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Dear Chump Lady, How do I make it through the holidays?

holly_petraeusIt’s that season again and it’s time to rerun this column. If you’re in a bit of a holiday slump, this goes one out to you. For the survivors of previous sucky holidays, tell the new ones how you did it in the comments. Thanks! — Tracy

Dear Chump Lady,

I am six months out from separation. Facing holidays alone with three grade school age boys. Friends all happily married (for the most part). Family all happily married.

I need any and all survival tips. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more easily I cry. I can’t stand to open Christmas cards from friends because their beautiful intact families reminds me of my broken family thanks to my cheating husband.

Offers of help and generous gifts from neighbors and congregation members just make me feel inadequate as a mom. I don’t want to be known as “the single mom” of the neighborhood, but I will be.

Divorce is amicable so far, which is a huge blessing; but about 45 days away from being able to be finalized.

All of it is still surreal. When I calculated today that I had asked him to move out exactly six months ago, I couldn’t believe that much time has past. It feels like I have been treading water without help for only a month or two.

It is a relief to not have the tension and day to day interactions with STBX. However, I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. All of you who have been single parents know that this is one tough gig! And relief every other weekend isn’t even close to enough time to catch up on everything that falls by the wayside when you are doing it alone.

I don’t know if everything is compounded because of Christmas. Or if my new reality is just settling in and I am scared to death to raise my sons without a full-time support system.

I figured this was the best place to go for ideas on how to make it through the next three weeks and make it as good a holiday season as possible!

Next year has to be better, right?!


Dear LimboLand,

Some holidays suck. When things suck — let them suck. You’ve been separated for 6 months. Your divorce isn’t finalized. You’re trying to get used to your new reality during a season of oppressive bonhomie. Who can blame you for occasional fits of weepiness? Even the sturdiest of us reel at the disconnect between our drab, ordinary lives and the manic imperative to be fabulous at the holidays. What? You don’t have your presents wrapped in artisan, wood-block print paper made by free-range lepers in India? You didn’t translate those Christmas cookie recipes from the original German? Didn’t you get invited to that party? You know, the one with the live nativity outside and the imported camels? No? Oh. Sorry.

I guess only the Intact, Happy, Married people were invited.

Please stop comparing yourself. Not every intact family is beautiful. Many of them are flaming cauldrons of dysfunction. And yes, some are happy. Be happy for them. The world needs all the sane, happy people it can get. Your problem is you need to expand your notion of “beautiful” and “intact.” You have custody of three boys. You’re at the helm. That’s an intact family. You’re just missing a fucktard, which is not missing much.

Yes, single parenting is hard work. But single parenting is not LESS THAN. It doesn’t mean you’re defective. Frankly, I found single parenting much, much easier than parenting in a bad marriage. In my first marriage, I paid the mortgage, all my own bills, my car, my son’s childcare, pre-school. I had a surly husband who didn’t much want to hang out with me, and the full weight of his untreated mental illness. I realized I was already a single parent. I didn’t have a fully invested partner. Having him out of the house was liberating and, hey, at least it was honest.

You were married to a cheater. No matter how many soccer games he attended, or bills he paid, that man was not a fully invested partner, in your marriage or in your family life. He directed his resources at fucking around on you. You’re mourning what you thought you had, how you enjoyed being perceived, not who he really was.

You don’t want to be known as the single mom? You ARE a single mom. Wear it as a badge of honor. You’re freaking HEROIC. You’re raising three boys on your own. This is your chance to raise good men with YOUR values. Did you really want to stay “intact” with that man and model to your sons that husbands and fathers cheat? And women must eat that shit sandwich and let the man enjoy his side-dish fuck entitlement?

Or do you want them to know that women are strong and life has deal breakers — and if you fuck with someone’s dignity and betray them, you will find your ass divorced?

Divorce is not failure. Cheating is failure. The shame of infidelity is not your shame to wear. I realize this is not how you expected your life to turn out, but it’s the rare person whose life turns out how they expected. And those people are dull and risk adverse. Intact can be enviable, it can also be boring as hell. And smug.

LimboLand, trust that in time you will find your sea legs on this parenting thing and you will have better days ahead, and yes, even happy holidays. But right now, you’re in crisis. Your world just got turned on its head. You are blessed that you are surrounded by kind people who want to help you. Accept the help. You know how you keep good people in your life? You let them help you. Don’t shoo them away. Be gracious, accept their kindness, and do a good turn for them later, when you’re able.

Reciprocity is what makes a relationship healthy. That means you don’t always get to be the giver. It means you also have to accept taking — graciously. That can be humbling for the more control freaky of us chumps. Makes us feel vulnerable. If you’ve been with a narcissist, you’re expecting that score card. Shit, I’m going to owe you and this is not going to be pretty. 

No. Some people are actually nice. Take the fucking casserole. Say yes to the babysitting. ENCOURAGE these people. Keep them close and do not reject them because you fear being pitied. That’s about you and you internalizing Single Mother is Less Than. They don’t see you that way. They see you as a lovely person who is in crisis and alone for the holidays, who could use some bolstering.

I could not have done single parenting without a lot of help. I had a dear friend who had my son for sleepovers every time I had to travel for work, or even sometimes when I had a date. And every chance I got, I reciprocated. I took her sons. Nearly every weekend I had a motley assortment of boys at my house. I looked for opportunities to do for my friends because I KNEW I was going to need their help too.

Being a single parent can open up your world in new ways, and deepen friendships. “Intact” families can be very isolating. As you build this new life, build a tribe. Lots of people are cribbing it together, doing this parenting stuff by the seat of their pants, even the married ones. Make some more friends.

But for now, just get through the holidays. Focus on your kids, making their Christmas bright. Create some new traditions (cookies for breakfast!) Relax. Please don’t spend those precious kid-free weekends doing chores. Enjoy some self-care. Watch a movie. Have coffee with a friend. Blob in your pajamas. You deserve it.

This new stage of life isn’t a punishment, it’s a gift. I know it doesn’t feel that way now — but you’ll get there. I promise.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I hope Limboland got through that ok and is feeling mightier. The first Christmas (and other significant events) are inevitably strange if not downright painful. I howled when my boys left to spend Christmas dinner with OW’s family and my former in-laws, it felt like I’d been brutally replaced after 20 plus years of knowing them all. The following 2 years were much easier and I don’t give a moment’s thought now to what they do for family celebrations or being single during the holidays (apart from the frustration of no break from sibling squabbling during their weeks off school!)

    • How did you come to deal with your children spending Christmas with your ex, and the AP, and not you? Even worse, them spending Christmas with the AP’s family? The very thought makes me want to puke.

      Any words of wisdom or tips on how you get through it and manage the pain?

      • The first Christmas morning my boys (age 11 and 16 at the time) headed over to the OW’s house for brunch after opening the presents I had scraped together the money for and placed under our tiny tree in our little rental house (a stark contrast to previous years in our big marital home where a ten foot tree didn’t come close to grazing the beautiful cathedral ceiling) I thought I would curl up and die from the pain. I had never even met her – and I envisioned a gorgeous woman serving a gourmet meal to my shell shocked boys while her prefect family gazed adoringly at her. Would they want to stay there all day? Would I be replaced in their hearts because our lives were chaotic as I worked two jobs and still hadn’t unpacked for our move months ago? When they came home (rather quickly – literally an eat and run!) with tales of meeting her oldest son who had been living with his girlfriend in a tent in the woods and was mid-transition to female and “camping” on her sofa until it got warmer – and her younger daughter who was on a pass from a group home for mentally ill teens- and how her house was even smaller than our little rental and the food was “weird”…I realized my ex had traded down into the depths of dysfunction and my boys would always be grateful for the safe harbour of my home, no matter how humble! Your kids will too. Good, solid people with an intact moral compass who love and care for others do not screw around on their spouse or screw around with married men. The stench of their dysfunction cannot be hidden and kids have a great sense of smell!

        • The Schmoopies sound dysfunctional, for sure. But I feel sorry for the OW’s kids too. They didn’t sign up for any of it. Also, there’s nothing dysfunctional about being trans-gender. Not saying that was your intention, but I wanted to make that public service announcement — CN is a rainbow nation. And kids, straight, gay, trans, whatever, are hurt by cheater crazy too.

          To your bigger point — it’s funny how we glamorize the “winners” of the pick me dance. I did the same. I’m sure it was furtive drives to Pittsburg and frozen pizza boxes strewn about. Good times…

          • Thanks CLfor the support for the trans kid, but also the child with mental disabilities should not be considered part of a trade down. Could be the kids are just trying to be happy too and aren’t happy about their moms creepy new boyfriend

          • Thank you Chump Lady. I have a child in transition, and it is hard not to flinch when I read things like this. They are deeply hurt by their dad’s behavior, to the point of wanting go no contact (and needing 2 therapists in addition to my support). They have a much stronger moral compass and goodness at their age than their dad will ever have.

          • Good comment. But I want to note that of course Nicky B was speaking literally. That’s what her kids found at the OW’s house, in contrast to the picture she has conjured of “gorgeous woman serving a gourmet meal to my shell shocked boys while her perfect family gazed adoringly at her.” “Perfect” meaning an idealized family whee everyone is sparkly, no one has struggles or problems, a sort of “Potemkin village” image of family. Her comment was more about her romanticization of the OW than anything else. That said, as a teacher of gloriously smart trans kids, I welcome the response.

          • I want to echo the thanks to ChumpLady: trans and mental illness are nothing to be ashamed of: if the kids are dysfunctional then it stems from other issues- ie. their Mum the cheater

        • I am facing a Christmas like you mentioned. I am terrified. Thank you for writing here. It helps me feel better.

          • It gets better! I never belived it could be at the time, either. I am 2 Christmas holidays out of the mess and I am so much happier. No more b.s. on Christmas morning, no more stress from the ex’s narcissistic family or him either.. my kids are flourishing.. making it through the first holiday may seem hard.. but it gets better. Trust me. May you have wonderful holidays and no more sneaky fake b.s.

      • I just cried a lot the first time (when kids were out) and knew it was going to hurt. I probably watched a movie or re-read my trusty copy of Runaway Husbands. My kids were back quickly, dropped home by my former in-laws. The following year when they were away on holidays with ex and the whole stepfamily I met up with 2 other divorced mums and did a long walk and swam at the beach on Christmas Day.
        So letting yourself feel the hurt, planning some sort of active or comforting distraction and trusting that it gets much easier with time would be my advice.

      • You accept that the courts have ruled custody what it is. You can’t change it and we rotate every other Christmas and every other Thanksgiving. It’s also how I handle the 50/50 split. Which is more like 60/40 in my favor but it’s still way more separation then I want from my kids. But it is what it is. It’s not easy but it is simple. ACCEPTANCE. It takes time.
        My children were so small when my slimy ex ran off. I was pregnant, I had a 1 year old, and a 6 year old. Holidays were tough because I was the only one who shopped and cooked and decorated for small kids who didn’t really care about a holiday. But now 3 years out and it’s way more fun!!
        I’ve also jumped ahead this year. We did Thanksgiving on Monday before they went to their dads. I took them to Santa pictures already before it got cold and crazy in the mall. And I used my vacation week to have them all through Christmas because it’s my year! I have no qualms with pushing their dad away and making my plans important and first. I treat him like he treated me. I’m the narc now!! But only in relation to him. I’m still working on not giving AF how he thinks or feels. We barely speak and it’s only about the kids. He stays away because I have a boyfriend and my ex is a coward. He would never say anything to me in front of him. But I still see how he tries to control me with getting pissed off about things and acting like a total jerk. The boyfriend is top notch. No crazy, no bullshit. And when I look at this reloagainst my marriage is unbelievable the crap I put up with.
        So to get through the holidays do the things you enjoy. Try to spend it with family if they’re around and don’t be afraid to invite yourself to a friends Thanksgiving or Christmas!!

        • Word.
          I did the same as you.
          I got shit done before the holidays, so I could relax and enjoy the holidays.
          The first was hard with exh1, but by the second year, I enjoyed my time with the kids for the first years.
          I didn’t have a pain in the ass husband or bitchy mil to deal.with,,.my holiday, my way.

      • You just muscle your way through it. You decide that you know who you are and what kind of life you’re going to build looking forward constantly, but at the same time allow yourself to process any feelings of your loss. Learn from those feelings!

        For example, tomorrow night my kids will visit my ex-wife’s house who is living with the AP who is also my cousin.

        It’s a disgusting thought, however I have made my life so awesome that despite those assholes, my life is amazing now.

        • Whoa dude.
          That is so messed up.
          You’re right though, life with assholes is so much better!

    • I can’t imagine how you felt while he and his OW celebrated with your children and your ex-family. It’s just outright cruel.

    • Oh, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if my kids end up spending the holiday at Alp-Ho’s ex’s (Mr. Milquetoast’s) parents for the holiday.

      I hate sending my kids into my hat fucked up cesspool of bullshit.

        • Almost got through that Thursday holiday without weeping. I’m so tired of hurting over that shithead dickless wonder. I actually left the country to get away. My 21 and 27 year old daughters spent the Thursday holiday with dickhead and smootchie number who knows what. My 27 year old said she got drunk just so she could stand to go.
          WTF he was all about the family and holidays. That’s what I liked about him. I was careful 30 plus years ago…he was kind, funny, smart, family was important. He seemed to be real. Now my kids get drunk and I leave the country to get through it?
          His wayward penis has given us 10 years of disordered Thursday holidays (I refuse to name the day).
          My babies and I deserve better. I hate being hurt all over again. He and I always cooked together. It was our thing. How do you take all those intimate loving things and just plug it in to the next twat and call it good? Was my twat just at the right/ wrong time wrong/ right place? Am I just a victim of timing? Could it just have been some random fuck that showed up?I was no one special? Happy accidHappyI am on the floor and have no words of hope for my girls other than we will all leave the country next year. They are looking forward to that. What the hell…drop mic..
          I know it makes you crazy to try and understand a crazy person.

    • Ex hasn’t told me what his Christmas plans are but I have just assumed in my head that he will be taking kids and Schmoopie to the in laws that day. It might just be him and the kids, but I am trying to prepare myself for the worst. At least I know that his family misses and still cares about me so although they will be polite to her they won’t be happy to see her. They will be happy to see the kids though.

      Meanwhile I am fortunate that my sister and brother in law are spending Christmas with me so I won’t be alone. That means a lot to me because they usually spend Christmas with his family.

      I also get Thanksgiving with the kids this year so no Schmoopie for them for that holiday. Instead they get Nana, Opa, Aunt and Uncle.

  • We might be missing a fucktard but that fucktard changed things. In our culture, holidays are a reminder of family. That’s what we celebrate.

    And being the single one now, there are less and less invites unless your a couple. It’s the reality. We are somehow unworthy alone. Five couples at a table and you.

