chump

Dear GC,

I don’t think the stages of grief are on a punch card system. Oh, did denial, done with that, now I need to get my anger slot punched.

I think grief is more like a big combo plate in the cafeteria from hell, where you get denial, anger, bargaining, and depression heaped on your tray and acceptance is dessert. If you’re good…. maybe you’ll get acceptance. You can’t spoil your appetite for shit sandwiches and get acceptance first. Acceptance is for LATER.

I think it’s pretty normal to flip through all the stages except acceptance (or what we call around here — “meh”). I think it’s pretty normal to work through all the stages, finally get to acceptance, and then go back to the cafeteria from hell for second helpings of anger and depression sometimes.

It’s just a process. And it takes time. And those tropes are about as comforting as a deflated soccer ball. I’m sorry.

Unless you are a very shallow person with very shallow feelings, you’re going to grieve. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger. You cared. A lot. It’s going to hurt like a motherfucker. So while you’re cycling through the grief, it might help to remind yourself that hey, you feel so shitty because you have a soul.

How did I go through the stages? Imperfectly. I wouldn’t be much of a chump if I told you, oh, I wised up the first day, threw him out, filed, and never looked back.

No, I did denial (spackle), I bargained (the humiliating dance of pick me, Amazon chumpdom), I did depression (chump paralysis, unicorn limbo). The most helpful stage was anger — so of course I encourage you all to be bitter! When I could sustain anger, I felt lucid. I could propel myself to action, get to a lawyer, protect myself, tell people. Of course, I couldn’t sustain anger all the time — and no one wants to live in anger forever, but it’s a very useful stage. Only after I felt righteously pissed, could I get over the hump to acceptance.

Anger got me out of there. And once I was out, I went no contact. And NC got me to acceptance, or meh.

It’s years later, and honestly, I don’t feel sad or angry about it much at all. It just feels like a huge waste of my time. Like, damn, I wish I could have that investment back and I wish I would’ve put my kibbles in a better stock portfolio. Later, I did make better investments, but I can’t get the compound interest back on the wasted time.

Thus, this blog. Don’t waste your time. Get to anger sooner, get away sooner, and work through the stages of grief while you’re going NC. Your head will clear faster. Meh is out there and there’s a dessert buffet! Don’t miss out.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • OTOH. When grief is sudden, as in an accidental death of a young, healthy person, the onset of grief is profound and intense. When you have been living with a diagnosis for years and watched your loved one go downhill into an inevitable decline, you have time to work through some of the `stages of grief’ before the eyelids are slid shut and the doctor calls the time of death.

    It may be also true of the death of a relationship. By the time Grateful has made it this far, he/she may have already walked that lonesome valley, or been a regular at the cafeteria, and thus may have processed some of this already. Or maybe is just looking for reason to hope that might be the case.

    • Hi CL,

      I have just discovered your website a few days ago and I have been reading as much as I can. looking for strength to guide me out of my marriage. Here is my story

      I am almost 33yrs old and have been married since I was 18, knew my husband when I was 17. He is 10yrs older than me. He is/was my first love and I have loved him with everything I have, heart and soul….even the heart and soul I was suppose to have in my next life. Enough love to make a man happy and content or so I thought.

      Looking back the cheating started on the first year of my marriage. We have a 13yr, 9yr, 4yr and a 8month old. He has cheated on every pregnancy and our last child I found emails of him contacting a few of his online fuckbuddies on the day I had our son!
      He is a porn addict and will watch porn as soon as the kids go to bed, even with me in the same room. We have thought about porn and I have relented to tell him its ok, but only in small doses. He took this as the big tick to do it every night.

      The time we separated for two years, Aug 2005 to Jan 2008, we got back together than a little while after that caught him in bed at his aunty (he thinks of her as his mum and she her son) house AFTER his aunty calls me the night before and tells me hubby has visited her drunk and has fallen asleep, so he wont be coming home that night and I shouldnt worry about him not coming home. I find out when I caught him early in the morning that it was the aunty who called his ex girlfriend ( hubby was with her the time we separated) to come spend the nigh with her family and got MY HUSBAND to pick her up. Supposedly she was pregnant and was depressed husband had come back to me and that she was leaving the country. So this was suppose to be their last time to get together :O I didnt feel right about his auntys phonecall to me so went over that night and sat in the car outside their house the whole night. My reasoning was it was rude of me to turn up after she aunty had called to explain what was happening, like I didnt have a good reason to be there even if my husband was inside. So i figured Ill wait til morning before going over to knock on the door. went upstairs and caught hubby outside of the bedroom and trying to bar my way from getting inside to his see the gf in bed. We fought then and there and I left for home and he followed me, leaving the aunty and his gf. I took this as a sign he truly loved me that he left straight after me to follow me. I feel so fucked in the head to see this as love. I guess my hubby followed me home because he was caught red handed.

      Fast forward a few years, The online account of online dating websites, tagged, ashley madison and a few others. BEFORE he claims they are just friends and its only harmless fun because there is no physical contact. His secret phone I found about March this year, not the actual phone but emails he sends whores online telling them this is his number to be contacted on. I called the number, no answer. The same day I get a call back on the same day ( I didnt bother hiding my number from showing) it was a man claiming this was his phone number etc. I believe he got a workmate to call me to try and cover up his tracks. The secret email account. Well we fought a few days ago and he said he had deleted this secret email account, blah.

      A few years ago I did find his first secret phone and on it was endless contact of girls, naked pictures of them and even naked pictures of himself that he sends them. My husband is a serial cheater and looking back I have had my head in the fucking sand and not stand my ground. I have lost my spine? Every time I prepare to walk out I desperately look for a reason to stay, like pick fights with the husband to force him into some kind of love admission, or hear him say sorry or just fucking any little morsel of love/attention from him to stay.

      I am a pathetic fool who has over the years lost my self and my self respect. He takes up most of my thinking space especially when we are fighting and I am trying to find the courage to leave with 4 kids in tow. In the last week I have desperately tried to gather every ounce of willpower to leave, I am 60% there but need more to push me out the door. He is preparing to drive out of state tonight, excuse family matters however I strongly believe he has other plans. My best friends mother died last week, same state my husband is driving too) and I have told him I can come along to go to the funeral as babysitter for the kids wont be an issue. He has gotten angry to say he cant be at two places at once, with his grandparents and at the funeral. I replied he doeasnt fucking need to be at the funeral. So he relented to say I can go but I am too hurt and angry so I have said no, what for to mess up his secret plans. Lastnight he talked about the funeral again giving money donations but I shut him down. I will explain to my friend why wa snot able to at the her mother funeral.

      I need help, I need a needle of willpower to be injected into my fucking head, that my head has taken in all the years of relentless cheating yet cant find the strength to fly. Do i need to be feeling 100% ready to leave to do so? Does a person leave even if half their brain is in turmoil? How mentally prepared do I need to feel before to I can leave….sorry if this email is all over the place, i have two kids under 4 who is wanting my attention and I am trying to type this up really quick

      Help

      trying2fly

      • You already know that nothing is going to change. That doesn’t make leaving easier, or less painful, it’s just something you have to do. When you start acting in your own best interest, you will get some of your dignity and self respect back. It’s the first step in getting your life back, and moving on to a place of peace, contentment and joy.

        It isn’t easy, and leaving isn’t something ANY of us wanted. We left because we realized there was no hope of any kind of life with an ass. You have to face facts, and embrace the decision that you want something better for yourself and for your children. Life with serial cheater daddy is certainly not in their best interest. If you can’t do this for yourself, do it for them.

        • What Einstein said.

          Only thing I would add is, put your hand up for help. If you have family and/or friends that will help with the children or provide support in any way, ask them. If you do not, contact any community organisation that could assist. Contact a lawyer and get advice pronto. You are going to need all the help you can get with 4 small children. But it can be done. No one is saying it will be easy, but when you can show your children that nobody gets to treat mommy like a piece of garbage, then your self esteem will return.

      • Dear trying2fly:

        Leaving is scary, especially since you have 4 children. However, leaving is the right thing to do. Even without the infidelity, your marriage is toxic, with all that fighting. One of my friends just left her husband after 12 years of marriage and 2 young sons. One of her sons started trash talking her, and she asked him where he’d heard that. He told her that’s how daddy talked to her!

        Go read the Featured Articles on “How to Leave a Cheater,” “What NOT to Do When You’ve Been Cheated On,” and “I Just Found Out I’ve Been Cheated On. Now What?”

        You can’t control him or make him want to stop cheating any more than you can stop an alcoholic from drinking. Only he can make that choice, and right now, he doesn’t want to.

        So let yourself stay angry, but channel it in a productive way. Ask your friends about lawyers. At least in the U.S., many attorneys have reduced rates for initial consultations. Ask the local women’s shelter about therapists. Honey, you have been emotionally abused since you were 17–and maybe earlier, depending on your own family background. You will need help with that so you don’t become a victim again.

        It sounds as if you’re a stay-at-home mom (not surprising, with all those young children!). You’ll need to think about your long-term ability to support yourself and your children. Let your anger at your spouse propel you to take a class at the local community college so you can start a job training program. Getting some education will make you feel more empowered, and it sets a great example to your children.

        Downsize your stuff. Remember that you’re going to leave the bastard. Make sure the car is properly maintained and serviced, get on a budget, and start cleaning out the broken, worn-out, and unused stuff from your household. Did your babies just grow out of their perfectly good sleepers? Sell the clothes! If you can’t sell, then donate (and keep the receipts for tax purposes).

        Start saving money. I saved my retainer fee. It took over a year, but I did it. Let your cheater subsidize this fee by using the “cash back” option at the grocery store, or buy something for the kids and then return it for cash instead of credit.

        Take charge of your credit. Assuming that you’re the one who leaves (because he sounds as if he won’t), you’ll need to pass a credit check. That means establishing credit if you haven’t already, or repairing credit if you’ve damaged it. Check out the Dave Ramsey website. Modeling good fiscal behavior to your children is also very important.

        Doing all of this stuff will give you POWER because you are taking charge of your life. Once you feel more in control, then you will be able to make the break.

        Hugs to you!

        • Thank you KB, I’m in tears reading this.

          I have family just waiting on my word to spring forth and help me leave interstate with my children. Accommodation and funds to look after myself and little ones will be ok. I’ve been a stay at home mum for the past 2yrs, ever since my family moved countries for a clean start. Finding work will not be an issue. It did not take long since our move for my husbands lying cheating ways to resurface. I am stuck in an abyss of depression. I have thought of myself being emotionally abused by my husband but I have never thought of it as being done to me since I was 17. This gave me a shock. I know what I have to do, but just can’t find the strength to Nike it (just do it) because just thinking of a future without my damn husband paralyses my heart and the tears begins. I tell myself, maybe I’m one of those women who stays until their love dies a slow painful death before they find the strength to leave. My husband is currently out of state and I have threatened? him today over another fight on the phone that kids and I were leaving then he throws his suicide card at me.

    • Thank you Enough Already! I was trying to figure out how to explain that by the time D-day came I wasn’t devastated and depressed and pining for my lost love and doing the pick-me dance. I had spent the previous twenty years grieving the slow death of my marriage to a POS narc. Whatever tears I cried happened years ago when he broke my heart and murdered my love for him. Whatever denial I had to work through was over by the time I fully embraced that whether he is diagnosed or not, he has a REAL personality disorder and I’m not being judgmental and crazy for believing it. Anger has served me well. There’s the anger that I had to put up with his shit for so long. Anger that he’s such a POS, but blames me for EVERYTHING and some choose to believe him. Anger that he stole myself from me. He made me believe things about myself that weren’t true. Anger that when I finally had the balls to tell him I wanted a divorce that his coward move was to find some whore and have an affair instead of doing the right thing by me and the kids…anger that I believed he would do the right thing. I’m not grieving the love I had for him…it’s been dead for so long. I’m grieving the loss of my life, the colossal waste of time, the doubting myself and thinking I was crazy, the life and love I could have had, the father my children could have had. I am thankful that I didn’t still love him…that is a grief process I can’t imagine.

