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I don’t know how to get over the resentment that my ex “stole” so much of my life and now I may be on my one forever

(29 Posts)
downwardspiral1 Mon 10-Aug-20 02:37:38

I was with my ex husband for 22 years and we got divorced about two years ago - he moved out in April 2018 in any case.

I divorced him due to emotional abuse - walking on eggshells around him, being subjected to weeks and weeks of silent treatment, and also feeling out of the loop financially. By the end we were completely unable to talk about anything and I would say that the last 12 / 10 years of the marriage were bad and getting progressively worse.

The divorce was awful and I guess that’s one of the reasons I didn’t do it earlier. That and the fear of being with my kids less.

But I wish I had left a lot earlier as I might have stood a higher chance of meeting someone else and experiencing a functional and loving relationship.

I am 51 now and it feels that my chances of meeting someone are getting less and less and it gets me down. The fact that I am kind of shy in that arena doesn’t help - my ex was my one and only relationship.

For years I lived in an affection-less marriage in which I was never touched (very occasional sex instigated by me - soul destroying).

I don’t know how to stop being resentful and obsessing over this. In many ways I feel too fucked up to be in a relationship, but part of me is so sad that I might now never have that - intimacy, love and affection of that kind. Plus I think I am kind of odd. I went on 7 platonic dates with someone in January and he was freaked out by my relative lack of experience.

I can’t even put into words what I am trying to say. For so many years of my marriage I craved affection and closeness which I didn’t get. It was like a permanent ache and permanently being separate. Now, though I am so happy I am divorced, I am still separate from others and that ache is still kind of there but now it’s a growing realisation that this might be it relationship wise, which makes me so sad sad.

[I was too freaked out to kiss my 7 date person whom I found attractive - and he told me he fancied me. Freaked out because it is centuries since I had kissed ex, and I just don’t know how to get close to people in that way.]

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downwardspiral1 Mon 10-Aug-20 02:39:50

That was meant to be “on my own forever”.

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IHateCoronavirus Mon 10-Aug-20 02:50:11

I didn’t want to read and run. I am certain you are not alone in your experience. Would counselling be something you would consider? flowers did you like 7 date guy too? Would you get back in contact with him? One step at a time.

downwardspiral1 Mon 10-Aug-20 03:05:58

Thanks IHateCoronavirus. Pre lockdown I was seeing a very nice counsellor, but I think I need to find someone more challenging who is going to help me get to the bottom
of more stuff.

I did like the 7 date person, and in fact did get back in touch with him during lockdown. We messaged quite a lot for a while, but that has kind of fizzled out now. The subject of maybe meeting up again did come up, but I don’t think he really wants to because he would have asked / or carried on being in regular contact. We’re in touch on social media now - he’s lovely and I am glad I met him and got an insight into his world / the way he thinks.

I am certain you are not alone in your experience. - no probably not, which is comforting, not that I am wishing these kinds of feelings on others.

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RaisinGhost Mon 10-Aug-20 06:12:11

I can see why you feel that way OP. I am a bit younger than you but I still have anger an an ex of mine for wasting my life and we were only together 6 years. I try not to focus on it, or just try to think of the good times I had (even if it was something that had nothing to do with him, if I hadn't been with him I would have been in a different situation and not had that specific good time, iyswim).

I suppose the good news is that you have already dated another person, so you have proof you can do it and can attract people. Although it didn't lead to happily ever after sounds like it was a good experience.

I'd say many people your age are now single after being in long marriages so only having been with one person in the last 25 years isn't unusual.

Sandcastles548 Mon 10-Aug-20 07:26:38

I have had much of life "stolen" from me for different reasons, childhood abuse and neglect, illness, injury and mental health problems. I have at times felt resentful of the time that I've lost but the only thing that makes me feel better is the thought that life isn't supposed to be easy and I am better off for these experiences. Maybe I am more appreciate of someone I have in my life or more understanding of human nature because if it.

I'm not religious , but I kind of like the idea that we are brought into this life with something that we have to learn and life gives us exactly the type of experiences we need in order to learn whatever that may be. So you had to learn your worth in a relationship, and now you have learned that life might be kinder.

