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Kick Fear in the Ass and Laugh at Its Haircut

Apologies, chumps. I’ve been away from the blog for the long holiday weekend here. Had a nice empty nest weekend noodling around San Antonio, but I’m back at it today.

It was a good weekend — seeing a movie, eating barbecue, strolling around an old mission — rare time alone with my husband. I try never to lose sight of how lucky I am to have him, to have this life, to accept such blessings as normal, ordinary existence.

I sometimes get to remembering that none of this would be my life if I hadn’t taken several terrifying leaps of faith. I had to leave a cheater. I had to rebuild my life and invest fully in a good, sane life alone with my kid, my job, and my garden. I had to go to New Orleans and meet a Texan. I had to overrule my good sense that said “You’re a TEXAN. You live in TEXAS. How’s this going to work?!” I had to say goodbye to that job I loved, those friends, that garden, those fragile trappings of stability that were so hard won. I moved to Texas during a historic drought. As someone who grew up around the Great Lakes, and had a house next to the Susquehanna River, I get seriously panicky in deserts. I loathe hot weather. I’m still adapting, building this new life, a stranger in a strange land.

I’m not going to lie and tell you every step in this journey was filled with great rewards for having taken such brave steps. I tried to sell my house, just as I got a buyer, it flooded. I never found another newspaper editor job. I still complain incessantly about the 9 months of summer followed by 3 months of inferno that is the Texas climate.

But absolutely, it was all worth it and then some to have this new life. You just don’t get great rewards without great risks. So many of us, myself included, get paralyzed at the starting gate. There’s that saying: “Jump and the net will appear.” What they don’t mention is: “Jump and you will feel every second of that fucking free fall.” You have to tough it out, chumps. Gaining a life is an act of faith in yourself. That you can knit a net before you go splat on the pavement.

I see people in disintegrating reconciliations, red flags flying everywhere, and the chumps still have this abiding faith in their cheaters. In the face of all evidence to the contrary, they believe in unicorns. That this person will get their shit together, quit behaving narcissistically, will kick the ego kibbles, and be a full partner to them. However painful, whatever the costs, they can hold on to this dream for a very long time. Which strikes me as a waste, because if the chump had only had that unswerving faith in themselves, they’d be a lot happier. If chumps invested half the energy they spend figuring out their cheaters on themselves instead, they’d be much further along in a new life already.

Think about it — you only get to control yourself. You can’t control another person, especially a person who is behaving self destructively or narcissistically. Your best shot at happiness is YOU. If you’re making a bet, why not back yourself? I think those odds are much better.

The opposite of fear is faith. Which is just another way of saying LET GO. Fall already. When you’ve experienced infidelity, the worst has already happened. So let go of the fear — start working on being fearless.

SASSpeaking of being fearless, this brings me to my first ever Chump Lady Book Plug of Nepotism. “Smile At Strangers: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly” by Susan Schorn, my sister-in-law. (For sale in the Amazon box to your right.) Susan writes the column “Bitchslap” at McSweeney’s, humorous essays about life, and being a blackbelt in karate. She doesn’t write about infidelity (although I encourage every chump to read her hysterical essay about Other Women and pushing Rielle Hunter down a flight of stairs). Smile At Strangers is a memoir and how-to guide of facing your fears and chronicles her own journey from neurotic, anxious person to a woman who can kill you with a swift kick to your solar plexus.

Maybe marital arts isn’t your thing, but I encourage every chump to do something after DDay that makes you feel powerful, (apart from hiring an attorney). For me it was welding. My husband got a tattoo. Other chumps go back to school, buy a new home, travel somewhere their cheater would never go. Do something to invest in yourself and reclaim your life!

I’ll leave you with an awesome quote from “Smile At Strangers”:

“Don’t be afraid of the dark — grab darkness by the throat, kick its ass, push it down the stairs, and laugh at its haircut.” — Susan Schorn

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  • LOVE the McSweeney’s piece. So incredibly true & awesome. Thank you for sharing & major props to your sister-in-law. She rocks.

  • WOW. I so needed to read this. Fear, I know it well. It kept me married for 20 years to a gay, cheating, NPD loser. Sent me into a reconciliation I KNEW was doomed. Left me feeling so useless, so unlovable, so “less than.” The fear was so overwhelming, I really thought I would die once the narc dumped me.

    Yet I managed to tell him it was over, and call my attorney. I managed to struggle through creating a new home with my son. I managed to find a new career as a freelance writer. I managed to hold onto my old friends and even make some new ones. So I guess I’m stronger than I thought I was, and I’ll bet that is true for every single chump here.

    You are so right, CL, I felt, and still feel, every second of the terrifying free fall. I hate it. I want to be on solid ground, I want some sort of security. But at least now I know the fear is not killing me, and I am building my safety net even as I fall.

    I’m a lot further out from dday than probably most everyone here, yet I still struggle with the whole nightmare. I wish I had found this blog a couple years ago, I probably would be further along in recovery than I am. But I get up every day and keep on keepin’ on. Every morning I wake up is a step further into my new life and a promise to me that I get a fresh start. I get to transform myself and my life into what I want. Not everyone takes that chance.

  • Wow CL, did you write this for me? Thank you! It was exactly what I needed to hear!

    Holidays, just get to me! They just do, It’s still hard spending the holidays with my my family without STBXH, he was the funny one, the life of the party.

    My family is very closed in (i’ll be the first in family, mine and his) to get divorced. So when we’re together, everyone dances around the subject or give me pitty.. I hate it!

    So anyway, then I start doubting myself, and questioning why I can’t just move on, as quickly as everyone thinks I should. Why do I still cry, DD was 2years ago, up until 3 mos ago, limbo, pick me, pick me, I hate you, I love you… Rollercoaster!

    Like you said I need to put that energy on myself, who cares if he has a new skank?

    23yrs dedicated to a man that does not deserve me, and why can’t I move on?

    • What worked for me in the beginning? Start small.

      First thing I did is resolve to walk my dogs. We walk 3 miles a day, through rain, sleet, snow, and hot humid Southern weather and even on weekends, so that routine is more faithful than your mail courier 🙂

      Next thing, started working in the yard more, and now that looks much nicer. Started fixing small things around the house. Started reorganizing.