      • “There’s the anger that I had to put up with his shit for so long. Anger that he’s such a POS, but blames me for EVERYTHING and some choose to believe him. Anger that he stole myself from me. He made me believe things about myself that weren’t true. ” , “doubting myself and thinking I was crazy”

        Might mite you have described some of what I’m currently feeling. It’s good to know that another shares the same pain I’m going through and that I’m not the only one on the planet to feel this

        • trying2fly, I suggest you use that 60% strength you have and think about your kids…so don´t leave for a while, fake niceness and whatever you need to do so that he doesn´t suspect that you are leaving…let him do whatever he is doing while you are planning for yourself and your children. Follow ALL of CL´s advice
          http://chumplady.com/2012/05/how-to-leave-a-cheater/
          and get support…but use your anger and the little self respect you have left to win this battle for your kids and your future, wonderful self. You are already at the first step which is awareness that you have been emotionally abused and that your husband has put you and your children´s health, safety and economic stability in risk…So go for it! A cheater-free life is waiting for you! You are mighty!

  • The most difficult journey to meh is when you have to still have some sort of communication with the Cheater – because of shared child custody, or divorce wranglings, etc. It allows them access with which to play their mind games, which tend to put us back into grief sometimes. It differs from death grief in that they just haven’t died or disappeared.

    The sooner you let go of any hope of reconciliation, and start thinking of Cheater as your adversary, then the sooner you can harness anger for a productive purpose, i.e., getting them out of your life. Letting go of hopes, plans and dreams, and then imagining new ones without the Cheater, helps a lot in cycling through the stages. It helps to have already suffered grief to know how you handled it first time around.

    • I agree, Marci. I think I would have arrived at meh a LONG time ago if I didn’t share children with ex-cheater. I often find myself in a constant state of stress because of some annoying thing he emails me or because my children can’t stand visiting him. If he had decided to move far away and discontinue contact, I think that my kids and I would be far happier. His presence in our lives brings nothing but stress, and I wonder if true meh won’t be possible for me until our children are adults (and even then, they’ll have to deal with his shitty ways, I’ll hear about it). It sucks.

      • I agree, I keep getting stress from my ex because my kids are young, so we’re still in contact a lot. He still has ways of messing with me through them – visitation schedules, etc. My kids don’t like visitation time either, which in turn stresses me out.

        I still struggle with self-worth issues, which maybe isn’t meh either. Or maybe that’s more PTSD. I am just skeptical now that anyone I know is going to stick around me long, like friends or BF.

    • I have to say I’ve sometimes envied people who lost a spouse through death. Their grief seems so much cleaner. I’m not saying it’s easier, but it’s less complicated. They speak about their loved one and their happy memories which gives them comfort. My mind seems to be blocking most of the memories of our marriage period. 36 years is a heck of a chunk of life to block out of my mind. The other day I was at a new venue and some memories started to surface. I started thinking “oh no!” and squelched them as much as possible. Didn’t want to get all teary-eyed in front of a bunch of new people. The way the meaning of my memories changed is one of the hardest things for me to deal with.

        • The memories of a long marriage(36years) are hijacked by betrayal and hurt. Were the good years really good? Was he with affair partner number whatever? How could i have been so disrespected? Who is this guy I married? What is real?. What was real? It’s a mimd fuck, thats the reality we are left to decipher…

      • “The way the meaning of my memories changed is one of the hardest things for me to deal with.”

        Yes. I really hate the fact that all of my sweet memories have turned into something so painful. Years and years and years of good memories stolen from me and replaced with a hard lump in my stomach.
        I don’t know why he had to take her to all of our special places: restaurants, our seaside retreat, parks, drives, our bench at the beach….our bed…and then photograph her there. Basically, standing in almost the same places I had stood so happily back when it was my world. What the f is up with that?

        He ripped what was mine out of my arms and gave it all to her. Places that had been exclusive (ha!) to us over multiple years – transferred to her in the space of two years. Actually, the majority of that happened within the first year! I really treasured all of the little things and associations. Now the memory just brings pain. Not fair.

        • AND….I have reason now to wonder if she was the only one. I think not. I found another woman’s photographs in his computer…over a several year period. And this is someone I met at the same time he did, a fact he had forgotten – that I ever knew her. He will only admit that it was wrong of him to keep his friendship with her a secret from me. I say where there’s smoke there’s fire.

          Why would her daughter invite him alone to go out to dinner on her birthday, so there were two couples, my man and the secret friend, her daughter and daughter’s husband? And why did he take his camera, if he was only, as he tried to say, “putting in an appearance briefly”? He only takes his camera to important events.

          And why did this gal feel free to ask him to accompany her to a formal dinner/reception, both of them in fancy dress? WHAT?

          And she was before the affair I discovered. UGH.

          Reality? What was my reality – really? I feel so utterly stupid.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I have been in mediation for a year and just today hired an attorney. I feel a great lifting of my anger into a directed place. I no longer have to deal directly with the POS and have an intelligent, compassionate, kick ass representative.

      This year my anger has been through the roof—talking to myself in the street, cursing him and the birthing bullies and fuming about the injustice. Then angry because I feel angry and my life feels a mess.

      The diffuse anger has lifted a lot, it is still there but it is up to me to direct it to a good place.

      For someone like me who tried to right any injustice, having been deceived by a group of people I served was too much to bear. The anger was intense for an entire year and would be still if I sat in mediation. This guy is not my friend, he has no empathy for me and stabbed me in the back whenever he could. Even though I pride myself in solving problems and dealing with directly with difficulties, I am dealing with someone who plays by no rules but his own.

      Sometimes it takes time to learn how to cut away from cheater-crazy. It was hard to get here for me–borrowing money for a lawyer, admitting I could not make decisions with creepo, and that this was way beyond my scope —My lawyer is a tough lady. Just what I need. Wish me luck mighty people. I have much work ahead of me.

      • Good Luck, Chumpectomy! When I realized how horribly betrayed I was by a man I’d spent more than half my life with I allowed my anger to rage and burn for three years. Who says “this” is bad?!?!? It was definitely what I needed. It propelled me forward. Just be sure you know what you want and deserve because even the best lawyers (and judges) have no idea what Narcs are like to divorce. Even when they run off with their affair partners. And draft your own settlement…now. You know best what you need and get creative. Think of your future(and your children, if applicable). I split my alimony into two. Education fund for kids (not taxed) and then maintenance-aka what a joke:). Think of getting a professional divorce financial analyst in and think in terms of pro rata share especially when there is a great disparity in wages. If I had been smarter I would have sued my ex for dissipation of assets, he had been working on our finances for three years before I figured it out but my life and future, however, were more important. There are many online resources as well. Formulas for child support and spousal. Knowledge is power, so use it!

        • Thank you Drew for the great info! My stbx and I own a business and it became apparent to me months ago that he was doing jobs for cash and unknown to me to make the business lose money and appear to have no value (and also he could pocket and spend the cash on his whore which he did). I had no idea I could sue for dissipation of assets. I’ll be talking to my attorney about this in the morning!

        • Thank you very much Drew. This anger does take a while. I love your ideas about drafting your own settlement and will print your response. Many thanks.

      • Funny world–I just contacted my lawyer to get this show on the road today as well.
        Spoke with her last year, and said, “I don’t want to be harsh with him, let’s start with mediation, let’s offer him a good deal, let’s make sure he gets a lawyer,” etc., just care-taking the heck out of him. She told me that lots of women say “He can have everything, I just want the kids.” Then they come back later and want to change their minds and it’s too late.
        So today when I talked to her we agreed not to start with mediation. Maybe we’ll get there, but we’re not going to start out from the compromise position and then negotiate backwards from there.

        If we mediate, it’s going to have a shelf-life, too, about the same as a gallon of milk. “This does not appear to be working. Okay, we tried. Next!”

        Good luck!

        • I realize too that I had been taking care of him in mediation! Making sure it was all “fair” (aka good for him) Him? He tried to get me to not drink alcohol around my son because I was asking that of him. I never in my life got drunk. I do not like the taste of alcohol. But I do go to celebrations where I sometimes have a sip to feel celebrational with others.

          When I started to work full time he suggested that since he has a more flexible job that HE have residential custody. THIS from a long standing alcoholic, porn addict, pathologically lying cheater who left his child each night to lie about working and drink and who knows what with his girlfriends! THIS from a person who orchestrated a communal rape of his mother by his childcare providers and doula! He has no shame or conscience–but I know this. That is why NC is really the only answer.

          EnoughAlready, if your ex is anything like mine—go straight to a lawyer. Mediation was just another way he could play games with my sanity.

          • Thanks for the advice, Chumpectomy.
            Although I separated from him years ago, it’s taken years to get around to filing. During that time I made attempts on my own to come up with and negotiate a `fair’ (to him) settlement. I also consulted a couple of lawyers, but was never ready to take their advice, I wanted to a) not have him stop loving me (cringe) and b) not make him mad, and c) I don’t know what I was thinking.
            Now I’m at the point where I’m ready to listen to my lawyer, and it should be an interesting journey. She recommended that we not start out with mediation, but remain open to considering it. I just don’t plan on lingering there. If he can bring an offer to the table that is worth skipping the fight, I will probably accept. But negotiating back and forth like a ping-pong match? Not happening.

            I’ll be interested in your journey. Hope to see your posts around here.

    • “The sooner you let go of any hope of reconciliation, and start thinking of Cheater as your adversary, then the sooner you can harness anger for a productive purpose, i.e., getting them out of your life. Letting go of hopes, plans and dreams, and then imagining new ones without the Cheater, helps a lot in cycling through the stages. It helps to have already suffered grief to know how you handled it first time around”

      That’s a lot of wisdom Marci

  • The idea that there are 5-stages of grief is all based on one model created by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and published in her book, “On Death and Dying”. The model was developed solely by studying a small group of terminal patients.

    It’s a largely discredited idea that there are 5 distinct stages of grief that the wider, general public experience, and that they must visit each of them. There have been quite a few empirical studies, for example, demonstrating that outcomes of “mandatory grief counseling” can have negative outcomes. More importantly, Grief Counseling has only been shown to benefit a very small (less than 5% of the population) group of people.

    So… the short answer is that you deal with things the best way you can, and that will usually be better than sticking somebody into a Grief Counseling program and trying to fit their experience into a Grief-Stages Model. Banano did a few following studies of people who had experienced terrible things (9/11 survivors, Kosovar and Rwandan genocide survivors), and his studies found that more than 70% of the people who experienced those terrible things were back to being productive within 6 months and back to their baseline happiness within a year. More than 95% were back to their baseline happiness within 2 years.

    • This is very useful information, that I, an uninformed consumer of pop psychology, didn’t know. Thank you so much for sharing

    • Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the field of death and dying as well as grief. To say her research is not valid is unfair. It started the evidenced based examination of how grief impacts life after a loved one dies and many professionals have used her research as a jumping off point to refine reactions to dying, death and grief. Stages of grief are valid when someone you “loved” dies but unfortunately, the assholes we married/hooked up with still walk the earth. It would be oh so much easier if they were dead because no contact would be a given. I think it is better to examine and grieve the fucked up decision we made when we joined up with such pieces of crap. Grieve how it impacted our kids and vow to never make that mistake again.

      • She did talk about a subject that was kind of taboo and open up a conversation about that, and that’s important, but to say her “research” is not “evidence based” (she didn’t construct anything resembling a scientific study) or that her methodology was not scientific is totally valid.

        It wasn’t science, and it was generalized by practitioners to an even wider field of “grief counseling”, the efficacy of which is poor, and it some cases it has turned out to actually harmful to the people receiving that counseling.

        That is born out by better, more thorough, and more credible research.

