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‘Replaced’ and Still Feels Empty

Dear Chump Lady,

I was married for almost 30 years, have one now grown daughter, and I’m in my 60s. I managed to survive serial cheating and lots of other abuse. My daughter and I were immediately replaced with a new younger OW and a younger OD (other daughter) and other dog!

I got back on my feet with a new career at this late point in life, after not working for a long stretch. But… I go through the motions of survival, but have no hope for myself.

I know I should be proud of my ability to have kicked him out finally, divorced, eaten all those shit sandwiches without getting Ecoli, gone totally no contact. But nearly three years later, I still feel empty and purposeless. Maybe it’s because I’m older? Won’t find new purpose at this point? Stuck? Too devastated?


I Only Look OK on the Outside

Dear Okay,

I totally agree with you. You should be proud of yourself for kicking out your serial cheating, abusive ex and going no contact. You should also be bursting your buttons for getting back on your feet with a new career.

May I suggest you’re not reveling in your mightiness because you’re just exhausted? It takes an incredible amount of moxie to end a 30-year marriage and rebuild.

Also, you’re measuring yourself against your ex and that’s never good for one’s mental health. It’s comparing apples to fuckwits. You had to wage a liberation campaign. He just had to swap out a wife appliance. You had to clean up 30 years of rubble. He just had to swing his dick and find a willing idiot.

So, let’s reframe this. You were not “replaced.” YOU KICKED HIM OUT. You refused to be the hypotenuse. You took away his cake! You stood up for yourself!

Empty people do not do that. People who know their worth do that. Empty people continue their sham marriages and front their fake lives and write insipid holiday newsletters. You are not that. You are a strong woman who LEFT.

Now, you might feel like a pioneer among your demographic. You might feel twitchy around the Hallmark channel this time of year. (Spoiler alert: Biff gets a new reindeer sweater and Betsy gives up her soulless white-collar city job to become a professional cupcake decorator at Biff’s tree farm.) You might feel depressed.

That’s normal. And if you feel clinically depressed — as many are during this dumpster fire of a year — please talk to your doctor and get some help. Zero shame in it.

All the Gain a Life things I would ordinarily suggest have been shit-canned thanks to the pandemic. Volunteering, being among friends, dog rescue. This will change, but I can’t blame you if your mental health is hanging on by a thread. None of us have the usual ways to self-sooth. (Except carbohydrates and booze. Someone please take this scone away from me…)

But nearly three years later, I still feel empty and purposeless.

The rest of your life is yours to do with as you like, and that’s a gift. Even though it may not feel that way now.

One thing about being in an abusive, chaotic relationship — it’s all-consuming. There’s never enough kibbles to shovel at an unappreciative jerk, the chaos janitor job is never done, and even if you’re not well-loved, you are needed.

There’s an identity in that and a purpose. Even if it’s incredibly dysfunctional and painful. You can throw all your potential and energy at the fuckwit and sideline yourself. So you never have to answer the hard questions of, who am I without this person? What do I want to accomplish in this life?

Remove the fuckwit, you need a new purpose.

Some people chase after the fuckwit, untangle the skein, stalk Schmoopies on social media and fill their days with why, why, why?

Why give creeps centrality? You went to all the trouble to LEAVE, don’t look back.

Maybe it’s because I’m older?

Older people have purpose-filled lives and you can too. What are you interested in? Who were you before you met your ex? Julia Child didn’t write her first cookbook until she was 50.

Won’t find new purpose at this point?

I think this is the depression talking. Purpose is EVERYWHERE. Take 5 minutes to make a list of 10 things that piss you off. Litter? Child abuse? Hunger? That Other Political Party? Weeds? …

Find a corner of your world and attack it for the better.

I had a friend Ed who was a two-time chump. He told me he was suicidal after the second chumping, and was going throw himself off a bridge. (He was an ex-Marine. A tough guy. Irish-Catholic, from the Bronx.) He told me that he figured his life wasn’t any good, so he’d give it to God. This was right after 9/11. So he and a buddy got some tools — true story — and he flew to the other side of the world to look for orphanages. (Ed was a handy man.) Just driving around with his tools, zero plan. They found a nun! And the nun said “Oh, I was praying for you to come and fix our roof.” So, they stayed awhile and fixed an orphanage roof.

Here’s Ed at that orphanage.

Stuck? Too devastated?

You’re never too stuck to do some good in the world. You SAVED YOURSELF! For what? Rebuild that life with all the vigor you threw at getting out that 30 year marriage. You’re worth it. I’m proud of you.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I can really relate to this letter!
    Im 37 in a dew days, but I feel at the same point in life, minus kids.

    I spent the first 3 years in a fuckin blender, came out of it triggering a chronic, invalidating illness.
    I am on the verge of re-starting my original career, not without complications, but I know I should be proud and now I just feel empty. I AM tired, like Chump Lady said.

    I ran out of adrenaline that was supposed to save my life and it kinda did (also jumpstarted my illness, along with trauma), but you know what? I’ve learned so much. I have so many resources and life skills and personal traits that I didn’t. And I figure that’s going to turn into something, right?
    For example, for the first time ever I’m considering asking for meds. For the first time I feel entitled to actually feel good, so I can live my life the way it was intended, in joy, not constant edginess and pain.

    I absolutely believe in even wallowing in grief, perhaps. Im not the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” gal too much – though I’ve had to learn. But I cherish that the time has come for me too to feel like Im supposed to be happy. That it’s not okay to always feel like I for some reason shouldn’t access that.

    So I think even writing to CL was a pivotal moment for Okay. You deserve MORE than ok, Okay!
    Rest, if you feel like resting. Go numb, if you feel like going numb. But after that, there IS room in your life to still touch its beauty for the first time!

    You are MIGHTY! xxx

    • I hope you decide to talk to someone about medication and i am proud of you for considering it.

      It took a year after my post post partum to find the right meds…..and all i can say is i feel so much more even and the dark thoughts dont sprial me down anymore. I get down but i don’t stay down. I have emotional ups and downs they are a little more gradual.

      I feel like me just more steady and less dark.

      I hated myself for being broken and weak and emotional….and now i am ok with the fact that my brain chemistry was out of whack and i couldnt will that better….i needed help. And i still need help. And thats ok.

      • Im so glad you got help after birth! That’s such a delicate time, moms really need all the help they can get!
        I technically could continue feeling like this indefinitely , but im seeing my heart rate being constantly high and irregular, i dont know for sure that it’s stress alone (might be my illness), but at this point it’s worth a shot!

        I’ve done tons of work on myself in these years and I feel this is sort of like the aftermath (or aftershock!)

          • I went through a bout of depression years before D-Day and a medication on the anxiety-depression spectrum helped reset my brain.

            I still had work to do and I still have work to do now. But medication was a life-saver.

      • “I hated myself for being so broken, weak, and emotional”

        Wow. Reading that caused a physical sensation in my gut and my mama bear came out a-roaring.

        YOU JUST HAD A BABY. Anyone who survives that is strong as fuck.

        Broken? You may be torn or sliced but definitely not broken.

        Emotional? Having emotions is not the problem. Other people being uncomfortable with your emotions is the problem.

        (This is coming from someone who was hospitalized 3x for PPD)

    • What chronic illness did you get? I got Multiple Sclerosis from all the trauma/stress. Anybody else get an autoimmune disease from this nightmare? My divorce trial is in April and I would like to try to argue his behavior is the cause of my MS.

      • Im so sorry about your MS! I hope you have plenty of support ????from family/friends????✨ they don’t know for sure yet because I need to go into the hospital to complete tests and due to the pandemic I wouldn’t go but also lots of hospital wings have been turned into covid units. So it’s frustrating to hang in the balance, but I have a Circadian Sleep Rhythm Disorder diagnosis and then it’s either Periodic Paralysis or Narcolepsy. In case it’s not anxiety and/or an autoimmune disorder throwing everything off. My neurologist is quite sure about the PP, though, Im mostly in denial, especially without tests.

      • If you can get a mental health diagnosis like PTSD or Depression, that can be used in emotional abuse charges. Back when I was still with him, i got diagnosed with these in relation to the abusive relationship. But we weren’t legally married, so I didn’t have a financial reason to pursue that.

      • Type 2 diabetes. 25 years of disrupted sleep messes up your metabolism and causes insulin resistance and then …… so my grandfather was a diabetic so I had the genetic possibility, but stbx was a restless snorer up frequently to pee. He constantly interrupted my sleep. . Then,, I was up from the sexual frustration and anger. Then I was eating ….. He did not force feed me but when I look back on the abuse I can’t believe I survived
        I had been very thin, so he criticized my weight gain and used it in part as justification to reject me in bed and cheat. Divorcing after 3O years…… Hardest thing to relearn is self-care

        • I got 26 years of broken sleep. Maybe 3-4 hours (non-consecutive) per night. I don’t know how I survived. He was eventually diagnosed bipolar (when he wasn’t just being a roaring drunken violent asshole who could only listen to the TV or play music at 100 decibels at 3 a.m. And yet still I had the hardest time accepting that I had ptsd. CL’s comment that has struck me the most over all these years is that I was his chaos janitor. Whether he caused the chaos intentionally (to keep me off balance) or because that was just who he was – I’ll never know. I’m just glad I’m no longer assuming that role!

          • I, too suffered the broken sleep. What is it with these fuckwits and sleep? He’d stay up until 2am watching porn, then come to bed loudly, waking me up about 2-3 hours before I had to get up for work. Too late to take a sleeping pill and I was too awake to go back to sleep. I had to drag myself through a 12 hour workday. If he did come to bed at a reasonable hour, he snored, he “accidentally” kicked or punched me, and one memorable time when he had the flu, he sneezed directly into my sleeping face, claiming it was an accident. (People who are sneezing are awake — at least awake enough not to sneeze into their partner’s face.). Of course I got sick, was miserable and missed a week of work.

            During the time I spent with Mr. Sparkly Pants, I developed obesity (there’s a link between sleep deprivation and consuming carbohydrates and from what I understand, obesity is a common consequence of sleep deprivation), hypertension, breast cancer and Type II diabetes. My Primary Care Provider explained to me that the constant emotional upheaval leading to constantly circulating “fight or flight” hormones is known to cause these illnesses. She explained that living in a war zone will do the same thing. I really was living in a war zone. I was constantly tiptoeing around on eggshells to avoid setting him off.

            Toward the end of the relationship I had finally figured out that I was being abused — all the yelling, screaming, berating, insults, nitpicking, gas lighting, blame shifting and name calling I had been putting up with WAS abuse. I was being abused even if he hadn’t tried to strangle me like my previous husband. I was getting my ducks in a row to leave when I had my D Day. As I pick me danced, the marriage-ending event occurred. As it happened, he was berating me over my “stupidity” in steering the boat “wrong” (I was following US Coast Guard rules, which he frequently neglected to do) and suddenly body-slammed me to the deck. It took me two weeks, in my fog, to realize that was PHYSICAL abuse. I left with what I could carry and my dog.

