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Dear Chump Lady, The dreaded unicorns are trying to pull me back

No, REALLY the comments should work now. Damn you Word Press! — CL


Hi Chump Lady,

I’m struggling – and I should know better. I’ve posted on your site, told my story, listened to and dished out wisdom of someone in the trenches of chumpdom….yet, after all this time – to quote Godfather III – “Just when I thought I was out – they drag me back in.” The “they” of this latest twist are my own unicorns and what seems to be fated discoveries about the last years of my life with the ex.

I was rooting through old tax records yesterday for unrelated business, and in the 2004 returns I came across the “request for restoration of license” forms my ex submitted after he had a seizure and was forced to give up his license for 6 months until they got him medicated. I had been through those return boxes a million times looking for any evidence of what the hell happened to him when I found out about the 4 year affair (April 2006 – June 2010 – when I caught him) and I’d never come across this form before.

I wondered why I’d found it now – and I wondered if there was a reason (fate) that I did. When things were at their worst right after the split – the hardest thing to wrap my head around was how he’d gone from a man who for over 20 years had done nothing but be a great husband, loved me, laughed with me, cherished our family – to a guy who not only cheated but abandoned us, forced us into bankruptcy and basically told everyone that he and I were in a bad marriage (not from anything I ever saw) and how fantastic a wife the OW was going to be.

Honestly – it NEVER made sense. It wasn’t even a skein to unravel – it was like the Mirror Mirror episode of Star Trek — but instead of Spock with a beard — I had a husband who had become an evil parallel version of himself. A total flip.

So here I am in the garage, staring at this form, and suddenly it dawns on me that the location of the seizures in his brain were located in the right side of his brain – right in the area where they say that “judgment and right/wrong impulses” are controlled. (I looked it up online – so take that for what it’s worth.) And as I stood there – I feel this wave of “THIS is the answer” shoot over me. The seizures – for whatever reason – either triggered or altered or scared him – I don’t know. But the timing of when that happened fits perfectly with when he said he started being unhappy and then when the affair started and it all seemed too……convenient.

We are days from the final decree on our divorce. He is in full plan to marry the OW as soon as the ink dries – remember – she’s “going to be a fantastic wife” according to him. He has screwed me over every possible way he can, and I have gotten both myself and my children through it. But…..this was just – weird. Finding this put all sorts of “what if it was the seizures” back in play. It’s twisting me up because part of me wants to contact him, try and lay out the timing and ask him to at least consider that he might be affected by it in his choices by a physical condition.

Crazy, huh? Even as I write this I realize I sound like an idiot. He is not insane – he willfully and quite effectively cheated on me and definitely knew it was wrong. He left without a look back and just stopped caring about any aspect of his old life. He reinvented. And he would not listen to me about anything three years ago — so why would he listen now to any “discovery” I’d made?

But if you knew how good things had been for over two decades, and how the whole thing started to crumble definitely right when his health took a turn, you might understand how I can be given to think that maybe this is a sign. Or maybe I’m looking for validation that it was the seizures — something out of my hands and explainable — that made him stop loving me. That it wasn’t as simple as him not wanting me and finding someone new and really I’d been in love with a pretend person for most of my life.

I wish I could alter my brain to stop reaching back to a past that’s dead and see what’s in front of me. But he haunts me still. Even at the end of an almost 3 year divorce and knowing all I do – I cannot stop myself from these unicorn moments of “what if this is the answer?” moments. Please kick me in the ass and wake me up – I need to make these unicorns permanently extinct with some harsh reality checks. Thanks.


Dear Char,

That’s a very tantalizing skein of fuckupedness you have presented there. Is he a heartless bastard, or did he have a seizure that made him a heartless bastard? I think what you are trying to untangle is — if it is the latter — the seizures made him do it — than you do not have to hold him culpable. You can still give yourself permission to love him. You can pity him. And (unicorn of unicorns), hope that he’ll heal and come to his senses, (his senses having been obliterated by seizures). And the Unicorn of unicorn of unicorns — the hope that this is a temporary condition, and if he was aware of it, he would change course. He would come back, and this divorce could be averted.

So a lot is riding on the seizure hypothesis.

Short answer — it doesn’t matter, Char. If he’s a heartless bastard because of seizures, or he’s a heartless bastard because he had a midlife crisis and is under the spell of some floozy — either way he is not husband material. He cannot be a full and loving partner to you any more. He’s gone. I’m sorry.

If it’s seizures that make him a heartless bastard, well, I suppose you can only expect that his affliction will manifest itself with the OW as well as you. Otherwise, it is a very selective affliction. If his brain is that degenerative that he can walk away from a 20 year shared life without regard, then he’s only a few misfiring synapses away from doing it to her. Perhaps he’ll forget who she is and she’ll wind up footing the dementia ward bill.

Longer answer — I’m not dismissing your Brain Chemistry Made Him Do It hypothesis. It’s all untangling the skein to go there, but I admit I find the behavioral science fascinating. Anecdotally, I have a friend whose ex-wife had an affair with a guy that turned out to have a brain tumor. She left my friend, this guy left his wife and kids — the schmoopies moved in together and six months later he was dead of brain cancer.  Did the tumor make him do it? I’m sure it’s a heartbreaking question his children and ex-wife must ask themselves.

Strokes, accidents, and degenerative illnesses make people behave in all sorts of bizarre ways. Read the works of neuroscientist Oliver Sacks (“The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”). There are many accounts of brain injury leading to profoundly different social behaviors. For example, someone who was previously shy and reserved, after a stroke, becomes socially inappropriate, or sexually compulsive. Personality change can also be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. (An academic review can be found here.)

Another brain wiring hypothesis could be that he was just really good at pretending to be someone he wasn’t. The whole anger at the divorce, at being nasty and “screwing you” and the kids over? That says narcissism and gross entitlement to me. If he had dementia, I would imagine he would just wander clumsily after his fantasy OW oblivious of the costs, just doing whatever to get to the magic rainbow. The blameshifting, once idolizing and now devaluing you, however, to me, says he has a character issue.

Speaking of which, here’s an interesting read about emerging science on sociopath’s ability to compartmentalize. Apparently, sociopaths “feel” but they cannot connect their actions to other people’s pain. More than a lack of empathy, sociopaths seem to have unique wiring that shelves “emotions” in a different part of the brain compared with non-sociopaths.

