Managing the Feelings

I hear from so many throw-aways about, and felt myself, the crushing depression and humiliation in the aftermath of discovering my ex’s affair and subsequently being thrown away.  There’s a documentable progression through this horror, and it’s not like any timeline you’ve been used to.  It’s longer.  A LOT longer.  People who have come through the valley cite ten years.  TEN. And the first one will be a year of shock and terror.

Women like us have had upsets in our lives, of course, and we’ve worked through and past them, sometimes without missing a beat.  But this one, this experience of being thrown away in mid-life, is not like anything we have EVER experienced.  The hurt is worse because it’s dissolved in humiliation, and without a doubt the largest component is horror.  Yes, I said horror, and trauma.  We experience trauma of the sort that has physical ramifications and which effects our emotions and psyches in what is called post-traumatic stress.  There are MIRIAD signs and symptoms of PTS and EVERYBODY misses them.  Instead they blame you for not “moving on” and “getting over it” and I mean they do this while you are still in shock.  Amazing.

We are facing the end our our productive years in terms of earning ability and we planned for that eventuality with our partner, our husband, as the other half of the earning team.  That was the deal: Until death do us part.  But in this case, without fail, husbands do everything in their power to NOT contribute to the financial well being of the wife, even though adultery is involved almost always, and even when the law sets out rules for equitable distribution of assets.  In my case my ex worked very hard to funnel money out of the accounts, to deplete my assets, I think in an effort to make me unable to afford legal representation.  It didn’t work completely, but it did to some extent.

But these excuses for husbands are experiencing their own mid life crisis.  Trouble is, these guys take it out on the one person who has been in their corner for YEARS.  Unfortunately this type of guy always blames his angst on the one closest to him…because he can’t take responsibility for his own actions or feelings…on his wife.  He justifies throwing her away because he doesn’t FEEL good anymore (this is a cycle by the way) and he blames it on her; oh, and this is the reason for his affair:  It’s all HER fault.  Please. I call this the S**thead syndrome: Dishonest, stunning lack of integrity, narcissistic, chronically unfaithful, fiscally irresponsible, charming, master manipulators, passive aggressive, unable to take responsibility for their own lives, controlling, completely comfortable slandering their wife. I’m sure psychiatrists have a better “syndrome” word for it in their world but in my world and in the world of other throw-aways, my word works just fine.

What happens, then, is that a once-productive member of society (the WIFE) is now facing poverty, and these women, folks, have not been in that situation before.  We were productive and industrious, usually financially well off and disciplined…which was why we were targeted in the first place. In other words, we are the opposite of the syndrome I so colorfully coined and the absolute perfect match for a loser: we provided stability and money.

Our feelings… go completely awry.  We live in a  cocktail of depression, sadness, fear, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment and a feeling of being chronically lost.  We feel unloved, we ARE misunderstood and we feel that, we feel as though we are falling with no bottom in sight, we feel scared out of our mind, and we feel as though we do not fit in ANYWHERE…primarily because we don’t.   And people tell us to smile.  I shake my head at the insensitiveness and disconnectedness.

But what we women MUST understand is this:  We CANNOT sit down and slump into the darkness.  It is IMPERATIVE that we take steps every single day no matter HOW bad we feel.  We must work, we must exercise, we must connect with people…yes even the insensitive ones, and we must keep moving forward.  Listen, people will think you are okay when they see you doing normal things.  They won’t know you’re a zombie, because they don’t pay attention and they don’t care.  But the important one is YOU, DOING something, anything.  Every step, every single one, is a success you need.

Listen, I would say 99 percent of the thrown away women I have met have done this: They have moved forward.  But there are those who sit down and wail and moan and spin around in circles with temper tantrums and never take one step forward.  These women sink into their circumstance and wiggle into it, making it fit better.  And they stay there, learning the nuances of their behavior so it becomes natural.  It becomes their ‘normal’.  And they start accumulating worker bees to carry their slime, because incessant whining is slime, and to listen to their constant complaints instead of having them watch their inch-wise progress.  Yep, inch-wise; that’s how it is.  But that’s okay.  It is still progress.  Whiners don’t want progress.  But the worker bees end up getting stuck right there, enabling people who do not want to get well.

