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Dear Chump Lady, What else can I do?

Dear Chump Lady,

My DDay was July 3 in NYC on a family vacation. He wouldn’t give up identity…I couldn’t let it go in 4 weeks, so he moved out leaving me, and two teenage daughters. Our 24th wedding anniversary was July 29th. Found out the identity of his mistress mid-November.  The affair had never stopped.  It started over a year ago 2 months after my father died.

She is 12 years younger than him (he’s 47). I’m 45. He is my only sexual partner and I haven’t even kissed another person since I was 18. He is a lawyer with accounting degree and MBA. I have put all my “eggs in his basket” so to speak. I filed for divorce two days after I found out who it was. She is a mother to one of my 14 year old’s best friends.  She cultivated a relationship with my 14 year old to get to my husband and he fell hook, line, and sinker. She is completely in control of him and my kids aren’t speaking to him. He also has admitted to other affairs over the past 17 years.

Your website has been a source of strength to me, but God help me I love him. I need to know how to get him out of my heart. I am in therapy and pray a lot for strength and peace, but I am suffering with this heaviness and pain. Is there a prayer, mantra, spell…anything to ease this pain?  My girls help, but is there anything else I can do?



Dear Debbie,

Yeah, get mad as hell.

When you start feeling misty, think of 17 years of affairs. Think of what kind of low-life, rat bastard walks out on his two teenage daughters at a time in their life when they really, truly need a dad. When they need a role model to look up to, of how men are supposed to treat them, of what courtship and love and marriage are like. Think of how he has failed you all utterly.

Realize that you have worth and are a person in your own right, beyond wife and mother. Discover that woman and reinvent. Just because you put all your “eggs in that basket,” doesn’t mean there aren’t other baskets.

You’re grieving 24 years of who you thought he was, of what you thought your life was going to be. It’s a shock, to have to suddenly recalibrate everything, your identity, your life going forward. There is a grieving process, absolutely and there is no escaping the pain. No mantra, no spell. You just have to run straight into that buffalo herd, Debbie. Get trampled and feel it.

But here’s the thing — you had the bravery and the moxie to divorce him and now you get a REAL life. You loved a fraud. The real him is a really shitty serial cheater. I know he had hooks, apparently he’s successful. (Hope you got a damn good settlement.) Maybe he has a lovely singing voice or something else. But whatever the qualities you miss, they cannot eclipse the fact that he betrayed you for 17 years. People who can maintain a double life for that long are disordered IMO. Deceit is second nature. It’s like breathing. Serial cheating is abuse. It is profound disrespect and reckless endangerment of your health and well-being.

It’s time to dream new dreams.

Don’t put the burden of your pain on your daughters. They’re suffering too (and I hope they’re also getting some therapy to help them deal, especially the 14 year old). You cannot lean on them — you need to be the sane parent. They only got one, and you’re IT. You’re modeling good things by divorcing their unrepentant cheating father. Stay strong and be optimistic about your future. (If that’s too hard right now, fake it until you make it.)

Practical suggestions for dealing with the pain? Exercise, take very, very good care of yourself. Eat beautiful food you cook. Plant a garden. Buy yourself a small (or large) indulgence. Have an adventure and take a trip. Help others! One of the best ways to get out of your head is to help someone less fortunate. Volunteer somewhere. Be a friend to someone in need.

And finally Debbie — don’t give the OW a second thought. Yes, she’s a lowlife piece of shit — but she’s just hooked up with a serial cheater. Your misery is about to be her misery. She doesn’t “control” him, he is giving her that illusion of control. He’s the puppet master here, and is totally aware of the choices he’s making. You wouldn’t let him eat cake and “get over it.” So he moved over to her — which just means he’ll be casting around for another mistress. Cheating doesn’t make serial cheaters monogamous. One partner is never enough kibbles.

The pain is finite. FINITE. But if you’d stayed with a unrepentant serial cheater? That pain goes on and on. It’s the price of admission for being with him — searing pain, disrespect, lies, abuse. That is what you lost. Fuck him!



