Trying to not let my past dictate my present and future, but it isn't working

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    I’m turning 44 soon. Three days after my birthday, it will be 4 years since my marriage ended, and it feels like my life is regressing instead of progressing. Besides, the time I am with my sons, there doesn’t seem like any area of my life I am truly happy with. Financially, it is a massive, stressful struggle. I left a fairly well paying job with good benefits because I was so unhappy and stressed there, it didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t help that my ex’s scumbag brother was making things very uncomfortable there.
    I like the people I work with now, but the job doesn’t pay enough, and the benefits aren’t as good. I am regretting my decision but I can’t change it now.
    Even though I want one, I don’t even think seriously about relationships either. I did some dating last year that didn’t last. I know how much I missed the connection with a woman and how it felt to be wanted by someone. Friends wise, I don’t know who I can count on as true ones. No one goes out of their way to contact me, and even if I put in a good effort to make things happen, it often falls through.

    This brings me to a relationship that I don’t really have and that I don’t want at all. It’s with the mother of my children, and the person I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with. I was going to say that there are no feelings but I wouldn’t be honest then. I hate her. I don’t talk to her, because even when it is through texts, it makes me angry. Lately, when I go to pick up the boys from her place, I am sitting in the car waiting, and I just get mad at all the things she did, and how she treats the kids now. She was a shitty wife and she is a shitty mother.

    I know some people might say I should forgive her but I won’t. She is a selfish b***h who only cares about herself. Since this all happened, she has gotten to a better place financially because she lived with her daddy rent free for a year and a half. She still has her good paying job because she never had to work with a lowlife, like her brother. She has all the same friends. Even though she was the cheating tramp and I was the one who wanted to come home to my family every evening. She’s had a couple of longer relationships. They both failed but they were longer than the small amount of dating that I did. She has travelled a lot since things ended too. I haven’t taken a real vacation in 4 years. I can’t afford it.

    I resent her. Things got easier for her and I have struggled immensely. First, it was intense emotional pain, wasted on a lowlife who lied to me and her sons for at least a year straight. I struggled with depression for a time. Now, I’m happy when the boys are with me, but it seems like that’s one of the only times lately. There isn’t much excitement to my life anymore. I feel stuck. If I had to describe how I feel most of the time, it would be numb and morose. I wasn’t like this at one time. I was happy and I always tried to be that way. I wanted the people around me to be happy too. I can’t do it right now. I know that everything isn’t my ex’s fault since my marriage ended. I made the decisions I made, but my life starting spiraling when I found out what she was doing 4 years, and I feel paralyzed to make it stop. It is like all my motivation, optimism, and lust for life has left me, and I don’t know how to come back.

    I feel like I am failing my sons. I want to be better but I don’t know how to get started. What kind of example am I giving them for the future?


    I am so sorry for what you are going through. Here I am complaining about men when you are clearly a man suffering from what a woman did to you. I honestly don’t know how to explain woman either. They are confusing creatures as well.
    All in all, heartache is heartache and I feel your pain. I felt helpless too when my relationship ended too (even though I wasn’t married) but I know its more difficult for someone to move on who has children with their partners.
    Like you mentioned, you feel like you are failing your sons. Live for them. Learn to love yourself for them. Once you find that love and serenity within yourself, I am sure you will be able to find the right woman and start a whole new life with her. You deserved to be loved despite what happened to you in the past. Right now you need to focus on yourself and your sons. They need their father while they are growing up. They need him to be strong for them, be there for them and teach them things, particularly about life. Father and sons have a very special bond and I am sure you have the same bond with them. Life is too short and I know its been 4 years since your marriage ended, it might be because you haven’t forgiven your ex-wife. I think its time to forgive her for yourself and for the sake of your sons. Once you have done that, there is this powerful sense of relief that radiates throughout your whole body that I cannot explain. I felt that way when I forgave my partner for ending things with me.
    Try meditation if you will. It really helps. But the most important thing is to forgive her and let go of your past. I hope this made some sense for you.


    Why do people have to forgive someone who did terrible things to the ones they were and are supposedly closest to?
    She carried on an affair for at least a year. Brought this loser into our home, and ate suppers at our table, with my kids while I was at work. This under the guise of him being ” a friend of hers”. She worked with lowlife at one time. She would “accidently” run into this guy all over with the kids, and made them part of her sleazy affair.

