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So I'm over my ex but how on earth do I recover my self esteem?

(18 Posts)
3mum Wed 30-Jan-13 22:46:20

My husband of 20+ years cheated on me over a long period of time (have posted about this before) and from the moment I found out, never really showed any penitence or interest in rebuilding our relationship.

He is currently having a lovely time organising dinners with all our former couple friends at his new house where his current (pregnant) girlfriend cooks for the happy foursome and the water has apparently flowed seamlessly over my head.

I accept the marriage is over (I am divorcing him, he couldn't care less about getting a divorce as he thinks it will be cheaper for him if we don't divorce and he seems to have no trouble picking up a stream of considerably younger women who don't seem to care at all that he is married with children and all of whom are, of course, the soulmates that I never was) and am at the stage where I accept that the relationship I thought I had did not in fact exist and I don't want or expect him to come back as it can't be mended.

BUT my never very great self-esteem is completely in pieces. I feel so stupid for not knowing that he was cheating and for thinking that we had a great relationship. I feel terribly lonely and isolated - he was my best friend (except of course he wasn't). I am trying hard to build a new social life but always feel that people are seeing me out of pity and it always always seems to be me initiating contact. I feel defective (he charmingly told me that he wanted someone worthy of him), old and unattractive and as though anyone else must be more attractive and likeable than me. I feel I have wasted my entire life and that I am a deluded idiot for ever thinking that I was loved, competent or reasonably attractive.

I am unemployed, having been made redundant, and have applied for lots of jobs but just get silence back (which seems to be the normal way of turning down an application these days). This obviously doesn't help even though I recognise that my age (over 50) makes it harder to get employment.

It's been like this for 18 months now. Is this just a phase? Do other people who have been through the breakdown of a long term relationship spend a period of a year or more feeling like this but time will cure it? It would really help to hear from others who have been in a similar position.

Thanks.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 30-Jan-13 23:14:20

Your stress levels must be incredibly high coping with the breakdown of a marriage as well as redundancy. Your exH sounds a particularly cruel man, your so-called 'couple friends' are incredibly disloyal, the redundancy must be a body-blow and I think you'd have to be made of stone not to have your confidence severely knocked as a result. I'm amazed you're still standing tbh.

Do you live in quite a small place? Are your options limited? Would it benefit you to literally take some time out, go travelling or relocate, and kind of reinvent yourself away from all of these people who have let you down so badly?

VitoCorleone Wed 30-Jan-13 23:18:41

I really feel for you sad could you maybe do some voulantary work? Just to get you out of the house, meet new people and build your confidence up?

I agree with Cogito that your friends dont sound very loyal either.

izzyizin Wed 30-Jan-13 23:26:05

If you're still in the process of divorcing him it won't be easy for you to turn your face to the future and not look back, but you can set about making new friends who will increasing enable you to leave the past behind.

Do you have any hobbies or interests you've always wanted to devote more time to or explore in depth at leisue?

izzyizin Wed 30-Jan-13 23:27:05

increasingly smile

3mum Wed 30-Jan-13 23:28:38

Thanks both. Live in London but have 3 school age children, one doing GCSE's so am stuck here at present. I do have fantasies about running a cafe in Melbourne though!

Interesting how both of you have reacted to the friends. I thought they were being disloyal too, but they and he told me I was being unreasonable and if I cared to produce a man they would go to dinner with him and me (strangely I would rather eat my own head than get involved in another relationship at present).

Am trying to line myself up some voluntary work and think it will happen at some point but they are incredibly slow.

3mum Wed 30-Jan-13 23:40:57

Sorry Izzy, your post did not show at the time I replied. I really do feel I have tried very hard. I have been for counselling. I have made myself go out three nights a week and organise lots of social things.

I have taken up a new hobby (jewellery making) which I do enjoy. I go to the gym regularly. I have tried (and succeeded I think) to keep home life happy for the children who blessedly seem pretty chilled about all of this.

But whenever I stop doing stuff I just feel overwhelmed. Surely I should be further on than this now?