Char, whatever flavored of fucked up your soon-to-be-ex is, you must let go of the thought that you could save him. That bad case of “if only’s” will keep you stuck. If he is sick, part of his sickness is that he isn’t self aware enough to know he’s sick and cannot act in his best interests. And he has fired you from the job of caring for him. You don’t get to control that, as sad as that is. You can’t help people who don’t want help and can’t see that they need it.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I was married once to a man that was actually mentally ill. Had a neurological glitch in his brain (hoarding, OCD). Perfectly functional individual once upon a time in many other ways. Held a good job, had friends, was social, did well at school. Whatever made him tick, that disability/wiring problem got worse and worse over the years. Made it impossible for me, or anyone, to live with him. He refused treatment after being dragged to several doctors. He didn’t think he had a problem. Everyone ELSE was the problem. (Oh, and hey, guess what? That’s a sign of mental illness.)

So what was my choice in that situation? Unlike your dilemma, I had my “proof” — this thing wasn’t his fault. But he wouldn’t treat his illness. Now you can argue, part of his illness was that he was incapable of treating his illness. (I think this is true of many mental illnesses, like bipolar and schizophrenia — and it’s a hell of a societal problem when we cannot commit people). Was he culpable? What should I do? Martyr myself to a man who behaved self destructively and could not be a full partner to me, or a functioning father to our son? I struggled for many years with those thoughts, and in the end, I divorced him. He’s downward spiraled ever since. I jumped off a sinking ship. You cannot help people who will not (or cannot) help themselves. You must detach. With love or without love. Frankly, in my situation, I lost all respect for the man, and it’s hard to love someone you do not respect, however pitiable their condition.

Seizure or no seizure, Char, you have a no win situation. You were a good partner, and he cannot see that. All you can do is work from the reality presented, which is that he has checked out of the marriage. His fuckupedness is no reflection on you, your worth, or the 20 years you invested in him. The fact that you feel love or loyalty after such a shattering betrayal says beautiful things about your character and the depth of your love. But Char, it’s time to focus on yourself and let him go. If it makes you feel better to have an “answer” — it was the seizures — and that gives you a measure of comfort? I don’t see anything wrong with that.

But give up the hope, okay? Unicorns because he’s ill, or unicorns because he’s a narcissistic schmuck are still unicorns.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I think we all wonder what the heck happened. Why one day it’s an OK marriage ( in my case) and the next he hasn’t been happy in years. Years! WTF I didn’t know. I keep looking back for clues and quite frankly in my case it started when he reconnected with his ex-girlfriend on facebook. One would think thatin you case if it was a medication issue that when he came out of the fog he would still love you and the children. Lot’s wife; her world (which wasn’t all that great) was blowing up behind her but she just had to look back. And she is paralyzed in time. Don’t look back; one foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Good luck

    • My favorite line ( NOW, not at the time) from my doormat “please dont leave me days” was he wanted to be happy “JUST ONCE before he died”. Just once.

      Really? 23 year marriage, good jobs, nice house, beautiful children and NEVER ONCE happy? And pay no attention to the old girlfriend from facebook he was secretly chatting with.

      My life is so much better now, but gosh, some days you just trigger back.

    • During my 20 year marriage, the ex always said he was happy, that I was his best friend and that he would never want to get divorced or part our family.

      That lasted until about two minutes after dday, when his tune change to how he never had been happy once, we had nothing in common, he never should have married me, he had no passion for me and he had been miserable for years.

      God only knows what his story is by now. I’m sure he tells everyone that it was ME who did all that cheating.

  • I assumed h’s cheating behavior was due to bi-polar and/or two brain surgeries in 2007. When I mentioned this while in his psychiatrists office, she wheeled around in her chair, looked at me with daggers and said, in front of him, i-polar and brain surgeries have NOTHING to do with knowing the difference between right and wrong.

    In other words, sneak around and cheating are indicators of guilt. He KNEW he was doing something wrong. It was a “Gotcha” moment for me. Totally blew my mind. Keep her advice in mind. I sure did some rethinking after that.

    • I think people with bipolar will sometimes, when very manic, impulsively have sex w/someone inappropriate. But it’s entirely impulse, not on-going or a ‘relationship’, they’re very clearly manic at the time, and the DON’T TRY TO HIDE IT! Because everything is great, right? Sneaking around actually confirms that the person knew that what they were doing was wrong!

      • Sorry, but they STILL know the difference between right and wrong. Bi-polar has NOTHING to do with it. They also know murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, abusing another human being is wrong, lying is wrong, they know what they are dong is wrong. They CHOOSE to do exactly what they want to do. Their choices suck, but they are totally aware that what they are doing is wrong. The two extremes of manic and depressive are at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet they will cheat when depressed, to make them feel better and then cheat when manic, because it makes them feel good. Bi-polar is NOT an excuse for not knowing right from wrong. Took me years to understand this.

  • I totally understand your desperate desire to make sense of the senseless. But realistically, this guy is still able to get dressed in the morning, right? He still manages to hold a job, drive a car and apparently arrange his marriage to some other woman? Then I’d assume his brain issues are not the problem, it’s his character. That’s a shame, because neurological issues can often be treated, but bad character is forever.

  • Char,
    The second guessing is so difficult. But CL and the other posters are correct.

    It is heart breaking, but just break away. Walk away, and do not look back. STBX made his choices, and they __were__ choices.
    Maybe the seizure played a role, but if anything, it simply highlighted traits that were already there.

    My ex suffered from nightmares during the first affair. Then he suffered from insomnia for 5 years, nothing alleviated it until he left his family. He accused me of not caring for him, not demonstrating to him that I was worried about him, etc.
    In reality, the insomnia was his guilt for not begin truthful about the first affair, and his unhappiness. He was in love with the OW, so he claims now. But I did not know that. In my chumpness I believe it was infatuation and I had caught things before damage had occurred.
    Those were my ex’s CHOICES, not my faulty actions. He refused to come clean in therapy, and refused to be honest over the next decade when I asked about US, and as I made compromises and sacrifices for US. There is more, but I will not hijack the post.

    I KNOW it is difficult, but in your case, there are no unicorns, just choices.
    Hold your head high, and look to today, and to the future. The past is over. Do not second guess it.


  • This reminds me of how it used to really bug me whether my ex was subconsciously or consciously manipulating me. When he threatened suicide all those times did he ever really mean it at all or did he just say it because it was the one thing that seemed to have an effect on me? I really was just trying to figure out how evil he was… like is he truly EVIL or just a selfish asshole?

    Unfortunately, I will never know. The best I ever knew him, I still didn’t know him at all. So trying to guess his motivations now, when it turns out he’s mostly a stranger with whom I have kids, is futile. And his motivations don’t change the end result. We are not together. I need to keep my guard up. Don’t trust him. He only looks out for himself.

    If pressed now to think about my evil v. selfish asshole question, I land “just” on selfish asshole. Maybe because it makes me feel better than the alternative. And because it doesn’t really matter now. And if it makes you feel better to think that his medical issues could have caused him to be the fuck-up he turned out to be, then go ahead and believe it. If having a reason helps you to move on then I think that’s fine. It seems reasonable. It’s definitely no worse than some of the stuff I look to as contributing to my ex’s affair. As long as you also realize it doesn’t really matter either – the end result is the same.

