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No Family and Feeling Alone

stitched heartHi Chump Lady,

I’m not sure if I have a question here, so much as I’m looking to find out I’m not alone in this corner of Chumpdom. I’m talking about family – or lack thereof.

I’m in my mid-50’s now. I met my husband when I was 26. He was 35. He had two daughters from a previous marriage. At 26, I didn’t know if I wanted to have kids, and he agreed to just be open to the possibility as we moved forward.

I had a VERY small family. One Grandfather, a (divorced) Mom & Dad and a sister. He had his daughters, his parents, his siblings, and an ever-increasing group of cousins, nieces and nephews. His family professed to love me and included me in everything. I loved the feeling of being part of a growing family.

My Grandfather passed away a year before our wedding. My Mom passed away a year after our wedding.

Somewhere around my mid 30’s, I spoke to my husband about kids. I decided I wanted to try for one. He shot me down, telling me that he was too old to start again with a newborn, and he’d never be ever to retire if we had a new baby now.

The subject was dropped until – at 39 – I unexpectantly became pregnant. I was excited, but when I broke the news to him, his face DROPPED like I had told him I just killed a box of puppies. He told me if I had this baby “it would ruin his life”. I’ll never, ever forget that day. It was horrible. I certainly didn’t want to ruin my husband’s life. A few days later we were at the abortion clinic. I’ll spare you the details of that.

It was five years later when I found out that he had been very busy fucking prostitutes during his lunch breaks. Insert trauma here, I don’t need to explain to your readers how finding out about his double life and then going through a year-long divorce process exploded my world.

Once the divorce was final, I had a job offer on the other side of the country. I accepted it and moved.

I don’t know what lies my ex-husband told his family, but NONE of them ever spoke to me again.

Shortly moving away, both my Father and my Sister passed away.

I have no ties left with my whore fucking ex-husband and have been no contact since our divorce 6 years ago.

So. Family. Or lack of it. Are there other chumps who found themselves slow-motion alone after infidelity? I can taste my jealousy when I see other families. I worry constantly about getting old and dying alone. Don’t get me started about how it feels to see a newborn or a child that’s the same age as mine would be now. The holidays are coming, and that increases society’s pressure to be with family about a million percent.

Yes, I have great friends. They are scattered all over the world. None of my long-time friends live in my new city. Yes, I go to social events, meet-up groups, etc., but I’ve yet to find my place here or feel a sense of belonging.

Am I alone in this? If not, how do other Chumps handle this shit?

Thanks for reading my long sob story.

GiveTimeTime

Dear GTT,

That’s a shit ton of loss and I’m sorry.

I’m going to try and untangle a few threads from your letter — 1.) Never being a parent; 2.) Family deaths; 3.) Family deaths divorce ostracism style; 4.) Awkward meet-ups and rebuilding.

There are many, many chumps who can relate to any one or all of these misfortunes. Especially the familial fallout after investing your life in a fuckwit.

The world is full of lonely people, and the irony is there are so many — a third of adults over 45! says this report. You think you’d be tripping over each other, and yet each lonely person feels like an impenetrable fortress. Take comfort that this is a common problem and there are many, many people in this world longing for connection and who have space in their life for new friends.

Have you considered trying a chump meet-up? Here’s a link to our community page (forthcoming in new site redo, but link is live) that says how you can join the subreddit and closed Facebook group. The Facebook folks often have Zoom calls and meet-ups. I know of a lot of chumps who have met through these and made great friendships. Heck, some of them even road trip together and send me pix. (Note: I do not moderate these groups. They are run by, and were created by, readers of this blog. Just like meeting anyone you’ve met online, use caution and discernment.)

Now let’s work through that grief bucket.

1.) Parenthood. Have you considered starting now? Becoming a foster parent? Adopting? Apparently, there are still avenues to adopting kids if you’re over 50, so long as you’re open to a child who’s not an infant. There are so many kids in this country languishing in foster care who want homes. If being a mother is truly what you want, don’t give up on that dream.

2.) Family deaths. This is just pure loss. You only get a finite set of significant family members. Do you have any extended family you stay in touch with? Who you can share memories with? I recently visited an older cousin of mine, who I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. She’s older and alone now, and we hit it off reminiscing about northern Michigan, my great-grandparents (her grandparents), swapping stories that had some common point of reference. I think it was comforting to both of us to remember departed family members and know someone who knew them.

All to say, you’re probably not the only person missing your sister or your dad. There may be someone in their orbit who would like to hear from you, to whom you’d be a happy reminder of them.

3.) Family deaths divorce ostracism style. Ugh. I don’t have much to say on this topic except it sucks and never hearing from your ex’s family again is usually how it breaks. Most people are clannish and cowardly. It’s probably not even that they prefer your hooker-fucking ex, it’s that they’re stuck with him through kinship. And divorce is messy, and emotionally sloppy and awkward… and oh God, let’s just avoid it and maybe you’ll get a Christmas card.

4.) Awkward meet-ups and rebuilding. Do it. That’s my advice to you. Keep doing it. Put yourself out there. You are NOT the only wallflower in the bookgroup. I know CN may roll their eyes at me, but I recommend volunteering a lot. Is there something about this planet that righteously pisses you off? (I have such a list. I’ll never run out of projects.) Get involved. Throw yourself at something. A political campaign, safer pedestrian crossways, pet adoption. Find like minded people. Heck, you don’t even have to leave home — many organizations, especially now, do things by Zoom. You can try out some groups online before you commit to in-person. Work toward some common goal. Meet a buddy.

Yeah Tracy, but are they going to take me to my colonoscopy appointment?

They might. Build a relationship. I bet you’d do a favor for a new friend.

Look, if the prospect of making new friends or improving busy crosswalks doesn’t motivate you, do it for your HEALTH. Social isolation is linked to serious health conditions. Your brain needs people to talk to. We are social creatures. So, put yourself out there.

Is it fair that you have to go on the offensive here, and invite people over and rebuild? Wouldn’t it be far easier to just be warmly embraced by a group of strangers and find instant kinship? Yes. But these are the shit sandwiches you’ve been served. If you want a friend, be a friend.

You’ve got a 1-in-3 chance that person needs a friend too.

Good luck. And big ((hugs)).

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Dear GTT, I lost all of my in-laws, all of who were once our family friends, my oldest sister and her family to what I think of as the side effects of cheating, family schisms and Switzerland friends.

    The people I have left can be counted on one hand. But I still have Chump Nation. I have made two dear friends in this site. I am connected in a myriad of ways to my chump friends. They are the ones I call in the middle of the night. They are the ones who talk me out of foolish action and encourage self love. I believe I’ve made lifelong friends through this site. Start connecting with a Chump if their story resonates with you. You may have to sort through a few people but you’ll find friends here.

    I’m also now in a position to volunteer. I had to work up to that. I haven’t been ready to interact with people because of my grief, pain and trauma. But two years, five months and nineteen days after leaving a cheater I am ready to consider opening my life to that possibility. I’m in the considering stage. I’m looking at what I might do for others. Make that step, reach out.

    I spend the bulk of my time alone. That has been a choice. I’m getting ready to attempt to spend more time with people. I’m working up to it. It is ok to be guarded in your interactions with others after betrayal. It is also ok to trust yourself to in your dealings with others. I see red flags now. I will be safe. You will too.

    Today is my un-niversary. I was divorced yesterday. 889 days ago I walked out the door after he pulled a gun out during an argument. Now I am officially free of LTC Fuckface. The Judge thanked me from the bench for my honesty and civil manner. I received an awesome settlement. All of his attempts to ruin me and leave me with nothing were for naught. He ruined our marriage but I have what matters, integrity and half of all of our marital assets. He can suck it!!!!!

    Now I am in the rebuilding my life stage of chumpdom. I want to have friends. Meet for coffee friends, gardening friends, volunteering friends. I’m ready to consider allowing other people in my life. I hope you will too.

    Tracy, you saved me. I learned a new way of being because of LACGAL. Thank You! Velvet Hammer, your many kindnesses and ability to always return my calls and texts saved me. Thank you! Chump Nation, you were there in the middle of the night. I learned from your experiences. You saved me. Thank You. I thank you all from the bottom of my Disco Ball heart.

    GTT, you are not alone. You are surrounded by the possibilities of people.

    • ” lost all of my in-laws, all of who were once our family friends, my oldest sister and her family to what I think of as the side effects of cheating, family schisms and Switzerland friends.

      The people I have left can be counted on one hand.”

      Me too. Marital trauma really shrinks your world, doesn’t it? Most of the time I’m fine with this but, on occasion, it does get lonely.

      • “Marital trauma really shrinks your world, doesn’t it? ”

        It really does. He didn’t have a huge family, but I sure missed my mother in law in the first couple years after we split. I understood her situation, but still sucked. Honestly I never told her how long he was cheating, and the shit he pulled on my. I should have. Might not have changed our relationship; but I should have.

        In hindsight I am of the view that chumps should tell the whole story to enough strategic folks so that their lies can not stand with any reasonable folks. Unfortunately I was so humiliated and hurt in real time I didn’t want anyone to know what a sham my marriage was. I felt stupid.

        By the time I was emotionally ready to spill; it was in my mind too late and folks would just say “oh time to move on” betrayal sucks.

        Being able to spill that venom on CN years later did help me relieve some of the self loathing for allowing myself to silently be treated like shit. I was also able to tell my brother the whole story not long before he unexpectedly passed.

        I did get a new family a few years down the road when I remarried. We are all getting old now and we all live so far apart. We do connect via video talks; but dang things change so much as you get older.

        My son lives in TX along with my granddaughter. My grandson lives in Indy. We are in the deep south. We see them about once a year; and just text and phone the rest of the time. I had to move from Indy to keep a good job. I try not to second guess that. I did what I thought was best at the time.

        I think CLs advice on adopting is great, and to keep trying. I can’t even imagine the pain the op is dealing with over the child issue.

        I think staying connected via SM is good too.

        • “I sure missed my mother in law in the first couple years after we split. I understood her situation, but still sucked. Honestly I never told her how long he was cheating, and the shit he pulled on my. I should have. Might not have changed our relationship; but I should have.”

          When I told my MIL “I had no choice” in divorcing her son, she told me “He’s DONE! If he’s going to be accused of screwing everybody in town, he’s going to screw everybody in town!” To which I replied, “I caught him coming out of a hotel” which I expected would reveal the severity of the situation and garner some sympathy from her. To which she replied in a yelling voice, “Well, [My Name], [Father-in-law’s Name] had a girlfriend!” Like I was supposed to be OK with my husband having a girlfriend! Probably the most toxic family in our metro area. Sorry I spent 20 years with these people, and bringing my son into their toxicity as well. Hopefully I got him half out soon enough to prevent him from assuming their patterns.

            • Sucker – Thank you!! Actually, FW and both his siblings all took after their father. Their mother is a bitter chump of 50+ years. Charming bunch!

              • I purchased a copy of Ana Nogales’ book “Children of Cheaters”. She only presented two options-grow up to be a cheater or cheated on. And I don’t agree with her idea of a child seeking to understand why one parent cheated on the other. Another author needs to do better than Dr. Nogales, in my opinion.