            My life is so much more peaceful now. No screaming, no belittling or berating or name calling, and certainly no cheating or physical abuse. However I still have hypertension, obesity, Type II diabetes, and I still have to take medication so the breast cancer doesn’t come back either as breast cancer or as a lung cancer or liver cancer or brain or kidney cancer. A quarter century with a fuckwit can KILL you.

            To anyone who reads this, don’t be me. Don’t stay and put up with it for so long. Yes, marriage is a sacrament, but I cannot believe that sacraments are meant to keep you in line with an abusive husband until it kills you.

            • Sleep deprivation is actually one of the red flags for an abuser. It’s most commonly seen among abusers believed to present on the antisocial spectrum.

              It’s a powerful tool and psychopaths deploy it liberally.

          • What is it with narcs and sleep deprivation? I guess that’s in the cheater handbook too. Mine would stay up until some godawful hour playing video games, yelling at the screens so loudly I could hear him through the closed bedroom door. He only stopped when our next neighbor complained and threatened to get the HOA involved. Naturally Nitwit blamed our tenant, a quiet woman about 10 years older than us, who was not a gamer.

            He’d also just randomly start talking to me when I was trying to sleep. I told him that sleep deprivation was literally a method of torture and that it would be his fault if I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident on my way home from work. That shut him up. Couldn’t endanger his meal ticket, after all. I actually did get into an accident one morning after he and my mother had had a screaming row right before I left for work.

            • Sleep deprivation — me too. He would come to bed at 2 a.m. after being online doing who knows what, and want sex. He would say, “Are you awake? Are you? HEY! ARE YOU AWAKE??” Obviously not if I’m not answering, idiot! Other times, I would be asleep for the night and he would come in several hours later, turn on the lights, then leave them on and go shower for 45 minutes. He refused to turn them off because “I don’t want to come out to a dark room!”. So inconsiderate. He would also refuse to let me sleep until I gave whatever resolution he wanted when we had a disagreement. I also developed weight gain, premature aging, hypertension, and prediabetes.

      • I was married to a NPD/BPD woman for 24 years. Totally broke me. 3 autoimmune diseases and a nervous breakdown. Been disabled for almost 10 years. The stress almost killed me. Been gone 3 years and off one medication and one of the autoimmune disease is in remission. Leaving can save your life.

        • Yes to all this! It can save your life. I developed myocarditis (heart inflammation) after a lingering strep infection that didn’t resolve. I slept with one eye open for at least one year prior to the divorce, worried about all the guns in the house, his erratic/moody behavior, and trying to protect my little boys. My body fell apart from the stress. I’m finally working my way out of it three years later. I worry I’ve lost so many years of my life and that I’ve been too slow to heal.

        • Amazing the amount of people I know that were/are married to disordered partners suffer from various illnesses. One couple, he was a full blown narcissist that loved to lord it over everyone. He had the classic kiss up, kick down mentality. His wife went along with his disordered agenda. A friend’s young daughter (about 14 at the time) was working a Farmer’s market concession stand on a Saturday. Mr. Asswipe and a several of his asswipe friends went the market, caused all sorts of chaos and confusion at check out and then berated my friend’s daughter on not giving correct change. A few months later at a party, Mr. Asswipe was introducing his wife to my friend and followed up by saying she is the one with the math challenged daughter. The wife just grinned. Oh and by the way the wife taught high school math. My friend was mortified but didn’t cause a scene. A short time later Mr. Asswipe’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, that had spread everywhere so nothing could be done. For years she spoke glowingly of her husband and what a good man he was…when clearly he wasn’t, he was a nasty piece of work. Anyway she died and from what I could see he didn’t exactly mourn her passing. Got himself a sports car and a new girlfriend. I’m sure he misses her income as he could never keep a job very long. What I wonder is, did she ever think “was it worth it?”.

      • I developed rheumatoid arthritis! I didn´t realize physical illness was so common after D-Day! I played marriage police for about two years and I could feel how stressed out I got, adrenaline and my heart racing every time I found new evidence. I was extremely fatigued, got very anemic and felt like I was in a dark hole.

        But once I realized I was literally killing myself over someone who, to say the least, was NOT WORTH MY LIFE, I woke up. I stopped policing his activities, went grey rock, initiated the divorce, finalized the divorce and now two years on ALL my symptoms are gone. I´m at MEH and really happy.

        Taking back your power from someone who doesn´t value you and doing the very best you can for yourself will heal you.

      • I already had autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I thought I wouldn’t cope at all with the kids on my own and the heartbreak. I did. Autoimmune disorders are a tough hand to be dealt. I hope you’re doing ok with yours.

      • Muscle knots all along my right leg and glute. A month after D-Day I turned 30. A few months later all the gyms in my state were closed due to COVID. They have yet to reopen. Stress, age, and muscle weakness are all contributing factors, so I don’t think I could prove Nitwit’s antics were the sole cause though.

      • I got eosinophilia and severe uncontrolled asthma following the trauma.

        Also, I’d like to be friends with Ed.

      • I was clenching my jaw so bad I shattered a tooth and had to have it removed. I had a miscarriage while he was cheating and I was not eating..fainted at work..blood everywhere and I still have a scar I see everytime I look in the mirror. My physical pain was a major manifestation of all the trauma. It is seriously one of the worst abuses..physical and cheat on your partner ????

    • “I feel entitled to actually feel good, so I can live my life the way it was intended, in joy, not constant edginess and pain.”

      Such a powerful statement.

      • DOINGME

        “I feel entitled to actually feel good, so I can live my life the way it was intended, in joy, not constant edginess and pain.”

        Such a powerful statement.


        I just turned 61 but I’m in good shape and started a teaching career abroad so I lived in Europe FINALLY, but thanks to covid, I’m back here feeling purposeless.

        THIS^^ will change as soon as I can either get vaccinated or the world becomes semi normal again. I’ll figure it out.

        IT’s true that the holidays are triggers (some are good but for Chumps, mostly NOT).

        After a 35 year marriage and 2 years since the divorce (4 years since Dday) I accept this. It will pass.

        And I remind myself that what I really lost was a selfish dishonest man/child. Not the dreams I had– because I can still achieve them in modified form.

        So OKAY – ask yourself what my brilliant therapist asked me a few years back.

        She told me to list the things I felt I had lost from the divorce, and traveling abroad and living in Europe and teaching were 3 of the many long time goals I had that I felt I had lost.

        She said “Which of those things can you still do in SOME form?” Turns out, most.

        See if that^^ helps because life is short but this is our 2nd half. It’s all up to us now.

        Good luck!

        I cannot be replaced with ANY schmoopie and nor can our children with Schmoopie’s child, no matter how the DOCTOR scrambles to with massive image management and his rampant poisonous

        “justification for being HIS being a shit is HIS happiness” maneuvers. Cheaters are not good people.

        As Velvet Hammer once wrote

        • oops, I forgot the part about what VH wrote…

          –I let go of assholes in my life, not looking to collect more.– or words to that effect.

          So, OKAY – Don’t miss the asshole you let go of. He’s still an asshole.

          Unlike fine wines, cheating assholes do not improve with time…

          You are luckier than you know.

    • One of the best things I’ve learned is that it’s ok to feel bad ~ your body is telling you something. Lay low, recharge and then one day you wake up and feel great, like you’ve had the best sleep and now have all the energy in the world.

  • Having been through profound loss of the ordinary, garden variety kind (my father died), I had experience in Grief World going into this situation. It was about four years before I felt level again after a very common and expected experience, the death of a parent.

    Infidelity is massive trauma. It’s far more complicated. Abuse, loss, betrayal, divorce, lives blown to smithereens, children swept up into it….our writer’s feelings where she is on the timeline sound normal to me.

    I am at the three year mark and I am far from All Better. I feel like our writer. And that is totally normal for what has happened to me, I thankfully know. A good therapist has been part of my life since I was 22 and she validates that how shitty I feel is completely normal. I would be concerned about the emotional wiring of anyone who was skipping down the lane, happy joyous and free, who was in our writer’s circumstances

    Healing from this is a very very long game. There are things I must do to facilitate that healing, and number one on the list is to have realistic expectations of myself and my feelings. Getting help and treatment for any ill effects associated with this off the charts trauma is essential.
    My beloved long term therapist reminds me to KEEP THE WOUND CLEAN. I am really pissed off that I feel so crummy but I also know it’s totally par for the course. That does help.

    • PS…

      There are signs of spring, however!

      I watched The Octopus Teacher on Netflix (twice!) and it helped me be OK with the healing process. Like the little octopus, I was essentially attacked by sharks and had my arm bitten off. So naturally I have been hiding under a rock while all my energy has gone toward regrowing my arm.

      I think I am at the place where I can see the beginnings of my arm growing back…..

      • That’s exactly how I felt about that scene in the movie when I watched My Octopus Teacher. It was the first thought in my mind.

        I totally related to the withdrawn and lifeless little octopus, waiting for her tentacle to regrow and her strength return after the horrific ambush. I had so much empathy for her!

        Such a good analogy for the betrayal of the chump by the predator.

      • My cheater actually had a breakdown after this movie. Messaging me about how sorry he was. He must have felt like I was his octopus ????

    • PPS…

      It’s impossible to replace you. You are a completely unique individual that can never be duplicated. Even identical twins have different fingerprints! How amazing is that?! He just burned through you and needed a fresh willing idiot who would buy his bullshit. There’s a sucker born every minute. I don’t want to be that sucker.

      Watching my self-talk is HUGELY important. I do NOT say I was replaced; I think I was RESCUED. I was not going to let go of a bad relationship and I needed some divine intervention.

      • Re: self talk.
        At my low points, I think of myself as “alone,” and so I tell myself that no, I am now just “going solo.”

        • Yes I love that also. I feel like whenever I have any contact I reopen the wound because he can’t ever be decent. It’s self-harm for me in a way then. Unfortunately with kids I can’t go completely non-contact.

        • No/minimal contact
          No pain shopping…block social media…resist urges to look
          call trusted friends to debrief after interactions with the traitor


      • First of all, I love love love your name Velvet Hammer. Thank you for the words that one is impossible to replace. Even when they are LITERALLY spoken by the fuckwit. Good reminder. And what you said about self talk–invaluable! I am so guilty of this which is making things worse and harder for me. Have you ever looked in the mirror at yourself and called yourself the very bad names your fuckwit did? I have. That has to stop and I’m replacing with words and phrases I would say to my younger little girl self. Who of us would say those horrible things to a sweet child? No one. So I constantly tell myself that I deserve love and respect. Its so so hard to be rid of some words that are defintely PTSD moments (“If you deserve love and respect you better look to your next husband!”) how horrible is that? None of us deserve such treatment==maybe they do however…Eventually the next one will leave at exhaustion just like me and all the others before me.

