1. I read like crazy. That's my default reaction when faced with a problem. Reading so much helped me to realize that I was emotionally abused and that I was married to someone with a personality disorder. Once I realized that he was essentially incapable of change, it helped make the decision easier (though it was still hard.)
Some of my favorites:
The Sociopath Next Door - Stout
Getting Past Your Breakup - Elliott
In Sheep's Clothing - Simon
Emotional Vampires - Bernstein
Narcissistic Lovers - Zayn & Dibble
Men Who Can't Love - Carter & Sokol
The Psychopath Test - Ronson
Optimism Bias - Sharot
And also reading here and at baggagereclaim.com and marcandangel.com
2. I ran. A lot. Exercise is one of the most amazing, beneficial things you can do for you. Work up a sweat. Get out your frustration. It helps to balance yourself. It's also where I did much of my thinking and planning. Find something that you love to do and do it!
3. I went to IC. We worked on trusting my gut, why I chose someone so broken in the first place, standing up for myself in the divorce process, and tons of other stuff.
4. Talking about it with friends. This was so helpful! I made sure I didn't burden any one friend too much (per my IC) but it was nice to get some of my stories out there and have it reinforced that his treatment of me wasn't normal and that I deserved better.
5. Writing down my fears and coming up with a plan of attack. Sometimes just verbalizing things can make a huge difference. OK, I'm worried about money. What can I do? Talk to a recruiter, go on job interviews, rent an affordable apartment, track spending on mint.com, etc.
It takes time and work, but it's worth it to find your authentic self, which leads to happiness.
Married: 11 years, no kids
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. -Michelangelo
IC. Lots 'n lots of IC. I'm still getting IC. Need the IC. I need my IC...........
I wrote/journaled every horrible thing I could remember that he'd done to me. Every sick thing, mean thing, sexually perverted thing, bizarre jackhole thing, just plain freaky thing. I read & reread these chronicles of abuse, making it all the easier for me to maintain NC and not look back.
Told as many people IRL about what happened as would sit with me long enough to hear the story. And I told them WHY. Told them about the cheating. There's no way anyone can be even halfway supportive of me if they don't know the depravity behind the divorce. Otherwise I have to listen to idiots blather on about God's Will or submission or whathaveyou. Once people know WTH happened they support me entirely & without question.
I know that no matter what, nothing will be worse than staying married to him. Even if we lose this house, it will be better than staying married to him. I know that I'm willing to crawl through the mud & beg for welfare, do anything, to not be married to him. I'm not afraid anymore.
We all need to see why we stayed in a toxic marriage for so long. I have some of the same issues. I have others telling me I need to do what Gods will is and what he wants. However, they don't tell me that his abusive behavior toward me and the his lying and cheating is against what God wants him to do.
I had to learn that I am worth more than his treatment of me.
Keeping a reminder journal of what he has done to me and the kids allows me to press forward. Someone who loves you doesn't do these things to you.
Hanging out with friends is a big one for me I took too long to do in the beginning.. Trusting people was a BIG fear of mine. I was scared of letting almost anyone in at that point.. But slowly I started reaching out again, and now I'm able to go out with my friends and not even mention the POS one time, and it's great to get there!
Working on my own issues too is great. Figuring out my codependency issues and, like torn2bits said, figuring out why I allowed him to abuse me for as long as he did. Learning how to handle this situation is overflowing into how I handle other things too, and I think I'm a better person now and a lot stronger..
I think SI is really a God send for me in regards to getting past the fears and moving on.. Seeing so many people here with the same issues helps to relieve the fear of being alone and like no one understands..
And you know how drug addicts sometimes become addiction counselors? Like they want to help someone go through the struggles they went through? I guess I feel like that here sometimes. Like if I can help one person, it will all be worth it..
So I went into survival mode. I made copies of everything financial and contacted a lawyer. Once, when the lawyer ignored my 3 phonecalls (when I had no rent or gas money) I went and sat in her office and refused to leave until she spoke to me. It shocked me that I had the nerve to do that. But I did!