    • “This reminds me of how it used to really bug me whether my ex was subconsciously or consciously manipulating me.”

      I agonized over this, too, wondering his motives. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. He threw me under the bus. Big time. And it sucked. And I don’t want to go through that again.

  • honey… please look more closely. Its not actually a unicorn. Its a giant pig with a really huge snout. Any man who moves heaven and earth to screw over his children and their mother is one of the lowest life forms there is. (actually pigs are about 50 rungs higher on the food chain than this idiot is!)

    I don’t care whatever wonderful other thing he might’ve ever done. THAT one thing alone, eclipses all. (not to mention a zillion other disgusting behaviors that he’s presented for YEARS!)

    This is who he is!

    He’s a pig! He always was and he always will be. good riddance!

    • I think you are definitely right on the symbolic animal. If you knew half of what I found out regarding his behavior with the OW and how he treated me………well, you are right. Pigs don’t deserve being lumped in with him and those like him.

  • My STBX has had issues for years. I’ve mentioned in other posts that his father had a long-term mistress. STBX was the “emotional” one in his family, which was their code for prone to sudden bursts of anger. He went on blood pressure medication that included a beta blocker. His anger turned into normal anger. 2 years ago, his father was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, and passed away before Labor Day. About 3 months later, his blood pressure meds stopped working, and he had to switch to another combination.

    About then is when he started his sexting with OW. From emails, I discovered that they started having sex in the summer.

    The point is that I can pretty much spot that something different happened in his brain, but you know what? CL and Yoder’s psychiatrist are right; he still knows right from wrong. That’s why he’s still sneaking around with OW. It’s wrong; he knows it. And he really doesn’t want to get caught.

    Though I also think he likely gets off on the thrill of possibly being discovered.

    So, to go back to another one of CL’s best lines, “trust that they suck.” Really. You have to live in the present, and in this present, he’s cheating on you. He’s getting married, for pete’s sake. Let him. The OW gets a cheater. What a prize!

    You, on the other hand, are on the road to Meh. Certainly you deserve better, and you’ll certainly get it!

  • Char,

    Chump Son here.

    I have a daughter, a WONDERFUL daughter, who is fifteen. Now, someday she will be 25, 30, 35, etc. and she will have boyfriends/live-ins/partners/husbands and, I hope, if things get rough, she will come to me for advice. So, when I read many of the entries to Chump Lady (who is, in my view, CHAMP LADY) I often think this: If this were my Elisabeth, what would I advise?

    OK, so Elisabeth comes to me with exactly your situation. She says, “Pops [that’s what she calls me], what do you think?”

    OK. Here’s my reply.

    “Sweetheart, you are not a neurosurgeon, you are not a neuro-psychiatrist. He left you. Was it weird wiring (or wiring that weirded-out) in his brain? We don’t know. But for whatever reason, he has moved on. If you want to point this out to him, you certainly can, but even if it makes him stop in his tracks (and I don’t think it will, since I’m pretty sure he was aware of his own medical condition), I’d say you would be taking a HUGE chance taking him back. I think it’s time to toss this fish back into the pond. If he somewhat comes to his senses and proves to be a great post-separation father to his kids, then leave space for that. But, honestly, you are not an expert at this, he appears to have moved on, this reconsideration-hope is ENTIRELY something that you are generating, he shows no signs of autonomous interest in this, so I’d say, if you really want to point this out to him, you can. Just for your own peace of mind. But, honey, this thing looks fatally flawed to me. Dead on arrival. Or, as the great CL would say: Dead. On. Arrival. Time to move on.

    You can wrack your brain trying to figure out how much of this was biology or intentionality, how much was midlife crisis or narcissism, how much was this or that. It’s over. He made the call, and he’s moved on. Bring it up if you want, just for YOUR peace of mind, but, honestly, even if he broke down and said, “I want to reconsider,” I’d make wait for years before I took him back. (And I’d advise against it.) Your kids and YOU are too important to take this kind of chancy gamble that this was all due to some hopefully-reversible physical thing. (And, by the way, is there any indication that this is reversible?)

    Now, I’m kind of an intellectual Dad, so I’d probably say too much (see above). But in the end, I’d sum up. I’d get down to brass tacks. I’d say, “Honey, it’s great that you have a big heart and that you have so much hope. That’s something wonderful about you. Even so, my advice is this: Invest that hope in someone else (when you are ready). Take some time. This one is gone, for reasons that probably combine the biological and the volitional. This is a riddle that only he can solve, and you should not wait around for him. If he transcends this mental illness/selfishness, he can be a good Dad for the kids. But YOU deserve a whole person as your partner. Move on!”

    “But, of course, I’m your father, and I will support you in what you decide. I just want you to know that I feel strongly about this and I really believe that you should let this go and move on.”


    Pops (a.k.a. Chump Son)

    • David, perhaps it is because you are a man, I don’t know, but your advisory reminds me of h’s doctors, all of them, medical, psychiatric, etc. For years they took me aside and said, if you have any assets left, get out while there is still something to leave with. And, “Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself.” And “So why are you still here?” I never could figure out what they were talking about. It didn’t make any sense to me. I was the good wife, taking care of a sick husband. That’s what spouses do for each other. I am no saint, but I do have a working conscience and I sleep at night knowing I’ve done what I expected of myself. Now I am a chump for not recognizing the feelings were not mutual. I’ve been chumped and it is a bitter pill to swallow. Okay, said it, done it and now I am going to finally “take care of myself.” Don’t ignore the excellent advice of others, start today, planning for a future without the paid, the frustration and the anger. Pull yourself together and look forward, not backwards.

      • It may well be that women are socialized to “take care of” others more than men, though men (and sons) can be chumps too!!!

        You did what you did for good reasons and because you are a nice person. The trick in life (for Chumps) is not to let narcissists/nasty people do “niceness jujitsu” on you, i.e. turn your nice qualities against you. But there is no reason for blame in this. Happens to a lot of nice people, who then learn where to invest their good will.

        I think you are going to do just great. You did the best you could for someone who couldn’t change/be saved, so now you are moving on, re-investing those endorphins, that energy, that positive lightning in people who will better appreciate them! Good work!!!!

        • It ain’t over till it’s over, as Yogi Berra said, but things are straight in my head now and the emotions are in control, except that I am so disgusted I can barely be civil to him, but I do. I just keep, keeping on until I can leave.

    • Chump son, you said: “he shows no signs of autonomous interest in this”

      This is huge. Char, you could try to *convince* him to stay with you and the kids, but you would be doing all the chasing. One-sided.