Ask Chump Lady

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  • Spot on! I wish I had had the courage to go straight for a divorce after the first affair. I was terrified as my youngest was just one. Money was scary tight, my “Stand by your man” mother in another city was unhelpful, we’d just moved again for his career and he needed to pay back the cost of his PhD (unexpected debt) as well as the increased mortgage. He refused to move out. I look back at reading books like: “How to love a difficult man.” Excellent title but crap advice.
    I’ve been very conscious of the need to be a good role model (or a terrible warning) to my daughters, now young women. This helps me stay positive and proactive in the best way I can. Amazingly enough, I’m doing that without him. When I was pandering to the sneaky “duck and dive” crap artist, I wasn’t.
    When I actually let the “scales fall from my eyes” it was gut-wrenching. I kept reciting “I will do the thing I cannot do” to myself and “the truth will set me free”. The only way is through. Sharing experiences helps ease that humiliation and pain.

  • Yup, should have left him like I planned when I found out about the first affair. / or 8 years later and I found out he’d been cheating the whole time. So when I miss him (and there are times that I do) I just repeat a little mantra ‘he’s a liar and a cheat, he’s a liar and a cheat, he’ll sleep with anyone’. And then it usually passes.

    It’s going to suck for a awhile but don’t let this chucklehead ruin the rest of your life with his dick issues.

  • I wanted to add that it’s important to not get into the mindset that he’s some sort of victim who was ‘snared’ by the charms and/or relentless pursuit of the OW. No. Whether or not she made herself available is not the point. The point is that he was married to you yet made himself available to her. And apparently to a number of others.

    I too married a sserial cheat and it sucks to divorce one because the hurt is so deep and they generally seem to have us in very weakened positions. That’s life. Start with one step at a time and get yourself out of this toxic situation. It will destroy you if you don’t.

    • Absolutely. The fault lies with the cheating spouse. That is NOT to say that the OW isn’t behaving completely reprehensibly, but as you put it — the cheater is making themselves available. He’s not some poor sausage who was seduced and went out of his mind because of a mid-life crisis — he’s a serial cheater with 17 years of OW. She’s just one side dish fuck in a long smorgasbord.

      • But maybe this one is lurrvvveee…a lurve that will last just as long as she serves his needs. When she fumbles? He’ll be fishing once again.

        Debbie, realise this is your shot at getting the life you deserve, one that is filled with happiness and friends and maybe less money but that is infinitely richer. You’ll make money yourself and you’ll be fine with whatever it is. Why? Because you’ll never again have to worry that your husband is stepping out–because he’ll be someone else’s worry.

        Eventually you’ll meet someone who values you because you’ll start to value yourself. And you’ll have the respect of those who care about and love you because you care about and love yourself.

        Go on, kick some ass in life! And leave that dead weight behind, where he belongs.

  • Nord: definitely agree with you there about not seeing them as victims and the “weakened position.” When you’re in it you don’t realise how toxic it is.

    We were divorced within six months. He, more or less, got me to sort out everything. He didn’t even have a solicitor. We agreed to some conditions (not brilliant but okay) and I sorted it with my solicitor. My solicitor made me sign something to say I’d not taken her advice – she was afraid that he could sue her if she didn’t act appropriately. I was in a numb and shocked state but knew I needed to get him out of the house asap. I was scared as he was acting in a very unbalanced way. When I picked up a video camera (didn’t know how to make it work!) he stopped!

    Now I see if I had my wits (and anger) about it (like a normal person) I would have been able to negotiate for a better deal. Shame on him.

