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Got Anger?

You low corrosive lump of fecal horror, you maniac bastardly turd! I would rather drink stale urine from Norman Fowler’s arse-pit than remain one moment more in your defiling company.

You’re filth, you’re cack, you’re the ooze of… a burst boil. I abominate you, you cowering mound of corrupted slime. Your every utterance is like the slithering hiss of a fat maggot in the putrid guts of a decomposing rat. Your face is fouler than the unwiped inner ring of Satan’s rectum!

I may just post all the genius of Fry and Laurie here this next week. I so very much enjoy the narcissist send up of Luella De La Twee in yesterday’s post. Today you get Stephen Fry’s delicious rant. If you’re feeling like you need to vent,  begin at “You low corrosive lump of fecal horror!”

And speaking of Satan’s unwiped rectum — have you met my ex-husband? Har har. This schtick got me thinking about anger (and anger’s better half — satire). When I think back on my infidelity nightmare, I’m surprised at how long it took me to get to anger. It’s definitely one of the stages of grief, but objectively, you’d think it would rear its head on the first day. It didn’t. Numbness did. Amazon chumpery appeared. Grief and sobbing and distress did. But anger came a bit later to the scene.

But, oh trust me, when it came it was a real motherfucker.

When I read on infidelity boards, and some poor soul is reckoning with the aftermath of DDay, I see it posted time and again “Get mad!” “Find your anger!” “Where are your balls?! Don’t be a fucking doormat!” As is often the case, the chump is wallowing around, trying to make sense of bullshit, doing the humiliating dance of “pick me!” and generally just spinning their wheels miserably.

I worry about people who don’t do anger. There’s a lot of stupid bullshit out there (HuffPo commentators — I’m talking to you) that says you should be above such low thoughts. That anger is corrosive and toxic and once you get angry you’ll stay that way, forever! Yes, your features will get stuck in a scowl, so don’t cross your eyes either. It could get very ugly indeed.

But that’s nonsense. Nothing should piss you off so much as the injustice and the affront of being cheated on. Of having your health risked, of being conspired against, of being humiliated. For all the ugly fallout of infidelity — the broken homes, the broken-hearted children, the STDs, the wasted years, the financial loss. If you can’t get mad about being cheated on — what does piss you off? Anything?

And yet so many chumps struggle with anger. At least at first. When I read a righteously pissed off chump, I don’t worry about them so much as the flounderers. I assume that the anger will propel that chump towards action, because anger is really good at that. Of course, there are some people that just stay stuck at inchoate rage without the moving forward actions — you see those poor souls stuck in reconciliation — and what I would say to them is — Listen to your anger. It’s trying to tell you something. You want that rage to go away? ACT ON IT. No, I don’t mean gut the cheater like a fish (but you may fantasize about it). No, I mean PROTECT YOURSELF. Get away from this person who is making you so deeply unhappy.

Why is anger so hard for chumps? Well, first of all — you love the cheater. (Or did.) It’s scary to be angry at the people we love. Maybe they’ll leave us. Maybe they’ll let us down in other worse ways (are there other worse ways? Because people, I think you’ve arrived at worse here.) Second, to get good and righteously pissed off at injustice, you have to value yourself. You have to operate from the assumption that you deserve better than this. And that sounds so common sense, but if you’ve been mindfucked for a long time, gaslighted, made to feel only worthy as kibble production for the Great Narcissist, it may be hard to summon up the sense that hey, you MATTER. And third, anger is so hard because we get a lot of messages to not be angry. Especially women. No one will ever date you if you’re angry. Seriously, you’re unfuckable you shrieking harpy. Okay, not only is it unattractive, it’s Wrong! You should forgive and understand and choke down that shit sandwich and say thank you, this has been a learning experience. Don’t do anger, do enlightenment.

Well chumps, I would argue you don’t get to enlightenment, unless you do anger first. You can’t achieve “meh” until you’ve exhausted anger. Look at it like anger is your fuel towards “meh.” You’ll need all that anger to lawyer up, and rebuild and create a righteously awesome new life for yourself (I’ll show you!) — and then one day, you’ll arrive at acceptance (it’s a Tuesday). You won’t regret being pissed off once upon a time. You’ll respect yourself for it.

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  • I think this is one of the most confronting issues for me. I never ever never ever got angry with the ex. Others yes. But the ex no. What a contrast now. With property settlement coming up we’re like two bull terriers after the same bone.
    All her life she avoids conflict at any cost. Now her life is full of conflict. Every time she sees me there is conflict because I won’t talk with her. I’ve gone all vanilla. Bland. Fuck you without saying it.
    She must be stewing at not seeing her sons often because they choose not to hang around so much. Why? Maybe because she lied or maybe it’s their idea of protesting about chainsaw man.
    I didn’t get angry out right but sent a mountain of email and text trying to encourage her to see how screwed up everything was. The cost of an affair is huge in every aspect of our lives.
    The worst I called her was a selfish bitch( which I can prove) and wrote letters to her employer and the runners that went to New York, and chain saw mans father explaining that his son was a very naughty boy which the police considered offensive but I would have no issue whatsoever publishing them in the Sydney morning herald.) Down here offensive material will get you in expensive deep shit. Its a joke but that is the law. Meantime chainsaw man has no consequence. Not ashamed of anything I have written. Why? Because its the fuckin truth and she can’t handle the truth.
    Uncontrolled anger is dangerous and will land you in hot water. I like to call it maintain the rage.
    Maintain the rage against the lies ,deceit, betrayal , fuckin stonewalling ( fuck that makes me angry), the entitlement, the selfishness and thoughtlessness.
    I can’t Believe how calm I was initially but now I’m just going to outplay chainsaw man.
    Don’t know if you have bull ants in the states but down here we have bull ants.
    To chainsaw man I’m a bull ant. I don’t give a fuck but every time I see him I am a bull ant on his arse. Bull ants really hurt. It’s severe pain. I am not going to back down and sure as hell no compromise. You fuck with me I’m going fuck with you whenever and wherever I feel like it.
    Is that anger?
    No it’s fucking CONSEQUENCE.
    is it bitterness? Only if you want to label it as such
    Is it moving on? Yes it’s moving on. I chose not to accept him but I’m moving on.
    I make the rules now darling( she calls him that and it drove her fucking crazy for months as I read it in the emails and she couldn’t work out how I knew. HELLO! BULL ANT here again!
    Anger is amazing though. In 20 years I never witnessed her get angry with me but three times last year she hit the fucking roof in rages I have never witnessed. All because I wouldn’t accept her lovely little fantasy. Man it was scary.
    CL, do you know the tv series Faulty Towers with John Cleese as the hotel owner. I love his anger. Very funny.
    Anyway I get angry for sure but it’s self contained but its bloody important to feel it. If you bottle it up you’re basically fucked.
    What these mindfucks have done deserves anger but frankly I don’t think they give a fuck. They desperately hang on to their shitty existence. Sad ………………..

    • Hmm. You bring up a whole other can of worms — anger at the AP. Totally understandable and relatable. But I see people get stuck there (especially in reconciliation, which mercifully you’re not in) — they do rage at the AP but not their cheater. Both are merited, IMO. After all this person would be a stranger to you, if your spouse had any boundaries. But anger at a cheating spouse is tied up with all sorts of other things, memories and love and children — so yeah, it’s easier to direct pure bile at the AP.

      I agree Baci, don’t do anything to get yourself arrested. Practice “meh” towards them. Or tell them to their face that they suck. The anger is for the chump, to feel it and let it bring lucidity (this shit is fucked up!) so they LEAVE.

      Of course that’s harder to do in the face of remorse or “remore-ish.” Sounds like you got none of that. I don’t think Mr. Chainsaw is getting a prize with your ex. Or her with him.

      • Well, I had to deal with unknown APs but also with APs that I knew. My anger was OFF THE CHARTS at one point. Several very nasty emails went out but, to be honest, once I got that out of my system my anger lessened. Like I said, the less I felt for him the less anger I felt. The only thing that really gets me angry now is when he threatens me financially. Then I get very pissed off.