          • Hi Imma – My ex-MIL was just as sympathetic as yours.

            I did call her that first year around xmas time. I told her the reason I was divorcing her son. I even tried to word it nicely. I told her he was “utilizing prostitutes during his lunch break for over 5 years.”

            She yelled “I don’t want to hear this!!” and hung up the phone on me. 15 years of her saying she loved me and then me saying that one sentence put an end to the relationship. Yeah, she was about as honest as her son. Fuck her.

            • GTT – Yikes! I’m sure she *didn’t* want to hear that!!! My MIL followed up our conversation the very next day with a text that said, “Hope you are feeling better. We love you. Let us know if we can do anything.” Crazy!!! But she is also the one that showed up on MY front porch about 8 years ago screaming crying that her “husband has been f*cking whores!” So she’s a fellow chump (probably entire 50+ yr marriage), just completely unstable and mean. I wonder if your MIL was dealing with some Roxannes in her own marriage and that’s why she didn’t want to hear it?!

              I am pretty alone in my situation too. I live 2 states away from all my family and the 2 friends from home that I have left. I do have some friends and a church family in my current town, but I have been gaslit and isolated for so long, I haven’t really had a solid connection with them. So I totally freaked out from the fear of being alone when he first left and I had to go no contact. Fortunately, everyone I had been disconnected from took me back immediately once they heard we had divorced. (Kinda like when the munchkins came out from hiding once the witch was confirmed dead!) I know not everyone likes church, but my church family saved my life. I couldn’t have made it without their support. – I’m rooting for you to find your people! 🙂

              • A great read is Eleanor Payson’s “Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists”. Explains flying monkeys, etc. I can laugh about such jackass behavior most days. Who knew Baum’s story would explain such behavior ? I certainly didn’t, watching the classic movie once a year on tv. Well I get it now.

      • After 35 years of marriage and 3 children (the ONLY grandchildren on the DOCTOR’s side of the family)

        they dropped me as if we’d never met. And I loved them. And they don’t speak to our kids either. The former MIL once asked my BIL how “the kids” are doing. He passed it on and that is the extent of contact with people I’ve known since I was a teenager.

        They won’t pick up the phone to ask. Unbelievable. The DOCTOR is a coward and I guess they are too.

        And for the record, when MY mother passed away, EVERY single former spouse AND a few of THEIR Parents attended her funeral and WE welcomed them. We don’t erase people.

        I hope my kids know which family to emulate.

        • Point being, “In Law Discards” are far more common than I realized.

          As for your situation, can you consider foster care (maybe adoption) because there’s a huge need?

          And keep on putting yourself out there. Yes it’s a game. But you have to play to win.

    • Dudette, I love you! Thanks for fluffing me when I feel flattened!

      Fucking LTC Fuckface can fuck off.

      Yes, I am your friend for life.

    • ❤️❤️❤️❤️😎😎😎❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🌈🌈🌈❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • I’m probably your polar opposite — the judge I was stuck with decided I needed to be re-traumatized, so I was left with 1/5 of our marital assets, to my husband’s 4/5. Every moment of every day is a bitter reminder of what I call “the second rape” which is what that judge decided I needed when I turned to the system for help.

      But … I will agree that living well, or as well as you can under the circumstances, is the best revenge. I did not cut ties with my inlaws, nor did I seek out allies. I am out there on FB posting pictures of flowers and interesting birds, every day. My SIL and her three kids are all still friends on FB, avoiding ugly topics like what a sack of shit my X is. So I let him be the one who has to avoid me, not the other way around. Same goes for mutual (former) friends: if they don’t want to be friends with me, let them be the ones to avoid me.

    • Congrats on the un-niversary. I hope to get FW free soon. Have no idea how long this will take but he did get served and he is going to get out of the house this weekend. I am looking forward to that step. Glad that you got a great settlement.

    • Thirty-three congratulations!

      Two years ago my world blew up. I had been married for 33 years and I was devastated.
      When I first found this life saving group of beautiful souls your posts especially spoke to me. You encouraged me more than you will ever know.

      Thank for all your help. YOU ROCK!!! ❤❤❤

    • This reminds me of when I became pregnant, and my boyfriend didn’t want the baby. He pressured me heavily to have an abortion. I later learned that not only was he cheating, but that he was communicating with the other woman about my pregnancy- they were both hoping I would get the abortion. I kept the baby and now have a beloved son. If I’d had the abortion I would have nothing, like the OP, and I’d have to live with the knowledge that I was pressured into it by a cheating boyfriend and his other woman. Never give up your baby for any man.

    • What a beautiful comment. Hope-filled. Thank you, thirtythreeyears. And…this has to be one of my most favorite replies by Chump Lady ever. Thank you, CL. None of this is fair…but here we are.

      GTT, I have lost many, many relationships due to my husband’s cheating with a woman I considered a friend (mutual friends have rallied around her – she’s a hometown girl – and I think some of them just can’t bear being around me – too painful? too scary? who knows). I feel like an exile in my small-town community (we have no family here). Being ostracized by our “friends” has been nearly as painful as my husband wrecking my/our kids’ hearts. There are really no words for it. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced such loss. I wish I could have you over for dinner! Hang in there. I’ll try to as well.

  • GTT,
    I know how you feel. Happily my parents are still with me (although they are in a retirement home). Due to COVID, I have been very careful because I want to make sure they stay healthy. They are a big source of socialization for me. I am fairly isolated from work since working from home since the start of COVID and my work having decided that having people work from home is effective and saves them money. So only contact with work friends has been online. It is hard.
    I am still in the process of divorce from the FW. He got served last week and has realized that he will have to move out. so being in the same home with an unhappy FW is making things difficult. I have been no contact/gray rock with him since the second DDay in July. I only give him minimal words and no kibble so it is hard. Thanks to this site though, I know he is not a friend so that has helped me to see the light and not give him any conversation.
    I know that I will gain ground once he is out of this house. I am trying to focus on staying healthy and finding myself again. I am not a social butterfly but I have plans in the works to get out more and start healing. I used to do the Big Sister thing years ago, maybe this would help you? Mentoring a young person is a great thing for both of you and may help you. There are lots out opportunities to socialize, try them and if you don’t find like minded people then move on to the next group. Take some time to look at what you want and the things that interest you the most and then look for a group and connect with someone in that group if you feel comfortable.
    I am pretty introverted to it takes me a while. I also have tried to establish boundaries and will have to watch people more closely and get to know them before I let them in. Now is a time for me to be cautious especially since my process is just starting. Good luck and remember all of us at CN have felt or still feel these things. You are definitely not alone here.

    • NewerModel –

      The “big sister” thing might be a great idea. Thanks for recommending that!

      I’m sorry you’re still stuck in the Divorce process. No fun at all.

      • I did Big Sisters years ago. Had a great little sister who was being raised by her dad because her mom left them for drugs and eventual overdose. We had great times doing girl stuff. Helped her fill out scholarship paperwork. Found her summer work as she went thru school. She turned out great. Her dad was just in a very sad situation at the time, depression, etc. It was great to be with a young person. She learned to love ‘80s music!!!

    • You’re in a terrible part of the process, but once you stupid ex moves out (or you move out), everything gets a million times better.

      • I just keep going back to LACGAL and reading the part where she says “This is finite”. FW is moving this week and then plans to visit his family with his sad sausage story. Already started blocking everyone knowing that they will buy his narrative. CN and CL have helped me to stay sane.

  • #Sometimes … GTT

    Firstly I love your sign-off!!

    Today is my Tuesday … I turned 40 today!!

    33achump…I was so glad to hear about walking away… Unfortunately, my “UnHusband” and his “wifetress” are in the “I Care Too Much” and “Its all about the children” category…

    I am a Navy Veteran and Moved to Lansing, MI because my UnHusband wanted to be near his Dad and Step-Mom.

    A Year after our 2nd son was born he told me he wanted a divorce. It took 6 months – He was engaged the DAY AFTER we finalized the divorce… I’m sure all you smart readers can put 2&2 together. They got married 3 months later.

    I HAD NO IDEA!!! ALL of my family lives in Idaho, Washington, and California. It is rare I get to see them in person.

    But, It’s MY Tuesday. Because I EMBRACE the quietness and loneliness. My Facebook page has a video where I talk about an OPEN Letter…

    If you need a friend count me in!! Below is the Link for that video…

    https://www.facebook.com/foxysiren101/videos/10224378484510848

    • Sometimes, I learned in court yesterday that LTC Fuckface wants to remarry. His attorney attempted to argue that I shouldn’t have a Life Insurance Policy to secure the alimony as there would be nothing to protect his second wife. The Judge asked if he was engaged. That fuck face lied, I know his tells. I had a brief twinge of shock and then a huge sense of relief. You know how to tell who is the cheater? The one who is engaged before the divorce! Then I had a brief inward surge of elation. I’m GLAD he is marrying that whore. She deserves that particular pain. She earned him wiping his ass on her sheets. She won a big, fat sparkling turd with poor hygiene. May he make her as happy as he made me!

      You’ve escaped! Rejoice!!!! Be glad for the cheater and those whores, they are their own Karma.

      I’m still evil chuckling today! I hope you can reframe this into a win. You are finally free of cheater stink and fuckery.

  • Dear GTT,
    Good Morning and welcome to CN.
    Wow. Your ex is absolute dirt and should trade in his “man card” since he’s a childish evil ogre.
    To quote many, “you gave up your youth so he could … fuck prostitutes.” He sucks more than my freak and she’s a repulsive wh%re— maybe they connected?. But, you’re free of him and I’m free of her, and everything CL says is true.
    For perspective, I’m 54 and have 3 children under 3 so your ex is a lame ass and played you, but you’re free.
    I hope CL’s wisdom reaches you and you create the life that is for you. I hope it’s awesome and filled with love.
    I too am alone, but I take solace in your words and hope we kindred persevere.

    Xioba Xioba

  • GiveTimeTime,

    Your story is similar to many, including mine. You are not alone. I understand the crippling loneliness you can feel some days. I have days it’s still a little hard to get out of bed – you just have to put one foot in front of another.

    I met my EXH at 21, married three years later and his first known affair was five years after we were married. Then he had another affair with the same woman who now lived 1,000 miles away. I’m sure there were many more I didn’t know about. Heck, I’m sure I’ve had them over for dinner….you know how that goes.

    He had a wonderful family. Two brothers and a set of parents that over 40 odd years became like my parents. Better than my parents (read a whole other story here). When we divorced none of them ‘divorced’ me. His parents were my rock. They were so wonderful.

    My alchoholic brother died a year later in August. While drinking he jumped into a swirling pool of water at Watkins Glen State Park under a set of falls the day after we had two inches of rain. His girlfriend video taped it. Nothing I care to remember.

    My mother was then living in a nursing home due to end stage COPD. I had to tell her her son died. I had to tell my father. My loving father had me pay for half the funeral. A few weeks later my mother fell and broke her hip. Then due to the care in the nursing home she ended up in the hospital’s ICU several times. She decided to go to HOSPICE and actually got better, but then died in December. Lucky me she shared that “she never thought of me as a daughter, more of a sister or a friend”. Explained a lot.