  • Babydoll,
    I’m here to tell you that you can make it through this. Yes…you…can. Get your girls, your grip, and you move on with your life. I was married for 22 years and found out that my ex was cheating on me via my doctor and a prescription for an antibiotic. He lied, squirmed, blamed me for my “masculine” ways…blah, blah, blah. I was crazy devastated for many months. I mean, I really lost my mind in the wake of all this. I thought my ex was one of the “good guys”. Well, he wasn’t. I had no job. I hadn’t worked since before my oldest was born which was 18+ years. I have a chronic illness and 4 kids from 18 all the way down to 2 years old. I was scared, miserable, and just…I don’t think there’s any words but I filed for divorce anyway. My ex didn’t make much money but I still went ahead. I made a plan and with the help of a friend, I left him, the kids and moved to the other side of the country and we’re doing fine. It’s rough as hell…I’m broke, have to depend on public aid, child support, and the kindness of strangers but it’s the beginning of a good life! CL said there’s other baskets and it’s true! I got myself back into school to earn my degree and I’m making straight As and doing my best to carve out a good life for myself and my kids. I’m not going to lie, you are going to go through major hell and pain. Some days I wanted to just simply die. It’s going to be a while but one day you will be glad this happened (just not the way it happened). Because it will set you free. You can build your own baskets with the most beautiful eggs ever. Yes, you can…to all my brothers and sisters out there that have been emotionally (and maybe even physically gouged) by your the one you put all your trust and love in…there is life after the devastation. I would have never believed this 2 years ago but it is so very true. It is…I promise you. The myth of Tiamat tells that there is creation in the act of destruction and the birth of order out of chaos…and so here I am. Birthing a new life from the death of my old one, creating in the midst of chaos. It can be done by you, too.

    • Tiamat! Thank you for one of the BEST POSTS EVER on this site! You are simply amazing — you left with four kids, an illness, and went back to school? And get A’s?! I teared up as I read this. Those are incredible obstacles and you are kicking ass. Welcome to CL! You’re an inspiration.

      • Tiamat, You are an inspiration! I wish every good thing for you and your children!

    • Love this post, Tiamat. I’m a year out and while it’s still difficult at times I can see that every day gets a little bit better. Baby steps, work slowly and carefully towards your goals and you will get there. Maybe not the way you planned, even after dday, but somehow, ifyou persevere, it really does come together.

  • Thank you Tiamat! CL, these are best and most inspiring posts for those of us smack in the middle of the devastation. This inspires me to keep focusing on myself and my children and not the STBX or OW. I know you’ve posted a couple already, but a whole section devoted to more of these stories would be so great. I’m almost at the end of this divorce (crossing fingers) and working on getting the best settlement possible. Thanks to you, CL, for stressing that on your posts. Hopefully some day soon I can post my story and help others.

  • Debbie:

    Sorry to hear you have been chumped, just like me and many others here.

    Still, I think you did a good thing by divorcing him.

    I agree with Chump lady……get angry, get angry as hell. Vent your anger about the slutty other woman who was to insecure and of such low self esteem that she couldn’t snag a single man and had to go after a married one. Get Angry at the “ho hubby who was a serial cheater, get angry at his mother or his father or his friends.

    Anyone who contributed and enable his cheating deserves your Anger.

    I think it’s fun to get angry at the other woman. Also tell everyone you know what her name is and what she did. It’s fun to see their expressions and if they socialize her they will drop her like a hot potato, both men and women who are faithful don’t like associating with a cheater.

    I have a friend, also a betrayed spouse, who blew up a picture of the OW and throw darts and both it and one of her husband, Just for fun. It makes her laugh and she feels good. It makes me laugh, too, and I feel good.

    But bottom line, until you go through the anger phase, the really angry phase, you will not be able to come to the acceptance phase.

  • Dear Debbie,
    You are in good hands here. You are also incredibly strong to divorce him so quickly. I wish I had had the dignity and self-respect to do that to mine. The pain is nothing I could have imagined as you have found out for yourself. When I finally found how deep the betrayal was I raged at him, called him the most vile names I could think of. It felt like I had to vomit out the poison I felt he had given me by squandering thousands and thousands of joint assets on prostitutes, even trying to seduce, unsuccessfully, his ex-wife who he had cheated on repeatedly and the years of lies he told me straight faced. I would imagine I had put him in a circle and scream and hurl verbal abuse at him. In my mind, he cowered. I wanted to be able to kick and punch him in my mind, but he was so pathetic–a grown man who could never control his impulses but could control me and hide his true nature.
    Some of the best advice and comfort, I have found on this site. Confirmation that the pain is so great that you want to pull your own heart out and throw it as far away as possible, that the pain does ebb and you will be able to make it, and the part that I carry with me each day–the emotional tie you feel will fade. It seemed so far away from me at the time, I trusted ChumpLady and it happens. Yes, there are times I feel sad when a good memory bubbles up but I doesn’t slay me like before. I still scream in the car and rage a few days a week, but when it’s done, it doesn’t linger.
    This is a good place, Debbie.

