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Dear Chump Lady, Please decode this

Dear Chump Lady,

Long story short, a man I was dating for just over 2 years – I actually dated him some 20 years ago when he was separated. I was super naive for sure and when he came back 20 years later, I thought long and hard about dating him again. But, I did. It was wonderful and then it was like a switch got flipped and he got involved with his neighbor Leah.
He gaslighted me for sure, then he asked for space which I gave him. He wanted time to work out his feelings for her and wanted me to wait. I told him to pound sand at which point he went on an email campaign to tell me he loved me and only me and he was so sorry he got diverted blah blah blah – but, he needed my time and patience to end things – which clearly weren’t ending.
I wrote him a letter and told him I loved him but the best thing to do was to move on with my own life. He wrote me a letter, dripping with self pity – the only thing I asked him was please just leave me alone.
I stopped responding to anything he wrote electronically or otherwise. Well, I was 3 weeks into radio silence, when he called me at my office from a phone number I didn’t recognize. I lost it. I wanted to walk away with class and dignity but I ended up sobbing and crying, everything I was afraid of. In your lingo, I fed him a whole shitload of kibbles. I’m in radio silence again but I had to show SOMEONE the email he just sent me . But I am in so much pain all over again – like someone has taken a flamethrower to my life. We were planning a marriage by the way……
It took me a while but now I’ve blocked phone numbers and emails.
Will you look at this email and tell me what you think? Thanks.
Signed,

Erika

From: Cake Eater
Subject: Some closure, hopefully
To: Erika
Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 3:30 AM

Sweetie, let me start by telling you that this is not the beginning of a barrage of emails from me – nor the start of a dialogue between us.  This is a one shot deal, good or bad (and God knows that is subject to interpretation.)  I wish I had your gift for the written word.  Life is so much more complicated than I remember.

I can’t end on that fucking ragged, raw note from Monday – and, for what it’s worth, I really was way the hell up on a ladder in a fairly uncomfortable position.  I wasn’t looking for an out to our conversation.  I would have called back but I couldn’t think of one single comforting remark – I was totally numb.

I didn’t call you at [work] to torture you, although in retrospect I would have never placed the call.  When Mario contacted me this weekend it all came rushing back.  And to add insult to injury, after we hung up from our first phone call I called him right back to see how you were doing.  His two word “not well” response started the internal bleeding all over again.  In my little no cause and effect brain I thought that offering to deliver the desk might show that I’m really not the huge prick that I actually am.  Again, clearly a bad idea and not thought out at all, and I am so sorry for being so completely clueless as to what that phone call would morph into.

I’m not going to painstakingly recount all the missteps I took that got us to this point, nor will I rationalize my inexcusable behavior into something less than what it was and is.  But you need to know – you are the most important person in my life, and the last person in the world I ever wanted to hurt.  (Now you’re suppose to jump up from the computer yelling “Then why did you fuck me you fucking fuck.”  Yeah, it’s a paradox.)

As I mentioned, you are constantly in my thoughts, and I still love you very much.  But I have moved into another relationship, and that must speak for itself.  Leah really is a wonderful person (that’s got to be falling on deaf ears), and as you’ve mentioned previously, under radically different circumstances you would enjoy her company I’m sure.  I can’t return to my juggling act of September and early October (it was fucking unpardonable), and I owe it to Leah (and on some level, to you) to give her my undivided attention now (as best I can currently).  Despite Leah’s kindness and attentiveness, I can’t seem to imagine myself having the feelings for her that I have for you right now – a terrible thing to say on so many levels.  Regardless, I have gone down a path – for better or worse.  (I can hear how incredibly trite that metaphor must sound – I’m sorry, but it’s the best I’ve got.)

I know now that your “so long and thanks for all the fish” attitude in your letter and previous email was whitewash for the pain I’ve actually caused you, and I wish there was something I could say or do that would make it go away.  For what it’s worth, I think of holding you tight in my arms all the time.

I love you

P.S.  I know you are fond of saying that remarks like the above are made so that the author can feel better about him/herself.  That’s too broad a brush.  In my worst nightmare I never thought I would say things of this nature to you.