Have thought about asking for AD's, but (1) I feel that is a cop out and I should be able to manage a situation which thousands of other people go through and that all it would achieve is to postpone the point when I have to deal with these issues and (2) I am sure that if STBXH found out he would use it against me in the divorce and possibly custody and (3) not a great thing to have on your medical records when job hunting.

Hissy Wed 30-Jan-13 23:41:12

Your 'friends' actually said that?

Fuck me, what total twats! They're welcome to him, they sound well suited!

I don't know what to suggest, but I really hope things pick up for you, sounds like it's long overdue! (((hug)))

lowercase Wed 30-Jan-13 23:42:47

Cut them all off as far as possible.
Don't engage in any unnecessary talk with your ex.

Some churches do divorce groups and stuff, find out about them, or join support groups on the Internet, don't go through this alone.

He sounds like a selfish arse, I'm sure it will all unravel.
It looks good now but their foundation is actually shit.

What you have now looks shit, but the foundation is good.

Try and eat well, get enough sleep, exercise if that's your thing, and use this time to start looking after yourself properly.
I have read countless happy endings on mumsnet of wives who were cheated on having a second chance at life when they put themselves first.
Be true to yourself.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Wed 30-Jan-13 23:59:18

3mum I think you should be a bit kinder to yourself. I ended my own marriage recently and I feel as you do in so many ways. My husband didn't cheat and I was only married for 13 years but I really identify with your feelings.

Marriage 'institutionalises' you. I don't know what your upbringing was like but when you and I were young there was more of a stigma attached to divorce and also women were encouraged to aspire to marriage/children more than anything else. It's easy to feel a 'failure' when your marriage doesn't endure. But it's bullshit. Failing would be getting old and wondering why the fuck you stayed with someone who didn't treat you respectfully.

It's really difficult to adjust to being on one's own after many years in a couple. I feel as you do - no interest in a new man. It's normal, isn't it? Just as it's normal for a man to 'move on' quickly (they can't cope without a woman there to laugh at their crap jokes, sit in the passenger seat when they drive badly, choke on their farts).

It sounds like you are doing well. Don't be hard on yourself because it's taking time... you are getting out there and doing things. You are not old.

Your friends do sound shallow and narrow-minded. Try not to mourn your old social life. I know it hurts as a lot of 'our' friends have spent much more time with dh because I'm the 'guilty' one who ended the marriage. It's crap, isn't it.

But it won't be winter for too much longer, there are new beginnings around the corner smile

Mimishimi Thu 31-Jan-13 02:20:59

Can the fact that someone is on AD's actually be used against them in a divorce? Surely they could easily be explained ( especially if the prescription was written after your seperation), by the revelation of his adultery and the breakdown of your marriage? It must be very hard for you but at least you do have the moral high ground in your situation. Whatever you think your failings might be, you are not the one who lied and cheated. I know I posted this in another thread recently but the OW knows he cheated on and lied to you. The satisfaction of a trusting relationship will never be hers, she will always worry he will do it to her. If you could somehow manage it, do you think you could somehow manoeuvre him into a conversation where he admits to having cheated on you with several women and secretly record it? Is that illegal? You could send her a copy of that recording.

I would advise against voluntary work though unless it's related to your former profession. Law, right? Do you think that you could approach a firm and tell them that you've been unable to find work, that you realise they probably can't afford to take you on but that you would like to do some pro bono work for clients who could not otherwise afford theur services? They might agree because it makes their firm look good without costing them anything in billable hours, you get some relevant and current experience and also keep occupied. If you prove yourself, they might take you on later or recommend you to someone who can.

Mimi - interesting pov about voluntary work and I dont really agree. I am in similar situation to OP and am doing different types of voluntary work. I am going to be retraining - so it will be useful for that. But also I wanted to meet different people so i could expand my horizons a bit.

OP - it is horrible tho - my trial to finalise my divorce is march and then my new life begins smile

3mum Thu 31-Jan-13 06:00:50

Thanks for your support everyone. It really is helpful to read all your comments.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 31-Jan-13 07:32:11

"Surely I should be further on than this now?"

