Friday, November 14, 2008

BOUNCED BACK: SUCCESS STORY # 4: Meet LJ

HAPPY FRIDAY - it's that time of week when I share with you another chapter of my BOUNCED BACK book. The feedback on these stories has been great - so thank you for your input. I am so glad you like them. This week, it's LJ. Enjoy.

LJ is a forty-six year old woman who works in IT. She joined SYBD four years after her thirteen-year relationship ended. Despite the time that had passed, LJ was still trying to cope with the betrayal of her husband of nine years.

We used to work at the same company, and met at a disco on Halloween night. We got on so well and were instantly attracted to each other. We started seeing each other from that moment on, and we were together every day until we broke up. We had a superb relationship. We got on like soul mates. We shared everything together. Everybody thought that our relationship was rock solid. Including me. Everything changed when we had a child and he didn't feel he was the centre of attention anymore.

It wasn’t long after when LJ discovered that her husband was having an affair. It was naturally a painful discovery, and one that she could find no respite from.

Finding out that he was having an affair, and coming to terms with it, was a long and painful process. I denied it to myself for a long time, even though I kept finding evidence to prove it. I lived like that for a year. When I finally confronted him, he would get angry and defensive and accuse me of being disloyal. I would feel bad for days, and then it would all start again. I eventually proved it with no doubt, and I asked him to leave. I could not live like that anymore. He maintained that he was not having an affair, they were just friends, because he did not have a home life! Seemingly it was all my fault because I had been too busy with our child. He continued to maintain they were just friends - until the day he had to tell me she was pregnant with his child. After that, we had to remain friendly and civil, (which of course was a painful process), for the sake of our son.

When LJ was told that her husband and his mistress were expecting a child, she was unsurprisingly distraught.

I was devastated. My whole world - and everything I believed to be true, honest and good - was totally shattered. I felt humiliated, betrayed, angry, hurt, confused, and thought I would never recover and would never ever love again. To love like that again would be impossible. My health suffered. I found it difficult to sleep because I was afraid of being alone in the house all the time. I became obsessive about checking the doors and windows were locked three or four times a night. I would sit in bed, with the light on, until I dropped into exhausted sleep. I lost a terrific amount of weight. I had palpitations and smoked like a chimney. I was over anxious about our child, every little cold or sneeze was meningitis or something worse. I eventually got very ill with shingles and anemia.


LJ remembers hitting rock bottom and never wants to go back there. She felt her life was over, and that she would never be able to cope with anything again. She feared that she would live the rest of her life – destined to be alone.

When I found out he was having a kid with her, I knew there was no going back. Finally, I was able to close a door that had remained open. It was about a year after we finally parted. I realised then that I needed to start to take care of me and my son and look forward – and stop looking back. I had also started to discover that I was OK on my own, and that, in some ways, it was quite nice. I didn't have to answer to anyone for anything. I was master of my own destiny, and could do what I wanted with my life. I started to see this as an opportunity to change the way my life was going.

LJ’s life began to turn around day by day. She went back to college to retrain in IT. She got a good job working in a school – so that she could be there for her son as much as possible. She embarked on a full-scale self-improvement plan.

I joined a gym and went three times a week and made some new friends. I went to anything I got invited to. I rose to the challenge of turning up to parties or events on my own. I have brought up my son on my own and I am always grateful that I have him in my life. He has blossomed into a wonderful teenager and I am so proud that we pulled through this together.

LJ has reached ambivalence about her break-up with her ex-husband and, though it was a tough slog, they are amicable.

Eight years down the road, we are genuine friends. It’s all water under the bridge. It does not mean I have not come away without my battle wounds but at least there are no hard feelings anymore. I genuinely like my ex-husband and we have a good friendship. He’s even been there for me to help with a few things, and I know he always would, if I needed him to. I have no bitterness or hatred towards his partner who caused us to split. I have developed the attitude that you should never take anything for granted, but you should take whatever life presents you and make the most of it and treasure it and always look forward to new challenges and opportunities. I am not even sad anymore about losing my marriage.


Confronted with someone going through a similar situation, LJ would warn them that it’s going to be a hard road ahead and that they are likely to feel a lot of pain, but she’d also assure them that they will survive. Break-ups are of course a chance to grow and learn and come through the other side – learning skills and tools to enhance their lives in a positive way.

It’s not what life gives you, it is how you deal with it that makes all the difference in the world. If you’re healing from a break-up, treat this as a time to reflect on what you really want and go for it. It is possible to bounce back from rock bottom. Think about making changes. Turn your life around and strive to be a happier person. For instance, with the benefit of some time and distance, I am now am eternally thankful that I don't spend my life washing and ironing shirts cooking late at night for someone! Relationships should be about sharing and developing with each other whilst leading your own life. Never be totally dependent on another person for your happiness...Make your own!

I have a more relaxed attitude about relationships. I don't look at them as something for life...I look at them as something for the here and now…I have more respect for myself and I won't put up with any nonsense from anyone anymore. I can handle myself better now and have more confidence. It is important for people who have experienced this pain to know that as agonising as it is, you can recover from it and move on. No one ever thinks they will.

Beautifully said Miss LJ. Some of those phrases I feel I could have written myself. We both had what we thought were ‘enviable’ relationships, both got left for other women and both learned not to take anything for granted with relationships. Finally, like LJ, I’m a firm believer in making your own happiness. It never works to try to find that outside ourselves. That was perhaps my most-challenging, yet my most-rewarding lesson learned over the past ten years. It's the one I wish for everyone on SYBD to learn too...Happy Friday.

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