    • Baci, your last statement immediately resonated with me. For two reasons. First of all, I think you’re right — probably they don’t give a fuck.

      But then I thought: well, if I’m only angry in the hopes of provoking some kind of response from the person with whom I’m angry, is that productive anger?

      And then I thought: if they are a narcissist or have those tendencies, then any attention (even if it is negative) feeds their egos. They like to think that they hold sway over others and if someone is raging angry and doing things to screw around with them, it may be causing them some irritation, but on the other hand it is still giving them the satisfaction that the person still cares enough to be angry and do things to screw with them. Not sure if that makes sense as I’ve written it… it makes sense in my mind though. 🙂

      I have an ex boyfriend (emotional nitwit, which is my weakness) and he regularly emails or texts me asking: do you hate me still? I obviously don’t answer him, but I think he loves the idea that I am sitting around hating him, because that keeps us attached in some sick way — like I’m still expending emotion on him. I’m not, and I try to illustrate that with no contact, the ultimate “meh”, but still, he’s still fishing for kibble and to him, my hatred/anger is a sustaining ego snack.

      I’d rather die than give him that kind of attention.

      • You’re spot on. Give them nothing. They don’t deserve one little smidgen of your energy.
        In the last few weeks I’m thinking more you poor sorry excuse for human beings. I don’t feel which is great. It’s taken me a long time and this site has helped I just don’t care about them. They only have each other.
        Last year the ex had the boys together ( they stayed under the same roof) a total of 8 nights. The boys don’t like being at her house together so they stay two nights each per week.
        The sad thing is that seems to be what ex wants. Quantity time with chainsaw man on their own. How fucking pathetic is that. That’s not living!
        She says she misses the boys together but if she told me President Obama was president of the USA I’d have to check with you guys first to verify it.
        The main point is don’t hold the anger in. Use it to your advantage.

  • I was personally angrier when the marriage was obviously failing and he was stonewalling me with his epic silence. He’s a massive avoidant.

    I think anger is good, it is natural. Trying to swallow anger is what gets you ulcers. Ha haha. 🙂 But I find unproductive anger silly because, well, it is unproductive. As you say, CL, it should propel you somewhere better.

    That said, it is all just subjective. Because what I see as unproductive rage — for example, stalking the affair partner or meddling with the relationship your cheater has with the children — is not unproductive to others. To others, that makes really good sense because it makes them feel better.

    I think when you see people cocking an eyebrow (proverbially) at someone who is expressing anger, you may be seeing people who feel the emotion is not doing the angry person any good. But that’s not that person’s place to decide. What is good for one person may be different for someone else.

    Anger is a surprisingly personal issue, I think.

  • Chumplady’s quote: [ ” Numbness did. Amazon chumpery appeared. Grief and sobbing and distress did. But anger came a bit later to the scene.”]

    CL I did the same. I first went numb and it took awhile for the reality to sick in. Once it did, sobbing and distress took over.

    I look back now and think the sobbing is due to the fact that finding out that a spouse you trusted so much is really a lying, cheating, backstabbing, ‘ho, is like a death.

    It’s the death of the man you thought you knew.

    As is well known, a betrayed spouse goes through all the stages of grief associated with death. Somtimes the stage occur in the predictable order, sometimes they occur out of order, and sometimes the person fluctuates to and fro’ among all the stagees.

    I am finally at the acceptance stage with my ex. But that was only after ping ponging between the anger phase and the acceptance phase for awhile.

    But I did do the anger phase. During that phase words came out of my mouth that I never prior used. Not quite as bad as in the post but vile nonetheless.

    Some things have to be said.

    • My first reaction upon confirmation/discovery(PI obserbations) was elation. I was so glad I had it right all along and had no lost my marbles.
      This was followed by a very brief period of grieving(not for the loss of my wife, but that i had to accept that my dream of a decent marriage. which I should have reaIized year earlier was never going to happen), then some anger.
      I was not angru to be getting out of a miserable marriage to a NPD. I was pissed at myself for having married her and having been so dumb about what she was.
      But, I never gave this bitch/NPD the satisfaction of seeing me angry or sad. HEr ego was stroked enough. I just divorced her and never looked back.
      I still hate her, but it doesn’t bother me much and I will always hatte her(not too evolved, eh?).
      My XW was a mean spirited, abusive a-hole who os toxic to anyone she comes in contact with.Her folks even tell me this, as do her brothers, who remain my friends.

      • I don’t hate her. I hate what she did to me and she hates it that I exposed the affair. Spoilt the party. Fantasy is for pixies in the bottom of the garden

        • I swear, Baci, every time I read something you write it’s like a mirror to my situation. I don’t hate him, I do hate how he behaved and continues to behave, because he hates me for telling the truth. His mask got ripped off and he is PISSED. Now people know who he is and he is desperately surrounding himself with the few people who don’t know the whole story.

          I doubt he’ll ever forgive me for telling the truth about his serial cheating but fuck him, it’s my truth and my life and it’s NOT my job to keep his secrets anymore. He lost that when he fucked other people

    • Yes it certainly feels like a death. But having lost both my parents at a young age I understand death and its relatively easy to accept.
      Cheating is a whole new challenge. How could this person, your BEST FRIEND in every way, the absolute centre of your universe become a person you despise so much and basically feel so sorry for. The transition is mind boggling.
      That’s where the tears and all the emotion come from. The loss is colossal!
      It’s not a question of why but how could we as best friends got to this point and where do we go from here.

      • baci:

        I think when your best friend takes advantage of your blind trust it is worse than the death of a human. Because when a person dies they don’t do it willfully if it’s a natural death.

        Cheating is a willful act and the cheater knows it will hurt the spouse, if they find out, and they are already hurting the spouse by dividing their attentions or resources. They must know this, though few will admit they know it

        I think what BSs are truly grieving, as you and Arnold already suggested, is the death of the dream or delusion of having a spouse who is your best friend and trusted partner through life.

        • Sara8, I think you said it correctly. Being cheated on is worse than losing a spouse or significant other to death. I have often felt ‘envy’ for widows or widowers because they are grieving someone that they loved right up to the end. Their relationship wasn’t perhaps always perfect but I am awed by dutiful loving spouses who stayed with their spouse up to the very end and the thought that the deceased spouse likely lived to realize that they were truly loved.

          For anyone who has been cheated on we were cheated out of ever experiencing this profound love, connection, and sense of duty. We’ve spent the years hanging in there spackling and doing everything that we could to keep it together to no avail. How awful is that? It’s pretty damn painful.

          To be cheated on is truly death of your spirit because what you thought you had just never existed.

          • Your post reminds me of that line in It’s Complicated, when Meryl Streep turns to her friend and says ‘You’re so lucky Jerry is dead’.

          • Hope 49:

            Yes, it’s the death of the illusion of being in a respectful loving marriage, and the death of our own spirits.

            For example, my ex always said I was his partner in life, and I always had a say in how we spent our money and everything else.

            But obviously that was just a lie to keep me clueless and to throw me off the track of his hidden bank accounts, credit cards, frivolous expenditures, and secret girlfriend.

            Yeah really, I can see that I had no say in how he spent his money or his time.

            Well, I was chumped. Oh well, live and learn.

      • I do not have enough whatever not to hate her. I think it is natural, Maybe if there was a shred of remorse, but she feels nothing.

  • I wouldn’t say that I’m stuck in anger, but I have my flashes from time to time. I can tell that I’m not totally at “meh” yet. It’s mostly anger based in resentment– that he complicated my life in several ways, yet his life goes on merrily as it always did (and is even easier because I’m the primary custodian of our children).

    How do I get past that? I have as little contact with him as possible and certainly don’t lash out or do anything that would disturb the detente we’ve established, but I hate that I get these flashes of resentment. I just want to be “meh.” Do I just need to be patient and let time do its work?

