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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Not Fall in Love with the Bomb

awesomeWhile I’m taking a break, I’m featuring some of Chump Nation’s best commentators. Today’s guest post on post-chump life dating is by Luziana. Enjoy! — Tracy

Dear Chump Lovelies,

It’s been a crazy year since I “met” Tracy and the rest of you refugees from the Love Boat, and it hasn’t been easy. But more than forgetting what food tasted like, losing 50 pounds, and more than expensive therapy as an earnest dude silently listened to me sob for billable hours — this place, and talking to all of you, saved my hide.

The walls in my vintage 1979 Double Wide may not be belting Janis yet, but they’re humming. My weekends are hopping or calm as we see fit, the rooms are rumbling with the laughter of tween girls and one perturbed adult son, and life is getting really, really good.

Is it perfect? No. I’m still deeply in debt and collectors still call. I pay my basics first and then their pound of flesh. Am I gorgeous? No. I’m cute. I’m 170 pounds of Casper the Friendly Hobbit. But I can fit in an inner tube at the water park now and nobody at Disney is herding me to the seatbelt measurement line. Am I over it? Is every day meh? Good God, no. Hunt around in the forums or posts for my story– it’s terrifically horrific! But I am bringing mighty back.

Let me share the steps I took to “Just Keep Livin” — Matthew McConaughey.

(P.S.  When you take life coach advice from a naked, bongo-playing Texan, you know you’re on the road to healing.)

1. Extreme Self Care. This can be done on any budget. This means you go find the picture of yourself where you looked and felt great about something not related to your Cheater. And you display it proudly and do something every single day to honor and regrow your annihilated self. At first all I could muster was waterjogging at the Y, chanting the simplest prayers not to off myself. Sometimes it was a hike, with a frozen banana as a treat at the end. A comic book action figure that delights my inner kid. A spa day. Whatever you can afford that speaks comfort to the secret you that is still unbroken.

2. Be In the World. Just effing BE. If you have been isolated and made a pariah, smeared by a Narc or told you need to shut up, you’re fat, ugly, rude, test their hypothesis everywhere you go. Smile at cashiers. Give directions when asked. Sit in a coffeeshop and shoot the breeze. Join in on activities at work. You don’t have to go into your breakup unless people ask. Wake up every day and decide you will act for the greater good. Cry if you need to. Hide when you need to. Scream in the parked car after. But get up and do it again, and I promise you will see your kindness and valid place in the world reflected back to you by others.

P.S. Fuck the Cheater and AP. You don’t owe them anything but cool civility for your children. For the Greater Good!

3. Date Your Friends. Noooooo — not like hubby or wifey did with the Co-worker! Date our friends, new or old. Sort through those connections and renew and invest in the ones who stood by you, and put the same effort into it as you would for a potential mate. I am old as balls, but I say yes now to parties. I bring pie, bitches.

I brunch. I cinema, I babysit. I loan a cup of sugar. If you are financially strapped or have no friends, again, invite a neighbor for tea and cake. Invite a co-worker to eat lunch and bring in a treat. Others have probably been interested in you and wishing you weren’t so aloof. Connect, and your anxieties will ease.

4. You Have What You Need. If you never go on another date, and you do the things above, you’re golden. When you die, 97% of those mourners at your wake will have never seen you naked, and those connections matter. And really, I don’t believe your picker is really broken. Unlike Cheaters, Chumps have the ability to stop touching the Hot Stove of Disorder. So if you embrace a celibate fate, that’s valid. But if you’d like to have some attraction and/or action back in your life, read on.

5. Catch and Release. I could go into exquisite detail here about my post-divorce dating follies, and to be honest I haven’t found THE ONE. Mostly due to not trying to. Marriage is no longer the grail for happiness I once thought it was. The kickass job I am doing as a singleton happens to also include a desire to be seen in public with a potential mate, and eventually express myself in a sexual way with a trusted person. But unlike my Cheater, who hops from bed to bed and woman to woman, I’m doing it right this time.

The goal is not to find someone to heal my hurts, to fix me, to prove to ex and Schmoopie and the world that “Seeeee what I can do!” The goal is to know myself, and not bend or be rushed or lovebombed. The goal is to catch red flags and drop that like it’s crap without a look back. My goal is honesty, flirting, mutual appreciation and an occasional hike or ride on a Harley. The smell of grass at a ball game. Two fingers of Bourbon. The opportunity to wear ridiculously pretty shoes. When you fix you, when you feed you, when you share yourself and talents with your community your picker heals itself, and attraction to someone might surprise you. Be ready in those dancing shoes.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Wonderful letter. Thank you !
    (I couldn’t agree more with all that is written above).

  • I get: chumps have the ability to stop touching the hot stove of disorder! Nicely worded Luziana!

    • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that line – and I’m stealing it! Great, great, post! You rock, Luz!

      • I really do make pies but now when I bring them I am going to steal that line also! Thank you Luz.

    • That is a great line! I am over 2 years after break up (after being with the same guy for 33 years) and have not even had the desire to date. I am still also, on a regular basis, thinking of him, us and her. My latest line to myself, when I catch myself thinking of such things is “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” And, naturally I start thinking of pink elephants and other stuffed toys I had as a child. Gets me away from thinking of what is behind me (because as someone once said, I’m not going that way). It has helped me tremendously in the last couple of weeks just think about the present as it is. I may yet get to meh, and at least satisfaction with my life.