    She has always been a shady person. I just didn’t notice it because I thought I was in love. It wasn’t the first time she cheated either. Besides that, I watched her lie to her family for years. It was like breathing to her. When the marriage ended, I watched as my kids took a back seat to whatever scumbag she was dating at the time. She bragged to a sister-in-law of hers about having a one night stand with a younger guy while my boys were in earshot. I didn’t want to know this, but when your recently turned teen son uncomfortably tells you this, you have to hear him out. It bothered him. Why would I forgive a degenerate like her?
    Why doesn’t she deserve that? She put not only my life in turmoil but my sons too.

    Honestly, my boys have never had to worry if I was going to be there for them. I’m trying to do the best I can in life, but I feel beaten down lately, and it feels like things won’t get better. It’s a frustrating place to be.


    Forgiveness is not approval. You have to do it because it is how you let go of your resentment. I’m sure it’s quoted here on this site somewhere but it’s worth repeating: Keeping Resentment (and anger) is like you drinking poison and hoping the other person will die from it.

    Hopefully you are active with your sons. Try to focus on that. Exercise or start cooking really healthy meals. If you already do then think about some other ways to make extra income. Even if it isn’t feasible now, in two years it may be if you lay the groundwork now. It will take some time but just focus on what you need to do to improve, not on your ex.


    Hi Peace,

    Honestly, I will never say I forgive her to her face. She has never been remorseful for anything she has done to anyone. Right now, I am resentful. It’s hard not to be. She turned my world upside down and she is the one that things are working out better for. It is very frustrating. Maybe it is because it is that time of year that everything happened and it bothers me. I haven’t had a good birthday for a while. I thought after this much time, my life would start improving, but it feels like it is going backwards. Also, I haven’t been focusing on her for a long time. Only within the past month or so, thoughts of all the crap she put me and the kids through have come up again. I don’t want to focus on anything to do with her.

    Maybe it’s because I was more optimistic over the other years, and when I started dating last year, it felt like I could be with someone again soon. There were a couple of women I dated, and one that I really liked, but things didn’t work out. So here I am, alone again, and I’m going to be another year older.

    I am active with my boys. I have always been there for them. Lessons, appointments, and just doing fun things with them has always been all or mostly me. I’m definitely a good dad and I know my boys appreciate me.

    I don’t what it is lately. I suddenly feel like life is passing me by and I won’t find someone again. How many women want a guy who is almost to his mid-40’s and struggling financially? I know it is not all about money but I am always decent to women. When I was on a dating site a while ago, I dated a couple of women, and it didn’t work out. I kept trying after that and nothing happened for a long time, so I took a break. The funny thing is, most women write that they want a “good guy” or “are there any decent guys left out there?”
    I always thought I was. I treat women with respect and when I am with a someone special, they know that they are someone special to me. I never cheated on any woman I was with. I don’t do drugs or rarely ever drink, and I think there are better ways to spend your time than hanging out in a club. That ‘nice guys finish last’ thing doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore.

    I think I am just venting. There are so many people on here that are really struggling with some hard times, and I feel like I am just bitching. I don’t know how to feel about this anymore.


    It’s ok to vent. I’m sorry you are hurting so much right now. It is hard to find someone you like. Is there anyplace you could get out to volunteer? Or get a pert-time job? It will widen your circle of acquaintances and maybe you could have fun with it. Getting a job you think is goofy for money is a drag but if you do it to meet people the extra income would be a perk.
    Take care and try to have a happy birthday.


    Peace made really good points. Forgiving is for you, not her. Once you have done that, I am sure other things will fall in its place. I do also wish you have a happy birthday. Take your sons out to celebrate and invite family and friends over. Do whatever that used to make you happy!


    Hey Steve,

    Your post really resonated with me. Until recently, I WAS you. I was filled with anger, rage and resentment towards my ex who had lied, cheated and then left. She was making all kinds of positive changes and moving on in her life and was happier than she had been in many years. I was hurt, angry, jealous, pissed off and vowed I could never forgive her.

