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How Do I Get Over My Envy?

Dear Chump Lady,

D-Day was over a year go and I have since filed for divorce. I am the mother of two young kids and am no contact with the ex except for communications regarding the kids and finances. I trust that he sucks and don’t want him back (although he has tried to reel me back in after I filed).

However, I still feel sad/envious at times when I see happy two-parent families walking about or even among my friends. I live in a neighborhood that just seems to be full of smiling young couples with kids in tow (it’s like stroller city here). I think I’m on the road to “meh”, but what do I do about my feelings of envy and sadness for a dream that will never be — a happy two-parent family with the father of my children?

I also do not currently have any potential suitors and I feel like my chances of finding a good man are pretty dim, given the fact that I’m in my mid-40s and have two young children, and, even if I did find someone, he would never be the father of my children. Chump Lady, how do I get over my envy and grieving over a dream that will never be? Thank you.



Dear Dreamer,

Envy isn’t very productive, or helpful for your healing. It’s human, I get it, but when you go there stop yourself. Measuring yourself against other people — especially people you don’t know — is a recipe for misery. You don’t control their life’s journey and you don’t know what they’ve suffered or are suffering now. That person whose happiness you envy may have lost a parent, or flunked his/her examinations, or have a cheating partner too. I’m not saying go with the schadenfreud, I’m saying recognize that you don’t know that person’s whole story. Yeah, even if you’re close to them. We all have struggles and hidden sorrows.

And let’s say by God, every strolling couple is deliriously happy — well, good for them. The world is a better place for every well-adjusted, happy family out there. If they’re smug about that? Okay, hate on. (No, not really… but I’ll allow you some snark.) But recognize that their happiness doesn’t take one whit of happiness from you. There isn’t a big happiness well and they’re drawing up more than their share, exhausting limited happiness resources. They’re happy. It’s zero reflection on you.

Unless you make it about you. Which is really what envy is, a kind of projection. I Want That. They Have That. I Hate That They Have That and I Don’t Have That.

So focus on what you can control here — YOU. Your path forward, your attitude, your resiliency.

Ever heard the expression “If first you don’t succeed, redefine success”? You need to redefine success. You’ve narrowed it to being partnered. Worse, even if you want to be partnered, you’ve excluded every potential man from your life because he’ll never be the father of your children. Way to give up there before you’ve even tried!

First off, fuck those definitions of success. That you have to be of some shiny, nuclear intact family. Most people don’t get that — moreover, they don’t get a CHOICE about it. So, how unfair is it to judge people by criteria they can’t even control? It’s like standards of beauty. I’m never going to be 6 feet tall and weigh 120. There will never be a gap between my thighs. My hair will never be straight and fall over my shoulders in a cascade of loveliness. So WHAT? Am I to never feel attractive because I cannot attain that standard? Fuck that. I do my best, take my squigdy middle-aged ass to the gym, eat pastries because I like them, and put a lot of conditioner in my hair on humid days.

I adapt. I overcome. I say, fuck your unrealistic standards of my worth, Society!

You need to do the same. Start redefining what happy is, what success looks like, and arrange your life to get some of your OWN defined happiness. When you do that — you’ll find the envy fades away, because you’re living your life on your terms. You’re not measuring yourself by some dumb one-size fits all standard.

You’re going to grieve what you lost. That takes time. You’re going to have to accept that you’re not going to get the life you thought you were going to have. The rewiring is a process. But don’t make this harder than it has to be, by measuring yourself against the neighborhood flotilla of baby strollers. We don’t get the life we thought we had, or prayed for — and trust me, that can be a GOOD thing. Thank God my reconciliation prayers were unanswered. Every day I spend married to a man who is not the father of my child — a guy I married at 43, being less than a perfect physical specimen — I feel like I won the lottery. Go ahead, hate my treacle. It’s insufferable. But that’s how I feel. So do I tell the universe, I’m sorry THIS WON’T DO. We didn’t meet at 18 and go on to have 50 years together, so I REJECT this as too little, too late?

I could’ve been happy many other ways than my husband. (But I’m glad for him, of course.)  I had a job I loved, a terrific garden, good friends. Geez, there are many good ways to build a life. Be open, be grateful. Some days that’s so hard, but will yourself forward. Don’t let that cheater win. Don’t let him define your life’s success. You’re somebody without that nobody. Put THAT in your stroller and meditate on it.

This column ran previously. 

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  • Dear Dreamer,

    I, too, thought I’d never have another chance at a partner. I was mid-30s with 5 young kids and a high conflict ex. Plus I didn’t want step kids or any more of my own children. How many childless guys out there willing to date a gal with 5 kids who also didn’t mind not having their own biological children? 8 years later, and I am engaged to the finest man I’ve ever known. He isn’t their father, but the kids consider him a parent, and he loves them deeply. Focus on loving yourself, and the right partner will come along who sees you, not your shitty circumstances.

    • “Focus on loving yourself, and the right partner will come along who sees you, not your shitty circumstances.”

      Can I just edit this a little?

      “Focus on loving yourself, and a partner might come along. Or not. And if you focus on gaining a life, you might find that it doesn’t actually matter.”

      • ⬆️ THIS! And I dare say that if you are too desperate to fill the husband-shaped hole, you may jump into the wrong situation because your picker is not yet fixed.

        • I love all of this so much. My ‘husband picker’ has changed directions several times since my so order in late 2019. I’m so thankful I didn’t rush and commit.

  • Timely..
    Yesterday I went to the graduation party of a “mom friend” daughter. We were girl scout leaders together, live in the same neighborhood and our girls went to the same schools.

    Her daughter had a amazing HS career and is going to my alma mater. The building was filled with people and awards.

    Mom was at the door and Dad was at the grill.

    Talking to some of the other parents, it was wow this is year had to be sooo hard. ( He moved to another state half way across the country 2 years ago with a 18 yo.

    What is your daughter going to do…work, not go to college.

    I stayed for a respectable amount of time then left, bursting into tears as I drove. Recognizing my feelings of grief and envy.

    My Day came when our daughter was at the tender age of 13. It helped to trigger a pre-desposition for mental illness. She went from being a active, involved kid to in the hospital for a suicide attempt 2 years later. He moved
    to a new state soon after.

    She and I worked really hard to get her to graduation. I sacrificed friends and myself to focus on her and her mental health. And she graduated, though not in a traditional way.
    no prom or social clubs.

    She is not just alive but vibrant. Working towards her dreams. Not my dreams for her.

    I let myself feel the sense of what I didn’t get, what she didn’t get, let the tears flow.

    Drove through Mc D’s for some french frys and met a friend for a yoga class.

    The feelings will come back, I won’t fight them but I try not to wallow. If I do, that’s ok to.

    • I am sorry, Momma B. You are a good person and you are raising a wonderful daughter. That is everything.

      (And by the way, those happily married couples are secretly miserable. Trust me.)

    • I hear you. My 3 kids are all “hippies” who (although they seemed/looked normal in their teens) all became rather wild as young adults and their paths are non-traditional. 2 failed out of college, one went to jail…there has been a surprise, ill-timed grandchild ( now greatest kid ever), more metal health crisis than I can count…very few “normal” wins….and yet

      I have come to stop measuring them against normal rubrics and just relish their unique individual selves and the fact that they (because of their uniqueness, not despite it) have helped humanity.

      I find myself getting a little bummed at the images of moms at weddings (very unlikely with my kids) and other mainstream things but Im glad that my kids are mine and I get to nurture them in life.

      Im still mad at on old “mom friend” who insisted on pelting me with every data point of her sons successes in the very moment I told her that mine was struggling mightily. That was cruel.

      My parenting of young adults looks nothing like I thought it would yet Im proud of how I adapted to who they really are instead of trying to make them into who they are not. I now don’t blink an eye at the (now legal) weed on their tables and I will tell their trans & drag queen friends that their dress is lovely.

      I did remarry but not until my kids were out of the house, they would have never all mixed well but it is fine and works well now. I sometimes feel disappointment that there will never be a normal nuclear family, but that whole notion is overrated…my “normal” parents in my nuclear family were awful and I would have traded them for nice drag queens any day of the week.

      Letting go of the expectations has freed me and allowed me to enjoy the lovely reality that is.

      • Unicorn, re that mother with the perfect kid – I had a cousin who was the “perfect kid”. An only child whose mom (in particular) doted on him, and pushed and pushed and pushed. All with the best of intentions I suspect but …. In my dad’s large family we were 7 kids and another uncle had 6 kids. The rest only had one “perfect child” each. We were like the Little Rascals always out playing and coming home filthy and the perfect child went on to the have a very important perfect career – and his kids are monsters who bite and kick their grandparents! The house is filthy, I guess in reaction to having a spotless home when he was growing up. When my mom died he came after the funeral and said the nicest things about my mom, and yet unloaded all his hate and venom on to his own, still living mom. It’s a bit like the round robin Christmas letters where everyone else’s kid is just perfect and yours are eating their own scabs!

      • “Letting go of the expectations has freed me and allowed me to enjoy the lovely reality that is.”

        I am struggling so hard with this now. My DD24 has been in in-hospital trauma recovery for sexual assault. She was already fragile from the gaslighting and emotional abuse of her dad. She is no contact with him (although he did send her a book “Fault Lines: Fractured Families and how to heal them” which is total bullshit in the Esther Perel vein except with families not spouses). She is getting better so very slowly, but nowhere near fully functional. However, the reality is that we laugh every day and I so appreciate her company. I try to keep the faith that she will heal.
        But whatever happens, I want to enjoy the lovely reality that is; not mourn the loss of all my expectations.

        • Hi KathleenK

          I am so sorry this happened to your daughter. Thank God she has a parent who understands trauma, to help guide her along the recovery path. Here’s to a lovely reality for the both of you moving forward.

      • Unicornnomore, I have a similar mothering journey. However, I love my kids fiercely and do my best to support them emotionally.

        You are an inspiration. ????

      • Everyday I learn something here. Today is no exception.

        My father walked out on my mother after 20 years of marriage leaving her with 5 children – ages 8-16.

        Standard divorce procedures of the day followed – circa early 1960′. Divorce was not common and the woman was looked down upon.

        He was nasty to her. Wouldn’t talk when he picked us up for ‘visitation’ or, if he did, left her in tears.

        I thought this was normal.

        My mother, who was physically disabled, soldiered on despite her depression that befell her the day he dashed out the door……he actually sent a moving van to pick up his stuff…didn’t even show up for that which is how she learned he was leaving.