      • DucklinerUpper:
        You are spot on there! It would be not only fruitless but really pathetic on my part.

  • I want to repeat something.

    We are Chumps. We are NOT mental health professionals. Do NOT try to take on those tasks. Mental Health professionals do not marry their patients, they treat them, and they treat them with a certain distance/a certain detachment that allows the mental health professionals to have a chance to be effective. Psychologists and psychiatrists do not marry their patients as part of therapy. So, do NOT think that you can save someone in the context of a relationship. If you want help drug addicts, don’t marry one. Instead, marry someone who is not an addict and then volunteer at a drug rehabilitation center.

    I think this is important. The above (marrying/staying in a relationship to save/help someone who is really mentally ill) is chump-savior-narcissism, and it’s a bad idea.

    My two cents.

  • I am in chump recovery . My husband broke up with the OW. He is now in therapy. But still so self absorbed. Like he says therapy is hard work. It is coming up roses for me, though, with Mr. Wonderful running off twice with the other woman. He blamed his unhappiness on me. He claimed he was unhappy for the entire 30 plus year marriage. Then he denied saying it to me. His childhood sucked, etc, etc. Is he pretending all this?

    • Dear Boston,
      He is trying to keep the cake (denies saying hurtful things, in therapy etc.) and eat it too (Self absorbed, running off twice with OW). Agreed therapy is hard work…but there should be more sharing than being more self absorbed.
      Mnw, these guys are good at manipulation…too often told on CL. Watch Out!

    • No, actually he believes it. My husband entirely rewrote our history after I discovered the cheating. He NEVER was happy with me. I was a TERRIBLE wife, we NEVER had sex (really?! where did our three kids come from?), the house was ALWAYS dirty..this is what he told his family/friends. I was left standing with the WTF look on my face, as were they. He did this to justify his behavior, but you don’t make yourself look better by trying to make someone else look worse-this I learned in kindergarten.

      • Annie – yup, my husband rewrote history too. Said he’d never been happy in our 15 year marriage. And that I was a bully. Hmmm, unless a bully is code for doormat that’s not true because I encouraged him to go off and see his friends and do his hobbies so he would be happy. Not sure what else I could have done other than helping him write his and adult friend finder profiles.

        • Me too! In six month’s time it went from him saying “I know I’m the bad actor here, I love you but shit happens, etc” to “you were a ball busting controlling harpie who never understood my needs and the sex was horrible and my high school buddies all knew you were trying to break up my friendship with them.” I wish he’d been as creative in the bedroom as he has been in recreating our life together in his own head.

      • I don’t know what my STBX thinks about our marriage. I think when he’s with OW or talking to her, he lives in that moment and looks at our marriage as an empty husk. When he’s home, marriage is pretty dang comfortable. I’m fairly certain that he’ll tell me how unhappy he was for all these years, once he’s served his papers.

        So yes, they can believe it. Does it make it so? No.

        But as Arnold alludes, does it matter? The point is that they’ve cheated. You have to trust that. And you have to trust they suck.

    • Boston, sounds all to familiar. Together 35 years, blah, blah, blah. Are these men inter-wired? It is as if at some point in their life they just throw everything under the bus. I don’ know about you, but I haven’t had fun for several years because I was busy trying to do what I thought he wanted me to do. Trying to be quiet so he can sleep when he wants to, keeping things handy for him, just so many little things that now I have to rethink what I prefer…been so long. So looking forward to the future.

      • There must be a secret course these guys take. It is like a grade B movie, with an awful script. I do not want to take a leading role. The adultery hurt, but it was his blaming me for it. I was unhappy…he did not act like he was unhappy. He was bored..because of me. He did not know I cared..oh, really..I commute 3.5 hours a day for the family. Blah blah blah. It is tiring. After 30 plus years, this is how he treats his wife and best friend. Now he says he does not know if he wants a divorce…why would he, I have been such a chump. As you can tell it is a bad day. Tell me it will get better…

        • It no longer matters whether he wants a divorce or not. He made that decision when he cheated. Too late now. Get out now with all the assets possible. I guarantee he will try to do the same. Yes, it gets better, although the frustration continues.

    • Boston, they all say this stuff “the marriage was dead” is often how the cheater puts it. Oh, my fav was when he told the counselor we never had sex without mentioning that he was the one that would not have sex. Telling you one thing then denying he ever said it? Gaslighting.

      My ex told me he broke up with the OW 3 times and he too went to therapy and told me how hard it was for him, and yeah he made up stories about things in his childhood that I later found out were lies. Oh, and that hard work in therapy? He left his workbook behind and he’d never actually done any of it after nearly a year in therapy… If you now say you are done, I’m betting his next move is ask that you both attend marriage counseling, don’t do it.

    • It is incredibly common for the disordered to deny saying things, Boston. I am not sure if they lie intentionally, or surpress things.

  • Dear Char,
    That’s a heart wrenching spot you are in. I kept thinking that if I said the right thing–the one thing he hadn’t thought of, he would listen to my words and suddenly realize how right I was. Took me a long time and many tries to reluctantly realize that if there was any hope that he wanted to reconcile, he would have thought of it himself and shown me he knew he was wrong. He hasn’t, and if he did, I can’t take him back after all the damage he’s done.
    I’m sorry for your situation. That really sucks.

    • Oh my gosh, that is EXACTLY how my head worked, both with ex #1 (the alcoholic) and recent ex (the narcissistic cheater). I really believed at some subconscious level that if I could just figure it all out and then get him to understand, he would change! He would start to work on his own issues, he would treat me and the kids better, he would value what he already had rather than gazing across the fence at that ‘oh so green’ grass on the other side ….

      Over the last few years of this recently-ended relationship, I started just stepping back, observing, not bothering to explain stuff. Essentially gave him lots of rope, which he used for its usual purpose. Sigh.

      Now I have to figure out how to find that balance once in a new relationship; how much to try to figure out, how much to explain. I think the key will be reciprocity; if he’s trying too, I keep trying. If I’m the only one trying … time to say ‘next’.

