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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Pardon Me, Ego. I Need to Get Through.

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The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris


the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. (from
Ever since we first begin to see ourselves as separate, sentient beings in childhood, our egos define how we interpret the world around us.  That sense of self may actually be holding you back from healing from your divorce.  Do you see yourself in any of the following patterns?
It’s All About Me
When I first realized the extent of my husband’s betrayals, I kept asking, “How could he do this to me? To the one he was supposed to love?”  I saw his actions directed towards me as an arrow towards a target.  I assumed he was thinking about me as he made these decisions.  He lied to me.  He cheated on me.  He stole from me. That pattern kept me fully anchored in a victim state, the recipient of all the pain and deceptions.
Slowly, I realized that it wasn’t all about me.  He lied and cheated and stole, yes.  But he did those things because of whatever demons had him in their grasp.  He didn’t do those things because of me.  He most likely wasn’t even thinking of me while they occurred.  He did them and I was in the way.
I shifted my thinking. When he hurt me, he was acting to protect his own sense of self rather than trying to wound mine.  I began to let the anger go.
It is not easy to remove the ego from interpreting the actions of one so intimate to you. Try looking at the situation with an open mind, letting go of your own ego, and see how your perspective shifts.
The Reflective Ego Shield
Our egos are vulnerable beings; they often cover themselves in highly reflective shields, deflecting any criticism and shining it back at its source.  I used to get very defensive when anyone suggested that I had a hand in my husband’s actions.  I would retaliate, lashing out at them as I tightened the stays on the armor protecting my ego.  It was a very scary proposition to let some of that armor go and to examine what was shielded underneath.  I learned the role that my own insecurities and anxieties played in the end of my marriage.  Instead of reflecting all of the responsibility on him, I took my share.
There is a difference between taking responsibility for your own actions and taking the blame for another’s actions.  If you are carrying your own reflective shield, try lowering it and examining what lies beneath.
The Hidden Wounds
The ego doesn’t like to show its vulnerabilities.  When asked, “How are you doing?,” the ego always answers, “Fine.”
I remember how many times I falsely spoke that word in those early months.  Much of that time, I wasn’t “fine,” I was angry, sad, bitter, anxious, sick, and disconnected.  But I also didn’t want to reveal those wounds.  To let the world see the depth of my pain. I kept it covered with a band-aid of “fine.”
Your wounds cannot heal unless they are exposed to the air.  The bandage can remain on to protect your injuries from the world at large, but you remove them when are in a safe place to let the healing begin.
Ego as Strongman
Our egos are a bit like young meatheads in a gym.  Flexing in the mirror, wanting to appear strong and capable amongst the others.  This means that sometimes we will try to lift more than we can without asking for assistance.  And, just like in the weight room, this can only lead to disaster.
Prior to my husband’s David Copperfield act, I was horrible at asking for and receiving assistance.  In fact, that was actually one of the points of contentions in my marriage; I always made it clear that I could do it alone.  I guess he wanted to prove me right.  Regardless, I made things so much more difficult than they ever needed to be by denying offered help and refusing to ask for help when it was needed.
Are you acting like the young man in the gym?  Ask for a spotter and you’ll not only gain the respect of those around you, but you will also be able to lift more than you ever thought possible.
Our egos tend to operate below our conscious thought.  After all, they are us.  And they are often the biggest barriers in our way.
Pardon me, ego.  I need to get through.

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32 thoughts on “Pardon Me, Ego. I Need to Get Through.

  1. So true! I still struggle with asking or even accepting help… Perfect example from yesterday, we got 5 inches of wet heavy snow and while I was shoveling the driveway one of my neighbors stopped in his truck (with a plow) and asked if I wanted help. Guess what the ego said before I even had a chance to think about it, “No thank you, I’ll be fine”. I had changed my mind before he even got out of sight… But there I was with another half hour of shoveling left to do, by the time I was finished my arms and back hurt so bad, had a hard time falling asleep last night I was in so much pain! I’m so glad that you’ve managed to work through that, I really need to!!

