person choosing between an 'insight and growth class' and persecution 101 class

Life in its trial and error way of teaching us lessons, gradually helps us to learn which people in our life are safe to confide in. This is when we trust someone enough to share a private matter, believing ourselves to be safe in the knowledge that it won’t be repeated and/or that it won’t be used against us. When we do confide in someone and it comes back to bite, it can affect our trust, both with others and ourselves plus it can create a great deal of shame.

I know who I can confide in and some people are better at certain subjects in the way that if we were to go on a quiz show with a team, you’d know each person’s strong subjects. I’ll take absent Mr Unavailable father for £1000 please!  

People in your Circle of Trust are in effect your team members.

Over the years I’ve also learned through the process of setting boundaries, about the importance of not having a loose mouth. They do indeed sink ships or at the very least, give shady folk the blueprints to eff you over.

I’m lucky that I have longstanding friendships but I have been guilty in the past of oversharing, especially with men. I’m not guarded in a walled manner now but I am more boundaried, in that I’m not someone wearing my problems and insecurities on my sleeve who is also trying to ‘warn’ people about or off me in my own cackhanded way.

I say all of this because a lot of readers do the equivalent of confiding in a stranger that they just met or with someone who has already shown that they cannot be trusted and then spend months or years struggling to recover from the disclosure.

The former wouldn’t seemingly matter so much if the expectations weren’t greater than the true nature of the relationship, and the latter ends up mattering a great deal because they’re disappointed again and likely internalising it as a reflection of their worth.

They may not have felt shame or embarrassment prior to confiding in the person  but now feel rejected or, they did feel this way before and so now have what they perceive as external rejection as well as their own self-rejection.

There are a few things that impact the outcome of confiding in someone:

Who you confide in. Are they known to you? If they are, have they previously chatted out your business or used it against you? If yes, it would beg the question of why you’re confiding in them again? You’re not the chance master! Some people are not good listeners or supporters and yes, that includes your parents! If you haven’t confided in them before but you know them, it’s a bit of a leap of faith and you can only try and gauge signs of trustworthiness.

Are they a stranger? Confiding in a stranger is only safe if by their profession, there is an inherent trust in sharing your confidence, or you’re not going to be seeing them again / they’re unconnected to your circle and even then, you still have to have your wits about you. If you don’t know them particularly well, you can only gauge on signs of trustworthiness. Are they crossing boundaries (yours or others)? You’d be surprised how many people confide in those who are effectively scheming behind someone else’s back.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that because you know that a person is deceiving someone else that they will act in a trustworthy manner around you because they have no ‘need’ to be deceptive.

The content. What are you disclosing? Very simply, if you’re disclosing something that feels or quite simply is big to you, you should disclose it to a ‘big person’ in your life (i.e. someone in your Circle of Trust) or someone who by nature of their position, if they breach your confidence, there’s a professional consequence for doing so. It’s important to consider the appropriateness of what you’re disclosing in the context of other factors such as the person as if you’re technically unloading or even oversharing to a stranger, that opens you up to more negative consequences than if you were disclosing to someone who had earned your trust on merit not bullshit.

How you feel about you. It’s critical when disclosing sensitive information, that you have your head straight about what you’re sharing because nobody can use it against you then. If you confide something in a, ‘There’s my dirty secret – I suppose you want to give me the boot now?’ manner, your attitude to you may end up being more of a red flag than the information itself.

The why. What’s the motivation? Is it because you simply need someone to talk to and they’re there? Is it because you need an unbiased opinion? Are you looking for validation? Are you sharing in a mutual relationship? Are you trying to ‘force ripe’ a relationship by sharing something big? Are you warning them? Do you have a hidden agenda which could be as simple as trying to elicit a particular reaction or as a means of self-sabotage?

Depending on what you’re confiding, it can take a lot to share an aspect of you that opens you up to being vulnerable. You’re human, you want to be liked, loved and approved of and often there’s the fear that by sharing, you run the risk of tarnishing an image of yourself.

When confiding in someone hurts you, it can be because you’re giving you a hard time about having confided. It’s the whole feeling like a ‘fool’ or ‘rejectionable’ and ultimately you’re hating on you for what feels like you breaching your own trust or ‘ruining’ something.

When I hear from people who are struggling to get over the seeming after effects of confiding in someone, what becomes clear is that sometimes we disclose something to someone because by disclosing it, it puts the kibosh on something that we’re afraid of risking ourselves on and then we can focus on how ‘amazing’ things could have been ‘if only’. We get to keep up with this story that we’re telling ourselves, where we can bullshit about having ruined our last chance saloon. Did we? Did we really?

In reality, the fantasy of everything up until the point of confiding, along with the fear of being vulnerable is preserved.

The feelings and excitement of that time can be preserved. It’s possible that the fantasy of the possibility of it may have seemed better than the reality. If we spend months or even years going over what happened, we avoid having to put ourselves out there and risk. We can tell ourselves that we have concrete evidence that it’s ‘unsafe’ and that if we try again and attempt to confide, that we’re going to be hurt.

By raking over it again and again, we trick ourselves into believing that we’ve been robbed and all of the energy we give over to living in the past, takes us out of the present plus also prevents us from having to move on. We also keep reopening the wound and punishing ourselves. Of course we’ll realise that a lengthy period of time has passed and feel regretful that the way we see things or what we’re doing hasn’t changed and this in itself can also trick us into believing that what we felt or what happened was bigger than what it was.

It’s also possible that we’re judging us far more than that person ever did or even blaming ‘the secret’ when it’s not the actual real issue.

In the end we have no choice but to deal with the source of embarrassment, shame and regret and to let go of trying to turn back time.

There is something to be learned from the experience, if we’re willing to reflect with a view to growing, instead of reflecting with a view to drowning with rumination and criticism. You’ve gotta be careful of trying to get a Ph.D. in Persecution….

It’s not easy because there’s a payoff to living in the past and absorbing blame (avoiding something else uncomfortable) but ultimately we have to let go because until we admit what we’re truly avoiding, we’ll keep tricking ourselves into believing that we committed some major crime or  that we missed out on something huge, when actually what we’re missing out on is us and our life.

Your thoughts?

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173 Responses to When we’re stuck on the hurt after confiding in somebody who proves to be untrustworthy & why we sometimes confide to preserve a fantasy that keeps us ‘safe’

  1. Wiser says:

    I’m definitely guilty of confiding too much in the ex – not confessions of painful secrets that he might blab to others, but some of the deep treasures of my heart, sharing things that I’ve loved deeply and been touched by through my life: memories, experiences, hopes and dreams, what I care most about, what I’ve learned, my personal growth, etc. – in short, the best of myself, laying it all out of who I am and what I could offer another person. I should have known better but I was SO happy to have someone who seemed to click with me on that level after being in the relationship desert for six years. God, it felt wonderful to just give freely with no reservations, no barriers. And alas, with no prudent boundaries, unfortunately. I gave far too much of myself, and for what? For nothing as it turned out, but to be humiliated and tossed aside by the Don Juan of this little town. I made a huge fool of myself. Damn. I should have known better. I gave out my gold just to have it dismissed and not valued. I cast my pearls before swine, but what I didn’t expect is how much having the swine shrug it off in the thoughtless way he did would hurt so much. And it did hurt, tremendously. It made me doubt that what I had to offer was worth much. I don’t regret taking the risk to be vulnerable (and I like Brene Brown’s work on this a lot – really recommend it) but still, being rejected in this way pushes a very deep button in me. I’m not sure what would hurt more – having someone use a “dirty” secret against me, or someone not valuing the gifts I’m trying to share. What’s worse, having a confidence betrayed or being dismissed like you’re nothing?

    • Revolution says:


      You gave your heart. What a beautiful, courageous, natural thing to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. Stay in the flow of life. Don’t let it shut you down, just because you made a common mistake and put your wonderful, open heart into irresponsible hands. :)

      • Wiser says:

        Thanks Rev, your response made me cry. I’ve worked hard not to let this harden or shut down my heart – that means I have to feel it all the way through. I hope I can be that free again with sharing myself when the right person comes along.

    • the one known as teach says:

      Dear Wiser. I wish to share with you one of my favourite quotes. Ted Roosevelt say’s what I wish to say to you far better than I ever could. Especially for you, with all my heart. T xxx

      It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

      You at least got in the big scarey ring called ‘Having an Intimate Relationship’ Wiser, and that makes you a winner, no matter what the outcome. Always remember that.

  2. gettingfound says:

    Thankyou so much for this Nat. You just pulled me out of the pathetic pity party I have been throwing for myself lately. My life is not something to avoid. Words to live by xxxx

  3. Rosie says:

    This is a timely post. I started dating a man who, on the second date, really pressured me hard to tell him why I’m in my 40s and haven’t ever been married. I tried to explain a little but didn’t feel comfortable telling all and told him so. He then said that I didn’t need to tell him, that he knew: “You’re sweet, sweeter than most. Men took advantage of you.” He says that, when he met me, he thought, “She’s perfect, but she’s scared.” I felt uncomfortable with that comment too in that I didn’t like my reality and feelings being defined for me.

    Really, I think he was trying to give me a compliment as it seemed he was trying to find a reason why someone like me wasn’t married yet. I liked him too but I just didn’t like feeling pressured to tell my life story on only the second date.

    I asked this question on the other post but I didn’t get a response (no one owes me one; I’m just confused and would like clarification). What is “drip feeding the truth” and what’s the difference between this and revealing myself in my own time?

    • Tabitha says:

      Rosie, this is just my definition, or rather my experience of being drip fed by narc ex.
      Week 1. “I have an 18 year old daughter.”
      Week 3. “Actually she is my stepdaughter. I was with her mother for 14 years and have known her since she was two so she is like a daughter to me.”
      Week 5. “No I wasn’t with X solidly for 14 years. I went out with her for 7 years, although we both had affairs in that time. And then we did get back together a few times after that.”

      Week 7. “No I never actually LIVED with X, the mother of my so called stepdaughter.”

      Do you see Rosie? His initial “truth” was that he had a daughter. Then this became a stepdaughter. Then became the daughter of a woman he had dated on and off but never actually lived with.

      • Tee tee says:

        So taking your time to talk to some one and reveal bits about yourself is not a bad thing.

        As long as it is not inconsistent like tabitha’s example of drip feeding.

        Nice one! Will borrow one time. How did he go from having a daughter to having a step one to actually not having one. HEADBANGSDESK

        • Rosie says:

          Thank you, Tee Tee- It’s about consistency, not about going at one’s own pace in telling one’s own story. Ok.

      • Rosie says:

        Ah! Thank you, Tabitha!- So…”drip feeding the truth” is like rainbow water. You turn on the faucet and each drop of water is a different color and none of it drinkable. The person says it’s green but then yellow comes out and then blue and when you say it’s yellow and blue, not green, he says “but yellow and blue together make green.”

        His daughter…I mean step…I mean heart daughter…is blue. Her mom is yellow. His saying the stepdaughter is really his daughter and he and the mom were together without really being together after he told you they were together is green.

        • Tabitha says:

          Exactamundo! And the whole purpose of this was to explain away the fact that the ONLY reason he was still in touch with this girl was to piss of his ex. I believe she had a restraining order on him, he certainly wasn’t allowed anywhere near her home. He either wasn’t remotely over the ex, or just kept up the contact to annoy her and show her he could still be in the picture and there was nothing she could do about it.
          Sick bastard.

    • Arlena says:

      Rosie, this is a spontaneous attempt: dripfeeding the truth is when someone doesn’t have much intention to reveal anything in the first place but if found out tells you a teensy-weensy bit of information (can be a lie, something ambiguous or one tiny aspect of truth etc.) in order to shut you up or being able to go on as usual and would add another piece of info only when standing/getting nearer with his back to the wall. All information you get is not primarily to reveal himself as a person or be honest with you but to defend his hidden agenda. Perhaps, in short: a drip-feeder is not interested in putting his cards on the table regardless.

