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Be a Hell Raiser, Not a Chump

Mother Jones in tent city

Today, in honor of Labor Day weekend, I’m rerunning this column about Mother Jones. Happy Labor Day and see you back on Tuesday! — Tracy

I’m struck by how often the catalyst for an extraordinary life is loss.

A friend of mine posts various nuggets of history on Facebook and the other day she featured Mother Jones. (Not the magazine that is named for her, but the labor organizer.)

Mary Harris Jones had a shit hand dealt to her if anyone ever did. Born in 1837, she became a school teacher, married a George Jones and together had a family of four children. Then as a young woman, she lost her entire family. Her husband and all of her babies perished in a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis. The children were all under the age of five.

That would be enough tragedy to send you to the mental ward for life, but Jones rebuilt and moved to Chicago to work as a dressmaker. By all accounts, she was quite successful at it. And then the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 hit and she lost everything. Again. Her home, her business, and all her worldly possessions.

Can you imagine? She reinvented again. In middle age! For the rest of her life (she lived to be 100), she was a fearsome labor organizer — called “the most dangerous woman in America.” What was she fighting for? To keep children out of coal mines and in school. Yeah, radical stuff. There were no child labor laws back in the day. The protections we enjoy today, we owe to protesters like Jones. I like this quote — she said: “I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.”

She had a smart ass Irish wit. When denounced on the Senate floor as the “grandmother of all agitators,” she replied: “I hope I live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators.”

In 1903, upset about the lax enforcement of the child labor laws in the Pennsylvania mines and silk mills, she organized a Children’s March from Philadelphia to the home of then president Theodore Roosevelt in New York.

The picture above is her outfitting children with shoes for that march. She was in her 60s by then — leading marches on foot, hundreds of miles. The children she marched with, many were missing fingers and limbs — maimed from factory work. She tried to get the president to give them an audience. Roosevelt was unmoved, but she never stopped fighting for workers’ rights.

“I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

Take those words to heart, chumps. Loss can make you brave. When your world has been obliterated, it can provoke a fearlessness that is a gift. What can they throw at you that you haven’t survived worse? Could the pen, scaffold, or sword be worse than losing four children, a husband, and everything you ever worked for? They couldn’t touch her.

She could’ve let that loss kill her. Send her into mourning or the care of relatives for life. No one would’ve blamed her, it would’ve been the expected thing for a woman her age back then. But she did the unexpected thing — she became a fighter. She transmuted that pain into a courageous empathy that did some good in the world.

The futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

I love that quote. I first saw it as a tag line in an email from an organic farmer. I think it appealed to her because she is part of a movement trying not to change industrial agriculture — but replace it with a new, sustainable, organic farming system, that bears no relation to the old order whatsoever.

My farm-y interests aside, I also think there is great wisdom in that quote for chumps. You do not change things by fighting the “existing reality.” If that reality is infidelity, you will not change it with the pick me dance, by trying harder, by chasing reconciliation unicorns. To change, you need to build a new model — YOU — that makes the existing model (chumpy OLD you) obsolete.

You need to invest in an entirely new reality. A BETTER reality (leave a cheater, gain a life). So often we “fight” instead — we butt up against the existing reality of being cheated on. We fight by trying to prove our worthiness, by obsessing over the affair partner, by staying locked in unhealthy ways of relating, by being the marriage police, when what we need to do is make our old crappy lives obsolete. It’s harder to mourn something, when you’ve got a better something to replace it with.

Did you know Buckminster Fuller was another one of those extraordinary people transformed by loss? If you’re not familiar with Fuller, he was a prolific inventor, architect and designer, who is best known for the geodesic dome. He was also a futurist and humanitarian, and a total odd ball. (He was expelled from Harvard twice: once for spending all his money partying with a vaudeville troupe.)