        • Lisa, you have put words to what I have been unable to figure out….all those PTSD
          MOMENTS. I still feel terrorized by things that happened 40, 30 , 20 and 2 years ago. The words are crystal clear in my mind- (a quality of PTSD memories) and I have yet to find a way to get over them.
          So glad you put a name of the awful memories that have invaded my mind and probably my body. I am working hard to overcome the terrible effects of abuse and I’m using the pandemic time to cook well and eat healthy foods only, sleep more, read this wonderful Chump Lady blog, and watch my weight in a way I was never able to do before.
          The last thing he said to me was “if you don’t like it maybe you should take medication”.
          Yup-he’s doctor, so it was extra abusive and insulting and self-serving sandwich-If you don’t like verbal abuse you ought to anesthetize yourself ’cause I’m sure as hell not going to fix it.

  • I’m 64 and can empathize with how you feel.
    Rebuilding at this age after such a long marriage is indeed different than the experience of many other chumps here.

    There are many positives at this point in our lives that might help you refocus your emotions.
    First, this time of year sucks for so many no matter what their age. Facing the fear that life won’t get better during any holiday season is hard; if you live where it’s cold and dark this time of year, that just compounds the sadness.

    You have an adult daughter! No co-parenting or split time with her sperm donor. Yea! You can speak the truth to her without worrying about being dragged into court for alienation. Plus you ha e a built in woman willing to do a spa day with you – at home in sweats or one day out in the world. If you haven’t been open and honest with her, please do so now. The pattern of accepting abuse should not be passed down to the next generation. Be as honest as you can about what happened in your marriage. I burdened my adult sons with my suicidality. Maybe not the best way of dealing with it. As adults they are there for me unconditionally.

    You will find your path. It took me many more years to find my peace. I got a new job after having a home based business for many years. I threw myself into the job and acquired new skills, new people and new interests. I moved several times to find the right place for myself. Then the pandemic hit but when it’s over I will get back to a different life.

    I gave dating my best shot. Didn’t work but I have great stories, learned that I’m attractive to many different people and had some fun along the way. I didn’t take dating all that seriously so I didn’t get too hurt. It was a good distraction once I was ready to date.

    I traveled solo a bit without worrying about childcare. That expanded my horizons and I learned I can go halfway around the world and make friends just by being me.

    Please give yourself the gift of time. 3 years is a drop in the bucket. You DO have wonderful experiences and happiness ahead of you. Not what you planned on but worthwhile all the same.

    • Thank you for posting some positives. I’m 9 months out from Dday. He’s only been out of the house for 3 months, it was so lonely at first especially with Covid year but live where it’s warm and can go to the beach and be out in nature. I’m starting to feel more comfortable with being alone and noticing the positive like not cooking, cleaning and doing his laundry for him. He’s not with the OW and wants to come back so bad but I just can’t except that he was able to cheat for years and thinks he can change now.

      • DH57, of COURSE he wants to come back. But you will always have the knowledge of what he is capable of doing, of what he did. Maybe he CAN change….but, for you, there will always be that doubt. You don’t need to live your life in doubt. If you take him back, the only thing he will have learned is that he can get away with it.

      • He wants to come back to you because you do cooking, laundry, cleaning etc and for companionship and sex. Men are not good being alone, that’s why they when they do leave a marriage it’s to live with the OW, not to be on their own then they claim they aren’t happy in the marriage. Women do better alone, they have more a support system and we are use to taking care of ourselves and our family. Odds are if you did take him back he would leave again if he found someone else, then you have to start the healing process all over again. He isn’t going to change.

    • Such good points! thank you so much. Good reminders and I absolutely agree. I’m 62 and it is a whole different ball game.

  • OK, I’m just about where you are, though not divorced yet. It is a lonely feeling and all the things that usually make me feel good and boost my mood, like Tracy mentions, are out til this Covid thing is better.
    Just know that you’re not alone. We will get through this. So thankful that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

  • I feel this way as well right now so it isnt just because you are older. I am 42 and 3 years out and still struggle with this. I think CL has a very valid point that you are tired, i know i am and thats ok, it isnt a cop out. I also really appreciate the reminder that the ex just swapped out a person as if nothing happened and i am over here doing the hard work……not comparable. Both those things are easy to forget.

    Please be kinder to yourself and more patient…and i will too.

    CL thanks for acknowledging that coping mechanism options are way down this year and overindulgence in alcohol isnt good and needs to be addressed but is understandable.

  • You are 60…. you are brave and mighty…. imagine all the women who are not there yet ( abandoned teens, domestic violence victims) – you could share your wisdom.
    No one ( unfortunately ) teaches us about the ???? of narcs… you have an inside knowledge…. sharing that with 1 young woman may result in changing her life.
    Being 60ty is a gift- please use it????
    As far as your ex? Not worth wasting your time

  • Dear “I only look ok from the outside”.
    I still feel occasionally the same. I am by now nearly 2.5 years out from DDay. I am divorced for 1.5 years. It gets better and easier. However, the empty feeling and the feeling of being abandoned stayed. He is with a younger woman (the OW) and of course is playing happy couple with her and her kids (she also got divorced because of all the affair).

    Luckily, my exes disordered behavior is now shining through more than ever. They also now got a dog. But the arrangement for the dog to me is highly disturbing and just another sign that they do not care for anyone but themselves. You will feel eventually like you have won by losing him. There was nothing there to work with. And with all the pain you are still better off without him. You will eventually let go of the thought that it is shameful to be divorced and you will find new joy in a single life. It will not be the same, but it can be better.

    Here is more about me:

  • PPPS…

    I am also VERY inspired and energized by the biography of MOTHER JONES who experienced far more than my share of tragedy and emerged from it like a rocket, kicking ass and taking names.

    I have personally found that helping others has really helped me….our methods are limited due to COVID but that just means we need to be CREATIVE.

    When I hit the wall, I look up. In my case, I ask my Higher Power for help and purpose. I can feel crummy and help others…and it helps me feel so much better.

  • I NEEDED this post today. EVERYTHING you said, Chump Lady, felt like you were speaking to me. I’m 2.5 years out from DDay and we are divorced and you handed us a beautiful UBT of the OW’s Valentine’s post a few weeks’ back. But I am still here more than I would like to be, and I can’t seem to slap myself entirely out of this:

    ”Some people chase after the fuckwit, untangle the skein, stalk Schmoopies on social media and fill their days with why, why, why? Why give creeps centrality? You went to all the trouble to LEAVE, don’t look back.”

    I am trying. I am certainly not chasing (I actually would never want him back. He was a shitty, passive aggressive partner). And the social medias have largely been blocked. But I am still heavily untangling skeins. Honestly, I think it’s post-trauma processing. But it’s time to stop. I’ve analyzed it to death. I know pretty much what happened and why. So I’m trying to move forward. I’m remodeling my kitchen; I’m remodeling the basement for my children. I’m remodeling…my life. But, alas, I have my days still. Frustrating.

    Thanks for the reminder that there’s only way way to face: forward.

    • >But I am still here more than I would like to be, and I can’t seem to slap myself entirely out of this

      You aren’t the only one. I’m here more than I think I need to be. Sometimes I wonder if it is holding me back, keeping me dwelling on the past. But my understanding of what happened finally sunk down into deeper layers where I can just be, and finally stop rushing & burying myself in work. It sounds like you’re still a bit judgmental about how you’re responding to trauma. Eventually I learned to be more patient with myself (still hard).

    • I don’t need to be here. My divorce was a decade ago and I’ve moved on to a far better life than I would every have thought possible. But I come here every day, even if I don’t post. I think Tracey’s rules for life are applicable in so many realms. I need the reminders that the disordered are out there in every walk of life. When I look back and feel angry with myself for tolerating abuse for so long (or not even recognizing it as abuse) I take comfort in some of CL’s bits of wisdom and compassion. I empathize with the storytellers here and when I do post, I try to shine a light on the path that CL is trailblazing for chumps around the world. I come to stay versed in the language of CL-isms and have found them very useful for guiding my young adult children though dealing with a difficult parent. There is so much life wisdom here. I hope you don’t feel pressured to “graduate” from CL. I plan on sticking around for as long as she is keeping this site active.

    • John McCain, of all people, said something about PTSD once that really resonates with me. When asked how he manages his POW PTSD, he said something to the effect that trauma creates bad memories and feelings that will come up all the time, for the rest of your life, in some form or another. And that eventually, when the initial trauma wears off, its up to the traumatized person to decide how to deal with these feelings. And he believed that when a bad one comes up, you give yourself a finite amount of time to feel it, grieve with it, and process it (I believe he gave himself 5 minutes at that time in his life)…then get back to the good business of your current life. As in, do not deny the trauma, but let the good business of your life make the trauma feel small in comparison.

      I think about this a lot when I start to wallow. In the beginning, I gave myself a lot of time to process the PTSD issues as they arose. Maybe days or weeks. I’m almost 6 years out from d-day and 3 years from divorce, and I still get PTSD moments. I give myself 5 minutes, then get on with my life. It’s a practice and requires self control to cut yourself off from perseverating and self pity, but it works if you commit to it. However, in order for it to work, one has to be going about the goo business of life…which is where CL’s sage advice comes in. Find your good business, and do it.

  • I’m 64 years old and a couple years out from final DD. Thank you for putting what I’m feeling into words and thank you to CL for acknowledging that “gaining a life” is different during a pandemic.

    I woke up wondering if the OW is including the ornaments I left behind into some kind of blended family Christmas tree. And then I thought how shallow that makes her and my ex. And then I asked myself why I was subjecting myself to the pain shopping.

    The only relief I’ve felt, even before covid, was being of service in my community. And I liked the people I volunteered with. It’s an honorable life and dignity has become important to me. I’m hoping to add animal fostering to my other endeavors.

  • Chump Lady’s letter to Okay is my Christmas present this year.

    “Empty people do not do that. People who know their worth do that. Empty people continue their sham marriages and front their fake lives and write insipid holiday newsletters. You are not that. You are a strong woman who LEFT.”

    Thank you CL.

  • Dear Okay,

    “Empty and purposeless.” Yep. I often feel this way, too. I was married for 35 years when I left my ex after he confessed to a multi-year affair. I just turned 60.

    On the outside, I know people think I’m doing really well, but I often feel very down. Sometimes I feel that I’m giving people what they want. “You’re good now. Right?” they’ll ask. “Yeah, I’m doing fine,” I’ll say. The other day, I found myself texting a friend to correct the record. “Actually, I’m not really doing fine.” She was great. Sometimes I subscribe to the fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy. But, as CL points out, the gain-a-life road has been nearly washed out by the pandemic.

    Let’s face it. In our society, it’s tough for women “of a certain age.” Men in their 60s, on the other hand, can date women in their 30s and 40s (heck, 20s)! Older women are often invisible, with notable exceptions, of course. And it’s not just about dating. It’s everything. Sure there are notable exceptions, like Julia Child. And kudos to those who can do that. But, for me, hearing these examples just makes me feel more depressed. Why aren’t *I* writing a cookbook? I should be helping orphans, too.

