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Dear Chump Lady, Is “Meh” forgiveness?

Dear Chump Lady,

I have been “stalking” your site for a few weeks now, gleaning a lot of wonderful advise from you and the terrific folks who are part of the Chump Nation. I am one of you.

My ex cheated on me twice, although the first one was with a woman on-line 16 years ago, “so, it didn’t count,” according to him. According to me and the mental health professional we saw for 6 months, yeah, it was cheating, but, due to many circumstances and a very young family, we decided to give our marriage another try.

Eighteen months ago I found evidence on social media of his love for his best friend’s wife, kicked his dead ass out of the house and proceeded to have panic attacks, soul crushing anxiety, intermittent with relief that I was finally going to be able to breathe again, have a life again. Filed and got my divorce, now, walking around with a smile on my face most of my days.

What made this phase of my life so strange is that I had two, not one, but two mental health professionals test and diagnose my ex with NPD, once while he was in the Navy with a Navy shrink, and once in civilian life by a very well respected counselor in our area. And still I stayed married to him, fed him ego kibbles until I was almost dead from exhaustion, trying to convince myself that once we got our two youngest off to college it would all be different. We were two years short of my “goal” for us, the girls were high school juniors when I read about his undying love for the whore. Through his unemployment (2 years+), through naval deployments, through schooling for him…I took the odd jobs, working off shifts and working two and three part-time jobs so he could go to school to advance his career and we would not need to hire daycare for our three girls. Not to complain about how we managed to raise our family, but I was hoping for some payback, if you will. Well, I got payback, BIG time. Six days before our 20th wedding anniversary, I read his missives to her, and how he couldn’t go on without her. I literally chased him out of the home. It was AWESOME! And then the reality set in and so did the fears, panic attacks, anxiety, money woes, blah, blah, blah….

Long story short, 18 months later, he still takes up space in my head, rent free. Not nearly as much as before, but he’s still there, sometime frolicking happily with his still-married whore-friend. I can most times successfully push those scenes out of my head, but, he’s still THERE. I want “meh” — but, more than meh, I want to forgive.

I am old enough to have forgotten many of the wrongs that were done to me from grade school on, so I guess that is a form of forgiveness. I really want to forgive. Not to forget, but truly I want to not give a shit and actually know that I forgive his lousy, narcissistic, cheating, lazy ass. Not that I will let him know if and when I forgive. It is not his business, and most likely, not a concern of his. Is “meh” the forgiveness I am looking for? Do you or any one else in this forum actually believe that forgiveness– true, heartfelt, religious-like, (Christ-like?) forgiveness is possible when the person you want to forgive is such a dysfunctional turd? I am really beginning to love my life — my kids are my focus and making there last few years in high school grand and wonderful has been a blast, I have a beautiful support system with precious family and long-time friends who have been patiently waiting for me to get rid of him and welcome me back into their social fold. But, I am hung up on this forgiveness thing. I feel that it might be wrong to keep moving forward without it. How can that be? Will it happen? or is meh the best I have to offer?

Thank, CL.


Dear Cindy,

Hmmm. I wonder if you shouldn’t have written to a theologian. But you asked me, so I’ll give you my take on forgiveness — I think “meh” is forgiveness. I think it is enough to not actively wish them dead. I’ve covered this topic a few times, if you want to do some back reading. Essentially, my take on forgiveness for someone who is not acting one bit sorry, who is not making amends for the wrong they did, and in fact, may still be trying to provoke and harm you — is that you must detach. Go “meh.” Don’t let them drag you down, create that new life, and try and achieve indifference to their crazy. It’s the best thing you can do for your sanity AND it releases you from victimhood. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu  — it “unchains you from the perpetrator.” You stop living and reliving the hurt. You stop reacting, and start focusing on your own path.

Where I part ways with a lot of people is that I don’t think forgiveness is imperative. That kind of Christ-like, saintly aura of well wishing. The whole “go and sin no more” welcome into the fold of disciples kind of thing. For one thing, odds are, your cheater is going to go and sin some more. For another, we aren’t Jesus. He sets a pretty high bar. I don’t have it on authority or anything, but I’m wagering He is okay with “meh.” Meh is very New Testament. Contrast that with Old Testament God, who is all about smiting people and raining hell fire and brimstone on sinners’ heads. Old Testament God is pretty unequivocal on infidelity  — Thou shalt not commit adultery. A commandment! With no caveats like, well if she drove you to it, or you were in a sexless marriage, or were kind of bored one afternoon…

I also don’t think you need to forgive in order to whitewash your victim status, like his crimes are some kind of stain on YOU. “Oh, I’m past it now. I forgave him.” Like, quick! Get over it! Lest anyone think you’re a chump! “Victim” is thrown about like this dirty word — “don’t play the victim.” Cindy? No one is play acting at victim. You were chumped for 20 years. Disrespected. Abused. (I am of the opinion that infidelity is abuse.) You are a victim of infidelity. But that shit does NOT have to define you. We cannot control what others do to us (i.e., victimizing us). We can increase our odds that it not happen again. We can get smarter, wiser, have more boundaries. But we aren’t responsible for (or didn’t drive anyone to) abuse. They did that to us. What we DO get to control, is ourselves. How we’re going to react.

