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I Want What She’s Having

There’s that famous scene in “When Harry Met Sally” at the delicatessen where Sally’s faking an orgasm to prove a point to Harry… and the older woman in a nearby booth deadpans, “I want what she’s having.”

I was trying to think of a title for this morning’s Fun Friday challenge and that line popped in my head. When you’re out there gaining a life, post-cheater, what do you want? What badass person do you draw on for inspiration? Is there a career, a relationship, an achievement that you aspire to — that you recognize in another and think “I want what she’s having”?

I’m not talking about phony social media impression management. Or envy. I’m talking aspiration and goal setting. I mean the revelation that Other Forms of Life exist. OMG, you can earn a living wage doing that? OMG, you mean there are people who reciprocate? OMG, you mean I don’t have to do this entire project by myself and clean up the moldy pizza boxes afterwards?

I’m talking about raising your standards for yourself. And looking for some bars to measure by.

I remember a conversation my mother told me about the relationship between her grandparents. (I remember my great-grandparents well… they lived into their 90s.) She said they always talked to each other over the newspaper every morning. Being in northern Michigan, it was probably some trenchant commentary on the day’s trout fishing, but anyway whatever interesting little nugget it was, they shared it with each other. They delighted in each other’s company. They were companionable.

It just struck me as rather revolutionary. I want what great-grandma Wallace is having. Someone isn’t having a sulk, or disappeared to go “work late”? Or found a thousand things more interesting than spending time with you? Such contentment EXISTS?

You can go either way with this. You can let the knowledge grieve you, because you don’t have it. And question the veracity of such things. Or you can think — I want that. I’m going to measure my relationships by that and not settle.

So, CN, what’s inspiring you these days?

The art is copyrighted by Tracy Schorn, from my book “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.”

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a narcissist, but my answer is Me. I have an amazing job that includes international travel; I was able to keep my house, in my name; I am able to take my family on vacations and be with them every day; I’m healthy-ish. I’m thriving. But, I can’t feel any of it. I don’t feel the joy of what I’ve accomplished in the aftermath of Mr. Sparkles. I still wake up thinking he’s there (it’s been 3 years). I go to work, take care of the kids, see my friends… but it just feels like I’m going through the motions. I wish I could feel the joy of having survived and I wish it was finally Tuesday. So, I guess I’m just going to have to keep kicking “me” in the ass every day… Like when Cher slaps Nicolas Cage in “Moonstruck”… snap out of it. TGIF Chump Nation.

    • Maybe you need a reminder icansee. I suggest you get a bit artistic for example: paint something in you house a bright colour, wear a hair extension for a day, dress in pink, buy something really kitsch for the living room, just do something you could never have done when you were together, something a little rebellious and liberating. Xx

        • He took our master bedroom set (I didn’t want it anyway..the memories.. gross). So, after a year of sleeping on my daughters old twin bed, I splurged on a new comfy queen bedroom set AND best of all bought beautiful feminine bedding. I always had to decorate to his bland brown neutal tastes. Always. So I bought a light blue, grey and white paisley comforter with a pillow that says “Follow Your Dreams”. It not only inspires me but its my favorite place to be. I never realized how much I needed that.

          • Also, just wanted to mention, tonight is my Medical Assistant graduation ceremony. I always wanted a career and to be a nurse.. After a shitty 30 year marriage and 2 year separation, I’m finally having both! Time to celebrate this new chapter. I refuse to let him steal my joy or any more of my time. Thanks, CN for always being there for me!

          • I love this so much.

            I want to buy myself a white bed set with little purple violets and eyelet lace. I haven’t found one yet, maybe I’ll sew it instead.

          • Wow! Your comment could have been me! I kept the bedroom furniture intitially because I needed to be practical. I was able to buy a small condo (no small feat in California!) and I will getting myself a new bedroom set. No marriage bed in my new place!!! Most exciting for me is that I will be infusing color everywhere!! From paint to comforter to pillows! I too had to always settle for his brown or black in EVERYTHING. We deserve color in our lives after what we put with! Here’s to Tuesday.

            • Yes.. Ladies, Here’s to Tuesday!!! I love all your comments and I have to say, ever since I moved out, I cannot tell you what a joy it is to infuse color back into my life. Sunflower36..go find or make that bedset!!! It sounds beautiful and I promise it will make all the difference! Martha, that is so awesome! You are fierce and you will be an extraordinary nurse!!! Twoblackcats, congratulations on the condo!!! That is awesome! I love that you are going to take it to the next level and make it amazing! It has been hard to establish my own credit. I couldn’t even get $800 for a washer /dryer at Home Depot. (My 21 year old son had to apply so we could buy the set. It was beyond humiliating and incredibly humbling). However, I want to share that after the breakup, my oldest daughter gave me a canvas print that hangs in my room…it says “Live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Be fearless in the face of adversity. NEVER STOP LEARNING. BE TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE. Recognize the beauty that surrounds you. Be the architect of your own destiny. This Life is yours to CREATE.” I am so grateful to her for believing in me when I had lost all hope and any sense of who I was..my whole life and self worth was tied to him. This reminds me that I get to choose. (That wasn’t the case in my marriage and it was the hardest thing for me to understand until I started living it.) My life. My choices. I can definitely see Tuesday from here. And finally, Chumptitude and Tessie…Thank you so much for the kudos!❤❤❤

    • I don’t think you are supposed to feel the joy yet. It is not harvest time. Plus hard work is just that- hard. It is hard to pick up all the pieces and be responsible for your half and their half of the work. But I totally understand what you mean. I know joy will come some day. What I feel most days is satisfaction. I say in my head ‘can’t crack me’. Walk out on me and 4 kids, have a girlfriend, have OW watch my kids, don’t pay support….not even a crack. I think he thought I would break. Nope. Not even a hairline fracture Mo Fo. So joy, not yet. Satisfaction, every freakin day.

      • This is right where I am… happily coexisting with satisfaction.

        I do have truly joyful days here and there; well, perhaps it’s more like joyful events or experiences on satisfactory days… the needle hasn’t moved to “Pure Joy” just yet. I know Tuesday is coming, but for now, satisfaction with a little joy sprinkled in here and there is waaaay better than what I had before.

        • I don’t think life is meant to be or will ever be “pure joy”. I believe I need to reach for contentment and sprinkles of pure joy. That is a happy life that we can all acheive. Not even close to it yet but I am trudging forward.

      • Your post hits home Kate. I am not as far out as you but rationally I know I am surviving just fine without cheater. I can do things that cheater did before. I am now having to contact financial advisors- something I dread but I will get through it. One told me that she sees that a lot in divorce that especially women have let husbands handle that while the women handle other things – divide and conquer. She was impressed with the steps I was taking but I was having one of my “if only I was a better wife, this wouldn’t have happened” days. Will that go away? In reality it is “if only he were a better husband” and I can’t control that.

        Last night in the kids therapy, the therapist said he thinks it is time to bring stbx into talk to the kids. He hasn’t had any contact with them since last December. We are in the midst of many legal depositions because he is not forthcoming to put it nicely. Therapist has seen that he rages at the kids in texts after depositions- (I think it is a feeling of loss of control). Therapist said he was concerned over scheduling the meeting during a stressful week with depositions but then he said “no, he has to learn he can’t take his stress out on the kids”. I didn’t say anything but I thought Stress? He has no stress. He only worries about himself. I am 100% responsible for the kids. His mom still looks after his business. He is not obligated to schmoopie. She is panting after him. To top it off, he is on a fricken bear hunt this week. How metaphorically appropriate is that lol! Life is good- all about him. Truly a narcissist!

        For now, I am grateful for my day to day and appreciate what I have. Some day I hope to have greater goals but for now it is do the next thing.

        • “if only he were a better husband” Yes. This. I had a momentary relapse on this point yesterday when I was briefly thinking the other way around again “if only I hadn’t been so inadequate”, but I am over it now (luckily I had my breakdown at the therapists office, but she s me straight pretty quick).

        • Feelinit.I hear you…one day at a time. He hasn’t seen his kids since December? He’s really only into himself 100%. All cheaters are only into themselves…what’s in it for them. My cheater hasn’t seen his kid in forty something days but he managed to find the time to go on vacation with his mistress. He tells his daughter he misses her and wishes he could give her a hug and doesn’t bother to call her the next day. I tell her look at his actions don’t listen to his words. Today they had ‘dad for donuts day’ at school and my heart broke for her. When she gets home I need to remind her that even if we were all still together he still would not have been at her school for her. It’s a constant reminder that our lives blew up because of this selfish asshole…but all any of us can do is take it one day at a time…and our Tuesday will come.

          • Exactly, he would not have been there for her anyway. I still remember when ex was the only dad who didn’t show up for “Donuts for Dad” at preschool because he had to work. As if none of the other Dads had jobs. I guess impressing the bosses was more important than impressing his kid.

            • CIR – my guy would say he had to be at work… then he’d tell work he had to be at Donuts for Dads… then he’d go fuck a Craigslist hooker. I know you can’t tell your children that, but boy if you could 🙂

          • Part of my smug rehab–I used to think (I’m ashamed) that mommy days and daddy days at the school were perfectly normal and acceptable and it’s not anyone else’s issue if moms and dads couldn’t keep their shit together for their kids.

            Now I see that the only people who suffer from this arrogant, narrow-mindedness (it’s chauvinism, isn’t it?) are kids. And it’s not like it’s a new thing that confuses people–“What’s this about some children not having a father present? You mean some mothers have to work during the annual mother’s tea? You mean some kids have one foster parent? You mean sometimes grandparents are raising their kids? You mean, sometimes there is no mom? What? Sometimes kids have two moms or two dads?”

            I really wish the schools would do away with sanctioned shaming. It’s bad enough a kid’s heart is broken every day–you don’t need to shine a damned light on the bleeding.

            Fuck. Now I’m pissed off.

          • Chiming in here. Two amazing adult kids. Cheater has not seen son – a wonderful educated, funny, smart, great job in over a year, his granddaughter who is 18 months – maybe twice, his daughter – a few times and at her suggestion.

            Yet, he moves schmoopie in and her two kids.

            I hate him somedays. I really do. I love my kids – I know they are hurting but they have told me they are ok and they will deal with dad and leave me out of it. I am proud of them for setting a boundary with me.

            But not up to me to manage his relationships anymore, I did that for 30 plus years.

            His new have no morals schmoopie can be his relationship manager. So far not looking too good as he doesn’t talk to his siblings either.

            Thanks for listening.

            ONWARD!

        • Feelinit, one thing that drives me crazy about so many therapists is the assumption that everyone is rational and really care about their kids. They thus have as a goal a “Koombayaa” moment where everyone forgives and lives in harmony going forward.

          You would think that they would know that a disordered Narc (and if they abandoned their kids they pretty much are) is only capable of caring for themselves. There will NEVER be a “koombayaa” moment and it is both sick and actually damaging to demand that the Chump and abandoned kids immediately forgive someone for the horrors that were done to them.
          In my own case, my D-day, Divorce, marrying the OM and my Ex then moving 500 miles away with my kids is a wound that will never totally heal. Yes, I’ve moved on (5 years since divorce), remarried a fabulous woman and am happy BUT wounds of that magnitude never totally heal. I got angry and left one of those “Koombaya” therapist types and got a better one who really helped me. Your kid’s relationship with their father is on HIM — not you and you nor the therapist should drive that. If HE wants to be part of the therapy AND pay for it then fine that’s his deal but it has nothing to do with you !!

          • You are really making me think Laughing Gator. I was feeling very uncomfortable last night with the thought of my two youngest in the therapy room with Stbx. While this therapist gets that Stbx is playing the blame game and showing anger towards me, he seems to think that he has to try bringing him into the room and telling him that he has to listen to their thoughts and he is not allowed to blame me.

            My gut says he will try to image manage but there is no chance that he will come around to really not blameshift because he is a sociopathic narc. Therapist acknowledges this and that he may not change but he says he is obligated to try. I wonder though, because what is he, a magician? My daughter has flat out told him to stop blaming me and he still insists that I have just brainwashed her. I

            I am worried we are sending the kids over the falls in a barrel hoping they will make it but don’t worry, the rescue crew is down below in case. Kind of stupid.

            • Feelingit-
              If he hasn’t seen the kids since December and your kids are calling him on his bullshit, then a session in a therapist’s office most likely won’t change that. But it sounds like your therapist is making an effort to change STBX, not your kids. What is the likelihood of that? What are the odds he will even go? Or if he goes once will ever go again?

              Your kids are older, so I would say let a session happen. At least if a court asks, it will show that you supported their relationship. My guess is that it will either go nowhere or may blow up in his face. How will he react when the therapist calls him on his bullshit? And if by chance, they communicate and things improve even slightly, that may be okay for your kids. As long as they are not sucked into manipulation and cotinue to believe actions over words.

              And just as an example (because I think our STBXs are similar), I had to give mine a list of training he needed if he wanted to take my 1 year old who has a seizure disorder. He has yet to get it…and that was 6 months ago (she was actually diagnosed a year ago). I felt like throwing up giving him that list and the thought of trusting him with her. But the reality is that he doesn’t want that responsibility. He has been content seeing her for 10-15 minutes a month. And now I have proof for a court trial that I provided what he needed if he wanted to have parenting time.

              • You are correct, the odds are almost 0 that anything will change. After all, any idiot knows that 15 dollar fast food gift cards would not be an appropriate birthday gift for a child with whom you are trying to mend a relationship;yet he continues to do this despite having been mocked by my lawyer.

                I still get stuck in that maybe I am to blame and he will prove me wrong- it’s not going to happen though anymore than your husband will get siezure training!

                They don’t want responsibility!!! Simple so I should just accept it!

            • Therapist should be working with kids to help build their resilience and confidence around boundaries. Teaching them what boundaries are, and the language to use to set these boundaries.

              Your stupid fucktard of an ex won’t be the only person in their lives who is going to be a hurtful, disappointing, manipulating loser – and they won’t be able to drag each and every one of THEM in to the therapy room for a “healing heart to heart”, so giving them the skills to recognise and respond now would at least be a useful set of skills for life.

              In your shoes I would be telling therapist that no, actually he isn’t being remiss for not attempting accountability and resolution discussions with your ex and the kids; he’s actually being shrewd and recognising that to attempt such would be pointless, will cause more damage and hurt and will benefit no one other than ex by giving him even more centrality than he already has.

              Accountability and resolution can only be achieved if the parties involved are capable of BEING accountable and resolute – not just capable of spelling the words.

              My ten cents. Good luck.

              • Zhuchi, I like this but could you clarify the third paragraph. I am not sure whether to read it as let him try or not let him try. I totally see your point on giving ex centrality.

