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.

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.

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.

  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.

  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.

Leave A Comment