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Dear Chump Lady, Why do I feel a new man is the answer?

Dear Chump Lady, 

I have been divorced for 2 years (total 4 years with the separation) and my ex quickly moved on with another woman. Even though I know for a fact their relationship is dysfunctional I still feel he “won” and that he is viewed as a happier person because he is in a new relationship already. 

Even though I know that a new relationship doesn’t make you happy or healed, I still feel that a new man is the answer. I too want to be viewed as happy and over it. Why do I care so much what people think? 

You want to know the funny part? There is this part of me that actually believes I’d be happier single. (I’ve been married twice.) But I’m scared to live the happy/single life. I still want “the picture.” I still want a father for my daughter. I still want to be able to have a successful romantic relationship. I still want love and affection and partnership. Wanting to be in a healthy romantic relationship is natural, right? 

On top of this I’m a black woman and I find the single black mother narrative so unattractive. I see it as a failure. 

I don’t want to feel like a new man is the answer to my healing, but is he? 

With great appreciation, 

ConfusedChump

Dear ConfusedChump,

Let me suggest that feeling like a failure is not the way to attract good people into your life.

You know who is attracted to wobbly self-esteem? Predators. Users. Freaks who can sniff that “CHANGE MY NARRATIVE!” neediness out on you at 10 paces.

I’m not going to beat you up for wanting a healthy partnership or another invested parent for your child. I totally get wanting that. Just don’t want it so bad that you’ll put up with shit or project goodness on to someone because you need to see it, not because it exists.

I find the single black mother narrative so unattractive.

Sorry. I will not permit you to find YOUR OWN NARRATIVE “unattractive.” There are a bazillion ugly voices in the world shitting on single mothers (Every. Single. Fucking. David. Brooks. Column.) — do NOT join the hater chorus.

Changing the narrative starts with you. Reframe your story. You’re MIGHTY.

Why is single motherhood the only disadvantage that’s not seen as a portrait in courage? Man loses leg, hops the Boston marathon? Portrait in courage. Hopeful contestant loses gallbladder in tragic accident, sings talent show aria. Portrait in courage. Woman loses loser, raises children ALONE and UNSUPPORTED — portrait in pathetic? WHY?!

Single parents are SUPERHEROES. They raise presidents. They write the best-selling books of ALL TIME. They rock parent-teacher conferences SOLO.

Don’t you DARE tell yourself you’re less than when you’re doing the work of ten. Don’t you dare internalize some patriarchal nonsense that says you need a man for status. Fuck what “people think.” I’d rather ask a spit bucket to measure my self-worth.

Speaking of which — let me share a cautionary tale of what happens when you Listen To The Voices. When I first went through divorce, I was 34 and my son was 4. I didn’t know anyone who was divorcing. Everyone in those mommy groups was on their second and third child, bragging about how many organ fugues their toddler could play. I was the loser freak.

I mentioned my divorce at one of these playgroups, and a mother smirked “I guess Tracy won’t be having any more children!” (as if divorce withered your ovaries).

My son’s kindergarten teacher told me she’d never had a “divorced mother” in her class before. (I shit you not.)

His first grade teacher told me I sucked because my son “liked to play” and that I could sell his pictures because he was so beautiful — but you “can’t go through life trading on cuteness and charm.” Then she looked me square in the eye, smiled and said “your parenting skills” — and blew a raspberry at me. I’d met this woman TWICE. This was a parent teacher conference. Mrs. P. Tuckahoe Elementary School. Arlington, Va. 2002.

(Postscript — I pulled my son out that school. Today my son’s in college on academic scholarship — 4.0 this last semester, economics major. Trading on all that cuteness and charm, fuckyouverymuch. SINGLE PARENTING DID THAT.)

I’m not finished.

I had an uncle tell me I was a “loser” when I got divorced. My own grandmother said off-handedly, “Well, I guess you’ll die alone. You can’t expect another man to ever love your child.”

(Postscript, she’s dead. I’m not. My husband loves my child.)

ConfusedChump — I totally get the voices and I GET why you want the happy-ever-after narrative to prove all the haters (and your own self-loathing) wrong.

I own my chumpiness — spackle, hopium, general idiocy — that led to marriage #2 — a guy who turned out to be a sociopath. But in retrospect, part of the decision to try so hard to work with such a loathsome person was those voices. Which said divorce was a failure. That I needed marriage to be respectable and whole. That my son (who had a mentally ill, mostly absent father) needed a “male presence” in his life.

REJECTING that narrative freed me. Literally saved my life.

Divorce is a failure? No, being a serial cheater is a failure. Singleness is pathetic? No, trying to reconcile with a fuckwit who devalues me is pathetic. My son needs a role model? Yes he does — ME. Real men don’t cheat. I’ll be goddamned if I’ll stick around for this shit.

“Failing” at marriage #2 freed me from giving a flying fuck what anyone thinks. Let it free you too.The problem is NOT that you’re a black, single mother. The problem is that anyone would think less of you for being a black, single mother. When you internalize how resilient and beautiful you are, then you won’t need anyone to complete you. You’re enough.

A total portrait in courage.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • I was thinking the exact words:
      STANDING OVATION!
      To have lived through so much and to come to the end helping so many others!
      I am marking this my most favourite archive, ever.
      I realize I am a different Chump, my cheater stayed, still I have been the single parent.
      CL, your words are so powerful.
      I am certain they will help Confused Chump, and every Chump who reads them.
      Thank you again and again!
      ( AND every time you mention David Brook’s name I throw up a little in my mouth, yuk, that smirk of his ……..)

    • I think my favourite part

      ‘I’m not finished.’
      That’s chump lady speak for ‘hold my beer’.
      Pwned.

      This is a mighty day and a mighty message.

    • Standing ovation is right!! Wow I so loved your response and encouragement. I went through the same gig you did with two marrriages, second one a sociopath who I married to give my three sons a role model blah blah. Everyone said he was a ‘good guy’ so I ignored my gut. Worst mistake ever but also most lessons learned which is almost always the case. My three sons are all now grown and all three college graduates and I couldn’t be prouder. Of them and of myself. I think other people are threatened, jealous or both because we take a stand and make them look bad. Please please please give props to single parents everywhere, they are truly the unsung heroes and backbone of raising kids right with principles not archaic, socially retarded stigmas that further abuse. Thank you ChumpLady, I bow down to your brilliance and sass!

    • Yes yes yes!!!

      Dear confusedchump ( aren’t we all?)

      My best friend looks like a freakin VS model, gorgeous skin, brown hair and green eyes ( and that’s after having a child!) and yes, she is white. Add to it degree in economics and good career.

      Her fiancé left her when their baby was 6 months, and she was struggling with post p. Depression…. then he gave her another 6 months to find a place to live , so he can bring his skunky gf into their house.

      Girl… skin color means nothing, look means nothing… being a good human being means nothing to cheaters.

      They don’t give shit about anything else, except for their EGO…

      Pick your crowd…. worthy people look pass the skin color, diplomas and social status. Shitty people care about the outside shells only…. you don’t need them in your life

  • Remember how lonely you were with your ex too. Of course you want someone to appreciate your mightiness, but you don’t want someone to leech off of you either.

    For your sake and your kid’s. Better to be very careful and choosy than find yourself with another fuckwit.

    MIGHTY is also VERY SELECTIVE.

    Your ex sees interchangeable women. You seek a MIGHTY partner.

  • This applies to male chumps too. You who learned to braid hair, face fuckwits at sporting events & recitals without losing your mind.

    You are also mighty.

    • Male chumps too. Every single parent is mighty.

      There is nothing more abhorrent than abandoning a child, IMO. (Well abusing them is more abhorrent, so I’ll take abandonment over abuse. But just canceling your subscription to adulting and letting the other parent or grandparent take over — is repulsive.)

      • This is exactly what my wife of 24 years did to me. Turned 41 and decided she was done with adulting. Actually said to my face “I’m just happy I don’t not have to do the work anymore”. Ran off with another man and spends the majority of her time at bars with him. We have a mentally disabled daughter who is now 24 and a 14 year old son and she just quit on them. She was a stay at home mom and never wanted for a thing. Don’t know if she changed or if this was always lurking inside her. The marriage seemed amazing until she met the other man.

        • She was most likely always that way underneath, but faked being normal. Character doesn’t change. She met a like-minded party boy loser and realized she was sick of faking being decent and responsible. My husband did the same thing at the 25 year mark, only he just never got the chance to run off with his AP. He stayed in the marriage and was a often a miserable, emotionally abusive prick towards me until he was caught. Everybody was incredulous because he had faked being a nice, normal guy all his life. Our daughter is physically disabled and mentally ill. I was the one who did her care, he was lazy as hell and did hardly anything at home. Somehow it was still too much for him and he needed an escape. Narcs are like that. They hate responsibility and they don’t care who they hurt to avoid it, because their version of “love” is about what they get, not what they give. Your ex might have NPD. At any rate, she’s a lost person and a lost cause. How are your kids doing? Mine were distraught while he was still here but are much better now that he’s gone. I’m sorry you and your kids had to go through this hell.

    • (Male chump here) I used to tell this story about washing my daughter’s hair when she was a toddler – how I didn’t understand about conditioner and she used to cry because combing her hair after the bath was such a nightmare, and how when I finally figured out conditioner it transformed our nighttime bath ritual. For years I told this as a cute “clueless dad” story to general amusement. It paired well with the story about the time I was the only father in the dressing room at her ballet recital, trying fruitlessly to get her hair into a bun until one of the mothers took pity on me and whipped it up in about 30 seconds…

      The kicker, though: I was married that whole time. I had a wife, and my daughter had a mother – just a mother who wasn’t ever around. Mom was pursuing her high-powered academic / scientific career and didn’t have time for our (three) kids. I was effectively a single parent even though I was married.

