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Be a Hell Raiser, Not a Chump

Mother Jones in tent city

Today, in honor of Labor Day weekend, I’m rerunning this column about Mother Jones. Raise a glass to hard-fought child labor laws and the 8-hour workday and I’ll see you back here tomorrow! — Tracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love that quote. I first saw it as a tag line in an email from an organic farmer. I think there is great wisdom in that quote for chumps. You do not change things by fighting the “existing reality.” If that reality is infidelity, you will not change it with the pick me dance, by trying harder, by chasing reconciliation unicorns. To change, you need to build a new model — YOU — that makes the existing model (chumpy OLD you) obsolete.

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Today , I had to finalize documents and discuss the selling of a house with my X. and I sat there, sitting next to him on a small wood bench, we talked of our concern over our 24 year old son , with a common concern for his future, but void was any concern toward me, the one who stood buy this man in so many situations during ranch life ( only ranchers will relate) and all the times he needed me to bale him from one situation or another, but now since he adopted a new partner , much younger than I , he shows no connection to past, to strife, to memories and all we shared. But I know, I had the best years with him, so many follies, so many trials with ranch life , to be proud of . And now he has his young gal. But I feel I got the best years , truly the best years of a man who used to be .And even though he shows little , emotion…I know that the past with him was some of his best life…and now I need to move forward……

    • I will never, ever get this, that the past has no meaning. Struggles, triumphs, creating life together, – meaningless. If anyone could explain it to me, I would be really grateful.

      When I was trying to connect with him for [embarrassing] years, I didn’t know that he had moved on, was in love (he kept this all very secret) and just enjoyed the attention and that he was important to me.

      My soul just doesn’t work that way.

      • Copied this Selma Fraiberg quote from somewhere in Chumpland:

        …The distinguishing characteristic of the diseases of nonattachment is the incapacity of the person to form human bonds. The life histories of people with such a disease reveal no single significant human relationship. The narrative of their lives reads like a vagrant journey with chance encounters and transient partnerships. Since no partner is valued, any one partner can be exchanged for any other, in the absence of love, there is no pain in loss. Indeed, the other striking characteristic of such people is their impoverished emotional range. There is no joy, no grief, no guilt, and no remorse. In the absence of human ties, a conscience cannot be formed; even the qualities of self-observation and self-criticism fail to develop…

        • Selma’s statement is so accurate. Many people have told me that my ex will someday realize all that he lost and will be filled with regret. While that sounds nice, I know that will never happen because he would have to have been invested in the first place. During the early part of our marriage I thought he was invested with our family. As time went on I could see that he just orbited around the kids and I, never really connecting. So I don’t believe he will ever realize his loss and have regret. You can’t miss what you never had.

          • Staying strong

            I think we are all confused by that inability to connect… I finally came to peace with that…
            1. Everything that I was investing in was real. My love, my honesty and loyalty. Our history together lacks his part, but that is not my concern. I did the best I could- because I am a great person with integrity and good character.

            2. They were doing everything, because they wanted to do it. Nothing more or less. For a long time I couldn’t understand why he in incapable of seeing my point of view and the pain he caused.
            Well- he saw it all right.
            He did not care. Pure and simple.

            “ he will look back and feel sorry for what he left behind”

            I doubt.
            He saw what he had. He just simply did not care.

            • @Elsa – you are so right! They cheat because they want to and because they think they can. Of course they saw what they had, it was just not what they wanted. We could have the measurements of a Barbie doll, be as beautiful as Angelina Jolie, it doesn’t matter, it is not what they want. And of course they do not care.
              So why should I care, I really no longer do care.

          • Yes that is how I described my ex. That he was like a satellite orbiting around us and occasionally zooming in.
            I have obsessed over him realising his loss but I have been told by many people that it his response to what he has done “is like water off a ducks back”, that “I should stop thinking about him as he sure as hell isnt thinking about me”, etc.

            I have joined a lovely local swim club, full of old men with tufts of hair growing out their ears, some with bellies so big you would think they would hit the bottom of the pool when they dived in. Warm greetings when I arrive.
            And I just noticed myself really looking forward to going on the weekend , to see the smiles, to wonder what lovely food has been prepared by the volunteer for this week; just to be a part of a new routine, a routine that has nothing to do with him and our long marriage.

            It’s not hell raising. Yet some perseverance has paid off. Doing something out of my comfort zone on a regular basis has made some inroads into that new life.