        Fast forward: All five of us had our trials. All were relentlessly hard on our mother – the parent left behind gets it all….cruel as it is.

        She had been in the ‘upper’ social crowd prior to divorce (My father was a doctor.) – The ‘see and be seen crowd’. She was instantaneously dumped by all of those people.

        She had to watch all of them raise their children in high fashion while she struggled to feed and clothe us.

        I would like to note that, in the end, she had a solid core of true friends.

        Back then there wasn’t the help there is now for families and in a way I am glad because we all found our own way and my mighty mother loved each and every one of us for who we were not for what we did.

        She did not try to ‘fix’ us. She just trusted in us knowing we would figure it out and, low and behold, we did.

        Life ain’t perfect and she knew that.

        My children have scattered and are struggling too even amongst themselves and it breaks my heart….just a few years ago we were the imperfectly perfect family….

        Todays topic is such a good reminder for me to love them whenever I see them.
        To follow my mother’s example of trusting in us and loving us without trying to fix us.

        Thank you everyone for reminding me how mighty my mother was despite all the obstacles she faced.

        She has left me a trail to be followed through this jungle of fuckedupness….and I am soooo grateful to her.

        She went from survival to accepting to living her life with dignity and self respect….

        Maybe someday I will end up there too. 🙂

        • I suspect you are already there. Beautiful post. And your mother is beautiful, too.

          Your post reminds us that the sane, everyday parent, regardless of finances and material possessions, earns real respect in the long run.

      • Love this story. I had that normal family with high achieving kids until FW left. In that one afternoon it was just over. That square peg no longer fit in my new oddly shaped wonky hole so I didn’t even try to make it fit. Like you I adapted to who my kids are now vs trying to keep them in their old life. My parenting journey is like yours.

      • The proof is in the pudding. All those kids whose mom’s told me they were interested in med school (when they were in freakin’ middle school!) mostly fizzled out. A few did go on, but not the ones whose mom’s blasted it in my face.

    • I’ve had a similar situation to yours. Our healing after D-Day has not been any kind of pretty. All of my kids are in counseling. Sometimes I just feel like we are all reeling, however, the stress of living with crazy is now gone. All of the problems that we’re dealing with now are not combined with living with crazy anymore. And that’s worth something.

      You and I are together in this. I would totally have some of those McDonald’s french fries with you.

    • My girl was 13 also. After high school I wasn’t able to send her away to the expensive art college she do deserved to be a part of.
      She was depressed I was always depressed but hid it. Working in factories scraping by… she’s a great talent. Took her to a natural beauty school offering esthetician (she’s great with makeup)
      She then had a couple jobs now opened her own business space.
      She’s also been suicidal. I found out things I’d never known that happened to her growing up. How could I not know. How did she bury this for years. It’s tragic.
      Now it’s damage control. All around. We all need to be good to ourselves. I’ve been to those grad parties. Her dad left after 14 years because I didn’t want him being out until 4am… my new husband cheated with his daughters mom. (The one who makes her a step sister) it affects every one. And every thing. We just have to keep going
      And that McDonald’s drive thru. So happy you chose yoga as well! That’s mighty♥️ Our kids will find their way through the sludge and experience joys life has to offer
      Thank you for sharing

      • Different country, different generation & family situation, but… I’ve been through that MacDonald’s drive-thru, too ❤️
        (((Solidarity hugs)))

        • Quetzal

          That shows the pain and betrayal are universal but ugh that drive thru:(!!!
          I am still married I think he’s trying to cling into whatever’s left as hard as possible and although I contemplate divorce every single day- I am in a sense, also. I too get afraid and have that heightened sense of “awareness” others speak of… “what’s really going on with them”, “how long until he/she betrays the other”, “congrats on your engagement please protect yourself” , “how long until my husband actually grows the balls to say enough is enough I’m not “trying” for you anymore”…all that! Am I negative? Husband says I am because I state the facts about where we are.

          Does it ever stop? Mrs CL is in her third (now successful) marriage so I’d like to think there’s other people like me? (Us) out there.
          HUGE solidarity hugs! Wishing they were real♥️

          • Shann, your husband think you’re being negative? Ask him this: if I did the exact same thing to you for the same amount of time with another man, would you feel negative? Would you wonder about the size of my lover’s dick? Would you wonder what I was thinking when he made me c-m? Did I shout his name? See here is the thing about fucking someone behind your spouse’s back. It brutalizes the chump. It doesn’t “sadden” the person you promises to love. It doesn’t just “disappoint” the spouse. It brutalizes and tortures the faithful spouse. It the the very worst thing you can do to a person who truly loved you. Ask your husband to tell you, in detail, exactly what he would have done and said if you did the exact same thing to him that he did to you. Ask him exactly how he would now feel about his wife if she had destroyed him in the same way he destroyed her. Would he be peppy and happy and super psyched about staying married to you for his whole life going forward?

            • Good God aren’t these ALL facts! And the very hard truths Mia, that I need to ask just as much as I NEEDED to hear today.
              He has repeatedly said if things were the other way around, I’d forgive you in a heartbeat but we all KNOW that’s easier said than done a total manipulative statement.
              He also thinks that telling me it only happened a couple of times years ago- that it makes it seem less relevant. Also that each occurrence was for a few minutes. It makes it hard to breathe just trying to decipher the event in my brain. My chest still hurts and feels heavy And it’s been since April 2020 that I found out.

              • Yes. I had PTSD thinking of details when I found out. I had nightmares about the disgusting physical facts. It’s visceral. It’s not logical. It is that bad, especially the first time you encounter it. It’s shocking, and nothing prepares you for it. It feels impossible, like you would have sooner expected to see pigs fly.

              • Not that I recommend it, but when he said he would forgive in a heartbeat, maybe a statement like “good to know” would have had an impact.

                But if you are like me, my ex would have known I wouldn’t do it anyway.

              • It definitely does. Whether you’re realize it or not. Trying to just have a “regular day” ends up filled with triggers and the ignorance is unbelievable. If he only knew. (How could he not?!?) because he didn’t feel all this. He doesn’t think about the fine details or realize what I know or has been burned into MY brain, over this mess he brought me into.
                Every day he texts me to have a great day and I just scoff

                And Susie… I wouldn’t either:/ they know it!!

    • My son is graduating today. I’ve been struggling as the honors pile onto all the kids whose dads didn’t move to a different state with a 25 year old. My kid, as bright and full of potential as an any of them, went from a straight A student to graduating by the skin of his teeth and struggling with substance use . The trauma of losing his dad triggered by the pandemic and all its losses.

      It’s been a terrible year, but he survived, and got some good skills from the counseling I made him attend. I’ve seen my kid’s smile again these past few weeks. He’s learned that substances just numb the pain temporarily and I think he’s going to have a healthy relationship with substances going forward. We got lucky and found a great counseling program that involved parents and teens, and we graduated with “honors” from that ☺️ He’s enrolled in the fall in a field of study I think he’ll love at a college that suits him. I think he’ll do ok. ????I hope so. What a year.

      His dad arrived yesterday for graduation as did my sons (lovely) grandmother and aunt. GM had suggested that schmoopie was not invited so thankfully she is not in the state. (My ex mother in law gave me a bracelet yesterday that said “if you are ever struggling, remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.” I cried. I’m sure she’ll never give that to schmoopie. Maybe a granddaughter bracelet like the one she gave my daughter ????).

      Anyways, I’ve been struggling with envy for all the parents and kids who have sailed through this year. Who haven’t been forever marked by trauma. (My son was adopted so his fathers abandonment reopened a wound).

      I’m so far into Tuesday that I feel sorry for my ex. He had to fly in for his own sons graduation and my son has said about 2 words to him. I’ll sit next to him at graduation with my head held high, unashamed of the gray hair, wrinkles and extra ten pounds this years stress has given me. I was a badass and my kids got the parenting they needed from a single mom with a full time job while “dad” played house.

      I haven’t even had time to consider dating again, and at 54, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. No, this is definitely not the life I imagined when I was younger. But it’s a good life. My kids and I are a tight family, I have great family and amazing friends who are family, and even my exes family loves me.

      It’s ok to get little or even big twinges of envy. Especially for our kids whose lives our cheaters hurt. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to be proud of ourselves and know our worth. I’ve learned to talk to myself in my head like I would a friend “yeah that sucks, you deserve better.” And I find it soothes me. Weird but powerful. Hugs to all of you and to all the kids whose lives got upended by a selfish stupid parent.

      • I fear judgement so I don’t like telling my story but I’m in this place now. I’m okay the kids will be okay just not today.

        • MommaB, Mia, Unicornnomore, BigCityChump, Attie, KathleenK, PrincipledLife, MotherChumper99, Elderly Chump, Elena, Muthachumper, Shann, and GettingThereSlowly:
          Thank you to all of you who posted your stories about struggles with getting your precious children through the trials of high school, behavioral health issues, substance abuse, parental abandonment, and trying to cope with judgement, resentment and just plain old trying to keep everything glued together. I appreciate the fact that I am not alone in trying to navigate these waters.

          I tried to provide the “ideal” (snort) family and father/father figure for my son but failed. Neither Cheater #1 nor Cheater #2 provided any help or support as we went through many of the same painful life episodes that you bravely shared above:
          Two years of substance abuse, counseling and mental health treatment. Trips to the emergency room or bail outs from the police station based on the substance-fueled behavior. Trying to keep him in school, making passing grades and on track for graduation.

          DS went from the honor student at the magnet/charter school to the alternative school for troubled kids. I tried to get C#1 and C#2 involved in counseling, treatment and the like to no avail. C#1, who is his biological father, is still too busy chasing pussy. C#2, who initially proclaimed his “first and most important job” was being a dad, couldn’t take the time away from his business nor hobbies (read: mistresses and money).
          DS and I had a dark, dark two years from 15 to 17. I honestly wondered if he wouldn’t harm himself or end up in prison due to his actions. Luckily, we found a good outpatient treatment program, a terrific, supportive therapist and a community of parents that helped us recover and heal.

          The last six months have been dramatically different than the last five or so years that I found out about C#2’s cheating (it’s been almost 18 years since I divorced C#1). My son achieved Eagle Scout in January, will walk the graduation stage next week, and will start an apprenticeship in the fall, without either cheater’s help, support or input. I imagine there will be some more bumps in the road ahead, but DS is very clear headed about what he wants to do and where he wants to go.