        • The other part of that is where do you find a therapist that is not new agey creepy on this issue. This is the best I have found so far and my lawyer who has experience says he is the best in the area. So, I keep going because otherwise down the road we could be court ordered to try some therapist that doesn’t get it at all.

          • Interview them!!! You’re paying them so you can ask them outright what you are going to get for your money. It’s still a business transaction even if it’s therapy!!! Don’t we usually get three quotes from a tradesman before we give someone the job?

            It’s a fallacy that therapists are these somehow more advanced beings at understanding all that is human nature. CL would make a better therapist than half of those I encounter in my work day to day.

            The lawyer says this one’s “the best”? At what exactly? What’s the evaluation and measuring tool?? Therapy is as individual as each of us are. And the best for one person might be utter shite for another.

            Have a set of questions or situations you would like them to comment on email a bunch. Explain what you’re doing if you want. Those that don’t reply have just self culled (I’m too good to have to justify my skills), those that do, you pick who has values and ethics that align with your own.

            • He says he will recognize narcissism and not force the kids to have a relationship if he sees it is harmful.

              The other 2 I have talked to seem to say the kids need a relationship with their father unless the father is in jail for rape or murder.

            • My therapist is a Godsend. She said the only value of having a session for the kids (or me, for that matter) would be for them to have the jerk right there and to just things off their chest, once and for all. To know they had said it to his face.

              But she doubts that it would help much b/c they’d have dashed expectations and hopes, again…

              My kids are older now and if THEY want a session with the jerk, they can have one. Sadly, my youngest and most troubled child might want it b/c while she denies caring about the jerk, she obviously yearns for him to prove in some way that he really does care about her.

              Oh God, I hate him all over again. Fucker.

              • Your therapist gets it! Saying to a rock what they want to say would have just as much impact as saying it to him. I know, because I tried.

                Last night I was reading an article by a Memphis divorce lawyer about how a narcissist acts in a divorce. Every word described exactly how our divorce is going. In this article he states because of their deep seeded roots, it is rare and nearly impossible to overcome these personality disorders. Preach on!

                The other day my 17 year old son (who has tried the hardest to maintain a relationship with fuckwit) said: why doesn’t dad call me any more? I wanted to give him encouragement and not just say because he is a fuckwit. So I stammered out something like I don’t know, I guess he just doesn’t know how to show love but in his own way he loves you. It didn’t feel like a good response but son said yeah and changed the subject. Any nuggets of wisdom on responses are appreciated.

        • Well, I want to club him into mincemeat because he gets his rocks off killing a bear. No eats the meat. They already have a vanishing habitat.
          Sociopathic Fucker!

        • Feeling it, my thought is that your kids therapist is forgetting they he is the kids therapist, not their dad’s therapist. He is ALREADY suggesting forcing them into a meeting, in what should be their safe space (therapy relationship), with a person fraught with lack of safety. If the children are old enough to be asked whether they want to invite their dad into a session, and prepare for what might happen (including dad not showing up) in advance with the therapist, and you are convinced beyond a doubt the therapist will be their advocate, then invite him. Otherwise I would gently remind you that the kids therapy needs to be centered on them and guided by them and it needs to be safe for them. Your therapist is suggesting violating their boundaries and subjecting them to an unsafe person joining their therapy session because he thinks it’s good for dad? What about the kids? You want them to learn how to have safety in relationships and advocate for themselves. If the therapist isn’t holding that safety sacrosanct in the therapy relationship then start shopping. Don’t let the therapist mind fuck them into thinking they have to do this for their dad. They don’t. ultimately you are on the hook here, fair or not. Don’t give away your power and your kids safety to a therapist who doesn’t know what his core objective is. You know there’s something off- that’s why you have been questioning the idea.

          • I also wanted to say when your son asks why dad doesn’t call you could say “oh honey, that must hurt when dad doesn’t call.” It will open the door for your son to talk about his feelings and experience and for you to be there and listen. You don’t explain away dads behavior, you don’t dis dad, you just empathize with how it’s sucky for your son. It solves nothing with his dad but it gives him a safe place to turn. I do this with my son.

    • Sounds like you are doing great “I can see the Meh!” Keep it up.
      It is very hard to readjust to a future that is completely unexpected and in many cases unwelcome (esp to those of us blindsided as we thought were happy families / successful long term marriages until the affair came to light – mine was over 30 years!)
      My first thought after reading Tracy’s post was also about my relationship with myself vs. what i want in a new partner (not even thinking in those terms yet)
      “I want to find Me” after all these years as a wife and mother and employee and daughter and sister and friend.
      So, my advice is to think about what YOU want in every decision/choice you make so you know yourself better – even if in the end you consider what is best for others…
      IT IS CALLED BEING “SELFIST” VS. “SELFISH” and many of us need to understand that putting ourselves first is okay.
      Hugs and stay mighty!

      • Love the SELFIST…because I’m in the exact same place after 30 years of marriage, kids, work, etc.

        I’ve experienced joy but I wouldn’t say I’m filled with it. Sometimes the financial worries take hold and I have to step back, take a deep breath and say I’m OK. Oldest daughter finally got a great paying job so there is light on that front. I would say the whole divorce out-of-the-blue stole my faith and I’m struggling with that.

        But make no mistake, I’m thriving and pretty pleased with how far I’ve come in a few short years!

        A few friends I know that are divorced have found their next relationships, but when I look at them, I think “why did you settle”. I’m so not there yet!

        • Hi Mom9193
          Just want you to know your entry encouraged me. I have 28 year old with a toddler and a 22 year old and 18 year old. To hear you say the oldest got a great paying job just inspired me.
          It is hard to continue to be the sole support of your children when they are trying while the Ex skips along.
          It will all pay off doing the right thing, loving and praying and getting to Meh!!!!
          Joy will be ours.

      • I’m a Selfist, too! I think it will shift someday, but it’s good for me now. I put myself first, just to see how it feels, I spent way too many years feeling like someone else’s appendage!

      • After being blindsided just a couple of months past my 30th wedding anniversary and what I thought was a happy marriage, I want what I thought I was going to have. Contentment and long term love. I moved 2500 miles to be with and care for my aging parents and I see that kind of love every day. Love that lasts through horrible tragedies and failing health and disagreements and bad moods. It warms my heart, but it also stings to know that I didn’t actually have what I thought I had. And I realize, after reading TiredChump’s response, that I would like to find ME again. It’s not happening right now because I was in wife mode for a long time and am currently heavy into “daughter” mode, living with my parents. But someday I hope to find ME and I hope I like her. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her. Looking forward to being able to be a Selfist someday.

    • This! I just want her out. I’m hard pressed to think of anyone I know with less value to me than her. She is just a large red number on my balance sheet is all.

    • I know a 40 something year old woman who started ballet and loves it. She said having to concentrate on proper posture, moving her body, enjoying her class helped her through a separation. Another woman started walking. You need to get your body moving if you can. I think the experts say that exercise is so beneficial to mind and body.

    • Im a lot like ICSTMC except Im a bit further down the path. Im YEARS into this and a couple of years into full rebuild mode. Im working on fully recovering from the shock of learning of the serial-cheating and I am appreciating my new marriage and realizing what a blessing life is.

      I can feel the joy and its good.

      I am an extreme extrovert and one thing I would like to do is to speak at womens’ conferences…pure truth is though, that desire is probably rooted in a tiny pocket of disordered-narcish brain cells that live in some dark recess of my brain which need to be power-washed out, not indulged in. Sometimes God blesses us by not giving is what we want.

      Life is good…I need to live it, appreciate it and not be a jerk.

      • You’d probably be terrific at women’s conferences and help a lot of people. Nothing narc-ish about that. Why not go for it?

        You’re allowed some professional kibbles. It’s OKAY.

      • Unicornenomore, I see you and others (me included) worried about being narcissistic but I recently watched a video on the topic that says there is healthy narcissism. I think when one has been a victim of this abuse for years, one does become hypersensitive to crossing the line.

        Reminds me of something I heard once: there is a fine line between those who become a cop and those who become a criminal.

        • I believe Dr Craig Malkin writes about healthy/unhealthy levels of narcissism.
          I think he is at Harvard.
          He has a YouTube channel.

      • Unicornnomore,
        YOU have a story that needs telling. Your extroversion will help you do that and may save other chumps from our collective fates (or speed up the process).
        I am a newish chump, having chosen option C.hump after revisiting RIC cheatercesspool after Dday#3 (4 mos. ago). STBX is out of the house, atty retainer is paid, in process of completing financials to finally FILE, individual therapy going well, practicing NC w great results (brief relapse 2 B explained elsewhere here), kids are adjusting (coping better than me!), looking for a better job, planning 2 potential businesses to launch after divorce is final…my joy moments are a little deeper & wider these days. Grief is tough, tricky, competely individual and energy-sucking. Progress and future thinking are signs I’m where I’m supposed to be along the journey.

        You know, as a writer, therapist, fabulous mom and interesting woman myself, I think I want what ChumpLady is having! That’s why I’m here and not bogarting that freaking hopium hooka. Why I mine veins of Mighty inside me while reading your CN posts and basking in the REAL HOPE that chumps ahead of me share to light my path.
        I want what Tracy’s having, thank you. 😊

      • No narcissist EVER believes they are a narcissist. Nope, it’s the rest of the world that is disordered in their opinions!

        • That’s right. They are delusional. Sir Douchebaggery has a lifetime of staggering stupid choices.

          However, he will bore you into a coma with his genius “ideas”. When you try to explain to him that all of these ideas have been around for at least a decade, he becomes belligerent and talks over you.

          He would also tell anyone who would listen that he had the idea for bottled water 20 years ago. He becomes frantically angry and will demand that you acknowledge that the bottled water bonanza should’ve been his Windfall. 🙄

          Thinking about it now it just makes me cringe that I was associated with him.

    • Maybe it’s too soon to feel joy every day just yet. In the meantime look for moments of it here and there and take them. I am still in the very up, down, and sideways stage of all of this. Some days are good, some are bad and some are indifferent. I have moments, however. I had many moments of contentment when I went on vacation with the kids last summer. I even had a moment of joy when I was in southern Illinois experiencing a total eclipse with my kids. These moments didn’t last. Just yesterday I had a meltdown in my therapists office. The moments do exist, however, and even though I don’t get to feel them every day, and even though I still have the bad days too, I can still look back on those moments and take heart in the fact that they do happen and because I made them happen, they will again. I take comfort in that.

    • Me too. Satisfaction that the POS didn’t get the house didn’t manage to keep more than his share despite all of his whining and manipulations( except for what he stole before the separation which was substantial as many of you know). In spite of the fact he wouldn’t disclose any financial information. I kept a good relationship with my children despite his smear campaign. They know he is a liar even though they still want a relationship with him (gag!). I run my business, bought a different house, am in the process of fixing it up and have a new relationship with a man who says he is in love with me( proceeding cautiously on that one). I am finding me, and I am a good person despite all my ex said about me( all lies as it turns out). I am liked and have many friends, though not too many close ones( that is something I’m working on–taking down the walls i built up surrounding friendships because he said I am hated by all). I feel I am at meh most days but then the rage fills me on occasion for all he did to a loyal faithful loving wife of 36 years. Joy will come, I’m sure of that, I just wait for it and live my cheater free life in the mean time.

    • Exactly the way that I feel. Actively working towards Tuesday, but darn it, it seems like the mountain is growing higher and higher every day.

    • I’m in the same place: nearly 3 years since Dday, divorced 7 months, completely NC, professional career, big promotion, I own my home free and clear and a rental, a lovely BF, full custody, a host of friends, and excellent health. And yet….. I’m not the same as I was. I “fake it” a lot of the time. I’m hoping I heal more and I think I will. It’s a slow process to build a life.

      • I fake it too. Especially for my kids and most of my friends. Only a few people and my parents still know how hard it is. I see moments though of Meh – that certainly helps. I am friends with a recently chumped and I see how far I have actually come from a year ago when I see her processing what her husband is doing to do presently. I was her a year ago.

        You being financially set certainly has to be wonderful. I have worries about that and no real career now at the age of 58. Working on that though and getting his spousal support. It most certainly is a process, hard, and takes time.

        Coming here helps me.

    • Yes me too. I had to accept my lawyers advice and walk away with a judgement that he will not pay or I would risk having to pay him child support and half my RRSP. So I started back at less than zero with no ability to buy a mortgage. I count only the good things- I love my job, my family and my friends. Renting isn’t so bad and I can rely on a now stable bank account. After almost 4 years out of a 20 year marriage, I am not at “meh” but I’ve seen glimpses. I have friends who have had to deal with OW mothering their kids and some have grown to appreciate the ow more than exnarc. This is what I aspire to. As yet I am still too resentful and angry but lonely as it is peace has its value and I have learned so much.

  • Spirit animal: missy elliot, would she bother with this petty shit? Nah

    Best song and role model: pharel Williams – happy. Listen to it again, the lyrics are actually a big “fuck you” to the haters

    Best relationship: my friends parents who apparently took a bath together every night #goals.

    • OMG, for 40 years, I tried to get my XH to take a soak with me… I saw it as a perfect time for us to catch up on our day and relax for sleep. He always refused, saying he wasn’t a “bath kind of guy” and he didn’t want to sit in “dirty water”. Since a shower would have preceded the bath, I could never figure out what he meant. But the longer I thought about it, I realized he and his dark secrets were the dirty water and that had nothing to do with me.

    • I have friends, very happily married 30 years, who grab a beer and a shower together every evening after work, everything else be damned. There must be something to that combination of water, naked, together, daily.. 😉 Gonna remember that, that’s what I want!

  • I had a mentor who was a retired elected official. His wife had supported him throughout his career, attending endless fundraisers and smiling when her feet hurt. She did these things, not with a sense of grievance or now-you-owe-me, but because she loved him. And in retirement, he supported her in everything she wanted in the same way. If she wanted him to plant 200 daffodil bulbs before playing his beloved golf, he planted those bulbs. And he did it happily. Because he knew it would make his wife happy.

    That is, they wanted FOR each other. Mary wanted things because Don wanted them, and Don wanted things because Mary wanted them. It was beautiful to see.

    And after my first marriage ended, a marriage of isolation that did not have such reciprocity, I knew I wanted THAT.

    And now, many years later, I have that in my marriage to a fellow Chump. And more than anything else, it makes me feel connected to the world. And very, very loved.

    It exists, chumps. It really does. But you have to hold out for it. For me, it was worth all it took to find it. I wish as much for every Chump.

    • Beautiful and simple.
      I want to make the person I love happy, and I want to be loved by someone who enjoys making me happy.