    • Duped, I think the current OW in my sitch is going to be you in a few years. My STBX has, it turns out, never been faithful to anyone, least of all me. So I’m the first wife and she may well end up the second. And he’s already sniffing around other women whilst playing the devoted and in love man. So she’s going to end up horribly betrayed at some point unless she smartens up quick–although I doubt that’s going to happen since she knows that I found out he was a serial cheat when I found out about her but carries on.

      Oddly, I kind of hope she figures it out before she wastes her 20’s and/or ends up with some kids.

      I’m really sorry you went through this. It really does suck but we do survive and even thrive.

      • Thanks, Nord. I fell for his story when I met him about how mean his ex-wife was to him. They’d been divorced for several years at that time and we lived several states away. After DDay, I emailed her in one of my darkest nights and she replied right away. She’s been a great support and validated that I hadn’t been crazy all those years-he’d done the sames sort of projection and control on her. I’m sure I’m already a completely different narrative he’s telling to the next woman. Good luck to her. She’ll need it.

        • Funny how the ‘problem’ was always the first wife/husband. STBX actually said to me at one point, when we were still having the odd argument here and there, ‘oh, this is all my fault? What about what you did?’. Well, what did I do? Get pretty pissy at times about various marriage issues that I now see were the result of him screwing around and pulling away and me not knowing what was going on and feeling awfully frustrated. It could never be, in his mind, that him having affairs and flings at various times might have been the cause of a great deal of any marital issues.

          It’s great that the first wife spoke with you. I’m not sure I could find it in me to talk to the current OW if she had problems with him and called me, mainly because she knew he was married, is fully aware he’s a serial cheat and has the attitude that I’m the devil and ‘drove’ him to be this way.

          She’ll most likely learn the hard way, that all his stories about being unhappy ‘made’ him cheat for years and years but I’m afraid I won’t be able to sympathise all that much with her.

          Just be grateful you’re getting out. You deserve so much better than a cheater. We all do.

          • “What about what you did?”
            It’s funny (not the ha ha kind, though!) how they can all be so much alike! That’s just what my ex-h would say when I would try to explain the hurt I was feeling. His complaint was that I was always too distant and he had me convinced that it was a deep, deep flaw of mine. When I’d apologize after giving in after a fight in which he tried to convince me I was being distant and I knew I wasn’t, he’d say he understood and knew I wasn’t doing it on purpose. He’d hug me and I’d feel a little better but chastened and childlike.
            Obviously I needed better boundaries!
            After he left and the divorce was through I continued to see him (I know…) we would try to discuss what went wrong. At one point when I was trying to explain how it felt when he wouldn’t apologize for something he’d done, he said I wasn’t being balanced about the fault on both sides. How do you talk about both sides at once, I said. That’s not physically possible. Was I supposed to say a sentence about my faults and then his faults. This is a man with advanced degrees from fancy schools. Well, it wasn’t about whether it was possible or not. It was about control of the conversation. I remembered how frustrated I would get during arguments because he muddied the waters and turned me around and around in circles to get me off his track. He was good, very good. He’d say I didn’t pay attention to whatever he said he originally told me like I always did, he’d say he never said that, he’d claim I said things I never said, (Oh, but we know you get things mixed up, it’s okay.). I used the wrong word. I used the wrong tone. I was “attacking him”, it was like a “nuclear attack” and so on. He was always a “good partner” he’d say. I felt he wasn’t a good listener and would often interrupt me with something off topic as if he wasn’t listening. Oh, but he was a good listener, he’d say. How can you think that? he’d say? I love you. I’m on your side, he’d say. And if none of that worked, there was always walking out the door and driving off. He knew that would get me. Or the ultimate–threaten to leave me. What kind of person drives the knife into the weakest, loneliest spot of the one they supposedly love? I know now.
            So thank you, Nord. I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent. That’s so easy to do when the triggers are still so raw and his behaviors so incomprehensible.

