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Dear Chump Lady, Why does my pink hair make me feel better?

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flowerweldDear Chump Lady

Here is a silly question. I have been through years of hell. In short, like most people here, my husband of thirty years cheated with a woman at his office 30 years younger then him. I went through all the usual crap including forgiveness, starting again, listening to him gaslighting, blaming myself, counselling, anti-depressants, pick me dance……thank the Lord I then found this blog. Yes dear readers he did it again and I threw him out, we were moving house at the time.

I was devastated. He then got cancer and had a major op…. Which killed off my no contact with the miserable toad.

However, I was preparing myself for my son’s graduation. I went for a haircut and came out with a really brilliant cut and very loud pink highlights. The question is, why did a simple cut and admittedly extreme hair colour so change my mood when everything else failed? I would say I am me again and achieving Meh. Do explain if you can.

Pink Pauline

Dear Pauline,

One untold benefit of the infidelity experience is that you feel more alive.

I know that doesn’t make any sense to someone reading this with a recent D-Day. Alive? I feel run over by a Mack truck. I feel nauseous. I feel numb.

Hear me out — yes, you will in time feel MORE alive, not less. Your senses are heightened, you’re raw with emotion, and in a weird way you are more receptive to the world. There is a certain thrill in letting go. Your world is falling apart and you just fall with it. You look at everything in new ways. That sad song you heard on the radio a thousand times now takes on such import and significance. You relate to the pathos. You sing along and it feels so fucking meaningful.

This stage doesn’t last forever because we can’t go through life like an exposed nerve, but while you’re there you’ll find yourself incredibly receptive to new things. For you, that’s pink hair. For me it was welding. Embracing new things means you’re healing. Shaking yourself out of that old identity and into a new one, requires some experimentation.

Some people buy new bed linens and stop there. Other people dye their hair pink. I learned how to use a plasma cutter.

A little riff on welding — it’s like a glue gun that can kill you. Oh, I’ll just stick this piece of steel to this piece and look — it’s a flower! (See picture above — I made that!) But you ground it wrong and the current goes through you, not the metal. I did that and burned a hole through my hand. The fleshy part between my thumb and index finger had a neat, cauterized hole! WOW! Did I ever feel alive after THAT!

Sane, cautious Tracy would probably never take up welding. Heartbroken WTF Tracy did.

Old you probably would not have attempted pink highlights. New you wants to shake it up a bit and see yourself in new ways. Good for you! Rock that pink hair at your son’s graduation and enjoy your new life!

(And please tell me that even with cancer this guy is your ex. Last I heard radiation doesn’t cure cheating. Somehow I’m doubting his 30 year younger OW is sticking around for the chemo appointments…)

This column ran previously. Feel free to comment. I’m curious to know about your “chump makeovers”! 

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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.
  • It’s that feeling of “I can do anything I damned well please, now!” after the divorce. It took me a while to get there (not having to ask either permission or opinion), but once I did…

    While dating the exhole, I had a head full of brilliant blue hair and a lip and a nose ring. Once married, all of that apparently had to go. Had to dress girly and get my hair and nails done as often as necessary. Married, I became the kept woman and hated it.

    Once I divorced him, the blue dye came back and I had my lip repierced. (eventually took the lip ring out as it was placed wrong and was scratching my teeth).

    It’s that feeling of freedom. Knowing that there’s no one else’s feelings, opinions, or image that you have to take into consideration. (And, it’s only hair. It can be changed in an afternoon if you change your mind.)

    Rock that pink hair.

    • Yep! “I can do whatever I damn well please,” or in Tracy’s case “I can do whatever I damn WELD please.” So many chumps were probably stifled in a number of other ways.

    • It’s that feeling of “I can do anything I damned well please, now!” after the divorce. It took me a while to get there (not having to ask either permission or opinion), but once I did… It’s that feeling of freedom. Knowing that there’s no one else’s feelings, opinions, or image that you have to take into consideration. (And, it’s only hair. It can be changed in an afternoon if you change your mind.)

      ^^^^^^ THIS!!! ^^^^^^^

      Yes, exactly!!! I have felt so much better since he moved out!!! I can finally breathe again in my own home (among other things) and not have to worry about him at all!!!!

  • Well that’s what the cheaters say about their AP: “He/She makes me feel so alive…” So I guess it’s only fair we get our share of the frisson. And we get to be returned to ourselves whilst they spontaneously combust.

  • Hi Pauline.

    I remember floundering for a while after Pumpkin Eater told me he was leaving. What? I just had our third child! And I’ve got two other pre-schoolers! What?

    My legs kicked into gear almost immediately. My head took a while longer before it caught up… but when it did, I got organised. I got angry and freakin’ organised.

    In amongst the broken sleep (three kids under five…) and his many “gym” (affair) commitments, I got the house we’d bought only a year before up for sale again. I got my claim on the finances (well over 70%) sorted out fast so that he wouldn’t argue with me, knowing he’d been caught out lying and was still feeling guilty. I got the parenting schedule sorted out to give the kids enough access to their father but also prohibit him being able to make any financial claims of me… and to allow me at least three sleep-ins per month! I did change my hair and wardrobe a little, but only slightly. Afterall, I was previously still a SAHM and breastfeeding my littlest one when he decided that I “did not meet his needs.” I lost a fair whack of weight rapidly through the stress, and needed to go shopping …. (one of several post-split benefits).

    So, my physical self did not change in the sense that I completely changed my look, but the freedom I felt and still feel nearly two years on is quite euphoric. I’m free of this fucker and although by many people’s standards I’m not very well off financially, I’m extremely well-off emotionally.

    • ChocLemonGelato,

      Fuck. I’m impressed. And inspired. I have just one little one left at home. And feeling very sorry for myself lately, thank you for the boost.

      • +1 i am exhausted with one 10 month old (ex ran off while i was preggers), cant imagine 3! wow our exes are such fuckers running out on little kids… good they are gone.

        • Junglechump–I’m sorry you are suffering from having married a crapweasel (like the rest of us); not easy in and of itself, and made harder when young children are involved.

          Is X still in contact? Easiest thing may be if he stays out of the picture; go to the forums to hear tales of people trying to coparent with cheaters. Not fun.

          I hope you’re out of the jungle on the worst of the pain.

            • I am still thinking of a good one. The final OW, a sociopath, is a yoga instructor (she is soooo spiritual LOL getting involved with married dude with pregnant wife), I call her “Yoga Bitch B” (her name starts with a B).

              He could be “The Idiot”

          • Tempest, there are 6000 miles between STBX and me and daughter (whom he has never met)… I am trying to find time to write CL (but hard managing everything alone!), because I had to leave my entire life behind… which was in the rainforest… (with spoiled rich STBX) I was so happy there… it’s one bizar story, and I am desperate for advise… I miss my life there (minus ex), but unpredictable selfpitty raging ex scares me.

  • I’d say its finally the feeling of ‘I don’t give a crap what others think of me anymore’ when you do stuff like that.

    Its funny how a lot of chump makeovers involve unusual hair colours though – so did mine (purple!)
    People speak of losing weight – I actually gained it, but thats because of surpassing my athletic prime from years earlier, after jettisoning a cheater. 😛

  • I’m not quite there yet but take courage with Chumpladys blog and everyone’s response to posts. If you can all do it….so can I. Still sitting on my hands to remain NC and refrain from having a weak moment then texting. Get through my weak moments coming here and joining you all…reading everyone else’s similar story. Same record, different tune!! Pink Pauline, enjoy!! Hopefully I’m right there behind you soon xxx

    • Jedi hugs Betsy! If you more help with NC ther are plenty of chumps on the forums, the link up top. It will get easier

  • I think when you are drinking pain and grief from a fire hose it’s hard to start any process other than grieving. It’s all too much. So, when you take a small step with profound meaning, like an easy appearance change, you can actually digest it.

    Hair dye is, what, $50-150, and takes a couple of hours. Pretty easy to swallow compared to many things. But the fact that you can again own your own body and appearance without worrying about what some cheating douchebag thinks is highly empowering.

    Little stuff can be big stuff (like a mosquito in a tent). 🙂

    • For me, it has been running away to the beach for hours and hours, nobody to check in with, nobody to take care of, just me and my fabulous tan, haha.

      Can’t wait to read about all the other silver linings chumps have earned!

  • THE asswipe said he needed something different. Asshole. His life is not better than before. Cheaters using different for an excuse is no excuse but maybe for us chumps different is great. I went a different hair color and lost 60 pounds. I think differently now. Rock on pink hair!!!

        • I moved to the beach. Got a place right on the sand. Cheater ex is renting a house on the block where we used to own a house in suburbia.. I suspect BF/AP lives with her but I really don’t know since I am NC and left my old life behind. I love the beach, probably would have moved here a long time ago. My life has changed in so many ways, mostly positive. Hers is the same I think, just with a new bf appliance.