    • I’m so glad to hear that it does exist and that you have found it. We talk here about how people in normal relationships talk about their problems and are treated with respect and honesty. I was beginning to think that that doesn’t actually happen. I have people I know who seemingly have these things but I thought I did until I found out I didn’t. I’m hoping to find that for myself and for my children to see what a positive caring relationship is.

    • Beautiful. My Aunt and Uncle have a marriage like that. They have been together almost 50 years and they adore and share and support each other. I lived with them for a few months after my divorce and before I found my own place. I have always known they have a good thing (I was a flower girl at their wedding when I was four!), but I got to witness it first hand. They disagree from time to time and they talk it out or they come back to it later or, at the very worst, they might roll their eyes. There is never disrespect or ugliness. They do a lot together and they do a lot for each other. They laugh a lot and talk a lot. They also have their own things that they do on their own. It seems like perfect balance.
      That’s what I want.

      • A therapist shared with me that when anyone in the relationship feels comfortable sharing open contempt… it is the death knell.

  • My neighbors growing up. They were a Lebanese, older couple with no children. Kind to everyone, generous to the neighborhood kids, and were the example of “marriage.” He always opened her car door and her hand as they went on morning walks. When she passed away, he was lost…but still maintained that kindness and generosity. Their advice was priceless.

  • I want someone who loves me for who I am.

    I am strong, loving, lovable, kind, considerate, believe in honesty and vows; proud of the person I am. I am comfortable in my own skin.

    While I have wonderful children and amazing friends, I long for a relationship.

    I’m dating (not easy at 60) but, when I see couples walking hand in hand, I think “I want that”.

    • And I so want a relationship too. How do you Find wonderful people to date? We are too old for bars lol. I live in a small town so there are few options and I am tired of being lonely.

      • I never thought bars were really the best place to meet quality people anyway, although I suppose it does happen.

        Is there anything keeping you from moving to a bigger town? Someplace where there are more activities with which to distract yourself and meet new friends while waiting for Mr. Right to come along, perhaps at one of those activities.

        • Find something you like doing and do it you may meet someone like minded who you can connect with as a friend first. My guy and i met doing a yearly charity variety show, connected over shared music and skits and were friends for a number of months before either of us acknowledged we wanted more of a romantic relationship. I am 57 so not exactly a spring chicken….

    • Rebecca, my STBX and I walked hand in hand the whole time we were married, even after the DDays and during the whole wreckonciliation. He even tried to take my hand on our morning walk the day after I told him I was going to leave. I asked him why he wanted to do that if he didn’t want to be married to me anymore, and he said, “You deserve love and I still love you. I always want to show you love.” But then, after I left, a mere month later he moved his affair partner in with him–my 19-year-old niece. At that point he sent an email to my brother explaining how I had invalidated and damaged him so badly for 13 years that he could not be himself with anyone until his relationship with my niece. I had conditioned him to withhold truth and be dishonest, he claimed, but he will never do that with my niece because their relationship is based on trust and respect.

      He put on the Loving Husband mask throughout his affairs and intermittently until the end–he only let it slip during his bouts of gaslighting, projection, gunnysacking, silent treatment, etc. as his secret life was being exposed.

      People who knew us always viewed us as the fairy tale couple and thought “I want that”; they are all shocked to learn he was a cheater and we are divorcing. So, I guess what I’m saying is that appearances of other people’s relationships can be deceiving. You want what it LOOKS like they have, but watch out for the covert narcs for whom loving devotion is a mask they are wearing.

      For my part, I am inspired to fix my picker and learn to detect whether that’s real skin they’re wearing or a mirror mask reflecting my own love back onto them. I want someone who is self-validating, capable of true intimacy and deep, lasting love that does not wane with challenges and differences of opinion.

      • Wow! I am so inspired by this! My biggest “want” has been the companionship I see in others around me. Grandparents and grandkids enjoying a meal in a restaurant, laughing and talking with the kids, drinking coffee or coke ( not alcohol), a couple walking down the street with kids or dogs, holding hands, I ENVY this! I know it is self-pity at times when I catch myself feeling sad at this and I try to turn my thoughts away and think of the blessings I have in my life as a “single” now.
        Your story helps me though, to know that what I see may not always be the reality and I need to think of this when I am wishing for what others have!
        My life is pretty peaceful now and at sixty three I am not worried about rushing into the dating scene again…..I do lots of self care and get out with friends and family often, I have serenity now!

        • You make me glad I shared this. It can be hard admitting I was such a codependent chump. Thank you for letting me know.

          • Same here. I heard from friends how wonderful the cheater was with me, how warm and loving, and yes, he loved complimenting me in front of other people. I now know this is the reason I always wanted other people around us because then he was nicer. Behind a closed door there was always unpenetrable walls, uneasiness and unexplained anxiety and me walking on eggshells. I wondered how others saw he loved me and I didn’t. I thought it might be me then…he was right…I was the overly suspicious and demanding and ungrateful one. If everybody around me was convinced in his love towards me then something was definitely wrong with me. And I accepted it and lived with it.

            This is why finding ME is the most important thing I want now. For the last two weeks I had a work situation where I had to push the upper management to fire my direct subordinate – an immature young narc in love with himself and victimizing himself and creating drama. I doubted myself over this decision and felt guilty, but also realized it was me still being a chump. When I told him he was being let go he created so much drama, weeped and wiped his sweat, started breathing heavily – made the poor HR person almost cry. I was watching him and recognising a narc in a self-pity channel. It’s so empowering now to be able to recognize the patterns and I am so happy I put my foot down with this one. As Tundra Woman earlier commented we get through these similar patterns and experiences until we finally learn. A chumpy me a year ago would have shut up, taken the entire team work burden on my own shoulders and let this young guy take it nice and easy. A year older mightier me said no…although I was still torn by feelings of guilt and responsibility for him.

            Thank you to all here for sharing your invaluable and very hurtful personal lessons. Thank you, CL, for the three channels and the operating vocabulary that helps with pattern recognition. Through hurt we rise.

      • “learn to detect whether that’s real skin they’re wearing or a mirror mask reflecting my own love back onto them”
        This!

      • I agree with Meta-it doesn’t matter what you think other people’s relationships look like on the outside because it could be a completely different story behind closed doors. My marriage with my ex was like that. He was a great talker and put on a good show to the public but it was all a façade. He would buy me expensive gifts & treat me like a princess in public however; at home I was Cinderella-treated like crap and no love. He was too occupied with the hookers & porn. He rarely spent time with me & our son except for when he could make a public show out of it. He wanted people to think he was the greatest dad & husband-the reality was he failed spectacularly at both. I hated when people would say that they wanted a marriage like ours, how lucky I was that he was my husband, and that I should hear the amazing way he talked about me & our boy…….Oh, but if they only knew the truth.

        Now when I see couples all loved up, I no longer say I want that-I wonder to myself if it is real or just for show.

        I’m still in the early stages with Mr. Nice Guy who is shy & not overly affectionate but he seems to be sincere & honest…..I appreciate the little gestures he does way more than the over the top BS that ex used to do.

        • One of our longest term friends thought that Hannibal and I were the “perfect couple.” LOL. Serial cheater & emotionally abusive. Things are not always what they appear.

          • When I was married (not to skankboy), everyone including me thought we had the best marriage amongst our friends. The ex-husband said just 2 months before the bomb dropped. YES, he, too, was a cheater!

      • My relationship was like that, too, and even more on the inside than the outside.
        People knew him as a closed, reserved type of guy, but with me he was warm, funny and most of our time together could be described as cozy (on the downside, there wasn’t much else to it than cozy, but it was okay with me). He liked to cook for me, take care of me, clean the house, very responsible at house managing, very sweet in a childish way. He loved to go shopping together, whether for clothes, furniture or just groceries, and would do anything to accomodate me without being a pushover.

        This is what we had, I saw it for a decade, it was there. It wasn’t there as much during his betraying years, while he was very gloomy and distant and allegedly tired from work, but the core of it was. This was always who he was, to me. During the two years of reconciliation he cut his work hours so we could focus on being together more and make up for lost time. I believe he wasn’t engaging in betraying behaviors during those two years, but he was still lying about the past and wanted to still prevent me from learning about it. That’s where his abusiveness started to come through and through. Everything would be peachy , as long as he wasn’t challenged. But what he wanted was to have everything his way and to silence me. For me to forgive and forget, without having had full disclosure (and being given only odd reasons to explain his behavior). For me to stop talking about it, after a while (but as I kept having more D-Days, although about the past, of course it was never over for me and this lasted 2 years. It was actually cruel). Threatening over ending the relationship at one point if I pressured further. Lots of future-faking. Avoiding full disclosure even to therapists. Blaming me angrily for not being over it.

        It turned ugly when I found yet more stuff he’d done (in the past, that he woulnd’t tell me about). That’s when I left for real. And the facade started to drop slowly, but surely, and his abusive ways came to light more and more.

        So, unfortunately, people treating you right is not in itself a guarantee.
        To be honest, I cringe a little when chumps drool over “new boyfriend being so kind”. I’m really happy that they finally get good treatment, because they obviously deserve it, after so many of them being openly mistreated for so long, but I wish that was all we needed to see to make sure we’re protected from harm.

        Of course, most abusers will show signs early on and he did too. But it was easy to let them slide because that was our day to day life and it was honestly very okay. I was proud of us. Not perfect, but far from something one would picture abuse to look like.

        • JGirl – this is me. Too. The same “nice” and then as I demand/ed answers, such unbelievable cruelty and just stfu already and gtfo it is the primary attitude. I can’t I won’t and I’m out. I’m not totally out yet, but mentally I know it’s a done thing and I can’t ever “get the fuck over it.” not until I leave I mean. I’m so sorry. Stay strong and know that you know what you know and that’s more than enough. We’ll never know all of it bc they’re never going to tell us the truth. When we can and do accept that, i think that’s when the moving forward finally really happens. I hope so.

    • Rebecca: After being off the market since 1974, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Things are waaay different in the dating world than when I was a perky college coed and at 62, 2 years post-divorce and 5 years post D-Day, I’m still not sure I can trust my picker. That doesn’t stop me from wanting something way better than what I had; I just don’t know how to get from here to there.

  • ELLE WOODS from Legally Blonde (DD and my favorite movie while she was growing up)

    She’s confident & classy, a good friend; she neither judges others nor lets herself be judged or limited by other peoples opinions.

    She is positive and DOES NOT GIVE UP. She has strong principles. Not to mention terrific style.

    Most important – she “gains a life” after getting dumpled (by Warner) and ends up with a Harvard law degree, terrific friends, a kind boyfriend and a wonderful if unexpected future ahead of her.

    Elle’s setback is a blessing – because she keeps moving forward and BELIEVES IN HERSELF….which is what I hope is the outcome for each and every chump reading this board!!!

    • Yes!!!! Love this movie for all the same reasons. After my ex got dumped by schmoopie (they ended up getting back together and breaking up a bunch of times until she finally dumped his pathetic ass for good, how romantic), he tried to get back together with me. He asked if we could date. (We were well into the divorce process). I said no. His incredibly ironic response: “is there someone else?” I was like yes, there is. It’s ME! Boom motherfucker.

      This gif is my mantra! Wish I knew how to embed it! Tempest?
      me

      https://tenor.com/qTDz.gif

      • Soltera,
        THIS! My NC relapse involved listening to some music by a band I totally fan-girled in my early 50’s (Avett Brothers) yesterday. I knew it was iffy as I internalized so many of their lyrics & songs & made them part of my life. One I knew to skip, but another gave me mad/sadz & I texted IT. We traded messages for a few minutes and I tried to tell him those exact words: “There’s someone else”; “me” was to have been my punchline but was lost in narc-brain as he thought I was accusing him of someone else. As usual, mirror only.
        Total mic drop moment, Soltera! Mighty.

    • I don’t know about the classy part but that kind of movie usually annoys me. But I watched it all and enjoyed it, she was a bit of a badass in pink.

  • I think I mostly want what I am currently having. Largely because of you, CL–and with the amazing support of CN–I somehow managed to file for divorce, reach out to former colleagues for assistance in getting a job, and then actually get one, and amazingly quickly. I don’t know how long it will last, but for now it is glorious to be absorbed in the career that has always been meant for me once again. So, I want to keep doing that, keep enjoying my children, and keep finding much to love in life.

    Still needed: finalize divorce so that contact with the cheater can be entirely eliminated, get DD’s college situation worked out for next year, work with my doc to ensure that my physical health is good, figure out if I need counseling once the divorce is over (and sign up for that if I clearly do), redo both my bedroom and the one cheater moved into before he finally got out of here (fresh pain, new furniture, pretty linens, the whole deal), redo the bathroom that cheater thought was his (because redoing rooms is therapeutic), find time to make long walks part of my life again, and get to a place where traveling a bit can happen.

    Also going to need to see to some practicalities like finding a trustworthy accountant (current one was and is a cheater ally all the way), but the thing is that I am really grateful to be moving on without all of the incredibly dark awfulness of the cheater. Every day without that has been a day of a little more understanding of how truly all-encompassing that darkness was, and a little more ease: it really is possible to move through life without constantly bracing for the next randomly terrible rage, snit, attack, etc., and without being constantly weighed down by lies and manipulation.

    The life I am having and will have is never going to be perfect, never going to be a matter of unceasing bliss, never going to be without routine irritations or occasional crises. It is a huge relief just to live without the burden of someone who expects and demands those impossible things.

      • LOL That’s right, @cashmere. Get you some painT and seal up that old pain so you will never have to look at it again.

      • “… before he finally got out of here (fresh pain, new furniture, …”

        – Dr. Freud, could you take a loot at this one, please?

        – Hmmm. Sometimes a typo is just a typo.

        Hugs. Strength. Peace.
        aeronaut

    • CASHMERE,

      I identify so much with what you wrote about just not having the pain of the negative narc (whom I once deeply loved and to whom I was loyal for 37 years).

      I miss what we once had (or thought we had, blah blah blah). BUT I DO NOT MISS THE NEGATING OF ME…which was increasing in the past 3+ years.

      No matter who I date, I don’t fear it b/c I won’t invest 37 years and give up my career and move 9 times and raise our kids alone, again.

      BTW, the men my age who are single, don’t want to be. They want to have partners now, all wrapped up. I’m the one new to dating and NOT ready to remarry, if I ever am.

      I miss romantic love and companionship but I am not lonely. I have children whom I miss living near, but I like living by myself for the first time in my life.

      For now, this is fine.

