Exactly 3 years ago today I was huddled in a closet wondering why this wasn’t a thing.  Why more people didn’t huddle in closets.  That’s where my sisters found me several hours after the fella ran away from home.  He literally ran away from home, like a child, or a caged bird, or a 6′ 3″ doucheyishbag.  (at the time I would have referred to him as a douchebag, but now … meh … whatever, doucheyish is fine)  He tells people he’s 6′ 4″ for some reason which is a lie, by the way.  He’s 6′ 3″.  So, basically a munchkin pygmy.

He left, I broke down, and immediately made my closet floor my new best friend.   I walked straight in there, shut the door and laid down for what I assumed would be the next 4 years or so.  I should mention it isn’t really a walk in closet, let alone a lay down closet. More the kind of closet you’d find in a house where you’d say “Oh my GOD, this is all the closet space there is??” and then you’d storm out of the open house and complain to your realtor.

My sisters got wind that after 11 years, the fella had gone on permanent walkabout so they rushed over to see if I was O.K.  Me?  O.K?  Yup.  I’m good. I’m in a closet.  Why people reserved this sort of indulgence for natural disasters and World Wars was beyond me.  Huddling in a closet was GREAT.

Thinking back on it I feel kind of bad for my sisters, opening the closet door to see me on the tile floor with the imprint of a knock-off Chanel bootie on my forehead.

For some reason this really alarmed them.

I’m not sure why because I know for a fact they both own closets and have both been in their own closets.  I was just being in mine a little bit longer than normal.  Plus I was on the ground. Plus the door was closed.  Plus my hair was all crazy messy from rubbing against the sleeves of a velvet jacket I had in there.  Also,  I may have wrapped a tunic from the late 1990’s around part of my head like a turban for some reason.  I liked it in there. It was great. There was no sound and no light.  My own private sensory deprivation chamber. Perfect. In 4 years time I’d reemerge, with luxuriously long hair, beautifully pale skin and no memory of whats-his-name.

I was really excited about this plan because for the life of me I couldn’t see a single flaw with it.

So why they insisted I get out of the closet I still don’t know.  At first they tried to drag me out which I can tell you right now I was not impressed with.  They weren’t successful of course, because the piles of shoes surrounding me were acting like speed bumps plus my hair was a little bit velcroed to the velvet jacket.  But they didn’t give up. They really wanted me out. Suddenly laying in the closet with my tunic/turban amongst a pile of wire hangers with shoe prints on my face seemed almost humiliating.  I mean,  just moments before I was thinking I could maybe market my closet chamber, for long term financial gain if I could just get one of the Shark Tank people involved. And now my sisters were acting like it was crazy.  Like I was crazy.  They were getting seriously close to being on my doucheyishbag list.

Then the one sister yelled at the other sister for trying to drag me out of the closet and they started sort of windmill slapping at each other, at which point I burrowed deeper into the shoes.




I eventually came out just to shut them up.  Plus my one sister had brought yogurt and honey because she figured I might need sustenance.  Having your spouse up and leave without warning immediately makes people around you think you’ll no longer be able to feed yourself beyond eating your own hair. So they bring food, the same way they would if there was a death in the family.  It was a sudden and surprising “death” at that by the way.  Where you have no warning and aren’t expecting to be hurt at all.  Like a heart attack, or being trampled to death by a herd of kittens.

I was out of the closet, I ate yogurt and honey, and I reluctantly took my super-cool, protective turban off.  They still weren’t happy. They wouldn’t leave.  I asked them to please leave.  I begged them to leave. I just wanted to be alone with my shoes, my snotty face  and my super-plausible Shark Tank fantasy.  I guess they thought GO AWAY  was “just-been-dumped code” for please don’t leave, because instead of packing up their stuff and heading out the door they started cleaning my house. Everything. All of it.  Like Molly Maids with a never-ending supply of tee shirt rags, wood polish and cocaine.

My sensory deprivation chamber was now replaced with the sound of ripping paper towels and my one sister screaming at the fella on the phone from downstairs.  Which I liked of course.  She was giving him shit. His life would be shit, he treated me like shit, he was just a big pile of 6’3″ shit.  That part was awesome.

But once she was done yelling at him, it was back to the sounds of the Windex bottle and squeaking on glass.  I was up in my bedroom, wondering how to spin the phrase “My sisters are cleaning my house against my will.”  into “I think I’m the victim of a very dangerous home invasion, OMG ARE THOSE GUNSHOTS?!!!” for the fine folks at 911, when I heard nothing.  Silence.

They were gone.



WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.  Nope. No they weren’t.  They were just looking for the vacuum. I hated my sisters and wished them ill.

Of course now, 3 years later I know they were just worried about me and wanted to make sure I was O.K.  I mean they went about it in completely the wrong way. What they should have done was taken one look at my awesome closet sensory/deprivation chamber, called a patent lawyer and secured a really cool domain name.  I’d make millions, get a genuinely 6’4″ French boyfriend who, in some type of heroic act had tragically lost all appendages that would allow him to ever run away and I would live happilyish ever after.   But they didn’t.  They dragged and cooked and cleaned with all those squeezy bottles under my sink which I now realize I should have re-labelled  when I refilled them all with plant fungus killer 2 years earlier.

Like it wasn’t enough I’d been dumped, now if I died of a broken heart in my sleep no one would be saying “Oh how tragic, what a love story, look how beautiful she looks even with a flip flop on her head“. They’d say, “Geez, no wonder he left. Have you see how smudgy her windows are?”  The best I could hope for was that someone would notice there was no fungus on them.

So to everyone who has gone through, is going through, might go through a major breakup.  Don’t worry. In a few years, probably even less, you too will come out of the closet completely and totally gay (as in happy).

Honestly. You’ll be happy.  Probably even happier than before.

I for one can tell you with all honestly that I’m 100% happier than a pygmy in shit.








  1. Alison says:

    Girl, I had a mini situation like that, and I’m here to double down on the closet idea. There’s something really nice about being tucked away behind your clothes, safe and sound, and so out of your element that you go catatonic. I’m so glad you’re kicking even more ass than before! Now Idris Elba will never be able to resist you!

    • cindy says:

      I wish I could GET INTO MY CLOSET. After supporting myself, going to college by living in a low income area and paying myself, and a couple of “duds or dudes” (ask me on the day for which generalization applies most) and supporting males in the work environment who literally are DISCOVERING the education as they go for what they were apparently trained to do (funded by parents or the military) – i.e., only had to do homework – this article cracked me up on a very bad day. And I am not a lesbian, nor bitch, nor do I ask to do more than my share in any department other than sex where I, of course, expect to do the most. Now, I do – well, I don’t do at all. Write it!!!

  2. sara says:

    That drawing of you in the shoe closet is by far the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on this site in the YEARS I’ve been reading your blogs.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Sara, I kindda like it too! I’m particularly proud of my eyes welling with tears, lol. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Bobbles says:

        Yes! I love that drawing, I feel very drawn to it!

        But seriously, from the first of your columns I read (the one where you were trying to take a totally necessary pic of him at night…but I can’t remember what it was a pic of, except him and I immediately thought “he just doesn’t understand or deserve anyone as good as Karen. Why doesn’t she realize that!”), I had the internal mother cry. You know, the one where your motherly instincts know but you can’t say anything.

        But it takes time. And shoes. And I’m happy and proud that you’ve come out the other side. But now I need to go look up that column. Congrats!

      • sara says:

        It was the red nose that got me. That, and the fact that it looks exactly like you- and honestly, exactly like me when I finished reading that post you wrote about this whole ordeal. Finally telling us his name after all those years of it being a secret made it seem so final! I don’t even know you and I was sobbing in my own closet over it!

        What I’m saying is that it’s not fair that you got the writing skills and the decorating skills and the organizing skills and the hosting skills AND NOW DRAWING SKILLS? I know your whole thing is “doing stuff,” but is there anything you can’t do?? Chin ups?

        • Mary W says:

          The saddest bit of literature I’ve ever read was the last line when you returned from summer hiatus – his name was Chris. Somehow, telling his name made me burst into tears since I knew without any shadow of doubt that once you said his name, it was over and you had to be totally empty-devastated. I sobbed out loud to no one. I hurt for you. And now, I’m thrilled that you can describe it in your normal funny way – even though it is so sad. You are truly gifted.

          • Karen says:

            Thanks Mary W. That’s me, leave them laughing or crying apparently, lol. ~ karen!

          • Ev Wilcox says:

            I had the same reaction when she told us his name, Mary W.
            Amazing how much you can love a friend without ever having met her, isn’t it?

        • Karen says:

          Well I presently have a torn rotator cuff so chin ups are definitely out. In fact I can’t really wave at the moment without looking like a giant weirdo so … there’s that. 🙂 ~ karen!

          • Erin says:

            Gasp – what about the garden? Hope it heals soon!

          • 1. It’s so good that you’re really happy now – huzzah!