By age 32, Fuller was bankrupt and jobless, living in low-income public housing in Chicago, Illinois. In 1922, Fuller’s young daughter Alexandra died from complications from polio and spinal meningitis. Allegedly, he felt responsible and this caused him to drink frequently and to contemplate suicide for a while. He finally chose to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

It’s a grandiose thought — to contribute your life in such a way to benefit “all humanity.” But then again, chumps — why the hell not? If labor marches and inventions aren’t your thing, find something that is. Invest in your better self. If you find your personal life destroyed by infidelity, yes, it’s tragic. It’s also an opportunity. Think of all the things you could be filling your new life with… making that past life obsolete. So what’s going to be next, chumps?

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”  — Mother Jones 

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  • I am actually thinking along these lines at present. I have such a good opportunity right now, because a lot of doors have slammed in my face.

    I can actually now see that this is a good thing, because those doors were a bad old life that doesn’t fit me any more. There is a world of possibilities out there.

    • Awesome topic! I definitely feel stronger and much more alive now (9 months out from D-day and divorce should be final within the next 2 months). My mind is starting to remember old goals and dreams and beginning to open up to new ones. It’s a great feeling. I want to be able to actually do something tangible with some of these ideas in the future. But at least even focusing on these potential positive things now helps keep me in a good head space and helps me looking forward instead of back into the horrible rearview mirror.

  • Tragedy feels HUGE when it happens to you. Many people have gone through much loss and survived. Most have to start over. I can too. We all can.

  • To me, just having survived the betrayal is mighty. Anything beyond that is a gift. I will do well because I’m slowly living my life again. Thank you CL and CN.

  • You can survive this, and you will, stronger than ever! It is ironic indeed that the pain these losers put us through can actually strengthen us. Someone much wiser than me said, “The best revenge is a life well lived.”

    Let’s collectively give our cheaters the old middle finger by showing them how much better off we are without them in our lives to screw it up for us!! Today would be a good day to start. If not today, when should we do it?

  • Thank you for this timely post. I’m experiencing a difficult situation at work with a narcissist…and I’m no longer willing to eat shit.

    I’ve been wondering if I should just walk away or speak up and fight for justice. The behaviors of my colleague are surprisingly similar to my x (gaslighting and minimizing). I can’t tell if it’s a real problem or I’m just paranoid and sensitive.

    • Once you learn about narcissists and their behaviours, you are more likely to recognise it and hopefully less willing to tolerate it! It will be a very personal decision (fight or leave) depending on what you are standing up for, and your other job options. There’s no shame in leaving a job because of a narc boss – sometimes you need to save your energy and sanity.

      • I agree, just spent the last 11 months dealing with a Narc boss who effectively undermined me daily and has eventually got rid of my role 2 weeks ago under the ‘guise’ of a sham redundancy. You cannot win with these people in the workplace unless you really value your job and they enforce their work employment policies correctly. It’s like being gas lighted again and again ….. One of the worst side affects of being a chump is thinking you are paranoid and learning to trust your gut instinct again, not to mention the crippling anxiety attacks which up until 4 years ago I never had.

        If you can plan a way out Roaring, do it for your sanity, we tend to spot more and more of these horrible people as we recover, setting our boundaries in the workplace can be a little harder than dealing with a fuckwit ex spouse. I’ve walked quietly but they have paid me out a tiny bit extra to keep my mouth shut, I reckon stashing that away is more sensible than taking this fuckwit boss to a tribunal – cos I don’t need the stress or any more lies – it would be like divorcing the fuckwit XH again. I shall use it towards a short holiday as a reward once I have secured another job. ?

        • “One of the worst side affects of being a chump is thinking you are paranoid and learning to trust your gut instinct again . . . ” So true! I struggled with this as I began to learn more about narcissism and realized that a number of my longtime friends, former boyfriends, and colleagues are narcissists. Too many for it to be coincidence (I’m working on that part), which really made me question myself early on in the process.

          Once I started to trust my gut and look at each relationship with clarity, I realized that my very open and trusting personality has been a magnet for narcissists of all stripes–covert, malignant, master manipulators, and outright bullies. Many of these relationships are in the past, either because I was discarded, I wised up, or I managed to, in the case of a former boss, successfully press sexual harassment charges and get him fired.