    My son’s graduation is coming up. Which couples table to I sit at that will make room for one more chair.

    It sucks. Sorry to be Debbie Downer but all celebrations for me now are like a headache. Maybe one day it’ll be different. But do I have to find a guy to fit in? I actually don’t even want to date. I’m fine alone. It’s society that has issue with it.

    • Do not feel discouraged. Holidays are so hard, but people will gladly make room for you and share their blessings. You are not unworthy or alone! Look for opportunities and forge new friendships. You are in the driver’s seat. You deserve all the joy and hope this season has to offer!

    • but families are a motley assortment of relatives by blood, marriage and in some cases, no one can remember or clarify WHY Aunty Phyllis is related or exactly how, but she is and that’s that, bless her and her occasional slip into senility.

      I know everyone feels differently, but your friends are YOUR friends. Sure, they might even have liked the ex and remember the fun times with fondness and nostalgia, goodie for them. But you are their friend or sister or aunt or 3rd cousin via that time uncle grandpa married that vaudeville actress for 2 years in 1954. Thus you are completely enough. No further debate. My very best friend happens to not be married – not divorced, just hasn’t married. So? She’s amazing and there’s no question of ”even” numbers for her or any other friend. What if someone’s husband or wife is working or away or in the army or… or… do they not get to be friends?

      Saying all that, holidays are the time everything can just pile on and leave a person feeling sad and left out. My mum (single till 37 and then widowed for many years after an extremely happy marriage) died earlier this year and my world feels like it has ended. The idea of her not being there for Christmas makes me cringe with sadness. She did have boyfriends along the way, but she was entirely and completely enough on her own and had many friends, married, single, widowed and various other situations. This. Never. Mattered.

      • Great post Caroline. I love how you honor your mother. Hugs to you. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • There are probably people at that table who wish they were you. Wish they were the single one. All is never what it seems. I know that from Facebook.

    • My youngest sister usually hosts an “orphan” Thanksgiving, where she invites anyone she knows who is single, whose family is far away or deceased, who is new at work, etc etc. She encourages these folks to bring others they may know in similar circumstances. She fixes the “roasted beast” and everyone brings a side dish or something. She trys to assign certain “regulars” a specific item, so that she doesn’t get 5 yams or green bean casseroles — but if it happens, it happens. It’s about companionship not food.

      I’ve always thought her idea was a great one. If someone doesn’t like the strangers, they can go home, or not come. I have some friends who serve at shelters. They feel thankful about many things after leaving the shelters. Some of the diners are grateful, some are not (a lot of mental illness) but they have somewhere to go and something to eat — so that should make someone appreciative!

      My family is full of dysfunction. Those of us who are relatively sane plan strategies to occupy and distract the most dysfunctional of the family, to try and avoid emotional rants and other unpleasant breakdowns. If it happens anyway, we have learned to say “we tried” and move on. Can’t cure crazy!!!

      If your friends are “uncomfortable” with you not dragging along a cheating fucktard just so that you can appear to be a “couple” and make the party add up equally for guys and gals — or if they are afraid you might want their spouse now that you are a “sex-starved” divorcee (to be) — you need new friends. I have been hit on by way too intense offers of assistance (“If you need me to come over and mow your yard, OR ANYTHING, I will.”) by the spouses of others, or asked catty inappropriate questions by some of the nosy females, but I generally try to have smart ass answers prepared in advance to discourage them from asking me anything else. If you know much about their pasts, they generally have an ex-husband/boyfriend, of the “one that got away” variety, and you can always mention you ran into him at the store, and you just might take him up on his offer of dinner and a movie when you decide to date again. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not — it will give them something to stew about and they usually leave you alone. After all, why should they care if you are dating or who you are dating? Don’t let the them get you down. It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you are surrounded by turkeys. Find a way to laugh, and things will get better — I promise!!!

    • Mjo… I totally understand your feelings of being the single one with less and less invites. I was sitting with a group of “girlfriends” and a boat outing was being planned and during this my so called friend looked at me and said, “sorry, this one is for couples only”. I will never forget that pain and exclusion at a time when life was already a struggle with my divorce! Needless to say, I do not hang out with that group of “friends” anymore.

        • Wow that’s terrible and cruel. Don’t blame you for not hanging out with them no more, stay strong and keep the faith.

      • That is just terrible. Sounds like another narc you were right to cut out of your life. Some people just have no sensitivity at all.

      • That’s one of the meanest things I’ve heard! But in retrospect, that “friend” did you a favor by showing her true colors. Who wants to hang out with someone so emotionally inept!?

    • Mjo, my daughter graduated a couple of weeks after D-Day. I had a graduation party without the Reptile while he was out of town on business. I set up the tables. Divorced and single parents, that I had never noticed before, were everywhere. I don’t know that I had fun given the timing, but I realized how many interesting parents there are and had a great time socializing with them and learning how life doesn’t always fit into the compartments we have always assumed.

  • Nov. 30 is Dday anniversary. It’s all the worst because I so looked forward to Thanksgiving last year, first four day weekend. I thought it went well then the bottom fell out Monday morning. Later I learned my great holiday was also when she called him while I was at the store on Thanksgiving getting last minute stuff for dinner we hosted for her family and a three hour tryst she had the day after we put up the Christmas tree and took the kids to a hockey game, she said she was going to the mall. I thought she was getting her shopping done early.
    She gets the kids this year so it’s made that much worse. After 18 years of Thanksgivings together I’m going to my brothers house. Each anniversary of the affair this year has been tough. This is the worst. Being so connected and intertwined with the holiday makes it worse.
    Today, the affair is over, she throws people away, she’s in full midlife crisis dating her high school boyfriend, another narc with 1,500 Facebook friends, no job and civil judgements against him, lol.
    I’m still waiting for a real apology( she thinks saying sorry and only sorry a few times is enough) I’m still waiting for remorse (none “Everyone has affairs I’m not going to be judged”) I asked her recently if she understands how I feel cannshe explained to me how this makes me feel. She had no answer. I’m waiting for her to stop blaming me. (She had the affair because I abandoned her when I: Exercised in the basement after we put the kids to bed (I had gained 30 lbs and wanted to lose it) I slept in to 8 am and let her make breakfast alone. I came downstairs and cleaned all the dishes and cleared the table after breakfast. I’m just horrible.
    Happy thanksgiving everyone

    • Please stop waiting for that apology. She does not understand how you feel and she does not care. She only cares about herself. I got the full blown apology (at the lawyer’s office of course). I could see his deep regret stemmed from consequences and had to face that our vows, marriage, and family just did not mean as much to him as it did to me.

      They do not understand your pain. But we do. Hugs and encouragement to you! Trust that she sucks. She. Sucks.

      • All I got after discovering he’d made cheating a sport and just a fun pastime which meant nothing, was a suggestion that we should just renew our wedding vows(!)

        Me: “Why did your wedding vows mean so little to you first time around?”

        Him: “I just wouldn’t find it helpful to start looking into things too deeply….you just need to trust me on that. It would hurt me too much.”

        The me, myself and I party as always. Needless to say you can guess what I told him he could do with his sick suggestion to renew wedding vows.

    • Please stop waiting for her to do anything. Accept that you will never see her truly remorseful for what she has done.
      Use that time and energy to work on you. Get her out of your head and out of your life.
      I know it’s hard. My D-day was on my birthday, the one day a year I truly enjoyed.

      Enjoy the time you have with the kids. Pack it full of fun stuff and be so exhausted that when you have to hand them over to their mother that you want to sleep for days. When you wake up enjoy the peace and quiet. Yes, you will miss your children but this is a chance for you to relax and treat yourself.

      • All out of kibble, my Dday was the day after my birthday…made it so miserable this year. I feel for you, I truly do. But you have a great attitude & game plan. I’m just 5 1/2 months out now, first divorce hearing coming up this Tuesday. Thanks for the good advice.

    • As others have said, don’t wait for any meaningful apology. Even if she decides to say something some day, it’ll likely be more because she’s sorry for what she’s done to her own life rather than anything she’s done to yours. We all live like this, so you’re not alone.

      Also, my D-day was right after Thanksgiving and a couple of weeks before Christmas a few years ago – it was a true a nightmare at the time, but I have been starting to feel a little better each year since – just know that it will get better.

    • I am reminded of the “empathy gun” from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I can’t tell you how many times in the last year and a half I have wished I had that gun (makes your opponent see your point of view). Too bad that weapon doesn’t really exist.

      A true apology requires humility. This is somethings cheaters don’t have. If they did, they wouldn’t cheat in the first place. The closest thing I got to an apology was “I wish I had asked for marriage counseling five years ago”. Not “I am sorry I caused you so much pain because I chose to be a selfish coward. That was wrong of me”. No. I got “I wished I had tried to fix you first before replacing you.”

      • LOL Chumpinrecovery,
        I was just wishing for the Point-of-view gun yesterday. Coincidence? Maybe it’s the time of year.

    • She’s not going to apologize because she’s a scumbag. She sounds like BPDisorder with all the entitlement and lack of empathy and dishonesty that comes along with it. You are better off without her in your life. Hang in there brother, I have one just like yours. I wondered why I didn’t even get a Valentine’s Day card this year- turned out she was already cheating on me in January (maybe even into Christmas 2016 but she will NEVER admit to that). They don’t have a conscience- they can rationalize ANY horrible behavior and disgustingness. You are better off. Focus on the positive feeling of NOT having someone like that in your life during this holiday season!

    • My favorite is “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” or “I’m sorry for having an affair I made a MISTAKE”!
      A true appology (which I will never get) would take probably a good 30 Minute’s. The affair is only 10 percent of what they did. How about the lies, the use the kids against me, the mantra of how terrible I was, the health issues, the list goes on and on. I’m sorry doesn’t cut it in my books!

    • Someday, after you have unhooked yourself from expecting anything from her (I know, I went through this: wishing, hoping, waiting for some sign that he gave a shit about what he had done to me), you can focus on reclaiming Thanksgiving – for yourself and for the years when you have the kids. Close the book on Thanksgiving Past and start a new book about Thanksgiving future. You get to write it – activities, food, music, traditions. It will take a few years to get there but it will be awesome. This stuff if hard and takes a long time to get through, but you are mighty. Give yourself the time and space to grieve.

    • It’s amazing the amount of blame shifting and gaslighting these cheater exes do. I will tell you that with time you get a healthy distance from the pain and suffering. You get to the point where remembering their crazy stories about you are actually pretty funny.

    • Please stop waiting for the apology.
      She will never get it.
      I’m so sorry the holidays now bring negative feeling.
      It’s natural for you to expect her to acknowledge your pain. It’s natural you want her to feel some kind of remorse or accountability for her betrayal. It will never happen.
      All we can control is ourselves as Chump Lady says.
      Hang in there.

    • I can relate to Thanksgiving triggers. I won’t go into it but Thanksgiving two years ago was during Wreckoncilation and Wow, Thanksgiving last year without him was great although I was uneasy about it, and this year, —- I honestly didn’t even think about it this year! A taste of what Meh might be! You will get through this.

      And ditto on what others said, who needs an apology from those types anyway? Really, it is just cheap words from a nobody, worthless, and you don’t need it.

    • An apology? I have NEVER BEEN TOLD! (after 35 years of marriage) I was served divorce papers with no forewarning nor explanation. Talk about shock. As far as holidays are concerned, the first are the worst. Now (being almost “meh”) I am grateful for not having to do it all…the planning, hosting, cooking, shopping, decorating, wrapping, etc. In 2011, I hosted a most fabulous Thanksgiving (all cooked by me from scratch) for both sides of the family. That evening, my ex stated “you like to do this because you like to show off”! Really? Well, I wont be showing off this year.
      At 61, it’s time to concentrate on things that I want to do.

      • Apology. I did get one. He even seems to be genuinely remorseful…as much as any passive aggressive covert narc can be…but it almost always comes back to himself (duh). But as I kept exploring how he felt about me or what he was thinking about me while leading his skanky double life of lies (3 years…that he admits to), I realized that HE WASN’T THINKING OF ME -AT ALL. 30 years of marriage, 2 awesome kids, one lost infant, 25+ years of addiction recovery for both of us and…he basically forgot all about me. I didn’t even register.

        F that. F him. F his pathetic apology.

        You cannnot “I’m sorry” away the levels of rejections, betrayal, disrespect, lies, gaslighting, blameshifting, devaluing, discarding, rationalizations, justifications, and pure self-centeredness that comprise cheating. Ultimately, he’s sorry, all right: sorry he got caught, sorry I’m smarter than he is, sorry he no longer lives in MY home, sorry his kids don’t respect him, sorry he no longer can draft on my respectable coattails, sorry he doesn’t have the respectable cover of a wife & family, sorry he gave up Schmoopie and had to admit his affair to her husband, sorry he doesn’t get kibbles from her or me regularly, sorry I fired myself from my codependent role of “helping him” to growthefuckup, sorry for himself. But sorry for pain he caused? Doubt it. Even if he is, so what? It does nothing to undo the pain, rewrite history. Because he did this before…26 years ago, when we were newly married…any forgiveness is a looong way down the road. I know I will arrive there, FOR myself, but it will never open up the door to reuniting. I’m SO much better than I’ve been in months…I know my MEH is out there.
        Hang in there, chumps! Our mighty grows brighter every new fucktard-free day that dawns.

  • If this is a re-run, I’d love to read an update from Limboland.

    Many of us are facing our first Christmas without our children, as it is ex’s ‘turn’.

    Many of us are also facing our children spending Christmas Day with the affair partner, which seems unthinkably unjust.

    Please, anyone, words of wisdom in regard to this.

    • Well, this does suck. Last year, he was all about the AP and nowhere to be found for the kids so I had a reprieve while going through the storm of adultery and fallout of divorce.

      I have your situation this year now that they immediately married and instantly had a baby, but my kids can see that they are fake and phony, and our family is the real deal. Day in and day out, we do life together, and I am happily here for them. Completely committed to their wellbeing. They count on that.

      It will have to be enough. I cannot give them an honorable dad who does the right thing or is involved in their daily lives (he has shiny new family responsibilities now) so I teach them to set boundaries and choose to celebrate what we do have instead.

      • “Day in and day out, we do life together, and I am happily there for them”

        Thank you for that thought.

          • “Choose to celebrate what we do have instead.”

            That’s our answer right there.

      • Right there with you, NWHI—- bravo!!!
        I made my time matter with my son’s with exh1 back then — it seems like yesterday, but 15 years ago now— they were 9 & 3 when we divorced.
        Dad and his OWife did everything they could to make me look like a POS, but the boys knew better.
        There were some rough holidays back then, but we survived and now the boys look back and say they loved the holidays with me much better with me and remember all the good things we did and had together.