  • I unleashed a torrent of hateful and ugly words through one night at xH, awakening him about every couple of hours to let him know what an effing piece of total SHIT he is, detailing what I was going to let another man do to me (doh!) and how people had warned me not to marry him, etc., etc. I told him that nobody would believe HE left ME. I pointed out his most unattractive features and how he dressed funny. I was UN-KIND to say the least. Every word of what I said was true, he deserved it, and it is probably my biggest regret. It isn’t my anger that I’m ashamed of–far from it. It is my lack of insight and the inability to turn anger into disgust into meh as quickly as I should have.

    The truth is, he is irrelevant in my life, bar the child support checks and the college tuition he helps to pay for our children. That’s what I want–not to be chained to anger, but to be aloof and disaffected. I’ll never be his friend, but I don’t want to pile on, either.

    I actually do believe he is a sick and depressed man with very low self esteem (by the Nathaniel Brandon definition of self esteem.) I didn’t know it at the time. His overwhelming infatuation high made him seem invincible and exciting to me. I was afraid and alone and I lashed out. He was the man of the family and he was neglecting his role as protector–he looked on in seeming elation as I reacted in utter shock and grief. I was bleeding and he was grinning. Our children would forever be wounded by his selfishness and callous disregard for their well-being AND IT PISSED ME OFF! So I got angry. I think the verbal castration I dealt him did both him and me more harm than good, and I’m not proud of it at all.

    But? Eh, he’ll get over it. I did.

      • Stephanie, the thing is — he may have that now, and it may feel like it is working for him now…but that pain he has is not able to really be soothed via external kibbles. The beauty of a cheater taking off for supposedly greener pastures, is that he or she will just continue to repeat that karma again and again. So the blonde may work for a minute, but sooner than later he’ll realize he still doesn’t feel quite right, quite happy enough, as happy as he thinks he deserves, and then he’s going to do the same thing to her as he did to you.

        Even better, given the fact that she is who she is, she’ll be doing the same thing to him. It is a bitter karmic pill that he’s swallowing each day. Be glad he’s gone from your life.

  • Anger has been my greatest internal ally in this process. I’ve never been thankful for anger, but I see this emotion’s point now. I spent a month without anger. I don’t regret that month, nor do I see the anger-free month as a chump thing. I was in complete survival mode. Day 1 and 2, move all joint finances into my name. Day 3 and 4, get STBX to admit to betrayal. Week one, tell all my closest friends and relatives so I can gain some perspective and a thorough support system. Week two, interview counselors. All along, keep talking every single night, at length, with betrayer to figure out as much as possible where betrayer is at and what betrayer did, and expressing pain, which seems the appropriate first reaction.

    All along, weigh in my mind what caused this and what I should do about it. Just basically take this enormous change of circumstances in. All along, maintain my integrity and my sense of fairness, weighing all the evidence put before me. Find some support online. Do the Amazon thing. This took a long time and gave me the information I needed to move forward. Spend a lot of time with online and offline support. Talk, talk, talk to my friends and family. Assimilate this life-changing event. Find proper counseling for husband. Week 3, see the counselor for first session. Week 4, counselor tells me to write down the answer to this: I am angry about…

    This turned out to be many pages long. I got over-the-top angry. This was the right time to get angry. I could not have approached this whole thing in a level- headed way, or gotten things together so quickly if I was mired in anger right up front. I think the delayed response to anger is appropriate for survival. Anger doesn’t get things done at first. Thinking and acting does.

    • Preya, you sound very level headed! Like a field marshall! Your experience is very similar to my husband’s. He spent a total of 10 days in R. (Only to discover she was actively in an affair with someone else, not the OM she originally copped to.) He just divorced her ASAP, got it done.

      It’s totally admirable you didn’t stay stuck at all. And it’s also admirable to me that you were able to (safely!) identify what angered you.

      Some people need the anger to motivate them — I sure did. Some don’t!

  • Two other things I spent a ton of time on before allowing myself the luxury of getting angry were: (1) starting to figure out just how much money was spent on this sexual betrayal (I will likely get all this money as a waste claim in divorce), and (2) trying to understand the underworld of sex workers that my betrayer was involved with. This was not time spent in numbness or chumpiness. This was survival mode at its best.

    • I admire your planning skills. I’ve been trying to do the same thing, but spread out over time. In our case, we already have separate accounts. The problem is that I can’t see what he’s spending on the OW. I can count 3 separate Amazon.com gift certificates and gifts, but that’s (pardon the expression) chump change. I am fairly certain that he gave the OW a LOT of money over the summer. She was unemployed, and his giving her money meant that he didn’t have enough for the household expenses for which he’s responsible. I fear most of the transactions were cash.

      I do have a lot of anger, but if I let myself get embroiled in anger, I won’t have the ability to act on my own behalf. From Dday, I knew that we’d have to divorce. Everything since then has been all about getting myself to the point where I can afford to divorce the cheating bastard and leave him to the skankiness that is the OW.

  • I still hurt – I know I’ll get to anger eventually, I have flashes for sure. I can’t deal with the revenge fantasies I still have every so often. Its so unproductive and I’m sick of it all. All that said, I’m crystal clear that what I’m dealing with is my own projection and grief at what might have been.

    Honestly, now, if I review any of the stuff that the X wrote, the image that comes to mind is someone looking over his shoulder and flirting coquettishly with himself while he watches himself masterbate in a mirror. Maybe wearing a little lipstick and a little blush – its a really bizarre image but anymore, that’s what comes to my mind.

    He would be absolutely clear about what he did if someone had written that shit to say, his daughter.

    • Revenge is wrong. “If seeking revenge first dig two graves”

      It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s about your moral fibre and the people around you. Forget revenge fantasy. Try and correct untruths by the WS but set them free. They’re doing a great job stuffing up their own life if they’re with the AP.

      PREYA
      I wish I had your planning and execution skills. I was very calm for months after but was like a possum in the headlights. Frozen over the future. I’m only now getting my life sorted. My priority was the boys. Well done! You should write a book.

      • I don’t see revenge as wrong, just unhelpful and often likely to cause additional problems for the aggrieved party.

        As the old saying puts it, “It doesn’t pay to kick a skunk.”

        And boy, was my first wife a skunk!

        • How does it hurt to get some revenge? I do notu understand this(provided it is legal and you do not jeoperdize yourself) (I can’t figure out the s[elling of jep.. Better call Alex Trebeck)

  • You know, as I keep thinking about this — the thing that REALLY pisses me off about the situation, the thing that still gets under my skin and can lead to blow ups with my stbxH is the fact that he never expressed his unhappiness in a real way. It was all this passive aggressive slow-but-sure pulling away/shutting down bullshit. And this was in the face of me actively saying: “what the hell is going on? Please tell me why things are the way they are? Let’s work on this.” He wasn’t bad enough of a guy for me to justify saying: “I’m leaving you.”

    Of couse ultimately, that’s where I was a chump. That was the chumpy thinking I engaged in. I should have absolutely felt justified in leaving him for emotionally shutting down the way he did. THAT was abuse. The affair was superfluous, actually. I suppose that’s why the affair really doesn’t matter.

    Just last week I had a conversation with him in which I became very angry and I said what I have always said: “What on earth happened?” (meaning to the marriage before the affair) And he said what he always says: “We weren’t happy. I wasn’t happy.” And my response was; “Yes, I know that. Neither of us was. But why weren’t you happy? And if you weren’t happy, why weren’t you willing to work on being happy?”

    He can’t answer that question. And I suppose what it comes down to is: we don’t suit one another. In the end, we just do not suit. And that’s not either of our fault, really. But we should have walked away sooner rather than later.

    And that makes me angry too. At myself. I should have got the hell out much sooner than I did, but I was trying to toe some imaginary line that society enforces that says: “marriage should be forever.” Well, no. Not if it is not a good marriage.

    Whatever. Talking about this anger makes me angry. haha.

    • Wow Kristina we are in exactly the same boat. I’ll row and you look out for icebergs!