    My in-laws were amazing through this whole time. I can’t express in words my love for them. I lost my father-in-law the following June. My mother-in-law the following December. Four deaths in such a short time.

    We adopted our son when he was 2 1/2 through the Division of Social Services. He has ADHD, PTSD, and Attachment Disorder. His world was shaken when his dad moved away when he was 14. It was really hard. He entered the teenage years. He’s an angry young man. His birth family reached out to him behind our backs. They’ve offered him a home ‘if he needs it’. Keep in mind, he was a twin, now a twin-less twin. They killed his brother and the mother plead guilty to 30 counts of abuse and neglect for his half brother two weeks before he was born. The birth mother / father have since divorced. It’s the father and his family who’s reaching out. My son is now 17 and tells me he’s going to move out when he’s 18 and I can’t stop him. He’s keeping the birth family secret, I’ve just read his phone….he also tells me he’s going to quit school then. I am terrified for him. I’ve confirmed I can’t stop him at 18. I really can’t stop him at 17 – from what I ready the police wouldn’t make this a priority given his age.

    My father got remarried 25 years ago to a very nice woman. She has three kids. He’s very close to those kids. She treats me and my son fine. My dad became a better dad with her – he was a non-existent dad when I was growing up. That said, I never measure up – too fat, not a nice enough house etc. When we go to visit I have to live through the first day of lectures from her on everything I should change. These are two people who can’t afford to come visit us and they live in a gated community and go on cruises regularly. He’s not someone to depend on. In. Any. Way.

    So now I’m almost totally alone. When I go to get blood drawn the hospital always checks your emergency contact. Every time it hits me that I am almost totally ALONE. I have no friends other than work friends. They are more acquaintances – if I got another job I would never hear from them again. They don’t invite me to do anything outside of work. It’s complicated as I’m mid / upper management. I’ve done well in my profession.

    I volunteer at the local SPCA. I am a cat whisperer….or at least I’m told I am. I work with the unadoptable cats to get them socialized or through their trauma. I love this work…it’s the one thing I have every week, a glorious three hours. If I had more free time I would do it more.

    I wish I knew how to “get myself out there”. Ithaca is a small city….think of it as a large town. I typically describe where I live in central NY as “cow country” given if you tell anyone from out of state you live “in NY” they think of the city. I am at a loss. I too worry I will die alone….hell I feel like I’m alone every day.

    I shared this so you know you are not alone. There must be many of us going through similar circumstances. If we all lived near each other we could have a support group. I’m sending you all the hugs I have.

    • I feel for you, GTT & the other lovely chumps in our situation. My ex pretty much ran away within 3 weeks of dday after what I thought was a wonderful marriage of over 24 yrs. My parents had passed before dday & my brother lives 14 time zones away.

      My relatives are distant as my parents came from different states & moved to the state where I live 45 years ago for employment. My besties are scattered throughout the USA. Ex’s family was my family but not anymore.

      Post-divorce boyfriend of 7 yrs turned out to be a serial cheater. He’s gone too.

      I’ve always been independent & self entertaining but the loneliness I have now is nothing like I’ve ever experienced. Being alone almost all the time can be draining. I even asked my therapist if this is how people slowly go crazy.

      I think I feel this way because up to dday I had a fabulous live. I actually refer to it as “my fabulous former” life. No wants, felt loved & cherished, wasn’t poor & struggling. Hard to gain a life when I already had one.

      My biggest fear is “coroner seeks next of kin” appearing in the paper.

    • Silver –

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. I do feel FAR less alone today because of the amazing people on this site (including Ms. Chump Lady herself) Thank you so much… and hugs back!

    • Silver

      Ithaca is a small place… but Syracuse is not that far, and they have so many places to volunteer, meet new people.
      Hugs

      • As the bummer sticker says “Ithaca is Gorges” The beautiful Finger Lakes region. I second exploring in Syracuse as well as Rochester.

  • Jazzersize is a great place to meet other friendly people, bonus you chat before or after class and get to know them. The franchise I go to does a monthly luncheon. Every franchise is a little different. Some senior centers (50 & older) offer it too at a discount. It helps me keep currrent with music. I just went to a play on Sunday with a fellow Jazzerciser. Give it a try. There are 40 somethings to 80 somethings. They were such a great support to me & those that knew my former spouse as his patient did not become Switzerland .

    • I had a similar idea; join walking groups or yoga or other exercise classes as a way to meet others. The exercise is great, too! Seems like a good way to meet people.

      Funny I say that because I have always hated group classes. I like walking in nature by myself. I have a botanical garden membership for just this purpose. I’m pretty introverted, I guess!

  • I swear I could have wrote this .

    You are definitely not alone GTT .

    My mum died when I was 7 and my dad is a drunk who put me into care ( not sure if he’s alive)

    I too wasn’t allowed children . He hated children and would leave me if I got “myself” pregnant . We spoke about it many times and it was always I’ve already told you no . Heated sometimes as it really flustered him that I dared bring it up again

    My ex’s family was the only family I’ve ever had. I was a daughter a sister an aunt and I thought a friend .
    I’ve never even had a text message from any of them . Not one word

    5 weeks after he left me he took his AP to a family holiday I was due to go on and paid for and they all welcomed her with open arms .
    Knocked me sick but I sort of expected it as he can never do any wrong and if he’s happy then so what ?

    He’s had 2 children now with his AP he’s going to be 48 in a few days

    I’m 47 and know I’ll be alone forever and never have a family but I’m so lucky in a million other ways . I bet you are too

    I know exactly how you feel . I’m on CL Reddit if you ever want to message me . It’s a great community there

    • A selfish prick (your ex) doesn’t change his spots overnight. Do not imagine for one minute that he and AP are one deliriously happy family. I feel sorry for his kids.
      So many families will not address a cheating family member and look the other way to keep up the pretense they are a normal family, no dysfunction. Far easier for them to give you the boot so they are not reminded and can keep up the fairytale narrative.

    • “5 weeks after he left me he took his AP to a family holiday I was due to go on and paid for and they all welcomed her with open arms .
      Knocked me sick but I sort of expected it as he can never do any wrong and if he’s happy then so what ?”

      Same, same. After FW moved out and into GF#3/Wifetress’s house, his parents took everyone (sans me, of course) out on a couple of family vacations. I was gutted because that’s when I realized that his family had also dumped and replaced me with his AP.

      • This resonates. My soon to be ex took his schmoopie to our cottage while still living in our house. Brought her and her kid around to meet all of our cottage friends who were very shocked and angered since they had no idea we were separated since it had just happened. They cut both of us out. He was already calling her his wife. They truly are disgusting evil people. The family followed suit too for the most part. His sister still calls me her sister and his father asked to see me( no thanks because the apple doesn’t fall far from the narcissistic tree).

    • Karmeh – Thanks SO much for chiming in and telling your story. I’ve wondered how I’d feel if I ever heard my ex whore-fucker had children with someone else once I left him. Luckily, I probably wouldn’t know.

      I’m def gonna check out Reddit. Would be great if we live near each other!

  • So sorry for all your losses. As CL mentioned maybe become a foster parent? Maybe adopt a couple of dogs and get into dog groups. There are so many Belgian Malinois/Dutch Shepherd dogs that need to be adopted/rescued because idiots had no idea how much work and training they require. People that have this type of breed tend to stick together and become like family. There are tracking clubs, nightly and weekend get togethers, etc. Wishing you all the best.

    • KB22 – I’m not sure being a foster parent would work for me. I’m still trying to get myself back together financially, and the pandemic certainly didn’t help matters.

      Now, DOGS is a whole other thing. Since Covid began, I started fostering dogs here at my apartment. I have two very well socialized pups of my own, so they seem to be happy with the constant turn over of fosters that stay here.

      But the suggestions people are making here about going OUT and volunteering with dogs might be the ticket. By fostering at home, I guess I’ve actually turned myself into MORE of a recluse because I don’t want the fosters to be alone without me. I used to volunteer at an actual shelter. Maybe I should start doing that again.

      Thanks!

      • GTT – My local library has an event once a month where elementary kids can come and read to therapy dogs to practice their reading skills! Maybe look around to see if a program like this exists near you? Or maybe start one?

    • In CL’s response, she links directions for the 2 groups: one on Facebook and the other on Reddit. https://www.chumplady.com/community/

      During this long pandemic I too have been decimated by loneliness. Reading CN’s comments each day clued me in that there must be some extra, inner-circle way of connecting. So, thanks, CL, for highlighting this resource that I had previously overlooked.

      I deleted Facebook a few years ago because the toxicity outweighed any social benefit. Plus FW and OW use it and I really have no desire to even stick a digital toe back into that world.

      I’ve heard of Reddit, but assumed it is for the young, very tech-savvy crowd. I’m in my mid-fifties. Would I be out of place there? I’m open to learning something completely new, but before I risk it, I’d like to know if anyone else joined Reddit for the sole purpose of connecting with chump nation? Any tips to share?

      • Yes, I joined Reddit for the sole purpose of Chumplady when sadly, the old “Fuck” thread died on the old CL website. I still follow along there, very good group for the most part. I’m 61, so, age has no limit on participation. I will warn you though that the rest of reddit that I sometimes get sucked into, seems to be a large group of 14 yr olds. The /cooking site is cool. Just be specific and don’t wander aimlessly…their are some dark and dangerous neighborhoods in there, lol!

    • Hi guys, go to reddit.com and search for Chumpladynation. Ask the administrators to join and bingo, you have a new circle of friends!

      • I’ll try anything. I too am alone. Cut off by all in-laws and he kept “friends” (I guess that they all condoned adultery). I am sorry that you did not have a choice to become a mom, but, please understand that being a mother would not guarantee that you would still not be lonely. Some children actually choose the adulterer. And, in other cases, the Sociopath uses your child as a pawn against you.
        Divorced five years and within that time, both my parents passed. COVID has not helped.
        Yes, after enjoying being a wife and mother, I am left with nothing/ no one through no fault of my own. I have tried Meetups, church groups, golf, etc. I am actually angry that I have to put so much effort into recreating a life. I will try Reddit!

  • My heart goes out to you. What a sh!tty thing for him to do to make you feel like you had to choose between him and motherhood. Most of my pregnancies Mr. NeedsStrange moped to the point where I considered abortion for all but 2 of them but ended up moving forward with all 5. It carries its own list of complications of course. There seems to be a selfishness in these cheater idiots that I don’t need to explain to you.

    I sincerely hope that you meet a few people you can have authentic relationships with of various sorts. Hugs.

