I’m two months post D-Day. My piece of shit ex-husband is a middle school teacher who had an affair with the school guidance counselor (or, “brother fucker” as I like to call her). Said guidance counselor also had sex with my husband’s brother, as well as his direct report at school. I’m sure she gives great advice to middle schoolers. Not surprisingly, he put all the blame on me — I wasn’t attractive any more, I was working too much, he was unhappy. Blah Blah.
I’ve almost got myself over the infidelity. What’s more painful is the realization that I allowed myself to be verbally and mentally abused for years. Shit sandwich after shit sandwich. And, even post D-Day, it continues. I’m not sure why I expect him to all of the sudden have some kind of empathy toward me — but I guess I would just imagine some kindness after shattering someone’s world and self-worth.
When I found out about the affair, I moved swiftly — kicked him out, hired a lawyer, filed for divorce, put my house on the market, and am moving to a new city (in large part due to you and the other amazing people on this site who have given me strength at a time when I feel totally shattered).
I definitely did my share of crying and yelling in front of him — certainly not the “meh” way I hope to be one day — but I am proud of myself for not trying to stick around with someone who treated me like shit and is cruel to his core.
My biggest struggle right now, though, is that no one understands. I still get REALLY sad, VERY angry, and a few times, even just wanted to give up. While I know I’m powerful for making the moves I have, it doesn’t lessen the pain, make me forget how he continues to treat me, or ease the immense sense of loss and fear that I feel.
I’ve always been the “happy kid”. When I talk to my parents, they just want me to be over it. They say things like “It happened. He was a bad guy. Get over it.” They get upset with me when I cry or get angry on the phone. They tell me that I’m “hard to handle” in my emotional state. So, when I get off the phone, I just feel worse than where I started. They try and compare my pain to other hardships in their lives (none that are actually an affair). I know we all have struggles. I know I’m not unique in my pain. But I also don’t want to hear about how I don’t have it that bad compared to others right now.
Listen, I know I’m better off without my sack of shit husband and his little brother-fucker. I know that I need to get over things. But I also know that it’s only been two months and I’m still hurting. I see a therapist weekly, I’m walking everyday, I read CN like the Bible, and I’m doing about as much self care as I can manage while still working my job.
So, I guess my question is, how do you deal with people who just can’t imagine this gutted feeling that I have? Who do I talk to when I need brought off the edge? How long is too long to feel unworthy and scared and lonely? Help!
Shattered but surviving
Dear Shattered but surviving,
Dear God woman! Has no one told you that you’re a FUCKING ROCK STAR?! Two months out? TWO MONTHS OUT and you’ve “kicked him out, hired a lawyer, filed for divorce, put my house on the market, and am moving to a new city”? What else have you done? Lifted cars off of trapped children? Spun the earth backwards on its axis? Leapt tall buildings in a single bound?
I’m sorry no one understands your mightiness. It’s probably because they don’t have superpowers themselves that you appear freakish. (This is the plight of superheroes everywhere.) Some are bit by radioactive spiders, others are betrayed by fuckwits. You have super strength.
I’m sure you’re thinking, no I don’t. I’m a blubbering mess. I sob in showers and stare lifelessly at sandwiches. Cease your pep talks at once. I know you’re just trying to make me feel better. But you don’t know what’s matted in my hair.
Yeah? Well, you’re still MIGHTY. Courage is doing the hard thing even when you’re shattered and scared. Strength is being your own hero and dragging yourself out of that burning building of dysfunction. YOU DID THAT. You SAVED YOU.
Your mettle has been tested and you survived the trial. I know it’s not over. Hercules had, like what, 8 trials? You’ve probably got some shit-filled stables to clean out next. But you’re amazing.
Shame on your parents! They can’t take EIGHT WEEKS of your pain? I’d hate for life to hand them something horrible that goes on longer. Like say, old age and infirmity. Perhaps they should meditate on their lack of empathy from the long unvisited corridor of a nursing home?
Okay, that’s churlish of me. They’ve probably known real pain and rejection. Had a boil lanced off their ass once. Were not selected for their co-op board. Pumpkin spice season ended. Life has its crushing disappointments.
They say things like “It happened. He was a bad guy. Get over it.” They get upset with me when I cry or get angry on the phone. They tell me that I’m “hard to handle” in my emotional state.
My nicest interpretation of their suckitude is that it pains them to see you in pain. (To which I’d say SUCK IT UP, YOU ARE THE PARENT HERE!) You. Just. Went. Though. This.
It’s one thing to mutter “get over it” years out, it’s quite another at two fucking months. You have done EVERYTHING right. You have navigated yourself through this brilliantly. What you need is some validation that it’s HARD. That it HURTS. That it’s SCARY. And that you’ll be OKAY.
And they’re withholding that. Or they’re incapable of it. Which makes me think a nice line of inquiry at the therapist’s is — am I the child of narcissists, and did I choose someone as a life partner who invalidates me the way my parents did? (and continue to do)?
God, Tracy. Maybe they’re just not equipped for this and are Very Nice People and you’re being terribly judgy.
Okay, then accept that your parents have limitations. They might be great company at baseball games, but they don’t do major life events. Shared DNA is often overrated. Focus on what you do have together, and find comfort elsewhere.
How do you deal with people who just can’t imagine this gutted feeling that I have?
You find people who can walk into your cracked open heart, because theirs once cracked open the same way. Get on the CN forums (register on the home page, upper right, the forums will appear).
Who do I talk to when I need brought off the edge?
Talk to a fellow chump. We’re here 24/7. On the forums you can also find meet-ups around the world. And if you can’t find one, you can start your own. Chumps are EVERYWHERE. Where are you moving? I guarantee there are chumps there.
How long is too long to feel unworthy and scared and lonely?
It takes as long as it takes. You can’t rush grief. He absolutely sucks, but you loved him and invested in a shared life together. Not only did you lose that life, you lost who you thought he was (or had the potential to improve into — your beautiful, beautiful reclamation projection, your vindication of sunk costs), you lost the future you thought you would have. It’s a LOT to absorb.
The important thing now is to protect yourself and act. Processing your feelings can come later. With no contact, it gets easier over time. You’re in the white hot center of this mess. I say it here a lot — it’s gonna hurt like a motherfucker.
You’re normal. Unworthy, scared, and lonely is NORMAL. If you didn’t feel those things, you wouldn’t have a pulse.
The measure of who we are is how we deal with vulnerability. Not everyone can handle vulnerability — and who can and who cannot is a good indication of character. Invest your time in the people who matter, who are there for you.
What if no one is there for you?
I created this place so no one ever feels that way. There are people at the other end of computers here with an encouraging word whenever you need it. So take as long as you need.
And someday, pay it back. Your superpower isn’t rejection — it’s empathy. You can walk into cracked open hearts. It’s a gift.
You’re gonna be okay. ((((BIG CHUMP HUGS)))