          Back in the early 2000s, when I divorced C#1, I thought that having a father figure/two parents/an intact family was the absolute way to go when raising a child. Now I know differently. Children can thrive just fine with one parent who is reasonably sane, caring and loving. Families have many different configurations and if mine is me and DS, then that’s family enough for me.

          • I definitely thought that too. It may be why I partnered with my husband so quickly after her dad left. I had no time on my own. A matter of months only.
            I felt alone for a very long time and that I was “missing out”. I wanted to date and meet nice people and mostly have fun. My husband came equipped with a small daughter for me to also take care of. It was a challenge which I like(just the wrong type) and I felt maybe we could be a family one day. We did that only I invested a bit more. My heart my time and energy. My hope. That he saw me the same way…a life partner. He said all along it’s all he wanted meanwhile had episodes of sneaking away with his daughters mom.
            One friend warned me in the beginning to be careful since he had a small child with someone. I didn’t believe there would be an issue. Just wanted his fun living adventurous character.
            Ignored everything that has me in a “pickle” today.
            Discovery x2 (with her)
            Now a changed relationship/partnership
            A daughter who went from calling me “mom” to not even coming around. A pending court case for bio mom keeping her away. A husband who claims he’ll do “anything to fix this”.
            I am challenged once again because I’m not the type to give up and always believed in line you can get through anything. But my gut is torn. When is enough enough? Have I not yet been damaged enough? Why am I this way?

            Why is it so scary to pull the plug amd go off to heal in my own? Yes I’ve been in therapy for a nearly year now. It seems the months are flying by. As time goes guilt sets in. The more he does around the house. The more dinners he cooks and laundry he folds of mine while I’m at work… I need to do everything for myself I do t want to seem like I am using him for anything.
            SoMany many thoughts

      • Congrats to you and your son and the family that came to support you. It is a beautiful thing to watch our children struggle, and survive, and thrive. It takes patience and determination and grit. We have all of that… especially when the family is fractured and we hold all the pieces together, however tenuously. My son just graduated from a four year university and my pride was bursting. It’s all about us, mamas. We got this. x

        • Audacious
          A four year university! Fantastic and a wonderful foundation for a young man today.
          Congrats to you all!

    • Your story is so moving, and your perspective is so inspiring.

      As someone who has spent 40+ years teaching high school and college kids, I can tell you that sometimes the kids who sailed through high school winning all the awards crash and burn later on. And every kid I’ve ever taught had struggles, some of them very well hidden.

      Momma, you and your wonderful, brave daughter know what ended when a selfish man walked away and you know the struggle you’ve both had to get her on the cusp of adulthood. It’s worth noting that many of the kids who went to prom and won the awards and are going off to college will have their big struggles later on. And some of them will be ill-equipped to deal with what happens. I lived that and I see it over and over with students now. Your daughter has learned that life is hard, that mental health is not to be taken for granted, and that she can rely on her mother, who is a mighty warrior. It’s not what you hoped for when she was little, but you’re modeling for her how to move through grief and loss with grace. And that’s bigger than the prom.

  • I am mad with envy /Jealousy a good 88% of the day ( i have admitted this before to my shame but nothing really has changed )

    I am Jealous my ex goes from 1 relationship to the other Infact scarp that 1 wife to the next without a blink and it works !! All the while i cant even bring myself to date . They really do skip through life without a care in the world . There are NO consequenses

    I am envious he started a family with his AP and left me childless due to his lies of never wanting children

    I am envious of Chumps that even got some sort of text or appology or a lets try ( no matter how fake it was ) To me at least thats better than being totally abandoned without a look back and being ghosted

    I am jelous they are living life up ( I live in a small community word gets around ) with the money i had to pay him

    I think i am envious of people in relationships as i will never have that connection again ( or that trust) im done with it all
    I see couples all the time holding hands and think yeah thats never going to happen for me at my age plus no one would want me

    I try NOT to let it consume me and i am 2 years out so the feelings have faded but they are still there

    • I am so sorry.
      Please understand that your ex is not really happy.
      I’m envious of single people.

    • I feel you. My ex left me for a millionaire after I gave up my job opportunities so that he could pursue his six-figure career. He plotted everything out, and since I was a mental mess with no money of my own, I settled for crap just to get it over with. Now, we’re a year out from covid and I can’t find a job that doesn’t feel degrading. I’m 56 with a master’s degree, and no one is interested in hiring me. Meanwhile, FW and sparkle twat are building a million dollar mansion in a resort community. I gave that POS my life because I trusted him, and he’s taken everything and treated me like such garbage that I’ll never recover. I’m looking at poverty and struggling with major depression. Sometimes I’m okay and feel like something’s gotta give, and other times I honestly don’t even want to live anymore. These are brutal people, and they have no heart. Hugs to you.

      • ChumpQueen, Karmeh, I hear you.

        Very similar circumstances, mine.
        Hugs to you both.

        Have posted down-thread as well.

      • DO NOT EVER BE DOWN ON YOURSELF!!! You got out of an abusive situation. Cheating is abuse! If you cannot find a good job, find whatever pays your bills and create the job you want. You were smart enough to come here and you have a Master’s degree.

        They did not break you and they will not! You made it and you will keep making it!

      • ChumpQueen, just an idea….. you’d be a terrific chump coach and life coaches can make well over 6 figures working online. There are a million small businesses started by smart women just like you. The older the better!


      • “I’m 56 with a master’s degree and no one is interested in hiring me.”

        I actually believe this part of your life is more damaging and depressing than your cheating spouse leaving you.

        Your EX may be building a mansion, but that doesn’t mean he is happy, or that it will last, and the chances are he will cheat on ST soon. Cheaters never are happy with their status quo, they have to constantly look for greener grass. At some point, time and consequences catch up with them.

        With regard to your employment, I was in your situation when the economy crashed in 2008-2009. I had never looked for work that long before, nor had I been treated with indifference . I finally found a job which was well below my abilities, but I thought that it would open other opportunities as time went on. That had been my past work experience.

        The reality of age discrimination and the trend toward encouraging people to take early retirement programs will eventually result in an experience void in the workplace, in my opinion. I did choose early retirement, at 65. because Medicare was available and I had saved during my entire work life. It was a good choice for me, because during my last job I had the potential to do so much more, and could have provided so much more based on my education and past experience, but I was not encouraged to do so. There was an attitude that due to my age, and my “gap” in the use of modern technology and social media that I “wouldn’t be able to adapt.”

        The fact was I had learned about the use of computer technology with every job I held after graduating from college. I knew how to do things the old fashioned way (thinking, problem solving) and I could tell the programmers the steps I used for calculations. They could talk to the tech machines, I could talk to them, and to real life people. I could problem solve on my feet, prioritize, and get results. I could convey information to students and parents (customers) who were not tech savy, and may not have internet available to them in rural locations.

        I worked with much younger people who thought the work couldn’t be done if “the system was down.” I worked with people who feel the same way I do whenever I call in to a company I do business with and am told to go online, or hold for eternity to talk to a representative, or choose from an endless list of choices which do not represent the problem I am calling about. There is no replacement for Face to Face conversation, or at least Voice to Voice Human conversation. Technology is a wonderful way to increase efficiency, but humans need experience to make connections between the way things are “supposed to work” and the way they actually work.

        When the last people of my generation are all dead, or have been given “early retirement” to save on paying our medical and pension benefits, I predict there will be a gap in the workforce the size of the grand canyon. I personally know people who will die and their abilities and experience will be gone forever. Their children and grandchildren do not want to work as hard (physically) as these folks have, or solve the “on the job” problems. I wonder what will happen when there are no craftsmen, no human counselors or advocates for people to talk to, no people who ever lived without a screen in front of them 24/7.

        I worry what type of a world will be available for my children and potential grandchildren when they have no elders to teach them, or look out for their interests anymore. Both of my son’s thought I was a pain when they started college, but they have both come to me after college to say they were so lucky to have a parent who understood how to navigate the system and make their path easier. Also, to make their college more affordable.

        All of this might seem off point, but I sincerely believe if Chump Queen can find a job where her skills are valued, and she feels appreciated, she will start to feel better about her situation. She will give up the dream of the past, and adapt to a new dream, a more realistic dream of her future. Her dream will be based on her abilities, not the lies of a FW.

        Sorry to go off on a tangent, but being able to support yourself and have food, shelter, and security is a basic human need. We should fight against a concept of a throw away society. or one day the survivors will wake to a world of landfills, and nothing worth any value.

        • I’m 37 and have experienced “age discrimination” against me in the tech industry. Seems if you’re a software engineer over 27 your basically a dinosaur.

        • Landing in poverty at the age of 55 has opened my eyes to the state of our world. Wages are flat and housing takes up 40% of peoples income. The wealth is owned by 1% of the population who are more than happy to destroy the planet for cash. It’s time for a revolution.

      • I don’t know where you live but in my area, businesses are hiring unqualified candidates and willing to train. I have personally hired a couple of people recently that had impressive credentials in other areas, but they were unskilled and had no experience in the industry I work. They wanted to make the transition and thought this is the time to get their foot in the door while a lot of people are satisfied to stay home and collect UI. They were right and very smart to make the move now. The right attitude will open a lot of doors. Please stop focusing on your cheater ex (he’s wasted enough of your time) and move forward. Oh and 56 is not old, companies are looking to hire older candidates as the young ones tend to move around quite a bit.

      • I’m nodding my head yes at all these posts. The details are vastly different but there are days when I don’t want to live either. Poverty is a bitch.

      • They can live in a mansion but they can only be in one room at at time. Make your room the most magnificent for you!

  • I don’t envy anyone, but I desperately want the life I thought I had, the man I thought I married, and I’d love to recover my self respect and self esteem. I’m not filled with envy, but sorrow and depression, yes by golly I’ve got that in a big way. I don’t see any way forward at all. Stuck right here in the shit. When I see other folks who are still couples, all I can think is “when will he/she find out?”

    • Agreed. When I see young love I only think: “it’s going to really hurt when it all blows up one day”. It makes me really sad.

      • Oh geez, same same same to both of you. And I’m pissing myself off because once last year and twice this last Tuesday I’ve received news of engagements and my mind goes right to “how long until s/he cheats I hope s/he protects themselves financially so they’re not in my position”. I can’t stand that my mind even goes there, I’m not usually like that.

      • Just today I was going through pictures and I found a couple of me and my ex in the really early years. One was a couple weeks after our wedding, just before he left for Vietnam for a year. I was of course as most young women pretty and so happy in love, you could just see the adoration in my eyes. Who knew in just 21 short years…

        So yeah, I get it.

