First, thank you. Your truth is like a laser ripping through the threads of the tangled skein I’ve struggled with for three years. I’m two years out from divorce after a torturous separation. I’m guilty of reality-bending, crippling doubt, doing the pick-me dance for ages — leading to self-loathing that took years to heal from.
I don’t know how to get over the fact that he treated me like an inconvenience. He didn’t attend my surgery when I was in the hospital. Complained about having to pick up post-surgery meds. Couldn’t be bothered to pick me up when a man on the street was threatening me, leaving me to walk home alone in a new city. Always ignoring me with a phone or computer in front of his face, day-in and day-out. Falling in fantasy wuv with a girl who was my friend, but did not work or go to school. But she was edgy, like him! I wasn’t supportive of his anger! All of this while we were married.
Ex-shitlord did a lot of things, including lying through omission as much as he breathed, never admitting to or apologizing for his cheating, refusing to stop seeing her, saying he didn’t want to be in a relationship (while married?), forcing me to pull the divorce trigger. Victimhood had always been his identity.
He withheld information like it was his job. There is so much I’ll never know and I don’t entirely know how to make peace with that. He abandoned me — I saw his love for me turn off like a light switch and I’ve never fully recovered from that experience.
In retrospect, sure, I see things. He never was a good husband. A coward who only thought of himself for the almost 20 years I knew him. A liar, a gaslighter with anger problems and entitlement the size of the moon. I allowed it because I didn’t know better. Because, at the time, I thought what I was fighting for was a good future in which I’d invested everything.
What haunts me is that he always hid the truth of his inner world and acted like I was nuts after I found it out about his (firstly emotional) cheating on my own. Because, like a human being, I responded to the secret social media accounts and (likely) booty call clandestine plane trips with massive hurt — he actually froze when I asked him if he was cheating. Not yes, not no. Everything and nothing in that empty space.
Soon after, he accused me of being mentally ill. For crying all the time. Persistently trying to talk it out. Wanting to spend time together to work on things. He specifically said his therapist said I had BPD.
Talk about insult icing on the pain cake. No offense to those who actually suffer from BPD. Ever a marathon chump, I asked my therapist about BPD since I couldn’t see anything clearly through my grief. I did have depression (situational much? utterly screwed over by the only person I ever loved?), but she pointed out that I had a stellar career, great friends, and that I worked through some turbulent family issues that came out positive. I’ve taken off into the stratosphere since losing the loser/cement shoes, so why can’t I forget what he said? What he didn’t say?
Ex-shitlord knew I struggled with some past trauma — ironically, abandonment trauma. He was gaslighting me into thinking that my feelings were disordered and that my needs were the problem. I tried to erase my needs. To be someone else since who I was had been so easy to discard. Obviously, this did a number on me. It still hurts to know that’s how he thought of me and represented me to others — as unhinged. His family loved and supported me, his mom said he was the one who wasn’t wired right. Losing them was the ultimate, but such are the casualties of cheating. So much fallout. I had no control over any of it, which only magnified my despair.
And for what? He must have been dumpster diving when he found his schmoopie — who ultimately didn’t reciprocate. True enough that they always affair down. I’m now in the best shape of my life, at a top medical school, making more than him, with a wonderful/better/healthy man, doing work that matters, traveling with wonderful old/new friends, and HAPPY. I stay away from him now like he’s 80’s Chernobyl. I’m in a better place than I ever would have been if I had stayed — but I went through three years of hell to get here.
It’s like looking in a rearview mirror and seeing a flaming car wreck. Looking back… you can be thankful you got out, despite the burns.
I want to lay this phantom pain to rest. Please help me unfuck my brain — his abandonment and his love for me extinguishing like nothing. Leaving me to fend for myself when I was in the worst pain of my life. Stringing me out on hopium just so he could crush me when I tried to get close. Lying, lying, lying. Accusing me of BPD to invalidate everything I could ever say or feel about him. Saying he loved me…but refusing to answer if I said I missed him. Never telling me what really happened.
Even now, I have to stay far away from him and memories of him for risk of a downslide into the dark. All because I don’t know how to make peace with what I don’t understand. All because a piece of me believed him when his actions, but not words, told me I wasn’t worth anything.
Sorry I suck at brevity and this is not really one question. I’m in a wormhole. Twenty years of my life is now a wasteland of tainted memories. I have no answers. Only this empty space where love used to be.
To Have and To Withhold
Dear To Have and to Withhold,
Consider this a bitchslap. You don’t have an “empty space” — you have a FULL LIFE. You’re in the best shape of your life. You’re at a “top med school.” You earn money. You have a new man in your life. You wrote HAPPY in all caps.
Okay, so it took “three years of hell” to get there. Isn’t that preferable to the decades more of hell you would’ve lived if you’d stayed with him? The reign of Ex-Shitlord is OVER. He is VANQUISHED.
Or is he?
Imagine if Dorothy couldn’t click her ruby slippers and return to Kansas because she was convulsed with self-doubt. Why are you giving a fuckwit the power to destroy you now that he’s dead to you? Let that bitch melt.
Saying he loved me…but refusing to answer if I said I missed him. Never telling me what really happened.
Don’t predicate your healing on “What Really Happened.” He’s not going to tell you. That’s how fuckwits are. And if he offered details, it would only be to hurt you. To toy with you for kibbles, to see if you still care. There is no such thing as closure. You do NOT need him to process what he did. You need NO CONTACT with him to process what he did.
Even now, I have to stay far away from him and memories of him for risk of a downslide into the dark. All because I don’t know how to make peace with what I don’t understand.
I call bullshit. You understand this just fine. He was abusive. He was a cheater. A mindfucker. Liberation is not having to “make peace with it.” You got AWAY from it.
If you have a Trust That He Sucks problem, work on that. He’s not the lodestar of your self-worth. Yes, you invested a lot in this person, a marriage, you knew him a long time, you loved his family. Again, that doesn’t make him the final word on your worth. NO ONE has that power. Not your mother. Not the president. Not the mean girl in 8th grade. NO ONE. YOU set your value.
He’s an idiot. Consider the source. He devalues you because that’s who he is — a user. An unethical, unkind person. Why do we care what he says?
Frederick Douglass once said, “A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.”
Take away Shitlord’s power to insult you. He’s a shitlord. Not a gentleman.
All because a piece of me believed him when his actions, but not words, told me I wasn’t worth anything.
To Have, look, I get it. We’re all here because someone we once loved rejected us in the most humiliating, traumatic sort of way. Or held on to us to front their fake life until we could reject them. It hurts like a motherfucker.
The entire point of this blog, this community, is to make rejection your bitch. Learn from it. Be mightier for it.
People are going to reject you in this life. Fairly and unfairly. Mysteriously. Abusively. You have to have an internal core of self-worth to stand up to it. To not internalize their judgements.
I’m not saying be a dick, or be impervious to criticism. A good person self-reflects and weighs these things. I’m saying — GET UP AGAIN. Fuckwits and even well-meaning people are going to underestimate you. Don’t underestimate yourself.
Take up room. Have needs! You’ll be shocked to find decent people who respond. Who’ll give you a lift to the hospital. Who know how to be a friend. They exist. Invest in them. As you do so, fuckwits will recede from your life and your brain.
You know what’s worse than having invested in a loser? Investing more in a loser.