    My anger and resentment took up most of my energy in life and left little room for anything good like happiness, laughter, connections with people, friendships, work, etc. I blamed her for all of my problems. As a result, by the end of the year last year, I was exhausted and miserable. I had been told repeatedly that forgiving her would help me, but I didn’t want to let go. My anger was familiar, I was attached to it. I still am not sure why, but one day about a month ago I woke up and decided I didn’t want to be angry anymore. That my anger wasn’t helping me. In fact it was slowly killing me. Figuratively and literally. So I made a decision to let it go and I started to do just that. Honestly, I was unprepared for what happened next. First, it felt like I had just put down a 300 pound weight. Next, without my anger, I can now see things so much more clearly than I have in years. Anger and rage are blinding. I see things about myself, choices that I have made that have brought me to where I am. It has been very humbling. There were many things she did that were wrong and hurtful, but also many things I should have done differently. She has not been the cause of my misery. I have been making myself miserable with what I have chosen to think about and focus on. About a week and a half ago, I met with her and told her that I forgave her for all of the lies and the affair. I also acknowledged many of the things that I did that contributed to the demise of our marriage and I apologized to her for those. I can honestly tell you, it has been one of the best things I have ever done for MYSELF in my life. It is so liberating to let go of it. I am now able to focus my energy on improving myself and getting back to being me. The person I truly am, not the negative rage filled person I had become. It has improved my relationships with my kids, my family, my friends and made co-parenting easier with my ex. I have a long way to go to heal completely, but it is getting better and easier every day now.

    Everyone has their own journey they are on. I was holding onto anger to protect myself from being hurt again. If this sounds like you, i would encourage you to make a conscious decision to let go. Not for her, but for you. I wasn’t ready or willing to do this for a long time, so I know how hard it is to do. God, I wish I would have done this years ago!!!! I wasn’t ready. My guess it that at some point you won’t be willing to live like this anymore and you will want to change. I hope it is soon for you. Let it go and be free my friend. Then be prepared to work on becoming your positive self again. As some other people mentioned, you owe it to yourself and your kids!!



    Hi seekingwholeness,

    During my marriage, and after it ended, I took responsibility for things that I did in our marriage. That has never been an issue for me to do that. I am if anything honest with people. One thing I haven’t been for the last 4 years is rage filled. It’s just lately again, that I am upset about this, because of all the struggles I’ve had to face because of this. Why do I have to meet with this selfish vain person and give her something more to justify what she did? Why couldn’t I just say to myself that I forgive her and be done with it? Really, I don’t forgive her right now.
    She spent an entire year cheating on me. On top of that, she spent an entire year berating me and attacking my self esteem at every turn. Our finances suffering because she was more focused on that a***hole an taking care of our family. The year leading up to finding out about her sleazy affair, I felt like shit almost everyday. When it came down to finding out, I was already a weak person.

    For a lot of years, I did more for my kids than she every did. All lessons, appointments, teacher interviews, I set up and took them to them. Even now, I still do pretty much everything. They are taken care of because I actually care. She always comes first, no matter what.

    In time I will start feeling better about this. I know I’ve been a good dad and I still am. I know that I will be a good man that the right woman will appreciate when I find her. I honestly don’t believe that you have to meet with a sleazy, self centered, vain lowlife and justify them tearing a family apart. I made mistakes in my marriage. They weren’t big ones. I wasn’t trying to hurt someone and I never made her feel like she wasn’t wanted by me. I fought for my marriage and it was important to me. She threw 19 years away for a loser who lived with his parents. I don’t need to talk to someone like her and tell her everything is ok. She didn’t and doesn’t have a conscience.
    I don’t believe you have to meet with people who have wronged you to move on. I don’t think it will hang over your head forever if you don’t. I think if I just start moving forward in a positive direction, I don’t need to involve my negative past.
    A while after my marriage was done, I saw what a negative part of my life she was. I became even a better parent when she was gone. The boys are always happier when they are with me. Dating those other women, I saw that other women don’t act the way she did. I know what I had and I know there are better women out there. You really don’t know what I lived with and I don’t want to be friends with someone like her.


    Hi Steve,

    Please don’t take this wrong way, but your post made me laugh aloud. I mean honestly, what happened to you during your marriage really sucks. It’s pretty bad. And I always laugh at things that are just really really bad. It really just couldn’t be any worse. That guy ate dinner –In your house– with your kids??? That’s crazy.

    The only thing I can say is that the worst is over. Would you really want to go back to your old life? I know you made more money then, and it seemed like you had everything, but that was clearly all an illusion. Starting over is really tough, I’ve done it and I know, but the great thing about it is that your life is an empty canvas. You can do whatever you want. Isn’t there something you’ve never done that you’re just dying to do? And I don’t mean going on some fancy vacation or anything like that. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Go do it. Now is the time.

    I get that you’re resentful, it would be weird if you weren’t. But don’t let that resentment take your days from you. Put that energy somewhere else. Find what makes you happy. Not who, but what–you know?