    • I want to tell everyone dumb enough to marry to start saving for their divorce preferably putting the money in someone else name or cash. Cash is good.

    • I can relate to this.
      4 years out, a major rollercoaster to this day, chronic illness, and every day I have the thought that “I want to go home”. It took me time to figure out what I meant by that (sometimes I already was home! lol), but it means I want to go to the only place that felt intact and happy to me. And it was with him. That place never existed but it was real to me. It’s pointless to miss it, but it’s like a piece of my soul is gone with it. I just survive, now. Or try to.

      I don’t envy other couples because now I, too, jump to the thought of “what is really going on?” or rather many times I can already see signs of power imbalance from afar, so there’s really nothing to envy in most cases.

      • I was thinking yesterday about what went on in my marriage and relationship with Mr. X.
        There was the initial love bombing and then an impenetrable wall smashed that world wherein I was emotionally and physically shut out of his inner life.

        I can almost trace it back to the time when it happened – to when I ‘lost him’.

        Rather than walking away all those years ago, I stayed and my life was shaped by my trying to penetrate that wall of silence, that emotional wasteland in hopes of experiencing that initial experience again – the person I thought he was.

        In so doing, I took on the blame for all of his behavior. My decades of , “It must be me” ensued with a vengeance. I knew I couldn’t change him so I worked on myself….relentlessly.

        Turning the corner to seeing what really was has been a slow process for me too. I was with him for over 30 years and it has only been about 4 since dday.

        What has changed for me?

        No contact made a huge difference in allowing me to end the roller coaster ride. The ways in which I reacted to him aren’t being practiced anymore. The confusion that followed any conversation we had is gone.

        I read and learn more about what people like him are like and I see how I played right into that whole fantasy – his fantasy. I see how my fantasy fits right in there.

        I do believe he wanted a wife and a family just as I did BUT, I am convinced now, he was using me from the get-go. I see now he had issues with sex that he wasn’t honest with me about and that, when he met me, he thought his issues were gone and, they probably were, for awhile. Then when his issues returned, rather than being honest – the wall came up and our dance began.

        Each piece I see somehow frees me from my own self imposed shackles to what I though I had. What I had, in all reality, was very brief. A fairy tale. Enough to get me hooked.

        I find solace here. Reading and learning and then applying what I learn as best I can.

        As so many have said to me in the past -‘ keep coming back ‘.

  • The “ I Want That, They Have That, I Hate That They Have That and I Don’t Have That” mindset is the entitled thinking that leads to the destructive behavior we’ve all come to know so well.

    • It always comes up as a feeling of deserve and earn for me. Is that really entitlement in disguise?

      I put in love, loyalty, honesty, and care. Didn’t I EARN to be loved the way I loved? Didn’t I DESERVE to have the intact family that I sacrificed so much to build?

      Is it entitlement to feel I worked for the intact family and got cheated out of what I put in?

      • In a just world, yes.

        But we don’t live in a just world.

        Accepting this – that there are bad people out there who behave unjustly – is the beginning of sanity.

        Not letting this knowledge destroy you or your values is the beginning of real greatness.

      • Reading on how to raise kids with a narcissist co-parent, I learned that narcissism is caused by being raised in a dysfunctional family with at least one narcissist parent. That’s logical. Being a chump also can be caused by family of origin’s issues with setting and respecting boundaries. So I can now understand why I am both a chump and a high scorer on tests for nascissist traits ????. My therapist reassured me that a narcissist would never admit to needing therapy, but still… We Chumps can be both chumps and have entitled feelings. It is what we do with it that makes the difference. Our actions define them as Chump Lady says. Our actions define us too, I hope ????

        • Hm, a bit on a tangent but not sure the cause of narcissism is quite that clear. There may be an inborn element according to some psychologists.

          Also, my understanding, there are different kinds and degrees of narcissism. A “covert narcissist” might even enjoy therapy if they could manipulate the therapist. Sympathetic attention! Cake!

          At the same time I can see where narcissism in a parent could be contagious to kids, yeah.

          • I know a covert narcissist who married a “dream therapist”. He makes all the money (paid for her doctorate, their primary residence plus a flat in Barcelona,etc) and she listens to him contemplate his navel. Match made in heaven. She’s his second wife and she has two children by two other men.

          • Hello CakeEater’sDaughter! Thank you for your comforting answer ????. Inborn or nurtured is untangling the skein anyway. I’ll review my attitude toward my therapist (argh, I am doubting myself again!????), and keep working on stopping the passing of the buck -towards my kids.

      • Yes, you did deserve that. We all deserve love. I am really focusing on loving myself. I am one of those that would like to be in a relationship. I am fine on my own and I will survive and thrive but having a partner would bring an extra layer to my life. I miss physical intimacy.

        It is easy to get down about this as my x also waltzed from our marriage into a long term relationship with his affair partner who has money. He is living it up.

        I have to focus on myself and my adult children. The world is not how I thought it was but I try my best to enjoy things every day (even if it is just a scoop of gelato ????).

        Big hugs to everyone. If I had a magic wand I would wave it for you all. Try to find a tiny bit of magic and hope wherever you can. It’s easy for us to focus on what we don’t have (myself included). It doesn’t really help us to move forward. Feel those feelings without guilt and then find a small way to choose happy. Best of luck to everyone.

      • No, it is not entitlement to behave in a loving, loyal, honest and caring way and feel cheated because your life partner abused you instead. That is what is known as “normal.”

        • Best questions my therapist ever asked me were:

          1) “What do you think you’ve lost by this divorce?” (35 years, sidelining my career to create the DOCTOR’s high income, financial security, our youngest child’s college tuition- he cut her off – my self esteem, sense of trust, my world view AND our shared history AND our future and planned retirement, and travel plans and so much more… ETC)


          2) which of those ^^^ things can you still attain, in some form?”

          Turns out, I can have most of what I hoped for and attain most of my dreams in SOME form ( minus DOCTOR Narkles).

          I went back to school to get certified to teach English, went abroad to live and work – a long time dream – and maintain close relationships with my kids.

          I do NOT follow the DOCTOR and his “new family” at all. **I cannot control his side of the fence and it bears no relationship to mine. IF he crashes his car, I don’t get a new one. If he wins the lottery, I don’t take a pay cut.

          (It’s like CL says, there’s not a well of finite happiness.)

          I only affect my side.

          And on MY side, there’s peace and honesty and authentic relationships AND a type of freedom you cannot attain or maintain with a dishonest partner.

          I’m 61 and I do date. I’ve met genuinely kind men and some damn good looking men and some guys who made me laugh, and someday soon I hope I meet a guy who is enough of all these, to partner with.

          But I won’t settle for less than I deserve. I would literally rather be alone and free than saddled with someone who either does not deserve me or who is simply not a good match.

          Being alone is better than wishing you were.

      • No, it’s not entitlement imo.

        It’s being a normal human. We believe their promises of loyalty and commitment. We believe they are who they say they are. We show up as good partners. We address problems. No one could predict a pathological, compartmentalized nutcase faking love and commitment and a personality, who pulls the rug out from under us.

        The worst trauma is trauma inflicted by a loved one – it’s actually harder to recover from than a natural disaster they say.

        We have a right to feel cheated. We got the short straw for no other reason than bad luck, while other people got a partner who actually was who they said they were.

        Nonetheless, we must soldier on, find joy and rebuild even if we never get what we’d hoped for. I do try to remind myself that people thought my husband and I were the dream couple. I’m sure someone envied what it looked like I had. So, things aren’t always what they seem.

        • Thank you Skeeter for the perfect summation and for the info that this trauma is harder to recover from than a natural disaster. This, I did not know. Pretty sure we were seen as a socalled dream couple in our community too. But my new reality feels better now I’m getting used to it without all the gaslighting…

      • It’s not entitlement to want it or even expect it on a natural, basic level.

        What can veer into entitlement is the notion that is deserved or earned. I believe we’re gifted love. But we’re due reciprocity and met expectations within a social contract, that much we actually are entitled to! That’s what the social contract is there for.

      • While I understand what UX is saying I look at it more that I thought there was an (unfortunately) unspoken promise or contract that he felt the same sense of loyalty, love and teamwork and although I was not happy with the sweat equity balance in our relationship (totally one sided on my part now I now see) I speckled his level of commitment using my own parameters and projected my own sense of loyalty and commitment onto him and then was totally blindsided and frankly outraged when he neatly sidestepped all of that and went off-piste because it’s what was in his own interest and what he wanted to do. So yes, if having the expectation that someone would treat you the same way you would treat them was entitlement then I am guilty. And naive. UX is right in that that selfish and cold-blooded violation of our supposed contract of promise when I had or so I thought tried so hard to uphold my end, is the source of a great deal of my grief indignation and sense of outrage and I’d do best to quit naively believing that everyone holds themselves to the same standards.

  • Dreamer, those heteronormative parents you see are not actually happy. Not for long, anyway.

    One of them is the taker, and one of them is the resentful giver. It will blow up sooner or later.

    They might stay together if they are not wealthy enough to support two separate houses and cars. If they’re lucky, the kids will grow up unscathed.

    Friendship is real. Maternal and paternal love is real. Mature marriages – second marriages – are sometimes real and wonderful.

    Those young parents you see? No way. It is not sustainable. Just fairy tales written in a time when people were likely to be killed by disease, war, and starvation.

    • This seems unfair? No sweeping claims about marriage are true. We don’t have to say “they’re unhappy” or “it will never last” or “it’s not sustainable” in order to comfort ourselves. I have friends who married young to very good people. Those marriages have lasted, happily. They are real.

      • I guess I’ve seen mostly disfunctional marriages where at least one partner takes advantage of the other in a huge way.
        Traditional gender rules and unfair division of labor is what I’ve seen most of my life. I’m glad you know good people. Gives me hope for my kids.

        • Me too. When I look at all the couples I’ve known well, in my nearly 60 years on the planet, there are very few who have, or had, a relationship I would want. They aren’t all complete train wrecks but they are far from what I consider truly good, healthy nurturing spaces for all the members of the family.

          My grandparents on one side seemed to have a respectful, equitable, loving marriage. Of course they were from another time, born in another country. Their three children were all fucked up though — so maybe they were abusive as parents. I don’t know.

          I don’t think people were meant to live as nuclear families – I think we were meant for more communal situations, particularly when we have young children. The pressures of doing and being everything for each other and our kids is too much for most and results in a lot of toxicity.