“Meh” is saying — you don’t have power over me any more. You don’t fill my head or my heart. I don’t react to your provocations. You didn’t destroy me. I have risen above this pain and I am rebuilding my life. I am indifferent to your existence. If karma bites you in the ass, that’s between you and God. I am not plotting your destruction. I have my own life to work on and I trust that given your crappy character and your personal depravity, this shit will catch up with you. Whether it does, or does not, matters less and less to me as the days go by — because my new life eclipses my old life. My new life is good and I fill it with people who respect my gifts and my love. I’m sorry you did not appreciate these gifts. Your loss.

That is what forgiveness looks like to me. That’s what “meh” feels like to me now seven years after DDay. I have a blessed and full life and he’s not a part of it (except as blog fodder).

I’ve fielded the bigger forgiveness issue to my dad, a United Methodist minister. Hopefully he’ll report back soon. But FWIW, as a man of the cloth, his reaction to my ex was wishing my grandfather was still alive to take my cheater on a “hunting trip” and shoot him.

I don’t think his conscience bothers him for that remark. Yours shouldn’t bother you either. We do the best we can.


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  • Thank you, Cindy, for the question, which prompted one of the best all time Chump Lady responses. I need to print this and put it up in a conspicuous place! Well done.

    • Ditto x a squillion

      I’m a steadfast bitchy cynical misanthrope… But Tracy I ducking love you!!!!! 🙂

  • I am Christian and very big on forgiveness but let us remember the story of the prodigal son. It was only after he went before his father and asked to be forgiven was he. And CL is right Jesus has very big shoes to fill. It is hard to forget let alone forgive the hurt you must feel. I can relate since after 23 yrs and just when I thought all the hard work and support was going to pay off WHAM he tells me he is in love with an old flame he found on facebook. Right now I am in a tailspin of grief and trying to get to the point of realizing it is really over. I admire your style; wish I had had the angry you must have felt to throw him out. I still live with him. When we do divorce I will NEVER forgive him. What he did was horrible. I did nothing to deserve this. He is a pig underserving of my forgiveness. God can and will forgive him. I hope not to feel anything after awhile. It sound like you are doing fine without forgiving him.

    • Janet, we have similar stories, except that I asked him to leave, and I divorced him when, within a couple of weeks after BD it became clear that my ex was devoted to the invader twat he found on FB. You see, they had more in common than he and I do (actually, that’s probably correct, come to realize) and they were Meant To Be But Too Young To Know It back in their glory days as teenagers together.

      And life is so much better.

      The anger cools. I’m not looking for forgiveness. I’m not religious, and I resent the connotation of it. (Oh, look! “Resent.” I’m bitter!) Actually, I’m moving closer to “meh” and his irrelevancy, and that feels great. My forgiveness is meaningless, anyway. He will one day have to come to his own terms with what his life has been. That’s his responsibility. Mine is living a good life. He’ll always be my “wasband,” I suppose, but I won’t likely ever have A Good Relationship with him. I don’t care to. I was abused by him, left like trash. I made my own mistakes and I am realizing those, to my own–and my future man’s–benefit. I’ll never be made to feel as though I’ve done something wrong by not maintaining communication with the ex, thanks in no small part to this website. Though it is not my goal, I do realize that it is he who has lost in the end.
      But, like anotherErica right below this comment, in some ways I’m grateful that he did the one thing that would finally set me free from a bad relationship. I never would have left him first, no matter how unhappy I was–I would have continued to work on the relationship, and relished the good bits, while choking down the bad bits. No more–I’m off to a better life.

  • I will never forgive him for what he did to me. No matter what happens going forward, it will never will be okay for him to have betrayed me like he did. I was literally traumatized by the person I was closest to in the world.

    Yet it’s a bit of a catch-22 because I am already finding that I am grateful that it happened because it got me out of being married to him. Our relationship had been slowly poisoned over time and I didn’t realize how unhappy and unhealthy it was or how selfish he was until the infidelity. I literally would have never left unless something as bad as infidelity had happened. And I even tried not to leave at that point! But, even if I am in a weird way glad that it happened, I will still not forgive him for doing it to me. Because I would have rather been married to someone that wouldn’t have betrayed me… someone who has the ability to love someone else as much as themselves and can think of their partner as their equal. Just because cheating on me will turn out to be for the best does not mean that it was okay to happen in the first place. Does that make sense?

    But I’m getting close to “meh” I think. Like recently I’ve literally forgotten to respond to a couple texts from him. And he told me how he was going out of town to Boston for a conference the other day and I thought it was weird/cool that since it didn’t affect our visitation schedule I didn’t know about it, didn’t need to know about it, and didn’t care about it. But he does STILL try to play the pity card with me. So, the closest to forgiveness I can offer is something like what a narcissist would offer… I do want him to be happy. But only because it is in my best interest that he stop trying to make me miserable 🙂

    • AE, I have the male version of your story, almost to a T….! I too am grateful for my new life, being able to realize there is much, MUCH better.

      But I too am pissed that she robbed me of 22+ (there’s MY Catch-22 🙂 ) years of “BETTER”! Do I forgive her for all the BS, the gambling, the lack of effort in the household, and then capping it off with an in-your-face affair that she shoved down my Boys’ throats (and mine too…yeah)…..HELL NO!!

