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I Still Have Joy

Of all the hundreds of awesome suggestions last Friday for future columns, the topic of joy stood out. Enough with the gloom and anger, Chump Lady, tell me how I get up again. When am I going to laugh? More connect-the-dots on this Gain a Life thing. More happy. Less stabby.

I hear you. In my potty-mouthed Gorgon defense, the thing with running a blog this size, is that people are at different stages. Most who write in are newbies. And, because they’re chumps, they aren’t as mad as they ought to be. They’re sad and damp and drooped over the furniture, immobilized.

Instead of coming out swinging, they’re all: “I wonder if he’s posting pictures of her on Instagram?” “Would it antagonize him if I suggested a boundary?” “Why doesn’t she love me?”

That’s where I swoop in…


Now, if you have the clarity of a Cool-Hand Luke and can motivate toward losing a loser without anger, God bless you. Most of us start out sloppy and confused. This community is here to give you a swift kick. But also a hug. And perhaps a laugh.

Which brings us to today’s topic: joy. How do you go through cataclysmic shit shows and still manage happiness?

Or, once you find your anger — how do you turn it off? No one wants to be that harridan, twigs in her hair muttering curses at departed exes.

Some thoughts on this:

1.) Anger and happiness aren’t mutually exclusive. You can channel anger to fuel you toward self-protection and still experience joy. The whole point of this Leave a Cheater exercise is to not make fuckwits central in your life. To dispel them.

Can break-ups be demoralizing, frustrating, and (especially if you bred with them) perpetually distressing? Sure. It’s also not the sum total of your life. You are more than what you invested in a fuckwit.

This is why you’ve got to lock down the no contact/grey rock. More margin for you, less time for drama.

2.) Newbies, it’s okay to not be happy right now. But know that it’s out there. And it might sneak up on you at odd moments. Cultivate that. Freebase a hundred puppy videos.

Avoid toxic positivity that demands joy (or forgiveness) without acknowledging the injustice. That’s spackle.

It’s okay to be pissed at the dominant societal narrative that thinks your trauma is a trifle. It’s okay to be pissed at your ex who wants to dump the kids with you so she can swan off to Cancun. Just expect it. If you’re constantly getting broadsided, and mad, readjust your thinking. Stop being surprised. I’m not saying accept it, yum yum shit sandwiches! I’m saying work around it. Change the narrative. Enjoy the kids that weekend.

“The thing is this: You got to have fun while you’re fightin’ for freedom, ’cause you don’t always win.” – Molly Ivins.

3.) You’re taking your life BACK — so what kind of life do you want? Not dwelling or untangling the skein, is a mental discipline. It’s going to be a slog some days. But who do you want to be? Loving, present for your children, an asset to your kickball team, a rapier wit, a good fishing buddy? Is misery your best look? Is it working for you?

If you’re stuck in a rut, consider it may not just be circumstantial misfortune. Get checked for depression. There’s zero shame in this. Funks may need medical treatment.

What makes you happy? CN, this is where you weigh in. What has gotten you through the last few years? Olive and Mabel videos? Nature walks? Snuggles with your kids and/or pets? Craft beer? Beethoven sonatas?

Here’s my recommendation for defiant happiness in the face of shit storms: I Still Have Joy by the Colorado Mass Choir. (youtube link) Download this into your veins.

Through the storm
And the rain
Through heartaches, death and pain
Thank God I still, still, still have joy

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  • I started singing lessons and take lots of outdoor walks listening to podcasts. Oh, and I quit church.
    Joy is synonymous with the ability to make my kids waffles on a Sunday morning without having a sinister minister around. ???? The walls sing, and so do I!

    • I quit church too, as FW was a “good Christian” that signs every email “God is good always”. His newest victim is a “good Christina woman” who will probably follow the reconciliation playbook when he cheats on her.

  • “No one wants to be that harridan, twigs in her hair muttering curses at departed exes.”

    (rearranging twigs in hair) AND WHY NOT, PRAY TELL?

    Seriously, I get joy from just realising every now and then that I don’t even think of my cheating exes.

    I get joy from living in my own home with other people, but sleeping alone (I don’t count the cat).

    I get joy from having a busy, happy life which makes me glad to get into that bed at the end of the day and read detective stories before sleeping soundly.

    I get joy from being menopausal and much less interested in romance than I used to be, and giving far fewer fucks about what other people think of me.

    I get joy from having left multiple Cheaters and gained a life.

    • That cartoon is my homage to Andrea Dworkin. I fought hard to get it in the LACGAL book (and the reference to Dworkin, who my editor had never heard of.) All to say, I’m probably #teamtwig too.

      • Dworkin was so heartbroken at the end of her life thinking she hadn’t made any significant impact. I hope there’s life after death or Einsteinian parallel universes or something so that Dworkin could enjoy the sudden resurgence of interest in her work these days and being a beacon for a new generation.

        • Dworkin always had my undying admiration and respect. I was one of those early-1980’s feminists who everyone loved to hate. I always got pissed off at the world, but I never managed to be able to channel that anger towards any man I was in a relationship with. That’s too bad, because they sure deserved it!

          Right now, I take joy in my righteous anger. I’m not angry in general, just at misogyny, patriarchy, FW, OW, and adultery apologists. I am sweet and chill with the rest of the world – my kids, friends, mom, cats, and students – all of whom I love! They bring me great joy.

          So does my complete apathy for sexual relationships. For the first time in my life, I feel free from the tyranny of love. I have never had a relationship in which I was treated as an equal partner and where my boundaries – physical or psychological – were respected. I am an old realist now, and I no longer believe in things that I have never actually seen.

          I wish I had taken Dworkin more personally when I was younger, and I’m glad her work is attracting new interest. I hope it saves a few lives.

          • Another 1980’s style feminist here, still going strong! Still working for social justice. If I don’t embrace mobilizing anger, I get immobilized by depression, anxiety, pain and fear. Bugger that! Dance to your own revolution. Love from

    • I think you hit a lot of nails on the head! Joy doesn’t just magically happen, it is the end goal of a process. I take joy from many of the same things you do, including the cat on the bed, but it all came after the shock, the hurt, the anger, and the decision to do something about it. When I was younger I had so many practical realities to guide my life. Children need daily feeding and care, homes need cleaning, laundry needs to be done, groceries fetched and prepared — and oh yes, working for a living! For me, menopause came at the same time my sons hit puberty. How delightful was that, you ask??? Not very. But when that time is over, you do get to a place where you finally have some time for your joy.

      I had many happy and joyful moments when I was young — but I also had that urge to date and marry, and remarry, and bring children into the world. When the divorces were finally done, and the FW’s were gone, and the children grown, I suddenly found I had more time to live my life as I chose to. I gained a life by acting, but true joy came after surviving many struggles.

      This opportunity does not happen unless you build a foundation for your life based on values and realistic goals. The initial childhood dreams I had were eventually replaced by adult plans for action. Joy was always the primary goal. It is not the grand things you believe you need when you are young, it is the simple things you learn to stop and enjoy as you go thru the process that bring you joy.

      Mornings are my best time — a quiet home, a cup of coffee — no children to take to school or job to get to. The choice of quiet or music in my home which suites me, and time to reflect on the good moments of my life is a blessing. An unexpected call from my children, just checking in, makes me smile.

      For those who are at the beginning of the journey, just believe you are worth more than you have been told you are. Each step forward brings you closer to your joy. Really!

      • Thanks kindly, I appreciate this post. My children are both teenagers now and are actively pulling away from me in search of their own independence. Ever since FW left the three of us, when they were still in diapers, we’ve been the three musketeers but I see the beginning of the end approaching and they heartbreakingly begin far too many sentences with “Well, when I have my own place, I’m going to etc etc.” or “Ugh, Mom… we don’t have to do everything together, y’know!”

        This is all healthy, I know. They are ready to spread their wings over the course of the next few years and I’m glad I’ve managed to raise children who look forward to that. My parents had to kick me out of the nest. (Not really, they required that I register for various colleges and when one accepted me, they arranged for me to move out, live in a safe place with my aunt/uncle, paid for many of my initial costs and my rent, and shipped me out at the age of seventeen to start university in a new, big, scary city. I am so glad they put a nice big mattress on the ground and then gently kicked me out of the nest. I look back fondly on those first few years of near-independence.)

        I’m just going through some pre-empty nest blues. I know it’s coming and I’m okay that it’s coming, but it still doesn’t stop the heartache. However, I read posts like your’s about just enjoying that independent, FWless, childless morning cup of coffee and I find myself both dreading my empty nest and really, really looking forward to it. Both emotions at the same time! 🙂 I’m navigating through the heartache and looking forward to the joy. I know I’m not truly, truly independent yet–as I still have dependents–but I read your post and find myself (startingly) beginning to look forward to the first year of my childless home when I can truly say to myself: “*Now* you are truly independent. So what are you going to do with your life now?” It’s kind of thrilling to think about. Maybe I’ll finally get a dog. Maybe I’ll travel to another country. The possibilities are quite thrilling.

        For now, I get up an hour before my kids do and I enjoy a nice quiet cup of coffee all on my own before the rush and the madness begins. Like you, it’s one of my favourite times of day.

        Thanks again so much for the post. CL is right. Many of us need to keep posting about the joy and contentment that can be found on the other side of trauma. It’s a balm and a fresh blast of optimism.

        • My son was 11 when I left the X. We split custody 50/50, and he lived in a remote community, so I didn’t see my son for 3 months at a time. I got used to being by myself during that time. My son is now 17 and a Sr, heading to college this fall and with me full time for the whole year.