      Great Tips Luizana

  • “Renew and invest in the ones that stood by you” yes!yes! “Sort through” yes, that has been tough as at times that too adds to the loss! For any new chumps reading, CL’s wisdom is beyond valuable and CN will keep you afloat! I feel it was a godsend that fellow chumps came into my life close to where I live and the support is heartfelt everyday!

  • I am going to go look for a picture of my pre-chumped self now!
    And I have a mantra that your words reminded me of:
    “I have everything I need if I use everything I have.” Got me through some very tough times.

    • Crushed, I am stealing that line also. Love it! Someone once said we need a “love it” button on this blog.

  • Fabulously written, seriously great advice and the truth from a chump who has traveled a long, hard path.
    In order to look back and give this kind of advice, Luziana went thru hell and even more.

    I second every word. I made the parties because, in the beginning, it was easier for me to busy myself with pouring drinks and cleaning up until I was comfortable being in a single in a social environment and not constantly talking about my pain. For new chumps, know that took me a few years – this advice doesn’t happen overnight.

    THIS is one that should be taped to your bathroom mirror and read every morning!

    PS: I was lucky enough to not need the bare civility to the ex. Hats off to Luziana!

  • Perfect timing CL. I am trudging through court process after court process due to my narc ex. Starting to get mild panic attacks. Thank you Luziana for the reminder of extreme self care and to just be.

    • Walkingboots, same. Ongoing court for modifications that I gave in with at divorce. Tomorrow for me. But let me weigh this against a little project I am doing. Installing floors throughout my whole place, using power tools, friends pitching in. Oddly, it’s been a healing experience for me by ripping out the old and putting in the new: very symbolic.

      CN, I really wanted to share this use of power tools with you all because I knew you would get excited for me!

  • Love this! So inspiring to read a post from such a wonderful person who is on the other side! Congratulations on your amazing writing abilities and for your very own happily ever after!

  • Love this Luzianna! You are mighty!

    “The goal is to know myself, and not bend or be rushed or lovebombed. The goal is to catch red flags and drop that like it’s crap without a look back.” This, a thousand times!!

  • “Lord, something good is going to happen today. Lord, please do something good through me for others.” Said in the morning when my feet hit the ground. xo

  • Luzianna, such great advice! Thank you very much! You are so very very very mighty! We love you!

    • I love love love this comments from Luzianna:

      “This means you go find the picture of yourself where you looked and felt great about something not related to your Cheater.”

      “Cry if you need to. Hide when you need to. Scream in the parked car after. But get up and do it again, and I promise you will see your kindness and valid place in the world reflected back to you by others.”

      “P.S. Fuck the Cheater and AP. You don’t owe them anything but cool civility for your children. For the Greater Good!”

      “I am old as balls, but I say yes now to parties. I bring pie, bitches.” Hell, yes! I’m old as balls also and I LOVE LOVE pie. Can you bring me a key lime pie? and Pumpkin, and Chocolate? I love this those also. ha!

      • Yes. Can we make “cool civility for your children” an official CL phrase / abbreviation? CCC: Cool Civility for your Children.

        • Love the ‘CCC’ abbreviation. Even when most of us would prefer ‘VVV’: ‘Violent Vivisection of the Villain’. Sigh. One can dream. Haven’t QUITE reached ‘meh’ yet.

        • I am a year in what often feels like pedaling in the mud of an interminable divorce tunnel, oscillating between CCC and VVV as I do my best to forge on to Meh.

          Your caring and wise words have given me strength and solace, thank you Luziana, CL and CN, for being there! I promise to bring pie when CL’s upcoming book signing tour stops by my town :)!

  • Such a beautifully written message, Luziana! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!

  • I double the absolutely “boss!” I’m not sure what it means but it sounds like something good!

    Awesome Luziana! Just awesome!

  • I needed this today! I feel sometimes that I should be doing more, but I realize it’s all one step at a time. I am grateful that I have survived the past three years and that, in and of itself, is a great accomplishment. I’m going to go dig my kick ass picture out and forge ahead! I have everything to gain and nothing to lose! Thanks Luziana!

    • Comforting to hear that someone else feels this way, Roberta. Thank you for sharing. I’m pretty much through the sad phase and so many things are better in my life, but I get down on myself for not accomplishing more and for feeling a bit paralyzed on how to move forward.

      Luziana this is a beautifully written reminder list I will refer to again. I just sent it to a new chump friend and it’s helping me realize that I am doing those things and I have made progress. You are incredibly MIGHTY for getting to this point in 1 year. I know just the photo I want to pull out and honor. Much love to you, Tracy and all of Chump Nation!

  • I love the idea of reconnecting with old friends, but sometimes it has the opposite effect.

    A long time friend, who learnt about my situation a year ago, sent me a message right before leaving on holiday, out of the blue, to suggest that I visit her as soon as she returns. She returned yesterday.

    Today I checked train prices ($$$), and called her. During the conversation, she said:
    – choose any day you want for your arrival… I’m working and will be home after six
    – Friday evening I have to pick up my daughter…
    – Saturday noon my husband and I are invited at some friends place but you can stay in our house
    – The holiday was fantastic, we went canoeing with a bunch of friends, so much fun, blue lakes…

    How can a friend invite you, only to explain that she has no time for you, and no inclination to take you along when going to parties or vacation ?
    I would be spending at least $300 and three days of my time, to be with them 1 evening, and would remain on my own the rest of the stay, free to reflect on the ruins of my life. The conversation crushed me, she made me feel like I am her dog.

    Am I being overly sensitive today ?

    • No, love. Not al all. That’s the sorting part. Some people will be left in the chaff bucket, or demoted to the fringe of your circle. Or you just say, let’s get together when we can really spend quality time and catch up. If your interactions with anyone regularly make you feel low, they aren’t worthy of your time.

