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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 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I finished a degree in health! About to graduate and start my new career helping people and their families 🙂

  • Thank you. After a very very low point last night I needed to read this. I’m going to read it again and again.

  • At 53, I have just began college for a degree in business. My divorce was final 7/5 and I have been no contact for 2 months. Never thought I could or would. I am!

    • SoManyTears- Congratulations on starting college for a business degree! When the going gets tough, keep this thought in mind – what will happen at the end of 2 or 4 years if I drop out? 2 or 4 years will go by and I won’t have a degree. Also at 53, you have so much more life experience than the average college student and that will give you a big edge in the classroom. Good luck and remember- “Fortune Favors the Bold!”

    • SoManyTears, good on you!! It’s a huge step going back to study. Well done for taking this step. You won’t look back. All the very best ????

    • SoManyTears: Years ago, Dear Abby ran one of her best advice columns ever. A man wrote in and said “Dear Abby, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but financial resources did not permit that to happen – until now. The problem is, by the time I get through medical school, internship, residency and any additional medical training I need, I’ll be 50 years old! What should I do”?… Dear Abby’s response was, “You’ll be 50 anyway! Follow your dreams”!

  • Great post!

    After BD and relocating to a strange city for my stbx’s career ( 7 years of schooling thank you very much ), I was dumped for his shiny new life and long term girl friend into what resembled the 7th circle of hell.

    I went back to school and not only did I graduated and finish a 3 year apprenticeship – I became self employed and this year bought my own business.

    Again – stupid romantic me with the slightly crooked picker found romance with a new love and after being love bombed ( yeah – I know…), moved in.

    Gave up my great rental house and found myself living with a man who not only drinks too much, but has a raging temper when the slightest thing doesn’t go his away. A narcasistic bully. Who beat the stuffing out of me one afternoon and then blamed me for it.

    I just bought a small year round cottage at the lake. Got the keys this weekend.
    I will be spending a few years at the beach working on myself and building up my career – no more men for now.

    I am almost 50 and I am no longer afraid to be alone in this world. Once I stopped caring about pleasing others and trying to fit into society’s idea of what my life “should” look like – I could finally breath and be myself.

      • Thank you. Lots of dark moments mixed in with the mighty ones.

        Everyone here is as tough as nails. Thank God Tracy is here to remind us. And I am also grateful for the amazing people who share their stories and inspire those of us who need it!

    • Oh Lucky you are dear to me…what a path we have been on. SO glad that you are safe now. Im so proud of your accomplishments.

      • Thank you xoxo

        I always follow you Unicornomore ❤️
        I remember our days from another site where it was still early days for both of us!!!!

        Just to let you know – the beach is quiet and peaceful after a large storm last night.

  • Great article Tracy. BTW… I met Buckminster Fuller in college and had the pleasure of talking with him two separate occasions…

      • He was quiet charming and very inspirational. I ran out and bought copy of “Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking” the next day. I still follow the principle of “one plus one equals three.”

      • I studied Buckminster Fuller when getting my useless degree in Architectural History. Funny that you bring him up today. I was just randomly thinking about him the other day. I will try and absorb his lesson.

        • His great-aunt, Margaret Fuller was (if I may say so) even more kick-ass. Totally unwilling to live within the confines of ladyhood–or even, womanhood, of her day, she was an accomplished scholar very young, learning Greek, Latin, German, French, Math, Sciences, you name it … the first woman ALLOWED to actually borrow books from the Harvard library (heaven forfend!) She was an editor of The Dial–transcendentalist journal vastly ahead of its time, which published, among others, our dear friend Henry David Thoreau. Then, she became America’s VERY FIRST WOMAN Foreign Correspondent, writing for Horace Greeley’s widely read New York Tribune, and sailing to Italy to cover the Risorgimento in the late 1840s. Whereupon she had a child unmarried at age 40 –the dad was also 10 years her junior. They sailed for the USA soon after (married), and sadly, died in a shipwreck on American shores. But she pioneered education for women in her “Circles”, supported herself with her pen, forged a career as a journalist at a time when she got nothing but mockery and criticism. Sound familiar? She was aces.

  • Wow, this is a great post for me today. Today is my birthday and my first one since I was not married since I was 21. I am 58 years old today and yesterday was really tough thinking about my birthday and how my life is so very different than I thought it would be. Needed to hear that you have to look at your current reality and not look back to the past. Not sure exactly what my place is yet in the world, but I do want to help others in some way. I bought a rental house for my daughter and son in law and fixing it up was very rewarding, plus I really increased the value of the property. When I was really down yesterday, I went for a walk in a beautiful park yesterday and made a list in my head of all the things I am thankful for in my life. Listing all the things I am grateful for helps me to get the negative thoughts out of my head.

    • Lost wishes – happy birthday!!!! I know how tough this is! My birthday is in two weeks (first one separated) and my STBX’s is 1 day apart so for the last 20 years we always celebrated together! It’s going to be hard for me too!

      It sounds like you are doing great things – that’s great about the property! Keep on working on your amazing self! Hugs

    • Happy Birthday, LW! My first birthday alone was 59, not what I envisioned at that age either.

      But a single, independent life at this age can be just awesome. Sounds like you’re on the right path.

      When I list the things I’m grateful for, “not being married to that cheating, lying, unfeeling Cluster B any more” is at the top!

    • Happy Birthday! I hope the year brings fulfillment to some of your plans and presents you with wonderful surprises you didn’t even think to plan for!

    • I will be 59 soon and spent half my life married to a cheater. Something positive must and will come out of this. Let’s charge ahead shall we?

    • Hi lost wishes, I am 72 years old and was dumped 2 months ago. I plan to live to be at least 105 and my doctor agrees. So 58 looks young to me. :>) I plan on spending the next 30 years of my life without a cardboard cheater who is a hollow person. I will build a new life with lots to accomplish. Hang in there, the best is yet to be. A new authentic life for you and me.
      Happy Birthday!