      • It helps to know others right now are experiencing these emotions. The last 2 holidays ex didn’t really plan for or want them for more than couple days so I had them for holidays. I muddled through it and tried to keep our traditions(well mine because he never seemed to care much for holiday traditions anyways). But this year we finalized the divorce and he immediately married the OW. So interestingly now he’s eager to have them around holidays. Its very upsetting and scary to me. I have this fear whether unfounded or not that my boys will be with him and it will feel like a family. He moved into her home and they both have good jobs. I’m finishing up a graduate program and renting a tiny apartment. I raise them by myself and things are not easy. Holidays magnify that in many ways. I worry they will be there with him and it will resemble a family in a home etc. Then they will come back to me the single parent struggling through clinical rotations, studying all the time, forcing them to do their homework, eat their carrots etc. and will want to be with him and OW. The already bother me about getting married so they’ll have a stepdad. I keep thinking I cannot meet their needs or what they deserve and I get so angry because my ex created all this yet I am the one that feels guilty with the life my boys now have. I wanted so much more for them and the holidays just make it so much harder. I really wonder how so many of you get to meh about kids spending holidays with ex and the affair partner. I don’t know how to get to that place.

    • I don’t know if this helps, because it was a different situation, but we had to share the boys with the X every other holiday and every other year. On the years we didn’t have the boys on Christmas (or other holidays), we celebrated it on a different day. The kids absolutely loved it. They got two of every holiday. In the beginning I’d cook all their holiday favorites, had the wrapped gifts under the tree ready to be opened, and went through the whole celebration as well f it were already Christmas. As they got older and knew about Santa, we let the X kick off Christmas first and then I’d go out and buy their Christmas gifts with the after holiday reduced prices. Win win for everyone. As long as you keep the joy and meaning of the holiday, they will be happy. The boys are grown now with children of their own, but I still sometimes wait to have Christmas for them. The first year is a little off, but after that it’s just our new normal.

      • Your approach to holidays is so healthy. The calendar is just a reminder to celebrate, and we shouldn’t care if it’s not the officially sanctioned date. I like Thanksgiving better than (the secular version of) Christmas, because Thanksgiving is a reminder to stop and be thankful what you DO have instead of mandatory gift shopping and the things you didn’t get. The nice thing about gratitude is that it can come on the official Thursday, a Friday, and sometimes even a Tuesday.

        My narc mom always made a big deal out of holidays, but it was all theater, just for show. I had a boyfriend whose big extended family used to get together the second week of December and do a joint “Thank Christmas” affair. They said that they started it because sometimes their kids had to work on holidays, but kept it up because travel was easier, there was no guilt from the in-laws to contend with, the adult kids could start their own holiday traditions, and there was less “Normal Rockwell perfection” pressure. There was real love in that house. There weren’t a lot of gifts, but they were meaningful and special, often handmade.

  • I think I might go and drop in on STBX MIL, with whom I had/have a perfectly pleasant relationship. She may still give me blueberry cheesecake and I can give her christmas pudding. That woman was the BEST present giver – she found out EXACTLY what you could want and traipsed around and found it. Miles better than my mother’s random and bizarre gifts (plastic mixing bowls and toothbrushes).

    • do it. Why not? A lovely friend who was humiliated and blindsided by a Turd of the First Order remained very close to her ex-in-laws who adored her and were mortified at their son’s behaviour. They were very close friends till the end of their lives and she was specifically remembered in their (considerable) wills. They loved her (very gorgeous and wonderful, slightly younger) second husband and couldn’t make them welcome enough. Those bonds can endure. This particular lady’s golden rule was never, except in real passing, to mention their son, certainly never to disparage him, even when they were very upset and calling him every name under the sun. She just kept focus on her life, the children, and all the many other interesting things going on, literally pretended he was a passing aquaintance. Over time she said it got easier, and a fantastic spin-off was that it drove her ex and his schmoopy absolutely nuts. They couldn’t bear it. So jealous and sour.

      • I’m just grateful my MIL isn’t alive for this family demolition by her son. It would have killed her.
        Thanks for this message, CL, and your wisdom & experience, CN. I’m
        Not looking joyfully forward to this holiday season, but so glad STBX is out of the house. Divorce hearing is next week. Wish me luck, CN.

    • Sugarglider,
      Your post made me smile.
      Give her the Christmas pudding.
      I think she will give you the blueberry cheesecake.

    • Sugarglider, absolutely go. My ex-in-laws are spending tomorrow with my son and I. Their son will only text on occasion, refuses to speak to them on the phone, hasn’t seen or spoken to his parents in almost 3 1/2 years. On the other hand we see them several times a month, I’m invited to stay with them any time I want (and I do) and they buy us plane tickets every year to visit them in Arizona during the winter. I love them both. They loved and supported me through this shitstorm. My MIL was the first to tell me to never take him back. I’ve done my best to always make them feel welcome. My ex is an only child. I buy them Christmas, birthday, mothers and Father’s Day gifts. I make sure and so does my family to always include them. I am so deeply grateful they are still in my life. Keep who want in your life.

      • wow! why? well – I suppose by stint of us all being on this site we have ascertained that he is not the full chandelier. Another friend of mine now has a “sister-in-life” rather than a SIL because they stayed good friends.
        But like your story, my MIL is complaining that he tells her nothing about nothing. I day I may crack and say something like “he won’t ever be able to tell you”. How could he? and it is not my job to tell her.

  • I left my cheating abusive narcissist on Christmas Day (not planned that way but I had an opportunity and grabbed it). Single parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had but easier since leaving the biggest man-child behind.

    My holidays now (5 years out) are not what I had envisioned for my kids but they are great. I invite my self (and sometimes kids too when I have them) to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. People are glad to have us join their celebration. For Christmas we started going to Hibachi because I couldn’t bear to prepare a meal for just the three of us. I do have siblings around that I could go to but due to the division of holidays with the ex there wasn’t a lot of time and I just didn’t have it in me to drag the kids and myself somewhere when I only had them for 24 hours. It is our new tradition and the kids love it. Last year three of my siblings decided to join us for Christmas Eve church and hibachi. It was a great time and no one had to cook nor clean.

    Start your own traditions. Doing something totally different. Your kids will love it and it will make the holidays easier for you.

    • What’s that? No dishes and a fun show? Who doesn’t love the onion train, and the volcano and fried rice mountain? Oh, that’s right- nobody doesn’t love it.

    • Yes- Several years ago my friend’s young son died of leukemia. They could not bear to do Christmas so they simply went to a Chinese restaurant. A new tradition was born.

      I joined them one year when I was single and down-and-out. It was wonderful, low-pressure, and healing.

      • And you don’t even have to be Jewish to enjoy this lovely tradition! The alternative outing comes highly recommended – NO WASHING UP.

        Heck, you might even find yourself genuinely enjoying Christmas for the first time in years.

  • “Or do you want them to know that women are strong and life has deal breakers — and if you fuck with someone’s dignity and betray them, you will find your ass divorced?” I practice saying this out loud and I feel like such a badass. Thanks CL. This says it all.

    • when you pull this sentence out alone I can see all it’s power. I wanna be a badass too!

      • We. ARE. Badass.
        We are transforming chump into mighty. Tracy, the Master CL Alchemist, imparts her brilliant, snarky, empowering, hilarious wisdom here daily, and we back each other up with out tales of horror, grief, transformation, freedom and mightiness. It’s a formula that works. I am overflowing with gratitude for Tracy and each one of you (lurkers, included).
        THIS is my Chumpy first holiday and the seeds of my very own mighty are sprouting up with every post I read. Words are inadequate, but thank you, Tracy!
        Thank you, CN!!

  • Last year, I posted on the forums nonstop. I found wit, humor, support, encouragement, and friends! I also reached out through email and established some phone friends, too. Then, later friendships IRL. We even just had a local chump holiday party as a meetup. So fun!

    The amazing chumps I met here offered such wise advice for me to use my time away from the kids by beginning to practice self care, create new traditions, focus on my blessings, celebrate possibility.

    The fact is CN got me through.

    I was so isolated throughout covering for his infidelity and trying to fix my marriage and felt deeply ashamed. Last season was so hard and full of tears. I grieved the family unit I had cherished and lost. CN held my hand and even provided relief and laughter as I set that burden of failure down and realized it was not mine to carry. My dignity and confidence was slowly restored.

    I will always remember the kindness and generosity of this online community. Thank you to those who consoled me, inspired me with their mightiness, and continue to do so for others. I gained so much hope from those who had gone before, endured, and triumphed. And thank you, Tracy.

    A full year after, the searing pain is gone, and my day to day life is peaceful and rewarding. I am looking forward to this season and embracing all it has to offer.

    • So well said, NWHI. <3 It was this time last year I was doing the same — reading the CL forums and posting to get me through the horrific first holiday season. It was during that time that I solidified my membership to the Fuck Nation — Fuck thread. It all started when I joined in with the re-working of Christmas Carols ("His nuts roasting on an open fire . . . ").

      That first season was painful as hell. But we all got through it. I'm not at Meh yet but I'm healing and I'm definitely in a different (better) place this year.

      And YES! To the blessings of new friendships cultivated from this amazing community and/or beyond. Very thankful for those (including you!) <3

      For newbies . . . My best advice is *ride it out*, keep bending your knees to handle the bumps. You will get to smooth water but it takes time. And radical self care is very important!

    • NWHI–Lovely, heartfelt post.

      And that, ladies and gents, is how you do it (get through the holidays). REACH OUT. If friends don’t invite you to holiday soirees, invite them. They’re all busy with family on Thursday? Invite your friends for a post-Tday brunch or dinner or movie-night on Friday or Saturday. Lonely because your children are with fuckwit this holiday? Head to the forums and post your story; someone else in CN is out there lonely, too. I spent the first year after D-day/divorce on the forums every Friday night. It became like a chat room (and I still enjoy those friendships to this day).

      What did you like most about the holidays in the past–a particular food? tradition? Keep that, even if it stings a little this year. DO NOT LET THE CHEATER CONTROL ANY MORE OF YOUR LIFE. Sad because your favorite stuffing recipe came from cheater’s mother? So what–make it and eat it and enjoy it. My view is that Hannibal Lecher took enough away from me, I didn’t (and don’t) let him strip the joy from any event. At first this took effort (especially the first year as D-day & throwing him out had just happened in September, with the holidays looming).

      The trick is to acknowledge your sadness and anger and grief, but then grab your Agency and run into happier times. With friends (even if those friends are e-friends).

      • Tempest,

        THIS: “What did you like most about the holidays in the past–a particular food? tradition? Keep that, even if it stings a little this year. DO NOT LET THE CHEATER CONTROL ANY MORE OF YOUR LIFE.” YES!!

        I just “celebrated” my 20th wedding/25th year together anniversary yesterday, and did much better than I thought. Kept myself from reaching out to him (was going to text him: “Happy Anniversary—NOT!” But I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t.) Ironically, though, the lawyer emailed me divorce papers to review. Was hoping to actually have the court date yesterday, but oh well.

        Anyway, after 25 years with this man, there are so many things that I like to do, eat, watch, and they most always include some memory of him. For instance, watching movies that were “our” favorites. I’m torn between wanting to watch, and not, because of these memories. (I also have this problem with locations. Can not even express the torment I sometimes feel as I drive along, passing restaurants we’d gone to, or that local hotel we stayed at on a romantic whim, or playgrounds we took the kids to, etc.)

        So I appreciate this post, because it’s almost a kind of validation to GO FOR IT. To reclaim that shit for myself!!

        • GoWithYourGut–good for you! I was married for 19 years (together 24), so I know what you mean–lots of places, foods, traditions, events are marred by association with the cheater. Hard to avoid. Each time you push against those sad memories, though, it gets better. Eventually, you’ll have reclaimed all of your favorite things with nary a thought that you used to associate them with the fuckwit. Happy Thanksgiving.

          • Same!! Especially with recipes…I couldn’t open my recipe binder filled with favourites for over a year. The kids were missing their comfort food. The first time hurts and then it’s ok…because a new memory is associated with it. I have no idea what will happen this Christmas. He didn’t see them at all last Christmas..access has been a mess. Wondering if I should go cut a tree with the kids this year…last year it was too much memory…and I bought a grocery store one…this year I think I’m ready…
            It would help if we were actually divorced!! Going on 1 year 9 months…next
            Court is january…ugh.

  • This post has me bawling. It’s exactly what I needed as I have to send my girls to Mr. Twatwaffles and his can of Alp-Ho’s house for Thanksgiving. I hate it.

    I have had a lot of help over the last year, and I do need to reciprocate. I’ll focus on that while they’re gone.

  • I don’t carry the shame of my partner’s cheating. That’s all on him. He’s the one who screwed everything up. All him!

    I enjoy being a single parent! It’s actually really empowering. Yeah, it’s exhausting. But, it’s well worth it. Knowing that you are raising your kids with your values, calling the shots without fuckwit interference, and that they won’t grow up being modelled inequitable relationships. Learn to embrace it and love it. A big part of this is letting go of what you think people are thinking of you. It’s all in your head. Don’t let your mind deceive you. If you’re raising kids alone, you’re already a goddamn hero! More power to you!

    • Yes I agree. It’s not your shame. And you are right about caring what people think about you. Because, what is true is they are going to think what they want to think regardless of how much you cater to them. Good for you.

    • Yes. Agreed! Creating your own family’s future is a wonderful gift. I also refuse to own cheater’s shame.

    • Damn straight left him at the airport!
      No shame for me, just mightiness all around. I actually find single parenting easier than constantly trying to involve Narkles the Clown in my son’s life. That was exhausting in a very unrewarding kind of way. Now I watch him be the gift giving fun dad, while I enforce rules and expect proper behavior. Mom might not be any fun but she is building a solid, healthy relationship with her son. Keep modeling the behavior you expect. Be strong and supportive. The kids will figure things out soon enough. I hear the comments every once in awhile about the disorder at dad’s house and in his life.

      As for the holidays….the best advice I ever got here was to crate new traditions. I take my son out to eat at a new restaurant each year, either for Christmas Eve or Christmas. On Christmas morning we eat my traditional Christmas cookies for breakfast. We take in a holiday musical at the theater during the holiday season. Narkles the Clown doesn’t care much for trying new foods or the theater. We decorate our fresh cut tree together with a different theme each year. Narkles the Clown has a pre lit pre decorated fake tree he puts up. I think it suits him.

      What about when the kids are with your ex? Treat yourself. Maybe it’s a spa experience or for the not so financially able, a long bath with a glass of wine. When you have small children and you don’t have to be “on” and aware 24/7 this can be bliss. Maybe your child thinks museums are boring. Now is the time to go. Maybe a friend needs help shopping, cooking, cleaning for the holidays. Now is the time to help and reciprocate. Now is the time to build the relationships that have nothing to do with children or cheaters. Bake some breads or cookies and deliver them to those who have been supportive of you. Switzerland friends get nothing! Treats are for FRIENDS!