I think it's very much a case of looking forwards not back. Also don't get caught up on your age, or the amount of time you lost. These aren't as important as some people or organisations would have you believe.

The 22 years with your husband were also spent doing other things and spending time with other people. Also, any other path you took could have led you to being alone today.

Keep your contact with this new man and try to defizzle the relationship, but also just look for opportunities to spend time with people in all sorts of contexts.

And good luck.

lifestooshort123 Mon 10-Aug-20 07:29:20

I left a 25-yr old marriage and lived alone for 3 years in a poky flat. I got to know myself and become happier being alone - not as needy for affection, love etc. I dated a few times in those 3 years but for the wrong reasons as I wanted someone to show me love. Eventually I calmed down and just got on with my job and living alone. At this stage I was 47 with grown up children. I am now 68 and have been with my partner for 20 years - it was a slow burner but life is good. Please don't blame your ex for wasting your life (as you made the decision not to leave earlier) but put it behind you and find out who you really are and what you want out of life. Having another partner will only happen when you're ready to move on - good luck.

Glendaruel Mon 10-Aug-20 07:37:51

I had two years of marriage, so relatively short period compared to you. I remember feeling angry, it's a natural part of grief. I took time for myself, best thing I did. I had a mental checklist of things he said I would never be able to do, like get my degree, teach English abroad, write a book, plus a few things I had wanted to do but couldn't in a relationship like backpacking across italy. I started going through the list. I learned to enjoy being me again until I was doing things because I wanted to. I think going forward into new relationships that helped as I was more happy and confident in myself.

Bloodylush Mon 10-Aug-20 07:46:46

I’m not sure it’s helpful to view it as your ex stealing your life. You admit that you stayed for twelve years after it got bad and that was your choice. You could have ended years sooner? Would it help to take some responsibility for what happened? You must have had your reasons for staying.

If you can accept what happened and your part in it I think it would help.

SteelyPanther Mon 10-Aug-20 07:51:26

I think you need to be happy in your own company.
I would be worried that you are going to end up in another bad relationship just because you don’t want to be alone.
You are amazing to have had the strength to get a divorce, and I assume you’ve got a nice home all to yourself now.

downwardspiral1 Mon 10-Aug-20 08:21:17

Thanks for all the messages, they’re really helpful.

I could have left sooner, yes, but I was very scared of doing it. Also, my ex used to make out he would be more affectionate if I was tidier, so I stupidly kind of hung on for that, even though by 2014 the writing was really on the wall.

And though I know that I wouldn’t have had certain experiences if I hadn’t stayed as long as I did, it is also really difficult not to resent the months of my life wasted when he was sending me to Coventry and I would have a permanent anxious ache in my stomach. Not to mention the fact that my dc witnessed the toxicity of it all.

Then when I did divorce him, I realised I had been right to be scared as it was as awful as I had imagined it was going to be. Maybe I had to build up the strength and that’s how long it took.

It’s true that I have a lot to be grateful for, and also that maybe we have to learn certain things? Also that maybe I do need to learn how to be completely happy on my own as my boundaries might be still not great at the moment. And yes there are loads of things I would like to do so better to get on and do them instead of wasting more time being annoyed about the past.

I guess one of the things that gets me is that I was very shy before I met my ex and he was literally my first boyfriend. I can see the same thing happening again - yet I also, like everyone I suppose, yearn for closeness. But now it feels as if the clock is ticking sad. I don’t know how to get out of my own way basically.

You are amazing to have had the strength to get a divorce thanks smile

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Stannisbaratheonsboxofmatches Mon 10-Aug-20 08:23:18

Oh God I feel exactly like you OP, although I’m not sure I even want another relationship now!

Feelings are very complicated I guess.

I feel like being with my ex was a waste of life, and wish I’d met someone who was decent when I was younger / not got sucked in by him.

But I’ve got two lovely children so it could never be a waste.

Northernsoullover Mon 10-Aug-20 08:30:26

I know this is anecdata to you but its definitely real life for me. My friendship groups are made up of single people, widows, long term marrieds AND a good proportion of people who met and married post 55. It does happen.