            And last night I danced at No Lights no Lycra; an hour of letting myself go and dancing in a hall full of mainly women, all dancing in the dark . Such a great concept , to dance however you choose because your closest neighbour can’t even see you.

            A new thing over the last year, with new friends.

            And signing my maiden name at work, on the settlement papers, changing utilities and email addresses to my old new name, which I have reclaimed.

            So these are just little things, but little steps to a big new life of self expression and connection to others.

        • Nemo
          Such a true statement but sadly very true.
          After 2 1/2 years divorced.. still hurts so. ????

          • Nemo
            I just copied & pasted the article. I will read it at times to try to understand why my pain takes so long to leave me.

        • THIS: The narrative of their lives reads like a vagrant journey with chance encounters and transient partnerships.

          They and their next victims are never to be envied.

          Thank you, Nemo 🙂

          • I believe my ex is a borderline personality disorder (he ticks EVERY box) and he is also diagnosed bipolar. What throws me though is while he had narc behaviour I genuinely believe he did have tremendous emotions (including for me and the kids – well in the early days at least) so I will never understand him. I guess that’s what not untangling the skein is about isn’t it. My only requirement is to keep me and my kids as far from him as possible (that’s working – he’s in the US and we’re in Europe and they rarely have any contact with him) and as FAR away from his whirling orbit of drama, chaos and penury! So far so good.

            • I firmly believe that my husband loved me, maybe the best he could. I could feel it and I could see it. But he doesn’t have the capacity to sustain those feelings for a deeper and more emotional connection, not even for his children.

            • Yes, I’m convinced my ex was in love with me at first, and is very fond of our children. But his ‘in love’ with me never deepened to loving me, once the sparkle wore off and a new sparkly gal came along. Attachment/bonding issues? He told me he’d never really felt committed to me and I believe him!

              • Similar for me. Narcissistic traits of low empathy, selfishness and growing entitlement. But the attachment thing was huge. I said in our faux counselling sessions that I don’t think je was ever fully committed and he readily agreed.
                While he loved me in his own way and still loves the kids in their own way, it was/is very detached.
                He never shared vulnerabilities, dreams, anything of any depth really.
                The way he could leave so suddenly, the way he continually drops and changes commitments to the kids and the parenting plan when it clashes with his needs.
                He does have some very log standard friendships but they lack depth. The one friend of his I still keep in contact with says the woman’s name has Neve crossed his lips. They just get together and exercise or have coffee.

              • Yes, the ex said he still loves me ‘ in his own way’… I agreed with him that really good friends stay close even if you don’t talk for a long while, but I never got why he didn’t see that it’s better to communicate regularly with them – now realise that was probably a mix of entitlement and lack of attachment on his part! He was always talking about empathy and communication, but when he felt I didn’t appreciate him, he didn’t communicate vulnerably with me, he communicated with the sparkly new gal for kibbles.

        • Describes my cheater to a T. He had no emotional connections whatsoever. I actually wondered if he was even human. He went from my bed to skank woman’s bed within 24 hours and never missed a beat.

    • I could have written this Gloria except with a car dealer husband who always spent money like it grew on a tree in the back yard. Chumpy me even bailed him out of his business debts after he cheated on me and blew our life savings on his failing business. At least he expressed concern for his son, mine didn’t give a shit about either child( grown but they are still his kids). Wow. ((Hugs))

    • I could have written this Gloria except mine was a car dealer. Years of struggle to get a business up and running and bailing him out even after he cheated on me and blew our life savings trying to float a dying business…. he didn’t even express concern for either of our kids, suffering anxiety from the narcissist in our midst…

      • Yep he could spend at least twice our income, despite us having a decent income together. And yep, I ended up being the one that paid for everything. Still it’s worth it not being married to him anymore.

  • That’s an awesome and inspirational post. I’m working towards fostering, and will build a worthwhile life without MCP. I am counting the days left he has in the house, and know my Tuesday is out there.

  • Today I briefly got to watch a bit of the Jeremy Kyle show ( not something I normally watch ????) I spotted the liar, when he and the victims didn’t simply because the thief tried to deflect the blame to the victims. “ it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t left your door unlocked”
    I now have that super power! Thanks MCP….

  • I enjoyed this post because I was once an activist and hell raiser, but after DDay I became a ghost. I lost myself, I drank heavily for the first time in my life. I could see no future. When a friend gave me Loose a cheater Gain A Life it was like a door open I literally felt my strength return, I stopped drinking, I understood what happened to me and I wasn’t the only one. I feel like I’m getting myself back. So grateful for Chump Lady I bought a bunch of copies and now when I meet a chump I just say ‘read this’ and I get to see them begin to heal before my very eyes how good is that?