      • Thank you Luziana. And your post today is wonderful. I am just curious, where can I read your story ? The archive of CL is so big…

        • In the forums in in Happy Post Chump Life I started a thread about dating that covers it, And includes really beautiful posts from other’s experiences too.

          • Sorry Luziana but I don’t understand, is this in CL’s blog (could not find it) or in some external forum (Googled it but could not find either) ?

            • It’s at the top of the page, click Forum. The widget should show if you are logged in.

      • I needed this today luziana. Thanks so much. The part about catching red flags and dropping potential partners was spot on. I recently began my first relationship post divorce and I thought it was going splendidly. UNTIL he just quit pursuing me. Quit calling, coming by, or texting. I felt rejected all over again, as If every put down my Cheater had told me was true. Of course, I would text him and call him and ask for clarification only to walk away from the conversation just as confused as before. In the back of my mind, I could hear Tracy’s voice, “is this acceptable to YOU? Forget what HE needs. What do YOU need?” I liked this guy so much bc he seemed good in the beginning (no love bombing..actually genuine). If I can make it through today, it will be the third day I haven’t heard anything or contacted him. But s huge part of me wants to scream “I was already wounded and you hurt me more! You’re an ass!” God give me patience and hope again….

        • Ouch! Hang in there. I admire you for doing what you think is right and listening to your gut when it tells you something is wrong. Do you have a friend who is a real cheerleader for you? Why don’t you call them today

          • I have several good friends who have been there for me. I feel like a pain in the ass calling them. You know how us chumps are! We feel bad for having needs. I think that’s my problem. I minimize my needs so much to the point I don’t have any expectations of the other person. Forums like CL are different. I don’t feel bad here because I can support others going through similar heartache

            • Please, please do not call or text him-he may be a narc jerk or he may be just a regular guy that is keeping his options open or not interested at the moment. Either way back off with the calls and texts. If he decides he is interested again, make him work very hard to gain any attention from you. I personally would not give him another chance but I tend to be put off very easily. Also, never expect an honest answer from any guy when asking why the sudden bum’s rush. Blowing you off should speak volumes about where they stand. No further explanations needed.

              • Thanks kb22. I think that’s excellent advice. Actions speak louder than words. It’s like tempest said, “any type of rejection feels cataclysmic” after you’ve been chumped. I’m particularly sensitive as I’m sure a lot of us are.

            • My therapist (also a chump), told me that after his divorce, he vowed never to have a relationship with anyone who didn’t want a relationship with him.

              Mmmhmm–stay busy; very busy and call on your social support. Do something that requires you to leave your phone at home (hike, swim) or turn off the ringer (movie) so that you’re not constantly checking it for his response.

              You’re awesome, and you deserve better.

            • You’re right Mmm Hmm! Since the worst of the crazy is over, I always feel bad calling my friends or my dear sisters who have listened to my freak outs so many times. I wasn’t thinking of that as a chump thing – as minimizing my needs. Thank you for articulating that.

              You absolutely deserve better than this! Give yourself credit for being strong and take Tempest’s and Luziana’s advice – Catch & Release. Drop that crap. You are mighty!

        • MmmHmm – Same thing happened to me. I was introduced to an “exceptional accomplished man” by a wonderful couple I knew and respected. I wasn’t interested at first, he wasn’t my physical type, but decided to just relax, be open, go out in groups and have some fun. Nothing serious. My divorce isnt final yet. Yes, there were a couple of communication red flags, we addressed them, and then the love bombing started… RED FLAG! But I had forgotten that tactic after 4 decades with my husband. Lots of amazing flowers, romantic gestures, using the “L” word very early – RED FLAG – he actually bet me $10,000 (yes wrote me a postdated check dated November 2) that I would be his wife by November 1 of this year RED FLAG (I’m nowhere near ready to remarry – he’s been married 3 times – RED FLAG – and remember, I’m not even divorced yet after 35+ years of marriage!) so I just laughed it off. We had only been dating for 2 months! He bought me a beautiful piece of vintage jewelry that was just my style, and left the $918 receipt in the bag “in case I wanted to return it”… (!?!) I’m mortified to say I was starting to fall for the guy. At least we hadn’t been fully intimate, I don’t move that fast. He frequently said “we will just take this relationship at your speed…” ( yeah, right. His actions were opposite of his words RED FLAG) I told him that at the advice of my divorce atty we needed to be discreet so as not to anger my Narc soon to be ex – who is living with Schmoopie. But I was so high on all the attention and happier than I had been in years. Then a big RED FLAG, I saw his intense anger at another person’s rude behaviour in a situation, and it scared me. There was something very off about it, and I trusted my gut. I bolted from a small dinner, saying, “I really need to go now”, and drove myself home. He sent me a mean text saying I had made a big mistake. We discussed it the next morning in person, and made up. (Codependant much?) I told him I loved him, (Arrgggggghhhh) and we made plans for him to be at my ranch a few hours later at a specific time. I felt so much closer to him that we had worked through that issue, and he admitted he was frustrated that his life wasn’t working out like he had planned, and he couldnt even date the woman he loved. I said we just couldn’t flaunt it. Well guess what? He stood me up. I’ve never spoken to him again. That was 2 months ago. Wow. He knew how cruely i had neen treated by my ex and how very vulnerable I was, and that’s the treatment I got? Another NARC!

          • You dodged a bullet, CC. I would say your powers of observation are fine. Sell the jewelry and take your friends camping or to brunch!