        • I’m with you on this. All the older people I know are on their 2nd marriages. The young ones complain A LOT about their spouses. One’s husband has already had an EA (at least), they are in debt up to their eyeballs and their relationship has divorce written all over it. Another OMG all she does is bitch about her husband. She’s 32.

          Today’s relationships are transactional, imbalanced and yes one is the taker/the other a resentful giver. I don’t know ONE first marriage that is happy. NONE.

      • I agree, I know plenty of folks who have had good lasting marriages. Perfect no, but they evidently worked through their issues. My husbands brother and his wife for one. I also have no problem believing that he and she have been faithful. They worked through the rough times, enjoyed the easier times, and are now helping each other through end of life issues.

        The fact that my ex was a selfish asshole does not make all men or women selfish assholes.

    • Truth. Everyone I know is divorced or living in separate bedrooms, arguing, something. I know this because my kids and their friends talk.

    • So I think my family would look like the outwardly happy ones the letter writer sees. This year has been brutal, but my husband’s and my relationship is the strongest element of it. Covid and mental health struggles just suck.

  • You notice happy couples with kids much more. At first they made me feel nauseated ; I couldn’t tolerate so much happiness.
    But you slowly learn – don’t put other people in charge of your happiness. You are in control .
    And actually , it’s a good time to learn about yourself , and be comfortable in your own company. Nowadays I cherish silence and I’m looking for it.
    I slowly recreated a new life – now we go on holidays with another single dad and his two kids. Works for us, and whilst it is not family , there is friendship and closeness , shared meals and adventure.
    Where I live there are meetup groups for active single parents . Not a dating group just people in the same boat . And there are many single parents , we are not unique. You will find strength in numbers . And slowly but surely you have a new tribe . When I see happy couples now , I almost feel sorry for them – they have to compromise. Whilst on my own, I’m in charge .
    I wouldn’t worry about being a single mum with kids. Sure , the tinder guys may not want to hang around. And there will be enough guys out there who just want to get a replacement for a wife , because they can’t bare to be alone and find the whole child raising thing too hard.
    But I have met enough single dads and friends in my age who are looking for true relationships And if you are a confident person, who has got her shit together and has gone through some personal growth- you will be incredibly attractive.
    Kids or not .

    • I was one of those in a family to be admired by others with the 3 children. I only learned 20 years later – when I discovered cheating, that he had been cheating throughout the marriage- even when we appeared to be the perfect family. I was even told- 20 years later by an old affair partner of his that we appeared to be the model family. I think she was jealous (and was one of many still in communication with him). When I told an old friend about his cheating she said “I cannot believe that he always appeared to love you so much.” So one never knows about all those families with strollers. I accidentally met and fell in love at this much later date – when both of us have grandchildren. Families cannot blend as well now and will never be the nuclear family but we love life and I will be forever grateful for learning the truth- only wish I could have seen it earlier.

      • Terrible. You never know a person .
        Ours was similar- been together for 10 years before we got married . There were speeches at our wedding about how perfect we were for each other . She is a covert narcissist. Always quite . 2 lovely children. Just plenty of affairs and the whole crazy head spin which comes with the personality . But we would have looked so happy on our wedding day . Only she was faking it and I was in it for real . But you don’t see that from the outside.

  • Hey Dreamer, all of us who have been lied and cheated on and our dream of that life we thought we had go through this. I so needed this read today. Thank you for sharing. For reminding me and all the rest of us, we are not alone in this. Tomorrow (June 4 & my bday) my x came home a year ago to say she needed to find herself and didn’t love me anymore. Ten days later she finally admitted to cheating. We have three year old twins and I’m 40. I completely feel the same about how am I ever going to date again. Who would want a 40 year old with toddlers. And I absolutely grieve the life I thought I had. I still do and am learning to let the emotions flow through me, but to process them and take another step forward. I’m trying to set new goals for myself and keep busy. Of course these things are always easier said then done. But one step forward is still one step forward. Be strong. Love yourself…. you must love yourself because your children will learn from you self love & strength. You got this and remember you have a huge group of us rallying you on everyday. ☀️????

    • The life you had was a lie . It’s a tough lesson ; you were in it.
      She wasn’t .
      Happy Birthday for tomorrow. 40 is the new 30 , you have two healthy kids who surely keep you on your toes.
      You will heal , but based on my experience, one year is not enough .
      Make sure you celebrate!

  • Measuring happiness against the ‘two parents /two childen/ long term marriage’ yardstick ….

    Comparison is the thief of joy as the old saying goes.

    Having worked in healthcare I know that what people show to the world often does not reflect reality.

  • I am 63; I was abandoned for a 36 years old when I was 59 and my husband was 60. He is now abandoned and I am now thriving. My fake marriage (27 years) & my fake 36 yr relationship are in the rear view. Never envy others lives! You don’t know what pain they suffer or the challenges that they experience! Hunker down and get to know you! You’ll fall in love with someone who really rocks! You have real values, real benefits and an enormous value to offer to life! Whatever that may be!
    I am probably too old to repartner, but you know what; I don’t envy the couples or the families I see! I have peace, I have integrity I have love in my heart. My adult children, my grandchild and my community are my salve. I have so much to give to this world and by goodness; I will contribute! Stand up and be counted; because character matters!
    Much love- you will thrive!

        • Third enjoy here.

          Most folks who abuse others will get theirs, I just wish more could see it or hear of it. The guilty ones will try their darndest to hide it.

          I rolled in laughter when I read that account that CL put out there about marrying in a casino. It was pretty much what my ex and his whore did, and with a couple years he was whoring around again, and when he got tired of that (or maybe couldn’t get it up anymore) he turned to big time gambling. Bankruptcy, etc. The bad part is my son had to watch his dad self destruct, but there it is.

          If you didn’t know what happened though, I am betting the story he and whore told everyone was one of pure bliss. I assume it is why he liked to keep moving to different spots, needed a new audience.

  • The loss of the dream is akin to the loss of innocence. Once it is gone, it is gone. Why should we expect to get over it quickly? It took many years of programming by our FOO, socially accepted behaviors, our religious practices, and even our formal education which has been sanitized beyond belief!

    The hard thing to accept is that we are a single entity, designed to be independent and successful on our own merit. Do we need friends, help sometimes? Of course. Are we entirely self sufficient? No, of course not. We are predominantly herd animals, we may live in small clusters, and we may even practice some independence, but a person who lives entirely without other people is called a hermit. That mentality is rare. Most of us live somewhere between the nest, and the deserted island. We find our place.

    The trick is to be proud of who you are, and become certain about what your beliefs are. Other people do not define you. Things are not always what they appear to be, but if you are living an authentic life you will stop worrying about others. It is a process, and it takes time.

  • I now have the oddest and most unexpected problem…

    I was raised by alcoholic mom and narc dad and ran away from them (hoping to find the love I never got) to a marriage with a person (who must have felt “familiar”) because he subjected me to narc abuse for years. It was awful…for a very long time.

    Now, I have a great new life and my trouble is that my newer coworkers never knew me in the “old days” and now see only the fabulous life Im living and they are generally quite envious of me. I try to gently let them know that it wasn’t always this way and I went THROUGH IT on my way to my good place but they seem not to believe me.

    One of the things I have learned is that everything is temporary…the bad and the good. I don’t feel guilty relishing the good because Im aging and will someday not ne able to do the fun stuff I can do now. Tomorrow will have its own heartbreaks so if Im good today, I will enjoy it.

    That person who looks like they have things going their way may not but even if they do, they will someday lose all those things/people. Hold steady and enjoy the life you have.

  • Dreamer,

    To paraphrase Sheryl Crow (because why not?), this is not so much about “having what you want” as it is about “wanting what you’ve got.” You’re in the process of starting a cheater free existence (give or take the co-parenting thing) and will be able to establish a stable basis from which to build whatever comes next; this gives you a huge amount of freedom, so you have much to be positive about.

    Also, I wouldn’t rush to determine success in terms of whether you can attract a partner at some point in the future. The kids stayed with me when Ex-Mrs LFTT left 5 1/2 years ago. I’ve still yet to dip my toe in the dating pool. This is not because I think that I’m damaged goods or because no woman would want to get involved with me, but because I don’t yet think that the time is right for me or the kids. The 3 kids and I (then 11, 16 and 18 and now 17, 22 and 24) are a complete family unit as we are; that feels like success to me!


  • I was married to my STBXH for 24 years. Since 2009 when I caught a 3-year affair and we reconciled, I have wanted out. I have known that I would want to stay single. But does anybody tell my brain that?

    My problem is that I have bought into the fairy tale that to be happy means to have somebody by my side. But I’ve had enough relationships to know that that’s just not going to work for me. I can have friends, I have my golden retriever, I have my kids. That has to be enough.

    For me the relationship risk is too high right now. I’m not even out of this yet although I’m 16 months past the last D-Day. I have to say for myself, maybe someday… But I have to remind myself that having another adult person to talk to and have a relationship with is not to be all end all. I am okay as I am.

    And I agree with some of the other writers, most of those other couples are not happy either. You’re seeing a snapshot of their day. You’re seeing the best part of their day. Who knows what’s really going on.

    • Muthachumper, 16 months out from DDay is no time at all. I’m glad you have already realized that being single is better on so many levels. I completely agree with you.

  • The reality of those happy marriages and couple that you see is that over 50% of first marriages end in divorce. Vast majority will be cheated on and the cycle continues and ten years down the line many will end up finding CL. Maybe I’ve been left feeling highly cynical rather than envious but statistically it’s the truth. People thought we had a good but behind closed doors she was fucking anything in trousers with a pulse. I do feel bad that my kids now have a broken home and knowing it was their own mother who caused it all.

    • I’m a numbers person and yes statistically 50% of first marriages fail but there is no freaking way the other 50% is blissfully happy. Nope because many people (like me) stay for sunk costs only to be abandoned later when the kids are grown. 28 years and I was not happy.

      • Yes. I believe that the reason almost all first marriages in Hollywood end in divorce is because they are wealthy enough to divorce and move into new homes with no danger of becoming destitute. If we regular people could afford separate houses, separate cars, nannies, and therapists to ease the divorce process, most of us would do it.

        • Absolutely. If I had the true means, I would have left years ago. I knew in my gut it needed to happen, but chumpy me knew striking out on my own, particular at 59, would be financially horrendous, so I let that fear dictate.

  • I remember those days. After my X skipped off into the sunset and left me with two babies (still in diapers) my despair at not being a married wife and mother nearly overtook me and for years I envied very stinking happy couple I ever met… even those on television. It just hurt so much to see those representations of what I desperately wanted: a willing, happy, and loyal partner. Even watching a commerical where the product was being sold to me by a loving two-parent family would trigger my self pity hard and make me weep.