          In some of these cases, I fought like hell for my sanity and self-respect, but I fought blindly because I didn’t understand the dynamics I was dealing with and assumed the other party was a rational person with a conscience. Now that the blinders are off, I feel much better prepared to spot the red flags and avoid the need to get sucked into a fight to begin with . . . and when it comes to a couple of my longtime friends who are narcissists, I now know to stay NC.

          Roaring, if it’s any help, in the case of my former boss, I quietly allied myself with other colleagues I either knew or suspected had been victims of his bullying and harassment–I don’t know if this is possible in your situation or not, and it was tricky because I didn’t know if any of them might rat me out to him. But they were just as beaten down as I was and we figured we didn’t have much more to lose (except our jobs of course). We joined together and managed to get a meeting with someone above our boss–they decided they couldn’t afford possible lawsuits from all of us and convened a task-force. Lots of career damage had already been done by then, but we did see justice served in the end.

          Since I’ve started to trust my gut when it comes to the narcissists in my life, one thing I’ve consistently found is that there are usually a lot of other people who are also onto the person in question, but have been too intimidated or too gas-lit to say anything.

          • This is wonderful! I also had an asshole Narc supervising me, about a year ago. It was such a relief when I talked to some co-workers, and found out they were feeling the same. This guy was torturing everyone! I decided the best plan was to leave, and throw him under the bus on the way out ?. Lots of others quit, too, it was great! I also found a much, much better job as a side benefit of all this grief. All’s well that ends well! I’m no longer as fearful of these situations, because the new door does open for us!

            • Glad you found a better job! I’m on my 8th job after being in the workforce for only 18 years. A lot of it is due to layoffs and my insistence to get filler jobs until I can find something in my field. I had a couple supervisors over the years that I wasn’t real thrilled with, a couple more jobs had supervisors that were fine, but the very high up people didn’t treat the employees well. Right now, I’m at a job with an awesome supervisor and it pays better than the last couple of jobs in my field. I’m actually fairly happy that I got laid off and ended up here. So, better is out there.

          • It took me a little over a year to even entertain the idea of his cheating not being my fault. I was in shock…..but now I’m stronger. I see all the things I can do. Thank you CL and fellow Chumps.

            PLUS he signed the papers this week!!!! 😊

    • I think that life keeps giving us opportunities to learn a lesson, like putting more narcs in our path so that we can learn how to properly deal with them. I have a narc mother who I walked away from years ago. My ex is a narc. I now realize that my supervisor is also a narc. She helped me through my divorce because she is the type of narc that loves to be needed (just like my mother and husband). As I got healthier, I stated noticing the small things, how she would subtly put me down every time we interacted, how she would go radio silent when I started trusting her and relying on her, only to come back with a well timed compliment to pull me back in, how she subtly discredits anyone who doesn’t do her bidding. I love love love my job and I’m not going anywhere. I am using this as an opportunity to grow and learn how to properly deal with a narc. I recently became co-supervisor and am learning how to stand up for myself and not let her get away with shutting me down or discrediting me.

  • I’m speechless. I need to count my blessings not losses. I have my kids, job and my wit 😉 it’s what gets me through the days. I’m a chump for over-thinking his emotional affair snd the OW. She will never have what I have and perhaps that is part of the reason she manipulates married men. She’s not the problem…I am for continuing to chase those unicorns and not move on. I need to do more for me. Needed this kick in the pants lol.

  • This was a great post, thanks for re-posting it! My problems pale in comparison to what these people suffered and it makes me ashamed of myself. But that’s ok – lights a fire under my ass for sure! Very inspiring and just goes to show even further the potential everyone has.

    Thank you, Mother Jones, Mr. Fuller, Tracy and happy Labor Day Chump Nation!

  • Thanks for posting this CL, as an Aussie I’ve never heard of this amazing woman. What a wonderful story of resilience, fighting for children’s rights despite her own terrible losses. Three cheers for hell-raisers!

  • This is a great lesson in moving on rather than dwelling on/in the past. And given everything she went through I could see how easy it would have been to have a breakdown and get stuck in the why me.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to pull Mother Jones into my thoughts when I get stuck in what was rather than focusing on what is and what could be.