  • At 72, I don’t have the luxury of dwelling on the past. I made a commitment to myself not to let this betrayal destroy the rest of my life. I moved to a new town, bought myself a cute house which I’m decorating and also having a garage built. I’ve held a family BBQ and 2 luncheon parties with my girlfriends. A haven’t yet found a volunteer cause that I’m interested in but I will.
    I’m driving to Rhinebeck NY for the wool and sheep show next month with some friends. I accept every invitation that is offered by friends and family. Life goes on and we can sit on the sidelines and cry or participate. Maybe there is a little wisdom that comes with aging, my first instinct when I found out about Dday was “self preservation ” life is short we can’t waste it on fools! Everyone, have a wonderful Labour Day!!

  • This was the perfect messaging to start this morning. I have been so depressed and have bees struggling with crushing anxiety and self-isolation. I started journaling three days ago every time I feel the need to talk or cry or scream. I WANT A NEW LIFE!! I hate my life now. Reading this reminded me of something I knoento be true. You can recreate from ashes and the only moments we have is NOW. We live in the present moment and we can make that moment filled with goodness and having a purpose and doing good in the world gives those moments value. There’s no value in lies, betrayal and selfish deception or self-centered living. Thank you for the great article and reminder that it’s the survivor’s spirit that moved us forward.

    • PerfectLife–I’m sorry you’re struggling. When was your D-day? The first few months are almost soul-crushing, and that feeling comes back for months after that (interspersed with feelings of respite).

      Do you have a social support network? Call on them; know the people who will simply listen and validate your pain, and take turns calling on them (to avoid compassion fatigue). Even when it is hardest to get out of bed, go sit outside to hear birds, or take a bubble bath–anything to keep up 5-10 minutes of self-care. You didn’t put yourself in this pit of despair, your cheater did, but you have the power to climb out one inch at a time.

      And sign up for the forums (top Right on this page) to tell your story to very sympathetic chumps (the Private: General threads get the most reads from chump veterans). Hugs to you.

        • More private places for chumps to post threads asking for advice, or support, or to alert other people to helpful sites/songs/books.

          In the top Right of this page, you should see a Forums link. If you click on it, you should be able to sign up for the forums (a password or link will be sent to your email). You’ll then have access to a variety of forums; the Private: General is the one best-poised for advice & support.

            • You should see a “Register” link at the top; if you’re new & don’t have a forum account, that’s the way to do it.

            • Whenever a website doesn’t seem to work for me I try a different browser and that usually solves my problem. Just a thought…

            • Anyone having trouble with the forums, just keep trying exactly what Tempest said to do.
              It took me the longest time to “get it” but one day, presto I finally did.
              Thank you Tempest for your patience with me.
              You are right, the forums are very therapeutic and fullfilling.
              You are a doll and don’t you ever forget it!

              What the hell does your cheater know, NOTHING!


      • My Dday was April 24th. He denied, twisted, blamed me, deflected and accepted no blame at all. It was hyper vigilance, hours and hours of digging because my gut kept telling me – this is big, very big and very dark. I felt I was in danger and God was telling me over and over to “wake up”. Around the first of June, I uncovered what can only be described as the mouth of hell. Sick Depravity. I think in someways I have disassociated. It seems like I am not the same person, but a person looking in on someone else’s life. I am much better than I was a week ago, two weeks ago, and 8 weeks ago….but a long, long way to ever be close to the person I once was. I think in someways he really just killed me. I feel like I am dead, but my body is still waking around. My Soul has somehow been crushed. My mind knows that this is not true and that he is a terrible person and I am much better off, but my souls feels different and changed. I have been through many things in my life, but never ever felt those events changed my soul. This had done something really bad to my internal self. The part no one should be able to touch. I am afraid that part of me isn’t something I can ever recover. I think anger would do me good, but I am having a hard even feeling anger. Then you for the posting/forum advise. The people here make it evident that there is a possibility for a new life. I hope I can push myself to that day.

        • I felt much like you are feeling for a couple of years. Then had two years of anger. It ended up leading to some deep healing and self-knowledge. I am now 6 years out and much happier than I ever expected to be. Just hang in there. It will get better.

        • I feel this way all the time. I really cannot believe someone I loved so completely. respected, and trusted could do this. It is the most profound hurt I have ever felt and I feel like a freak for feeling it this deeply, for this long. I also have not been able to conjure anger–just sadness. I do think it is getting a little better over time and I try to remind myself of the advice I give my children–that they hurt because they have the capacity to love.

  • Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to hear today.

    Last week, while I was on vacation, a coworker threw me under the bus. Old me would have let that go, kept my head down and hoped things would work out. New me called her on her shit and demanded a phone call with my boss to discuss they way things were handled.

    Even though I stood up for myself, I spent the rest of the week doubting myself. I was not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. But today’s post has boosted me. I fought cancer and a cheating husband. A bully coworker is nothing!

  • I went back to school, got a BA on sociology, a master’s in clinical mental health counseling, and I’ll complete my doctorate in social work in May 2020. All so that I can be taken seriously a I work to change the broken and dysfunctional family court system, and help targets of psychological abuse.

  • Wonderful post and great reminder that we have lives to live…we just need to shake the shit off of ourselves after the devastation.

    Today Im vacillating between building a potting bench in my back yard and my studies which will contribute to a new reality of medical / nursing care are given at end of life. I have 3 powerpoints I need to work on to teach 3 different professional populations how to implement this new reality (some of my work has already been translated into 8 languages) but the truth is that I want to dig in the dirt and paint my potting shed cabinet.

    • Congratulations on having your work translated into 8 languages, UNM!! What you’re doing is a huge humanitarian service. But today, get dirty in your garden.

  • Another great Mother Jones quote, dedicated to our own CL, who singlehandedly launched a salvo against the RIC and Esther Perel and all the others who would seek to continue the oppression of emotional abuse,

    “I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

  • Ok, great inspirational post, and I debated whether to put this out there but I was always told ask the question because at least one other person will have the same question.

    I read of all your great feats and ambitions and think “wow, what is wrong with me?” I feel like that shell of a person. On the outside I appear to be a reasonable intelligent person dealing with a fuckwit cheater but inside I am nothing but but an idiot who tried to create a fairytale life that doesn’t exist and failed.