      We went through this stage of just vanilla but I just couldn’t work out what was wrong.
      I changed from the Alfa male to the more involved with the boys. Friends were jealous because being self employed I could organise my life around the family – not the other way around.
      The was a bull in the room but I didn’t see it. She found more comfort in chainsaw man. He had no family complications because he left them in New Zealand. He was clean, lived in the company apartment, and well just worked at something he enjoyed. He had no friends and no lover. So there was this huge attraction to the ex.
      It’s not anger but certainly ton of frustration in not sorting out the unhappiness. Her family is full of depression but she trained every morning for the marathon.
      In hindsight I had a walk away wife.
      There is a web site with two downloadable books on this and it’s really interesting.
      Kristina at the end of the day we have been set free and everyone and I mean everyone tells me ill find a better relationship. Initially I didn’t think that but I’m in a better place now on my own.
      I just couldn’t behave like my ex or chainsaw man did. And that gives me strength.
      Like you I get angry over not being able to talk this out but I think she made a decision and I’m not part of it. Time to build a new life

      • I think the best part of this is, at some point, realising that you could never treat another person like this. There’s great strength and comfort in that, because although we’re the ones who got our hearts trashed and our lives trashed even more we are still essentially who we’ve always been, mainly because we’ve not pretended to be something we’re not. And no, we’re not perfect but we lived openly and honestly and they didn’t.

        At the end of the day I know who I’d rather be, no matter how much this has sucked.

    • Kristina,

      “I was trying to toe some imaginary line that society enforces that says: “marriage should be forever.” – I bought into that so much that I don’t think I would have EVER EVER left no matter how unhappy I became. It literally would not have entered my mind. I never even acknowledged that I might really be unhappy or if I was I think I thought it was my fault, like I’m just not a happy person or something (cause I am somewhat pessimistic in general). Or that it was just the stress of the kids or some other excuse. I never questioned that it could be my marriage, that it could be to the wrong person.

      It is because I would have NEVER left that I believe I will eventually be grateful for the affair because it will have saved me from a life of misery as I progressively got more and more unhappy but never really dealt with it. As you say, my husband and I just weren’t suited for one another. And yes, it is too bad we didn’t figure it out earlier. But everything happens for a reason… and I believe the reason we were together for so long was to have our kids.

        • Me, three.

          Looking back, I’d had dreams when we were very young, where I was trying to hurt him. I was so angry, but I suppressed it. I was angry at being emotionally abandoned, at getting no support with the home, the kids–the responsibilities.

          I was unhappy. But I was determined to give my kids a two-parent family. I told myself that no marriage is perfect, that they all take work. And so I worked at it. I’m sure he did, too. I never would have left, though I fantasized about it, calculated when would be the earliest possible time I could exit with the least amount of damage done to our children. I just couldn’t take the responsibility for being the one who killed a good-enough marriage, who pulled the plug on a marriage that had hope. Because I did hold out hope that when the kids were grown, he and I could focus on just us.

          But he did me a favor. He walked out. He hurt my kids, and gave them a terrible legacy–a spineless washout for a father. I’m angry about that. How could he? How weak!

          I’m better off.

    • Mine didn’t say a word either. And even, in the aftermath, said I ‘didn’t ask him enough times’ about what was going on. I nearly blew a blood vessel on that one, like I was supposed to cajole his thoughts and feelings from him and he would reward me with them when he felt I had begged enough.

      Honestly, I look back and think I must have had a blocked artery to my brain or something because I can’t believe the shit I put up with.

      • See, nord, the thing is no matter how much you asked, he wouldn’t every have been able to answer.

        And for me, this was something totally independent of the affair. For me, because the affair gave me a flashing red exit sign that I’d been waiting to see, I simply was not angry about it. Hurt and stuff, sure, but ultimately, that was just my ego responding to a bruise in some kind of reflexive way; in the end, I was still me and I knew that I was okay.

        It is all the stupidity before the affair that enrages me because, MY GOD!! What a freakin’ time suck for me.

        And the cruel irony was: the affair only prolonged the marriage, because the affair is what made the marriage tolerable. Cowardly custard. I want a divorce is what should have been said. Sheesh!

        • I think many of us, if we get really honest, saw the affair as out ticket out of hell. I’d had it by the time I found out.
          To me, the affair was just a really concrete dealbreaker. But, I’d hated my XW for a long time before I found out. And, I , normally, like folks. But she was really mean and cruel.
          See(and this is not original by any means) if you were with a cheater, by definition, you were likely dealing with a miscreant, a person devoid of empathy and integrity. So, even pre-afffair, life was no picnic.

          • Yes, that is true! And HOW they turn that around, and say, “Well, I had no choice, you see, (s)he did not love me the way I wanted to be loved.”

            Of course, they were unlovable. I was miserable, and the affair was my ticket out.

            You are SO right on, Arnold. I was dealing with a miscreant who wanted to cheat on me. So he did. And then he left, with no compunction. He’s THAT KIND OF GUY.

        • But Kristina, he probably didn’t want a divorce. He wanted cake. Or he didn’t know what the fuck he wanted, and went after the next sparkly thing that could help him make up his mind. (Which will NEVER be made up. Never ever.) He just found another person to blame his sorrows on. Thank Jesus it’s not YOU.

          My first husband was passive aggressive. Still is, like text book (he’s got other mental issues as well). These people are deeply crazy making. I asked my shrink about it once, “What do you do with passive aggressives?” He said “You shoot ’em.” I said “Is that your professional shrink opinion?!” He said “They’re absolutely impossible, it’s a total no win. Just get the hell away from them.”

          They’re angry people (and not anger is a good healthy way angry). It’s not a justifiable feeling. It just is. And they try to construct their reality around their bogus feeling (I’m pissed, I’m hard done by). So You Must’ve Done Something That Deserves Punishment. They are masters at withholding.

          And the beauty of PA is, you can’t call them on it, because they won’t say or DO anything. “I don’t understand your hostility.” They just disappoint, don’t come through, don’t advocate for themselves. Just expect, assume, and hey, you missed a spot. And the angrier you get with them, the more they feel righteous, like a victim.

          It’s a total mindfuck and it IS emotional abuse.

          • CL you are so right and this is exactly why I took the rest of my husbands belongings and placed them in storage without his knowledge. Ever since the weekend of the 13th I found out that he was still having an affair (3 years) with this skank…I cut all communication about reconciliation (we’ve been separated for 6 months), and to come up with a plan I told him I was away, put an out of office message on at work (yeah PA’s are also major stalkers/bullies) and allowed for the very first time since dealing with this PA for seven years to let my anger and rage guide me. Well it’s a week later and as we had lunch yesterday I had nothing but venom and cold responses to his his list of: give me a chance to fix this, making this work, how sorry he is and he needs help and has made an appointment for us to go to counseling because he is ready to show me how much he wants and need this marriage. Of course after all the cheating and getting caught. I refuse to give in to love letters,emails, and constant badgering. So today he showed up again at my office and this time in a diner, he proceeded to talk about plans for us to fix it..I then gave him the key and told him his things are in storage and he has 30 days or they will dispose of them. Well he few into a rage and grabbed my cell phone and for the first time this tactic didn’t work. I started to scream and yell till oneof the owners came over and he let the food go but coffee food and every thing was on the floor and the place was staring in horror. I cam back to work alerted security that he is not allowed in the building any more. Oh yeah and my anger led me to file for a divorce on Monday so my lawyer just sent him a nice email letting him know that I have retained her. OH YEAH ANGER IS GOOD!! I FEEL SO FREE!! and despite every one around me is truly afraid for my safety ALL I FEEL IS ANGER !! And despite my shame that I feel that my office now knows that I have a lunatic stalking me and all kind of security discussion is going on…It wont deter me..I tried to avoid this which is why I stayed in this misery for so long because PA’s got a way with doing things to get back at you. But I wont back down..I just hope my office doesn’t get spooked and fire me for the safety of everyone else.