      I am to the point where I need to try to find some sort of outside interest group, I think. There are hiking groups, book clubs, people who go out to different restaurants, etc on meetup.com, so I have been thinking of trying out a few of those.

      I am still finding my new groove, but I have been basically happy, so now it’s more about getting out of my comfort zone and expanding my network possibly. But I had to start small, and I started with, “I am going to walk these dogs every day”.

      • Thank You for that! It feels like I’m crazy sometimes.
        Hopefully this time, I will be able to detach and move on.
        Today I made an appointment with my really good lawyer for next week – to proceed with the divorce (I had filed in 8/11 – but he never responded) So now I will have to follow through.

        I know what my mind says is the right thing , I just want my heart to catch up!

        • Sounds crazy, but I stand by the idea of starting new habits. Can be something really small like my dog walking:) New habits crowd out old habits, and that helped me anyway.

          • Time Heals,
            That’s what I’m working on. Lots of time to fill up even though it’s less stressful time, it’s a whole new world after 12 years of worrying and uncertainty and hurt. Trying to fill the time with things that are good for ME for a change. Been working on the apartment and soon I will try and paint again. I think new habits is a great way of getting through this! 🙂

            • it doesn’t sound in the least bit crazy, Timeheals. I think that’s great advice. For me, I’ve been decorating my new place to the hilt. (restrained hilt). That’s what I do— uhhh… for other people… for 18 years! Now, I have a bit set aside so that, FINALLY, I too can actually have some nice things. I find the days that I don’t have any appointments are especially difficult. But then, I look up and go… holy crap… my home is fucking gorgeous! What’s my fucking problem?

              who needs to live with someone who said to me in an email I read recently. I love you, but didn’t feel adored… I was turned on… yes, and you were/are a wonderful mother… but I didn’t feel validated or respected. (by the children is what he meant)…

              and therefore, he NEEDED to cheat on me over and over… he didn’t go into it looking for sex, but it was just too damned tempting. He was out of work, and I was starting to really establish myself. (cashcowchump me) Yes… classic, ain’t it?

              I have also started joining some meetups. I met 4 other women for dinner in our charming town the other night. I had never met a one of them, but you know… we had a good time. And I signed up for a couple of walking tours. sometimes, it feels like I’m forcing myself to do all of this, but I know that getting out there and enjoying life is key to getting past all of this.

        • Jackie89. I don’t know about your state. But in mine (MN) my lawyer told me there is a kind of filing that gives the respondent at deadline by which they must sign or counter. If they don’t – it goes through the way you want it.

      • thank you for saying that, CL. I never thought of it that way. I knew that I had to leave. I knew it the minute I found his cyber sex on July 5th, 2006, but it took me until September 2012 to figure out how to do so and then I left Dec. 17th 2012.

        I was afraid and I still am… but I was even more afraid to stay. Staying was a known quantity which was a life I did not sign up for and definitely did not want and it was obvious that it was never going to change. The only possibility for a better life was for me to leave. But, the loss of the parts that were good in addition to the parts that were bad has been tough to reconcile. And also the collateral aspects which is the loss of my extended family. All I ever wanted was to be part of a warm, loving family. I could’ve lived with some of the bad parts… but not with someone who could conduct his life as he did for so many, many years…

    • How long ago D-day occurred is almost irrelevant when there’s a protracted and failed reconciliation. Agree with CL that you are essentially 3 months out from the relevant crisis, just much more emotionally fatigued from the years of struggle that came before.

      Recovering is not a sprint but a marathon. Find your gait. Breathe. Enjoy the feeling of muscle moving bone and covering ground. You are headed for a better place.

    • Nela, two years in a limbo, you must be exhausted.
      3months of healing is nothing, stop worring what others say, take your time, as much as you need.
      It took me 7 months to get better ( I only saw him twice during this time, no contact otherwise), now we are selling our house and I need to be in touch with him more often. Doesn’t bother me. I finally understood and believe that it is his loss. He does not deserve me or my girls. Pathetic loser.
      Sort out what needs sorting out and then go no contact. It is not only a great way to heal it is THE only way.

  • CL, great blog and I really like the article your sister in law wrote!

    I am with anudi—I have moved on but what you wrote is invaluable for those who are still in the process!

    I still feel fear…but now I have the mental image of kicking its ass and laughing at its haircut! 🙂

  • The fear was almost crippling for me in the beginning. You know that feeling when you’re driving in the mountains and you come around a curve and see that it’s 1500 feet straight down with no gaurd rail? You get that clinching feeling in your stomach and you involuntarily draw your breath in. I felt like that for 2 months (I suspect I’m not alone).

    From the first ILYBINILWY until the realization that this is really the end of something I thought would last forever, I was nearly overwhelmed with fear. I imagine that’s why I started showing symptoms of PTSD. Every other emotion flowed from or to fear except for sadness which was its own psychological hub. I noticed that the initial blinding, soul-sucking fear waned with my hopes for saving the relationship.

    Fear still kicks my ass on a daily basis and I don’t think I’ll be laughing at it any time soon. I fear for my children. I fear loneliness and emptiness. I fear the court system. I fear future relationships. I have plenty of fears but I’m still putting one foot in front of the other and I guess that’s something.

    • Hell yeah that’s something! That’s how it starts. Like I said, you feel every second of the fucking free fall. No getting around the fear, except to face it and try your best to conquer it. You’re moving in the right direction, key word — moving. Hang in there HB.

      • Hmmm… moving is the antithesis of limbo isn’t it? Even if it’s tiny baby steps, moving is moving and that’s not limbo. Thanks CL! You just made my evening.

      • its amazing how our feelings are so similar, however, I don’t feel like I’m free-falling. I think I was in a slow free fall for a long time, but then with D-Day #2 landed splat on my boney arse! Now, its more like slogging through thick mud at times.

        One thing that changed immediately after D-Day #2 is that I had trouble going to bed. I still find myself fighting the fatigue. Maybe I’m afraid to end the day or maybe I’m afraid to wake up to find myself beginning again.