    And we’re dealing with this feeling that we spent decades living a mistake, and yet, in an effed up way, we probably became addicted to all the shittinesss. As CL puts it: “There’s an identity in that [shoving kibbles at an unappreciative jerk] and a purpose. Even if it’s incredibly dysfunctional and painful. You can throw all your potential and energy at the fuckwit and sideline yourself. So you never have to answer the hard questions of, who am I without this person? What do I want to accomplish in this life?”

    These existential questions terrify me!

    I know you probably came here for a boost and that I’m simply echoing your sadness. Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

    I do recommend therapy if you don’t already do that. It’s helpful. Lately, I’m trying to meditate. My therapist tells me it may help.

    But here’s what really helps me: Every day, I try to think about one or two things/people I’m grateful for. I know it’s corny advice and really trendy, but it seems to help. Watching Colbert for a quick laugh helps, too, as does exercise. One thing you shouldn’t do is drink. I found myself increasingly using wine as my coping mechanism and quickly did a 180. Now I only drink rarely and only with others, never alone. I recently joined an online dating site, but that’s been a mixed bag–both ego-boosting and soul-crushing.

    Good luck.

    Signed, Debbie Downer–aka Spinach

    • Spinach I didn’t know you were 60 when your Dday hit. I was thinking you were about 40ish. (your young spirit shines through).

      I have kind of felt your situation was similar to mine. Did you feel you had a basic good marriage before you found out? I knew my ex was always selfish, but I still thought we had a good marriage and he loved me. I know I was invested in the marriage, I just didn’t know he wasn’t. I knew, things would mostly go his way, but still… So who knows if I was really happy as I thought, or if I was just the frog in water.

      Mine came to a fairly quickly and violent (emotionally) end. Basically the last year (out of 21 years) got more and more abusive against me, until he cracked (or got outed) and left.

      • At least I *sound* young! Thanks.

        Yes, I actually thought I had a good marriage and was 100% blindsided by the revelation of the affair.

        I made excuses for why he became more distant in the last few years (coinciding with the affair, of course). Also, a totally shy covert narc, he was always moody af. I just accepted that that’s the way he is. I often said to others and to myself, “He means well.” I also thought about how I’m not perfect, and he accepts me JUST THE WAY I AM. lol. I thought it was mature love.

        As it turns out, I mistook sex for love.

        I also mistook shit sandwiches for paté.

        (I’m sorry if I just ruined paté for everyone.)

        • We are similar then. Yes I saw his selfishness, but spackled, and like you I thought; well I am not perfect etc.

          When I look back to the shit sandwiches I ate, it still ticks me off. What is worse is that I realize now, that others were aware of me eating shit sandwiches. I don’t mean they knew he was a cheater, he might not have been back then; but I can now remember some odd looks when he would do or say something.

          Actually the liver ruins the pate for me. No worries.

      • Susie – Wow. You just said EXACTLY what I have been saying for months. “Our marriage was mostly good. I always knew whe was selfish but I thought he at least had one solid relationship with a wife who truly loved and accepted him for who he was”.

        He recently texted me (his parting words before our divorce) how disgusted he was with himself and what a great wife I was, and the best person he’s ever known and “I am unhappy without you”, which has pissed me off ever since. So he gutted me and destroyed my world, my security, my joy, to what, NOT be happy? Fucker.

        *xmas will be 11 mos from dday. He left 15 min later. I knew in my core that I would never be rid of OW and he would never do the hard work needed to save the marriage so I filed one mo later. I am still in pain everyday.

        • WiserChump,

          That sucks.

          After mine dropped the bomb, he said he was sad every day. EVERY DAY! Shockingly, he expected sympathy from me, his wife of 35 years who was struggling to stay vertical in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of his affair. It’s really unbelievable.

          Anyway, when he said he felt sad on a daily basis, I had two competing reactions:

          Reaction #1: WTF! You shattered our life together and now you’re not even happy? That’s like spending all the family money on a boat that you later discover doesn’t float.

          Reaction #2: Yay! He’s sad every day!

          But then came my aha moment. This man is a pathological liar. He was probably lying about being sad every day. He’s the kind of covert narc who likes to be the saddest person in the room. And he manipulates by getting people to sympathize.

          So I would just say that you can’t trust anything these lying cheaters say.

          Judge them by their actions.

          • “So I would just say that you can’t trust anything these lying cheaters say.”

            So true. Shoot they could be angling for some side, since the OW is becoming routine now. Or even just the kibbles of getting the ex to dance some more.

            Mine is long gone, and he was replaced with an upgrade; but for those still in the mess; don’t give them the satisfaction. There are exceptions of course, but statistically these damaged folks won’t find happiness long term, it just isn’t in them.

        • I don’t know what it is about those OW? What is the hold they have over them. I mean I read of men who have 2 or 3 year affairs. Does the initial thrill not stop, as long as they are married.

          Is it just that they know they screwed the pooch and just are too selfish to do the work to mend a marriage.

          Just so dang weird. So much destruction.

    • Thank God for Stephen Colbert!

      BEING REAL is the MOST helpful thing I can do. Being authentic. Being true to myself moment by moment. (Not self-centered….that’s a very different thing). Maybe I can help others today. Maybe I need to wrap up in a blanket and watch Stephen Colbert and Dave Chapelle…

    • Amen Spinach! If you don’t mind, I would tweak your comment about how it’s tough for women of a certain age: instead of “in this society” I would posit this is a worldwide phenomenon. A few scattered small matriarchal tribes are the rare exceptions.

      And Colbert is medicine ????

      As is regular exercise. It’s hard to get into the habit but once you do, those endorphins become a wonderful addiction. I can’t believe how many different ways it has improved my health, physical and mental.

      And gratitude as a guiding framework for viewing the good people and pets and food and shelter that you have in this life can be tremendously uplifting.

    • Debbie Downer–thank you. I can relate to so much. I’m the original writer of the post. I found out FW had cheated several years into our 30+years. It wore me down. he added insult to injury when he said he wasn’t monogamous and probably poly. yeah, right. Liar liar pants on fire for that one. Thanks for getting married and having a kid with me. Did I mention that while I was having SEVEN miscarriages he was cheating and gave me STDs? that’s how I found out. Real winner that FW. But I’m 62 now, and almost two years post divorce. As I mentioned, very hard to see a purpose. But I’m taking all these wonderful and heartfelt comments to heart. We can survive. We must survive. F*** them and their shallow baby tantrums. When I heard he’d had a stroke, my reaction was “too bad it wasn’t serious enough to take him out…” The OW is now being nursemaid. At least it’s not me. No, we are not alone and that’s both a comfort and a curse. But thank you. the support is a gift.

  • Dear I Only Look OK on the Outside,
    CL is spot on. You’re tired. It’s a lot. You’re doing all the work.

    But please read what you wrote again:

    “ I managed to survive serial cheating and lots of other abuse. My daughter and I were immediately replaced with a new younger OW and a younger OD (other daughter) and other dog!”

    And imagine. Imagine what she got. This woman just took on your burden. He will still cheat. He will still be abusive. She now took over a man-child ape who is so soul-less he left his own child and took on an entirely new “family” —- that’s creepy. And she’s stuck with it. My ex did the same. I literally figured it out, confronted my ex, and he moved in with OW and her 2 sons ALL IN THE SAME DAY. He walked out without even telling his innocent 9 year old son. My son and I went through serious trauma. It was insane… who does that to their loving spouse? Their KIDS?

    Do you know how lucky we are? No more dealing with that. They are sick in the head. We deserve better. And let her have him. Heck, it’s been over 5 years and I’m still waiting for them to marry so she is financially stuck with him too.

    Please step back and be proud of yourself. Take time for yourself. Meditate. Breathe. And recognize that you are doing great. And even if you don’t feel it now… you still feel better than you did when you were stuck with an abusive spouse who cheated on you repeatedly.

    I’ve actually been tempted many times to write thank you cards to OW for taking on that horrible burden. Sooooo tempted ????

    Sending you love… and you have my respect ❤️

    • And that guy’s hell (in this life or in his afterlife) will be eternal sorrow for how he brutally aside a woman who stood by him through thick and thin.

      There will be a reckoning

      • This is kinda weird but I really want to crosstich “there will be a reckoning” on a pillow.
        It’s so ominous but also contains hope and joy.

  • I am 72 and endured a 38 year marriage with a cheating, lying, manipulating, gaslighting FW. And he left me. After reading LACGAL, I put on my big girl panties, went no contact (he hates it!), bought a small health store boutique with a friend, and took life coaching classes. NOTHING AND NO ONE stops this train! There are days like you say you have (I had one yesterday) but I know they don’t last long and I’m back on my feet. Hang in there. After 4 years, there are more good days than bad.

  • This was a great letter for me today. I out about 2-1/2 years from Dday and 1-1/2 from divorce after over 30 years of marriage. I hate how Covid has changed simple things and has made being alone the norm. Luckily my ex isn’t on social media so staying no contact is easier. I do suggest cutting off contact from him as much as possible. I also liked the suggestion to take small steps. There are some days doing big things cannot happen. The other thing is find something to look forward to. For me, it is seeing my daughter growing in her career and relationship with her boyfriend. Hopefully, one day there will be grandchildren. I am important to her and that keeps me moving forward.

  • PS. It took him 7 months and 5 women before he found his twu wuv. She’s 65 and never been married, is deaf and a multi millionaire. I just hope she got a prenup!

  • Knowing that you’re not happy is a big part of figuring out how to move forward to a different spot. And sometimes it won’t be the right thing right away. But keep moving. Keep trying.

    I feel like now that three years have passed and you can really see perspective, you’re starting to realize it’s time to move forward to more. Clarity is important.

    What makes you smile? Writing letters? There are old folks in homes and I know most care facilities would love extra cards for their lonely seniors. Small kids? Contact your local community outreach and find out if there’s a group that needs online tutors or whatever. Being in a lockdown world doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer, or find somewhere else to plant a new passion garden. It is actually a time where your big heart is most needed.

    Don’t look back. Look forward. Your previous harvests aren’t indicative of what you can do with your upcoming seasons.

    • This is a great way of thinking about it. I’m almost 4 years past DDay. When I look back, I realize how physically exhausted I was for a couple of years. Even at this time last year, I was still emotionally exhausted, and that’s okay. I know I was guilty of thinking that just because I got divorced and eventually started going days or weeks without really thinking or caring about the XW fuckwit, I should have also built a new life full of purpose within that same amount of time. In reality, it just takes that long to get to past the exhaustion of healing the mind and heartstrings in order to get the point where you have the energy to question how you move forward in building a life with new purpose.

  • Good job Okay with recreating your life. We all get it here. I am 3.5 yrs out and have just started to feel thawed out. I have started having hours and days of feeling whole and solid. I’ve read that recovery from divorce is about a month per year. I think that time is extended when we have been blindsided/sucker punched. There is the trauma of the abuse and then divorce recovery all rolled into one. So youve done fabulously and are right on schedule to feel happy, joyous and free! Most importantly is to take care of yourself. This is a time when you really focus on being nice to yourself. Fill in that emptiness with self love and kindness. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Hugs!