 

Dear Erika,

Wow, Erika. He’s some kinda mindfuck, isn’t he? When confronted with turgid, indecipherable, and self serving crap like this, I find it useful to put it through the patented Universal Bullshit Translator™. It’s just like on Star Trek. The alien starts speaking and instead of alien gibberish comes words you can understand. So let’s take it apart piece by piece, shall we?

Sweetie, let me start by telling you that this is not the beginning of a barrage of emails from me – nor the start of a dialogue between us.  This is a one shot deal, good or bad

Yes this probably is the beginning of a barrage of emails from him. You know those bad TV ads that run late at night that say “NOW! FOR A VERY LIMITED TIME!” you can get your own glue gun kit if you “ORDER TODAY!” and the deal that is sooo urgent, and “one time only!” actually runs over and over and over again? Yeah. He’s like that. It’s a smarmy sales pitch. He’s trying to increase his value and make you act. ONE SHOT DEAL! Aren’t you afraid of losing him?! Because like, weeks of silence apparently didn’t convey to him that losing him was the point.

(and God knows that is subject to interpretation.)  I wish I had your gift for the written word.  Life is so much more complicated than I remember.

It’s always very “complicated” for cake eaters. They create the chaos and the complications, but beg for understanding. Typical.

I can’t end on that fucking ragged, raw note from Monday – and, for what it’s worth, I really was way the hell up on a ladder in a fairly uncomfortable position.  I wasn’t looking for an out to our conversation.  I would have called back but I couldn’t think of one single comforting remark – I was totally numb.

Seriously? What kind of person calls you from on TOP OF A LADDER? Is he in the habit of calling you from teetering, inconvenient places? As get off the phone excuses go, that is one of the lamest ever. But you know, immediately he has to distract you from the lameness with his go-to manipulation drug of choice — SELF PITY.

Woe is him! He is “numb.” And he’s fucking ragged, and in an uncomfortable position too! Poor sausage. Whoever forced you to make phone calls from on top of a fucking ragged uncomfortable ladder is a mean, mean man.

I didn’t call you at [work] to torture you, although in retrospect I would have never placed the call.  When Mario contacted me this weekend it all came rushing back.  And to add insult to injury, after we hung up from our first phone call I called him right back to see how you were doing.  His two word “not well” response started the internal bleeding all over again.  In my little no cause and effect brain I thought that offering to deliver the desk might show that I’m really not the huge prick that I actually am.  Again, clearly a bad idea and not thought out at all, and I am so sorry for being so completely clueless as to what that phone call would morph into.

He bleeds for you. Oh! He really cares. He tortures you because he cares.

He gets off on your pain. That’s why he called this Mario guy. He’s THRILLED to hear you are not doing well, because that tells him that he MATTERS. That’s all he wants — centrality. Mattering. Ego kibbles. And he’ll say whatever self serving bullshit he can, to make you give him more kibbles.

He’s feigning self deprecation (huge prick, clueless). He knew exactly what the call would morph into — ego kibbles for him. Upset for you.

I’m not going to painstakingly recount all the missteps I took that got us to this point, nor will I rationalize my inexcusable behavior into something less than what it was and is.  But you need to know – you are the most important person in my life, and the last person in the world I ever wanted to hurt.  (Now you’re suppose to jump up from the computer yelling “Then why did you fuck me you fucking fuck.”  Yeah, it’s a paradox.)

I howled at this part. Please tell me you howled too? “You are the most important person in my life.”

If that were true, Erika, he would not be fucking Leah. He is a sick manipulator. That statement is so fantastical, so beggaring belief — it’s the statement of a crazy man who is banking on your stupidity, and desperation to believe him. He is praying you will let him eat cake again. It’s cruel.

Oh, and yeah, if it’s a paradox, it’s a spongy centered paradox with sugary frosting — aka — CAKE.

As I mentioned, you are constantly in my thoughts, and I still love you very much.

More bullshit. Erika, whatever “love” this twisted bastard has for you is NOT a love that is good for you. Jerry Sandusky “loves” pre-teen boys. The big, bad wolf “loves” Little Red Riding Hood. You get my drift?

People who love us in a healthy, reciprocal way do not abuse us with infidelity and cruel lies. The only person this idiot loves is himself.

But I have moved into another relationship, and that must speak for itself.

