How do you deal with the memories?

Avatar for jeffkristi
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
How do you deal with the memories?
8
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 11:25am

First of all, I need to change my username.  I've had this one since I first started reading these boards probably 15 or more years ago (it was called Parents Place when I started) and they were much happier times.  Now it's going to be justjeff or something like that but I don't have the heart to do it yet.  I used to post regulary on different boards but for the past year or so I have been on this and other "Relationship problems" boards as a lurker.

My question is how to you all deal with the memories?  I've been seperated for almost a year now (pushing 2 years if you count emotional seperation) but we were togther for over 20 years and married for 18 until she decided to leave me "because she changed and wanted to be a better person" (I found out later that change meant affair and she left to pursue him and has told me she's not coming back).

By dealing with memories I mean that I had 20 of some of the best years of my life (sure, there were bad times but that's  always part of life), have a family with 2 children, nice house that we built together, vacations, you name it.  Now when I look back on everything we've done together it reduces me to tears so I can't think about my past at all and that sucks.  I have always been a very picture taking, family oriented, memory type of person and now not only do I have to start over at 50, but in essence I've completely lost the last 20 years of my life also.  I can't look at my old photo albums, I can't think of the vacations we took with and without the kids, I can't cook certain foods or watch certain shows because they were "ours", etc.  How does everyone else get back to remembering their past with good memories and not with such sadness and bitterness?

I'm just trying to move forward and I can't but I'm also having such a hard time with the past.  I was in a split parenting arrangement with an older child and I swore that I would NEVER do that again.  What's the old saying - "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans".  Yet here I am again trying to not only put on a happy face every day for my kids and everyone around me, but I'm dealing with that again.  I think if I can get to a point where my past isn't so damn painful, I can move forward.  How do you do that?  I know that putting it behind is all about forgiveness, but how do you do that?  Especially when I miss my old life so much it hurts.

I don't know if I really excpect any answers to any of this, but I just needed to get it out and I can only lean on my friends so much and counceling is helping but not a lot.

Jeff

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Thu, 04-10-2014 - 2:17pm

  I have memories. I like mine.  Yes i was cheated on.  However. I come from a different mileu.  I am not middle class by back ground and socialization.  My father had  lovers and mistresses.  He was a man who loved women.   For many women having a lover makes them feel alive. 

          You need to feel alive.  Feeling alive comes from within NOT from without.   Thinking of just yourself what is it that makes your soul sing?  Fast cars,art,surfing,skydiving,sexual conquests,these  are all actions.   The disconnect is with your soul.  Go back to your youth and build from that as if it is all new. 

    There is no reason to avoid your wife's lover.  In fact as a gentleman I have met lovers of my Gf/So's,etc and become friends with them.    Take the books phots and put them in a box and put the box away.  The change the recipes and make them yours.  let go of what you were taught of how you should feel and react.  Then take on a new persona while you deal with any negative emotions or thoughts. 

  Seek new adventures,new experiences,in that you will regain yourself.

dragowoman

Avatar for jeffkristi
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Thu, 04-10-2014 - 9:10am

Thanks for the kind words PMW.  I've been doing most of the things you've suggested (counseling, hobbies, volunteering, etc) and whil it helps keep me busy it's not the same.  I've thought the same thing about the death of a loved one, but in some ways it's harder.  Please don't misconstrue that has me saying it's worse than losing a child, etc - it's not.  Not by a long shot.  The difference is (for me) that when i have lost anyone dear to me I can look back on all of the memories I had with them and smile.  I am sad that they are gone but I love the memories I had with them and keep pictures of them around to remind me of them.  I can't do that with this and since we did just about everything together it's hard for me to remember the past 20 years and smile.  Does that make sense?  Here's an example - I have 2 pictures hung in one of my rooms that I absolutely adored and still have hung up.  One is a picture of me, my ex, our 2 kids, and my other son immediately after a baseball all-star championship game in which our son hit a home run.  This was only a couple of years ago.  Even thos we lost that game it was a very happy time and was so proud of our son that I can't take the picture down.  But now it brings me sadness.  The other picture was one of a group of us and 6 or so of our close friends in a big group hug.  Right in the center of the group is a very dear friend of mine that we lost shortly after that to a boating accident.  That is my favorite picture of all time and would just go look at it when I was having a rough day (this is what I meant above when I said that I could think back on memories of people I lost and smile).  Now I have a hard time even looking at that picture but can't bring myself to take it down because of my love for Mr Dave.