            • Great idea, Thanks Luz – love your post, and your writing style. At least it didn’t take me 4 decades to see what I was dealing with this time, although I still went down that red flag lined road. I learned that Narcs can’t handle partners who have their own minds and can’t be controlled. And what huge cowards they are. Next step, extreme self care. Hugs to you and Chump Nation!

              • chump change, i also had a near narc disaster the year after my divorce. it took 2 months to figure out. you and i have come a long way in a short time! ( i was with XH 27 years).

                keep up the good “picker” work 🙂

    • IMO, they don’t.

      It’s a paradox. I need friends or at least company right now but if they let me down or act selfish, self absorbed, or give me any BS they’re out of my life. I won’t stand for being dis-respected or used anymore.

      One “friend” keeps promising me she’ll get back to me and we’ll get together. Never returns my calls or is busy and will get back to me. Last time I called she bit my head off because she couldn’t find her car key. Ok, she was stressed, but it’s been almost a week and she could have at least called back to say something like “Sorry, I was so stressed, but let’s talk now. ” I’m so done. She always was self absorbed, and a bit of a user.

      • Sounds like the people who promise and never deliver (although they know you need it so bad) are all over the world. Sad. Thank you for the story, Lina.

      • Being stressed over a car key does not excuse her behavior towards you. She acted that way because in her feeble mind you don’t “rate” or have nothing to offer her at this time. You know the type, I think we’ve all had a “friend” or two like that in our lifetime. Don’t call her and don’t take her calls either. If I were you I wouldn’t spit on her if she were on fire. So rude and disrespectful.

        • Yes, I definitely do know the type.

          Funny thing is that I was calling to offer her some really nice dance DVDs I have since I’ve retired and she’s still performing. I’m going to donate them to charity now.

    • I’ve recently had the same ‘friend’ drama. I have a friend Jackie who lives 2 hours away. She was married to my stbx’s ‘best’ friend. They divorced some years ago due to his cheating, his drug addiction, and him choking her for the last time. OK – so we have A LOT in common. We bitch about our spouses and find that things my stbx ‘claims,’ her x claimed the SAME STUPID SHIT! (Ex: our 30’s were wasted – we didn’t have enough sex or I didn’t wear lengerie enough…) Mind you – in our 30’s, we were full-blown 3-kid marriage….running to school events, extra-curricular blah blah blah.
      ANYWAY – so a friend of mine and I were going to take the 2-hour trip to see Jackie and leave Friday right after work. We’ve had this planned for WEEKS. I got a text from Jackie Friday morning stating “I totally forgot I promised my nephew I would babysit his kid – in a hotel – while him and his wife go to a concert. I must have got the weekends mixed up.” Are you kidding me? Oh – and the hotel happened to be in the cities – 2 hours away from her. I’m a sorry but I think this is a big fat LIE! How convenient that she won’t be home – she is babysitting at a hotel? Give me a break! This is also a ‘friend’ who says she will call me when she gets back from her run. 3 days later I text her and ask if she is done with her run yet.
      I don’t need this shit. I cannot call her a ‘friend.’ DONE!

    • ChumpfromF–don’t give up on that friend yet; she didn’t know your chosen weekend and some of her events sound as if they had been booked beforehand. Ask her if there is an upcoming weekend that is free. Frankly, if someone asked me to visit only one weekend away, even if I REALLY wanted that person to visit, I would feel bad refusing to attend things (e.g., parties) to which I had already RSVPed.

      We’re all in a raw state and even the smallest rejection feels cataclysmic. Work past it this time & see if you can’t iron out a mutually acceptable time to visit. If the friend continues to prevaricate or put you off, then assess the friendship. But I don’t think it is time yet.

      • Tempest, on balance, i agree. your words are wise to not cut off a relationship based on a one time disappointment. such behavior would be more consistent with a borderline (or narc) personality rather than mightiness.

        what i have discovered as i read Chump Nation posts and reflect on my own history of relationships is that i spackel verrry well. so as i re-assess my relationships, many are normal, i.e., our relationships have weathered being unavailable due to being overbooked, raising toddlers, cancer, parents’ deaths, etc. But during my worst trauma (DDay year 24 of marriage) two friends were noticeably, consistently unavailable. my direct and honest conversations with them about this included script-flipping, blameshifting and gas lighting. i was so pleased to recognize it in the moment. i also recalled a history of those patterns in those relationships too. so i adjusted my boundaries with them accordingly.

        always open to learning, that’s for sure..

  • ChumpfromF – so sorry your friend is not being the friend you need right now.

    i do not think you are being too sensitive. Something i learned post DDay is that i had some Narcs as friends, too. i was initially sad but then started feeling liberated. i learned to like my own friendship, focus on my relationship with God, and make new friends….while accepting limitations of old ones. i ended, with loving detachment, 2 longtime friendships because of their personality disorders that i had successfully spackled over.

    so maybe take a look and see if this friend is really a good friend? just a thought. ((hugs))

      • i am finding the Kibble Test to be useful now: what happens when Chumpette is unable to give constant kibbles in a relationship? then i observe.. without my “spackel spectacles” on..and adjust relationship boundaries accordingly.

    • You are right, maybe she is not. Last time I visited her, I sent text messages while in the train, to make sure she would be on time to pick me up at the station, neither in advance nor too late. I ended up waiting 40 minutes under a pouring rain. Then her husband prepared a classy meal, so I was treated like a worthy guest after all. Confusing. Thank you for the remark, I’ll think about it !