    Well, I’m happy to say that, as can be expected, those feelings *do* pass and thank goodness.

    Every once in a while I admit to myself that I do get lonely but it’s easy to get over those humps: I spend time with my parents, my friends, my children (now teens), and myself. Yes, I take myself out for dates and it. is. fantastic. Dinner and a movie I’ve always wanted to see. It truly rocks.

    I don’t envy happy couples anymore. Those days are past and, honestly, I have come to adore my independence too much. I can’t imagine partnering up ever again; I’ve fallen in love with having the bed all to myself (glorious) and being the captain of my own ship. I watch happy couples go by, smile, and think “better you than me.”

    Admittedly, this all could be because the partner I did have was not a good and loyal partner and he did most of our collective decision-making. I was happy to be an “old-fashioned wifey” (he called me wifey) who was more of a follower than partner and I followed him right off a cliff. Now I know #notallmen are like him and I know plenty of women out there are like him too, so I figure “why would I want to put myself through that ever, ever, ever again?”

    Sure being a single parent is hard but after I could pick myself up and not throw up in despair, self pity, and envy every time I saw couples holding hands, I realized that… well… I was rocking it. (I had too. I had two babies in diapers at the time.)

    I began to feel proud of myself. I still am proud of myself. And I look at all I accomplished in my life before I met FW (so much! I was pretty ambitious) and after FW left for the last time (holy crap, I have come so far, done so much and with two kids in tow) and I directly compare it to how much I accomplished when I was Mrs. FW (like… nothing. We just existed and hung out; he was not terribly supportive of my personal ambitions so I laid them aside and did a whole lots nothing except be wife and mother) and it is no contest.

    It took me years. It’s not easy but continue to celebrate every awesome accomplishment (big or small) you make as an independent single parent without that anchor pulling you down. He’s someone else’s problem now; you are free, awesome, and becoming awesomer every day. And you captain your own ship (instead of co-captaining it with someone who doesn’t care about you or the ship) which is AWESOME! I delighted in every single decision I could make for myself without having to “run it by him first.” The power I had over my own day to day life was intoxicating. I never want to give that up to anyone ever again.

    Be proud of yourself. Glory in your independence, even if it is in small ways; the effect is cumulative. Envy will wither and fall off the vine eventually; it did for me. I don’t envy happy couples anymore. You’ll get there too. Just keep celebrating every success.

    True story: I threw a little party for myself the first time I hung up a medicine cabinet in my new home. I did it! No husband, who knows more about tools, or a helpful male neighbor did it… I hung up a medical cabinet all by myself! That seems like a strange thing for an adult woman to feel giddy about but I was so stinking proud of myself. I looked at that (slightly crooked, lol) medicine cabinet and thought “I can do this. I can actually do this.” And those successes (all small for years, I assure you) will snowball. The bigger your pleasure in your faith in yourself, the smaller the envy gets.

    You’ve got this.

  • Every one pats you on the back congratulating you for kicking the ex to the curb. But at the end of the day when you’re all alone and everyone has gone home to their family, it’s a bitter feeling to realize that your happy family dream is kaput. I admit that I did most of the dream building myself. like 80/20. Even in the face of his absolute daily cruelty, I wouldn’t quit, I just kept reinventing til i hope we got it right. I remember fighting then going off to pray, asking God to please help me fix this. Well, he did. But it had to be done. The madness of doing the same wrong thing over and over – it just had to end. I still have those wistful feelings – that we could travel, be grandparents together, laugh again. But that’s only a dream, a good one, but not real. He’d still be an absolutely beast to deal with. I’m good at forgetting the bad because i did it for 32 years. Out of the years we were together, i figure we had about seven good ones. Not a good percentage. The thing is, I have looked at other cute families with sadness but I’ve also seen that they were fascades like mine. Several of them have gone sideways. So I’ve learned to just look away and if they are friends, to just be there for them when they crash. Anyway, keep moving, don’t think things are hopeless. I’m pretty happy now, in spite of it all.

  • Expectations are killer. Especially around our kids. It’s so convenient to blame ourselves when they decide to have different lives than we think they should.
    Recognize they are a person. Yes, they may have grown in our belly, but they are not us. Really understanding this has changed my views. I respect my kids for who they are as individuals. I don’t own their failures OR their success.

    I love being single. My life is awesome. My normal, work from home, take care of two teenagers, watch sports on tv life. I feel so much more alive than I ever have. I am independent, competent and brave.

    I still have some off feelings. I am definitely jaded when I see couples celebration anniversaries. I catch myself thinking, just wait. But, hey, I’m human.

    I love the comment above about weed and drag queens. If would be so boring if everyone became a lawyer…

  • Our minds play tricks on us.

    We make assumptions about others, weaving stories about what their lives are like. But it’s all a fantasy.

    And I’m sure many of us know of people who appear to be happily coupled but aren’t.

    For me, I’m trying not to give a flying fuck what others are thinking or doing. I’m staying in my own lane. That betrayal forging process is a helluva transformer. My ex wouldn’t recognize me now.

    Rock on, steely chumps!!

  • Abandoned. Had to look at my FOOs, my story.
    And the result is that I know that my sibling and I were despised, treated with contemptuous hatred because we are not the insolent pride types. We are not “winners” or winners.

    Oh, we have tons of life problems (financial, health, I’d say all areas), with all that abuse and trauma. Parents made sure that we could not reproduce, by segregating us from life. Bringing in hideous people, for instance. And likely our bodies’ reaction was to shut down, given the perversity of the whole situation. Then I was in a marriage with a person who -it turned out (covert type)- had contemptuous hatred for me because I am not the insolent pride type, although my presence and my qualities were used for his ascent, and his becoming the overt insolent pride type, complete with humiliating discard.

    Thing is, I, and my sibling, hold nothing of insolent pride, other than think that it harms people.
    This is the one thing that has value for me. To try not to harm others.

    Not sure exactly where that leaves me and how it fits in here, now that I wrote it. But when I began typing it seemed to make sense.
    I hope I will find good people in my life.

    • Flower, you seem like a good person. My bad luck also started with abusive parents who stunted my emotional growth in the same way you describe. I’m so sorry.

  • I still envy people who were raised by non- narcissistic parents, unlike mine. They to get chumped, but have backup systems in place. I spent 44 yrs with a narcissist. He had a fake life, lived a lie. I lived a a real life, enjoying moments, having real memories. He died 5 years ago as I was planning divorce. I have been shocked at how many men want this old, not even close to perfect me. I am still getting used to doing what I want, going where I want, it’s wonderful. I will never date or remarry. I love spoiling me. No one gets the life they dreamed of, because it was a dream. Real life is more of a roller coaster ride. Hang on scream, laugh and enjoy the parts of the ride you like.

    • Amen
      I love spoiling me too! It is hard to realize we were conditioned not to appreciate ourselves.
      My narc mother would have chosen X over me I’m sure.
      She doesn’t approve of many of my decisions. I no longer share any of this with her and it is amazing.

  • I accept that I am grieving the death of my life and a lot of dreams that I won’t be able to have. I won’t be able to have a 50th wedding anniversary party, for example.


    I have a lot of company when it comes to life dreams dying. The world of full of people who have had many kinds of life dreams die, not just marriages.

    I also now know that of those happy couples with strollers, the odds are great that there are a lot of cheaters among them. I learned that by reading here.

    I am looking at the world through the lens of my perspective. It’s limited and distorted like the peephole on a front door. I do not ever know what the big picture is, and I have to remind myself of that. Compare and despair, as they say. My opinions and perceptions and perspective are not facts.

    So I acknowledge my feelings. Telling myself “you shouldn’t feel that way” is counterproductive IMHO. I lean into it and that’s the way I find my way to the other side of it….remembering I am not alone with my feelings, with adverse circumstances, that I can reframe this, that my feelings aren’t facts, etc. But I don’t find it helpful to deny how I feel. I find it very helpful to acknowledge, accept, and TALK about it so I can get out of the weeds.

    I have found in this process that what I truly envy is love and loyalty in relationships. And that IS actually available to me. That’s not exclusive to
    marriage and blood relations. I can BE a loyal person. I can BE a person who loves others. And in being that I have it, I experience it. So at the end of the day the cheaters did not take that from me. They freed me up to have it. And they DON’T have it.

    • Yes to everything you wrote. I especially appreciate this:

      “I have found in this process that what I truly envy is love and loyalty in relationships. And that IS actually available to me. That’s not exclusive to
      marriage and blood relations. I can BE a loyal person. I can BE a person who loves others. And in being that I have it, I experience it. So at the end of the day the cheaters did not take that from me. They freed me up to have it. And they DON’T have it.”

  • My ex had a good job, a loving wife and three amazing children. We lived in a nice home in a nice neighborhood and had an active social life. We were financially sound. We had a regular sex life. He was living the dream. He was still miserable and chose to blow it all up in the end. Think on that.

    For my part, although I may be jealous of friends with good marriages, I still celebrate them and hope they are as good as they seem. The fewer people who have to through what I went through the better. It helps that I don’t see the failure of my marriage as my fault and my friends have been supportive and don’t judge me for being divorced.

  • With my kids pretty much grown and out from a horrible 26 year marriage I started doing trips with solos groups (I love them, just sayin’)! Just before covid hit I was in Sri Lanka with a group going out on a boat trip and I got chatting to a nice lady who was fairly recently widowed. You always get to talking about “why you’re on the solos trips” and I told her that I was ecstatic to be divorced from my violent husband and how I loved my single life. She then told me that one time she was out with a group of 8 women who were all married or living with someone. So she asked them how many were happily “partnered” (which I thought was brave of her but …) and NO-ONE put their hand up. One woman was with a guy who didn’t work and was supporting him in her own home and he treated her like the maid. She couldn’t go out shopping in town until she had “made his sandwich” and she was basically just a nurse and a purse. Why she thought she was better off in that relationship than alone I’ll never know but I guess we all have to get there in our own time. My neighbour HATES her husband of almost 50 years (who cheated on her from the very beginning) and comes round to me for a good cry at least once a week. I know very few happy marriages. For the most part other women tell me how much they envy me my freedom, so don’t take all those shiny couples pictures for the real story in every case!