  • I can honestly say I started truly living after divorcing the serial cheater. While married to him, I was so focused on being the perfect wife to save my marriage that I lost sight of who I am and who I wanted to be. Boundaries? I had none. My aspirations? Their place on my priority list kept getting lower and lower. Three years after the divorce, I know who I am, what I want, I face my fears and uncomfortable feelings with courage, and I also own my success and am not afraid to dream big. And why? Because I know I can handle failure and that every difficult moment carries a gift if I am willing to look for it and not wallow in self-pity. Life today is not perfect but it’s a life that I love and I know I have the choice to be surrounded only by people who value me.

    • You always inspire me with your courage and fearless take charge attitude UM. You live it and are strong because you do. That is admirable.

      You are a model of strength and an amazing woman. There were times when I was weak and I thought of you and pushed myself harder.

      • DM,

        Thank you! You inspire me, too. I still recall your earlier posts, full of pain, and how far you have come. Nowadays, we laugh so much when we talk about the irrelevant exes!

    • So well said, UniquelyMe! You described my former life to a T. I’m grateful for your words today. They inspire me to be less uncomfortable with courage and success. Never again will I bury my needs and ambitions to try to please the unpleasanble.

      • FindingBliss, what I found is that when I face my discomfort head on, the pain is short term. The intensity of the pain has yet to kill me. If anything, what I find is that when I face and feel the difficult emotions, I grow more. I name the feeling and it helps a lot. I am also good to myself and not demand that I SHOULD feel better. Feelings just are. If you allow them to be, they go away a lot sooner.

  • I woke up this morning after dreaming about the first few days of finding out about my husband’s infidelity. The horror and the feeling of complete worthlessness that encompassed those first days were heartbreaking to remember. It has been a little over a year now and I am getting better. My stbx still comes to the house, manipulates the children, and tries to manipulate me. When he is here – I feel I am walking on egg shells. We are in the process of a settlement. I didn’t realize how trusting, naive, and stupid I was throughout our marriage. With this post – Thank you for helping me to remember all the blessings I have – my children, my family, my health and my dogs. My stbx will be coming over today after spending his weekend with his prostitute – it is always amazing to me that he can look his children in the eyes and feel no guilt. Your post will help me to be strong and not question the unfairness of it all – I will remember I am the one that can make my life something great! and I have that opportunity now. I need to remember all the possibilities. I loved the quote as well. My goal to make such a great life – my old one is obsolete! Thank you! and to all of you for making me laugh when many times I just wanted to cry!

    • Poppy

      “I didn’t realize how trusting, naive, and stupid I was throughout our marriage.”

      And now you are smarter, aware, and are learning to set boundaries to protect yourself. You will now trust yourself.

      Do you have your own lawyer?

      • Hi Doingme,

        Thank you so much for your comment. Yes – I feel so much more aware and am inspired in tranquil moments of how much I have to look forward to. No more trying to do what he would have wanted, no longer dressing and behaving like he would have wanted me to. Just to be myself – and only have to impress myself. Breathe without dread! Taking each day at a time.

        I have contacted a lawyer and feel strong enough to do what I need to do. I didn’t before!

        I love reading all the stories and love the humor! Such strong women on this site – such cowardly men!

  • Just yesterday I came across Eve Ensler’s Ted Talk about “Happiness in body and soul” – in which she tells how her discussions with friends about women’s issues evolved into her writing ‘The Vagina Monologues’ which then evolved into a worldwide V-Day movement to end violence against women.

    At the end she states that happiness (and healing) involves 3 things: action, talking the truth and saying what your truth is, and by giving away (to others) what you want the most. For her, as a girl raised in a home with an alcoholic and abusive father, she dreamed of someone coming to rescue her. The V-Day movement has resulted in many “hell raisers” stepping forward who have become that “rescuer” for many abused women and girls around the world.