            2. Torn rotator cuff – ouch. I borked mine in November 2014 when I fell halfway down a mountain.

            I had almost no mobility in my left arm, and my partner had to help me wash, brush my hair, get dressed and undressed… almost everything. Even writing, stirring food, sewing, etc. was problematic (I’m a southpaw).

            I eventually went to see my doc at the beginning of February (’15), who sent me to the hospital for ultrasounds and x-rays (as well as giving me some super painkillers… wheee!).

            I was then given a cortisone injection – have you had one? It really helped. Not in an instant-miracle-cure way but it enabled me to do physio exercises, which meant that over the next few months I began to be able to dress myself. And do other stuff, such as de-Hagrid my hair.

            At the end of June last year, I was finally able to do my bra up myself, and put on a tee shirt unaided. It was very liberating!

            It’s now, I’d say, 99% healed but I do still have to be careful with it, and a few times when using resistance bands, I’ve felt it threaten to ‘go’ again. However, that aside, and apart from the occasional twinge, it’s all good.

            I really hope yours heals quicker than mine but do be prepared for it to take a while. And don’t push it!

            Sending you loads of anti-ouching thoughts.

            • Karen says:

              Hey Nicole! Yes, the bra thing is an issue, lol. Who knew you had to be so bendy in the shoulder to do one up. I do physical therapy and a LOT of proper exercise to build up the muscle around it and it’s getting better every day. It’ll be another few months before it’s right as rain but at least I can feel it improving. ~ karen! (had cortisone for an elbow problem years ago and LOVED it!!)

            • Good to hear your shoulder is on the mend!

      • GiGi says:

        And the red nose…..beyond awesomeness!! I truly get it.

      • Kimberly says:

        I absolutely love that picture. The eyes are perfect. I have two sisters that have really helped immeasurably and the best girlfriends anybody could ask for. Just can’t wait to be over it.

      • christine says:

        I also loved,loved,loved it.As in please blow that up and frame it in a big antique gilt frame and name it “I was too smart for him anyways and everybody else knew it” and hang it on that wall you are going to paint black.

        • Marti says:

          I’m guessing you can print those up and sell them for your next fundraising drive here on TADS.com, Karen. Depending on the price, I might sign up for one.

          Followed an etsy store selling your custom made art… how far behind can that be? You can name it “APgymyInShit.com” — say, I bet that domain name is still available!

      • Barbie says:

        I have to agree with Sara! ….especially the nose! What a great drawing! Made me want to cuss out the Fella along with your sister
        in fact!

  3. Kimberly says:

    My fella left after 30 years. For another woman. Divorce should be final any day now. I so know what you went through. I’m dealing with it one day at a time but it’s rough. But it does seem to get easier with every passing day. I hope you really are doing much better. It gives me hope that it will for me too. Sending love and good thoughts your way.

    • Karen says:

      I am! I’m great. It’s such a cliche, but he did me a favour. I’m genuinely and completely happy. Not content. Happy. I don’t feel sorry for myself, I’m not mad, I’m not … anything. I’m really just happy. And so will you be. ~ karen!

      • Barb says:

        What she said! He really did do me a big fat favour 4 years ago- I am stronger and happier and I have truly found out what I can do and it feels amazing. Sometimes scary, but amazing. I have a saying on my wall: “this is the part where you find out who you are” and it is so true! I found out who I am and I like me. I sold my wedding rings and had a new one made that says “fearless” on the inside, and vowed to try to live up to it. I have- people tell me I am brave and fearless, but really I am just doing the best I can to live how I want to live, and saying “yes” instead of “what if I can’t do it?” If that’s fearless, I’ll take it! Oh- and I have chickens now… is that a thing?

        • Karen says:

          Well if you know all about flystrike then being fearless is a prerequisite for having chickens, lol. 🙂 ~ karen!

        • louise Segsworth says:

          Hi – I would like to sell my rings but not alot of options in Kingston where I live. Would you mind sharing where you sold yours?

          • Barb says:

            A local jewellery store has estate jewellery. I had to sell the wedding rings to be melted down but the engagement ring went as a “dinner ring”.

          • J says:

            Louise, if you mean Kingston Ontario, I believe you have a jewellery store owned by Sonja Roe. I have never had anything made by her, but I hear she is good. And no, don’t sell them, the rings and your marriage are part of your story, get them made into something completely different, something that reflects who you are now, or who you want to be. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, or a caterpillar emerging as a butterfly .

      • wendy says:

        Glad you found your way out of the closet,life is so short.You deserve to
        be happy,free of negativity and drama.Stay strong.

    • Kelli says:

      Just *hugs* Kimberly. Just *hugs.* You will will survive. And be stronger.

    • Bobbles says:

      My hubby announced he wanted a divorce…on vacation…in Mexico…and thought the rest of the vaca could just continue, with us sharing a room and bed. It was final on our 30th anniversary. Kimberly, you’ll be fine but if you need anything, I’ll be here for you. Just drop me a comment or ask Karen to send you my contact info. It’s a hard situation to get through.

      • TucsonPatty says:

        Mine was 4 years ago tomorrow (the day after Mother’s Day) after 26 years, also for a new girlfriend. (I call her Brown Tooth Horsey Face.) I am happier than I have been for years and years. It was a gift and it was one of the hardest things ever. Kimberly, you will get past this, and sooner than you realize. I thought I might die for a while, but I’m truly happy now – not just simply surviving. Why these doucheyish bags think they need to do things like this is beyond me! Congratulations, Karen, for doing oh so much more than surviving, and to Kimberly and Bobbles and all the other gazillions of us out there – keep on keeping on!

        • Bobbles says:

          Patti, I delight in the knowledge that ex had to BUY a wife (Asian mail order bride) to get one with all my talents!

        • judy says:

          I wonder if men just are not as evolved as Women? I think they are constantly driven by the procreation gene, survival of the species-must make more of me cause sadly wonderful me ain’t going to last forever and a thing as fan-damn-tastic as I needs to live forever. They think ..with their bald heads and red convertibles.. that they are hot but its really all those dried up tadpoles in their nether regions screaming for eggs to pursue and conquer.

  4. Amanda says:

    I love a good closet cry. I have a slightly larger closet but it’s also full of crap so I usually have to sit inside a suitcase but it’s quite cozy and you have so many options of what to wipe your tears with because it’s a closet!

  5. Ter'e says:

    Girl – I don’t even know the douche bag, but I can tell you………he is nothing but a waste of energy. You are so much more better off now. Is that proper grammar???? Whatever.
    You keep being your precious self. Screw him.

  6. Patty Martin says:

    I like my closet. I sit in there probably more often than I should. It gives off some nice vibes.

    • Karen says:

      Where the hell were all you closet loving people when my sisters were trying to drag me out of mine? ~ karen!

  7. Kelli says:

    May that pygmy douchebag shrink embarrassingly forevermore (especially where it counts!), while you continue to grow and become cooler, funnier…stronger, better, faster…oh wait, that’s the $6 million man. But you get my drift.


    That is all.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kelli! But you know what. I don’t even wish him a miserable life anymore. I never did really. Takes too much energy. O.K. I wished it for a few weeks, but … that’s about it, lol. ~ karen!

      • Maureen Locke says:

        How do you do that?? My husband left after 20 years for a little girl in her early 20’s. He was 40. My son was 17. Just said he couldn’t take it anymore and walked out. End of story. After a painful year of waiting for him to come back I filed for divorce and moved home. A year later I met the love of my life who is more than anything you could want in a husband. Loving, supportive, easy going, tender AND does all the housework, except the bathrooms. However, as happy as I am, I can’t forgive the idiot. My best friend bought me a voodoo doll because I thought I needed one, but I haven’t got the heart to put a pin in it. I just wish I could let it go, but I can’t. Him and his wife are living out all our dreams and I hate it…. it eats away at me. My hubby now and I really don’t have any dreams except to retire someday. I still want all that stuff my ex is enjoying. It’s still my dream but not my hubby’s. We’ve been together 20 years, I’m very happy with my life and want for nothing, why can’t I get over this???? I don’t wish him death, but I don’t want him happy either. I’m pissed that he took my best years and just threw them away and now my hubby is left with an old woman who farts all the time. 🙁 Boy, don’t I feel sorry for myself. Neway, I just wanted to know HOW did you get over it?? How did you let it go??

        • Maureen Locke says:

          PS… I sooo love your picture. Those eyes are so pain filled.

          PS.. I LOVE the picture. Those eyes just beg me to hug that little girl in the closet and take the pain away. I’m so glad you’re ok. xo

          • Karen says:

            Hi Maureen. I just figured it takes way more energy to be angry all the time. It’s life sucking. I didn’t consciously say I’m not going to hate him, it just seemed for me to be happy, I had to not care about him. Also I don’t go out of my way to find out what he’s doing and who he’s doing it with. That’s not helpful. You having a son makes that much harder to do! ~ karen

            • Maureen Locke says:

              Not just a son but three children who have spent their lives trying to please their father. So sad. Me, they come to for hugs and food lol. I wish I didn’t know what was going on in his life. It would be much easier. I’m soooo glad that you are at that place with Himself. I hope to some day be there. Thanks Karen. { Hugs }

        • Cheryl Smith-Bell says:

          Well first, you MUST forgive him. If you don’t, you are giving him control over you. Your forgiving him, does not mean you did wrong, or that he did right, it just means that what he does, no longer controls you.
          The Lord said we must forgive, for him to forgive us. You will never regret it, because it will set you free. Sounds simple, and it is, but I know it is still hard to do. Just don’t give up your life, for someone who was not worth it! sound to me like the new man is worth you being 100% with it with him.