Girls, you can’t do this.  Get up and just take ONE STEP.  Because if you do not, the people who DO care about you, the precious few, will get it that you do NOT want to get well.  Yes, I said that.  If you don’t WANT to get well, that message will come through loudly and clearly.  I KNOW what it looks like when someone wants to get back on track:  I look in the mirror.  We who are in this valley ahead of you or beside you cannot stop our forward progress while you become addicted to victimization.  If we do, we will never see the end of the valley, feel the sunshine again.  And you have no right to expect that either.  Our sunshine was stolen from us, just as yours was, but we INTEND to get it back.   Yeah, it will be fractured and dimmer and cooler, but by God we will get it back.

Yes, you will be lost and afraid.  But you can still stand up and take one step forward.  Even if it seems like you can’t, YOU CAN.  Don’t even think about telling me you can’t; I know better.  I know.  Probably, every relationship you valued will be lost or severely damaged because of this ordeal, even though YOU DID NOT SIGN UP FOR IT.  But that’s the reality.  Ours did too!  But we are moving forward.  So make new friends.  Build another “family”.  Do something ELSE, something different, yes, than what you had before, but do SOMETHING.  I have said this before:  Almost all of my friends now are people I did not know before I was thrown away.  That’s the reality, ladies.  Get that straight, get used to the idea.  It takes a while…years.    But it is what it is.  And it is progress…and some of these people are better friends than I EVER had before, by the way.

As long as your sisters in this valley see you doing something to help yourself, they will cheer you on and help to the extent they can.  Others, the ones who have never experienced this?  Don’t expect a thing from them.  But your sisters will be there for you.  If you sit down and start liking the stench, you will sit there alone. You will be left behind by those of us who do not intend to let a heartless liar with no integrity and a streak of cowardice steal our lives.  We will not.  CLEARLY these men are not worth that.  So get up.  GET.  UP.

You have been victimized, but DON’T be a victim.  STAND UP.  I know it’s hard; you don’t have to tell me.  I’ve been walking this path for years ahead of you.  The key is that I have been WALKING it, not sitting down and wailing about it.



Light at the End of the Tunnel

When you have been thrown away, chances are you work more than one job, as I do.  I’m down to two jobs, but it seems I spend a lot of mental energy running numbers through my head, calculating debt versus income.  That FEELS just like working three jobs, which I did for several years.  But the good thing is that after 5-plus years, I’m beginning to feel more normal.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; it remains to be seen whether I will get there or not.  Most women say it takes a good ten years.  Horrible to think, but I can believe it.  But I’ve walked this path long enough to see that it DOES get better.  Listen, I’m a skeptic and I’m telling you:  It does get better…if you let it.

In our youth, we were used to things happening faster for us.  Those days are gone; it doesn’t work that way for women our age.  Things go more slowly because it’s harder for us.  It just is, not because we are less able, but because people stereotype us that way.  Makes smoke come out of my ears, because I’m the smartest person I know.  Hands down.  But people see me and think I’m just not able…whatever they need ABLE to mean.  We are discriminated against every single day.

I had a friend whose husband, after 5 years, still has not given her a dime, still has not returned her half of the equity in their assets, which are substantial.  He’s obviously playing the courts well, and it’s terrible to think about, but it happens.  This guy is an attorney, so none of the judges will do what’s needed to get this case resolved.  Lesson to be learned is this:  Don’t marry an attorney.  But heads up.  Don’t let this kind of thing drag on.  Find a way to get this kind of behavior publicized.  Make sure you have documentation and then let it fly.  This is becoming a typical behavior for cheating husbands, to not only throw us away, but to then get away with not giving us our rightful share of assets we helped to build, or even built before they brought their sorry behinds into our lives.