          • My folks just bought a beach house and their Christmas gift to my siblings and I was a key so we can come use it whenever it’s not rented out. Its a 4 hour drive for me. Once the show I’m in is done (we open next weekend) I anticipate LOTS of weekends at the beach!

  • Polka Dot rugs. I bought two to redecorate the downstairs–large polka dots in multi-colors, tasteful yet whimsical. New bold art prints on the wall. And plants everywhere.MY house, not our house anymore. (I considered purple hair, but my 14 yo would have been mortified.)

      • Someone once asked me if I’d raided Cyndy Lauper’s closet, so the purple hair would have completed the look. sigh…

      • I love me some Henry Rollins! So, umm, yeah, guess I qualify.

        “Don’t do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts.”

        • AllOutofKibble,

          I watched Henry Rollins’s “Liar” video again today. Could someone so mighty as Rollins be a recovered Chump?

    • Mine was a cheap MF when it came to money or attention in the end. So, I tossed tons of stuff, mostly old traditional crap he had and now replacing it with contemporary-asian mix…..I love it! My mortgage, MY house!!!

  • Pink hair…hummm 😀 I might try that!!! Love it!

    I sold all my heavy antiques and bought new and used furniture that I shabby chiced with paint!!! 😀 (satan’s head would explode!) I built myself a work bench WITH casters – so I can work on the back deck! – and painted it white pink!!! Then I went and bought myself some power tools!!! DUDE! I can fix / make anything!!! 🙂

    • Fashion and furnishings. I’m in heaven.

      I’ve found that everything in my life is tainted by her taint. I’ve been getting new music, new TV shows, new vocabulary. Anything to get that stench of cheater off me.

      • Unfortunately, getting the stench of a cheater off you can be as painful as that scene in Silkwood where Meryl Streep gets scrubbed to remove the top few layers of skin. But it’s better afterwards.

        • Tempest, you nailed it. Once I discovered that Mr. Sparkles liked to get it on with other Women, Couples, Groups, and Trannies, I couldn’t tolerate the idea of his touching me… without thinking of that scene from Silkwood. He disgusted me that much… and still I stayed… sexless and sad and angry.

          Never again.

          • Dday, when fucktard finally admitted his affair, I ran into the bedroom, ripped the sheets off the bed and tossed them into the garbage…..didnt want his stink in MY bedroom! He sat there and cried! BOOOOHOOOO! Then proceded to grab his personal crap and toss it into Hefty bags and tossed them into the garage! Boohoo on THAT MF!

  • Yeah I went from an overweight unhealthy 208 pounds down into the 130’s. The first 53 lbs. I’d actually lost while doing the Pick Me dance that I didn’t even realize at the time I was doing. He left, I lost a few more in my grief. My doctor is pretty happy about my having a healthier body, and I can take more risks with what I wear now.
    I’m No Contact with the ex but did see his new picture on his business website recently. He is definitely not on the divorce diet. Kinda makes me smile since he got so concerned about his physique before leaving (shoulda been a clue!!).

  • At the age of 50+ I took up ice hockey. I could barely skate then but needed an outlet. Now three years later I’m still at it and loving it.

    • This is awesome. Seriously. I would do it in a heartbeat if I didn’t have my wrist pinned together with plates and screws.

    • Took up softball at age 63.5. Did a fitness contest and won 3rd place. Changed up my fashion style. Really embraced living alone. I think what my life is about most right now is figuring out who I am, how I want to live, and how I want to spend my precious time here on the planet.

  • Bought a motorcycle. Next, shaving head since there’s not much hair left anyway. Quit taking crap off of others and standing up for myself and my beliefs. A forced mid-life crisis!

      • I’ve wanted to have one since Ive been about 10. Now I live in a community where owning one would actually work, as the roads are fine and there are a lot of secondary roads. Motorcycles have a bit of XH’s tinge to them, though. The first year of his affair, he decided to take the Rider’s Edge and bought himself a helmet. Schmoopie was all over that, and went with him to look at motorcycles.

        He never bought one. The Rider’s Edge people explained that it’s silly for beginners to buy expensive bikes. Instead, buy a beater bike to learn with, ride it for a year or so, and trade it in for something nicer. This made sense to me, but since the end goal (the nicer motorcycle) involved planning and effort, XH never did anything with his riding.

        He still has the helmet, though!

        • A motorcycle wasn’t even on my radar until the marriage blew up. I rode dirt bikes as a kid but had never considered riding on the road. I was the responsible one. Working, paying the bills and taking care of the house. I didn’t really have time. Something just clicked a couple of months into the separation. I wanted one. It does help my kids are 16 and 18. I’ve set things up so they are taken care of should something happen to me. Let me tell you, it’s more fun than I imagined! You guys need to head to north texas. It’s 77 today and supposed to be low 70’s tomorrow. It’s killing me sitting here at work today.

          • I wondered if you were in north texas or just lostntexas. Big difference as you know. Next week is gonna be great too

              • Yep I’m in. I’m more north than Dallas but i can drive. Would love to have some support in all of this.

              • I will put a notice today on the forums in Private: General. Another Dallas chump and I already get together. We usually talk so long they have to kick us out of the restaurant! I’d love to meet more new friends.

  • I felt like shaving all my hair off, Britney Spears style. My career wouldn’t really allow that, so I’m glad I didn’t actually do that, in hindsight. But it did sound appealing for awhile.

  • I’m a hair dresser. I have shaved the heads of cancer patients…. Taking control over something you have no control over. It’s FU hair. It’s something as swipe would never approve of. I got my nose pierced. It was adorable. Some of my friends gave me.a side look…..but it was cute… my kids loved it.
    I lost 50 pounds…I’m a brunette…his whore is a brunette, I got hi lights…then I got more…and more…now I am blond. I got a small gap in my front teeth fixed because I hated it and he made fun of it.
    I don’t look anything like I did when he screwed his whore. She is manly…plain….and not attractive. But she is young….moldable.
    I am older…wiser….and hot….I get told all the time. Even deputies in our courtroom have said hooks old and angry and I am hot as F…..
    Yes….why yes I am

    • TRACY!!! Get it GIRL!!!!

      I wore my bad ass cowgirl boots with my ‘divorce suit’ and strutted myself to my seat in the final divorce battle. I was the last one called and had to walk in front of already seated satan…ugh…the Judge said to me, ‘Young lady come right on in and have a seat.’ …he was grinning at me. I took my time and never even glanced at satan…I heard him gasp as I went by. YEAH evil one! There ya go! 🙂

      satan sat there on his hands, rockin back and forth sayin, ‘Whatever she wants, whatever she wants.’

      SCORE 😀

      Rock on Chumps!!!!

    • FU hair- exactly. It’s the —- I need to control something and I need to change my world and people’s view of me without having to tell them what’s going on, I just want them to go … Oh. She fucking matters.

      I am currently at the tail end of a litre of blue shampoo, to keep my white blond hair non brassy. When it’s gone, so is the white blonde. I’m thinking ginger….

  • Pushing myself into the world of Indie Filmmaking. I’m not a filmmaker or a “creative”. There was a need for analytical help and an interest in this industry. Result- a whole new world of relevant contacts from local officials to some known artists. Now I’m looking for PAID employment.

    I don’t know if having a punk and funk loving past is an allure for cheaters seeking a thrill OR that they honed into us because we possess a sense of fierce independence. Which happened to be what they sucked out of us to make them feel SoAlive! before we were tossed out.

    Anyhow…I’m also returning to my roots, but without the bright orange hair. Having WHITE hair is the trend and part of what I’m taking away from years of toxic, emotional abuse, although it’s slowly coming back in with my natural color!

  • Curious. Has anyone else gone through this “Alive” stage during the divorce process only to come crashing down to the ground? For a couple of months, I was flying high, working out and getting in shape, feeling confident and beautiful every day. I soaked up all the comments about how I was glowing and looked bubbly and happy. I never realized I looked like such a dishrag during the brief 3 years of our marriage. Like a stereotypical narc, he was Mr. Charming and adoring for 10 years, and then the instant we got married, he neglected and gas lighted me to the point I thought I really was crazy and I was so busy doing the pick me dance that I just stopped living for anything else. Back to my original point, I was doing so well for a while, even through the holidays. Shortly after the holidays, my grandmother passed away and I’ve been at ground level for a month and giving him all of my head space again. Has this happened to anyone else? Will the Alive feeling come back? I’ve been NC since November and have no wish to change that and we’re still early on in our divorce process. I’d like to know there is still light at the end of this tunnel.

    • Chump Bear, I think the ups and downs are normal after narc abuse. I know I went through them. You are also dealing with the death of your loved one, so, yes, I think it is normal.

      There is an end to all the agony, NC and healing outside of the toxic nonsense your x provided for you will do the trick! There IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Soon you will be standing in that light and your world will be bright with it!