  • Hi Okay:

    You were abused for thirty years. Thirty years as a prisoner of war to a disordered man, and less than three years as a free woman. During which you had to recover from the devastation of divorce, create a career, and survive a global pandemic. And here you are joking about the other dog. You are a warrior and a great role model of resilience to your daughter.

    To me, the feelings of sadness and emptiness seem totally normal. You loved someone for thirty years and have a normal human heart that has been deeply wounded and betrayed. Healing is a process, and it just takes time. Your ex is the abnormal one in his ability to fit new people seamlessly into a role and keep on trucking…it is kind of horrifying, actually.

    I think you acknowledging your feelings is so healthy. No 30-year POW escapes his prison and goes right back into the world skipping with joy. Everything you say shows that your your emotional and moral compass is in good working order, so perhaps you can relax just a bit and allow yourself some grace and time, and faith in your ability to heal. You got this, Okay.

    • Married 30 plus years and 63 years old (how did that happen?) . You are tired and you are used to the chaos. Being still and quiet and in your head is new and scary. I have such a monkey brain that I think I exhausted myself for a few years after fuckwit left. I still feel empty at times but I don’t feel the world is done with me yet. I plan on living until I’m 105 so I have 42 more years.

      I was struggling with having a purpose. I have a full time job that I love but felt like you purposeless. It’s amazing how much time you have when fuckwits are not in your life. I thought about what I wanted as a child. I wanted to be a movie star and an artist. I ruled out movie star. I started taking art classes (now on line) and just doing it. I also decided that “artist” also meant being creative in all parts of my life. The fuckwit thought it was his job to comment and critique everything I did. It was weird doing what I wanted and then waiting for the criticism. I had to be careful not to supply it myself. Now all of this moving forward has come with the grief, anger and emptiness I feel at times (I’m having less of these).

      This September I was feeling particularly down and lethargic. I had vacation time I needed to use. No place really to go and no one to go with. So I took a staycation. Bought 200 tulip bulbs (I usually just buy a few each year) and spent a week digging little holes. I was blessed with beautiful weather. I thought about my marriage, I day dreamed about my artist life, the tulips blooming in spring and becoming an eccentric old lady. Every tulip bulb felt like an investment in my future….if only just one season at a time. It also felt like a “fuck you world” this is not sensible/reasonable because there are so many other things to do. The thing I like about what I did is that there are no guarantees they will bloom but there is the possibility. And for once this was all for me.

      I don’t come by peace of mind naturally. Probably why I was with fuckwit so long. I’ve learned how to do it more often and I think it was thanks to covid. I wasn’t able to run away from myself by doing things with people. Anyway, hang in there, cut yourself some slack, throw yourself an occasional pity party, do something nonsensical. Your letter and knowing I have a CN sister out there going through the same things has made my day better.

      • What a great post. I hope when CL runs a tells us how you are mighty column that you share a picture of all those blooming tulips.

  • Hang in there, Okay! I agree with the above comments. It’s okay to be tired and frustrated and going through this shit-storm is depressing. Give yourself time to heal. Heal your heart, body and mind. It takes time. I’m 52. Four years ago Ex left me and our 3 kids for an inheritance and his hunting/drinking buddy. It hurt like fucking hell. Thrown away after being together for 30 years! The kids and I were shell-shocked. It took a long time to heal from that. Some day still I get upset about things that I need to just let go of. Last year our oldest child told me to try online dating and I miraculously matched with a man who’d been divorced for 4 years but was also a chump. We have now been dating for 14 months. I never thought I’d find love again but feel like my Tuesday was meant to be. He is already more supportive and encouraging about my job and interests than Ex ever was. Don’t give up hope. You will recover. Just give it time!

  • Some ideas: join online learning platform and take a course on positive psychology/ history of Tang dynasty/ art history/ black holes and dark energy/ new language/ statistics/ new skill. This will also help you to (re)discover your interests.

    Joins some online community/ chat group around certain topic or just for socialising.

    Consider fostering (not necessarily owning) a pet. There’re a lot of animals who’ve been in shelters for some time.

    If you have a bit of writing talent, consider writing a shitty but lengthy book. Writing a shitty novel was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It helped with my perfectionism (I don’t need to get all the details right because hey, I’m not Dostoyevsky. ) I’ve learnt discipline (every day writing something) and realised that I can weave a story from A to point Z.

    It also turned out to be far more therapeutic than journaling. I can explore the issues I struggle with from a perspective of a person who’s perhaps very different to me. There’s a distance between me and the issue and it’s easier to see it from a more objective perspective.

    There’re many things you can do for yourself during a pandemic.

    • I think there is some great advice here. One thing I reluctantly tried was writing a novel via a Creative Writing class. The class was supposed to be in person, and I was looking forward to meeting the people in the class as much as I was doing the writing (it was a 3 hour workshop once a week). Then Covid. I almost dropped my registration because I didn’t want to spend 3 hours a week doing a Zoom class. My work forces me to spend too much time doing video conferencing already. But, I went ahead on the grounds that there would never be a perfect time (I had been putting off taking the class for two years already because my job kept me so busy). And, to my surprise, I found myself looking forward to the class every week, enjoying the people I “met,” and taking a second one. Someday, I may even meet the people in a face-to-face session.

      I think most people who set themselves a low stakes goal–whether it is fostering a pet, planting a garden (6 pots, not 600 square feet), learning to knit a scarf, teaching themselves to bake bread, etc. end up feeling it was worth the effort. Most of us won’t ever approach Julia Child’s level of success, but doing something new can help us remember that we are competent and curious and valuable. I think a lot of us spent years arranging our time to meet our EX’s needs or our children’s. Doing things for pleasure without expecting any big payoff came to feel like a selfish luxury–maybe because of the time a personal project took, or the energy, or the dollars. Learning to put yourself first takes time.

      Congratulations on freeing yourself from a jackass. I hope you find something right-sized to try even amid the pandemic limitations.

  • Dearest Okay,

    I know what it feels like to wake up and not know who the fuck you are anymore. You’ve spent the last 30 years building this identity. It was 20 years for me. I had to find a new level of honesty like never before. I had to strip myself of everything I was so I could be who I was meant to be all along. This is/ was no easy task. You see, you can smile and appear to be ok, but you can not run from you, you can’t lie to you… fuck who is YOU?!?

    I can say this, mindset is EVERYTHING! Once I started changing the way I thought things started to get easier. As hard as it was I thought of the best case scenario for everything!!! Even on my bad days!!

    I took my time to learn about me. I started trying new things and started painting again after not painting for all those years. I make handmade jewelry and I give it away. I love to see people wear my jewelry! I started talking to strangers all the time. You never know who needs to hear it’s going to be ok! I’ve had several people break down into tears after I’ve approached them with kindness!! We all struggle!! I want you to believe that and know you’re not alone.

    Journal!! Write letters you’ll never send! I wrote letters to my ex and his side piece. I got it off my chest and burned them.

    We are in this damn pandemic but you’ve got to get creative now!! There’s things you can do to bring yourself back to life!!

    You are a fucking hero in my book for walking away. I was to scared to do it and stayed until he left me. So never question your strength!!! You’re one strong Queen!! One thing that helps me is I wrote a list. Moving forward with my life there’s things I’m just not willing to do and things that I am. I use that as my guide!! I am NOT willing to sacrifice another day for someone that doesn’t deserve my time or attention!! I am willing to put in work for someone who does!! See?!?

    Lastly, I’ll leave you with this, you are already with the ONE person you are 100% guaranteed to be with until your last day on earth. Be kind to her, be patient with her and love her most! Know that it’s ok to be in the process of healing and there’s no shame! Never take you for granted again!! You are NOT willing to NOT take care of you first anymore!!!

    Sending positive energy and good vibes to this special Queen!

    • “ you are already with the ONE person you are 100% guaranteed to be with until your last day on earth. Be kind to her, be patient with her and love her most!”
      Thank you, we need to hear that often

  • Your story is very similar to mine except I have a grown son and a grown daughter. It’s hard to feel mighty at our age when going through this, it does feel like your life is over. Just know it eventually starts to get better. You need time to heal and everyone heals at different rates and healing is not linear. I felt like I had given up 34 years to the fuckwit but really I didn’t. I lived that life, good and bad and it wasn’t all bad. I wouldn’t have my kids.

    One foot in front of the other, continue self care however that looks to you. Maintain complete no contact it truly is the path to healing. Know that you are definitely not alone, there are plenty of us mature chumps on here.

  • PPPPS……

    One thing that really helps me is to remember…..

    He did not get an apartment for him and our daughter. He left town for an apartment with the Craigslist “sole mate”.
    He disappeared not only from my life but our daughter’s life. Overnight. When I found out about the secret apartment I also discovered he was paying for it with money from our business. I dug a little deeper and found out he had been hiding money from me for our entire 20 year marriage. (The whole time he was criticizing my money behavior).

    The worst moment of my life was when my daughter and I were at the library after he left. He had disappeared overnight from her life. I knew why but had no solid proof. I was trying to help her with her 5th grade family history project. She asked me if we could just go out to the car so she could cry? So we did. She said, “Daddy’s hardly ever around anymore.”

    Her teacher, himself a chump who understood completely, excused her from doing the project. He was part of the crew holding us up.

    If cheating on its own doesn’t smack me into reality that that miserable traitor is a JERK, those facts do.

    My daughter and I were intentionally assaulted and emotionally beaten to within an inch of our lives by the man who vowed to be my husband, her father, and his hired hit woman.

    Words matter. They produce feelings.

    TELLING THE STORY USING THE FACTS AND CORRECT TERMS helps me. Depression can also be repressed anger, in which case telling the story correctly also really helps me get in touch with the anger, which I can use to propel me forward and away from the enemy.

    • As for that chumped 5th grade teacher? He was happily remarried and expecting a baby with his wife and cheating XW was getting divorced again….

      • Love a happy ending!

        Also, thank god for supportive crews everywhere!

        As for your ex, what a skeeve! I hope your daughter is doing ok.

        Btw, every time you say “sole mate,” I chuckle. It never gets old.

        • Velvet Hammer: My heart bleeds for you and your daughter. What a miserable excuse for a human he is. I hope you both have a blessed Christmas. (((Hugs)))

    • “My daughter and I were intentionally assaulted and emotionally beaten to within an inch of our lives by the man who vowed to be my husband, her father”

      And yet the FW and OW have no clue how much damage they’ve done. Instead, they judge me for being “emotionally unstable” and the rest of the world keeps wishing you’d just “get over it” already.

      I grew up in an abusive family (of course) and then experienced sexual harassment and assault while enlisted in the Army. I’m a survivor and a fighter by nature. And yet, my XH’s betrayal of me and our children has left me more devastated – more broken – than anything else in my life ever has.