  • ChumpfromF,
    NOPE! You are not being overly sensitive… I think touching the hot stove also includes non sexual relationships that also have some of those characteristics. Her words of invitation meant nothing really. I am slowly learning to always watch actions vs words. It makes me feel sort of creepy to do it. Like I am some sort of creepy spy. You said this… but you did that. Liked what you said, not so much about what you did. Perhaps it is my abhornance of confronting people that makes me feel creepy. I don’t call them on it but I just note it and find a way to disengage.

    Your friend is shallow… part of this is figuring out who is real and who is not in your real friend. So what can you spend that $300 on and have a really good time. You can have a whole lot of fun with $300.

    • Proper remark… $300 can go a long way, quite a few evenings out with new people who may become new friends. Thank you ringinonmyownbell !

    • I second that! (and love that Extreme self care is at the top of your list–we chumps are good at care of others, not so good at care of ourselves.)

  • Chump from F, isn’t the idea of a visit to actually visit??? I don’t blame you for being put off. I would call her and tell her that I will visit when she has more time available. And remember, the road goes both ways! If your friendship is valuable to her, then she might think about coming to see you. I know I face the same issue, but I am seeing a lack of true effort and a huge disconnect from friends who begged me not to stop being friends after my divorce. Now that the divorce has been final since March I rarely hear from any of these folks. I’m with another poster here who said just lovingly detach. Remember reciprocation?? I’m tired of the one way street relationships! If these people truly value our friendship then let them show some investment in maintaining contact also!

    • Well I suppose she thought inviting me was a great effort – urgh not sure this is a compliment. I agree with you, especially since she makes twice my salary. Thank you !

      • Why dont you talk to her, and make your needs known? How she responds to that will tell you about the quality of this friendship. Truly, she may have a very busy schedule, but think that you might enjoy a weekend in a new city, checking out a new coffeeshop, enjoying their house and being out of your current environment without needing to spend a ton of time with them. Just hanging out instead of intensive visiting. Tell her tha this isnt the kind of visit you would enjoy, and suggest something else. If she loves you, and just has a different idea of how visits go, she will come to you, or block out a girls weekend in a city between you two, or invite you for a different weekend. Make your needs known, and then listen to how she responds without spackle!

        • This is an amazingly logical, clear, and reasonable response that really resonates with me.

  • Thanks Luziana! Kick ass advice! Love it! Now the challenge is to encorporate it into my life. Step by step, day by day I know that it will get better. Thanks also for the encouragement! Much appreciated!!!

  • I just wanted to say thank you for the kind comments and mention that everything is not always rosy. I still have cry days and days where the “Devalue Tapes” play in my head. I am learning the best way to shut them off is to get off my ass and do something, or if it’s a new angle I’m mourning, to really try to learn from that. I wonder if I’ll ever allow myself to be as raw and open as I was with the Narc.

    But I feel like myself now. I still have things to work on, like my debt, and giving to others till it hurts. I still have an additional 40 pounds to lose, and I have committed food adultery with doughnuts. Shame!

    But the rest is pretty great. Family of Origin skein? Untangled. Why to I do that angle? Answered? Why did he do that? Because He Sucks.

    I wonder if in today’s moral climate that instead of the Cheater and AP wearing the Scarlet Letter, the Faithful Spouse is given all the blame. We have songs we can’t bear, places we don’t go, things we are afraid to do that are just….normal. I decided to just reject the Mark of the Chump, and be normal. I have worked up to everything but the songs.

    For reasons I don’t need to go into, babies were triggering me. But last week on a flight from Texas I was completely surrounded by four under fours and a Chihuahua. And I decided to not play the tape where I lament my broken family. I decided to be a part of the family- of Humans. And I colored with the oldest one and the Chihuahua was really well behaved. And we ate fruit snacks,

    Then I came home and cried over an email.

    Hahaha- it’s such a dice roll. Infidelity is hell, and I won’t normalize it. But I will normalize me.

    • (((hugs))) Luz.

      It seems to me if it doesn’t get me one way (the sadness) it gets me another. I feel like I’m either masking over the pain or numbing it. I don’t feel like I’m getting past it.

      • Lina,
        The timeline depends on the person, the length of the relationship, the level and type of abuse,whether children are involved, etc. You get to feel sad if you are. When life responsibilities require, you fake it if you have to.

        I’ll recount again the first time I felt happy after being discarded. I was completely alone and just watching my alma mater play college football. I had a HUGE plate of nachos in front of me, and for the first time in four months I could taste my food. And it was delicious! I ate that whole plate of nachos in calm delight. I don’t know if you have kids, but there is a pause between the contractions- an absence of pain that by comparison feels like pleasure. The waves of pain stopped long enough to let me breathe, taste and feel.

        Those respites got longer till the pain was the occasional event. That became my new normal. I can live with it.

        • Thanks Luz. X

          No kids but I totally get what you’re saying.

          I guess I’m in the “faking it until you make it” stage right now.”

    • I totally get the song thing, I never noticed that soooo many songs are about love, or sex, or both until all the shit went down. I am slowly regaining my music, something I need to feel whole. Loved your post Luz!!!

      • I realized after everything went down that my “top 25 most played” playlist had told the tale of the last three years. When your top played song is titled, “Waiting for the End,” and others high up in the playlist are titled things like, “The Lovers Are Losing,” “Not Your Year,” “Melt My Heart to Stone,” “Wake Up,” etc., that says something.

        Geez, you think I was unhappy or something?

      • YES! I’m amazed at how many songs have bullshit justifications for “hurting you,” etc. and I go all twitchy. I cannot stand it.
        Meanwhile, I have been singing my compiled infidelity/betrayed song list in karaoke and it’s extremely healing for me.