  • Thank you, Tracy, for giving me a new hero. Mother Jones is now my touchstone, she will be the person I picture when I start to wallow in self-pity and start with the “Why me?”. Her life is a testament to the choice between lying down and being walked over or getting up and walking away.

    Thank you for this inspiring post – it has gotten me in touch with my inner hell-raiser once again.

  • I wish that I could tell everyone about my 2 biggest achievements during the worst “Monstering from Hell” era of my life, but my area of expertise is so small that I would compromise my anonymity. While it has been cool to establish a positive professional reputation, the long term benefit will be the change it has made to the methods of care given to dying children on planet earth.

    The changes I have contributed to will outlive me and my pain BUT PLEASE keep in mind that Im 11 years out from DDay – I was a sniveling, starving, obsessed, miserable new chump for a LONG time (much longer than “normal” here if there is such a thing as normal).

    I had a friend say “when H1.0 died, people were ready to just feel sorry for you, they werent ready for you to reinvent your life”…so true. I shed the life that people pitied and created one that they envy and that has created some awkwardness of its own, but phooey…Im not going to let that stop me.

  • I love this post because it is a message of hope and love and humanity. Which is the opposite of cheating/emotional abuse. May we all have the courage and strength to live like Mother Jones and Buckminster Fuller.

  • This is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful post. I celebrate all the hell raisers here in CL-land!

    That said, I just want to include the angle that even hell raisers feel anger, sadness, grief, and fear sometimes. They just don’t allow those feelings to overtake them and stop them from hell raising.

    Early on, sometimes people would tell me I needed to grab my bootstraps and do X Y Z to “get over” the cheater, and I ended up feeling like a failure because I still felt destroyed. I needed balance, not a swing to the other end of the pendulum. That’s my grieving style. Every person is unique in how they process.

    I still raised hell, in my own way, I just also needed to wallow sometimes. A smart person taught me how to build “wallow time” in to my life so I could feel my feelings, but keep it short, and minimize dwelling on useless thoughts. For me, it then became all the more feasible to take the opportunity to do what I needed to do to raise hell, and I did just that. So long, Sad Sausage, Amiisfree is outta here for good!

    You, we, are all mighty. Believe it!

    • I agree…while I eventually did come out punching, I did spend a lot of time weeping and (metaphorically) licking my wounds.

      Coping in tragedy, healing, overcoming and eventually being triumphant are a LONG process and no one has any business trying to rush you through it.

      • Agreed! It takes time, and I got mad at the (very few, thankfully) people who tried to rush my grieving process.

  • “The futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    What strikes me about this quote is the massive amount of time I spent fighting the existing reality while married. I often cried believing I could never be good enough. I wanted it to work and took on the challenge and mistakenly fought for the enemy.

    Relatively speaking nothing changed in 41 years. However, in a short two years the old model did become obsolete.

    Looking at it through the lens of a cheater they never fought the existing reality they hid within it. The new model was based on fantasy.

    Our reality was an illusion. Regardless of how many pick me dances, lies or AP’S we suffered through, we can build a new model one step, day, month, year at a time.

  • I love this Mother Jones quote, “I shall tell the truth wherever I please.” Take that, you cheater-enablers and apologists! I will no longer defend a cheater’s public image, but will defend and speak up for the betrayed and cheated-upon. Does that make some people uncomfortable? Good.

  • At first I thought this article inspirational, but after giving it more thought find it not applicable to our situations.

    Loss by death of loving relationship(s) is horrific and a true loss BUT our loss is much more complex than this and results in complex grief.

    Had my ex and I had a healthy love and he did not cheat, gaslight, and discard me after 23 years… had he not said such horrifying things to me and shred any “good” memory to bits of crapolla.. if he truly loved me (like a human) and he had died, it would be easier in that I would get to grief a healthy and natural grief and spiritually hold him with me and cherish our memories. This loss is anything but. It is earth shattering, soul shattering, crippling, complex, evil, sick and has brought me to my knees. There is NO closure, no I will see you again one day (like in death).