        • Time heals I don’t think it needs to be a pissing match about Kubler-Ross’s work. She was a pioneer in the field. Elizabeth was a great and caring professional who had the balls to address the subject of death and dying when no one else did. No telling how long it would have been before any one would have started looking at the subject if Kubler-Ross had not and many “evidenced based” practices did came from examining this woman’s work. To discredit her work because you and others don’t care for her and what she wrote about is just short sided and less than intelegent. She empowered others to start a discourse about grief and she never said the stages were hard and fast. Maybe a good read of her work “On death and dying” would help you understand this. You missed the whole point of my response. Quit hating on someone who helped so many. Seems like your getting off track, quit trying to blame your dislike for the stages of grief she outlined in the infancy of the subject and figure out where you are in relation to your own situation. Based on the your attack you definately have the stage of anger down. Good, now move onward and upward. Best wishes to you and prayers for your journey.

          • It’s not a “pissing match”. Science and the scientific method have meaning. It wasn’t science. 1969 was a long time ago. In 1969, shock therapy was believe to have curative effects based on the assumption that it “erased faulty programming” and left somebody to “re-write their programming”, and look at the harm those assumptions did.

            Neurology is a science. What Bonano et al have done could be described as a “scientific survey” in that there was a large sample set, there were controls in place, and the process could be repeated, modified, or refuted by subsequent researchers.

            What Kubler-Ross did cannot be described as anything resembling Science or employing scientific methodology. End of story.

            What she did do was open a dialog about something people weren’t talking about in 1969, and that’s not unimportant: you can’t even begin to study something if you won’t discuss it. Unfortunately, subsequent methodical studies have poked a lot of holes in her assumptions, and the mythos she created about 5-stages of grief, etc has not withstood scrutiny.

      • By the way, I am the Kelly who had been posting on here for a few years, just got re-married. I see we have a new Kelly (spelled the same way commenting above), so I am going to change my name to KellyOne! I don’t have any beef about Kubler Ross one way or the other…..

  • I went through the phases, denial, pick me and depression and I agree wholehearted with CL, anger got me out of them pretty quickly. That’s when I went NC and filed. He’ll never change and things between us will never be the same. I can see him for who and what he really is now – especially since his mindfuckery doesn’t work on me any more. Example? He says he hopes we can be friends again. Translation – I want to be in your life simply so I can use you and tell everybody we’re friends so I don’t look like such a bad guy. It’s just another attempt to sweep his choices/ actions under the rug.

    Our 24 year marriage was a facade in my opinion – it made him look like the right kind of person while hiding his secrets. Now he wants friendship for the same reason.

    However, while my anger has helped strengthen me, I feel like I’ve hit another stage of depression. I lack motivation for anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done. Based on that, I guess cycling back through some of the phases is simply a part of the process to get to meh. Can’t wait to get there!

    • “Our 24 year marriage was a facade in my opinion – it made him look like the right kind of person while hiding his secrets. Now he wants friendship for the same reason”.
      BBC …. Make that 37 years for me and you have just described me ex!! I have absolutely no contact with the ex but August just gone was a bad month for me and I was very sad again. I am okay now because I just worked through each day as it came and went because I am on my own. Not everyone has that luxury I know, but today I am at meh and it is heaven. How long that will last I don’t know but one thing I have become aware of in myself is that I laugh so easily now and that is something that I stopped doing when married. meh is not far off for all we Chumps.

      • i also stopped laughing at some point in my marriage. i remember my now 20 year son telling me years ago, mommy why dont you laugh anymore. he still tells me i dont smile anymore. i am working on that.

        today i am at meh too. and yes it is heaven. such a good feeling!! i wish it would stay. last 2 weeks i have been struggling. my Xh has moved out of town without saying a word to me (so much for any type of loyality after 14 years) and did not even call to say good bye to my boys. (of course he hasnt seen them since june) they havent asked for him but it hurts my heart that they no longer have daddy in their lives.

        i am so getting over the way he just turned his back and forgot about us. his loving wife and his trusting loving kids. we needed him. i complete agree with the marriage being a facade so he can hide his secrets. i think he really wanted the marriage but didnt know how to put in the work to keep it. in my case, he doesnt want anything to do with me. doesnt want to talk to me, or even be in the same room as me. wtf is that about? i guess i wasnt worth it.

        life goes on whether you are ready or not. i am happy today. plan on doing something with the kids. and make some good new memories

        • You are worth it. As hard as it is, just keep focusing on your children and your well being. His loss. Life does go on with or without us. You will be fine and so will your children. The damage that is done by cheating is staggering. I never knew this world existed and I still wish I didn’t but I do now and I am a stronger person because of it. Ny best wishes to you.

          • I read this somewhere so I won’t claim credit for it, but the following statement made a lot sense to me: “People don’t cheat because of who you (the faithful spouse) or the affair partner are; they cheat because of who they are not.”

    • I got the “let’s be friends” thing as well. Thank goodness I saw it (thru my anger) for what he really meant: “I need you to say nice things about me to others and show them that I am really just this nice guy who was trapped in a marriage that was over years ago and we went our separate ways and still get along oh so great because anything else will expose me for the heartless, cold narcissistic liar that I really am deep inside.”

      • Thanks for this…I am at the initial stage of “let´s be friends” and I was wondering what that would mean for him…you made me realize that it is a cover up so his image is not so tarnished, of course. If I accept him as a “friend” he couldn´t be that bad. But the reasoning should be “would I accept to have friends who have lied, stolen, humiliated and betrayed me?” No Way!

        • Susan, I got the ‘let’s be friends’ and also, ‘we can be f-buddies’. After knowing my ex for 45 years, together for 40 years and married for 37 years, that is what I was offered! I have way too much self respect and class. Suffice to say, his f-buddies are teenage Asian prostitutes and he is 62 years old. No fool like a bloody old fool, I say. Stand your ground and go NC.

      • Yep, that’s what mine basically meant too. I think the narc part of him too, wants EVERYONE to love/like him. So of course he wants to be friends, because everyone MUST like him.

        The problem with that is, forget everything related to the cheating/end of marriage – the person he is now and the person I am now have very little in common. Like if he was a stranger on the street that I met today, there would be zero interest. I wouldn’t want to strike up a friendship with that person. And that seems to be totally lost on him.

      • Me too. I got an email the morning after he left saying he could see us being friends and laughing together. He said he wanted to come home and explain how the divorce would go. I told him to stay away from me. I told him I could not be his friend, and he seemed disappointed but not surprised.

    • Yep the ‘friends’ thing is a cover up at least for my narc STBX. His family knows he cheated but I don’t believe they know the full extent of his cheating. One of his odd things when we were together was that he wanted to be informed of the jist of things with our daughter and me but not the details or be involved. Then he would get on the phone with his family and mention these things like he was fully involved. They live several states away so they didn’t know any different or frankly care. So if he can get me to be friends with him, he can continue to play this game too. Since I’m NC, he’s likely telling them I’m an angry bitch – it bothers me but not that much.

    • “Translation – I want to be in your life simply so I can use you and tell everybody we’re friends so I don’t look like such a bad guy. It’s just another attempt to sweep his choices/ actions under the rug.”

      Exactly….and it just adds insult to injury. They screw you over without blinking an eye and then want to use you for cover.

      And THAT’s why it feels so much better to be 100% away from them.

      • “They screw you over without blinking an eye and then want to use you for cover.”

        I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that’s exactly how it felt. Thanks for putting it into words.

        • Yes, very helpful to hear because for people who want to live in peace with others it is so tempting to hear that one can have a normal relationship with the person we married. Yes, wouldn’t it be good to be friends! But…well…how in the hell does that work?

          That’s why the cheater translations are valuable.

  • Four years later, I am mostly at meh, but I long ago gave myself permission to experience whatever emotion rose to the surface.Feeling sad? Own it. Pissed off? Own it. I think the more you deny what you are feeling, the more those emotions remain.I gave over 30 years of my life to that relationship, 27 of those years married. I could hardly expect to process all my feelings in a year or two. I don’t wallow in it, but I still think about what happened every day. The book that has helped me is “This Is How” by Augusten Burroughs. He talks about how traumatic events create a hole in your life, but that hole is something, it has its own place and should be honored, not ignored. I have survived one of the worst things that can happen to a person and that is what I now choose to celebrate my life, all the while recognizing that some amount of grief will always remain.

    • Something remains from it, but I think like CL does….a ginormous waste of time and emotion, which doesn’t compel me to grief, but leaves me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

    • I did the same thing and still do the same thing if unwelcome thoughts or feelings arise. Honor them but don’t give them a story. Just observe. They’ll dissolve. What has helped me the most is cultivating mindfulness through meditation/prayer. I trained my mind to recognize the emotion and then let go. I don’t even judge the emotion. In the Christian tradition, there is “Welcoming Prayer” where you welcome all feelings, good or bad, and then let them go without wishing for things to be different because what you resist, persist.

    • Penelope, yes, so beautifully written. We do this when we live authentic lives. I would not be who I am today had I not had losses and challenges in my life.

  • I’m not sure that the stages of grief apply to abuse like they do to grief from death but yeah they are similar. With death the loss is definite but with betrayal and if you have shared custody/finances loss can seem ongoing. So for me, the stages seem to come and go.

    I’ll say this NC is the only way. I put everything in an email or text. And it’s only about parenting and money. Everything else, it’s silence. Still my STBX delays getting back to me, “forgets”, and is generally a huge pain in the ass even in this form of communication. I’ve come to expect this now and if it gets too much for me, I cc the texts and emails to my lawyer who deals. I don’t put in any profanity, plead or try to rationalize with my ex in these communications. It’s like a business deal. I keep all my private info on lock down. I don’t answer calls from him and most times I don’t even go to the door when he’s here to pick up our child. If I choose to, I’m civil, but not friendly.

    Unfortunately dealing with a cheater is a very difficult experience and it’s not for the faint of heart. I’ve learned by trial and error how to communicate. Listen to the advice here and follow it. Be proactive and not reactive. You can’t beat a cheater at their game but you can learn not to play.

    If anger gets you away from abuse use it. I believe that cheaters want you to fail, to miss them and become what they told you or wanted you to believe about yourself. Don’t let this happen. Grieve but move on. And move as far away as you can.

    • thensome, I also have a modified form of NC because we have children and are still haggling over the divorce. One thing that has helped is a tool called Our Family Wizard. He can’t pretend he didn’t get a message from me because it marks every message with when it was sent and when it was read. It also shows when each person logs in. Before that he answered me whenever he felt like it and not one moment sooner. It’s not free but it has been worth it – there is also a parenting schedule/calendar and he has to send me a “swap request” whenever he wants to change something on the schedule. 🙂

  • You do not pass through the stages in a neat line…its more like going round in circles which get less intense. I started off i deep denial. The anology made earlier about sudden death/death after long terminal illness is valid but the actual shock when that death occurs can still be acute. This can be compounded by many factors…in illness there are new treatments, long periods in remission, miracle cures and a fighting spirit. Much of that can be applied to the failing marriage scenario…the false starts, the “trying”, the symptons returning, the desparation. When the person/marriage finally dies the shock and denial can be overwhelming.
    The anger can also stave off the pain and keep alive the connection. If you still want to fight bitterly then you have not reached indifference.
    5 years on I care a great deal less but can still be caught out by sadness in unexpected ways. I recently discovered a small rusty toy car in the undergrowth of my garden which took me back to more innocent times…my children now grown and my husband a stranger.
    We neither friends nor enemies, just two people who have a long shared history but no longer know each other well.

    • Thank you for this, Mary – I completely agree about the non-linearity of grief. I, too, experience it as more of going round the same circles, with a bit less intensity each time, until – POP! You stop traveling the merry-go-round and get out at “Meh.”

  • There definitely are emotional stages, but they come, they go, they come again. Even now at 10+ out from d-day, and even though I’ve made what I consider unbelievable progress, part of me sometimes wishes I could wake up and find it had all been a nightmare. I might always feel that way, but I doubt it.

    What’s interesting to me is that for the first six months or so, although I tried to talk a good game, I often thought that I’d never make it out of the grief stage. I simply had to trust that it would begin to ease up. I wasn’t even aware of how slowly it was leaving me until recently, when I realized I was having more meh sightings and hadn’t cried in a month.