          • This is for Duped below as I can’t see to reply to her post directly.

            Yes, I too got the ‘you shut down, you’re distant, you ignore me’ crap. No I didn’t, not at all. There were times when I went into myself, but looking back it seems that happened when he was pulling away and fucking other people. Odd how that dynamic worked.

            The thing is that the level of frustration when dealing with someone who blatantly lies and cheats is unbelievable, because you just can’t quite wrap your head around what is happening, mainly because you aren’t aware of what’s happening. I look at it like this: we would be toodling along and then a point would come when I would feel like something was off. I’d try to talk to him, he’d say everything was ok. But it was not ok because he was out screwing other people or having other times doing things I knew nothing about–essentially a double life with people I didn’t know existed. So I’d be home with the kids, carrying on and he’d be ‘working late’ or whatever. I had no idea of this other life he was living so I wasn’t operating with full information, hence my frustration would grow, he’d act like I was nuts, I would probably get a bit nuts and bang, cue me being the bad guy.

            It’s crazy-making stuff and I understand how easily it is to want to STILL figure it out and, even better, SHOW HIM HE WAS WRONG. But you know what? I doubt yours or mine will ever admit or accept that it was their behaviour that created so much of the dynamic. I mean, when you’re living parts of your life that your spouse knows absolutely nothing about it’s bound to make things just a tad rough, you know? But at least in my STBX’s little mind, I DROVE him to do what he did by not being ‘good’ enough.

            Fuck him. And fuck your Ex as well. It’s impossible to be ‘good enough’ to someone who lies and cheats.

            • In reply to Nord from a few posts up.

              Wow. You nailed it. Exactly. Being told I was the distant one who had problems with intimacy. Crazy-making is right. The amount of projection was confounding. I can almost wrap my head around the disorder now–the damage he sustained as a child because of his mother resulted in deep and almost buried defense mechanisms but the part that I still can’t make sense of is the part of him that was supportive, encouraging and sweet while he cheated, gambled, and all the rest. I suppose I’ll never be able to understand it, but make peace with what happened to me someday.
              Thanks, Nord, for taking the time to reassure me. This site is a life-saver.

  • I’m enjoying Chump Lady. I identify with the blog and with Debbie, above, because I was a “Chump Son.” For years, I sought my father’s affection. He was a difficult guy. He had some positive points, but he also had far more negative ones. One thing that we “chumps” need to understand is that our “exes” (be they ex-dads or ex-husbands or ex-whatevers) were not going to be “all bad.” A bad person is smart enough to be good at some things/to be good some of the time. To summarize my own situation, my father got into the habit of complaining to me about my mother (after having been a very difficult guy for all of us to contend with for decades). So, after I was on my own, I’d go home, have a nice conversation with him, and then he’d start in attacking my mother (who was usually running around asking us if we wanted a sandwich or something to drink, thrilled with the idea that her eldest son and her husband — two men in the family — were bonding). I told my father that this upset me, but he never laid off. He would always start off a nice conversation and then get into telling me, “Now, I know you don’t wanna hear this, but yer mudder is crazy…..” I think it was his way of getting under my skin. (I have far better relations with other people, a much more happy family and a better job than he had.) In any case, this bothered me for a long time, until I finally cut him off. Until I finally realized that, while there was good and bad mixed in how he dealt with me, the bad part was not an afterthought or accident. In fact, the good part was the afterthought and the bad part was fundamental. I’m not saying my mother was perfect, but when you ask another person to lay off a sensitive topic and they don’t do it (for three decades) that tells you something. I didn’t “get it” until I was about 49 or 50. My father was a narcissist, and that was that. Yes, he could be nice, but his niceness was tactical/episodic and not fundamental. Finally, I got disgusted with his upsetting me this way, and I told him, “You know, Dad, I’d never want my daughter to marry a man like you.” Best thing I ever did. Changed our relationship. Upended everything. He lost all the initiative, and, though we interacted after that, I’d taken away his fangs.

