Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, Help me get my bad ass back

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m scared. Need some advice, support and a touch of bad-ass to go.

Been married to my high school sweetheart for 20 years, three kids (one at a private college and the other two in private middle school and high school — $$), 18 months out from D-Day, been separated almost a year, and I’m stuck.

I have read and re-read and read again your posts… Trust that they suck, untangling the skein, why is it so hard to leave, etc. Your blog helps immensely, as do the wonderful chumps who share their stories and perspectives, BUT, just when I feel brave, I get scared.

Logistics, really. Scared of getting an attorney (because of the expense). Is it stupid to think I can file and do the divorce without one? What about mediation or collaborative divorce? I’m serious. I need some insight here. Scared, too, because I know we will probably need to sell our house and it has been neglected because we “couldn’t afford” to fix things. Yeah, well, I couldn’t understand why we were broke, until D-Day.

My husband cheated for four years, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars CASH on his stripper girlfriend, plus ran up credit card bills that I had no idea about. And more crap that makes my head spin. He doesn’t want her, he wants our family… Ummm yaaaa… I really can’t imagine “getting over,” through, under, whatever, this. I know all he’s done is shady, but why do I go back to trying to figure him out? No one can believe what he’s done. He was not like this before…. I KNOW! You’re rolling your eyes. I have to trust that he sucks. My heart feels like it’s in a vice and I’m having panic attacks. My head is over-thinking things, but I’m pretty sure I HAVE to get a divorce. For my own good. My heart is taking longer to catch up to my head.

Please help by giving me a push off the effed up fence I’m sitting upon. Just scared because the view from up here looks crappy on both sides. Tired of doing things half-ass, please help me get my bad-ass back.

Nadine

Dear Nadine,

You need a lawyer like last year. I’m sorry your choices suck. We’ve all been there. But staying stuck is its own kind of choice — one that says “go ahead and keep screwing me over!” Here’s an off-color analogy. An ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, gets its ass fucked.

What do you think your husband has been doing while you’ve been on the fence? Home maintenance?

No, Nadine. He’s probably been blowing through marital assets on strippers and moving money and seeing his own attorney. You’ve been separated a year. Covering his butt and coming out of this with some advantage has probably occurred to him. He’s the entitled one here, and you’re the chump.

Time to stop being a chump and find that bad ass. A lawyer is a good place to start. Hiring a lawyer is hiring your own personal bad ass. They can help you make a plan. They can get a court order that ensures temporary support. You need to protect what assets you have left. Your husband is NOT your friend. A man who would blow HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars on strippers is NOT someone who has your financial well-being at heart. You can ask for that money back in a divorce settlement — he was spending marital assets! If you won’t see a lawyer for yourself, do it for your children.

There have been many people in your shoes, who haven’t felt like they can afford a divorce. And you know what? They get divorced. I asked my lawyer once how anyone affords it, especially if the financial situation is lopsided. He replied “that’s why you have to be scrappy.” That’s why your lawyer fights.

I think your priorities are whack. And part of this fear is having to examine those priorities. Mr. Stripperlove there must’ve had a huge sense of entitlement to do what he did. And you’ve got three kids in expensive private schools. Who gets neglected here? You and the house. That situation has to change. I know you must dread doing anything to disappoint your children. Like, for instance, saving thousands and enrolling them in public schools. But it’s time to face that reality. You can’t fix what you don’t face. They may be able to get scholarships or financial aid. But you can’t figure that all out until you face reality that if you’re getting divorced, you can’t afford your former lifestyle. And neither can your kids.

Is that fair? No, of course it isn’t. But let’s be clear on this where the fault lies — with your husband and his hookers.

Don’t wear any of that shame, and don’t feel bad for imposing the consequences of HIS despicable choices. You need to get out of this and put an end to this emotionally and financially abusive situation.

There is no way to get out gently. It’s a fight. Mediation and do it yourself divorce — if it is for anyone (I’m doubtful) — is for amiable people who have no assets or custody to fight over or debts to settle. Oh, and it’s for people who aren’t married to a wing nut. You’re married to man who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on strippers (aka wing nut). This isn’t an option for you. People like your husband are NOT going to be honest brokers negotiating what’s fair for everyone. Not. Gonna. Happen.

And you’ve been in the chump mentality too long, Nadine. You need a lawyer to protect you from your own worst chump excesses. You wouldn’t recognize a shit sandwich settlement if it was served to you on Royal Doulton china. This is a job for a lawyer.

I just asked my husband (a lawyer) about this letter and he said incredulously “This is like asking — can I do heart surgery without a doctor?”

Take a credit card, a family loan, hock a piece of jewelry — and hire a pit bull attorney!

Your husband doesn’t want his family back. He wants his cake back. Don’t believe him. He’s bleating little “I’m sorry’s” because he’s doing damage control. You wouldn’t divorce a guy who’s SORRY would you? That makes you the bad guy. Part of you believes that and that’s another reason why you’re stuck.