  • Remember that we compare our everyday lives to others shiny public image. The comparison is not fair to ourselves. Be kind to you. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated which hopefully doesn’t include self criticism and future tripping negative outcomes. We dont know our futures which could be long or short. I will spend the rest of my days enjoying my life with what resources I have. Nature is free and revitalizing and available. I will be available to my family and live my own life. I am happy most of my new friends don’t know my history. I. Many ways it’s liberating. I am also happy my old friends do -it gives me balance and a frame of reference. I will be there for my friends through the good and bad of life. That’s what friends do. Hugs.

  • Yes, redefine what happy is.

    Mine was a gray divorce, and I had some really rough years during the separation and then divorce financially. Instead of being retired with him, I was going to an informal food bank and barely making rent at times.

    Now I’m truly in a good place across the board. Being single isn’t bad. I married later and was emotionally alone in the marriage for a long time. I know from personal experience that what appears to be a happy couple often is not a happy couple. Of course I have baggage, and men my age have baggage. I’m not sure I want to partner up again.

    A therapist friend of mine who also divorced (not a romantic interest) has encouraged me to be at least open with certain boundaries in place. Of course I asked him what he is doing, and he said, “Open with boundaries in place.” LOL.

  • I’m very leery of anything that looks perfect. My Ex truly seemed perfect to all. So did his family.
    Checked every box, and so great to be around. Charming to the max.
    Some lives and people just present as very shiny. The super shiny ones are often the least authentic.

    • 100%! My ex and I were one of those shiny couples that everyone envied and wanted to emulate. We always got ‘you guys are so perfectly suited’ comments for YEARS. Most of our married life in fact.

      Behind closed doors we were far, far, far from shiny. He was an expert at wearing the ‘happy fun-loving guy’ mask, and I became adept at helping him protect that image (we were in a public eye profession, so it came natural to us).

      • Ugh /yes. And unfortunately some fuckwit’s treat you incredibly well when there are other people around. And it feels great to be treated so well – so you frequently surround yourself with other people! I used to hear all the time that I was so lucky!

  • When I told friends about my cheating FW and upcoming divorce, they started to spills stories of their own cheating spouses. And these couples seemed so “perfect.” I’m sure all of you have similar stories.

    Oh, get this: one of these women told me that her husband had cheated with none other than my ex’s AP. Their liaison started (and ended?) before she started the affair with my ex. Guess he wasn’t the chosen special sausage after all. Sloppy seconds.

  • I’m reading Predators by Anna Salter PhD right now.

    Very simply it’s a good reminder to disregard appearances.

    No one should know that better than those of us here.

  • Dear Dreamer… For me, the heart of the question isn’t “how do I get over the envy” but rather “how do I find the grace to be grateful for all that I have?”. In life, there are always others in situations we wish we were in (without really knowing what that would mean)… and people who are in situations we pray we never find ourselves in (without really knowing what that would mean). It’s part of being human.

    When Mr. Sparkles left for the OW, I was met with the platitudes of “you seemed like such an ‘in love’ couple”… just goes to prove that what others perceive isn’t always reality. I had survived 5 years of pick me dancing and had about $100K in sunk costs before my final D-day. I had step children that came to rely on me; I had a son in third grade; but I was married to a bisexual lying whore. You didn’t see any of that when we’d be sitting at the little league game… but it was always there.

    Now, that is not to say every happy couple is hiding something. I believe in the goodness of people, still, though I’m more protective of who I give my time and energy to now. I believe all people struggle at some point (hell, at many points) in life… the healthy ones work through it… they get elbow deep and fix the problem… unhealthy people implode and take victims with them.

    Yes. You’re single. You’re a single mom providing for your family. You’re young and fabulous and every day is a chance for something new and wonderful to come to you… but you need to be doing you… finding your joy… letting your light shine… because you are right, no one will ever want you if they can’t see you because you’re hiding in someone else’s shadow. Find your mighty… maybe it’s packing lunch every day… being a good friend… donating your time to a worthy cause… let your light shine and you’ll soon fine you aren’t concerned with others. Walk your own path. You’ve got this. Trust me.

    • ‘how do I find the grace to be grateful for all that I have?”. Yes!
      Not to minimize our pain or loss, but it can always be worse. Not long after the despair of my bulldozed life, I had a cancer scare. I kept thinking ‘what if I have to go through this and cancer simultaneously”? I was blessed, it was a false alarm. But I know some jumps have had that happen.

      So many losses took place because of fuckwit….but I knew it always could have been worse. It is much worse now for many people all over the world.
      I’ve been married to two fuckwits…I still have to deal with one of them ugh….but on my good days, I try to focus on gratitude for what I do have. When we are at risk of losing something we do currently have, we realize how much worse it can be.

      I got covid…all of a sudden my focus was on that. I was VERY depressed that I was alone going through it, but it was another wake up call as to what I do have and can lose ( I recovered btw). I try not to take what I do have for granted.

      And I just want to say, there are happy marriages out there. They are real life unions, not the 2 hours of romantic movie courtship. They are not shiny or spectacular- just best friends, committed, going through the ups and downs with companionship and sex. I know of several.

  • I, too am leary of anything that looks too perfect. It is sometimes hard to see what appears to be beautiful little families all loved up, safe and happy with one another or that super old couple strolling slowly down the street holding hands and you imagine the storms they weathered but they still seem to feel some love. I imagined myself in that scene. It’s easier to feel our losses to a greater degree and it is tough to take that in, it really does hurt.
    I don’t think I ever took what I “thought” I had, the loving husband and the happy family, for granted. I felt so blessed and so very grateful.
    But I find myself after all the heartache and many losses to still feel blessed and grateful in so many other countless ways.
    No, I didn’t get the dream I thought I wanted, but I sure do hope someone else is able to get there!
    In fact, it would be a whole other level of worse to watch other families domino into a similar pit of destruction. That would just totally suck!
    I don’t want to believe that a loving relationship and a happy family is a fictitious unicorn level dream and that anyone who seems like they have that is deeply delusional and will discover the painful truth eventually, maybe perhaps next week. I hope to God that does not happen.
    I HAVE to believe that good relationships exists. I need it to be something that is real in actual people’s lives, not just in some movie.
    A quote from John Muir’s book, ‘My First Summer in the Sierra’, goes
    “ When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”. We are too interconnected to the whole to want anything less than the best it can be for everyone that has the chance to find that.
    I don’t feel there’s reason to feel guilt for being sad or envious of someone else’s seemingly perfect lives we get to observe and beat ourselves up over it. There is sadly and surely a likelihood that all is not bliss. Because, we all fully know that no one has a walk through the tulips on the daily. But no lie, it would be pretty awesome if we saw the happy endings more often than we do, good for all of us for sure.

  • “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant”
    Robert Louis Stevenson
    A quote passed along by the owner of the best newsstand and chocolate curator. His snark and wit is on par with Tracy’s

  • I have response plan for taking care of myself (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, behaviorally) for WHEN I feel certain things. It’s in writing. The Safe Coping Skills poster on my fridge from (trauma resource) is another favorite tool.

    For me it’s the way to go rather than think in terms of “getting over” or not feeling, which I don’t think is reasonable or realistic.

    My dad died in 1991. With that and many other losses, the feelings come to visit unpredictably and catch me unawares. Tell yourself not to think of elephants and see what happens….

    Make a list of tools in your phone or another handy place. A written response plan for uncomfortable feelings and situations is something I have found invaluable.


  • What worked for me:
    Radical acceptance of reality .
    Stop daydreaming, it’s a waste of time .
    Question your feelings – if you see that you are jealous, acknowledge it and put it away.
    Adapt to the new reality .
    To me it meant :
    Be happy in your own company
    Be the best single dad you can be
    Make us much money as you can (I’m 50 and my retirement savings took a major hit)

    I’m not saying that this is better than a happy marriage. I wouldn’t say divorce was the best thing ever happen to me.
    But some good came out of it, I adapted to the situation.

    You might notice that finding a new partner isn’t on the list.
    And that’s by choice .
    If you jump into dating before you are happy within yourself, you probably still look for someone else to make you happy.
    And that’s another set-up for unhappiness.

    But I can’t stress enough , how important it was to switch off the inner critic, the person in myself who thought that the ex jumped into this new wonderful relationship or endless dating adventures whilst I pay her large sums each fortnight. That voice needs to be acknowledged like an unpleasant customer . And put aside to focus on things I can change.

  • In 1988, I was 32 years old, living with my then-husband on a military base. He was an Air Force nurse, I worked at the large teaching medical center nearby as an intensive care nurse. We lived in a three bedroom home, the nicest home I’d ever lived in, on a quiet residential street in officer’s housing. My life looked great — from the outside. But my husband was becoming increasingly verbally abusive, financially abusive and had crossed the line into physical abuse as well. I was miserable.

    Every evening when I walked the dogs, I saw all of those happy young families out for an evening walk or sitting on the front stoop, casually chatting with passers by. How I envied all of those happy people with their perfect families and Hallmark-approved marriages. I kept my blinds closed at all times because who knew when Tom was about to have a tantrum? I was embarrassed and ashamed that my husband treated me this way, and I didn’t want anyone else to know.

    I didn’t even know about the cheating — yet — because I was looking for other *women.* I never would have suspected the priest at our off-base church . . . .

    There came the day when his attempt to choke the life out of me was just a hairsbreadth from successful and he dumped me on the highway with nothing but the clothes on my back and the dog who wouldn’t leave my side.

    My therapist (who spent our entire sessions talking about how her husband was cheating on her) also lived on the Base, and she was able to get me, my best friend and her fiancé onto the Base when my husband was at work. Moving as quickly as possible, we moved my things out of the house. All up and down the street, blinds were closed but I could feel the eyes on my back as I carried my things out of the house to my friends’ vehicles. Sometimes, I could see curtains twitch and see a white face staring out at me, watching me leave my husband. Oh, how I envied those perfect women with their perfect families and perfect marriages.

    Months later, I was shopping at the Base commissary. When I saw someone I knew at the commissary, they avoided me like the plague. Divorce was contagious perhaps? But that day, one of my former neighbors boldly walked up to me to say hello.

    “I want to thank you,” she said. “If you hadn’t done what you did, I wouldn’t have had the courage to leave. And neither would Sheila or Mary.” It seems that on that street of eight houses, six other women somehow found the courage to leave their miserable marriages after they watched me do it.

    You never know what is really going on behind the curtains in someone else’s house. None of those women I had envied had perfect marriages; not one of them.

    • “I was embarrassed and ashamed that my husband treated me this way, and I didn’t want anyone else to know.”

      Same here for the last year to year and a half we were together. Almost on one knows to this day except my brother and my husband how he treated me. I was ashamed in real time, and when he left I still didn’t want people to know how awful he treated me, I was ashamed.