  • I met a woman years ago who had been cruelly chumped – and later found a really nice man who truly loved and cherished her. He delighted in making things for her – He mended her house roof and built furniture, sheds, henhouses. She showed me this terrific garden chair he’d made out of driftwood, and she said,’I’ve been with him 12 years and I NEVER get over the joy of being with someone who loves me and makes me things.’ I wanted that. I’ve finally got it, too.

  • The first thing that comes to mind for me is a fictional character, but I don’t think that means it’s a total fantasy. I want the unflappable serenity with the underpinning of total badassery embodied by Guinan the barkeep in Star Trek TNG. She has been through a lot. She doesn’t judge, but she doesn’t accept BS, either. She is serene and clear. She’s firm in her boundaries and ethics but not pushy or superior.

    When somebody threatens the safety of her bar patrons, she whips out a weapon that’s half her height like it’s a lightweight stick and calmly declares, in no uncertain terms, with clear disdain but no escalating aggression, that the threatening person will be leaving, and it’s clear she is not negotiating.

    I am working toward confidence, clarity, and serene badassery. I don’t want it to be true that idiots and useless BS can get to me. I also want to have the kind of serene strength that when something I must not allow arises, my response will be calm and clear: “You, sir, have behaved unacceptably, so you are leaving this place. Don’t bother attempting to negotiate. If you force me to, I will act swiftly and precisely to ensure your removal. However, I prefer that you choose to leave this place of your own accord. Goodbye.”

    I want that.

      • @Ami, I love your inspiration in Guianan the barkeep. Similarly I’m inspired by Captain Janeway on Voyager. She has been my model for leadership in my professional life, and it has made me very successful! But, ironically, I didn’t carry that calm badassery over into romantic relationships. I tried, but without realizing it in my three long-term relationships (two marriages, one engagement) I chose people who could not stand to be challenged in any way. Instead of following through with the consequences that would have led to ending relationships sooner with men I loved, I spackled and danced and did everything I could to avoid making them feel bad. But it was an impossible job because their empty feelings came from within; I could never keep them filled with happiness. I understand that now.

        When I fall in love again, I will be channel my inner Guinan!

    • Guinan has always been one of my heroes; a calm authority with well-defined boundaries. As Jean-Luc Picard once stated, Guinan was “very selective about whom she calls a friend.”

  • My mentor is my 90 year old friend who lives on her own,goes to her cottage on an island by taking her boat across, plays bridge, goes to excercise class, goes to concerts and is happy and content. I’m happy in my new little house with lots of gardening chores, I’ve joined a knitting group, I’m starting Aqua fit again, looking forward to my kids coming for the holidays and enjoying my friends. I’m doing exactly what I please whenever I please. I don’t want a man in my life not because I hate men but because I don’t want to live to someone else’s agenda! I think after 40 years of doing just that, I want this now to be my time only! I have love and happiness and I’m enough!

    • I’m hoping to be just like your friend when I’m 90! For now (in my 50’s) I’m enjoying a life lived on my terms after 26 years of dancing around my narc cheater ex husband. I haven’t dated since my divorce in 2014 and have no plans to do so. For the most part my life is better than it was when I was married.

  • What my grandparents had. He called her his nightingale, and she fondly talked of him. I remember her after 50 years married saying how his competitiveness didn’t use to bother her until now.

    When she had a health scare down at the Mayo Clinic, Grandma caught Grandpa bargaining with God. He was asking God to give his life years to her. Grandma was furious with him over that prayer. What a beautiful marriage!

  • I would like mental peace. Since d-day, my mind has been consumed with everything I have lost. The reality is, most of those things I can never get back. My career, opportunities I turned down for the ‘good of the family’, my youth. I don’t know how to come to terms with it all.

    I would like to feel comfortable in my own skin. Being married to a cheater is bad. Being married to a porn addict cheater hits you right in the gut. Feeling ugly, unwanted, disgusting, it is hard. I have become obsessed with weight loss. Also, my body took a beating when I had twins. My doctor had suggested skin removal surgery shortly after delivery because my skin had stretched so much. I literally have about a five in flap of lose skin on my abdomen that looks hideous. Of course, my husband convinced me not to do it because it was a ‘waste of money’. Of course, he didn’t see spending thousands of dollars on porn as a waste of money, but getting surgery to remove a large flap of skin I got from successfully growing two beautiful babies at one time, that stretched me so far (I am very short and the babies had no where to go but out) the skin completely ripped from the muscle, if physically cannot contract no matter how many crunches I do – was just a waste according to him. So now, a decade later I am still looking at that flap, my clothes don’t fit because the flap needs to go somewhere. I either have to wear two sizes too big so I can hide the flap, or if I wear something that fits you can see the flap pushing through my clothes. I feel absolutely disgusting. I am still kicking myself for listening to my soon to be ex tell me, “You don’t need to have that removed, you are still beautiful”, while he was paying women to let him watch them be naked because he thought his wife had an ugly body.

    I want to talk to someone. Being superwoman – working, raising the kids (pretty much solo), educating them, do everything meant I had no time for me. I work from home – so I rarely have contact with anyone in real life. I am lonely. Not just for love, but just – companionship. I want to feel like I exist in the real world.

    • I ache for you. He was horrible to you. And, while I do believe it’s true that what you are living with doesn’t make you disgusting or ugly or anything of the sort, as a person who has to wear a medical appliance 24/7, and a person who endured a porn cheater who implicated my worthiness in his shitty choices, I get exactly where your feelings come from. It’s crushing, and no logic makes it feel better.

      I don’t really have anything helpful to say, I know, I just wanted to empathize as an offer of support. I know the heartbroken feeling you’re living with and I support you.

      • coolbreezeout,

        My heart goes out to you. Having to deal with what ends up being a constant reminder of something good (your babies) and bad (your cheater and his cruelty) can’t be easy.

        The devaluing that the porn cheaters put us through has a special twist to it.
        They prefer a non-existant person to us. What a slap in the face that is!

        WARNING: RANT TO FOLLOW!

        Add in the fact that Porn People are always sooooo happy and willing to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING and SO OBVIOUSLY ENJOY IT—no matter how degrading, how painful, how unhealthy–and there is no way a flesh-and-blood person with a heart, soul, and brain can ever compete with their fantasy.
        Neither can we compete with the fake boobs, surgically altered faces and labia, bleached anuses, completely waxed bodies…and FAKE PENISES and ejaculate….(sorry if TMI…) Basically the women look like skinny sticks who paid for after-market improvements.
        Where are the REAL WOMEN????!?!!?!? Who are having experiences they might actually like?!?!?

        I have nothing against porn, per se. It can have its place.
        But I really rail against the fact that many people think this way of relating sexually is something to strive for. They forget that this is FANTASY. It’s ACTING. It’s not meant to represent a meaningful encounter. So to expect us to live up to this fantasy is a kinky kind of mindfuck.

        I think they even start to believe that the Porn People really like what’s going on, that it’s spontaneously fabulous sex!!! That there are no drugs, multiple takes, day-long shoots, trafficked “actors”, numbing creams, stand-ins, butt plugs, enemas/fasting, and tons of lube. That Porn People don’t experience pain and don’t bleed. That they don’t get sick from what they’re being paid to do in front of a camera. “Rosebudding”?!?!?!? Are you f-ing kidding me?!?!?!!

        The users start to drink the Kool-aid, believing that Porn People are enthusiastically having multiple orgasms with no foreplay, no connection, in ways that are physically uncomfortable, to say the least.
        In my case, trying to tell my cheater what really goes on behind the scenes in most of these productions was lost on him. He didn’t believe it. (Didn’t WANT to believe it, is more likely.)
        He only wanted to know why I didn’t respond like the Porn People did in the movies.
        Must be something wrong me ME. (Nope.)

        Anyhow, I wanted to leave you with something a bit more positive than this anti-porn rant. And that is, if someone really loves you, they’ll love you in spite of your imperfections. I know this sounds trite, but it’s not.

        I’m 57. I’ve been through the shit. I by no means resemble a Porn Starlet Twatwaffle. Yet, my sweetheart thinks I’m beautiful. Other people comment that I am “beautiful”, and I don’t think they mean that I look like a supermodel. It’s that getting away from that toxic dump I married, and learning how to be happy again radiates something from within. I smile more, I look happier, I GLOW. And my skin sags and I have wrinkles, and things ain’t where they used to be. I lost almost 40 pounds after D-day and that skin isn’t ever going back to where it was although I’ve gained some of it back.

        And what’s more is that my Beloved has also been through the shit. He’s been very ill, has lost a lot of weight rapidly, and doesn’t resemble the man I knew from five years ago, back when I was still married.

        But I adore him. Other women might not find him handsome, but when I look at his craggy face, I see the most beautiful thing in the world. He says he doesn’t understand it when I tell him he’s “beautiful”. That external stuff is just his shell. WHO HE IS is beautiful.

        I also know a few women who would, by today’s American standards, be considered homely and overweight. Guess what? The fact that they are funny, smart, enthusiastic about themselves and about life means they have no shortage of guys who are interested. THEY are the ones taking names, and seeing who they want to connect with.

        So, I guess this is a really long-winded way of saying:

        Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re beautiful if you want to be, and the right person will see and appreciate that.

        Obviously, I’ve had too much coffee…! 🙂

        • There are now female directors like Erika Lust that take a different approach to adult movies. They focus on the quality of filmmaking and portray their characters having true intimacy. They also represent the female characters in an empowering way and cast actors in various ethnicities with body proportions that are more like the regular people you see in real life.

          • Hi CeliA,

            I know there are some more realistic and ethical, feminist-type adult filmmakers out there. I tried to steer GUBU in this direction with his/our porn consumption.

            Not surprisingly, it wasn’t to his “taste”.

            Of course, by that time, what he required in terms of visual stimulation to obtain any level of arousal was miles away from anything a normal woman would actually enjoy.

            But I definitely appreciate someone creating erotic imagery that portrays realistic people having encounters that are respectful, not degrading, and might actually be fun for a change!

        • I remember once watching a documentary about the making of a porn movie and those poor girls were in agony. If the guy couldn’t come they had to keep going (with gallons of lube and sometimes the girls bleeding) until he came. The girls would leave crying. My ex thought I was frigid because I wasn’t gagging for him like these porn girls were because it was obviously real. Most telling was when the porn actors were “spontaneously” ravaging each other and a truck went past. Someone yelled “cut”, the actors just said “fucking hell”, truck noise disappeared and suddenly they were “gagging” for each other again! Yeah asshole they’re real and I’m frigid!

          • Attie,

            Because of what I went through in my marriage, I made it my business to education myself about what really goes on behind the scenes on adult films, even those proposed to be “amateur” porn.

            Not everyone is a Porn “Star” and the life of an adult film actor is usually short and not well-paid. It ain’t for the faint of heart and a lot of damaged people get involved.

            There are a lot of good documentaries out there, and I wish more people would actually watch them. Then they can decide for themselves.

            My main problem with it is the way women are more and more being held to ridiculous standards in terms of our sexual appearance and performance. Young women, especially, are being shaped by the porn consumption of their boyfriends who grow up with unlimited internet porn.

            My best friend is an OB-GYN and she often shares stories with me about how warped the young women’s ideas are about how their bodies *should* look and what’s *wrong* with their sexual functioning.
            She tries to educate them as best she can, but their partners continue to exert pressure, because it’s really all they know.

            Funny, but back before I got married, the requests/demands for pornified sex were very few and far between. Nowadays… a girl’s got to “bring it” to be “competitive”.

            Sorry. I’m not playing!

            Sex should be fun, enjoyable, and real. It’s not a ‘performance’.
            (Oh, and we ladies are “visual creatures” too. So what’s good for the gander is good for the goose too! So bring on those silky g-strings, fellas… 🙂 )

            • I feel such sadness for girls today. My friends daughter is 19. She has the prettiest face, is a lifeguard, can do calculus and is making a 3.0 to be a Special Ed teacher. She crawls through ditches to rescue stray cats and kittens. She is lean and has rippling muscles in her legs.

              She liked this super cute guy. Then it was over. When I asked her why, he told her she was too flat chested.

              He was the HS valedictorian and is now on an athletic scholarship.

              He completely devalued her wonderful being because of some breast tissue?

              This is not a livestock auction. I imagine the little fucker has spent hundreds of hours watching porn and her body did not add up.

          • geekmom,

            I know…right? Same for me when I found that out.
            It’s just the tip of the iceberg in the realm of online porn.

            Turns out if someone can make it happen, there’s a fetish community surrounding it.
            Don’t even get me started on “Crush Porn” and that ilk.

            It can make you lose sleep. Do yourself a favor and DON’T look that one up!

            • StarStuffGoddess, ick – no way am I looking anything else up. I’ve had enough “education” on this subject! It amazes me how people will debase themselves for a buck. Eww.

        • You’re so right. They believe in porn. How can they be so immature not to see the fake enjoyment of those sick performances. He craved to imitate the gestures. In my opinion porn was harmless because nobody would jump from a helicopter through a ring of fire in a submarine like James Bond just because seen in a movie. Actually he was in awe of this kind of people, he admired prostitutes for their professionalism. He didn’t even realize how the poses were artificial and the were fake. It was his true world, I guess. That’s where I left him and that’s where he belongs.
          I can’t understand why my adult children aren’t disgusted by his behavior.

          • 2 points Re PORN

            (and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY)

            The “books” were horribly written stylistically – like a B- high school student would write. Seriously.

            BUT WORSE was how she’d have a multiple orgasms (waves of them, of course) from 3 whip strikes.

            Really? The whip gives her an orgasm? A WHIP???

            Oh and just 3 hits, AND the pain was there too, but you know, PAIN IS LIKE SEXUAL PLEASURE…

            Oh wait, normal people are not masochistic. Good lovers are attentive and sensitive, not sadistic.

            WTF??

            OTHER rhetorical questions – Could the sex in porn get any “easier” for the man?

            Could they porn industry make it anymore lazy for the men? Forget, for a minute, the degradation of the women. What about how deceitful it is for men who want to learn about being good lovers?

            **GUYS –

            Do Not Use Porn If You Want to Learn About Foreplay, Or How to Give Real Pleasure to a Woman.**

            and for sure don’t assume ANY woman you have sex with, (w/o paying), will look or act like the actresses in those films.

    • Maybe it is time to do something just for you. While I don’t believe that reducing that skin is something that has to be done, if it is something you want, you can make that choice for yourself. Cheater has no say anymore.

      • Agree. Have that skin removed now if it would make you feel better about life. Never too late for that.

        And I really wish both the porn addicts and the many folks who think it is no big deal understood the depth and breadth of destruction it causes.