Not necessarily. I remember a point about 2 years after my marriage ended and my exH got in touch about a divorce. Like you I'd been busy, productive, trying to make a better life etc and was still taken aback at how all the anger and hurt came rushing back like it just happened yesterday. We had no kids so we had not been in contact. Unlike you I had a very busy job with lots of travel. What it must be like to be in contact and have someone rub your face in it all the time, I have no idea. I think unemployment - having too much time to think - makes anything worse.

Funnily enough our 'couple friends' also opted to keep up with him rather than me. Looking back, they had originally been exH's friends through work etc. His family dropped contact gradually. He'd been cheating.... doesn't seem to make any difference

Hear what you're saying about your kids doing exams etc so you can't move house but why not get your exH to look after them for a few weeks, book yourself on a tour and go travelling? Melbourne's lovely this time of year! Give yourself something to look forward to.

struwelpeter Thu 31-Jan-13 10:07:23

Just wanted to say that there is patient confidentiality so whatever you discuss with your GP and he/she prescribes is your business and no one else's.
angry on your behalf as your fears re this are merely a sign of his control of you.
ADs can be a useful sticking plaster to help a wound heal, nothing more, nothing less and there is no way that the sort of thing your GP would offer is any indication of serious MH problems that could impact on work/parenting life.
Try anything and everything re hobbies, new social life, courses, self-help that doesn't seem totally repulsive or foolhardy, be selfish and put yourself first for the next six months and kick those who aren't supportive of you and your DCs to the kerb.

"if I cared to produce a man they would go to dinner with him and me" shock

This has left me speechless! Forgive me, but your former 'social life' sounds utterly superficial and pretentious, and the individuals you called 'friends' are shallow freaks. What sort of people can only tolerate a woman if her existence is validated by the presence of a man? Is this the 21st century or the 19th? You are well rid.

Do stick with the voluntary work, I'm also in my 50s and found it invaluable for meeting like-minded new people and acquiring new skills and confidence when I moved to a different part of the country. I would also look into going back to college or university if you can't find paid work. I became a mature student 2 years ago and it has been an utterly life-changing and life-enhancing experience, I have made new friends ranging from teenage undergraduates to 50-something lecturers!

Be proud of keeping your family on track as well, you sound like a great mother! And don't focus on your ex and his new family, he will shortly be re-experiencing the joys of broken nights, screaming babies and no sex life - all the things he has conveniently forgotten about over the last 15 years.

Meaningoflife Fri 01-Feb-13 11:44:08

3Mum my ex left me 3 years ago after more than 16 years together and 2 DDs. A new girlfriend appeared on the scene very quickly and it felt as though his life was moving on whilst I was stuck in a rut trying to put on a brave face for the children. I had recently given up my job as we were going to go into business together so my self esteem was at rock bottom with no job and no husband. My friends were much more loyal than yours seem to have been but I still had many nights crying alone, wondering if i was ever going to feel better. I did have counselling through my GP and it helped a lot.
Present day: I have started a new career, met a great guy (not all perfect - see other post!) and truly feel much happier than when I was married even though I didn't think I was unhappy at the time. My ex is still with his girlfriend, my DDs get on well with her and I get time for me.

My point is that you will feel better but there is no time limit. It sounds as though you are trying lots of things to stay positive but if you feel as though you need extra help with some ADs you shouldn't feel bad about it. Good luck.

3mum Fri 01-Feb-13 21:51:39

Thanks everyone. It sounds like the answer is just to keep on plugging on. Am feeling brighter today. Went on a fabulous crafting course which I really enjoyed and as I walked home I was thinking about the advice on this thread (and especially lowercase's comments about foundations) and thought how true it was and then I thought "actually he never did compliment me or appreciate me or make any effort to please me apart from doing stuff which he wanted to do anyway, like weekends away. He did not deserve me" Will try and hang onto that feeling. Thanks ladies.

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