      Mostly be kind to yourself and accept that just because it isn’t like you planned doesn’t mean it can’t be great.

      • All Out of Kibble – you rock. Excellent advice.

        This will be the first Christmas my daughter won’t be celebrating with both her mom and dad “as a family of three.” But as the days go by, I think she’ll handle it just fine. I, on the other hand, think about it non-stop. However, I’m learning this is our new reality. And I will be just fine too (at some point!)

      • Yes, he is “fun, gift-giving” dad!! Only sees the kids in person once every 6months and comes laden with presents o’plenty. My kids are still young (8,7) so they think he’s the best. I mean, who wouldn’t? They don’t see him for that long and then when they do, he’s able to maintain the image of “wonderful father” for the 3-4days he’s with them. But even in that short time, the cracks start appearing. My kids, even at their young age, are figuring him out on their own. Slowly but surely. I don’t bad-mouth him. Never have. Because I knew they would work him out over time. They are smart; he is dumb and predictable. My 8yr old is starting to catch on that he’s full of ???? And she now doesn’t want to video call with him when he requests. My kids are constantly telling me “you’re the best mum in the entire galaxy” ???? #BlessTheirLittleCottonSocks

      • **Bake some breads or cookies and deliver them to those who have been supportive of you.**

        Great idea!!

      • Alas I almost wish it could be this way for me. In my case ex still cares about being a Dad to his kids which is good for them but a pain for me sometimes because I don’t have complete freedom in the parenting department. I am the one keeping up with the house they live in. I am the one doing all of the laundry and feeding them 16 out of 21 meals a week. I am the one staying up looking after the sick kids, etc. But I still get to put up with ex telling me how to fix all of the things wrong with the kids that make them imperfect and the insinuation that I am not being a strict enough disciplinarian to bring them into line. Sigh.

        • Yes I know I shouldn’t care what he thinks, but old habits die hard. Also, he isn’t always wrong about what is good for them it’s just that I have my own ways of accomplishing what are really the same goals.

      • AllOutofkibble,

        Last year DD was with The Evil One for Thanksgiving week. I spent every night with friends, sleeping in, etc.
        Last year, I.went over to my friend’s house to help her with precooking for Thanksgiving. A few bottles of wine later, we realized we weren’t getting anything done.
        Thanksgiving day we cooked and laughed hungover, but it was one of the best damn Thanksgivings I had in years.
        Rock on!!!

  • I don’t know if I will regret it years from now, but right now I appreciate no contact. I have no contact with my ex-husband, his father, his mother, his sister, or his nephews and nieces. I didn’t find their company enjoyable. I thought they were toxic people. We moved closer to the mother-in-law (across country) because she claimed she wanted to have a relationship with her grandchildren. Well, it was accusations and criticisms from the very beginning. Nothing was ever good enough or right. Although I am still within reach of them (trying very hard to move far far away), I am glad that I will not be hosting any of them during Thanksgiving. Not one of them bothered to care that their relative (my ex-husband) cheated and left us after being confronted without a dime. Who wants to be around people who find that acceptable? I don’t. And Christmas? Forget about it. They used to, no kidding, measure present to present with dollar for dollar. I felt like if they were going to do that then why not just let everyone buy their own presents. I can’t believe I lasted for over 20 years.

    • I think there’s a great touch point for your healing when you can say “I can’t believe I lasted over 20 years.”
      It means you can sit back and look at things and see the madness and disorder you were immersed in. I really is a forest for the trees situation. You can’t see it when you’re in it but from the outside it’s terrifying.

  • Last Christmas I was 3 weeks out from D day and gutted. I will add I threw him out after thinking he was having an online affair for a year and a half. He weasled his way in and I gave him late Christmas dinner and talked to him. I was so low, he said to me ‘ I like it when you are like this, so calm’ no narc,,, not calm,,, fucking heart broken and sad and trying to hold it together for the kids, I thought this, did not say it. Long story short, I took him back and three weeks later found out she had flown from Singapore to Aus to be with him, kicked his ass out again in Feb. This year Im feeling pretty mighty despite still weathering the shit storm. This Christmas he can fit around my plans and will not be setting foot in my house.
    Makes me sick that while I slaved away cooking dinner Christmas 2015 he sat at the table in contact with German slut! He had zero Christmas spirit and acted like a prick. Entitled waste of space can work around me and wont know until last minute, which shouldn’t make much difference to him as he couldn’t organise a fuck in a whorehouse!
    Narc free Christmas feeling mighty bring it on!

  • Happy Suck Season. I am 5 years out. 5….and guess what….it still sucks but not as bad. Wait…No…last year was so bad for me, I didn’t put up any decorations or leave my apartment for 3 days.
    I used to be Martha Stewart on steroids. I LOVED CHRISTMAS!!!
    I am known for my decorations.
    He fought me for them in our divorce…..The Grinch…who HATED Christmas…fought me for my decorations. And he used them and decorated with his whore in our house.
    The up side….NO IN LAWS!!!! All the bullshit drama and nebby nose crap I had to deal with. Or my Ex MIL talking shit on other family members when they weren’t there. I loathed his family gatherings. You know…the Christians… so “UnChrist Like” in their behaviors yet sat in the pews on Sunday.

    I try….that’s all I can do. I cook my daughters favorites. I decorate. But her and I both have no “feelings” about the holiday. My other daughter is Daddys girl, so she lovingly accepts the whore and her 3 sons.
    It’s a fuckcircus of dysfunction.
    But….I have survived 5 Holiday Years.
    That’s monumental….because I actually spent one of the Christmases in JAIL.
    Yup…JAIL. My Ex had me framed for possessing a gun…which I didn’t have, never did. Try Thanksgiving and Christmas in a jailcell.
    Nothing and I mean nothing is ever the same now.
    You survive it. It’s just another day. I don’t make myself manic anymore. I don’t buy a bunch of crap we don’t need. The holiday is so simple now…compared to my Martha Holidays…Martha and I even have JAIL in common.

    You survive it. You realize that it’s just another day. Nothing magical happens…no man coming down your chimney…no unicorns…no elves. It’s the 25th. That’s it.
    When you take all the fucked up expectations out of it…you can spend the 25th on a beach and be fine with no Santa or Frosty.

    Chumps….My heart is always with you. It sucks. But you survive the suck. All is not merry and bright. It’s livable. It’s doable. And this too shall pass.

    • “…Martha and I even have JAIL in common.”

      I wish you’d put a warning when you’re going to make me laugh so much I blow coffee out my nose onto my laptop.

    • Tracy, Your post resonated with me. Your ex sounds like a total asshole and I cannot imagine the hell you endured.

      My XH didn’t frame me and have me arrested, but he and Schmoopie played a fun little game with restraining orders and injunctions against harassment during Thanksgiving/Christmas 2013. Such fun to prove love to another by destroying one once held so dear! XILs invited Schmoopie to their home 2 weeks after our divorce. We were married for almost 17 years.

      Four years later, whore and XH are married and living down the road from our former marital home. I have my own beautiful home and will entertain magnificent people that were there for me during those dark days. I have a wonderful border terrier puppy that has a very pronounced underbite. I am happy and thankful. I’m sure XH is not – he really loved my cooking, especially my stuffing and I think the only thing whore makes is reservations.

      • Yep my cookings pretty specky and no doubt he is missing it, his cooking is pretty ordinary. He con spend Christmas with his family who eat off disposable plates at Christmas, nice people but lazy.

    • You are awesome! Thanks for the daily dose of mighty. You might not think you are, but the shit you’ve overcome is amazing. And who knows, maybe Mighty is the new holiday spirit. I can’t do Santa, never could. But I do miss preparing the big meal and having family over. This didn’t work out for this year, as grown children have obligations to visit their inlaw sides and I didn’t want to wait around to see if I got invited anywhere. So I signed up for a housesitting job on the other side of the world It’s not typical Christmas, but it suits me just fine.

      Have a great beach holiday if that’s what you want. You’re hilarious. Hugs.

      • Its’s not typical Christmas, but it suits me just fine.


        That’s awesome FindingBliss

    • Frozen Christmas margarita on the beach – that way you get Frosty the Snowman.

      If there is a hunky guy in nothing but a bathing suit and a Santa hat somewhere in your field of vision – there’s your Santa.

    • Tracy,
      “Fuckcircus of dysfunction” ~beautiful imagery for your horrific experiences. May I ask if you’re from PA (because I was raised there)? There can be some screwy shit & it sounds like you have located a lot of it. I respect your attitude and hope your mighty will find more joy as your children age and you have to coparent less with that fucktard. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

    • Wow! Can’t believe that dude cheated and framed you. What a nut, you look great!

  • “Or do you want them to know that women are strong and life has deal breakers — and if you fuck with someone’s dignity and betray them, you will find your ass divorced?”

    Thank you for so eloquently writing about these painful things. When I left my cheater, the thought of my daughters was a huge motivator — I wanted to live out this conviction that you have expressed here.

    And, yes, it does get much easier! I am almost 3 years out, single, and feeling happy!!

  • We play this game. As we are separated in house and she hasn’t been served yet, we play this game. She tells me she’s going to go shopping/do laundry/pick up the kids/bring home a check and pay a bill/something. Maybe the kids get happy, maybe I think finally a break from the stress of having to pay for everything on my own. Then, however, the fun part starts. A text, a call, some “innocent” remark meant to soften her victims, I mean family, for what will ultimately be a failure to follow through on her part. Now, I play because it’s wise for me to right now, but here’s the secret-not having to play, being able to budget my time and money without her interference will be so much easier. It’s the playing that saddens me.
    As far as soccer games go, she only went when she was fucking the coach. Now that I pulled the kids from their and chose a new sport for them, there’s really no need to attend.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Thanksgiving was always when shit hit the fan. This year I’m beach side in Costa Rica! Thanks to my nice, brother and my in-laws. Next year my adult daughters will come. My kids and I talk about our new normal. Reinventing with them gives it an exciting and positive direction.

  • Great article CL! This is my year #4 as single mother and having to deal with all the pressure of the holidays. From my experience, the first 2 years are the worse. You’re still adjusting with your new reality, your children are still adjusting with their new reality.

    My D day was very close to Thanksgiving and boy it was hard! I was the type of person that had hard time to ask and accept help from others (yes, the control freak one), and I was amazed how many ppl moved mountains to help me to go through that dark period of my life. I was a stay-home mom with no income and my ex took all the $$ from our joint accts. A church next to me helped paying 2 months of my rent. I had to apply for food stamps so I could feed my children – for me that was the lowest point of my life. I felt humiliated having to go through that, but at the same time I knew it was going to be for a short period and I was thankful that I could get that extra help as well. I also had friends picking up my kids from school and having them for the rest of the afternoon on days that I was feeling really low. My kids school took my side and decided to help me. The teachers and principal wrote letters to be presented in court about the type of mother that I am. Everything was very moving!

    My point is, it’s ok to feel sorry for yourself and to cry for your loss. As CL said, embrace your single mother badger. It sucks now, but it will get better! I read an article once that said it takes about 2 years for someone to move on after a divorce or after they lose their job, and it’s so true. Everything is blurry and confusing in your life right now, but it will get better. One day you’re going to get up feeling lighter and happier than you’ve ever been. Just remember to give time to yourself and to accept your new reality. You are a strong, beautiful woman – hang in there!

  • I was so sad when I had to watch my kids leave the driveway on Christmas day at noon.
    How did I cope?
    Well, not well, to be honest 🙂 . At least not at first. For about 10 minutes, I just lay on my bed moping. But, after that, I did find a good sappy Christmas movie to watch. One of those ones in black-and-white. Then I watched a ridiculous comedy, one you couldn’t take seriously.
    When I done with 2 movies, I found a kind friend to call who didn’t mind chatting on Christmas with a sad chump. God Bless her soul, she was such a help.

  • Wow… what a difference three years can make.

    Mr. Sparkles discarded me in 2014 for the OW who had two young children, around the same age as our son.

    YEAR ONE: The first holiday season was spent with me still pick me dancing (I hadn’t found Chump Nation yet). Our “family” still went Christmas tree shopping together at the farm and out to lunch afterward. We took the kids to see the local Christmas lights – all the while Mr. Sparkles was taking pictures and sending them to the OW. And, on Christmas Eve, I let Mr. Sparkles sleep on the couch so he could “be there in the morning” when Santa arrived. He stayed all day, even took a restful nap, and I prepared a nice Christmas dinner. However, at the stroke of 5pm he was out the door… why? The OW had just dropped her kids off to her X and was now available. SO – that’s what you get for pick me dancing.

    YEAR TWO: Mr. Sparkles is trotting the OW and her kids along with our son to the same local Christmas lights we went to the year prior – you know, showing off to her how much he loves the holidays and double-winner – hurting me. BUT as I learned here… it also clearly illustrated that he doesn’t have a fucking original thought in his head and all she was getting was what I taught him.

    As for the kids, my son was 10 and my stepdaughter 17, it was their shit sandwich to eat too. SO, I kept my opinions to myself and told them to have a nice dinner with the OW’s family and I watched movies and had an expensive bottle of wine. I even sent small gifts for the OW and her kid… STAY CLASSY and the narrative about you being a bitch can’t stick… and it makes the kids feel good to not go to a party empty-handed (they still need me to teach them manners).

    YEAR 3: Divorce is final 3 days before Christmas. OW is long gone because she found out Mr. Sparkles was cheating on her. Shocking. And, the new girl is 45 and childless so he doesn’t need our kids as props. BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.

    YEAR 4: Mr. Sparkles has no plans for Thanksgiving (translate: doesn’t need props), so the kids are all mine. I expect Christmas to be the same… not much room in a 900 sq. ft house for a big tree and kids, dogs and cats running around.

    I guess my point is, holidays will suck… until they don’t. Keep the focus on the kids… don’t make their holiday memories be filled with anger and bitterness. Keep the magic alive… make new rules, make new memories.

    It took 3 years for karma to leave Mr. Sparkles living with two dogs, two cats, a bird and a woman who sees no need to shower after coming home from the gym (my stepdaughter’s observation).

    Meanwhile, I’ve got the champagne chilling and my kids feeling loved in their home with me.

    It does get better. Give it time.

    • Thank you for writing this. It helps someone like me at the beginning of things to not have such overwhelming thoughts in my head.

      • Zell… it will get better, I promise. Time is a motherfucker, but it passes and we heal. Hugs.

    • THIS!
      Keep the magic alive… make new rules, make new memories, make new traditions with your kid/kids.