    • I understand how u feel. I also am a career woman and I find that I miss that soft place to land with a person/friends. Someone to vent about my day. Tell me I’m great and is on my team. My cheater sure didn’t do that. Hang in there

    • I work from home too. Get that surgery,coolbreezeout! Do it for yourself. I did not get the breast reduction I wanted because my ex didn’t want me to( he also convinced me I didn’t need makeup but that was just about being able to tell people it wasn’t important to me to look good for him). Anyway, here I am, at 57 I just had the surgery having to wait almost 2 years to get it done. I’m still quite swollen but I’m sure I will love the results because I did it for ME. My beau nursed me for the last 3 days even emptying surgical drains, did it without complaining and insisted that I let him help me( something I have difficulty with having been married to a narc for whom I was expected to do everything). I didn’t do it because I am not happy with myself, I did it because I wanted it. and my new guy proved something to me too- its called caring for someone more than yourself. I am accepting his love, don’t know where its going yet but I know I deserve that love…

    • You exist in the real world. I am very introverted and have a hard time getting out and about. But I do it and you can too.

      Go to the doctor, find out how to fix this issue you care about, you deserve to feel comfortable in your own skin.

      Jedi Hugs Cool!

    • Cool breeze out- get the surgery done. Even if you have to charge it. Even if you have to use care credit which has an insane interest rate.

      It is not vain. It is an investment in your well-being.

      I had some plastic surgery done and I’m still paying for it. I have never regretted it. And of course you are fine just the way you are. But I think there is something wonderful about your outside reflecting your new spirit inside.

      A hard lesson I have learned is that if you don’t look out for yourself no one else will. And that includes things like making sure you look your best and that when you get up in the morning and wash your face and brush your teeth and go to pick out your clothes that you feel a sense of joy.

      Do it.

    • coolbreeze – I had my “flap” removed last year. After 2 kids and many later surgeries for tumors I was hideously deformed. Such a downer.
      I went to a plastic surgeon who had seen it all. He said it wouldn’t be easy (dog ears at the edges) but it worked out fine.
      Best thing ever!! Worth every penny to my mental health (about $10k in California including the hospital surgery suite).

    • My jerk husband’s bff has been contentedly married for 36 years. The bff told me that he found his wife’s stretch marks and c-section scar “very sensual. They are like medals of honor for our marriage, marking such beautiful events in our lives.”

      Yeah, this guys is my jerk’s bff.

      Oh wait, he USED to be my husband’s bff. Turns out they had a falling out when my husband lied to the bff’s face about “never cheating”, which is unfortunately very untrue.

      • See, this is a great example about actions being louder than words.
        The BFF could have just been saying those things about his wife, it’s very easy to picture one of the more refined Narcs saying them himself; but it’s the actions that speak for him: he dicthed his cheater friend when he discovered their morals did not align. Bravo!

  • “Sea of Love”……the scene where Al Pacino and his cop buddies are trying to catch a serial killer who stalks victims through singles ads.

    His elderly Dad is across the room in a chair and starts reciting a poem with love in his eyes and a smile on his face….the poem his wife sent him when was off at war.

  • I want someone to have my back, someone to appreciate who appreciates me. A partner, lover and friend.

    I can do life on my own and be successful and secure. I’m fine with my own company, but it’s hard to thrive alone. Humans are social creatures. We need to love and be loved.

    But I’m not going to compromise any of my values solely to achieve partnership ever again.

    I’m occasionally inspired by the song “Sit still, Look Pretty”. I’m never gonna be that girl, who’s living in a Barbie world!

    • Exasshole was constantly telling me he had my back at the end. Would be nice to meet someone who really did.

      I’m with you on finding good people or just being on our own if we can’t.

  • I must admit, I’m a bit in the “let the knowledge of it grieve you” phase at the moment. I’m in that stage where I cannot see myself with anybody else ever again. I can’t see myself trusting anybody that much again. I’m doubting that men like great-grandpa Wallace even exist these days.

    I have thrown myself into my kids – everything I do is for them. I don’t even really care about my own needs. Yeah, I’m going through a very odd time right now. Not very positive. Anybody wanna slap me out of it? Slap away….

    • Oh, I meant to say – I want a relationship like the one CL mentioned (the great grandparents). I have moved back to my home town, and am living with my parents. Sometimes feels like I’m in a cliche movie – you know, when an old high school friend the main character may have overlooked in her youth comes walking back into her life, and thus begins a small town romance that should have happened 30 years ago, yet has taken half a lifetime to come full circle to even kick off. I have a vivid imagination…

    • I think it is wonderful that you are concentrating on your family! Not everyone needs or wants to go back into relationship mode. Although I was throwing a pity party for myself the other day, for the most part I am happily alone.

      Which leads me to who I aspire to be like right now, and that is the people who are giving selflessly of themselves to help the people in Puerto Rico. Folks like Mark Cuban, who has been flying relief in nonstop using the Maverick’s airplane, or like a lady in my town who is filling up a container full of supplies for shipment there.

      The situation is still very dire in PR and people are dying as we speak. To see how so many people have stepped forward to help in any way possible inspires me to count my blessings and do more to help. Now, I know this comment doesn’t offer much hope in the relationship department, but I hope it reminds us that there are good, caring people out there. I aspire to be one of them.

      So, love on that family of yours, and be proud you have your priorities straight. Some of us will never find romantic love again, but all of us can be the kind of people that our great-grandparents would be proud of!

      • Violet, thank you for these words –

        “So, love on that family of yours, and be proud you have your priorities straight. Some of us will never find romantic love again, but all of us can be the kind of people that our great-grandparents would be proud of!”

        My Nanna is in palliative care right now. She is just about gone. Your words are very significant. I can and will live my life in a manner that would make her proud. She always was proud of me. The last words she spoke before losing her ability to talk (about 2weeks ago) were “proud…you”. I intend to keep living my life with morals intact. Raise my kids well and be a good person, a great role model for them, a good member of the community, somebody who can be trusted and relied upon. That is a life worth living 🙌🏼

        • LHATA, I don’t think you will ever regret the choice to focus on your family – both your FOO and your children. Recovering from a marriage that wasn’t what it was supposed to be takes a long, long time even when you’re over the x. For me it was 5 years before I dated. I don’t regret this for a minute – I wasn’t ready, I wanted to be available for the kids, to solidify my FOO relationships and I thought of this time as dating myself. There came a time when I was ready and I believe the time alone, the time spent focused on my primary responsibilities helped to heal my soul, my spirit and, most importantly, my picker. After the long hiatus from romantic entanglements, I was pleasantly surprised how much clarity I had in what and was not acceptable and how natural it became to protect my boundaries. I”m now 7 years into a very healthy and very satisfying relationship with another chump and guess what – he also spent 5 years focusing on his kids, his parents and his career before starting to date again. The long hiatus is not the only way to move forward, but it is one that works for some of us. Be patient with yourself. If that overlooked high school friend should show up, you want to be ready and that take some time.

          • Fern!! Thank you for your lovely reply. Really appreciate your words. Nice to hear a good story.

            Yes, I think I need to start “dating myself”. You’re right. I’m already working on the kids and career, so far going along ok, if somewhat slowly. but I need to start doing some things just for me.

            My life still feels a bit all over the place. I guess it takes time and determination

    • Same here. Most of my life is on working and taking care of my kids. At this point, I really don’t care if I am ever in another serious romantic relationship again. My goal is to be fulfilled and happy on my own. I NEVER want to allow someone else to play a determining part of who I am or whether I am happy or not. I am not ruling out that I may find someone worth sharing my life with somewhere down the line, but right now I am still working on finding joy on my own.

      • GetMeFree, I am exactly where you are, I feel exactly the same. Don’t care if I never have another relationship again. But every few months or so, I get a little down about things. Because that asshole has moved on and gets to do whatever the f**k he wants. I’m here raising kids and putting them first, before my own needs. That is my job, as the sane parent. He, on the other hand, puts himself first, as he always has, and is having a carefree fun life. Sometimes it pisses me off.

        I know I got the better deal, because I have the kids and I get to decide things without consulting that butthead. But at times it can feel incredibly lonely making all he decisions alone. He was never any good at being a parent anyway, so I’m not missing anything really. He complains about how much he misses them now – but then he hardly contacts them. So I’m like, ummmm does he really even miss them? I think he’s enjoying himself way too much to bother maintaining regular contact. Meanwhile, I’m over here doing every goddamn thing for my kids. I think I need to start doing some things for myself, for sanity maintenance.

        • He’s living an empty life and he knows it but he will never tell you that. We all (myself included) have tendency to imagine that our cheaters are living happy fulfilled lives but they really aren’t. Even if they display happiness it isn’t genuine. Even if they think they are happy, their happiness has no real substance.

          • Mine loves to tell me about how happy he is. It usually is right after I have pissed him off – whether I have called him on his bullshit or tell him no when he wants to cross some boundary I have put up. “I am happier than I have been in a long time.” I have numerous texts like that over the last 18 months.

            I then remind myself that anyone who can be blissfully happy while having a spousal support payment, 2 child support payments, a son who refuses to speak to him, a daughter who only wants to see him a few hours a month, another daughter he has never met, and a baby he sees for about 15 minutes a month, is someone who is a black hole.

            And the way he lives his life is not something I envy. So, yeah…I have all the responsibility 100% of the time, but I will take it over his life every single minute.

            But you do need to find some time for you. Even if it is just 30 minutes a day. Better yet, plan to meet a friend for dinner or something else at least once or twice a month.

            • Getmefree, you aren’t kidding our stbx’s are alike. The part about announcing he is blissfully happier than he has ever been in his life when he has no relationship with his kids and is in the middle of a high conflict divorce and his dad is dying of degenerative disease- really, this is the happiest you have ever been? Hmm 😐

          • Yes, Chumpinrecovery – I totally agree that he’s living an empty life. And I don’t envy that. Buuuuut…… sometimes, just sometimes (usually when I’m overtired/worn out/had to deal with too much alone) I get pissed off that he doesn’t have to even think about managing his children’s lives. That he’s off doing whatever-the-f**king-la-dee-da with his life, and not having his very minute of every day revolving around the kids, like my life is. No school runs, no making meals, no dealing with their emotions, no doing homework together, no nursing them when they’re ill, no dealing with their disappointments and celebrating their achievements, no weekend walks, no washing and ironing their clothes and raising them to be good people. I have to consciously KEEP REMINDING myself that he’s living a shallow existence, and that I infact got the better deal. (It’s hard to think you have the better deal when you’re cleaning up puke in the middle of the night, or combing through headlice-infested school hair for the 4th time in as many weeks!). Because when those tired times hit me, I start veering into that thought mode of believing that he’s “free and happy”. But really, how can he be?….it must suck to live his life. He’s got nothing. I’ll just have to keep reminding myself of that until it sinks into my head

            • Hang in there ‘left him at the airport’ and keep telling yourself “there is no place I’d rather be than right here, right now- surrounded by peopke I love and who love me back”

              Imagine some guy sweeping you off your feet, telling you everything you want to hear and you leaving your kids behind for this guy. Would you really want the same scenario your stbx has?

              If you were still together, wouldn’t you be doing these things on your own pretty much anyway?

              Look at your situation differently… You are parenting and going through all the ups and downs that every single parent goes through (or married w/ a partner who is never there to help).

              You get the benefit of being a positive role model in your kids life (and whoever they encounter). You have their respect! You get to build all these memories for you and your kids- memories that last a lifetime!
              Years go by, and before you know it- they will be grown up. Then all you have to do is be proud of the person you are and the choices you made.

              My little one is almost grown. I’m going to miss feeling so needed, but I will keep busy and continue to find happiness- not only for me, but to show my child how to react after the life you thought you’d have doesn’t turn out (and after you’ve been shit on).

              I also feel like I dodged a bullet with my stbx. I don’t have to take care of his unhealthy ass, as we age together! I’m more than happy to take care of my child and dog on my own.
              I don’t mean to sound uncaring, but my stbx lead an unhealthy lifestyle (I encouraged him to be more active, stop drinking, etc) I know I would have turned into a bitter old woman if I had to take care of him, growing old together.
              Since he’s reunited with AP, they smoke a pack a day together just like in college. He’s had 3 teeth fall out. How romantic hacking up every morning together. To each his own, I guess. Glad I’m on my own!

              • HAPPY! Your reply has made me so HAPPY! Thank you 😊

                You’re right – I would never do what he did (choose somebody else over his own family). I’m made of different stuff, that’s for damn sure.

                And yes, if we were still together I would still be doing it all on my own. I always was. The kids and I were like the 3 musketeers. Always together, with him absent most of the time. So, I guess I’m not doing anything different.

                Yes, I feel time slipping by. Even though my kids are 7 and 8, I feel them growing so fast. It’s nice to be able to influence them in a positive way. I worried what a life with their father could have been like. My son would have grown up a pig, and my daughter would’ve grown up thinking that she deserved to be treated badly by the men in her life. No way!

                Yes, mine also drank and smoked. I was always trying to get him to take better care of himself. He’s a gym junkie too. Doesn’t make sense, right? He believes the gym work counteracts all the drinking and smoking. Dumbass. Growing up in Australia now, my kids are learning that smoking is just a NO WAY, and that only losers smoke.

                Thanks again for your reply, really made my day 😘

    • Oh, Ditto! Can’t stand liars. And now I feel like I can tell when people are lying. And it has me on edge at times. Especially when I sense that friends or family members might be lying. It does my head in

    • ^^^THIS!!!

      And then, to not feel guilty about having such “high standards.” I’m not really asking for a lot. So I also want to stop feeling like I’m being unreasonable when I think about setting this boundary.

      • Oh, SAME! To have high standards and not feel guilty about it. Doubt I’ll actually ever find somebody who fits the bill.

        • Yes to not feeling like having to apologize for having high standards! It is NOT too much to expect loyalty, love, commitment, and effort from your life partner — but for years, that’s exactly how my Jackass made me feel. So I kept trying to make my own needs/expectations smaller and smaller, and guess what? – he lied and cheated anyway!

    • My ex knew this one thing about me: I had been lied to in a previous relationship and it was traumatic for me and that was the ONE thing I would not allow. Of course, we all know how well he honored my needs on that… He actually even lied way more than he “cheated”, as far as I know.

  • I see this older couple (in late 80’s) at church, and I just so love looking at them. They are dressed so nice, they are always smiling at each other, his hand on her back, it is just the sweetest thing to see.

    I want what she’s having – That!

    • Months after D day, I took my daughter (17 yrs old) to the arboretum to walk around and take pictures. I saw an old couple walking together, got sad, and said ‘I want that’ (even though had I stayed with my stbx, no affair happened, realistically I wouldn’t have had that anyway)
      My daughter heard me, saw my eyes tearing up and with her wicked sense of sarcasm said ‘nah, they’re probably racists’. I call her Ludgate sometimes (parks & rec reference)

  • This challenge is timely, because I think I fell in love the other night.