        I so look forward to the day when I wake up consistently, looking forward to what lies ahead instead of fearing that this pain will continue to haunt me for the rest of my days. I never felt numb. If anything, I was so full of feeling, that it seemed like it would consume me.

        I’m also trying to force myself to go to bed earlier and it helps to get more rest, too.

        • I have sleep issues as well. I fall asleep ok, but then I wake up super early, usually from a dream about the ex or something related to him. It’s starting to wane somewhat but not completely. I’m tired of being and looking tired.

          • When I discovered the second affair and knew my relationship was over, I decided that that idiot didn’t deserve for me to lose any more sleep over him. AND I knew I needed to be strong and rational to deal w/the fallout, which meant not letting myself get over-tired.

            For a few days I used Gravol or Benadryl to make sure I got to sleep at a reasonable hour, then got some melatonin. I know it doesn’t work for everybody, but for me it works like a charm. I read up, got the fast-working kind, and use a much smaller dose than the pills come – you can cut a 3 mg pill in half for the best dose, and if you’re on any estrogen (like the Pill), in quarters. Too much melatonin can make you feel yucky. One nice thing about it too, is that if you wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, but you’ve got at least 4 hs before you have to be alert, you can take another then.

            I also made a big point of getting physical exercise and fresh air, so my body would be ready to sleep.

            So try different things until you know what works for you, see your doctor if need be, there are non-benzo meds that can help a lot w/sleep. You need to take care of yourself, and be on your toes!

            And in the good news dep’t, it’s been almost exactly a year now since D Day, and about a month ago I stared waking up WITHOUT the ex and the mess he created and the pain he caused being the first thing I think about in the morning. YAY! One more step on the way to ‘meh’.

          • I stay up way too late for no good reason other than it’s my time to be without kids I think and I’m busy reading books or blogs. But maybe I’m just trying to distract myself from worrying about school starting and name changes and house stuff and all the other crap I gotta do right now.

            It seems like this sleeplessness come in phases… I am like this for a few months and then it goes away for a few months and then it’s back. So, yes, I was also totally exhausted and looking like it last week. I seemed to have kicked it this past weekend though. I was kidless and I slept in on Saturday and only was out of bed from about 10-2 that day. When I managed to occasionally emerge from bed later to get some food or something I was wandering around going am I depressed? and, I really should be doing like a million other things. Then I decided I deserve a day to lay around and stay in bed and do nothing even if I’m not totally enjoying it. And the next morning I woke up and felt better, looked better, and was excited about hanging out with friends and family for the rest of the holiday weekend. So, apparently that day of laying around and sometimes moping was what I needed. And since then I’ve been better at going to bed at a decent hour.

        • Sleep is a huge issue. I do the exact same thing Laurel and Erica (fighting the fatigue). My doctor put me on Lunesta because I went weeks on 1 to 3 hours per night. It makes it easy to fall asleep but I still wake up way too early like you do Nord. Even though I get more sleep now I still feel wiped out most of the time. Combined with being 20 lbs under-weight at the moment (I know, I force-feed myself, I do), the sleepless nights are probably taking a toll on my looks too.

          One of the worst things about insomnia for me was laying there in the dark with my mind racing in circles dreaming up all of the worst possible scenarios (most of which unfortunately turned out to be true). At least the mind-racing phase seems to have passed.

    • Heart Builder, I know exactly how you feel. I had those same “free fall” feelings for many months. I couldn’t sleep or eat I was so paralyzed with fear of the unknown. But you know what? It gets better. I was so scared of what would happen in the divorce but in the end there was nothing to fear. It came and went and my life is good. It took me a while to get to this point and some days the thoughts of what could have been still affect me. But not as bad as before. The cliché of “time heals” is true.

      Of course it helps to have a place like this where others can put things in perspective about what assholes these dysfunctional people are and how we truly deserve so much better. Hang in there, it will be better. It’s almost MY Tuesday for Meh 🙂

      • You have no idea how much it helps to hear your progress Disappointed. Actually, you probably do know now that I think about it.

      • Fortunately I am not bothered too much by the sleep issue, sometimes having sleep apena a weird blessing BUT.. when I can’t sleep I restore to Mid Nite PM an OTC product that doesn’t leave you groggy and out of it in the AM and you can take it later at night. I have a script for Lorazepam .5 mg and that helps when I am really freaking out. Also endless games of online solitare; you focus it is boring and just don’t fight it sleep comes. Kind of like meditation A routine, warm milk and counting your blessings ( and you all have them!) helps too.

    • Heartbuilder – Yes, that is something. It’s what I’m doing, too – putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes take 2 steps forward and one step back, but I’m still going in the right direction. I struggle with fear every day. I keep telling myself to: “Feel the fear. Do it anyway.” If I waited for the fear to go away first, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of what I’ve done so far – emotionally detach from my supposed life-long marraige, say goodbye to my friends and job that I loved and move across the country. I have a long way to go. I am feeling the fear, and the free-fall, especially about the future (as you mentioned, the courts, future relationships plus custody and my STBXH’s rages). But I am doing it anyhow. I am keeping my fingers ultra-crossed that my leap of faith will win out.

      • Well DLU the leap of faith can’t be any worse than the freefall and going splat on our bony arses (thanks Laurel, that describes my second d-day perfectly). I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  • In the research i have done PTSD is quite a normal occurance when dealing with Narc’s especially when everything that you thought to be true is learned to be a lie..been there done that…..have anxiety now that at least I can name what it is…..but…….it cuts to the core of your trust and is completly normal…..I am 3 years into the “last” OW on my watch…..(there were at least 3 others)…..property is split up, divorce is finalized…but there will be lifelong battle for the kids becasue he married Mistress #4/Wife#2 and have now decided to replace me as mom in my kids lives……….how does one get away just to find some peace when the kids are still being used as pawns?