    My point is that Chump Lady is right. These folks are structurally bad. Forgiveness? Forget it! At least in the weepy/emotional sense. You can “forgive” someone for being structurally defective, in the sense that you recognize them for the moral midgets that they are. That’s as far as I’d go. So, I’d say to Debbie: Yes, of course, he had some nice qualities, but these were not the dominant qualities he had. In the end, he wasn’t very loyal or very honest, and he didn’t value you or your family. Move on! Get mad. Most of the time, the folks who do these things to us actually can teach us something. I doubt Debbie’s husband would accept being treated the way he treated others. Read up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and move on!!!!!

    I’ll end by saying that there are lots of Chumps out there, and not all of them are Chump Ladies. There are Chump Sons and Chump Daughters and Chump Lady is doing them all a big service!!!!!!! Thanks CL! I admire you!


    A Once Chump Son (OCS)

    • David, I think my kids are going to be like you in regards to their dad/my STBX. His love is sort of conditional. He is nice to them if they accept whatever he does but if they challenge him the ugly narcissistic rage comes out. It’s hurt them terribly and while I do my best to give them the tools to handle his crazy they’re just kids and they love their dad and want him to love them, so they’re willing to eat a lot of shit sandwiches.

      What’s sad is that they’ve been so hurt and scarred by his actions since dday that I think it’s changed them forever. N’s suck, because it’s never their fault and they can be so bloody charming and wonderful that all you want is that part back and the ugly part to go away.

      Sadly, like you said, it’s the ugly part that is the core of their personality and the nice,charming bits are simply to get what they want. I’m so glad you figured it out but I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      • Nord,

        Thanks for your kind words.

        I think that nursing your kids through the rigors of an N-Dad is not easy. I’d read up in n-people. I’d guess that the thing to do is — not to trash their dad in anger — but to explain that he is an sometimes-unreasonable character and that, at least in your experience, this probably won’t change. I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they are old enough they could read up on n-people. That might help. It’s a tough situation. The upside is that you can show them how to treat such folks: never get expectations too high; don’t get sucked in; keep your guard up; and don’t be surprised when they turn on you. It’s just their nature.

        One thing that n-people can teach us is how to take care of ourselves. Now, we do NOT want become like them, but if you can imagine how little tolerance they would have for a fraction of what they dish out to others, then you have a guide. You and Debbie are doing well providing examples for your kids. They will get through this. School counselors, teachers, coaches and others can provide good role models.

        Thanks again,


        • The problem I see right now is that my older one thinks he has to be ‘nice’ to his father in order to have a decent relationship with him. And by nice I mean sucking up wahtever shitty crap his father hands him and saying ‘that’s ok’. Why? Because when the kid was standing up to his father and calling him on his bullshit his father was in major N rage mode and was literally withholding his love from his child. It was sick and while I try to talk to my kids about boundaries and what they should and should not accept it’s hard because the kid just wants his dad to love him.

          I kind of hate my STBX for doing this to his kid. It’s pure cruelty.

    • David, this is a very insightful posting!

      I agree that CL’s message really does transcend infidelity and speaks to all kinds of toxic relationships.

      My foundational toxic relationship was with my mother, so I absolutely do understand a kind of creepy, corrupting relationship with a parent, who was the queen of emotional unavailability. I hesitate to diagnose anyone with serious personality disorders, since I’m not a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist and having read a few books does not make me a specialist by any stretch of the imagination. Plus, I find that placing too much emphasis on what’s wrong with others prevents me from fixing what is wrong with me. I mean, yes, my mother really did a number on me, but at some point I have to stand up and say: Right — how do I change things so that she doesn’t continue to do a number on me?

