Dumped By The Side Of The Road


We have all heard the story of the dog or cat that is callously dumped on the side of road by a heartless person who no longer wants them. We often use terms such as dumped like a sack of garbage, which clearly illustrates the lack of value and consideration given to those animals by their caretakers. Those animals are scared and confused, not understanding what has happened to them. Many will wait by the side of the road for long periods of time for their human to return. In their heads, it is not conceivable that their human has just left them there. They must be coming back!

These stories are heartbreaking to hear, and for the vast majority of people, their sympathy and compassion is directed toward the animal that has been abandoned. I have never thought or heard anyone say, “that must have been a terrible dog for that person to dump him off like that!” It is obvious to us that the human is the one that is heartlessly abandoning the animal that loved and trusted them so deeply. We are angry at the human and their cruel heartless act of cowardice! Our focus is on helping the animal, not blaming the animal for being dumped.

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When my husband of 29 years suddenly walked out of our marriage, I felt like I had been dumped on the side of the road like that unwanted dog. At first, I waited for his return, sure that he would change his mind and come back. When that didn’t happen, I believed that I MUST have done something to deserve that terrible treatment. I MUST have been a bad wife. I MUST not be pretty or thin enough. I MUST have been an unsatisfactory mate and partner. I MUST have been the cause of my own abandonment and, if only I could figure out what I did wrong, I could fix it!  I struggled deeply with that thought for almost a year.

I kept searching the depths of my memory to find the ways I might have failed in my marriage. Night after night, I thought about it and beat myself up thinking that somehow I could have prevented his infidelity and abandonment of our marriage. Somehow, I should have been a better wife and partner. Somehow, I could have done better. Even though somewhere deep inside me, I knew that nothing justified his behavior, I just couldn’t seem to let go of that nagging attachment to self-blame.

Then one day, I thought about that scared and confused dog on the side of the road. We were really the same, that dog and I. We both thought we were in a loving relationship. We both trusted our human to love and care for us in a respectful and gentle way. We both loved our human unconditionally. And, we were both tossed out on the side of the road with little compassion or concern about what would become of us.

Suddenly, I realized that like that dog, I had done nothing that justified my husband’s cruel treatment. I wasn’t to blame for my abandonment, my husband was! He had made the bad choices. He had affairs outside of marriage. He chose to turn his back on our marriage. He chose to dump me on the side of the road! Like that dog, my husband never returned, and I was left to put my life back together. Like many lucky dogs, wonderful people came forward to help me heal and build a new life.  Like that dog, I am a beautiful soul that deserves to be treated with love and respect. My husband was the thoughtless and cruel human that dumped me on the side of the road and drove off without a second thought. I won’t spend another minute blaming myself for his selfish actions!

This blog was submitted by RADiCAL Woman Piper Murphy.

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About the Author:

Suzy developed Midlife Divorce Recovery as a safe refuge for people healing and surviving the overwhelm of divorce. Starting her first RADiCAL support group in 2003 she's been helping women navigate the journey of divorce ever since.


  1. frutosa February 18, 2016 at 1:26 am - Reply

    I know how you feel

  2. Kelly Mslone March 5, 2016 at 1:59 am - Reply

    Besutiful story & analogy! My sister is going through a bad divorce & this story will help her in her journey! Thanks for sharing!

  3. June April 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Maybe no one is to blame. Certainly divorce is a painful and difficult process and it is understandable that you are feeling abandoned. Yet certainly you are not helpless, voiceless and without agency as this puppy analogy suggests and I don’t think it is helpful to think of yourself in this way and I don’t think it is necessarily helpful merely to shift the blame. There are always two human beings in marriages. Human beings are complex, infuriating, independent, lovable, unpredictable and absolutely fallible. I am sure that if your husband stayed with you for 29 years, there is no doubt that he loves you deeply and took his reposibility to you seriously for maybe half of his life or more. A relationship like that is rare and I am sure that your husband understands that and had many, many second thoughts. At the same time, he also has responsibilities to himself. After all, we all only have one life to live. For whatever reason, your husband felt a stronger call to change his life than to stay with you. It is deeply sad, and of course everyone wants better explanations. But we are not dogs and owners, we are beautiful, loving, complicated human beings.

    • Matt June 6, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      June, you expressed very kind thoughts. You are correct that if the husband was with her for 29 years he did love her. Sometimes circumstances change, people’s feelings change. None of us are helpless like an abandoned dog. We are humans and each of us is responsible for making the most of life and for our own happiness. Sure it would be wonderful if relationships lasted forever but as we have all experienced, sometimes they just don’t. The day I stopped blaming others for my situation and stopped feeling lost and helpless I became the strongest I have ever been in my life. I took control of my life and responsible for my own happiness and I have been mostly happy. Sometimes lonely but mostly happy.