    • bubblesthehejellyfish, don’t know how old your kids are, but the battle is not forever. Once they are old enough, they get to decide for themselves. It is not issue of age only, more likely maturity.
      I can imagine how awfully difficult it must be for you. I cannot imagine that B***H even touching my girls, yet alone having a part in their upbringing.
      Just be there for your kids, love them, hug them, kiss them, have fun and they will figure it all out when the time comes.
      You can help them a bit with that :0)
      I have explained to my girls a billion times what daddy did is wrong, the situation is not normal and it was not supposed to be like this. But I always add that we are three amazing strong women and we will get through it ( I do believe it too, which helps)
      My 11 years old turned out to be way smarter than I gave her credit for.
      She doesn’t want to go on holidays with daddy if the OW is going to be there. She refuses to talk to her even though her dad does everything humanly possible to convince her to do so. He is still naively hopeful that this is going to change.
      Has no idea that her teenage years are yet to come!!!
      I am blessed that I don’t have any court orders to deal with, I moved countries after DD and left my husband behind with the OW to live happily their sick, toxic love story. I run away literally with one pair of jeans on my ass and 200 euros in my pocket ( and two small kids!)
      It has been tough but it has been the best thing I have done in a very long time.

      And their love story… from what I heard they are at each other’s throats six months later ( living together).
      What can I say, Karma I love you!

      • mag,

        Thanks mine are all boys, 17, 10, 8…..i won’t lie….it isn’t forever but 9 more years sure feels like forever. i would like nothing more than them to live out their sick toxic love story themselves, but my kids are there 1/2 of the time…..as for Karma, I have received similar information to your report…the middle one says Momma, yours and Daddy’s marriage was so much better than Dad’s and OW#4/Wife#2 they scream at each other all the time………..out of the mouths of babe’s. We have had those tough conversations and explained about choices and such…but I still wonder what happens to the kids in these situations when they are forced to live in that kind of environment.

  • CL,

    More genius from you.

    The marriage you describe reminds me of my own marriage, which is different from the one I grew up with. It’s just darned NORMAL. Normal feels awfully good. Of course, there are challenges, but these are challenges from without, not constant whack-out betrayals from within. Normal is good. I think that one thing that makes for narc-sparkles is Chump youth and inexperience. And I think breaking with the (ab)normal is scary, but it’s a good thing to do. Feel the fear and move on anyway…..

    I also think that we Chumps can’t just “forgive.” The Forgiveness Industrial Complex denies us our stand-up time. It is necessary to stand up to the Narc to get to Meh, at least in my experience. And standing up doesn’t mean yelling at that person. It means taking quiet actions that show you have cut the cords with him/her. Cut the noose that person put around your neck.

    Well, my two cents.

    Chump Son

    • nicely said, Chump Son. the “quiet actions” are exactly what I have done. No more communication unless it directly involves the kids, and all of them are adults now, so unless they tell their dad, nothing has to come from me. If and when I see him in public, I turn my back or look straight through him. He means nothing to me. The noose is almost freed from my neck. When the rope burns heal, and that will be soon, I pray – my “meh” will come. And I will be skipping along life’s path with a big ol’ goofy grin on my face and a song coming from my lips. Looking forward from now on.

    • David…thanks for saying that…I know we can’t just ‘forgive’ that we need our ‘stand-up’ time. Thank for defining the stand-up time.

      I cannot tell you how many people told me to tell him off, to rip him a new one, but I knew if I did that that I would look like a lunatic and, dare I say it?, the OW.

      No, instead, I cut the cords quietly and made my escape…I don’t even know that he noticed…which is good—it is good when they are SO involved in their shenanigans that they take little or no notice of the things you do. When they finally realize you have moved on they may try to engage in various ways. I didn’t fall for it. All lies anyway. I wanted there to be no drama anymore. I was sick of it…of all I had been through already. I was ready to be rid of the Albatross around my neck.

      I was afraid…as I am sure everyone here is or will be…but I just trusted that all would fall into place…that it was temporary thing because, let’s face it, everything is temporary. All the pain and hurt it is TEMPORARY. I just breathed in and out. From moment to moment sometimes and eventually it was natural.

  • I am grateful that I’ve found this site. After 38 years of hell, so grateful. And I know, I’m not crazy because of the gem of truths I have found here.

  • This site helps keep me sane… It’s been 9 months (and 5 days, 6 hours…) since the infidelity roof caved in and I still feel the fall. Not constant – I can breathe and I know somewhere down deep I’ll be better than ok, but I still feel pangs of “Why did he leave?” He wanted out of the marriage and gave me a lovely exit affair as a parting gift after 20 years and two wonderful children. I wish I could fully (at all moments) embrace the idea that I don’t need anyone who would do that to me, but I keep seesawing between fuck him and god I wish he’d come back. Any tips for fostering the “I’m better without him” voice? I just feel so weak sometimes – I was too weak to change him or myself and too weak to leave him and his sorry selfish ass myself… Bless you, Chump Lady.

    • I wish mine would just up and leave. He is obviously unhappy and I see from text messages on the “secret” cell phone that the OW is getting antsy “Are we ever going to be together?” Yet he sits here not making a move in any direction. I resent like hell that he is going to make me do all the work and I bet at some point he will call me a b—tch for leaving him and taking all his money.

      • yep, he will… it happened to me. But if you don’t do it, you’ll just be stuck with him. Might as well get moving on it so you can start on your new life. Sometimes I would tell myself that at least this is the last thing I ever have to do for him. And actually I wasn’t doing it for HIM, but for myself. But I understand why it’s annoying for you, it was for me. After all, I spent so much time taking care of everything when we were together and now I even had to completely take care of THIS as well, and he’s the one that caused the situation in the first place.

      • Janet, please don’t waste another minute if your life on that loser. Take your life back. I don’t know your story but you deserve better. I was married for 29 tears when my husband decided to look for a girlfriend. He found one. I did the humiliating pick me dance for 3 months. Then he said “It’s really sad because you know what you want and you have no control and I don’t know what I want and I have all the control”. I didn’t even respond. I just found myself a lawyer the next day and took control. That was 6 years ago. We have been divorced 5 years and he married the girlfriend. It has been quite a journey and it has been really hard but I am grateful for it. Betrayal is the worst pain in the world. But you will survive and ,oh, the lessons you will learn. So leave him and take your money- you earned it. And if he calls you a bitch- so what!! Life without that person is so much better than life with him. Wishing you well!