    Good luck 🙂


    Hi Pink24,

    My son walked in on them making out but didn’t tell me until a year after it happened. I think it traumatized him because he told me it seemed like a dream to him. I won’t forget the weight he was feeling, and how sad he was, telling me that he was sorry he didn’t say something when it happened. An 11 year old boy shouldn’t have to deal with stuff like that. I hope you get a good laugh out of this too. Your comment wasn’t appreciated.


    Hi Steve,

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it seems like you’re hanging on tightly to the past and have not let go – of EVERYTHING negative that happened during your marriage and after your divorce. Your wife has moved on and seems happy, based on what you’ve shared, and clearly you have not. You’re focus is on the past, and not the present. As long as you are focusing on the past, you cannot heal. I agree with all the other posters about forgiveness and moving on. You care too much about what happened in the past. Do what has been suggested in the replies here, and your life will change. Not enough venting will do the job, although it helps. It’s time to make a change (and it’s an inside job).



    Hey Steve,

    I have already shared my experience, but one thing to add. If you are open to it, please take the time to read some of the excellent blog posts on this site about letting go of anger. You have to do what is right for you, so myself and others can’t really tell you what to do. We can only share what has worked for us and others. I felt EXACTLY the same way you do about forgiving my ex. Why should she be forgiven?? She should be apologizing and begging me for forgiveness!! That is what I thought. Focusing on the past, what she did, all of the ways I was wronged, and brooding over how she screwed up and is happy while I did the right thing and my life is a mess….all that did was keep me stuck and prevent me from moving on. None of those thoughts served me in any way whatsoever. You don’t have to tell her or meet with her if you don’t want to, that was a choice I made in MY journey. It worked for me and was a very powerful healing event for both of us. Forgiveness happens in your heart. You can CHOOSE to forgive her and never tell her. The point is to let go of the hurt, anger, resentment and the past so that you can start to heal and live life in the present moment with happiness, joy and love in your heart without the shadow of the past darkening every day.

    I am sorry you are going through this, I truly am. I hope you find your own way out soon and are able to live life fully each day! Let go and be free!


    Hi Steve,

    The others have made some valid points about letting go in that it’s a gift you give yourself rather than your ex.

    Reading your post, I noticed that your anxieties mainly come from 2 sources. The first is when you compare your life with someone else (e.g. Your ex). There are a million articles here about why this is a bad idea but the fact is when you had your divorce, you made a choice to be the primary cater which means that you will not have time to travel the world or date as much as your ex does. I think you’ve made the right choice here since you can do the other stuff later but you will never get your time with your boys again. Things might be a bit tough now but remembering why you made this decision and that it was your choice can help.

    The second is when you feel that the world didn’t work the way you expect it to (e.g. why nice guys finish last). Let’s be honest here Steve good things don’t always happen to good people and people who lie and cheat through life always seem to get ahead in the short term. But you know what, that’s ok because we don’t do good things because we expect to be rewarded. We do it so that we can bring something positive to the world and sleep at night. As for dating, being nice and a gentleman is good but there is a little something extra that’s required for chemistry to happen. So don’t get jaded when things didn’t work out because I am certain that you are not attracted to every nice woman out there either.


    Dear Steve,

    I felt for you as I read your post. I think others have given you some good advice but I know from my own experience the notion of forgiveness can present a bit a dilemma. You clearly recognize that hanging onto to the anger and other challenging emotions is something that is hurting you and affecting the quality of your life. Yet also, you know that your ex doesn’t really deserve your forgiveness. Even though our life experiences are very different, I had to deal with some problem when it came to forgiving some people who hurt me very much. I got stuck – I wanted to forgive but just couldn’t. Then I read a very helpful article online. This therapist makes it really simple: forgiveness is a decision to let go of the anger and nothing more. He even writes that in the end, forgiving someone else isn’t really about forgiving them. It is simply a decision to let go of the anger.


    Here are some things you might want to consider:

    1. Your ex, based on your description, would probably like it very much if she knew how much power her actions have over you. By practicing forgiveness (letting go of the anger) she can no longer rule your thoughts and diminish your life.
    2. Although her life might seem better than yours, underneath it all I doubt she’s happy. Even if she is genuinely sociopathic and not tormented by repressed guilt, her lack of empathy means that is impossible for her to know the joy of a loving bond towards anyone, including herself.
    3. You’re probably not ready to think this way yet but one thing that has really helped me break free of the bondage of resentment is to cultivate compassion for whatever pain the victimizer went through that turned them into someone who could be so shitty to others. Thinking that way does not excuse or condone their behaviour but it does explain it.

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