      Revealing yourself in your own time is checking in with yourself, how you feel, what you aim at, processing what you know about the other person’s reaction, heeding the feedback and deciding your next action/piece of revelation on the basis of the credit/debit system. You let it unfold without overlooking discomforts and take your time to stop, listen and NOT proceed until you figured out what’s it all about.

      • Tee tee says:

        >>Revealing yourself in your own time is checking in with yourself, how you feel, what you aim at, processing what you know about the other person’s reaction, heeding the feedback and deciding your next action/piece of revelation on the basis of the credit/debit system. You let it unfold without overlooking discomforts and take your time to stop, listen and NOT proceed until you figured out what’s it all about.<<

        Thank you – that's the small of it, thank you Arlena, may i borrow this please!

      • Rosie says:

        Arlena_ Thank you so much for responding. :) So…using the faucet analogy again…”drip feeding the truth” is a reluctant faucet. Turn the handle hard enough, maybe a drop of water comes come out, maybe even two. Yet, you won’t get a full cup of water because the pipes are jammed with rat poop.

        Thank you for sharing what it means to reveal myself in my own time. Because of my past EU type (I was an avoidant), I don’t have much relationship history, per se, just a lot of relationship avoiding and obsessing over men who didn’t want me back. How to say this, when to say this while also communicating that I’m now capable of being in a committed relationship is hard to figure out!

        • sushi says:


          I was thinking exactly that. How do you tell people the truth, while not oversharing and sounding like a person all over the place, who we are NOT anymore :), while being respectful and forgiving to yourself and keeping that faucet nice and non-rusty. I think for your situation it would be fair to say; I wasnt ready/ interested in a mutual relationship and that is what I want now. For me it would be erm…more complicated. Maybe I trusted people that with hindsight I shouldn`t have but I have learnt positively from the experience. And then, in time and according how things go this is to be expanded.

    • Wiser says:

      The difference is that drip feeding is meant to be manipulative.

      • sushi says:


        bullseye on that. While it is simply not possible to explain your life away in one conversation and additional details might come out with time ( as they should, otherwise it`s oversharing) dripfeeding is allowing the other person a part of the truth in order to manipulate them or keep them in the dark about a situation. It`s when the whole truth is very, very different to part truth.

        • Rosie says:

          Wiser and Sushi- So authentic truth is about transparency while drip feeding the truth is rusty water coming out of the faucet. It’s water but unsafe water. I think this is what you mean.

    • sushi says:


      I had a similar experience with being asked about my past on date one, as well as being, so to speak, put on trial for “why a woman like you is still single” crime.It just made me feel like I was under attack and that why are you still single question simply implied that there is obviously something wrong with me that needs to be unearthed. It made me feel that I need to work hard at proving myself and convincing this man that I am normal and worthwile human being. This AC managed to put me in a “work too hard for crumbs” situation with that one sentence from the word go. He was also insistent on honesty, suspicious and prying as if he was waiting for me to fail his test. Thing is I was honest and I gave him no reason whatsoever to be suspicious. On the other hand he turned out to be a controlling habitual liar who was hiding his alcohol addiction and shady stuff with an ex and God knows what else and whom I simply couldn`t trust. He was all the things he was accusing me of.In the end, he was right about one thing, I am too good for him.

      • Rosie says:

        Sushi- Ouch! I’m sorry you got burned by that projector! Yeah, it’s weird how shady people think everyone is shady and it’s really just to take the spotlight off of themselves. I’m sorry you were hurt but glad you’re out of that mess! See? I think our singleness isn’t about what we did wrong but about what we did right–dodged and survived many bullets.

    • Lilia says:

      That guy sounds a bit creepy! I´d steer away from anyone trying to dissect my soul like that. And what´s with the “she´s perfect, but she´s scared” comment? So condescending. I´d feel very uncomfortable as well and would wonder if he was being passive-aggressive. If he´s like that on date 2, imagine what he´d be like if things progress.

      • Rosie says:

        Hi Lilia- I think he was feeling a bit rejected as I had already told him that we couldn’t date any more (for reasons I won’t disclose here as it’s not my info to tell). Now that you mention it, yes, I did feel a little condescended. I thought, “I, not you, will be the expert on me.” I didn’t tell him these exact words but did let him know that my feelings and experiences aren’t his to decide.

    • EllyB says:

      Rosie, regarding this guy, if I were you, I would listen to your gut. I think that you are right, he is trying to define your feelings for you. This “compliment” sounds somewhat toxic to me, because it has such a strong negative part (“She’s perfect, BUUUUUUUT she’s scared.”) I don’t like this. He is belittling you.

      Maybe you should stop wondering so much about what you should share with him at what point. It’s more important to wonder whether he’s the right guy for you!

      • EllyB says:

        Sorry, me AGAIN. I forgot to comment on the first part: “You’re sweet, sweeter than most. Men took advantage of you.” I think that translates to: “You are a decent woman, like many other women, and I am planning to take advantage of you. I did the same to many other women in my past, but I’m planning to make YOU feel responsible for it.”

        Honestly, I’ve been fed that “you’re too nice/sweet/whatever” line way too many times. Usually by those people who take advantage of EVERYBODY except those few who run for the hills straight away.

        This line of reasoning (“you’re too sweet, this is why people take advantage of you”) makes me sick to my stomach. They are trying to make you believe that you could “make” them treat you decently by being less “sweet”. This is not true. What they should say instead is: “I am an ASS, and this is why I am going to take advantage of you”.

        • Tabitha says:

          Yeah I got “Don’t ever change, you are sooo sweet” with the undertone, “but I still don’t want you.”

          • sushi says:


            jeez, I got the exact same line but with the undertone of ” I need a doormat in my life”.

          • Wiser says:

            One day before dumping me the ex said “You are the best person I know.” Uh oh, I thought to myself, this is the kiss of death to the relationship. I think I knew it at that moment. For some odd reason, no man wants to be with the “best person” he knows.

            • Lilia says:

              I´ve also wondered about that. My personal observations have been that men prefer a woman who is a bit bitchy. But then, they try to turn her into a doormat at some point. Only not really because if she complies, they soon loose respect for her. I suspect they don´t really like peaceful relationships, there has to be a battle of wills, somehow.

              I´m doing interesting experiments with my preadolescent son at the moment. I´ve always been this caring, understanding, kind mom but I had to change that because he began to treat me like his personal secretary/servant/doormat (and I´m in no position to accept that, seeing as he is taller and heavier than me). So I changed my educational strategy and have become this no-BS, bitchy strict smart-aleck mother.
              And the weird thing is, he enjoys it! Whenever I tell him a firm “No” instead of my former civilized let´s -talk-about-it approach, he just grins and accepts it.
              I wonder if grownup men still behave in that way too?

              • Wiser says:

                Lilia, I think the answer to your question is a depressing ‘yes.’ And the last thing in this world I want to do is ‘mother’ a grown man with an adolescent psyche who is counting on me to “keep him in line.” The battle of wills doesn’t interest me either. Sigh. I think I was born in the wrong century. Or has it always been this way?

                I’m in my early 50s and I swear that 20 years ago I was meeting more actual grown-up ‘men’ among the people I knew (teachers, co-workers, husbands of friends, community leaders, etc.) than I was the ‘boy/men’ (permanently stuck in adolescence, no matter what their age) that seem to dominate the landscape today. Had anyone else had this experience?

                My father was a real grown-up man, with mature manliness, class, principles, integrity, and a word-was-his-bond kind of character. He remained true to his committments no matter what his “feelings” were at the time. He cared about what was going on in the world, and took part in larger issues than just his own comfort and entertainment. He did not need any kind of mothering to know how to act with decency and maturity. I grew up believing that was what a man was, and admiring that, and have been enormously disappointment by the kind of men I’ve met in my life ever since.

                Of course, my father was part of that generation who didn’t express feelings easily, and the down side to him is that he was often emotionally distant from me. He had trouble relating to all his children. I know he loved me and was always kind and helpful, but he withdrew from me more and more in any kind of intimate way as I got older. And of course I therefore have sought out EU men ever since, hoping to rectify this loss.

                • Tammy says:


                  I am close to your age and agree with your comments. Where are the grown men these days? It seems so hard to find men with integrity and character any more. I have a theory or opinion that maybe it’s the parenting or lack of it creating much of this. Years back, couples took parenting seriously. Anymore, parents are so often missing in a childs life that they have no role model and I think this affects men especially. They need a father to teach them about being quality men with character and since these fathers are often “missing” either physically or emotionally, or usually both, their sons stumble through life hitting 50 years old and still behave like they are children.

                  Have any of you met men who you can spot easily that had a great father in their life? They are so easy to spot you don’t even need to ask them about their fathers or childhood. It very obvious. They come across with itegrity. These are the men who can be trusted and are safe to open up too. If this isn’t spotted in the beginning, we need to be careful what we share as it will come back to bite us.

                  And you are right, we shouldn’t be trying to “raise” these man/boys to grow up and see the light. And as Lilia says, she’s taking a firmer approach with her son and he loves it. Kids truly want parents to parent them, not befriend them. This is having boundaries and teaching them. I have noticed in my relationships that when I started having boundaries, everything changes with the EUM. He either gets a clue or he disappears because he knows the jig is up.

                  Oh, and I’m not letting women off the hook. Many of use were taught the skills of being a good wife, or good girlfriend or continuously supportive no matter what the circumstance. Stand by your man!! Seriously?!?! How about let him grow up and THEN come back if this ever happens.. my little Florence Nightingales..

                  Much love to all the ladies (and a few guys) here… we are on similar journeys. Nice to have each others’ support. Thanks Nat for all you do. xoxo

              • Allison says:


                I don’t think it is about being bitchy, but about standing up for what you believe in. I don’t think any self-respecting man wants a doormat- only an abuser or control freak – but wants a woman who is not dependent and respects herself, she also lives by her value system.

              • jewells says:

                I think children (as well as the grown up sorts), respect boundaries, expect boundaries and if they are not there, will run roughshod over you if you don’t have them in place. I’ve experienced this first hand in all sorts of relationships looking back – if boundaries are in place it is a peaceful relationship, if not, there can only be drama. Good fences make good neighbours…
                I’ve had an experience at work recently where someone crossed a boundary, and when I explained the situation to him, he didn’t listen. So, I took it up with our union, he was talked to by them, he denied it, but eventually seemed to come around and now does treat me respectfully – sometimes it just takes backup and time to correct someone’s behavior and outlook. The key is to stay strong and not succumb to the drama that can arise from enforcing the boundaries.

        • Rosie says:

          EllyB- Thank you so much for all your thoughtful and time-consuming replies. I didn’t get the impression that he would take advantage of me. It’s more along the lines of, “Why aren’t you giving me a chance?? I’m different! The other guys used you. I appreciate you!” Again, I think he was just feeling rejected. The thing is the original reason why I couldn’t date him has nothing to do with him personally.

          I fully agree with you that most of the time, “You’re sweet” is code for “It’s your fault I took advantage of you. If you were different I wouldn’t have.” It’s emotional manipulation. I am sweet and I make a conscious effort to stay nice, but lately I’ve noticed that whenever somebody, anybody, even a friend, calls me “sweet”, I feel nervous and my stomach tightens up.

      • Learner says:

        I agree, EllyB !

      • Rosie says:

        EllyB and Learner- I didn’t think about it but yes. It was insulting and ok. I’ll stop worrying about what to say to him and think of whether or not he’s good for me.

        I do think his comment about “She’s perfect but she’s scared” might have been his immediate reaction to feeling rejected. I don’t know. I’m not a mind reader.

        • EllyB says:

          Rosie: “I do think his comment about “She’s perfect but she’s scared” might have been his immediate reaction to feeling rejected. I don’t know. I’m not a mind reader.”

          I think if a guy behaves weirdly on date 1 or 2, and we need to “read his mind” in order to find a rather favorable explanation, that is a code amber flag in itself.