      Silver lining: that daughter wrote her college essay about her ambivalence about her mother (world-class scientist but terrible mother) and I’m pretty sure (now that I’ve had a peek into the admissions process) that this was the narrative that personalized her and got her in to Harvard.

      • Ah, you were a “grass widow(er)”. Clearly you rocked it. Congratulations on your daughter getting into Harvard. I hope all of your kids are resilient and doing well.

        I’m sorry that your wife turned out to be a dud in so many ways.

      • Great great comment. It was like reading about my experiences with my daughter. Luckily I did learn about detangler – as my daughter swam so combing hair was a nightmare. There was dress shopping countless times for special events. Girls clothes shopping. Buying gifts for girls birthday parties. Organizing girl play-dates. And the list goes on. And we (my non-existent wife plus me) only had 1 child….

        There’s a great song by the Eagles: Just Too Busy Being Fabulous……this was my wife…sounds like yours too

      • It’s interesting to see the double standards in society about this. A father is permitted to be ruthlessly ambitious and neglect his family for his career. Children will often forgive it simply because of gender role expectations, whereas they wouldn’t for a mother.
        Your wife totally sucked, but so do the legions of men who behave that way and never get called on it. It’s certainly more prevalent in men due to gender role conditioning. People of either gender who want high powered careers which necessitate that family life is neglected probably shouldn’t get married and definitely shouldn’t have children. It’s irresponsible and selfish. Highly ambitious people are often ego-driven, entitled douchebags who want it all and expect to get it.

        • Standards are definitely evolving, though. It’s a lot less accepted nowadays for a man to be completely uninvolved in raising his kids, tending his household, etc.

          Unfortunately for me, my XW decided that in her life she’d strike a blow for gender equality by treating me as shabbily as men have historically treated their wives: as soon as our kids got to school age (and my services were no longer as critical), she had an affair with a younger work subordinate, broke up his marriage, divorced me, and married him. Not really where I’d pictured feminism going, personally, but it wasn’t my call in the end.

          I guess, in a sense it’s progress: shitheels of any gender can now achieve their full shittiness!

          • Involuntary Georgian..that’s what they call ‘Equal Opportunity Asshole’s’ and I agree it is a lot less acceptable today for a man to be uninvolved with his kids now days . I am gobsmacked by what my son-in-law does for my grandkids,

          • Feminism, my ass. It’s narcissism and she’s a bitch. I would love to bitch slap her on your behalf, and for twisting a noble concept like gender equality into something she could use for her own ugly ends.

            I agree, standards are evolving and young fathers are more involved.
            Alas, cheating is still as rampant as ever and shittiness is everywhere. This place is an island of decency in the an ocean of shit.

        • I find that more young people nowadays are willing to call out their fathers on this. I think it’s because having kids is now really a choice. You don’t want to parent? No problem; don’t have kids. Your career is your #1,2 and 3 priorities? Great: don’t have kids. Your are a genius and your work consumes your life? Wonderful! Just don’t have kids. You love a super dangerous sport? Super cool. Don’t have kids.

          Oh, and you aren’t interested in/can’t manage monogamy? Fine! Be honest about that, and DON’T HAVE KIDS!

          • True. My son in law is a very involved father as are the fathers in their social circle. It’s like night and day compared to older guys. The one worrying thing I do notice about millenials is how they tend to spoil their kids. The trend seems to be giving them unlimited attention, toys and whatever else the kid demands, no matter how unreasonable. There has to be a balance between the needs of the child and the needs of the parents. The needs of the kids are paramount, but they should not be allowed to be little dictators and exhaust the parents with endless demands.
            I’ve tried talking to millenials about this and they acted like I was speaking Greek. They just don’t get it.

            • Chumperella, I am wondering whether the spoiling is part of the pendulum where a lot of kids felt that their parents were career oriented and distant, and they don’t ever want to treat their children like that, so they overcompensate. It takes a very self-aware, confident parent to tread the fine line (well, IMO anyway).

              • Good point. I know my SIL had neglectful parents. My daughter has anxiety, so she’s overprotective and overattentive for that reason. I wonder about the rate of anxiety in younger people. This is an anxiety provoking time to raise kids in.

          • Although society in many ways has come a long way, I still think that a lot of these high flying people get married for two reasons: it’s expected, and it normalises them to the general public, so that their red flags of narcissism don’t fly quite so obviously, and, linking into this, that they need someone to do the everyday life adulting for them, so choose someone capable and supportive who can run interference on the ‘mundanities’ of life, so they can concentrate on getting what they want. They put in effort in the beginning to snag someone, and then the poor person feels abandoned when the narc returns to normal programming and expects the chump to run on ‘no fuel’ in a very onesided relationship where they are supposed to be grateful for the reflected glory. It would be nice if more nice chumpy people were aware that this is a common strategy, whether or not their predatory partner is consciously aware of what they are doing or not. That’s why ChumpLady’s ‘look for reciprocity’ point is such an important one.

            • Exactly, and their family life is often part of their false self. They need to tell themselves and show the outside world that they are happy family men/women so they can feel normal.

              • And that’s called Cake. Magnificent in every way, including being amazing Mother/Father. Narc’s selfishness and entitlement is boundless. As my exhole wrote in a letter in the early post DDay months: “Life’s short, why shouldn’t I grab what I can?”

                This conversation is GOLD. Thank you to u all, IG, Chumperella, karenE, stig et al . . . seriously, should be in gender studies (and/or psych) reading material.

        • “People of either gender who want high powered careers which necessitate that family life is neglected probably shouldn’t get married and definitely shouldn’t have children. It’s irresponsible and selfish. Highly ambitious people are often ego-driven, entitled douchebags who want it all and expect to get it.”

          I’m not in total agreement with this Chunoerella. I’m highly ambitious and waited until my three children were in school full time. After earning my first degree I chose to work part time around their schedule while I put my efforts into the Limited business, starting it up and encouraging it’s growth.
          Years later I went on to attend college for a bachelors and masters in my current field. I sat at their baseball games with books in hand.

          The reality here is that cheaters regardless of status abuse and abandon their children as well as spouses.

          On the other hand my daughter divorced and moved cross country. I took on her visitation while working a full time.position. I bought into the fact that many fathers move after divorce and it’s somewhat more acceptable. It’s not. That child cried herself to sleep for years. She had to answer questions about her mom every time mother – daughter event came up or a permission slip was signed. It was heartbreaking.

          To me it’s about making a child a priority, not an afterthought. Here’s what my granddaughter heard every time she asked for a ride, “Why yes my darling.” She just returned from four days of competition. One can have ambition, have a high powered job AND be a good parent.

          For you stay at home moms, apply for grants, tske classes toward a degree or to gain another regardless of age! Keep on rocking this shit!

          • DoingMe, you are ambitious and have achieved a lot, WHILE also prioritizing your kids’ needs. You found a way to put that all together. So many people don’t do even try to do that, and the kids suffer. It’s still quite acceptable for people to prioritize themselves and their work ONLY, while having kids. There are lots of 2 career families where both careers are the priority over the kids, too. So very not good for the kids.

            In the end, I think it’s about the empathy. When you FEEL for your kids, when you have not just the rational understanding of their needs, but the emotional echo too, you work hard to figure those competing needs out. It’s not always easy to do, and it requires a lot of sacrifices for the parent. But we don’t have to be perfect at any aspect of parenting, to be good parents.

          • Doingme,

            I am doing exactly what you did. I bust my ass at my career and also prioritize my kids. When cheater moved out, I had a couple move in that needed to get out of Venezuela. They were my friends and I told them that they could live for free if they would cook, clean and do the laundry. They were stoked and so was I. I was able to spend all my time doubling my income (exhole was the income earner) and also with my kids when they’re home instead of doing dishes, folding clothes and scrubbing floors. It’s worked out fantastically for everyone.

            I have a single day bed in my home office and a second desk and sometimes, if I do have to work when the kids are home, they come in the office with me and either watch the iPad or do homework or coloring while I finish up what I have to do. But my office is as much their space as it is mine so even if I am doing a bit of work, we’re still hanging out.

            I also still let them sleep with me (they’re still young) and since I have perfectly good king sized bed whose occupant decided to go fuck strange, there is a nice cozy spot for two littles right next to me.

            So yes, I am ambitious and still prioritize my kids. In fact, my kids and our future makes me more ambitious and more determined to make it all happen.

          • Where, there you go. Your career didn’t necessitate you neglect your family. You made sure of that. So you are not in that category.

      • Although ex’s was home he took little to no interest in activities for our son. Ex was a physical education/sports and recreation major in college. He didn’t want to sign him up for any outside activities. I looked into and signed our son up for swimming lessons to team sports to music lessons. Looking back I think ex was jealous of the attention our son was getting being involved in outside activities because the focus of attention wasn’t on him.
        Ex never wanted to be involved in coaching, he’d drag his feet going to games and practices.
        Never had encouraging words only criticism.
        If I were to congratulate my son on earning an award or playing well Ex would say I complemented him too much.. I always through that once you become a parent you want the best for your children and your children come first. Not if the parent is a narcissist.