      HUGS!!!!!

      • Jeep, ive had up and downs for over two years. Many of them but im thinking with time it will get better. Emotionally and mentally im way better off. I think once ive moved far away i will feel much better but ive already prepared myself its gonna hurt for a good long while yet. I still cry alot but it makes me feel better.

        • Kar marie I wish I could just hug you!!!

          Tears actually release toxins from our bodies and relieve stress, so crying is healthy and good! I remember thinking there is just no way I could have anymore tears left to shed cause I just cried all the time for about 2 years, but, yep, there they were again! Running down my cheeks and just never ending.

          I do think you are right about moving…it helped me enormously to move out of our ‘marital’ home – aka MY PRISON. I can’t wait until you are able to move! I wish I could be there to help you pack! It was very therapeutic for me – the packing and tossing and selling stuff. It took my mind off all the hurt and confusion. I hardly cry at all now, and if I do, it isn’t about satan.

          I gave myself a present once here in my new home 🙂 … I had a box of stuff satan had given me over the years…I poured myself a glass of wine and went out to my new backyard, lit a nice little fire in my new fire pit and fed all the (lies) crap he’d given me to that little fire 😀 As that little fire grew and began to roar I felt myself letting go of all the toxic crap he’d instilled in my head and heart. 😀

          …the fire got so big my neighbor came over 😀 It alarmed him. Hehehe! I made a new friend!

          • I’m moving soon! Out of the house of horrors and the awful memories of the narc abuse that happened behind those doors. It’s my hope that once I move, I’ll start back on recovery. I still haven’t trashed the more sentimental things because it makes me feel like having an anxiety attack at trashing 13 years of my life. But I also don’t want to take that stuff with me ?

            • Take it Chump Bear and have yourself a CEREMONY OF FREEDOM 🙂 Oh it’s flippin LIBERATING! Burn it and let me know when! I’ll have a glass of wine and lift a HALLELUJAH to the universe in your honor!!! We all will!!!! 😀 Oh HAPPY DAY!!!! HUGS TO YOU!

              • Jeep, I have also found that letting the tears free fall when I need them to helps but I just hate giving him more of my emotions. After DDay 1, I was so desperate and ashamed and I reached out to someone that was a casual friend but who had gone through being chumped by her husband years before. She told me that she had cried for so long that the salt from her tears actually changed the color of the skin on her neck. It’s been almost a year and a half of grief and crying that each time I cry, I always wonder if this going to be the time that my neck changes color.

              • Chump Bear, I cried for a couple years too…all that crying and the ‘divorce diet’ losing 57 pounds (I’ve never been big to begin with – so Skeletor would have been an appropriate nick name :/ ) earned me dark circles and under eye bags I coulda packed for a month long trip in 🙁 So, yeah, I understand your concern. I think the crying and ‘whatever it looks like to each of us’ self soothing is a necessary part of healing from what will probably be the most devastating event in our lives. God Knows we need to get it right the first time and grow beyond it. So…whatever it takes – within healthy guidelines – to learn and heal and grow!

                I have found that coconut oil used as beauty products – body, hands, face moisturizer, hair / scalp moisturizer can just work wonders! Cooking with it has added bonuses like lower blood pressure and cholesterol. And it is relatively cheap. Just make sure you get the organic, virgin, cold pressed variety.

                We got this chumps 😀

          • Jeep i could use that hug. Asswipe is doing what he always does dragging his ass. Hes got his new whore, i want to be gone, she wants me gone but he still drags his ass. Wtf! Why the hell wont he get it over and done with already. Im ready packed for two months. Mother effer!!!! Why wont some of them just let it go? I hope we can meet sometime jeep.

            • satan did the same thing Kar marie. Assholes! he kept telling the court that I wanted to reconcile! WHA!!!! Draggin me through continuances and contempt hearings, ugh the MONEY wasted!

              I think they do it cause divorce isn’t really what they wanted at all…they just wanted us to SHUT UP AND TAKE IT! Adult decisions = adult consequences. They made their proverbial beds, they just didn’t expect to ACTUALLY have to sleep in them!

              Lets make a plan to meet Kar marie!!!! XXXXOOOO

              • We’re just gonna have to start at the top of the world and gather each other up on our way to Tempest’s Chump Fest in Texas!

                It would be so great to be all together! WEARIN OUR BAD ASS BOOTS and kickin little cake eater’s asses!!!

                …that sounds like a really good plan!!!! CHUMP NATION IS LEGION!!!

    • YES, YES !!! I have followed that exact pattern ! And so has my best male friend who lives on the other side of the country.
      After the breakup, last summer, I went out several times a week and every weekend, met a lot of new people, bought new clothes (I had hardly bought anything during a decade), discovered that men liked me. When autumn/winter came, I became sluggish, Ex was visiting every weekend for a couple of hours, I found it too embarassing to juggle between him and the new guy, and I had to buy Ex’s share of the house, and then start renovating, so I stopped all activities, including encouters with the new guy. We’re mid February, Ex has stopped coming, I am slowly starting to emerge again.
      As for my friend, when his divorce started, he “fell in love” with a woman, he wrote long extatic letters to me about her, let me tell you how exaggerated it felt, as if he was on drugs ! Two months later, he fell flat, and now he lives as a hermit because the divorce is difficult and not over yet.

      It seems the pattern exists and is fairly common. I can’t explain it. Maybe it has to do with survival. A long time ago, a then-boyfriend abandoned me in Brazil, althought it was his fault if my passport had been stolen. I found myself completely alone in a foreign country with no ID and merely his credit card and code (I negotiated hard for that one, he was going to leave me with nothing !). I felt… exhilarated ! Never felt so much joy and freedom in my life ! Go figure… (And by the way, I did make friends and have a fantastic time against all odds).
      Yup, it must be a brain thing aiming at survival. Boy, do I have to fix my picker…

    • Hi Chump Bear- yes I do know how this goes. My D-Day was in 2013 and I was ( eventually ) able to get my self together, move far, far away and feel victorious. But I then had frail, elderly parents to deal with and my mother died in 2014, my dad end of last year. The loss/grieving took me back to the horrible end of the marriage and although I’m divorced, XH has as they say, been ‘living rent free in my head’ again.

      As Tracy says, we can’t experience that vibrant alive feeling all the time. But it’s also accepted that new griefs unlock older ones so it’s understandable that after losing your grandmother you would be grieving and feeling vulnerable. I’ve gone for some bereavement counselling to help me untangle my losses. It’s already helping and I’m beginning to get a new improved Mikky back. Hope this helps.

    • Yes, Chump Bear. I think most of us have. It’s a process. I little bit of an emotional roller coaster ride. The good news is you will be up again and the ride does end.

      Read CL as often as you can to refuel. CN keeps you honest with yourself. You will reach meh and that is when your feet are on the ground and the ride has ended.

      There are no short cuts to meh, but I promise you will get there.

      • Calamity I like that. No short cuts to meh. It would be great if there were, but there’s not. Our cheaters love short cuts don’t they? A quick way avoid all the messy, all the scary all the hard work. No short cuts to meh

    • I find it is an up and down process. I’m great, then Narkles does something to try to get my attention. I feel shitty. I hold fast to no contact no matter how much I want to scream at him about what he has done to our child or said to our child about me. A bit later I feel better. I refer to his actions as “re-offending” since that is what he is trying to do, hurt me again. Every time he reoffends it hurts, but every time he reoffends it hurts for less time. I make my notes in case we ever go back to court and then I get over it faster and faster each time. Hopefully you will find it easier to move forward each time you hit a bump until you are flying high in the sky turbulence free!

    • I am right there with you…Did well for a couple of years, had a really great girlfriend (but 3 hrs distance and 3 kids under 10 between us became too exhausting)…I was doing great!…but as I still have contact due to the young ones I found myself backsliding a bit…Not to the point that I would ever consider entering any type of relationship with her, but that she wins in the end with her wealthy new man (one of her 3 APs I know of) and I have felt the pain and loneliness comeback!

  • My own theory…

    Perhaps we became so enmeshed with our cheaters during the marriage, having been with them for many years (in many cases), that we lose our sense of individuality. We may have worn clothes that THEY liked, even though we would NEVER pick them out for our “single” selves.

    It’s almost like going through adolescence all over again, trying to “find” ourselves.

    • Dear Gypsy,
      I’m with you! Over the course of my marriage I went from being a confident division director who wore skirts and heels every day to work to an invisible work from home mole in yoga pants who was spending three hours and three hundred dollars a week of my own time and money food shopping. I was making mindblowing meals from scratch in addition to my full time job every night and baking professional quality treats every weekend. Cooking, cleaning, laundry while ex mostly was sedentary and screen addicted. He literally spent 90% of his waking hours on his smartphone or computer.