          I’m so excited for him. I will miss him like crazy, we are pretty good roommates and have a lot of fun together, but he needs to get out on his own and learn independence.

          I’m excited for myself too, to be able to finally do somethings for myself, like travel. But I still hope the kid will decide to live near me when he’s all settled. (He’s in a career path that he can work virtually from anywhere.)

        • On the other side, I have a teenager who is disabled. He has no intention of ever leaving home, and wouldn’t be able to even if he wanted to. I have the same mix of anticipation and sorrow just in reverse. I look forward to continuing to be a major part of my son’s life as an adult. But a am sad sometimes that I will never again be as free as I was as a single person before marrying the FW and having a child w him. I really believe my happiness depends on a large part (not totally) on what I choose to focus on. I don’t spackle over the down sides, that’s not healthy, but I don’t dwell on them either. I find my joy in appreciating the positives of my situation, what ever it is, and working to remove or at least mitigate the negatives. That and paying attention when my brain chemistry is wonky and taking the meds when I need them works for me

        • My sons are older teenagers too and I feel the same. What to do once I am on my own for real???? the possibilities are ENDLESS. Thrilling and scary at the same time.

  • I appreciate CLs willingness to sludge through the hard parts with people. I work in death and too often see by-standers who try to get the newly bereaved to jump to “OK” within minutes or days…it takes strong people to stand with you in the shit, so I respect her potty mouth rants.

    That said, finding joy in the midst of misery is a good skill.

    My advise is to find a way to discover that tiny moment of bliss when you last expect it – even if it only lasts for a minute or so…it gives your spirit momentary solace.

    For me, in the middle of the Shit Show, I was coming home from Walmart and “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone came on the radio and I let myself go to that happy place where you dance a little and enjoy every note as it feeds your soul. (Fun fact, it was the first pop music hit by indigenous Americans…and they know shit shows )

    To this day, I tell the bereaved to crank up their jam and sing in the car…Im not a counselor, so my interventions are not academically informed, but it can help for about 3 minutes.

    • The lyrics from that song are appropriate for the use case:

      “what’s the matter with your head, yeah . . . nothin’ the matter with your head . . .”

      “what’s the matter with you feel right, don’t you feel right, baby . . . find it, find it, go on and love it if you like it, yeah . . . it’s your business if you want some, take some, get it together, baby . . .”

    • At 64; I have fallen in love with me! Faults and all. I love my own company, I like the woman I am. I am smart, kind, sassy and bad assed. I find joy in my life, my friends, my family. My tribe is strong and I now invest my time in a judgement free zone of influence.
      Thank you Chump Nation – you forged me out of the fire!

  • I am climbing Kilimanjaro in 2023. In planning phase now. I will be channelling any remaining anger into the ascent. Exciting times.

    • This is inspiring. I have also found myself again through outdoor challenges. Nothing quite as daring as mountain climbing but I have a Costa Rica hiking and rafting trip scheduled for December, and I’m hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in 2022! I’m finding joy in finding me!

      • Those trips sound amazing MKJ. Costa Rica is on the list. Kilimanjaro is a hard trek rather than climbing. No ropes or crampons involved!

        • I am game for any adventure where, at the end of my day, there is a hot coffee, shower and a king size bed waiting for me. I have trips planned for Florence (in 5 weeks), London (in 5 months) and Germany/Austria (in 7 months).

          When making reservations in a fabulous hotel across from the Opera House in Vienna, husband said “do we need to stay in a place THAT nice?” …”well… yes, yes we do” .

          For a long time, I thought that I didnt like to travel…turns out I didnt like to travel with Cheater. Ive been to 15 countries since he died

          • Haha! Love it! Have fun!

            Reminds me of when my ex asked mockingly if I was going to be the type of grandmother who likes to buy gifts for her grandkids. He said this when the first grandchild was born only 6 months before D-day. There’s since been another grandchild.

            He’s 100% out of the picture now (daughter imposed NC). Hasn’t seen grandchild #1 since she was 6-months-old. Has never met the second one.

            Anyway, in answer to his question, I say, “Yes, why yes, I *am* the type of grandmother who likes to buy gifts for her grandkids.” ???? ????????

            He has plenty of $$ but likes to spend it on himself. What a way to be!

            • That’s what grandparents (at least emotionally healthy ones) do ! They spoil the kids with attention, and money if they have it. Then let the parents deal with the nitty gritty of raising the kids. And don’t undermine the parents since they already had their turn.

  • I get joy from my family. My social circle shrunk to the size of a grape but my familial bonds tightened.

    I get joy from independence. The bed is all mine. I can have what I want for dinner. I can choose to be thrifty or to treat myself. The freedom is almost intoxicating; I can’t imagine giving it up.

    I get joy from the shift in my education and career path. As a married woman I was a housewife or a minimum-wage serf. Soon I’ll be published with my PhD. (I’m willfully ignoring the mountain of student loans behind me, though.)

    I get joy from my pets. My cats are delights, goofballs, and such good company.

  • I started doing all the things I stopped doing because he wasn’t interested in them and since couples (I’ve been told) should do everything together, I didn’t get to do. Because if I went alone, he’d say it was weird. So now I go and see musicals and concerts on my own or with friends. I revel in the knowledge that this now costs me half as much as it did before (because when he did come, it was my interest, and I paid). I don’t have to fight with my cat allergies because he took his cat with him (although admittedly I do miss her sometimes), I don’t feel guilty for being boring and not wanting to go out with his friends and colleagues during work nights. I find joy in the fact that the flat is much cleaner, I’ve lost weight because nobody tempts me with takeaways multiple times a week. I can book flights to see my family without him saying it’s not a good idea. Most of all I find joy in not having to decipher and spend brain cells on wondering if he’s cheating on me. Idk. There are many things I actually find joy in – they just often get overshadowed by the stress of divorce. It is emotionally very up and down for me. I have trouble sleeping and I am extremely exhausted most days but one day Tuesday will come. Or so I’m told 🙂

    • Yes! I’m finding joy in creating the family memories I wanted to make but he wasn’t terribly interested in (Vegas or Sports always had a stronger pull). I take my daughter camping now. There are more beach days. I get to spend my holidays how I want (his extended family had an overwhelming holiday schedule). Seeing the Nutcracker this year! (Spending too much on the really good seats too! Sorry not sorry!) Doing a Polar Express train ride, in cheesy matching jammies. I’m enjoying more simple things too… like picnics in the park. Some of these things I could have done before, but I know I would have been sad that FW didn’t much care to join, or if he was there, he wouldn’t really be present. He’d be checked out and going through the motions.

    • Yes, same here, Cat Lady. If it was a concert I wanted to see, I paid 100%, including his tickets and any food/dinner we’d get prior to the event.

      You’re on the right path! Keep going through, things definitely get even much better!!

  • I’m much older than you Chumps here, I’ve been FW free for years and years. I’m of the disco generation. I found my joy dancing all night long after DDay. And I mean ALL NIGHT. I was a sweaty mess, lol! (The 70s and 80s had the best dance music EVER!)

    My FW couldn’t find a beat if his life depended on it. God didn’t bless everyone with that ability so I never had a problem that he couldn’t dance. It was just what it was.

    Find your joy wherever it is. Dance!

    • Ex—I am of your disco generation too….THE best music ever!!!!. It is why I have Sirius radio in my car—-the disco channels! If you are in Pennsylvania maybe we could meet up and go out dancing together:) I am 1 month post divorce, XH got engaged to AP 3 days ago … although I am unsure if her divorce is final yet….go figure. Todays column strongly resonates with me… 63 I just want to be happy and have peace of mind… and I am struggling with exactly HOW to get there.

      • If I’m ever in Pennsylvania it’s a date, pennstategirl! Though if I could get tickets, I’ve always wanted to go to this (it sells out in minutes every year):

        My FW did marry his Schmoopie. It never bothered me in the least. I felt like they deserved each other. Whatever reindeer games they played with one another had nothing to do with me. If I ever think of them it’s like “Ew!”, lol. The Schmoopie died earlier this year after rounds of arrests. Rumor has it that she took her life. She probably caught him catting around. Again. (I don’t know this to be true, it’s just a rumor. I don’t care enough to find out.)

        I don’t know how far you are out from DDay, but things do get better. I promise. I’m the same age as you and what I do know is you don’t get “over it”. Though you do get “through it”. It’s not meant to get over. It’s something that deeply effects all of us. And that’s okay.

        A little disco musical interlude (that should have topped the charts in 1982 but didn’t):

        • EX—Oh MY!!! this looks amazing!! Are you in/near Buffalo? My daughter lives in Syracuse and I am in NE PA. My DDay was 3/2/2019, 3 months before older daughters wedding. Long, acrimonious divorce that was finalized 9/15/2021. Thank you for the song…it is great!!! It seems from comments that we arent the only disco divas:)

        • “what I do know is you don’t get “over it”. Though you do get “through it”. It’s not meant to get over. It’s something that deeply effects all of us. And that’s okay.”

          This is important!

      • I have one of those Google devices in my kitchen, and, when I am working in there, I ask it to play disco music, and dance while cleaning, preparing, whatever it is I am doing. Fun!

  • For starters, I highly recommend a little book, Finding Joy, by Charlotte Kasl. She is one of my very favorite people, a kind and brilliant psychotherapist who writes in a way that makes sense and soothes me down to the nucleus of every cell in my body. I call her every so often to thank her for her work and have a little chat. Yes, she answers the phone and has little chats.

    Not a book that needs to be read cover to cover, it is divided into chapters with sections and can be flipped open for a random golden suggestion or you can go to the table of contents and pick a topic.