Whenever II'm having a good day, it seems as if something new pops up to bring me down.  A new event, a new email, something that shouldn't happen.  I'd like to think that it's just 2 steps forward and 1 step back (I am normally a very optimistic person - I just don't feel that way now), but it feels as if it's for every step I take forward I get knocked back 2 steps.

Sorry - I'm rambling now.  Just having a very bad day a the moment and I have to get my head together so I can get back to work.  Thanks for listening and reading this far.  It helps a lot.  I have some very close friends that I can talk to but I don't want to overdo it with them.

Jeff

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-30-2001
Tue, 04-08-2014 - 12:51pm

Jeff, that extra bit of info is the ultimate betrayal. Give yourself time....don't rush the healing process. You have been dealt a devastating blow! In time, things will fall into place. The memories will be there but there will come a time when they pop into your mind and it'll be ok...maybe even make you smile.

I've been divorced for 4 yrs. My husband decided his heart wasn't into it. We knew each other for 12 yrs, married for 8. We had a nice house and a good life. He took over the role of step dad to my son from a prev relationship. When it all fell apart, he didn't know how to handle it so he just left the house and let me deal with trying to prevent foreclosure as I had been laid off twice. We did lose the house and I also lost my car....everything was gone. I was suicidal but my son kept me going. He was a senior in HS at the time. Luckily he graduated and then went off to the army. I am happy to say my son is doing awesome now, married and a new dad! He has been promoted to Specialist and is going to college for his Bachelors. He still keeps in touch with my ex and even visits him so I'm thankful for that.  I struggled after he left because I had him to keep me going. We'd go to the movies & out to dinner. When he left for the army I decided to relocate to where I was born and raised - the east coast. It has been one of the MOST difficult things to rebuild my life but I'm still going and I'm stronger. Yes, the memories still hit me but they're not as painful....I don't cry over them anymore. I still get sad, though, I won't lie....but I'm only human. I do have plans for my future and I'm working on that too. I have had to learn who I am again as was previously stated in another post. I'm starting to enjoy the things I used to and I'm writing poetry again which left me for awhile.

One day at a time you will get there. This is one of life's most difficult times besides death of a loved one. Seek counseling or post on these boards, be good to yourself, get out if you want to, get a new hobby, join a club, get into sports more if you like that, do volunteer work....when you make someone else happy it rubs off.

Wishing you all good things. Take care!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Thu, 03-20-2014 - 8:59am
Jeff...try this...it helped me during my divorce. I had mantras that I would repeat to myself such as "Why NOT me. Bad things happen to good people every day." and "Why would I want to be with someone who doesn't want ME...and I AM a good person." My answer was, I wouldn't. The memories will never go away, but again...they eventually will be more of your children than your ex. Also, I'm sorry, but get rid of the pictures that include her and just keep the ones of your kids. Cutting her out of your life completely helps. I know what I'm talking about.
Avatar for jeffkristi
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Wed, 03-19-2014 - 9:21am

Thanks for all of the advice everyone.  Unfortunately, my head knows and has always known that all of this is advice is right on the money and exactly what I need to be doing.  Unfortunately, convincing my heart of that is another matter.