      I will forgive MYSELF for being stupid, or naive, or trying a failed R…… But I won’t feel the least bit bad for reveling in a Karma backlash against the “lovebirds”…… or knowing that they are stuck with each other, and DESERVE that! That is how I am able to achieve MEH……. I need Karma to interject some BALANCE in the world!

      OK, so that’s not very Christian, but neither is ADULTERY, BETRAYAL, LIES…!

      Take “MEH” any way you can get it, right???

      • Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the person you resent to die.

        Something to keep in mind. You say she “robbed” you of 22+ years, but it seems to me that you are letting your resentment rob you of time you could spend enjoying life right now.

        I am not trying to trivialize your suffering either. Been there myself. In fact, I finished helping my ex-wife (as of yesterday she is my ex) pack up her belongings today. Did I let it affect my inner peace? Yeah, I did let that happen a little. I am human.

        Do I hate her? No, waste of good time to spend much time ruminating about her much. I did spend a good 30 minutes after she left before I went out and walked my dogs to clear my head a little, but as I type this, I am feeling pretty darn peaceful and detached.

        • I know of no scientific studies that support this revenge/resentment poisoning one theory.
          I think this phrase sounds catchy, so folks assume it is true.
          I harbor a lot of resentment toward my cheating , lying XWs. So far, life is good and I am happy.
          Who came up with this notion re the importance of forgiving the unrepetant? It is nuts. IMO. I would not forgive Hitler for any reason. I think cheaters are despicable assholes and should be shunned and stoned.

          • I agree Arnold. I do not forgive my ex for what he did to me and the kids, and I don’t think I ever will. Nonetheless, in the one year since D-Day, I have moved on with my life–I got my divorce in record time, continue single handedly supporting myself and my children (I earned a lot more than he did), remortgaged the home into my name, have great friends and family, and have even been dating a wonderful man I really care about. My ex on the other hand is not sorry, has not changed, and is, simply, a predator. So forgive? No. Meh? I pretend I am when dealing the bit I have to with him, or when talking to any but the closest of friends and family, but no I am not there either.

          • There is plenty of scientific evidence to support the reality that prolonged anger, resentment and contempt are unhealthy. Because you are unaware of something, doesn’t make it true. Try looking googling this: prolonged anger health risks study.

            Then click on ‘scholarly articles’.

            It’s bad for you.

            Another good thing to google: Positive Psychology Physical Health.

            As for the proverb, it’s a restatement of an ancient Buddhist proverb, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”, and it is attributed first to Sidhartha Gautama.

            • Well, I suppose if it plays too large a role in your life, ongoing resentment might be bad for you. I am talking about living one’s life fully, and simply reserving a small corner for hating/resenting.
              IMO, too many people deny their righteous anger and try to be Mother Theresa, when we are not wired like that. Then, when they feel badly about themselves for failing to live up to this unrealistic expectation. I am talking about not forgiving folks who never apologize and never take ownership of the harm they did.IMO, “forgiving” someone who is like that makes no sense and is artificial.
              How does one forgive someone who does not ask for it?
              Sid G, may not have known what he was talking about. IMO.
              There are a ton of proverbs that do not make sense. They sound good, though.

          • Arnold – I like how you think. I don’t feel poisoned by the resentment I occasionally feel for my ex… the lying, cheating, manipulating, and laziness. I don’t anticipate forgiving him. No reason to. He has never acknowledged any guilt. He would still lie and deny to this day if given the opportunity. I’m so much better off without him, and enjoying life for a change.

            • I’m with you Moda, the anger and resentment comes and goes, and I allow it to pass through when it returns. I am not fighting it, I am not welcoming it, it is just one of the feelings I (understandably) experience. To pretend I don’t feel it would be just…pretending; to tamp it down and hide it away would be inauthentic; to tell myself it’s wrong to feel it would be diminishing my value as a human being and what I suffered. I figure since my ex cheated for 17 years, if I’m still angry in 17 years the forgiveness freaks can come talk to me then. Oh and by the way, I have “moved on,” got a quick divorce due to the incredible acts my ex engaged in, continued working productively in my career, my 3 kids are all I school and doing well, and I have met a wonderful new guy who is now my boyfriend. So yes, I have lived my life, the ex doesn’t own it, but I still hate him and it works for me.

              • Yeah, I know plenty of very happy, healthy folks who hate their cheating ex’s. I have no idea how this idea re the importance of forgiving came about, but I see no evidence that it is true.
                I play golf, professionally. For a long time now, whenever I need to hit a big hook, I just picture my XW’s smug, reptiiian face. No swing thoughts, just an image of that harpy and the ball curves left , dramatically.
                I’m not forgiving her and losing that from my repotoire.

              • Haha Arnold, I just pictured how your ex’s face would hover, dream-like over the fairway. Oh and that reptilian thing, I noticed my ex on D-Day looking at me with cold, dead eyes… when did they start to look like that? Well, at least you found a use for it.

      • yes, life is so much better without them! I think you’ll eventually get to a “meh” where you don’t care what Karma is doing with her 🙂

        My ex isn’t with his AP (wants to play the field I assume. she continues to work for him and he might be still casually sleeping with her but they don’t have a “relationship” out in the light of day). I have to think that it is much more difficult to get to “meh” or at least that it definitely takes longer to get there when your ex moves straight into a real (or as close to real as a cheater can muster) relationship with the AP. Because it’s another hurdle to overcome, especially if you have kids that have to interact with them. It sounds shitty.