      • Yes, he will call you a bitch and accuse you of taking all ‘his’ money. I hear it all the time and am currently in court to get support after many years as a SAHM. He resents having to support me and is a total dickhead about the whole thing. Just get what you need, don’t try to ruin him and then leave it behind.

        • Yes, but get what you deserve and not a penny less though. Because they are going to complain regardless. Don’t start a war over a little bit of money, cause it’s not worth it. But you need to look out for you. He sure is hell isn’t going to no matter what he says. My ex used to say, “I’ll always take care of you” during this negotiating. I’m like, 1) I don’t even want you to take care of me, I’m divorcing you, we need to move on. Plus, clearly, you didn’t do that good a job at that the first time. And, 2) why would I believe you’ll always take care of me when trying so hard to give me as little as possible now? As usual, they are all talk. Sure, I’ll believe this nebulous promise of future “taking care of”. Gimme a break!

          • Agreed. Just got off the phone with my lawyer and we’re going for it. I don’t want to destroy him, just get support for me and the kids.

              • No, they don’t. All those years it was ‘we’re a team, we’re in this together’. The second I caught on to his double life and kicked him out it’s grown increasingly ugly, with accusations of me ‘mooching’ off of him all these years. What a guy. His kids are going toreally respect him one day.

              • Nord, AE and all, thanks for the encouragement. emailed my lawyer this week and she sent me a list of negoiators. Baby steps.. Today is an OK day and it makes me sad that he is throwing me away for some person he hardly knows (seriously the total sum of their relationship is perhaps 1 or 2 meetings and tons of texting/talking) I just don’t get it. It is so stupid.

        • Nord and Erica, Does it seem like the guys who have the most culpability, the ones who should be groveling or falling on their swords, are the ones who get the pissiest (sorry if that’s not a real word) about money? I’m not saying I was a perfect husband by any means; but I should be all about wrath and vengeance and I struggle constantly just to stop putting her best interest ahead of mine. The human race is messed up.

          • HB,

            Well, these cheaters have a lot of nerve saying a lot of the shit they say after Dday, so I guess why should the money thing be any different? But, I will say, even after Dday, I still thought I could trust him. Like I didn’t think he would literally betray me again… then he went and pulled some relatively small bullshit things regarding lawyers and money. I don’t know why these acts surprised me. I guess I’m just happy what he pulled was minor. I don’t even know why it was worth it to him to do it. But all it did was solidify in my mind that what I was doing was right.

            And don’t get me started about how he has a lifelong, stable, good-paying career set up for himself and I’m a SAHM who has to start over. He just has to not live high on the hog for a few years. And I have an entirely unknown future/career ahead of me. The annoying thing is he thinks part of the reason I left was for the money. Um, no… pretty sure I’d have a lot more money with you than without. I’d just be miserable. Or have to get a boyfriend. Or probably be miserable and then get a boyfriend and spend extra money on myself to try to make myself feel better. Oh wait, I’m not a narcissist so that would never be what I would do!!

            I kinda mentioned to my lawyer about when he was ever going to stop bitching about the money. And if all guys are like that. And he said they pretty much all do it and that it isn’t going to stop. You’ll have to let me know if that’s actually true 🙂 I do understand why it would be annoying (and REALLY annoying to be a chump paying out) but especially when you’re at fault, how much can you really complain?? And why can’t he complain to someone who might actually give a shit? Not to me. Does he think I’m going to be sympathetic?

            But still, I think we chumps would just suck it up more and know that it is only money and that happiness is more important. I already said I’d have a lot more money with my cheater than without him. I chose happiness over material things. Cheaters are the type that actually do think that money=happiness. And by the way, that his “always take care of me” talk, along with a multitude of similar remarks, just shows that all he thinks it takes to take care of someone is to deposit a paycheck. I’m trying to remember your story, HB, but I think you should try not to think about her too much if you can and try to just think about what is best for the kids (I think you have them?). She made her bed, now she has to lie in it.

            • STBX says I should be ‘grateful’ he gives me money that I haven’t ‘earned’. He’s an asshole.

              • Asshole, indeed. I think the idea of unearned gratitude is at the root of a lot of what these crazies do.

                Don’t know how that compares with having to pay a serial cheating ex (whether for alimony or child support that may or may not be spent on the children) for years and years after the divorce, even after she’s married her final (?) affair partner. Just a different form of pretzel logic, I guess. That chumps have to financially subsidize the households of their cheating (and fully employed) exes and their (fully employed) affair partners for years after the fact is just . . . bizarre.

              • Nomar,

                It is difficult to compare two sides of the same crappy coin but I would agree a stay at home cheater (or significantly less earning cheater) might be one of the worst. I can’t imagine having to subsidize a lifestyle for them. Blech!

                Nord,

                That sentence sounds like it came straight from my ex!

          • Yes, hearthbuilder, it seems the worse they are in the marriage the worse they are in the divorce. Mine was a serial cheater – even banged my best friend, it turned out – and he acts like he’s the victim and I’m some awful person trying to ‘ruin’ him. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

          • HB, when I started talking to lawyers soon after Dday–and the consensus there was that at my salary range, I’d be better off staying married until I got the better job and got more options–one lawyer told me that sometimes the guy has so much guilt that he will give more than the courts would likely make him give. However, I don’t think that serial cheaters or personality disordered people will feel guilty. In October, when Dday was a fresh wound across my soul, I thought that STBX would be guilt-ridden when I confronted him. Now, even looking back at that time, I think he’d be more angry at getting caught than guilty for doing wrong.

            For me, since I no longer am under the illusion that I can expect a guilty conscience to help out with the settlement, I’m trying to track improper use of marital funds. The money he’s spent on OW’s mortgage, health care, etc.–all of that will have an impact on the settlement. Oddly enough, if he’d spent that money on gambling, he’d not need to repay it. However, since he’s spent it on the affair, he is held responsible. I’m hoping to leverage that fact in the settlement, since I suspect he’ll be embarrassed that I know, and fearful that I’ll tell.