          • Maureen Locke says:

            Cheryl, I’ve been praying for years for the ability to forgive him, but it just hasn’t happened… probably because I don’t want to. I pray for it almost daily…. help me Lord do this. I want this pain to go away and have prayed about it for 20 years but it’s still here.

            • Pam'a says:


              I went through something kind of similar, i.e, watching the dreams I had play out for someone else, and having a child who adored the guy. It’s soul-sucking and totally unfair. “Just forgive” doesn’t help at all. I’m not sure what will do it for you, but after twenty years, maybe you should seek some help with it. Time to lay that burden down– It would be the most elegant revenge you could take on him. You deserve that.

              p.s. Except maybe having the new wife go completely psycho and divorce him– All these years later, I now look like the GOOD ex. Heh.
              Best of luck to you. 🙂

            • Ann Brookens says:

              Maureen, it takes you deciding you are going to let it go. Decide it this minute and then focus on the good in your life. And then decide it again the next time you get hung up on him again. And the NEXT time. Eventually, you’ll stop worrying about his life and focus on your own. If you really want his stuff so much, maybe you should share with your husband how much you care about those things and figure out a way to get what you require to live a fulfilled life.
              My advice, though, is to not let things be more important people.
              Good luck, and God bless you.

        • Jac says:

          Maureen, I have to butt in here ’cause I was so in the same place. What got me going in a better direction was the realization that dwelling on the matter was hurting me. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it. And it is, really. No matter what I did or thought it wasn’t going to have any effect on him or the situation; I had to accept the fact that a part of my life had just simply ended and gone out of my control. I could NOT fix it. Kinda like a death. Exactly like a death. It can NOT be fixed. Once I accepted that, the only choice was how to deal with it. I could keep making myself unhappy by constantly thinking about it, or I could choose to move on. I bought a book called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. It changed my life. It has to do with figuring out WHY your inner self is making it hard for you to do what your logical self knows is obviously best. Then you beat the crap outta that inner self a few (dozen) times over some period of time and one day you realize you just really don’t care about that old, sad and depressing part of your previous life anymore – you have a new life that you’ve made for yourself, and you have too much to be grateful for to ruin any precious moments with ugly thoughts. That’s been 27 years ago and lines from that book still run through my head every day and help me to keep myself grateful and balanced. Who’s the boss of what runs through MY head, anyway? Damn sure I AM. 🙂 Best of Luck, -Jac

        • SusanR says:

          First, my heart goes out to you. What you went through is very difficult, but as you said, you’ve now found the love of your life. It’s very difficult letting go of dreams, and there’s no reason you can’t take those dreams and make them yours again with the man you now love and who clearly loves you, or find new ones together. If there are financial considerations, the dreams can be trimmed down a bit, without losing them. I know this, because I went through something similar. For my ex it was a 19 year old. At the time it happened, I felt like I’d spent my life to that point preparing for the fairy tale ball, only to find not only wasn’t I going, someone else was going to be wearing the dress I’d made for it. It hurts. Deeply. To the core. What I did when I found it difficult to let go of the dreams, was when I found myself thinking of them, I’d take a deep breath, clench my fists, and then open my fists to full open hands, symbolically letting go. I also made a conscious decision to think of something else when I found myself dwelling in the past. It worked. And I’d also look at my new husband, thinking of how much his love has healed my heart, and recognize how lucky I was that MY personal idiot was no longer in my life, or else I wouldn’t have the love I now have. My new life is different, but I wouldn’t trade it for that old life for a moment. I’m absolutely certain I’m happier now than I ever would have been had my idiot NOT gone haywire. So get out that doll and stick a pin in it. Stick a hundred pins in it. Tear it to shreds. It’s a symbolic step towards healing and letting go. You CAN do it. You’re not letting go of something that’s real, you’re just letting go of some thoughts, in exchange for a better reality right now.

          • Penny says:

            Yours is the most helpful reply to Maureen by far. Well done for finding a strategy to ‘let it go’ and move on.
            They do say that the best revenge is a life lived well.

  8. Kathy Hartzell says:

    Think how many people, women and men, can’t wait for your posts, love you dearly and beyond, and have watched you become better than ever? I love the drawing, but I think your cute little sniffly nose really does set the tone for that drawing.

    I might want to try to save it….but I don’t know how to do that. Hmmmm, I can budget for a 12,000,000 engineering project and can’t save a photo from the web???? Oh well.

    • Karen says:

      You should just be able to drag the photo onto your desktop. Just drag ‘er on down. 🙂 And thanks Kathy! ~ karen!

    • Bobbles says:

      If you’re on an iPhone, just click the power button and the home button at the same time. It will save it to your photos. Isn’t that clever? I just learned it yesterday!

  9. I would love to have sisters who clean. My sisters would have brought alcohol and junk food.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with alcohol and junk food.

    • Karen says:

      What I would have liked was a sedative, lol! Just 1 single, slow release sedative where I could wake up about a week later and start dealing with everything then. Nope. I got yogourt. ~ karen!

      • Andrea says:

        When I broke up, my best friend who is a dr told me to take dendritic. I did that first three days so I could sleep. After that I could handle the pain. More or less.

  10. Paula says:

    You are a strong, confident woman and by permitting your vulnerability to ‘shine’ through you to help others. Of course you do it in a written, Karen’ish’ type of way 🙂 Good for you, success.

  11. Tracy Egan says:

    Sometimes, I wonder… if we aren’t the same person.

  12. Ardith says:

    You’re awesome. Cheers, Ardith

  13. Brandy Ballard says:

    I can so relate! My closet hiding came about just the right time to almost blow up my pursuit of my master’s degree. Thankfully I had understanding instructors and an adviser willing to go to bat for me and totally have my back and I was still able to graduate on time. Now I’m working on my doctoral degree and have been promoted at my job. He, on the other hand, has gone backwards at his….the small part of me revels in that. 🙂

  14. Kathleen says:

    It does knock the life out of you for a while.

    And then when you realise one day that you haven’t cried that day, you realise that you will survive this…

    and then one day you realise when you laugh spontaneously at something, that you are beginning to heal…

    and eventually you realise that you actually are truly happy. Then you know you have healed.

    Took me a long time to get there, but I too did it.

    Glad you are there too, Karen. *high five*

  15. Elaine says:

    Wow … I sure wasn’t expecting THIS on a warm fuzzy day such as Mother’s Day!! Oh Karen, I’m not sure even how to comment on this wrenching story but I guess, the best I can add right now is say first of all, I’m SO very sorry you went through such a painful, heartbreaking experience! Your humor isn’t hiding the pain you went through at all!! I picture you in that closet crying your eyes out! But secondly, how wonderfully lucky you were/are to have two such loving sisters in your life!! I’d practically give my right arm for a sister (and I’m right-handed too). I think my lame attempt at humor is to cheer myself up more than you as this story is SO sad. If there was support such as you had (from your sisters) available to someone I know, I think she’d be brave enough to leave an unhealthy situation but she’s too scared to move out! From what I see, a person can be lonelier in a bad marriage than living alone but it takes courage to go it alone and start afresh. The 6’3″ (maybe he wore shoe lifts and was a squat 6′) sounds like a real jerk (**) and you are better off without him. I promised myself I wouldn’t swear (**) on Mother’s Day but I’m swearing as I type this. A friend of mine (back in the 60’s) married a bad apple (we all knew it but she was nuts about him). She gave birth – two days later, he came to the hospital to say he was “checking out”!! Nice, eh? You are funny, extremely smart, very attractive, over-the-top capable and kind – you don’t need a guy to complete you …. ever!! If a Prince Charming shows up someday, great. If he doesn’t, that can be great too. Life can bring lots of bad knocks and I’ve had my share health-wise, etc. Can you imagine how that jerk (still not swearing!) would handle life’s serious challenges if they came your way down the road? You’re MUCH better off without him now – before he showed his true colors later on when life gets really tough! I’m sending a big hug! ?

  16. Bridget Donzé says:

    Breaking up sucks. Sorry you had to go through that.

  17. Elaine says:

    PS: me again … I forgot to say I love your artwork!! Perfect!!

  18. Laurie says:

    That’s just a very heartbreaking story. Life can really throw us a massive curve ball. It’s the worst when you love a person and you don’t see it coming. You’re all in and suddenly he isn’t. I really feel your pain. It’s what we all fear. You made it through and you sound better than ever. For that we are all grateful.

  19. Jeffrey Mathews says:

    I realize as the presumptive enemy (I am a man), I am walking on eggshells here but I wonder if it would be acceptable if the “fella” made it clear that he was very unhappy with the relationship but would nevertheless stick it out as matter of loyalty to an idea of fidelity?