The rest is not important, but I really stood up and fought for myself when we were in a mediation meeting, with our lawyers. My lawyer said if my (now) ex, "If you don't support her, she will be living on dog food." His reply was to shrug. My H of 30 years, just shrugged.
The rage/pain I felt caused my sense of survival to come to life. I challenged his financial statement so loudly that his lawyer threatened to leave. I fought and I won.
So my advice is to forget your previous relationship during negotiations. Value yourself and fight for your whole future with every bit of strength you can summon. You CAN do it. I was a shrinking vine before this happened. But I did it!
2. Take control of your environment. Rearrange a room. Repaint a room your favorite color. Box all of his/her shit up and store it out of your sight. Dig a hole in your yard and plant something beautiful.
3. Be present, even if it is only for 30 seconds. Find the joy and beauty in the shade of blue the sky happens to be today. Actually hear the wind rustling the treetops and smile about it. Let yourself laugh at something silly and when the pressure and horrors of infidelity and divorce crash around you again, think back to that 30 seconds you let yourself be present and tell yourself that next time it will be 45 seconds.
4. Find a safe place to cry. For me that was IC. I held it together all week because I knew for one hour on Saturday, I could sob and rant and be a hot mess.
5. Come up with a mantra. I'm a big fan of Fuck.That.Guy. When I start obsessing, saying it helps me stop and move on to something different.
6. Come up with a plan. What do *you* want to do? Who do *you* want to be in your life? One of my favorite taglines on SI says (I'm paraphrasing here) "Be the hero of your own story." Get out of the mindset of playing the supportive sidekick role. (Yes co-dependents, I'm talking to you!) Find out who the hell you are! Maybe you find out you need to work on some issues. Face those issues head on with the knowledge that your unremorseful wayward is most likely not. Use this horrific experience to become whole. You are surviving betrayal of the deepest kind. There are not many things in this life that are harder to get past than betrayal. Surviving betrayal tells me you can do whatever the fuck you set your mind to. So set your mind to a plan where the end game is living well. I hear living well is the best revenge.
7. Post here for support. Nobody thinks what you post is silly or petty or shocking. Ask for help. Ask for hugs. Rant away. Take a 2X4 and learn from it.
SI helped reassure me that every shitty-ass step of divorce was necessary and that I was going to make it and be ok.
I made it.
I am ok.
You will make it!
You will be ok!
But one huge key for me has been my very own thoughts.
Do you know what I mean?
It became so embedded in my brain that marriage was what life was supposed to be for me, that I had to almost literally kick myself to let myself think that there may be life outside of marriage.
For a long time, I lived in my own fog (and part of it was Perv's work to keep me in it).
But the theme of my note is to say that adjusting our thinking first about the other person, and then letting realizations come, about life and reality and what could be on "the other side".
The only thing that stays the same, is change. -M. Etheridge
Getting started on living my life, whether he came with me or not. (We tried R.) I went back to school, to get financially independent. I went out with my friends and pursued my own interests in a way I had not before as a SAHM and W. I figured either I would be happier and the M would survive and we'd be living very well on 2 incomes, or we'd D and I'd be happier and able to support myself and my kids. Either way its a win.
And then just doing it. I was terrified to go back to school, everything about it from applying to commuting to finding childcare to whether I could do the work. Everything. I told myself, I could be scared but I had to do it anyway, because the alternative was even scarier. Now its not scary any more.
I reminded myself that I just had to do one thing at a time. Take one class for a prerequisite. Take one bus ride, one time with the new babysitter. I didn't need to decide on the M until I was ready, I could just take the one class and see what happened. That helped a lot -- if I thought to far into the future, or of everything at once, I would get paralyzed.
I talked to an attorney about what D would really look like financially. I needed that reality to know what I would choose, even though at the time I was trying very hard to R.
In the end, the relief of the D was so great it has outweighed the fear. I'm not really afraid any more. I'm just... living.