    It’s one of my essential first aid kit books and worth its weight in platinum.

    We are deeply wounded by wrong behavior and words, and healing requires a response made up of right behavior and words on MY part. I need all help from others I can get, and I have a large pit crew made up of people I know personally and people I don’t, and I appreciate them all.

    • Later…..

      Today is my former wedding anniversary, and the anniversary month of DDay (2017). I kept forgetting what day it was. Progress!

      Today I bought myself special plates for autumn/Thanksgiving! (Forest Walk by Juliska). I bought myself special flatware! (Taos Twist). I was able to do this without the criticism, judgement, shaming, etc. of Benedict OJ Madoff who made sure to make me feel bad for liking and having things to set a beautiful table.

      Years ago I met someone who used “the good china” every time she ate. When her mother died she inherited multiple patterns of crystal, flatware, china. Baccarat, Limoge. Beautiful
      linens. She set a tray with a flower in a crystal bud vase every time she ate. I had no idea it was OK to do this! I had grown up with deprivation and scarcity thinking, that one could only use nice things for “special occasions”. My friend taught me that every day was a special occasion. That every time I ate I could set a beautiful place at the table or a beautiful tray.

      I am sorry to say I have completely lost sight of this since DDay. My eating habits at home have been terrible. That ends today! I have beautiful things, table, trays, flowers, candles, things for centerpieces, tablescapes. I am friggin using them every time I eat.

      If I feel like eating a box of cookies, I am putting all the cookies I want on a beautiful plate with a beautiful napkin and a flower in a bud vase. I am going to sit down and enjoy every single cookie or whatever, and not shove it mindlessly into my mouth, out of a box, standing up in the pantry or comatose in my bathrobe on the couch. I cannot afford one minute more to be as unkind to me as he has been. As my original family was.

      And there IS a section in “Finding Joy” about calling a friend if you feel like bingeing on food…..

      That’s what I am going to do today for Joy Action Item.



      • I learned years ago when doing Weight Watchers that meals should be special. They should not be about volume but about trying something different or new. Take time to eat and pay attention to thw food. Put flowers on the table. SIT at a table (instead of standing by the counter or sitting at your desk). Heat your plates to 150 degrees in the toaster oven while the food is cooking so your meal will stay warm longer as you enjoy it. Chill your salad bowl or plate. Do little things that make the meal an event. Don’t eat in your pajamas. Often when we dine out at a restaurant, it’s the settling that makes it so pleasant and relaxing. I hope to hear you start to elevate your meals soon!

  • Yup! All of this! Music makes a HUGE difference! I have a playlist of songs that are fun and upbeat. I crank it in the car. I crank it on headphones while I clean the house. I sing along full blast!


    Plan menus that are good for you…and prep food ahead. or bake your favourite treat and eat as much as you

    I was sent to see a psychologist (work was not going well ????) and he gave me homework: workout 3 days a week…have a social engagement 3 times a week (tea with a friend counts)…and find 3 things that you either used to do but haven’t for a long while or have always wanted to do and DO THEM! (I picked playing fast pitch on an all-girl team, taking up skiing again and getting my PADI diving certification.

    I was also super lucky that I could take 4 months off work so I could stretch out the summer and go on an extended trip to the Caribbean! I house sat and dog sat and cat sat and crewed on a sailboat to keep costs down. I walked the beaches every morning and I swam for hours every day. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and didn’t have to answer to anyone! (Well, except maybe the dog and cat. ????) I read 27 books… most while I was swinging in a hammock or on the deck of a sailboat. I kept thinking to myself: Most people have to just suck it up…I am SO LUCKY! ❤️

  • I like to spend time journaling about the person I USED to be, before the devaluing began. I was confident, too confident sometimes . . . maybe. I am slowly getting back to that attitude. I recall triumphs, and remind myself that I am not the bumbling sad sack he turned me into. Other people, those who knew and cared about me before this unfortunate sidetrack, have never questioned my worth or abilities – only me – and I now realize that I only felt that way due to the guidance and training of the FW. It’s unfortunate that I put my awesome self on hold between the ages of 39 and 66, but no amount of magical thinking will get those years back. It’s onward and upward from the ground I stand on today.

    • I do this all the time too! 🙂 I love thinking about the person I used to be before I met FW. (We began dating in our late teens.) After I met him, I became all about him. I was nothing if I wasn’t a Mrs/his wife; we were either always a team, or, often it was me running PR for him (finding him clients, pushing him as the more talented one of the two of us because he was more extroverted and I’d rather that he “be the face of our company” so to speak). I didn’t even have my own bank account; we shared one.

      After he left, I realized that I had built my entire life around being a Mrs and being a supportive wife. But was I an independent person…? A woman who existed separately from him? There was only either “us” or “him.” I was shocked to realized that I had lost the “me” pretty much after meeting him; it’s like I melted (willingly) into him.

      I spent one summer going through my pre-FW life: diaries, journals, newspaper articles where I had been interviewed by local papers about the freelance publishing I was doing, I found a cassette take of an interview I had done on the radio regarding my creative endeavours, I found story after story after story I had written, I found a very cute business plan I had drafted up describing my entrepreneurial ambitions and all the goals I had for myself as I finished my teenage years and entered my twenties.

      At first, I was disappointed with myself. All that moxy I had for myself… gone after I met him. I invested so many years into him and into us. THEN, I felt really proud of myself: “Would you look at all this…? I had so much drive. So much ambition!” Everything I could unearth about myself before I met FW became like gold to me. I’ve even hung up some elementary school paintings I did around the house because the pre-FW period of my life is like the Renaissance to me. Every memory I have that doesn’t involve FW, a memory that’s just truly mine, is precious. I like that person. And, I realized, I still am that person. I’m in the post-FW era now; it’s a new Renaissance.

      • “…the pre-FW period of my life is like the Renaissance to me…the post-FW era now; it’s a new Renaissance.”

        What a great way to think of it!

  • I should also mention that a scruffy, stray dog (who was pregnant and had heart worm) found me on a beach and I got to bring her home! She is the sweetest friend you could ever imagine and she makes me laugh every day. ???? She also gets me out walking about 3 times a day! And she is a great snuggler. ❤️ Not sure who rescued who!

    A bonus that has come with walking around the neighbourhood several times a day is that I have met many more of my neighbours!

  • To spark joy… I started doing things I loved again. Was there a restaurant FW never let us go to? I went with my new bf and it was incredible and became “our place.” I made vacation plans with my son — just the two of us having fun doing the things we never got to do with FW because he was deadweight and boring. I bought candles! FW hated them — now I get so much joy out of being able to have the candles and scents I love in the house. I got a lovely sweet cuddly dog! I get joy from the freedom of doing what I want to when I want to!

    • Candles! I have become a candles packrat. I have started, bit by bit, ordering more faster than I use the old ones. The guest bedroom closet has become my candle storage. I maybe have 15 full sized jars for the various seasons. Klootzak is not a fan of my burning them. As soon as his butt is out of here, I will get to burn them more as I used to do when he was gone for work. I’m anticipating going broke on legal fees so I’m stocking wax while I can. haha Klootzak has always hated holidays so he says he doesn’t like them because the smells remind him of holidays. I LOVE decorating for holidays so between the candles and decorations (and I also mean Easter, Valentine’s Day, all of them) I have that to look forward to more.

      • Candles!!! My fuckwit hated them. I have one burning now. I can’t afford alot of them but i have some and it makes me smile to light them daily.

        • My FW hates them, too. In the near future, I’ll finally LAC and will probably be pretty broke. That’s why I don’t mind stocking up now. I know it’s one thing he won’t want to keep when the household goods are divided. He can keep the TV (which I had bought him as a gift) and the garage sale couch he brought to the marriage but he better not touch my candles. lol

          • So funny that so many FWs hate candles. What’s that about? (Little side note … if you want nice smelling candles that are relatively inexpensive — Trader Joe’s gets different seasonal candles throughout the year that are just a few bucks. Right now TJ’s Harvest Apple is delightful)

  • “Stop being surprised.”

    This. Once I got this idea through my thick, chumpy head, it started to really get getter. It especially helped in reference to the ongoing shit sandwich of “co-parenting.” (Lol, I kid. My FW hasn’t parented a day in his life.)

    I stopped expecting FW to be a real dad, and instead I expected him to be exactly the opposite – it’s amazing how much this helps. I think we chumps spend WAY too much time waiting for our FWs to finally “get it” – even after they’ve left or we’ve left, and especially when we have kids together – it’s like we still can’t fathom how they can behave so badly with their own kids.

    But now, I just expect him to be clueless or to not know anything about our son’s schedule (or what size he wears or what position he plays in soccer or what time he goes to bed or to make him do his homework), or to not show up when he says he will – and so I’m no longer hopping mad when he doesn’t live up to the expectations that I have for him because actually those expectations are really just the ones I expect OF MYSELF.

    Chumps, we are the good ones. We do those things for our kids because it’s who we are. The FWs don’t have it in them, and no, they will not learn. Give up the fight, stop being surprised by their bad behavior!! It will bring you peace!

    • 100% this. I found joy when I realized it’s not my responsibility and my lawyer/therapist told me – you can’t force FW to be a dad. It’s all on him and as long as he isn’t neglecting/abusing our son – it’s not my f%#*^g problem anymore. ????