    • “Infidelity is hell, and I won’t normalize it. But I will normalize me.”

      Great line, Luz!

    • Movies are not the same experience, either. I sat through the previews for a modern day Madame Bovary film, and it was all I could do not to throw my popcorn at the screen. On a plane home from a recent trip I watched “This is Where I Leave You” (yup, should have known better, but it was Tina Fey!!) and was mentally using the F-word every time a character justified his/her cheating with “Well we did grow apart,” or other such nonsense.

      When one’s cinematic filter includes no portrayal or justification for infidelity, you’re stuck with Pixar movies, I guess.

      • Gotta love the infidelity shoulder shrug in “This is Where I Leave You.” She gets caught and just looks a little sheepish and shrugs her shoulders. Egad.

        • I’ve been chumped a few times in my extensive history with narcs and remember years ago almost throwing up during ‘The English Patient’, just could not bear on screen infidelity no matter how beautiful the cinematography…

          • I agree, NoMoreNarcs–romanticizing infidelity is vomit-worthy. I was sensitive to themes of cheating even before D-day; can’t stomach them now.

            • I watched the Madame Bovary film with some friends. We all applauded when she died. I love how much my friends have my back. 🙂

    • This is wonderful: “I decided to not play the tape where I lament my broken family. I decided to be a part of the family- of Humans.”

      Great post Luziana! Thank you for all of your wonderful insights today. I only started feeling like a normal person again about 2 months ago, almost 2 years after my dday… interacting with people around me was a huge part of that.

      I also love your #5 in your post above. Learning to be happy single, along with realizing there are lots of other people out there happily single, was a revelation to my and part of my healing.

  • Hands in the air for Luziana! Love this, my friend, and love you. What a great post to wake up to, and I can’t wait to read it again with all the comments on the bus back home. <3

  • I’m late to work, but decided to log in for a minute before leaving. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning. Thank you so very much.

  • Great advice. There’s no way your life isn’t better once the cheating turds are out of it. No way, but it does take a while.

  • Thank you Luziana and CL for sharing. This is just what I needed, the reminder to take care of **ME**. DDay was in May, I filed in June, mediation is later this month, and hoping for finalizing in September. (fingers crossed everyone!)

    My problem is the afterwards. This is not meant as bragging but I have multiple men asking me out. I am a short overweight 40 something mother of two. I don’t get it and frankly it’s scary. So far I’ve let them know that nothing happens until the ink is dry. I need my mental energy to get me through the woods. Everyone has respected that. But when it’s over I’m scared to actually have to interact. I’m scared I’ll let people walk all over me or demand things that they shouldn’t. I’m scared because I don’t know what kind of boundaries to set. (Help me CN, please, what are your boundaries?) but this post, this one is getting printed out and put on the mirror to remind me not to touch the hot stove again.

    • Start slow. Very slow. Meet people for coffee or a hike–nothing threatening or too romantic. I don’t remember how long you were married, but you’ll probably need a heavy dose of Me-time until the dust settles.

      • That’s valuable advice. Treat yourself so good that you won’t accept any less from someone else.
        When my ex left he asked me not to plaster the news all over facebook, and not to divorce. A week or two later he was literally plastering all over his facebook photos of him and the OW happiness, aodrned with comments such as “finally togheter!”. I needed lots of me time, but there was this friend who was hoovering around me at the time and thought “what the hell, I can do that too” but without the public display (because there was a tiny little bit of dignity left in me). I don’t think I need to tell how that turned out, but I will anyway: yet another narc. Please, don’t be me. Trust me on this.

        • Forgot to add: a mont later HE was filing for divorce. I agreed to lie to a judge that we’ve been separated for a year to make things faster because he needed this divorce so badly he agreed on paying the whole thing by himself. Not complaining.

          • Smart move, Skycsil–the faster we get the toxic people out of our lives, the better our lives get.

    • AllOut, you sound pretty smart to me, your fears are all valid concerns! Listen to your gut. I would think one boundary would be that any suitor would need to be REALLY patient, especially because you have children. If a man wants to be allowed into your world, it takes time, and you and the kids come first. Most of us Chumps are thinking in protection mode, in the early days. Don’t think that you have to go out with someone, just because he asks. Good luck to you! There’s no rush, and this is when you get to do whatever YOU want, so enjoy it!

  • “…the secret you that is still unbroken.”

    This made my eyes water, Luz. It’s such a terrific reminder and something all chumps need to keep close to their hearts. There is a part in the deepest center of us all that these cheaters can’t get to. This spot is our rebuilding place and we all have it, even those of us who feel completely broken and bereft.

    There is a “secret you that is still unbroken.” Yes there is. And I have enjoyed the hell out of realizing this firsthand. I would never have believed it in the depth of my despair those many moons ago, but it was always there.

    Thanks for the wonderful post, Luz.

    • Sadness and loss is a part of life that we all experience, and many of us on this site have had more than our fair share recently.

      Then, how do you define “what’s left”?

      We all have a finite number of minutes left on this earth, and that was the case since we were born, so part of the human condition is dealing with “what’s left”

      Sure, as we age, some things might not be practical, but do I really want to suddenly be a 23 year old professional athlete? As a 50-somethinger, that would be a big waste of time.

      At the same time, “what’s left” is everything, the same possibility and potential that has always been, including this moment right now that no one can take away from you.

      I’d better stop, I’m starting to sound like a text message between my stbx and her AP justifying their affair 🙂

    • Just Be! Yes to this! I just came back from a road trip with my friend and had the best weekend. And I have found that secret part of me that WAS unbroken!! Thanks Luz.