      I was chasing, chasing the early lovebombing days, when I could do no wrong. If I look back to the day that sealed my fate (it could have been any day, it could have been anything) it was when a water pipe below our den broke. The subfloor was wet and soggy anyway, so we turned off the water and accessed it from above. He was flummoxed. I could tell he would have rather called a plumber. I dashed out to the hardware store, asked for help and was back in half an hour with a pipecutter tool and connectors. I cut out the cracked pipe and replaced it, patched and fitted the subfloor, and relaid the carpet after everything was dry.

      He never discussed it with me until after D-Day, but my being “too good at too many things” was a threat to him, and I was “trying to be the man.” All five feet and 165 lbs of me was suddenly emasculating his immobile 6 foot 315 lb self. This one thing, and after that I could do no right. Arbitary. Like a fucking lightbulb burning out.

      Now I say, fuck him. I’ve repaired two more leaks and repaired two more rooms after that. Grownups fix things. They quibble and works thisngs out. they communicate.

      But then I exhausted myself trying to get his attention and please him and defer to him. I was disappearing. It wasn’t just the meeting his needs. It was anticipating his whims, preparing a paranoid contingency flow chart of all his possible negative reactions to my presence. He began to isolate me, badmouthing my friends and being jealous of travel and business meals. I mean, how fucked up is that? I cook for you equal to any restaurant but you are jealous that I have to take clients out?

      I had always dressed with style, now there was no time. I gained weight. I had a bare bones haircut and colored my hair at home. I started to have anxiety attacks at work events and withdraw from opportunities to make new friends and work acquaintances, for fear that I would be disloyal. My wardrobe, which was always mixed vintage and new, became 100% Goodwill.

      In the several years of our relationship, my ex was completely dependent on my friends and family for social interaction, by his CHOICE! When his one work friend would invite him to do things on weekends, he would make fun of him behind his back and never go.

      After the discard started, he started friending up a bunch of female coworkers on Facebook, and wanted me to be excited he was “reaching out.” Okay…..then he started unfriending my friends and family. All Right?

      He really wanted all his interactions with me to say, “Unless you not only do as I like, but guess correctly what I want without any discussion, you will be erased.”

      At this point, I feel nothing but relief that he has never hoovered. It hurt my daughter deeply to be abandoned abruptly, but all I can do is teach her that he has done the same thing to four different families now and the problem is him, not us. he is a lazy motherfucker who would rather reinvent himself to a new victim than take one iota of self inventory or responsibility.

      I’ve nearly completely reset the meter on my life at this point. I’m back to wearing a mix of dressy and schlumpy clothes. Enjoying myself. Waking up on days my daughter is not here obligated only to the pets. Eating cheese and crackers for dinner if we feel like it.

      I think making these changes feels good because it’s a reclamation of self. Risks like new skills feel good because you’ve lived through a Top 5 Life Tragedy, and nothing much else can touch you. New potential romances that don’t pan out feel like a job well done by the Hogwarts Sorting Hat!

      I don’t think I can have pink hair for my job, but this ash platinum I’m rocking fits the bill. Thanks for hitting a happy nerve, Gypsy!

      • Luziana, tales of your emotionally abusive husband have always turned my stomach. Your vibrancy, charm, and just completely adorable self paired with that dolt sadden me. I feel that narcissists are in many ways psychic vampires, and they pair themselves with amazing people so they can feed off of them. I’ve always felt that way reading your stories, and am so glad you endured the transition of leaving him to reclaim yourself.

        I know there are always scars, but from my perspective on this site, your journey of reclaiming your fiesty, beautiful, and wonderful self is well on its way.

      • “It wasn’t just the meeting his needs. It was anticipating his whims, preparing a paranoid contingency flow chart of all his possible negative reactions to my presence. ”

        I’m so flummoxed, I’m in the same damn place. I am constantly trying to avoid saying the wrong thing to make it a mess. Once he has a job I can leave but currently everything makes him crazy. Last week I got shit for getting him a Valentine’s card- because I have previously not gotten him cards when we agreed no presents, and I got “you couldn’t even get me a card?” So this time I got one, thinking I would play it safe so that the next month (please God let it be less than a month) might be a bit easier…. Nope. Always wrong. Always off balance. If I didn’t know exactly what was going on, I would be completely mental by now. Good thing I know he’s a tramp slurping freak. T minus get a job and I can kick him out of here.

        • creativerational,

          Such awful mindfuckery you have to endure. My thoughts are with you. He sucks. Hope you make it out soon.

          • Thanks! When it’s done, you’ll know because I will race up and down every chump lady post and scream it from the comments (ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lOtS of !!!!!!!!!!)

            • CR-
              It’s so classic- you have to wait for him to get a job to live. Bet in his mind that’s your fault too. My ex always has had a job- barely. He would get mediocre reviews and spend the next 6 months ranting about how his supervisor just didn’t understand his greatness. Classic covert narc.

              You typed the words emotional abuse and I read them and flinched. Do you know for the longest time I thought everything was my fault too? But one thing I DID do in the hellish 3 weeks between D-Day and GTFO day was that I full stopped caring for his needs. I sorted his laundry and left it. I ate out alone, cooked for one, or made a batch of something delicious and did not invite him to have any. I recall making maybe the best pot of White Chili I had ever done, and he made himself a bowl and had the nerve to call me Darling and tell me it was delicious. I looked at him like the crazy person he is and said, “i’m not your Darling. Your darling is across town in her ghetto apartment. Go eat her food and sleep on her furniture.”

              I begged him to stay and go to MC for about a week, then gave up. I didn’t sleep at all for 17 days. He was doing bizarre things like asking me for advice how to stop his first wife from taking full custody of their daughter in his “situation”. “Seems you’re fucked,” I said, and waved him off. He asked me to help him look for an apartment. NO. I said.

              This was all bewildering to him. “If I loved him so much, I would want him to be happy, Even if not with me.”
              The sense of entitlement was in full show, and Jake From State Farm was lapping up the Me as Maleficent scenario by the jugload!

              He still tells people to this day that he strayed because I was not affectionate. I didn’t cut him off till after D-Day. It’s the most textbook case of projection I’ve ever seen.

              His ex contacted me after he left because SD was miserable and we compared notes. Enlightening. She asked for the celphone records to pursue full custody. Certainly, I said. No man who is spending 90% of his waking hours texting and screaming at his kid for being forgetful and undisciplined should have 50/50 custody,

              I’s suggest you also just go Grey Rock. Facts only, pleasant neutral voice. Withdraw all your flowcharts and contingency plans. Leave him to fend for himself. Put away the cake.

              But I was that frog in a pot too. I thought I was a failure and a harridan. I never called it emotional abuse. I wish you comfort and strength.

              • Thank you. I so so so so so needed that pep talk. Today you are my feisty little blonde bombshell spirit animal showing me the way.

                Dummy has a job, he is just incredibly capable of getting a better one and can take me for a ride if I go before that happens. So it’s a waiting shell game, but this definitely filled up my gumption gas tank.

                He sucks he sucks he sucks

              • Luziana and creativerational – I read and re-read your comments, OMG, I could have written so many similar episodes from my story with X.

                Discovering his affair was the “coup de grace” that forced me to realize that my marriage had been dead for longer than I will ever know. He decided to open up our marriage without my consent nor knowledge, and there I was, married to a cheating, lying coward, having sacrificed my career and isolated myself to accommodate his asocial tendencies. And over a decade of having to be in contact with him because of our kiddo.

                The discard and divorce proceedings were excruciating, but thanks to CN, I hung on and the divorce was finalized a few weeks ago. I’m a year and a half past Dday, and yeah, I have experienced many surprising ups and down in my energy levels, and also many back and forth on how much mental real estate is centered around him. With time, the triggers are becoming less and less extreme.

                I did not change much since I moved out. To me, not changing meant I was comfortable with whom I was. I still wear the same understated clothes and low heels. I used to have shorter hair, but I’m letting it grow as a daily reminder that time passes and the longer it gets the farther I am from that sucky chapter in my life.

                I did do one thing that most people in my life would be floored by. A tattoo I got on my stomach as my Xmas present post-Dday. Four colors, 6 hours of work from a master tattoo artist that gives me a daily reminder that I won’t let my past contaminate my present nor define my future.

      • Luz- my Fat Bastard was threatened by my ability to handle things too. I got the -Why can’t you act more like a woman? Its like you think you have a dick. I’M the man, not you! He’s southern, country, red neck and misogynistic as all hell. And completely useless around the house. And in the bedroom.

        • gepster,

          Not all southern dudes are country, red-neck, and misogynistic. But most are.

          Sorry you got stuck with Fat Bastard.He truly, truly sucks. I’m gonna send a little hate his way.

          Break a leg this weekend.