          • Oh yes, passive aggressive. That is my ex to a T. An absolute T. He’s an infuriating contrarian too. It was absolutely crazymaking. Because he wasn’t unkind or aggressively mean, like smacking me around or being cruel with words. He just simply was undermining and stonewalling and contrary. And he would do stuff like “accidently” break my dishes. I was like: “What the hell is the matter with you?” None of his dishes ever got broken, but the pieces from my fave set did. I found that to be totally bonkers. And then it occurred to me: He’s doing that on purpose. Fuckwit!

            He did not want to eat cake, necessarily, but he sure didn’t want to be married and he made that clear every single freakin day. And it was brutal.

            On the other hand, and here is the irony, he is a great father and now that we’re not married he and I get along relatively well. We still have our moments, but the coparenting is going great. I think I’m just so grateful to be out from under that yoke. Because that’s what it felt like. I felt like I was carrying around a ton of deadweight.

          • OMG, you’ve pinned it!! I especially love the “I don’t understand your hostility” line. This would have come RIGHT OUT of my XH’s mouth. He has this diction which I like to call “professional business man speech” which would take over and completely confound me. It all sounded so eloquent; I didn’t realize it really meant FU.

          • Yes, STBX was beyond PA and it was frustrating as hell. I remember being absolutely enraged at little insignificant stuff over the years and couldn’t figure out why. Then it all became clear: I would be doing normal relationship things, dealing with problems, etc. and he would not engage with anything, wouldnot discuss problems that were real and needed to be addressed. It would fester in me and I would get so unbelievably frustrated and in the end it would come out over stupid stuff like ‘you left your socks on the kitchen’ or whatever. Totally crazy making and yes, then he could say I was unreasonable and difficult to live with.

            And no, STBX didn’t want a divorce, he just wanted to ‘figure things out’. He actually told me this on dday. He needed time and had to think things through and blah blah blah. But he still wouldn’t talk about anything. Crazy making. Really, really crazy making.

  • And, all of you guys, good advice about NC – in the end, I’m glad that I didn’t try and insert myself in the new relationship. It only would have made me look truly batshit crazy. I can’t imagine that he’s seen any of the stuff here…. maybe, but I doubt it. After only a week of “pick me”, I walked and other than that one day when I seriously stumbled, I think the best course was the one I took – just walk the fuck away and don’t look back. Its been a challenge….. actually still is but now, at least I know that I have to measure anything I do against what it does or does not do for MY pain. And that’s all.

    • Yep, Erika!! Surgical precision. make a clean cut and get away (easier done in some cases than in others, of course).

      But there is no way to get control of the crazy close in. The best way to control the situation is to back away from the crazy and let the lunatics look after themselves.

  • Oh anger… I have the anger. But most of it is directed towards myself. Dday number one was in 2002 and I immediately moved out and started drawing up papers. Then, he came crawling back and 6 months later, I moved back in. Fast forward 10 years to Dday number 2. This time he moved out and papers were filed. I am so mad that I gave him another chance 10 years ago. Grieving our relationship is much harder this time because we have been together for so long AND because this time around there is a beautiful 7 year old daughter caught in the middle. If I had never given him another chance, I would not be in this situation now. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

    But, it is what it is. My anger towards him is there… subtle and quiet. I don’t let it bubble up too often because I fear it will consume me and hurt my daughter and the image she has of her father. She adores him and she still actually thinks he just moved out to be closer to his work. Until our separation can be finalized into a divorce, I am allowing her to think that. Counting down to May and continuing to move forward on figuring out how I am going to support myself and kiddo financially without him. The amount of money the court ordered him to pay will be helpful, but of course he promptly lost his job after he moved out so I get nothing… My hope is that once I find financial stability, I will feel better. More ready to take on the next steps… My mortgage lender has been great. They modified my mortgage and I think I can keep my house (YAY). But it’s a house full of memories. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I could just up and leave. But I know, for my daughter, stability is important for the coming challenges she will have to face. She is a sensitive little bug who adores her parents.

    Wow, I dumped a whole lot here. Sorry about that… Long story short; I’m still waiting for my healthy anger to kick in. Trying to find ways to provoke it. Any suggestions????

    • Dani,

      glad you can keep your house – maybe you guys can paint and redecorate a bit? Lots of us here have done that trying to reclaim the space and make it your own.

      I had no problem getting to anger. I’m sure my STBX would say it’s cause I’ve always been bitchy. Therapist said it was good and protective and it helps you be able to do what you need to do. You just don’t want to get stuck there.

      I can totally see why you don’t want your daughter exposed to it though. Perhaps some writing exercises after she’s in bed? I think you could just literally start it by saying, “I’m angry at YOU because…” and just let yourself go. You don’t need to be afraid of it, I think once you get it out you actually feel much better. It’s off your chest – you don’t need to try to remember all the reasons you’re mad anymore and you can move on. For a while. Then you might need to do it again. Also, I remember once writing my STBX a letter that I didn’t send that was helpful when I was feeling especially angry but knew it wouldn’t be “healthy” to communicate it with him. Therapists and good friends are helpful for venting as well…

      • Thanks aE – I appreciate the advise. My therapist moved into a new job and I have been without for a while. I just made an appointment with a new therapist yesterday. Picking a therapist out of a directory is always difficult. Hopefully she will be great! And I will start working on my “I’m angry at your because” letter this weekend.

  • After 7 months of NC The hurt is gone but the waves of anger sweep in at times.when that happens I give him A hard virtual kick in his balls with my heaviest boots and then get on with life.that works most of the times and when it doesn’t after the kick I stomp on and grind down o. His dick and his balls with my spiked shoes/ pointiest stillettos .that takes a minute , brings back the smile on my face a spring in my step and I go back to the business of enjoying my life.

    Maybe just maybe I may get a voodoo doll someday !!!!!!!!! 😉

  • I am full of anger for that motherfucker piece of shit that pretended to be a good husband, protector, provider, and father to our daughter.
    That SOB took advantage of my love, trust, and faithfulness and spit, pissed, and ripped it to shreds… I definitely have not reached, “Meh!”, but I think I am on my way.
    My anger sprung me to action. Left that tool. Became a PI.. Now in divorce process. I have been disrespected, abused, abandoned, and I am irate! All while he pretended to look out for my best interest. Bullshit.
    I agree anger can motivate a person into proactive action to protect oneself. I need to protect my daughter and myself and will do what I can to make sure that we are not taken advantage of and abused any longer. I have had to make big changes and sacrificed to get there, but I see light at the end if the tunnel. Never knew the strength I had until I had to tap into it. Friends and family are my lifeline..
    Any advice I can give those facing infidelity, and are at the stage of horrendous grief, depression, sadness, and life feels like it is not worth living…i have been there. Please seek help. Through family, friends, therapy. Reconnect with old friends. I did not and am not on antidepressants, but each person is different and each situation is different. Be good to yourself. Get a massage. Get on a good sleep schedule. Eat right. Take your vitamins. Talk out your feelings to trusted family and friends. Write in a journal. What do you want for your future? What makes you happy? No better time than now to see what makes you tick and develop self-awareness. Be with family and friends as much as possible. If you like to read, read inspiring stories. Movies? TV? Comedy, inspirational, action. Churchgoer? Helps immensely to delve deeper into your faith. And read continue to to read Chump Lady. It helps when others understand and can gelo you through thus damned jungle if bullshit. Whatever you can to help you through the stages as you ping pong through..
    When you arrive at the anger stage, let it propel you forward. Make it proactive.. Oh sure, I definitely sent STBXH nasty texts, emails, and screamed at him in the phone.. But as we all climb our way out of the abyss, and fall backward at times, keep your eye in the light.. It will guide you to greener pastures. Freedom. Independence. And the chance to have a new beginning with the wisdom to know the difference between an unhealthy relationship and a healthy one.. Still keeping my eye fixed on the light myself…

  • While we are on anger – what’s the go with cheater vile. Has anyone posted. Funny but chainsaw mans name comes up over thirty times but then mayb there are others with the same name.
    I have photos of him but just can’t see what the benefit is to post.