      My situation is a little different since cheater ex died earlier this year.
      This has been the first year of new everything-way more difficult for my son of course but I welcome the change.
      We are no longer forced to do everything ex cheater wanted to do or be with who he wanted….and I don’t have to entertain, cook, wait on people, clean, etc.

      I will be with my ex in-laws for part of the day since they are my son’s only remaining grandparents and then it off to visit my friends and maybe to Mr. Nice Guy’s. I couldn’t picture how different my life would be a year ago and even though it has been hard as a single parent-I wouldn’t change it for the world.




    • Yay, @ICanSeeTheMehComing! !!!! Love all of this. What an incredibly cool success story. Amazing perspective. You keep on doing you so awesomely & enjoy that bubbly!

  • Not just a holiday message, but this:

    “Divorce is not failure. Cheating is failure.”

    That should be on the graphic at the top of every page here. If everyone here got this, it would heal about 70% of the pain the people who post here feel.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.

    • I agree Aeronaut! This also struck me:

      “This new stage of life isn’t a punishment, it’s a gift.”

      THAT is basically what a friend of mine told me last weekend. She said look at yourself Ladystrange! You own your own house, you look fantastic, you are spending your vacations traveling rather than attending pool tournaments EVERY FUCKING WEEKEND (which was actually just a big drinking party). You are meeting new people, you’ve dumped the shit-heads in your life (cheater + Switzerland), you no longer have to deal with a controlling MIL…. AND I have a great boyfriend who opens my car door, who takes ME out, who doesn’t play pool, who is not an alcoholic.

      It took a few years, but I really should be thankful….Thanks dickwad for cheating and giving me a better life.

      • Life is improving all the time, right? Looking forward to catching up on all your life changes. Happy thanksgiving ????.

  • This will be my first holiday season without my STBX. We separated 3 months ago. I have been pretty successful at maintaining no contact, especially considering that we have 2 children. (The ages of my children, 18 and 16, make no contact easier than it would be if they were younger).

    Thanksgiving will be easy for me because I had some pre-existing travel plans. I am, however, nervous about Christmas. I want my daughters to be with me every second of the holidays; I do not want to have to share them at all with my cheating ex. He has suggested to my daughter that he come to our house on Christmas morning to open presents with us. I do not want to see him on Christmas morning or on any other day, but I want to do what is best for my kids. The thing is, they know about his cheating, and so they are pretty conflicted about him right now. He, of course, is superficial and delusional and does not (or chooses not to) recognize their conflictedness. He pretends as though everything is fine.

    I really wish he would just go and spend the holidays across the state with his mistress. However, he won’t do that this year because he is pretending to everyone that he does not have a mistress (even though he most certainly does), so that he can produce her in 6 months or so and act like they just met. He is such a phony. Also, the mistress has 2 daughters, and I suspect that she wants to ease my STBX into their lives. Which leaves me having to deal with his presence during the holidays.

    I have a large and supportive family, and so I will not be alone during the holidays. I am grateful for that. I just really wish I didn’t have to deal with the fallout from my STBX’s cheating and bad character. I get so angry when I think about the fact that HIS conduct has resulted in my not seeing my daughters for some portion of the holidays. It is so unfair. HE cheated; I didn’t. I should not have to endure any negative consequences from his actions. I guess this is the shit sandwich.

    I have always loved the holidays. I am not particularly looking forward to them this year, though, thanks to my cheating ex. I’m sure everything will get easier in time, but I am anticipating that this first holiday season is going to be a bit rough.

    Thanks for listening.

    • If you have relatives who will let you and your girls spend Christmas Eve night he will have to show up at their house and pretend he is mr. wonderful. Bet he won’t

    • So Done,
      We tried to do a couple of “family” things when we were no longer a family and my kids (18 and 20) have said that being in a room with that much tension was horrible for them. You might want to rethink Christmas morning – maybe they could meet somewhere else for brunch and presents together? Ugh I feel for your kids, being around a dad who acts like everything is fine after he cheats and blows up the family horrific – well it’s gaslighting. I tried to make my decisions based on what was best for the kids and I really misjudged. I Wreckonciled for almost 2 years and both kids said they wish I had called it way sooner (like 6 months in). Of course you are angry; it is so unfair. This is our 2nd holiday without him and it is SO much easier. They won’t even see him on Thanksgiving or Christmas – he moved away. (Lucky me!)

    • So Done, nope, nope, nada, absolutely not. Do not let him “come home” to open presents. Consequences, baby.

      I let mine and his mommy come to my house for Thanksgiving and Christmas the first year. Absolutely awful on all of us. He paraded around like nothing had changed- even took control of my tv remote- just like always-say on his ass while I did all the work.

      Point is, the kids knew the score and were miserable. Don’t do that to yours. Yes, we divide the holidays and it sucks, but it’s sucks less when the cheating bastard s are not right in front of you.

      This year the youngest is with me thru the entire Thanksgiving holiday. MVM is going to cook Thanksgiving on Friday for himself and his mommy. (No idea if AFF Whore and her brood will be joining, don’t care). I will do what I’ve done EVERY FUCKING YEAR….cook Thanksgiving dinner, enjoy my family and, (a special treat this year) not have to listen to his narc family pick apart my cooking! I’m putting cranberries in my stuffing and apple pie. He never would let me cause he hates fruit in his food. Lol, living the dream baby!

      Next year, DS will be with dear old dad, maybe. We will see if his efforts to be Great and Powerful Dad continue….I’m not counting on it. To be honest, we all have the fantasy that the kids will eventually reject loser, cheater parent and let them wither away alone and miserable. It’s a great fantasy, reality is the kids continue to try to maintain a relationship. But, it needs to be on his time, not yours.

      So Done, this was long winded, but please look after yourself and your mental health. Don’t have him over to play intact family. It will rip your guts out and the kids really will be miserable. Let Mr Marvelous take the kids for an hour or so on Christmas Day. He will be clueless. You take a hot bath while their gone.

      Hugs to you. You can do this!

      • I sympathize with your wanting your kids with you every minute, but at 18 and 16, that’s unrealistic, as I’m sure you know. And I agree wholeheartedly that you should not play ‘happy” family and confuse the kids by opening presents together. Let him miss event. There are consequences for doing shitty things to your family.

        That said, you are making a mistake if you try to keep the kids away from their father altogether. Make your plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Even as adults, we always loved having Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve with extended family. Or you can stick to having your dinner on the day. My suggestion? Cut the kids loose by 3 pm and let them spend time with their friends and their father. There’s no reason for you to be involved at all. Let the kids take control of their relationship to their father as in a few years, you won’t have any control of that at all. They’ll be adults and may have boyfriends, etc. who figure into the picture. Don’t see the X and don’t worry what he and Schmoops are doing. They are each other’s punishment.

        The first year is rough. One thing I did? Bought myself some killer gifts, put them in my favorite gift bags and tissue, and put them under the tree to open Christmas morning. Because the one person who needed to learn to give to me was me. Line up your great Christmas play list. Make some new decorations (I went Pinterest crazy in the first year). Another thing I did was revive old traditions like baking holiday hearth loaf (Sunmaid raisin box recipe) and watching my favorite Christmas movies Christmas night.

        One good thing is you no longer have to worry about what the in-laws want. When my XH and I lived together, the holidays always revolved around his son and DiL and the grandkids. I would try to work out a time to see what’s left of my family and I couldn’t even pin down a time. One year, my mother was in the hospital with a broken shoulder and major dementia and I was about to lose my mind and he was angry that I wanted to forget Thanksgiving dinner and stay with her. Because, don’t ya know, my family didn’t count. So as Doingme says, set your own plans in stone, leave some time for the kids to do what they need or want to do, maintain no contact, and start making your new family traditions.

    • Pick a friend of yours he doesn’t like…get her to come over Xmas morning. ..make sure he knows she ll be there!

  • The holidays changed significantly over the past few years. The first Christmas my son and I went to Walmart and picked out a 27 dollar tree and tied it to the roof of my small car. We decorated it with myth granddaughter and her friends and made cookies.

    Now it’s a new tradition that replaced the old one of dragging the Limited to pick out a tree and get drunk or pretending he was too busy with his business to participate.

    Christmas is spent exchanging one gift for the secret Santa person selected handing a price limit. It’s followed by a Yankee swap and making chocolate martinis and appetizers. It’s fun and laughter fills my home.

    The difference is on I now cherish.

    I decided to have thanksgiving at my home this year with my son and sisters family. Of course the Limited needs a family member at his table and I set my dinner time in stone. After being told of his time by my son I said I don’t work around his schedule. This is the time I’ve had dinner for 30 years.

    Funny how the only time he comes up in conversation is when image management is key.

    The first few years are tough. Expectations can be shattered as the disordered use this time to exercise entitlement and control.

    Here’s the difference in my opinion. My adult child will be a visitor at his fathers for an hour or two. The conversation will be centered on that better life ahead and his unrealistic plans he will never obtain. Namely, buying a retirement home and moving to Florida. Then the pity of the obstacles will follow with his ailments. The Limited will be called papa by her grandchild as the elephant in the room becomes apparent. HIS beautiful granddaughter maintains no contact.

    And tomorrow is another day. The mighty get stronger as authentic and reciprocity now rule. The disordered know the truth just as we do. The difference is we get to thrive and there they sit in a pile of shit.

  • The first 2 years of holidays are awful. This is my third year and I’m just simply happy. My girls are coming for Thanksgiving. I hired a maid to clean. Publix is making a turkey dinner so I’m stress free this year. It feels wonderful not to have to do all the work at a holiday.

    You will make new memories and you will make it through this and next year. You will tire of him, what he’s up to, who he’s dating and all that.

    You will see that you are an important part of your children’s life’s. You will love yourself again, in newer better ways.

    Last month my father died and as I sat in my car to leave a childhood girlfriend walked up to me out of the blue and said ” I wish I had divorced years ago; but at my age I won’t”. We are both 56.

    I can’t imagine still being stuck now in that horrible marriage and I’m glad to be rid of it now. It was depressing being married to him. I don’t date but I’m just happy in a new freedom. Like hiring someone to clean. The old me would have never done that but it’s so nice to give yourself the gift of time to enjoy the holidays.

    I’m still working on me now at my pace. Not trying to keep up with the past. It’s a sweet time to realize you are in control of your life and it just gets better when you let go of anger and hurt. The depression will go away.

    You will see your life as new and possibilities to the future. You won’t feel connected to an ugly divorce. I don’t feel the ugliness of the past anymore.

    • Your words really resonated with me— like a balm to my soul. Thank you for this preview of golden things to come in my life!

    • Beetle,
      That is beautiful and I’m raising my hand to second the sentiment to all the newbies.

  • This column is a timeless classic. It is a life preserver. It should be printed in the New Yorker.

    So rare a piece of writing can instantly shift your outlook- what power in these words!!!

    To add my shabby two cents, if you are alone, and you are estranged from your family- hell, just bury the hatchet. ( I don’t mean the CHEATER). Unless it is child or animal abuse, violence or theft…true deal breakers- let it go. Just go eat some sweet potato pie and talk about the weather and just stare at the Christmas tree.

    People think about us much less than we imagine. They are fighting their own bizarre battles. Let your heart be merry and light. Fake it. Sometimes, your heart will follow your painted on smile.

    For anyone who is suicidal or riding in a caravan of despair today , know that I believed I was the saddest girl in the world. How incredibly narcissistic of me, but I was certain my misery was uniquely horrifying.

    I spent the first Thanksgiving after D Day under the covers with my dogs sleeping and me eating Nutella out the jar—-EATING UNDER THE COVERS LIKE A LITTL SAD HOG IN THE DARK.

    And today, I have been up, packing the car, baking, shop vaccing my dogs…..happy! Never would I have believe you, that I would not be the saddest girl in the world forever.

    There is hope. I promise you. This too shall pass and you will emerge triumphant and cleansed.

  • My stbxh still lives in our home. My son and I are going to my parents house for Thanksgiving dinner (I assume The Turd has plans with his TrannyTwat and her family).
    Last night he was in “we are friends” mode and asked me what I’m planning to give my son for Christmas. I am torn between not wanting to have to see his lying face on the last Christmas in our house and knowing that him spending Christmas Eve and Day with TrannyTwat will break mine and my son’s hearts.
    Next Christmas will be hard too because my son will be forced to spend time with The TrannyTwat (or maybe he will be on gf #3 by then).

  • Surviving the holidays will be tough, but I am determined. However some of my greatest anger towards cheater wife revolves around how her infidelity blows up the life of our daughter. I can handle having my life redesigned- I’m getting rid of a fucktard but I am very worried about how things are going to affect our daughter.

  • “Divorce is not failure. Cheating is failure. The shame of infidelity is not your shame to wear.”

    ^ ^ ^My internal mantra while cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow for cheater wife and in-laws.

    • Whaaat??? Did I read that right??? Hosting cheater wife and in-laws??? I’m sorry dude. That would be a tough gig!

    • Seriously. Why?

      I would have a plan B where you could make an exit and take your girls too.

  • Last year: A blaze of pain. Cheater was still lying without ceasing, and still endlessly texting me, and I was still letting him. I brought him Thanksgiving dinner at the apartment that I set up for him. I bought and decorated a Christmas tree for him. I piled beautifully wrapped, carefully chosen presents beneath it. Yup, I sure enough did. Discovered CL/CN in the nick of time. I was getting so small that I was on point of disappearing completely.

    This year: Better, much, but an unexpected ache has taken up residence around my heart. I know what cheater is much more fully, now, and have zero desire to know him or have any contact with him ever again, but divorce is still in progress and the fallout continues, so there’s a good piece of this road yet to travel.

    I have decided simply to let the ache do its thing. Not fun, but it is evidence that my heart still operates normally, so I’m embracing that as the difficult gift it is.

    My children will be with me, and their friends will be about the place, so there is much to be grateful for. We have a lovely home, plenty of food, and lots of love. Lots of pain and damage to contend with, but we will just keep going, because there is nothing else to do. Thank goodness for the good old dog who comforts us all merely by existing.

    Trying some new things this year: skating in the city, attending a Christmas party as a single gal, maybe going downtown just to window gaze. Also returning to some treasured traditions that matter to me but got disrupted last year: Christmas Eve morning at the nursing home, Midnight Mass, A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sims version) on Christmas Eve when all of my chickadees slumber.

    Finally grasping that cheater was texting his various sluts even as we were doing the most sacred family things is very freeing, but still isolating. Even my kids will never really get the bracing depth of that disorder and betrayal.

    That said, holidays are by nature bittersweet–use any holiday film as evidence–and it is good to appreciate both the bitter and the sweet in deeper ways than ever before. To feed each other is to acknowledge hunger. To give and receive gifts is to acknowledge want and humility. Can’t truly appreciate a soft, warm blanket until you’ve known a chill so profound that it settles into your bone marrow, I guess. So, I cannot curse the chill, but a very rough gift to embrace.