      • Karen,

        Isn’t that the hardest thing? You see all that you’ve built, all the joys, sorrows, hopes and hard work that created something of such great value – and all he can see is this phantom “greener grass/new life” with someone else. They look at their own back yard and see nothing. It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – she only sees home in the drabbest black and white and Oz is golden technicolor. When I was trying to get him to understand what he was doing and what he was giving up – I used that analogy. I told him that he was going to lose everything he had ever dreamed of and valued and cherished chasing some fantasy of the perfect life with a woman who made him feel “important” and “got him” because she was involved in the same teacher’s union as him and “understood and believed” in the same goals as him. I said “Don’t you get it? YOu are going to throw away everything chasing some fantasy only to find that everything that matters to you was in your own back yard – but it will be too late.” But it fell on deaf ears and dead eyes. He just didn’t see any value in our life together. And his treatment of us and the complete abandonment he enacted that left us financially ruined – the total lack of interest in our well being – truly – it was like a stranger had replaced a man who had seemed such a great husband, friend and father. I thought I’d lived my life with a man – only to find this hard, selfish, unfeeling man-child in his place walking around with crotch shots on his phone and bills from Super 8 motels hidden in the paperwork drawer. You know – if I read this as an objective stranger – I’d think I was nuts for trying to find an answer. As CL said – you can only work with the reality you are presented with. YOu play the cards you are dealt.

        • no. not nuts, honey. He is. Actually, not just nuts but also mentally ill. And unfortunately, its an incurable illness. But the good news is that its not your problem anymore!
          And you are also courageous. There are LOTS of people who can’t work with the reality they are presented. They manufacture their own realities, but that doesn’t mean that they are grounded in the truth.

        • You said this so well. Strangers, that is what they become. A thought just came to me from many decades ago, something my mother once said, but had been long forgotten. “No matter how long you live them, you never really know them. Always wondered what she meant by that. Now I know. They let us get under their skin, but never in their heads.

          • I like that! Never heard that before but I like it.

            What hurts the most about that is that they got into our heads and heart before they became who they currently are.

        • Char, you were living w/my ex’s secret twin perhaps? This is EXACTLY what happened here. The ex comes from an extremely dysfunctional family, and was always trying to prove that he had gotten away from his working-class roots and all the struggles that implied. So by the beginning of last year he’s finally, fairly recently, got a job that feels like a success to him, after years of studying, working, studying some more (Ph.D. and M.B.A.), working super hard, moving from job to job. We’ve got the nice house, the kids are in their early teens and are healthy, happy, smart, sweet and gorgeous, he looks like a reasonably good father, my career is well established, we can travel some, all the components of a life where you don’t need to worry and can just enjoy.
          On top of that, the guy who was a skinny geek in high school has become a good-looking guy, well-dressed and fit, and has the pretty, smart, loving wife. There are family friendships (almost no friends of his own, surprise surprise), very enjoyable socializing, just generally a good life. EVERYTHING he’s always wanted, and I think never believed he could really have.
          But NO, he has to be incredibly lazy about our relationship, not only make no efforts to maintain it, but also thwart many of my efforts to do so. So I stop trying as hard (still a sweet and caring wifey, still lots of good sex, but just not the high levels of before), and he resents that. Then he’s away for work, super stressed and horny and SO lonely (because a) he has no internal resources to be able to tolerate being alone, and b) he’s refused every attempt of mine to maintain our connection while he’s gone). and he decides that the cute woman at work who thinks he’s so smart will fit the bill just fine.
          I actually felt BETTER last summer when I thought, for a few months, that maybe he was right; maybe he really would be happier with someone else, maybe what he was putting me and the kids through was reasonable, at some level, because he’d figured out some things he needed, and wanted a fresh start.
          But last Xmas he decides to try to reconcile, and it becomes patently obvious that he is NOT happier, is not doing anything that will lead to his eventually being any happier, that he didn’t think about any of this stuff when he decided to fuck around, and that he did all this out of sheer stupidity. Absolute, complete stupidity.

          Have you seen this definition of stupidity? Fits a lot of the ex’s here to a T, I think!

          So I’ve given up on finding answers. He’s stupid and selfish, and that’s what he’s always been, and what he’ll always be. And frankly even if one day he gets smarter and nicer, it’s too damned late.

      • I keep hearing that word here, Karen, and with my therapist. “Next!” is right. Because of my years as a foster child, I had learned not to expect much from people so it felt like home with my ex.
        I’ve gone from absolute zero to 60 since d-day. That’s pretty good. I figure the next 30+ are going to be a hell of a lot easier than the first 30.

    • nwrain is right. Even if he wanted to go back to you, Char, you would have to repair all this *damage*. Horrible damage. Even with a seizure, he lied and hid what he was doing, because he still knew it was wrong. Maybe the seizures affected his impulse control…..maybe. But he still knew it was damn wrong, and did it anyhow.

      So the damage is there, no matter what. Trying to rebuild a relationship after that kind of damage is a heartwrenching, uphill battle. And that’s in the best scenario.

      Maybe a medical explanation would help you forgive him. But it wouldn’t do anything to rebuild the trust that was shattered to bits.

  • Thanks to all who have posted thus far and especially to “Champ Lady” (I liked that, David!)

    This is the dash of cold water reality I needed to get out of that bizarre, ever hopeful dream sequence I dozed off in. It is hard to let go – but I hold closest the words “TRUST. THAT. HE. SUCKS!!!!!”

    And he does.

    My divorce became final 4 days after writing the letter to CL. Amazing what legal finality can do to free the mind. I suspect there will be one more hard moment – when I see the announcement in the local paper about the new Mrs. Asshole (number 3) – but I will get through it and move on. Move on. It’s all I can do. Life doesn’t live in reverse. I told great meaning when I reread The Great Gatsby and realized from my now more experienced viewpoint that it wasn’t a great romance at all. It was a sad story of a man who couldn’t let go even though the reality of the woman he’d idealized was always there. But he was determined to relive and rewrite the past to suit him. And it got him killed. Great meaning in that that I appreciate much more than I did as a college student with no real living under my belt.

    Thanks to ALL who have offered (again) so many wise words and unflagging support. We are all in the same boat, but we’ll be damned sure we don’t get “borne ceaselessly into the past.” THANK YOU!!!!

    • It is odd how some words become so striking and I wanted you to know how much, “We don’t live life in reverse” got to me. YES! If I could live life in reverse I would never have gotten into this disaster, but I can’t go back to a time when all was well. I have to create a new time, a time in which I am in control and no one else. It will be my time. Thank you for what you clearly stated.

  • My ex’s behavior was so strange and out of character (a man I never saw cry curled up in a fetal ball on the couch and sobbing hysterically for days) that I also suspected a brain tumor, or the beginning of dementia which runs in his family. He played football in high school and had numerous concussions, so I wondered if those old injuries were now coming to light. Could there be brain damage? But after our divorce was final I came across a document my ex had written that explained everything. It was 8 pages long and detailed his obsession with his married coworker (former grad student). It talked about how he didn’t have to live within society’s rules, how anything worth having was worth waiting a long time for. It said he was planting seeds to break up her family and have her as his wife, and they would live happily ever after with him raising her children and loving them as his own. It was some sick shit. My counselor read it and said she couldn’t believe a man in his 50’s would write something like that. After I read that document I sat up until about 4 am thinking about it, and when I went to bed I said a prayer thanking God for removing me from such an painful situation. I think we all look for reasons as to why we weren’t the cause of the demise of our marriage, especially when we are blamed by our ex’s for everything. It was a hell of an awful way to end a 36 year long relationship. Here’s a quote gives me comfort, I repeat it like a mantra — “He didn’t leave because of who you are, he left because of who he’s not.”