    (This could be a full-on essay, but so as not to put too much pressure on everyone’s scrolling muscles, I’ll try to keep it short.)

    I didn’t meet the Kunty Kibbler until I was 31, so I spent a good deal of my 20s wondering what it was I was looking for in a woman/life partner. I understand now that there is no magic formula setting in some library somewhere, just waiting for me to happen across it if I’d only keep looking.

    I DID have enough awareness to look to the women in my life who took my breath away: my maternal grandmother, certain female cousins, the wife of one my best friends from high school, my now-BFF 4a.m. 4ever. Each different in size/shape, demeanor, intensity, life experience/expectation. The only thing they had in common, to my inexperienced eyes, was that for some reason, I admired them. There was something, or a combination of things, that drew me to them and made me want to be included in what they were giving to the world by their mere presence.

    The fact that I committed to KK based largely on her potential for those things, rather than their actual manifestation, is one of the great regrets I’ll carry forever.

    Back to the present — the other night, I attended a meeting of local design professionals on the topic of “Making Room for the Business of Design.” I apparently misread the event description, and realized five minutes into the talk that the subject matter was largely inapplicable to me. But I stayed the entire two hours because of the guest speaker.

    She sat on a stool dressed in a simple white blouse and ripped jeans, and lit up the room as she told her story. She took the plunge and became a small business owner at a relatively young age because she was bored and felt constrained by working within a corporate structure. She pounded pavement to get clients and slowly built her small design studio, laughing at and learning from the many mistakes she described making along the way. Her then-boyfriend left her when she wouldn’t tend more to his needs. She talked about professional and personal integrity and how it’s possible to have both. She talked about trusting your gut and taking seriously those moments when your stomach is telling you something’s wrong and to just walk away. She was funny, she was brilliant, she used profanity judiciously and in such a way that nobody would ever be offended. When I approached her afterwards to tell her how much I enjoyed her talk, she displayed genuine graciousness and appreciation for the compliment, and asked if there was anything I thought would make it better.

    (For those of you asking the inevitable question, she’s also more than 15 years my junior and married.)

    I know that a first impression does not tell the whole story. I know there’s personal baggage there (we all have it) that belies what’s presented to the world. I get that I was carried away by an instantaneous crush.

    But for the first time in a very long time, I was attracted to a woman based on her quick wit, kindness, exuberance and steadfast confidence in herself.

    That’s what I want. Someday I’ll have it.

      • Well, I like your pre-coffee version, too. It’s just that the editor/proofreader in me automatically kicks into gear sometimes.

        Thanks so much, Tracy, for all that you do here. I don’t know where I’d be without your site and book.

  • Wait a min, I don’t have to do all projects by myself? Clean up by myself? Wow, that would be marvelous! And they would be a loving companion who doesn’t lie about sneaking around with another woman? Feels like I am wishing for a unicorn. It’s confusing because I am focusing on myself and how I can be my own companion yet you say I should also dream about a future with Mr. Unicorn man who is loving and honest and able to think of me as a person. My ex was wonderful to most people but he didn’t treat me like a person. Lose a cheater, gain personhood!

  • My Granny – after she and my Granddaddy divorced (amicably), she traveled the world. Lived overseas for years, brought her grandchildren along in the summers. She did whatever she wanted and she was complete and happy all within herself.

  • What I want came directly from CL. I will NEVER forget reading this simple line:

    EFFORT IS SEXY.

    It resonated so strongly with me. Yes, I want someone who makes an effort. Even a small effort would be a welcome change.

    Happy to report that I’m now incredibly happily married to a wonderful man who does just that and more. They do still exist, CN!

  • I want someone who reciprocate. Who is excited and looks forward to being with me, not someone who I have to beg to stick around. Someone who sees that I am special and a good person. Someone who communicates. In my career life I busted my ass to become a doctor. I have found myself living for my job- IE 7 years of my life head stuck in book miserable and then moving to where the job is rather than moving to where I’m happy and finding a job. Honestly- I love helping people and my patients but I hate what I do. I got into it bc of FOO problem and proving I was enough to my parents. Goal posts kept changing with them no matter what. So I’m sick and tired of living to work, wasting my 30’s, trying to please parents. I’m sick of being alone and lonely with zero friends. I want to have less social anxiety, have a larger social network, go out and have fun, do all my bucket list things. I might even want to give up my career go back to school for a different one. I know I haven’t been happy for awhile which is what made me prime target for cheater. Or narc leech. I’m tired of waking up every Day worrying if I have an STD even tho I was tested 5 times. It amazes me peoPle like that exist who would put their “loved one” in all kinds of risks. And my last goal is to have a banging body. Medical school and cheater relationship killed my shape due to stress and stress eating. Now this job is getting in the way of working out too.

  • I remember a fantastic documentary I once watched where they interviewed older men and women about longevity and happiness. There was a great segment with about 3 older ladies who had been married/divorced/ widowed numerous times and I envied the way they were able to talk about the people who had been in their lives but didn’t let it define them. “That one was great but he snored, the next one was a ladies man- a total cheater , we had fun but he was a jerk, the last one fell off a dock and died, so sad!” At the end of the segment the friends were laughing uproariously at their life expeiences- I want that. I want my life to be filled with friends and hysterical laughter- and if people want to pop in for the ride, great. But I want to get to the place where my primary romantic relationship is only a small slice of the pie.

    • I love what you shared on the power of female friendships, Ugh No. I too want friends like that. I feel I do have my heroines here in CN, none of whom I’ve met in person, of course. Chump Lady herself, naturally, but also Tessie and Yooper and Gladitsover, and many, many others who have overcome such horrendous abuse/injury and have gone on to live productive and enjoyable lives. You all are my heroes and heroines.

      • Awww! Thank you for the compliment. Actually I have a lot of heros and heroines here too. Pretty much everyone here I think. From the newbies who have the courage to reach out to get help with the most painful thing in their lives at this moment, to the old timers who are so loving and supportive and who tell it like it is. Chump Nation rocks!

  • My parents had a wonderful relationship. They were best friends, lovers, and partners in every way. They were always there for each other. When my dad went through the long, slow, horrendous slide into Lewy Body Dementia my mom was there for him every moment until he took his last breath. I was terribly afraid that we would lose her too once he was gone. But we didn’t. She went on. And a few years later, after one of her neighbors lost his wife to cancer, a new “close companionship” has blossomed for her. She and her dear friend Jerry see each other every day. They go to plays and musicals and opera, all the things my mom always wanted to do but couldn’t because of my dad’s health. When she wants some alone time Jerry walks back across the cul de sac to his house until mom’s ready for company again. My mom is in her late 70’s and Jerry is in his early 80’s. They are incredibly sweet together and since they knew each others’ spouses, they can talk freely about them with no sense of jealousy for those past loves.

    When I was married to my ex, I thought I had what my parents had. Obviously I didn’t. And at this point in my life, I don’t know that I could ever trust someone enough to fully commit my life that way again. So my new goal is to have the kind of friendship, mutual respect, affection and enjoyment my mom and Jerry have found in each other, while maintaining their individual lives. I want a close companion not a husband.

    • I love the story of your parents, and of your mother’s continued zest for living and her special relationship with Jerry. That is absolutely wonderful.

      I agree with you – I think I want a close companion and not a husband. I honestly don’t know if I ever want to get married again.

    • By George, I think I have that! Thank you Beth for waking me up to realize that’s what my relationship with my “adventure partne ” is. I’ve been against terms like boyfriend and significant other and couple. But companionship really fits the bill. Won’t let him use the “L” word cause love dies (he’s a widow) and love craps an you (chump of 35 yrs).

    • I forgot this sweet little postscript: My mom and Jerry were together for awhile before she told us about it. She wasn’t sure how we (my brother and I) would feel about her being in a relationship again. When she finally told us about their “close companionship” and we were nothing but happy for her, Jerry had a card printed for each of them which my mom had framed and keeps on her nightstand: Jack ____________ (my dad) and Winnie ____________ (Jerry’s wife) are pleased to announce the close companionship of [Mom] and Jerry … I forget what all it says but I thought that was a beautiful thing to do, to include their beloved spouses in their happiness.

      • Beth, I love this and I look forward to meeting you on Monday or Tuesday in Yellow Springs! I will give details of when and where I’ll be over on the meet-up forum for “Ohio Chumps Take a Hike.”

        xoMeht

      • That’s really cute. I have someone I consider a companion, sort of similar to what your mom had. It works for now, but not sure it will forever. Mostly I just never want to feel as powerless as I did at the end of my marriage, so that makes commitment to another person hard for me. I guess I just want to be me, but I don’t want to be lonely. LOL

  • After living a nightmare for four years and now a year in relative peace from the past i think im on my way to meh. No there yet but still going forward. Still trying to get back to being me. I dont strive to be real happy at this point but content and comfortable in who and what i am and if i gain that contentment that will make me happy. Im doing ok. Get tired alot hard to turn my brain off but i keep going. I have mostly good days a few bad. On my bad days i just let it wash over and through me letting more of the past go. I dont try to stop it part of healing still its a process. Ive reset boundaries kicked everyone out of my life who gets on my nerves including family members and i eat NO shit sandwiches!!!

    My praise is for Lageatha the viking warrior queen. She is a bad ass!!!!

  • Reading all these dreams for just having a regular life, I feel a little selfish as having wishes for bigger things. But, I’m 3 years from D/day & being left on the side of the road for Prince Cheating, so maybe that’s a good sign…
    I dream of having fulfillment in what I do for the 8+ hours a day I earn my daily bread. Thanks to court orders surrounding my kids, I pretty much have to stay where I’m at for now, where nobody gives a crap that I can do so much more. Maybe someday that will change.

  • Older and overweight people. My husband started telling me he didn’t find me attractive and that I had gained too much weight and that he wanted to feel attracted to his partner – which turned out to be his script as a serial cheater for justifying himself. I kept looking at the sweet and normal people in my life – in particular people who were overweight – and I saw them as lovable and valid and all the good stuff I wanted for me. To me, they proved he was wrong. After he left, I was a wreck and still had to look around for my bearings – and these people in my life were still wonderful and my ex was still wrong about what makes a person a keeper or not. It was a big deal for me.

  • DIVING WITH SHARKS!!!! Well, any SCUBA diving really. After years of my “former dive buddy” refusing to go diving, I decided I wanted that back in my life…buddy or not. …turns out divers in general are pretty awesome folks, and it’s not all that difficult to find awesome dive buddies. 🙂

    Diving again has brought a LOT of joy back to my life. …a unique combo of exhilaration and peace under water. 😉

    It’s also become a GREAT motivator to get in shape! The more fat I lose and muscle I build, the more I can dive!

    …and diving with sharks? THAT’s amazing! Metaphorically/literally, diving with actual sharks is NOTHING compared to being surrounded by “human” sharks. Lol. Actual sharks are beautiful…and predictable. …unlike the human equivalents. 😉 …for all those folks who look at me funny for diving with ZERO fear of sharks, I simply laugh. Sharks aren’t scary. PEOPLE are scary. LOL!!!

  • My parents. Just yesterday, my mom was coming to my house to help out for the afternoon while my dad was going to golf with buddies. She got in an accident on the way here (she was stopping at a health clinic for babies born to drug addicted mothers to drop off donated diapers and blankets). My dad detoured on the way to his golf game to come down. There was no raging. No complaining or cutting remarks about her accident or his missing his golf game. There was no first playing golf before coming down.

    Just a matter-of-fact attitude of the steps they needed to take to get the car fixed and an undeniable show of love and support. It wasn’t something flashy or over-the-top. Just calm and very real. And there was absolutely no question about what my dad’s priorities were. And there was no constant spew from my mom where she had to let my dad know how much she appreciated his coming. She thanked him and hugged him but there was “no dancing” as we chumps often had to do. Just a wonderful reminder that some people do get it right and still get it right after 52 years together.

  • On Wednesday, I had a Very Good Day (it’s worthy of capitalizing!). I had a terrific day at work, had a kickass workout, and felt such joy and peace and excitement that I realized that when I fully get to meh (I’m not there yet) that THIS is what it would feel like! Thoughts of the douchebag ex and his whore were nearly nonexistant and if they popped up, I simply shoved them away because I DID NOT CARE about what they were doing.

    For the first time in a very long time, I am really excited for the future. The possibilities have cracked wide open. Move to England and get a job at a museum? I can do that! Have a relationship where we both reciprocate and are both responsible, mature adults? HOLY CATS. I can have that! Just the very thought of it fills me with hope.

    I did not realize until my marriage blew up and the narc ex was out of my life for a substantial amount of time how absolutely beaten down I was. I know this is horribly cliche, but it’s true: I feel like the cage has been opened and now I can FLY. It. Is. AMAZING.

  • I want my name back.

    Like all of you, I have lost my past – every memory of special meaning, however private or seemingly small, or however traditionally celebrated. Like you I have lost the future I believed I had. The kind many of you have witnessed here with grandparents or others who grow old as true companions. But so it is with usage and abuse that with enough of it the victim can even begin to “forget” costs like these whose recognition used to cause pangs of shear terror. I am traveling life apparently in an uncomfortable ceasefire with these adversarial realities. Maybe it’s just dissociation.

    But my name I want back.

    The BPD cheatess, and the dysfunctional narcissistic family that produced her, chose an unending DARVO slander campaign. It began with her as she was discovered and confronted. It continued with them as she entered therapy and no contact. My response was to confront them each face-to-face, privately, repeatedly with their family’s objective truth: multigenerational alcoholism, eating disorders, serial cheating, promiscuity, suicidality, psych meds, child abuse, etc. No reply except to uptick the campaign.

    I have adhered to “the high road” even as the ignorant public ostracised me or engages with me through tentative and appraising looks. Why the high road? My three young kids. I need to hold this together so that I can ride shotgun 24/7 to the candy-coated disorder and the truly sociopathic charm that would otherwise invite them in to the gingerbread cottage in the woods. I have always felt the high road modelled what I was teaching. I always felt the low road would result in an utterly unhinged explosion my poor children would be in the middle of. I don’t just imagine this, I have seen it. She is professionally diagnosed BPD with features of NPD and APD. Her sister is an alcoholic BPD. Her parents are NPD. They are all social chameleons. So I have laid low, very low, and I have focused on doing the work and kept quiet publicly about the truth.