    I realize it’s different for all of us, but while reading some old comments here on CL, one chump suggested that you can expect roughly one month of recovery for every year of your relationship. I don’t know if that’s true, but it ended up being more or less accurate for me. Eight year marriage, and at 10 months out I’m doing okay. Not ready to start a new relationship, but know with certainty that my future will not include him and am at peace with that.

    For those chumps in the middle of the anger, denial, bargaining, etc, just know that you must just go as no contact as you can, take care of yourself mentally and physically, and hold on. Sounds easy, it isn’t. But it does work.

    My own take on meh so far is it does not necessarily mean instant happiness and a new you. It means we’ve found a way forward. My husband used to berate me for always being “realistic” as though it’s a horrible thing to be. Now that I am moving on without him, I am so glad to be in a realistic place, where I’m a bit melancholy, don’t expect miracles, but I’m okay with that. It’s such a relief compared to living with someone who is always just out of reach of success, or stardom, or fortune, or whatever. I hated living that way.

    I think each of us will have our own unique road to meh but it’s important to stay on that road, no matter how windy. I feel that if we jump off the road and take shortcuts (a new relationship too soon, for example), we are short changing ourselves and our future. The strength I feel from having endured the road to meh is something I’d never give up now.

    Disclaimer: even thought I feel fairly meh these days, I know I still have a divorce and more to get through, and fully expect to feel more painful feelings, but I’m okay with that.

  • As a hospice chaplain and resident doing grief education, I was taught and teach grief as more as common tasks. Loss-Protest-Searching-Disorientation-Reorganization. It is an emotional process and not a rational one. And it is not linear as the word “stages” suggests. I have more about all of this on my website (just click my name).

        • Thanks, LovedaJackass and Moving Liquid for the kind words!

          And I would add that Chump Lady is dead on about the intensity about feeling these things. We only grieve what we value as my mentor taught me. He also liked quoting a mortician/poet who wrote, “Grief is the tax we pay for loving.”

          • Dear Chumps, one book that has been extremely helpful to understand the grief of “loss of love” is The Journey from Abandonment to Healing from Susan Anderson. I extremely recommend it. It deals greatly with the injury to self that we live because of the betrayer’s choices (which is exactly what separates us from those who lose a person through death) and how to fight against this injury. I have read the book like 4 times and I keep going back to it. Between that and Chumplady I get a lot of empathy, affirmation and direction through my grieving process. I am posting something from Susan’s website…
            S.W.I.R.L. is an acronym which stands for the five stages of abandonment: Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing, Rage, and Lifting – introduced in JOURNEY FROM ABANDONMENT.
            1: SHATTERING – Your relationship is breaking apart. Your hopes and dreams are Shattered. You are devastated, bewildered. You Succumb to despair and panic. You feel hopeless and have Suicidal feelings. You feel Symbiotically attached to your lost love, mortally wounded, as if you’ll die without them. You are in Severe pain, Shock, Sorrow. You’ve been Severed from your primary attachment. You’re cut off from your emotional life-line.
            2: WITHDRAWAL – painful Withdrawal from your lost love. The more time goes on, the more all of the needs your partner was meeting begin to impinge into your every Waking moment. You are in Writhing pain from being torn apart. You yearn, ache, and Wait for them to return. Love-withdrawal is just like Heroin withdrawal – – each involves the body’s opiate system and the same physical symptoms of intense craving. During Withdrawal, you are feeling the Wrenching pain of love-loss and separation – – the Wasting, Weight loss, Wakefulness, Wishful thinking, and Waiting for them to return. You crave a love-fix to put you out of the WITHDRAWAL symptoms.
            3: INTERNALIZING – you Internalize the rejection and cause Injury to your self esteem. This is the most critical stage of the cycle when your wound becomes susceptible to Infection and can create permanent scarring. You are Isolated, riddled with Insecurity, self- Indictment and self-doubt. You are preoccupied with ‘If only regrets’ – – If only you had been more attentive, more sensitive, less demanding, etc. You beat yourself up with regrets over the relationship and Idealize your abandoner at the expense of your own self Image.
            4: RAGE – the turning point in the grief process when you begin to fight back. You attempt to Reverse the Rejection by Refusing to accept all of the blame for the failed relationship, and feel surges of Rage against your abandoner. You Rail against the pain and isolation you’ve been in. Agitated depression and spurts of anger displaced on your friends and family are common during this turbulent time, as are Revenge and Retaliation fantasies toward your abandoner.
            5: LIFTING – your anger helped to externalize your pain. Gradually, as your energy spurts outward, it Lifts you back into Life. You begin to Let go. Life distracts you and gradually Lifts you out the grief cycle. You feel the emergence of strength, wiser for the painful Lessons you’ve Learned. And if you’re engaged in the process of recovery, you get ready to Love again.
            A word of caution: When you Lift, it is important to take your feelings with you. Otherwise you Lose connection with yourself once again, creating an internal barrier to others.
            You S.W.I.R.L. through the stages over and over within an hour, a day, a month, sometimes a period of years – – cycles within cycles – – until you emerge out the end of the funnel-shaped cloud, a changed person, better able to find love than before.
            HELP is available. Each stage of the SWIRL process is explored in depth in JOURNEY FROM ABANDONMENT TO HEALING, and workbook exercises are provided for each stage in JOURNEY FROM HEARTBREAK TO CONNECTION.

  • CL, just wanted to let you know that I had to change my post name from Louise to Penelope because during the transition process of your blog someone posted as Louise and now I can’t. I hope it was just a coincidence, as I’ve posted about the stalker OW previously, but truly cannot imagine how she could have jacked my name. In any event, if the “new” Louise’s comments take a different turn, please know it is not the “old” Louise! I don’t comment as much anymore because I am at a much better place than when I first began reading your advice, but I still read your post every day as it helps me in ways I cannot even express. Yeah me and meh.

  • Life and nature patterns in spirals. For me, it’s been all the grief stages in consecutive order over and over, each time with a bit less intensity until one day it will become a distant memory w little feeling attached. It’s not like you graduate from one to get to the other. One day you feel peace and acceptance and the next you’ll be angry and relive the pain all over again.

    • And yes, it’s probably easier if you can cut all ties, but it is not possible when you share a young child together. He wanted to do drop offs with the moms. Even though it hurts worse, I wanted to do drop offs in person so he can look me in the eye and remember every time. It makes me stronger and rekindles the anger of the memory so that I remember why I left and not to fall for the lies again. I pray for my child’s father every day. Because of our physical connection that is our boy, I realize there is no amount of pain I can or should inflict that will equal what he did; and that if I try, it hurts all of us as a family, mostly our child.

  • Chump Lady

    OMG this is FINALLY the place that gives credit to that very useful emotion, the mack daddy of emotions for me, ANGER!!

    I am so good at ANGER. It is NOT a negative emotion. It’s a helpful emotion. Yes you can’t let it run amok put that is the emotion that propels one to change.

    My H and I reconciled but it wasn’t until I pulled out all the stops and got supremely angry and drew the line in the sand. I may or may not have been doing the pick me dance. I did believe his bullshit lines though and he was still lying. I finally get fed up and blew up and that is when things finally changed for us.

    Thanks for validating anger. More people ought to try it whether you are reconciling or divorcing.

    • Agreed. I think anger is an emotion that many of us chumps are uncomfortable with.

      Our cheaters and other unenlightened folks try to tell us we are bitter when we are simply justifiably angry, an emotion which apparently is unacceptable to many!

      If we have understandable reasons for being angry, we should embrace and then use that anger constructively. (And in my case, learn to not feel guilty over being angry.)

      • Agree. I am terrible with anger and I don’t let myself feel it even when entirely warranted. But when I was finally able to allow myself to feel it, it was a godsend. The only thing that got me moving through the grief process and into true NC.

      • ML,
        I said the same thing to my self today, I need to get angry, and stay
        angry! The legal processes are beginning for me now, and I keep
        telling myself, Be angry, Be focused, and Be assertive!! A friend of
        mine told me ” keep your eye on the prize”, what you want for YOU.

    • YAY for anger! I agree, it’s completely underrated.

      I was taught that anger was wrong, that it was something to quickly expel. I was taught that I didn’t have a right to my anger, that I was just feeling sorry for myself. You know who likes that line of reasoning? Users, abusers and cheaters. Take anger of the equation, and you’ve just managed to grease the wheels of abuse so that it can turn on and on indefinitely.

      • Srsly, in our culture women are not supposed to get angry, men sure. If you think women aren’t conditioned to stuff our anger, think about it.

        • I couldn’t feel anger for the longest time. I would call my mom, who was angry enough for the both of us, whenever I needed a boost to not give in on some legal matter. It worried me that I didn’t feel angry until the day it hit, then it felt like a burning inferno inside which scared me! I remember telling my counselor how much I disliked being angry. But once the anger burned out I was in a better place. The anger definitely pushed out the depression.

    • Suppressing my anger at his appalling treatment of me for years to keep the peace literally caused me to become physically ill. Once I gave myself permission to feel anger, the illness went away and I took action. Although heartbroken and disillusioned, the empowerment that came with the anger drove me on. Nearly two years have passed and I can finally see the brilliant light that is meh at the end of this nightmarish tunnel. I can’t wait to get there.

      • Waiting on Karma
        The first time H and I went to MC she said to me “I’m sensing you still have a lot of anger about your husbands affair.” I looked at hear like the dog who cocks his head when his master speaks trying to understand what they are saying! Well I said ” fuck yes I’m angry, I’m pissed off beyond belief!” It was as if I was the fuck up in the marriage for being angry. Well I made sure she saw plenty of angry from me and stupid narcissism from him during our visits.

        What is it about women aren’t supposed to be let alone show anger? Does it make us less of a woman? Do the double standards still live on to this extent? It’s crazy. I say fly your angry flag and tell those in your path to gird their loins!!!

        LOL, works for me.

        • I think we’ve all been duped re anger. Anger is wonderful. It validates what we’ve been through and motivates us to protect ourselves from further harm. I embrace my anger and no longer give a flying fish whether it displeases anyone (a former issue of mine – thanks so much for that Mother). Not that I lead with it. It’s not rage. Rage is destructive and out of control. I am very clear about what I will and will not tolerate. That is empowering. I have three daughters and I am teaching them that it is okay to express your anger, so long as it is in a constructive way. I don’t ever want them to feel the way I did. Be a good girl, don’t speak up, don’t upset people, put yourself last. Fuck that, that is the recipe for misery right there. Lesson well and truly learnt.

          • Yes, name-calling as a defensive manoevre. Juvenile and predictable. The OW sent me a ton of text messages saying I was crazy and needed professional help. I assume she was trying to goad me into doing something I’d regret. Except she was misinformed. I’m not crazy and therefore am not easily manipulated. Especially since the blinders have come off. My motto is smile and wave. Fuck the haters.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t come across this book but I healed very nicely because of practicing mindfulness. My life has also become richer in all aspects. I will definitely look into this book.

  • They want your friendship because in their “world” it does not exist. They don’t leave you for the OW or have mistresses, prostitutes, etc. for friendship or love.

    I have good days, bad days, mad days, sad days…it’s been 4 1/2 months since I asked for his e-mail password when the porcupine hit me with his quills. That little motherfucker hurt me big time.

    Very painful. I am still pulling them out. But, each day is getting better instead of worse. If you are getting glimpses of “meh” you are on your way. Take care of yourself. Get a new haircut, go to a new restaurant, try something different, learn something new. Listen to music. You are mighty, mighty–love that word. Focus on YOU. Don’t let him steal the time that belongs to you or your children (if you have them).

    Thank God for this website. It is a sanity saver. Everyone keeps you in a reality check instead of the fog of illusion. Thank you CL. Thank you all you wonderful writers for telling your stories. One day I hope to look here once a week instead of twice a day. Once a month instead of once a week. Every six months instead of…well you get the idea.

    Isn’t it amazing that we get more love and connection from strangers on CL than we did from our own spouses? SO’s? That’s all I need to know that I did the right thing when I threw the MF out.

    Peace be with you.