    • I’ll add my name to the “single dad chump raising kids” list. I’ve learned to put in earrings in someone else’s ears, braid hair (well, mostly 🙂 ), properly cook, and help a little girl get into a variety of dance outfits and shoes. No one yelps in pain when I get the earrings out any more, yay! And, I’ve had to deal with various, uhhh, feminine hygiene issues by myself. We’re currently awaiting the onset of “girl-becoming-a-woman,” and thankfully I’m a little more prepared for that 🙂 .

      • All awesome dads like you deserve a standing ovation. Thank you for all you do. It warms the heart just reading about it.

  • (1) Tuckahoe Elementary is still there?!?!
    (2) First grade teachers and what they tell us about our sons. I still talk about this. I was reassuring my adult daughter about this – what teachers say about her first grade son.

    And this: When I had a Girl Scout troop, I had to put my foot down and refuse to allow the single mothers to continue to volunteer every single time I needed a parent volunteer. The single mothers who were working during the day and taking night classes. NO you may not drive on Saturday. NO you may not be in charge of cookie sales. NO NO NO. And I’d wait until a two-parent household offered up an adult. And wait. You are absolutely right, Tracy. Single mothers are heroes. I didn’t have single fathers volunteering in the 1980s. But they tend to get hero status by default. Single mothers have my heart.

    • <3

      The school is still there. I removed the teachers name but she’s still alive. But weird coincidence I have a coworker whose kids had her a decade earlier and she’s a beloved teacher to them. I told her the story. And said I’m oddly grateful to Mrs. P for being as terrible as she was, because moving on to a new school turned out to be a great thing for my son.

      Per cookie sales — I’m glad for any parent that steps up! Thanks for the single mom love.

    • I wanted my (disabled) daughter I was raising alone to have the Girl Scout experience but no troop at her school, so I took training with another parent (also working, also raising a disabled child). We called an organizing meeting and when all the mothers showed up they were dismayed to learn the only time we could have troop meetings was on Saturday, or a weekday evening. Each and every one of the parents who showed up were non-working married moms with non-disabled kids.
      One of them finally volunteered so we gave it over to them, and meetings were Thursday afternoons (after Early-Day schedule).

    • confusedchump you have my support. I’m not a mom at all but I hate how society criticizes anything a mom is, be it single; married; employed; stay at home. Someone always has a problem. And since our country is so damn racist I can’t imagine the extra pressure and stupid narratives you face everyday. Take care.

  • I so needed to read this today. I struggle with how quickly and easily my ex has moved on to “happiness” with another woman. There is a part of me that views this as a reflection of my worth (why wouldn’t he do the work to save/repair OUR relationship…..) instead of seeing it as further proof of how little he values ME.

    Plus, on a purely practical level, it is so much easier for him to date and “move on” when most of the heavy lifting of parenting – both in terms of “face time” and the emotional labor – is being done by me.

    • Yes– my ex and his Schmoopie have every other weekend completely free of kids. She sends her kids off to be with their father, and my kids are with me. Isn’t that just lovely? How many of us would like to have that kind of time handed to us while in the thick of parenting? I’m sure that any relationship I might be in would thrive from that kind of alone time.

      However, it’s exactly like you said– that’s not realistic. Real parents have their kids all the time and have to get babysitters or make other arrangements if they want time to themselves. My kids are now old enough that if I want to meet a friend for coffee, I can leave them alone for a couple of hours and know that, barring an unexpected emergency, they can take of themselves. However, I still sacrifice alone time because my job as a parent is to show up, be present, provide guidance, and not just parent when it’s convenient for me.

      The amount of time and effort that my ex puts into our kids would receive a failing grade if he were a student in one of my classes. He happily leaves everything to me and then shows up and plays Proud Papa with flowers or a gift at whatever school event our children participate in (for the two kids he’s actually still doing visitation with– he only reaches out to our younger son when he needs to keep the truth of how he’s destroyed their relationship from his parents).

      When I feel down about being single, I remember what one of my prime directives is: be there for my kids. I have to be honest with myself. I don’t make time for dating because I don’t want to. I want to be here for my kids, be able to do what I want with our lives, and not have to juggle the demands of anyone else at this point. If my ex, his Schmoopie, or anyone else who has unsolicited opinions about my life thinks that I’m pathetic for still being single, so be it. The harder choice (staying single in this case) is typically the right choice.

  • I love this! I love that you are on fire, Tracy, and going scorched earth. Absolutely name-check that awful teacher who tried to shame you/mommy-guilt you!

    Confused Chump, my cheating narc was in a new and sparkly “relationship” one month after our divorce was finalized-meanwhile, I was working two jobs and rebuilding so many aspects of my life. Ex definitely looked like the “winner.”

    Three years later, I have a FT job in my field (stay at home mom for 12 years), reconnected with old friends, made new friends, and…just started dating a man who is wonderful. Ex currently has no relationship, has a new job with a new, lower salary. Who’s the winner? I was, the minute I filed and decided to take back my life. Listen to the wisdom of Chump Lady!

    You are enough, and spectacular all on your own.

  • I’m twice divorced too. Mom of 8. Grandma of 6. I’m a single parent AGAIN, and it hurts. I’ve shifted from resenting the fact that I am raising children alone again, ( the first time was 5 kids… they’re grown and rocking it, now I’ve got 2 at home, 8 and 10… and coming up on the day of death anniversary of my son on March 4) to resenting the fact that I have to share ANY parenting time with a fuckwit and his ugly wife appliance. WTF can’t they just go away and STAY out of our lives???

    Incidentally, I’ve scheduled my first appointment with a therapist on March 4. It’s time. I’m just not getting any better. I’d like to stop hating my life right now.

    • I’ve scheduled my first appointment with a therapist on March 4.

      Good for you, Kintsugi! And to ConfusedChump, please follow suit!

      We talk a lot about fixing your picker here. Therapy can help deal with the root causes. If you feel you need a man in your life, you’ll find a man in your life. But you’ve been there before. Twice. You want to avoid being there a third time. That’s where therapy can help.

      One of my friends was emotionally abused by her NarcX for years. Her self-esteem was in the toilet. Good therapy helped her tremendously.

      Best of luck.

    • Big hugs, Kintsugi, you’ve really been through a lot. Your son is giving you a big gift on his anniversary, as my own dead son has usually done on every significant date for almost 14 years.
      I hope that your therapist is the right one for you and that March 4 will have dual meaning from now on: your baby’s departure and the beginning of your own healing with him holding your hand.

      • (((hugs))) I hate belonging to the “Parent of a deceased child” club. It sucks. I’m sorry you belong too.

        The therapist I’m going to see does equine therapy. So does his wife of 40 years. That peaked my interest some. We’ll see if he’s a good fit.

        • Hey there, never thought we’d be in two shitty clubs did we?

          But isn’t it good finding the beautiful people around you – and online! – who are in either The Dead Kid Club, or the Got Tangled Up with a Narc Cheater? And those of us v special people in both . . . (What on EARTH did we do in our last lives?!)

          Kintsugi and Chumpiest, you are in my heart. Hugs hugs hugs. If this therapist doesn’t fit, keep looking. It’s too hard on your own x

  • Thus is real talk in the mornings! The other day I heard that voice Esther Perlman was going to be on some radio program. I chuckled thinking about how she doesn’t really bat an eye that ppl have have affairs. Those messages leave is helpless. Real talk is what gets you balanced! Thanks again Chump Lady. And for caring what bothered think, look around at how many miserable married couples there are in their 50’s and 60’s. I’m thrilled to not have their ‘neat as a pin’ life. It’s a facade.

  • This was a good one. Very inspirational from both perspectives of confused chump and chump lady to be a single parent and rock it! I am only10 months out from D-Day. Way to take back ur power from these entitled fuckers. Power to single parents!

  • I think being able to live “the happy single life” is a prerequisite for finding love again with another person. You really have to be content with yourself first to attract a healthy person. It IS scary and takes a lot of investment in figuring out who you are. But you fix your picker along the way. And then you aren´t vulnerable to the users, because they´re not getting that needy vibe from you. But it takes time and some dedication to yourself.

    I too want to be with a man again, but I know I´ve still got work to do. The plus side is it´s great to not have to worry about and take care of a guy! I look back and wonder how I had the time and energy to invest in my wasband, cuz now it seems I need almost all of it for me.

    Best of luck to you, and look those fears straight in the eye!

  • Standing ovation to you single mothers and fathers who are investing in new lives. When I discovered my ex husband’s infidelity I remember people saying “well thank goodness you never had kids together” and I remember feeling so alone and barren. Like, I had chosen to not have kids yet because I’m 26 and wanted to focus on other things but suddenly not having children felt like I was missing something. When people said that it made me wonder if I’d ever have children now that I was “alone”. My point is, single divorced parents, when you’re divorced you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t according to members of the utopian “perfect families” club. People will judge and say stupid stuff no matter what! I’m 26 and white, no kids, good career and I’m scared I’ll never have a family of my own. You’re black and a single mother and you’re scared of being alone. See? Besides different cultures, races, life stages, incomes, privilege…when it comes to divorce we are all “failures” to people who have never had to crawl their way out of abusive or unhealthy relationships. And to think you did that with a kid!!!!! I can’t even imagine how hard that is.