    • Chumpdownunder we could be twins. I drank during the marriage because it was hell and then had a bloody awful time getting off it, made all the worse by the fact that I didn’t want booze in the house but he would come home drink “just half a bottle of wine” (he never drank half a bottle of anything) and then leave the rest in the fridge. It was only when my psychiatrist asked me if I thought that was an accident that I realized it was intentional to keep me “down there” where he had some control over me. I still struggle now many years later but at least I keep getting up again. Sad thing is, he still managed to come back and haunt me pretty regularly. I am trying to get rid of his crap from my basement (long story) and just last week picked up a book and out fell HIS psychiatric report for an invalidity request. That really triggered me (the lying bastard who said he had seen men killed in war zones!!!) But they fell for it and he got his invalidity. BUUUT that kind of shit remains an enormous trigger and knocks me back again. Still like I say, I keep on battling (and I still hate his guts)!

      • Hey Attie. So glad you keep trying I imagine the half bottle was no accident. It is an ongoing struggle for me too. Just a constant reminder of the damage he did to me.

      • Attie

        It is so easy to loose the track of the right way while under siege each and every day!
        I know I would like the whole drinking- pills- drugs -whatever state of mind…. that’s why I stayed away from it almost 100%
        Not because I didn’t need it, didn’t want it- but because I knew I WILL LIKE it too much.

        I usually jump into cleanse- healthy eating stages
        ( keeping an eye on it as well, not to end up with an eating disorder) and trying to add as much good stuff ( walks, swimming, meditation) as possible …
        I think it may be similar with OW
        The need to be in control, the need to “ become lost in something” etc.

        I’m sure they enjoy their ride better… 🙁

        All that I wrote is a way to do a good thing in miserable situation and it’s mostly motivated by having kids.

        I made decision to have them- and I knew that from that moment, I am responsible for them- so drinking is not an option.

        I just feel furious that my strong need to protect our babies was levered with a Russian-roulette type of life/dead games on my husband’s side 🙁

        Sorry it’s chaotic…
        I’m glad you are off the alcohol…

  • When I read stories like that of Mother Jones and all the chumps who have shared theirs here, I am filled with admiration for those who have moved on and gained so much mighty. I wish I had it in me to do the same.

    • I know what Hell looks like. It takes time sometimes loads of it you will get there.

  • Now I Know, this post is for you and me today, have moved on with new house, new job, driving license for first time in 50 years, but still the black hole gravity of personal loss is dragging at me. Let’s be patient with ourselves sweetheart. I’m reminding myself that 25 years with the only man I’ve ever loved will take AS LONG AS IT TAKES to recover from. But you and me and many in Chump Nation are on the road. Love to you today xxx

  • Pray for the dead, and fight for the living, the quote is completely right. When your ex tries to fuck you off! My ex, tried to say I had a stillborn, so that make him, use drugs, be with prostitutes, contact stis fuck off you sad bastard. He tries to give me parental tips, when the school says she’s one of the top pupils in over 1,200 kids.his so called friends, actually made comments about my stillborn, and tried to. Apologise the next day, sad bastard. Nasty comments

    • Big, big hug to you today lovely Susan. How awful that anyone should use yr grief over your stillborn like that. All your babies, the ones with you here and the other, are beautiful. X

  • Thank you so much, ChumpMotherJones (Chumplady), for this inspiration, and ChumpNation as well.

  • You know what helped me recently: the truth.

    An Intuitive Healer told me: Your husband never loved you. Some people are not capable of love.

    Now when I feel lonely, I remember what she said. It helps me avoid pining for Hologram Husband.

    • Hologram husband, perfect.
      When my husband kept leaving me early in our marriage to tour with his band, I excused it because I knew how he loved music. When friends complained that he never contacted them, I thought ‘Thats just him’. When he told me he thought he’d never really committed to me, in 24 years together, I thought maybe it was his obsession with OW talking. But maybe, just maybe, he was telling the truth.

  • There are days (many) when I feel like I’m being a hellraiser for NOT rushing in to a new relationship. I’m four years out from the final d-day. It took two years to divorce the disordered fuckwit. And, following that, I have just been learning to walk again (as a me, a single mom).

    During that time, I have focused on giving my son (and stepdaughter) a loving and stable environment. I have helped with homework, chaperoned dances, put up Christmas trees, made birthdays special, cleaned, grocery shopped, washed the laundry… 24/7/365.