        • It is shitty, trust me, although now that STBX’s relationship with OW seems to be very rocky I do get the pleasure of a ringside seat watching it all fall apart. And yep, it makes me happy to watch the drama unfold, because I know just how frustrated she must be feeling with his mindfuckery. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. 🙂

    • Totally makes sense, aE! I, too, am thankful that he gave me my freedom, but, of course, I would rather a million times over that he’d not been a cheater, that he’d have grown into someone I would deeply admire and adore and respect, and who would have appreciated me, and the life we’d made together for our children.

      But the truth is, he was not capable of that. And so I am free now. It’s best not to mourn what you actually never had.

      • yes – “he was not capable of that”! And that’s what “meh” is to me… accepting them for who they are and not continuing to imagine they could be anything different. That this could have turned out any differently. We realize we are better off without them and can move on.

        And while I don’t forgive what he did to me, I don’t think about it too much anymore. Although at the same time, I think having been betrayed has somehow become a part of me and changed me. Possibly it has made me less trusting (we’ll have to see), but it has also made me realize how much more I deserve.

        • ” it has also made me realize how much more I deserve.” Atta girl!

          Haha, I’m really busy right now raising my sons, two of whom are in college and live in their college apartments, each an hour away in opposite directions, and one who is in the last part of his junior year in HS.

          Sometimes I’m lonely, but I don’t have a lot of free time to fret. What I’m doing now is fixing up my house so that it will be ready for long weekends away when my youngest flies away for the school year at college. The family home was neglected for so, so long. I have a long “to-do” list–xH banished “to-do” lists when he was here.

          I’m also reading a few books on how to date (!!) so I’ll be ready for the dating world when the house is good to go. It’s been quite the inspiration, really. Being abused by adultery and suddenly abandoned, all after some pretty shitty times in the marriage, really DOES do a number on you. My xH was my first real relationship, as well. The books are teaching me how to date correctly–I see I made so many mistakes with xH and I’m excited about doing things right the next time. I highly recommend doing this. It takes your mind off of mourning the past, and puts on getting excited about the future.

        • Yes, it’s made me realise how much more I deserve as well. I went through a period where I couldn’t imagine anyone being loving, trustworthy or devoted but I no longer feel that way. STBX made me feel like being in a long relationship was somehow always going to be destined to include cheating because it’s just so boring and dull to fuck the same person for the rest of your life. I didn’t feel that way about him, by the way.

          Now I am at the point where I feel like I will find what I want in a relationship but it’s not the most important thing to me. Basically, I will not ever again put up with things I shouldn’t put up with. I will be treated the way anyone deserves to be treated: with respect and love and great care. And I will offer the same.

          • “Basically, I will not ever again put up with things I shouldn’t put up with. I will be treated the way anyone deserves to be treated: with respect and love and great care. And I will offer the same.”.

            I basically agree with this, but here comes the but… “but none of us are perfect”, and in our imperfection when we are ‘suffering’ we sometimes are not completely compassionate, so… I think, for myself anyway, I need to temper my expectations of perfection in others with the knowledge that sometimes they will not be compassionate. My hope is that I can be firm and remember my core values when I am tested and not lapse into fear or anger-based reaction and retaliation, but I know that I will probably not always succeed (I am human, after all, and if the Dalai Lama admits he sometimes can get angry, then it would be foolish for me to think I will not, and if I act out in anger, that is likely to produce sub-optimal results).

            I don’t think anybody is obligated to give somebody who has cheated in their marriage a second (and especially not a third or fourth) chance, and I would never advocate becoming a doormat or pretending you are Jesus dying on the cross for somebody else’s sin. To me, that all sounds terribly co-dependent and arrogant. My personal hope is that I can be firm and yet compassionate when I am tested, and I expect to be tested.

  • This might just be the best CL article YET! Cindy – “meh” IS forgiveness. Forgiveness is all about releasing you – not him.

    What CL said about atonement is also spot-on. It might be possible to offer “Christ-like” forgiveness if a person bends over backwards not only to ask forgiveness of you but also follows through with ACTIONS that verify that they truly are SORRY.

    Like you – like so many of us chumps – your ex doesn’t sound very sorry. Not a bit. Sorry for himself, maybe. Sorry he got caught, definitely. But sorry for what he did, who he hurt (not just you but your children – I never buy the “I’m a great father even when I treat their mother like shit” storyline) and the destruction to lives he wrought. For the unrepentant, a special kind of Hell awaits. It may happen in this life or after – who knows. But it does happen. And in the meantime – you can free yourself and offer up to him the greatest punishment of all – indifference. And that’s what “meh” forgiveness is – he will simply cease to matter to you – and being devalued and ignored is something a NPD absolutely cannot abide. It eats them alive. Sweet revenge, indifference.

    When my STBX (married 25 years) confronted me via email at Christmas because my adult children refused to meet with him, I asked him to quit threatening me and in the Spirit of Christmas, just let us alone to enjoy our holiday. His response – and I quote -was, “Spirit of Christmas????? I thought that was all about forgiveness of one’s fellow man – guess that’s not in your literature.”