    • So true, the support here is unbelievable. That’s why I’m so annoyed by “Fiona Price” who goes on Amazon and declares we’re an angry mob. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      • Ms Price actually cracks me up, she and her husband (I assume) have been posting alone on her ridiculous review for a while and then she says AGAIN that she is done commenting. I actually LOL every time she comments. 80% of the comments to her bogus review are from the two of them! assuming there is a husband and it’s not just a second acct she created.

  • Definitely a see-saw for me. But, the more I do it, the farther I go away from the mess that was my former life.

    Picture one of those railroad wagon thingies with the up and down bar, if you will… and the bar is my emotional state…. yet, I am recovering, I am certainly traveling, rolling along in spite of myself.

    It’s actually getting great. I’m getting my moxie back–I think moxie is tied to productive anger, somehow (not sure I want to look under the hood?).

    But, case in point, I went to a divorce support group yesterday–and found that I really didn’t need it. Oh, I need some people in my life alright, and still don’t know how I’m going to manage that. But the group of very nice folks in that church basement? were still mostly, really struggling. I actually suggested at one point that they read ChumpLady (since most of them were chumps, although not all.)

    I and felt *so lucky* to be as grounded as I feel now–so much of that is down to the support and wisdom of this electronic village. Just amazing.

    So keep hanging in here–and go on being your fabulous selves. (NB, I really cannot believe it is me saying this…I was a writhing, shapeless wreck a year ago. huh. Possibly, meh is in my future?)

  • I am mostly at “meh”. What gets me sometimes is when I THINK! LOL Seriously, when I think about my financial future I get mad as hell at what I have lost in my divorce with respect to financial security. My exH and I were financial stable. We had worked very hard at that. We were not rich but we had great credit, our bills were always paid on time and we had acquired “things” (several cars, two houses, motorcycle, boat, etc). I looked forward to the kids finally moving out, becoming grandparents together, traveling and finally living!!!! This is my one hold out of being super pissed!!!! All of that has changed now. And while I wouldn’t change my freedom from his fuckedupness for these “things” it does get me angry as hell that his stupid choices caused all of this loss!

    And, I think that in most cases, as ByeBye says in her post, the cheater enjoys and maybe even can’t live without some sort of hold or control over our lives. My exH and I have to communicate regarding our children and finances. Unless an absolute emergency, I send emails to communicate. He told my college age daughter that he will NOT communicate with me this way. I need to CALL HIM!!!!! Why? No real reason I can think of, except because he wants to control me. NOT HAPPENING!!!!!

  • Hey all. Just glanced at the post but I would like to take a few minutes this morning to offer whomever needs it some words of encouragement….
    It has been 14 months for me and I immediately severed my ties with the bum, especially on the emotional level. NC is a work in progress but the grief stages were semi brief (sometimes it was seeing his face that was enough for me to be “over him.”) I don’t have many words of wisdom but I can attest to the fact that it DOES get better, although each of us have our own timeframe for this. What doesn’t help? NOT staying busy. Ruminating. Wondering whether to reconcile (we all know the answer.) NOT seeking psychological help (trust me on this one. A good therapist, NOT marriage counselor, can be a godsend. You’ve been a victim of psychological abuse after all.)
    My two cents anyway.

  • I have a lot of anxiety. That never seems to appear in these lists of stages. I just have a sort of pit of fear in my stomach all the time day after day. The best thing I’ve found for it is to swim or run as it seems to switch the anxiety off for a bit. Dancing helps too (I’ve taken up social dancing, really recommend this). If anything drives me into the welcoming arms of medication then it will be this anxiety. Having said that, I can see a sort of progress towards meh. At least I’m not walking and cycling round town with tears rolling down my cheeks anymore. Or pausing while stirring a tin of soup on the hob to lie down in the kitchen and weep. Progress!

    • M, I understand about the anxiety. It was so intense right after Dday, I literally thought I was going to die. I just could not see how it was possible to survive feeling such pure, nonstop anxiety. I did end up going on meds for awhile, which helped. You’re already exercising, that’s probably the most helpful thing of all.

      My anxiety did fade, but it took a really, really long time. Actually, even today, several years out, I still feel tremendous anxiety at the very thought of my ex. That’s why NC is so important.

      • Thanks GladIt’s Over. It’s good to hear that the anxiety fades with time. I actually didn’t notice how bad the anxiety was until recently when I took some Tramadol, which is a strong pain med, due to a medical procedure I had. The drug also acts as an SNRI antidepressant apparently. It was like a weight had been lifted and that’s why I’m thinking maybe proper anti-anxiety meds may be in order. At least for a time. Tramadol isn’t suitable for long-term usage as you can get hooked on it.

        • Hooked on Tramadol? err…wow – news to me. I buy it off the internet freely for my dogs. Guess it’s unregulated. I never thought of taking it for myself. But, dogs sure never got addicted – that I know of. I’m thankful to report my anxiety has decreased 100 fold but could not have done it without Xanax for first 6 months. It didn’t seem to do much other than stop my shakes.

    • It is an interesting point, one year and 50 weeks removed from D-Day and a year and 3 months since she moved out I still have anxiety attacks ALL. THE. TIME…It is funny that it is rarely discussed although it may be we just refer to it as PTSD on this forum. The anxiety is less frequent and less in terms of duration, but still one of the unfortunate side effects of the trauma handed to us by the one person in the world who was to have our backs! That being said I have learned so much from the process and such a more aware and stronger person…As for the post I think that grief is a process and the worst thing some one going through this can do is “short change the process”…I say this too myself every time I get frustrated by triggers and setbacks, which are an inevitable part of the process.

      • Without hijacking the post, can we compare triggers for anxiety? I thought I was the only one (naive of me, I know.) my triggers seem to be kind of weird? Whenever I see a bleach blonde (ow) or someone who remotely looks like her… is this strange?

        • She left me for an older balding guy who drives a pick up…Always a trigger which is a major problem because I live in WV! … They are all older balding guys with pick-ups!…lol

          • I don’t (for the most part) have real-life triggers. I have bad dreams, and i wake up shaking. My SIL–chumped over 10 years ago, still has them…my sister, chumped over 5 years ago, still has them…. dunno what to say. I have a little bit of Ativan (lorazepam) and I only take it for those days–usually with a lot of caffeine, ironically, since I’ll fall asleep otherwise. :/

            However, big however: I no longer live in the town when I was chumped, dumped and abused. (Dumped by the friends who live there…I had to do the divorcing, having a PA type for an Ex.) Going there flares up every trigger in the universe…just driving through makes me nauseous. Ugh.

            Thankfully, my Ex has moved to the opposite coast and is now madly in love with a new schmoopie, so I don’t really have to have contact with him. He’s the type who will utterly reinvent a new life, and XX me out of it.

            OK for me–incredibly sad for my lovely daughter who thereby loses a father, even a jerkwad of a father.

            My take away, is that for the PTSD–find a good psycho-pharm meds MD–they really can help you, it doesn’t have to be long term, it’s not poison!. In my experience, the older psychiatrists are more trained to actually talk to you as opposed to whipping out the Rx pad, and I like that approach. Best wishes to you, triggers suck.

            • Ativan – oooo…put me right to sleep. I’m too hyper for that. And, made the mistake of taking it right before driving on a long trip through the mountains. Yes, I pulled over and napped. But, that stuff just takes the wind out of me. No energy or feeling.

          • For me, it has been moving through the days from August 24 (a major date in the luv story of Jackass and his MOW) through September 14 and 17 (ditto) to my birthday in October, when J exited without saying he was exiting, followed by a death in his family a week after my birthday, which he cleverly used to cover up his affair while devastating me. Fine folks, these two, using deaths in their families as a catalyst for an affair and lots of devastation, none of it theirs. So far, I’m not doing badly but I think I saw the Jackass himself in his shiny new truck, on which the down payment came from…oh well, you can guess. That set me back for a few minutes but I was on my way to therapy anyway. 🙂

          • I was diagnosed with PTSD which is basically all the anxiety disorders rolled onto one. Ugh. You name it, I’ve got it. My most prevelant classic symptom is nightmares often about other woman with my kids, or moving into my house. All of which hhappened. Abuse and harassment is still ongoing and the two of them have a mild version of Munchausen by Proxy and are drive him crazy with specialists and pretentious food politics. Meanwhile there isn’t anything medically wrong with him. Just a boy approaching puberty. I have control only 50% of the time but really even less since he is brainwashed.

        • Any form of contact with my ex is the trigger, which includes hearing about him. He looked at my LinkIn profile a few days ago, which really triggered me big time. He’d never done that before. Hearing his name, hearing about what he is up to, the sound of his voice (haven’t actually heard it in person for nearly three years, but heard it through the phone a few times when son was talking to him), spotting what I think is him or his car, the thought of getting a text or email from him…. heck, just basically the thought of him is my trigger. That’s why I do my best not to think about him, other than when I post here, which is a therapeutic thing, not a triggery or dwelling thing.

          His abuse of our son is also a trigger.

          • It’s the same for me. Basically the thought of any kind of contact, or hearing what he’s up to can cause anxiety for me. Luckily he moved away so we don’t have mutual friends. My kids don’t tell me what he’s doing and I like it that way. It must be pretty strange for them, though.

        • Unfortunately one of my triggers is Polish people. This is terrible because I don’t want to have an aversion to people because they are from Poland. That is ridiculous. So I’ve actually been working really hard to overcome it by being friendly with Poles that I meet. I really don’t think I could ever visit that country though. It would be too much. I did actually get triggered to feel a terrible wave of anxiety in the supermarket not so long ago by a can of furniture polish. It was the word ‘polish’. It took me a while to figure out what had happened. So bizarre.

          • I have this problem too, only with a different nationality. I hate it!!! I have never been a racist person, but I find myself reacting so negatively to women of this culture. I’m so ashamed of it and find it so unexpected that I’m not quite sure what to do about it.

            • DoneNow – I seem to be allergic to just men in general. I know we had fun with that one awhile ago, anger against a gender. I’m sure it’s not a far stretch to take triggers to Nationalities, State Parks, Beach Fronts, you name it. For me, it was all the people I used to like at Dog Shows. Hated them all for awhile – this is where I lost my marriage! These are the things we want to own back…and I’m back to dog showing – though, will never trust another one of em again!

              • ‘never trust another one of em again’.
                Ooops, I know I’ll get CL’s wrath for that.
                It’s completely illogical, of course.
                There are 90% good people everywhere, every generation, nationality, gender and even the few politicians.

            • I’m of Polish ancestry. Well, depending on which time the lines changed in Russia. Was Ukranian at some point. Funny all the Ukranian jokes that went around when I was young. But, I was quick to do a Jap joke. (JK!)

      • Cletus, I think that’s really common. It was for me. Didn’t have nightmares until I was out of it, 1-2 years after the fact. They’ve gone away mostly now. I just think some things can’t be processed until you’re through the crisis, hair on fire, run away part.

        • I have only had one full on nightmare so far. In my dream I was screaming and screaming and screaming at my husband. It was horrible. I told my sister about this at the time and she said ‘that’s nothing, I had a dream about him where I punched him in the face’!

          • What’s up with the dreams? I have not laid eyes on the ShitBird Formerly Known As My Husband in 2 years, but recently I’ve been dreaming of him several times a month.

            In last night’s dream, he was holding his infant (the one who was born a week after the divorce was final) and was calmly explaining to me that he’d been seeing body rub providers twice a week for years. I said “oh. so that’s where the money was going.” “Yep.” I woke up and thought, well, there you have it.

            All the dreams are characterized by his complete lack of remorse. I guess my subconscious is not subtle, but I really do not understand the frequency of the dreams.

    • Anxiety — a couple of things:
      Burned out Adrenals! No cortisol is being released to help you deal with stress. Only adrenaline (epinephrine). So every time you get exposed to a trigger, the brain’s message to the adrenal gland is actually making things worse. This can lead to anxiety about the anxiety, a snowballing positive feedback loop that the drugs are helpful in breaking. Lots of information on the internet about helping your adrenals get back in shape.