    • Izzybell says:

      Hi Rosie,

      I think it’s totally rude to pressure you to answer this question, just as it would be completely inappropriate to force someone to share details about their divorce after just a date or two. You have every right to feel uncomfortable, and to share (or not share) what you want when you want on this topic.

      There’s nothing wrong with you, and there’s no need to explain why you are in your 40′s and haven’t been married. Don’t let some dumb ass who doesn’t even know you suggest otherwise. You had some lessons to learn like everyone else, and chose to learn them without the need for a divorce.

      • theseamstress says:

        Wading in at the tail end of a great long discussion here but on a first date or any subsequent early dates I’m convinced these types of questions are totally inappropriate..
        I would simply expect to share some time with another human being without huge leaps into personal things. Our lives are a smorgasbord of interests and experiences aren’t they? If not then why not? It doesn’t have to include extreme sports or a heavily stamped passport to be interesting or infused with vitality. And you/we/I don’t have to ‘give them the sex’ for it to have a grab rail onto the future. Just have a date, it’s just a date, not a judgement panel of our precious lives by one other non impartial person. We support democracies not dictatorships dont we? let’s stand by our values IN EVERYTHING.

        Talking and exploring past relationships and apparent reasons for being single aren’t really great first date subject matter. Too emotive, too personal and too subjective. My life isn’t for a stranger to dissect and judge without the minutae or detail that makes up all of the stories and the coloured in pages of my life.

        On the first date with my boyfriend he started to scratch the surface and I said I’ll tell you whatever you want to know, but not now. I don’t know you and I’m not going to pretend to for the sake of rushing intimacy. He had been going on other dates and that’s what was happening. Chit chat about the exes and doomed couplings. I said that sounded like a heavy load of old tosh for such a nice day and we were having a light and friendly infused time and we agreed to leave it.

        We slowly unfolded, we are still unfolding 18 months later. I wouldn’t even call it drip feed, just natural conversations, happy ones, sad ones, deep and frightening ones and insightful ones. Sometimes they go on all night, sometimes they turn into locked horns, sometimes its just another new moment when I learn another layer about him, this person I’m starting to love deeply. It’s still going on, this getting to know each other. Thank God. if we had done all that in the first few weeks then where was left to go?

        I wouldn’t have wanted his stories regurgitated on the first date and they certainly wouldn’t have given me any more clarity on who he is or the other way round. But the telling of stories, interests and passions, the unfurling of values and standards with a natural progression have done far more to cement our relationship than anything else.

        Someone kick me in the arse if I sound smug but I’m really trying to illustrate this changed life of mine after 30 years of EU by me..its not easy but Im almost 50 and I want to inspire and give hope. My life has turned around by coming here. While I’ve got time at the moment I’d like to share where I can. It really ain’t over, BR readers, until the voluptuous lady sings. And even then there’s still hope.

        • FX says:

          Amen, to this, the seamstress! Isn’t getting to know someone supposed to be enjoyable and fun, especially at first? This doesn’t mean you chuck your discernment but I think you should firstly be figuring out if you actually enjoy this person’s company and have compatible personalties and values which will naturally come out in spending time together and conversation before any heavy specifics about pasts need to be discussed.

          The only time this wasn’t true was when I met a lovely widower after my first very difficult break up because my bf moved to literally the other side of the planet. We knew the other was still processing sadness and loss and listened to a lot of Sarah Mclaclan (lol) but we still mostly just had fun. He wasn’t for me for other reasons but I never felt regret about the truths we shared earlier than in usual circumstances.

          On the other hand, the AC and I shared a lot of our histories too early and they were used/held against me for several years till the bitter end.. Definitely learned a lesson there! The world and our current lives are full of interesting topics, my past relationships are not by any means the most interesting or pertinent fodder for early dating conversation. I don’t want to know about his at that point either.

          One r/s discussion exception in my case is that if they have young children and are looking for someone who cares to be involved in that, I’m just not. My daughter is older than I was when I had her. Ex AC had very young children and I know he resented that I was friendly to them but not excited about assuming that role. The bf after also has a young child but not in a way that involved me which was fine. That’s my truth and about the only concrete thing I really need to know about a man’s r/s history (other than being truly single) on an early date – because it pertains directly to his/my/our NOW.

          • Rosie says:

            theseamstress and FX- Yes, that’s what I thought too. I just wanted us to take our time to get to know each other. I enjoyed his company the first date. There was a little bit of chemistry but not the overwhelming, “I want to rip your clothes off right here and right now” kind. Physically, he was a gentleman.

            Well, we haven’t seen each other since date #2 so it doesn’t matter now. I am sad because I did like him. I’m ok, though, because I maintained my boundaries and stood up for myself when I felt uncomfortable with his questioning.

        • the one known as teach says:


      • Rosie says:

        Thank you, Izzybell-

        “You had some lessons to learn like everyone else, and chose to learn them without the need for a divorce.”

        This made me smile. Yes, I had some lessons to learn and I learned them without the need for a divorce. What a positive perspective you have!

  4. Heather says:

    Natalie, please author a book on this subject. This article of yours, all by itself, is definitely worth its own book. God, how many times have I lived the pain you describe here. Thank you for this essay. I needed it this week. :(

  5. blueberry girl says:

    I’ve been struggling for 2 months of no contact with a ‘friend’ who has been separated for over two years with no divorce in sight (to my knowledge.) After telling me he was “single, ” I naively poured out sexual and romantic feelings for him. After all, I’ve known this man for years! When he started treating me critically & mean afterward, I knew something was up. I found out he is still seeing the other woman he was cheating on his wife with! He never actually told me either, but refused to reply to my question when I asked about his status with her. I’m mortified that I revealed private feelings (at his encouragement) to someone I trusted and considered a friend, only to have him lie and betray my trust as well as reject me. I totally get what Natalie is saying here about using this as a learning experience, but it’s difficult to cope with the hurt, loss and humiliation. I run into him at work fairly frequently and he has tried to talk to me, but I just can’t let him close again. I need confirmation that NC is my only option.

    • Simmy says:

      I went through something similar and trusted him because “I was like his family”…I had known him for years prior too. NC is your only option. If you break it, I just know that he will treat you even worse…he will view as someone without self dignity…save yourself the pain I went through and stay NC forever!!!

      What sort of person is he to be that inconsiderate and disrespectful to how you were feeling. He lacks empathy and compassion, not someone you want around you ever again and definitely not someone who is remotely close to getting into your circle of trust ever again.

      You deserve better. You ignoring him is the greatest revenge you can get. Also go to the gym and look amazing or whatever you do to make yourself feel great…let him see you but continue to ignore him. That’s the best pain for an ass like that

      • blueberry girl says:

        I take it you had a similar experience. I’m guilty of thinking that because we had a so-called “friendship,” that I was exempt from the deception and subterfuge that had gone on with his wife and the OW. I know, very naive.

    • Ms Determined says:

      blueberry girl? Hang on a minute sister. You trusted someone you knew was cheating on his wife (whether he had the balls to admit it or not)? How in hell are you surprised he betrayed your trust, considering he can’t keep it in his pants for the woman he stood up in front of family and friends and swore up and down he’d be true to?

      You need to think about what would draw you to such a cretin in the first place.

      NC is not your only option in fact. I would suggest kicking him in the nuts and then setting him on fire, but Nat might not publish this comment for fear it may incite physical violence. So, here’s the required disclaimer, I’m joking of course.*

      PS: By the way separated is always another way of saying STILL MARRIED.

      *Or am I? Muah ha ha ha ha.

      • Tee tee says:

        I second the kick him in the nuts! Ooooooo ms D is wickedly funny. I am lmao here! Ok on a serious, she’s right. Please run from this person. RUN!!!

        • blueberry girl says:

          Thanks,TT. I am NC and when he is around (we work in the same building,at our kids’ activities, etc, I ignore him completely. He honestly doesn’t deserve any part of me, friendship or otherwise.

        • the one known as teach says:

          Did someone say something about someone getting kicked in the nuts? This is a job for SUPERTEACH!

          ~Rips off dressing gown and slippers to reveal strange outfit with underpants on the outside~

          Oh crap, I can’t find my lasso! Heads to washing basket full of one month of washing and decides superteach can play another day

          As you were ladies (and gents)… LOL

      • blueberry girl says:

        I get it, Ms. D. I’m not that surprised, actually, more humiliated and embarrassed that he played me and isn’t even close to the person I had become so enamored with over the years. And disappointed as hell!

      • oregongirl says:

        Ms. Determined:
        I love your posting. Thanks so much for sharing.

        You are right. Sometimes ANGER, not sadness, is the appropriate response. I am quick to cry and be sad, and am almost never ever angry. Sometimes I find that if I give myself permission to feel angry, that it does me some good. Not in a way that hurts someone else, but the acknowledgement that enough is enough. The last text I got from my AC was “shove it up your ass.” So now whenever I find myself getting sad, I yell “shove it up your ass!” really loud or else write it down with exclamation marks, and it really does help!

        Loved this: ” PS: By the way separated is always another way of saying STILL MARRIED. ”

        OMG So True!!!

    • Allison says:


      You know this guy’s character (cheat), why would you be concerned about NC?

      I’m not trying to be flippant, but you know who this guy is. He’s a lying creep, not a good choice for a ‘friend!’

      • blueberry girl says:

        Yes, I got burned because I chose to ignore red flags from his past. In my mind, when he said he was single, that meant done with the wife and the OW. So I professed my feelings, thinking he was ready for a fresh start. Clearly, I was mistaken.

        • Allison says:


          Character does not change. This is who he is! Never, believe you are the exception to the rule.

          • blueberry girl says:

            You’re right, Allison!I will continue to move forward & away from him now that I’ve experienced firsthand who he truly is.Thanks for the support.

            • Allison says:


              I was in a similar boat. The ex had told me of a string of extramarital affairs on his ex wife. Ugggh!!! Where was my judgement!

              I totally understand!

  6. Revolution says:

    Ahhhhhh Nat…..awkward silence. Ummmm…..too close for comfort, this post. But a good one. ;)

    • the one known as teach says:

      Yessss… however that was yr guys MO if I remember correctly Rev… just another dickwad in designer jeans love… plenty more snakes in dacks (trousers) where that came from; some even with REAL hearts too! x

  7. Jessie says:

    I finally realized a few years ago that I don’t trust my mother. She turned my brother and I against each other as children, she would use things I told her against me and she would talk with her friends about me, then tell me that they said ” etc. etc. ” and how “they” thought I was wrong and my mother was right. As a kid I never figured out what or why she would do these things. Now, I tell her nothing. Our conversations consist if her speaking(phone), because I moved 600 miles away at 18 for good. I just say “oh, and really”, on the phone in response. It’s a shallow relationship, she knows very little about my life, and that’s the way I choose to keep it.
    I can see now clearly why I have always been wary of sharing any information about myself to anyone. If you can’t trust your mother who can you trust!

    • Simmy says:

      She sounds like she has some high grade narcisstic traits or she’s suffers from Narcisstic Personality Disorder. It’s called splitting and sometimes moves into Gaslighting…

      Google NPD and splitting and you’ll see just what happened to you.

      I also can’t trust my own mother. She used to do the same to me and my sisters and one day we all worked it out and now all three of us are best of friends.

      • sushi says:

        I have that situation with a “good family friend”. She repeated very private things I told her in confidence and when I told her I find that hurtful and unacceptable I noticed that mutual friends started looking at me as if I had two heads all of a sudden. Wonder why. My initial reaction was to stop sharing private stuff and treat her with more distance but still in a friendly way so now she started putting my children down. She is very lonely and depressed and I was always very supportive but she is now crossing the line and I feel that another “stating of my boundaries ” conversation will achieve only more aggressive reaction. I sadly come to a conclusion that my friendships were as bad as my relationships. I have niggles of worry that I`ll end up all alone. Still, after BR I can`t bring myself to accept crap.

        • EllyB says:

          Sushi: I think that we cannot be any more alone than with “friends” like that. I think if you decide to stay away from that woman, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

          I think many of us were always alone, because we chose to surround ourselves only with toxic people who took advantage of us. Most of us don’t even know what it means to have truly supportive, nurturing friends. Learning to avoid the bad ones (and cutting them off if necessary) is the first step to finding healthier people.