    It has been over two years for me now and nothing changes. It is today, yesterday and tomorrow the most horrific experience and hurt ever for any human soul to have to endure. The hurt is every moment and there is no end. It is us that has to move on from this horror on our own and it takes years for sure. A death is a loving mourning, loving memories, loving hurt. Our experience is not like loss from death. Chumps can never wrap their heads around it. While some move on and find better love, this has not been my case. At nearly 50 with all my memories turned black from this horror.. my future feels numb.

    I wish he would have died. Rather, I did but still live on.

    • InAweof It, I understand and respect your post. Like many of us chumps, I have had this same thought: it would have been easier if they had died. And I believe it to be true – the surviving, widowed member of a happy couple has cherished memories to look back on and be comforted by. Chumps, not so much (note my humorous use of subtlety).

      I have been talking to my mom a lot lately. My dad died 4 years ago after a long bout with Parkinson’s. She had to deal with a lot of shit (sometimes literally!). They were life partners. It was horribly painful for her. But even she says she can’t imagine going through what I’m going through.

      However, that said, I still appreciate CL’s article on Mother Jones and feel there is something we can learn from it. First of all, I would never, ever, want to deal with the loss of a child, let alone 4 young ones. That kind of pain would tear you apart and leave you in a puddle for a long time. But, the point is not to compare pain, but to find the common ground, which is that we DO have an opportunity to start a new life, we CAN strive to move forward and create something positive, in fact, I think we must. Sure, it’s hard as hell, and as other chumps have said above, we need to be able to take our time about it, and take good care of ourselves before we can expect ourselves to be out there raising hell. But given time and some proper healing, you can’t deny that the opportunities are there to do something exciting. It’s in the perspective, the approach we take to life. What we had is shattered and gone, maybe it was never really there, but what’s to come is real, and if we’re open to it, maybe we can find a new model.

    • InAweOfIt,
      You have a beautiful voice. I felt EXACTLY how you feel, for the first 4-6 months after dday. After reading CL, I think perhaps I have been “lucky” to have been able to move forward with acceptance/healing so relatively quickly. At the time, i felt anything but lucky. I am nowhere near healed, but now (10 months past dday), i am better, so much better. Calm and accepting what has happened. And hopeful for the future. I was virtually physically and mentally incapacitated those first 4-6 months with grief and rage and paralysis. Wise posters at CN told me I needed to go through it, not around it. I read a LOT of CL/CN. I journaled a lot about what happened and how I felt. I asked my doctor for anti-anxiety meds.

      I hope that things change for you. It was debilitating for me to be locked in that severe suffering. When I read your post I keenly felt your suffering. Keep posting here and in the forums. Unlock your suffering…it may get worse. It did for me – I went from my knees to lying prostrate on the ground..but then, slowly I pulled myself up.

      • Thank you for your replies. I am missing him a great deal lately, the quiet sometimes I think causes me to spiral. If only my logic and ears would slap the grief out of my heart. He was at my side from 23 to 46 both business and home life (go figure, right?).

        I don’t know why it all had to happen and I know I have to accept it and move on with my lessons. I know, I know.. but OMG the pain handicaps me and today was a bad one.

        Thanks for the ears and kind words.

        • Inaweofit, there is indeed something unique about the pain of being deceived, abused and discarded by the person who is supposed to be our love support through life.
          It has taken me six years to feel like myself again and i still have much work to do. I know that i seem to be particularly slow but i like to think everyone has to heal at their own rate.
          One of the hardest things has been finding joy again and for the longest time i didnt think i was making any forward motion. Looking back i can see what i couldn’t see then – tiny tiny gains adding up over time.
          Here’s to better days and somewhere in all of these lessons may you get the occasional recess.

        • The discard is the worst pain I’ve ever felt. It doesn’t do much good to compare it to other forms of loss. What’s the point of measuring pain by some metaphoric yard stick? Being chumped is hard because it changes everything and it does so through betrayal by the person you should trust most. So it hits at an elemental level and shakes us to our core.