    • I heard that ALL THE TIME. At least you didn’t have kids together… at the time, it just ended up making me feel like I lost my chance to have kids. I was 30 when I found out about the ex cheating, and I assumed my ovaries would time out. Particularly since my mom kept pressuring me to freeze my eggs, and tell me stories about women who had babies in their fifties.
      Three years later, I still don’t have kids, and to some extent, the fear that I wasted my fertile years with a jackass who used me to get to Canada from Israel and started an affair with a friend of ours just after my dad died (apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention to him). I’m far more hopeful than I was before, though… and now I am actually grateful that we didn’t have kids. My version of NC is total. I won’t be surprised if I never see or hear from him again.

      • Add me to the club–I married my cheater at age 27, found out he was cheating when I was 31. Thought maybe I would still have kids with him but he strung me along (and continued to cheat). I divorced him at age 37 and have been single for over 2 years now.

        I am sad that I am 40 and childless but I know it was good that I didn’t have kids with him. But it still hurts a lot, to miss my window and waste all of that time.

        • I had my kids at 39 and 41, and I know some moms who are older. You don’t have to give up yet if you don’t want to. But also no judgment if you feel you need to let it go.
          I’m sorry about your horrible ex. But glad you got away.

      • I was about to start the process of getting pregnant on my own, at age 38, when I met Cheater Narc. Part of his mirroring and love-bombing was how much he wanted kids, and how ready he was to have them soon.

        The result is; my kids have a crap father. He did a moderate amount of damage, as they grew up, and far more once I kicked him out for Affair #2.

        My kids would have been far better off if I’d had them alone. I was doing most of the parenting all along anyway, and once their dad and I separated, all of it. It would have been hard, especially when they were very small, but do-able.

        Sometimes I wish reincarnation really existed. It would be good to bring some of my hard-won knowledge into another life, and not make THOSE mistakes again ….

  • Bravo! You absolutely don’t need a man in your life to prove how mighty you are and show the world how much you and your child have “won” by getting rid of that dead weight. He’s the pathetic week one who can’t handle being alone and so latched on to the first pussy that would accept his dick. You are so much better than that and the people who are worth your time will recognize it.

  • Remember that some of those voices want you to fail. They want to see you suffer. Why? Because the smug pricks want confirmation that their choices are better than yours, and they’ll never have to be in your shoes.
    I had family, that saw me struggling as a single mom, and offered not a word of support, because I chose it (SMH), until my kids were grown and I had proved myself successful at it. Now they’re so proud. My widowed cousin, who was made financially secure by her being widowed, is held up as a paragon of strength and courage, for doing exactly what I did. But she had all their support and no financial burdens.

  • Tracy, I cannot believe what those people said to you. It’s shocking and appalling. There is something wrong with them . I can’t imagine how they made you feel. Actually, I can imagine it. Holy shit. 🙁

  • I felt like this too, after being chumped. My answer? Turn an alcoholic, ex-con, user, former high school boyfriend into my “new man.”

    Needless to say, this only caused a great deal of embarrassment, wasted savings, and additional legal issues.

    In fact, I am still greatly embarrassed about that chapter in my life, post divorce. It was very recent. But I did learn the valuable lesson that being alone is GREATLY preferable to being with any old person.

  • Don’t listen to the noise. He’s doing this that with her. She’s grand and with my guy. See. Separate that. Don’t follow or anything with him.
    One child is easier to get around with. Upgrade and take classes to get more money. Take time to heal and grow. As I said forget him and stay busy. Let the pain out and eat healthy to stay away from the deep depression that is so easy to slip into and hard to get out of.
    Rebuild your life and share a deeper love and evolving into a better place for both of you.
    I have been alone for 5 years. I have processed all of the ugly and my own flaws. Not just the marriage but how I saw the world. When you get the guy out of the picture and concentrate on you not only will you heal, be stronger but when the time comes you will be ready and choose better and have a good relationship with your child. Positive growth, healing and a better life, a better you and you will see clearer without pain or guilt.

  • What gets me is my married friends who I sometimes think assume that I have all this free time when my kiddo is at her dad’s or because I don’t have a husband to “deal with.” One commented enviously on my ability to go visit my parents without the dynamic of having a partner along. I responded that maybe if she was lucky, her husband with start sleeping with women he met on hookup sites and she could discover their plans to go ring shopping next Tuesday. I mean, I get it, I know that married with kids can mean busy schedules and very little couple-time or alone time. But seriously? That there were nights that I fell into bed, exhausted. That there is no one else to run to the store for Gatorade when the kiddo is puking at 4 am and she’s too little to leave alone. That I put my mom who lives 400 miles away as my emergency contact. That even though my narc ex takes his kid for parenting time, he’s 100% unreliable when it comes to the day to day, nitty-gritty of getting forms turned in, paying fees on time, etc. It’s all a little exhausting and the first six months that my girls spent the weekend with their dad, I cried the whole time. And I quickly realized how much of the school logistics were not conducive to single or shared parenting. Or working moms, for that matter & I’m looking at you, PTA meeting at 4:45pm and mandatory in-person school registration between 3:00-4:30 on a Tuesday).

    It took WORK to move beyond that, to build my own life and be able to be alone and find peace in that. I think I’m a different person than I would have been if I had not had this experience. Stronger. Closer to my girls. More confident. Self- reliant. Single parents, we are effing mighty.

    • wow, I’m amazed that anyone thinks single parenting could be easier than being married. how wrong could you get?

      having said that, a friend whose wife didn’t actively parent told me he understood what it was like to be the only parent. then his wife left and it turned out he really didn’t. so I have seen those too.

  • You know who celebrities, famous authors, and award winning scientists always credit and say who they admire above anyone else? Their hardworking single mother, that’s who! You are a goddess super woman!

    *I’m giving myself this pep talk too, as I work to free myself from SBTX narcissistic husband.

  • I see articles everywhere stating that the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete. More and more women are going partnerless because we don’t need men to support us anymore. You may be getting comments from people who are set in old values. Don’t listen to them.

    My ex was expecting a child before our divorce papers were even drafted. And now another is due in a month. They portray such happiness in photos. My daughter is regularly forced to be in these happy snapshots. Yes, I said forced…the OW had a tantrum when my daughter tried to opt out of their family portrait. She gave in to make everyone happy. And OW posted it to FB and all the “What a happy family!” comments followed. Personally my daughter and Ex looked like deer in headlights.

    So now they will have 2 under 2 (LOLOLOLOLOLOL). When our daughter graduates HS, the ex will have 2 in elementary school. And until then, I enjoy being able to to whatever I want without having to consider anyone else. I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s disappointment in my cleaning skills or tv viewing choices. I can cook the food I like. OH MY GOODNESS IT FEELS SO GOOD! And even though I do not have a partner, I do not feel lonely. Lonely was being in a marriage with someone who ignored or belittled me on a daily basis.

    Change your narrative and live the life you want to live.

    • I agree: I found that not having to make decisions about my child’s rearing or school, etc., was sooo much easier without his screwed-up thinking. (He never met a fact he couldn’t lie about)

      OP–you are already well on the road to finding the right man. You need to relax and live your real life, and you will find him.

    • CC, I’m laughing right there with you. I was 32 when my son was born. At 62 I have a granddaughter attending college next year.

      We were supposed to be buying a retirement home in 2014; his fantasy interfered. My plan was to do a working retirement together.

      Instead he had to purchase APPLIANCES, a lawn mower and paying through the nose for rent. He wanted nothing from my home.

      He’s putting up with pets and her granddaughter; she believes he’s happy.

      I’m FREE. Loving and living single works!

  • It’s hard to live a life free from concern about how others view us. Being a black woman makes that even harder. Society has this horrid double standard concerning singles. If men are single people assume they haven’t found the one yet. When women are single, people whisper “what’s wrong with her?”. Don’t blame yourself for your feelings. They are natural when you live in this kind of society.

    We’ve been sold a bill of goals on this whole “relationships are good for you ” idea. Did you know new research shows single and divorced women are healthier than married women? We tend to weigh less, drink less, etc. New research also shows the happiest group in the US are single and divorced women. I’m not trying to man-bash here, but I think you need to see another side of this story. You may well be happier staying single. In my own life, my financial life and mental health have improved considerably since divorce. So much so that I’m loath to be in a relationship again. There’s a lot more freedom in my life. I can spend my money how I want to, watch what I want to, etc. Being a single mom is difficult, no lie there, but I’m much happier than I was before. I working on getting my A+ and moving toward an it job like I used to have. Focus on yourself and what you want rather than what you think you should have

    If you get on facebook or IG, check out Darrick Jackson. His videos are really great and I think you’ll enjoy his perspective.

  • Right after my husband killed our marriage, my uncle offered valuable insight. He said to me, “You know, you’ll never get over this.” Neat. Uncle Morale-Booster.

    This was literally a month after I had found out about the affair and tossed him out, along with his guns, hockey equipment, bad debt, etc.: And at the time, I was still a mess, pretty much creeping out of my house to go to work and crawling home to collapse on the couch. I mean, I was broken and I knew it. But even then, doing my hermit routine with my full scripts of Ambian and Xanax, I KNEW I was better off and I’d get over it. I told uncle not project his failed marriage on me, and just because he never got over his marriage, our destinies were not the same. And I was right. (Also, I never spoke to him again. I like to cut out the fat in my life.)

    Just worry about doing you. If someone can’t say supportive things and doesn’t lift you up, fuck ‘em. You’re not a failure because you haven’t “paired up” yet. You make yourself happy first and when your happy, you’re a lot less likely to attract a freak. 🙂

    • People can say the most insensitive things , can’t they ?
      I now just see it as drivel that seeps out of their mouths through their own filter based on their own life experiences and opinions.