    • “I was getting so small that I was on point of disappearing completely.” This. Tears welled up as the lump in my throat formed when I read your simple but profound statement. This was my life during the last year before I made LadyLiar move out. I may be sad, frustrated, confused, lonely sometimes, but, damn, I am a person again. I am living an authentic life. Thank you for your post today.

      • It’s one of the great gifts of this place that we come into contact with so many others who instantly get it. I am glad you are finally living again. So hard, but we can do it, bit by bit.

  • My divorce was final 2 weeks before Christmas last year. Today looking back, I don’t recall it being as horrible as I probably thought it was going to be at the time. I had Christmas morning with my kids and then they left to go spend the afternoon with their dad & his family. While they were gone, I took down all of the Christmas decorations & put them away.

    All my life, I’ve loved this time of year. Then I got married & it slowly turned into a chore & a time in which I dreaded. For 21 years, I did all of the preparations for the holidays. I did all of the shopping, cooking, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, decorating, making plans, blah, blah, blah. XH hated the holidays and complained about them every year. He seemed to take pleasure in stealing my joy when it came to the holidays. Actually, now that I think about it, all 3 D-Days were around the holidays.

    I’m glad that I no longer have him in my life. He was just taking up space. I am establishing new traditions for the future with my kids. DS will be 20 next month & just started his career as a firefighter. He’s moved 2 hours away from home, not all that far, but he has his first rent house and wants me & his sister to come help him decorate it for Christmas. You bet we will 🙂
    DD just turned 17 and loves to help me decorate, bake, shop & wrap gifts…all of the things that I treasure about the holidays.

    The thing is, the holidays are just part of the whole. I have the love and respect of both of my children and my close family & friends all year long. Life is good.

  • I don’t want my kids to spend 1 second with the OWife. Not one single second. And at 12 and 14 they have both expressed that they do not want to see her or spend time with her. Yet I can’t stop it from happening.

    • Twitching….
      As much as it hurts (I had to deal with this too) trust that they will see their dad and OWife for who and what they are. It took my youngest a while but she now HATES OWife and both of my daughters spend very little time with them. Your children will see what normal is (YOU) and they will gravitate towards trust, safety and stability! YOU!

    • Twitching,

      Boy, do I understand…and my kids were young adults when this shitstorm went down.

      The first holidays, mine were old enough to make the decision to see their father and Owife. That just about gutted me!!! You have the opposite problem…yours have no choice. That sucks mightily, too!!

      But I have discovered something and I know you will, too. Although it is difficult to let them see their father and Owife, they will eventually see them for who they really are. It is not a pretty picture!!

      My children’s relationship with their father and what they think of him has been changed forever. They are drifting farther apart and we have become closer. I bet your kids will do the same.

      Big (((HUGS))), Twitching!!

  • I’m a few years out from D-Day and Divorce now, but that first holiday season was a killer.

    I got myself a big, fresh, awesome smelling Xmas tree. I couldn’t bear to use the tree decorations I had used all those years with Mr. Whore-Fucker, so instead of buying new decorations, I went to a craft shop and bought some do-it-yourself ornaments. With paint and glitter, I MADE new ornaments, all of them about my NEW BETTER life to come. They said things like “honesty” and “truth” and then I made some with dogs, with music notes, things I like.

    It was very liberating, just sitting there making those… and it was a lovely tree.

    • You are super mighty,that is awesome in every way. I love the positive affirmation,you go girl!

  • Jedi hugs to all the “newbies” out there. Holidays are tough. I am five years out from DDay, four years divorced, and is it sometimes still difficult.
    I advise not doing the ‘we’re friends’ holiday. During separation STBX came with his sister and her family to my place (the marital home). It was so painful. SIL kept asking her brother about all his travel– I made the travel job happen, and I knew much of it was to see the AP.
    Christmas Eve the kids were with STBX at his parents (not sad to miss that, but sad to miss the kidss as they were 9 and 12yrs old). So I drove to the airport to pick up one of my best friend’s sister. 3-4 hours of travel total, and I was not stuck at home missing the kids.

    I second reaching out: next thanksgiving, I went to Disneyland with friends– day at the park, nice meal prepped by others. My kids were off to foreign country with ex as he had moved by then. The next year thanksgiving was the worst one yet– daughter just out of hospital following suicide attempt. A sister and family headed to the Caribbean for the holiday, and took my son along! Daughter and I went to Disneyland again with the same friends. It was a bit much for her, as her depression also had high anxiety, but better than sitting at home all day.
    The last two thanksgivings we spent with another family, work colleague, new to the area. Once they came here, another time we went there.
    Daughter still no contact with ex, so she is always with me for the holidays, son is here half the time,
    And finally this season– best friend and family coming here, plus three German students. For Christmas, my son is with me, all three of us are going to New Orleans!

    Make your own traditions (kids and I always go hiking on Christmas Day, for example. )
    Expand the network. Family is not only blood relations.
    Come to CN if you need support.

    • Do what my Chumpy brother did. He looked ahead. No looking back. It got him out of grief and into anger and then meh. He found the love of his life, had more children, was much happier.
      If that is not for you then visit a VA hospital, nursing home, place that serves meals to the poor. You have love to give and there are people out there who would welcome it. Find your local agency that has foster children. “Adopt” one and give Christmas presents to him/her. Adopt a dog. If you want unconditional love get a dog.

      This is the US Thanksgiving so I am thankful for Ashley Judd, Rose McGowen, all those women and men, who have stepped out of the shadows and put much needed sunshine onto devastating secrets. What those people who are still trying to make excuses should remember is that most of those pos had Chumps at home.

  • We are lead to believe that the holidays must be perfect…food, decorations, parties, family events…the perfect Norman Rockwell painting. Although we know that is not reality, the pressure is astronomical.

    The first thing I had to do was distance myself from my “perfect” holiday memories. Instead I remembered how I busted my ass to make everything perfect for the Xhole who didn’t appreciate it. After all my hard work, he would love to proclaim that he hated the holidays. I realized he stole most of the joy out of the holidays for many, many years.

    The focus became my children. They are young adults who still have somewhat a “relationship” with their father (mainly at holidays), and it was still HARD to imagine them spending once second with Xhole and Owife.

    I tried to keep busy. I watched movies, I cooked, I walked, I read, I took long baths, etc. I did whatever I could to keep my mind off the fact that my kids were “having fun” with Xhole and Owife. BUT, I also cried and mourned the loss of my intact family. It is not easy, especially the first few years. We have to allow ourselves the sadness.

    But when I was with my kids, it was about not letting the joy be stolen for another moment. We did anything we wanted. We continued some traditions and we started some new ones. There were moments when I wanted to break down in tears, but I wanted to be happy especially for the kids. So, I faked it until I could make it. Those kids didn’t ask for this mess.

    Having the holidays ripped apart is difficult, but there are many other days in the year. When my kids bring up memories, most of them don’t involve the holidays. What they remember most is all the other days when we were making memories doing this thing called life.

    Stay strong, CN. This will be my 4th holiday season, and believe me, I still need my own advice!!

  • Holidays can be wonderful or shitty…’s your choice.

    I spent my first Thanksgiving alone being depressed and miserable. When Christmas arrived, I refused to let it happen again. On Christmas Eve, I took a slow cooked brisket to a fire department.

    On Christmas, I went to a senior assisted living center and played dominoes with several widows. I heard memories such as how one struggled to survive and raise kids alone while Walter was off at war. Stories about the wonderful men they miss so much.

    That evening, I saw a police officer and thanked him for his service. He said that his wife is a nurse and they were never able to have children, so both of them always work Christmas so that a parent can spend it with their children. He explained that it was their way of still being able to give Christmas gifts to children.

    Tomorrow, my girlfriend and I will be having two young ladies join us for dinner that are stationed at the nearby air force base and this will be their first Thanksgiving away from their families.

    There are so many simple ways to spend your holidays…..and I refuse to allow mine to be ruined because of some cheating, sleazy bitch who made my life a living hell.

  • I originally thought that I didn’t have anything to add to this topic, but reading the other responses I think I do.

    Even though so many of our stories are similar, as a guy chump I have a bit of a different take. For over 20 years my role had been to drive everyone around, put up / take down decorations and collapse in a tryptophan coma after eating.

    What I don’t miss like some of the others here is going to see the in-laws. They in themselves weren’t generally too bad but the complaining that Mme would do about her family, especially on the way back was annoying. We were only supposed to have to go every other year but “because reasons” Mme pushed me in the last few years to go every year, resorting to tears the last time which in hind-sight was just weird because she already was having her affair by then. The comment by one other person made me smile. One of the nephews lived in a small camper trailer, didn’t work and spent his time and his mother’s money drinking, doing drugs and chasing women. I remember coming back and my son remarked that he thought his cousin was doing well which got corrected by me saying “he’s a douche!” and my son did agree that perhaps he had heard only about the “fun” and exaggerations.

    Anyhoodles. Last year for Christmas I was still living under the hope that Mme (who had complained to me about being alone the month before) was going to repent and come home “any day now”. It took an effort but I decorated the house, played Christmas music, and put up the tree. One of the things that sucked in a major way was all the cards that came to the house addressed to “Mr. & Mrs Tie”. It was usually me that sent out cards and I’d sent them out to all the usuals including the in-laws trying to be discrete about Mme’s absence. The regular tree was pulled out of it’s box and decorated with all the usual ornaments including the “special” ones like the one that we got on our first Christmas together.

    My son spent Christmas morning and day with me and we called his sister in another country via skype as usual and opened presents together. It was good. For dinner that night, my son and I collaborated on cooking up a chicken that was one of the last things in the big family freezer that I was emptying. It was delicious and we had a good time. On boxing day, his mother came and got him and he had dinner with her. Their dinner was a fake chicken roll out of a box in her apartment.

    Neither he nor his sister have seen their grandparents (my parents passed on some time ago) for 3 or more years and have no interest in seeing them. On the last “YogaPants” Christmas that I was forced to attend, my son refused and various lies were told by his mother about why. I have no idea if Mme had Christmas with her family or not but I believe she spent it alone.

    After Christmas, while consuming far too many jelly-beans and egg-nog, I packed up the ornaments. I kept those that were meaningful to me, tossed a bunch that had accumulated over the years that were just junk and packed up the “special” ones for Mme and put them into a box along with a bunch of decorations that she had accumulated but that we never used (can you say hoarder?)

    Thanksgiving is coming up tomorrow for Americans like my daughter. Mme and I historically would spend it with her and her husband. I now go and visit twice a year but leave Thanksgiving open. Mme hasn’t seen her daughter as of tomorrow for 2 years. I expect that yet again she won’t be visiting.

    This year for Christmas I had some fun in the workshop and built a stand for a “real” Christmas tree which I was never “allowed” to have before. I’ve picked up a free-range duck which my son and I will be having for Christmas dinner (far too many left-overs for 2 guys from the chicken). Since my son moved in with me from the city he’d been living in, he’ll be with me Christmas morning at the very least. Christmas bow tie season started just after Remembrance Day and Christmas music has already been blasted around the house.

    In the next week I need to mail presents to my daughter and her husband and organize my Christmas card list. It’s much shorter now and will be obviously addressed as just from me (and probably the cats). Any cards that come in from the many people that don’t know that Mme has left the building will be put in a pile for her son to give to her.

    I have no idea what Mme’s plans are and beyond some mild curiosity of whether she’ll finally involve her guy and when/if she’ll be wanting to see her son, I don’t care. I know that I won’t be having to drive for hours to end up sitting with her father because no one else will and have to deal with any of that drama.

    New Years will probably be spent alone like last year, texting with friends and watching the ball drop. I didn’t get kissed last year (the cats didn’t cooperate) and probably won’t this year either. Who knows what the future will hold though. But life is good.

    So – to my fellow Chumps – We can do this. We can sustain those traditions we value of celebration and love. Of Family and of Joy. Many of those traditions need to be adapted like me learning how to roast a chicken and make stuffing. But they will be our traditions and those of our family. Casting off those parts that caused us pain and I’m sure most of us had those, will leave room for our cup of Joy to fill to the brim and beyond in years to come.


  • First holiday season in 25 years without my alcoholic cheating STBX. Strange time in my life. Two kids at home still and we are gonna have a great holiday season!
    This site (and a fabulous new person in my life who introduced me to this site) has helped me begin to rewire my brain and brought a lot of laughs.
    A life changer in many ways.
    Thanks CL & CN.

  • For all newbies out there…… TIME! It takes time to fully heal and begin to enjoy the holidays again.

    The reality of divorce sucks because your “family” is forever changed. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Try to embrace your new normal. Make new family traditions with your children, friends and extended family. Bask in the glory that you are no longer being chumped and now you can fully enjoy your celebrations without playing detective in your own home, you won’t be looking over your shoulder to see what your spouse is up to and more importantly you won’t be looking at the one person who stabbed you in the heart and feeling all that same old hurt. Cheater is gone and you are free! That is a gift!!! It takes alot of work to fake it til you make it but each year it got better for me. Now I LOVE my celebrations with my children, family and friends. I am living an authentic life and laughing, smiling and enjoying my freedom! You may struggle for a bit but it does get better!

    • Thank you! I love what you said. My first year without Freddy cougar, it’s tough but you are right no more looking or being worried about cheater. Thank you.

  • I don’t think there is a quick solution to getting through the holidays. For those of us who have been separated or divorced for awhile, it has probably evolved into something that is okay, maybe even good.

    The first couple of Christmas’ on my own were hard. My kids at that time were out of the country and I really felt abandoned. But, I pushed myself and invited 4 single friends for a turkey dinner and we did enjoy the special meal together. Things have now evolved and my kids are back with me and I have a 6 month old granddaughter. So, we are a small family, but I am just so grateful that they are here and we can enjoy the special day together. My XH, I understand from my youngest son, has spent each Christmas with the family of whoever he is dating at the time. He changes partners quite frequently. I used to miss him, but now don’t even think about him.

    So, I think for those going through their first or second Thanksgiving or Christmas without the usual list of players, just know that everything in life is temporary. Your situation will change, or you feelings about it will change. You will arrive at that happy place where you once resided (if that was your situation), or you will be even happier at some point down the road. I told myself over and over in the first two years that this is “only one day” of feeling extra sad. Now it is a day of enjoying the company of those I love.

  • Parenting without my ex cheater is much easier. He’s not there to tell me I suck at it and then march off to work 11 hour days or head to the bar. I’m a better parent now that he’s gone.