  • Thanks so much for this post today, Luz and CL! I’m headed back to court (for round 5) in two days and emotionally I’m a mess. I needed to be reminded that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Whenever remote Cognitive Dissonance kicks in, I visit Chump Lady for a reality fix. I never leave dissapointed <3

  • “extreme self care” and “being aware of red flags”.. These two things have been so important for re-normalizing myself. The decision that staying single is an acceptable option does take the pressure off about dating. Dating itself is something to not rush, hard to accept, but the right guy will wait.

    As soon as I made that decision and truly had the mindset, of course a wonderful guy came into the picture. I was secretly delighted when he turned out to be a fellow chump…sad for his experience, but at least he understood!

  • So great!

    Love, LOVE, love the ‘Catch and Release’ section!!! I practice this too.

    I have heard that Chumps ‘evolve’ but Cheaters never do. Once I got past the sting of DDay — this started to make sense. I am so much happier!!!!

  • Thank you so much Luziana for the wonderful words… sorry you had to earn the ability to give such great advice the hard way… sending you big hugs!

  • LUZY!!! Am a huge fan and even more so now!

    Catch and release…I now have a kickass term for what I’m doing these days. Thank you! Hugs.

  • Thank you Luzianna and Chump Nation! Once again, you have made my day happier and peaceful! I am glad we help each other write a new Playbook of recovery. I also know that I must have been a Narc-magnet, and I had to drop some friends who failed to be there for me. I no longer try to be such a people-pleaser. Now it’s time to please ME.

  • Great post and well needed today.
    “The goal is not to find someone to heal my hurts, to fix me, to prove to ex and Schmoopie and the world that “Seeeee what I can do!”

    This is the part that struck me the most. I do have this feeling that I MUST find someone or get in a relationship and I think it is because I’m trying to prove something to him and the AP. Ugh, why bother! Must keep my patience and do the things for me that you mentioned, Luziana. Thank you!

    • I’m pretty sure most people that have been dumped for someone else want to find an immediate replacement to “show them”. Unfortunately the replacements usually end up being a disaster and only make your ex and schmoopie a bit more smug. I think the best way to “show them” is to be successfully independent. That’ll kill them or at the very least frustrate and take the wind out of their sails.

  • Thank you Luziana! wonderful advice and I can hear your voice in your writing – optimistic, joyful, and mighty! What a great way to start off Monday!

    I have finally realized that it’s the small victories that show me I am healing. Last week I actually answered my phone without a thought, no sick feeling of anxiety and dread. I went out for dinner with my long time neighbour, now my friend, and we had a wonderful time shooting the breeze. When she said she would text me so we could go walking this week it was like a gift. I spent a lovely weekend on my own at home, binge watching Firefly on Netflicks (ahhh, Nathan Fillion…….), knitting, showing fealty to the Cat, cooking, talking to my sister on the phone with no mention of X. It is wonderful to me that I finally feel at home in the new place, that I feel welcome there, that there is no Black Vortex of Insatiable Need waiting for me when I open the door. And there never will be again.

    Luziana you are so right that we “have the ability to stop touching the Hot Stove of Disorder”. That one goes at the top of the journal page today to remind me that one of my great strengths, and the strength of all Chumps, is that we can learn. Thank you for your wisdom and your joy!

  • Luziana – fantastic! I always enjoy reading your posts – you never fail to put a smile on my face and give my heart a little joy injection!

    Totally love the ecard for you too – quite right! You are awesome and I’ve long thought Slobbo needed testing for trace elements of IQ, humour, decency and general humanity. I think he must have been stood behind the door when God was handing it to you in bucketfuls! 😀

    He’s an ARSE and you are ACE as well as BOSS (as someone else pointed out) 😀

    Thanks hun x

  • KMA, I actually love autocorrect bloopers and consider them a form of found poetry. 🙂

  • Luziana you are mighty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And your writings are a balm to my soul!

  • Speaking of friendships – my SIL (married to X’s brother) was the only family member to reach out to me after the divorce. I felt so good she did that. She was SO empathetic. When I mentioned I was desperate for a house/dog sitter so I could go on a trip, she readily offered to housesit any time I wanted. How generous of her, I thought. Then she said, of course, you’d have to pay my $350 train ticket out there. I reluctantly said, oh – okay. Then she said, and of course, you’d have to pay me for the time I’d be taking off of work and the daily cost of sitting. Um – no thanks. Yeah – nice gesture of ‘offering her goodwill’. She was looking at me as a banker and a free place to stay, that’s all. Good riddance.

  • I’m not sure precisely how aged “old as balls” is, but I hope to have half your vim and vigor when I get there.

  • Great post, Luz! All so very, very true. And chumps should not fret when they have a setback. It’s part of the healing process. “Everything happens for the best” is BS but “make the best out of everything” is a choice. So, Luz, thank you for the wonderful reminders on the road to meh.

  • I love this…because without knowing Luziana I have been doing every word of her post! Awesome club to belong to Chump Nation!

  • I whooped with laughter. I needed a bit of cheer and perspective after STBX’s latest proof of why losing a cheater is such a GREAT idea.

  • Argh! The reply left this at the wrong place. I loved the line, “Unlike Cheaters, Chumps have the ability to stop touching the Hot Stove of Disorder.”

    What a terrific blog post. Thanks so much, Luziana!

  • First of all, I literally laughed outloud, ” I bring pie, bitches.” !!!!!!!!!!! Love Love Love!!!!