      I’m 3 years out and the pain has dulled, but I still feel like a wreck. I’m 55, exhausted physically and mentally, and unemployed with no prospects for the future.

      These people aren’t simply cheaters. They’re murderers and thieves. They kill your soul and steal your life. I wish it wasn’t only chumps who understood this.

      • I’m so sorry. People can’t begin to understand the emotional and physical violence. They want you to “get over it” because they can’t fathom the truth. You’re a survivor! I’m 50 and three years out with three minor boys. I’m often exhausted, despondent, and have chronic health issues. I don’t want my kids to know me like this. I’m grateful to CL and everyone here for your support. Hang in there. Sending you much strength and hugs.

  • I was 26 years in “prison” before I discovered the FW was in a “relationshit” with a woman young enough to be his daughter for the previous 5 years, that was apart from his high end escort habit etc. The OW also has a young daughter and a dog! Must be a thing! Within 11 months of him being thrown out,by me, she had given birth, my son who is twenty wants nothing to do with his father or half sibling and is delighted the cranky, controlling asshole is gone from our lives, my divorce came through six months ago so I am free to do as I like, I volunteer and have done so for years, this is a great way of meeting people who appreciate you and your talents. I have wonderful friends and fun and peace in my life. We will get through Covid and I believe life will be so much better for us all! Be kind and patient with yourself OK, you are indeed mighty and a survivor, one step at a time! Sending hugs and peace to you!

  • You are awesome! New job, new life.

    It’s been almost exactly 2 years since d day for me and I am happier than I had been in a long time. My ex also has a new wife and baby…at 49.

    My kids are teens and I revel in our extra time as we all work and school from home.

    2019 was devastation. I may have gotten trapped there, in questioning and wishing I was someone else.

    My therapist asked me what I needed…and I didn’t know! It broke something free and I realized I deserved so much better. And I was the only one who could give that to me.

    So I am.

    Talk to your doctor. Consider medication. I use it and it changed my life years ago. Go to therapy. Sleep more. Only hang out with good friends.

    My future involves being an older hippie woman who does her own thing.

    I’m thankful my ex left. I Know I was too scared to change things myself. I was much to codependent. His behaviour forced me to break free. I didn’t want it or ask for it, but I’m choosing to benefit from it.

  • Hang in there. I left a 32-year marriage to a woman who cheated multiple times, infected me with a cancer-causing STD (HPV), and joined a crazy cult (seriously?) that told her “God forgives you” so you don’t have to explain your crappy behavior to your husband, he’s on his own “journey.”

    After wallowing in shock and depression for two years I finally crawled out of that dark hole and started doing things for myself.

    It took a lot of driving around to pretty places, reconnecting with friends, and eating far too much BBQ.

    Then I relocated and dated a little.

    I met a lady who I grew to love and she loves me. We married, I’m fighting off the cancer the ex gave me, but life is better than the horrible way it was with her.

    I suffered far, far more years than I should have. I was embarrassed by my inaction so I put off divorcing even linger to avoid the shame I felt.

    But you know what? Totally self imposed!
    The people in my life who count understood. The rest? Who cares!

    Good luck, I wasted decades but no more!

  • Singing to the choir today. Im 64, married for 31 years, and a few days ago celebrated 5 years divorced and on the other side. It takes alot of self talk, self care and checking in here at CL & CN often. I had one of those walk on water cheaters. It literally shocked everyone when I told him I was done with him. Had the classic nasty hateful divorce as most cheaters will also lie and cheat in everyway to try to make it look like I was CRAZY and he had no choice but to leave. I literally despise him and only have to see him at grandbaby bday parties a few times a year, He finally moved out of state so I hope I will see him less and less. My biggest struggle was my 3 grown children still having a relationship with him and expecting me to play along — which I DO NOT. I don’t make a scene ever but I act like he is invisible to me.

    Most of us chumps age better than the crappy AH’s do, as I believe they are miserable, discontented people with rotten souls and end up looking in at what they used to have (especially the decade long marriages). I do have my moments but I don’t sit around and cry anymore. I guard myself against triggers and people who want to believe we “grew apart” or think I just couldn’t find it in my heart to forgive. YOU can look good and feel good on the inside, but it takes work. I am not interested to much in dating although I have several friends I enjoy. Someone told me that I know what the first 30 years were like and now I get to choose what the next 30 years will be. One step and one day at a time. My only regret is that I didn’t divorce him the first time he confessed he cheated ( year 5) The cherade is over …… celebrate YOU!

  • I was 66 when the divorce was finalized. I had walked out 2 years before with not much more than my clothing. My reputation at work suffered because I simply wasn’t really there in any shape other than physically. Friends covered for me. I remember the awful week when it got through to me that even if he had sex on the White House lawn (I worked close to the WH), that it was only my lifetime savings, 401K, alimony to him that were at risk. I faced destitution. I was unable to sleep or nap and had to get medical assistance — I had remained wide awake for 6 solid days despite being exhausted. My tried and true techniques for dealing with stress were not working.
    It’s nearly 5 years from final decree and my life returned. A good lawyer helped. New and former friends helped. Retiring helped, so I could finally get the PhD I wanted.
    I can reflect back and see how I was always struggling to keep him from stealing a good bit of my own life. His jealousy and rages were impossible to deal with. His lies.
    And now as I joyfully spend time with grandchildren (not his), I imagine him sitting all alone. All alone because his own daughters do not like to visit him and they do not welcome him into their place. All alone because he rejected what I brought to our marriage.

  • The thing about fuckwits is that they take over your life and sense of self. Your life is all about catering to the fuckwit and jumping through endless hoops and loops and chasing constantly moving goal posts.

    Whether you’ve been doing it for 5 years or 45 years, it will take time to recover and discover your sense of self again. The divorce, getting a job, putting a roof on your head and so on – these things were like triage of life. Urgent, purposeful, and powerful actions to take care of life’s necessities immediately.

    That empty feeling now is because the fear, urgency, chaos is dying out – you’ve got a handle on it and so it’s no longer taking up every ounce of your strength and energy. What’s left is figuring out who you are as a person, fuckwit free. What do you like, what do you enjoy, what can you do for yourself to feel happy and fulfilled? Who is this new woman and what does she want to do with her freedom?

    The next step is all about discovering yourself as an individual – something that you’ve had to set aside for your entire relationship with the fuckwit. This might take some time to figure out because you might not be used to thinking like that or have completely forgotten how to. It might well feel uncomfortable at first, but that empty feeling is there to drive you to that next level. It’s a stepping stone on the road of gaining a life. Once you rediscover yourself as an individual, that empty feeling will disappear.

    • Well said. Narcs are like a virus. A virus is just a bunch of genetic material encased in a protein coating. It gloms onto one of your cells and injects its genetic material inside. The virus’s DNA cuts up the host cell’s DNA and reprograms the cell to do nothing but produce more viruses. The cell eventually bursts, releasing more virus into the host body. Similarly, narcs take over your life and program you to cater to their every need.

      Every single one of us on this forum was strong enough to fight off the cheater plague before it killed us. If you are proud of nothing else, be proud of that.

    • “something that you’ve had to set aside for your entire relationship with the fuckwit. ”

      And you really don’t realize it until it is all over. (at least I didn’t) I did cater to him, in part because that is what we did back then more, and also I didn’t mind.

      I actually do a lot for my H now. Difference is he does a lot for me. We take care of each other. I don’t cater to him, while he ignores me.

      My ex was always, always focused on his wants and needs. I should have been wary of that. I wasn’t. I spackled.

      I don’t mean that I didn’t enjoy a lot of things, but I was never the focus. Hell not even on my birthday, he couldn’t be bothered to remember that. The man was organized to a compulsion, yet he couldn’t evidently put my birthday on his calendar. Why did I never question that?

  • Dear look OK,
    I know the feeling. I’m another over 60, emerging from 30 years + relationship, which ended last year. I have two adult kids who are great, keep in touch, but are busy with their own lives. My job is demanding and stressful, especially with the Covid situation, although it does at least stop me from being so isolated as those who work from home.
    We had some respite here from Covid restrictions, making it possible to travel and see friends over the summer, which gave me some hope of moving on to a new lifestyle. Now we are limited again, so no travels, or even meeting friends for a meal. My solace is in my garden, which is flourishing with such attention.
    My advice to add to all the wise words already given above, would be to get exercise and fresh air. Try reframing this difficult period as a transition, biding our time. Taking care of ourselves, physically and emotionally, the exhaustion will subside, new energy will emerge and hopefully we will have opportunity to explore new ideas for the future. Until then, just biding time.

  • I’m feeling this too – the “Oh shit, what now?” feeling. As a long term chump, you have a stable life of instability. It takes a bit of reframing to let that stuff go. Thank goodness for CL and her straight talking advice. I had a D-Day 4 years ago and now I’m on my second one as of 3 weeks. I found this site all those years ago, but I went the RIC route and stayed with him anyway. I did not want to believe that what my cheater was doing is intentional. No, no, he had an awful childhood and he just needed to heal from it, or so I thought. Get some therapy, clear the slate, and begin again. And besides, I was fond of him and giving him kibbles. Let’s be honest about that. Over that 4 years, I started exploring my own needs, my own patterns of thinking that had kept me in this co-dependent relationship. We were together, but I was slowly breaking out of the patterns of my own conditioning to be a good co-dependent and serve the narcissist. Mr Narc didn’t like that as you can imagine. And the cycle began again – withdrawl, secrecy, and discard. Basically a punishment for providing him less kibbles. This time I was wiser. I emotionally distanced myself. I didn’t leave although I knew I had to at some point. I’m there now – the separation is going ahead. In the past I’ve been depressed and on medication. This time I’m opting for anger. The depression kept me stuck. The anger is keeping me moving and taking action. This is the beauty of CN, to express that mightiness and not slip into a sack of clingy forgiveness. The forgiveness should come, more for myself for being such a chump…I am expecting to let go of anger after I’m out of here. Until then, I’m reminding myself daily to keep it fresh and not to revert back into chumpdom. To ‘I only look Okay on the Outside’, I get you. Right now, I want be where you are – away from the chaos. Lots of admiration to you from me.

  • ‘ He just had to swing his dick and find a willing idiot’ ????????????
    Thank you CL for the laugh.
    It’s a rough month when you’ve been replaced like that

  • “ One thing about being in an abusive, chaotic relationship — it’s all-consuming. There’s never enough kibbles to shovel at an unappreciative jerk, the chaos janitor job is never done, and even if you’re not well-loved, you are needed.

    There’s an identity in that and a purpose. Even if it’s incredibly dysfunctional and painful. You can throw all your potential and energy at the fuckwit and sideline yourself. So you never have to answer the hard questions of, who am I without this person? What do I want to accomplish in this life?”

    This is a huge part in gaining a life; thank you Tracty! After 36 years, 41 total my identity was lost. My life was so limited by ‘The Limited’ even though I led an independent life in most ways. My staying power and tolerance was killing me slowly.