            • KB, my EW worked part time. Didn’t “want” a full time job even after both boys were old enough (teens). She gambled away more each month than she made. She cleaned out the saving account 2 days before filing, then told me just how legal it was for her to do that.

              I have 50/50 legal and physical custody. Have to pay Child support. Have never missed a payment, and EW still complains about how she got. She, the cheater, is the “victim”. I am now in the countdown of the last 12 checks. I can then spend the CS money on my sons, and not see it go straight to the casino.

            • KB – I once read that little fact that if you can settle it all pretty quickly then one party is probably still feeling guilty and will give more than they would usually and the other party is more willing to take whatever they offer or something like that. I don’t know. But I guess the longer things get drawn out the less generous either side is. I have no idea if that’s true. I don’t know if anyone feels generous or like they got what they deserve in a divorce.

              • I was told that as well–I should have nailed him right away with signed papers when he was still feeling guilty. Now he’s just furious because it’s not all working out the way he thought it would and naturally this is my fault and I MUST BE PUNISHED! I swear, it’s comical how stupid this gets.

              • Nord, exactly the same here,
                Mine is blaming me for his realtionship being rocky! Apparently I am turning my kids against her and it puts extra pressure on the “loving couple”
                This is just a tiny bit of the “crimes” I have committed. I am pretty much guilty of everything…
                So funny!

    • mzmama, write down all the shit he did that annoyed the hell out of you, notice the peace in your house, see how nice it is not to clean up after him. Now, what is a thing you always wanted to do but did not because he didn’t want to do it? Go do that thing. And hey, Do not blame yourself for not being able to change him, you only control you. Your love for him was what kept you with him even when he hurt you, so go do the therapy for a while to learn to love yourself as much as you did him.

      • Already working on the therapy and myself… One thing that helped was to realize that after he left, the only thing I missed was him feeding the cats. Otherwise, nothing in the house changed. Thanks for the uptalk!

    • Nine months is just too little in front of twenty years of marriage and 2 children, Mzmama!

      There are two layers to our mind: the conscious and the subconscious. The conscious one is fast, understands better and changes quickly. The subconscious is very slow; it assimilates and provides grounding for our core beliefs. This one is the laggard and rightly so: otherwise, human beings would have been very unstable creatures. It constitutes over 95% of our mind. However, when we want some core movements like this: Leaving your core relationships etc., we find that we are in “limbo”, “free-fall” etc. This is because our subconscious has not yet assimilated enough yet to make that core movement.
      I announce that I have moved on…and have got a new job, new place and old and new friends and acquaintances…my kid is growing well. I rarely worry over my ex. However, tonight and on many nights like this, I have had dreams around my ex. They say that while conscious mind is sleeping, the subconscious plays out all the drama: the fear, the want of reconciliation and good old life back etc.

      Therefore, please allow yourself more time. Take small baby steps. Hang in there. You have a lot of resource on such sites. I know you’ll get better with more time 🙂 . Have FAITH in YOU!

      • Thanks, anudi – I’ve had lots of people (real and virtual) tell me that this will take time. I just get frustrated by the pendulum – even though it doesn’t swing as far now, it’s still frustrating to find myself on the wrong side of okay. Baby steps are my buddies, now, as are the words on this site. Peace!

  • CL,
    Great post, as always. so glad you had a great weekend! Your SIL has some great things to say how nice for you to have a strong woman in the family to relate to. I am almost at the 6 month point, am doing so much better than I ever thought I could be. Still disoriented at times, but the NC and therapy are working. I told my therapist today that CL and the Chumpettes saved my life… 🙂 XO

  • It’s been a year since I got the ‘speech’ and almost a year since my son and I moved back home to the US. The one thing that helped me take those steps despite the overwhelming pain and fear was him. He needed at least one stable parent in a world that had turned upside down. Focusing on getting a job, a place to live in a good school district, helping him through a new school environment – it helped take the focus off that pain and fear, and put it on what was important . . . building a new life filled with love, laughter and (dare I say) chocolate lol He has thrived in our new home, doesn’t miss anything of the past. Me, I’ve started to regain my strength with each successful step and am ready to tackle the biggie – the actual divorce itself. Can I kick the STBX in the ass and laugh at his haircut instead? 😉

  • I don’t have a problem with fear flying, I’m a year out from my finalized divorce. And I have a protective order that I just got renewed and I feel safe physically. I have a problem with dreams and desires right now. I don’t seem to have any. I need a vacation cos I’m burnt out from work, I used to want to go to so many different places, now I can’t remember a single destination that I’m really into. But that’s just a small thing, I ask myself “what do I want” and I have no answer. I work, I watch the birds, take care of the cats and the house, I read or watch tv, I sleep – but I don’t dream. Anyone else have this issue?

    • Ddw,
      I force myself to do things, One little thing at a time. Your life sounds a lot like mine and I am SO looking forward to the day when I really want something. It all just seems like such a struggle, so I burrow. but I’m getting better and better, doing more and more, and trusting that my mind knows better than me. I’m just trying to be kind to myself, next step will be more exercise for energy, Good Luck!

      • Ddw,
        I share some problem of “what next” too. I am 38 and have a 13 yr old son. I have lost a lot in the last few years…but am trying to get my rightful place in career, finances and family support back. I guess, I am doing fine and both of us (me n my kid) are doing great with the support of my doting parents. I am also enjoying the long-forgotten freedom. I involved myself thoroughly in a voluntary charitable organization during my fighting days and understood that I have a calling there. However, due to change of place due to my job, I will need to start an organization of my own (I see myself growing old surrounded by children in an orphanage that I have put up. This is my dream).
        Things are pretty well lined up. However, I do give in here. I wish I will have a good partner again, with whom I will like to grow old. I don’t know how it will happen, if it ever does. Am I still playing “spackle spackle”?
        I don’t know how chumps get into the whole cycle of dating/marriage again. I don’t know, if my fear that I shall age and will have nobody if I decide to eventually throw in the towel after my son grows up to atleast 17-18 (when he can understand and adjust with my next partner) will be leaving me single for life. I don’t even know, whether, I shall wish to be vulnerable again in my life!
        But, I concede that not having a partner is like a gaping hole and somewhere I find myself going back to the memories of my cheater ex to fill that vacuum. Does that happen to others too?