One important piece of information (probably VERY important) that I left out.  The man she cheated with (and is still cheating with) is married also and at the time everything started he was one of my close friends (obviously not any longer).  We went on vacations together, "double dated" (him and his wife, me and my wife - little did I know) together, hung out together, you name it.  He also lives right around the corner from me and is involved in my daughters activities (not directly with her, but close enough).  On top of that, many of my life long friends are friends with him also so I can only go to therir houses when he will not be there (they know but he denies everything and they just don't want to be in the middle so I don't blame them for not choosing sides) so it is always right in my face which makes it that much harder to just forget my past.  As for pictures, as I said I was the one that liked the pictures and memories so most of my pics are of the entire family or her and the kids.

I know what I need to do, but doing it is hard (especially on days the kids aren't with me).

Thanks again for the help and guidance

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Tue, 03-18-2014 - 2:38pm

 You have received good advice here. I just want to be supportive as I have been where you are, except I was married 24 years when my ex decided to leave.  I was devastated as well, but along with my knowledge that God would take care of me and with the support of family and friends and a great counselor, I made it through.  I just decided to focus on my "new" life, made plans of my own, and fought (with the help of great lawyer) for what was mine.  None of it was easy and I remember the feeling of not wanting to go on.  My past life was hard to let go of... I had 4 daughters, a dh with a good job, a big beautiful house, and didn't have financial worries.  From the outside, we looked like a pretty great family...one I did NOT want to lose...but I did.  I decided my ex was dead to me and, because our daughters were mostly adults, I could move on and have nothing to do with him except have to see him at our daughters' weddings.  Luckily, other than having to email regarding our DD22's college expenses, we don't speak and even quit emailing after a while because we'd just disagree and get nasty towards each other.  I only kept family pictures which included only me and my daughters in them and not their father.  Again...I put him in my past and got on with it.  It took me about a year and a half to recover and decide to live again. I put a profile on an "over 40" online dating site (I was 48 at the time) and started having some fun. My very first date as a true adult was with my now dh.  We met in 2008 and married in 2011. Believe me, I have been where you are and,  if someone had told me I'd EVER be happy or fall in love again, I would have told them they were crazy.  I am living testimony that, yes...even at 50, you CAN begin again...whether alone or with someone else.  (And yes...I became comfortable being alone.  I didn't even realize something was missing from my life until I met dh who showed me the love that was missing and the fun I had missed out on by being married so long to a man who never really loved me.)  God DOES have a plan for you.  Keep the faith and, focus on YOU and YOUR happiness today and in the future and, over time, your past memories will be more of your kids and not so much your ex-wife.

Community Leader
Registered: 09-25-2003
Mon, 03-17-2014 - 8:58am

20 years is a really long time, and, yes, time really does heal all wounds.   However, I think you are clinging to the past, and you want to move on, but are having a difficult time because you are still hurt/wounded from the divorce.  Until you let go of the past and/or stop worrying about the future, you won't find happiness in the present.

I know that it took me a couple years to find out who I was without my first spouse.  So, I would suggest that you find out what brings you joy...learn again what it means to be YOU.  Find happiness in who YOU are.  That is scarey because it is "foreign" to someone who still ties up their identity in the relationship.  That is also nnormal and healthy, but new and scarey.  Find an activity that you enjoy, and go do it.  Make some new memories.  Stop reminiscing in the past.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 03-14-2014 - 1:52pm

Times really does make a difference.  I was married 13 yrs and it was not my idea to get divorced and for a while there I was pretty devastated, but eventually you just have to move on.  It has been 17 yrs now and I can be at family things with my ex & his wife and not even care.  (He didn't leave me for her so that's a more difficult thing.)  But I can look back at family pics and just remember and laugh--it is not painful at all.  I think that if you & your DW have decided that it's really over, you need to move on & get divorced.  It's painful to go through the process but bad to let it keep hanging over your head knowing that you'll have to do it eventually.  Better to do it now than some day when you meet someone and would like to date and then you have to tell her that she'll have to wait until you get divorced.