See sales pitch above. For a very limited time! Order today! He’s trying to get you to do the “humiliating dance of ‘pick me’!” Aren’t you jealous? Act now!

Leah really is a wonderful person (that’s got to be falling on deaf ears), and as you’ve mentioned previously, under radically different circumstances you would enjoy her company I’m sure.

Delusional. The Universal Bullshit Translator has no words.

I can’t return to my juggling act of September and early October (it was fucking unpardonable), and I owe it to Leah (and on some level, to you) to give her my undivided attention now (as best I can currently).  Despite Leah’s kindness and attentiveness, I can’t seem to imagine myself having the feelings for her that I have for you right now – a terrible thing to say on so many levels.  Regardless, I have gone down a path – for better or worse.  (I can hear how incredibly trite that metaphor must sound – I’m sorry, but it’s the best I’ve got.)

You are the most important person in the world to him, but hey, he “owes” it to Leah. You know, because he’s a stand up, honorable guy and everything. He uses words, like MARRIAGE VOWS that actual stand up, honorable guys make “for better, for worse.” See, maybe if he makes noises like this, you will mistake him for an actual, stand up honorable guy despite all evidence to the contrary.

Even HE knows he’s lame (best I’ve got).

I know now that your “so long and thanks for all the fish” attitude in your letter and previous email was whitewash for the pain I’ve actually caused you, and I wish there was something I could say or do that would make it go away.  For what it’s worth, I think of holding you tight in my arms all the time.

He jerks off to your pain. He delights in your pain. He hopes to God you feel pain because then he matters, and you going no contact on him kills him, because he needs those ego kibbles desperately. You don’t really mean to leave him — it’s just a white wash!

Apparently his attention, despite needing to be “undivided” divides quite easily. He “thinks of holding” you all the time. Whatthefuckever.

I love you

No. He does not.

P.S.  I know you are fond of saying that remarks like the above are made so that the author can feel better about him/herself.  That’s too broad a brush.  In my worst nightmare I never thought I would say things of this nature to you.

This man is your worst nightmare. Remain no contact with him and do NOT look back. He’s Leah’s problem now. Poor Leah. And when you feel angry at Leah, or jealous, remember you were Leah 20 years ago.

Go silent on him. The longer you’re no contact, the stronger you’ll get. He’s a mindfuck.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • WOW – this is unbelievable. Thanks for sharing and I really hope that CL has help you see what a total toxic person this man is. Even being remotely near someone like this is incomprehensible for me as I hate drama and this guy seems like he thrives in drama. The most valuable advice CL gave was “People who love us in a healthy, reciprocal way do not abuse us with infidelity and cruel lies.” This is what you need to focus on, to spend some time and maybe therapy to define what is healthy / acceptable love so that you are able to let go of all the pain. When you are able to truly love yourself you would never let someone like this take that away – he is poison to your soul.

  • Ha! I know I’m over my cake eater because I was able to call bullshit on the letter while imagining it came from her, even before reading your translation, CL.

    Yes! I’ve been immensely enjoying living without blinders for the last few months.

  • OMG – and his name is “Mike” – so if anyone googles, Erika, Leah and Mike – maybe they’ll get a hit. Thank you Chump Lady!! OMG Thank you will never seem like enough!! What can I say? I am deeply grateful in a way I cannot tell you. It would be seriously funny if it wasn’t all FUCKING TRUE! For what its worth, I’m 17 days into (new) NC – and going for 60 days (going for the chip!) – I feel like I had to start over again because I ended up calling him that day as well (3 more times) as apparently I wasn’t done sobbing and begging… and shoveling kibbles at him – as of Oct 29th – and I’m doing OK. Actually, kind of remarkably OK. My friends have stood by me and they’ve been terrific – The days and nights are still too long but, I’ll be fine – my life is still intact. The holidays will suck, but then again, the last couple of years I spent the holidays with him kinda sucked, not fun at all in fact…… funny, didn’t even consider that until just this moment. Sigh.

    Go forth and chump no more!!