    I responded, “Forgiveness to one’s fellow man can be given without accepting his actions or association. We’ve all three found the strength to forgive you – but that doesn’t mean we want anything to do with you in this new life of yours. We removed the huge weight of expectation from our hearts that you would ever come back to your old self again. We’ve handed the burden of you and the pain you caused over to God to deal with and it has set us free to be happy and move forward without you.”

    To borrow/paraphrase Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “That’s what meh forgiveness is all about, Cindy!” Best of luck – you sound like you are well on your way to happiness in your new future!

    • Char, that is beautiful. My children, ages 24, 20 and 13, also refuse to see their father. You have set forth so profoundly what I believe is the best “forgiveness” we can realistically achieve.

    • Very nice , Char. Perfect.
      I bet he had no idea how to respond, the asshole.

    • Oh, that is awesome!

      But, uh…?


      I think? Your H was hoping there was something in it for him??




  • I have very specific thoughts on this topic. I forgive my ex, but I will never forget what she did or how she chose to treat me and our children. What this means is that I am not angry with her or bitter, but I refuse to allow her re-entry into my life. To do so would be foolish as she has already proven that she will hurt me / us without much of a second thought. As a result, I am friendly and we talk a bit when we see each other, but my boundaries are iron clad. Conversations are only about our kids and she is treated as a pleasant acquaintance, nothing more.

    I chose to forgive her because it was the healthiest thing for me. To let go of the anger and betrayal was freeing. I choose to keep her at arms length because it is also the healthiest thing for me given that we have to interact over kid issues.

      • Not at all! It took me 4 years to get to this point. Even so, if I had the option, I would never see or talk to her again! Given that I don’t have that choice, this is how I choose to deal with it. It helps that she has nearly disappeared from our lives. She is not the nightmare ex. She was only the nightmare wife.

        • Same here, geough. Kids means you need to have contact, minimal contact.
          I have instructed my kids to not allow my XWs to attend my funeral.
          The first one, in particular, is such an accomplished NPD/HPD , that she would attempt to make it all about her and her grief.
          Anyone that want to read crap from an accomplished NPD should google “love on the brink” by Hannah Rappaport.

    • Can one , honestly, just will oneself to let go of resentment? It seems involuntary to me.

  • It takes a long time to get over the damage that an NPD-type can do. Even “trying” to get over it is hard, because if you are trying, you are thinking about it. The movement to “meh” is gradual and will probably happen if you do exactly what you are doing, involving yourself in a new and positive life. Then one day you will likely wake up and find that, “Hey, I haven’t thought about him at all this morning.”

    I also think that “meh” is plenty darned nice. Heck, “meh” means that you aren’t rushing out and buying a voodoo doll and a stack of push pins. It sounds like you are on the right track and are doing well, so I agree with CL. “Meh” is the best forgiveness that you can offer them and that you can offer yourself.

    • Haha voodoo doll and pushpins, why didn’t I think of that ? (obviously still haven’t achieved Meh yet).

    • Yes, those dolls and the pins are costly. Still , they would be worth it if they worked.

      • Had a friend pick me up some cleansing type stuff while they were in Nola last week….hope they help…fingers crossed!

  • Look at the actions of the person who wronged you. Are they are repentant with their actions, not just their words? Do they work to undo the harm they caused as far as possible?

    On a religious note, the parable in Matthew 18 ends with “forgive your brother in your heart.” It does not end, “tell them to come back and hit you again.” Forgive for yourself. Hold on to all the feelings you need to make the decisions you need. It is when you won’t let go of what happened or allow it to twist you that forgiveness is most needed. In that way forgiveness is meh.Forgive so that no part of you remains theirs. Your heart will be lighter for no longer having their presence.

    • I don’t see this as forgiveness. Forgiveness implies acceptance. IMO and I do not need to do that for my heart. I see this state as indifference. And to me, they are two entirely different things. I will never forgive my husband, but I am working at not giving a shit. That to me, is “meh” and also the beautiful message in CL’s post. I pray that one day, that feeling will come, but in the meantime, I am shit-faced angry!

      • Oh, that is beautifully simple.

        I need to practice that.

        Someone: Do you think you’ll ever forgive him?
        Me: No, actually, my goal is to reach indifference. Almost there! What shall we have for lunch?

      • My husband of nearly 12 years (but together for nearly 23) lied to me in some way every day for the 9 months of his affair. He was so unbelievably unkind and sometimes so filled with rage it was a little scary. Certainly there were good days where he wasn’t the old person I knew. However, he was so beyond cruel otherwise and those 9 months were absolutely torturous. I KNEW something was going on and he would say all the usual answers, making me feel crazy and paranoid. He kicked me when I was down, he made me cry to the point of throwing up, he simply acted inhumane to the person that was truly his best friend until around 21 years into the relationship he decided he simply didn’t want to be married anymore. And because of his crippling inability to process and deal, he chose the hardest route possible to end the marriage. And even though NOW that i’ve filed for divorce and am in the process of what all that entails, it’s NOW that he is struggling with what he did. And while I feel bad for him because I’ve come out the other side of my bad days and he’s got a long road ahead of him, it just galls me that his finally seeing the light is happening NOW. I’m truly glad this wasn’t at a time though when I was still wavering. I am in complete confidence of my decision to move on even though I miss our friendship and all the good years (because they were really all good years until he decided he felt the weren’t any longer). But to the point of forgiveness – I cannot nor does he deserve forgiveness for the truly inhumane treatment of the person he promised to protect and cherish through ups and downs. To NOT forgive doesn’t mean i’m still angry allthough at the moment I am. I am close to “meh” status and that is all I want to get to. To forgive in my mind is to say somehow that all is OK and it’s NOT. It was a living nightmare. “Meh” means i’ve come out on the otherside and i’m truly just about there!