  • GTT, I’m an alone person. I don’t have family. I have one girl friend I see occasionally. I was volunteering in her Kindergarten classroom until Covid. Ex comes from a big family, I considered his three sisters the sisters I never had. They all quit talking to me after Dday refusing to answer my phone calls. I come from a small family, Mom, Dad, and a younger brother. My parents recently passed away. I have one brother who took advantage of my Dad’s early onset dementia and manipulated my Dad into signing over his estate to him. Without my knowledge my brother ransacked my parents home taking or selling everything, then sold the home and kept another home they owned for himself. It’s in a over 55 community with activities, gym, weekend bus tours, entertainment, a committee to take people to Dr. appointments, a dog kennel, etc. would have been ideal for me. My. brother’s huge betrayal is another huge punch in the face. At times I feel like I’m living in an Jerry Springer marathon.
    Don’t feel so bad about not being a parent. Parenthood doesn’t guarantee you’ll have family or someone who will be there for you or remember you on your birthday and holidays. I have an adult son who aligns himself with ex and my brother. He normally ignores my texts and phone calls. My son got married last year and I wasn’t invited to the wedding, his wife is due to have a baby next week. Not surprisingly I’ve been excluded from updates, showers, baby sonogram get togethers.
    Thank you for posting, I could use the same advice from Chump Lady. I’m in a rut, I know I need to do these things suggested, it’s motivating myself into doing them. I’m looking forward to the responses. Just wanted to let you know you’re not alone.. =)

    • I hear you on having a rotten sibling. Same here. My mother is a covert narc. She causes drama with everyone and then pretends she had nothing to do with it. She sucks other people dry financially and has to be the center of attention or she acts like “oh, woe is me.” Klootzak had a sister/flying money who I look forward to going no contact with. His mother was mentally ill or addicted or both. His father is rough toward other people but has always been very sweet and kind to me. I worry I will lose contact with him when the divorce hits but he lives far away and has never kept in super close contact, so it won’t impact my day to day very much.

      Losing contact with your son is sad. I also have an only child and I worry the same thing will happen one day. Klootzak acts like he is Father of the Year and I worry kiddo will fall for his act. I love my child but I am being mindful to make my own friends and don’t put all my eggs in that basket. Kids grow up and move away no matter how much they love you so I want to be socially prepared and not have my world revolve around him. I find that easier said than done as I get older. The one thing this has taught me is that I can’t control anyone but myself.

  • As far as relatives/family is concerned, I have my daughter and a cousin in Southern California with whom I have a relationship. I live in Northern California and I see him and his family very rarely. I have relatives in Michigan with whom I have very very superficial relationships. I know grocery clerks better than I know them. I am also the lone alcoholic in recovery in an extended family, all of whom qualify for recovery. Which only exacerbates our total lack of intimacy.

    I also know that I am the only person I will ever be with for sure for the rest of my life. One of my cousins drowned at age two; the only cousin my age died of leukemia when we were both ten. I learned very early that there is no guarantee of anyone reaching adulthood and being around forever.

    I don’t really have a family, but I am not alone. I have friends and can make new friends as long as I live. I learned this from my friend Eda Kavin, whom I met when she was in her mid-80’s. She had a very busy social life with her many friends. She also became an acclaimed artist, taking up painting for the first time in her life in her 70’s. You can Google her. She had ZERO family. I learned from her that having no family did not mean being alone! And you never know what kind of talent is inside you until you try and it’s never too late.

    I think what I really want is not so much family but people who are LOYAL to me. Family is no guarantee of that. Friends have proven to be way more loyal to me than any family I ever had, by blood or marriage.

    • http://www.edakavin.com

      Zero family. Tons of friends. Packed social calendar. Standing room only at her house for her memorial service.
      On aging and friends dying, she told me, “when my friends die I have to go find some new ones!” She was very good at putting herself out there and enjoying life. The day I met her, she was wearing black cigarette pants, a black leather car coat, and leopard print leather gloves. 85 years old. She was always learning new things. We would have lunch and talk about art, space aliens, movies, the symphony, whatever. She was full of life and a lot of fun. Joy.

      The only relative who has ever been loyal to me is my daughter. The only other people have been friends. Loyalty is loyalty and just as valuable no matter who it comes from.

  • I can feel the love you have to offer. GTT, your family is out there, you will find each other. If you are able, think about what CL said about foster children, there are many, many amazing kids who are looking for a family and would love to part of yours. If this is something that you are uncertain about, how about mentoring? The world needs more kindness, generosity and connection. Keep taking the leap, it will happen when you least expect it. Hugs to you.

  • GTT,
    I’m so sorry for all of this. Your X sounds like an awful person and I’m so glad you escaped. I hate that he denied you motherhood but at least you don’t have to be tied to him for the rest of your life now because of a shared child. (And yet, I’m so, so sorry I even typed that. Losing a child–particularly when you were strong-armed into the clinic like that–is no trite matter! I was just looking for the hidden silver lining in the pile of sung he left you with, but, again, I am so sorry.)

    The man you describe sounds loathsome. I applaud your move to get as far away from him as possible. The way you describe the moment you told him you were pregnant rings familiar to me. My FW only wanted one child. We were in the doctor’s clinic when our GP came in and told me I was pregnant again. She announced it with joy: “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!” I wasn’t expecting to be and I turned to look at my husband to see what he thought. His looks could cut glass. He was glowering–angrily!–at me. Like I had done this on purpose to ruin his life. I remember it well because I was so excited for a few seconds, then I felt like all the air had been let out of me.

    He had a vasectomy soon after, left me and the kids for his new girlfriend a few months after our second child was born, and told me that when he looked at his children he “felt nothing.” Years later he took that back; he likes being a “weekend Dad.” On one hand, yes, I have my children, but on the other hand, I’ll never, never escape the orbit of FW. He will always be in my life now; I can’t run away. He will always be there in my children’s lives and grandchildren’s lives. Breeding with FWs makes a Sisyphus out of a chump.

    I do not say any of that to diminish your sorrow. Your FW did you dirty. He had no right to do any of the things he did, let alone promise to be “open to starting a family” and then going back on that. (It’s almost like FWs are compulsive liars or something.) If there’s any good to come out of it all, glory in your absolute independence forever from him. Now that is a treasure.

    If I may advocate single-parenthood, I’ll do so now. Consider fostering, adopting, or sperm-banking (I don’t know if any of those are options for you). You don’t need his say-so or his input to start building a family.

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your family members. ((hugs))

    • Hi Fourleaf –

      You are very kind to share your story here.

      I often try to remind myself of exactly what you said. Although it SUCKS that I was coerced into an abortion I didn’t want, the end result is yeah, I am able to have zero contact with him for the rest of my life.

      In the long run, I am glad I have no ties to him, and this experience has made me even more pro-choice than I ever have been before. I just wish I could have married someone that wasn’t a piece of shit loathsome monster and ended up with a real family, but if wishes were changes, none of us would be here, right?

      • Yes, sistah! Pro-choice all the way. Nobody should be forced or coerced into either having an abortion or giving birth.
        What your ex did was despicable. I’m so sorry, but it’s good you can see the positive side of it in not having to co-parent with the disordered or see that POS again.

    • There seem to be two sub-types of disordered fuckwits when it comes to having kids; the ones who manipulate you into abandoning your dream of a family because it might inconvenience them, and the ones who use you as a human incubator in order to get a family (the size of which is of THEIR choosing, naturally) when they have no intention of being faithful to you or loyal to that family.
      Both attitudes arise from the same selfish entitlement.

      He feels nothing for his kids but likes to be Disney Dad for kibbles. Sick bastard.

      • OHFFS, the FW and his brother fell firmly into the first category – kids as inconvenience. I had a miscarriage, the only time I’ve been pregnant, and FW went to work while it was ongoing. When I challenged him about this after I had got myself together, he said ‘[Manager] found me crying at my desk’ and that was it. He never mentioned it again. He never hugged me, cried with me, or expressed shared sympathy. Exgf OW has late teenage kids and he therefore has a ready-made grown up family with no inconvenience attached. Hopefully those kids hate him.

        His brother knew that my ex SIL, always my friend, desperately wanted children. It didn’t happen. She was tested, no problem. He refused to be tested. A red flag and she now says that she should have left him then. However she abandoned her wish for children in favour of staying with him. Once her childbearing years were just about over, he, an alcoholic man child (just like my ex), left her to move in with never-admitted landlady Schmoopie. She was in her late 50s with grown up daughters all married with children. He became the ‘grandfather’ hosting parties and BBQs every weekend. My friend was destroyed. It took a lot of therapy to get her back into the world. The brother’s Schmoopie died a horrible death a year ago. There was a sick but fitting karma around that – my friend’s children who never had the opportunity to live.

        These ‘men’ wanted kids but wanted someone else to do the hard work in the early years. They wanted to keep their lifestyles without disruption but be part of a family as they got older.

        The eldest brother left his wife when the children were young (drinking, philandering and literally pimping for rich men under the cover of caddying). He’s best friends with the children, now they are in their early twenties. Interestingly I suspected my ex of having at the very least an emotional affair with the younger of his two nieces. I mentioned his boundaries to him and said that he appeared to be encouraging her to become inappropriately and uncomfortably close to him. This was during the discard and he was enjoying the attention from a young relative diagnosed bipolar and drinking heavily, with his encouragement and facilitation, at a family event.

        I read this back, and see how disordered, dysfunctional, disturbing it is. How lucky I am to have escaped. My ex in laws must be very proud of their acorns.

  • So many kind and loving posts from people who understand.

    My tiny addition to this conversation is a memory of a moment after one of my many cross country moves (Ive lived in 22 cities …only my move to college and my first job were my decision…every other was was as a child or spouse of a person who needed to move for work and I was dragged along – like it or not.

    Anyhoo…after a move in 1998, I felt very lost, weary and disconnected and the words that connected themselves were “My old life is gone and my new life hasn’t arrived yet”. It was a truly liminal space and I didnt like it at all. I think there is power in being honest to one’s self about how hard it is to completely restructure ones life.

  • When we had a pregnancy scare after 8 years of relationship and 4 years of living together he was LESS THAN thrilled.

    He’d always been a tad more casual than me about “eventually” having kids and I couldn’t make sense of his response.
    True, we had a renovation & relocation going on at the time, the house was going to be very small but it wasn’t supposed to be our forever home anyway. He mentioned that because of the space being small “abortion is something he would be considering”, should I be pregnant.

    I prayed that baby away, essentially. I did not end up pregnant, but I felt like it was sooooo close to happening.

    Years later I found out what he was up at EXACTLY that time junction. He was escalating cheating behavior quickly.
    It was, and still is, sickening.

    I gave this man my youth. Together 23-36 and no prospects in sight. I always knew not having children was a possibility for me, because of my own choices. But to have them robbed and taken away from you is an entirely different chapter.

    • Quetzal – “But to have them robbed and taken away from you is an entirely different chapter.”

      It really is. I personally don’t know of anyone IRL that had to make this choice and then ended up finding they were being fooled the whole time and that their chance at motherhood was stolen by someone who could care less, but I’m sure I’m not the only one.

      Society says we’re not supposed to speak of abortions, and especially I’m not supposed to grieve out loud since I walked into that clinic without a gun to my head. It’s hard.

      • I am so sorry he did that to you.

        My cheater-ex was cheating when I had my tubes tied. ‘We’ were done having children, and the OBGYN was in there anyways for a c-section, so I spared him a vasectomy. He encouraged it, despite knowing he had blown up the marriage but the pieces hadn’t landed on me yet. For years after d-day and divorce, I was bitter that he had robbed me of the potential for having more children with a second husband.

        That’s one of the many painful parts of infidelity. The loss of future possibilities.

        Now over ten years later, in his fifties, he has a new baby with the schmoopie. All I feel is sad for the poor kid, who is going to have a lifetime of people asking if that’s grandpa, and then lose dad at a young age, on top of being raised by selfish cheaters.