Anyway, since we talked last time, I’ve lived a bit, survived a bit longer, and learned more about this journey.  For me, the biggest challenge aside from finances, is that all of my relationships were damaged, not just the marriage.  Everyone within reasonable proximity to “the killing” was injured to some extent and yep, we do get thrown out with the bathwater.  So I hear your posts, the part about being so alone.  I’m working on that now, planning to make 2016 a year of getting back out there and rediscovering MY pleasures, the things that bring me joy.   I challenge you to do the same.  Reach out and be our own person again.  It’s hard at first, but slowly, we remember how to do it.

You know they talk about the “donut hole” with regard to healthcare benefits, or used to anyway, but I think women in their 60’s have one too.  Men our age want women from 30’s to 50’s, and NO WAY any woman in their 60’s, even if the 60’s men look like a train wreck.  Speaks to the whole reason we were thrown away in the first place.  But seems like women in their SEVENTIES suddenly become sought after.  Are you kidding me?

I get a kick out of reading the profiles of these men looking for younger women.  They can’t spell, they have big bellies and no hair, but they are so sure they can demand a youngster.  Makes me laugh.  What’s really fun is when they are being so stern about their requirements and at least one word per sentence is misspelled, particularly if they want to be intellectually challenged by the woman they seek.  And intellectually us often misspelled too.  Too funny.  But they don’t hesitate to throw the bait out there.  Gotta give them that.  And then there are the 70-ish year olds who claim to be 60-something.  Don’t get me started.

So the important thing about us, the throw-aways, is that we have to learn to live for ourselves, notwithstanding the guys out there still trying to be kids.  We have to find OUR joy again, do the things that make us happy and give us peace.  It’s hard because we’ve been the care givers, the nest tenders, the supporters.  But take heart.  Time makes this new way of thinking slowly come into focus.  And listen, don’t worry about not having a man in your life…other than for the heavy lifting and stuff…because until you are healed, you really are doing NO favors to either yourself or your date.  Get selfish, get used to being by yourself, and allow your self to heal.  It takes a LONG time and you have to work very hard at it.  Whining is not working, by the way.

Listen.  You can’t sit down and cry and you can’t sit down and kick you feet and scream and spin around in a circle either.  You have to MOVE.  Nobody’s going to come and rescue you.  Let me say that again:  NOBODY’S going to come and rescue you.  There are no knights in shining armor and if there were, they’d be looking for a thirty year old in a bikini.  Trust me, even now, there are guys who are only interested in an orifice.  It never ends.  You do NOT need that right now.  If you heal and  you want that, good for you.  I have a very high IQ, am something of a Renaissance woman, and I have a wonderful heart and spirit (until you cross me).  I expect my good qualities to be important to anyone who wants to occupy my time.  I’m more than an orifice.  That is part of me, but I matter.  My heart matters, my intellect matters, I’m a good person, a great catch.  I am worth far more than physical tender.  It took a long time for me to realize that again, after what I went through.  But I’m there.  I’m hoping my “militant” side will soften a bit as I continue on this journey, but the GOOD thing is that I have some self confidence back and I know what to expect from men now.  Exactly what to expect.

So stand up.  Get used to being by yourself, because we are all alone anyway.  Do all you can to survive and reach out to other women, friends who bring light and hope into your spirit.  Stay away from the whiners.  They don’t want to move forward, away from the tragedy.  They want to sit and wait to be rescued…which will never happen.  If you wait with them, you’re burning precious daylight.  We don’t have that much longer; we have to make the most of the time we have.  And I mean time to be happy and do things that bring us joy.

I get lonely too, but then I remember how great it is to eat ice cream right out of the carton if I want to, and how nice it is to not be cheated on and lied to. The universe balances.  It’s going to be fine.  It just takes time, and I’m still here, still making progress.  It can be done.