    You people who have the courage and inspiration to go back to school in your 50’s amaze me. My lawyer said I need to come up with a plan of what I want to do now and how I am going to get there and all that does is create immense anxiety. I feel like screaming if I had known what great thing I wanted to do, I wouldn’t be in this position. Growing up, my mom was the working mom with the Master’s degree. The other moms stayed home with their children while I was the latchkey kid who hurried inside, locked the door behind me, and turned on the TV so I wouldn’t hear scary noises.

    The other houses in the neighborhood were seemingly immaculate because the mom’s had more time. We had the messy house because my mom was busy with her job. She would comment that these other women were very intelligent even though they hadn’t gone to college implying that they could have had amazing careers. Their kids were all so smart and did amazingly well in school. That is not an exaggeration. Our block may have been an anomaly but the number of high school valedictorians and people who achieved post high school acedemic and career success was quite high. I know their lives weren’t perfect as 2 succumbed to suicide. I never felt good enough there and surprise, here I am 30 years later discovering my husband is a narc cheater and I still feel I am not good enough.

    This afternoon, there will be a Labor Day gathering in my neighborhood and I want to go and take part.It is a fairly affluent neighborhood with many successful professionals and I will go but I feel like I am dub chump “which one of these is not like the others?”

    I have to fake having self esteem. Is it really fake it till you make it?

    How do I get there? Do I need years of therapy. I don’t have time and money for that. Do you have to have a grandiose plan before you take a baby step.

    Sorry for the rant but I feel like this is the real me behind the shell. I don’t want my mask to slip.

    • Feelingit–go to the neighborhood gathering. Fake self-esteem if you have to., for today Afterwards, set one tiny goal–that you will take a cake-decorating class, or volunteer at the animal shelter, or learn the taxonomic names of butterflies. Anything. Choose YOUR goal, and take the baby steps to work toward it. No one above got their Masters degree in their 50s without taking a single class first, without going to the first day of class standing out against a sea of 19-year old faces. No chump ran their first marathon without strapping on running shoes and traversing a mile.

      You worked toward a life trajectory that included a happy marriage and happy family life, and then (like all the rest of us) tripped over the roadblock that your cheater put in the way. Of course it will feel discombobulating at first to have to switch course. Start small. You don’t have to choose a goal that will alter your life entirely, just something to which you can aspire and succeed at. Then on to the next goal, until you’ve built a life centered around integrity and what’s important to you.

      • I went back to school full time at 52 while working full time. I was that old lady in the sea of 19 year olds. Most of them thought I was the teacher haha. Before I started I spoke to the professor about my odds of getting in the program at my age. He said he would rather have older people with life experience who would take the classes seriously. I was a slacker in high school. I took this new opportunity to push myself and find out what I could really do. I graduated top of my class and even tho x wouldn’t even attend my graduation I stood there proud. Discard was a couple of years later. It’s not easy, nothing in life is. Take a chance, the feeling of independence and control of your life is worth it.

    • Forget self-esteem. That comes from being happy with and proud of things you accomplish. That’s an emotion that as you see can be ephemeral. Aim instead for self-efficacy, which I define as a belief that you can step up to the challenges in front of you. You write, “My lawyer said I need to come up with a plan of what I want to do now and how I am going to get there and all that does is create immense anxiety.” Here’s a news flash: all of those women in their 50s going back to school, re-inventing their lives, feel immense anxiety, at least in the first stages. I know I felt immense anxiety when I realized my long-term financial strategy involved a Jackass who had just discarded me. Do you suppose a single SAHM of 3 doesn’t feel anxiety when she files for divorce? But they see that shutting the door and putting their heads under a pillow won’t feed the bulldog. They act because they have to. And in taking action, making a plan, weathering setback, pushing forward, changing direction, asking for help, they develop self-efficacy. I know I am at 66 looking at a long-deferred retirement and I have a somewhat shaky plan to get to it by age 75. But that’s the challenge and I am up for it.

      Here’s what I tell students who are stuck hanging on to old, unsuccessful ways of doing things: If you hang on to old ways that don’t work, you are guaranteed to fail. Let go of the mask. What will it hurt you to follow your lawyer’s wise advice and come up with a plan for your life. That’s a matter of asking yourself what you want. What kind of woman do you want to be? Who is your role model? How do you inspire yourself? What dreams have you let fall to the side of the road? What might you do to revive them? How you “get there” is to figure out what you want in your life. Then you take one step at a time to get there, expecting that there will be problems and set-backs. And when you hit a set-back, you get back up and try again. Fall down 7 times, get back up 8. Self-esteem isn’t something that we are born with. It comes as a result of developing self-efficacy, the ability to face life with resilience. You can develop that hour by hour, day by day.

    • Feelingit, I understand how you feel. So many of us do, but educated or not is not the most important measure of success. What’s important is how you treat others. Both my ex and his skank have masters degrees. I do not. Both of them have received awards, accolades in front of their peers, and bonuses. My accomplishments don’t hardly get noticed. Even my sons seem to want to spend time with their skanky father and his skank probably because they’re more exciting and have much more interesting topics to discuss. Believe me, I’m very bothered by it. I feel it’s extremely unfair and it has really tried my faith. However, I know that outward appearances are extremely deceiving, and so do you. I cannot help you improve your self esteem. It’s especially hard when EVERYTHING looks so wonderful for your ex. But you can get self esteem by reading books on boundaries, narcissism, and having faith that God is walking by your side. Also, as lonely as it is to be in your house, repairing and doing everything by yourself, try to enjoy the fact that you’re not being criticized for each decision. Remember to do this every time. I promise you. Life does get better. Treat people as you wish to be treated and respect those that do the same. Just because people have degrees does not make them good people. If those with degrees do not treat you well, DEFINITELY do NOT be intimidated by them! Know that they are jerks! And don’t associate with anybody who has shown you who they really are (i.e., jerks.)

    • Feelingit

      You are intelligent. Just the fact that you were able to share your feelings and ‘ask the question’ took courage.

      I too felt like a shell of a person three years ago. Truth is we do not know what others struggle with on a daily basis. Therefore comparing yourself to what might look like a great life on the outside might surprisingly be just the opposite regarding your neighbors.

      It’s ok to face your pain because it does have to be proceed. There’s no way around it. Three years of therapy and counting for me. It looks like a mountain to climb. It is.