      • GTT, I’ve responded below with some links.

        Your grief IS worth grieving out loud.

        We disenfranchise abortion grief, and it’s so unhelpful.

    • “abortion is something he would be considering”

      The bald-faced, delusional arrogance of that statement pretty much says it all.

    • I really have a lot of compassion for Chumps who were manipulated out of parenthood by cheaters…its a rotten, selfish thing to do.

      My brother (in a manner of speaking) did that and I ws sick for his wife. He promised before their wedding that he agreed to one child but after marriage, he acted like a child (on this topic) to passively/aggressively discourage her from deciding to raise a child and him at the same time.

      At about the time her biological clock alarmed and kids were no longer an option, he had an affair.

      Oddly enough, they are together to this day and have found some common ground. She is very private and does not speak of her regrets or feelings.

      My Cheater was the opposite…he also acted like a whiny baby but around Dday, he harassed me for getting my tubes tied and said that if I were a decent wife, I would have given him more children. That day, I came up with one of my best responses to him:

      “How many children did you want to abandon me with ?”

      One typically crazy day, on our way to Church, he told me I was supposed to have 7 of them. Im rather glad that I didnt do that. I have 3 adult children who were traumatized by him.

  • The story we tell ourselves, is the story we live. Just as we told ourselves we had good marriages, faithful spouses. Or we could change spouse, help them understand. That was a story that helped us go on. After working with the elderly for years, I can assure you more then half, have no family help. Through death, indifference and a long list of other reasons. Depending on your personal preference ( extrovert/introvert) get a dog, join a group, help one person. Make a new story that suits you. I was lonely with my spouse. I have been alone since, but not lonely.

  • Dear GTT – that’s a lot of loss on so many levels to deal with. I lost both my parents by the time I was 25 and was estranged from my only brother for the past 30 years. (Although he has recently reached out.) My ex had a good size family whom I considered to be my family after 25 years of marriage. I quickly realized they were not capable of any meaningful relationship with me and would always choose their son first regardless of his infidelity or our kids. Things that helped me – talking to a therapist, talking to people who understood my situation (CL & other divorced woman). Raising and helping my kids.(Even if you feel like it’s too late for kids there are groups that need you.) My dog – honest to god would not have made it without him – long, long walks, snuggles and companionship. Friends that became family – especially with no family of my own. Zoom calls with friends far away. Expanding my hobbies like knitting with my knitting b’s – think kick ass women who eat, drink, knit. And yet, there are times I’m still lonely. I get it. I worry too about the future but I try to not stay there and remember all that I have. You are not along but living a life you never expected. It takes time. It can still be a good life just an unexpected twist in your story. xoxo

      • So I tried that one and it says that the group is private, is there a way to contact the moderator to join? I tried the link CL provided and it didn’t work…🤷🏼‍♂️

          • Yea still not working. 🤷🏼‍♂️. Signed in, says it can’t find the subreddit “chumpladynation”

            Oh well. Meet up groups it is.🤷🏼‍♂️

            • I finally got into reddit, but for some reason now I can’t. I have given up on it.

              For what it is worth, it was not real clear when I did get into reddit. It just all of a sudden popped up. I am not a total flake when it comes to technology, but for some reason that site just was not clear to me.

              I miss reading some of the folks experiences.

              • Follow the instructions and link that CL provides….it will allow you to message the mods of the private site.

            • Did you try getting the reddit app? Sometimes it only works properly if you have it. For what reason, I don’t know.

              I avoid reddit because it is a toxic place overall. It’s unfortunate that the CL groups are housed there and on FB, both places I loathe.

  • One of the hardest lessons I learned growing up is about blood related family. There is no guarantee you will like them, or love them, and visa versa. Some of my family was so toxic I chose to go low or no contact. I found that many “friends” were not true friends, too. I believe we are all alone in the world, and the burden is on us to socialize. We have values and boundaries, so this will be a task to search for quality, not quantity.

    I went on a trip with a woman who was once my sister in law, last week. She is older than I am, and we both have health issues. Even though I am sure we both get on each other’s nerves, because we are now used to living alone, and we have different interests and opinions, we still have enough in common to go on a trip together for a short time. I am looking for other travelers in my small group of friends. Even with our differences, I have a better time with them than I ever did with my FW Ex’s. Some people don’t like to travel. Some don’t like music. It’s ok. They still might like an occasional meal out, and might be willing to take you to get a medical procedure done. They may need a favor, too.

    Every social interaction takes effort, and has awkward moments. Being related by blood or marriage does not make it easier. It takes time to build a small group of friends — I believe some one in Chump Nation recently used a term, “circle of intimacy” that I really liked. Another described some friends as Road Friends along your Journey, as opposed to Lifetime Friends. What ever type of friend you make, enjoy them, and know your boundaries.

    You are not being punished, or denied by some malignant universe curse because you cannot fulfill your childhood dreams. Sometimes your dreams change. Accidents happen. Health issues happen. You have to adapt to whatever your reality is and do the best you can. Chump Nation all survived life with a lying cheater — and we are very diverse. We come here to seek counsel and wisdom, and support, and to know we are not alone. That is pretty great. Sometimes, we touch another member, and help them along their journey. That is pretty great, too. Have faith that you are worthy of love and respect, and you have purpose. You may have the perfect set of tools internally, and the ability to do something you never imagined. That gives you a great opportunity to do something a FOO may never have provided you. That is awesome!

  • Your post hit a nerve today — it’s four years and two days since I left my cheating, abusive ex-husband. Forgive me for not reading all of the responses — I’ve just gotten home after working a 12 hour overnight shift as a nurse.

    I’ve been divorced for two years. Like you, GTT, I didn’t have much of a family of origin. My parents and grandparents are dead, and while I have many cousins, my sister has poisoned that well. (She got caught sleeping with my then-husband, my first husband, and immediately went on the offensive, spreading egregious lies about me.). I remarried a dozen or so years later and already my family was distant and dwindling. So my new husband’s family — fifty-six cousin, 12 aunts and uncles and their spouses and four siblings — became my family. I loved them and believed that they — and he — loved me. Turns out I was wrong.

    Fuckwit and I sold my house, our cars and everything we owned to go off sailing on our 40 year old sailboat. I was on board with this; sailing around the world was my dream. Turns out his dream was to sit in marina bars and drink. And drink. And pick up women. (And to fuck my sister whenever he got the chance. I am not sure she fucked my second husband — he preferred Catholic clergy — but she did my first and my last.)

    Over the course of cruising down the east coast, FW became increasingly verbally and emotionally abusive, I uncovered levels of financial abuse I never could have imagined and, oh yes, he kept trying to arrange fatal boating accidents for me. I left with what I could carry and my dog. I was far from anyplace I had ever considered home. I had no house, no car, no job, no church, no community, no family and my closest friends were thousands of miles away. I rented a car and drove five states west before I felt safe enough to stop. So here I am in a Midwest city I had never aspired to visiting, much less making my home. On the up-side, my treacherous sister is two thousand miles away, and I hope never to see her again.

    I have one friend here, and she lives 41 miles away on a farm. She rarely comes into the city to visit me. I thought I’d make all kinds of new friends when I moved into the city in February 2020. (I can hear you all laughing now!). Fortunately, I get plenty of human contact as nurses are essential workers and we cannot work from home. But I’m also 66 years old and working full time overnight shifts because FW used marital funds to pay his sex workers and fund his affairs. I’d love to make some new friends — some non-Switzerland friends, that is. Although I’d already pruned away most of the Switzerland friends after my first two divorces.

    Any chumps in St. Louis?

  • Hi GTT,

    I feel all of that. While I don’t have the same Chump story and am a baby Chump (38) I’ve been alone 10 years so far, since D-Day. And if I’m honest, I was alone all the years before that too with various fuckwits.

    I understand that crushing loneliness. When I have to give medicine to my cats. When I fill out the emergency contact info. When I get wedding or baby shower invites. When I see happy couples posting all the time on Facebook, especially people I know who are flaming hot messes. When I make a pie and I can’t eat it all. (Ok, I freeze some or give half to my landlord, but you know what I mean). It feels liek someone is squeezing your heart to the point of exploding, but not quite. Cruel hurt that takes you to the brink.

    I do have a great small family, a few close friends in town, and at least pre-covid had a pretty active social life. But those things, while wonderful and fulfilling are not the same as a real loving partner, which many of us desire, and that I don’t feel there is a substitute for. And in a way, there’s not supposed to be. A real loving partner isn’t an appliance, though we were treated as such.

    But I keep the hope, do my best when I can. Dating about 5 years has been a joke, so that does get me down a lot, and I take breaks from it. But EVERY crappy day I have been alone, or single and trying to find someone, is better than any “best” day I have ever been in a relationship with any previous jerks.

    Sending hugs!

    • When I have that longing for a “real loving partner” I remind myself that’s what I wanted while I was married, too. Hoping for it from someone who would never become a “real loving partner” is the reason I stayed married for 35 years.

    • OMG E2theM –

      I so understand what you’re saying about being alone and needing to medicate your cats, or fill out a form with an “emergency contact” space.

      One time, about 3 years ago, I was at the supermarket and wanted to buy a roll to make a sandwich. They didn’t have single rolls. The smallest pack of rolls included SIX rolls. I had to leave the store because my eyes started leaking tears. Sometimes the world is just not fucking fair.

      • I can relate to this as well in many ways. I immediately break down crying whenever I have to list an emergency contact. My nearest family members live thousands of miles away. My cheater completely abandoned me and I was immediately replaced by a much younger (fertile) woman after all of my childbearing years had been squandered. Lately, while dining alone in public, I’ve tried to make myself feel less depressed about it when witnessing couples (and others) who are out together. Many of whom are still essentially solo being that their heads are constantly buried in their cell phones throughout their meal time. My own “company” consisting solely of me, myself, and I is possibly better than that.

        • My husband’s death has thrust me back into the lonely single world and I hate it. Not because being single is a bad thing but because having lost a genuine loving relationship in which I never felt lonely – the knowledge of what I lost makes it a lot harder to bare the loneliness. I am 31 weeks pregnant and I have had to remove him as my next of kin from everything to do with our child’s upcoming birth. I no longer buy things for a ‘family’ but for a single person. I am trying and failing to prep for a newborn baby where I will not have anyone in the house to help me – when only 8 weeks ago I had a loving husband that was so excited to be a daddy and was doing heaps of research so he could help.

          Knowing what I lost, I am terrified of a future alone. I anticipate soul-crushing loneliness. Not because I will not make an effort to make new ‘mom’ friends but because after having a genuine relationship, friendships are different and don’t/can’t fit the same role in your life. I have never felt more alone and learning to live with it is incredible painful but I have no choice. My counsellors tell me that the pain doesn’t leave but that my life will grow around it and I’ll be able to normalise the pain (a survival instinct that my brain will do automatically for me over time) and function around it. So, I hang onto that fact during my worst days. That my brain will want to protect me by starting to normalise the pain so I become less sensitive to it. I assume that we all have this protective instinct that will help us move forward and that is something to hold onto. Suffering has to lessen in time.

  • Oh, GTT. I don’t know how close you are to me, but know that you would be welcome at my table at any holiday that is typically reserved for “family”.