  • I feel your comment soo hard. It is not more glamorous to be a single mom, especially the running to the store with a puking kid to get what they need because you don’t have that other person in the house to run out or stay with kiddo. Or when your kiddo is having a break down and there is no one else to tag in and give you a quick break to get your shit together to deal with kiddo. To those people I always say “if you think being a single parent is better, you must not really be in love with your partner”. I never idealized single parents when I was married, I always wondered how they got it all done!!! Now, I know, it’s not easy or pretty, but it’s better than being married to a narcissistic cheating partner.

  • Preach on, Sister Schorn! Preach!

    OMG – I needed this lately. My kids (both w/ the dbag) are grown. 23 years wasted on a serial cheating Dbag with 17 married to him. All of my late teen years, 20s and 30s. We became teen parents at 18 & 19 with our first. I honestly don’t even know how to date. But I’m only 44. LOTS of time & youth on my hands to do whatever I want, and most times I’d love to have a +1 to do things with, but here I am, 5 years since DDay, 4 being divorced, and I still struggle with it not being worth the risk of being betrayed; not worth my sanity; not worth the peace I have and not worth the attention I give to my kids and only grandchild (whom the douche doesn’t even know…). What I DO know is that dbags like the one I was tethered to are some of the ones lying about who they really are on dating sites. Ask me how I know…🙄

    Maybe I’ll get there at some point, but I focused 200% on my daughter after I finally caught him out. She was 13 at the time; our first child was grown and out of the house. I spent all of her 7th – senior years focused on her, and on my healing. No dating, just us. I volunteered with all of her school activities and 6A marching band (HUGE commitment) and I coached a rec soccer team for her (had done it for 9 years).

    She got into a Big 12 university’s college of engineering and was hired with an architect the month before high school graduation last year because of two years of tech school CADD training as a junior & senior in high school. This child is successful because I gave her my all, and I have no regrets. I’ve been my grandchild’s soccer coach for 3 seasons now, and still, I have no regrets and a million beautiful memories with him.

    Thanks, CL, for reminding me that I AM mighty, and I’m enough for myself and my family all on my own, until and IF I decide to add someone to my mix. ❤️❤️

    • Forgot to mention one huge point: We did this with NO support from the dbag where our daughter was concerned. None.

      See, the douche got thrown into jail and is now classified as a violent felon, all over one of his multiple, married, cheater affair partners. Happened on a Friday, and by Monday I had an emergency amended child custody agreement so bulletproof that even he – the “father” – couldn’t get to her. She didn’t have to see him anymore all through high school, so yeah, us single moms are freaking MIGHTY, and our children can thrive and flourish with us being both parents to them.

      The sad truth is that most of us were already “single” in our faux-marriages where our kids and all things family-life were concerned; we were just to involved and tired to know or admit it.

      Don’t ever be embarrassed going to things with your kids while being alone. I walked into rooms and situations and looked everyone in the eyes and owned it. I’m not a failure. I kept my vows to a lying, cheating douche. I’m not a failure, I’m free. Free from all the bullshit. Free from the weight of a cheater who lied to me and my kids for decades. Free. #MightySingleMom

      • “The sad truth is that most of us were already “single” in our faux-marriages where our kids and all things family-life were concerned; we were just to involved and tired to know or admit it.” WOW. Soooooo true!!!

    • That is so inspiring.
      My own dd is 13 and has been rocked by our separation. She has a list of things she wants us to do together (her and I…plus her 15 year old brother, if her wants).

      This list will take us through the next few years and will help make new memories. It’s all still new, so I’m sad for my stbx who won’t be included, but he made the bed…

      I hope some day I can write something as amazing as this.

  • I NEEDED this today.

    I’ve been feeling so lonely lately and like i’m failing because STBX is in a public relationship with AP#2 and on the surface they look so happy.

    And even though i know they argue all the time, he’s unfaithful to her and that they’re both messy as fuck; i can’t help but to feel that its looks like there is something wrong with me that “no one wants me”. I feel like in some way i’m proving my STBX right that i’m unwanted.

    And i know this is perception, there have been plenty of men who have come into my orbit since i’ve separated. I briefly dipped my toes into the dating world and quickly realized i wasn’t ready yet so have since removed myself entirely.

    I need to trust my lonely a lot more, continue to trust that he sucks despite how many selfies him and AP#2 post on social media (i do have them blocked but occasionally the impulse to check in wins, something i’m working on and getting better at).

    I figure when i’m really ready and the thought of dating doesn’t give me panic attacks then i’ll find someone of quality and not someone who throws unlimited drama in my life like my STBXs current GF.

  • Thank you, Chump Lady, for this inspiring message. Coming to terms with my new normal is daunting at times, but your post reminds me to focus on my strength and courage as I gain a new life!

  • I have to laugh, with him we were a complete mess. NOTHING we did could get us out of our rut and our financial problems. Once separated/divorced and on my own (NO financial support from him) I was able to get on my two feet and slay the world, and support my my dd.
    So I know it wasn’t me… it was the 310# weigh I was calling my husband hoping he’d provide that happiness for me. . . HA it was always IN ME!!
    4 years late, yeah I’m content, and happy. Sure I’d like a guy to be there but haven’t found one that meets the high standards and qualifications I’ve set for myself. Just like my name, I’m rising from the ashes and living a great life.
    And he keeps going through women like water. Must be once they learn what a loser he is, they dump is ass. Sad sausage. Haha great life over here. (Stands tall, hands on hip, Cape flapping in the wind)

  • My oldest sons father abandoned us for a schmoop when the baby was 2 years old. Fuckwit went on to many women and a high paying career, he was free to do what he wanted, see who he wanted, use who he wanted, move as needed and work any shift because he canceled his subscription to parent. He skipped more visitations than he made and put off paying child support when rent was due or a new schmoop needed a new diamond ring to keep her hooked.

    But he calls me poor white trash. Me, who worked full time around the needs of a toddler, child and teen over the years. Me who always made sure i was home when he was home, my work scheduled around his school. Me, who couldnt skip supporting him when funds were tight. Me who never spent 1 night away from him his whole life, he never soent a night with a sitter or alone. Me who struggled so hard, and did not achieve financial success but i mothered like a rock star…. im the poor white trash in his mind. Fuck him.

    Single mothers of every color are looked down on and it sucks. At work i get treated differently as if theres nothing to chat about since im single. They go out as a group, but im not invoted. Next day i sit there hearing them laugh, but im the divorcee im over looked, i cause them discomfort or some shit. Its awful that escaping and surviving domstic abuse condems you to shame, but it does. Its embarrassing as fuck.

    • Not your shame to bear. Visualize handing that shame back to the person deserving of it-your ex and the people that make assumptions about you because you’re a single woman.

    • You are awesome, meandmytruck!! Awesome!!! I so wish I lived closer to such amazing people. I’d love to hang out with the likes of you.

  • Hi ConfusedChump —

    I really feel like you’ll eventually marry a good man and enjoy a great marriage. Until then, I want to encourage you in the great life of a successful single. I’m living it, and loving it.

    I am a teacher at an urban school, and many of our students are from single black mom households. I see in my mind’s eye right now these intelligent, calm, engaged students, so capable — their intelligence helps them quickly learn and to then grasp the implications of their knowledge, then apply it to new situations. Not all of us come from the perfect family background, but still somehow we are able to function and achieve. These students also have amazing emotional intelligence: kind and supportive to other students and quickly follow their teachers’ instructions.

    So much new knowledge has been learned about urban education, and teachers and principals are busily learning and applying these findings. It’s an exciting field to work in, I don’t know your career, but if you have an inclination, you might look into teaching at an urban school. It is my personal belief that it is our African-American citizens who can really provide the wisdom and intelligence to pull America forward and out of chaos.

    Just sayin, dear mom of an African-American student.

  • Single parenting does not stop at H.S. either…..

    Mine abandoned at youngest ones Prom/graduation/18th birthday. Did not give me or her a dime since the day he ran off to #TwuLuvLand. She totaled her car, HE KEPT the insurance check, told her the car was never “hers”, and basically ignored her college/text/living situation for 4 years.

    Because, well, “That’s what MAGNETO is for.” Mag has been living on a shoestring for 5 years, now. Renovating a house and providing everything I can for youngest. Often feel it is not enough….

    Now that she will graduate in a semester or two, and the other one will be a doctor in 8 weeks, GUESS WHO is wanting to connect now ????? (But only if they are willing to have an ADULT relationship”, ie: Don’t call CheaterDad or OW on our shit… ever.)

    What pisses you off more than being dumped and vilified? Watching your sweet child get put through the grinder, too, because she was an afterthought.

  • Fantastic advice. It’s hard to think of being alone forever, but after a lot of soul-searching and therapy and self-love, I’ve learned that I’m stronger than ever, I can do this, and I will wait for what I deserve before I’ll EVER settle just to have someone around. I felt more like a lonely failure married than I ever had divorced. I do not need the man to complete me or my family. I hope I’ll find what I’m looking for, but I’ll certainly never let it define me.

  • THIS POST TODAY IS AMAZING!

    Tracy, you are the cream of the crop. You are in the top .000000001% of people on this planet. You call it like it is and leave the spackle at Home Depot!

    Yes, single parents are super heroes. They are some of the hardest working, most caring, loving people. They rock!