        • Both my XWs were incredibly cruel to me during their affairs.
          MY first wife woke me up to brag about the body of one of her partners.
          Then 2 weeks after my Dad died, she announced that she and one of the men from her AA group would be heading off for the weekend in Chicago, sharing a hotel room , while they visited museums>
          By the time I found out about the infidelity, their cruelty had made me lose all love for them. Cheaters are abusers. The infidelity is the tip of the iceberg. I think I could forgive the cheating, but the attendent cruelty was something I will never foret or forgive. No normal person, no matter how in lust she was, could act as these folks did.
          I have been in love before. It did not cause me to abuse folks or betray folks.

  • First of all to CL, I just have to say that your minister daddy is one helluva badass! (and grand daddy too!) I absolutely LOVE his comment. THAT is love and love isn’t always pretty and tied up in neat little bows. I can see that you come from a long line of badasses… very very cool! (and thank you for sharing my email with the other NYers!)

    My heart goes out to you Cindy. I too supported my h for a few years… His mother would complain about him (like, “What the hell is wrong with him that he can’t get a job!?”) and I always defended him saying, “oh, he’s doing his best…”

    Its that sort of thing that just makes his betrayals all the more bitter.

    Its amazing to me how many of us were married for a very long time before we even had an inkling of what was going on right beneath our noses. I was just thinking on my way home from my new shrink, that it was the fact that our children, WERE getting older (and the one with autism was away at boarding school most of the time), that I finally had the head space to deal with what I now had strong suspicions based on the fact that his computer(s) were locked up tighter than the Pentagon. (and enough disk space to power it!) :[ Its really a very, very sad story. I once loved him so dearly. I could never even begin to imagine that he could ever have conducted his life the way he was. (or probably still is). It just doesn’t compute and I find that extremely scary.

  • Thank you for the response, CL. I have gone back and read from the archives more on forgiveness. I don’t know if meh is the best I have to offer, but, I do know that the past year and a half has gotten better for me and mine. It is just sometimes hard to reconcile the teachings of forgiveness with my reality. I appreciate the clarity with which you see things. I will put your advice to good use. And the good wishes from the others are sweet and make my heart light! Best of luck in your travels, everyone. Knowing the path we are walking is lined with good wishes and good advice is comforting!

  • “Meh” takes time and IMO the longer a chump is married to a narcissist, the longer it takes to get those many incorrect thoughts out of your head. The first time my x admitted his indiscretion (he did not admit fault, just the act) my entire family and I forgave the jerk (wolf in sheep’s clothing AGAIN) and we all were very hopeful. (He gave many excuses of how horrible his childhood was and almost all of us bought the probably true story and pitied him). Twenty years later and it was the same garbage but worse because now he was hurting not only me and my extended family but also his children who did not understand and still do not. The interesting part is that even though there were those major events like “Hey yes I’m cheating and here she is, surprise!” there were also all of the other day to day gaslighting events that really mess with your mind for years because after all is said and done, you find out a whole lot more that was going on and you couldn’t quite put your finger on it but it made you feel anxious, miserable, neglected and used.
    The second time around I learned to forgive differently as I researched my Bible and IMO Matthew 18 and Luke 17 talk about forgiving your brother if they are repentant. Matthew 18:17 specifically talks about someone who is not repentant. Then in Luke 23 Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” NIV version. That is where I see the “character disorder”, because if they were like the rest of us, they in good conscience could not possibly hurt another human being this way.

    For those who do not see that they did anything wrong, I have to give them up to God and say what Jesus said. I cannot do any better than that and I say “Father forgive them” because I truly do not have what it takes to be that forgiving to someone who is so selfish and NOT ignorant of the fact that they are hurting people and actually can smile while they do it. I even sent an email with that verse to my x because I felt that I had to do the right thing.

    Meh gets better every day!

      • oh, I so wish we could go no contact but we have an 18 yr old with special needs. One of the hardest aspects for me, is that I really and TRULY enjoyed fucktard’s company. We used to laugh and laugh. Mine is not a full-blown narc… just extremely passive and NEGATIVE!

        And YES, the difference is REPENTANCE. how does one forgive someone who isn’t truly sorry? Who isn’t making amends?

        amends??? ha!

        But………… the horrible childhood excuse? Now that really makes me angry. Its so unbelievably lame. So, you had a horrible childhood. Your babysitter raped you and your aunt made you watch her take a bath when you were 12. Your father beat you within an inch of your life… and now… BECAUSE OF ALL OF THAT, YOU ARE SO UNBELIEVABLY FUCKED UP THAT YOU MUST NOW…

        fuck over thy wife but screwing every woman you can get your slimy dysfunctional hands on. If only that lamest of the lame excuses even made a modicum of sense?

        why couldn’t this poor traumatized adult take up knitting… or stamp collecting, cooking, baking, doing volunteer in a battered children’s shelter?

        why? because its crap. that’s why. Its like the “abuse excuse” that murderers will use. I was abused therefore, I had to kill you.

        same thing.