    • This is where I’m really struggling. I don’t really care if FW is a “Disney Dad” during his parenting time, but what really gets me is that he is still demanding and controlling and abusive to me. He sends me shitty messages on our parenting app (that I now only check once a week upon the advice of my therapist). He makes well over six figures (and makes twice what I make) yet he is not paying child support and is also constantly taking me to court. It’s a giant shit sandwich, and I’m counting down the days to when I can be truly no contact. It’s hard to feel joyful when I go to pay bills and I don’t really have enough but I am tied to a very slow court process. (We’ve been divorced for 4 years now)

      • FW “co-parenting” is the shittiest of the shit sandwiches. I have no words of wisdom, as I’m currently holding myself back from snarking at my own sperm donor. It’s simultaneously infuriating and tragic. You want to yell and cry, and you can’t believe this piece of shit is your kids’ actual father. I have trouble believing he’s even human sometimes.

        Anyway, (((hugs))) to you.

  • I am in start of the divorce process. FW was served and now had to get out of the house (this brings me joy). The FW tried to make conversation with me after that but there was no way that I would take the bait. I am as no contact as can be even under the same roof (not much longer though) and if there is a conversation there are minimal words. If the cheater wants to pour his heart out, he can go to Schmoopie for those kibbles. His supply here is OVER and I believe it frustrates that shit out of him (another joy). Meanwhile, I keep my doors locked to my area of the house, entertain the dog, spend time with my parents and just generally avoid being near the FW. Looking ahead, I am starting to plan all my winter projects in the house and get everything laid out and that will keep me busy and make me happy. Bonus, getting rid of his crap from the house will significantly reduce clutter and that makes me feel like Marie Kondo!

  • Word Sista! I think it’s important to note that at some point (probably close to our Tuesday) the older chumps realize exactly why your stabby on the blog, how that stabbiness helped them through the darkest of times, and now since they don’t give a shit about their ex anymore want joy. Let’s face it, we all fake it till we make it! So, we force ourselves to find joyous things in our lives during the dark times but it’s when we can actually leave ALL the bullshit behind do we really start experiencing full joy. That includes setting boundaries from the negative narrative to focus more on the positive happening in their life. They may even stop reading the blog for a while to take a break….which is healthy because they are shifting from a negative mindset to healthy and attitude.

    We actually had a discussion about this very topic on the Chump Lady Infidelity Support Facebook page a while ago when I mentioned I was taking a break from the group because I needed to change my narrative from negative to positive….some chumps didn’t get it, didn’t like it and actually slammed me (like ugly mean irrational bitch slap slammed me)…..I seriously wanted to respond but stopped myself because I realized they were the unhealthy and irrational ones and just needed more time to find their Tuesday. They were at a different stage than me. The older chumps completely understood and later some of them took the same path as I taking a break from the negative narrative. Now, we all just read your articles and chime in from time to time especially if we have helpful info.

    I honestly don’t think I would have found my Tuesday if it weren’t for your blog being part of my tools. I can’t tell you how grateful I am!!!

    As far as how to find joy….like I said earlier, we all fake it till we make it. So, force yourself to find joy in life during the early stages by doing a “What am I grateful for” list every day. I would do the list with my kids on the drive to daycare and make it like a little game. We would then repeat it before bed. As you get healthier you naturally want to surround yourself with the things you like and love….kittens, dogs, hikes, etc. I highly suggest including setting boundaries around the toxic people in your life (including friends and family) and only surround yourself with healthy people. When you start transitioning into a healthier stage of chumpdom it’s much easier to find joy all around you. To me, being around healthy people was key. It’s much easier to find your Tuesday and find joy in your life EVERY-SINGLE-DAY when the people you are around are healthy too!
    ***BTW- this is coming from a woman who grew up with narcissistic parents, married narcissists, naively surrounded myself with toxic people, suffered from narcissistic/emotional abuse, almost lost custody of my kids due to the years of the charm of my narc pulling the wool over peoples eyes until it came out what he really was, and almost died at the hands of another narc that I allowed in my life. If I can get out from the toxic pattern of allowing toxic people in my life, finding my Tuesday, finding joy every single day and now helping new chumps to do the same…so can you!????

    • “The secret, Alice, is to surround yourself with people who make your heart smile. It’s then, only then, that you’ll find Wonderland” – Lewis Carrol

      I read this and thought it was fitting fir this post!

  • For those chumps in early days, No Contact is the foundation for building joy. It is simply impossible to build a life when its base can crumble in an instant.

    My schedule – my priorites – each week included work (until covid), individual therapy, walks with friends, a bird feeder, vegetables in pots on my deck and cut flowers in my livingroom. I re-connected with siblings and volunteered in my community with like-minded people. I meditated first with the help of a teacher and later with Youtube. I joined a 12-Step group and received reinforcment about what I could and couldn’t control.

    I spent my money on small pleasures – scented candles – and necessities like new pots/pans. For other items, I waited until they appeared in my community’s free/swap store. I put my life in order with updated legal and financial documents. I stayed on top of annual maintenances for my house and car and body.

    Joy has been fleeting, but comes more often because I purposely give it space. I read CL every morning and reflect on the journey of other chumps. I wish there was a resource in every community (similar to Domestic Abuse programs) which promoted healing from the trauma of infidelity.

  • Hmmm. Joy is the peace I have. I was married 32 years – and as I reflect on my life – I made a lot of our life “happen” and I do not miss that at all. He has a new wife to adult for him.

    I dated a bit but just decided at 63 I am ok alone with my puppy, and family and friends.

    I worked hard to gain a life and I am for the most part content.

    I do not miss his moods and covert narc behaviors.

    I would say for me – joy is the peace I have.

  • I am a few years past D-day and divorce, and am hitting a deep lull in the joy and life thing. Maybe it’s the pandemic, but I am finding it very, very difficult to feel that things are good. I have three children, whom I love, but by god I would like a break from them. Ex does… very little. I ended up moving away with the kids recently for better schools and feel very isolated and alone here. I have to work, I’m not liking my job at the moment, and want to find something else, but I am just feeling down. Like who would want to hire me? I have no energy, no spark. I just feel overwhelmed all the time. I am finding it very hard to find any joy, anywhere. I look at others and think, at least someone cares about them. Life feels very alone to me, yet I’m also never alone.

    I was doing much better earlier. I was finding things I enjoyed, was figuring out a new life, and then the pandemic hit, a kid got depressed and school went downhill – it all just feels like too much for me to carry. And there’s no one else who is helping me carry it all. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do.

    As I write this I can see depression stalking me again, and I know I have to do something about it.

    • Chump Nation cares about you.
      You are shouldering so much, and there is no shame in asking for help.
      I know it can be hard to take action while depressed, but please reach out to your doctor, and ask whether your health care center has a therapist on their staff. Or, if you have an employee assistance program, contact HR, and they should be able to refer you to a therapist.

    • hills and valleys, you name says it all. and you know that, with each dip, there is another rise in that fucking long trail that is life. but the seasons change and the needles turn a brilliant yellow that will soon carpet the forest floor.

      i have to say that when i feel down i make sure i get a haircut on the regular–my hairdresser, Shelley, who is a hilarious divorcee, simultaneously rubs my head, asks me how i’m doing with the divorce, listens to me moan/weep/curse, and mutters “fuck that guy” out of the side of her bobby-pinned mouth. when she’s done with my hair she puts both hands on my shoulders and just leaves them there for a minute or two, a steady weight. and i get up and head out into the no-man’s land of lawyers/financial planners/pension consultants/therapists.

      i’m thinking of you–

      PS could you hire someone to mow the lawn, clean the bathrooms/kitchen? is that a possibility?

  • I’m seven years out from my final D-day, 5 years divorced from my Fuckwit, and Meh came on a Tuesday as promised.

    When I was in the muck, I first found my joy (and took back my joy) by simplifying my life; making my social circle small and supportive; and keeping my kid’s joy and safety paramount. I read Joel Osteen’s “I Can, I Will” with a highlighter. I read “Psychopath Free” by Jackson MacKenzie over and over until it SUNK IN. I read CL for a YEAR before finding my voice and began sharing and getting deeper in to my healing. I walked daily at sunrise to gather my peace. I stopped listening to pop/rock music… I put K-Love on as my only station and listened to uplifting, spiritual music… none of it triggering… and I rediscovered my faith. I would survive the season of pain and disappointment, I will survive the valley of disappointment, I will climb the mountain to be free of abuse.

    Am I joyful every day – for being minus a cheating, lying fuckwit ABSOLUTELY – is it easy, nope. But nothing worth having is… choose joy and do the footwork to find it.

    Rock on Chump Nation – you’ve got this.

    • Psychopath Free was so helpful, as was Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?”. They really helped me get rid of feeling like everything was my fault. They made me recognize that even the “good” times were part of the cycle of abuse, and that life would be no better for the OW. Ex hadn’t met the love of his life and they weren’t idyllically happy. They were just in the beginning of the cycle. And that’s exactly how it played out. OW ended up leaving him because of his abuse. And I found out after he died that she was just as abusive as he was, they were both alcoholics, and both attempted suicide (OW was hospitalized and survived, my ex completed a few months later). The “deliriously happy” image they presented to the world was a sham.

      Life without a cheating FW is wonderful. I’m so glad to be out of that mess.

      • I just found Psychopath Free and Why Does He do That in audiobook format on Hoopla.
        Thank you both for the recommendations!

        • Already started the Psychopath Free audiobook while working today and HOLY COW!!!! So. Completely. ON POINT.

          Thanks again for the recommendations, ICanSeeTheMeh and ISawTheLight!! Much appreciated!

  • During the height of my shit storm separation, after we split, I booked a singles trip to Europe.

    It was the best thing I did in that 4 year period.