          • sushi says:

            EllyB, how right you are. Funny enough, my children are staying away from her ( and she is not liking that at all).
            Being treated like that by someone I considered a member of my family for a couple of decades and who I have been a rock for when she is in need is very upsetting.Me, the eternal Florence and a doormat. She is a part of a nice group of people I socialise with as well but maintains a different persona while with them. It`s quite shocking to watch what she puts out there as opposed to let it hang out in a nasty way with me and my kids.It upsets me that she obviously talks badly about me but I`m not about to work myself into any form of pretzel for anyone and anything anymore.Let her stew in her own juices, if what she does makes her happy, fine.I have my respect for me and that`s all that counts at the moment.Sad though and disappointing.

            • Allison says:


              What do your friends say when she trash talks you? Also, why do they allow it?

              • sushi says:


                I met those people through her years ago,they are nice, kind people and we get along well.They have been her friends longer than mine so perhaps there is some loyalty to her and they might trust her opinion. They don`t tell me she trash talks me and I have no idea what their reactions are then.She talks (often) negatively about them to me, I either disagree because I have a different opinion or don`t engage, which never goes down well, but I don`t report to them about what`s been said. I don`t think I should meddle between them, maybe they think the same. Recently, we had dinner without her as she was away and conversation turned to her ex husband drama. One of them said, ah she is so easy going, she is just not a vindictive person. And I`m thinking, What? do they even know her? A few days earlier, while talking about her ex she actually said “I can be very vindictive”
                Bottom line, she is not my friend and there is nothing I can do about her talking rubbish about me to other people, nor should I care about them. It`s goiing to be another Fush….

                • sushi says:

                  make that Flush ! :)

                • Allison says:


                  Good riddance to the toxicity!

                • EllyB says:

                  Yeah, that’s the problem with most groups. They are easy prey for bullies (and I think that’s what she basically is, a bully). Many people may feel somewhat uncomfortable around her, but most won’t admit it (maybe not even to themselves), because they are scared that this would make them an “outsider”. Bullies know about this and they exploit it relentlessly.

                  I think there are very few people who are strong enough to resist. Those are the ones worthy of being our true friends. I think it takes time (and a lot of flushing!) to figure out who they are.

                  • Allison says:


                    I agree with you.

                    I will say that I do not like gossip, and shut it down very quickly. If someone is gossiping about others, then I know they are doing the same about me.

                    No time for these types in life.

                    • sushi says:

                      yes, there are better things to do than finding faults with everybody.I used to overlook a lot because I know how unhappy she is, but her happiness is not my responsibility.

      • xander says:


        I recently came across this notion of “Gaslighting”. I got a lot of it. I went crazy, so much so I almost set myself on fire.

        I don’t get it. How can some people be so nasty?

        My step-dad did it to me as a kid. Now this recent excuse for a relationship.

        Lord knows I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’ve never really experienced it so severe in my adult life with this woman I was with.


    • Tabitha says:

      Jessie my experience is just the same. All the lies and manipulation just to keep you “down.” I also moved away, abroad actually to get away from her, but foolishly moved back near her. I have had to go NC again as she is actually more toxic as she gets older. It is horrible when you cannot trust your own mother not to turn everything you say against you. I do believe it has left me with long standing issues where I overshare with other people.

  8. susanna says:

    I keep sharing details of the relationship hoping to feel better, but I don’t. I just can’t seem to shake how he treated me–I’m still very angry and I don’t know what to do with that feeling. People say to “let go” but it’s easier said than done. I want to even the score, but I know that won’t help either. How did I allow him to use me and hurt me again? How did I not respect myself enough to take care of me first? Why did I put him on a pedestal? Why, why, why?

    I know I’m making it bigger than it needs to be, but I pined for him for 40 fucking years. 40 years. How do you just “let it go” and move on as someone here just advised me to do. Easier said than done.

    • Tulipa says:

      Hi Susanna
      I can so relate to feeling angry and not moving on.
      I have sat with my anger for five long months now, I am starting to see it leaking out on people who don’t deserve it.
      I don’t have any magical answers but I do believe you can’t just let it go until you get to the root of it and deal with it.
      I googled anger and how to deal with it there are some very helpful websites.
      I am going to try out some techniques only started yesterday so can’t tell you if they work or not.
      I am also doing as my therapist recommended which is to write a letter to the ex AC outlining everything he has done that I am angry about.
      (I think this is the same as Nat’s unsent letter) only in my case my therapist has suggested I meet with the ex AC and let him read why I am so angry at him.
      Sorry I’m not much help with links but there is lots of info out there and different ideas.
      Just wanted you to know you are not alone and no you can’t just let go until you have dealt with things.

      • grace says:

        Don’t meet him.

      • Mymble says:

        I agree with Grace. Sometimes therapists get it wrong too.
        It’s up to of course but my feeling is that doing this may feed your anger and pain.
        Personally I never really “had it out” with the MM and have lost ant urge to discuss anything with him. His response would be inadequate, I know that much, and even if he was truly sorry so what? What use is that to me?
        What I really wanted was him (I suppose in some ways I still do, though I have come to terms with the fact that it will never happen) and his apologies or explanations or whatever don’t change anything except bring the whole disaster to the forefront of my mind.

        • susanna says:


          I agree with you. Meeting with the ex only feeds the fire and doesn’t move us toward the “light” but keeps us stewing in anger and pain.

          I wrote a letter and emailed it to him after I learned he kept his marriage from me. I did it for me and it helped. Then, I emailed him telling him I was sorry for being so harsh in the email and wished he and his wife well! His response was–let’s just leave it at that. It’s a vicious circle and it’s just best to stay NC for the reasons you mention.

      • susanna says:

        Thank you. I actually did write him a long letter after I learned he’d gotten married and emailed it. That felt good, because I wanted him to know that I knew what he did (lied & used me), that I was sincere about my feelings and that he caused a lot of pain. The letter wasn’t overly emotional & I felt fine for 2 months and then the anger started welling up again. I think writing a letter can be a good release and only you know if you can handle seeing him again. I’m not sure I could handle that, but he lives 2,000 miles away so there was no chance anyway.

        I think it’s all a process, but sometimes just walking away can’t be done. We have to deal with it in a way that helps us or we’ll carry it around, and as you say, take it out on others. I’m sure I’ve been doing that, too. I’ll check out some of the anger websites.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Susanna, remember grief is not linear. The only way you’re going to get over it is to go through it, so if you’re gonna be angry, BE ANGRY. Then be sad. Then be depressed. Then bargain a little. Oh look, now you’re sadface again. Or if you’re anything like me, you’re at DEFCON 5 anger daily for waaaaay too long and can burn actual holes through walls with your eyes. I can bend spoons with nothing but the sheer power of crankiness. What to do the with the feeling? FEEL IT. Go and beat the shit out of a pillow. Preferably with his face pinned to it (oh wait, did I say his face? Of course I meant a photo of his face). If you can get his actual face to pin to it – don’t panic – it will still work just as good as a photo.

      WHY You ask? because you are human. Because you dared to hope against hope that he wouldn’t disappoint you. Because you mistakenly thought he’d put you first. It wasn’t an unreasonable thing to hope, so go easy on yourself. 40 years is a long time BUT you have a long time left. That time is yours. How are you going to spend it? Mooning over this cocksmoker? Or moving your sexy ass the fuck on? One thing you have now that he can’t take away is CHOICE. Use it wisely.

      Until then, onwards and sideways.

      • susanna says:

        Ms. Determined,

        You made me laugh out loud–it was just what I needed–thanks so much. I forget I’m not alone and you reminded me that this is all normal and I’m not a bad person for wanting to wring his neck and kick him in the scrotum.

        I keep replaying everything and with hindsight comes wisdom. I want to rewind the tape and cannot and I was duped AGAIN by the same guy. I need to give myself a break and feel some satisfaction in the fact that I at least was sincere and he was not–at least, I don’t think he was. I just don’t know. I don’t want to care either.

        I so appreciate all you’ve said–it soothed my soul and uplifted my spirits. BR is a God-send for me right now and you’ve really helped me rethink & refocus. I feel less mad woman crazy now:)

        • Allison says:


          This man has taken enough of your precious years, please don’t let him take any more.

    • Wiser says:

      I’ve discovered that anger is a powerful ally in the healing process but it can easily get out of control and burn your whole house down. It’s all too easy to turn it against yourself, but at the same time you MUST feel it and let it have its expression. One thing that helped me keep it from becoming destructive was to embrace self-compassion while I was feeling my anger. There are several good web sites on self-compassion, which basically is “how do I care for myself with love and kindness while I’m going through this shit?”

      • susanna says:


        Thank you and I agree–I don’t want the anger to burn my house down. Part of what’s fueling it is my inability to stop looking online and see what’s happening in his life. He’s not on FB, but his new wife is and it’s searing pain to see what’s happening–the honeymoon, new car he bought her (the one he promised to buy me as a wedding gift)–it’s all beyond excruciating. But, can I stop? No. But, I must.

        I’ll look at the self-compassion websites. BR is so amazing with such amazing people. I can’t talk about this situation with anyone in my RL. Knowing I can come here and vent and get support is my lifeline.

        • grace says:

          when I got together with my ex, I deliberately avoided making him my fb friend. I knew that if we broke up that fb would do my head in. Get his wife off your fb. Forget what anyone else will think, they won’t think anything. and the kind of people who would think anything DON’T HAVE A LIFE.
          You talk about 40 years of wasted time. If all you did in that time was think about him, yes, you wasted it. But if you had friends, worked, had hobbies, read, went on holiday, ate, slept then it wasn’t a waste. It was life. If it wasn’t “enough” then it’s on you to make it enough. You can’t foist that reponsibility onto someone else, regardless of how amazing they are. And your ex does not sound that amazing to be honest.
          Free yourself from trying to mindcontrol what he does. I explicitly told my ex not to contact me, his best friend forbade him to contact me, yet he emailed me last week. If he disregards specific instructions, how can I control him by sitting in my flat obsessing about him? It feels like you’re doing something but it’s a freaking waste of time!
          I did not reply to the email by the way and a week later I am happy with that decision.
          He sounds like he’s having a breakdown and, much as I sympathise, it is not an ex girlfriend’s place to help him with that. Those priveleges are REVOKED when they stop choosing you.
          I miss him so much. I’m losing two pounds a week. I wake up crying. It’s not that I’m coldhearted but you have to stop putting your energies, life and emotions and hope into someone who, for whatever reason, cannot give you what you deserve.
          I also have depression so if I can do it so can you. Ditch the stalking, please.

          • Allison says:


            Wise advise!

            You’re doing a great job of handling such a painful break. You are absolutely right, he has to deal with his pain, as you have to work through yours.

            Take care of yourself.

          • susanna says:

            Dear Grace,

            I appreciate your story and I see we both share the symptoms of depression, which just shows that we are starting to heal and come through to the other side. I applaud you for being so strong and staying NC despite the email he sent to you.

            I also need to be strong and stop stalking FB, because it’s self-inflicted pain.

            You also make a great point about the 40 years–I lived a full and interesting life–it wasn’t all about him. I do regret spending as much time as I did even thinking about him and wasn’t always as “present” in my life as I would like to have been. That’s a lesson for everyone–stay present and appreciate what you have and “accept” the blessings in your life. I keep reminding myself of that principle as I work through the grieving.

            Thank you so much for responding. Hugs to you.