    Having been a family law attorney in Los Altos, California (now retired) I can attest to the effects of the breakup on both parties-even the one who initiates the breakup. I am simply not sure that a marriage can exist with just the external forms present without a real affection for the other. Sometimes, two people with the best of intentions and trying extremely hard simply cannot force feelings.

    The fact that the other party simply did not see it coming speaks volumes about the state of the real relationship. Would you have handled things any differently than he did if it had been you that felt the relationship was ending? Isn’t the important thing to realize that despite everything you did and he did, things just could not be worked out and part with sadness and with dignity?

    Might I enquire if you have any idea as to what happened to him?

    Very respectfully,

    Jeff M.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jeffrey! The point of the post isn’t tell let you all in on every single aspect of my personal life. It’s to share an experience. And to let others know (you’ll notice in the post I didn’t refer to men or women in terms of breakups) that if they go through a breakup they will be happy again. It’s not a man bashing post or even a fella bashing post. It’s just a post about getting through a breakup. ~ karen!

      • Jeffrey Mathews says:

        Ma’am: With your very gracious permission, I was trying to discover whether it was the act of leaving or the manner of the leaving that was the cause that left you “en dishabille” as it were?

  20. TucsonPatty says:

    Another thought after reading the comments so far. Karen, you are my hero! You are so brave to put your life out here for us, and I hope you do realize that you show us every day that indeed – “…It ain’t that hard…” You are a very awesome woman and show us all the strength you have which you put forth three years ago. Doucheyish pigmy indeed! P.S. I also love your drawing and wish I had all those shoes and flip flops.

  21. Cynthia Jones says:

    It’s how he did it Jeffrey, not that we know details. We don’t.

    What happened to him? I think he might have disappeared up how own butt, cos that’s what I wished he would do.

    Then I hope he got involved with a tyre-slashing, unmedicated bunny boiler disguised as highly sexual, perfectly manicured and aloof.

    • Jennifer says:

      I just happen to be going through these comments and by far the funniest description of that type we all know…

  22. Laura Bee says:

    So happy you are happy. So happy to know we can survive heartbreak. A few douchebags had passed through my life (none for longer than 10 months) before my love came along.
    One dumped me just before my birthday, another just before I thought he was going to propose & two cheated with an ex-girlfriend & got them pregnant. The first I dumped & the second left me for her without saying goodbye even.
    18 years now with my bf & there are days my old insecurities get the better of me & I wonder when he will leave. I hate those days.

  23. Bev says:

    I know it probably felt like your world had melted into a pool of nothing. But actually… It could have been worse Karen…

    I heard of a woman who discovered her ‘closet’ in Kmart. She climbed into the middle of the wracks of clothing and sat down and cried and cried and was there nearly two hours before someone heard her sniffling and alerted security. At which point no one dragged her out, she had to climb out on her own, with a red face and snot on her chin and try not to feel completely mortified by the crowd that had gathered to see what was going on and who the guard was talking to so condescendingly. Only your sisters shuddered at your hair style. Not a whole mall…

    Life, men, even Roosters can be complete arseholes on occasion. I’m so glad you feel better, happy and still killing it – and you are. You are an inspiration to a lot of people. And thank you, for coming out of that closet, even though you didn’t want to. You are loved. xxx

  24. Liz says:

    Thanks for sharing Karin and glad you made it out to the other side. You’ve got guts.
    I mean, you have chickens, you build EVERYTHING yourself and you can cook. Life is good 🙂

  25. Grammy says:

    I’m glad you didn’t tell us about the closet incident back when you first let us know that he’d taken a hike. There would have been a whole bunch of women from several continents streaming into your little corner of the world to help your sisters take care of you, and your house would never have recovered from the onslaught. It’s what females of our species do. I don’t think it’s possible to live past about the age of 30 without having had the same kind of experience, either as the stricken one or the rescuer (or both in turns), so everyone relates to the tale.

    I have two sisters, too, and none of us will tell anyone else about how the others look all snot-nosed and with eyes that have cried so long that they seem permanently swollen and red. So people like you tell on themselves and draw graphic pictures of just exactly how bad it was. It was bad, Kid. And now it’s not. Because that’s how it works.

    Not caring about whether he suffers or not is the best indication that you are healed and whole. And we, your readers, win. Please tell you sisters “Thank you,” from the rest of us.

  26. mia pratt says:

    Yer a rock start, honey! Way too much class and style to be hinged for life to that coward.

  27. Trish says:

    Jeff, this is a good time to stay quiet.

    • Auntiepatch says:


    • Karen says:

      That made me laugh. A genuine donkey laugh! ~ karen

    • Jeffrey Mathews says:


      There is an old Louisiana folk wisdom that you might find of some interest to the effect that until the coon and the coon hound learn to talk or read and write, the only version of the coon hunt that any of us have is the hunters’.

      I may be entirely wrong but after reading your comment and the attendant Greek Chorus, I looked for the N/B (Nota Bene-Please Note) asking that all comments reflect an intensely subjective and blogger supportive point of view.

      It is still entirely possible that I have missed that request and if I have, I should gladly stand corrected.

      But in the event that there was and is no such request by the blogger, I do believe that I am permitted a very polite question regarding the authors’ intent.

      Graciously permit me to rephrase for all of you gentle women:

      If the situation were reversed, how would the author have wished the inevitable breakup to have occurred? What should he and what could he have done or refrained from doing that would have obviated the closet experience?

      Secondly, if one admits that one no longer has those kinds of feelings for the once cherished other; is the duty then to simply remain out of a sense of prior obligation or spiritual debt?

      As for myself, I never met anyone that I thought that I could go the distance with. Given the “till death do us part” long mutual suicide that my own parents called a marriage, I could hardly have had a good perspective on the institution. Even after several decades of their passing, I recall both of them with the utmost loathing and did not attend my Mothers’ Funeral.

      I should also like to add that my niece, AnneHarper that I raised (long story) is graduating Harvard in two weeks. I must have done something right.

      Might I direct your attention to the prefatory first chapter in Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Brideshead Revisited” in which the narrator, Charles Ryder compares his loss of love for the British Army in which he is a company commander waiting for D-Day, with the loss of love of a beloved wife. I think he captures the horror and sense of loss than most men feel when they discover that their deepest love for the thing they love is slowly dying and that they are helpless to arrest or reverse that loss.

      That is of course if you will graciously permit the coon or the coon hound to speak in your august assembly…

      • Jackie says:

        Get over yourself, Jeffrey.

        • Jeffrey Mathews says:

          As I am a gentleman, it is ever my duty and my pleasure to insist that the ladies always go first.

          Kindly lead the way if you please.

        • Katrina says:

          Why am I picturing, “Jeffery” looking and talking like Dr. Jody Kimball-Kinney on the Mindy Project?

          • Jackie says:

            I don’t know who Dr. Jody is but Jeffery comes across like a big Wuss & probably needs to find a different blog. He needs to keep his nosy ass questions to himself. He seems to be much too delicate to belong here.

            • Jeffrey Mathews says:

              As it happens Ma’am. I lost my left hand when my platoon was overrun in October 1971 ten months into my second tour with the 101st Airborne.

              I’ve been called many things in my life but neither ungentlemanly or a wuss were ever on that list.

              It strikes me that you have no personal experience of the men of old Southern families. And it must be admitted that I certainly have no experiences with women of such sensibilities as yours.

          • Jeffrey Mathews says:

            I must beg your indulgence as I have never seen the TV show. My niece likes it though and I shall bring this to her attention when I venture north of the Mason Dixon line to see her graduate in two weeks.

            If this is any help, she refers to me as her “crazy Confederate cat uncle.” And all because my favorite Tee Shirt has a picture of charging Confederate Cavalry with the words: “Every time a Yankee dies choking on his own blood, another angel gets his wings.”

            As William Faulkner put it so beautifully: “ In the real South, the dead past is not dead. It isn’t even the past.” Or as my niece would put it: “Oh God uncle. I can’t take you anywhere without you embarrassing me!”

            • Karen says:

              I have the feeling Jeffrey, that most of what you’ve written today stems from your own lost love. The law. 🙂 ~ karen!

            • Jackie says:

              Oh – Poor Jeffrey, I hurt your feelings – maybe you should stay down south where the women swoon & drink mint juleps & where you all still fight the Civil War over & over again waiting for a different outcome. I’m sorry you were injured fighting in a war but that doesn’t mean you can come on here & ask nosy questions. Karen shares enough of her life with us – you don’t have to ask for details. I can’t believe that you not only loath your parents but that you would post that on here – plus the fact that you did not attend your own mother’s funeral. Now that’s just sad.