          • Guys and Gals- I am so glad we have CL to compare notes and rise above,

            Gep- You know I think our exes were bicontinental twins- weren’t you also already on your own with your son for years before he came along? God forbid if in those years you learned how to care for a home and be self sufficient. You should have been hopping from bed to bed, waiting for rescue.

            God knows that’s what Cold Slab O’Meat has done- line up new victims for his Manwhore Freakshow!

      • Making me feel like i was nothing in his life is one thing but to mostly abandon his family and his children for that whore and her family blows my mind. Only her family counts only her family is perfect and flawless and his old family messed up. Abandon me ok. But his kids a special kind of fucked up is what he is. Bastard.

  • I had been working toward cutting my hair shorter and shorter over the years… my ex told me that “only lesbians have short hair.” My hair is super short now, and I love it. It’s far more flattering on me than the long, dull hair my ex used to love. I’m not really a hair dying type of gal, but I do continue to paint my nails in fun colors (they’re a muted, robin’s egg blue today), which was another thing my ex hated; poor baby couldn’t stand the smell when I did my nails. This site really helps me remember how annoying he was!

  • For me it was opening up and blogging, at first it was just free therapy but then it turned into a hobby, now its damn near an addiction but it is so liberty. Another great benefit post D-Day and shock was my divorce diet I unwillingly accepted (not eating, don’t recommend) but the mega shitload of weight I loss and back to my high school weight made me feel fabulous once I was back on my feet again.

    • Same here, Gary. That infidelity diet made me able to fit back in my high school/college clothes. Win-win; lose a cheater and some extra pounds in one fell swoop.

  • I decided to go back to school and get my masters. I had this dream at 17 but gave it up as being a counselor and mom the hours are hard to work out. I never had support for me only supported him. At age 55 not being in school for 35 years it made me feel alive. I was terrified, but sure felt alive. I had a hunger and thirst to learn like I had never felt before. I just couldn’t understand how someone decides 34 years of marriage doesn’t matter, someone 24 years younger mattered more than his family and children. I learned all I could and now in private practice and standing on my own. Nothings is better than seeing someone stand after being dumped and if that is pink hair, school, welding, or a single mom with three small children finding her way. I love every story here and that aliveness today makes me proud to be a chump and for being alive.

    Chump Bear there is a numb stage too. Take one foot in front of the other when numb, at least you are walking forward.

  • I took it one step further.

    Good old Minister’s wife went back to school to get her stylist’s licence!

    In this province with an apprenticeship it takes 3 year from start to finish.

    Long enough to get to Meh.

    Changed my hair and look completely.
    This new version is kick ass.

    For many of us it is the first time we are able to do something completely for ourselves without worrying about what our spouse will think or say.

  • The trauma of it all resulted in me developing alopecia in that in a matter of a weekend a few months later I lost 60% of my hair and slowly but surely my eyebrows. Grabbed Mom and Sister and ran to wig shop… they gave me wigs that looked so much like my hair was.. color.. style and all. Was thin and blonde, shoulder length.. NOPE. I put on a long thick DARK wig and walked next store and had lunch. I did not look like me at all. And you know what, it is me now. Oh.. did I want that blue wig.. boy did I fight that off. This change you would not recognize me even to know me.. the proceeding days were interesting to say the least. Now, talk about liberating.

  • I lost 35 pounds, started wearing my nose ring again, and bought new clothes. I have greatly enhanced my already awesome relationships with my amazing family. But, the best part is that I don’t have to deal with his manipulative and xenophobic zealot parents. He wanted a new life, I got a better one.

    • Chumpasaurus Rex, Love it… He wanted a new life, I got a better one. As hard and painful as this all it that statement right there is really the truth. 35 pounds.. that will put a little wiggle in it I am sure 🙂

  • I sold my engagement ring and took my 10yo son to Hawaii – first class all the way… surfing lessons, polynesian magic show, climbing Diamond Head crater and tracking down Food Network eateries!

    I signed up for motorcycle riding lessons and completed my license in December – just waiting for the snow to melt so I can get out and ride!

    I started sleeping through the night.

    I look forward to going home at the end of the day… and don’t need two glasses of wine to “get through it.”

    I have to travel internationally for work sometimes, so now if it overlaps with Mr.Sparkles weekend with our son, I explore… Stockholm… Prague… London/Stonehenge.

    I read.

    I count my blessings and thank God for redeeming my soul.

  • I’ve carried this quote around in my wallet for almost 2 years now. It’s from Shirley Glass, in ‘Not “Just Friends'”.

    “Life may appear to favor the deceitful partner, but in my experience the abandoned partner often ends up with a better life than before.”

    Glad to hear reports from CN that it’s true. It’s certainly true in my life.

    • As I am sure all of you have, I have pondered karma quite a bit after my experience of getting absolutely gas lighted, suckered and traumatized.

      By definition, Blue, that Shirley Glass quote is spot on, and by definition. Our cheaters are operating on self deception, which in the long run teaches them nothing and they are doomed to just be what they are. We were left with the true pain and hard work that creates insight, openness, momentum and wisdom. All the “mighty” stories you read here are the result of that. It is like a law of physics, growth comes from work, inertia comes from lying.

      I am not saying this pain is easy and cannot trivialize whatever shit situation you have been placed in. I know many of you are buried in it right now and might now see the way out, I send you all my sincerest support and empathy. As CL says, it most assuredly will get better.

      By the way, still laughing at CL’s pithy sum up of welding: ” it’s like a glue gun that can kill you”

  • I think the pink hair is just a beginning for you…baby steps. It took me quite a while to get where I am today but I really enjoy the life I’ve created for myself and I’m really proud of myself. I went to Hell and back as they say, but I survived, and I stood up for myself and kicked his ass in court. My soul is intact and I feel more like myself than ever. I now feel comfortable ‘in my skin.” It took a lot of time though and grief. I’m six years out. I think it’s about taking your power back, bit by bit. It’s wonderful when you look back and see just how controlled you were, off-balance and feeling crazy in the marriage and now you have agency again. You get to decide how to spend your money or save it, how you wanna spend your time and who with. I allow myself to relax more often without feeling guilty and I feel like I’m enough, just the way I am.
    I have curly hair and I’ve spent my life straightening it. Now I wear it curly and everyone loves it! When you get out of the grief period…you’ll feel great!

  • Right after D-day I did the extreme “pick me dance” and got my hair cut and colored similar to Kelly Ripa’s because “he” always told me he liked her. After wreckonciliation failed and I left him, I think it was the 2nd day evening in my new place that I ran over to the drug store and bought a boxed color, my natural color, brown and colored it back. My one daughter told me I look better, not washed out and my eye’s pop again, I told her it should look better, it was God’s chosen color for me and he knows what he’s doing! Rock that pink!!!!

  • My recovery was interesting. It took me into a deep hole of grief, and I went through a period of about a year of feeling totally shattered. I have never felt successful at relationships, and this sent me into a tailspin. I blamed myself, not knowing this was a reaction to the manipulation and emotional abuse of a selfish toad asshole.

    Prior to the brief period of living together, I had been a very active, happy, fiesty, political, and independent woman. When I met him, I was at the top of my game working for a non-profit, finishing a superb academic achievement and graduating at the top of my class, and feeling great about myself.

    A year and a half later, when I moved in with him, I became an overweight, mousy, unhappy woman who didn’t care about myself for about three months while I tried to figure out why we were in this horrid pattern.
    Finally, after disentangling myself from his bullshit and moving out, it took me a long time to get my bearings. It was like having your head in a blender.

    Recovery: I have two really cool pairs of boots. One pair of Harley Davidson engineer motorcycle boots. Those are my FUCK OFF BITCH boots. Then there are my midcalf Doc Martens Goth Bitch Boots. Whenever I feel various narcissistic and abusive forces in my life, I do find I go through a period of wearing those boots. Recently, after recovering from shitty jobs/bosses/owners, the Harleys came out of the closet. That’s serious reclaiming.

    I tend to wear them with various forms of fishnets, short skirts, and fun blouses. My wardrobe gets sexier, with more edge. I wear more fun makeup. I lost a lot of weight. I spent a lot of time taking myself out to various restaurants and bars that I always wanted to try when we were together, but never went to. I spent time at my favorite parks. I went to all the yarn shops I wanted to, and countless knitting circles. I made a beautiful afghan to deal with my grief (very relaxing to make an afghan).

    I learned to tend bar, and had a great side gig at an arts and events gallery. I listened to live poets, live music, local playwrights read their works in progress, weird art openings.

    I didn’t have any pink hair (I was left behind the barn door when it comes to hair styling acumen), but I decided to get myself BareMinerals skincare and take a lot of baths.

    I also set up my main altar again once I moved into my new place. I never moved all those materials into the house and stored them in the garage while we lived together. Something in my soul knew our relationship was wrong and I never put that piece of my soul in the house. That was a huge red flag. Something that was so vitally important to me, a symbol of my spiritual practice, growth, and relationship with a large, creative force could not come into that house. Some wise part of me protected that piece of myself, and I am forever grateful.