    • I had never heard of it until someone posted about OW on there–about my situation. I have a fair idea of who did it (a misguided friend, I would say, who thought it was a blow for me) but STBX is convinced it was me and rages every so often at me about it. I didn’t have a hand in it but can’t say it doesn’t make me laugh.

    • My cheater is on there twice – both posted by the batshit crazy OW under two of her many assumed names. She even goes back and adds “comments” in some of her other assumed names. Hey – it’s the truth.

    • I think it would be fair to post the other person’s photo, as long as the cheater’s photo is posted as well.

      If you aren’t willing to out your spouse, who was complicit in the crime… then why bother with the affair partner?

      Actually, either way, posting something on that sight is just another way to not move forward. Every ounce of energy a person puts into revenge is just more time wasted focusing on someone other than oneself and one’s own forward progress.

  • Great post CL! I found anger extremely useful. . . it didn’t cloud my mind, it cleared it. Finally. It made me sit up and say “no more. NO MORE as of right now, this moment”. Anger gave me the energy, without the tears, to find my house, move, start a new life with my children, meet new people, go back to work full time. Anger gave the me the ability to say “I would rather live in my car and eat canned soup the rest of my days then live with my ex ever again” and MEAN IT. Of course, I am glad it worked out that I’m not living in my car eating canned soup, just to clarify. And I found that after the anger and the energy of the anger subsided, I had great calm and peace. I still walk around my little house and marvel that I am here, in charge of my own life and no longer walking on eggshells, no longer holding my breath when his car roared up the driveway and no longer frantically checking his phone texts. Anger facilitated the journey but the reward at the end is peace, self-respect and self-determination. Definitely worth the price.

    • I used my anger in a much more sly approach. Even though I could punch him, I show sadness and work on his shame, it’s gotten everything I asked for in our divorce. I am working him, the way he worked me through his 2 yr affair.
      One question, what does Meh stand for, and where is that blog’s title? I read it early on in my process, but I forgot what it stands for. Thanks CL!! I’m making him the Chump now.

      • Meh is that state of not giving a shit anymore, where something happens, he or she pulls yet another dumb stunt or says something particularly idiotic and your response is ‘meh’ because you just don’t care anymore. You’re over it, you’re in a state of ‘meh’-

  • I’m still working on getting to the anger part. I can always get angry on behalf of those I love, but not myself. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t want a divorce, and he keeps texting me to see how I am, how are things at the house, etc. He wants to work it out. My brain knows that he just wants cake. The heart isn’t so smart.

    I’ve figured out a couple of things though. I’ve been searching for answers, and I’ve spent dozens of hours looking up narcissism, covert aggression, etc. Rationalization is a tool that some of us use to unintentionally bypass anger. My mother used to fly into rages that would leave emotional devastation in its wake. I think I spent so much time avoiding conflict with her that I learned how to dismiss my own anger.

    I also found another term today that really opened my eyes. I was a victim of emotional incest. From my earliest years, my father turned to me for emotional support, to the point where he treated me like his emotional wife. The focus was on him and his needs instead of mine. Children who’ve experienced this may be damaged in various ways, but one set of outcomes involves the inability to set or maintain personal boundaries and an inability to fight to have their own needs met.

    For me, this may be why I’m still able to get sucked into his game. Why I still have to fight against the urge to help him fix himself. Why I still struggle to find the strength to divorce him. Why I still feel the need to answer texts while he knows I need space.

    It’s a daily struggle, so I’m hoping to tap into some anger soon.

    • Theresa, I am so sorry you are going through this. And I am so sorry you have struggled in childhood. Must be very diffucult. Please seek a good therapist (individual counseling) first to delve into some of the emotional trauma you endured in childhood–to help you to heal from that. But also to give you insight about yourself and boundaries as to what you will and will not accept in how you want to be treated.
      Secondly, all of us at Chump Lady know how painful it is when you discover your spouse is having an affair(s). And the hope for reconciliation and hope for a stronger marriage despite the horrid situation, that perhaps that will propel the marriage into a better direction. Most of us here have had false reconciliations and the second and third (or more) DDay is worst than the first. He could take the affair underground. He needs to have complete and utter transparency. Reconciliations are rare for the reason being most cheaters are too selfish and lacking in empathy in the first place to sacrifice what is needed to help betrayed spouse thorough the pain, overwhelming grief, and PTSD..
      It takes awhile for your heart to catch up with what your brain already knows.. You must reason and use your logic now. You are at the bargaining stage of grief and it is understandable you want to do whatever you can to save your marriage. And your husband is terrified to let his great setup go. He wants his mistress and his wife. He wants to eat cake. He will manipulate you by texting, calling, emailing, etc. because he is in panic overdrive right now. My STBXH did the same.
      To protect yourself your kids if you have them, start doing some financial digging. Run a credit report on him and on you. Set up a few consultations with a few good divorce lawyers in your area. I was shaking like a leaf the day I met with a few, but I felt more empowered as they explained my rights and how the divorce process works in my state of residence.
      You will feel angry when you are ready to. In the meantime, stay strong. Keep us posted on your progress and good luck Theresa, we are all here in support of you and as well as each other.

  • I understand anger. Sometimes the rage is incredible. But it goes unfulfilled. The asshole douchebag who cheated on me never gives me the satisfaction of hearing me out. I’m screaming to myself alone. So it’s frustrating that I feel like a two-year-old who can’t do up her coat.

    But one day it will all come crashing down for him. I know how much power I have. He hold a highly regarded position. He’s actually on TV and quite well known. And … he fucked hookers, shemale hookers, went on sex tourism vacations, and banged interns. I have the emails to back it all up.

    I have him by the balls … as in, I could totally destroy his life like he did mine if the truth ever got out. Some days, like today, I am so close to doing it and fucking him over. HOW DOES THAT FEEL?? HUH? LIKE IT? PAYBACK IS A BITCH, EH?

    Ah yes, I know anger today.

    • Sad in Seattle:

      If he’s a public figure, maybe you can write a tell all book, and earn some money for your trouble of having him in your life.

      Just make sure you have good proof, first, and even talk to a lawyer just to check.

      But, the truth is always a solid defense against a slander or liable charge.

  • Hmmm … that’s an interesting idea. Parlay this misery into a book. He’s not famous enough for a book but he is well known enough to be recognized. I just think he deserves to be recognized for what he is — a major asshole deviant cheater — rather than for his on-air stuff.

    One of my greatest pleasures through all this — the only one, really — has been watching him squirm whenever I remind him how I have him by the balls. All that matters to him in life is his reputation and money. He makes six figures … ALIMONY Ka-Ching! He would freak if anyone knew about his visits to shemale hookers, sex tourism or his affair with a 23-year-old severely epileptic intern. And I have evidence of everything. In his own words.

    I am so pissed that some days I just imagine forwarding everything to his 1,637 Facebook friends or to some well-positioned people in his company, some influential associates. He’d be mortified. But he fucking deserves it.

    One day I will … I’m still, sadly, tracking the elusive unicorn at this point. But good God if he makes one false move I will do it I swear!!!!!

    • Sad in Seattle –

      I know you said you’re still sadly tracking the elusive unicorn at this point…and I was once in your position as well, with 100% proof of the affair (thanks to my private investigator’s photos, GPS-data reports and affidavit outlining eyewitness accounts of STBX’s activities w/ dingbat OW) and despite all of that, I was hunting unicorns for a little while too.

      But please familiarize yourself with the legal concept of Condonation. If you’re in the US, some states will allow fault to be considered when determining alimony (and not just for the sake of dissolving the marriage). So, if stay-at-home wife is dependent upon working-hubby’s salary, and working hubby cheated… then H is at fault and could be required to pay more alimony as a result. But, if H and W attempt to reconcile after DDay (meaning they start having sex again regularly) then H could use the defense of “condonation” to reduce/eliminate W’s argument about fault. Basically, H could argue W “condoned” his shitty behavior after by taking him back and going back to the normal marital routine. Think of it as the clock resetting and the game starting over. W would have to catch him cheating again in order to regain the leverage from H’s “fault.”