  28. Annarica says:

    Oh I empathise! My closet was too shoe-full to take me, my three Yorkies and Flappa my pet pigeon on a leash, so I moved to under the bed. It was so great that it was an antique cast iron bed and so it was high, if it had been a more modern bed – who knows? Congratulations on surviving the emerging from the cocoon of double-ness and so glad that you also feel that singleness is a welcome state, not one to be dreaded. Big hugs! Annarica

  29. Annarica says:

    Although, that being said, I see how much I have changed and how little I care for public opinion any more. In fact, I am well on my way to bring the crazy old chick in the corner house who feeds hundreds of wild birds every day, has a weird routine including saluting the sun and collecting white bird feathers every day and guards her privacy like a rabid T-Rex! And, fools are no longer welcome or tolerated. My single space is sacred now.

  30. It’s ok that I love you, right? Rhetorical. I know it is.


  31. Linda-Leigh says:

    I stumbled across your blog looking for “can’t remember what” and have been loving it ever since.

    I too had a 6′ 3″ F $#@tard dump me 3 years ago so I know your feelings all too well. My sisters didn’t clean so much as get me drunk. Very drunk. However I am happy to report that I am happier too now. It really was for the best.

    Happy to hear that you’re doing fantastically well and am looking forward to your future posts. Thank you for being an inspiration.


  32. Cathy says:

    and now you have an awesome pizza oven, a new kitchen with toasty floors, a non leaking toilet and your books and… a life. You have a funny wonderful, ups-n-downs life. You chose to go on and are the better for it.
    But your closet is always there should you need it. Oh, and your sisters too.

  33. Miriam Mc Nally says:

    I too thought of your amazing pizza oven, and all the super things you’ve done since he left.
    I love the closet picture, and think your idea of closet sensory deprivation sounds fairly perfect in the circumstances.
    But I thank your sisters for saving you, and being there for you.

    Rock on Karen, you are amazing!

  34. Alex says:

    Three years ago, out of the blue, I suddenly thought, “I wonder what happened to that girl who used to be on TVO? I LOVED her monologues. What was her name? ” So I Googled (stalked) you until I found you – just as you were “retiring” heartbroken from the blog for a while. You were just like a wounded animal. My heart went out to you and I wrote to you at that time to tell you to hang in.

    AND then you were back, firing on all cylinders and better than ever. Yay for the will to live. Ya Boo Sucks to the Silly Fella.

    • Karen says:

      Well, now you get my monologues in written format with hand drawn pictures, lol. Basically the same thing as television only I don’t have to brush my hair. ~ karen!

  35. Sandra Lea says:

    It happened to me too, husband left after 29 years of marriage and at the time you think there is no way you will get through it but you do, it does get better. I’m just sorry I wasted so much time with him in the first place. And what is it about men that they always seem to add an extra inch to their height? Thanks for sharing your story, while it is happening you think you are so alone and that it’s never happened to anyone but you. By the way, yogurt and honey is one of my favorite things.

  36. Anna says:

    My ex was 6’3″ and told everyone he was 6’4″ too. Why? At that height, is the extra inch really all that impressive? Were you bullied by a gang of guys who really were 6’4″ in your childhood? I don’t get it. But of course, that was the tip of the iceberg-of-things-I-don’t-get-about-the-ex…

  37. Gail Dedrick says:

    Congratulations, Karen. You successfully figured out that the staying angry part is what impedes your happiness. Many folks wrap themselves in that like a blanket. Letting go of that takes time, though. I’m proud of you.

  38. Lush says:

    Hi Karen
    I am so glad to hear you made it through to the other side. It gives me hope.
    I am nearly 12 months on from getting back to the UK after travelling to Australia for my Mother’s funeral & my partner of 6 years telling me that he was in love with our business partner but wanted us both, then dumping me 3 days before my birthday.
    Here I am in the UK, a long way from family, friends & my former life. I moved here because we were carving a new life for ourselves. The business was part of the plan. Did I mention that we are still in business together & I get to see them almost every. freaking. day!
    It really helps to hear that others have hung on & made it through.
    They have finally realised that we need to sell the business, so bring on a buyer!!

    • Karen says:

      Sell the business, pack your bags, and move back home to start new. In fact, if you have the money maybe you can buy the business from him, move it back to Australia and continue on with it on your own or with a new partner. 🙂 Good luck. You’ll get through it. ~karen!

  39. Maura says:

    Hi Karen,
    I will print your post, tape it to my bathroom mirror and read it every day until I also have made it through.
    I am glad you are better and thank you for being there!

  40. Ronda says:

    My own personal d-bag left for someone else more than 20 years ago, leaving me with two kids that we were to “share” responsibility for. Needless to say, the bulk of the sharing was my responsibility. And when you have two little ones to take care of, the only thing you CAN do is to pick up the pieces and soldier on. Ex moved to the far side of the country … not quite far enough according to my family! But now, 20 years later, one kid has his HBA, the other is in her last year of college, and life is good. The best revenge is living well.

  41. Eileen says:

    Cocooning in a closet sounds like a very reasonable thing to do under those circumstances. You have certainly come out the other side of that nightmare with Mr. 6’3″. Good for you.

  42. I loved this post. For some strange reason it made me think of the Velveteen Rabbit.
    “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
    ― Margery Williams
    You are real….and beautiful.
    And for the millionth time I wished I wasn’t an only child.
    Happy Monday.

  43. danni says:

    What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I won’t even indulge myself by listing all the bad luck stories, all that matters is that I am strong and happy and not depending on anyone else to make me so. When you have to work so hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel, you earn the right to just sit in your hammock and get a tan!

    • kari says:

      love this: When you have to work so hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel, you earn the right to just sit in your hammock and get a tan!

  44. Angel says:

    As someone that has been teetering on separating for the last year, this brought tears to my eyes. And hope. That whatever happens, I will be ok. Thank you for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Just think. If you’d bit the bullet and separated a year ago you’d be through much of the pain already. If it needs to be done, it needs to be done. No matter when it happens it’ll be awful, but at least it will be over and done with. :/ ~ karen!

      • Sandra says:

        So, so true. I kept “hanging on”, and all I did was have a couple more kids to “hang on” for. What a waste of time.

  45. marilyn says:

    wow…i almost feel bad for being married to the most wonderful man for 34 years and being ridiculously happy! he makes me feel cherished and loved every day..things happen for a reason..it was part of your journey Karen and look where you are now.better than ever! even with a flip flop on your head.lol xo

  46. Ellen says:

    It’s a short story and was a short marriage (what was I thinking?). I very happily moved out. Friend said “someday it will just be a blip on your radar screen”. Years pass and I’m having dinner in some restaurant….a guy grabs me and says “give me a hug”. I back away, look at him and say in my head “omg that’s what’s his name”. I COULD NOT remember his name!!!

    As the years pass, I am happier and happier, and for the life of me do not know why men and women hook up. My pendulum swung from thinking I need someone to WHY? WHAT FOR?.

    • Linda in Illinois says:

      I agree with you Ellen, Why do I need a man who I have to clean up after like he is three years old.. and What for?? I could find no good reason to believe I wouldn’t be better off without that stupid lazy idiot who only wanted a mother figure. I hurt when he left but was joyfully happy when it was done. When he showed up again months later to get his “stuff” i said there was none of his “stuff” here any longer, I burnt it all on a lovely summer night sitting under the stars with nature and God by my side… lol Priceless

      • Kim from Milwaukee says:

        ‘Burnt it all on a lovely summer night’….that’s beautiful, Linda! Would have loved to see his face when you said that!

  47. Chavella Thomas says:

    After I lost 210 pounds (him) years ago, I vowed to live to be 115 years old. I will be murdered by a jealous lover and my boyfriend will be so upset, he will have to drop out of college. We knew you would make it. You had better keep an eye on that french boyfriend, I’ll be around a long time. 🙂

  48. Rose says:

    I remember when that happened and how hard it was reading about it, can’t imagine living through it. The Fella and you seemed to match up so perfectly. Part of the shocking brutality was that he left so suddenly, for no apparent reason. Samuel Beckett wrote, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” You went on in high style and so glad you made it to the other side!

    • Karen says:

      We were perfectly matched Rose. 🙂 I’m sure he’d tell you the same. In fact I know he would. But yes. I went on. And I will never go backwards. 😉 ~ karen!

  49. Jenifer says:

    The Closet Chamber is pure genius! Instead, I wrapped myself in homemade Mac and Cheese and red wine for a year. Yogurt as comfort food?? If only. 🙂

  50. Darlene says:

    Odd you write this – I was thinking about you yesterday, wondering how you were doing?

    I guess I just remember how sad you were at that time.
    I am very happy you are BETTER!!!

  51. Jane says:

    Thank you Karen. -laughs a bit ruefully- I was expecting a proposal tomorrow, on my birthday. Instead my BF of two years dumped me last night– in the middle of finals week.

    Why? I’m a writer: brand name matters. And so I had the audacity to want to hyphenate my name, rather than simply replacing it with his, post marriage. Unacceptable! He was leaving.

    -shakes head- Writer, but I’ve no words for that. Well, no gracious ones anyway.

    • Noreen McKechnie says:

      Thank goodness he left. What a huge pile of shittyness. Only use his name! what part of his inadequate anatomy is he thinking with.