    Now after over six years I’ve found myself enjoying all the things I used to enjoy. I’m buying and refinishing furniture from the 1800’s as well as high end used furniture. It has such character and like me was devalued and tossed aside. I’m purchasing most items for under 20.00 and most list for over 500.00.

    Getting to know yourself requires getting the naysayer out of your head and doing what you have passion in. I’ve met many new people who share my values and passions. Character does matter.

  • Has anyone else experienced a version of grief which includes yearning for one’s parents/nuclear family? I don’t know if I’d feel this way if I had children of my own, but I find myself thinking “Oh, I should give Mom a call” even though she died years ago. Maybe it’s the pandemic or the holidays. I also can’t imagine creating another family in the future.

    • Lots of people have that yearning to be with your parents and family, even long after they’ve departed. We’re yearning for the time of feeling secure, safe and loved. The holidays will always make you miss your family that are no longer with us. I would gather this yearning would be especially strong after going through some sort of personal hell.

    • Yes Al, my mother had Alzheimer’s and we were very close talking frequently. One of the most devastating aspects was not being able to talk to her. Within months of her passing I was told he’d found someone.

      Knowing a bar whore for only months I was told she wouldn’t like it if we talked. It was one of the most painful parts of the discard. Yet to this day I honor that despite adult children’s reports that he’d speak to me. That’s never happening as I won’t waist my energy maintains a losers image.

      I find that my mother comes to me in subtle ways often. I still talk to her.

    • “Death ends a life but it doesn’t end a relationship” from the movie I Never Sang for my Father.
      It would have been best if my mother filed for divorce, not my father. He was cruel and selfish for years and then cheated. My mother said to herself “If such a man doesn’t want me, what does that make me ?” If she were alive I would tell her “You’re free and clear of an abusive asshole. You deserve so much more.”
      I’m convinced the abuse from her family of origin and my father killed her.
      I miss her.

  • My STBXH walked out on me a few months shy of my 60th birthday and our 30th anniversary, and 3 months prior to our older daughter’s wedding. He reluctantly admitted to having an affair. I just want to thank all of the “mature chumps” who had “lengthy marriages” for your insights and the support you offer to those like me ……I guess I mean “us.” Knowing there are others who have experienced what I have, and do, makes me sad….but grateful. I feel less isolated and alone, if that makes sense. We are good, decent, moral, loyal, faithful, and REAL. THANK YOU to ALL who take the time to share their your lives and perspectives….you life others up on a daily basis. I dont comment alot but I read CL every day…and always will.

      • Some of us left, some of us were discarded out of the blue
        They both are awful no doubt
        But I wish I had had the chance to say buh bye – I feel like it would have given me a slight chance at feeling mighty
        Those who stopped the abuse should own that and stand tall
        A sudden Dday and discard all at once is beyond painful
        I was thinking of that quote from CL that someone put in their post above about finding the courage to leave or something like that
        – some of us have found the courage to carry on after we were discarded and replaced like shit under a shoe – but we didn’t get to say ‘I don’t want YOU or THIS’
        It feels like it’s not the norm on this site …no cake upon dday / just discard
        The recovery is a slog

        • Zip: I’m in your camp, unfortunately. It does make things slightly more miserable, I think. I’m glad he’s not in my life anymore, but I wish I had been the one to choose. I think it would have helped me to feel less worthless.

          • ChumpQueen, You’re NOT worthless, but I know the feeling. Everyone who has been dumped for a cheating partner does. It’s even worse when you were happy in your life and thought you had it really good – and everyone thinks he’s great (he just wasn’t happy apparently- poor great guy). It’s super traumatizing and hard to heal from
            – although we really try.
            I wish more was written about this type of betrayal.

            • Yes, I agree. I don’t feel I was mighty in storming out of the house because he not only confessed to the affair (and the various places in the house where he’d fucked her) but also said he was in love with her and thought they might marry.

              I wasn’t even invited to the pick-me dance, which is good, in retrospect, but somehow it just makes the rejection that much worse.

              I didn’t make this mighty exit. I was left with no choice.

              Later he said he knew I’d never forgive him because, my fellow chumps, apparently I’m an unforgiving bitch. My fault! My bad! He said that once he’d had sex with her, he knew he might as well just keep going (for years!) because I wouldn’t have forgiven even one transgression.

              Cheater’s logic right there!

              • Spinach—I was told the same thing…that he knew I would just throw it in his face and never forgive……It is an EXCUSE
                and refusing to take responsibility for AWFUL CHOICES that totally fall on him. By saying YOU would never forgive he is blameshifting
                onto you. COWARDS.

              • Spinach and Penn, although everything that comes out of their mouth once cheating is exposed is self-serving …. I would take your ‘not forgiving’ abuse as a compliment.
                Once it was f.i.n.a.l.l.y. revealed that he was leaving for an OW and not just because…?… I was told it was because she was his soulmate etc. etc. blah blah blah. Then I had the privilege of listening to him be terrified that OW may not leave her H. Talk about being reduced to an inanimate object – like the cushion I was leaning against as I was being traumatized.
                Then there was talk of moving her and her kids into our home ‘eventually’ …. this is weeks after we had been talking about our glorious future together.
                All this from someone who presented as a wonderful and high functioning, educated, successful and kind person.

              • Yep, though my FW circled back a few times. The first time I let him come back (after we were legally separated) and he treated me like shit, so I ended it in one week. Figured out he only wanted back to get the use of our car for his politicking. What a charmer huh. He couldn’t use his squad car and schmoopie was driving a junker.

                But, initially he moved out right after Dday, telling me he thought it would work out; but he just needed space to get his head on straight. What he really needed was to get the hell out of the house so he could sneak his stuff out of the house while I was at work. (he had not yet admitted to the adultery, though I knew it and he spent the week following Dday (I figured it out on Christmas day) spending the night with her and I just sat there watching him come home early in the am. He would just stare at me with the shark eyes.

                Anyway, he moved out during the day while I was at work right after New Years day. Stayed gone for about two weeks, then came by to tell me he was “dating” a “girl” and they were in love and wanted to get married.

                So he left after finishing off the gutting process. I asked him about a week later to file. He did. He really wanted me to file, but I used some guilt to get him to file.

                He did circle back a couple times after that, (after we were legally separated) but I knew was with the whore, and I knew he just wanted to destabilize me. (Control issues)

                I was still dumped though, flat out dumped for a low life whore who had not seen “girl” since Hector was a pup.

                For the record I know for a fact that their life has been hell. Are they happy, who knows; some folks might like strife and chaos.

                And knowing that, it still pisses me that I didn’t get to be the one to initially kick his ass to the curb. They really know how to use us.

              • I wasn’t invited to the pick-me dance either. And I’m ashamed to say, I probably would’ve participated. Six years later, it’s like I got lasik surgery. Not sure if anyone else has experienced this. My ex was a very reasonable, responsible man. Good dad, good career, and perhaps the worst thing I ever felt in his presence was probably just a lack of genuine attention at times. I am more of an emotional person than he is, which is typical for man/woman, but it was more than gender difference. Anyone who might recall the Myers Briggs Type Indicator — I am an ENFP and he is an ISTJ. But the “blinders off” is astounding, even now showing itself to our adult children. His selfishness, his obsession with image and ultimately, his lack of accountability for the affair (he blamed me for a lot of it, telling people that I wasn’t happy either). Things that happened during our marriage that I reflect on now and think….a ha, that reaction was related to *this* thing about him, that I was sort of blind to then. I am not perfect, of course, but we really were just not compatible and yet made it work for 25 years. Had he not pushed me over the cliff, I would’ve made it work for the next 25 and beyond (without cheating). In hindsight, though, the only thing I will miss forever and ever is my cohesive family unit — for the sake of my kids, who deserved to have that; for the piece of joy that will be missing at weddings, baptisms (hopefully!), holidays and family get-togethers. The proverbial…it is what it is. And there’s a lot of what it is that’s so much better now.

            • Zip…Are you aware of or familiar with Vicki Stark and her work/book on sudden abandoment/discard? It explains alot….she also has you tube videos where she addresses aspects of this phenomemon. I highly recommend the book—-she is an abandoned spouse herself…..

              • Thanks so much Penn, yes I’ve read all her stuff and seen all her videos. She’s lovely in her own way, but my pain is so sharp, I find her too soft for me. She’s way way too soft on the OW in my opinion.
                Sometimes I’m blown away by how hard this still hits and about the obsessive and angry thoughts I still have about much younger H poacher (her kids replaced mine – same # and gender) and about ExH.
                He was my 2nd H, so I lost my step kids as well, and it was awful for my kids (they loved and adored him ). They thought he really loved all of us – we were all traumatized.
                Haven’t heard from his parents who were over for big dinners all the time.
                Sometimes I think I’m doing a lot better but then it hits again.

            • Thanks Zip! I agree – there’s so much out there on every facet of adultery except when you’ve been blindsided and dumped out of your own life. I keep thinking that I should write about my story, but I can’t find the words to describe it. Hugs to you!

              • ChumpQ—I am in the same boat as you and Zip and Spinach— just blindsided and discarded like trash. My therapist says it is because he clearly cannot own his actions/choices and is, at best, a coward. Some days it makes me sad—some days it makes me so angry. She also tells me that only a disordered person can compartmentalize and have the capacity to do this to those they “love.” I cannot imagine living in his skin as he also discarded our 2 adult daughters. A disconnected coward. I deserved better. SO DO YOU.

              • Hugs back to you. A couple of friends have told me I should write a book – because it’s 2 crap experiences now – but they are both happily married. If they read this site they wouldn’t find my stories so unique. Sadly!

              • I listened to her Utube.

                I don’t think I really qualify as abandoned, though he did basically just walk away. He did continue to pay the bills, even after he moved out. Then of course after the legal separation, because he had to.

                Funny, I think back and I don’t think I ever once thought about the house payment, or the utilities, I was in so much shock. So given that situation, I guess abandonment is not exactly what I experienced.

                Though pretty much all the other criteria fit.

                After all is said and one though; I am so glad it happened quick, and that he gave me no choice initially. Because, if he had I likely would have pick me danced my ass off. Giving him more time to abuse me.

              • CQ, even if you don’t submit it. Write, write, write.

                There was no CN when I was going through it, but I did keep a journal. I had always kept a journal, and now I am glad I did.

                It helps to just write it, even if no one ever reads it.

        • There is that one huge bonus of the cheater who leaves when they are found out – you are SAVED from the pick-me-dance. The hysterical bonding, the rejuvenation of hope (false hope). I’m sure it’s tough when they take off. BUT, the misery and mindfuckery creeps back soon after they have you sucked back in. I look back and keep asking myself, “Why did I not give up and walk away?” There were at least 3 good opportunities to leave him when all of those red flags were flapping so hard in my face – I was stunned and blinded. I found evidence of his womanising before we had kids or a house together and I stayed. I moved countries with my two kids without him after I got too upset about his detachment to us, and then took him back. I had a D-day 4 years ago, and I stayed. I could’ve had a life by now…I missed those chances to dump him. I’m just at the beginning of gaining a life. Too many years wasted!