      Of course, for your own health and safety, don’t put yourself at risk. But understand the leverage that you have, understand your legal rights and use that leverage to shield yourself from further harm. (Yes, as you may have guessed, I’m a lawyer but so is my STBX. He was exceptionally keen on “reconciling” right after DDay#1… the mere thought of him using the condonation defense over me was motivation enough to stay strong – and to keep him at arm’s length!)

      • Good advice, Barrister Belle regarding Condonation.

        Very sad, though because a lot of betrayed spouses could be said to be in shock and not thinking straight.

        Also, if they are financially dependent on the cheater it’s a matter of survival for them, not condonation. Or, if they have kids they may simply be trying to keep the family together……..not condoning an affair. How can anyone be said to condone an affair because they tried to reconcile?

        What a silly defense.

        Could a betrayed spouse in a state that recognizes condonation, bring in a psychologist to mention that someone suffering from severe emotional trauma and possibly PTSD can not make sound decisions immediately or perhaps for years after being traumatized?

    • Sad in Seattle:

      Expose him in any way you can once you decide to divorce.

      Just do not break any laws.

      I think it’s cathartic to expose.

      Also, if you bring him to a marriage counseling session to let him face himself.

      Don’t focus on the pain he caused, once you decide to divorce, focus on what a shallow person he is and his activities simply are a mirror to his shallow empty life.

      Predict his future, too, in grim terms, because most cheater’s lives end up grim in the end.

      The counselor will tell you it’s rude to predict, but have at him. Tell her you are trying to be rude.

      I think having your say and being heard will help. Yes, CL is right it’s a huge ego kibble, but still their is something to be said for having your say and forcing him to sit and listen to you vent your spleen until you feel you are finished.

      Your husband sounds like my ex. He would always run away from confrontation, but because it was important what other people thought, he didn’t run away at the counselors office. He tried the hurt little boy routine.

      The counselor didn’t buy it.

  • We don’t have that in the place we were married. It’s no-fault. No one ever cites adultery because it’s meaningless and a huge and expensive endeavour.

    Even so, hunting unicorns is a ridiculous waste of time. I know that. And yes, I’m only 34 and can move on just fine. It will just take me some time.

    But I saw my therapist yesterday and we talked a lot about me needing to be heard. Not that I think it will matter to my douchebag husband — who, incidentally, started pulling away the second I suggested I return, what a classic narcissist. But I feel I haven’t had the chance to spew all my angry filth his way.

    I have so much rage built up and phone calls, where I can be easily shut down, do nothing to release it. Yes, I could do karate and go running and maybe feel better. But I need someone to bear witness to this shit. I need to have him in a room, face to face, with a therapist. I need to have him listen to everything he’s done. Sure, he’ll probably not give a shit. But this is for me, not him at all. I just need a witness. I just need to be heard. I want that opportunity and that’s the only way I’ll get unstuck.

    I left on DDay. I never had that chance.

    • Sad,

      Do you want to confront him and go nuclear, knowing as you say, it will have zero effect on him? Or do you want to chase the elusive unicorn and reconcile? Which is it? Because if you think confronting him with How He Hurt You will cause him insight and make him change his ways and this will result in a reunion, you are utterly, tragically mistaken.

      • Do I have to know for sure what I want yet? Because I don’t. All I know is that I’m angry and hurt right now and I need people who understand. Most people do hunt that unicorn. It’s human nature.

      • Something else just occurred to me, CL. Is knowledge the key or is it something else? Do you deny knowing the truth about your douchebag for the time you were together post affair? You stayed until you were done.

        I KNOW my douchebag is a douchebag. And yes, I do hope he changes. Of course I do. We’ve been together almost a decade. It’s only been three months since everything totally blew up (though the affair stuff had been brewing for years, I have to admit).

        That being said, I am certain he will never change. I know he won’t. I’m not an idiot. He’s had eight years. But I need to feel it. I need to be done. I don’t know what being done will look like — I imagine, in fact, that it’s not some horrible new revelation about his misdeeds but something internal that finally takes me to Meh, as you say. But then again maybe I actually will walk in on him snorting coke off a shemale hooker’s ass, which is always what I have always expected/joked would happen one day. I am close. I am headed in that direction. But I’m not there yet.

        I was in a relationship before this one that was also pretty crappy. I stayed for six years and one day I was ready to leave. And I left and never went back. But until I was ready I just danced on the edge of leaving. I left a couple times but went back even though I knew he was a pathetic loser who too would never change. This guy wasn’t a cheater, mind you, but an addict who went back to his drug of choice. I saw my life falling apart. I knew where things were headed. But until the day it clicked it just didn’t. I just wasn’t ready until I was ready. What did it for me with Dud #1 was getting a life of my own. I got friends. I got a job. I went to school. I ran marathons. I got busy and stopped focusing on him. It went from me begging him to change and attending his stupid recovery meetings to me letting him fall flat on his face while I got on with my life.

        To use an addiction analogy I learned in those meetings, right now I feel I’m just “white knuckling” it with my cheating narcissist. And like a druggie, until I’m ready to drop the drugs for good, I’m just not. I know they’re bad for me, life-alteringly awful terrible and toxic.

        But I do need a place to come — your site, if I’m welcome — to commiserate until I am ready to get clean. I’m heading in the right direction. I really am. And I want to leave. But I’m still wanting a miracle too. I still want that high back, the one that still comes now and then when I feel he cares and will change. I still, no matter how smart I am or how many times I’ve been through this, am occasionally hopeful that he can change, even though I know logically it’s not going to happen.

        Anyway, this is a very long answer that feels like I’m trying to justify something. I’m not. I’m just angry and confused and disappointed and trying to find my way. I know everyone here, including you CL, see exactly what’s coming down the road with my husband. I do too. I always have. I just can’t get my head out of my ass yet to look up.

        • Sad, I don’t know what to say, except I guess you haven’t gotten a big enough dose yet. Sadly, I get it. I really do. I was exceptionally chumpy.

          I find the whole exercise, the whole cycle of abuse (honeymoon, tension build up, blow up, honeymoon, repeat) so depressing and wasteful. That’s why I created this site — to spare people another spin on the crazy merry-go-round. After I got out, I spent a lot of time on online forums yelling — SAVE YOURSELF!

          I get that chasing the unicorn is a high, and when they sparkle it is so very delicious. The highs are high and the lows are low.

          I’ve not done drugs, but my brother was addict, I saw him go through 12-step. Kicking a cheater was the closest thing I can relate to on addiction — there must be some serious neurotrasmitter shit that makes people willing chumps. I think of it as the crack pipe of hope.

          But here’s the thing Sad — it’s one thing to be duped. To NOT know, and discover the horror. It’s quite ANOTHER thing to know who they really are, to get it, and to CHOOSE to go back to it. You’re CHOOSING to be a chump.

          As long as you know it’s a choice, and you’re willingly making it, and you accept the outcome. Maybe a bigger dose will cure you. You’ll know when you’re done. Hope you get there sooner rather than later, because it’s a terrific waste of your life. I regret every minute I spent with my ex post DDay 1. Learned a lot — but it was a fucking waste.

          It really does end when you say it ends.

          • CL, after another brutal fight tonight I’ve decided to try your wacky NC idea. I’ve turned off my cell phone. My anger is fueling my OKness right now. But by tomorrow I’ll have the shakes. I will try to make it to Wednesday without even turning it on, which is the longest I’ve gone without talking to him in years.

            What finally made me decide to try your idea was that after agreeing last night that I’d come back next weekend to give it another shot, he decided to invite his mother to stay since, he insists, I didn’t confirm when I was coming back. This is after three months apart. Please tell me in 75 different ways I don’t matter! Holy shit.

            It degenerated into a major crazy fight with threats of divorce and me threatening to reveal the details of his disgusting cheating to his friends and family. After I while I started the the HDPM with “I’m sorry for being upset”s and “I love you”s. No response. Just that I’m a psycho bitch who never listens and won’t accept reason.