    Met friends I still see to this day, and had a great adventure!

    • How does one do this, I wonder? I’ve always wanted to travel (and may do so after the kids have moved out) but am honestly too scared to travel to far as a single woman. The idea of travelling with a like-minded group sounds wonderful.

      • To me too! I’m starting to save for a trip in 2023 – I don’t know if I’ll make it out of the country, but I plan on going somewhere I’ve never been before and have always wanted to go, like Seattle or New Orleans. But I’d really like to do a walking tour in Europe somewhere and eat my way across.

        But I’m also worried about being trapped with a bunch of people that I may not find a connection or like-minded spirit with. I’m hoping to lure a friend of mine to go with me – but she hates to fly! LOL

        • Try house sitting or pet sitting somewhere amazing…it cuts down in the costs so much and you get an ‘authentic’ experience! ❤️

        • I’ve done cycling and hiking trips with tour companies, some specifically for solo travelers. Backroads, Country Walkers and REI. Set your intention about how you want to enjoy YOUR trip. There have been a few rare problematic guests and the guides usually spot them right away and handle it. You get what you pay for in terms of a trained staff that prioritizes safety for an active/outdoors trip. One day while hiking in Alaska I distanced myself from the super chatty group to soak up the scenery. And I didn’t care if I offended the other guests ! I’ve yet to try Road Scholar/Elderhostel-not yet my age bracket.

      • I think it would be cool to have a Chump Nation cruise with guest speakers and hearing chumps talk about how they made it through.
        I will also try to plan a trip for myself (alone) and maybe even take my parents on a short trip as well. I will have to break them out of the retirement home and be certain COVID is not raging. It will be great to do things without a FW dragging me down or whining.

        • If I had the time, I’d consider organizing something myself, but I am way too busy with work and school and single momming. If someone does organize something, I’d definitely be on board. ????

      • I went with a singles travel group that is part of a MeetUp group. I think almost every city has MeetUp groups. Most MeetUp group have a policy that they are not a dating group, but a social group for adults to join.

        There are also ‘women only’ travel companies that look interesting

        • Klootzak used MeetUp to pick up OW. At first he took me to a few social get togethers. At the second one, he was hitting on a much younger woman. I told him to knock it off but he played innocent. I told him I didn’t want to go anymore and he claimed I was being anti-social. Lo and behold, when D-day hit it was clear that a few of his OW were pick ups he found at MeetUp events, including the much younger woman he had been hitting on.

          I know there are chumps who like those groups but I find them triggering now.

  • I watched hours of America’s funniest videos, in my early days. Laughing was extremely healing. Now I find joy in my feelings have returned. Every time there is a happy ending, parents reunited with kids, a special act of kindness videoed, I cry happy tears. For decades I had no tears. They flow freely now. I find joy in soo many things, I wonder how I missed those moments, while with the idiot.

  • It helped me a lot when my therapist validated my anger. She said I had every reason to be angry and I shouldn’t feel bad about myself for being angry. Part of it was also realizing that I had YEARS of anger that needed to be processed, because in my abusive marriage, I wasn’t safe to express any anger. I didn’t feel safe until several years after I separated from my ex. The same was true of my trauma. I actually felt like I regressed after a couple of years. The sound of a text message, for instance, would trigger a panic attack (heart pounding, unable to breathe, sweaty palms), once so bad I had to sit down in the middle of a store. Because for so long, I received angry, hateful, abusive texts from him. Again, my brain/body wouldn’t let me process my trauma as long as I was still in danger.

    One of the things that helped a lot with anger at my ex, particularly when it came to “coparenting”, was to manage my expectations. I started looking at my ex as an overgrown toddler. You don’t attempt to have logical arguments with a two-year-old who is throwing a temper tantrum. You don’t try to explain yourself to a small child. You do what you need to do and ignore their kicking and screaming. Realizing that my ex would find something to be pissed off about no matter what I did was very freeing. I stopped being afraid of how he would react and just did what was best for me and our son. Then, when he threw an epic fit, I went “ah, yes, that’s exactly how I thought he’d react” and I just ignored it and went on with my life. I took the necessary steps to protect myself and my child, but I stopped taking it personally when he attacked my character. I ignored his criticism and threats, and kept things very business like with no emotions. Me: “When do you want me to pick up [son]?” Him: “You’re a shitty mom and you only think about yourself.” Me: “I’ll pick up [son] at 3.”

    Once I stopped berating myself for how I felt and just let myself experience those things, I found that the anger gradually dissipated on its own. It’s okay to be mad, or to grieve, or to rage and scream once in a while. After what we go through, it only makes sense. No, I didn’t want to end up angry and bitter. But I did need to acknowledge that I was angry, and sad, and hurt, and afraid. It takes TIME. As Sara Evans says in A Little Bit Stronger, “It doesn’t happen overnight, but you turn around an a month’s gone by and you realize you haven’t cried…Even on my weakest day, I get a little bit stronger.”

    Music helped a lot. There are so many songs about betrayal, some sad, some empowering, some angry, some funny. They all helped. In compiling a playlist, I saw my progress as the years went on. The number of “why don’t you love me?” and “I wish I could get you back” songs (Beth Crowley’s “Perfect Doesn’t Last” or “Here We Go Again” or Lifehouse’s “Whatever it Takes”) gradually gave way to “I’ll show you” and “fuck you” songs (Carrie Underwood’s “Dirty Laundry” is a fun one, or “Burn” by Papa Roach), to finally “I am amazing” and “the future is bright” (Beth Crowley “Don’t Think Just Run”, Kesha’s “Learn to Let Go” and “Woman”). Journaling helped a lot. Therapy helped a lot. Watching a million videos on narcissistic abuse and infidelity helped a lot (it helped me stop blaming myself, and stopped me from WANTING to get back with my ex). Humor helps a lot. My life was a soap opera of drama and it was, in all honesty, pretty funny (if it hadn’t been me). Finding a way to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all helped. Looking at it like “OMG, look what he did THIS time. Really??” And I’m not at all ashamed that it took medication to get me out of my depression. See a doctor. Sometimes you need a little help. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, I lost so much weight. I couldn’t face any of the things I needed to do. A few months on an anti-anxiety medication and I could think straight. And then I started the divorce process. You’ve got to get the basics first – eat, sleep, take care of yourself.

    Find MOMENTS of happiness. That’s all we ever get anyway. Find joy in small things. Go outside, read a favorite book, visit a place you love, chat with a friend (about something OTHER than your ex), eat something lovely, do something your ex didn’t like. Gradually there will be more and more good moments. I am HAPPY now more than I am not. I do all the things I couldn’t when I was married. I go where I want. Eat what I want. Wear what I want. Spend time with whom I want. Read what I want. And I’m loving it. I’m 41 and I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin. Frankly I’ve never felt prettier (even though I stopped wearing makeup except for rare occasions). I’m not dating and not interested right now, but I feel sexy for the first time in years. I don’t have as many “friends”, but the ones I have are genuine friends who care about me and are people of integrity.

    It’s an achievement to find happiness/joy in the midst of horrendous circumstances. It’s a battle. I was in an abusive marriage for over a decade. I would have stayed longer if it weren’t for the affair. I got cheated on and lied to and gaslit and made to feel crazy. Ex and OW stayed together for years. I lost my home and family. I continued to be abused by my husband, and the OW joined in. I lost my whole social circle as they all accepted OW and dropped me. I have battled severe health problems (the effects of which will continue for the rest of my life). I lost a parent. My 8 year old became so depressed and anxious we hospitalized him for suicidal ideation. My ex finally killed himself, leaving me to clean up the mess of a life he left behind. I’m now truly a single parent.

    But – I’m happy. I have joy. This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I wouldn’t have chosen any of these circumstances, but I wouldn’t change who I have become because of them. I’m wiser, more authentic, more myself, and far less tolerant of bullshit or fakeness. If I can do it, anyone can.

    Believe me, there were several years where I thought I’d never smile again, never be okay, wondered if it was worth it to go on. I got through it. I came out the other side. I’m thriving. I’m free. The anger dissipated on it’s own. I had revenge fantasies like anyone else. And some might say that Karma showed up quite quickly and effectively in my situation (OW left my ex 4 four weeks after they moved in together, he spiraled down hill, attempted suicide multiple times, and finally completed). It doesn’t feel as good as you might think. I’d actually gotten to the point where I was kind of mad the OW left, because she at least was there to help regulate my ex’s emotions and be a bit of a buffer for his anger towards me and our kid. I still hate her, but it doesn’t occupy much of my thoughts. She’s a disaster and she will have to live with all the hurt she’s caused for the rest of her life. I don’t need to help. And honestly, the thing that bothers these people the most is to be ignored. They (cheaters and the other person) want to feel special and wanted and needed and exceptional. They aren’t. They are boring and cliché. They don’t deserve any attention from you. Even after my ex died, his (ex)OW kept reaching out to me and trying to talk to me and to my ex’s family (whom he had completely cut off, but I’d stayed in touch with), because she was STILL looking for validation. We all told her to stop contacting us. I told her not to show up at the funeral. And I’m sure it eats her up inside. But I really don’t care.

    Don’t worry so much about “being happy”. Just “do the next right thing” as Anna sings in Frozen II. Find small, happy moments. Cherish them. Tuesday is coming.

    • ^^^^^This. ^^^^^Is. ^^^^^Amazing.
      I could have written it myself (FW has had 2 heart attacks, is overweight and keeps smoking….so suicide by booze, Marlborough Lights and steak?). After a bit, the anger does just dissipate. I read CL to check in and have, lately, used The Wisdom to remind myself of WTAF I have just lived through and for venting when I just need to tell some one who “gets it”. My feet land on Tuesday a lot. Here’s to hoping I stick very soon.