      • Jane says:

        Noreen, thank you– I’m sitting outside the classroom, and you made me laugh aloud– admittedly all the stressed out students kinda glared at me, but totally worth it!

  52. Michelle says:

    The inch lie seems to scream insecurity. I am probably wrong but if he could not be happy at 6’3″ then what else was bothering him? He is probably a good person but maybe your strength, intelligence and beauty made him insecure? So he could never match up to you. Glad you don’t waste time wishing him trouble, because your own success is the best revenge. Thanks for the message it works for other troubles in life too.

  53. Melissa Leach says:

    I am so proud of you Karen. Thanks for sharing your story, we aren’t alone and that makes us all stronger. You are amazing!

  54. Carol says:

    Brave of you to share your story Karen – I think it’s important to do so. Women need to know that these unexpected chapters can be written from one voice. And it can be the most powerful and empowering chapter at that. I went through the same roller coaster, err, closet shut-in ride as you did. At the same time. Cried the same tears. Shut the same closet door. But did not eat yogourt (only cuz I’m lactose intolerant).

    In hindsight, the life I led back then was a shadow of what I’m living now. My ex was a controlling, oppressive man – which he managed with beautiful subtlety. It took me years to realize the damage he was doing to my soul. Once out of my haze (it took the threat of his raised fist for me to snap out of it), we agreed to split up. My closeted tears came before the break-up but afterwards… Birds sang, rainbows followed me everywhere, unicorns pranced before me. I know you know the feeling.

    I’m single as single can be and I realize it’s actually a great thing. I’ve taken my life back and have accomplished more in these last 3 years than the decades before combined. I’m grateful to be on my own, raising my children to be kind and empathetic beings, and setting goals that feed my soul but are also making this crazy world a little bit better.

    Here’s to the chapters that we write ourselves. Don’t stop sharing your words Karen!

  55. Emma says:

    Karen, thank you for sharing. You rock as usual and we all heart you HUGE! !
    I am thinking three years is about right for me too…not from a boy but from another loss..
    for me another type of loss, but I felt I was coming out of it/not in total horribleness after 2 years and around 3 years I could think about my sister without sobbing. 9.5 years now and the loss and pain does not leave, just changes.
    I know you will continue in your awesomeness and find a REAL MAN to love you and cherish you as you so deserve…if you have not already. :)) XOXO

  56. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I will never forget old what’s his name..lol..

  57. NinaMargoJune says:

    Unfortunately the beauty in “good-bye” doesn’t reveal itself until the wound heals over. I found that shouting “Get the F— Out” was truly satisfying. Continued to lick my wounds until they didn’t need licking anymore. Cliche but true: “You can’t get over it until you get through it.”

    Karen, thanks for baring your soul and pain. Beautifully written and illustrated. Your picture captured your pain. Can’t help feeling how therapeutic writing this column and sharing it with us, your loyal, loving, readers has been for you.

  58. Bonnie says:

    Karen, Thank you for sharing…..When I finally had the courage to split with my ex it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I moved across the country, never having been there before, found a job, and a went about building a wonderful new life. Now, a dozen years later, I have the world’s sweetest, kindest boyfriend who cherishes me. If I knew men like him existed, I wouldn’t have tried so hard to satisfy an egotistical, mean spirited, sexless couch potato for almost 30 years. Life is too short to have regrets, just be glad you are free of that dead weight. And, all the better if it happens that you find that special someone who makes you feel cherished, too. My motto “Live the life you have imagined” guides me through each day and living well really is the best reward, not revenge.

  59. Every time my oldest daughter has something horrible happen, she locks herself into her closet and usually calls me.

    I’ve never tried the closet thing, and honestly pray I never have to, but my mother’s recent unexpected death and the huge family/financial mess she left has me eyeing that door.

  60. jainegayer says:

    Ahhhhhh, Karen. I have a need to share my story with you.

    I started reading your blog after my husband died. You were soooooo funny. You made the coffee come out of my nose most mornings before I went off to my classroom. I had to buy a protective skin for my keyboard so I didn’t ruin my computer. I really needed to laugh. You wrote about the frozen yogurt vaginal popsicle, the only “correct” pies, sex versus “relations.” And then the news that you wouldn’t be posting for awhile because the fella had left and you needed to take some time. You made me cry too. I cried over Cuddles and I cried when you told us the fella’s name. Life goes on and I thank you for sharing all the good and not so good parts of your life with your readers. You simply ROCK!!

  61. A Daughter says:

    A few days after their 25th wedding anniversary my father got up on a Tuesday morning and took most of his clothes. (This was a Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm man). He left everything, all his tools and cooking stuff and he and my mother never spoke to one another again. I think Jeff the Lawyer is correct if I understood him correctly. There is something fundamentally wrong with someone could live like that and up and leave in one minute and not talk about it. Not that it would save a relationship but it would be somewhat more “normal”, at least not so incredibly devastating. He had hooked up with a childhood acquaintance and finally married her. She was a bitch on wheels and I’m not just making that up because of the situation. My mom sat around examining, in excruciating detail, all the past years looking for clues. Years later, my Dad told me he was sorry he had done that, it was a very stupid and terrible mistake. Years after that, I told my mother about that. She said “oh I’m so sorry he never found happiness. I’ve sure had fun. Why don’t we have some hot chocolate”.

    • Virginie says:

      Your message is so touching.
      I feel like people sometimes lose the ability to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. The one who left probably felt a lot of pain too, some of it actually stemming from the pain they inflicted upon the other. And it might be hard to say it, or to be heard, when you are the one leaving.

      I will never judge one’s reaction upon a break-up. When the person you share your life with decides it is over, it is OK to be angry, sad, relieved, jealous, hurt… You can feel anything. It is devastating. But I think it is also OK, after a while, to be able to look at it from afar, and wish the other person well. If you cared for them then, how can you wish for them to be unhappy now?

      No one is in a relationship to be miserable. If he/she was miserable, then good for him/her for leaving. It is the most honest thing they could do. They give you, as well as themselves, a chance to be truly, genuinely happy. On one’s own or with somebody else. To start a new life. And that is probably the greatest gift they can give you.

      My grandma, who is almost 80 years old, cannot wait to get rid of my grandpa, be it to a nursing home or to a cemetery. And I think she might have never loved him. Or at least not for the past 40 years. The thing is, she never had the guts to stand up for herself. And now she is so angry and resentful, and he cannot even see it (Alzheimer’s will do that to you). And it is sad, very sad, and unfair, that she would stay when she was so unhappy. He cares so much for her, but it is all a lie. He deserves better. And she probably did too.

      Break ups are terrible, but do not exempt anyone from respect. Sometimes speaking up is respect. Sometimes leaving is respect. Sometimes accepting it is respect too.

      Karen, I wish you more and more happiness with each new day. Love and take great care of yourself. May your life be filled with new adventures, new discoveries, new emotions.

      PS: “Jackie”, I do not think that all of your aggressive comments toward Jeff are justified in any way. He has a right to express himself, and to comment on this page, just as much as you do. Please respect his voice like he respects yours. Spite is ugly. Be kind.
      PS: Pardon any grammar/spelling mistakes, as English is not my first language.

      • a daughter says:

        Oh your poor Grandma. In my experience, the worst relationship killer is those unspoken resentments that build up until everything true and beautiful is choked to death.

        I don’t think people should stay in unhappy relationships, I take issue with The Walking Out Method of ending a relationship . There’s no way to avoid pain but damn. It’s quite disrespectful.

        If you can’t sit down and be honest and talk to somebody, you’re pretty chicken shit.

        I love my dad, he had lots of redeeming qualities, but he was seriously a chicken shit of guy in this very important and significant situation.

  62. Sandy says:

    You are soooooo right, eventually you do “come out of the closet”. He left me for the also married neighbour, the one who would cut the grass in her cut-offs and bikini top but with a face that only a good plastic surgeon could fix. Truth be told it was the best thing that ever happened to me and I highly recommend that your after-split first sexual encounter be with someone 20 years younger (he was a recent university graduate).
    And my ex is still with her, she’s a nutcase and he’s miserable.
    The fella was stupid, a woman with a sense of humour should be treasured.

  63. Elizabeth says:

    So many of us have been through it and so many of us have come out the other side gayer than a pygmy in shit – or, was that happier than a pygmy in shit? Either way – it’s a good day to celebrate what was likely the best and the worst day of your life. Cheers! 🙂

  64. I felt terrible for you when it happened, having been through the same thing after 26 yrs. Luckily, we come out of it and life goes on better than ever. As long as we never pick at the scab, that is.

  65. Jackie says:

    Thank you Karen for sharing this with us. I’m really, really glad that you are doing so well. Him? – Well he’s just a blip in your rearview mirror of life. I hope he knows what he’s lost. I’m glad your sisters were there for you to help you through the dark side. We all love you & we love all the things you do & what you teach to us. I’m happy that you’re happy.