      Low whole body magnesium levels. When this happens, your autonomic nervous system becomes biased toward the sympathetic (fight or flight) side. An awful lot of us are unknowingly in this condition. It’s hard to detect because magnesium is primarily an intracellular ion, so blood serum levels are not representative of how depleted you might be. If you can take an epsom salts bath or rub some magnesium oil on your skin and actually feel the relief, then you’re pretty low. Replacement of magnesium to normal levels is a slooooooow process.

      Also, a lot of us get hit with this nonsense right at the time we’re starting to deal with perimenopause/menopause. Finding a medical type (I like naturopaths) that can evaluate where you are there and get your estrogen and progesterone levels restored to normal in a cyclic, natural fashion, using the natural hormones, can be a Godsend.

    • “Or pausing while stirring a tin of soup on the hob to lie down in the kitchen and weep. Progress!”

      Oh gosh – reading this really got to me. Yes, yes, yes. I’ve experienced all kinds of terrible grief in my life, including losing two close family members within a month of each other, and none of those awful experiences caused me to stop cooking so I could lie down on the floor in front of the stove and writhe in pain.
      And I can see how much better I’m doing, at last, because I certainly don’t feel the grief with anything like that kind of force anymore.

  • I’m a lot further out than many of you, and I’m mostly at meh these days. It took me a long, long time to get anywhere CLOSE to meh, though, at least two years, probably more. That’s after a 20 year marriage.

    While I’m mostly meh these days, I do still sometimes think about what happened, I do sometimes still get angry and I definitely have PTSD. Just the thought of any form of contact with my ex (I am NC) makes me feel very sick and anxious.

    What helped most was time. Even the worst experiences fade in memory as enough time goes by. Also helpful was exercise, friends, new hobbies, dating (I’m still with Nice Guy, it’s been 11 months), reading about NPD and reading here and learning to treat myself gently.

    • So happy to hear about your update and progress Glad! Yes, that elusive time. No rushing it, but it really does help to heal what you never thought could heal.

  • What I mourned was not the cheating, lying, backstabbing user I married, but the beautiful vision I had for my life with him acting the role of the person I believed him to be. I mourned the sixteen “lost” years. Anger was my friend in getting beyond the pain so I could sift through the rubble and salvage what I wanted to keep that he hadn’t already destroyed. The rest was his to clean up. No, I would not “still be friends.” No, I would not live nearby. No, he could not have my address or phone number. I forwarded my mail to a P.O. Box, and went No Contact. Then the stalking began in earnest, with the OW in tow. I transferred to an office in another city, moved again, and went No Contact with all mutual friends, as someone had leaked my initial whereabouts. Several years later, I received a letter at work expressing his sincere remorse and undying love. No sale, but I was curious enough to find the OW/X divorce case on the court docket. He had turned the Vacancy sign on and wanted me to be the first to know so I wouldn’t miss out on that special opportunity. But I already knew there were bedbugs at that Inn, and I wouldn’t be staying there ever again.

    Anger will keep you strong. It is righteous anger. It means you have recognized your own value. It means you have jumped some denial and bargaining hurdles already.

    • Anger will keep you strong. It is righteous anger. It means you have recognized your own value. It means you have jumped some denial and bargaining hurdles already.

      I love this.

  • It took me YEARS to get to Meh. I don’t get over things like most people do. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Once I found out about the OW the first thoughts flooding my head were ‘Oh no!! Here comes the years of pain!’

    I’m still not all the way well. I don’t know if I’ll ever be. I remember telling my XH that he took a perfectly good woman and ruined her. It’s been that damaging to me. I’ve dated and I’m seeing someone now but there’s been nothing close to what I felt at one time for him. Emerson said that death is the kindest goodbye. I wish he would have died.

      • Indeed, people don’t usually hurt you horribly when they die, the pain is from losing someone who loved you and you loved them. Betrayal grief is different

        • I’ve lost loved ones through illness and tragedy and although it is emotionally painful, there is not the destruction of your identity that comes with being betrayed. I was razed to the ground by it.

          • I told my betrayer that when my parents died, they didn’t willfully choose to leave me; they didn’t want to leave me. They struggled hard to stay with me and worried about how I would cope. They cared. It certainly is a different kind of grief. They had no choice about leaving. And of course there was no slyness, no sneakiness, no double reality, no treachery involved.

    • Death is the kindest goodbye.

      When my dad died, I read Joan Dideon’s wonderful book, called ‘The Year of Magical Thinking”. Sent it to my grieving stepmom, who died just months after his death. Anyway, there’s a well-quoted sentence in the book about how she had a hard time throwing her husbands shoes away as she was going through his closet. She just couldn’t do it. She thought if she threw them away, he’d never come walking back in the door again.
      I remember thinking – om GOD, I love my husband THAT much.
      What would I ever do with his shoes?……it was agonizing to me to even consider.

      Fast forward 2 months after d-day – and I’ve got wardrobe boxes all upstairs in his closet. I was nice about hanging his suits, but I threw his damn fancy shoes in all the bottoms of the boxes, actually laughing.
      Fuck off asshole. one shoe thrown, another tossed over my shoulder, landed just perfect. Felt like that Iranian throwing shoes at ole Georgie Bush.
      It was cathartic…..and so very sad…

      • Your restraint is admirable Shewiz. I had to smile imagining you throwing his shoes. I took everything the evil X owned and sent it to charity. Except if it was worth money, I sold those items. Same feeling, catharsis tinged with sadness. Or as my six year old would put it – nar, nar, nar-nar, nar. Followed by tongue poking. 🙂

  • Hi Grateful Chump. I just wanted to say that there really is no timetable on grief. It comes in waves and unfortunately you may cycle through the stages several times before you finally arrive at acceptance. Your grief is your own, it’s personal and there is mo timeframe to follow except the one you are comfortable with. Good luck to you…we all know this sucks!

  • About ten days after D-day, I wrote a post on my blog about how awesome I felt, and how much my friends were helping me, and how I had this new plan for my life. It’s been my most popular post so far. — And then the wheels came off, and before long I was skidding along the highway, sparking up a storm, threatening to explode into a fiery mess any moment. I later imparted it to sitting obliviously in the top floor of a building that’s just been detonated, not even being aware you’re going down. (Sincerest apologies to anyone thinking of 9/11 right now.)
    I thought I was done with grief, but it was not done with me. It’s been four months for me, and I still have a few childish whiny moments of “I still can’t believe he really lied and cheated & left me,” but they are so rare now as to be unrecognizable, like a toddler who knows he’s going to have to go back to bed and so his pleas to stay up are more and more feeble. Acceptance is on its way.
    Of course the friends thing merely makes me laugh, every time. Why would I want to be friends with someone who would cheat on his wife and drop her like a bad habit without looking back? I hate that guy! That guy’s an a**hole! Furthermore, my XH has skated by all his life treating people disrespectfully, with people excusing his charming narcissistic ass by saying, “Oh, you know, that’s just the way he is!” I could NEVER say that again, so that alone kills any chance of friendship. He’s the devil, and I’m glad he’s out of my life.

    • OK that whole “can we be friends?”, is just cheater speak for, “please don’t fuck me over financially and make me split my 401K or hire a really bad ass lawyer”.

      LOL, and I’m certain you all know this but, THEY HAVE NO INTENTIONS OF BEING FRIENDS WITH YOU!

      Because of my husband’s choices I have minimized my life so much that I have divested many friends who ever remotely disrespected me. I can’t handle it. Look up the word anxiety in the dictionary and you will see a picture of me.

      Yep the main liar is still in my life and it’s ok, but I have no tolerance for secondary lying relationships. Just part of collateral damage, right?

      Might sound hypocritical and I’ll give you that. I just don’t look at any relationships the same anymore and quiet frankly I don’t care or have the time to worry about it.

      So yeah when my H pulled that out of his ass right after DDay I literally laughed in his face and told him when the divorce was over I doubted he would still want to “be friends” with me!

      Friends like that?? Who needs enemies??

      • I’m cutting secondaries, too. Long-term ones. Anyone who has lied to me in the past is now likely to trigger me. My anxiety goes through the roof with those people, too, even if I wasn’t that bothered by it before. I am now. Get thee away from me!

      • You know, I never really thought it through before, but it stands to reason that said “friendship” would inevitably result in him flaunting OW in my face then blaming me when I’m not “mature” enough to “handle it.” I’m 50 years old. I’m not gonna get a while lot more mature than I am now.

  • I feel like the stages of grief don’t apply for infidelity trauma, in part because nobody died. I don’t mean to belittle the trauma of losing a loved one to death, because that is profound grief — no doubt about it. But after a certain time, you come to accept that the person is gone. You have a story with an ending. You come to accept the loss as final. The End.

    But in the case of infidelity — or any psychological abuse, the cause of grief is still with you — often preventing you from coming to any acceptance of the situation. You cycle between hope and denial and acceptance back to hope endlessly. And the story that you thought you had (happy marriage; trust; This happened, then this, etc.) is blown to pieces. You keep trying to put the story together WHILE your spouse, and possibly friends and relatives are all telling you that you’ve got to keep trying and hoping and grasping and denying.

    Acceptance is something that you have to force, in this case. It doesn’t emerge organically when you’re caught up in the cycle of abuse.

    • I definitely grieved.

      But there is no empirical evidence the “stages of grief” apply to anybody, nor is there any reason to suppose grief works like that (see link in my post above), and there is ample evidence to suggest it doesn’t work like that for anybody.

      Even the person who invented the model never confirmed with the dozen or so terminally ill patients she was working with that the model appropriately reflected their thinking at various times. She just made it up on supposition.

      It’s not science.

      • Right – -I mean, I grieved as well. I just meant that the grieving the loss of a perceived reality to infidelity is — in a way — more complex than you’d experience with grieving a death because there’s no clear “end” and a lot less community support.

        • LilyBart – my niece, beyond her young years has a lot of wisdom. Her H shot his head off in front of her, could have killed her and her 2 boys. Her perspective at 35 yrs old now is, Infidelity leading to Divorce must be much worse than what she went through. Jeesh – really? The levels of pain are different, but like she said – your ex is still alive. And, that’s a creepy comment because I do wish he’d rather died and I’d have had this wonderful memorial for him and a nice gravestone and lots of food…..and…well…..fuck it. When he gets old- and he is – I ain’t gonna be here for him anymore. Buried – that love I had – yep.

          • I have two friends who lost their adult sons to accidents. Both said their husband’s betrayal caused worse grief than losing their child!

            • Yes. D-day and my stepdaughter’s death happened within weeks of each other. Heartbreaking though it was (and still is), her death was the more straightforward pain. It didn’t make me question everything I had ever believed to be true, about him, our relationship, myself or the world in general.

    • Spot on LB.

      I know it would be easier if the guy had simply died. It’s harder to put infidelity to rest with a lying deceitful person because what you thought was your reality never was “authentic” ….and they are still alive.

      ( I put that word in quotes because it is the creep’s most favorite psych term of the moment. Being truly genuine is something a narc just cannot do because they lack a soul.)

  • I ended a 13-year relationship three months ago because, two years post D-Day, I finally stopped believing in the unicorn.

    And then, a few weeks ago, I found out that he had been cheating on me again, the last few months of our relationship.

    I’m back to square one and I had approaching meh. After two years of anger and of spackling, I finally realized that he wasn’t remorseful and he had never really tried to make our relationship better after the affair. Oh sure, the words were there, but the actions? Nope. Not at all. And if I confronted him he would tell me that he couldn’t change overnight and I was being impatient. And tons of other bullshit.

    So, I was done. It hurt like hell, but so did living with him and his indifference. And I was done. Until I found out he had been cheating again and that spun me right back to the pain.

    I have no idea why. I should be MORE angry and MORE done, but I wake up feeling like I was kicked in the stomach every day. I’m full no contact and have been for a month except for the text messages where I told him I knew. I found out accidentally when I got the last phone bill. He tried to deny it, of course, but eventually saw that it would do no good.