      Oh, my joy? Vision boards I could never make because he would ridicule them. Unframed pictures reminding me of my priorities–the kids, the dog, the cat and getting to Ireland. Eating ice cream for dinner during his “parenting time”. Learning to run–outside in front of other people–and not totally hating it. Hiking outside for 2 hours every Sunday morning, by myself. Not cleaning up after him, too. Financial security from my own work and toil; having money for what I want, not just the basics so he can keep his bar tab open. Laughter. Singing. Dancing in the kitchen on a Tuesday because a great song comes on. Being ok with not being ok. Having a past that I don’t have to whitewash to make him feel better. Knowing my friends get me–and that I am not that difficult to buy presents for, you just have to try. Candy corn. Knowing I have shown my children that family comes first and I matter too, and not always in that order. Kindness is not a character flaw. That I didn’t give up on what was important, we just differed in what the “important” is. Listening to myself be kind when I can be cruel. Staying away from bitterness at FW and his APs (albeit this was really hard and sometimes a little shaky….). Never going back to what was. Ever. Having learned my value and asserting my right to be acknowledged as such. Yeah, that’s where I’ll end today.

      thanks CN.

      • “Kindness is not a character flaw”. LOVE THAT. My ex was so negative, critical of everyone, and loved to insult people. Now that I am on my own, I much more often think compliments than criticisms. I’ve tried to express those thoughts to people too, even if it is a little uncomfortable for me. I give strangers compliments on a great outfit, or hair, or cool tattoos or whatever. The world could use more kindness. I save my criticisms for displays of poor character, not someone’s clothing choices or the face they were born with.

        The money is insane. Ex and I were ALWAYS broke. Since he’s been gone? I’ve never had so much money in my life. Somehow I still have money for “extras” even though I’m on one salary instead of two AND I’ve been paying my lawyer exorbitant amounts of money for almost two years. A couple weeks ago I took an online cooking class I really wanted to do that cost $175. I just…did it. And my finances were fine. With STBX, I was juggling due dates and counting pennies to keep us in the black, and that was with two (very good) salaries. He had no idea how money worked, no idea on how to budget or save or plan. If it was in the bank, he thought it was his to spend (even though it was already allocated to pay bills). If I tried to curb him, he got angry with me for being “controlling” and he’d say he “deserved” to buy things for himself because he worked so hard. Part of why he killed himself was because he had gotten himself into such a financial hole that he didn’t see a way out, especially after the girlfriend left and wasn’t handing him thousands of dollars in addition to paying half his bills. Meanwhile, I paid off all my credit card debt (over $10,000, racked up while with the ex) in one year. I am now debt-free other than my car. I’d carried that debt for more than 10 years. My credit score, which was trashed, is on the mend. Now I can seriously think about buying a home in the next few years.

        These things bring me joy.

        • While I wish it were under different circumstances, WELL DONE YOU.

          I await the day (not really, I think I do) when my nest is empty and I can leave this town where the ghosts of his deeds past lurk. Until then, I recall with joy that I am mighty. I am kind. I am entitled to laugh with abandon and everything else will just fucking work out.
          Make the vision board and take those pennies to build your foundation. You are simply, the best. 🙂

  • After my chumping, I seriously didn’t know what to do and honestly, I didn’t know why I had to do all that starting over shit. Had I not just spent twenty years building a good life? But that’s what’s it’s like when you get out of prison. Your slate is wiped clean, but you’ve got a record. So you begin again. It’s harder but it some ways much easier – because you’ve lost between two hundred and three hundred lbs of spousal fat! And nothing tastes as good as being free feels – once you get used to not feeling guilty for doing whatever you feel like doing whenever it works for you. You don’t mind doing things for your kids but you’ve lost the man or woman child that’s been sucking off your spirit for years. And then you start getting selfish. and you know you’re on the way when your eldest tells you you only think of yourself !! That’s right, baby!! And then he laughs.

  • ????These are a few of my favorite things ????:

    *Discovering a salamander under a fallen piece of bark with my 2 1/2-yo granddaughter

    *Watching her delight in throwing pebbles in the pond, feeling moss for the first time, playing hide-and-seek (it never gets old), making cupcakes (a glorious mess), dancing to Zootopia songs, holding a blue balloon, pretending an empty box is a rocket ship, making towers with blocks, jumping in a muddy puddle with her light-up pink boots

    *Cuddling my newborn grandchild and smelling her hair; soothing her

    *Sharing daily messages (often witty) with my kids and their spouses on the WhatsApp family chat (FW not included)

    *Calling the shots in my own life

    *Feeling calm and safe in my own home

    *Decorating my space my way and not having to consult with anyone else

    *Making plans with new friends

    *Spending money as I see fit

    *Controlling the heat and AC

    *Learning to play pickleball

    *Accepting my faults (and trying to practice self-compassion–still working on this)

    *Saying yes to things!

    *Enforcing boundaries (a new skill that brings joy)

    *Realizing the power of NC with my ex (and recognizing that, if I must respond, “NO” is a complete sentence.

    *Finding my self-worth (and knowing and believing that I deserve a good life! I deserve to be treated well, dammit!)

    *Becoming more self-aware and figuring out what weird mix of dynamics and FOO caused me to stay with that abusive man

    *Building my new business

    And now the “joyful nots”:
    *Not having to clean the toilet every day

    *Not enduring the silent treatment

    *Not walking on eggshells and dealing with a moody AF covert narc

    *Not catering to someone else

    *Not fly fishing (his hobby)

    *Not having to visit my MIL

    *Not feeling unloved and discarded and generally crappy about myself

    *Not watching FW stomp around the house

    *Not jumping the second he asked me to jump

    Great exercise. Thanks, CL!

    • I love all of these. I’m not a grandmother but all the ones after that are inspirational to me. These are my goals. Thank you for this list. It’s beautiful.

  • Leaning into my emotions without letting them rule my life helped me immensely. Being furious and/or sad at times was necessary as a part of the grief. A friend of mine from my divorce group recently went to a “rage room” with her teens where they smashed glassware (LOL). I get it.

    My joy actually comes now from more recent sectors — the dog we adopted after he left, a newer circle of friends who never met him, a different house, volunteer work I never would have done before, and a rethinking of some of my religious beliefs. Of course some of the old and familiar are still around, but I realized not long ago that many of my good things in life are more recent.

    Yes, Tuesday is a good place to be.

  • For about 4 years I struggled to find happiness, joy, positivity in any authentic capacity. I realized pretty early on that I needed to buy that carton of ice cream, cuddle my dog, watch a favorite comedy over and over again, listen to the song again…all those little things we often take for granted. If it brings you a respite from the darkness, a smile, a reminder that not everything sucks, then do it. Do it as often as you need to. And, yes, puppy videos. And baby otters. Every day.

  • I turned 68 this past weekend. The fall I turned 60, I had the best birthday and fall in many years–by myself, on sabbatical, off the grid, writing. On the day of my 60th, I split wood and felt younger than I had in years. Meanwhile, back at home, unbeknownst to me, my now-ex was a year into his secret adventure of “explore the idea I might be trans with a former student.” I would not be told about it for two more years.

    After d-day (disclosure day), I put myself through three years of horizontal pick-me dancing hell. Pick-me over the former student. Pick-me over the woman you like to dress up in women’s lingerie and pretend you are. Finally, with the help of what I read here on Chump Lady, I wised up and found the courage to leave, after thirty-five years of marriage, and at age 64.

    For the six years after D-day, including this one, until this weekend, I felt the loss of that feeling and that life that I had when I turned 60. I was furious that fuckwit ruined so many years of my 60s, which had started with such promise. I wanted to get that life and that self back.

    Maybe you’re thinking you know what I’m going to say now: that after divorce and no contact I’ve reclaimed that life and that self.

    But that’s not what happened. What happened is that this weekend, turning 68, I felt that I’m done looking back. It’s mystifying how this could be the case, but just knowing that I am 68 changed my mindset. 68 feels qualitatively different than even 67 did. It doesn’t feel connected to the past, to what I had at 60, so much as it does to the future. 68 feels as if it belongs to the future, and instead of looking to the past to what I had at 60, I’m looking forward to the person I want to be and the life I want to have at 70.

    I think it’s Tuesday. I think “68” is my Tuesday.

    • Ah, Adelante! How wonderful! Tuesday=the perfect birthday gift

      Happy 68th birthday!
      Happy Tuesday!

      Here’s to your future!

    • congrats, Adelante! sounds like you’ve got your groove back, be it chopping wood, writing, ripping up the dance also known as the kitchen.

    • I think that Tuesday comes when the FWs no longer take up mental real estate. When they do not factor at all in our decisions and choices. When we don’t think of them at all.

      I may not have reached the blessed state of Meh yet, but today was a good day. Today I felt mighty. I went to the ob/gyn for the first time since DD, separation and divorce. More than three years, although the initial STD testing was done by my primary care dr. And I sat there, answered all the questions and objectively stated my ex husband was a serial cheater and got follow up STD testing. There was no emotional twinges, I was stating the facts like you might comment the weather. Like, this is my truth but it no longer has the power to hurt me, and I *will* do what it takes to take care of myself. Maybe not ‘meh’ but a mile marker on the road there.

  • My list:

    Planning solo trips

    Snuggling with my rescue cats

    Reading! I can finally concentrate again ????