    Have I missed companionship? Yes. Have I missed sex? Yes. Do I want those things in the future? Yes.

    But for me, I know that I have a finite time to give my kids what they need to be successful down the road. So that is where I’m putting my energy, time and love. In a society that seems to measure success by marital status, I walk away. Hellraiser, that’s me.

    • Yes, why is there so much societal pressure to have a partner? I am 58, twice divorced now (first one walked out after ten years and two children together, second one had a secret sex addiction the entire time which I discovered after 1 year), and I have two beautiful grown daughters. Why does everyone pressure me to date? And how do. you meet someone anyway? The internet dating sites can be an absolute nightmare. And why should I feel that I have to find someone in order to please the people around me?

      • This, Ali. I had the same trouble. It was exhausting.

        I think many people give advice based on what would make *them* more comfortable with your pain/change/situation. I think they don’t even realize this is what they are doing.

        Coupled people are often uncomfortable with single people, especially newly single people who are moving into their freedom and exuding new found confidence after a long storm of bad relationship.

        People don’t know how to sit with the feelings it brings up in them to witness your rejuvenation. I always felt that was what was going on, anyway, as I got my feet back under me after my divorce. I felt like a threat to my coupled friends simply because I was reinventing, enjoying my independence, and oozing the attractiveness of true joy for loving for the first time in years. (Unfortunately, that also made me a giant dangling lump of bait for Cluster B exploiters… Which is exactly why dating was a bad idea.)

        All I can say is, your choices are valid and I support you in your boundaries. When people press you, it is AOK to say that you appreciate the support but you need to navigate this your own way and at your own speed and they can support you best by championing you while you do that. Maybe a few of them will come around.

        • That “loving” should have been “living”, but I suppose both words work anyway. ☺️

          • Now that I’m living on my own (divorce in process) I am finding that my married women friends/colleagues project onto my life the freedoms they miss in their married lives. They see only what I have that they, because marriage means compromise and the voluntary limitation of individual freedoms, don’t have (and would like), and are enthusiastic about or wistful or envious of what I have and they don’t. But they don’t see the features of their lives that they have that I do not: partnership, companionship, the depth of sexual satisfaction that two trusting and long-time partners are able to achieve, the expectation of care and love, and the secure feeling that comes from being in a relationship in which the two people in it are both committed to each other’s well-being and happiness.
            I don’t know if I’ll ever have those things; I only know I didn’t have them in my marriage, and I wasn’t ever going to get them in my marriage. And I didn’t have the other things, too, the things my women friends now envy me for. I do have those things now.

            • I love my single life – yes I’m lonely on occasion but I would rather that than life with a fuckwit or even just the daily routine of always doing the same thing at the same time because “that’s what he insists on”. I will NEVER give up my independence again. The sad/telling thing though is the number of married friends who tell me how much they envy me, and from what I know about their marriages they are deeply unhappy. I would say the “enviers” are 3 to 1! Isn’t that sad!

  • “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
    This ^^^^
    I needed to hear this today. I missed STBX over the weekend. The kids were with him and I was lonely and sad. He moved house today (nearer to me unfortunately). It was raining and I felt sorry for him, moving in the rain into a cold house all by himself (he and OW didn’t stay together and his new gf lives elsewhere). I thought about sending a meal over for him with my son who’d been roped in to helping him build furniture. But that kind of thinking belongs with the old reality where he was a good husband and father who deserved my love and care.
    He made a new reality for himself when he got involved with someone else. My brain gets stuck in my old reality sometimes, even though I am working hard at building my new model. Thank you for the reminder to keep moving towards that new life CL!

    • We’ve been on the same wavelength, Chump Lady. Last week I kept thinking about Madonna Badger, the woman who lost her three girls, both parents, and entire home in a fire on Christmas Day 2011. I wondered how she was doing; she knows way more about loss than I do (she was also divorced at the time of the fire and had been abused sexually as a child). I Googled her hoping to glean some wisdom for healing my own losses….I found an inspiring TED talk given by her about RESILIENCE. Which I needed to hear.
      Your post is uber-timely…just as I run out of steam the powers that be throw me a life ring.
      Last week my daughter asked me what do I do for fun. I barely had an answer. She left with her dad/my STBXH last night and I went to my Sunday night Al Anon meeting. The topic? FUN. When I got home, I was thinking about how UN-fun my life has been since the cheating reveal last October. I realized why I had no answer for my daughter; what I did for fun was hang out with my family (husband and daughter).
      I ALSO realized at the meeting that I have been thinking I need to feel better BEFORE I can have fun and that maybe I have it backwards….acting as if, faking it til I make it, yea, pretending I am having fun might help me feel better. FEELINGS FOLLOW ACTIONS. This is precisely what happens in an affair BTW…acting on an attraction to someone grows the relationship. How many of us would not be here today if the cheaters had watered the garden they had? It’s normal to feel attracted to other people in life; what is effed up is when it’s acted on when one is in a committed relationship….the vows say FORSAKE all others, not that we won’t have normal human feelings. In my own 27 year relationship, the times I felt attraction I starved the shit out of it and was very happy when it passed and ended up glad to have put that energy toward my marriage. How sad that this concept was lost on my STBXH….but in the end if that’s beyond his skill set he is not a good choice for a life partner.