      Take one step and then another. Set small goals. Pick two things you want to accomplish a day. Focus only on those things. Build something into your life once a week you can look forward to in anticipation. Exercise daily, take a walk, run or take a yoga class. Make yourself the focus.

      Small accomplishments over time will give you the strength to set long term goals. Building confidence may not be aiming for a degree right now. It might be taking one class in an area of interest.

      Seek out others who encourage. I have a friend who brags about spending 500 on a faucet for her bathroom and gives unsolicited advice. When people make you feel shitty, recognize it as being toxic. Walk away.

      You will get there one step at a time. Stop beating yourself up. Make positive statements about yourself. You are kind, intelligent and loving.

    • Sounds like you do need to untwist yourself a bit. Relax. Take some breaths. The people above are first and foremost doing what makes them mighty. It doesn’t have to change the world, it changes them. Your stories point to fear, inadequacy and some resentment. I understand why you’re going to an event this weekend….you’re still thinking with the “make everyone else happy/be normal” hat. Its…. A dumb hat. Go to your party. Enjoy it or hate it. Think of something weird and book it next weekend. Something you are a little scared of. Go take a rock climbing class. A sourdough baking class. Go birdwatching. Just go out and be not what you think you need to be. Those cookie cutter moms sound insane. And why is it only a wife’s job to clean? Screw that. Throw some ideas of perfect out the window and realize imperfect is beautiful and fun and challenging. You know what’s imperfect and full of little intricacies? A real Tiffany lamp. You know what is imperfect and made of scraps and pieces but can be more beautiful than most things? A crazy quilt. So mom wasnt home. Turn the volume Up. On whatever your jam is against those things that scare you and start looking at getting loud and weird. Find out what makes your mojo gogo. Much love

      • This is beautiful.

        Feelingit, when reading your post I wanted to tell you I feel like a shell too. No matter my accomplishments or adventures I still feel like a nothing. I’d be terrified to go to that BBQ. I would also be terrified had my lawyer asked me to make a life plan. Waaay too much pressure there. First I have to come up with something good, then I have to fulfill it? No thank you.

        BUT- here Creativerational hit on a good point. Go to the party if you want. Maybe it will be fun. Maybe it you’ll go home early because you can’t stsnd it. Oh well. At least you got some free chips. No biggie either way.

        Maybe your new plan is to do whatever you feel like. Or not do anything. Kinda stretch your wings a little to brush off that “ought to” feeling that gets you down.

        I usually have a billion things I should be doing at any given time. They weigh heavily on me. And in the past I would work to exhaustion.

        The last couple days I have sat down on the couch saying,” I’m done for the day. Screw everything else. I’m tired.” And by some miracle I actually managed to stay seated.

        So maybe instead of embarking on something new, you could figure out who is you. (Too much Dr. Seuss in our house lol) what YOUR standards are and what YOUR voice is saying.

        Your voice may have been crowded out by mean ones for so long that you don’t remember what it sounds like.

        Perhaps once you can quiet the “shoulding” voices enough to hear your voice, things like the BBQ or life plan won’t be as intimidating.

        Good luck. You are not alone.

    • Baby steps. Be proud of every little step you take . You can do this. When I learned how to start the huge mower xh had bought & I had never used (buttons,no simple key) that was huge. Then I learned how to run it forward. Another big step! Now I can reverse it. At one point I panicked crossing a rough driveway & messed up the deck. A kind neighbor was able to fix it easily. I forgave myself & practiced again. Take pride in each new accomplishment. It will get easier and you will start seeing yourself as someone who can do this. Each task you accomplish will help. Be the little train”I think I can,I think I can,yes, I can! Break things down into small increments. You can do this!

    • Sometimes I don’t “fake it ’till I make it.” Sometimes I just fake it for one or two hours. I’m also not always good at social events, so I make a deal with myself to go for a limited amount of time (at least an hour) and then I am free in good conscience to leave. Depending on the event, I may have an escape explanation prepared to deploy. Sometimes I have a better time than I expected and enjoy staying for quite awhile. Sometimes I remain anxious and leave with a smile after having met my goal.

      The point is, however, create strategies to face your fears. I have never regretted going to something–I may wish it was easier for me, but stepping up to the challenge never feels like the wrong choice.

      Also, please keep in mind that no matter how affluent or polished the people look in your neighborhood, some of those marriages are a mess. Some of those people are looking at you–the single person–and wishing they could have what you have. You aren’t hiding things anymore; quite a few of them are.

      My own social survival strategies include: asking the hosts if I can help (I do better with a role); initiating conversations with other people who are standing alone (infiltrating a chatty group is just beyond me most days); asking someone I do feel moderately comfortable with to introduce me to more people (here, I just put my cards on the table and say, “I’d like to meet more of the neighbors, but I’m not great at starting conversations cold, could you introduce me to some of the women from my end of the block or some of the other people who have dogs or some of the families you know best.”)

      Best of luck!

    • Feeling it,
      Here is something from the Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler. She personified all the qualities and I love the way she gives new meaning to them. They have helped me put things in perspective on many occasions, hope you find them helpful. Hugs

      Confidence – Confidence ignores “no trespassing ” signs. It’s as if he dosen’t see them. He is an explorer, committed to following his own direction. He studied mathematics in France and still views his life as a series of experiments, the only limits he respects are his own. He is honest and humble and very funny. After all these years, his sister doesn’t understand why he still ice skates with Doubt.

      Courage – Courage has roots. She sleeps on a futon on the floor and lives close to the ground. Courage looks you straight in the eye. She is not impressed with power trippers and knows first aid. Courage is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to. When Courage walks, it is clear that she has made the journey from loneliness to solitude. The people who told me she is stern were not lying; they just forgot to mention that she is kind.

      Anxiety – Anxiety is secretive. He does not trust anyone, not even his friends, Worry, Doubt, Terror and Panic. He has away of glomming onto your skin like smog, and then you feel unclean. He likes to visit me late at night when I am alone and exhausted. I have never slept with him but he kissed me on the forehead once, and I had a headache for two years. He is sure a nuisance to get out of the house. He has no respect for locks or curtains or doors. I speak from experience. It takes cunning to get rid of him, a combination of anger, humor and self-respect. A bath helps too. He does not like to get wet. As a last resort, if you are not near a bathtub, wet your face with tears.