    Leaving toxic friends behind and being very selective about who I allow into my life

    Enjoying my home, repairs and all, because it’s mine

    Appreciating that my career is less demanding now that I’ve changed jobs and found balance

    Yoga. Free classes on YouTube

    Taking time outs when needed without feeling guilty

    Weight loss, the silver lining of post infidelity stress disorder

    A nice clean house without icky FW messes to clean up

    Eating what I want, when I want

    Making decisions for me without having to consider what FW might want

    Have I arrived at Tuesday? Not quite. Do I still get anxious? Yep. Am I still on meds? Yep. But I’m much more confident in my healing and my future. And I’m finding joy in so many things because I’ve made the conscious decision to do so.

  • The only thing I could think of to do was to concentrate on my job. It was basically an entry level minimum wage job. But, it was secure and it had promotion potential; so I just focused on it. In the beginning I would come home and collapse behind the door, then just get ready for another day. Eventually, I ventured out with a couple friends who really helped me. They got me out of the house on Weekends and even let me have air time on their radio station.

    I also walked a lot. I always walked a lot, but I did it even more. Especially on weekends.

  • I remember at the beginning asking my therapist after she spouted that tired platitude, “Take Care of Yourself”, “HOW??”

    Her eyes flew open. I guess she had never had anybody directly ask that, and really had no useful answers. Not my therapist anymore, BTW.

    At any rate, I tried a few things, but all I seemed to do was ruminate. Take a warm bath in the candlelight? All I did was stew about him while laying in the tub. Etc.

    I did start a Gratitude Journal. Every day, I made of point of writing down 5 things for which I was thankful or which brought me joy that day. Then I would do a little sketch of something, even if it was very, very simple. Taking time to acknowledge the good in my life was truly helpful.

    Then I dug in and started doing the things he always said HE would do, but never did: I got new siding and a new roof for the house. I worked on the hard, adult stuff that the man-child just never could get around to, but always criticized me for attempting. The satisfaction of accomplishment, even in the mundane, was huge.

    Next up: a new propane tank, some wood treatments on my living room ceiling, a wood-burning fireplace insert. It will take time to save the money, but it will be done, and I will have made it happen.

  • it’s early days for me but i find moments of joy:

    1. music

    2. watching the Great British Bake Off and fantasizing about knocking over/trashing the cakes, but strangely feeling sad when the cakes fall over by themselves. go figure. IT’S TRAGIC when the cakes fall over like a southern lady at a revivalist church.

    3. walking

    4. daily “yoga with adrienne” (internet)

    5. spending time with my adult kids

    6. getting a haircut on the regular with my hairdresser, shelley, who mutters “fuck that guy” under her breath when i tell her about the latest “bullshit move in suck city” that my X is up to. then we laugh hard and she puts her hands on my shoulders, a steady kind of weight that grounds me, and i head out into my world

    i resent how much of my time is spent in the job of getting a divorce when i’d rather be doing my own work, but creativity is lower during crises’. i try to be kind to myself. i’m making plans for my future. it’s all a process. i’m encouraged to read the responses today, to recognize the little joys in everyone’s lives.

    that said, snarking with my hairdresser and cursing openly about my X gives me a bit of joy, too.

    • “…getting a haircut on the regular with my hairdresser, shelley, who mutters “fuck that guy” under her breath…”

      Love this!! May all chumps have their own Shelleys.

      • My hairdresser is Shelley as well! She was terrific when I went to get my hair cut when my father was dying.

        The world needs more Shelleys.

        • I had a Shelley in the form of two young women at a Blue Mercury store. I went there shortly after D-Day. This was in my tell-strangers-everything phase. When I blurted out that my ex had cheated on me, they were so upset for me, this total stranger. These women said, “Oh no he didn’t!” Then they proceeded to do an entire makeover while talking about Beyonce and other pop artists who’d been cheated on.

          I didn’t know half these artists, but it didn’t matter. The entire session was beyond comforting. God bless the Shelleys!

  • Lol, that “ Still have Joy” song is just great, haha! I’ve always wished I was raised in a musically gifted black church instead of the agonizing sounds from the all too white one I experienced. I should be able to bypass purgatory from all the Sunday masses of suffering through it.
    I take joy from the realization that there is something in me that no fuckwit can ever reach or break. That internal ‘something’, that let’s joy bubble up at the most unexpected times and the gift of grace and ability to allow it in. ( the rainbows in the morning around my apt from the countless prisms I’ve hung, the happy my dog’s happy allows me to feel, the hummingbirds that I am blessed to sit with having my coffee, the infrequent rains that fall that I enjoy so much ( love to get thoroughly drenched to the bone in it, my dog….not so much), the pain free strength I enjoy in my 66 year old body that I’m so grateful is actually a thing.
    Resilience and gratefulness, two of the super powers I treasure the most. Appreciating the daily joys is the part of me that I have come to realize has always been there, and luckily it survived the nuclear fall out of a cheater.
    I walk 6-12 miles every day, the same loop, with my dog Max, but it’s never the same.
    I listen to countless podcasts and audible books while strolling and my curiousity is boundless.
    I crank up the tunes and dance around my apt, uploading a yoga video or two from YouTube or I’ve even fooled around with learning hip hop dance steps that way.
    Read an endless amount of books, watch movies, documentaries, love my football, ride my bike, work on perfecting sour dough bread, make myself a special dinner for an occas treat, play the keyboard, daily baths with aromatherapy, candles and occas glass of wine or two, long road trips to visit my kids or extended family.
    My kids are my biggest life joys, we talk for hours a week on phone and text daily, reminding me always that I didn’t lose my family, just some traitor we didn’t need around anyway.
    I enjoy motivating, uplifting quotes and have some laminated up around my place, reminding me who I am and what I value most, for the days I forget.
    I am three years post divorce, I lost all safety, belief and trust in humanity, as I’m sure many of us have, but staying in that space forever would be less than ideal. But, I know I can’t find what everyone else thinks I should be looking for, or on their time table, it’s all on me to discover and find my own way out and I am willing to give myself the luxury of time and growth to do that. Freedom and control of my own life is its own priceless gift. Healing is its own journey, without knowing what time it is. We are well worth the time.

  • Fake it till you make it has some merit. Not to pretend not to be sad or angry but as a reminder of who I was, and a placeholder. I was a mess and in a lot of pain after my “it’s not you it’s me, a divorce wouldn’t be so bad”-day. Just to alleviate the pain for a few hours I started doing things I would enjoy or knew would be good for me on the days the kids were with their dad: going to comedy clubs and hiking with friends, taking boxing classes getting a massage…

    After moving into my own place with my kids, waking up alone in my bed, having a quiet cup of coffee were moments of joy. I had the quiet I needed to start processing it all and I took it. I gave myself time, and if I just felt like being alone wrapped in a blanket on my couch watching true crime documentaries, so be it.

    A couple years later I can find joy in all the little everyday things. I am finally divorced and maybe it’s my Tuesday at last. I still exercise, work and socialize when I can but it’s easier now. What helps is to look back and remember all the things I managed to do for myself and pat myself on the back. I had good instincts and had some good times along the way. Plus all those little good memories are gradually replacing the bad ones. To moving on!

  • In that last chapter of LAC;GAL, Tracy writes, “I divorced a man with mental health issues, paid him a shitload of money so I could retain custody of my son, and then he sued me for the next decade, mostly pro se. Does my head want to explode when I think about it? Yes, so I try not to think about it. Instead, I focus on the fact that I survived and my kid is great.”

    When I first read that just after D-Day, I didn’t get it. In fact, I think it pissed me off. “What do you mean you just *decided* not to think about it? How is that possible?”

    Two years out and I’m starting to understand.

    When I obsess over my ex, I keep my abuser central and basically become my own abuser. I just have to practice saying “no” and do something to help distract myself. It IS a discipline. I’m getting the hang of it (sort of).

    • “Instead, I focus on the fact that I survived and my kid is great.”

      Love it. I also challenge myself to keep happily distracted and focus on what is important, not What Sucks. What Sucks will always be there; it can be dealt with when it needs to be dealt with but it doesn’t have to be the center of your life. The important things should be the center of your life. I take small moments of time to check out what’s going on in CN, sometimes every day, sometimes every couple of days, and sometimes I vent and word-vomit. It’s a safe space; I feel good about doing that here because I know that after I X out of the webpage, I’m done with What Sucks until I want to take it up again. And, unless FW texts me out of the blue and torpedos my emotional sanity somehow (he almost never does anymore; he’s been grey-rock trained), I’m able to leave What Sucks with Chump Nation, walk away, and center my life around what keeps me happy and going: my family, my career, my pets, and really, really good cups of coffee.

    • I feel like crying on the days I get these unbidden feelings about the ex and how my life changed. I know some of the triggers but don’t know when they’ll occur. I can temporarily feel like I lost at “being loved.” But throughout our marriage, I gave it my all, I was there, loving & forgiving him, loving and doing the hard work of raising my children to adulthood, and still loving and supporting my adult son who will never become independent. The joy comes through on most days. It never did when my head was filled of thoughts about the abuser, and yes, acknowledging those thoughts, then gently pushing them aside, is a discipline.

      In the end, I am content with myself and my actions. That is worth more than “being loved” because I could have chosen shitty actions and be loved by another person just like the ex was loved by me. Maybe “being loved” is a byproduct I will feel someday. A lifetime of abuse leaves its scars.

  • I take a huge amount of joy from doing all of the things with our kids that Ex-Mrs LFTT used to sabotage when we were together. Holidays, helping my step mother with her house, cooking, painting and drawing etc etc are so much better now that she can’t interfere. The kids were 11, 16 and 18 on D-Day and they are now 18, 22 and 25. They now see very little of Ex-Mrs LFTT and are in a much better place mentally as a result; to use CL’s phrase, my house “sings” when the four of us are together.