Raella50 Mon 10-Aug-20 08:41:45

You sound like a very strong woman who knows what she wants and is now finally free to pursue it. Look forward, not back. Don’t waste valuable time overanalysing your last - there is more life right now and ahead to be lived! Make a list of a few things you’d really like to do and start to tick things off, it’ll give you somewhere to channel your energy for a time and help you to grow in confidence. You can do this!

user1471530109 Mon 10-Aug-20 08:55:32

OP I have a very similar story in that I had a long marriage (I was with xH for 17+ years). I divorced him for adultery but he was emotionally abusive. He still is actually. I have to be in contact because of the kids and the way he speaks to me is shocking. I need to get some proper advice on this as despite it having a completely different affect on me, it still is affecting my life. Thankfully the idiot writes his insults down in texts so I have pages of being called a cunt to show anyone if I need to.

I'm a bit younger than you but also further along on being alone. We broke up 6 years ago (dd2 is now 7) and I am still single. He went off with the OW and is playing happy families. He's also been given a massive helping hand financially from family, so I sometimes find it hard not to let that go as I struggle payslip to payslip!

But I relocated (twat followed me), got a new job and moved the kids into new schools. I moved house twice in one year and finally bought my own house (which feels lovely-to say it's all mine and no one else's). We are happy here. And 6 years has flown by remarkably quickly.
Lockdown though has made me realise I miss being in a relationship and I'm lonely. I'm quite an introvert so I know I'd be quite happy to not do anything about this, but I don't want to regret anything else in life after that last 10 years.
I'm still only at the procrastinating phase grin. I've got to sort myself out first (desperately need to sort my weight out). But I think there is a part of me that has put up these plans to do first as I'm not quite ready. My dd1 has made it very clear she doesn't want me to be with anyone else and although we've discussed how that is not really fair and she has agreed, I don't want to cause her anymore pain either.

Anyway. Just wanted to say that you are not alone and I am sure there are many others. We got a rescue pet this year which has been very helpful actually-helps with the loneliness when DC aren't here flowers.

Dery Mon 10-Aug-20 09:10:17

Lots of good advice here, OP. My mum met the love of her life at 55 so you never know what's round the corner.

As PP have said: your resentment is keeping you stuck and if you give into it you're actually expending yet more time and energy on your XH and the relationship you have left. Those years are gone now. You can't change what happened and you chose to stay for reasons which made sense at the time. Don't expend any more emotional energy fretting about something which cannot be changed because you are cheating your future in doing so. (Easier said than done, I know - but so important).

You've got the chance now to build a life that is perfectly suited to you. I think learning to be completely happy on your own should be your priority and not to worry about relationships for now.

Get excited about all the things you can enjoy now that you are free to please yourself in the choices you make.

GlassOfProsecco Mon 10-Aug-20 09:11:36

I hear you, OP.

I have wasted most of my adult life in unhappy relationships- and have been angry at myself for my poor choices & lack of boundaries.

What has helped me is counselling, to understand how I got myself in to this position in the first place.

And realising that happiness is a choice; I will not tolerate being unhappy in a relationship again. It's so hard getting out with young children, lack of support/finances etc.

But I can only go forward, choosing happiness. You might have to go back (with the help of counselling) to move forward.

Drumple Mon 10-Aug-20 09:12:48

Allow yourself the time to heal.

I was like you.

14 years after divorce I’m with a lovely man.

Purplecatshopaholic Mon 10-Aug-20 09:17:07

Very similar story to you OP - ‘wasted’ over 20 years on someone who did not deserve me. Do I wish I had left the abusive cheating Twat earlier, well yes, but I didn’t so no point moaning about it now. I just went with the flow, relaxed, enjoyed being single and free from control (he finally left in Nov 2018). I met someone totally out of the blue at the start of this year and we are having a bloomin lovely time together. (I was happy single too, but meeting someone has been great and really helped me after so many years of put-downs, verbal abuse etc). I am your age too and he is a bit older. Things happen for a reason!