  2. I totally understand what you mean. I’ve been going through the same reflection upon myself also.
    BTW, I nominated you for an award on my blog. 🙂

  3. Im just not there yet. I know I need to be, soon, because of how hard I am pushing my husband away. But I really feel like a victim, and theres no strength in me right now to bother seeing anything else. I just want to crawl into bed and never get out. But thank you, because I am sure I will be pondering this all day now.

    1. And that is okay that you are not there yet! Be kind to yourself. My therapist told me in the thick of the swamp that I may visit Wallow lane, but I may not live there. My betrayal started 7 years ago, ended 4 years ago and I just visited Wallow lane, 3 weeks ago! It was UGLY, but I needed to see it again to feel blessed and to know remember the lessons I have learned along the way and am still learning. It is so nice to feel connected with others going through this…thanks Lisa.

    2. It is okay that you are not there yet. My therapist told me 7 years ago that I could visit Wallow Lane, just couldn’t live there!……I just visited it 3 weeks ago and it was UGLY. Made me realize how far I have come and that I am still a work in progress and probably always will be. We need each other and I thank all of you for your honesty and thought filled posts and you Lisa…thanks..julie

      1. I wonder if I ever leave, would I be able to move on and love fully.. Will there be someone patient enough to go thru the after effect journey with me? Good Luck! Im happy youre married and moving on with your life. Dont give your past too much hold on your future.

  4. ” He lied and cheated and stole, yes. But he did those things because of whatever demons had him in their grasp. He didn’t do those things because of me. He most likely wasn’t even thinking of me while they occurred. He did them and I was in the way. I shifted my thinking. When he hurt me, he was acting to protect his own sense of self rather than trying to wound mine.”

    But his actions did directly hurt you (as my husband’s actions directly hurt me). I’m still trying to understand how to get past the anger, while not excusing him. I can accept that he doesn’t love me, and that he did what he did because of his own demons, but I can’t stop feeling hurt by it. (BTW, I’m on page 140 of your book — SO FASCINATING!!! What a great read!)

    1. I do still feel hurt (I think that’s inescapable) but I guess I just don’t take it as personally. I know he didn’t wake up one morning and think, “How can I try and destroy Lisa?” Instead, he made a series of decisions that didn’t consider me (or himself or the others in his life). I guess I kind of see as the difference between first degree murder and third degree murder. In the first, the perp intends to kill. In the latter, the perp kills while engaging in a malicious or negligent act (ie drunk driving) but did not intend to kill. The victim ends up just as dead but the motivation and intent behind the act is different.

      Glad you’re enjoying the book:) I hope you’ll write a review when you’re done!

  5. Hello open eyes. Good gracious. I’ve have been trying to work on myself and my reactions to “move on” but I have been trying to answer that unanswerable question: why did he do this to me? I needed this post. Thank you.

  6. Taking out the ego from the situation to let go of the anger and sense of betrayal is extremely important to move on and accept that even though we feel that we are the center of our spouses’ universe most of their actions that hurt us are far removed from our existence. But more importantly letting go of the ego to ask help and admit that you are scared, hurt and pained is the toughest thing to do 🙁

  7. This is a great post.

    You do not actually say what ‘responsibility’ you have now taken for the ending of your marriage.
    This is something that I struggle with …. or do not agree with …….. the advice out there that says you MUST take your share of the blame. Why?

    Whenever I hear the answers other abandoned wives come up with (the reasons they give for their half of the blame); the reasons they come up with are often little personality quirks, little annoying traits, little indiscretions ….
    And for these parts of their personalities, minor traits, for being themselves, they take half the blame of their marriage ending. Why?

    I think to myself….
    in a strong fair marriage these little differences, these personality flaws, these quirky traits would not make any difference.
    In a strong fair marriage each partner accepts the others weaknesses and failings. That is what love is. That is what marriage is.
    No marriage is perfect. Marriage is accepting your partner’s imperfections, and for them to accept yours.
    And if one person cannot live with the other person’s imperfections – for whatever reason- the fair and right thing to do is to talk it through, to negotiate; and together decide whether the marriage can survive, or whether the marriage must end.