            I guess every time I want to turn my phone on I can think about his dried up old bitch mother — the original narcissist — driving him crazy while I get on with my happy life. I suppose the best revenge will be living well … eventually.

  • Sad,
    I would write eviscerating emails to my exh even after the divorce. I know no contact is the gold standard, but I just couldn’t do it. Therapist said it was my way of reclaiming reality. I felt like I needed to let him know I knew what had really been going on. Eventually my rage ran out of steam. I’m actually moving toward meh. Never thought that would happen.
    Duped

    • Meh is good, Duped. Keep going! All you do when you send such emails is feed him ego kibbles. He doesn’t read pain, he reads centrality. That you CARE. He MATTERS.

      Vent, by all means, but do it here, at a therapist, or write those emails to yourself. NC is the way to go, really. It’s hard but so necessary.

  • Duped,

    I’m glad you’re moving toward Meh. I wish I was in your shoes. But like you, I think I need to give all this poison back to the person who deserves it.

    I shudder at the thought of going back and getting re-entangled but I also realize that I need to be free to yell and scream without him having the power of the phone receiver to shut me down.

    Maybe I need to re-think my plan, though. Whenever I get close to actually going back, I get a serious “No” feeling in my stomach, which I know I should be listening to.

    We’re so wrong together and with my depression I fear I could just get stuck again. It’s not just his infidelity that is making me unhappy. I don’t want the lifestyle anymore, the hours alone while he’s out working (yes, working), being so far from my family, his terrible money management skills (that had nothing to do with his affairs), his inability (through no real fault of his own) to have children. So it’s not just the infidelity. There’s a lot wrong even without it that should easily point to a breakup. The cheating was just the shit icing on the crap cake of our marriage.

    • I wonder if your depression stems from not living a life of integrity. You touched upon that in an earlier post. Putting up with your husband does not match your stated values, so you’re not really the woman you want to be. I suspect there is other disappointment in your life, as well.

      Why not keep going with the NC–that’s actually showing integrity. Every day away from him is a day that your spine grows stronger, and YOU get a chance to think about figuring out WHO YOU REALLY ARE.

      You say you’re a hard-ass, but aren’t you actually just reactionary? Isn’t that because you’re not on solid footing, because your ideal is one woman, and you are a completely different woman in reality?

      You are obviously highly intelligent and motivated.

      Time to cut out the dead wood, cut out the infection, shake off the parasite, walk away from the irrational delusion, and free yourself to BE yourself. Like all of us here were or are, you’re very wrapped up in an image of him that is FAR from the truth–you are trying to make him fit what you have in your mind, of what you really, really wish he was. But he’s NOT that.

      Eh?

      I think your depression will work itself out. I really do. Maybe a new therapist.

      Can I recommend a book–Six Pillars of Self Esteem.

      • Stephanie,
        I feel I need to say your post to Sad in Seattle comes through as judgmental and harsh. You seem to know a lot about this woman through a dozen paragraphs she wrote reaching out to be heard and in hopes of support. I know that some days this blog is the only place I can go, besides by therapist’s office, to be understood by others who have experienced similar situations and on those especially fragile days when I feel like I’m clinging with just my fingertips, reading a reply like this would make a few fingers slip.
        I understand that your method of complete shutting off contact and moving on quickly worked well for you. You are fortunate that you are more evolved than I am. I’m just making my way through this the best I am able. Hearing that I don’t have integrity, that it will cure my depression I’ve had since I was a young adult, and suggesting you know me better than I know myself would definitely not be kind. I understand that you have the right to say what worked best for you and to give opinions but I would ask that you temper your suggestions to other people who you don’t know well.

        • Duped, in fairness, I think Stephanie has a point — that living incongruently with your values (I don’t put up with shit… shit, I’m putting up with shit…) is depressing as hell. I certainly went through that. It’s NOT the same as clinical depression, which Sad has, but living in a toxic relationship, I would say, must certainly contribute to depression.

          Sorry you felt Stephanie was harsh, but I did want to say, I see that point and I think it has merit.

          • Well, I bow to your wisdom, Chumplady. However, I spent 15 years hearing from my exh/npd how my being on anti-depressants was the cause of my “problem”-lack of interest in sex which should really be called lack of interest in “sex” when partner insisted he knew more about my response and what it should be than I did. I spent years hearing how if I just snapped out of it, I’d be fine. Again, he knew better than I did about myself. Then there were the years I traveled to experts to taper off one and onto another or taper to nothing at all. He finally gave up on that idea when I all I could do was weep and weep and weep. Then my problem became that I was damaged by my upbinging and couldn’t help it. I went along with that too. 15 years believing someone else’s definition of myself and what was best for me. I no longer listen to other people who don’t know me and are sure they know better than I do about my experience and what is best for me. I no longer.
            I won’t be posting on this site anymore and imagine that I won’t be reading it much either. I don’t need to read postings like Stephanie’s that instead of explaining what worked for them or making suggestions, tells people that because they cannot yet move away from their cheating partner lack integrity and they need to read a self-esteem book.

            That woman’s post could have been written by me months ago. I’m glad I didn’t get a reaction like that when I first found this site. Even if you were a psychiatrist, you should not be telling them that you think their depression will dissipate after they make a final and clean break like you did. You might as well be saying someone with type 1 diabetes that it’s all in their head.
            I imagine that you didn’t make such a clean break or else you are a completely rigid person who has her own struggles with empathy.

  • imo telling the kids nothing just leaves them in the dark and isnt fair to them.telling them something thats age appropriate that lets them know that you are hurt but dosent dump on them your pain is a better solution .
    yes here in florida we too have that pre-divorce (parenting) class. the government can kiss my ass.if the government had any REAL parenting advice our prisons and jails wouldent be as full as they are…….

  • oops i ment that post for the other topic.

    the less contact you have with a cheating piece of shit ,the sooner you will have your mind on something or someone else.and the sooner you recover.

    my divorce was more than a decade ago and i didnt know what NC was

    anger is understandable , MEH is the place to be and the goal to shoot for

  • I knew something was drastically wrong in my marriage too. STBXH was acting distant and cruel. Of course, when I would ask him what was wrong, or if there was someone else, he would not only deny everything, he would tell me I was a psycho, crazy bitch. I began to doubt my sanity. Gaslighting 101. So when I found his secret email account, it took me less than one minute to hack into it. Can you believe the idiot used the same password for everything? Believe it or not, my first reaction to finding the definitive proof was RELIEF. I wasn’t crazy after all. Unfortunately that feeling was fleeting, and within minutes the horror of it all crashed in on me. My anger kicked in about 4 months into R. It was the wrong kind of anger though. I misdirected it toward the other women, myself, everyone but him. Dammit, I was going to make this marriage work! Well, it wasn’t long before his true colors began to show, and the next two years were hell. His excuse for being a serial cheater, “They are fun. You aren’t anymore.” Well, maybe that’s because I have been supporting, your lazy, unemployed, drunken, cheating, abusive ass for years. Yep, I got some anger going on, but this time it is righteous anger, and I consider it healthy. I no longer feel rage at the other women (although I hold them equally responsible). He is so disordered that I actually see them as his other victims when I think about them at all. Meh. My anger is directed at him now. My biggest regret is that I stayed too long. In the past year, he has quit 3 jobs, spent every penny we had saved, and smeared me to everyone who would listen. It still boggles my brain that people (usually women) who have known me for over a decade are buying his “poor-poor me” bullshit. So now he is seriously in danger of becoming homeless. He is alone and miserable. Now that the karma bus is parked in front of his door, do I feel better? Not really. I actually feel compassion for him. That’s what makes me different from him. I actually have deep feelings and emotions. He does not. However, I remind myself daily of the horrible things he did to our family, and I rely on my anger to keep me from trying to “fix” things for him. I don’t consider my anger unhealthy. I have no intention on getting stuck in it. But staying frosty is helping me move forward.

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