    • Lyn,
      “He didn’t leave because of who you are, he left because of who he’s not.”

      That is pure gold. I may put that on a pillow in my bedroom for those wee small hours when it all creeps back into my head.

      • What Yoder said! I can’t tell you how lonely I felt in my marriage. I didn’t realize it until STBX cheater pants left for OW. But being over a year past D Day, I have absolutely no desire to go in search of unicorns. I’m finding MYSELF again!

        And Lyn – love that quote. I will keep that one filed away for future reference. When one is still reeling from the shock of betrayal, it’s very hard not to blame yourself or wonder what it was that you did to drive your spouse away. But it truly IS about “who he’s NOT.” Priceless.

        Thanks, Chumps, for always inspiring me to keep moving forward!

  • I was puzzled, as well, by my first wife’s decision to serially cheat. She became an alcoholic(allegedly, although she may have just invented that to justify her behaviors). I read and read about possible causes for her descent into serial cheating.
    Was she personality disordered? Did alcohol play a part? And, especially, did I cause all this(she was very invested in putting forth this reason).
    I was fortunate in that a memeber of her family came to me and explained that her sister had always been troubled and that they expected something like this would happen.
    It is very difficult to understand why they do the things they do. Why would my XW wake me at night to describe the body of the man she had been with? Why would she absent herself from her toddler’s lives so much?How could she feel comfortable being physically intimate with men she barely knew?
    Bottom line, I will never get it.But, I do understand that she is toxic and I avoid her.

  • ((((Char))))))

    I vote with those who say your STBX’s ability to hide his behavior indicates that he knows right from wrong and is not compulsive in the true sense. The time to make excuses for him is over; you have to think of yourself now. And what is *your* situation? Well, you’re standing in a hose on fire. Leaving is your only choice, that is, if you want to have a life after this cheater. As you run out of the burning building, I suppose you can wonder how the fire started, but does it really matter whether the toaster short-circuited or the waffle iron?

    • Nomar – Yes! You can analyze the reasons for the fire, but in the end you just have to get out of the burning house.

      Another way to think of it:
      The Titanic is sinking. Get the heck off! Staying on the boat and trying to figure out exactly why the boat is sinking is tempting (after all, it was such a strong, sturdy boat, right? It was so well-built, right?) Trying to figure out the reasons does you no good. Just get the heck off, before it’s too late.

  • Char, I’m glad you are already getting more peace about your decision. I was in a similar boat as you, a few years ago. My STBX’s bad behavoir was so absurd – nothing like the man I dated. Where did that man go? He had wanted to get married and have kids. How could he be so different, act so badly? And why was he so darn moody?

    I chalked it up to undiagnosed bipolar, or some othe brain problem. I researched the condition online, and considered giving him vitamins & herbs that are supposed to help alleviate it (he wouldn’t have taken them, though). I prayed and prayed for his brain to be healed. But it never was.

    Later, I learned from our marriage therapist that he is a classic narc. Even if there *was* a chemical imbalance, the narc-part would still be there, and that was the biggest part of the problem, by far. There isn’t any medicine for that.

    Just get out of harm’s way.

  • Char,
    congratulations on your divorce! I am so happy for you even though you may not feel it yet, you will 🙂

    I understand the pain I think. I was with my ex for 17 years. He always had mental health issues, but there was a time when he was in hospital in 2004 and a drug they gave him made him violent, or maybe allowed the violence to come out. I too wondered if it made a difference, did something to him. I too wondered for a long time, was everything he did a facade to be secure, to use me over the years? Sometimes I think I’m lucky because his mental health issues led to his threatening my life (and his own). It made it so clear that it did not matter if he was sick, I could not help him and I could die trying. The truth is I was already dying emotionally and mentally long before that happened.

    It was harder to accept what he had become when he was killing me with my love, before I realized he might really physically kill me.

    There were many years with my ex that were good, that were happy. I reconcile this without trying to figure him out because; I was happy with him for those times, it does not matter if he was faking it, it does not matter if all that time he may have been lying to me. It. Does. Not. Matter. What matters is, I was happy, those years were not wasted no matter what they may have meant to him. I cannot be happy with the man he is now, that man doesn’t love me or respect me. I won’t let that destroy the good memories. I do recognize that is all they are, memories of a different life, with a different person than the one my ex became.

  • Char,

    My take on your letter is that there is no “Eureka” moment when it is all explained to you. You are not going to know the reasons…it’s like trying to understand the moment before the Big Bang created the universe. It is just not going to happen. Accept that and things get a lot easier.

    Healing is hard work but eminently doable. Bad feelings go away when new feelings take their place. It’s the “gain a life” portion of CL’s motto. Have some new positive experiences to generate new feelings.

    And finally “Know your worth.” He didn’t cheat because of you. He cheated because of him. It is totally unrelated to you. What you can and must do is let go of your defenses to his cheating. Blaming his cheating on his health issues is your form of denial. In order for you to know your worth you have to be strong enough to know what you are doing wrong –here that is trying to find a justification for him.

    Good luck with your healing.

  • Char,
    This is so interesting, and common. There was always something “cold” about my X, even when he was white hot for me. I attributed to his (allegedly) bad childhood, subsequent drug addiction (he got clean, was clean for many years), bad luck (he worked really hard but had trouble “keeping” a good job). It’s all so confusing. I don’t even know what is true and what is not any longer.

    But the things that he did to hurt me with the OW’s I could never imagine in a million years, and with no apology. No shame. As if I was a stranger. He actually complained about the one I finally left him over, calling her a f-ing bitch to me and telling me what she did to him, as if I care! Like he wanted my sympathy or advice?!

    Bottom line is, I know there’s something wrong with him, known it for a long time. I spent countless time giving him pep talks, telling him how much he was worth and cheering him on to not give up. And apparently he just wanted to give up on “pretending” to be a good human being the whole time.

    But this I know, no matter how hard I try (and God and my family know how hard I tried) I CANNOT fix him, and now I have to work on fixing me. If I were you, I would get out. I know how hard it is. We are here for you.

  • I know I’ve gone through many of the same thoughts of trying to figure out why. Was it the many years of her use of anti depressants? was it her low self esteem? Was it her childhood, Was it her midlife view of reality not matching her expectations? It doesn’t matter, She made the choice to follow her adulterous thoughts and feelings. Her feelings of entitlement for sneaking/cheating/lying/stealing were/are stronger than her feelings to not act on them and protect those that love her from the pain she is inflicting on. As one of us chumps wrote and told me last week or so. “Cheaters are impaired”.