      • the one known as teach says:

        Wiser you are very wise. I needed to hear this. Thankyou. I don’t have any self compassion atm. I’m still stuck on kicking myself (I have, after all, for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE, started seeing a PSYCHIATRIST ie what the eff eFF? I don’t even really NEED this but doing so adds legitimacy to my case in terms of my current condition which is genuinely quite complex and a little overwhelming. I already know what is wrong with me and what to do about it though. Believe it or not, despite all the practical guff going on here, my biggest problem is between my ears. I’m so full of hating the world right now and I know it’s because I’m hating myself. I just can’t seem to remember HOW to have compassion for me. I know intellectually though I SHOULD, but if I think about it too much, I will then start to beat myself about not having compassion for myself ALSO. I am not in good shape in my head. It’s humiliating to be in such poor mental condition. I am so embarressed :( :(

        • the one known as teach says:

          (yr comment to susanna I mean Wiser – I know you haven’t commented to me personally. I’m a bit messy at the mo. My apologies.)

    • theseamstress says:

      Susanna, I know it’s hard, it really hurts and he was a terrible friend to you in the end. When I was at my worst through my undiagnosed EU butting up against their EU I used to tell myself that all of this will pass. Guess what? it did. And now I am in a positive situation I tell myself that this too will all pass. We don’t know what’s in our future but I can tell you it will be alright. You won’t define yourself by this experience. You are worthy of living a richer life than by settling for his untruths and shady behaviour so make sure you are getting ready to live that life and if it makes you feel any better, he’s not happy either. He couldn’t have been to live such a lie. And in my experience they come crawling back with excess baggage laden with excuses and double bubble bullshit. You can set your watch by it, just around the time you are starting to emerge from the storm. You will be living your life for you by then and you won’t have a moment to spare for him. Your new life is on its way to you, being prepared for your delight, make sure you are ready to welcome it in.

      • susanna says:


        Yes, he wasn’t a good friend at the end even though he said he’d always be my friend. I was betrayed twice.

        I don’t expect he’ll return and he’s a newlywed, so he must be happy. I want to not give him anymore space in my thoughts or life and the sooner I can move away from him and into the life I deserve, the happier I’ll be. I know I’ll be alright, but at this age/stage, it feels like a lifelong project gone bad. It’s like believing in something your whole life and having it turn out to be all fantasy. I feel stupid and duped.

        But, I have to get past it and not let it define me although it’s most of my adult life–how incredible is that. Honestly. How could I misjudge someone for 40 years? How is that even possible? How could I mean so little to him?
        How could he walk away so easily? Lying on the way out, too.

        Part of the problem is that I put him on a pedestal and respected his values & judgment. We were mostly “friends” through the years and so when he rejected me, I felt it to my core. I felt I didn’t measure up and he judged me harshly for having an affair with him. Double standard. He said he “tried to talk himself into it (marriage)” but couldn’t. All the pain of how he’d hurt his deceased wife came back… I feel guilty about that, so the pain is especially searing. Sometimes I think he wanted to hurt me to avenge the pain his wife went through–I think it’s possible, even if on a sub-conscious level.

        Sorry for rambling on–it’s like a stream of consciousness. I know I need a therapist to help me, but I can’t afford one right now. Thank you for “listening” and for the good advice.

        • the one known as teach says:

          Oh Susanna. If you were involved in some way or another (friends, maybe later as lovers in a clandestine r/ship & later a more open one)for FORTY YEARS, OF COURSE this is not going to be easy to ‘just let go of’ as you may feel people suggest.

          I think though that anyone would understand that forty years is a bloody long time, and we cannot expect miracles of healing overnight, or even in just a year or two, following such an event.

          My now deceased ex AC was someone I’d always considered a soul mate for 24 years. 17 of those years we were seperated and not together. Our relationship was of approx 4 years at the start (normal r/ship) and not really a relationship at the other end but more of a terrible nightmare for me where he was ‘in my life’ in some form on/off for the final 3 years of his life.

          My experience in my situation does not come anywhere near close to yours, but I say that only to make my next point on ‘letting go.’

          I have found that letting go for me, of my now deceased ex AC, (he was not an AC the first time around), has been more of a process than an event. It is a process which is no-where near even finished and he is DEAD, so I ‘get it’ that letting go is not as straight forward or linear as Ms D points out.

          Now wouldn’t you think that if someone was DEAD I would finally have ‘let go’ already, absolutely and completely? Well, yes actually one might. However still I feel, 18 mnths now since his death, that my grieving is not yet complete.

          I share this to say, please be GENTLE with yourself. You have been through an ENORMOUS loss, in terms of complexity (he was a MM, there was an affair, but in the end he married someone else), longevity (40 years), as well as existential meaning and life purpose.

          Most people, you most likely included, envisage the partnering with their soul mate as being CENTRAL to their life journey, especially in terms of purpose and meaning. We all desire to love and be loved. This is a fundemental human instinct. The picture of what that ‘looked like’ for you though, has just been smashed to smithereens, like a broken mirror on the pavement.

          How cruel that must feel when you proved yourself worthy after having ‘waited’ for him for such a long time. I can literally feel the searing sting of the slap of his rejection on your heart as I type this.

          So I say to you Susanna, this will take TIME to heal. Please give yourself the GIFT of time. Take all of it you need. There is no hurry or right or wrong way to feel. There just is, what is. And we here at BR will support you in whatever small way we can.

          Hugs & hang in there Susanna. All is not lost and I promise that in TIME this pain WILL eventually heal. I can’t say when exactly, but I know that it will. Teach x

          • susanna says:

            Teach, thank you for the kind words and giving me perspective–also “permission” for grieving and taking time. I’m still a bit in shock TBH almost like it was a dream that turned into a nightmare.

            I still think about him every single day, but the pain has subsided. I’m trying to “reframe” in my head a narrative I can live with to get beyond the rejection. Pat myself on the back for trying, being the sincere one and handling the break up with dignity.

            When he and I were seeing one another, his sister was routing for us to make it. She was shocked when he announced he was getting married and WHO he was marrying–she’s not someone well-liked by his family. Do you think it’s inappropriate for me to write her a letter? She messaged me and I didn’t respond…

  9. Selkie says:

    I felt like a cancer when the ex dumped me shortly after I shared some of my past with him. But I understand it more now, looking back, when HE had shared his past with me, he was issuing a warning, not actually trying to build intimacy. He was trying to sabotage any growing closeness, so when I reciprocated and told him about my past ( at his request ), it was too much for his EU heart. He dumped me because I wanted a man who was present and capable of love and he knew he wasn’t able. He wanted to hide and hold his painful past like a blankie. His pain came from suddenly losing a parent 25 years ago, while that is very painful, to still use it as a reason you are depressed and unable to cope with life is a bit dramatic and self sabotaging. So, it took a while but I am past the point of blaming myself entirely now. I’m sure I wasn’t perfect, but neither was he. I think about my past, but at least I don’t live there.

    • Learner says:

      Wow, what an insightful post. For him to confide in you, and expect you to reciprocate all in the hopes of sabotaging closeness seems a bit underhanded. At least he knew he couldn’t be the man you were looking for. The holding onto his pain like a blankie sounds similar to the exMM, who reminded me again and again that he had lost his mother when he was young. I love your last 3 sentences. Nothing to be blamed for Selkie. You shared, he left, you have the present and future for your wonderful self.

      • Selkie says:

        Thanks Learner. It was the way he confided in me about himself. He had an attitude that he’d already given up on life and resigned himself to stay deep in his personal struggles. I was merely in the way of his own pity party for himself. He was a negative sort of person and was judgmental of most everyone around us. I don’t know why I was surprised he turned on me. That was his pattern.

        • jewells says:

          Selkie, I’ve met those sorts before. They do indeed hang on to some event from the past to justify their self pity party, they behave as if they are the only person in the world to have lost a parent. I understand a level of grief that comes with that, but to use it as a marker and definer of their lives and behaviors is shady shady shady…

  10. AngleBeary says:

    I recently shared an umbrella that had my job’s name and logo on it with a man I cared about. That person got angry at me & stalked me at my new job- the one listed on my umbrella!?!! I went to security and HR to tell them of the situation and possibility of upcoming trouble. I was a little uncomfortable doing that – but better safe than sorry.

    This was a man whom I’ve known for several years. (yes, I did know the shady character of the guy, but never dreamed he would harass me at my job which he threatened me with).

    After going through that, I was reading articles on the internet about how to get over a cheater. Yes, he cheated on me and I was at the point of not giving him another chance. So, on internet a site popped up called Cheater Registry…I was in a mood and I registered the jerk., used his real name, city, and photos. Now when his name is ‘searched’ on internet… quite a bit of revealing data comes up on him!

    This little bit of revenge for the stuff he put me through at my job worked for me in several ways including the fact that now that I have done such a deed there is no chance of future communication of any kind. There is a chance he will retaliate at a later time- so I don’t recommend others to do this.

    I could have taken a different road. In the future, I will NEVER offer a man an umbrella, with any identifying info on it., and I will also not register any other cheater. The idea of being cheated on again is not one that I like…… My screening skills are way better, and so are my disclosure skills. An umbrella. Really??

    • Simmy says:

      Oh Goodness, that’s bloody freaky. Mental note to self, not to take promotional material from HR ever again.

  11. Lacy says:

    This is a reminder of me confining in a old friend, a mutual friend of the ac. She invited me to a hous gathering and as soon as I came in her door her sis blurted hey so he had another baby on you huh? I was devastated that I had the suspicion that I had confided in my friend about and she had told her sister, which they apparently already knew about the situation and he had actually did have a baby that my frien heard my suspicion but pretended to no nothing about. In actuality she did know and had been discussing it with her sister and whoever else.

    I felt stupid but I said hey it was me who confided in her with my problems so hey lesson learned on my end.I cut contact with her I just felt I wasn’t in her circle nor was she in mine.I am in a good place about my decision.Some people are gossipy so I just try to stay positive and live my life.

  12. Kaz says:

    I am still not in a strong enough position to stay NC with my ex. I go for long stretches without even thinking about him, I don’t initiate any calls, or texts, I don’t go anywhere where he might be. However, he still has my number and is hell-bent on the “friends” thing. When he contacts me he expects me to engage and be polite and forthcoming. Eg. if he asks me how I’m doing and I’m too vague with details, he accuses me of being “secretive”, as if I’ve got something to hide. I just don’t think he deserves to know all my business anymore, I am trying to move on with my life and I don’t owe him anything. I don’t think it’s being secretive, I think it’s being protective of me and my feelings. It’s his birthday this weekend, and I am not going to contact him. Even though he’s already moved on and has been living with his new girlfriend for 6 months (while still trying to invite himself over to my place behind her back!), I can predict that he will try to contact me next week to tell me how I would have at least texted him to wish him a happy birthday if I was a “real friend”, and that my failure to do so was “not a very nice thing to do”. When we were together, I confided a lot in him, in the belief that it would be conducive to a mutual, respectful relationship full of honesty and trust. In return I got dumped, guilt-tripped into becoming his Fallback Girl, and accused of being dishonest and secretive myself (I think that’s called “projection”). Nearly everything I confided about myself ended up being used against me, and it is not a nice feeling. If I ever told him that he has been less than nice or fair t me, I’d get “I never meant to hurt you”, as if that makes it all okay (and it also implies that MY actions re: NC are specifically intended to hurt him).

    • Tabitha says:

      Why are you answering his calls? You imply that you are NC but you clearly are not. NC doesn’t just mean that you don’t initiate contact, it means that you don’t respond to any either. You need to be honest with yourself about this and get on with your life or you can get stuck for years. You can do it!!!!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Kaz. You are only kidding yourself. You’re not NC with him as Tabitha said and you’re obviously still hooked. It seems that his moving in with his gf would be the last straw, but it’s not for you. You are still hoping he’ll suddenly find that he cannot live without you. Don’t hold your breath. You are playing with fire. All he wants is a fwb relationshit. He doesn’t care about you, only himself. If you want to be used, and always 2nd (or 3rd or 4th best), keep engaging with him.

    • Allison says:


      And why are you responding to his contact???????

      Time to change your number!

      • Allison says:


        You’re keep yourself in the drama. You know who this guy is, why treat yourself like this?

        This is on you!