    • Feelingit,
      I hope you went to the get together and that you enjoyed it.
      I am thinking that you are the strongest lady there!
      Who else there has gone through all the shit that you have lately and is still standing tall? How many are the present, sane, loving parent?
      Feelingit, YOU are mighty.
      I read your post. This is hell what you have been going through, but you get up each morning, you put your best foot forward. You love your children with all of your heart.
      When things settle a bit for you, there will be lots of time for you to find something that will bring joy to your deserving heart. It may be taking courses, it may be volunteering.
      In the meantime, please be gentle with yourself and your feelings sweet lady.
      I am so proud of you and if I could be 1/2 as strong as you have been and are, I would call myself mighty!

      ((((Many Many Hugs))))

    • How many of these thoughts are echoes of his attitude toward you? We tend to see ourselves as we think the most important people in our lives see us. And we can never see the insecurities other people are feeling. I was praying once and feeling overwhelmed. I asked God, “how do you feel about me?” I heard this tender thought in my mind. “He was SO WRONG about you!” It was so wrapped up in love that filled my heart. I use that thought to remind myself whenever I hear his words in my head. I am a different woman than I was when he died 6 years ago. I have a dumpster in my driveway as I am moving this week from the house we lived in. I am putting some of those residual beliefs in that dumpster as it leaves.

  • I need this today. I am two years divorced SAHM after 20 years married to a serial cheater that I did not know until after D-Day. He left after getting a job doubling his salary and left me and two sons just starting college living on 1/10 of the money. He was violent and hurt me physically when he left. I was also sick, so I have spent the last two years, getting a job to make ends meet, paying the kids college and healing from two surgeries and cancer.

    I am not saying this to get everyone to feel sorry for me, but explaining that I am stuck in moving forward. I am NC with EX for a year and not really missing him but I do miss fun and days when things could be easy. I want to find a passion but I am always so tired and stressed. My sons have been wonderful and so supportive but it is time for them to see me smile again, how do you get there?

    These people lost so much more than me and still can move forward. I do not want to compare myself to others but two years and I still can not find out what I want? Not sure how to even start the babysteps.

    • OK. You’ve survived a betrayal, a cruel discard, the loss of secure income, getting a paying job after being a SAHM, sending the kids off to college, two surgeries and cancer. In two years.

      I’m thinking you are hard on yourself. Of course you’re tired. And maybe a little depressed. Talk to your doctor and see what he thinks about your mood state. And if you are depressed and don’t want to take meds (or can’t because of other therapies), look into EMDR, which is very useful in trauma recovery.

      One place to start is to make some lists:
      1. List what you were interested in as a kid. I don’t mean “what you want to be when your grow up.” I mean what did you feel passionate about at 7? at 12? at 15? at 18? at the time your married? I’m guessing one thing is you wanted to be a mother. You did that and did it well. For me–I loved cats. Loved flower gardens. Loved baseball. Loved to play “teacher.” Loved to write. All of the things I love now have roots in my past. Now that’s not true for everyone, but it’s a place to start looking. What parts of you have you left behind and can revive?
      2. List jobs you would be interested in if you were 21 and starting life over again. Would you work in a clothing boutique? Join the police department or the military? Go into computers? Start a business? Imagine yourself at 21 and dream what the 21 you would want to do. This will tell you things about longings you have right now.
      3. If you didn’t have to work and the kids were all launched, what would you want to do with your time?
      4. What are you grateful for?
      5. When you think of “giving back,” what do you think of? Where would you put time, energy and money?

      I remember my good friend coming to me in a U writing center, not knowing where to start on her Ph.D. work. I said, “Make a list.” And we went from there. Find someone–friend, relative, former teacher, pastor, therapist–to talk with you about your lists. I also used Pinterest boards to help me re-invent myself. I’ve got about 80 of them, about everything from courage and vulnerability to the suffering I did after D-Day. I pinned ideas for my house, for my workouts. I pinned stuff I loved that made no sense so they went on a board about random stuff I love. But all of that helped me clarify when I want to be. All of those cheesy Pinterest memes about character, confidence and courage that I pinned—I was sending my intention to develop those traits into the Universe. What you put your mind on expands. So start making lists, vision boards (or just a little vision journal). Collect things that inspire you or make you feel. Then see what happens.

      • ???????? This, times a million! Everything I ever wanted (and got!) started with writing it down. What is powerful, is that no matter what our age, background, etc., we can always reinvent ourselves, try something new, achieve a dream. We need only to make a commitment to it. Every one of us has done that-and well! It really does begin with baby steps too. ????

    • TheBestMe deep respect to you paying kids college, healing from 2 surgeries, and continuing to raise 2 fine young men. It’s not surprising that you have had little time to explore your passions. as a starting point what things do you like to do with your discretionary time? what things make you lose track of time or bring a smile to your face? Can you create a scrapbook or Pinterest of things you like or would like to do.? Are there clues in things you keep or look at or people that you admire? For me even at my busiest I love to get outdoors somewhere beautiful especially near the coast, flowers that smell nice, and to prepare healthy food with a variety of fresh fruit and veges. Spend time talking and walking with friends. Also spending time reading on learning and inspiration, study and work. this last year has really accelerated my learning in ways and I would not have chosen and I’m determined to make lemonade. Wishing you well figuring our your special things that make your heart sing.

    • I wish my brother was alive so he could tell you what he did. He married a girl he had known most of his life. We all had. None of us knew what a selfish person she is. It is hard for me to imagine any mother abandoning her children but she did. I saw a wreck of a family. What my brother did was get angry. My laid-back, easy-going, brother got so angry that he got full custody of his children and then never looked back. This was a man who had cried so hard I thought he was losing his mind. But I never saw him crying again. He pushed himself forward where he got a great promotion at work, started dating, and having a social life, and looked after his kids. He found another woman. He married, very happily, and had more children before he died. He never looked back.
      I think the reason it is so difficult for so many people is because you feel discarded. Well he was not going to take that. He was not going to be the garbage his wife threw away. Get angry. Get so mad that you get busy with your life and leave whatever that mess is behind you. That is my brother’s legacy. It is just to keep going.