  • Oh yeah, and he was always carrying on about how his ex was the drama queen – I guess that’s the NPD backwards talk…. – I was seriously involved with a combat marine (vietnam) – major PTSD – and it did not end well – and even as bad as that outcome was, (the worst possible) there wasn’t anywhere near the drama of this. At least the marine was genuinely wounded, betrayed by his country in effect – but Mike did this sober as a judge with all his emotional faculties in place – Kinda sends a chill up my spine. What’s the line…. “knowing that you lied straight faced while I cried…. still I looked to find a reason to believe” –

    Silly me.

  • Um, Erika.

    He says he loves you, but he’s fucking someone else.

    Hello??

    Hello??

    He’s just layin’ it out there for you to trip over.

    What an ass. Why would you have any feelings whatsoever for an egomaniacal ass?

  • Its pretty amazing isn’t it? Yes, words are cheap. We need a new word for “cheap” and a new word for “over”. So cheap and so over. “Icky” that pretty much sums it up.

  • One question:
    Any chance this Leah knows about how much he “can’t imagine himself having feelings for her like he does you”?
    I don’t know the whole story, maybe she already knows, maybe she thinks she’s won a prize or something, but it seems to me that some of this is too important to not share with her.

  • I certainly thought about sharing it with her – he wrote this a couple of weeks ago… guess I was trying to figure out what was best for me – I’m sure that part of what was good for her (and him) was that they were in effect putting the screws to me – That’s what being the OW is about – humiliating someone else. And they’re neighbor in this really tight knit community – shitting where they eat for all intents and purposes. What about it all, should I sent Leah a copy of this email even tho its a couple weeks old? I certainly would want to know if someone is being that duplicitous – Do I just leave it alone? I wouldn’t do it to inform her, I would only do it to be mean….. not my highest self….. could I live with that? Dunno.

  • Oh and, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know about this….. also, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know about any of the “don’t leave me Leah was a distraction” emails from Mike either. I think there’s a pretty good possibility that to send any of this stuff to her would blow things up – not just the relationship, but, the neighborhood. Then again, they all seem to enjoy the drama so much…..

  • Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    While I hate to suggest you do anything out of spite or vindictiveness, there is a certain amount of peace when everyone has the truth out.

    I also hate the idea that Mike thinks you’ll keep your peace and he can just keep on being his happy little deceitful, douchebag self.

    • I’d say send her the lot ONLY if you think you can be strong and not break NC afterward. I wouldn’t want to set you back and put you back in the drama, Erika.

  • Erika, glad you found the Chump Lady. I carry her words around in my head–driving in the car, grocery shopping by myself, early mornings and three o’clock in the morning.

    Reading that veiled email made my chest tighten. I’ve had them myself and would mine it for hope that he “still loved me” and I was still “an important person” to him. I felt like I could go on if I knew that. (Don’t judge people, we all do the best we can at the time.)

    In the middle of the night on vacation in Hawaii after learning of the depth of his betrayal, I emailed his 2nd ex-wife (red flag I should have paid attention to, I know). She kindly and reassuringly replied. There were many echoes in our stories although his type of betrayal had become more perverse. She and his 1st wife were concerned for me but felt he must have painted them as the problem in the relationships. (He did very well.) I’m not sure what I would have done if one of them had pulled me aside and told me he was a serial cheater. I imagine I would have raged and then accepted his story. I wasn’t strong enough to be on my own.

    I think letting this woman know that he was in contact with both of you is appropriate. Even if it does give you some satisfaction, you also could be doing her a favor letting her know he’s unreliable and deceitful. What she is able to do with that information is up to her.

    Best wishes to you, Erika.

    • I agree that you probably wouldn’t have listened if either of your ex’s ex wives had told you he was a serial cheater. My STBX’s current OW is very young and when I found out about her is also when I discovered years of cheating. We spoke once and I told her everything, mainly because it was patently apparent she was dumb as a box of rocks and thought this was true lure. She was shocked but obviously thinks she’s special and unique and different and he won’t cheat on her, despite the fact that he was having other little entanglements while still married to and living me and cheating with her.

      I have no idea what he told her but she seems to have bought it. I watch how things play out and see that he does and says the same things in his relationship with her as he did when we first got together. And I figure it will play out with him cheating at some point, her possibly not knowing but eventually with him getting caught.