      So today I am going to think about what I would enjoy, what would help me feel better, how I can be of service to someone else (Mother Jones knew the value of this one for sure!). I might even feel like I had fun. Self-care and service are my watchwords today. THANK YOU for this post, Tracy. ❤️ to all. People who have been through far worse are lanterns for me in my dark sewage-filled Andy Dufresne Shawshank Redemption tunnel crawl…..

      • Co-inky dink here? I just opened “Blueprint For Progress”…..first question….”Can I treat the past as the past and start on a new road to constructive action?”…….

  • I’d like to put in a plug for Ida B. Wells too. To the best of my limited knowledge, she was never chumped – but she went through hell and brought injustice to the attention of the world.

    Yeah, I know. Wiki. But it gives you a feel for her.

  • I need to take this to heart. It’s all too easy to play the pity card of being dumped while I had cancer. What I need to focus on is the fact that I beat cancer! Actually I feel like I got rid of two tumors—one the size of an m&m and the other a colossal douchebag. Now I need to concentrate on building a life that is not conducive to growing tumors. A life in which I am the best version of me that I can be. I’m already halfway there. My therapist just recommended moving sessions to every two months, daily meditation has helped ease anxiety and weekly Pilates has made my body stronger than ever. I finally have the breathing room to be the parent I want to be —teaching my daughter about responsibility and truths while still making room for adventure and fun. Life is good.
    Now I suddenly feel the urge to read my copy of “Women Who Run With the Wolves” which has been patiently waiting for me on the bookshelf. ????????

  • The concepts or Reality and Perception seems to be cropping up for me a lot lately. I seem to keep getting “nudges”, or maybe it’s something my inner voice is demanding that I examine and face head on. (Again!?)
    Like Patsy, I can’t understand how 31 years of our life together, creating life together, our concerted struggles together in moving across the globe to another hemisphere on the bones of our backsides (no jobs, unable to bring any money with us, no possessions – just ourselves, 2 young children, 4 suitcases and our determination, hopes and belief in ourselves that we could offer our children a better, safer, brighter future) had no meaning. No meaning at all. When I discovered he had been cheating on me our entire marriage, I left.
    No Chump Lady in those days, just the RIC spewing out how I should be examining my part in the warzone of what I thought had been a happy marriage. Oh, and how “bad” I am at not forgiving him….
    Thanks to CL for changing that narrative. Many, many thanks.
    Once he realized his cover was blown, he ghosted me. He doesn’t acknowledge me if he sees me in the street, not even as the mother of his children.
    To say I was blindsided is an understatement, yet there were plenty of signs along the way. I chose to ignore them, because my reality of a happy, unified marriage would be threatened. My family would be threatened. So I ignored and denied signs of his disengagement.
    I picked up the pieces and moved cities. I found CL 5 years later and my dawning understanding of WTF happened helped immeasurably in living one day at a time. I accepted. I finally got off the treadmill of trying to make sense of this devastation and implosion of my family.
    My reality as I knew it was questionable. My perceptions of my life, my family, my very being was just an illusion. Poof! Gone. He didn’t look back, he was gone.
    Eleven years later, reality and perceptions are poking at me again. My reality of turning 60, realizing that I will probably always be single ( I never settled, I just chose not to date anymore after a while) my perceived (?) sense of loneliness, my attempts at trying to find a sense of community.
    I am happy with my life, yet these little nigglies are certainly asking to be looked at. I found a TED talk that is speaking to me — Isaac Lidsky has an amazing story to tell and looks at how we “see” life and situations. Just ordered his book and will re-examine.
    I am becoming aware of a glaring fact that I somehow overlooked and tended to “blame on fuckface and his choices” and the subsequent devastation my children and I experience(d). I am solely responsible for how I continue to move forward – while the illusion of my happy marriage was just that – an illusion, I did my best with what I was led to believe. I loved deeply, was totally committed, was loyal and true. I am learning to live with the fact that I chose, whether subconsciously or not, to ignore those signs and stuff down that inner voice that was telling me that something was wrong. I am consciously attempting to take responsibility for how I live my life now. While the past shaped how my future appears to look, (divorced, facing solo retirement with considerably less financial security) I am entirely responsible for how I live my life.
    Pokes here and there. Big ones and little ones. My inner voice poking me and telling me to examine my perceptions and moving on because I can get more out of life……….then todays post on changing our reality and creating a new model.