          And therein lies the potential for transformation. I can only say that I didn’t have a long marital and business partnership with Jackass, as did InAweOfIt. But being betrayed was a tipping point in my life, coming on the heels of the death of a parent, a good friend, and the end of a marriage to someone I’ve loved since I was a kid out of college. So there was a lot of “relationship autopsy” work to do, and a lot of grieving that I postponed essentially by bulldozing from crisis to crisis for the better part of 10 years. I don’t live that way any more, by design. And I made those changes minute by minute, hour by hour at first. And I’m still learning and growing, although I got to Meh and feel grateful that there is not a cheating Jackass in my life.

          InAweOfIt, two years isn’t all that long, given what you experienced. If you are measuring your progress by the fact that you haven’t found “better love,” I think there are many, many more meaningful ways to mark the milestones on your journey. The most important one will be to truly get to know yourself at 50. It’s a wonderful time to think about a life that does not revolve around being part of a couple. Who are you? What do you love? How do you want to spend the next 30 years? “Finding someone to love” can be the icing on that cake, but it isn’t the cake. You made one choice in your early 20s. Now, as a grown woman, you can get to know and love yourself and then perhaps a man who is capable of loving and cherishing you will appear.

          • LAJ, this just had a big impact on me. You ask “what” do you love, not “who,” with the understanding that “finding someone to love may be the icing on the cake, but it’s not the cake.” This just strikes me as being immensely important. I think a lot of us chumps maybe have kind of defined ourselves by “who” we love, and hence the major emptiness when we lose that person. I know I will benefit from thinking more about what I love, instead of who I loved.

        • InAweOfIt,
          Hang in there! You will get to the other side of the overwhelming pain. I’m so glad you have the support of CN to help you get through! Nobody understands the pain like fellow chumps. It is all consuming!
          In the last few years I have gone through bankruptcy, Dday (eventual divorce), relocation, several surgeries, capsular contraction, Chemo, radiation…
          I can honestly tell you that the trauma and PTS I experienced from being betrayed and discarded by my husband of 30 years FAR outweighs any of the other life changing events (& the lasting side effects) in my life.
          I thank God that I am a cancer survivor and that I will be around for my children and grandchildren. I also thank Him for helping my kids and me survive and overcome the trauma that we have been through as a family as a result of X’s choices!
          There is no way that I could have made it this far alone/without the encouragement and support of CL and everyone here!

          • I am so sorry for all those hurts of who replied. 🙁

            I am not looking for new love (OMG, no) I read a book on boundaries and learned I need to practice having some and then I read a book on Safe People and while I learned what this is now, I also learned because of the process I am in I would not be a safe person to another right now.

            I am moving forward but grieving at same time. It is up and down and down and up. The down still wins over the up most times, however.

            I have been on CL for over a year now but had to change user as found Ex found site about 6 months back. But CL and her book are a huge part of me being able to move forward as everyone else talks about how WE need to forgive them and save the relationship (right… sure.. give me more of that shit sandwich).

            I feel our grief if more complex than a death or any death even that of children. There is no measuring or comparing levels of grief but the complexity of our grief as chumps I think makes it more severe and takes a tad longer to be mighty. So while the article is inspirational, I don’t loose sight of how deep our loss and grief goes.

            I had no idea in my 23 years with him that we were anything less than normal and had no idea he led a double life the ENTIRE time. I thought I learned of one affair to find out another and another and another… Even porn and teen addiction. SICK stuff.

            I like many have dealt these truths (horrors) to loose my perceived best friend (he was my family), my spouse, my companion, my home, my stuff, my security, my future and then WAM, I had to even find out that I may have been a codependent (tough and strong I thought I was). He was a Narc with Soc. tendencies. Who knew? I never even heard of this stuff before my fate.

            I lived in a perfect little bubble. It is a big deal and yes, I know see 2 years is not very long. It took me all this time just to admit 1/3 of it.

            I am very ashamed of myself, disappointed in myself for all of this to have happened. I feel responsible for not seeing it. Did I do this to myself? That is where I am now.

            • InAweOfIt – it’s bewildering, isn’t it? You’re going along, living the life that you built, are so sure of the constants in you’re life and in one day, it’s as if someone stops the earth from spinning and everything you’ve known to be true just flies off into space. You realize you share a home, children and a bed with a virtual stranger.