    A few more suggestions, among the excellent ones already offered:

    *Rotary Club – many cities have them
    *Toastmasters
    *Swing a hammer and get involved with Habit for Humanity
    *Big Brothers and Big Sisters
    *Join a choir if you like to sing
    *Divorce Recovery Groups are offered in many cities, usually affiliated with a church

    I know a gentleman who, upon the death of his wife, and with all his children in other states, decided he would host a pancake breakfast for all the widows/widowers in his church every month. It became quite the social event!

    There are others in your situation, who would probably enjoy meeting others with few or non-existant family members. It may fall on you to be the one to organize a group, to offer a meet up, to have a gift-exchange.

    In the meantime, your post reminds me to reach out to those I suspect are alone, and to give them a place to go at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • You seem like you might be the perfect candidate for a child in foster care looking for a mom. Maybe give it some thought. You have so much life experience, love, career success, etc. you could be the miracle a child needs in the world so they don’t feel so all alone.

  • Hi GTT, so sorry for your losses and heart ache. complete disruption in our social life is one of the hardest things to manage after DDay. Not only are we devastated from the revelation but family and friends are forced to deal with the changes and our grief too. I tried to maintain some connection with my ex’s family and they did too. But it became difficult for them when he brought a new woman into the picture (not OW). I joined different interest groups (hiking, book club, golf, pickle ball, wt loss group) and have developed some nice friendships through those while maintaining a couple close friendships even though a few of those are along ways away. It is the hardest thing to do to put yourself out there but worth the effort to have a couple friends to spend time with and go places with. Even a Saturday morning wt loss or other group that ends in Coffee after fills up time and helps develop new friendships. Church groups are also good places to find like minded people if that’s your interest. Good luck! Hugs!

  • Sadly, I can relate. Not only did my family pass while I was married, two of my three children were convinced that I am a horrible person for working on my emotional healing and boundaries after divorcing a narcissistic serial cheater. I refused to just pretend nothing happened or that his lies about me being controlling (you know for not letting him have his “friends” that he professed love to) was the real reason for the divorce. (I write and share my story to help others but they don’t see it that way.) Even after my ex repeatedly dated-married-cheated (after me), it’s only my youngest adult child who sees the truth. Still, the ex and his flying monkeys try to convince all my children that they should cut me out of their lives. Why? He and his family have money! Not only will I not buy love, I refused to be used by my children (they just wanted money, not a healthy relationship). That makes him a better parent?!?! Which means I spend holidays alone. I know I’m not alone!! You are not either. Stay strong!

  • Also, I would recommend finding a 12-step program that suits you. There are so many. Al-anon? CODA? Debtor’s Anonymous? Workaholics? Many many others, including of course, AA. In the 12-step rooms, you will hear people talking from the heart. (You don’t have to talk–don’t ‘have to’ do anything actually, but sit there and listen.) But if it’s the right group, you will find healing.

  • I think one of the extra punches divorce delivers it that if we feel lonely afterwards, it is constructed as somehow our fault. So much of our society implies we must have used bad judgment or been a terrible spouse or somehow ruined our own marriage, so we have no one to blame but ourselves for eating a holiday meal alone. (I have an acquaintance who once told me I was lucky to be divorced because at least I had the chance to screw up a marriage whereas she’d never even had a shot at it).

    This sense that we are to blame is, of course, a load of nonsense. Maybe it helps (and maybe it doesn’t) to remember that lots of people with kids or extended families are lonely too–and they feel bad about having relatives that don’t love or appreciate them much the same way that we feel bad for the absence of relatives or friends.

    I’ve learned some things from older female friends who live alone–virtually all due to divorce and none of them have kids. They’ve taught me, by example, to offer what they need. By this, I mean, they ask if I’d like them to accompany me to a health appointment. And I’ve realized this means they are opening the door for me to extend them the same offer. Their willingness to initiate generosity has made me braver about putting myself out there and showing my own vulnerability and admitting where I need help. And I’m learning to do better at offering companionship.

    I don’t think there is any real fix to loneliness. I think we are always in a constant state of social remodeling because people age, move away, develop different demands on their time, etc. You are in a building stage right now. I hope some of the experiences of this stage are pleasant surprises–and that they turn up when you most need them.

    • Cultivating a network, and reciprocating, taking your cue from what others offer, is SO important and so valuable. I am very grateful to a divorced friend who brought me into her network and showed me how it’s done.

  • “So. Family. Or lack of it. Are there other chumps who found themselves slow-motion alone after infidelity?”

    My situation is different than yours, but it struck a chord regardless.

    I moved country to be with my ex, and that was 18 years ago. I do have one child who’s now a teenager and I’m forever thankful for that, but everyone in my family is still in my home country. The funny thing about being an immigrant/expat is that you end up feeling like an alien everywhere. I don’t completely fit in here, and I don’t completely fit in my home country either. I miss my family and I’m extremely jealous of people who can see their extended family every time they wish. Furthermore my son is now 15, and in the next few years he will be leaving home. I did want more children but had miscarriages, and then my ex said he didn’t want anymore, only to go off and have one with OW within a few months of leaving. I often wonder what will it be of me once my son leaves home, and I’m filled with regrets at not being able to have more children. I’m 40 now, I don’t want to get remarried (I’m not even divorced yet) and I wouldn’t be able to afford to have a child by myself, so I think this boat has probably sailed for me.

    So, I do feel for you. And I don’t have an answer on how to make this better. In my case, while I cherish friendships, I find that they don’t quite fill those gaps. I hope you find peace somehow, and sending you big hugs.

    • Oh and to add, I’m still in a friendly relationship with his family. They are part of my son’s life so I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I know they have accepted OW with no particular issues, but I understand that he is their son/family and that’s the only thing they could do really. If my son cheated and behaved like my ex I would be disappointed and angry, but I wouldn’t be able to stop loving him, so yeah I get it. Either way they live in another part of the country and we never had daily contacts with them, so in this sense my life didn’t change that much.

  • Yes, I also have a very small family, only an aunt/uncle and a single sibling. My aunt has dementia and loves me fiercely, but it’s getting hard for her to remember what we talk about and whether she sent a birthday card or not. Of course, I just go with it, but I know that I’m gradually losing her. My sibling hasn’t been close in years and makes no effort. I call regularly but know there’s not much there. His health is very poor. So yes, I will be an orphan probably sooner rather than later.

    We did have two kids thankfully. When I told him I was pregnant with the second one, he had mixed feelings which horrified me. Turns out he felt displaced by the first one. I didn’t know what to say about that. I thought he’d be thrilled! Needless to say, I agreed when the topic of closing out childbearing came up. He was largely absorbed with work for many years while I largely parented solo. That also strained our marriage, and he took off some months into retirement and later initiated the divorce process. At that point, he had so very much contempt for me and believed that he was the key to my mental health, which of course was manipulation and control. Our two young adults refuse to have anything to do with him, and thankfully we have a good relationship.

    But yes, we lost his entire family. They tore apart every aspect of our marriage as a group during separation and found me wanting. He convinced them that I was crazy and abusive when the opposite was actually true. After he announced that he wasn’t coming back, our mutual therapist shared with me that she had formally diagnosed him with aspects of narcissism and borderline personality disorder. Bit-by-bit, I realized how he had manipulated his image with his family to keep them on his side. I saw no possibility of convincing them otherwise, so I gave up.

    So we go on as a very small family. I put in a lot of work to find connections in the community and thankfully have a wide circle of new-ish friends. I help with a divorce group through my attorney’s firm and have met some lovely people there who are very open and caring. I’m involved in a very healthy twelve-step group (some are not healthy) and have friends through that. My kids have their own friends and activities, but both have chosen to remain in the area so we are close.

    It was hard getting there, but it is good.

  • GTT, I take it that dating is off your radar?

    I dated online and found a lovely fellow, his family are SANE, normal people. It is very refreshing to not be around people who are competative or have secret agendas. I did have to meet about 20 men to find one that was compatible. But that was not a problem for me. To online date you have to be up for rejection though. I realize I am not every man’s cup of tea, nor are they mine.

    Taking on a new part time job can also be a way to socialize. As is volunteering as CL says. I volunteered for several years at a thrift store that helps to fund a homeless shelter, met many lovely people and I enjoyed the volunteer events. I also did some travel with singles groups ( through MeetUp) and have met some very like minded friends in that way. Fostering a school age child would also be a wonderful thing if you are so inclined.

    The holidays are just days. The older a person gets the more over-rated they seem!

    • Hey Mitz –

      No, dating is on my radar. Since my divorce, I’ve been seriously involved once, but that one didn’t work out. Otherwise, it’s been mostly just a few dates here and there. I’m pretty picky and guarded. Hmmmm I wonder why. 😉

  • I have my parents, and one family I am close with and that’s about it. The ex-in-laws went from saying I would always be family no matter what, to I was the worst person on earth once they found out my wife had a double life of cheating, stealing, and lying. Surely I was the reason and I must have done something terrible to make her do such a thing. Not sure how I end up the bad person but didn’t need them anyway. 99% of our friends want to be friends with both of us but I don’t give them the choice. I do feel lonely a good part of the time but I have an awesome dog that really helps out.

  • For those of you who are considering volunteering, check out Global Volunteers. They have programs in the US and abroad. I have done four different programs with them: three in Poland, just Outside of Warsaw and one in Peru. You can serve 1 to 3 weeks or more. There is a fee but that plus your airfare is tax deductible. Plus meet great people also from the US who are on your team. You learn about a country and its culture. And the weekends before tween your teaching assignments you can go to different places. This last summer I went to Warsaw all by myself, stayed in a really nice hotel and had some lovely meals. It’s a way to empower yourself, to gain confidence and to meet new friends. The organization was in fact started by a former Peace Corp volunteer. It’s a most wonderful experience and changes you. I highly recommend it. They have programs in many places. Thank you, Donna

  • Here’s a resource which is pretty comprehensive, but its real value is a reminder that many. many women will find themselves alone. I hope professionals who serve seniors will understand.

    https://www.amazon.com/Who-Will-Take-Care-When/dp/0738219630

    I have lived in my community for almost 50 years and have old and new friends. I am not estranged from my siblings, but am separated geographically and, in one case, politically. I have no children. I was the most involved caregiver for older famly members.

    I am newly retired and suspect that the acqaintances I make going forward will never create the bonds I had with co-workers. I feel cautious about intruding on other’s family time.

    I do not want to date, but would love to create a new “tribe”. Hard during covid.

  • Yes! me too. I’m older–enough older that I’m what is called an “elder orphan”. While I do have a lovely and marvelous adult kid,she lives overseas. I have tons of serious health mishegas etc., and it would be amazing to have some sane family around. … when the FW torpedoes the life of a family, so much gets broken. Not just the intimate pair, but circles and circles around. I wish people understood this more.