ravenmum Mon 10-Aug-20 09:27:27

I was extremely shy too - social anxiety they would call it now - and my exh was my first as well. Broke up nastily at 45, did online dating, but not wanting a relationship - wanting to catch up on the lack of silly flings I'd had in my 20s smile Had a silly fling with what turned out to be a bit of a dodgy lovebomber type, and it turned out that even though he was the "more experienced" one, he also had a bit of a thing about his not tiny, but also not impressive size 😬 Now with a bloke who has a whole string of exes and is 100 times more experienced than me and comes across as super confident, but now I've known him a few years, I also know that he grew up with a really bad lisp, ADHD and dyslexia and was not a huge hit with the ladies when younger! Maybe partly as a result, he didn't care in the slightest that I was less experienced; he is not the judgemental type at all. Your freaked-out friend was just being a bit of a dick about your experience.

downwardspiral1 Mon 10-Aug-20 10:09:17

Thanks so much for all the further messages 💕. Don’t have time to answer now but will answer this evening probably.

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ArabellaRockerfella Mon 10-Aug-20 11:00:56

I'm in exactly the same position OP.
My husband left 2yrs ago (quite out of the blue, had bought a 4 bed house behind my back, I discovered it by accident and 2 weeks later he was gone!) and divorce is still not finalised. It has been acrimonious.
I have spent the last 2yrs full of hate and anger.
My youngest developed anorexia so that has kept me occupied.
This week I found out he has a new girlfriend who has a child and all the hurt and upset has come flooding back!
I met him when I was 18, my first proper relationship. I gave him my best years and a lovely home and family.
Now I feel alone and hopeless. Feel like I will never meet anyone. I joined Bumble this week but my heart's just not in it.
Struggling to move forward.

Day0utDrama Mon 10-Aug-20 11:15:37

You don't sound ready to date yet

Suggest spend some on yourself
Make a list of things that YOU want to do, short & long term

We all make mistakes, so learn from the past
Look forward to a better future

Laserbird16 Mon 10-Aug-20 11:30:39

It sounds like you are still finding your equilibrium here. Two years isn't much time after a twenty year plus relationship. You seem to be putting pressure on yourself to 'be normal' and being in a relationship is a kind of proof that you're normal.

Normal is a wide range! Why not take the pressure off yourself and concentrate on what you want? After 20 years tiptoeing around someone you probably don't have a clear sense of what you like and dislike and where your boundaries are.

Keep seeing a counselor (you can go to another one if you feel you're not making progress), and claim your life back. Do all those things you couldn't do because you had to consider your ex and I don't mean book some extravagant holiday - totally do that if you want to - but maybe see some art house film, try a drawing class, a walking group...just try lots of stuff. Build a life you love.

I'm sure it doesn't feel like it now but when you are living a life you choose, you will come into contact with people who will be interesting and interested in you. You'll also have a better idea of whether they're a good fit with you.

I don't know the future but obviously a relationship is something you want. There are people out there who feel the same as you and find it all awkward and feel they're out of their depth, perfectly normal, just like you.

downwardspiral1 Tue 11-Aug-20 06:13:21

Thanks so much. I read all of these yesterday. Thanks for pointing out how many people must be in similar situations and to the previous posters who feel the same on this thread flowers.

We also have a rescue pet - well we rescued her off Gumtree if that counts, her owners no longer wanted her - @user1471530109.

I am really sorry you are feeling so down @ArabellaRockerfella. Know what you mean about dating apps, I have a profile on Match and couldn’t care less really. Though saying that I did meet my 7 date person on OkCupid. Kind of feel like no one else matches his profile that he had up though. And anyway I can’t be bothered to wade through all of that. I hope you feel better soon.

Think you are right though @ravenmum - I am not sure why he was so weirded out by my past - at one point he incredulously asked if he was really the first person I had been on a date with and it made me feel uncomfortable. But I don’t know why I would have been going on dates while married???

Anyway now I have this contact with him on Instagram and have been holding on to that like a lunatic 🙄. Waiting to see if he likes my posts. I really need to go and get an actual life.

Thank you for all the encouragement and kindness on this thread. Currently camping and that has also put a different perspective on things.

View from tent this morning attached.

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