      So I say send the letter and info for when she’s ready to accept the truth. It will suck for her to realise she had the truth in her hands all along and could have saved herself a boatload of heartache and years of wasting her life but at least she’ll know she’s not crazy.

  • I agree with Chump Lady, do not forward them to her if it will injure you in any way, shape or form. You come first!

    However, if you can maintain and send them….do it! Good luck to you Erika! I am sorry you have to deal with such pain but in the end you will be a stronger, wiser and more loving person because of it.

  • Since I was, in effect, Leah 20 years ago…… I’m probably just gonna let all this go – Hopefully this karmic loop will be closed for me – I’ve had enough. Retribution is a bitch. So no, I guess I won’t send anything to her. Really, what’s the point? And, I’m still too close to it all. And when that’s no longer true I won’t care anyway.

    She could probably show me a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t want to see as I’m sure he’s saying all kinds of things to her about me – that’s how it works. That’s part of the thrill of being the OW, that whole “I’m special” thing – the “charge” if you will. Its not quite the same if there’s actually no game at all.

    No, Mike and Leah will just have to work this out. Not my problem, not any more, not ever again.

  • Funny update – a couple of friends were attending a conference (some sort of psychologist thing) and CL’s rant “decode this” was done as a “dramatic reading” on narcissism – like William Shatner does Sarah Palin – the friend, who was attending the conference with his spouse called and asked if I was “Erika” and was that “Mike” who I’ve been involved with for a couple of years. I said yes! Turns out he works as a mid level manager at ***’s Int. Airport (don’t want to be too specific)….. small world. People at the conference, thought it was very funny – people are now laughing at Mike (and Leah) – my friend thinks he actually might know her. Small world. He said people thought it was a joke at first and were actually surprised to find out it was real. They thought it was someone’s “caricature” of a narcissist. Real enough I told him.

  • Erika,

    What a wonderful venue to help in the healing. Feeling your loss and having the courage to go through the fire to reach the side of sanity is the only way to heal. The interpretation of Mike’s letter is sobering, and will liberate you in time – this is for you, not for Mike.

    Don’t send a letter to Leah – I can’t see any gain and forward movement for you – but I understand completely, how vindication sounds great. I say, fuck Leah! She chose to cheat with Mike, and she is culpable for her involvement. Clearly she has as much honor and stand up-ness as Mike. One day she will be faced with Mike’s inability for fidelity, and she will need to make her way out of the craziness he creates (or not). They deserve each other, and their chaotic future. You, however, deserve your peace, and a man, and circle of friends who want to honor you as a valuable person, a woman full of inner beauty, and who – in my mind- is exquisitely beautiful on the outside, too.
    Your Friend,
    JTA

    • Thank you Jasmine – I said in another reply, if what I get out of all this is you then I am a lucky girl. Truly the silver lining. I have so missed having a sewing/crafting buddy – you have been amazing and I am deeply grateful.

      Again, thank you CL – I’d be so deep in the “humiliating dance of pick me” right now – OMG – I shudder to think. This may be the “tough” way out but at least it’s not the “no way” out.

  • Erika,

    One final thought….Mike has already cheated on Leah…. his words to you would be unwelcomed by her…. it does not matter what his agenda is when writes of longing and love for you…. Leah is in his arms while he longs to be in yours, and he would never feel for her like he feels for you – emotional infidelity. How utterly amazing! My, how he works quickly. He has an insatiable appetite to feed, some, yet undiagnosed, personality disorder. And now that you have removed yourself, he will need to be on the hunt for another women to feed his sense of worthiness.

    Remember, Leah is not some one special…she is merely someone else.

    Your Friend,
    JTA

    • I sent his final email far and wide to absolutely everybody and anybody, friends, family, everyone I could think of and many people made the same observation – he’s already cheating – and I said before, I would certainly want to know if someone I was sleeping with was writing emails like this to someone else – that kind of duplicity must exist in some different dimension, I can’t even imagine it. To say nothing of the fact that he went to all that trouble to get me on the phone after 3 weeks of radio silence. Its really kind of astonishing that after he became someone else’s boyfriend he didn’t have the elementary decency to leave me alone. As CL says, personality disorders do NOT get better over time. EWWWWWW!!!!! Nasty.

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