    I must have been holding onto some hope, right?

    • Just a suggestion. If you find out anything else, stick with no-contact. It’s the fast-path. Interacting with the crazy just opens old wounds, in my limited experience. You’ll heal faster, most likely, if you don’t do that.

      • Yes. I think you’re right. I think I wanted him to make me believe it wasn’t true. 🙂 Man, this shit is tough!

    • Hope is our enemy. We hope that this time it will be different, this time he means it, this time he won’t but deep down you know he won’t be different, he doesn’t mean it – well I think he might while he is in your presence – but mine just had a very short term memory – like about 5 minutes. We hope because it is hard to comprehend their thinking – how can a man who cries and begs and promises walk out the door five minutes later and text someone for a hook up? – trust me it has happened. I had to always give up hoping that I would understand that because my brain doesn’t work like that. The weird thing is I still love the man but I have accepted he will never change – actually in a spiteful way I hope he doesn’t change. I also have to accept I am powerless to change him, all I can do it do what is right for me. I know that worrying, turning into a detective and an interrogator, and on edge every time we were in presence of women and feeling that gut wrenching swirling feeling of despair is not how I want to spend the rest of my life. After all the grief you actually do feel the fluttering sense of freedom and light. I promise.

      • I came to the same conclusion about hope — it is the enemy. During the Troubles, I read some Pema Chodron who wrote something along the lines of the phrase “abandon hope” being an affirmation, because hope and fear go together, and hope takes you out of the present moment.

        For me, I had to remind myself to go minute by minute, and tell myself “right here, right now, in this second, I am ok.” If I could stay in the moment, then I would not go out too far into the future, which was very scary and unknown. That helped me with the anxiety and the projections into the far away future visions of me dying alone surrounded by all the cats of the future.

        Someone above asked about anxiety. One helpful thing I came to believe is that anxiety is fear about the future, versus depression, which is sadness about the past.

        I am also here to tell you, it gets better. I am still not completely healed, but life is so much calmer, more peaceful, and happier than it was.

    • Eventually, the whole complete ugly truth will come to light, and there won’t be any more unpleasant surprises.

      I went through the same thing….it was the gift that just KEPT ON GIVING. Long after I was done, hearing about yet another betrayal — well, it was yet another betrayal….of course it felt like a betrayal. It doesn’t mean you aren’t getting to meh, there’s simply more ugly out there for you to deal with.

      • I hope I don’t have to learn more. This is pretty awful. We were in therapy and he claimed he wasn’t even friendly with other women at the time.

        • I’m sorry that the POS has sent you right back to square one. The fact is, cheaters have a particular modus operandi and it is not particularly sophisticated. It goes like this: tell a lie….then lie again ….then lie some more. After that it is a lifestyle choice. Because, well, who knows why? I assume that there is a sadistic link. There certainly was in my X’s case. Then there was my desire to know EVERYTHING. That was the most self destructive thing I could have done. I devoted a ridiculous proportion of my time to uncovering his secret life. For reasons even know I don’t really understand. Probably trying to regain control of the situation. Delusional really. What I can tell you is that it didn’t help. It keeps you shopping at the pain bank.

          Get angry, anger is a great motivator, go no contact if possible and most importantly simply trust that he sucks. He has caused enough damage in your life. Take your power back from the creep.

          • Trust that he sucks. That’s the hard one, eh? I’m trying. And I do. And then I start missing him. It’s so beyond fucked up.

            • Your mind will play tricks on you for a while. It has had years of conditioning. Someone else mentioned brainwashing. Yep. But it is YOUR mind and YOU control it. Keep reminding yourself that people who love you don’t intentionally lie to you, deceive and betray you. That’s emotional abuse and like anyone that has been in an abusive relationship, it takes time to pull yourself out of the mindset. Go easy on yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you feel in the moment, then gently remind yourself of the reasons why you aren’t together – he’s a dirtbag liar and a cheater. A dose of reality is the cure to the heartbreak. It makes you angry and that is a good thing. Anger propels you forward. There will be an end to this misery, you will find yourself again, it will just take time, patience with yourself and a ton of Kleenex. xx

            • He does suck, Duchess. The problem is that you don’t automatically stop caring for someone the second you find out they are a duplicitous piece of garbage. The grieving process is even further complicated by the slow but sure revelation of who they really were….it heaps on grief on top of grief. As if loss alone isn’t difficult enough.

        • Of course, you hope that there isn’t more. But of course, your X is a liar and a cheat. It helped me to tell myself every day that there are probably many things about the Jackass that I don’t know. For all I know, he was texting multiple married women every time he took his phone into the bathroom. What I do know is that he is a liar and a cheat and it’s unlikely that I know the whole story. If you operate on that assumption, the things you learn as time goes on will not catch you off guard, though of course it will still hurt to hear about it.

          • Nothing I hear now bothers me one bit….I don’t give a crap who he does. It did for a long time though, even when I was going through the angry phase, but at least then I was more angry and “how frigging dare you” than hurt.

            I never thought there would be a day when it didn’t hurt like hell, but it DOES come.

            • I should mention that I’m a doctor, and I’ve come to regard XH as a particularly insidious disease that afflicted my life. Almost like Spock, I find myself quirking an eyebrow and saying, “Fascinating” whenever I (unintentionally… You know how helpful friends can be) hear some new tidbit. Evidently, some of those friends have also been afflicted but do not appear to be fighting the disease very well, so they must also be either quarantined or given up for lost until they can show signs of recovery.

  • Absolute no contact is best. These people are charmers. Mine was always so nice to me and gave me huge amount of attention when were together. He was loving, affectionate and respectful. But when away he shagged anyone he could find. Sometimes they were long term affairs, others one night stands – all and sundry. The only way to get any chance is to survive and regain your spirit, soul and sense of hope is to block your number forever. Difficult if you have children I admit.

  • 4+ months out and although I feel damn good, having gone no contact completely, but I find myself getting either super sad or angry at random times when reminded of the crap I put up with from my narcissist ex cheater.

    I always want the last word and although I mostly did get “the last word” in, I still think of things I want to yell at him, like “hey, douchebag the neighbors are still my friends and saw you cheating on your fiancee last weekend,” or “you said I don’t have a career? How about this piece of info then, scumbag, I’m mentoring and teaching 400 college students this semester,” or “You never deserved me. Your mother knows it, and all your friends know it too.”

    Although I yearn to say these things I know it’s far better and more frustrating for him in the long run to just never hear from me or see me again.

    • Here’s the hardest part (or was, for me): What is or is not better or more frustrating for him is no longer your concern. Yes, I still hopes he dies a fiery death, but I have no control over any of that, and I have to accept that he may live a long happy oblivious life with OW. Regardless, any energy I put toward him is energy that would’ve been better spent on me. FTG (TG stands for That Guy).

      Whenever my mind tries to drift that way, I just say (out loud, if necessary), Stop! Even if I have to say it over and over again. I have zero evidence what their lives are like right now, and whether he got over his “little problem” with her or not is irrelevant to the future of my life. He’s in the past. Whatever happens to him now is 100% none of my business. Thank god.

      • right you are NWBiblio, its 6 mths for me and I think that if I could just say Not my circus not my monkey, and whatever happens to him now is 100% none of my business and we all did this we would be almost if not to MEH. You are right when you say we have zero evidence what their lives are like so we need to stop thinking that his/her life is waaaaay better than ours because they have someone and we dont yet or for whatever reason. From the eve of DD I started to think about me yes me but with those thoughts of him popping in all the time. Now it is almost 6mths and the thoughts are less and less. My only worry now is that I will be without someone (male) to love because of my long list lol I have lots of other people to love my grandkids, daughter, son-in-law, cousins, friends, mom and dad but I would love to have that someone special. HE wasnt it 🙁

  • Wow…even when I think I’m So Much Better something happens. Like today. I was out walking on my lunch hour and someone who works for the same institution I do (my X was his boss….X is now gone….living happily ever after with Schmoopie at a much more prestigious institution).
    Anyway the guy pulls up in his EZ-Go and says ‘Hey, how is X? Have you heard from him? Yada Yada Yada. Is he still dating Schmoopie?’ I was stunned. Everyone knew what he did to me. Why on earth would anyone ask me about my X and OW? Like it was just no big deal. I wanted to say something snarky but I ate a shit sandwich and took the high road and said ‘I guess so.’
    Then I walked down to the lake and sat on a cement pier and cried.

    • Oooh Boy! Was this guy born a douche or did he have to take classes and pass an exam to become one? What the fuckity-fuck!!! There has got to be a Planet Asshole somewhere and they have been sneaking people to this planet to destroy it.

      I am so sorry this happened to you Syringa. If I had been with you, I probably would have punched him in the throat. (((HUGS)))

    • Syringa, I wish I could have been there. I would have thrown my lunch at the idiot for sure. It probably would’ve been tacos since I seem to crave those a lot. Tacos to the face! Seriously! What a moron.

    • Oh, Syringa. That person is either totally clueless and insensitive or very mean. I’m sorry this happened to you. My therapist always has me practice my one-liners, not to be snarky but to totally shut down that person’s painful remark. As in, “Did you just ask me whether I have heard from the xH who cheated on me and the skank he cheated with?” See, he can’t really answer yes, and he can’t really answer no. End of conversation. 🙂

    • Well, isn’t this guy a piece of work? Personally, I don’t believe in the high road. I think it is a saying fabricated by users and abusers to shame their victims into suppressing their emotions. One thing I’ve learnt from this whole experience is that I’m not the asshole whisperer. I say let the snarky run free and put that moron in his place. It feels good to set boundaries for yourself.

      • Thanks guys….you made me feel a lot better and Chump Princess you made me laugh out loud!!
        “Oooh Boy! Was this guy born a douche or did he have to take classes and pass an exam to become one? What the fuckity-fuck!!! There has got to be a Planet Asshole somewhere and they have been sneaking people to this planet to destroy it.”

        I know the guy, I actually helped get him hired years ago. I knew that he was very talented from my prior job and told my X about him when they were looking for someone like him. I don’t think he’s mean, I just think he’s a dumb ass. Before my X left we worked for the same institution and found ourselves in many meetings together (can you imagine?) and had to be professional. People saw us together and knew we got along to some extent. And I do hear from him occasionally because we share a grown child. But I most certainly don’t want to ever hear HER name. They are clueless. Really. They are.

        My mind was spinning and I was going to say something smart and snarky but my phone started ringing in my pocket and at the exact same time a loud car roared past us. I guess the gods intervened.

        • Although it’s quite possible he’s a dumb ass, it’s equally possible that he said the first stupid thing that came into his head, OR, he knows your character and made the assumption that you would handle yourself and all your affairs with dignity, strength and class. It may have never occurred to him that you weren’t completely over it, above it, and past it. And that, my dear, is a huge compliment.

          • You’re right Einstein…I think it never occurred to him I wasn’t over it. I’ve held my head that high.
            Too bad he didn’t follow me down to the lake and watch me cry the rest of the day. Maybe next time I’ll let him.

            • People relate to you by what they know about you.

              I have a neighbor who more than a year later still asks me if I “heard from” my ex despite the fact that the answer is always “Not going to happen; all numbers are blocked, and I won’t even answer a call from that area code”.

              It’s not his fault. It’s what he knows about me. And to tell the truth, it doesn’t bother me at all. It did in the first months, but people aren’t mind readers, and I kept a lot of cards close.

      • “One thing I’ve learnt from this whole experience is that I’m not the asshole whisperer.”

        For the win!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA

    • Oh good Lord. We are definitely living in the age of idiocy. So sorry Syringa, I know how painful that kind of stunning stupidity is. If you’re like me, you never think of a great withering response until it’s too late. I agree with LAJ, practice some one-liners that will absolutely shut down any morons like this in the future.

    • Ha – this reminds me of the character Phillip Seymour Hoffman played on The Talented Mr. Ripley. Big boaster and one to call out anything to put somebody off. I’d key that guys car next time he drives by, Syringa. And, come up with a comment next time like – I hear you got herpes from him too?