    I learned to make malas, the buddhist meditation beads. I made myself a beautiful mala and keep it on my altar.

    I have some boxes of books that I never unpacked. What I would like to do is start making great money, and move to a nice small house. Then I am going to unpack my beautiful books and start writing again. I am ready for that stage of healing.

    And, for the record, I’d really, really like to have a wonderful lover again. I miss sex, awesome the world is on fire, and I am on fire with it sex.

    And I want to have a lot more room to dance.

    Love to you, ChumpNation

    • I’m always so encouraged by the stories I read of people like you who have come out on the other side and found a better life. I’m not there yet, but I work at it each day. I’m determined to get there. Posts like yours make me hopeful. You make me get up and find things to do to get moving again when I get stuck and feel hopeless. You force me to think about what I like to do, and take steps forward – even if they’re small.

      • Keep steppin’, JK. My journey was built from many steps forward, some backward, downward, and days of just plumping down on my ass and throwing myself a pity party. Sometimes, it was crawling forward on my hands and knees, sometimes days of crying, or camping by my toilet puking.

        Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. Contributing to CN has helped flesh out a perspective of my journey in the last few weeks. One day, you will also look back over these difficult days and see your journey.

        A tip: if you tend to get lost in your head (I do), try doing physical things, and practicing mindfulness. PTSD takes you on a headtrip that is very far away from the present. Often, my feet are wiser than my head. It cooks up a million stories that are not true and locks me in fear. My feet are pragmatic. They keep walking through everything, and walk me through my fear. I turn on music and dance, until the thoughts go away and the dance takes me into and through the emotion I am resisting. I also walk to music. I tried working out, but my body was holding so much emotion, that I ended up puking. I stick with walking. It is easier for me to sit down and cry. Nature is also a great friend, so I will sit by a tree and cry if I am walking outside.

        • Love you comment, ChefBella – keep those those boots a walkin’.

          I’ve had a strange thing happen to me though.
          The X and I were always big in exercise – he lifted weights, I swam and did both and we did lots of running with dogs together. We spent every afternoon on the beach, where we live, running dogs.
          I have always been extremely active and was on a roll of walking really fast during the DD’days.

          However, NOW? I haven’t been to the beach in 2 yrs!
          (granted, I broke an arm really badly, threw out my back and then broke an ankle)
          I haven’t taken the dogs for a walk in a year.
          I haven’t even strolled anywhere, although I am just fine joint/health wise to get back to it.
          Every place we roamed were on trails, beaches and off-leash parks.
          I can’t seem to even take my girl to the park, which she loves.

          What is wrong with me? The triggers are blanking my mind or something.
          So, I sit. and sit. and sit.
          Just enjoying the peace.

          Dogs are fine, I have a big yard and they run everywhere, but it’s me that’s not getting any exercise. It just seems to trigger a mental pain that seems really stupid and unproductive for me.

          How to I overcome this? Sorry for highjacking this thread.

          • I have no idea. Movement initially caused me a lot of emotional pain. I think the body stores a lot of our unprocessed pain and sometimes, after the bomb drop, its really just too much. I used to sit on my couch inert. During the inert stages, I would do a lot of knitting or crocheting. My afghan was pretty simple in terms of stitches. It let my mind process things while my hands were busy. I tried vigorous exercise, and that’s when I threw up, so I stopped. At that time, my therapist and I decided that was too much for me, so being outside walking was a better option. I also would periodically take a nerf bat to my couch, or beat up my couch, and then fall on the floor crying. It helped a lot with a safe release of the pent up rage and grief.

            • I never seemed to get angry enough to scream or hit nerf balls around.
              Frankly, I wanted the real balls to smash, but, I refrained 😉

              Thanks for your response, it all helps.
              Hey – I’m almost 3 yrs out and I’m still here asking for help.
              Wondering if it ever ends…

              • Chef – once I suspected he was cheating, I could no more knit, watch a movie or read a book. I paced for hours and hours. Hit the internet for anything that could help – I was so desperate like that. Hey – took me 3 yrs to watch a movie again and read a book and it’s nice to have the concentration back. I’m proud of you knitting. I took up smoking again after 10 yrs. doh me – that’s not helping at all!

              • It sounds like you have PTSD, and your brain is not processing things. It has taken me a few years to read with the same focus, as I previously had. If you feel numb and disassociated, that’s an intial stage of PTSD.

                You may want to look into a therapist who specializes in EMDR. I tried some great modalities and EMDR really helps with PTSD. Betrayal is a form of emotional violence. It is traumatic. Trauma arises when we can not control something negative happening to us. If our fight or flight response is stifled, then we “freeze”.

                I’m not qualified to diagnose, but as someone who suffered through this disorder, there are significant improvements in treatment and diagnosis. The field of trauma in psychology is growing. I hope you are able to find healing and peace.

        • Thank you ChefBella. I have struggled at times and, like you, do still get lost in my head. There are just a lot of losses to deal with, both personally and professionally, and it’s easy to get in bad mental habits. I’m working to change that.

          Thank you again for taking the time to respond. I’ll take your advice on exercise and practicing mindfulness – and give my couch a rest:)

    • ChefBella: Awesome and inspiring post. I’ll bet you rock those boots, and the Buddhist beads, and the new set of academic letters after your name! (I got some new bitch boots, too, after my divorce. World-on-fire-sex–yes, ah, yes. Eventually.)

      • Rocked those beads and boots on my birthday trip to Taos, NM! I took my red car and drove through the desert at 75 mph. Driving home through the mountains under a glorious full moon last month, I felt whole, beautiful, and happy. 🙂

        Rocked beads and boots to a first date yesterday. 🙂 It was great, we sat, had coffee for 3.5 hours, then went to a late lunch.

        You’ll get there, serious boot knockin’ is headed your way!! I am sure a woman who chooses the handle “Tempest” is a serious force of nature that will whip up passion when its that “good and ready” time. “Good and ready” hit me a month ago. Look out world!!!!

  • Also, this applies to both men and women, but Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book “Women Who Run With the Wolves” is an excellent book for reclaiming the self. She talks about the “Wild Self”, which is our deepest, creative, spiritual Self. She’s a Jungian, but also a folklorist.

    There is a story in there about “the Red Shoes”, an old fairy tale. I’ve been thinking a lot about that story, and what are my handmade red shoes (metaphoric trope for the authentic life and creative expression).

    • I love this book and listening to her read the ‘Red Shoes’ is fantastic too ( iTunes I think). She gets right to the heart of why we give ourselves away and then how to reclaim our souls.

    • I read “Wolves” too, several years ago — it provides an interesting perspective, especially when you consider the bad reputation wolves have had in literature and public opinion through the ages. I had previously read Never Cry Wolf, which is not about women, but is about how perspective and knowledge can change your mind and how stereotypes are often pervasively and deceptively wrong. I think this type of book helps you open your mind and see yourself as capable of constructing an identity that is vastly different from the one that has been provided for you by your family of origin and controlling forces in your life. You can choose to let your creative spirit run free — and that doesn’t make you dangerous. It makes you believe you can be what you want to be, not what you are expected to be. If you want Pink hair or you wear Red Shoes — that is your choice and why should others feel entitled to comment or control or prohibit?

      In a more religious/spiritual vein, you might want to read Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. She was raised in a very conventional religious manner, and one day she started on a spiritual journey that took her to places she had never imagined possible. I cannot comment on the choices she eventually makes, because I think that is a highly personal area where an individual finds peace and acceptance ( or not) with their own religious beliefs. However, her journey and the resistance she met as she was questioning her place in the universe was very interesting.

      I love books. I think of them as some of my best friends and companions. It is nice to hear from another reader.

      • Thank you for the recommendation! Sue Monk Kidd is an author that has always beckoned me, but never read her work. Its always nice to meet another reader. Books were my best friends growing up too.

  • It’s neat to read what others are doing for themselves. Thanks for all the ideas!

    I haven’t done anything drastic looks-wise, and I won’t be. I’m cruising on the fact I still look the same as when I was in high school, and 40 years later, that ain’t so bad. I’m lucky. I’m going for the damn-near-60 hippie look. I can switch to “understated elegance” if you give me about 2 days’ warning and a blow torch.

    What I do, though, to try to stop crying, is I take off. I’ve got a list of neat coffee shops and farmers markets an hour from my town in every direction, and I’ll bolt — I’m self-employed so my boss lets me 🙂 — and I’ll discover a new little town for the price of some gas in the car and some food.

    I sign up for workshops – mostly music and dance, sometimes out of my comfort zone. I sing in a fantastic choir. I go to open houses. I also changed the rooms around in the house … I moved furniture, or changed the accent colour, or painted, or swapped bedrooms, anything to shake up the bad energy without spending money. I put sea salt and dried sage in little containers in the NE and SW corners of the house to keep out the demons. And every time I walk past a pet in my home, I say something to them or kiss them or acknowledge them quietly if they’re asleep. They remind me why I’m still here, for them and for the rest of my family and the people I help in my line of work.