  13. Simmy says:

    Think about sharing yourself (I’m not talking sharing a personal deep secret) as a gift, ie don’t expect anything back and don’t get upset if the person doesn’t like the gift. It’s not a reflection on you if they move on after you shared so much. It’s likely they’re moving on has nothing to do with the gift you gave, it may have a lot to do with the person and their perception /life experience /personal situation/goals/motivations, NOT YOU!!!

    I can appreciate the feeling of shame because I experienced full intensity lust/ infatuation for the first time but at the age of 30 plus. My actions were so embarrassing when I look back and I wish I knew my hormones were directing them (my hormones are still part of me and I take full responsibility for my actions).

    I did some very demoralizing acts with someone who was married because I was so turned on by him (the first guy I actually found desirable). He was in my circle of friends. We were both married. I’m pretty sure he is bragging and sharing how he managed to break the girl nobody could and because I was married at the time, I feel so sick of my actions. I feel shame (oddly not guilt because of the actions my ex husband had in the situation) but I walk away learning from this. I will never do it again and I need to stop making myself sick over my actions. I need to forgive myself and realize I cant turn back time but instead reflect back on all the wonderful things I gained from my toxic relationship with this man.

    While I may be angry that he played the “we are like family and I have your back” game, I’m not sad by him anymore because that made me the victim and therefore gave him more power. Instead, I’m now angry at him, learned never to trust someone on words again and also made myself a mental list of more positive outcomes derived by my relationship with him (lost 30 kilos because of the high I was on). Because I’m no longer the victim in this pity party, I feel more powerful.

    I wonder sometimes why I enjoy this pity party so much…is it comfort when I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Do I romantize the situation which possibly brings up a similar feeling of watching the ending of a Disney Movie? (the feeling you get when Prince Charming walks past the step sister to Cinderella???). Am I associating the pity feeling with that of what’s required before finding true love. Perhaps??

    Does anyone feel that last part at all? Does anyone else enjoy feeling sorry for themselves and understand why we do it to ourselves when it feels so bad? I’m so baffled by my behaviour at times.

    • Allison says:


      When we continue to attend the ‘pity party,’ it allows us to detract from our responsibility in the relationship. It also prevents us from making change, and addressing what got us there. None of us are victims, here! We made very poor choices!

      When I left my ‘party,’ I was able to make many positive changes in life.

      This is about you and moving to a better place.

  14. runnergirl says:

    Nice balance Natalie. Over two years, I never shared a drop of my past with the exMM with regards to my family of origin issues. I didn’t feel safe. I was right. I did share the stories underlying three exhusbands because he knew I had three ex’es and he asked. Yup, it came back to haunt me. Even though he was married and cheating on his wife with me, I was somehow made out to be wrong and he couldn’t trust ME! Yikes how twisted. A cheating married man who thinks he is trustworthy…and I believe he is…and somehow how I’m the slut? Face plant!
    In any event, thanks to all you have written, I’m much more savy with regards to what I discuss and with whom. Perfect stranger date guys who insist on prying get nothing. My standard line: “I’ve been divorced for 11 years, do you want to talk about something that’s important to me now?”
    Oh and what a disaster when perfect stranger date guys decide they are going to tell me all about their miserable marriage(s) and their miserable divorce(s). I’ve learned when to call for the check. One time, I signed the check paying for my half, went to the ladies room, and left him still sitting there talking about his divorce. Yaddha yaddha…
    I haven’t committed some extraordinary crime and I’m not inclined to discuss stuff with perfect strangers or for that matter non-strangers. I’ve got a good 20-30 years left and I’m not going to spend it dwelling on the past 20-30 years. PERIOD.

    • Simmy says:

      Amen!!! You go girl.

    • Sm says:

      That’s right Runner. I’ve been divorced 14 years and it is a nonissue. It is amazing to me these cheaters who judge other people for being single. My brother in law has lots of judgements for everyone in his family and mine but has cheated on my sister twice. Myself being the main target because Im the only one divorced twice..oh the horror. For some reason he doesn’t see himself as a piece of s–t. The reason is that my sister has not kicked his azzz to the curb, if she did he’d be in the same boat as the rest of us, so he can still count himself among the married to the same person for over 20years. I’m sure it’d be all her fault though.

      • EllyB says:

        Yeah, there is this sick ideology that as long as you manage to stay in a marriage/relationship, you are the “winner”, and EVEN MORE so if you are unfaithful and your partner stays with you anyway. As if relationships were a constant power struggle/popularity contest or something. Of course, that is an ideology invented by ACs.

    • Learner says:

      Yeah, what’s with those cheating MMs who feel they are trustworthy, and insist on honesty and trust in a relationshit? I didn’t share deep dark family secrets with the exMM, but I did make myself vulnerable gushing about my feelings for him while he mostly looked uncomfortable, or mumbled something like “me too”. Lesson learnt – never again will I wear my heart on my sleeve while trying to squeeze validation and a fantasy relationship from a MM. And I am with you – I would have no interest in hearing about miserable marriages and divorces on a first date. What is wrong with these people? Do they have nothing else to converse about? Good for you for flushing, literally, flushing the women’s room toilet then dashing. Love it!

    • susanna says:

      Runner, I had the same situation–he judged me harshly for having an affair with him (several times over 40 years) when he was doing the same thing! Now that his wife has died, he’s all high and mighty and virtuous all of a sudden, but not ethical enough not to use me one more time before he marries again.

      My job now is to forgive myself for trusting him and believing him when he made promises for a future–in great detail–and then abruptly turns the other way. I have to forgive myself for hoping against hope it would all work out. Now I have no doubt that it was not meant to be.

      I am still married–my husband and I have had a rocky marriage with several separations–and now I have to decide what to do. Why I complicated my life again by reaching out to this “old love” is beyond me–I guess I just wanted to be loved and got just the opposite.

  15. Chutzpelady says:

    I read every post, try to learn – and I do admire the courage of you all!

  16. Sm says:

    I stopped dating someone after he confessed that he was a recovering drug addict. He was very upset and said he wished he’d never told me. We had only known each other 4 weeks when I mentioned that my brother was a crack addict going thru rehab, this made him comfortable enough to tell me, he said it had been years and he did seem successful at it but I knew all too well the risks. Also I knew that he still drank beer and that is a no no for someone recovering. So I told him that based on that knowledge I could no longer date him. He was upset and said he should have never told me and that now he wouldn’t tell anyone else. I don’t think I was wrong for not wanting to date a recovering drug addict. I did sympathize with him being upset now that he seemingly was doing well but I couldn’t help it, I watched my brother go thru rehab and fail many times and didnt want as a part of my life.

    • Allison says:


      Don’t feel guilty. You did the right thing!

    • Rosie says:

      SM- His telling you that he wouldn’t tell anyone aver again sounds a little emotionally manipulative. He’s making you responsible for his future decisions. Uh-uh. He’s responsible for his own decisions. When we reveal ourselves, rejection is a risk we take.

    • Ms Determined says:

      SM, You have every right to date who you want, and that dude is an idiot to get all entitled and ‘woe is me’ about telling you. Here in the real world, being a recovering drug addict is going to give some people pause. Especially if drug issues are in your past (in my case, hi, alcoholic dad!) No one healthy is interested if there’s a chance it’s going to morph into some kind of tedious caregiving/enabling bullshit.

      Give yourself a pat on the back girl for calling it early and recognising that dating this guy would make you stray outside your boundaries. You aren’t ever doing that for anyone again, amirite? Look at you. TOO AWESOME.

      1st rule of dating after ACs: DO NOT DATE THE BROKEN ONES. And ‘still mending’ = ‘still broken’.

      I like this analogy and I’ve used it before: you can’t make a cake with broken eggs. That is of course unless you like cakes that don’t hold together, don’t ever rise, or taste like ass.

      • sushi says:

        Sm and Ms D,

        “1st rule of dating after ACs: DO NOT DATE THE BROKEN ONES. And ‘still mending’ = ‘still broken’.”

        Absolutely. Also, what Rosie pointed out, the fact that he tried to guilt trip you about his confession shows that yes, definitely still very broken.

        • theseamstress says:

          I am not sure I would kick a recovered drug addict to the kerb or is that just my Florence Nightingale singing in my heart? I really don’t want to judge or be judged. But I would definitely let it slow it’s roll and insist on NOT ONE RELAPSE EVER and also expect a clean bill of sexual health. ya know, with a certificate and everything.
          One person’s drug addict image is a gutter lying injecting mess but it could just as easily be a painkiller or alcohol addiction. We are all fallible. And I’ve met some wonderful people who used to do or be bad but they learned too. just as we all do hopefully.

          I’m sure of one thing though, we do all have a choice who we choose to disclose to or be open with and if someone opens up to me I check it for a “one time in band camp” pulse, decide whether my life needs this information or not and move along looking at the wider picture.

          We’ve all got clothes in our wardrobes that don’t fit us any more.

    • AngleBeary says:

      Yes you followed your instinct and did the right thing. That is what dating is about! To discover each other and see if there is compatibility enough to continue on. We should not be so needy as to take people who have a bad past and a shaky future. Life is too short, and sharing months/years with the wrong person….. the suffering and outcome is too horrible. Good for You!

      • AngleBeary says:

        That reminds me of the time I was on a date and the man told me he was a heroin addict. I ended it that moment. Another one of my good decisions.

    • the one known as teach says:

      I agree you were totally entitled to have a boundary around this (or anything else in fact) SM. You are also correct that if he is TRUELY a recovering ‘drug addict’ he ought NOT be drinking alcohol because alcohol IS a drug.

      I struggle with this a bit in terms of worrying I will be judged but get it out of the way fairly early on when I openly state that I don’t drink – ever. The truth I am in recovery and have spent 24 years of my life clean and sober (ie more than half of my life – I’m only 43). All of that time has been consecutive aside from a 3 mths of intermittant marijuana smoking (which frankly, many people do recreationally with far less health effects than alcohol) 19 years ago (I explain this only for those who are nit picky, which I do understand – most people in society are not quite so extreme in the way classify such things however; I only am personally, because such honesty is part of what enables me to retain the lifestyle I have chosen).

      After stating that I don’t drink, at some point my date’s inevitably ask why? I am honest and say it’s a decision I made for health reasons at quite a young age. They then usually ask me how long since I’ve had a drink. LOL When I say 24 years I generally get a surprised response (oh, so you’re quite serious about it then they usually say, – if they turn out to be a bit yukky I then see their brain tick over ‘no liquid leg opener for this girl then’ – at which point I laugh, and explain that although I was not an alcoholic, they should trust me that as I was a bit wild as a kid, not drinking really was a good decision) and then simply smile and stick to my story.

      After that they don’t really get anything else from me unless I get to know them well enough. One guy I dated for nine months STILL didn’t know more. He attempted to reconcile with me after we’d broken up down the track (mummy’s boy – I ended it for this reason) at which point I did say I’d experienced problematic drug use as a teenager(I did not specify what type of drug but did admit marijuana is the drug I used the most). I deeply regretted telling him even THAT afterward. He was a dickhead. I will be more careful in future (but I guess I thought knowing him by then as I had for 18 mths or so I thought it was ok to say – unfortunately it wasn’t. He didn’t say or do anything specifically negative re my disclosure but turned out to be just a dickhead crawling back looking for sex. Needless to say he didn’t get this!

      Since then I’ve talked with one or two people about this (not dates just guys in general who already knew I was in recovery) and I’ve been told that as my issue was so long ago in the past that to most people it would not matter. I don’t know if this is true or not. I understand if it did though. I actually do not want to date a recovering addict or alcoholic myself for example. As far as I’m concerned there’s only enough room for one person in recovery in any relationship I’m in and that’s ME (ie I would simply prefer someone who doesn’t have that background .) There you go!! lol

      Tink… what was it you were saying about me ‘oversharing’ … boo hooo… :(

  17. noquay says:

    I have to be really careful because this is a very small town and my circle of trust right now consists of one person. My own father does not know some of what happened to me as a child. Why? I cannot trust him. He had discussed details of my life that never should have been revealed with a past girlfriend of his. I probably revealed too much to some colleagues about the at work AC, no details about his betrayal but some understand that something really bad happened between us. At the time through I was trying hard to hide my feelings, many knew something was very, very wrong. It’s uncomfortable when potential dates ask me about family, about my marriage, why I am in the West, do I like living here. I do not want to sound like a victim, don’t want to talk about my environmental work, don’t want to sound like a whiner so often talking to what amounts to a stranger is a lot like walking on eggshells.