  66. Jodi T. says:

    Karen, you are my favorite. Glad you are happy!! ♡♡

  67. Valerie says:

    When this circumstance occurred for you I wrote a one sentence email to you.
    It read “when you are ready come back, women need you.”
    Not every woman who reads your blog or have been through painful emotional situations with someone they have loved, have sisters. Some of us have girlfriends though who are similar to sisters ; but not quite the same I don’t think.
    For some of us these painful life journeys were lonely, solitary experiences.
    Reading today’s replies has created a soothing experience for survivors.

  68. Ev Wilcox says:

    Wow Karen-so many responses! I have a story and my daughter has one too. Thanks for sharing this-I really needed it just now-how did you know? Luv ya!

  69. Ellen says:

    I was married 2 times and neither husband “let me be me”. It was like I was in a jack-in-the-box and they were sitting on my lid. But they did not win. All of my accomplishments (what I consider my accomplishments) would have never occurred if I had stayed married.

    Therefore, I believe when you can totally be yourself, then being happy is easier to achieve.

  70. Connie says:

    Well, my fella left me too, but he was a great fella and he died in my arms. And I cried and cried until I found out he left me in debt. Big Debt! And here I am, wondering how this happened to me and how I got to this place with this great guy? Now what? I’m not a spring chicken and I thought I was retired and now the bank wants to take my house that I thought I had paid off.
    Here’s the humor, if there is some; the bank sent a letter telling him that he has no credit and that he will lose his house. He’s dead. They call me but they send letters to him.
    Lordy, Lordy,
    Is there a lotto for those of us that have been bamboozled and are drowning?

    • Karen says:

      omg, that must have been a shock! I bet you wish you could ask him “what the hell??!”. I’m sure he thought it would all work out for you. Or who knows. Maybe he didn’t understand the situation himself! (trying to preserve the memory of what I’m sure truly was great fella) 🙂 Good luck Connie. ~ karen!

  71. Jan says:

    The closet! Why is that such a place of comfort?!! I sure didn’t know it is for anyone else, but I’ve spent a bit of time in mine as well. And what is it with all these flighty men?! My husband of 33 yrs left 2 1/2 yr ago with no warning either. Already remarried over a year. Yep, he’d “known” her for a while. loser turd. NOW I can laugh about it. I’m starting to love many things about my new life.
    I’m looking forward to shaking off the last of the bad feelings. This spring has been wonderful, and finally getting back out in the yard/garden has been a healing thing. Seems that plenty of us here have been exiting our closets this year. Congrats to al! And Thank You Karen! Your writing makes me laugh more than that expensive shrink ever could have.

  72. Mary W says:

    Seriously Karen, I really think you should take that cute picture and sell it as a card with the insides showing a fish and “Just keep swimming”. I think you could make some money on this card! Don’t think I’ve ever seen a card for such an occasion but it fits perfectly and there are tons of people that could use it. Actually it would fit any sad occasion that we want to escape from. Like reading self-help books.

    • SusanR says:

      I agree. I think Karen could start her own line of “empathy cards”. With her sense of humor, and her artistic ability, I cannot imagine they wouldn’t be a hit. She could sell them here in her shop – a set of 5 cards for us women to use to cheer up or empathize with our sisters, best friends, or just someone we know who is going through the ups and downs of life or a relationship. Karen’s Kards. 🙂

  73. gabrielle says:

    It’s a reflex people seem to have for some reason: when you fall down, all they want to do is pick you back up. As you say, they were going about it all wrong. One time I passed out from pain, and all the people I thought were my friends just wanted me to get up on my feet again. It doesn’t impart a sense of understanding or caring. In fact, it seems rather selfish. I’ve always remembered this. When I see someone has fallen down, I tell everyone to be quiet and step back and I get down on the floor too and quietly ask what happened. Nobody needs to be loomed over when they are on the floor. Too bad people can’t think of what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes, especially during a bad moment.

  74. Dawn says:

    His leaving “cured” my severe migraine headaches. It was wonderful!

  75. Jani says:

    Seems the closet is a good hiding place as I know from experience. Most of my hidings were when a police siren was heard approaching our busy street and my siblings would yell “Hide…..they are coming to get you”! I use to hide in my brother’s closet and one time was so scared that I shit in my pants. They had no problem finding me that time! Thanks for the visuals as I read your story thinking this could be a weekly sitcom!! You truely make my day!

  76. Irene says:

    Just <3.

  77. Jay says:

    Karen, my mate, I am so proud of you and my other Real Life pals who have survived horrible break ups. Some have survived the blitzkrieg of “I’m leaving.” Others have left toxic and abusive relationships before they or their children were harmed.
    Hurray for you!
    Hurray for closets, turbans made of clothing, hugging a cat/dog/hen and crying. Hurray for bloody annoying sisters/friends/best pals who drag you into the sunshine. Hurray for mates who travel 8 hours across country to declutter, repair and paint your house when you can’t lift a mug.
    Hurray for support networks, our fellow women and our kick-ass selves for making sure we never leave another woman behind to drown in the awfulness of it all.

    • Karen says:

      And men! One of the first friends to show up here with a batch of cookies and a bottle of wine was a man. 🙂 Then there were the other men who waited all of a week before emailing me to tell me how “they never would have done that to me and … did I wanna go out some time?”, lol. Ug. ~ karen!

  78. Pam'a says:


    Have you ever read Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh’s (now defunct but still online) blog? Your illustration reminded me of hers, which are worth checking out. And as someone who’s been reading you since the beginning, what everybody else said: Glad you came out (of the closet, so to speak) ahead. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      I did used to read that blog on occasion! In fact, I did a post years ago asking everyone to tell me about some of their favourite blogs and it ended up near the top of the list once I looked at them all. I can’t remember anything about it though so maybe I’ll go take a look see again! ~ karen

  79. Kasia says:

    This post strikes a cord with me so much, I remember reading your posts when this happened, and I cried at my kitchen counter for the pain you must be going through! Then, about a year later, after 15 years together, my husband had an affair with a woman I worked with. A woman who I had deliberately and carefully arranged to hire at my job, because she was “our friend” and needed help. I had to work closely with this person (at least I can now call her a person, rather than the other words I was using, but to be honest I still say them in my head. And oh, by the way, she is 30 years younger than him) for a full year and a half after I walked out on him. Hardest time of my life.

    I so admire your ability to carry on, Karen. And you’ll never realize what an inspiration you were to me – I knew if you could do it, then maybe I could too. I think I’m a better and stronger person for it, but I would never wish that heartache on anyone. (Well, ok, maybe her. And him.) Thank you for your humor and what you give to all of your readers, even when you don’t know it!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for saying that Kasia! I’m no more inspirational than anyone else, I just write about it for everyone to see. And trust me, your situation sounds even harder to get through! Way harder actually. So nice job getting through it and I’m so happy to have helped a bit. Quite proud of myself for that actually. 🙂 ~ karen!

  80. Codi says:

    Is your new French guy going to be 6’4″ before or after he loses his appendages?

    In all seriousness, we’re glad you stuck around!

  81. Jasmine says:

    There’s one thing that no one has mentioned…there could have been SPIDERS in the closet!! If you don’t know they are there, then fine, but if you are hanging out sitting with them, wrapping them around your head…!!! That would have sent me over the edge.

    I remember your painful post, I wanted to hug you so much. I am so happy that you are happy now.

  82. Mary Edmondson says:

    Now we need a new drawing of happy recovered Karen, no longer in the closet.

  83. Jess says:

    Good Lord- it’s been 3 years? I had only been reading your blog for about 6 mos. when douchiebag left. But I remember. – J

  84. mophead says:

    My douchebag left 4 years ago, but only because I let him live. I didn’t so much have family come by to console me, but to see what good shit he left behind that was up for grabs. LOL Honestly thought, the family was helpful and really drilled the “f*ck him!” into my head. Then I started dating his best friend, but he was even worse.
    I’ve figured out, that thanks to womens’ how-to blogs and YouTube, I don’t need a man for anything…and I’m genuinely happy.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Oh CRIPES, no you don’t need a man in your life. It’s great to share things with someone and spend your life together but there are a lot of great things to be said for doing it all on your own. When you want. Where you want. ~ karen!

  85. Liz says:

    wood polish and cocaine! LOL! Your artwork needs complimenting, I can tell you worked hard on it 🙂 and your cartoon self is adorable… you look like one of the cutie characters from the Puffs commercials. Happylyish 3rd anniversary. Traditionally you should get a present of leather, crystal or glass, so get something awesome!

    • Karen says:

      Why thank you Liz. It was a last minute addition to the post when I realized I didn’t have any *actual* photos of me hiding in a closet having a nervous breakdown. 🙂 ~ karen!

  86. Barbarella says:

    Karen, bless your heart for sharing your closet trauma/personal heartache saga. You are an inspiration to all gals – to be their best and work through the dung we may encounter along the way! Delighted for you, that you’re better than ever. It was lovely to hear how your sweet and super clean sisters pitched in to support you. Girl power at it’s best. Thanks for inspiring us, during good times and rough patches too!!!

  87. Audrey says:

    Do you still have all those flip flops? You probably don’t even look in your closet anymore. Glad you’re happy, everyone deserves that.