    I can truthfully say that I am still hardwired to think of him 24/7… mostly because my line of work reminds me of related things, but I can’t give up my job, and also because I’ve known the OW as long as I’ve known him … I can imagine everything about their lives because I’ve lived it with them, right down to the colour of her couch (now his couch). So if I do something fun one day and afterwards I think, “Hey! I didn’t think of him when I was doing that”, I keep doing whatever it was. That’s how I arrived at the above “distractions”.

  • I haven’t done anything so dramatic as any of you. But I am (quietly) celebrating that I took charge and climbed out of the financial mess and debt he left me and I am totally self supporting. A lot of fear over the years, a lot of the uncertainty, was about how I would survive financially. I not only survived. I kicked butt at it. All the debt either paid off or refinanced into a low interest rate mortgage. Not what I would have wanted at 60, but that’s what I got. I will be working forever so it’s good that I feel more like 30 rather than 60. And it’s true what Tracy said- being forced into total free fall because of that cheating POS asshole has freed me in a very terrifying way. And as I always say, no one is stonewalling me, no one is criticizing me, no one is making me feel less than. I am finally almost me again. I am lonely but there is peace within these walls.

    • You’re an inspiration, lostandfound. I’m just starting to hunker down and get out of my mess after the pick-me dance, but I’m sometimes too distracted. He didn’t leave me with his debt, but his detachment over the years and my constant giving and lack of emotional support from him took away from my ability to make money … it’s my own debt I accrued, which I’ve read about happens to empaths who lose themselves in others. So you inspire me to find freedom from getting out of my mess quicker than I am. Thank you!

  • Champ, I relate to a lot of what you said. Maybe we are in the same stage of life. I am joining groups, trying to exercise more (ugh), working more. I kiss my pets and thank them for being there for me. They are my only housemates right now. I try not to show my son (who does not live home) that I am needy for his company. He has still not come to terms with the wretching disappointment his father turned out to be. I have some very good friends that have really been there for me. To all appearances, I seem ‘recovered’. I need to appear that way because I am a professional and I have spent many days over the past five years freaked out and sad. Closing my office door to cry. I still cry, but at home, listening to sad songs. I am still thinking about him and the OW (I am not even divorced yet and it hasn’t been a year since the last and final D day) but I am getting there.

    • Hey! Next time you listen to sad songs, try The Beatles No. 1 album instead … all their No. 1 hits. You’ll be singing, not crying. It works for me, anyway. Or put on Latin dance music if you get that on your TV. You just can’t cry to that stuff, and you are the best-ever dancer with the curtains closed!!!!

  • The money stuff was so less terrifying when I faced it. He had used money as a weapon to blame me for everything, even the cheating. Financial independence is emotional independence. You will get there Champ.

  • My chump makeover consisted of removing every single trace of him from my home – I painted the bathroom (what is it about cheaters and sitting on the toilet sexting? His selfie that he was sending the online whores was taken ON THE TOILET) and replaced the toilet seat.

    I bought a new couch and table and rearranged the living room. I reorganized all the kitchen cabinets to MY liking. (He’s 6’4″, I’m 5’4″ so half the time I wanted to get something I’d have to stand on a chair to reach it.).

    I took his chair away from the area on the back porch that we used to sit and talk and watch the birds at the feeder in, and put 1 chair and a table for myself. I fifnished refinishing the Hoosier cabinet that was supposed to be my birthday present from him. We bought it in March, my birthday was in May, I finished the cabinet myself in December.

    I replaced every picture of him with pictures of my family and my kids, and with some nature photographs I’d done that he always criticized. (He had a fancy camera and liked to tell people he was a photographer. In 3 years together I saw him use that camera 6 times.)

    I completely rearranged the computer room (Porn viewing and online cheating den #2), and now i actually like being in there.

    I also went through the entire house and smudged every inch of every room with sage to banish his negative energy.

    I used to dread coming home from work, now I love it. My home is happy and calm and peaceful and pretty and ALL MINE AGAIN!

    My 15 year old said to me – Mom our house feels good again now that Fat Bastard is gone – and yes, that’s what we both call him now.

    • I also went through the entire house and smudged every inch of every room with sage to banish his negative energy.

      I used to dread coming home from work, now I love it. My home is happy and calm and peaceful and pretty and ALL MINE AGAIN!
      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^

      So true, gepster!!!!

      I have smudged and burned certain color candles several times since he moved and it always makes me feel better!!!!

    • Thanks, lostandfound, for saying that. It all sounds very familiar. Sometimes I think the brave face we put on stalls our recovery time. You sound like you’re doing great though, now, with your financial independence … you definitely wouldn’t be in this good position if he was still around. It’s a catch-22. They want you to make more money, contribute, but they create an environment where you can’t. It takes a while for the toxic air to clear and you get to where you should have been.

      Hope this isn’t too crude. Nothing has worked for me when people say, “The OW did you a favour” or “She can look after him in his old age” because really, before I knew he was an A-hole, I wanted to be the one to care for him. So it’s hard to get out of that mindset. Someone did say something finally that I think of … “She can be the one to wipe his bum.” Ewwwwwww. That goes along with sending selfies from the toilet seat. Picture that when you think of them, and maybe it will help. His golden years that the OW is getting might be more like a mustard yellow.

      Gepster, I smudged with sage and almost asphyxiated myself … my mantra I was chanting ended up sounding more like a hacking cough … the dog’s eyes started to water. It was hilarious.

      The cat’s hair fell out while he was here … I noted it started growing back when he left … she is all fluffy again.

      I had made him a nice office in the warm part of the house … I worked in the coldest part. Guess where I am now!!!!

      • It’s funny Champ, because I keep hearing she’s his problem now and how lucky I am. The truth is that he has been cheating and leaving for five years and my friends and family are tired of hearing about it. I had been married so long and so obsessed competing with the OW that I forgot how unhappy and lonely in the marriage I was. I felt so invisible. And of course I was because he was dreaming of life with schmoopie and putting zero into our relationship. I don’t know how the thing with schmoopie is working out because I found out he was inpatient alcohol detox for a week earlier this month. So he just changed partners and nothing else. He is still the self medicating baby he was the last few years. I think the cheating and the drinking started at the same time. It is still hard to figure out who I spent most of my life with and why I was the one who ended up alone.

        • We do have a lot in common … mine, though, is a functioning alcoholic who won’t end up in detox. She’s a drinker … all I know is she’d red in the face and gaining weight since being with him. It’s not like they both turned into models with their newfound love. Not sure how long he’s been thinking of her and when he finally acted on it, and yes, most of my friends are sick of hearing about it, but my family’s supportive. I can justify forgetting about the bad times … it’s because there were good times, and in order to “reconcile”, that’s what you concentrate on, and that’s what you can build on, but they’re not in it, and they haven’t been for years even if Schmoopie just came along last week. So we get stuck in what could have been and not what actually was, which was us being miserable because we were trying to connect with a guy who wasn’t there. And then they turn it around and tell us it was all our fault, when in fact it would be nice to both step up and fix it … Chumps are fair-minded people, and it takes awhile to realize cheaters aren’t going to become fair-minded even when they get caught.

          Also, when the degree of abuse is “less” than others on this site … meaning no physical abuse, and questionable gaslighting, etc., it’s hard to explain that to people. I consider myself lucky, when I read other people’s stories … but relative to what I wanted to be and have with him, it’s still abuse. And then when I do look happy, I get people saying, “Oh, finally, you’re not thinking about it!” and yet I am; it’s just they’re wanting me to get over it and so I pretend I have. Bleeh.

          What a mess they leave us in, but you sound like in other ways you’ve done well. I think it’s true that we have to stop finding “meaning” in what happened and just find meaning in what’s left.

          • Oh, and one other thing. Your ex in detox might be him cleaning up his act, which is scary because why is he doing it for her. Well, mine told me to my face that the suggestions I had for him to stop drinking, etc., were good ones, and he’s now doing that, but not with me. Nyahh Nyahh. That in itself is dysfunctional … the fact that he would tell me that my opinions were valid, and he’s taken them to heart, but I’m not the one that will benefit from his newfound health and attention (I don’t get the “gift” of him, boo hoo). He’s rubbing it in. He’s like a kid who doesn’t want to play with you, but takes your ball with him when he goes. It doesn’t matter how old they are, they’re still little kids. All they’ll do is act like a grownup, but they won’t really be one. Heck, these two even put on social media for all to see about how grown up they are … Do people that age have to do that? From all their friends, about 3 liked it.