    • AngleBeary says:

      There must be books at Barnes and Nobel about the art of positive disclosure. I agree with you…I might actually look for a book like that for myself. How to stay cheery and positive and not tell them too much. “Why did you divorce?” , me replying “Oh, it just didn’t work out.”
      Best wishes for you!

  18. Tara says:

    Omogiosh! How true…I revealed because I thought that from there would bloom something deep connected feelings. But in the end it just embarrassed me…I felt humiliated ….I think because I loved him because I revealed and he didn’t leave…so because of that he must love me too. It’s not the relationship and commitment I want but I was okay with that because he let me reveal and he didn’t leave. …

  19. kayakgirl says:

    I found this on a great Facebook page and thought I’d share. I’m not one to wish bad on anyone, even the thoughtless jerks that have passed through our lives, but I am human after all and have had MANY mental images about filling ‘his’ mailbox full of, um, stuff and letting his girlfriend find out. LOL However, I’m above that sort of thing so, in the meantime, I write stuff like this in my journal. Take heart, ladies, and know that you are, right now, despite any pain and anguish you may be feeling, in a much better place than your asshat(s) ever will be. YOU have a chance to grow and be a better person. So, love your bad-ass selves and let the universe do it’s thang!

    “Buddhists believe in karma. Christians believe you reap what you sow. Chinese believe in ying and yang. Universally speaking the concept of what comes around goes around is believed by most people whether you have faith and religion or not. It’s not that hard to understand that whatever type of energy you put into the atmosphere shall return to you be it negative or positive. Of course there is always an exception to the rule. But the rule still stands, your bad deeds are coming back to you (BE AFRAID, ASSHATS, BE VERY AFRAID!!!). So for all you heart breakers, liars, manipulators, and self-centered I pray for you. Yes, you may be living in plenty and enjoying your time now but for what is to come you should be extremely afraid. To all whom try to spread peace and love yes it may be hard sometimes and we all must experience pain, just know your good deeds shall return to you. NEVER STOP BEING GOOD.”

    • Kit-Kat says:

      kayakgirl… thanks for sharing. I don’t wish any ill will on the person/asshat who brought me here. This blog has been a true blessing thru & thru. I have become a better me and for that I am grateful. As they say every dark cloud has a silver lining :)

      • susanna says:

        I wish I could be more evolved. I don’t wish him well. At all.

        Clearly, I need to spend more time here.

        • Allison says:


          I have been out of this much longer than you, and I don’t wish my ex well, actually, I don’t wish him anything at all! Honestly, I don’t give a damn what happens to him!

        • the one known as teach says:

          I don’t exactly wish mine well either. And he’s DEAD! What does that say about ME? That I was sorely effed over is what, despite the fact that he is now deceased. I will not put someone on high in death who deserved to see only my back in life (however much ‘compassion and ‘understanding’ I might have had for his ‘issues’. I’d have been a darned sight better having that compassion and understanding for MYSELF!)

          Okay, off to bless ME with some sleep. It has been in short supply here of late. Sigh…

  20. lo j says:

    Arlena … I appreciated what you said about what we reveal about ourselves as well. Perfectly put. I am in a new relationship and I am listening to how I feel as I unfold to my new interest and I am listening to how I feel as he unfolds himself to me as well. Timing, purpose all factor in. For instance, as we are coworkers, when my boyfriend and I became a couple, gossip and rumors were flying around at the work place. One fellow I have known for years with a history of causing trouble anyway, he’s always been envious of my beau, he has known me for years (at one time we were good friends … he knows a lot of my very promiscuous past) and he does not appreciate the person I’ve become, began telling everybody stories how I’d slept with him and that he “could tell them things that would make their toes curl.” (Which was true nonetheless (not the sleeping together … yuck) but nobody’s business and certainly not work conversation. I felt for the sake of our relationship I needed to let my bf know what was being said before he heard it elsewhere. (Granted it had been MANY years.) No details were necessary, just that I did have a past, which he understood, AND we discussed the reason for my past, ie, childhood trauma, my parents, self esteem issues, and how I had overcome these things. BTW, a lot of this had been touched upon as friends prior to our becoming a couple. (Little did I know what would become.) BTW he said, I love your past. It makes you YOU. That’s unfolding. And other unfolding has occurred similarly with him. Not to manipulate but because we are just being. Letting it occur naturally as it comes up.

  21. xander says:

    Incredible! I was thinking about this very thing on the train commute this morning. Sad experience through an experience that never took off.

    How a “relationship” failed because there was lack of trust. More so from my side as I observed her “drip fed” information – hanging out with a ‘friend’, which in actual fact was her husband; numerous other male friends that I was allowed to meet and when I brought it up she would freak out.

    On the other hand, blatant honesty as red flags – She’s jaded and deeply flawed; she can only love 80 as 20% died with the separation of her husband; the co-ownership with her husband of a house, bank accounts and two cats will never change; scared she will never be able to love me the way I want as the void is bigger than her due to my abandonment issues; giving me an ultimatum for having kids.

    Oh! I was lost in the forest.

    (Re-)Born Under Punches

    “All I want is to breathe thank you. thank you
    Won’t you breathe with me?
    Find a little space…so we move in-between I’m so thin
    And keep one step ahead of yourself. I’m catching up with myself…

    …And The Heat Goes on”

    Share as much as you think suitable. Trust your intuition/gut feeling.

    Thank you for sharing and for allowing me to share. We’re not crazy, just absolutely real people.

  22. Still somewhat stuck says:

    The shame. I never knew I had any until I disclosed my most personal information to an unavailable man. I had gotten closer to him than to anyone in all the many years since my divorce. Then I had to grapple with the fact that he did not have any intentions with me that would earn him such information. We did not have an intimate relationship. He had a girlfriend. I did not take enough care for myself. And ever since, and I am talking lots of time, I have felt shameful in a way I hadn’t before. I am ashamed for what I disclosed. I misread a lot and paid for it with my piece of mind. I’ve changed my name on here but Nat, I’m sure, can see that she might as well have written this post about me.

    • sushi says:

      Still Somewhat Stuck,

      if he was an emotionally available person with a girlfriend he would stop a possibility of you getting so close to him. It`s quite simple. You see someone interested in you but you are in a relationship so you put the vibes out accordingly and let them know the score. And even if he didn`t see this coming (duh, or was it slightly ego boosting for him) he would not let you go on and disclose all that information. He would feel uncomfortable for you and him. I just have a feeling you have him on a pedestal and also that some of that shame is for him to feel. If I`m way off, I apologise, don`t really know the fine details of your story.

      • Still Somewhat Stuck says:

        Hi Sushi.

        Your response is insightful without my putting out very much information. Thank you. Your comment means a lot. I am trying to be easier on myself because I automatically took all the blame, and the shame appeared without my even realizing it was coming. He was on his merry way, and I was in a pickle. It’s taken a long time to start forgiving myself, and maybe it’s time to start facing the details of what I disclosed. That is the root of a lot of how badly I feel.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          SSS. Do you see this guy regularly? If not, you should be able to let it go if you really try. Now if he’s always around, that’s another story. Imo, you should be examining WHY you felt the need to divulge such private information so that you don’t do it again, prematurely.

          • Still Somewhat Stuck says:

            Hi Tinkerbell.

            No, I don’t see this guy anymore. Any closeness between us was gone long ago, and so I removed myself. I misread the situation, and should have kept my own counsel. I blamed myself for not remaining “fine”, but now I have to say if I could have I would have. Next time, I’ll make sure someone is more invested in me before revealing more of myself.

  23. Peanut says:

    David Foster Wallace said something to the effect that it’s a bit tragic going after and getting something you genuinely desire.

    The fantasy is ripped apart and it becomes clear life and reality will inevitably seep in.

    This isn’t bad. It helps us to be real and authentic. Glamorization is tiring, boring bullshit. Everything and anything worth having takes introspection and continuos care.

    And there is no one that we can date and nothing we can do that will improve our worth; we can improve our experiences, but the minute it becomes about proving or increasing our worth, we become miserable.

  24. Peanut says:

    David Foster Wallace said something to the effect that it’s a bit tragic going after and getting something you genuinely desire.

    The fantasy is ripped apart and it becomes clear life and reality will inevitably seep in.

    This isn’t bad. It helps us to be real and authentic. Glamorization is tiring, boring bullshit. Everything and anything worth having takes introspection and continuous care.

    And there is no one that we can date and nothing we can do that will improve our worth; we can improve our experiences, but the minute it becomes about proving or increasing our worth, we become miserable.

  25. noquay says:

    Love your post! We have a similar saying “treat everyone as though they are your relative”. I don’t wish anyone harm, but I do wish some folks would get a clue. I’d like to make up some psychological voodoo dolls, when I poke one with a pun, rather than causing pain, they’d cause insight. Reminds me of an incident at your end of the semester; a colleague and I were walking across campus. AC walks by us, going the opposite way. The colleague knows nothing about what happened between me and AC but she glances once at his retreating back and says “That man will die alone”.

    • Mymble says:

      Hahaha! Does that just not cheer you up a little?

      • the one known as teach says:

        And AC’s DO die alone Noquay. I can attest to that. Mine did. How sad that not a single person was in that hospital beside him when he drew his final breath b.c he had burned everyone so badly we’d all walked away. No doubt no-one realised when the nurses used his cell phone to try to call people & they refused to answer b.c it was his number calling he was in lying in a hospital bed dying but still… self inflicted…)

        May their karma be better next time and may we learn from their mistakes.

  26. teachable says:

    I’m not confiding to stay safe. I’m in ex communicado with the world at large. I’m NOT safe. I have no income again & though things MIGHT work out some mths away, that time is far frm now. I honestly don’t know how to raise my spirits. I can barely get out of bed save for trips to Drs for treatment of phsysical health issues & depression. Even then, I am escorted to many of these as I wouldn’t be able to get there otherwise. I’ve shunned a cpl of guys who recently showed interest when they met me out & abt in a rare public appearance, when I put on a brave face & pretended to be normal for a few hrs. Thank goodness for BR. I have never been so low. I am getting news tht may b further small $ wins in store but they are some time away yet, as need to be applied for & processed. I trust hardly anyone. The only ppl who know what’s going on here r BR, my professional support team, family & 2 friends (& not the dodgy newish one I stepped bk frm a while ago.) Trying not to quite before the miracle comes. Maybe it already has? This has dragged on for 2 & 1/2 yrs now. Stunned I’m still standing (or on my crawling as the case may be)

    Love to all. I wont be cynical & say no1. Instead I will say trust only a few. It keeps you safe.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      My Dear Teachable. I figured that you’re not doing well because your comments have been less frequent, and usually later in the progression of the post. I am deeply sorry that you continue to be unwell and financially strapped. When you’re this vulnerable it’s easier for those with malicious intent to take advantage even if you’re a verbal beeatch. Means nothing when they see how you live. You are right to limit comunication to the 2 true friends. Glad you got rid of the one who did not mean you well. And you’re no longer over sharing? That’s progress. I wish I could help you. It’s what I do (retired RN) and even a hot cup of tea and some warm conversation would be soothing. Don’t you think? Please take care of yourself as best you can. Be resilient and strong. Nothing stays the same forever. I was critically ill with MRSA for 3 years, 6 knee surgeries during that time to get rid of the infection and before the last surgery was told that the only other option was amputation. I recovered and then had to recover from narcotic addiction from the extended period of pain meds. I did it unassisted without medical intervention. It is amazing what we can accomplish with an extremely strong mentality. Good Luck, my dear.
      Sorry for going off topic, Natalie. Enuf said.