    As for holidays, I’m a few years out. I’ve learned that Christmas is just one day, that’s it. I am kind to myself and make plans with others. I accept invitations and reciprocate. It’s peaceful now and I don’t get criticism over my decorating either! Bonus! Whatever is happening over at Narcville is not my business. And from experience, I know it likely sucks. I make my home cosy and spend time with my daughter, family and friends. The day comes and it goes and I know that it will all be ok.

    • ***Narcville*** Lol!!! It’s as simple as that. Not being in Narcville means, we’re good!

  • It does take time. Approaching 3 years since the last DDay. Which was by far the worst. On Christmas Day, we were showing off the new dream home we were buying. During all this, I discovered very graphic texts on her phone describing what they were going to do to each other when they got together. Which turned out was three days earlier. Christmas has been a struggle but it does get easier each year!

  • Like many of you, I was the one who made everything happen just perfectly over the holidays while the Fucktard ex played Grinch. The first couple of years afterward were hard, but surrounded by friends and included by extended family members. After that, I sorted out what was important for me to do for the holidays and what wasn’t. Sending thoughtful cards, yes. Shopping for weeks, no. Less decorating. More time with friends. Festive gatherings replaced dinners for a dozen Outlaws. I realized that this little elf had been too exhausted to enjoy herself for years and had been overdoing on the home front to compensate for the Fucktard’s negativity, which was probably just a cover for his laziness.

    New traditions that bring joy to your life will overwrite the bad holiday memories in time. Try some out and keep the ones you like.

  • It was much harder for me when my daughters were little and would go to their biological father’s house, where they weren’t well-cared for and would usually come home tired and sick. I tried something different each year they weren’t with me — stayed home for a self-care day, went to a childhood friend’s family’s get-together, volunteered at a shelter, had a few “orphans” over for dinner. I used to invest a huge amount of time in hosting the meal for ex-husband’s whole family, and I don’t miss that at all. LadyLiar always chose her FOO full of raging alcoholics and other dysfunctional, self-absorbed people at the holidays, so I don’t miss those miserable “celebrations” at all. I’m not really a holiday person anyway, so I’m content watching a movie and having a glass of wine by myself now. Whatever you do, choose it because YOU want to do it. Love yourself like you loved the fuckwit. At least you’ll appreciate it!

  • I’m 4 mos since D-Day#3, and 3 mos since he moved out. (Divorce is almost final.) I’d already made plans (2 weeks after D-Day) with my 3 girls (16, 18 & 20) to spend Thanksgiving with my family, as is our tradition. Never even contemplated asking his opinion…much like he didn’t bother to ask my opinion about having a whore on the side.

    And I’m planning on having my girls with me on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning (again, not asking his opinion on this subject–just going to plan with the girls). But in the afternoon, the 16 year old will undoubtedly go spend it with him and his whore (seeing as how she’s “ok” with her dad’s relationship with the whore). And quite possibly, she will spend the night there. Not sure about the older two though. They’ll be more likely to go if the whore’s not there.

    And if they all do go, I plan on having a nice cocktail, and sitting down to watch Christmas movies by myself. I will probably cry. But I’ll be ok. I will try to look around my home, and recall the past several months that did not involve walking on eggshells or having to deal with his craziness, and enjoy the peace that is now mine. And also, will most likely peruse the CL message boards…

  • I am inspired by the mightiness of my fellow chumps here!

    It’s been 3.5 years since D-Day (#1)–hard to believe. First Christmas I was alone but relieved that I had been awarded majority custody of my kids and a life-sustaining amount of support. (I had no job at the time and my now ex-husband was engaging in various crimes, so money was a major concern.) The last two holiday seasons I have been with my now ex-boyfriend (guy who I deeply respected, trusted, and thought I knew for a few decades). It’s been three months since he threw me over for woman at work. In some ways, this break up (betrayal by my boyfriend) hurts MORE than my husband’s adultery, abandonment of me, and a separation that started with my husband trying to wrest custody from me by accusing me of molesting one of our kids. I feel sad every time I think about the time I spent with my now ex-boyfriend at his great company Christmas parties and wonderful celebrations put on by his lovely family and how my replacement now gets to experience all those fantastic experiences and then some–he might actually LOVE her and not treat her as Pump and Dump back up booty call. One silver lining in the cloud is I no longer will waste time cooking for someone who doesn’t appreciate me cooking for him. I worked hard to make a nice dinner and write a heartfelt message on a card for my ex-boyfriend on our last anniversary. All he said was, ‘Has it been two years?’ He never did ANYTHING to reciprocate. The first anniversary wasn’t any better. He dumped me out of the blue, saying ‘I want to run away from you (same exact words he used the last time he dumped me). I miss being married (implying that he wanted to be married, just not to me.)’ He offered no opportunity to work things out either time. Yeah, I’m a chump–came back for a second round four months later. And here I am now, partnerless again (now divorced) while he’s with Ms. Wonderful, most likely living it up.

    I’ve heard people say that if you want to know what your partner will be like, observe his/her parents. I always have. One thing that baffles me is a few of my exes have come from fabulous loyal families, who I still love, but my exes, their sons, turned out to be bonafide dishonest, self-serving A–clowns.

    My kids will be with my ex-husband’s latest partner over Christmas and New Year’s Day, so I am ‘childless’ and ‘partnerless’ on these holidays. I will spend some time with kind, young relatives who have Stage 4 cancer on these holidays. On New Year’s Eve, I plan to attend a big fundraising party hosted by an amazing group of young men who are battling addiction to substances. Time to give kind, genuine people my attention, energy, and money! I’ve found that the beggar in the street, as unglamorous as he may appear, is often more noble than the executive in the expensive tuxedo.

  • Cheaterturd always made every holiday so stressful. I would stress out, walk on eggshells, do all the work only to usually have the holiday ruined. Our last Christmas together he went into a total fit, refused to participate, open gifts or even talk. His way of punishing me and ensuring my holiday was ruined (i now know he was in the midst of affair #whatever and was pulling his usual anger trip). Now I look forward to them. I always plan something delicious for breakfast, if I have no where to go I have a list of movies I love and even projects to do around the house to keep me busy. I open up all the windows (Cheaterturd liked the house dark),I let the sun in, I look out the window while I drink my coffee in peace and read the paper and it’s actually lovely. Reframe your holidays in a way that makes you happy.

  • I can totally imagine how the ‘festive season’ can fill some people with dread. Personally, I die a little each time I hear ‘All I want for Christmas…’.

    Even before D-Day happened, I used to dread the festive season just as I’d dread my birthday. Being in an LDR I would be sad because of the thoughts of my ex bf celebrating with his family while I did nothing with my ‘broken’ one (divorced parents). FOMO. This Christmas is going to be especially tough for me because on D-Day he told me his ex (aka OW) got back in touch last Christmas… and I am tormented by the regret that ‘I should have spent Christmas at his place’.

    Anyway, I think society places a lot of pressure on creating the ‘perfect’ holiday. Festivity blues are actually real so you are not alone.

    I’m hoping that this will be a better Christmas than most because:
    (a) I won’t have to pretend to have plans;
    (b) It is perfectly acceptable to stay in with pyjamas, hot chocolate and Bridget Jones/ The Holiday and other chick flicks… or curl up with the Harry Potter series and escape to Hogwarts.
    (c) Since I am no longer spending money to keep LDR alive by going to see him all the effing time, I can use the money instead to go on a yoga retreat or travel to a nice place where they DON’T celebrate Christmas.
    (d) Or I can host my very own Nordic-style Christmas without feeling that I’m missing out on the traditions of the Northern Hemisphere.

    Either way I think we chumps can make it better. Don’t force it. Watch the Nightmare Before Christmas if need be.

    • Like I said earlier – here’s an amazing thing, you might actually ENJOY Christmas this year!

      Imagine: a Christmas where you’re not being eaten alive by pining over the LDR.

      A Christmas not spent doing the pick-me dance at the ex’s house so that he can harvest kibbles while you wear yourself out with worry about whether he will pick you or the other woman.

      A Christmas where you are actually free to do what YOU want. Buy yourself what you want. See good people who build you up, not egotists who suck you dry. Or be alone if you want. Up to you.

      This is the first Christmas of your new life. Do what you can to make it special. MAINTAIN NO CONTACT, and try to keep it as cheater-free as possible. This is all about you, SantaChump, not you-and-the-LDR-with-a-cheater.

      Start. Again.

  • Christmas for me in the first year was 4 weeks after D-Day. I don’t have kids so my great fear was that I would sort of disappear without have a big family thing with someone. I dreaded a tree with nothing under it. I dreaded being the old single lady at my cousin’s table. And I was still at the stage when I couldn’t control the crying (hence the highly memorable crying all through Midnight Mass.) But I pulled up my snow boots in that polar vortex winter and re-invented Christmas.

    1. Pinterest was a lifeline for me for many reasons, but I was new to it and saw lots of clever ideas for porch decoration, etc. I pulled it off with great style though I am not at all crafty. I’ve adapted it a little in the past few years but I still love the stuff I did.
    2. I put an outdoor live tree on the screen porch and put lights on it, where they were visible from indoors (huge window wall). Then I could plant the live tree in the yard. Last year I finally went with an artificial one since I don’t have anywhere to put another tree.
    3. I have a 3-hour Christmas playlist, from Clyde McPhatter and Elvis to jazz to gospel to nuns singing to the radio favorites. And I play it. If someone doesn’t like it, they can leave.
    4. I bought myself the gifts I wanted, wrapped them and put them under the tree. Christmas morning, I made breakfast and opened my gifts. I’d bought stuff a month before and by the time I opened them, I was even sort of surprised. And I made sure I had thoughtful gifts for others. Since then, what I give myself (yep, I still do this) and what I receive is far less important than what I give. That’s progress.
    5. I promised I would never again compromise on Thanksgiving and Christmas with what’s left of my family. I haven’t. And I won’t. When I started dating the VKM, I told him that wasn’t negotiable and he was welcome to come with me or we could carve out our own time and then spend time with our own families.
    6. I plan for Christmas Eve, the day, and the day after, making sure I have down time. Church on Christmas Eve. Movies Christmas night. Pajamas on the 26th. Now my cousin’s family has the complicated time table to deal with step-parents and grandkids’ boyfriends but I just show up and eat.
    7. I started baking again! Getting back to things I loved to do years ago was big for me.
    8. I still buy my XH a Christmas gift (bag of goodies he likes) even though he swears he hates it. I decided that Christmas for me was about giving. We are largely no contact but he’s getting older and everyone should know someone cares about them.

    If I had to sum this up as a principle, Christmas always has its sad side. I deeply miss my parents (crazy as they were) and my beloved aunts. I miss their friends stopping by. I miss my mom’s turkey and pies. So the holidays always remind us of the past and what is no longer. Divorce is no different, just super intense because it’s the family you made with a cheater that you miss. But even as we grieve, we can be grateful for what we have. Live in the moment, cherish the past, build the future.

    • And for those who don’t know, XH is a substance abuser, not a cheater. The cheater was Jackass, he of the $2.50 Christmas gift…

  • Just leaving the link here, built for all the sexual harassment ‘apologies’ coming out that illustrates the non-apology we all know and hate from abusive assholes. It’s meant as satire but it’s true as hell.

  • Time heals all wounds, and time wounds all heals.

    It gets better year after year and then suddenly it’s the best ever.

    I’ve been a single dad for six years now and the first year or two were very hard, but you stick to your guns and things become amazing.

  • First Christmas was 50 days after DDay and 25 days after he moved out to be with AP. I told him he could come to the house for the morning to watch our 12 year old daughter unwrap gifts. I took a Xanax and made plans for daughter and me to go to a friends house at noon. This gave me a hard exit. The morning was awkward and horrible. My poor daughter. We were still in shock and devastated. We survived, and actually had fun at my friends house. It was a good idea to get away to a different environment and be with fun people.

    By the next Christmas things were better. Daughter and I went far away to celebrate with family and he spent Christmas ALONE, in his apartment, no tree, nothing. (The AP dumped him 6 months after the divorce.)

    • FarBetterOff…..Last Christmas was similar for me too. Horribly depressing. I was still in a state of shock.

      Our kids are grown so I didn’t have the heartache of watching a 12 year old trying to pretend that opening her Christmas gifts on Christmas morning was joyous.

      This year I plan on doing everything different to celebrate the holidays. I threw my Christmas decorations out because they reminded me of my marriage to a cheater/pervert. I might hang a few lights on my silk palm tree…..and decorate it with little plastic flamingos from the dollar store.

      For dinner- a sandwich from Subway will do. I want no reminders of traditional holiday feasts….since I was the one who prepared them during the course of my 31 year marriage to Dancing Dick- the perverted, lying cheater.

      This holiday season will be a bit of a struggle….but nothing like last year’s heartbreaking, depressing holidays. As for Dancing Dick….he can go pay his web cam hoes for holiday company. They can sing Christmas carols together for all I care.

  • So many of you have young kids. I would so welcome that, but what do you do when you have adult kids and after 30 years of marriage, this will be the first Christmas you wake up completely alone in your house. I’m not sure how I am going to handle this.

    Last night, my youngest adult son, “doing me a favor”, brought down our family Christmas Tree and set it up. When I walked in at the end of the day I looked at it and said “please go put that at the curb” (today was garbage day). No way could I look at that tree and all the memories it brought rushing back all though out the holidays. We went to the store and killed my budget, but we bought a new tree. I told him “its time I start making new memories. That said, this year is going to be really tough.

  • This is holiday season #3 without The Evil One.
    Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men abounds.
    Third year in a row I did “friends and family = FR-amily” Sunday before Thanksgiving. My son’s are now 18 & 24 and they invite their friends, their girlfriends, I invite friends, etc. I actually stole the idea from exmil1. She hated making her kids choose which house they would go to for Thanksgiving, plus, she remarried and her new husband’s family always did a big dinner on Thanksgiving, so she had everyone over the Sunday before…
    Speaking of exmil1, Karma slapped exh1 in the teeth — when he and OWife divorced, his own family chose to keep her in the family and basically cut ties with exh1. Part of the reason he divorced me was ’cause his family hated me, so he thought that by divorcing me, he would be closer to his family. Hahahaaaa, April Fool’s dumb ass…

    Anyway, with exh2/The Evil One, our divorce was final in September, and by November same year he and OWhore married. Our visitation rotates Thanksgiving every year, and the first Thanksgiving after our divorce was actually what would have been our wedding anniversary. I was conscious of it, but it didn’t ruin my holiday. My kids were.with me, a few other single moms and their kids came for dinner. It was probably one of the best ever.
    I’ve never been a big Christmas Day person. I love Christmas Eve and have had all three kids together every year.
    The last two uears, TEO has bitched and whined about having DD with him for Christmas Eve so she can see Santa ( his bil dressed up) whoop-de-effing-doo… She sees Santa about 15 times before Christmas Eve.
    This year, I decided screw it and agreed already to let him have her at 6:00 Christmas Eve.
    I plan on going out of town Christmas day, so I’m not going to sweat it.