    • TheBestMe

      You are surviving! Yet you are suffering the impact of being your adult children’s sole provider. Here comes a big 2×4 as I have been in the same situation.

      First you need to take care of your needs. I know it’s a novel idea for chump moms who want to be supportive of their children.

      Boundaries and expectations go hand in hand. Apply them to everyone on your life including your adult children.

      Have expectations. Give them the gift of responsibility. They can get part time jobs and pay for their phones, food and car insurance. Both my adult children have student loans. Be sure to file as head of household at tax time. And claim them.

      Focus on paying down your debt. For me this meant years of no cable, cutting my phone bill in half, buying from consignment stores. My son and granddaughter saw me not as a victim suffering but as a role model.

      There is nothing wrong with surviving. The shift to thriving was about becoming a bit more selfish as opposed to selfless.

      Year three for me is being debt free, putting money into an additional retirement account and finally living my life. I’ve taken on a part time job that is flexible.

      Never suffer in silence. Doing it all is mighty, delegating responsibility is mightier. Make cuts. It works.

  • I needed this post today big time.

    I have been pathetic. D-day was nearly 4 long, painful years ago and I still haven’t left him.
    I am 62 and married 38 years. I’ve been going to the gym, getting fit, losing weight and feeling empowered again. I know I need to go and live a new, vibrant life on my own but I’ve been stuck.

    This is so inspiring Tracy, thank you. You and CN have been keeping me sane for months. I just wish I had discovered you sooner.

    • You’ve been beaten down for 38 years. Be kind to yourself. It’s never to late to reinvent yourself. But remember that what you do now is how you build the future. The gym was a great idea. Now add one more thing to your re-invention.

      • Lovedajackass, Thank you. Since D-day, there have been other difficulties: husband losing his job and we lost the house. Then my daughter had cancer. BUT… weirdly, I now know that none of this matters because no matter how low you sink, you can always get back up and make a new life . Thankfully, my daughter has been given the all clear too, so I have no excuses.

        • Be True

          Good to hear your daughter is doing well.

          You are living with an asshole. Years of toxic keeps you stuck. I was with my loser for forty one years. It was always about LOSS.

          Fuck guilt. Fuck how others will view your decisions. With him there’s no dodging dread you feel. I’ve been there.

          Examine why you are staying. If it’s financial, make a plan. Set yourself up to live a better life. But GET OUT.

          When I think of where I would have been had I stayed I shudder. Driving your own bus requires facing your fears.

          Single at sixty is a million times better than sacrificing myself for a man who was toxic and depleted my life continuously. You can do it.

          • Doing me

            It feels so nice to hear this from someone who also suffered so many years of it. I do feel guilt. He doesn’t want me to leave but every day I stay I am reminded of what he did and can’t get it out of my head. It is true, if we had enough assets to split, it would be easier for me but I’m working on an income that will support me alone.
            I really appreciate your reply more than you could know. Thank you.

            • YOu might want to consult with an attorney while you are planning. DO not underestimate him. HE wouldn’t be the first to go after alimomey or run up debt while you are planning.

              Wishing you the best.

  • Feeling It and The Best Me:
    I am two and a half years after a D-day of my own, after 32 years of marriage, and still married, although I am now in stealth mode, have an appointment with a lawyer later this month, and will be lowering the boom after I meet with the lawyer.
    For most of those two and a half years, and for years before that, I struggled with the sense that I needed to end my marriage. Even before I knew the reason for my husband’s disengagement, I resented how he had pushed onto me all the responsibility–I was his emotional caretaker as well as caring for the household and yard. But I was afraid I couldn’t make it on my own. I was afraid I’d discover that the life I was dreaming of was beyond me, that I wasn’t equal to my dreams. I had been trained by my mother and father to put my husband before me, and I had no self esteem–even though I have a PhD and a job as a tenured professor. And I still felt the obligation to being married. So I stayed. And through all of it I spackled–I was the queen of plastering and paper-hanging.
    D-Day freed me from the feeling that I was obligated to the marriage, but I still couldn’t find it in me to leave. I pick me danced; I toed his line. Finding Chump Lady saved me, and slowly I began to re-frame my ideas. The light went on. I stopped spackling; I have learned to trust that he sucks. I got closer and closer to leaving the marriage. D-Day was like a death, and I started to grieve–everything everyone grieves. The illusion of the future I was never really going to have had anyway. The marriage I never had and was never going to have had. I feel as if I’ve grieved a lot over the past two and a half years, and I had to do that to get to the point I could leave. It’s like I grieved the death of my marriage before separation and divorce.
    I don’t know your individual situations. I don’t know if your husbands left after D-Day, or whether you threw them out. But I think maybe you are both doing this grieving. Maybe you couldn’t do it before. Maybe you did some of it. But it seems to me that you weren’t given the chance to do it on your own terms and in your own time. The shock of discovery, financial insecurity, cancer, surgeries, the legacy of a wounding childhood…no wonder you are not yet feeling mighty. But I think you can. I think it would help to think about everything you’ve survived, how far you’ve come, the successes you’ve had despite the setbacks. Every challenge you’ve met, everything you’ve survived, every way you’ve persevered or asserted yourself in the face of a feeling of inadequacy–those are victories, your victories. Perseverance in the face of adversity counts as mighty.

    • Dear Dr. TfM,

      You’re not just trying for mighty, you ARE mighty! It’s so hard to leave a marriage after decades together, even when you know it’s not right. Chances are, it wasn’t all bad, that you were getting intermittent reinforcement from your cheater to stick around.

      Under those circumstances you have to be incredibly mighty to do what you are doing. I couldn’t leave my cheating husband of 31 years and was just lucky that he left me. If he hadn’t, I would never have discovered how great it is to be single and powerful and cheater-free, even at this age.

      Lower that boom, and don’t look back!