    • Bud, you used what has become a magic word for me; ‘protect’. That’s exactly the choice I feel my ex made; “I can follow my entitled desire to get some easy admiration from someone who doesn’t actually know me, combined w/a bit of strange, or I can protect my children, and the woman I supposedly love, and the life we’ve worked so hard to build together.’ Clearly a hard call, took him about 2 weeks after arriving in another city on a business trip (coming home each weekend for 3 days, so it wasn’t even severe deprivation).

      Obviously his real goal was cake, he didn’t expect me to find out, but in the end that was his choice.

      And that’s the word that serves as my guide since I recently started dating; I know that for the long term, I want to be w/a guy who WILL protect me, as well as he’s possibly able, and will recognize the value of my protecting him as well as I’m able, from the avoidable parts of life’s difficulties.

  • I’ve come to the conclusion that there will never be a clear cut reason as to why our exes did what they did. I spent a few years trying to figure it out and also trying to save him and our marriage. In the end the only person worth saving was myself. Part of that salvation includes letting “it” go. Its hard and there are some days when “it” still bothers me, but living my life without the “what if” daily has been a godsend. With everything that all of us have put up with, taking care of ourselves and kids is THE most important thing!

    • ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that there will never be a clear cut reason as to why our exes did what they did. I spent a few years trying to figure it out and also trying to save him and our marriage. In the end the only person worth saving was myself. Part of that salvation includes letting “it” go. Its hard and there are some days when “it” still bothers me, but living my life without the “what if” daily has been a godsend. ”

      BRAVA! Margo, I agree with this wholeheartedly…

      yesterday was one of those ‘what if’ days for me. I was in a real funk. Was transported back to the days when I thought the OW was a Jessica-Alba look-alike. Not that she is unattractive. She isn’t. She is attractive. There are those RARE days when I get into a funk and have a pity-party for a day. I hate those days. They suck.

      I regress to all the wondering why he did this or that…doesn’t last long, simply because of what you have said, there IS NO POINT. I am so glad you came to this conclusion. Makes a difference, eh?

      • Valentine,
        Funny, isn’t it? I built up this portrait of the OW as beautiful, slim, with better legs. Recently I unexpectedly came face to face with her (bound to happen, she lives in the same town). All I could think was “Wow, you look older than in your picture” What I matter-of-factly said was “Motherfucker”. Not my finest moment. I think she was more surprised than I was.

  • so–help me figure this: mine snored…I mean SNORED! during his affair. Hardly since, and hardly before. So what the heck was that about? Can your sinuses be passive/aggressive? He even had a sleep study done (after months of my begging, needless to say). And, needless to say, the snoring was an excuse for us to sleep separately, and hence, for him to sext his whorefriend, and all that nasty stuff. (Me asleep in my bed, visions of sugarplums and what not…innocence personified.) But honestly, it’s not like you can make yourself snore (or not). Weird, huh?

  • Some great stuff here.

    I’ve seen relationships where one partner (in the cases I’ve seen, the female partner, not saying it’s always so, just my experience) tries to find that mysterious intricate key to their other partner’s happiness. This same person says to the kids, “If only…dad had gotten that promotion/if only he’d gone to law school/if only he didn’t have such a terrible job/if only I had said this/done that, etc.”

    After a while, the “if onlys” really start to pile up, one on top of another. The pile gets suspiciously high, and if you look carefully, it begins to wobble…..

    Yes, life’s difficulties can frustrate, but true good character is not conditional. Chumps should not have to be safe crackers for other people’s happiness. They should not always have to be alert to moods, to listen and hear every nuance, to take responsibility for other people’s being satisfied (or not satisfied). It’s too much. Not fair. And it’s not possible.

    What’s more, folks who persevere through difficulties (instead of using those difficulties as rationalizations for bad behaviors) will usually triumph. Those who fall into the “excuse trap” (using bad events to excuse their bad behavior) often never get anywhere.

    Two more cents.

    Chump Son

  • Here I am cutting and pasting some excerpts written by a BPD female on Another blog-site. This is of help for many of us to understand, what is going on in that “Beautiful Mind”:

    I Have Borderline Personality Disorder
    The Joyful Life of a Borderline/sociopath.
    By: Phage
    Written on February 18th, 2009

    I live in a world where everyone is a cardboard cutout, a puppet, a means to an end, a fling to be discarded, a way to find connection, to plaster-over the lonelyness of my irreperable disconnection from mankind.

    I’m a borderline, but I’m also a sociopath. It’s a really weird combination. I’m both sensitive, vulnerable, and overly emotional, and yet detached from humanity. I’m virtually unable to find connection with others, and yet I need attachment, that completion.

    When I’m by myself I default to a state of emotional vacancy and intolerable boredom, every moment must be filled by some activity or entertainment, and nothing holds my interest for long. The only interruptions are those of my own making, occasional manic episodes followed by deep troughs of depression.

    And so I seek out people. Clubbing is my favorite social activity, constant superficial mingling combined with an environment friendly to drinking and drug use. A little intoxication goes a long way, people are drawn to me. I seem bright, happy, filled with life. My mix of total arrogance and self depricating humor is somehow magnetic, it makes it relatively easy to find friends or sexual partners, at least for the short term. I get bored of people just as quickly as everything else.

    But in some ways, this is good. I’m usually attracted to the wrong sort of guys, the ones who share at least a small bit of my sociopathic nature. Men who’re weak, the nice ones, the stupid ones, are just temporary amusement, people to mock and toy with until they realize they’re not going to get laid and look elsewhere. I’d have to be desperate to sleep with someone like that.

    And yet when I spend time with individuals, or small groups, I become hypersensative. Little things become big deals, small hurts bleed freely, and the cool, smooth emotional void that fills my days alone is replaced by a roller-coaster of wild reactions. Sometimes the presence and demands of others becomes an intollerable burden. Slowly, and then all at once, everything becomes horribly irritating.

    Their words crawl under my skin and cannot be shed, everything they say to try to make things better only makes it worse, their presence alone is intolerable. I burst, scream at them, obscenities perhaps, or maybe I just tell them they should never have been born. Then, realizing this is sort of thing will harm my relationship with them, I apologize quickly. It’s incencere, of course, all my apologies are. Sincerity of that nature would require I thought there was anything wrong with screaming at them, that I thought they were a real person. There are no people in my world, just placeholders where people are supposed to be.