    Cheaters are losers. Abusers suck. Thank you for calling them out, changing the narrative and helping people who have been seriously wronged stand up and be fucking MIGHTY! And with some of the lessons and narratives on this site, it goes beyond being mighty in the face of betrayal but bleeds into so many other areas of life where chumps can be taken advantage of.

    I’ve taken my divorce and used all my hatred and bitterness to propel me into a new life. I listen to investment audio books, I’m about to buy a triplex, I’m working on creating passive income. I work hard, but I’m creating a life that I never would have or could have had if I stayed married to that asswipe. I’m never going to let some cheating prick put me in a situation like this again. I’m helping change that narrative, I speak out, I have integrity, I care about myself and others. I treat people with respect. I don’t judge. I’m being the change that I want to see in the world. Others are slowing starting to see it, but the best is yet to come.

    Tracy, I’m sorry those teachers treated you with such disrespect. Just recently I was talking with a wonderful teacher at my son’s school and was apologizing for not getting all his homework completed. She said, “They’ve done studies that the homework that kids in elementary school are assigned actually has no impact on their future education. Middle school and High School, yes, but Elementary school, it seriously doesn’t matter. Don’t sweat it.” She has treated me with such care and kindness. I think I owe her a gift cert and a card. She has helped me to pull through this mess without shaming me.

    Confusedchump, change the narrative! Screw everyone who wants to judge Single Black Mother and show them that you are Mighty as Fuck Single Black Mother Who Kicks Ass and Takes Names So Go Judge Someone Else!

    And p.s. somewhere along the way of becoming so flipping mighty raising your kids, speaking out, making life happen for your family, some amazing guy who deserves you will see how awesome you are and earn your love 🙂

      • Thank you Tracy ☺️
        Cheater ex had three degrees and a “very important career”. He used to earn double what I did. He always cared about money, degrees, resumes, job titles, status, etc.

        I have no college degrees and he made sure I knew it. Since he left a year ago I have doubled my income and now outearn him. And I’m just getting started….😁

  • meandmytruck, I’m sending you a big hug and a truckload of grace today. You ARE a rockstar. Don’t let the bastards get you down. I’ve been reading a lot about self-compassion lately. Google it and do some of the exercises. It’s the perfect antidote to shame.
    I don’t have any children and I can’t imagine how all of you ladies and gents made it through while having to care for them. You have my utmost respect. I bow to you.

  • Kudos to all the single parents who SHOW UP, without fanfare, without complaint (well, mostly!), every day in sickness & health.

    And fuck David Brooks, who is a cheater who then wrote an odious column to his distressed ex-wife, imploring her (without naming her) to stop calling and move on. (haven’t been able to track it down yet, but I will try).

    • I remember that column! Such a condescending asswipe. Oh how will anyone live without him? It was like he was licking the frosting off his cake.

      I bet his ex is quite relieved to be rid of him.

  • I’ve been alone for over a decade. Husband ended our very long marriage to marry his affair partner. I gave up on dating as a choice as I feel I am much happier alone. My children are successful and I’ve parented alone. My children didn’t miss out on anything in elementary,middle or high school as they were/are in many activities and sports. The result… I have a 22 years daughter who has two bachelor degrees and is working on her Master’s degree and will be headed for her PhD after that. She speaks four languages. I think she turned out damn fantastic. My son will be heading to college shortly and is just as brilliant. I don’t know what career path he’ll be choosing in college but I can guarantee you he’ll do exceedingly well. My ex husband has never missed a support payment but I did all the work raising them.

  • I haven’t posted in a while, but I must say Thanks Tracy for this one:)

    One of the things that I’m learning is that the kids DO remember that you were the one there for them, and even if they are with their play date parent every other weekend, you are the one they will turn to when they really need things. I put my son in counseling after we split and he ran off with OW and he told the counselor “If anything happens to me my Mom will take care of it.”

    Confused, don’t be confused, a lot of people really only have one sane parent, they just don’t say so. A lot of people are together for appearances, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Be happy that you are away from that nutcase and life your best life ever. You are not a failure! And you don’t need a man ( or for you single dads) a woman to complete you. You are a complete package!

  • Being a single mother to a two yr old was so hard. I lived one day at a time, just one car breakdown or crazy landlord away from being on the street, I thought. My anxiety basically cycloned throughout the day. Here’s the thing, though, when my husband told me he was leaving I cried for a week then applied to a job as a secretary at a top corporation. The made me take a math and vocabulary test. I got 100 which is why I even got an interview. I then got the job st a higher salary than offered because I was a single mother. I got raises and promotions every year! I made so many friends. Got to travel. Could afford private school for my child. Moved into management. I lost that man and gained so much more. Then I made a huge mistake. I remarried. And rapidly my trajectory leveled off and things just stopped going my way. I still think it’s because I stopped being a single mom. Maybe I chilled out. I definitely felt torn between longer hours and all my home responsibilities. Maybe my not being a single mom in need of a break made my managers pass me over for opportunities because I had a spouse who could support me. I just don’t know. Then 25 yrs later, hub meets work schmoopie and I’m single but kids are gone. And to be truthful, I wasn’t deleriously happy being married. My husband was selfish and dickish. I don’t even think I was good st being married. So I decided not to ever remarry. I’ve dated and again, my life as a single has yielded clover in terms of work, social and creative passions. I’m almost too busy for my guy friend. I’m so much luckier without a ball and chain. Unless James Brolin falls out the sky into my lap, I who never thought being alone was optimal, find the being single and free really works for me. I have friends who believe they are failures if they don’t have a man. Even when he’s a tool. My kids want me to be partnered as their dad is because they worry about me being alone but I just can’t visualize it anymore.

  • I needed this one today (frankly, I need it a couple times a week, so maybe I’ll print it out and tack it up on the inside of my closet).

    The horror stories about the way some people react to single people and divorced parents are simply ridiculous. I’ve had a never-married parent tell me I’m not really a “single” parent. (My EX lives in another state, has gone years between seeing the kids at times, and only interacts with me when causing a new legal issue. How am I not a single parent? Why are you trying to make us compete in the parenting division of the pain Olympics?) I’ve had my kids be dismissed from a national organization because their branch decided to host a “smaller group.” It did not escape my notice that all three families “cut” were single mothers. Oh, but we weren’t being “thrown out,” because that would be illegal–we could start our own branch or join a different one.) I’ve listened to my cousin complain about how she won’t carpool with single mothers as they are unreliable (Seriously? The same woman expects large scale family dinners for 20 to shift when it interferes with her Zumba class, but she thinks I’m a flake?)

    Yet, for all the insanity, I’ve had so many friends and strangers help out–without being asked. Single parenting has taught me a lot about valuing the kindness of strangers, human generosity, and my own grit. I’d like a wonderful partner, but without one, I’m enough. I won’t be subject to social pretenses about married or single people–our relationship status is not our measure.

  • You know, you don’t have to believe everything you think.

    My guess, is if you are like me, you’ve struggled with the “not enough” feelings your whole life – or at least your adult life – and your partners have been people who mirror those feeling right back at you. I believe when we have those feelings and thoughts of not being whole, we pick people with holes inside them (or they pick us) – and THAT is where the “fix your picker” idea comes into play. Your very best course of action is to first be whole so then you can pick whole people – not ones riddled with empty spaces. And that starts with believing one true thing-

    You ARE enough.

    And when you struggle with thoughts and feelings that argue that you aren’t enough perhaps you need to ask yourself “who says?” Who gets to decide? Your exes? People who drag you down? Who gets to rent space inside your beautiful head?

  • A key to happiness in life is to not care “what others think”.
    Who cares !! Do what YOU think is right and to Hell with what they think !!

    A saying I like that I heard about someone judging another for having a messy house:

    “Those who matter don’t care and those who care don’t matter”.

    • I agree completely. Ex was the one who worried about what other people think. He said he didn’t like to socialize because it was so much work trying to impress people. He also refused to invite people over because he was embarrassed by the cracks in the ceiling (small ones by most people’s standards). I told him he was trying to impress the wrong people but it turns out those are the kind of people he wanted to impress and I didn’t make him feel impressive enough because I don’t care what those kinds of people think.

  • As terrible as it is that anybody gets put in the position of being a single parent, it is so inspiring to see how well so many people have stepped up to take on that role. When your kids need you, you have no choice but to do whatever it takes to get the job done. There are always stumbles along the way but people learn and adapt. Single parents are both resilient and resourceful and their children can learn from that. Those who abandon their kids are revealed as unreliable people who can’t handle life. They often end up at the bottom of the heap in the long run because they have poor life skills. There is no need to envy them no matter how shiny their lives may appear. Their lives will only be shiny until their luck runs out and then they won’t know what to do.

  • Good gracious, I am sobbing at work. Needed this one, Chump Lady. Thank you for once again reminding me that I’m mighty and don’t give myself enough credit for raising baby girl alone. <3

  • Tracy, there are not enough superlatives to bestow upon you for this response. You are the Truth! You are the fucking Light in the darkest of all rooms.

    Confused Chump, I believe it was Toni Morrison that said, “If you wanna fly, you have to let go of the shit that weighs you down.” One of the things that we allow to weigh us down is the weight of other people’s opinions. The more you care about what other people think, the more control you give them over your life and choices.

    Yes, it is normal to want to be in a relationship and to desire love and companionship. But it is more important to be in a kind, loving, reciprocal relationship with someone who loves and cares for you the way you deserve. Start by giving yourself the love you would like to have from someone else. I also highly recommend therapy if you haven’t had any so that you can learn to recognize things in yourself that might leave you vulnerable and willing to settle for less than you (and your child) deserve.