        Well, ya know what? I was abused too. Do I have issues because of it. yes indeed. absolutely! And I’ve embraced them as part of me, but I do not let them define me. I’ve suffered from depression almost my entire life. I’ve had times when I was afraid to suck up the air in the room because maybe someone else needed it more than me? I say, “thanks for sharing…” and push through it until the darkness blows over. What helps me? dancing helps. Friends help. Therapy helps. Chatting online to you good people helps. But the last thing that ever crossed my mind was fucking other men.

        • It really is all about choices that people make despite their circumstances. I feel for you and your present situation. At least you and I can go to sleep at night with a clear conscience. I still believe in what goes around comes around. People who make excuses will not escape their consequences. I only have to have contact about once a year by email with x and have to see him occasionally in town with his OW now new wife. I am on the same page with you; I never once thought of screwing other men. I wish you well. 🙂 PS: Exercise for me helps and spending time with my grown children in activities that we both like…sports and just talking and friends and my job. This website also, last but not least, keeps me sane. It is good to converse with people who have similar situations. Take care!!!

      • To clarify “rest of us” is ONLY in reference to this topic of infidelity and present post, non-narcissists versus narcissists.

  • Agreed … “Meh” is sanity 🙂 … and it does take time. I’m 2.5 years past the day my marriage died — KABOOM — and just this morning I awoke from a dream in which my ex was denying, denying, denying … and I was sanguine through it all. Woke up thinking, “Ahh … yes. Time is doing its good work.”

  • Chump Lady,

    Loved this last post! A time for relating, reflecting and laughing (second to last paragraph) LOL!!! We all need humor 🙂

    You are much appreciated!!!

  • So obviously I’m at the beginning of Meh. There are actually whole minutes now where I don’t wish my ex-cheater dead. I’m hoping to move on to hours, and then maybe half days soon…. 🙂

  • Cindy you need a tincture of time in order to move into “meh”. It can’t be forced, it just happens slowly and peacefully. In the meantime, look at your ex’s infidelity as your ‘get out of jail free’ card. That’s how I view the gift that the ho-worker gave to ME. I would have never have left, I would have pushed on trying to make everything better and simply unable to grasp why I couldn’t do it.

    It’s unnecessary to forgive your ex. It is meaningless to him, as hard as that is to get your mind around. The only person you need to forgive is yourself, for all of those things that will keep you up at night “why didn’t I know, why didn’t I figure it out, why wasn’t I smarter, prettier, bigger, taller, smaller, laugh more, laugh less. . ..” Forgive yourself and “meh” will come. It wasn’t you, it never was you, it was always all about him.

    • I love the “forgive yourself” because it is a letting go of something that YOU are NOT responsible for.

      Also, the “get out of jail free card” is so true. My sister told me that she could see the change in him but kept her mouth shut because we were still married. After his second acknowledged affair and him leaving me for OW, my sister broke her silence and said that if it did not happen now, she could picture me in the cheapest convalescent home he could afford and leaving me there all by myself as usual being neglected. What an eye opener. What I saw as a curse at the time turned out to be a blessing and regaining my own personal identity instead of what I thought should happen in a normal relationship…growing old together and appreciating one another for who they are, not what they can get from you. Thank you for your post. 🙂

  • At the cost of sounding blasphemous , whoever wrote wherever about ” forgiveness” never got cheated on by a person you loved and trusted the most.

    Itbis very easy to preach forgiveness when it’s not your son or daughter at the receiving end.

    When this shit happens to your daughtervletbme see how many fathers are forgiving towards the cheater.

    As about karma, no need to wait for it to bite the cheaters ass.


    After all karma is nothing but the consequences of your own thoughts words and deeds , and not anybody from up above using the cheater as target practice.

  • I think I finally began to taste the sweet, sweet nectar of meh, when after asking the character “why? why did you stop loving me? what happend?” …[as if it were something I could have changed /not.] But I wanted to know what he perceived. So, what did he say?

    “I lost the spark.”. Really. I kid you not. 5+ years of cheating, and “I lost the spark.

    Kind of like…I lost my keys, or something. Told his friends, told his whores. Never told me he thought our marriage was in trouble. Just lied to my face, that everything was hunky dory. “I love you. I love you too.” Yup. “Because, it might hurt me…. ” Uh-huh. But fucking other people? apparently that wasn’t so hurtful, or something.
    So yeah, if Meh isn’t here, it is certainly visible in the windshield.

    • I heard it too, in the form of: “I just…fell out of love with you.”

      My immediate response now; wish I’d said it then: “What! — you think that love is so passive?!”

      Nothing else we do is such hard and worthy work.

      “…the sweet, sweet nectar of meh” — would be a great song lyric 😀

    • He’s a coward. He was afraid to hurt you so he did it behind your back.