    • Do you mean like when you find yourself Googling “What am I supposed to do?” like you might find the answer that way? LOL–yep, been there definitely.

      I don’t get that feeling much lately, but boy… in the beginning I sure did.

      I have some goals now, but they are pretty darned humble compared to some I had in my previous married life.

      Upthread I posted some things about starting small and replacing old habits with new habits, and that’s helped out with that tremendously 🙂

      • thanks for the kind replies, I guess it takes time – I’m getting old so it feels like I’m wasting the time I have left.

        • I still feel a bit like my “new life” is on hold. My old life is pretty much gone. Or at least the big chunk of it that he took up. But I can’t say my new life feels like it’s really begun yet. Maybe because I still am not doing a lot for ME yet. And I do sometimes feel like I’m going through the motions a bit. I haven’t found some brand new passion in my life or anything. I’m not running around living one of those fabulous divorcee lives you see on tv or anything. I try to get out there and try some new things, but sometimes that just feels like I’m trying too hard and isn’t as fun as I would expect.

          So maybe I do need this book!

        • I am with you Datdamwuf…. dreams? desires? All I want is to manage. Financially I am worried, 62 y/o, part time job, no fault divorce state, house on market but no current prospects. I am not frantic like I was at first, but almost more of a resolved blah. I want no part of Mr. Wonderful, but I can’t help but wonder how I got here!? Time will help, I’m not divorced yet so I truly do not know how bad the bottom line will be, but I know it is harder to recreate at this point in my life. That is reality too.

          • I have no new dreams or desires, would just like to be able to paint again. My daughter bought me classes, and I would break down and cry! How sad/ bad is that? I am getting my apt in order, making a little “studio” in the back room where he kept all his shit, had the house deep cleaned, and am working on drawers, cabinets, etc. Oh, and used Sage…lots and lots of sage! Eating good/healthy, and trying to start to get some exercise.! Going to try and paint again when it’s all done…Wish me luck! If I fail it’s not going to be for lack of trying..LOL! I figure if I was able to put SO MUCH effort into him and that effort only got me cheated on, broke, depressed and hating myself then I can at least. Put 1/4 of that effort into ME! Thank you all, you got me this far, XO to CL &Co!

    • Need a vacation but don’t know where to go? That’s easy. Have you read CL’s post about New Orleans?

      http://chumplady.com/2012/08/how-to-get-over-a-broken-heart-go-to-new-orleans/

      You just missed Jazzfest, but there’s a lot to do there year ’round. Just get a room in the French Quarter and roam around. Eat beignet in the morning, sleep through the hot afternoon (or ride the street cars, or stroll the cemetaries, or, or, or. . .. ), and go see live music and people watch all night. Very reasonable since you don’t need a rental car or expensive activities and summer is off season down there.

      The place is magical. Transcendent. Healing. You won’t regret it.

      • And for those who are further north, or would prefer to head that way, Montreal’s JazzFest is June 28th to July 7th, tons of free shows and lots of ticketed ones too. Our Old Port and downtown are very walkable, great little hotels and B & Bs, amazing food – from classy French to every other nationality you can imagine! The museums, the fireworks! When it gets tough, everybody needs a few days of intense liveliness to remind them us how rich life can be!

        • Thanks for giving me something to dream about on this dreary day! A three-hour drive, and I could be in lovely Montreal with some intense liveliness — it sounds absolutely delightful.

          The whole “bad haircut” thing gave me a wonderful thrill. My STBX just emailed me from his archaeological dig, and it brought back to mind his fear of Turkish barbers. After they’ve given him a horrible haircut, they then insert flaming devices into his ear and nasal openings to burn off any unsightly hairs, and finish by happily slapping tobacco-scented aftershave all over his face. He usually gets a really, really, really short haircut before he leaves the States for the summer, in order to minimize the personal grooming he needs to do while in Turkey for three months. I’m going to chuckle about this all day long!

          • What?!? Had no idea about Turkish haircuts! Learn something new everyday.

            Wish they had a Turkish haircut place here… I’d get my ex one for his birthday! 🙂

      • Absolutely Wuf! I left the abusive asshat that was my cheater, and moved to New Orleans about 18 months ago. This city is vital and welcoming. Come on down! I’ll buy you a Pimm’s cup…… Nomar, you come too.

        Also, when I was trying to make the decision on how to leave (I knew I was going to, just scared to make that first step and wanted to do it “correctly,” what ever that meant), I went to Fiji for a month. I went on a 10 day kayak trip that spanned the entire Yasawa archipelago. It was something I had always wanted to do, so I did it for my 50th b-day present to myself. It was expensive, and kind of scary, but so worth it.

        • A muffaletta at Central Grocery, a Sazerac at the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar, and a late set from John Boutte at Club DBA on Frenchman St.–the sure-fire cure for whatever (or whoever) ails you!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBoYaesvUuk

          “Your faith was strong but you needed proof
          You saw her bathing on the roof
          Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
          She tied you to a kitchen chair
          She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
          And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah”

          • Nomar, Wuf, Toni, and any other chump out there…. Come down here….. would love to see you all.

            Bubbles, cross the lake and let’s celebrate being alive.

            Nomar, back at ya, babe…

            Maybe there’s a God above
            But all I’ve ever learned from love
            Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
            It’s not a cry you can hear at night
            It’s not somebody who has seen the light
            It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

            -Leonard Cohen

            • They just started a direct flight to NO not too long ago. From my town…I considered it a sign 🙂

  • Love your sister in law – I am actually a fellow karate practicioner (like her I know my strengths and weaknesses well: I have a sloppy defense – just as in my marriage, you can take me by surprise if you just suddenly hit me right in the face, something you shouldn’t do and I have too much control to do that unto others, I don’t expect others to break the rules…).

    Karate brings me in contact with my fears – no, surprisingly it’s not the sparring, but the exams! My husband hated everything about the sport. But I know how to stand up to him at least physically. Sloppy defense maybe, but be ware of my offense! (A chump-friend of mine messaged me a photo of her black eye yesterday, that made me realize how lucky I am to know a little about self defence – in the physical way).