  88. Barbie says:

    I too remember reading about it that day…..felt so helpless and sad for you…made me cry for your pain. So many of us have been in your shoes in one way or another. Loss is devastating but God makes beauty from ashes, rebuilds restores, refreshes and makes all things new……….if we let him. I am so happy for you Karen for taking the attitude you have…your a good woman.

    PS: I loved the Velveteen Rabbit quote….so fitting

  89. Phylicia Mann says:

    I am new to your blog so I was surprised to read that a fella would just up and leave you like that.
    I was even more surprised to discover the healing benefits of a closet…and randomly placed flip flop. Being the keeper of a great many personal sorrows, I can honestly say I have never tried to find my solice there., but knowing life as I do, I can honestly say that I will surely give this method a try!
    If it at all makes a difference, you posess a talent for humorous writing that few have, not to mention your talent for tackling projects that would make the eyes of many roll back in their heads.
    You inspire and enlighten and cause laughter to many!

  90. Rita says:

    Oh Karen! I totally relate. I had a choice of the “under the stairs” where we kept the wine and baked beans or a little wardrobe full of flip flops and wire hangers. With reflection “under the stairs” would have been the best place. With a cork screw.

    I came through the other side with a shiny new man who knocks the spots off my 1st spouse. I realise my 19 years of 1st marriage won’t be a patch on my 2nd. I now know douchiness when I see it.

    (((hugs))) To you lovely lady and your fab sisters xxx

  91. karen says:

    Is being under the blankets like being in the closet? I feel your pain girl. Mine is still fresh and hurting but I’m hoping that won’t be forever. I love love love your blog! You have a gift girl, don’t ever forget that you are fantastic.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Karen! You’ll feel like hell for a while. Which is fine. You need to feel like hell in order to feel better. Which you will. 🙂 ~ karen!

  92. Martha says:

    Years ago I went to a stand up show (Sandra Shamas) who did a routine about buying a house in Toronto with her husband and how expensive it was, etc in the early 90s. Several years later I went to see her again and her husband had left her and the routine was about the breakup. She summed it up perfectly when she said:

    “No matter what relationship you have with someone, best friend, sister, acquaintance – when someone gets hurt the call goes out. “One of us is down!” And all the women come. They come in mini vans and economy cars. And they bring casseroles and cake. And while you’re having your break down they sit around your kitchen telling each other to finish the last piece of cake. “I can’t eat another bite……but I’ll split it with you….”

    She was hilarious. To this day my mother and I quote her when the occasion arises – One of us is down! I’m so glad you have sisters.

    Great success story Karen. I brag about you in my comments on other (American) blogs 😉

    From a fellow closet appreciator.

  93. loner says:

    fuck him its his lost let that shit head go. young lady you will have all the men lined up at your front wanting some one like you in there like. you my dear are a prize for any man. loner

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks loner. But don’t need or want a line up. I’m perfectly happy with things as they are. 🙂 ~ karen!

  94. Debbie says:

    May you only have joy in your life and may it come from within with support from your family, friends and those of us who love what you do.

  95. janpartist says:

    Well, I don’t know if this will help anyone else or not but I after 2 kids and being married for 22 yrs I got left for a younger woman. You know, I am convinced that one of the reasons people get so bitter is because they have love left to express and aren’t able to do it. Love is not a light switch, if you still love them and you miss their presence, say it,. Say it to anyone and everyone. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a really good thing that he’s gone and you are so glad he got someone new to take care of his ass but in your heart there is still love. And, we had a little money and I left a lot on the table and he went on to live lavishly etc but, I have no regrets. He’s dead now. And, I was nice and I’m glad I was. I remarried a long time ago and am content as an old cow but I’ll die with love in my heart for him even though it was all a blessing.

  96. SusanR says:

    It has been amazing to see how you weathered this storm in your life, and what a great example you became for the women and men who read your blog. Please consider doing a line of greeting cards for women. Your drawing above might be the first one. You have wisdom and comfort to impart, and women seeking wisdom and comfort waiting for it. It would also be a nice source of income.

  97. Christy says:

    I too, have 2 sisters and I would pay to see them slapping at each other windmill style.

    Glad you made it. Greg Berhendt’s “It’s Called a Break-up Because It’s Broken” saved me. But I guess that tip is 3 years too late.

    I think you are awesome.
    Christy 🙂

  98. Hi Karen, I’m a relatively new reader. I found your blog when searching for a how to on building a mud oven..(I like your saw horse idea…) something I’m intending to do on my own this summer. I too had your experience of Man Who Runs After Many Years. Mine took off without warning, and I mean ZERO warning last summer. He left in July, and I’ve not heard a peep from him, not a sound. It IS like a death. I’ve had the closet/sock head year, and although I do still miss him sorry ass, I do not miss the rest of it any longer. Can’t imagine myself yet with another man, but hoping it’ll happen. I’m sure he’s off with some younger little vixen now. But she isn’t getting an updated version. He’s still him. He runs. He’ll run again. And like a bad penny, he’ll turn to another younger woman…and blame the last one for all his shortcomings.
    Anyway, wanted to say thank you for your posts and your instructions on the mud oven. We were supposed to build one last summer, he promised. Screw that, man, I’m making my own THIS summer. He’ll miss some damned fine pizza. His loss. On many levels.

  99. Debra says:

    I remember the morning I read your post 3 yrs ago. My heart broke for you. I loved your honesty and was proud of you for recognizing you needed some time to take care of you. Throughout the past couple years, I secretly cheered for you every time there was a slight mention of him. Ok, I giggled because you were able to make us laugh through your healing.
    Fast forward to today. I am 2 months out from my husband abruptly leaving our home to move in with another woman. Thank you for the reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Life is messy (and so are my windows) but I also know I will be just fine…and even better without that “asshead” in my life.
    Love you Karen! So happy you are doing so well and having all the success you deserve!!

    • Karen says:

      Debra! I’m so sorry that you’re in the thick of it right now, but you’ll be amazed at how much better it gets! I also made a pretty conscious decision to not wallow and fester. That helps too. 🙂 Good luck and kick ass. ~ karen!

  100. Patricia says:

    Karen thanks for being so vulnerable here. I’m so tearful thinking of this pain, glad you’re doing better .

  101. Marna says:

    The closet idea, a good one! Sorry you had to go through it though.

  102. Denise says:

    Just to clarify, will there be a glitter option on the gold shoes for the print? – happy anniversary of a journey that has enabled you to be even more awesome on the flip side.

  103. Sarah says:

    When that happened to me, I ate a tub of not quite unfrozen cool whip, chased it down with some vodka and then threw up on the front lawn. Someone needs to patent THAT! We are all just wading through the sewer of life trying to avoid turds but every once in a while one sticks to our leg, but that is okay because sometime people throw brilliant beautiful sparkly things down the sewer too. Finders Keepers Hookers – Finders Keepers.

  104. Lis says:

    I was sorry for your pain when you first wrote us about it. I just want to say I’m happy to witness virtually your resilience and see that you’ve healed/ continue to heal. Love your sisters.

  105. I must be awful at telling time because I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since what’s-his-name left. I felt awful when I read the news but we did get a great post about Idris Elba out of it, who by the way I still wouldn’t kick outta bed for farting or eating crackers. of course, you’re doing well. have you seen your backyard? it’s a amazing and so are you.

  106. Linnea says:

    Just when I think I couldn’t love this website more, you write a post like this. Thanks for being such a genuine, inspiring, and badass person, Karen! I’ve been reading for seven years, and this blog has picked me up when I’ve been down countless times.

  107. Patty says:

    Karen, I had not regularly read your space in some time, make that years. At least 3 years. Wow, Lady. Wow. You rock.

    Best from an always-just-not-always-reading fan in NC.

  108. Donna T says:

    Thank you for the update on your “moving on” life…. I ran into it today, and I so needed it. My husband of 38 short years died in my arms unexpectedly 6 weeks ago. He was a prince (sometimes) and a jerk (on occasion) and we lived and laughed and loved and bickered and laughed and loved some more. I will be reading and re-reading this page to remind myself that the tears will end someday, and my broken heart will mend, and life will be good again. I just can’t see it at the moment. My Fella spoiled me, and I spoiled him back, and I miss him so. I have (mentally) been in my closet crying my eyes out. I don’t have any sisters, but I have sister-friends and a daughter who have been rescuing me. I’ll survive. But thank you (and all your readers) for showing me it can be done.
    Love from Oregon….

    • Karen says:

      OH my Donna, I’m so sorry. What a horrible thing to have to go through. Your tears will end, I promise but don’t even think about rushing it. And sleep as much as you can and want. Sleep is incredibly healing. It isn’t trying to escape a problem. It’s healing. One day, and it could be months from now, you’ll do something and actually get a tiny bit of enjoyment out of it. It could be reading a book or making a sandwich or anything. And you’ll notice it, the enjoyment. And from that moment on happiness will slowly creep back in. Good luck. I’ll be thinking of you. ~ karen!

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