I was married 20 years. It was around year 18 that my ex started the implosion, blaming me for his unhappiness for my views on “life”, that I was “asexual” (not true), and had to be taken care of, which he no longer wanted to do (some truth there – childhood baggage I didn’t realize i was carrying).
While I fully recognize I had improvements to make for myself, our kids, and our relationship, I was 100% WILLING to work on them. But I was the only one working while he pretended… because at the time I was unknowingly up against a much younger 3rd party in the background.
I do not know the extent of their affair. All the behaviors were there — the working out, teeth whitening, body hair shaving, new phone passcodes, gaslighting, anger, defensiveness…blah, blah.
Pretty sure he wanted to make me end it if he was enough of an asshole, but I was fighting for our family and hoping the person he used to be would come back out, and I doubt he ever thought I was strong enough to fight like I did.
So, he eventually had to be the one to call it quits, after 1.5 years of sheer misery at home. I became aware of their relationship about 5 weeks after he moved out, and got my hands on messages between them pinpointing the brewing of the relationship about 5 months or so prior to the sudden start of his marriage implosion effort.
My problem is — it’s been almost 5 years since the implosion, and 3.5 years since his decision and my discovery of what was really going on. And I’m nowhere near “meh”.
My anger has gotten worse lately prompted by him no longer willing to celebrate milestones for our kids together like we’ve managed to do until now, because he insists on including her and doing things separately. (and I’ve made it clear he is not to bring her around me. He has not remotely admitted to a thing, though — to me, anyone else, or most importantly, himself.) They’ve become more brazen with their relationship on social media — where he used to hide the posts from my friends, he’s now allowing them. The majority of his family has also hurt me in their treatment of me through this early on and still, and it’s been incredibly difficult for me to lose people I truly loved and cared about — and there are a lot of them in a big family. I lost quite a lot because I was unwillingly extracted.
I’ve been through regular therapy, I’ve immersed myself in hobbies, creativity, finding new people who “get” me, staying busy. I’ve volunteered packing or delivering meals, raising money for and contributing to a Habitat build, and many small and kind gestures. I’ve done the things I enjoy, taken many amazing trips (several solo), learned meditation, stepped outside my comfort zone, embraced the authentic, genuine, self-aware, and kind person that I am that I’ve come to realize he didn’t appreciate and I can now be “myself” without feeling like that’s flawed.
I’m aware I need to be ok on my own and don’t need a relationship to make me happy, only I can do that. I read your articles, other great articles or podcasts — repeatedly — helping drive similar messages, whether of hope, of ways to focus on the good and accept the things that suck, and understand that the things that suck make you stronger.
But I still find myself angry — wanting (and sometimes fulfilling) a text fury in reaction to his actions with the kids or the girlfriend that sets me off. Wanting the karma to come, wanting the relationship to end, wanting the closure of a sincere and full apology that includes a full admittance and regret of how awful he was to me, and wanting him to admit the truth to others — so many who have chosen to remain in ignorant bliss rather than be real or realistic of what happened.
It bothers me that it’s lasted, and likely in his and his family’s minds proof that the divorce was the right decision. (Most do not know or believe this was an affair.) It annoys me that he hasn’t had to deal with the exhausting quagmire of online dating or give a crap he put me in the position to deal with it. I feel like an engagement is coming any day and try to brace myself for it so that I don’t fall apart when it happens. I hate that my kids like her — while I simultaneously had to deal with anger from my oldest who was blaming me for the divorce for 3 years (angry and defiant toward me more often than not), until his dad FINALLY at least let him know that the divorce was his idea, not mine, a few months ago.
I KNOW I’m only hurting me — drinking the poison to hurt my enemy. But it feels like by not reminding him of what he has done, he will otherwise get to stay in that bliss, because he’s REALLY good at being in a bubble and I have no doubt, the lies and alt reality he told to others (and himself), was enough to become an actual reality for him. Grey rock is what he absolutely prefers from me — because that’s easier for him to handle. He doesn’t like being reminded of the actual truth or to know how much of it I know. Avoidance and igorance is key for him.
I feel like at this point, I deserve to be told “move on and get over it”. What am I missing that I’m still stuck here? I am someone that is rarely angry — my default is more of hurt or frustration. It took a minute early on to get to anger, I got there, and still can’t seem to get off that train. There was a brief period maybe two years ago where I felt like i was at the meh door and even in the threshold. But as their relationship continued, I managed to lose my grip on it.
Total cliche here but…HELP. I must be missing something that I’m too in it to see.
No Meh Martha
What the hell are you fighting for? Major life lesson here — when someone no longer wants you, DON’T WANT THEM. When they cannot appreciate your value? QUIT OFFERING VALUE. Never, ever try to make someone love you. And don’t punish them when they don’t. You’re worth more than that, and people of worth never punch down.