      • Maria September 1, 2018 at 12:19 pm - Reply

        Wow! June, you need to get a grip on abusive relationships and stop suggest that because there were two humans involved that fair and justifiable behaviour ensued.

        Look at the spouses that include their children in the scrap heap, as is often the case in these scenarios. Would you suggest that their ‘wonderfully human, and beautiful, complex’ parent was just responding to the satisfaction level they experienced within their relationship with their kids and decided it was time to pursue other interests?

        What the blogger describes is pathological behaviour consistent with cluster b pathology. People possessing such traits on the spectrum of being interpersonally damaging and downright toxic. The writer here was voiceless and powerless in a situation that was vowed to be mutual, in an unethical and cruel way. Someone dropped the ball in an attrocious manner and wasn’t her, don’t blame-shift. He reneged and betrayed a major commitments in a cowardly, immature way. Her only mistake was to trust someone capable of dehumanizing and mistreating her. A brutal and selfish monster.

        Conscience, empathy, morals and ability to bond, are missing in these situations. If you don’t understand the concept of these basic human elements, I hope you’re in therapy. Perhaps you’ve done this yourself or were the affair partner in such a scenario?

        We are all accountable for how we present in this world, Machiavellianism or narcissistic abuse is never acceptable because it gratified the perpetrator in the moment.

    • Angela July 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      This is not helpful with someone going through this grief and trying to understand what happened and why it was worth dumping a marriage of 29 years. It was a very selfish act. You just don’t walk out especially with another woman. Don’t give excuses to this poor excuse for a man, because a real man would not have done this. And no, just because he was with her doesn’t mean he loved her, it could of been an abusive relationship and she just hasn’t recognized it yet. Now that he is gone and out of her way, hopefully, she can get past it and see the light of a way better life w/o him, but at the moment she feels like a lost puppy, let her feel that that is part of the grief, acknowledge where she is and just listen, you don’t have to agree, but you don’t have to say, but allow her to process it the way she needs to, give her some validation of her feelings.

  4. Donna May 7, 2016 at 6:29 am - Reply

    I find the last comment from June demeaning in itself. She may feel as though she means we’ll but, there is NO excuse for a spouse to treat another spouse the way the author of the blog describes. No “stronger call to change your life” justifies infidelity and abandonment.
    Regardless of how complicated we humans are, I feel it’s belittling to chalk it up to “having responsibilities to himself”.
    In marriage, the responsibility is no longer just to yourself. You have a distinct and definite responsibility to your spouse. Your are one, not only two separate people, but one. Each owes all to the other, and it is not loving in any way when one of the spouses abuses the other in such a disrespectful way.
    Yes, there are two individuals in a marriage, but those individuals have an obligation to each other and when one decides to no longer honor their sacred obligation to the other, it is a most devastating abandonment. And when that abandonment comes at a late stage in life after decades of marriage, it is especially difficult to navigate through it when more than half of your life was dedicated to that spouse. Minimizing the gravity of it or insinuating, under the circumstances described, that blame was merely shifted is quite insulting to me.
    I believe the author of the blog was right on the money in her description of the pain of abandonment after 29 years of marriage.

    • Arlene June 20, 2016 at 8:18 am - Reply

      Well said Donna. I was married for 35 yrs and I was in it for the long haul. I truly believed in my vows and trusted that my husband did as well. Then midlife crisis hit him, and I don’t even know who he is now. He waited until our youngest child turned 18, then the very next morning, after celebrating her birthday, he told me that he has been unhappy for the past 20 yrs?? Yes, I feel like the trash bag being dumped at the curb.
      I am in the slow and painful process of acceptance that he is NOT coming back, and this divorce IS happening to me, whether I want it or not.

    • Angela July 20, 2018 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Agree! You said this very well!

  5. KATHY June 29, 2016 at 1:03 am - Reply

    II realize that the the comment from June may sound demeaning. But think about this. A puppy has NO voice, no way to fend for himself. WE, although feeling beaten down and incredibly scared perhaps, HAVE a voice. we have internal and external resources that the puppy doesn’t have. To feel like something dumped on the side of the road is to convince ourselves we are a VICTIM. I have felt like a victim for some time and it leaves me feeling hopeless, frustrated, angry and exhausted. Even if my part in the demise of my marriage was a small part, I STILL HAD A PART.

    We have this website, for example. We can support each other and lift eachother up so we can move on, so we can heal. We have choices. Even if they are few, we do have them. Feeling like a victim scares me.