      • Champ Chump,
        Thanks so much! Your words brought tears to my eyes, because I don’t feel mighty at all; what I feel is that I don’t have a choice in the matter of divorcing him, because by his actions and words he’s made it clear that for me there’s no future worth having in this marriage. It’s been a wrenching decision long in coming. More than once over the past few years I’ve found myself wishing he would leave and spare me the effort. I finally decided he likes the comfortable life made possible by his wife appliance–he just doesn’t like his wife! I also think he thinks that because I haven’t yet done it I won’t do it. But now I’ve reached the stage of realizing: as he won’t do it, I will–just like everything else in our marriage.

        • You do have a choice, and you’re making it. You have the option to stay in the marriage, obviously. But when we’re in soul-sucking marriages to disordered Cluster B’s, the longer we stay in them, the more we lose of ourselves.

          The good news is that no matter how much of ourselves we’ve lost (and I myself dwindled down to practically nothing), we can get it back and then some. It’s painful and challenging, but also empowering, freeing, and so gratifying to rebuild after being diminished by a disordered spouse for so long. You have that to look forward to.

          Of course he won’t do it, the passive-aggressive asshole. He’s sitting in the catbird seat right now, why would he change that? You’ll do it—not for him, but for yourself. You’re setting yourself free, signing your own emancipation proclamation.

          Congratulations, and please keep us here at CN informed on your progress!

  • Thank you CL – this is amazing!!!! I really needed to read this today!!!! I have always been a fighter and I know I will be again! It’s been an especially hard week (10 weeks post DDay 2- divorce almost finalized). I know I am better off w/o him but a few difficult things happened with him this week and I’ve been devastated! Like full on PTSD symptoms again when I thought I was moving towards a better path.

    On top of that my therapist died suddenly in her sleep (no known health problems). I loved her and she’s been helping me for years. I am beyond devastated! Her co-worker is going to continue my therapy.

    Just a tough week! This is a great reminder to continue to plow ahead and fight for that new life!!!!

    Hugs to all my fellow chumps!!!!

    • I read CL all the time, and find myself among good, kind people…kindred spirits. With each story here, there is a bit of mine and in many ways, our experiences are alike…. Just know, there are many here who are cheering you on! To your new journey(s)-“baby steps!”- forward!

  • This post came at a perfect time for me CL. I read your book cover to cover on Saturday and I am certain I will be grateful one day for the better life I am now able to gain without a cheater, but I’m absolutely wrought with confusion and grief over the loss of what I thought was a great with my husband. Almost nine months since DDay and this weekend, I feel like I’m back at square one with denial, incessant crying etc. Just a few more painful “firsts” to get through without him though (holidays being the worst). The resiliency of Mother Jones makes me angry at myself for being so incapacitated over being “just a chump” in comparison to what she endured and overcame with such massive badassery! I always considered myself to be a strong person (and others viewed me that way as well) and now I don’t know where that part of me is or whether it will ever be back. I was doing some volunteer work at a local festival yesterday as an attempt to keep my mind off of the Labor Day weekend getaways of the past 25 years that have been rendered nonexistent (along with all of our other traditions) due to my husband’s abandonment of me. While watching happy couples stroll around at the event (and in general), I get obsessed with wondering what on earth I did that made my husband want to cast me aside so he could do those same things with someone else. I seriously thought what we had was something special, but I guess it was all an illusion. Questions roll around in my head day and night along with visions of my husband having more fun with OW and telling everyone how lucky he is to be rid of me and to have found his true soulmate. Does he ever think of me in a positive way…or at all? Does he ever miss “us”? Why is it so easy for him to immediately place a substitute in my role? Why doesn’t OW mind living with a married man? Why isn’t anyone telling them that what they are doing is wrong? I guess I’ll never understand how the disordered think, or be able to relate to the Switzerland folks who turn a blind eye to the immorality. We are literally disposable and interchangeable to cheaters. I need to get a life of my own. I lived mine around him and what I thought we had for far too long. I just keep getting stuck in a pattern of self loathing due to his effortless discard of me. It’s stunting me from doing what I know I need to do. There is no time machine to get those years back and I’m wasting precious moments now by overanalyzing STBX and OW when it all can be summed up to the fact that they suck. I may need to get one of those electric shock dog collars and try to invent a way for it to zap me whenever I think of those two losers.

    • You just described my daily thought process. I only had 8 years with mine and I can’t imagine what it feels like to have this happen after 25 years. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. I am 8 months today from D-day. I still struggle to trust that he sucks even though he continues to do things that prove just that.

      • Dear pregnant chump,

        YOU have been mighty for 8 months and you get more Mighty every day!

        You may not feel it, but you should.
        It shows! CN knows!


        • Thank you peacekeeper,
          STBX has gone on holiday for 2 weeks with schmoopie today. This stings because he lied to me about booking a family holiday. He made me believe for 6 months that we were going away before the baby was born. He made this up for reasons I’ll never understand. It is things like this that make me believe he sucks. I still struggle to understand how he can justify these things to himself. Maybe I don’t want to understand as then I’d be like him.

    • Dear SIR,

      Don’t castigate yourself for not feeling better at this point or for ruminating constantly about what was done to you or what your husband is doing. It is something we all suffer through, and the recovery schedule is different for everyone. Maybe our brains have to do this to process the whole, unbelievable situation. I’ve been separated for 3 1/2 years and my long, drawn-out divorce was final six months ago. I still have little flashback feelings that my x is “mine.” Even though he repulses me, now that I know what he really is.

      Since finding CL and CN, my mantra has become “Trust that he sucks.” It’s been difficult to internalize that, because for 31 years I trusted that he was trustworthy and loved me. The cognitive dissonance was almost insurmountable–I remember well going through what you’re going through.

      With time, you will stop ruminating, you’ll learn to see the reality that you were married to a disordered Cluster B, you’ll actually feel grateful and fortunate that someone else is with him now, instead of you. But getting there is a long, painful marathon, and as some wise chump said here once (I think it was Tempest), “You can’t sprint a marathon.”

      Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going through the motions of life. When you get knocked down by the pain, don’t fight it. Let it wash over you and fade away. When it happens again, do the same thing all over again. Each time you feel the pain, you build a little more confidence that it’s temporary and will fade. It’s a time-consuming process!

      It also helped me a lot to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and Cluster B personalities. I’m convinced that people who can fake happy marriages for decades, then leave them overnight are, without exception, disordered. We are better off without them.

      Good luck honey, and hugs!

