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?
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!