    Amazingly, most people seem to be able to tolerate this kind of behavior long enough for me to get bored with them. They might get upset, but I apologize so quickly, I’m obviously not myself and it usually doesn’t last long, especially if I can get stoned to help calm myself down. I’m good at manipulation, at making everything seem reasonable and okay.

    But the more I get to know someone, the less I respect them. I don’t know why exactly, perhaps because in one way that matters greatly to me they are invarriably weak. I don’t have a concience, I’m glad I don’t, it’s something I would never change, but invariably the people I’m with are different. Things like right and wrong matter to them, and that’s just stupid.

    Or maybe it’s simpler, sooner or later everyone becomes subject to my manipulation, and so lose a portion of my respect. It’s unavoidable, I never stop. I’ve tried not to for the purpose of relationships, but I’m unable. Any time I talk (at least, when I’m in a rational headspace) I’m accutely aware of my word choice, I say things the best way I can to get what I want. Even at my saddest, most miserable moment of depression I’m acutely aware of how I express my emotions, controlling that expression for the purpose of presenting the image which provides me with the greatest advantage.

    When I was young, my mother learned never to trust my tears. Sometimes I think some of the worst ways she treated me during my teenage years were actually defense mechanisms. It probably helped her, but as my borderline blossemed in my late teens my emotions were never believed. She could inadvertantly hurt me, and then tell me it was my fault for over-reacting, or never even believe that I was hurting at all.

    But whatever the reason for the lack of respect, and perhaps it is just familiarity breeding contept (I’m good at contempt), I eventually become mildly sadistic to everyone I know. I order them around, constantly needing to assert my dominance. Mild putdowns are the norm, and while I make an effort to say both positive and negative things, it’s usually the negative ones that come out of my mouth. If someone is catty with me, all the better. I enjoy that sort of thing greatly, and usually it escalates until all we’re doing is bitching at eachother. Then I get bored and tell them to chill out.

    Having just told you all these terrible things about myself, you might be surprised to find that I generally consider myself a decent person. Oh, I get depressed and hate myself sometimes, but it’s not because of my minor cruelties, or even my intermittant criminal behavior (a good subject for another story, perhaps), it’s more… vague. Open ended self hatred, I’m a loathsome person because . There isn’t really a reason for it at all.

    But most of the time, when I’m not really thinking about it, I’d say I’m not a bad person, maybe even a good person. I’d tell you that I’m nice most of the time, and in some ways I am. I tend to be free with things that don’t matter a whole lot to me, like small amounts of money, drugs, little favors. I’m a good listener, and a good confidant. And with the people I’m close to I reveal some of my vulnerability and confusion, and that’s always endeering.

    But I rather doubt most people could look at me objectively and say, “yeah, she’s a good person.” More likely the opposite. But the thing is, the parts of me that I see as bad are those that are broken. My emotional hair-trigger, my inability to keep friendships, the fact that I have no self-discipline to speak of. My unfortunate vulnerability to the opions of others, my constant need to assert my superiority (which, frankly, is tiring as hell). These are what I see as bad. The hurts I do people, the things I steal, the people I use, the way I treat those close to me, none of these are bad at all. I have no concience, and so I have no guilt. Well, I should say no guilt for immoral acts. I still occasionally feel bad about a few occasions I got cought stealing or the likes… it’s just that it’s the getting cought I feel guilty about.

    Surprisingly enough, I have been in love before (another topic for another story perhaps, it was a very violently turbulent romance), and I even have a best friend. My only real, true friend, though I usually use the word casually. She’s a hippy, a nice person, she recycles and feels it’s her purpose to help people. I don’t understand how I formed a connection with her, it’s something I rarely do with anyone, but strangely enough it happened. And for that matter, I don’t know how she can tolerate me. Perhaps in part it’s because she doesn’t play along with my superiority games, and is okay with being bossed around a bit. And she doesn’t have a hard time with my emotional surges, she’s very empathic, and she’s bipolar herself so she goes through similar problems. Sometimes I even (awkwardly, because I don’t have much empathy) comfort her. I try, anyway.

    Anyway, that’s who I am, or at least my current perception of who I am. It changes frequently, I’m an unstable person and my self-assessments are naturally influenced by the moment.

    • This is very strange, but it sounds exactly like my h – even the clubbing. I think there is probably a veil of truth to it. Like she admits, her truth is situational. But what I see here, and with my h, is a bizarre form of introspection. “The world according to h”, a fascinating realm of study, he always thought I should hang on his every word when he decided to gift me with his inner thoughts.

      • I thought and thought…what should have been the motive of this lady to write of her monster self…but might be…that even this is not the entire truth. I dread. How did we chumps survive with them? We should have been long dead, Nomar? Kudos for surviving n moving on 🙂

    • Chilling. Very much like my ex-wife with just two differences: 1) replace clubbing with playing World of Warcraft (similarly make-believe and juvenile); and 2) eliminate the rages (my ex wasn’t BPD and just more of a pure sociopath). But very, very similar to what I observed.

      Now 4.5 years out of the marriage it *amazes* me that I lived with such a monster for 22 years. Like checking out of a motel and realizing a huge alligator was lurking under your bed all night long. How the hell did I ever survive that?

  • I don’t understand why anyone should believe her pathetic dissertation on herself. She is a self admitted liar and manipulator. Why take anything she writes as truth? Seems like one more narcissistic cry for attention to me.

  • I have a lot more sympathy for the guy. I think it is possible that his seizures damaged his brain and changed his personality. It is also possible that his medications have affected him. Or the seizures could be a sign of an underlying problem.

    I am not sure if this makes a difference. I think it would make a difference to how you look at him and your past and how you feel about him.

    I have not had the experience of being cheated on, so perhaps I have a different attitude than many here. I think in a similar situation, I would at least talk to him and try to get him to have a brain scan. I would try to talk to this doctor, although they might not be willing to tell you anything. The doctor should know that their patient has had a dramatic personality change so they can treat the person properly.

    However, this might not help you now. It is likely that your husband will not listen to you or do anything to get treatment. I don’t know if you can use any of this in legal proceedings to have him declared incompetent or if that would be useful.

    This is the real issue – if brain damage has made your husband a person you can’t trust who mistreats you, should you try to stay with him? If there were no cheating involved, but he was abusing you or gambling your money away, I don’t think you would stay even if the problem was caused by brain damage. So perhaps the issue becomes, if there is a physical illness, is he willing to get treatment and is treatment possible?

    My best guess is that even if this was caused by the seizures, the drugs, or an underlying problem, it may be too late to do anything to fix your life. However, it might change your attitude towards what happened to you and help you enjoy the memories of the good years you had with him.

    And I think for other reasons, even if it’s too late for your family, it makes sense to talk to him and his doctor and his family about the possibility that he has a medical problem he needs to deal with.

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