    And if I want to dance around in pink rubber gloves to the sound of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” (and sing along too) while I do the housework, then no-one is going to stop me.


  • ** JOY comes in the morning **

    Indeed it does. Its like smiling on the inside. I skydived to feel brave a few years after divorce. It came and went but JOY …

  • One of my recent experiences of joy was, oddly enough, the pandemic. My last DDay was in 2012, two weeks before my youngest left for her freshman year of college. My oldest was already out of the house at that point so other than brief times at holidays, we never really lived together as a family unit after the Edgar Suit was out of the picture. Then COVID happened and both of my kids ended up living with me for almost a year in the much smaller house I bought after the divorce. It was not always easy – three introverted adults who were used to living separately do not comingle in a small space all that easily but I tried hard to appreciate every single moment. Even those moments of irritation like being the only one who could see the pile of dirty dishes sitting RIGHT BY THE EMPTY DISHWASHER just like when the kids were teenagers still living at home. 😀 And that was the point. We may have reverted to our Mom/children roles all too easily, but there was no hole where Ex used to be. He was not needed. He was not missed. We had healed whatever wounds remained in the aftermath of the breaking of our family and we were complete, just the three of us. So much joy in that.

  • I find joy in dance. I’ve done jazz, tap, swing, chair, striptease, contortion, lyra, silks, etc..

    My favorites are ballet and pole dance. Going to a ballet makes me happy cry every time and I’ve been pole dancing for 6.5 years. I’m damn good at it too. No asshole can ever take away my dance. I recently performed in a showcase at my studio and I’ve done pole competitions too.

    No matter what my exes, cheaters or otherwise, did to me, they never took away my love of dance.

  • I did things that I wanted to do but felt afraid to do. First on the list, of course was moving into my own place and getting a divorce. But then I wrote a lot, took a couple of acting classes and tried stand-up comedy. I found fun, challenging things to shake up my existence a little, but my way. I found things that I was good at, met other like-minded people along the way. Oh, and I dared myself to try online dating and met my second husband, but to be clear: I found joy first, and THEN met him.

  • THANK YOU, THANK YOU Chump Lady for the Olive and Mabel video. Its hysterical and made my day!
    Freedom is joy.
    My beloved dogs and menagerie of pets bring me such joy.
    Forging a new life with them involved a fairly complex series of moves – including a couple of months in a one berth caravan (I think you call them campers in the US) parked up in a muddy hen run with three indoor cats, two large hairy dogs, my flock of bantams and my pony outside. We were pretty cosy. The fragrance inside that caravan was quite something – wet dog, a touch of cat shit and the certain je ne sais quoit of old, second-hand touring caravan, which no amount of bleach can touch. Against all the odds, I’d managed to keep them all. A wonderful member of my family lent me the hen run, brought me supper on a tray everynight (it was Covid lock down and their elderly partner was high risk), meaning my beloved pets and I were together and on our way to a new life. I was so lucky.
    We’re now a little more conventionally housed.
    Joy is freedom. Joy is love and support from family and friends. I can’t wait to repay them.
    Wishing joy in all its forms to the pet lovers and non-pet lovers of Chump Nation alike.

  • I am fortunate to live near my 2 daughters families, they presented me with 4 grandchildren 5,4,4,3. They call & ask me to meet me at the park. I go down the slides with them, sit and watch a butterfly leave it’s cocoon, take turns making silly faces. I’ll take it while it lasts.

    Divorce (36 years when filed) has been final a few months. I was dusting & found a ring under what was my lamp in the bedroom. It was purchased by me when I was a young flight attendant that had left my boyfriend to move to Texas. He was about to start Chiropractic college. We had a long distance relationship but I was living a great life. Knew no one, made friends in training, got apartment with 2 others and lived an independent life. Such joy to find that reminder. I’m wearing it on my left hand to remind me I matter & always did.

  • What has gotten me through the last year since D-day?
    *Dumping him.
    *Deep cleaning the bedroom, new bedding, new mattress. Deleting him from my house.
    *Deleting pictures.
    *No contact and blocking.
    *When I was tempted to contact him, I wrote an email and sent it to myself.
    *Controlling the narrative – I told everyone exactly why I dumped him.
    *Kitties! I adopted brother/sister kittens. I wuv them!
    *Dating: I met a decent guy and we give each other space.
    *Friends! One friend I can say anything to at any time of day – invaluable! Most of my other friends are running friends – we run and hike together. Getting out in nature is HUGE!
    *Walking – in addition to running, I walk most every day on my lunch break.
    *Music! – I have a playlist for all the sad/angry/badass feelings. I also have my regular music that gets me through.
    *Forgiveness – the song “Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley played a big role in my mindset.

    “There are people in your life
    Who’ve come and gone
    They let you down
    You know they’ve hurt your pride
    You better put it all behind you baby
    ‘Cause life goes on
    You keep carryin’ that anger
    It’ll eat you up inside baby…
    …But I think it’s about forgiveness
    Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

    Yes, I forgave him, but I won’t forget. I don’t ever need or want to see or talk to him again. I still remember the hurt, but like childbirth, it’s a memory.

  • Many years out, acceptance and joy came after alot of hard-won personal work. There were so many components of the experience that had to be worked through (discovery, cheater isn’t who I thought he was, high-conflict divorce, children/parenting, financials, finding a home, emotional distress, etc.) that it took years to emerge from the depths of upheaval. I can’t say there was much joy during those times.

    Once out of the gauntlet and away from the cheater abuser I had to ask myself how and why I never saw the little things of discontent in my partner as having potential to become significant problems. Thus began a growth curve into greater awareness of self. After that, further growth occured as I awakened to the many personality and character disorders in dysfunctional people. These two steps were instrumental in identifying my own immaturity and that of my ex. It made sense for once to see the dynamics of who’s who in these relationships. Anger, disappointment, confusion, frustration began to give way to clarity and change – in me.

    Then came acceptance. Predator and prey exists. Survival of the fittest, too. Abusers and victims are real. Exploitation and manipulation are as common as people are. My job then and remains now to continue growing, changing and becoming my personal best. It’s the antidote to another’s personal worst.

    Happiness is an external fix. Joy is an internal fix. As I learned more about myself and how to enjoy this newfound confidence and wisdom, joy was the result. Daily happiness occurs in the independence as I live among people, places and things. Joy occurs as I am genuinely thankful for the many provisions I’ve encountered by way of these people, places and things. Joy comes at the end of the day when each new accomplishment meets the next – a newfound life with a sense of peace, hope and expectation.

    The hustle and hassle of disordered people is behind and in the past. New tools and coping skills forged from the furnace of life offer a much brighter future! Dig deep, honor yourself, give it all time and claim your victory. Don’t shortchange yourself or your time for healing – it’s invaluable for the future. I hope this message inspires some person, somewhere, some day and reminds us all that leaving a cheater abuser is not the end – it’s the beginning of better opportunity for YOU.

  • I have enjoyed ALL the things that my ex used to ruin. Bushwalks with my kids, my brother, my niece and nephew (my ex used to huff and puff and stomp his feet with his impatience and sullenness on any walk); taking my paddle board onto the water (my ex used to make fun of the way my body looked, and say I wasn’t paddling fast enough); having sex with partners who DO NOT ridicule my body but who make me feel sexy and celebrate my body (my ex used to belittle my body even during sex); parenting without anyone belittling me or my ideas; exercising without him laughing at my attempts to exercise (whilst he went for long 15km runs). The list goes on. Frankly, once you’re free of a fuckwit, everything is actually easier.

  • Thank you so much for this ChumpLady. I get joy from (yawn) practising gratitude. It’s all the rage, but it works! Everything could always be worse, so I work at not taking what I have for granted. I appreciate my kids more. I like my job more. A walk in the woods gave me huge joy today. Although I have a big injury, I was thankful for moving in nature.
    I don’t have many tears left for the past now, and I’m working on imagining a joyful future. I’m grateful that I’m learning to work on my thoughts.
    I was determined to get something out of the ‘situation’ ..(I’m still trying to find a word to relabel the fuckfest discard ) – another Friday challenge maybe?….and I’m getting something out of it by learning about myself.
    I’m also coming to terms with the fact that fuckwit wasn’t for me. I’m feeling pretty confident that I can meet someone who is for me – because I want that.
    I’m often triggered ( I know …. that word), by the ‘mighty’ columns because my post Dday resume is unremarkable to me.
    But I’m working on watching how I think and talk about myself, and that makes me happy. I can do that!

  • It is soooo hard. He cheated. She was my bestie. They both chose, over and over, to put their temporary desires over my heart. He’s finally out. Wednesday will be week 3 no contact. I am staying busy but it feels like I’m filling in time-but something is missing…and then I take a deep dive and remember the narcissist he is, and how I was constantly stressed out and devalued. And even though I rationally know he’s bad and I deserve more-I’ll still feel lonely and rejected.
    So this Joy story is a great help to remind those of us starting the journey that we’ll get there. Have to go through, can’t go over or around.

    • Hugs, three weeks no contact is so very early on. I literally cried every day for a year and a half and the cheating was not with my friend.
      I can’t even imagine how hard that must be. I’m sorry you had such scuzzy messed up people in your life.
      Good for you on the no contact, that will bring you to finding joy sooner rather than later.

  • Brilliant post as usual. Inspiring comments as usual. If there was ever a website in need of a “Like” button it is this one.

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