  • My cheater ex- was a fraud and a phony, I am now sure throughout the 25 years of our marriage. Underneath the loving facade was a cold, empty space where my husband should have been. On my D-Day a year ago, he admitted to affairs with 2 co-workers, including unprotected group sex with them, for 17 years. During those 17 years, he and his affair partners rubbed my children’s and my noses in their little escapades, laughing all the way, while we thought they were just family friends. They didn’t just gaslight me, they gaslighted MY CHILDREN. My 20 year old daughter recalls events and stories they made up, and pranks they pulled, that she now realizes were sick games on their part, and sobs with the realization. My children will never see him again– their decision not mine–not that he tries very hard. Forgive him? Ha. I believe the insistence on forgiveness is just another way to victimize and mindfuck us. He (and the forgiveness freaks) can kiss our asses. I consider it a victory when I am not praying for their death.

    • You mean my grandfather? No. He was a pretty good shot (unlike Cheney). I’m sure if he meant to kill you, he would’ve hit the target, and you’d be stuffed at the Fur, Fin, and Feathers club somewhere in upstate New York.

  • Chump Lady, Cindy and all,
    Just a simple song that I found on you tube music that has made sense of all of the mess that one person created and made me question my integrity. This song and video has helped me grow more towards “Meh”. I am not accepting responsibility for someone else’s actions.
    The lyrics are quite profound and so is the symbolism in in the video.

    • Anne, great lyrics, I downloaded the song from I-tunes (it’s odd how helpful songs have been in helping me through this and giving me strength). Thanks.

      • I found this song resonated strongly, and Tracey Chapman is awesome anyway, it’s called “Telling Stories” and it’s strong:

  • I love the word Meh! It is exactly where I am trying to get to…
    I understand how your ex can still be in your head buzzing around like a mosquito ready to suck more life out of you as you try to build a better life. It hard to understand that someone you loved actually when meh… when it came to you.
    However I come from a family who taught me that you should treat people how you would like to be treated. So when it comes to my sbxh, who I supported when he lost his jobs, re-invented him so he could employable, quit my job to follow his career, lived basically homeless when he lost job yet again, cleaned his home, laundry, cooked for his colleagues, ran the house, paid the bills, and I personally went without so that he would look good. That when we finally got to the point where life was looking better…(and we were in the process of starting a family) He basically thought of me as meh!
    Who cares what we have been through when now that I am settled its time to move on with the OW.
    It’s exactly what your NDP thought when it came to having an affair. Would I hurt those who love me? meh, will I destroy my home…meh, hurt my kids?…meh. Or at least my sbxh thought that. In fact he actually told the OW, that “these people” (that would me and her boyfriend) that we don’t get it, and at our separation hearing he couldn’t understand why I was being so difficult. (I was asking for time to get my life together in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language). He actually told the judge can’t she just leave? With no support from him due to his OW has two kids that he wants to support along with her. Oh yes poster child of a NDP. In our criminal case, (yes when I found out and said I was not leaving the house, he got really angry and sent me to hospital) He told that Judge, that he was a very successful business man and that I was the problem, and he demanded that he should be able to contact me, due to he pays for me. No sorry, no I understand she could be upset, …meh, It was about him!
    Since then, thanks to CL and a restraining order… I have been giving him the exact same treatment that he gave me….meh
    And let me tell you it drives him crazy (cake withdrawal?)
    To me that is forgiveness, forgiveness to me for being a CL for so long.

    • I like the phrase Cake Withdrawl. My cheating wife is either “jonesing” badly or just extremely pissed off (both) after she found out I spoke to the OM’s parents.

      It certainly isn’t from an overdose of guilt or remorse.

      • Bud,
        Yes she is jonesing and extremely pissed off… Because my sbxh is… he’s kept me in legal fees for the dumbest things with each request, we must meet and talk… I’m full no contact, and its cost me a small sum in legal replys… With (i do not know his lawyer), however again it gets stated that I need to get over it and talk to him.
        Why?…because a NDP, needs to keep the drama up and help confirm the “story in their heads” why its all this way now. It makes them go crazy that you will no longer be their chump and give them at least a cupcake… how can they keep the OW or OM in check without that cake eating balance? They live in a triangle… when you kick that third leg out off the stool, they fall… and it hurts and they want the ego tri-pod back. It helps to keep the new one in check.
        I know, because that is what he did with me when I met him. Always told me about his evil girlfriend and I better give him kibble or he might have to end us to “just deal with her” (at the time, he told me he was single, but after 9 years I contacted her, and he wasn’t. She thought they were taking time to fix there relationship and I was the surprise.) He was just prepping me and making sure I would be a good chump to replace his old chump. Just like his new OW is being trained…however I will not give him a crumb of cake, and it drives him mad. I will not help him train a new chump regardless of how much it costs. I always say…meh, not interested, please be happy in your new choice and move on… I have.

  • Great post CL, thank you so much for this. Forgiveness for me is Meh. Letting go of the emotional pain of this horrible experience is something that is a long process. And yes, I agree that when your new life outshines the old life, it will come. Maybe on a Tuesday.
    At this time, I am perfectly okay with not forgiving him, OW, his family, and any friends that were an accomplice to and/or enabling his behavior. All betrayals to me and my daughter. I do pray for these people, I also pray I can release the anger, hurt, pain, and hatred I feel. I ask God to help me move through this and hopefully past it one day. For me. To be Meh. Some days are better than others, I am getting a little more toward my goal with effort, time, and keeping my life full.

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