    • Lynne, my story is very similar to yours and the notion of reality vs perception (or is it versus?) has also raised its head this last week. I’m excited about my new perspective and the possibilities it brings, but lots to work through. I’m not as wise about my life with ex as you are but working on it. I will have to have a look at that Lidsky Ted. Love x

    • Just watched Isaac Lidsky TED talk….got the TED talk app and ordered his book….thank you SO MUCH for sharing this….another life ring today just when I needed it….

      • Lynne my story is the same as yours too. I’ll be 60 at the end of the month and will be retiring on considerably less money. Thank you for the recommendation of the Lydsky book – I have just ordered it. I need to move on from my loathing for fuckface and the harm and just plain evil he inflicted on me and my kids. Actually I just want him out of my head forever. It’s getting there slowly but anything that can help move that along will be gratefully received.

        • Lynne,
          Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. I hope that I can channel my inner ‘bad–s,’ the way Mother Jones and many of the incredibly strong women described here have–I need to; I must as, at over 50, I still have young children and thus will need to work into my late 70s/early 80s if I don’t die before then. Trying to ruminate less on the dishonest, abusive, and disordered men I foolishly accepted into my life as intimate partners as rumination is taking up ‘mental space’ I could be using to enhance the lives of my children and deserving others. I woke up today feeling permanently ‘done’ with men. It was quite disappointing but liberating! I’d rather just walk out of a restaurant hungry (perhaps to always be a bit undernourished) than order something toxic from the menu. Just hope that kids and I won’t end up permanently literally or figuratively hungry.

          I sometimes get upset about the unfairness of life and ask myself ‘Why is life unfair?’ and how can I make it fair?’ often denying reality (e.g., perhaps I can ‘nice’ my partner into loving me and appreciating me). However, a better a response to me own question is, ‘Yes. Life is unfair. You can’t force people to behave reasonably/honestly/make people appreciate you. What are you going to do with the resources you have to make you life/your kids’ lives/etc. the best possible life? You might not have as nice a life as jerk ex, but by acting on behalf of you and yours, you may have some control over how well you and yours do and do better than you would have just waiting for the Karma bus to hit.’

  • Three years almost to the day ago, my divorce from The Evil One was final.
    I can’t tell you how timely and brilliant this post is, ChumpLady!!! Thank you!!!
    It’s so true what you wrote: what you think is a loss, is actually an opportunity”

  • I think – by absolute necessity- Mother Jones had to live very fully in the present or else go mad with grief and despair. What she chose to focus on and the strength she brought to support her cause she had to summon up from dealing with unimaginable loss.

    Living in the present, though, that’s something we are all capable of. When I finally stopped asking “why?” It was like I’d stopped hitting myself in the head with a hammer. “Why?” is pointless. “Why?” is self flagulation. “Why?” is a trap. If you ask yourself “why?” all the time not only will you never find the answer- you won’t have room for the important questions. Questions like, “what do I plan to do with this one wild and precious life?” (*Mary Oliver). That’s the question chumps need to ask themselves.

    Mary Oliver’s poem – The Summer Day

  • Wow an inspirational woman. Taking the injured children to government when they wouldn’t listen to the words. We don’t learn about her here I think we should.

  • Yay, Mother Jones!

    Fantastic and inspirational post, Tracy!!!

    If you lived nearby, I would invite you over to my geodesic dome for organic coffee and homemade sweets. Yes, I made my husband move from a cookie cutter house in a noxious suburb to a geodesic dome in the countryside and on a peaceful lake that only allows kayaks and rowboats. You are the first blogger I have ever seen who mentioned Buckminster Fuller and geodesic domes.

    Tragedy can either sink us to the lowest depths or raise us to soaring heights. And for anyone who has sunk to the lowest depths, stay there for a while and set an intention to out-grow it. Have an indomitable spirit that can be occasionally knocked down, but always gets back up again and soars.

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