    You will ultimately settle for what you think you deserve. Internalize that you deserve nothing less than the love you give to others.

  • This is the post of the year- thank you Chump Lady.
    We aren’t “less than”, “missing half”, “incomplete”.
    We are more than enough.
    Maybe it was always that simple.
    In case you don’t hear it today, OP-
    You’re doing it: grocery store, laundry, school commits, emotional support with your family, self-care, bills, health appointments, repairs on cars/home, email replies, meetings, work needs, get-togethers, vacuum the hallway, and on and on and you are loved. We are all out there, running with you on that list of all the things we do in life.
    You are SO loved.

  • OMG I despise David Brooks, and now I feel even less guilty for feeling that way!

    I’ll never forget the time he reviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates’s award winning book and condescended to him about how he SHOULD have written about the experience of growing up black.

  • It’s true that not just we put pressure on ourselves to find someone else because relationship = happy right. Well clearly not from a lot of the posts on here and we above all people should not be delusional. It’s a societal norm that’s all. My twat-face ex said ‘It would be a shame if you didn’t open your heart to love’ and his mum (who has actually been lovely by the way so this is a minor criticism) is just dying to hear I’ve met someone else as if the problem is then fixed. Ah now we can all move on now Dudders has met someone we can sweep the whole messy business under the carpet and no one has to feel bad.

    It’s nonsense. I understand why you want to meet someone but don’t give a shite what anyone else thinks and certainly don’t feel bad for being a single mum, jesus I take my hat of to you. Go carefully and look after yourself and put yourself first. Practice a cold hard stare for anyone who likes to proffer their opinion about your life, it’s none of their business and they can butt out.

    • My ex’s aunt said to me when everything was going down (and she really did mean well) “you will find somebody who adores and appreciates you”. My response was “yeah, that was ex once”. Its fine to find love after divorce, but it shouldn’t be a prerequisite to finding happiness after divorce because there are no guarantees.

  • No, a new man is NOT the answer. While it is completely understandable to want a loving partner, it is a very bad idea to want one after being shot out of the cannon of infidelity and divorce. Think about how many times you have heard “I was not planning on it, but the stars aligned, and we’re soul mates, and I know it’s only been two years since D Day, but we’re engaged”…Justifications and soul mates be damned, there is not one.. NOT ONE….chump that should be engaged two years out from D Day. Whether you believe this or not, you are the rock star. You are the one showing up, you are the one dealing with all of those awful feelings, and you are the one who is not medicating your issues with someone else. Hard to fix your picker, when you already have someone that is or quite possibly could be, an exception for your picker…Work through your pain, your feelings, and your past relationship. Figure out who you are and what you want, and then… and only then.. should you even begin to move forward.

  • 20 year marriage ended day after Valentines day six years ago on our 20th anniversary. He showed me the door when I asked if he was going to give me some flowers. Then had two years of court battles to get my kids. All have autism and two with a lot more than that. I now get child support for my son forever as he will be a four year old the rest of his life. The Judge stopped the proceedings after his Barrister grilled me in the box for two hours about the amount of McDonalds meals he had when he was out on his day program. Chuckles got married again straight away for the 3rd time. I have spent my time sorting the kids out and getting them settled and on track which has been a massive task. I have dated two men in that time as I was desperate to not feel such a failure. Both turned out to be Narc’s looking for a nurse and a purse. Thanks to Chump Nation I’m feeling good now. I don’t need a man to make my life complete. I’m sick of carrying people. Life is short. This is not a dress rehearsal. I’m happy, I’m down the beach most days. Life is good. If someone does come into my life they need to be a nice and kind person who respects me and my kids. (plus crazy dog) I deserve the best and I feel good in myself now. As for Chuckles (he never smiles) No.3 marriage is already looking shaky. Single Mums are mighty !!!!!!! ya to all of us. Thank you Chump Lady – (Sydney Australia)

  • I needed this post and CN today and Y’all delivered. I was laid off from work just before the Christmas Holidays. As if getting the heave go from a cheating piece of crap for not being a useful enough cake supplying wife appliance isn’t hard enough on the ego, with a side of your 23 years of hard work and contributions to our company thrown in the state decided I wasn’t looking hard enough for a job and required my attendance at a 3 hour seminar yesterday where the drummed into me that I am basically unemployable because I am too old (50) over educated (masters degree) yet obsolete (degree obtained 30 years ago OLD remember) and should basically be grateful if they are able to find me a minimum wage job. I came home and cried, again, and then reminded myself as old washed up useless and undesirable as I am I’m all my son has so sticking my head in the oven isn’t a choice. Thank you CL and CN. Today I’m back. FUCK them and FUCK what they think. I didn’t let that bastard grind me down and I won’t let them either

  • Confused Chump, what you want is human nature and it’s what most of us want. Who doesn’t want to be and feel loved? It’s what makes us human and don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s okay to be single and it’s okay to want what you want and go for it. If it’s love you’re looking for, start looking. Make yourself as happy as you can first.

    One of my best friends, who I adore, but I shake my head when she leaves. She’ll go on and on how I don’t need no stinkin’ man in my life and then say, ‘oh, I have to go home now and make my husband dinner.’

    Listen to your own heart.

  • This post speaks so much to me. I get overwhelmed with emotion when my kids go to their Dads for the week, and then when they come back to me for the week. It’s like that freedom and healing of the week off I get in between doesn’t exist and damn, it’s the best thing about my life right now, so why do I want to fill it with trying to find a man to keep me company? I love that down time and once I get over the overwhelming emotion at either end I embrace my life as a single mum being a happy healthy parent for my kids! So why TF am I caught up in this social conditioning??

    Saving this for future reference when feeling lonely. Indeed that loneliness is what ended me up with a lying cheating evil and toxic narcissist/sociopath of a man! It really is. Know this. We are mighty on our own parenting our way.

  • Confused, ignore those voices. They’ll drive you into the arms of the next cheater.
    There will always be some idiot to tell you what you are doing wrong and how inferior you are.
    You’re wrong when you have children too young, you’re wrong when you have them too old, you’re wrong to not have children, you’re wrong to be a single mum, you’re wrong to wait too long to find Mr Right, you’re just always wrong according to one idiot or another who thinks they know better how to run your own life.
    Focus on you and your kids, getting your world in order, have a good career, plans for your future. Then, if you feel like it, be open to finding someone who fits with YOUR plans. When you find someone compatible, there’s no rush to combine your lives together either.It takes years to let someone prove themselves, so you don’t get chumped again. You’re mighty.
    Kiwichump (born 1964, raised by a single mum with my single grandma who’d had to raise her kids alone too)

  • Hi Guys!!! This is the lady formerly known as ConfusedChump. I’m now Less Confused and feel so empowered.

    ChumpLady, THANK YOU for answering God’s call on your life! You have helped me more than you will ever know! Thanks to your words and the words of your tribe, I’m ready to be single and happy. Every word you said rang true! If I find my narrative unattractive, so will everyone else. Before your post, I was no doubt headed for a third failed marriage. God bless you. ❤

    LessConfused, Mighty & Amazing.

    • <3

      Your letter really spoke to me. I get wanting to pair up again. I wish someone had told me when I was a young single parent that I was enough. I wish I’d been encouraged, or admired, a high 5, something. Nice kid you’re raising there!

      I may be moved on, (and I should not give short shrift to what a wonderful father Mr. CL is to my son, he is a full co-parent and a love), but I will never, ever forget how lonely those single mom years were — and how hard those “comments” made an already challenging situation.

      It’s part of why I keep the blog going — because CN lifts each other up, and gives that support and perspective. I don’t want it to be harder. I don’t want anyone else to fall prey to a fuckwit because they feel a bit less than. Most of all, I want you to see NOW what I couldn’t see myself when I went through it — you are brave and strong. Doing important work — the sane parent work. And it’s deserving of deep respect. Talk about God’s work? Showing up for our kids, loving them and giving them stability is MIGHTY. Investments in fuckwits, not so much.

      • Amen, Tracy! I see my journey 100% differently now. ❤❤❤. I’m 37. I have a beautiful 6-year-old and yes, I accept your challenge to ENJOY this stage in my life. I accept! I accept! I accept!

        • High fives and hugs, LessConfused. I’m glad to see you’ve already shed the old name. Keep rising up. You are mighty and deserve only the best.

  • I typically just read everyone’s comments but today I feel lead to be included in the standing ovation! Amen Sister !!!

  • Chumplady, I am jumping up and down wildly applauding your answer, thank you for sharing your experiences with assholes. I am gobsmacked that so many people somehow thought they had the right to not only comment on your parenting, but do so in such a rude, disrespectful manner. They all suck, and you clearly do not.
    I think the need for a new man is indeed the need for validation. Knowing that the sucky ex has moved on and is, on the very surface level appears happy, somehow sends a message that you must have been a bad partner, because, oh, look, they are doing perfectly fine now that they have a new partner. We all know this is image management, but somehow having someone new in your life also sends the same message, that you are nice and normal and it was him and not you. WE know it was him and not you, and that’s all that should matter, but when our self-esteem is fragile it’s good to have a boost. The trouble with looking for that boost is that we lower our standards and expedite our search, which can allow fuckwits to sneak under the radar. Take your time and look for quality, not just a warm body. Good luck, and love yourself.