  • I have a friend who is a foster parent and tells me how badly foster parents are needed in the system. I just looked it up and in the US there are over 400,000 foster children in care. If you don’t want to do it full-time you can do respite care which means maybe a weekend here or there for a week or two if the foster family wants to take a trip out of the state. There are many things that foster kids need. Look it up.
    Join a book club. In mine there are marrieds, widowed and divorced. I have made great friends there. We all say how much we appreciate the kindnesses we show each other.
    If you are able join a hiking club. Find out if there is a walking group nearby.
    If you are religious and don’t feel comfortable where you worship then find a place where you do. Fellowship is the primary reason people stay at their place of worship.
    My brother was the Chump and two best friends from childhood were his rocks. Hang on to loyal ones. They will help you heal. You don’t need a group. You just need commitment and understanding.

  • I’m an elder chump as well. Investing in my ex’s family holidays and life events was mighty on my part. Being vulnerable (with boundaries), is how we ALL truly connect with each other. The ripples of disconnect have already begun though. My ex’s neice has called me multiple times. She is horrified about his secret life, has not called him, doesn’t know what to say. I’m actively avoiding my in-laws a few blocks away. His brother asked me early in our separation for my engagement ring, as it was his grandmother’s. Beyond understanding when family acts like that. Too early to really see who will remain close. Leaning on close friends and a supportive younger sister, as all my immediate family members are gone. I too was caretaker of older members in my family of origin. It’s so true that unless you’ve experienced long term betrayal in a marriage, most other folks haven’t a clue to the gut wrenching pain involved. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. It absolutely helps me feel less alone.

  • I am number 7 of a family of 7 kids, but 2 died in childhood so I grew up in what was a very poor but loving home with 5 kids. X years later and my oldest brother died 2 years ago and we have finally accepted our estrangement from our sister in another country, simply because she is a narc. There were never any arguments. We were always totally there for each other, but at this stage in my life I’ve come to accept that you just can’t have some people in your lives even if they are blood relatives. I have 2 sons and a violent AH ex-husband. While I got on with my oldest son I always felt he “sided” with AH because AH would always burst into tears after kicking the shit out of me! BUT oldest son got blind-sided 18 months ago by his own wife, who he loved, who basically wanted a trial separation so she could F around. So guess who was there for him? His younger brother and me. AH always talked the good talk but really that meant “don’t ask me for anything”. And I FINALLY got my oldest son back after thinking I’d lost him for so many years. But in the meantime, I took myself off on solos-groups holidays (12 so far – I’m 63) and I LOVE them. Oh there are always the jerks that no-one wants to sit with but I’ve made 3 very good friends on those trips. Two of the guys are sadly now dead, but Carol, who I met in Sicily on my 60th birthday, will be coming out to see me here in France as soon as this damn pandemic dies its natural course! There’s always hope hon – please put yourself out there ‘cos you won’t regret it!

  • I looked after my parents till they died when I was 26. The ex was an only child. Narcissistic in laws. The first year kids spent Christmas day with their father, I was left on my own sitting on the beach – never been so alone. I will never forget how I felt that day, I went from Christmas being the biggest day of the year …..to nothing. 9 years down the track and it is still a battle, friendships form but not family or life long so not as strong. Feeling old and sad, he has new good looking wife, family, career and most of my family money. Where is the justice or Karma?
    I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I look after my disabled son. I make TODAY the best day possible
    CN has kept me going

  • GTT, thank you so much for being so honest about your loneliness and your really difficult experiences.

    I do some work with women with post abortion grief. It’s a real phenomenon, although it doesn’t happen to everyone.

    It’s more likely to happen when there’s been coercion – and it sounds like what happened to you was coercion.

    I’ll post some resources that might help? Your grief and loss are real, and worth honouring.

    https://ct.counseling.org/2018/04/when-post-abortion-emotions-need-unpacking/

    https://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-abortion-healing-unspoken-loss/

  • So a month ago, I was listening to a great parenting podcast, Ask Lisa, and this particular episode was about helping kids coming out of the social isolation that has been Covid make friends again. As an adult rebuilding my social circle post-divorce, it was still relatable! The main take away was, just keep putting the kid (or yourself) in situations to meet people. For kids, it was obvious things like scouts, sports, after-school clubs, etc., but as an adult, I will echo CL’s advice to keep doing the meetups! Or volunteering! The difference between no friends and 1 solid friend was huge, according to Dr. Lisa intends of social development. Here is the link for anyone interested in the podcast:

    https://anchor.fm/asklisa/episodes/41-How-Do-I-Help-My-Kid-Find-Friends-Again-e11g3v9/a-a5lqb8r

    Also, GTT, do you have a band or music genre you are particularly fond of? A lot of groups sponsor “cruises” for fans of that artist or genre. There’s probably other cruises for other interests. I’ve watched one family member find a great tribe of people after going on the same cruise, year after year for a few years now. If you have the means and vacation time as cruises start to sail again, maybe check one out!

  • GTT – I feel you. Like many here, my friends and family have shrunk, and I have very little community as a result of my divorce and relocation.

    I just wanted to chime in with a recommendation, if you’re interested and have the time. Before my divorce, I volunteered as a CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate (or Guardian Ad Litem in some parts of the US – maybe in the UK as well).

    Basically what you do is advocate for abused and neglected children in court. You are trained in how to do this, and you join a group of like-minded people who are amazingly empathetic and who become fast friends. You often work on the same cases, in addition to training together, so you have many opportunities to develop relationships with some of the kindest people ever born.

    The real bonus is that you also get to forge relationships with kids of all ages who need and love you. More often than not, you find yourself building relationships with their family members, as well as their foster parents,
    social workers and lawyers too. It’s truly an entire hidden community of quality people (although, as in everything, there are some exceptions).

    Sometimes it gets intense, but it was the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done; I made lifelong friends – and a real difference. You’d be surprised at how many people’s lives you touch and how many new people become an integral part of your world. As soon as I retire, I’m going to do it again without hesitation. It’s *that* amazing.

    Plus, family courts desperately need good souls to help them determine what’s truly in the children’s best interest.

    • Oh, and you may just find yourself with some children after all, since you’ll tend to stay in touch with each other.

  • GTT,
    So many many similarities. SO many similar feelings. And this week has exacerbated the feelings. I had paragraphs and paragraphs typed here about my story and how, after being from a family with 4 siblings and all their offspring and married 20 years to WASband who was also one of 5 with a large family, i am virtually alone. But I have deleted the paragraphs of my story. So much loss. Grief is huge and repeated and all encompassing.

    I am 56 and I do wonder who will be there when I need help? Who will administer my estate (my father who was not a great dad died earlier this year and I am neck deep in administering his estate). WASband, from who I have been divorced coming up on 3 years in January died from COVID a couple months ago (and he was a DOCTOR for criminey’s sake and unvaxed) and that has dragged me back into the orbit of him, his family. His actions have helped firmly and forever cause estrangements in my own family. I shared details of his decisions that caused our divorce with his sister about a year after our divorce and have never heard from her again. We had no children. It’s just a LOT. And there are days I feel TOTALLY alone. I have activities, I have some really great friends, I have a job I love. I volunteer and foster rescue pups who have saved my life the past couple years. I have the means to travel and experience new places but not a lot of people to go with.
    If you are anywhere near me (I live in the midwest) I would take you to a colonoscopy! I am fun and loyal and my stock trades high in many many ways. But some days it’s just so hard. I think I need to get back into counseling and continue to process the repeated and disenfranchised grief I have experienced. All this to say you are NOT alone!!! Reach out if you want to talk or if you are close enough for coffee!!

    • I am in the Midwest also. (Wisconsin). I have the means and would love to travel after I retire early next year. But cringe at the thought of traveling alone. The few friends I have, I met at Line Dancing and are 20 years older.

  • This is the CL letter which has most closely touched on an issue which I thought would be unbearable, but now seems almost “meh”.

    How will I know when my ex-husband of 30 years dies, since I am not in touch with his family. I guess I’ll need to know for social security.

  • I’m in North Carolina; if I was closer, I’d definitely reach out. I’m 56 too. I didn’t lose much on FW’s side, since most of them are shallow and distant. The apple didn’t fall far – he just made a good show of convincing me otherwise until I was locked in to marriage with him.

    Anyhow, I’m not worried about being alone, and I don’t think you have reason to be either. I think none of us would be alone if we could find people near us who truly understood our grief and rage. It can be difficult to relate to people who haven’t been through this trauma, especially when we’re still processing it. Nobody gets this emotional carousel if they haven’t been on it, and it’s hard enough to deal with that lack of understanding from friends and family, never mind strangers. Plus, I peraonally feel the need to protect myself from being too vulnerable and trusting at this point. I don’t feel easy putting myself “out there” right now, no matter how lonely I get. But I know these feelings will change, and when it feels less scary, I’ll find a new “family of friends” to play with.

    My mom is 84 and has lived alone for over 30 years. Her real family lives in Canada, and she’s too feisty to depend on me, her only child. In many ways, she’s a model for how to live alone without being alone. I see how happy she is – so much more than she ever was with my father – and know that I will build a new circle and be happy again too.

    I think, for her, living in a townhouse, going to church every week, sitting out on her porch, and striking up conversations with anyone who passes her way, has been key. Plus, she’s always baking apple pies and bread for her neighbors. How could anyone resist?!

    But she wasn’t always this way. I remember a time when she chain-smoked in a dark room, by herself for hours. She didn’t eat, let alone bake. She stayed like this for a very, very long time. After she left my dad, it took years before she reached out and began enjoying herself again.

    It’s a process, and it needs to be respected. When we reach the stage where we’re ready to forge new bonds, we’ll naturally go make it happen. Maybe aloneness needs to be fostered and enjoyed before anything else can happen, even a simple friendship. It reminds me of the soil in a garden that’s been growing crop after crop for several seasons. It gets thin and depleted. Nothing can grow in it until it’s been rested and replenished. Maybe this is the course of things. Maybe so many of us feel alone because we need to replenish ourselves before we try to grow new relationships.

  • Chumpqueen – yes. Its a fallow season indeed. I was nearly destroyed by the latter years of marriage and exhausted with all the heavy lifting I’d done for so much of that 25 years. Five years on from leaving I’ve processed grief and FOO issues. All of which take their additional toll.

    So I’m at peace with being a fallow field, resting from toil with a quiet life and very small social circle. Not doing, just being. The next chapter will form in due time either when it drops into my lap unexpectedly or when I’m ready to go and seek it.

    Acceptance can be part of the answer to loneliness.

    • NewChump, you’ve summed up my current life perfectly. 26 years, and I carried a huge load in the marriage for the last 10 years, when the discard started. Working on FOO issues in twice weekly therapy plus 2 paid roles and 2 volunteer roles. 2 years out I am exhausted but in a much more peaceful way. Taking stock. Making a few joyful plans. My current and next relationship is with myself. No children, little in the way of meaningful connection with mother and sister, no connection with brother, a few close friends. Whenever I find myself ruminating on the ex, on what went wrong, I turn those ruminations to what I am going to invest in me.

  • I just created an account on Reddit, tried to navigate to “ChumpLadyNation” repeatedly, and clicking on it gets me to *only* this message, over and over :

    “The moderators of r/ChumpLadyNation have set this community as private. Only approved members can view and take part in its discussions.

    Go Back!”

    … The last several times I tried it, about 3 times out of 5, I saw a *flash* of a screen with the “join” button visible, but the page *immediately* continued on to the page with the above message.