    I have shouldered and endured more than any of those in the campaign’s audience can imagine, and that fact has counted against me. None of them can imagine that what they may actually be witnessing is an extreme degree of silent selflessness. It’s so much more enticing to believe the whispered smear that serves the disordered family’s image management: he’s unreasonable and controlling (maybe even abusive!), he drove her to alcoholism (never mind her sister and mother’s entire family) , he drove her to suicidality (never mind her first attempt at age 14), we did our best as parents and now he’s blaming us, why is her cheating our fault?, why is her promiscuity our fault? he has her seeing a quack who’s filling her head with psychobabble, the stress is causing poor father to have high blood pressure, etc. etc. etc. I respond to none of this publicly but have confronted all and so much more privately with them. They’re reply bounces between gaslighting and patronising false assent, and then more public smearing designed to get out in front of whatever they learned that I now know about.

    After four years now, I want my name back.

    • TKO, my ex’s family was “special” too. After D day and then during the divorce, they all said the most horrible lies about me and some of them and supposedly close “friends” believed it and treated me terribly. That really hurt and like you have 3 kids and took the high road even when it was really really tough.

      My advice though is I am now 5 years down the road, met a fabulous woman (who was also Chumped by her ex), got married and am very happy. My kids are now in High School so while I never said a bad thing about their Mom, I told them that they could I ask me anything and they’d get an honest answer. Turns out they figured everything out on their own and I never had to tell them anything.
      Stop trying to figure out her screwed up family — they are screwed up, like it, think that is normal and YOU are abnormal !! Focus on yourself and your kids and strive as hard as you can for “grey rock” in your interactions with her. This works as CL points out. My ex is a narc and she knows I will not be part of drama, so “the Eye of Sauron” is never on me and she mostly leaves me alone these days.
      Stick with it and you’ll get there !!

      • Thanks Gator. The “Eye of Sauron” – LOL!

        I was indeed a Hobbit of the Shire when I put that damn ring on.

        Grey rock has basically been my approach, so much of their crap I have completely ignored. But I’ve additionally grey rocked the general public as well. And I have let these disordereds create the narrative. I think I am now actually starting to focus on myself – and it is with that that I increasingly want to get my name back. It isn’t that I want to spread the truth about them, but the two things are related. I am glad things have worked out so well for you and your children, you handled it very honourably.

  • I’ll have “What She’s Having”?
    Well, I have a friend who travels around the world on various photojournalism assignments. I have some experience with photography, and I’d like to incorporate this into my money-making arsenal. I’m traveling anyway, I know how to take pictures. So she has inspired me. She started small with a local magazine, and worked her way up. It financed a move across the country, among other things. I’m in the process of outfitting myself and seeing what I can shop around.
    I am so happy for her, and yes, I’d like a bit of what she’s having.

    However, I am already getting a lot of what I wanted:

    1. Playing music professionally, and traveling around the world with my new Beloved having amazing experiences, musical and otherwise.

    (This is something GUBU said would “never happen” because I “don’t have the talent”. Apparently, he was wrong about that. He also said such gems as “So many people seem to really LIKE you. I just don’t understand why they do, or what it is about you they like…” This was before D-Day. Of COURSE he was already cheating on me and started to devalue me.
    Dick.
    ***Insert angry emoji face here that I don’t know how to make happen!***

    2. Performing with musicians who are really far above my own level professionally; good people whom I admire and respect. It’s kicking my ass to try and keep up, but I am loving the “Trial By Fire” approach to learning.

    3. Getting involved with independent filmmaking and working on various projects. I am loving the process and the people, and there’s something great about seeing a film you helped create up on the big screen. I plan to do as much of that as possible. Learning a new skill set is something I find extremely rewarding.

    4. In love with a wonderful man with whom I do have that “companionable” connection that Tracy describes. We ENJOY each other, on so many levels.
    Is our life cushy and stress-free? Hell no. We face lots of day-to-day challenges, but try to do it with a sense of humor, and a lot of love.

    5. A roof over my head, a few mutts and a down-sized version of the vast organic herb/veggie/cut flower garden I had on my farm. A cup of coffee on the deck with someone who enjoys seeing the blossoms and hummingbirds while we have a great conversation, who puts his arms around me, who makes me laugh. A shared meal with someone who actually cares what I have to say. Someone who thinks I’m cute and funny. Someone whose face lights up when I come into the room.
    That stuff is PRICELESS.

    6. Almost completely free of any connection to my lying, cheating, soul-sucking excuse for a mate. Learned a lot there too. “When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.” would be at the top of that list.

  • For me I had this A-HA moment as Oprah Winfrey would say, yesterday while talking to a co-worker that I hadn’t seen in a long time. He asked how was I doing? And my response was “Same old, same old surviving. But at least all my bills are paid and I made it to the month.” And then it dawned on me, when I was with old F-tard I lived in fear that the car was being repoed, electricity was being turned off, as he would Rob from Peter to pay Paul and still couldn’t make it. Our rent was never paid on time and was always months behind. It just wasn’t a good existence. So looking back on it three and a half years later I can say I am in a good place. I’ve got a roof over my head, a job, my bills are paid and even though it would be nice to have a loving man in my life, I’m content where I’m at. Life IS good on the other side.

  • I wanted to have really good hugs again, from a guy who loves me. I wanted someone to be present with me. And sex. Lots of sex.

    I’m dating a really good guy now. I’m happy to say that I now have those things.

    Still working on getting my self-esteem back to where it was before. Being with a good guy again is helping to heal me in a few ways that being celibate for 3 years could not.

  • Another post that completely relates to what I am currently feeling.

    This morning I was reflecting on the past year since my one year cancer diagnosis anniversary is coming up.

    I remember finding the indent and showing it to my STBX. Worried out of my mind. All he would say is that he was sure it was nothing. I went to my diagnosis mammogram alone. They biopsied me that same day. He never texted or called to see how the appointment went. I knew when they found 3 spots, one being in the lymphnode, that it was cancer. I cried in my car in the parking lot after the appointment. The next morning they called me and told me what I already knew–Stage 2 breast cancer. It was my husband’s birthday, he was at a conference and I didn’t want to ruin his day, so I did not call and tell him. He did not call or text me either. After his conference, he went out with colleagues to celebrate his birthday. He called around 8 pm to say he got a hotel room and was going to stay overnight. I then told him about my diagnosis. He didn’t offer to come home. He didn’t offer any comfort other than a random I love you. His priority that night was himself.

    In the following days, he offered me no emotional support. The only things he said to me were “This is just a medical bump” “It’s no big deal” “If it were me, I would just walk off into the woods and die”

    During treatment, he would ask me how the treatment went, but never how I felt. On one particular down day during chemo, I was too tired to do anything but sit on the couch. He looked at me and said, “Are you going to be like this tomorrow too?”

    During chemo, I envied the women whose husbands came and sat with them every treatment. They used the time to talk and the husband asked questions about their wives treatment and acted as their advocate when they were feeling down. I want that. I want someone who actually cares about ME. I want someone who cares about what I am feeling and does not dismiss my emotions. I want someone who wants to come to appointments with me, not someone I have to ask to come. I want someone to cheer me up when I am down, not kick me. I want a partner.

    • I am so horrified by your X’s cruelty. I’m so sorry you went through that.

      Sending happy, positive vibes your way. (((Hugs)))

    • The worst. The fucktard cheaters who abuse their spouses when they are ill are the worst of the worst. I’m so sorry you went through that. Echoing JM’s hugs. {{{Hugs}}}

  • What do I want? Hm. Ex had a friend whose marriage I knew was doomed from the beginning. I could tell at the wedding that he was just an accessory. It turned me stomach at the time to see it, but I did not know the guy well enough to be able to do anything about it. Ex should have, he was best man which is ironic because he didn’t really like this friend much although the friend thought he was the best (another case of the fakes on ex’s part – should have been a red flag for me). Anyway, they had a kid which was followed a few years later by a nasty divorce. I have no idea if infidelity was involved or not, but if it was, I have no doubt it was on her side and she certainly took him to the cleaners financially. From ex’s account, he was bitter about the whole thing for a couple of years. Then last summer (about three years out from his divorce), he was in town for an event and stopped by our house for breakfast. Ex and I were in the first few weeks of DDay, but we weren’t discussing it with others yet so I am sure this friend had no idea and probably still doesn’t because he is not a confidant for ex. Anyway, the point is that this friend had turned a corner when he came to visit. He seemed to be genuinely happy with his life and what he was making of it. He had no new woman but he didn’t need one because he was content with himself. Perhaps joy would be too strong a word, but he had achieved meh and with it contentment. That’s what I want for myself.

    • Yes! Good luck to you, and to all of us, hoping to reclaim the parts of ourselves that we lost in our marriages to these jerks!

  • I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing the narc personality in order to move on without repeating a similar pattern in the future. The divorce is still ongoing (3 yrs) but within that time period I have begun to come into my own. Signs of successs in my business & knowledge that I can achieve almost anything if I work hard with integrity is very fulfilling. I enjoy supporting colleagues and others that I meet during my day – pure positivity. The rest of my time is spent helping my children, knowing that they are growing older quickly and will one day be leaving our home. I’m not actively looking for companionship but I know when the time is right I will meet another chump who wants the same as I do –
    a comfortable relationship consisting of mutual support, adoration and honesty with a dash of humor and a bit of fun & naughtiness thrown into the mix 😉

  • I’m actually living what I wanted back in my sham of a marriage to cheater. Now I’m married to Nice Guy, nearly a year, and what’s so amazing to me after 20 years with cheater ex is that my new marriage is an actual partnership. Nice Guy consults with me about everything. He values my opinion. It is always clear that I am his top priority and that we are a TEAM. I never once felt that way with cheater.

    Nice Guy isn’t perfect, of course, and neither am I. But it’s such a difference to actually feel like I have a partner who has my back….. I wanted that so much with my cheating first husband, but of course, he is completely incapable of such a thing.

    Hang in there, all of you newbies to Chump Nation. I know it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I am living proof that there is.

    • Nice Guy. Yes, if I am ever in another relationship again that is what I want. Ex used to think calling someone a “nice guy” was an insult. I never understood that. Now I understand that he see’s selfishness as a virtue and kindness as a fault. I want someone who sees it the other way around.

      Also, ex used to say “nice guys finish last” but I think they are wrong. Sometimes they have to wait longer to find the women who appreciate them, but when the do they get the best. They get someone like you. 🙂

      • Not long before fuckwit left, we went to dinner at the home of some new friends the kids and I had made homeschooling. Afterwards, fuckwit said to me that the husband needed to man up and grow a pair. I guess he felt he served his wife to much. Fuckwit is the one who needs to man up- he is the cowardly cheater.

  • My family and I were having a conversation over dinner when a cheater couple was brought up. She cheated to get with him, he cheated to get with her. I immediately laid into that I could no longer look at pretty people who feigned happiness together under the guise of cheating to be anybody that I would want to associate with. Why were we even talking about them? My dad, who is a lawyer and sees these things everyday said, “Well, a lot of people do it.” I understand where he’s coming from and I understand that he sees these types of things most days. But that still doesn’t make cheating acceptable. My other thought that came later was this: A lot of people DON’T do it (cheating) too. We don’t build up those people enough in this society, but I’m so happy, so very happy to know the difference now. Real love vs. really fake love.

    My grandparents also had a wonderful loving relationship and they have great kids that still live around each other. When my grandpa died (grandma is still alive) that man was so well loved because he knew how to love and you could see that at the funeral. So much genuine love. That’s what I want. That’s what inspires me – that there is actually this kind of love out there. I’m holding out for that and if it’s not out there for me well, I still have the love of my family and I’m so glad to have that because there was a time that I didn’t while being married to X.

  • I just spent the week at a photography course in Italy. Gorgeous weather, good company, lots of wine and laughter. Booked it at the last minute, and my chump partner sent me with his blessing

    This is where I want to be…in a relationship where neither of us feels the need to play detective or mistrust the other.

    I could never have done this while in those previous days with cheaters, I was too strung out with serving theor selfish manipulations.

  • And I should add that I have made acquaintance with two women this week who sorely need advice from Chump Nation, so I have given them our coordinates.

  • Thanks mostly to CL and CN, I fully accept how screwed up my STBX is … and that I see how I stuffed down all of my ambition for decades so I wouldn’t upset the envious-yet-lazy jackass. And, now, I see that the life I always imagined is STILL possible. It just wasn’t possible with the “let me keep shooting the family in the foot” jackass.

    Did I mention he’s a jackass? 😉

    Now, I’m living MY values. I have (thankfully) rid myself of doubting my worldview … that humans should try to live good lives, that we should PROTECT what we love, that we should always aspire to BETTER (not perfect, just a bit better than before).

    I like being nice. I like being charitable. I love doting on and protecting my kids. I enjoy being a nerd.

    Fuck him for bashing all of those things for so long. I’m taking it ALL back! And my girls are on board with me. 🙂

    • You go, Jesssmom!

      You are a VERY good person; I’m so sorry your stinking ex made you doubt who you are. I know what that’s like. My x would criticize me for caring about my kids too much.

      We are so much better off without them!

      • Aw, thanks, champchump. (((Hugs)))

        It is utterly mind-bending (serious cognitive dissonance!) to have that light-bulb revelation that the person you’ve dedicated much of your life to has such a messed up worldview. But, I think it is a necessary part of the process to get to the other side of the nightmare.

        I completely agree with you that we are better off without them! 🙂 In so many ways!

  • I want love, love in the definition of Louis de Bernière in his book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994)
    “Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day… that is just being ‘in love’, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is leftover when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
    I read Bernière’s definition in Dr. Robert Lustig’s book The Hacking of the American Mind. I recommend it to Chump Nation, it helps us understand our cheaters and ourselves and the difference, at many levels, between pleasure and contentment.
    All I wanted was contentment.

    I also want all the red tape of my divorce to be final so I can get on with my life. Just when I think I am 100% free to start over, some new tax or document pops up so I still can’t sell my house. I want to start over.

    Today many, many fellow chumps have inspired me and I know that I am in excellent company.

    • “Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day… ” Its not??? News to ex.