  6. KATHY June 29, 2016 at 1:06 am - Reply

    I am so so sorry for your pain. This divorce for me is probably the most gut-wrenching thing I have ever had to go through. But I WILL SURVIVE. We all Will Survive.

  7. Mitzy May 8, 2018 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Since we are using dogs for analogy, I have one. Some men are very much like dogs in heat. Being happiest when they are fed and bed, this is why they are loyal, but only as long as that for some dogs. Many have several homes and many can easily switch loyality for the sake of their needs at the moment.

    Their intelligence gears them to survival in the present only. This is why dogs, some easier than others, give loyalty only if they are getting.

    Even wild or not so tame and friendly dogs have loyalty to who feeds and strokes them. Street dogs have very little sense of loyalty beyond fed and bead, and many entertain and visit multiple folks who think they are owners.

    Many behaved this way all their lives living with only their needs on the radar, learning that sweet puppy eyes gets their needs prime, their loyalty is to their selves only really.

    Being fed and bed is a constant need and loyalties easily shift should their owner become preoccupied with self need at any time. Hungry dogs are very impatient and can revert to wild in pursuit of their needs only very quickly if needs met isn’t quite convient at the time. It really isn’t hard to steal the loyalty of a dog or a man, nor for them to give it away.

    Perhaps this is where the saying “men are dogs” comes from?

  8. Mitzy May 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I will go ahead and add, and women are bitches”.

    The point is there are, both men and women who are loyal only as long as they come first, only always. Loyalty switches relational to that namo second over stimulated need at the time.

    Perhaps that “dumped dog” on the side of the road is a male the owners realized was incorrigably wild and beyond having any loyality as a pack or part of a team.

    • Matt June 6, 2018 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Mitzy, I’m glad you added that comment about women. While I don’t consider them “bitches”, we are all the same in our basic needs, men and women, and instinctually driven to have our needs met. In a perfect world more relationships would last forever and there would be no sadness or regret but this is the world we live in, we must accept it is not always perfect but where else would you chose to live. I like it her and hope to stay here a lot longer. I’m loving it here and don’t want to go anywhere else.

  9. Angela July 20, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I am new here and new to this divorce thing. We have been married for 28 + years and been together for over 30 years, I can relate to this so much right now. Piper Murphy even though some women here do not understand the grief you are or were going through when you wrote this, I do and it is helpful and encouraging that I am not the only one feeling the exact same way. I know we are both strong enough to get through this and we will make it and come out of it better and happier. Everyone I run into that I have to let them know I am going through a divorce, they always encourage me, that it will get better and you will be happy again, things will be better than you can ever imagine. I know that is God using them to speak truth over me and prophesy and I accept it, I am speaking it to you and over you, we just need to accept it. Prayers for you!

  10. Stacie April 8, 2019 at 2:52 am - Reply

    After 18 years he told me last week he’s moving out and on. He’s been unhappy the last two years. I knew there were problems, I thought we would work through them. He is 51 years old and has been cheating with a 34 year old. We have a son together.
    I also feel like that abandoned dog. I am so sad right now.

  11. Anais April 28, 2019 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Sometimes I wonder, is this a man made tragedy or do we owe this to spiteful evil women that take out their unhappiness and unfulfilled yearnings and rejoice in destroying families? Most of them are young and ambitious incapable of relating to men their own age and perhaps with daddy issues from their own broken families.

  12. Althea May 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Please learn about frontotemporal dementia, a common, under-recognized young-onset dementia whose onset is often dismissed as a marital breakdown or a “midlife crisis.”

    This disease destroys morals, empathy emotions and inhibitions NOT memory or intellect so it often goes undetected as a brain disease.

    If your middle-aged spouse undergoes a dramatic and disturbing personality change, get him/her to a neurologist. The disinhibited type run away. The hypersexuality component of the disease causes them to hire prostitutes and have affairs. The apathetic type tend to sit around the house all day, eating sweets or fast food and perhaps downloading porn.

    I am looking forward to family courts recognizing this devastating disease as a major cause of shock midlife divorces, and taking steps to protect families from its destructive course.

  13. Althea May 1, 2019 at 8:10 pm - Reply


    I wanted to respond to your astute observation that so many of these guys get with much younger women. Mine did, too. He’s with a young prostitute who is the same age as our oldest daughter. My husband, who was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, also prefers to associate with much younger people who are quite unsavory.

    I think they choose young people to be with because they are growing young again: They are reverting back to the time before their frontal lobe was fully developed, because the disease is now slowly destroying that lobe.

    I also think many of them start associating with sociopaths is because the disease destroys morals, empathy and sympathy, so they, too, have acquired sociopathy.

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