    I cannot tell you how much this resignated, my ex told me I was fat, ugly, no one would want me, that I was an embarassment. The weird part? When I started to go out, people gave me compliments, and at first it was hard to believe, but then you start realizing that your Cheater abused you emotionally so you would stay stuck, they dont want us to know our worth inside or out, because then we would pack our suitcase and leave forever. I am one week post divorce and emotionally things are difficult but everyday you roll out of bed and you learn that you are still worth trying to make a life for. Such an uplifting post!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!

  • Great post Luziana! #1 (extreme self care) is extremely important. It’s important to be mindful of what you want. So often we are spread thin, especially when we are raising children, or working long hours. Giving to others is great but if there is little reciprocity then it’s much healthier to walk away. As many of us were abandoned with children in tow (mine were late adolescents finishing high school/completing first years of college and they were equally devastated), I let my kids know that I expected them too to take care of themselves first for awhile. To be kind. To recognize some days would be easy and some hard. To be a little crazy. Then to take baby steps (What about Bob? Is one family favorite) forward. Music is a great healer for us too. We attended (and still do!) as many concerts as we could. Vacationing with your kids (minus miserable sad sausage ex) was also a great way for us to heal.

  • the only thing that makes me very sad is that my happy self, before cheater, was a young girl, wide-eye and bushy tail, and 20 years later, I am just a middle aged frumpy and very angry. I don’t know how to make peace with the fact that I’ve wasted my youth on that piece of shit I used to call boyfriend. I may be wiser and have more self-respect but I no longer feel youthful or optimistic about the future.

    • MB, you’re not alone in that. I have known my STBXH for 30 years and we’ve been married for 24. 2 kids from the marriage. I am angry too. I have been financially and emotionally chumped and I get really pissed. Now my 16 year- old is leaving in 10 days because she wants to live with her Dad. I did ALL the hard work raising our kids, sacrificing my career because Narc man let me do it all and I couldn’t count on him to partner with me for much. I had at least hoped that I could get the last 2 years of enjoyment watching her graduate from high school etc. Guess not. Believe me, I am pretty pissed about it all!

      • Can totally relate. My 17yo daughter suffered a campaign of “let’s hate Mom – she’s evil” since she was 3.5 (that’s when I left her narc+ father). Even though I had primary custody, she still had enough time with him for it all to take hold. It really did a number on her that has really put her in a really bad place – one where she doesn’t trust her Mom even though Mom nursed her for years (!!!), did all the day-to-day alone, worked hard to build a career that had to fund everything (he’s destitute), find the right schools, violins, doctors, keep the insurance premiums paid, enrich her life in everyway I could figure out how to do, etc. !!$&@?-!#%€^|%|€!!!!

        So, If I’m not careful, I can totally lose control of the righteous rage shoved down deep – cause that doesn’t help her at all. So- yeah, totally feel your anger

    • MB-I’m calculating that you are more than likely in your 40’s-NOT OLD by today’s standards and well just not old. Make a game plan to get healthy, not so much to lose weight, just get healthy and make an effort to eat clean. Concentrate on the health plan and then a bit down the road get a makeover from Sephora and splurge on a different hair style. I think this will be the start to get your power back.

  • MB-
    Angry? Angry is cool. It’s a legitimate stage of your grief. Imagine your spouse was faithful and died from an illness. You get to mourn properly. You get to keep your happy memories and not question if it was all a lie.

    It’s ok to be angry, just don’t unpack and live there. Do you have a home repair that requires a hammer? Some meat that needs tenderizing? Some ugly weeds that need to be pulled? For now, those things all have little winking cheater/AP faces. Imagine it! Bam! Zap! KaPow!

    No chores? Krav Maga, Kickboxing, and self defense classes are popular. Kick some bag.

    I am 45 and I don’t feel young. I feel 45. Did I have to scale back my hopes for the future? I did. The purpose of your anger is to protest the way you were betrayed, and to inspire action in your self preservation.

    Frumpy? Frumpy is cool too. I work from home and some days don’t shower till 5 pm. You get to be whatever you want now. Wearing cotton underwear, belching in private and eating a whole can of soup watching Netflix are highly underrated ways to spend a day. I recommend baking cookies. Wrapping up in a blanket to think and stare at a wall. Nursing a hot cup of coffee.

    Comfort to you. And big nails that look like your ex’s little lying head.

  • Mb ,
    Everyday above ground is a good day. Not everyone gets to live to be 11, 20, 35, 52 or 60. You are alive now. What are you going to do with your day tomorrow? What if it was your last? What would u do?
    Dont like the frump… Have a frumpectomy. Serious just cut that shit out! Its a mind set. Dump the frump!

  • This is truly inspirational. I am working towards a happy and positive space. It’s difficult but this is truly encouraging without negativity. Just what I needed. Thanks Luziana!

  • “Marriage is no longer the grail for happiness I once thought it was”

    That is the truth! I’m not negative towards marriage, but I know nothing is permanent . Even the girl that I married who loved me, who I gave everything kicked me to curb, I know now people will use you if you are not careful.

  • Thank you, Luziana!!! Just what I needed to read today!!!!

  • What a splendid manifesto, Luziana! Thank you so much for the pep talk. Your writing and your attitude are an inspiration.

  • Luziana, thank you! I’m a little late to the party, so glad I went back and read your post. Sweet and cute and witty and funny. I feel a little lighter after those words.

  • P.S. Cartoon is too funny. I feel like that every now and then. One day soon I’ll get my mojo back and make that phone call…

  • Fabulous – made me sit up and think about ME and what I am doing! Thank you 😀 xxx

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