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
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.