  • Dear Confused, It’s fine to prefer being part of a couple. But the path to do that in a healthy way is to get to the point where you’re fine being single, where you have a happy life and you are in a good position to make choices.

    Here’s an analogy. If you’re nearly dead broke and being evicted, any place to live that you can afford seems like a blessing because there’s a roof and electricity and plumbing. If you have cash in the bank and a good job and your lease is up, you can choose–a great apartment, moving closer to work, renting a house, buying a condo. Get solvent. Work through those issues about “what people think.” Work through the need to put your life up for grabs just to get people to see you as part of a couple and “happy.”

    How can you be ready for a relationship if your basis for pursuing it is in part “to be viewed as happy and over it.” That’s a dead-on sign that you aren’t happy and aren’t over it. Because those of us who are over it don’t think about whether others think we’re over it.

  • The problem is NOT that you’re a black, single mother. The problem is that anyone would think less of you for being a black, single mother.

    Yes!!!!

  • Another standing ovation! CL, you rock. I am raising my hand, was raised by a single mom who didn’t know what the fuck she was doing, and still turned out awesome! So imagine what half that effort forward will do! Parents today have so many resources in our communities, use them and you do not have to be perfect, just present. Life is all about balance, carve out time for all you value. After our world blew up, I no longer tolerated crap from anyone. Not family, friends, acquaintances, or employers. Life is too short. Life has been challenging these last few years, but I still have choices to make and am doing my best. The lesson here was recognizing that my one precious life was wasted with x (perhaps that is why the Universe stepped in…) and that it was high time I started living. It was exhausting being married, x could not appreciate the gifts we had, and like so many here I spent a lot of time propping up disordered. So that too is what I learned, that while all of us prioritized, valued family, and honored our vows, what we could not do was another’s job. To those looking to fill time up with someone new, recognize your Mighty, celebrate your freedom, tackle something new, go back to school, be your own hero.

  • People can be really judgmental. Listen to them and you drive yourself crazy.
    My own mother told me that if I was good enough he would not have to cheat. Nuff said!

    The journey is a long tough one but it does get better.
    Love and hugs to all.

  • I read your “column” today and had to catch up on this one from yesterday. I hate the Fog but shit….when you’ve been through this crap in your life, it happens. This post that I’m commenting on was just what I needed to hear today. Thanks CL!

    Confused Chump, hate you’re feeling this way but the reality is we have all felt this way and/or still feeling this way. I know I am after 2 failed marriages (1st with a cheater who was fucking and later married the neighbor, 2nd with a full blown narcissistic sociopath) and now just recently a 3rd relationship with a serial cheater (dating sites, texting women and fucking the 24 yr old nanny….mind you, he’s 50). I’ve been in the Fog for the whole month of Feb. listening to the voices and feeling the absolute distance of everyone who I thought were “friends” except for one girlfriend…..it fucking sucks! I’ve cursed God, myself, my ex, the nanny, my other exes, my “friends”, etc. People really look at me like I have a third eye because the last relationships I’ve had over the past 19 years have been disasters and I stayed in them way to long. I live in a big small town so the dating pool is limited and the guys who are divorced and aren’t remarried have a long rap sheet….tag on technology for hook up sites and well, I’m shit out of luck. So, being a strong single mom and not giving a fuck about what people think is the only option. Obviously, it’s easier said than done and I have wanted a different outcome for me and my kids. Right now, for me, the Fog is still around and crying over lost dreams with sleepless nights is lingering. We all get it, it’s part of the shit sandwich. You’ll learn to eat it with pride and fuck what everyone else thinks! And, just so you know…it’s ok to be sad over loosing your dreams, just don’t let it take over your life. Be sad and grieve to get over it so you can move on to be the badass that you are….hell, that we all are!

  • I love this so much, Tracy. Even though I’m at meh and seeing someone, I’m still really happy being single. But I have those days where I wonder if I’ll ever be in a serious, long-term relationship again. Some days I crave it. Other days, I have no desire for it. I want to be comfortable with just ME.

  • I have two sisters, one can’t be without men (plural) in her life, the other says when her husband dies (she is his caregiver) she is DONE.

    I believe our knee-jerk reaction to not having a romantic relationship in our lives is to seek one. But, when you think about it, is that really in our best self-interest? In my case, probably not. My picker is busted, and I seem to attract ego-maniacal assholes. So, for my own sanity, I need to turn away from sharing bodily fluids and focus more on dear friends I can share wonderful experiences with.

    Last summer I went on a vacation with a female friend, and we had the BEST time traveling together! We got up when we wanted, shopped, saw the sights, ate at whatever restaurant we wanted, without the pressure to be a porn-star in the hotel room. Even though I don’t have a lot of financial resources, I am resolving to do this more and more.

  • Yes, the narrative kept me in an abusive (physically and emotionally) relationship for 15 years. There were people who told me I HAD to stay even after they found out I was being beaten and cheated on. That is how much our ridiculous society hates divorce. I will never understand it. I feel sad when I hear someone is getting a divorce, I don’t think of them as a failure. Divorce can be a huge blessing.

  • Every word you said and more, Tracy!!!
    👍❤️😁😍
    This is how I feel prey to exh2/The Evil One…
    I’ve been a single mom to an Autistic daughter for almost four years now. My two older sons are grown and living their own lives, but still make time for Mom ❤️. Their dad is running the roads with owife5.
    Some days I’ll admit suck being the “solo” gal with the group going out, always hoping when I go out “this” time I’ll meet someone… Sigh
    All good things come to those who wait.
    Meantime, I’ll keep on doing me, going out solo among the couples

  • Excellent Tracy I love it and so agree. Real men don’t cheat and yes you are enough. I agree I refused to ever play the pick me dance with my ex Narc and not going to put up with a fuckwit I can do much better!

  • This is absolutely one of the best posts I’ve ever read here…and that is really saying a lot.

    Thank you so much, Tracy, for sharing details about your own experiences as encouragement to us all. I can’t think of anything that means so much to all of us when dealing with our chumpiness, loss of self esteem and every other horrible, negative feeling we all deal with. Oh yeah, and raising decent human beings all by ourselves and starting our lives all over again whether we’re ready or not. Usually not.

    It’s so hard to feel like you’ll ever find love again or be whole or feel worthy after your “relationship” with a cheater blows up. It doesn’t help when you hear about how happy he is with the new woman and you were just merely a blip on his screen, if that.

    THANK YOU so much for writing this and reminding/empowering us all to change our shitty narratives and truly grasp, accept and declare how mighty we are!!!

  • As Drake said in one of his songs … “The power of the mind is not a joke”.

    I’m sitting here reading y’all’s comments and realizing more and more that I saw what I wanted to see. I just plain got good at lying to myself. AMAZING. Everything in me told me to run, but I straight up made him who I wanted and needed him to be. Very powerful. How do I use these powers for good?? Because I am REALLY good at seeing what I want to!

    • You can advocate for yourself in the same way you advocated for your past relationship. It’s a little trick I’m working on when things get tough–what advice and help would I give someone who I love and admire? Then, I do that for myself.

      Being a single mom is such a super star move–and one women have done since forever but only recently gotten any real credit for. My Great Grandma raised 4 kids during the depression in rural Texas as a single mom sharecropper. She was failed by two deadbeat husbands–one who left with another woman and one who drank himself to death. She raised (and buried) babies, worked her fields, got them educated, and shared her income with family and friends…even still, she was known largely for having “lost” two husbands.

      I think now’s a good time (if there is one) to be a single mom. I wish you the best.

  • I read this article in the airport–LAX, and cried.

    https://www.redbookmag.com/life/a46588/tajari-hensen-book-excerpt/

    Taraji P. Henson: “Becoming a Single Mother Was a Parenting Decision That Would Save Our Lives”
    Taraji on one of the hardest decisions she — and millions of other women — will ever have to make, from her memoir Around the Way Girl.

    Of course, choosing to be a single mother, even under such dire circumstances, still opened me up to some severe criticism. The common-held assumption used to be that if there’s no diamond on the ring finger of the hand pushing the baby stroller, the mother attached to it must be an irresponsible lazy ass who got pregnant by accident (or on purpose so she could live off the government), and the poor baby in said stroller is either a mistake, a statistic or a paycheck. Hardly anyone ever considers that the children of black single mothers are made from love—that we care deeply about our babies and, like any mother with a heart that beats and a mind that is reasonably right, want the very best for them. Hell, even the president of the United States—four of them, in fact—were raised by single mothers.

    Nevertheless, mention that you’re a single mom, and all-too-many of us still have to cut through a thick, gristly layer of stigma before we’re given our proper due. The grace and understanding for the familial choices of married women is a given. The humanity of single moms comes with asterisks, ridicule and judgmental questions.

    I never saw my baby as a roadblock to my goals or a strike against my ability to do exactly what I planned to do with my life; I simply started planning and dreaming about ways I would get what I wanted out of life while I had a baby on my hip. Having my son gave me a laser-sharp focus. That is the miracle of single motherhood: it is not easy to raise a human being with a partner, but doing so alone requires a Herculean effort that is all muscle and grit, built up with repetitive sets of sacrifice. Whatever you gain, whatever you earn, you give to your baby and you work triple hard to show your child—not anyone else—that moving forward, no matter how tiny the steps, is possible. This is a single mother’s love.

  • Chump ;lady, I really and truly love you. Thank you for this column. You are the absolute best and you are saving my life every day. Keep doing what you do.

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