    So… Like others, I am unable to join the reddit group 🙁

    I have a potential suggestion?

    Facebook is rife with privacy issues.
    Reddit is rife with privacy issues.
    Discord *is not*. At least, not in my opinion, compared to the other two.

    Discord is easy to gain access to : it’s free, you just need to provide an email address and a password to log into it – you can access it via your browser or through its own app, your choice. It works on both computers and cell phones. And it’s relatively easy to set up a private “invitation only” type group.

    Discord has I am sure, *thousands* of groups in it. It was originally created with one group for each online game that cared to set up a place for its players to communicate – but anybody can learn how to set up a group, make it private, etc.

    As a leader in one game, I set up such a group for my team, and subsequently set up multiple private groups for other subsets of people, including one for all the players of our game, as well as a number of private two-person groups for just me and various other friends for private chats, and even a private group just for *myself*, which I can use as a sort of diary for thoughts I don’t want anyone to be able to find, at all, at any time, ever. Phone calling and video conferencing can also be enabled.

    A group can be a single place to log in to, like the comments here, or a group can have multiple sub-channels to choose from – For example, once you logged into the group, you could see a choice of multiple channels – all private to the group …for example, there could be one channel that allowed video-conferencing, one that allowed phone calls, one channel for ongoing daily chatter, one channel for people specifically needing cheering up, one channel for listing songs and actions that are empowering, one channel for columns we’d like to see, one channel for recommended outside resources, one channel for therapists we think are good across the country (world?), one channel for suggestions (like requests for additional channels), there could be channels for those in regions close to each other, you can post photos, and gifs, and choose your own avatar. etc. etc. etc. There could be “off-topic” channels like one just for pet photos, and another just for nature photos (those were two of the more popular channels I set up in what was ostensibly our game focused group), or a channel just for encouraging words/memes/gifs (another extremely popular channel in the world I set up), or a channel for sharing recipes, or you-name-it. Any members have the option of requesting one-on-one chat contact with any other member, which the other member can accept or decline (or accept and later decline) such that they have their own private chat world. And a subset of members could set up their own private discord group outside the main channel, if they wished (I could explain how, or set it up and back out if it for you), or within the main channel (just ask the administrator to create a new channel, although I feel all channels inside the Chump Nation should be open to all, but that’s a group decision).

    I have the experience to set this up for us. The person who creates the channel (and sub-channels) is the administrator, and has godlike powers, however, that person can assign one or multiple other equally powerful administrators, and also then “step down” so to speak.

    I don’t know if Tracy will see this, but (hi, Tracy?), if she would like,
    1) I could set all of this up,
    2) and create a sort of introductory tutorial for everybody so they could navigate the screen layout easily,
    3) and set things up with a sort of “airlock” where *anybody* could join, at which point an administrator could then give approved people privileges to join the rest of the channels
    4) and I could train Tracy how to do all of this, or build on this, or modify any of this, if she’d like to be the only one in charge, or I could train any one or more of you guys to take over, and either step down, or continue to assist. Either way, I would be happy to be an ongoing resource for the environment.

    Here is an article specifically about how private and secure discord is or isn’t. The comments are also worth reading.

    https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/discord/

    P.S. – if you research discord you will likely see a lot of references to cyberbullying occurring there. This is because, again, most of the initial users were teenage-and-younger game players, and anybody who signed up to play a game could automatically join that game’s discord group. The character of a group is of course comprised of its members. The administrator has ultimate control to kick a troublemaker out, and to define the standards of politeness and interaction acceptable for the group. I can’t imagine for one picosecond, that any member of Chump Nation whatsoever, would need such a warning, or dream of violating the expected courtesy for Chump Nation, so I cannot imagine there would ever be cyberbullying inside a discord group of our own. However, if it’s a concern, if such a thing happened (unlike the ChumpLady comments section), that person could be banned.

    I hope this offer doesn’t show up so late I’m the day that nobody sees it :-/

    • Hm. I’m not sure what happened above to my post, but what *I* am seeing us a line through the middle of all of the words in the second half of it. I don’t know if that is some kind of accidental formatting I invoked, or that means the post was too long and it wasn’t even published for anyone else to see.

      In case nobody can see the part I am seeing as crossed out, or if you just want to read it more easily, here’s the second half of my post (hope THIS shows up okay!):

      ++++++

      … (just ask the administrator to create a new channel, although I feel all channels inside the Chump Nation should be open to all, but that’s a group decision).

      I have the experience to set this up for us. The person who creates the channel (and sub-channels) is the administrator, and has godlike powers, however, that person can assign one or multiple other equally powerful administrators, and also then “step down” so to speak.

      I don’t know if Tracy will see this, but (hi, Tracy?), if she would like,
      1) I could set all of this up,
      2) and create a sort of introductory tutorial for everybody so they could navigate the screen layout easily,
      3) and set things up with a sort of “airlock” where *anybody* could join, at which point an administrator could then give approved people privileges to join the rest of the channels
      4) and I could train Tracy how to do all of this, or build on this, or modify any of this, if she’d like to be the only one in charge, or I could train any one or more of you guys to take over, and either step down, or continue to assist. Either way, I would be happy to be an ongoing resource for the environment.

      Here is an article specifically about how private and secure discord is or isn’t. The comments are also worth reading.

      https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/discord/

      P.S. – if you research discord you will likely see a lot of references to cyberbullying occurring there. This is because, again, most of the initial users were teenage-and-younger game players, and anybody who signed up to play a game could automatically join that game’s discord group. The character of a group is of course comprised of its members. The administrator has ultimate control to kick a troublemaker out, and to define the standards of politeness and interaction acceptable for the group. I can’t imagine for one picosecond, that any member of Chump Nation whatsoever, would need such a warning, or dream of violating the expected courtesy for Chump Nation, so I cannot imagine there would ever be cyberbullying inside a discord group of our own. However, if it’s a concern, if such a thing happened (unlike the ChumpLady comments section), that person could be banned.

  • Wow. It did it again. Sorry. I think it didn’t like me using a certain kind of bracket as an inner parentheses. Once more, with feeling, then I’ll quit posting.

    +++++

    … (just ask (one of) the administrator(s) to create a new channel, although I feel all channels inside the Chump Nation should be open to all, but that’s a group decision).

    I have the experience to set this up for us. The person who creates the channel (and sub-channels) is the administrator, and has godlike powers, however, that person can assign one or multiple other equally powerful administrators, and also then “step down” so to speak.

    I don’t know if Tracy will see this, but (hi, Tracy?), if she would like,
    1) I could set all of this up,
    2) and create a sort of introductory tutorial for everybody so they could navigate the screen layout easily,
    3) and set things up with a sort of “airlock” where *anybody* could join, at which point an administrator could then give approved people privileges to join the rest of the channels
    4) and I could train Tracy how to do all of this, or build on this, or modify any of this, if she’d like to be the only one in charge, or I could train any one or more of you guys to take over, and either step down, or continue to assist. Either way, I would be happy to be an ongoing resource for the environment.

    Here is an article specifically about how private and secure discord is or isn’t. The comments are also worth reading.

    https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/discord/

    P.S. – if you research discord you will likely see a lot of references to cyberbullying occurring there. This is because, again, most of the initial users were teenage-and-younger game players, and anybody who signed up to play a game could automatically join that game’s discord group. The character of a group is of course comprised of its members. The administrator has ultimate control to kick a troublemaker out, and to define the standards of politeness and interaction acceptable for the group. I can’t imagine for one picosecond, that any member of Chump Nation whatsoever, would need such a warning, or dream of violating the expected courtesy for Chump Nation, so I cannot imagine there would ever be cyberbullying inside a discord group of our own. However, if it’s a concern, if such a thing happened (unlike the ChumpLady comments section), that person could be banned.

  • I can definitely relate to the OP. I’m in my mid 50’s and an only child. My parents have passed away, and all I have are a few cousins with whom I have a distant relationship. STBX is one of five kids, and has a big family with lots of cousins. I loved being part of that, and definitely miss that more than him. Although they are cordial when I see them (which is rare), none of them have reached out to me to see how I’m doing. I had to move out of the marital home during Covid, so have met very few of my new neighbors. I do have two kids, but they’re young adults and busy doing their own thing, and I don’t want to dump my angst and loneliness on them. So yeah, the lonely chumps are out here., and we feel your pain.

    • Childless by cheater is a biiiiiiiiiig part of my own journey. Please check out http://www.gateway-women.com. Connecting with other Childless Not By Choice women has been a life saver for me. Bright blessings my sister, in the club that no-one wanted to join, but I swear there is life on the other side of this experience. xxxx

  • If you want to be a foster parent – do it, but remember that the goal is family reunification – NOT becoming the child’s parent.

    “There are so many kids in this country languishing in foster care who want homes.”

    The people who run and are employed by foster care agencies very much DO NOT WANT people who are looking to adopt to be foster parents. They view these individuals as wastes of their time and resources – if you are looking to adopt, do not even THINK that being a foster parent is a shortcut. Also, they often deliberately prioritize people who have already had or have children of their own over those who haven’t.

    All of which sucks.

  • GiveTimeTime, your letter speaks more to my current situation than any I’ve read here. I left, I’m NC, I’m over Switzerland and the flying monkeys, I have a whole new life. I dealt with all of that. However, I’m incredibly alone. Not just figuratively, but literally, and there’s no end in sight. All that effort… for this. It’s a bit of a letdown.

    Like you and every other unintentionally “childless by cheater” chump, I’ve of course considered options like adoption, fostering, freezing eggs, potentially becoming a step parent. I volunteer, I work with kids every day, I’m a doting auntie. I exercise, I eat well, I reach out to friends and family, I’m in therapy, I have hobbies. I know that life without children can be incredibly fulfilling, and I feel thankful for a great deal. I am privileged and lucky in many ways. And I am barely holding on.

    Your chump name – literally – is what keeps me holding on. I’m just going to keep faking it till I make it. I’m hoping there will be joy and comfort in life again on the other side of all this, even if I can’t imagine it now. I know it’s possible from what I read here. In the meantime, I repeat to myself, “give time time.” So thanks for the mantra.

    I also think there is something to the advice here about finding a support group, even within CN. Like the chumps dealing with fuckwit coparenting, etc., need people who can truly understand and relate, so do we. (I.e., “yes, [well intentioned friend/family member], I HAVE considered adoption but the financial and emotional strain, my age and the prospect of being a single parent from the start don’t make it an appealing or even viable option at the moment.) I don’t expect easy answers, or for anyone to fix the situation, but I also know this stuff isn’t trivial. No one can change what happened or tell me it doesn’t matter (as much as I wish I could feel that way). I also know it’s just life and part of being human, and many have it worse. And, it will probably always be painful and in some way present, like all major losses.

    Hugs. I hear you and wish I knew how to fix it! You know who you are, and you know what to do. Trust yourself.

    • Yeh over in GWW we have a name for these type of comments. We call them ‘bingos’. Have you ever considered……….. (adoption/fostering/ivf/reiki/having a one night stand/trandencental meditation with elves). To which the answer is a tired “yes go away”! No disrespect to well meaning chumps because this is a common blindspot in the world. There are quite a few groups for us childless not by choice now. Just Google!

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