  • I want to make the most of the years I have left (I’m 62) and I’m sharing my story with you, CN, in case it might help newbie chumps.
    As some of you know, my oldest son took his own life at 20, just a few weeks before my multiple D-Day. I can’t begin to describe the devastation of mourning my baby, the husband I thought I had and my marriage of nearly 30 years, all at the same time. It took me two and a half years of pick-me dancing while striving to breathe until I kicked the narc away for good. I was left with my two younger sons and decades of being a SAHM and free-lance translator (isolation, you know how narcs work, don’t you). My lifetime friends took the narc’s side and abandoned me. The world as I knew it had vanished.
    After a couple of years of barely surviving, I started offering an empathic ear to kids who posted in blogs about suicide, which led to the idea of starting a foundation to prevent suicide among children and teens, since in my country there was nothing to help kids in trouble. So I obtained two diplomas in psychology, became a certified suicide prevention trainer and met wonderful psychologists who were interested in volunteering at the foundation. After some time, highly trained and respected people from other fields joined in, I was asked to participate in academic activities and seminars, was co-editor of a couple of research documents on suicide, have been a guest at radio and TV talk-shows, given interviews for the press, written columns, etc.
    While living with the narc I was constantly depressed, anxious, was admitted to psychiatric hospitals several times and even made a suicide attempt myself after I found out the unimaginable truth. After I sent him away I was terrified; he’d made me 100 percent dependent on him. I didn’t think I was nobody, I thought I was nothing, a non-being.
    But today I feel useful, I’m no longer an appendix of the narc, I’ve worked with hundreds of kids and parents, I’ve earned back the love and respect of my now adult sons and I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.
    So go ahead and even in the darkest darkness, try to think what YOU really want and go for it. The sky’s the limit, my fellow chumps!

    • Oh. My. God.

      Chumpiest, I just said above that I was in good company here at CN. I feel honored and inspired to be in yours.

      Now I just have to listen to Stand By Me with Ben E. King and my day is strong.

    • Chumpiest, I am so sorry you have had to go through what you did. Unimaginable.

      But what a role model you are for us all. You’re amazing!!

    • Wow! That is so inspiring. You are so incredibly strong to have not only survived all of that, but to have worked through it in a way that allows you to make the world a better place. I wish there were more people in the world like you.

    • Chumpiest, you are making a real difference, and what you are doing MATTERS. You ROCK. I am so impressed. You are a true phoenix who has risen from the ashes, and you are a beautiful being!

      We are close in age. Thanks for sharing – you prove that we can ACCOMPLISH A LOT and find true fulfillment in our later years.

    • I’m sorry to learn that your son died of suicide.

      But thank you for being such a strong advocate for mental health awareness and support in your community.

      As someone with both depression and anxiety at different parts of my life I thank you.

      I always say that if I was ever going to die, it would have been after D-Day. I was vulnerable to suicide during that time. I didn’t attempt, but I thought very seriousy about it.

      I want to be like you. I am able to graduate as a health professional and am starting my life over in the 2 years since D-Day. I sometimes struggle with not having children, as I wasted years of my fertility on a narc. But learning about your stories opens my heart and mind to other people’s suffering. As CL says, it’s not the pain olympics, but there is no good to come from ruminating on one’s own pain especially when you can get out there and help others.

      So thank you.

      PS – Your “lifetime friends” weren’t really your friends. That’s a sad fact. So many of us here in CN have lived through that secondary pain. Myself included.

  • What do I see in others’ lives that I want? Thinking hard about this.

    When I first separated, three different women who I knew at church told me their stories of separation and divorce. All three had been on their own for more than 20 years, had raised their kids mostly on their own. They were people I looked up to – capable, pleasant, friendly and, to my eyes, some of the nicest people I knew. Their stories were horrific, but they had long since moved past what had happened to them and they really were happy people. I had known them for years, but hadn’t known their stories. They chose to bring up their pasts to help me!

    I wanted what they had – to have moved past the hurt and to be a loving, giving person like they were.

    I have been 6 years on my own and it has taken at least 4 years to really accept what happened and to move forward. I think I am happy now. My life is far from perfect, but I don’t believe anyone has a perfect life.

    I think having the opportunity to share and support each other in Chump Nation has the same effect. New Chumps can see that others have had very hard experiences and have learned to move forward with their lives. These are the people to emulate. They are an inspiration. The details of our lives will be different, but the underlying theme is learning we are worthwhile no matter what has happened and we have a bright future once we discover our true strength.

  • The way I approach things in life is like a rock or mountain climber. First, I secure my position (harness, check! Water bottle, check!) and only then can I feel free to enjoy the moment and explore. For this Friday challenge, I want to have a partner who can be my rock climbing partner. Someone who has my back – who makes sure my ropes are secure, who communicates clearly to make sure we are in always on the same page, someone who I feel safe and trust with my own life 110% without any trepidation or fear. Of course he has to be adventurous, physically fit, and humorous too! <3 A girl can dream~

  • I would LOVE what my parents have! They started out young and my mom was pregnant with my oldest sister when they married. They had us three girls and there were financial struggles. But with all of their struggles they saw it thru and they are still together. They travel, they golf, they hang out with friends and family and they spend time together. They have a full life. I’m sure they drive each other nuts every now and again but they can count on each other to always be there. They dance like newlyweds, my dad still pats my mom on the butt and calls her a silly pet name, he still brings her flowers for no reason and they never go to bed bad at each other! They are best friends! I want what they have!

  • Going out on a limb here; I want what Wonder Woman has–a rope of truth (with which I would make cheaters be honest about their misdeeds & thus accept consequences), and a strict adherence to justice (so that chumps and their children are not shafted financially or in custody arrangements ever again).

  • “OMG, you can earn a living wage doing that? ”

    Ha, this! The timing is funny, too, because I’ve been going through this just in the last few days, when it occurred to me that *maybe* I could actually try and go for my dream job. I just need to do some serious budgeting.

    To be fair, my ex encouraged me to go and make a living out of my current occupation. He thought it was possible, but I never felt truly supported, though I can’t put my finger on why.
    Maybe that’s just my poor time management, but I felt that having to share my time with him didn’t leave me enough to focus on growing my business.
    Or maybe it has to do more with content. Because ultimately I was being betrayed on a sexual level, I didn’t feel like I could make a project fully prosper – especially since my field is human reproduction.

    Bottom line is, there are other women who are freelancers in my country (where taxes are crazy) and who are able to fully support themselves, I think. So, I want what they have!

  • I want what my grandmothers had. They were merry widows – and though they deeply loved their husbands who loved them back, I feel there is a similarity in that I too deeply loved, and the man I THOUGHT I was married to and who I THOUGHT deeply loved me is “dead.”

    I feel like a widow. Now in my 60s, I want to laugh like my grandmothers did. And they did it a lot. They were fun and funny and they took delight in many things. Life may not be what we hoped it would be in our “Golden Years” but we can still have fun in the time that’s left!

  • I have gotten it. I’m out on the road, in my old but in good enough shape motorhome, tooling along at my own pace, going where my little heart desires. I get up when I want, drive as long as I want, and stop where I want. Just took a tour today through a factory where they build motorhomes.

    It took me six months to do the preparation for my year of full time rving. And here I am meeting interesting people and seeing this great country of ours. Cheater ex would have hated this, I am loving it!

    I am also hoping to get to meet some brother and sister chumps in my travels.

    • Tessie, if you make it to the PNW area, I would be thrilled to meet up with you. Your story has given me such strength over the last few years.

        • An interesting aside. Just got an email from a friend who has been ghosting me in slow motion over the last six months. Ever since I started talking about moving into a motorhome. Seems I’ve succumbed to selfishness by taking this trip and I will be too far away to be useful. Of course the last four years I have spent volunteering as a senior companion 4 and 5 days a week doesn’t count. I am still selfish apparently.

          Wow, just wow. How did I miss this. Guess I still have some work to do on my friend picker.

          • I’m sorry to hear about your erstwhile “friend.” But having just come back from a cross-country road trip with my kids, I know how amazing it is to do just what you’re doing. Anyone who can’t support that doesn’t deserve to be in your life!

            I’ll make sure I’m around next summer. There’s a pretty awesome group of PNW chumps who will be delighted to welcome you!

          • Tessie, I’ve been window shopping RVs for the past few months. My largest concern has been about going on “my own”. Will I be lonely or bored?

            You’re my hero!

            • I have only been on the road less than a week so I am not much of an expert. So far no boredom. I am an introvert so I am very rarely lonely. The nice part of this is if you get tired of the scenery, or if the neighbors are a pain, just hop in the driver’s seat and change locations. Also lots of nice people so far. The beauty of a motorhome is you take your house with you wherever you go.

              So far really enjoying Iowa! Heading south…..

  • I’m enrolled at Auburn to start in January to get certified as a principal. After teaching for 17 years, it’s beyond time.

    I’m not scared anymore to run into old church friends that heard his version of my life. I live here, he moved away, I’m own my life here. I’m not going to hide away like I did something wrong, because I didn’t.

    • TWITCHING!!

      War Eagle! Of course, I attended Auburn b/c I married in college and the liar DOCTOR was in school there. Never mind, I still learned and actually have many happy memories of that time.

      Go for it!

  • I’ve been thinking about how much energy it took to love and live with a narcissist. He complained that I had no passion. He said if he were a woman, he’d be the most beautiful woman he could be.

    His words no longer have power over any aspect of my life. What if after an honest assessment of ourselves we realize we had all the things they manipulated us into thinking we lacked?

    I have an abundance of passion that defines me as person. I’m proud of the accomplishments in my life.

    And here’s where I draw my strength. It comes from a child who could run and now struggles to hold up his head. Yet every day he pushes himself to pick up something he dropped. It comes from another with a 160 IQ who for years thought he was dumb because he couldn’t read. It comes from a child with autism who struggles to live in a world of sound without a voice. I’ll have that. It inspires me to see such courage to overcome the neverending moments of daily obstacles in their lives.

    And those who are so shallow they only equate passion with fantasy and abandon with not an ounce of care because they are the truly Limited.

    Appreciation begins with the small things. I thought there was a void in my life after Dday. The black void of space was just the opposite. It was living with him.

    • Doingme,

      Your final statement, “I thought there was a void in my life after Dday. The black void of space was just the opposite. It was living with him,” is so profound. I can’t express how much I need to believe this for my own health and sanity regarding my husband’s abandonment of me. About an hour ago, an acquaintance informed me that STBX posted yet another pic of himself cuddled up with OW on FAKEbook for which a commenter remarked how beautiful his WIFE is! I am still his legally and spiritually his wife although apparently that means nothing in today’s world, especially to his fellow morally bankrupt “friends” and associates who know we are not divorced, but support the adulterous union of him and the parasitic squatter nonetheless while concurrently perpetuating the facade that he is married to her to those who aren’t aware. I’m in such a debilitating state of grief that my initial response to “I’ll have what she’s having” is that I want what OW is having which is MY LIFE BACK. The harsh reality is that having any of that is not even an option being that he immediately replaced me (or more accurately overlapped his “relationship” with her with our marriage) and nothing I had with him was really what I perceived it to be anyway. I just cannot get past the SMDH factor of his horrendous disrespect, nor comprehend how OW is perfectly content to have a “boyfriend” who is married. It’s so hard to shift from loving someone more than anyone or anything else in the world to discovering the true meaning of the word hate with that same person as the catalyst for this new found awareness.

      • StillIRise

        You want what you thought you had. And the pain is about the blatant disrespect and cruelty that follows. None of that was necessary. Every perception and memory of my life was tainted and reevaluated.

        The narrative usually precedes the discard. Regardless, you know the truth. You know who YOU are and that is what will get you through the pain. As hard as it is you must stop pain shopping.

        Where you once trusted him, trust yourself. Unloving someone is a difficult process and in the beginning the hate is the anger needed to help you believe no in him but to detach. Use it to get what you need in obtaining a settlement you can live with if it applies.

        He lacks what you have, integrity.

      • StillIRise,

        You are in such a terribly difficult stage. And I understand longing for the person you thought your spouse was. Remember Tracy’s wise words: Trust that they suck. The person you love/d is a hologram. The real person is someone who is okay with having a girl friend when he is still legally married to you. Doingme is right; he does not have any integrity. And he is incredibly disrespectful.

        You deserve infinitely better.

        Hang in there. It gets so much better eventually. I understand wanting your old life back that you thought you had. In my case, with a lot of time, I came to realize my ex had been a jerk in some ways long before he left me for OW. He put himself first and wasn’t kind. Time healed and made me realize things about my old life. Eventually, I didn’t even want it back because I saw it for what it was in reality, not what I had believed it to be.

        Wishing you well in your healing. Please take care of yourself in this terribly difficult season of raw grief… With time, the grief becomes less raw, and eventually recedes…

  • 1. I want to be free of the crushing burden of hating someone so violently.

    2. I want to be with a partner who does not Ogle anything with a vagina and breast and make me feel unattractive.

    3. I want to find a partner that I can trust.

    4. If I do not ever find his partner I want to be a woman who still has joy irregardless if she is in a relationship that is romantic.

    5. I want to savor each day and stop living in the past.

    • I love your list. I want all of the same (as I am not meh yet). I wanted someone to grow old with. And, I am also angry that at 61 years old, I have to reinvent my life! I have painted my house doors a beautiful green actually called “Gleeful”. So, I guess that’s a start!

    • Number two used to be my life. Just as you have values others do share them.

      I’ve been dating a man who is kind and respectful. Yet, I’m perfectly comfortable with my independence. Living alone let’s you get to rebuild your identity and to enjoy freedom. It’s priceless.

    • “I want to savor each day and stop living in the past.”

      Me too.

      I still am stuck in the past sometimes, 2 years later. Working towards meh, but my Tuesday is still a way off.

      I listened to a meditation that helped me recently. Maybe it might help you?

      Categorize your thoughts into 3 boxes – past, present, future. Our worries are usually past/present based. Putting in a box for the past helps put it away.

      Anything for the future, future you can deal with.

      Now all that’s left is the present.

      The box thing is helping me curb my habit of ruminating over what I lost to ex… mostly time & fertility. Money and everything else I can rebuild.

      Anway, hope that helps! Keep being mighty.

  • I think what I want most is what I already have: to be free from other people’s expectations, and to be at peace.

    Now I want the courage to fully grow into every possibility those gifts can afford me. They were certainly hard won.

  • I want financial stability and security of my own doing- right now I’m wayyy too dependent on others

    I wamt a real relationship, not the fake one I realized i had.

    Other than those two things, I’m straight.

    • True.

      I am not financially independent… yet. But I am about to graduate from university so am hustling to make that happen.

      As for a real relationship, I want tht too. Bit scared of ongoing fakery, and online dating seems like a infested cesspool of narcs. But I hold hope.

  • I house sat for married friends, and cared for their cats.

    Sitting in their home, I reflected on how they are best friends, have shared hobbies that they do together, invest in a social circle, and communicate openly. They are a team in life.

    I want that.

    Also their cats are cute 🙂

  • I want a life without someone who alternately despises and adores me. I want someone who’s willing to grow and change, not just hide his head in the sand. I want either someone who respects me or the dignity of living alone and in peace. Currently, the highs aren’t worth the lows.

    Chump Lady: You inspired my blogpost on this topic tonight. ;o)

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