I have been following chump lady for two years now and more than anything else your book helped me recover from the ending of my marriage. I was hoping to reach out to share my story and get your advice
My ex husband abruptly left for his much younger co-worker during the most challenging year of my professional and personal life, just as we began talking about having a family/planning for children.
Like a true sociopath, his AP tried to befriend me before I found out and I found out through a co worker, he adamently denied cheating to my face on his way out the door where he claimed he was ‘missing something ephemeral’). He immediately moved in with her, and the two of them posted photos on social media including our wedding gifts as soon as their secret was revealed.
He left me (a budding infectious disease doctor at the start of my career) right at the beginning of the pandemic. I took on 2020 terrified, alone, isolated from friends and family, and responsible for more lives than I could count. I cried in the bathroom in between seeing patients for months. A few months prior I was picking out baby names and had no idea there was anything wrong with my marriage…. On top of that, he had recently been accepting money from my parents to help us “start our family”. Needless to say, I survived the worst heartache and shock one could possibly imagine. We got Zoom divorced while he was on vacation with his affair partner’s family …. I never heard from him again.
My family and friends took my side and I distanced myself from those who wanted to remain neutral. Of note during our divorce, he told me he would pay my parents back (since it was a gift he wasn’t legally obliged) but never did… And now, it is two years later and in many ways I have moved on. I picked up new hobbies, devoted so much time to therapy/emotional work, my health, got an amazing new job, etc. I met someone new …. I am healthier than I have ever been and while I feel bitter about the financial exploitation, I am otherwise no longer preoccupied with the feelings of sadness, hurt, and confusion.
In short, I hardly think of him at all during the day… but I dream about him many nights. In my dreams I am pleading with him to hear me out, yelling at him for abandoning me, or I am running away from him because he shows up at a social function and I am terrified to run in to him, or he is just a mundane character who happens to be in the dream. I have dreams my current boyfriend and he have become best friends.
I am not someone who reads much into dreams but its really starting to bother me. How is it that I can be so moved on and healed and yet haunted almost every night by a man who probably hasn’t thought of me once since the moment he left?
I would love to know if you have any insights, personal experiences, or have others reached out to you with experiences with this… Will the nightmares stop?
What you’re experiencing is totally normal. In fact, it’s probably because you’ve moved on so well, so quickly, from this massive trauma that you’re getting nightmares now that you’re safe. The brain is weird that way.
And it’s probably no coincidence that now that you’re in a new relationship trying to establish trust, you’ve got some night terrors. Vulnerability is scary, especially after the shit you’ve been through.
FWIW, I still get the occasional nightmare. And it’s completely random. Maybe it’s an undigested bit of crumpet. Dunno. But the theme is my ex is trying to kill me. He lives next door. He’s some lurking presence in what should be a safe place. I’m being chased. Each avenue for escape is full of ridiculous obstacles. (Does anyone else have airport dreams where you cannot get on the plane? Is passport control an entire genus of nightmare?)
When I was going through my actual nightmare, I didn’t get nightmares. I was probably too overwhelmed with everything else and living on pure adrenalin to do REM sleep. But funny thing, years out, when I was first married to Mr. CL — THEN I got nightmares.
Similar to your New Safe Guy situation. It’s like your brain signals the All Clear and starts to process.
As much as I’m about meh and gaining a life, I recognize that healing from trauma is a lifelong thing. It’s a scar. Sometimes it flares up, like an arthritic knee in winter. You can have an improved new life AND you may still carry a few nightmares into it. It’s okay.
Remind yourself that you survived. A pandemic AND a fraud. Your mightiness is real. Your nightmare is just a dream now.