      The thing is, my relationship with her and how she was and how I tried to relate to her has informed all of my subsequent relationships and led me directly to the situation with the infidelity in my marriage. Because of course I keep trying to fix that relationship with her over and over and over again and in order to do that, I have to hook into a relationship with others like her. Exhibit A: my emotionally unavailable husband who then cheated on me and Exhibit B the other emotionally unavailable guy who broke my heart.

      The only way to break the pattern is to realize that we can’t fix THEM. They are what they are. But we can protect ourselves, we can enforce and maintain boundaries and we can fix what is going on with us that keeps us locked into unhealthy relationships where we think that if we’re good enough and patient enough we will finally get them to change so that they will treat us the way we deserve.

  • Dear Debbie – you are so brave!! I know that pain and it is awful beyond words. Hang in there, you can do this, you can – you must. What you’ve done all ready is amazing. Somewhere deep inside you have a steel spine that is caring for your soul and guiding your steps – it is watching out for you. It will take time for your feelings to catch up. But, you did the right thing and somewhere that part of you that is driving has your best interests at heart. Trust it – trust yourself.

    You know what I did was cry – and I mean sob – schedule crying time, cry really really hard – throw the tissues on the floor – I usually feel better after crying time. At least for a while.

  • Debbie,

    I would just say that you should realize that he was not who he said he was/who you thought he was. Read up on narcissistic personality disorder. Realize that what you valued — your marriage, your family — was not all that important to him. Be relieved that someone else now “owns” this guy. He is no longer your problem! And move on. Join local clubs (Toastmasters, etc.) Get out and get around. I think you’ll find that once you kick the addiction to this guy, you’ll feel a lot better. It will take a while, but you will get there.

    Hang in.


    • Addiction is a good word. I felt like I was addicted to him, so that no matter what sort of shit he handed me I gratefully accepted it. Even now there are moments where I miss our family and what we ‘had’, then have to smack myself and remind myself that what we ‘had’ was built by me, while he went along for the ride and enjoyed the benefits of all my energy and super fix it personality.

      Now he does this with OW. yesterday he sent a pic to the kids of some little do they were having: every single thing in the picture was created by her, sans one thing, which was an idea he got from his time with me. Hard to explain without giving too much info but the point is that the addiction makes us do everything, while they sit back and accept our humble oferrings like the kings/queens they think they are.

      God, how did we intelligent, cool, loving folks get pulled into these situations? It seems like half the people who post here were tangled up with N’s. Maybe that’s why we feel like such chumps, because as we slowly untangle ourselves we see the real truth and boy, do we feel stupid.

  • My thanks to Kristina for the kind and insightful reply! Also some ideas for Nord here.

    Yep, we can’t fix ’em. And we can only hurt ourselves by over-adapting to them. The personality disordered will stay the way they are, so we have to accept them for what they are and then put appropriate distance between ourselves and them. Think of the disordered as like dangerous animals. They do what they do for structural reasons, so, if you have to deal with them, keep expectations law and your defenses up. If you don’t have to deal with them—then don’t!

    Helping kids negotiate this is difficult. Without trashing the other parent, I’d talk about people in general to kids who are stuck with an N-parent, talk about how some personalities have a rigid structure and some folks lack empathy, and how important it is to develop a personal radar for that. Sadly, I think the kids have to be burned a few times to learn this. We can only guide them by talking realistically to them about people in general. I can’t tell my daughter, “Don’t hang out with that guy….” She’ll only like him more. But I can tell her about different kinds of men, and then a light will go on when it needs to (I hope). At least that’s my theory of parenting. Nord, your kids will be OK. Just talk about life in general and difficult people without pointing fingers and naming names. And read up on Narcissitic Personality Disorder. Nina Brown is good. Wikipedia has good entries on that. Finally, the first three books of Dean Koontz’ “Frankenstein” are also a great metaphor for narcissism in a family. Koontz himself says the books were inspired by his father. I know that reference sounds strange (and not everyone likes Koontz’ techno/horror type thrillers), but that trilogy really is a great metaphor for the fantasies of the narcissistic parent and the damage that person can do.

    Hang in there!

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