    • Lilly says:


      I can truly relate. Depression is insidious and makes it so hard to keep hold of the hope and that elusive light at the end of the tunnel. It might be some way off Teach, but it’s there. Keep going and we’ll be here when you come through the other side. Sending you much love, strength and hope, xxxx.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Awe Teach.. Just keep the faith. Sometimes, for all, life seems to throw you one punch after another maybe just to test your strength or make you stronger. My mother was pretty much a full blooded pessimist & I always vowed I never wanted to be like that.. Well, its harder than I thought sometimes not to be..I am blessed in many, many ways in my life but my life feels stagnant at the present moment. So I take each day as it comes as an opportunity to live it the best I can. Big cyber hug to you :)…

      • the one known as teach says:

        Thanks Lilly, Kit Kat and Tink. I am feeling a little better. What’s doing my head in mostly is that every time I get what seems be good news it is offset by bad news in the opposite direction.

        Tink your situation sounds like it was awful. I can very much understand how you could end up with addiction issues due to medication. That’s one of the complicating factors here. There’s lots of meds I can’t take or can only take in very limited amounts and thus, my sitch is a complicated health nightmare. My saving grace is being in excellent hands as far as my treatment team goes (truely THIS is in fact a miracle.) In any event…

        Here is how I have decided to roll. Clearly, (as I sit here in my dressing gown and slippers, fag in mouth, ashtray overflowing, looking like absolute shite), I am stark raving mad atm. Thus, I am not going to listen to a single word my head says. (as it is in fact saying look at you looking like shite teach… yeah yeah, whatever…)

        Instead, tonight I am going to sleep (first time in 48 hrs – probably a good start). Tomorrow, I’m going to see a lawyer and will have only two other goals. Walk the dog, and eat.

        That’s it.

        I will also go right this minute and pull a silly face at myself in the mirror and try to lighten up. I’m being FAR too serious. Someone please tell me a joke; surely with all our outlandish escapades here at BR someone must know a few good one’s!

        • Revolution says:

          Okay *clears throat*:

          Man goes to get a job as a bell ringer at the bell tower. He says to the bell tower owner, “I’m the man for the job. Let me show you!” and he takes a running leap and SMACKS his face on the bell *GONNNNNGGGG!!!* Well, he’s so dizzy at this point that he falls out of the bell tower to his death.

          As the bell tower owner is burying him, another man, who witnessed the whole thing, walks up to him and asks, “Do you know who that guy was?”

          The bell tower owner replies, “I don’t know his name, but his face sure does ring a bell.”

          Best I can do. Go walk the dog, babe. ;)

  27. Arlena says:

    As if custom-made to my current struggle with this disappointingly unfolding therapist, and data I’ll type into my life navigator. Just brilliant!

    I’ve never felt comfortable with undressing at the doctor’s, or if necessary symbolically at a lawyer’s or therapist’s office as it’s always a situation with a complete stranger, often with not much than yellow page info and you have to pay in advance lots of trust. It’s “medias in res”. You should be protected by their professional code, yet I have had to learn said “wit” the hard way. These situations will always be rather awkward for me – at least initially – maybe feeling awkward is a good reminder to pay close attention.

    Should I consider a new attempt on finding another therapist I won’t sit there with “lots of dirty secrets” and beetroot shameface only because I didn’t know better in my past. I don’t need insult to injury. I did the best I could at that time with the methods I knew and I survived and I don’t need to get that topped with inadequacies, lack of empathy on their side.

    Now I aim to still survive but also to thrive. And the good news – backed up by science – is that our brains are wired for both. I find that getting into a mutual, co-piloted and committed relationship with my own brain is the best I can do for me right now. My subconscious has taken up lots of crap during my life journey and does a splendid though thoughtless job using my experiences HABITUALLY but I as captain of my life have to teach it about my goals, intentions, what to keep, revise or toss away.

    BTW I love and appreciate all the analogies that come up on BR…

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Arlena. did you experience molestation at the doctor’s office? I don’t understand the what is causing you to distrust your therapist. But I do know that if you don’t trust that person who is supposed to be helping you as a professional therapist you need to make a change fast. It’s too important to waste time with someone in whom you have no faith.

      • Arlena says:

        Hi Tinkerbell,
        no, I haven’t experienced molestation, it’s a bit funny: when I was a toddler I tripped over my own little feet while proudly carrying my milk bottle to the kitchen. They were made of glass back then and a shard cut my finger. I bled like hell, screaming at the top of my lungs, my Dad came just down the stairs, saw the blood and fainted. We had no telephone, so my Mum put me into the pushchair and ran to the doctor’s where I was held down to get two stitches. Well, since then I was a screaming bundle the moment a doctor had to be visited – I don’t scream anymore, but it’s still awkward, as my subconscious obviously can’t forget.

        My now therapist puts a lot of inappropriate questions, e.g. when I told him, that I haven’t cried for a very long time he concluded ambiguously “You seem to have difficulties with wetness.” At the end of one session he said that I had bend his ears (again), though the irony is, that he constantly cuts ME off mid-sentence and can’t stop lecturing himself using professional terminology to show off, impress or whatever. I mean I have an academic degree but he comes off as a phrase monger. So I have to asked (and this costs energy) a lot of times “What do you mean by xyz?” and he “So you are not acquainted with the concept of abc?” ARGH. I compiled a long list of negatives. Each session I feel unnecessarily hurt, frustrated, not heard and struggling for speaking time which makes my really angry.

        • sushi says:


          this guy is a vile, slippery jerk. My blood is curdling at his comment and behaviour. Get away from him. He is behaving in a way where it would be difficult to report him, like a true AC he might say you are oversensitive. Which you are not. Please don`t let him try to screw with your head.

          • Lilia says:

            I second that. Therapists can be neurotic narcs as well, don´t think they´re some kind of Buddha only because they have some degree.
            Sometimes you have a good patient-therapist connection, other times you don´t. When that happens, feel free to get rid of him and find someone new.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Arlena. I could say a lot but I don’t want to go off topic again. Please seriously consider changing therapists. I see and feel very comfortable with a woman. I feel she can understand and empathize more than a man. You are there to be listened to and helped, not to listen to him talk about himself and use a condescending manner with words he knows you don’t understand. Flush him and make the change.

  28. noquay says:

    Not cheer up so much as confirm what I experienced. Off to sew up some voodoo dolls.

    • susanna says:

      Voodoo dolls=brilliant. But, honestly, the state of mind I’m in right now, I’d want to use them in the classic way;)

  29. Peanut says:

    I told the ex all kinds of things about my past to “confess.” Truth is I had a very hard childhood and he didn’t deserve to hear about any of it. The night we broke up he then turned it around on me saying I was too sensitive and he was afraid he was going to hurt me.

    I have a problem with throwing myself under the bus. Anytime I’m insecure about something I blurt it out or immediately disclose it, sometimes even to strangers. I give miles of explanations all the while giving every ounce of personal power I own away. I feel I owe everyone an explanation for why I’m less than, for why I don’t meet their expectations and for basically just being me. It’s like I have to go around confessing to everyone because it’s inevitable I’ll be found out eventually.

    They’ll discover what a flawed worthless individual I am, can be or was.

    I’m also looking for validation. Yesterday my grandmother and I were having dinner. We’ve always had a strained relationship. Of late I decided I would pay very close attention to our interactions. I was appalled and embarrassed at my behavior. Everytime she mentioned someone or something, I’d turn it back around on me and spin a negative light on it. I talked about myself near the entire time. I was able to gently steer myself in a different direction when I caught myself and actually ask my grandmother about her life, experiences and opinions and genuinely care.

    Though, I basically wanted to talk about myself, my greatness and my weakness and be soothed, positively validated and affirmed by her.

    I have to do this for myself.

    • Mymble says:

      Very honest and thoughtful post; rings true for me too. When you’re so caught up in your own inner anxieties and insecurities it can make you blind and insensitive to those around you. You make everything about you, which is bad news for you and also bad news for those around you.

      • Peanut says:


        Exactly. I’ve never been so aware of how I was deficient in my ways of relating to those around me socially. It was all about me. I completely missed relating to , discovering and communicating with people as to form bonds and grow relationships. I missed the boat on that one, though I hope another will come around and I can catch it this time.

    • EllyB says:

      Peanut – I think this is why many of us need to take some “time off” from most socializing. To wit, it’s not always wrong to talk about ourselves excessively. In tough times, it is okay to need a sympathetic ear. With all you’ve been through, you do certainly deserve attention!

      If your grandmother is a healthy person, then she will understand, even if you might not believe this right now. The problem is that we often cannot even tell who is healthy and who is not!

      On the other hand, oversharing with strangers is ALWAYS wrong (unless they are therapists or belong to similar professions, but in my experience, even they need to earn our trust to a certain extent).

      I think writing or drawing exercises can help us a lot. They teach us to “reframe” our experiences and to lend a sympathetic ear to ourselves, and unlike with oversharing, we aren’t going to sabotage ourselves with painting or writing (in private)!

      • Peanut says:


        You’re right. I agree, I haven’t been very social the last year because I’ve really needed to sort myself out. I’d give away underserved attention and information in an act of playing dead. As if I already throw myself under the bus, then they cannot. This caused heaps of emotional messes for me. I’d go around ravenous for attention from others, yet I do not even meet my own basic needs.

        Unfortunately my grandmother is one of the most emotionally sick human beings I have ever known. She was cruel, withholding and just plain awful to me growing up. This woman doled out heaps of emotional abuse my way. And of all the family members, I grovel for her validation the most.

        Also, I live with her and my grandfather. I don’t wish her any ill will and I do treat her with the respect you’d treat any elderly woman. I deal with my own emotional hurt separate from her, though I still find myself slipping into really wanting her to validate and love me. She can’t though. She is a woman who is so far into denial and believing her own lies she is incapable of any authenticity. I can’t change that. And I know that now.

        Writing has been my saving grace. Any uncomfortable feelings or even anger toward my grandmother go into my journal, not at her.

    • the one known as teach says:

      Peanut. I always enjoy yr intelligent, articulate posts. This is deeply insightful & shows maturity far beyond your years (you’re in your 20′s yes?). I just wanted to say that I wish you well on yr journey and keep up the great work! :)

  30. Gina says:

    The funny thing is when we prosecute ourselves, we keep going back to the shameful feelings by repeating the self-abuse (in whatever form). When we take the lessons learned with compassion, we create a space for growth and healing. Thinking about it now, growing up my Dad would prosecute me whenever I made a perceived mistake (as he would do to himself) what he didn’t know was limited to how he could treat others. For the longest, I self-abused myself in seeking out unavailable men, self destructive behaviors, etc… and feeling shameful, regretful and prosecuting myself, as the cycle continued for years, until I could not take the deep pain any longer, finally seeking truth and forgiveness.

  31. thefrenchtouch says:

    hum…I’ve been screwed over royal time. Too much of a loose tongue & lots of baggage. I’ve just come out of a big rollercoster nightmare depression which started in November 2010. Started small & got really big, left the doors open for anybody to come along & give there 6 pennysworth, then I did a spiritual course which put more sh!t in my head, depression, antidepressants, alcohol,trash, bad judgments from “others” so called “friends”,tough when you figure who your real friends are…blah, blah. After been attacked & knocked about by three guys in my lift who took all my jewellery when I was really in a fragile state (because the guru made me feel more fragile)!!! Then I met a guy which I knew from my past, have friends in common, started a relationship with all this shit & it went bad because I confided in him & little by little I realized he repeated everything to everybody. Lots of humiliation involved. All I want to do is run away. Some people are animals.

    • thefrenchtouch says:

      Now i have a severe alopecia, chronic periodontitis & i don’t want nobody in my life apart from my Ex from 12 yrs & his friends. All the rest can go to hell!!!

      • thefrenchtouch says:

        Lesson learned: Be careful who you confide in from the start because it can come back & bite you in the arse & you realize you are surrounded by a bunch of nutters who are more f!cked up than you are.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!