The best thing you can do about the injustice of being cheated on and left, is build a better life. More on that in a moment, but first let’s dissect some thoughts that are keeping you stuck.
but I was fighting for our family and hoping the person he used to be would come back out,
Oh, so you’ve spend some time in the Reconciliation Industrial Complex trenches?
You can fight for your family by being the sane parent. You and your kids are an intact family. A fuckwit walked out. That’s on him. Fighting for your family sounds noble. You were fighting to hang on to a cowardly cheater who was gaslighting you. That’s the REAL him. A person of superficial attachment who couldn’t end a relationship honestly.
There is NO prize there.
So, he eventually had to be the one to call it quits
This is NOT a victory, okay? When you suspect an affair and the person is treating you like shit, digging in your heels and refusing to grant a divorce is incomprehensible to me. It would be one thing if he’s pretending to reconcile, doing the cake thing, but if he wants out and you won’t let him? You’ve just shot yourself in the foot. YOU file. YOU get to the lawyer first. YOU call the shots. Grieve later.
You gave this man your power and continue to. The anger you feel may be at yourself.
My anger has gotten worse lately prompted by him no longer willing to celebrate milestones for our kids together like we’ve managed to do until now,
This here is the core of your discontent. You are DIVORCED. You have separate lives. You don’t get together for birthday parties or whatever. You. Are. Divorced. He is NOT your family. See point above — you and the kids are a complete family. You don’t NEED him to be family.
Will you cross paths at a kid’s wedding? Sure. Will you organize it together and sit at the same table? NO. Because he’s not your husband, he is your EX. Some people have amiable divorces (I think some people are better at eating shit sandwiches and pronouncing them delicious), you are not this divorce. He cheated and you don’t like his girlfriend. Let this expectation of get-togethers For The Family GO.
Also, it sounds like hopium to me. Look at this beautiful family! Don’t you miss us? That’s the pick me dance. Don’t model that shit to your children. Be a strong mother who has moved on with her life.
because he insists on including her and doing things separately.
That is HIS RIGHT now. You are DIVORCED. He can do any fool thing he wants to do. Date a muppet. Eat soda crackers for dinner. Never wash his underwear. You’re FREE of him.
(and I’ve made it clear he is not to bring her around me.
How about you make it clear he is not to bring himself around YOU? Then it’s a twofer. Like, you have a life you’re very busy with and he’s not invited.
He has not remotely admitted to a thing, though — to me, anyone else, or most importantly, himself.) They’ve become more brazen with their relationship on social media — where he used to hide the posts from my friends, he’s now allowing them.
Read everything here on no contact. This is NOT helping you heal.
It was brazen to cheat on you. Now he is a divorced man and he can date. That’s not brazen. He may choose the appalling person he was having an affair with. And wash that down with soda crackers for dinner. NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Also, not on your radar, because you are NOT LOOKING.
But I still find myself angry — wanting (and sometimes fulfilling) a text fury in reaction to his actions with the kids or the girlfriend that sets me off. Wanting the karma to come, wanting the relationship to end, wanting the closure of a sincere and full apology that includes a full admittance and regret of how awful he was to me, and wanting him to admit the truth to others
Let go of karma. His punishment is being him. Waiting for karma just keeps YOU stuck. He’s never going to apologize. Let that go too. The ones who apologize, they generally want something (like cake, or a more generous divorce settlement). Even if you got an apology, and it were sincere, that bell done rung. It’s over. It doesn’t matter. He is NOT the measure of your worth. Don’t GIVE HIM THE POWER of whether you move on or don’t, waiting for impossible things.
You take the reins, you lead your new life.
many who have chosen to remain in ignorant bliss rather than be real or realistic of what happened.
Okay, well that’s useful information to know who to cull from your social register.
But Martha, you’re also remaining ignorant of who your ex really is (a cowardly cheater) and you’re not being realistic about how divorce works. So this feels a bit like projection.
But it feels like by not reminding him of what he has done, he will otherwise get to stay in that bliss,
Not your job.
You KNOW what he did. Stop trying to convince him and others in his orbit. The strongest argument you can make is a) no contact with him (why would anyone as terrific as Martha trifle with a man who cheated on her?) and b) go be awesome.
When the Cool Kids won’t let you into their club (in this case it’s Cafe Fuckwit), create your own MUCH COOLER world. This is how cool is made. By REJECTING the gatekeepers. Drag queens, pre-Raphaelites, jazz musicians — all were rejected by the Academy and made worlds far, far cooler than the appointed arbiters of taste.
A fuckwit rejects you? Take it as a COMPLIMENT. Reframe this shit. These are not your people and this is not your world. Quit trying to fit into a place that insists on rejecting you.
Martha, I’m sorry you were chumped. It’s a lot to lose 20 years. But meh is out there. Peace is out there. A cooler life is out there. He’s not in it. Start being the gatekeeper of your life and ignore his.