      I was wrong, I should have at least told our preacher, and I should have not been shy about telling friends. He got away with that shit. I am sure the story he told was quite different. But, he knew, and I knew. He even wrote me a letter about six months after we split apologizing and saying he didn’t know why he acted like such a low life. He knew what he did and why he did it.

      It was the devaluation process and cheaters go by the book.

      • I did tell our pastor, Father Steve. Father Steve told me that if I hadn’t bounced a check (for the record FW was the one who wrote checks without recording them), “he wouldn’t have had to shove you down the stairs.” Turns out Father Steve was the affair partner. I didn’t have the nerve to tell anyone else until AFTER he tried to kill me.

  • After reading through all of the posts it seems that the one most important thing we tend to forget is how mighty we all are for the experiences we’ve lived through. It has given us wisdom, understanding and also broken the dreams we “had.” We can build new ones, better ones, ones that kick ass. Its been 9 months since he left, 4 years after DDay because I couldn’t keep that shit sandwich down and pretend “I was over it” How hypocritical to tell my employees, don’t lie to me, don’t steal from me and continue to be married to someone that did that to me. I was a widow before I met him and a perfect target. When my late husband passed I had to make a choice, to lay down and die or to live again. I chose to live and it didn’t turn out so well with fuckwit. Again I made a choice, do I lay down or do I live. I choose to live. I choose to have new dreams, a new life with new hardships and new happiness. The old life had those too. Everyone who’s been chumped is an absolutley awesome person with so much to give and receive. For me I see it like this…I loved deeply, I was committed, I have a moral compass. He. Did. Not. I was duped but at least I was real. Envious, hell no, why? Because I say “hang onto your beer and watch this shit” it’s easy to compare to others, to want that American apple pie dream… well who says you can’t have pecan pie instead? That’s the great thing about getting out of your 30’s and 40’s, surviving it and tripping over your shoes in the morning because you didn’t leave them in “the designated area” Our past life happened, no denying that but it shouldn’t color that rainbow grey because we mourn the death of it. I am proud to be a chump. I am proud to have suffered because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have a “heart forged in a furnace” and that is quite Badass and full of Mighty Awesomeness. I bow to all of you and your greatness, whether you give yourself the credit or not. 🙂

  • I remember meeting the middle-aged daughter of a famous artist at some exhibit and talking about what I perceived in the sculptures. I thought the works were all about revealing something obscured– something I might have projected because, at 20, I wished the effect could be applied to real life and to real people. The woman seemed a bit addled and said, “Don’t you take people at face value?” I said, no, because everyone is more interesting than what they project.

    I really sympathize with mask-wearing for the most part. It’s not safe to walk around with your heart hanging out. We all wear battle armor to some extent, try to project a teflon exterior or just put a good face on things so our kids or aging parents don’t catch stress and anxiety, which tends to be passed around like an STD. Some people wear masks to intimidate or out-do others, but even then that probably arises from some disastrous kill-or-be-killed childhood experience which is, by definition, unenviable.

    In any case, from my experience, when you get to really know people or get pretty good at reading them, it’s impossible to envy them because of the equalizing effect of reality. You might love them all the more for knowing the truth about them or dislike them by the same token, but you won’t want their lives either way because everyone’s lives have hurdles, complications and obstacles. And even if they don’t, the relative lack of hurdles can create unpleasant character traits like entitlement or “let them have cake-ism” that you wouldn’t want and that just cause misery in the long run.

    For a view past shiny exteriors, watch the series “Succession. It’s the ultimate peek into life for those “born on third base” as producer Will Farrell likes to put it. You’ll never view someone landing on their private helipad the same way again. A lot of it is comic but the insights go way beyond petty schadenfreude into something totally raw and tragic and dangerous.

    As far as being able to move on and build a new life after forty, listen to the others here. Statistically speaking, I know that most women who want to remarry do and most who are not married don’t want to be (and tend to live longer– though I suppose that depends on the partner).

  • Right now, there is a major labor shortage in many economic sectors. It’s an opportunity to re-invent yourself. And while age discrimination is real, I think many small companies know that a mature worker who will stay 10–12 years and bring experience, work ethic, and emotional intelligence to the workplace can be a better bargain than someone just out of school.

    For those who need to get back into the workplace, I still recommend Dick Bolles’s “What Color is Your Parachute”? And network! Sit down with people in the field and find out what employers are looking for NOW. Don’t assume that your age, your gender or any other circumstance will make you unemployable.

    As for relationships, if I’ve learned anything from the COVID era it is that human connection is important. I’ve spent 15 months either alone with cats or teaching behind plastic barrier and a mask or online. So actual human interaction? Priceless. If you envy people in couple relationships, get started fixing your picker. You don’t have to have blind trust in people (whether that’s someone you date or a friend or a sibling). Learn to recognize good character. Go slow. Work on building your own happiness and figuring out who you are NOW (not who you were at 23 or 28 when you got married).

    It’s normal to go through a time of envy after being discarded or betrayed. It’s normal that these feelings come back, especially if you are raising kids in this situation. It’s normal to be angry at the financial losses these jackasses imposed on us. But don’t stay stuck there. Feel the emotions as they come and then let them go. Stay in the present, where what you do today builds a better future. In this way, CL is a great role model.

    • When I was in my mid-40’s I was hired by a company that used cubical work spaces, and small groups of people who reported to a manager, who reported up the line. My group was made up of workers ranging from 36 to 60 years old, and our manager was probably in his late 20’s. He was the happiest manager in his group of managers, Why? Because he picked workers who were mature and experienced. He told me once that he never had to worry about his group coming to work, we were all goal oriented, we followed “the rules”, and we didn’t whine and complain all the time. If we had a problem, we talked. He listened, and sometimes could fix the problem. I asked him how he had learned to pick mature and experienced workers. He laughed and said ” I was trained by one. He pointed out why he had few problems. He taught me to quit thinking that I had all the answers, and learn something from those who had already been in the trenches. It was the best advice I ever received.”

      It takes time and experience to develop analytical skills. I, too, have seen brilliant young minds burn out and crash when they left the supportive nest they were raised in and had to deal with the real world. It is a shame to waste a good mind, but it is also a shame to waste experience and knowledge gained from living through the best of times and the worst of times. I was raised to respect my elders. It didn’t mean I would agree with them on everything, but I did learn a lot from them. That attitude is what I found lacking in the workplace during my last decade at work. I believe the disrespect and discard mentality is a loss for everyone

  • Dreamer; as Tracy pointed out, it’s human to have the feelings you do. What’s harmful about it is allowing yourself to stay there.

    And I picked my words, ‘allowing yourself’ carefully because at the end of the day, ending these feelings of envy IS all about choice. I know that sounds terribly glib, but it is the truth. You and you alone, at some point hopefully, will choose not to feel that way anymore. And in order to get yourself there, it will take time and tons of work.

    I still have the occasional pang at 3 years out, but for the most part, I’ve worked on enough within myself to shoo those thoughts away when they do still come up. How I got myself here was all about understanding the concept of control.

    I CHOOSE not to dwell on anything that is out of my control. My past is totally out of my control, so I removed my head from the backwards swivel it was on which completely did away with the comparison-itis I was suffering. What I ‘lost’ is also in the past. It still impacts my here and now at times (particularly financial), but I can only control the things I do today to change it–not the events that got me here.

    My future, because of age (over 60) and crap financial situation is also something I started having anxiety over–but that too isn’t something in my control. I’m working like a fiend to better my here and now, which will have a positive eventual impact on my future. That’s all anyone can do.

    And dating, well, I used to think my age made it impossibly unattainable. It doesn’t. I’ve had a few chances in the last three years, but choose not to. And I’m glad I made those choices because investing in living in the moment, and a ton of healing/self-care has brought me to an entirely new place this past year. I’m not looking to date anymore because I’m starting to love my life as is. But I’m also not closed off to the idea that someday I might feel different. And that’s a very comfortable place to be.

    • Irrelevant
      You are SO relevant. You’ve come such a long way, made good choices, stayed sane above the financial struggles along with your heart being hurt.
      Thank you for the inspiration that above all you can keep
      A level of joy????

    • Irrelevant,

      Spot on.

      Simple but not easy to do


      it IS do-able


      We DO have a choice. The space for that choice comes in a split second but it is there none-the-less and the choice we do make is powerful although it may not feel like it in the moment.

      I have ants in my lawn.

      I only know that they are there because of the dirt they leave piled up in my green grass. They are a constant reminder that each ant, at any time, is carrying only one grain of dirt from beneath the surface up to the surface.

      The first thousand or more grains are not noticeable but, low and behold, soon there is a formidable mound of dirt crawling with ants all working towards one goal…

      Beneath the surface they have created a beautiful sub-terrain city which I cannot see. I only know it is there because of the ‘mess’ on my lawn.

      For me, like you, it is one thought at a time – that is all that I am asked to do. And like the ants, I am creating a new ‘home’. It may look messy on the outside but something of beauty is happening right below the surface of all of this messy stuff.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • I love that analogy! And yes, everything we experience contains a choice, but we don’t always look for them, OR we see but aren’t ready to act upon. I didn’t even begin realizing that I had choices until sometime early in year two. I mean, I knew intellectually that I wouldn’t always feel as I did, and that the bulk of my healing had to come from within, but my progress was inconsistent and stubborn.

        By mid year-two, that slowly began to change. ALL of the strides I gained from then until now, are due to seizing choices: Totally relinquishing things I can’t control, and learning how to live only with what’s within my control RIGHT NOW. Like you, I found absolutely Magical things begin to happen happen when you learn how to keep your focus only on the day in front of you.

        • Second comment to add:

          My choice/controlling things in the right now got a workout last night as I was watching Dirty John; Betty Broderick and found myself going down a rabbit hole over the devalue, gaslighting themes that were so prevalent on the show. I caught my thoughts wandering into the past and had to STOP myself. I’m a visual person so I saw myself kicking dirt into the hole so I couldn’t fall in again–and got to watch the remaining episodes without issue.

          That show is triggering yes, but so important too. There were flashback scenes of a therapist on the stand explaining–in magnificent detail–what gaslighting really is, and what it does to us. It was as if that man crawled into my life 5 years ago and was talking about me. Not only did I learn a thing or two I wasn’t cognizant of, but it helped me see exactly how far I’ve come. I had tears listening to him yes, but they were tears of relief and joy. Highly recommend viewing if you can arm yourself against the triggers.

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