    Since D-day I learned how to do finances, handywork around the house (even laid tiles and installed a faucet myself!) and found a new and challenching new job. This crisis really brought out the fighter in me. It was not fear holding me back, but complacency I think. I was relatively happy, no real need to start new things, explore new worlds. But now life has forced me to, I notice I really enjoy it. Silver linings!

  • CL, I definitely need to reclaim my power. I vaguely remember being single and feeling great about my life – proud of what I was accomplishing, and looking forward to the days ahead. I haven’t felt like that for so long. I live with fear – for myself and my children. I don’t trust people much. I still walk on eggshells, I’m so conditioned. I need to un-learn all of these things. It is taking more time than I thought (maybe because my divorce is still pending announcement). Fear is draining my energy – I need to do something to halt its parasitic growth. And the sooner the better. My kids need me to be strong. Heck, I need me to be strong. Bcause I still have a long way to go, and I want to be a good mom along the way.

  • I remember being very afraid when I went through this 20 years ago in my first marriage.
    It was the death of a dream and I was so depleted by the gaslighting and abuse, I was a wreck.
    But, once out, away from the abuser, life got better pretty fast. When you are with these types, the erosion of one’s self is insidious and you do not realize it is happening.
    Second time was easier, as Ihad the internt support sites and I hated my XW by the end, tha abuse had been so relentless. I did not miss her one fucking bit. Soon life was good.

  • Thanks CL. This post is perfect timing for me. After almost 3 years post Dday, and several attempts on leaving, I finally left my wife yesterday. I’m as scared as hell, but determined to follow through with it this time. I have a lawyer in place which I’m expecting to need. My wife is a high functioning NPD/BPD and verbally very aggressive. I hate aggression and she plays on that. So I’m glad this site exists and would appreciate any support.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Kraft~

      Wish I could tell you that it gets easier, and it definitely does, but it’s gonna suck for a bit now. Just always remember you’re doing the right thing. Living with someone who abuses you is never OK… and infidelity is abuse. Being “verbally aggressive” is abuse. Most of us on here somewhat further along, and we still need the support. We are also here to support you, and others who are just starting the process of gaining a life… and becoming whole again. If you haven’t read the archives, you might want to. Cl has some great insight. “Trust that they suck” was particularly helpful to me. I’m sure you’ll have your own favorites. Also, use the forums. Someone will almost always talk to you when you need them.

      We’ve all done this. It is super hard, but so much better than living the way you did. We all empathize. We are all Spartacus…. or Kraft.

      ((((((hugs)))))))

    • ((((((Kraft))))))). Wecome. This site is straight – cuts right to the point. Covers all stages, You can DO THIS!

    • Kraft, welcome aboard. You can find amazing support here just by reading and seeing that, while there are some novel combinations of suckiness, there’s really nothing new under the sun. In fact, I can bet that a large number of people here have experienced at least one aspect of everything you’re going through. In the very beginning for me it helped so much to hear similar stories to mine where the BS has done ok or even spectacularly. I second the recommendation on “Trust They Suck” wholeheartedly. I read it at least once a week. Any children? How long were you married?

  • If you have one family member, you are ahead of me.

    If you’re in your native country, you are ahead of me.

    If you know one person in a 500 mile radius, you are ahead of me.

    If you’re left with any savings, you are ahead of me.

    If the US government might kick you out, you are ahead of me.

    If you are covered in bruises from head to toe, you are ahead of me.

    If your partner slept with 50 people in the last 3 months (minimum) you are ahead of me.

    I left. You can too.

  • Tamara, Toni and FG, thank you!

    I’ve had so much time to prepare for this and It’s still awful. I can see a lot of you are doing it way tougher than I am. So sorry for you guys. I do have family where, and currently staying with my father who’s a great support. I live in my native country, Australia. And have my own successful business which I enjoy.

    I’ve known for a very long time this is what I had to do. Achieving it, and I still need to follow through, has been difficult.

    My favorite CL article has been “how to leave a cheater” . Lots of useful stuff there.

    • Australia? We have another Aussie around here, although he hasn’t popped in lately. Great place, by the way.

      YOu will survive this, I promise you. I’m more than a year and half out and although it still has its moments of suckiness I’m doing pretty well. I’m not in my native country and I was a stay at home mum and it’s been HARD trying to rebuild a career. It’s still not rebuilt all the way but I’m slowly getting there.

      My advice? Reach out to people. Talk to people. Make new friends. Cull the bad apples that are still around you. Transform your life, step by step. It’s hard…really hard, but the rewards are amazing. I have a couple of new friends that I can’t imagine my life without them. They’ve been there for me in a way that has left me humbled and grateful and realising that life really does throw us some horrible curve balls but if we keep taking steps forward we’ll find that things are better than they were before.

      Overall my life is much better, other than financial worries, but I’m working on that like mad and WILL sort it, one way or another (bank robbery is always an option).

      Stay strong, stay tough.

  • Laurel, FG is an inspiration. I think I’ve got it bad, and then hear her story! So sorry FG.

    HB, ironically “trust they suck” was the single article I picked out and re-read today, because in my previous attempts at this, I doubt my judgement , listen to her”spin”, and take her back. I need to push through this time, and CL is the best resource, I believe. Reading very similar stories to your own and seeing the outcome is very beneficial. The good outcomes get posted, because they leave and move on. The bad outcomes don’t make it. They just fade. That’s been me for 3 years.

    We’ve been married for 20 years, 2 children. I turned 49 2 days ago.

    Thanks guys!

    • I*m a year behind you, two kids, 20 years together. It’s awful, I know, but look at this way: you now have the chance to be with someone who will treat you well and who will let you treat them well. Not now, I know, but in time you’ll be ready.

      And happy belated birthday. 🙂

    • not sure if you realize, Kraft, but badass means an amazing person!

      me. 57. married 25 years. kids are (almost) 23 and 18.

      wasband is more than welcome to have full custody. LOL

  • I loved your SIL’s piece. So funny but dead on too. I’ve wanted to push Rielle Hunter down the stairs for a long time. What a piece of trash she is.

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