              Your user name says it all. It is awesome – not how some people use the word “awesome” as meaning fantastic – but in that stop and stare with your jaw on the floor way. It is a death. It’s a death of all you thought to be real and true. What’s sad is we don’t get to wear black and wear a veil and take our time with the grieving. Because we’re expected to deal with the mountain of shit that has been dumped in our laps. We’re expected to make good decisions about what’s best for everyone who has been destroyed by one selfish person’s actions.

              Keep your chin up, IAOI. It’s a long road, but the one good thing about it is you get to learn some amazing things about yourself along the way. And when you do, you’ll want to change your user name to InAweOfME!

              • I hear what you are saying and I have lived this. I think I might define “complicated grief” as I did suffer as a rejected, replaced, insulted chump but eventually managed wreckonciliation only to have him die also. Its a false dichotomy that the loss is “either this or that” as it might be both.

                I probably had it easier than most chumps in not divorcing but I now have the social expectation of being respectful of his memory after learning that (like above) he was a serial cheater and most of what I thought was my life was a lie. and there are so many lies/truths that I will never ever learn.

                So this is hard all around, no matter how you slice it. I do think that there is a benefit of seeing how others navigated difficulty. I normally find that hard because often when people describe their difficulty, I think “Oh darlin, I would have traded you in an instant for the shit sandwich I got”, but last night I read a book about Jesuit spirituality and an American Priest who was captured in Poland and taken to Russia where he suffered at hard labor for 25 years and I thought “OK, this is more like it”.

                Inaweofit, yes this is mind bending pain and Im sorry you are in it. Keep moving ahead and it will hurt a little less…Im 11 years in and Im good most of the time.

              • Unicornomore – you really are in a tough spot. To have worked so hard at reconcilliation and then for him to die must feel so open-ended. Then, as you said, having to bite your tongue when speaking to others about him – can’t imagine it. You have such a unique perspective – making all the concessions one has to make for reconcilliation and then not knowing how the story ends years and years later.

                I wish you tons of strength to make sense of all of it.

  • Thank you for this post! I have been caught up in quite a bit of self pity as of late. So much so that it brought me back to chump nation when I have been off living my life for the past 6 months. Between this post and a few posts and links in the forum, I have remembered that the best thing I can do is to move forward and live the best life for ME. I have remembered that it doesn’t matter what others think. I need to focus not on what I don’t have, but on all that I do have. No ones life is perfect. No one gets everything they want in life. I have been given so much. My profession gives me the opportunity to help build up those with low self esteem. I have made it my mission to help others see that they are perfect and love able just the way they are.

    “Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”
    Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood)

  • Crying as I read this. I’m in my parents’ camper parked outside my BFF’s house, getting away for a few days before I go pack up my life and move out of my X house. I’ll tell my story later, but this post just came at such a beautiful time. I’ve been thinking of traveling, but longer term, I really want to explore the possibility of fostering children. There are so many kids who are dealt hands like those of Mother Jones, and they can’t pick themselves up and dust themselves off. They often get picked up by shitty gold-diggers looking to leech off the county dime. I would love to be one of the good ones for a couple of sweet babies since I haven’t any of my own (yet, I’m 38). I think I can do it.

    Thank you, ChumpLady, for this blog. It’s helped more than you can imagine.

    • I love you for wanting to help other people. I have no doubt that this world is be a better place because you’re in it.

  • I was fortunate enough to hear Bucky Fuller speak at Habitat ’76, Vancouver, BC near the end of his life…This unremarkable looking very, old man come to the podium of a stage, the venue was packed and he begins to speak….It was fascinating, he seemed to bespeaking about everything, and nothing… the speech seemed very disparate, and I was about to write him off as feeble minded, and then in the last 5 minutes of his rambling discourse, he tied it all together…He was a remarkable man with a remarkable story and life.

  • Everyday I choose life & a new model; it’s getting better. Sweep out my head, fill it w a new address, a new busy street. Great post.

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