    My thoughts are that it takes two to make a marriage work. However, it does not necessarily take two to end it and why must we think that it does?
    If one person chooses to want a different life. Then there is absolutely nothing one can do about it. You cannot make someone love you, care for you, if they do not. There is no shame in that. And if one partner chooses to leave the other without consultation, without negotiation, then (in my opinion) the ‘blame’ for the actual ending of the marriage sits fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the departing spouse.

    Moreover I feel that by feeding this notion that we must take half the blame allows narcissists in life to continue to think only of themselves. It absolves them of their part and of their responsibilities to their marriage vows.


    All the other points I agree with you whole heartedly and this is an excellent post.
    I too have bought your book (day 3 I think) and found it great. Good luck with it by the way. I hope it is going well.

    1. I love thoughtful comments that make me clarify my own thinking and writing:)

      I don’t take responsibility for the ending of the marriage – that is 100% on him. You are absolutely right that it only takes one to end it and two to make it work. He chose to destroy it, hide the destruction and then disappear before it was revealed, giving me no chance whatsoever to do anything about it.

      What I do take responsibility for (and have worked on) is my weaknesses that allowed his malignancy to grow undetected for so many years (and perhaps even drawn to characteristics in the beginning). I don’t in the slightest believe that my anxieties excuse his behavior. They are not even in the same ballpark. I choose to take responsibility for my part because 1) it takes me out of a victim role and 2) addresses those areas in myself will help me going forward.

      Does that make sense?

      Glad you’re enjoying the book:) Thanks for your support!

      1. Hi. Yes that makes sense.

        It is difficult this concept of taking blame etc. After my husband left he started the blame game and came out with much toxic stuff to me about supposedly all the things I had done or not done that had given him no alternative but leave me – (into the waiting arms of someone else!) – it would have been good if he had addressed these issues with me before he left!
        For a while I started to believe the rants you know ‘I was not good enough’, ‘what did I do wrong’, ‘if only I had done such and such’….. and at the time I was reading some of the advice one gets, where I was supposed to look at where I had contributed to the end of my marriage, I was supposed to take half the blame in order to find peace and move on… It was SO depressing!! I felt like a huge failure!

        However, now I realise that it was never ever anything to do with me, it was not what I had done, it was not what I had not done. It was always about him. It was his identity crisis, his need for adulation, his fixation on having his needs met above all else. Since I have come to that place of realisation I have been coping a lot better.

        However, I do know what you mean. Because looking back on it now, there were many signs that he was heading down that path and I ignored the small red flags. I gave into him on many many small issues and I think that that gave him the signal that he could always do as he pleased and he could trample on others feelings and no-one would stop him – which is of course what he ended up doing.

        I see now I should have stood up for myself on those smaller issues. In the end I do not think it would have made any difference to our marriage (maybe he would have left sooner) but it would have made me feel happier about myself that I had not been trampled on so much over the years.
        I will add that at the time I did not feel that I was trampled on – I felt I was simply being a caring wife – it is only now that I feel that I was taken for granted.

        I admire your strength and perseverance. As well as the tsunami ending which I also had, you have had to cope with theft and fraud and now paying back his debt! yet, you keep on keeping on. You are inspiring.

        Thanks for your continued support

        1. And know I understand better where you’re coming from. I was in a similar place. My husband sent an email to my mom and his other wife. In it, he lays out my “crimes” and places the blame at my feet. The claims are absurd – they are in no way traits of mine (in fact, he was projecting) but they still strung. Hard. It took a couple of years for me to see that letter for what it was – a desperate attempt for him to get his wife back and to clear his name. Until I “got” that, I wasn’t ready to take responsibility for anything because the misplaced blame made me so angry.

          I’m glad to hear that you are learning some things about yourself that can help you moving forward. That’s inspiring:)

  8. Well done, you! So many times people allow themselves to stay stuck in anger, resentment or fear. I admire those who say “get out of my way” to their egos, honestly look at where they need to improve and realize that they are NOT responsible for other people’s actions. Great post!

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