            You know, there is something from his past that I know about, that I’m not sure even he knows, and that explains a lot about who he is today. When I think of that, I feel sorry for him and I wish I had known it all along, and I start to get that loving feeling… but then I think there are things from my past, too, and he doesn’t give a shit about them. That’s the difference. So time to stop caring about him, I’d say. Care about your son and yourself and your pets. That in itself is a family.

  • Well done Gepster! I went through a similar phase. Removed all traces of my ex. Got rid of her stuff that she left behind, photos of her, cropped her out of others etc. Set up the house the way I wanted it. Very liberating!

  • Ok don’t judge me. I got a full face lift. Yep. Sold my life insurance to pay for it. Now that’s a life I’m insuring

      • Snake – clapping! ‘Feeling fucking good’, is good to read. I am also a rescuer of dogs and I am down to two. Given I go off the deep end….well, lol, I’d be quite happy with 6 – all big, of course. X tried to limit me but he didn’t stand a chance. Now that he’s gone – I sort of scare myself. hehe…and I want cats again.
        I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT!

        I also brought practically no furniture to my new little house.
        I didn’t want any of the old shit that was worn out and that he always got to pick.
        I didn’t have a clue what ‘my style’ WAS!
        (he was very controlling in the decorating ‘process’ and always got his own way – not worth arguing with him)

        So, piece by piece, I figured out – I’m still sort of a hippie-chic from the 70’s.
        I want a big drum (that can be played) and used as a coffee table with pillows around, and used to eat dinner off of. NO dining room table for me – ugh. Too many dinner parties in my past.

        I bought myself one really nice chair – from Norway, and besides the dog’s big sofas, the room seems pretty complete, with all my wicker (carribean look) making another room – all on one big fun floor. The ‘dining room’ is used for the dogs to play! And, I’m a work in progress….I have all the time in the world…

        Meh – IS WONDERFUL!

  • I’ve stayed in my marital home because it was a good property and easier on my daughter. However, I have enjoyed changing it up and making it my own. Like others have said, my cheater took it out of me. We were always chained to what HE wanted to do, when HE would be home from work, when HE could vacation, HIS drinking and HIS loser friends….blah, blah, blah… it’s really been so lovely to be free now.

    I enjoy simple things like eating what I want, sleeping when I want to sleep, reading and napping a bit again (he called me lazy.) I keep the house the way that I like it and enjoy good friends and my new job. I have a ton more confidence now and have realized that I am smart, capable and yes, hardworking. I wasn’t those things that he said I was. I’m also seeing someone who is kind, funny and loyal – nice change.

    My ex has a drama filled life with girlfriends that assault him in one way or the other. He still drinks too much and chases unfortunate women who think that he will rescue them. It’s more entertainment now than anything.

    I’m free from all that. Thank God.

  • Mine was a new tattoo – on my forearm, for everyone to see…
    a semi-colon butterfly – because my story has NOT ended…
    you did something wild and crazy and for YOU and ONLY you – no opinions, no permission… from anyone else
    woo hoo!!

  • I got a tattoo after DDay, while I was on a vacation he refused to go on. It is all the way from calf to ankle and it is an HD Thoreau quote…”Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.” That message rings true every day.

  • Its been 6 months since D-day. The feeling of freedom and the weight being lifted is truly a life changing experience. I lived in oppression for 26 years. H was a verbally and physically abusive person. I often hate myself or have deep regret for waiting for so long and subjecting my children to such abuse and oppression. Their lives have been scarred because of it. Their little beautiful minds were sculpted in a hostile environment. Every time they were screamed at, or punched or slapped around was a deep betrayal to me and to them. I guess my betrayal was letting it happen and being too afraid to step in. God forgive me! I hurt so bad for them. But now we are free. Free to control our own lives. Free to feel like I can do something and feel good about it. Free and motivated to actually want to do things. There is not enough time in life to live in the past. I’m resolved to spend no more time in regret and feelings of guilt and just work on healing and moving forward. Thank you chumplady for giving me the courage to do what I should have done long ago. I feel free to do so many things now!

    • Yeah I read this too this morning-and of course thought of CL and just how much ‘Kate’ could have done with her advice 35 years ago ! It’s a great example of why you should NOT stay with a cheating spouse.

    • Just read this article and just wow.
      Really, how far can some chumps shove their heads up their asses. That takes some doing to deny yourself a decent spouse for the sake of looking like you have a decent marriage. That’s the kind of cheater who gets elder abuse by their chump spouse after a stroke because all that bottled up rage goes nuclear!

  • Much of my new life to be remains in limbo, since the snake is stalling the divorce process. Eh, I can wait. He can’t dick around forever, and he knows I have the money to wait him out if he tried.

    I think my first and biggest fuck you to the snake was adopting my third dog after I filed. All he ever did was bitch (pun intended) about the two I already had. So when I had the chance to rescue another, my response was Hell yeah!

    I have purchased a few new things for my eventual new home, but until one is actually decided upon and purchased, I’m not buying furniture yet, but when I do, it can be any color I want it to be.

    It’s only been about 5 months since D-Day. I feel pretty fucking good, all things considered. I have been weaning off some of my psych meds, and still feel good. I think that goes to show the impact of his abuse, how I now seem to need less medication to stay sane.

  • Snake – :clapping: Bravo. ‘Feel pretty fucking good’ is really great to hear.

    I never brought much furniture from the old house. He refused to buy a new couch for the past 25 yrs and it was trash. He fought me on everything, right down to new barstools (that would have been the right height); I sort of say, bar stools broke up our marriage. lol

    He always had the say on the ‘designing’, which meant – yanno – Lazy Boy’s. (the old kind) ugh.
    It just wasn’t worth arguing with him over. He always won, even down to the art work.

    So, when I moved in, I had no idea what ‘my style’ was at all!
    And, I’ve figured out it’s kinda of hippie style from the 70’s. (no, no lava lamps)

    But, I never want a dining room table again. (have a nice bar to eat off of) Just had far too many dinner parties in the past 35 yrs, seating 14. It is now my dog play area.

    I want a big drum for a coffee table, that can be played. And pillows around, Indian style to sit on while ‘dining’. (I think that brings back the fondue pot!) Ok, maybe a lava lamp somewhere.

    I am buying piece by piece and I have all the time in the world. To make it MY place.

    I love my little old cottage on the beach and it’s ALL MINE!
    (and the dogs)
    And, speaking of dogs – I tend to collect rescues and he always put a limit on that. I’m not sure I trust myself not to get 6 dogs (all big ones, cuz I am only down to 2) and, I really want cats!

    It’s great to be able to do WHATEVER you want. It does take awhile though, after 36 yrs.

    Peace to you.

    Signed, truly at MEH!

  • In the months right after I found out about the affair, I reclaimed MY bedroom by painting it purple and buying all new, very girly linens. It felt ridiculously good! After we separated, I learned how to lay tile, and did my kitchen backsplash and part of my shower, then painted all the other rooms in my housed. Last summer, I bought a Fitbit and committed myself to 12K steps a day, walking my way through the interminable waiting period before I could file for divorce. And this year, to celebrate my pending divorce and my 50th birthday, I am taking an adventure trip to Alaska, all by myself. I also STOPPED coloring my hair and am letting it go grey.

    Like you, I wondered why I was so happy about these unimportant things when the important things in my life were turning to shit. Now I recognize that exercising even a little bit of power over your life when you feel like everything is spiraling out of control is sanity-saving. And if you do those unimportant things often enough, you gain enough courage to tackle the big ones.

    So go rock your pink hair and feel great, Pauline! 🙂

  • I made many changes as well in an attempt to rid my space, body and mind of any reminders of him. I got rid of all clothes, jewelry, art work, dishes, glasses pretty much everything he touched that I could afford to replace. Now the house is in my name only and has been repainted totally, relandscaped and have a brand new kitchen too! I also changed my diet to vegan, something the meat head would have never done. Have manicures and pedicures too which I never did before. After surviving adultery , abuse, breast cancer it feels great to do what I want when I want. Oh, got a dog too, something his selfish ass would never agree too. Have lots of parties now in my beautiful home that he no longer owns! I have great neighbors and friends and my adult kids want to hang with me as opposed to the obligatory quarterly steak dinners out with dear old dad…

  • I went blond, got laser facial treatments and botox, and booked a trip to Iceland, in addition to riding my life of all his crap (both physical and emotional). Yes, the appearance stuff is vanity but I also feel like it was my opportunity to gain back a couple of the years he took from me. I make no apologies for that. Enjoy your pink hair! Good for you!

    After years of being told implicitly and explicitly that I was never good enough, I feel more confident, even if the physical difference is subtle. Feeling good about myself for the first time in years is priceless to me.

    Someone told me the other day that I was “intimidating,” which I laughed at, then he explained it was my “fierce” eyes. That I agree with – I am a warrior after all and I’m slowly making my way back to myself after a long and painful journey away from the X. We are all warriors.

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