      • Thank you champchump. Your advice about being knocked down by the pain reminded me of swimming in the ocean and my first attempts at surfing. Confidence does build with each wipe-out and often times, motivation to catch the next wave kicks in even more as a result. I took a screenshot of your supportive words and suggestions so I can reread them again and again. I will continue to research narcissism and Cluster B personalities, etc. One day, I hope to be able to help someone the way you’ve done for me. Thank you so much! You’re a gem!

    • I’m 10 months post DD- married 36. Three grown kids- holidays suck. Our family home just sold on Saturday. Ex asshole is in Africa for 3 weeks with OW on vacation. Divorce should move quickly now with house sold and forensic accountant almost complete. I have to look at it as a new start at 58! Just haven’t had the energy or interest to go there yet. Need to spend some quality time figuring it out. I was a SAHM while ex was traveling- you get the idea! So overwhelming- but it could be worse! Just take one day at a time . That’s my mantra!

  • I am looking into getting a new career but I’m not sure what in at the moment. My job at the moment is very rewarding but not financially viable. I have been totally screwed financially by STBX leaving when he did. Child support doesn’t even cover half my rent plus everything else I have to pay out for.

    I need something I can do around a baby and a 3 year old. My 3 year old is at pre school a few hours a week and could do more if I needed him too. I currently work with children and young people.

  • I have had that saying on my living room wall for the last 25 years, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

    It is here that I found “…fight like hell for the living” Mother Chump Lady. YOU are a living legend.

  • This is like a mightiness check in. I rebuilt my flagging online business, fought for a decent settlement including buying my wackjob out of our house. I sold that house and bought one that allows me to live mortgage free and develop the nanny suite into a great bnb space for extra income. I love and nuttier my kids as I have always done. Listen when they need to talk out their sperm donors bullshit.. I am close to meh. Doing well have more security and money than I did with him( should not have been such a shock since he spent the last 5 years of our marriage leeching from me). It’s good and I am slowly working my way to actual happiness!!

  • “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” I love this! I have just made it my lock screen on my iPad!
    I am somewhat stuck at the moment, trying to figure out what I want my future to look like. Spent the last 9 months (never mind before) just trying to get through the junk.
    Everyone keeps telling me now is the time to decide what I want for the future (and I want to do this too) but not sure what it is. There are many good things in my life but I don’t want just more of the same, only poorer and harder work. I feel like I need something radical – and something meaningful. This is great!

  • I think one of the things you need to do when changing your life and looking for the path to success is question your old life goals and your definition of success. When I was young I accepted other people’s goals and visions of success, but after two long time wasting relationships with Cluster B Narcs I examined and rejected most of the things other people had told me I “must” do to be happy, and created a much simpler achievable definition of success. My life is less materialistic and more about activities and genuine people which bring joy into my daily life. I have no time for players and liars, and I could care less where other people shop. My favorite purchases come from garage sales and thrift stores if I go shopping at all. I have downsized and spend very little time now caring for possessions, most of my free time is spent enjoying music in some form with a select few of my genuine quality friends. Whatever your joy is, define it and celebrate it on your own terms, and say goodbye to anyone who tries to govern your life according to their standards. If a friend truly loves you that friend ( or family member) wants you to be happy. Find what makes you happy and you will be a success.

    For a practical pathway to work or education, particularly if you are older, start at a community college. They are usually the least expensive, have excellent testing capabilities, and are tied in to a wide variety of programs to earn certificates or two year degrees. They can also refer you to other even more technical programs if that is your interest Once you complete your program of choice you can either go to work, or advance to a four year degree program, and from there, beyond if that is your dream. Don’t let age deter you, but also don’t let other people’s title’s define your definition of success. There are many unhappy people with advanced degrees, they do not guarantee happiness or a great job. Community colleges have student populations of all ages, and universities are not only for 19 year olds either. Get what you need to pursue your dream, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are too old to find a path to happiness.

  • I had a rough week and woke up in a bad place this morning thinking, I wish I could read a CL post. I was off from work and thinking it was Sunday. I pulled up the site anyway, planning to read over some old posts where I could draw strength, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s Monday and that you featured one of my favorite activists. Two years ago, LadyLiar and I rented a beach cottage to celebrate her birthday. Apparently, she rented it with her girlfriend this year, because the owner (accidentally) called ME to confirm the reservation. I vomited when I hung up the phone, barely making it to the sink. I wallowed in the emotional quicksand for a few hours before I was able to put my sneakers on, take the dog for a walk, enjoy the glorious sunshine, and head back to the land of mighty. Thank you, once again, for being a beacon of light.

  • One of my kid’s birthdays today. As we are separated in house, I went and got cards and she asked me to pick one up for her. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
    Got the card for her but it wasn’t good enough after she saw I’d written in the one I bought because there wasn’t enough space in hers. She then cries in front of kid, and starts drinking.
    I make my kids dinner, she joins, starts a fight and temper tantrums away from the table.
    Time for cake. She did get a cake at least, started being the cool mom, and that’s a wrap, retires to text shmoopie.

    They suck. They always will suck. You will always need to be the sane parent to their selfish asses. I don’t understand how legally she can get away with this bullshit. It’s like the police saying the friend you had over for dinner can keep the jewellery he stole from you because you invites him in and get him. It’s just soooooo fucked.

  • DunChumpin, Wow, this sounds *exactly* like the disordered. Number one, you are no longer obligated to celebrate together. Your Cheater made that decision for you all a while back. While you may share a child together, it is important now to model healthy relationships. Children with separated families celebrate separately. Number two, this day should have been special…but like many here know, it wasn’t. Instead, Crazy was running the household. She ruined the birthday celebration because life will always be about her; to the disordered ‘nobody else matters’. This is how Narcs behave, and this is who she is. Let her relationship without you. No more doing errands/chores/favors for her; she is just getting a high from kibbles and CAKE. Cut her off. I am sure this is NOT the only day in your family’s life that Cheater has fucked it all up. My advice? Read the many articles here on setting healthy boundaries and seek advice from those whose experiences have mirrored yours. Even when you are separated but are sharing a home, chores, and children, you can still move yourself and your children (your new family????) forward in a healthy way.

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