    Excellent post again C L!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Chump Nation!!!!

    Thankful, Grateful, Blessed-

  • My divorce should be FINAL (for real, no takebacks lol) any frickin’ day now, and what a Merry Christmas… or Happy St. Patrick’s Day… or Happy 4th of July that will be, whenever that finally comes to pass! So, I’m a Chump who never had any DDays at all, rather I was abandoned 13 months ago, and let’s just say my STBX’s sudden uncharacteristic bad behavior just screamed affair and was taken direct from the proverbial Cheater Playbook. Now he lives with a couple I’m almost positive he’s sleeping with, we are low/business only contact because we have 3 minor kids, and I’m mostly at meh after a lot of self-work and FOO unpacking.

    As a mother, Easter and Halloween are the essential holidays I genuinely care about most— like it would kill me to miss my kids’ hunting for eggs, and trick-or-treating, and decorating and dressing for both of those holidays. In the settlement those were the holidays I asked for and got. But Turkey Lurkey and Xmas I could honestly take or leave, and I have always been that way, so that’s been a blessing to me. I’ve been through one complete annual cycle of dividing up these 2 holidays now, and it’s all good. Last Turkey Lurkey my cousins all came to town and we ate at a hotel buffet, swam at their hotel pool, and played family card games. We’re seeing them again this year. Last Xmas my then-7-year-old daughter told me it was “the best Christmas ever!” — fuck yeah Santa came twice, and she had 2 awesome homes at which to celebrate— which goes to show that being free from a cheater can also be really great for the kids because they don’t need to continue to be exposed to the shitty/fake toxicity of Let’s All Play Happy Family Holiday Theatre. I’m a much better mom now that I am free.

  • Two years ago we packed up the camper for the yearly camping trip to the desert for the week. We were there early, as usual. The rest of the people come in around Wednesday.
    This trip my ex was mean and nasty – and on his phone a lot. My intuition was on fire and boy was it a miserable trip. Our poor kid was stuck in the middle. Ex was texting his 22 yo gf from work the whole time…after we got home he ran off to be with her with a stupid lie about sleeping in his car. Two months later they are living together and he’s purchased even bigger toys. They have a baby.

    It’s two years later. Our child went on the yearly camping trip with sparkley new family and new bigger camper. She didn’t want to go – told her dad she doesn’t like his girlfriend. Her dad yelled at her, then he called and yelled at me (I hung up on him – unacceptable). At 2 am my child is home with me because ex and girlfriend got in huge fight and they packed up and came home after being in the desert for 40 minutes…. ex told our child his gf is leaving.

    I guess it was their turn to have the camping trip from hell. Now they can unpack and clean that monster camper…

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • Last holiday season was awful. I was in my therapist’s office sobbing because I had done the pick me dance for 3 months & couldn’t do it any more. Mr. Asshat was enjoying his cake & kibbles too much & couldn’t man up and leave. I was devastated that I was going to have to file…but that’s the story he wanted…”my wife filed for divorce after i survived cancer…” So, I sit here with my coffee and am letting tears flow as i read this post. I found CL/CN in the summer & wish i would’ve found you a year ago. I’ve been divorced 6 months…still trying to get my footing but do amazing when I keep no contact. Parenting with the fucktard is so challenging. And I hate the games he plays with our daughters.

    I am in a really good place but am missing his family something fierce. I’m so sad that i don’t get to spend the day with his family…they’ve been my family for 25 years. My kids will get picked up by Mr Asshat at some point (yeah, he doesn’t know what time…he’s too busy with Hoho to communicate a pick up time.) I did insist he bring the girls back here when they’re done with dinner so they’ll spend the night with me.

    Mr. Asshat has asked me what I’m doing today…he just got crickets. He does NOT get to know what I’m doing. Three of my (ex) sister-in-laws have contacted me in the last week to see how I’m doing and share that they’ll miss me today & they don’t want to see Mr Asshat & Hoho. It’s touching…I’m glad we can still be sisters. ???? My 10 yr old asked if I could take them to Thanksgiving if dad & his gf stay home.

    So, I’m awake, my girls are here and they’ll be back for bedtime. I’m spending the afternoon with an amazing supportive couple and their group of misfit friends. I’m so grateful to be included. Looking forward to food, laughs, friends and fun. Here’s to making it through my first holiday season…tears…wine…coffee…family…friends…lots of CL/CN! ????

  • First, my youngest at least has kids to see at the other house. His new stepmom (woman who slept with a married man starting 8 months into his marriage, married another man had two kids, and kept the original affair going during that time -slow clap for both as they finally get their prize of marriage to each other while I got out of the triangle AKA my prize) has two kids about my youngest’s age. I have a great stepdad who is like my dad and a stepbrother with nieces. I hope he gets to enjoy his stepsisters for a while. He gets kids to play with when he’s over there for the holidays, and so we talk about fun things they do together. Did I get married knowing I’d get divorced or go through what these two have put me through? Nope. Did I think I’d one day have every other holiday? Nope. But, I can find enjoyment in new things. My youngest is with his dad on Thanksgiving day this year. Our family is doing Thanksgiving on Saturday. Today, I’m working on a project piece of furniture before going to a “bail on your family” party.

    Second, Yes, can we retire this?! And if some fool calls me a cheater, reach out via Facebook PM.

  • Once you get past d-day….and the horror/shock of discovery has subsided…..reinvent how you celebrate the holidays. I call it ” Holiday Iconoclasm”- getting rid of the old traditions- inventing new traditions.

    Get rid of holiday decorations that remind you of the cheater/liar/pervert. Plastic baubles from the dollar store are better than decorations that remind you of the cheater.

    Cook/eat different holiday meals. Try something new and different. A baloney sandwich is better than reminders of traditional holiday spent meals with a cheater.

    Surround yourself with as many friends as possible. Don’t allow yourself too much alone time. And NEVER listen to Elvis’ Blue Christmas! (Or other songs that may remind you of the cheater).

    Do nice things for others. We were screwed over by deceptive, adulterous liars- but we are still good people- with lots to give. Find a friend, neighbor, family member, charity, pet rescue- and donate your time and talents over the holidays. You will be appreciated.

    Do something funky. Go out with friends to a night club…..concert…….or a comedy club. Jesus won’t mind if you have a little fun on His birthday.

    Look your very best. What ever your wardrobe consists of…….dig out the most festive clothing you. own. Jeans with a sparkly shirt…….holiday dresses etc. Do your hair…..put on some make up….a little jewelry…….do your nails (lady chumps). Men chumps: .get a hair cut…….dig up a nice shirt…clip your nose hair….trim your beards/mustaches. Don’t let the cheater steal your right to look good!

    • Leavingthecrapbehind,
      I LOVE your advice! Especially about looking our best. Just weeks after Dday3, I bought myself a sexy steel-boned corset, as a lark & reward. Was thinking of using it for cosplay or fun things, knowing nothing about waist-training andits values. I bought a few vintage dresses & outfits & found I LOVED how I looked & felt! I have lost 30+ pounds over the past 20 months (Dday was in June), so I look better than I ever have. No interest in dating or anything like that (I tell frjends, “I’m still in the burn unit”), but I feel pretty good about myself in spite of the self esteem hit of discovering BossHogg’s 20 years younger MOW (DaisyDuke). I chose to be a classy alternative to skank woman and he’s been pick me dancing ever since! I don’t always go A game, but even if my mood is yucky, I can look good and that always cheers me up. The Lose a Cheater makeover is its own reward!

  • November 2012 was my D-Day.

    That holiday season was a sham, as XW took her affair farther underground.

    Holidays 2013 she had moved out to continue her affair. I was a numb wreck.

    Holidays 2014 we were divorced. My first xmas and thanksgiving without the kids. I was a sobbing mess.

    Holidays 2015 I was sad, but my kids were with me and we had a nice time. I cooked up a storm like I did when I was married.

    Holidays 2016 were nice. On New Year’s Eve I realized I’d forgotten that December 22 would have been my wedding anniversary. First time I’d completely forgotten.

    Today, thanksgiving day, I don’t have my kids and I’m so sick (bad cold) that I’m not even going out to dinner with my brother. I’m still alone. But it’s ok. I’m just lazing around.

    The point is, it takes time. Not days or weeks or even months. And definitely not a mere six months. This is severe trauma, a profound loss. You will grieve and as the years pass you will realize that even though it’s felt like you were staring down at the same patch of ground, you really were moving forward the whole time.

    • Thank you David2016, I do not feel like I have been moving forward, but thanks to your post I am thinking maybe I am and just don’t realize it.

  • The first Christmas was awful. My ex came for Christmas ( don’t do it!!huge mistake), our daughter had expressed her disapproval of his lousy behavior so he was punishing her—yup she got a jar of olives for Christmas ( she hates olives too). It’s just an unpleasant memory now—she also knows he sucks although she still maintains a cautious relationship with her bio dad despite himself( disordered narcissistic sociopath that he is). I am building a new life —rebuilding my business, bought a new house which I will move into by New Years Eve. I’ve been seeing my new guy for a year. He wants to build a permanent relationship with me but I’m in no rush just taking care of me and my family right now.. it does get better I promise you that. And olive man is firmly in my rear view mirror and fading fast. Merry Christmas to all of us mighty chumps!

  • Know what helped me feel better that first year? I had our pictures done, just my boys and me. A very talented friend took them and they were beautiful. And that’s what I used on our Christmas cards. We are still the G Family. There’s just 3 of us now – no cheater. I have to say it was so empowering to take that tradition and make it OURS.

    Love and Strength, Chumps. It does get better.

  • I’m childfree, but I too found a big aching hole for Christmas. And as I’m a clergywoman, I can’t go away to somewhere sunny over that holiday period.

    So what I do now is host foreign students for the Christmas break. (It’s organised by a charity who matches us up.) I’ve had wonderful times, opening up my home to young adults who are far away from home. And they’ve been a blessing to me as well.

  • I saw this on WordPorn. It’s what I want to print on holiday cards this year and send to LadyLiar and all of our cheaters: “Let me tell you something. Fear the day when a good heart gives up on you. Our skies don’t grey out of nowhere. A heart does not turn cold unless it’s been treated with coldness for a while.”

  • My fuckwit actually had the nerve to assume our adult daughters would be staying in town with him for Thanksgiving (about 5 hours away from our former home). Every year since the left for college, nigh on 6 years now including graduate school, the girls have flown home and had many days of rest and fun and food. The Special One believes that all should have stopped for some reason when he abandoned me in April. He expected the girls to come to his shitty apartment where the only furniture is a bed (of course) and he has only one plate, a fork, and a butter knife. He expected them to whip him up some sort of traditional feast and they would hang out. Fuck that noise.

    He was surprised when the answer was hell-to-the-no from them, and now they have gone NC on him within the last 2 weeks entirely due to new and fresh misery he keeps serving up. We have no idea where he spent his holiday (OW Sparkle Twat is in Europe). He probably crashed at his hoarder brother’s house. Clean off the moldy couch and grab a paper plate for some shitty processed food and smoke some pot. Good times.

    I was strangely feeling a slight twinge of sadness for him. It didn’t last. It occurred to me that THIS IS WHAT HE CHOSE when he abandoned me months ago. He didn’t realize he was choosing it, but this is exactly the kind of thing I was already mourning when he blew up our family. I always did everything up beautifully and made incredible scratch meals, those sorts of things that are foundations and our daughters wouldn’t miss those traditions.

    He never gave a shit about any of it then but maybe he is missing it now. I hope he is crying his fucking eyes out with regret, that would be a gift. I wish he felt even a tiny fraction of the pain he caused me.

  • When we came to the US, the children and I started a tradition of celebrating their Dad on Thanksgiving breaks. I would start grocery shopping for his favorite dishes at the start of the week. Then throughout the break I would cook these elaborate dishes for him from scratch. The kids and I would clean the home, decorate it and write long letters/cards for him, appreciating and thanking him for all that he was and did.
    On Thanksgiving Day, the children and I would together give him the cards and hug and kiss him. This was truly a labor of love and an expression of the gratitude we felt for him.

    When he left us earlier this year, he told me that he wanted to experience new things and people sexually in the “10-15 years” of sexual vitality he had left. So, after 20 years of marriage and 2 teenage kids, he left. I found out later that he had been having torrid affairs for a long time.

    Last week was the 1st Thanksgiving without him. I was bracing for how it would be as it had been so much about celebrating the man all these years (not the last 2 years as he had become very cruel to us).
    This is how it turned out:

    * Between my 2 kids and I, we had 5 sleepovers, one of which was my girlfriend staying over impromptu. This was wonderful for us as we love having people over. With my STBX around, we would not have been able to do that as he did not like having people over and had been socially isolating me for many years.

    * We cooked our favorite foods and as my son said, “we celebrated us”. On Thanksgiving morning, the children came to my bedroom, held hands and gave a long speech and poetry (authored by my son) dedicated to me, their Mom!! I wept with joy.

    * In 20 years of my married life, we had never been invited to a Thanksgiving party, but this Thanksgiving, we were invited to a party the children and I had a wonderful time. (Meanwhile, their Dad sent us texts with nostalgia for the past Thanksgivings when he was celebrated. He was trying to engage with us, when in the past he had no time for us. I am guessing, he was not invited by his girlfriends to their families’ Thanksgiving dinners)

    * I had not shopped on Black Friday as I was exhausted just dealing with the marriage. This time, my daughter wanted to shop and we went shopping at midnight, a first for us. She was so delighted with her deals 🙂

    * Thanksgiving week was also the time to celebrate my son’s 13th birthday. In the past, we would do expensive parties in activity venues. But now, on a budget, we decided to do a sleepover party at home. We decorated the living/dining room with streamers the previous day, got all the food items my son wanted, and my daughter who loves to bake made brownies and Tres Leches (from scratch) per her brother’s request. The desserts she made were absolutely delicious and were the first to be gone on the B-day 🙂
    All the boys came and I could hear joyful laughter coming from the living room as I was lying in my bedroom at night. Then my son peered into my room and said, “Mom, I’m having such a great time! Thank you!” The next day I heard several of the boys tell their parents during pick-up time what a great time they had. My son told me later that this was the best birthday party he had ever had.

    Need I say that this was the best Thanksgiving the kids and I ever had?

    Sign me Joyful & Grateful

    • Yay for you Panchi! My kids and I are reinventing our holidays. It’s fun and scary and a little sad at the same time.

      • Thank you, Spoonriver for your encouragement! Kudos to you and your kids for reinventing your holidays!

        I am inspired by people like you, Tracy, this website, and ‘the kickass single mom’ (the book).

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