    • Good Lord, what an idiot. My ex, of all people, had an expression that sums that guy up perfectly: “Were you born an asshole, or did you just turn out that way?”

  • A couple things really helped me get to Meh. I have a condo there actually. Life is very good.

    First, I read as much as I could, on this site and others and connected with people going through the same shit.

    Next, I truly internalized he sucks balls. There’s no fixing it, no going back, and no point in having regrets.

    I worked really really hard at staying optimistic, and promised myself I would work at being happy for once. For me, it doesn’t just come. I have to move towards it and actively do things that improved my life.

    I learned how to be grateful. This was huge for me. I don’t think you ever appreciate little things like a sunset or peace and quiet or the warmth of good friends until you’ve had your heart thrown in a blender. In a way, I’m glad he did it to me because my life has been filling up with quality people of my choosing.

    That’s all I got. :).

      • Rumblekitty, your list is so simple and spot on, that I’ve copied it and put it on the inside of my kitchen cabinet, where I can review it every morning! You’ve summed up the basics. Thanks very much to everyone here on this site, because everyday I find something to grab on to and keep moving forward.

  • I did not grieve much at all after I took my boys and left. I had done my grieving in bits and pieces after ex husband narc started to show his real self. With every little cruelty, every little betrayal I found myself grieving and pulling further and further away emotionally. The day he used rape to settle an argument was the day I stopped holding on to the dream that I mattered at all to him in any way. That was the day the last of the love I had for him died. That is when I knew he was evil and I was done with him on every level.

    That is why I believed ex husband narc when he told me he was thinking of killing me and my boys and then himself. That is why I did everything in my power to get my boys and my self out safely. My anger gave me the energy to keep doing what needed to be done.

    Once we were gone there was no mourning at all. I was happy to have him in the rear view mirror, the evil twit. I would wake up overjoyed that my days of having to put up with his crap were over. Nothing he did or said could touch me on a deep level because I was free and done. The divorce was an occasion for celebration. There were two wonderful years working my butt off, raising my boys without any serious problems from ex narc. Oh he tried pulling some shitty stuff but they always blew up in his face.

    Guess he could not stand the fact we were doing so well without him. That is when he made sure I would have something to mourn in connection with him. He kidnapped and murdered our youngest son. Then he killed
    himself a week later in another state. It was almost two weeks before I knew what had become of my boy. He was 14.

    After my son’s death I participated in a study done by a woman for her PHD, I believe. The final results were that when a close family member passes, it takes about 2 years before the bereaved is back to normal. With the passing of a child it is 5 years. When it is a close family member and the loss is due to homicide, the time table is 10 years, at least. With the murder of a child, none of her participants reported recovery even after 20 years or more. I can attest to that ….in that it has forever changed every part of my life. Now the really painful grief is mostly around the anniversary of when my son was taken and killed, the day his body was found, and his birthday. Beyond those days I have gotten on with my life, but I am changed. I have many good days, I feel joy again, I can laugh easily, but I do not trust easily. I am very reserved until I get to know someone well. My boundaries are light years ahead of what they used to be and I do not hesitate to walk away from anyone who even gives a whiff of a red flag. I do not suffer bullshit, and I do not have time for the person who is spouting said bullshit. I can handle the small stuff without much angst because most of it is just temporary anyway. Temporary goes away fairly soon. I value my serenity. It is true that acceptance is the key to serenity.

    Is that recovery? ….Don’t know…it is what it is. We build different lives after a loss. Hopefully we become stronger. and those lives become better. We are changed. Hopefully those changes enrich our lives and the lives of those we love. The fact we persevere, survive, eventually reach MEH and thrive is our ultimate victory.

    • Tessie,

      Your post made me cry. I am always speechless when I am reminded of how truly horrific what you experienced was. I remain in awe of you. There are angels who walk among us – I truly believe you may be one of them. ((HUGS)))

    • Tessie, I’m so sorry that your precious son was taken from you. To take the life of an innocent child as retribution for you moving on with your life is the most abhorrent act of narcissistic abuse.

      Your wisdom rolls off the page in beautiful waves. I love your thoughts on victory. Thank you.

    • Tessie
      I am so moved by your post. I am so sorry your beloved son was taken from you. I can only imagine that must be the deepest loss a mother could ever experience. I always say if my husbands betrayal is the worst thing that happens to me well then, I have had an abundant life with many blessings. Please accept my deepest and most heartfelt condolences. You are truly the angel thought I needed tonight.

      • Tessie…sometimes there’s nothing to say. Sometimes you just have to sit with your friend and be quiet. I’m going to sit with you for awhile this evening if you don’t mind.

        • I just want to thank you all for your kind words tonight. I am awed and so grateful for the loving, kind hearts of the chump nation.

          I very rarely speak of my son or of the events that surround his death because it is simply too much for most people. Usually they can’t get away fast enough. That feels horrible……like the fact that my boy lived and laughed and was so wonderful for 14 years doesn’t matter at all because the story of his death is so painful to hear. I find myself wanting to say to them…He was here….He was a real person….He was so precious…..He is not a forgotten statistic….He mattered.

          I can’t tell you all how much it means to me to not always have to edit.

          You all understand the true meaning of rising from the ashes, because you have done it, as I have. Your loving acceptance is helping to heal a spot in my heart that has been broken for a long time.

          Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for letting me speak my truth.

          • Tessie,
            Thank you for sharing your truth and your wisdom. If you can speak of ‘meh’, you hold the torch in the night for us all to follow.

            Mightiest of the mighty, indeed.

    • Profound observation, ‘with each cruelty and betrayal I found myself pulling away….’ This is surely something we all did.
      “We build different lives after a loss.” So true, Tessie. Two boys. Two blessings…. I don’t think any of us ever really know true love until our children are born into this world. My heart, as always, goes out to you, Tessie. (((Hugs)))

      • I agree…there are no words, just a deep sense of solidarity and sending blessings to you. I am sure your son is taking care of you now and until you reunite. I will hug my daughters a little harder tonight, thinking of how blessed I am. Thank you for your strength despite the worst of all consequences possible in this nightmare that we all share.

    • Each time I’ve heard your story it makes me ill inside – for how damn horrific it is that your little boy was taken from you in the most heinous way possible.
      I’m not religious, but I still believe that theres a special place in hell for fuckers like your XH.
      If that happened to me I’d probably lose all reason, for the rest of my life, and never recover.
      The fact you’re able to speak of your story shows true mightiness. I’m in awe of you.
      Kinda makes me lose faith in humanity to see what evil was done, but then the complete opposite is shown by yourself.

    • Tessie, I didn’t know. I am so profoundly sorry, and I admire your grace and your strength.

      I have never been through anything so awful as that, but I know it’s so true that when people don’t know what to say about a bereavement, and so avoid the subject, it feels as though the person you lost never existed. You want to declare the truth and the beautiful reality of their life, and that they mattered enormously and always will.

      I send love to you and pray for you, that the angels of God will continue to minister healing to your spirit. I am so sorry!

  • I have grieved the death of many family members, including my parents. I have experienced this particular grief as much different. For me, this was not just a bone deep grieving, but an overcoming and a recovery operation.

    We have not only suffered a severe loss, but most, if not all, of us have suffered months or years of horrible abuse at the hands of the person with whom we shared our most intimate relationship. We are grieving while we try to heal our abused minds and bodies, which we now know, will never be the same as they were before. How do you put a timeline on that?

    We need to have compassion for ourselves. The point is to keep moving forward, no matter how many steps you may take backward in the process. This process isn’t a two step – it’s a cha-cha. I really think we are much too hard on ourselves. This shit is painful and we want that pain to be over and we want it over right now. Hopefully, with little or no contact with the cheating, lying pieces of rhinoceros shit we formerly called our spouses, with therapy, with the support of true friends and family and with gradually reclaiming our lives, and focusing on the person (ourselves) over whom we have control and showing ourselves the same kind of consideration we showed to those who were less deserving (the aforementioned rhinoceros shit), we will not only heal and recover, but we will thrive.

    Not one of us is still occupying the emotional space where all of this began. We will all arrive in the land of Meh eventually, one step, one day, at a time.

    • You know, Chump Princess, my healing really started when I had compassion for myself. I allowed myself all the feelings that came up, good or bad. I stopped telling myself, “I should not be thinking or feeling that.” Instead, I just said, “Oh, hello anger. You’re back.” And then it doesn’t stay. When I think, “My ex is a complete asshole (this is my description on my more generous days),” I smile. Once I gave myself permission to be miserable, to be angry, to be whatever I needed to be at that moment, the healing became easier.

    • You’re right CP, it’s a recovery process in addition to the grieving. And this is after being left in the worst emotional state possible to do it in, because of the abuse that occurs in just covering up the affairs/one-nights/whatever-sort-of-jollies the cheater in question preferred.

      I’ve grieved many losses in my life, but none left me stripped of my sense of self, my pride, self-esteem, self-respect, self-worth, dignity….yau’ll get the picture.

  • Boy, healing is such a personal journey and can take various forms. In my case, I had to do it trial by error, and oftentimes, what was working for months suddenly was no longer applicable since my healing needed something different. Or so I thought. Looking back now, what was actually happening was that my healing morphed into learning how to live differently so I needed new tools. It wasn’t just about healing; it went beyond. It moved on to learning to live in joy, easily letting go of things I can’t control, living mindfully and more.

    When I reached acceptance, these words rang so true to me:
    “If you understand, things are just are they are. And if you don’t understand, things are still just as they are.”

  • What worked for me, eventually, was to let go of the whole “stages of grief idea”, accept that I was going to feel terrible sometimes and take some action to make my life better by being nice to myself. Started with really simple things like taking a bath after work every night and listening to my favourite podcasts with some candles lit. Then I picked up some of the hobbies and interests I left behind. Then I got back in touch with my friends. It was all small steps, but they all helped.

    Being angry is good because it can spur you to action.

    I reckon that I will always have some anger about the affair, my ex and the way things played out (quite calmly, on the surface, but there was a big web of lies supporting that calmness).

    Don’t try and force your way through. Feel all the bad feelings and bring some good things into your life to balance them out. I got this idea from a book called “Getting Past Your Breakup” by Susan Elliot. It worked very well for me.

  • Off the top of my head, two in particular that come to mind. My dear friend, Vicki – one of most petite women I’ve ever known) showed up with a sledgehammer and a power drill to help me remove the homemade bar in the basement that represented all that was selfish and vile in my husband. Watching her swing the hammer and kick over the wall of the bar is one of my fondest memories of that dark time.

    Then there is Paul, a neighbor who has renovated his entire home into a showpiece, going so far as to move an upstairs window in the front of the house because it didn’t quite align with the others. He came over one day and taught me and my sons how to drywall over gaping holes left in the walls where the TV used to be, where X hid his cheap hootch to fill his expensive-label bottles, and the bolts from where the bar used to be.

    Those are the two that come to mind off the top of my head. I have hundreds.

  • I have been going through these stages in no particular order. Extreme grief, denial etc. recently very brief glimpses of acceptance
    Or meh! This has been a 2.5 yrs struggle/ordeal. At times I have felt I might be happier not hear in his world. Yes, it got that bad. I can’t go into details because quite honestly I’m in a sort of meh state right now and talking or writing about it too much will set me back. Just as it does when he sends me notes about missing me and wishing he was with me. I get really happy and think things are looking up and then, boom… He doesn’t call or contact me for days. ( he is in a different province). Life sucks. I can use anger to my advantage as well as positive thoughts about how good I am at everything when not dragged down by him. That’s it, my thoughts expised

  • Timeheals said it earlier and I want to add on, the “stages of grief” is bullshit, that theory has been fully debunked since the one doc wrote her book based on interviews with a small group of dying patients. I think it caught on so well because when we are in the bad places we want to think there is still some order in our world. So we grab that idea that we can grieve “right” and get it over with. Humans are infinitely variable and also the same, a conundrum we cannot solve. We are united in our desire to find joy and leave pain behind, we will help each other, even when we don’t intend it.

  • >