  • I suspected mine was cheating when he became cold and verbally abuse to me. Too “tired” to be intimate and then he would put me down with what I was wearing, my makeup, my hair, the housecleaning, my personal area. He has never commented on any of that before. Then he would would start a fight with me and drive off. He yelled at me to “Fuck off” and saying he was going through a “Midlife Crisis” Even our kids who were teenagers would ask why Dad was being so mean to me. I found out it was because he was meeting the escorts and it was a way to distance himself from me, put me down to make himself seem better even though he was cheating.

    It wasn’t until I read an article about the red flags of cheating that I figured out why he was acting this way. A spouse of 30 years just doesn’t change the way they treat you for no reason. Reading other stories I see this behavior is pretty common when the husband is cheating. How abusive he was affected me as much as the cheating and when he stopped acting like that is when I knew he has stopped, but it took me to confront him with the evidence for that to happen.

    • I wish I had picked up on it earlier. I knew something was wrong, but he put it off to “work stress” That wonderful catch all excuse.

      I should have picked up on it. Many years prior to that when my oldest brother was young and married, he acted like a shit head and cheated on my sister in law. My dad was super pissed, and let him have it. (I was in my bedroom, as a teen at the time; and I heard it all.) My sister in law had come to our house. Then my brother followed her, begging her to come back. Basically my dad told him he would either straighten up, quit racing cars (blowing money) and act like a responsible man, or he would go with my SIL to court and make sure she gets every penny he has until their two children were 18. They were about 2 and 3 at the time.

      They worked it out, and from all appearances he never did it again. They were married 49 years when she died of cancer in 07. He (my brother) died just a few weeks ago.

      Anyway, my sister in law told me when I was older that men get mean when they are fooling around. Why that didn’t kick in my head I don’t know. When Dday came, the first thought I had was shit; I should have know.

  • There is a lot at play in all of this. Part of it is age and how to unpack so many years invested in a marriage and then wondering what to do now.

    But, there is also the impression that he’s having the time of his life with the OW that can be pretty haunting.

    It was my ex’s bday on Saturday. It was my weekend with the kids, but I offered him the opportunity to see the kids on the day of his birthday, even if it was to just take them to lunch. The kids were worried that they wouldn’t see their dad on their birthday. He said no. He had plans and wasn’t going to be in town. It’s COVID! What could he possibly be doing that has him going out of town? Why is that necessary? It got me down this weekend, especially in light of last year, when he didn’t hang on to the kids for his night because (I learned later) he went to Vegas for the weekend and passed it off as a work commitment.

    Of course, the ideas and the feelings go swirling. They’re off having so much fun. Living the single life. I stay home with the kids. I’m alone. No one’s whisking me off to Vegas or any kind of night away. I would have liked to do that in my marriage. I would like to do that now with someone.

    I don’t know the magic anecdote to these depressing thoughts. The comeback is slow. I remind myself that I don’t really know if they are having a great time. They are the ones who are broke, but seem to always be going away. The man I was married to was always so stingy with money and we were always on a budget. So, what’s with the spending like he’s a single guy in his 20s again? Then, it hits me that he’s still being emotionally immature and trying to live out those days again. Might look like fun from the outside, but it’s not deep or sustainable.

    My time is coming. My children are still young and I’m enjoying them immensely. When COVID is done, I have big travel plans that involve them. My values focus on my family, not fun with some other person and then hiding it from my kids (which is what my ex does because then he has to admit he’s spending money and he likes to play victim that he’s broke). There will be someone in my future, when I am properly healed. I don’t feel like I have to frenetically grasp at some dying youth because I lived it up properly when I was single. Been there, done that. Three university degrees, worked and studied in four countries, travelled three continents. And, one day, I will do it again, and hopefully with someone special (or not). But, I won’t do it now at the expense of my kids.

    That’s the best I can do. Focus on me. Being a good person, having an authentic life, developing strong relationships with family and friends, creating lots of memories and traditions with my children, and getting out everyone once in a while with friends to just be me.

    Is it exciting? I don’t know. But it’s REAL. I know it’s AUTHENTIC. And when it comes to the fuckwit and his accomplice, I can’t know what is real, except that he’s a liar and a cheater, and no supposed “exciting” weekends away compels me to actually want him back in my life.

  • “One thing about being in an abusive, chaotic relationship — it’s all-consuming. There’s never enough kibbles to shovel at an unappreciative jerk, the chaos janitor job is never done, and even if you’re not well-loved, you are needed.

    There’s an identity in that and a purpose. Even if it’s incredibly dysfunctional and painful. You can throw all your potential and energy at the fuckwit and sideline yourself. So you never have to answer the hard questions of, who am I without this person? What do I want to accomplish in this life?”

    Thank you for neatly summing up my parents’ marriage – and also the worst relationships I was in, which were modelled closely on my parents’ marriage.

  • Sounds like you have the side effects that typically come with long term repeated exposure to narcissistic abuse. No contact is working, give it time.

  • I think the concept of “purpose” is bull shit like we need a reason to exist. It’s something society has sold us on via media. My beloved late grandmother was widowed for 15 years before she passed away. She lived in a tiny rental (her house burned down). Her tv had 3 channels and she had no radio, no internet, nothing. She lived alone and was HAPPY. What’s so wrong with just hanging out at the house, tending a small garden or reading a book? If you like to socialize go to church or join a club or something.

    I’m 19 months out and I’m nowhere near this but it’s my goal. To get to the point when I enjoy life without any purpose other than doing what makes ME happy.

    • I totally agree Elena.

      Oh I did the volunteering, and socializing in my younger years. I did enjoy the volunteering; as I was busy; and it filled the need to socialize. But, I never enjoyed parties, dancing etc. I pushed my self to do what I needed to do, mostly for FW’s job; but never really enjoyed it. The volunteering was done for my ex FW, to make him look good, but I still enjoyed it; and I met some really sweet folks. Once he got to the pinnacle of his career, he drop kicked me for the dogcatcher (his direct report); but hey I was glad to sacrifice my time, money and self confidence to give him and schmoopie a good life. (at least I think that is what they thought would happen, it didn’t)

      I am done. I have been married to a great man for many years now, and at our age we just want to do what we want to do, and have no pressure. It is amazing. Oh we get our exercise, we keep our minds busy; but this is our time to enjoy.

  • My shit show never seems to have an ending: discarded after over 20 years, 14 years married, aged 58 at time of bombshell, 10 years of which I gave up a good job of work for so I could ‘be available’ to see him either where he lived and worked abroad or when he came home. The goal posts moved every so often and the three years abroad turned into five and then eventually eleven. All the time saving and investing – he was out living the life and more, even though I didn’t think he would ever do that to me. The day before I was flying out early morning to see him, I received a phone call and was told not to come out, he wanted a divorce. There had been things: second phone, earrings in the rented house, other stuff – all of which were explained away and considered plausible although I did live on eggshells and was continually caught up in his drama. I remember sobbing in a shop saying to my son who will buy his clothes for him now? What shall I do, I haven’t worked for years? No pension, just got back the house I originally owned before he stepped in (he rescinded on agreement which I now know is not valid in family law) and some maintenance (because I stuck to my side of the agreement and wouldn’t take his pension). 3 years since D-Day, 2 years since divorce – I have built myself up a little, was doing well but still tentative. Then, karma (or so I thought), he was made redundant. Him – Emails, can’t pay, I’m going to be homeless, blah blah. Me – I’d never see you homeless, stay here until you get the tenant out of my fucking retirement rental property that I no longer have a share of. Him – no thanks, that wouldn’t work for me. No agreement about finances so back to court we go …. Turns out he got married to someone younger than his youngest daughter six months after we divorced from a poverty driven foreign country. He’s now 61, she’s 27. What happened to all that money he couldn’t afford to pay? Reversal of vasectomy (he wouldn’t ‘allow’ me to have children with him), and IVF treatment and they are now both ‘delighted’ to be expecting twins. Lies, lies and more lies. Worse thing is: people have known for ages and I didn’t. No-one has cared enough about me to tell me about the marriage. Feel so humiliated, betrayed by the vast majority of people and alone. Having put my life ‘on hold’ for years, cannot see a future. The idiot (too nice word for him) is living in 3rd world country in luxury as an expat, retiring and basically saying “fuck you” to me. Lies on court papers – who fucking cares? People say – you are best rid of him and go on dating site, blah blah and find someone else. Another man is not the answer at the moment. Love, kindness and honesty are the answer and not sure where to look for it or even if it exists. Feeling raw, court case in mid-January. Spent all my savings I had managed to get together on low earnings and maintenance on legal fees and will borrow for barrister help, no holiday for over three years, eat rubbish and feign smiles and say I’m okay. I’m not. I don’t want to die but I don’t want to live like this anymore. I can’t seem to find a way out. Covid life to me is normal – isolated. I feel like I’m always fighting and I just don’t want to fight anymore.

    • Jane, I hope you’re still reading. You’re not alone. You have support here. We are complete strangers who truly care. That’s what this site is for. Please let me know if you would like to correspond by email by responding to this post and I will post my email address. I’m worried about you and you need one on one support. Hugs.

  • Your story about Ed, brought me to tears. I think we all feel purposeless at times due to the abuse we’ve faced. It doesn’t make it true. Although, I’ll confess if I didn’t have 3 little ones depending on me to be the parent I’m not sure what state I’d be in right now.

    I too feel that the inevitable “replacement” is coming. Mine refuses to leave and has been a serial cheater and of course denies it all. Yet I’m the one that ruined the marriage.. bc “you’re not nice.” And I apparently turned into my mother… laughable.

    But the sing is still there. That this trashy other woman fully aware of his wife, children and pregnant wife continued the affair. She’s not special, although I sometimes wonder. She feed his ego while I gave him grown up responsibility and attempted to make him accountable. He’s not capable of either. I only feel peace when he’s gone.

  • Okay,
    Age does play a factor in what you’re feeling, but it is no way a permanent condition. And you aren’t stuck or too devastated either. You’re mentally and emotionally spent, and it sometimes takes many years to gain adequate equilibrium again—especially later in life after a long-term marriage.

    I too am on the same timeline and of similar age to you and still experience the things you described. Yes, they are a lot further and fewer between now, thankfully, but I’m pissed they’re even there at all!

    The only thing that I found to help combat those feelings is recognizing the vital importance of completely letting go of anything out of my control, AND I stay much more focused on living in the here and now. The reason I do both of these things is I found most of the negativity comes from either dwelling too often in the past, or fretting too often about the future. By letting go of what I can’t control on both fronts, I’m forced to focus on what’s happening right now, in front of me—which leads to a far happier and more satisfying existence.

    If you aren’t already subscribed to the support group on Reddit, you should consider it. We often go into a lot more detail there about this kind of thing and more.

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