His sorry should look like a very generous divorce settlement, assumption of all debts, and him on the ticket for his kids’ educations. Let’s see if your attorney can shake that “apology” out of him.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • ETA — In my fervor to focus on getting you legally protected, I overlooked an essential part of getting off the fence — it IS better on the other side of this. You think your choices suck, and in the short-term, right now, yes, it feels that way. But on the other side is self respect, AGENCY, contentment. You captain your own ship. You’re not married to the drunken sailor who is steering it towards the icebergs any more.

    When you get out you’ll realize how you were living was very hard. Your new life is full of possibility — and you can fill it with good people who will love and support you. Move towards that better life and don’t be afraid. (((Hugs)) to you Nadine.

  • Chump Lady is spot on, as always. It took me a long time to hire a lawyer (I don’t live in the States so I face a different system) but I finally did. And Ex was furious beyond words. Just could not believe I wouldn’t go along with the script he’d written (which included him having a lawyer). Well, today I had a hearing about custody because I finally reached the point, a few months ago, where I was sick of all the crap he was pulling on the kids so filed for full custody. It’s doubtful I’ll get it due to where I live but what will happen is that all my concerns will be officially on the record and they will let the kids do a lot of the deciding as to whether they want to see him or not. Which means if he keeps feeding them shit sandwiches they will most likely see him less.

    Why am I telling you this?Because my Ex was also ‘really sorry’. Except he wasn’t. I discovered years of cheating and threw him out. And he STILL plays the victim. My financial situation is beyond scary and I will most likely live in very, very different circumstances for quite some time due to choices I made while not knowing he was a cheating dirtball. And thus the kids will lose out on the nice lifestyle they had before. And you know what? I’ve explained to them why this is happening and assured them that through hard work and not worrying about not having all the things we had before we will be ok. Things don’t mean a thing when you don’t have your self respect.

    My ex is trying to weasel out of every promise he made me and trying to literally leave me in abject poverty. This from a man who built a very, very good career with my full support and help. Now all that means nothing and he is trying to punish me.

    Nadine, it’s going to be very difficult but get yourself a lawyer, protect yourself. Your husband will try to screw you over, all that ‘team’ bullshit he probably spouts at you will swiftly be forgotten the second he realises the bakery is shut and he lost his cake supply. Be prepared, lawyer up, protect yourself and your kids. And one other thing: be honest with your kids and make sure you are a safe place for them to be. They have one fucked up parent. They don’t need two. And when you do screw up – maybe say something you know is wrong or whatever it is – be honest about it, let them know you’re not perfect but that you are making them a priority and always will.

    good luck.

      • Lawyers aren’t usually brought in where I live. I did consult one early on and she basically told me that I was fucked and that the laws are pretty strict about how things are done in a divorce. Eventually, though, it got so bad and when HIS lawyer said to get one I realised I needed one so went and got one. She’s kickass and I wish I had gotten her sooner.

    • You go Nord!

      I never would have believed that my ex would make pawns out of the kids like he did. It was so confusing to them. Ultimately, when he couldn’t explain himself, he would drop the loving father persona and Mr. Contol Freak would take over and tell them to get over it, that’s the way things are. Shit happens.

      It broke their hearts to be treated like that, and I’ll never forgive him for that — ever.

      Not having to deal with his screwy input and controlling agenda, nor having the OW crammed down their throats has made all the difference to these kids. Even if you don’t get full custody, at least you’re on the record as willing to go to bat for them.

      • Ex accused me early on of ‘using the kids’, mainly because I was a wreck and barely functioning and told them the partial truth: dad was cheating. Turns out it was pure projection and he has tried to use them over and over again. Fruitlessly, it turns out, but he’s tried. And yes, when he doesn’t get his way – or didn’t get his way at the start, meaning everyone was freaking out and a total wreck – he would SCREAM at them to ‘get over it’. Broke their hearts, over and over again. Unfortunately final OW was crammed down their throats – one refuses to see her anymore and the other just tries to get on with things. It’s not pretty but we realised today that since he’s been on holiday with OW we’re all peaceful and happy. It’s kind of awesome when he’s not around.

        I told all this to the woman today and her face, as I relayed various things, was just ‘wow’. You could tell she was thinking what my lawyer said to me the first time we met, ‘In 25 years of practice I can tell you that your husband is one of the bigger assholes I’ve ever heard of’. I think getting it on record was the smart move, because if he screws up it’s all there for the courts to see. I don’t want to ruin his relationship with the kids but I am determined to protect them from his bullshit.

        • My lawyer flat out called my ex a crook. That’s from a lawyer!

          They ruin their own relationships with the kids. My son that just graduated high school and has a job working 12 – 16 hr days custom farming (big tractors, balers, stackers etc.) The apartment he and his friend were going to rent fell through, so the ex said “No problem, you can just stay here” (with little half brother and new wife) So, when they came crawling in tired at midnight, there were met by the ex with pages of house rules and were hit up for rent! My son was so embarrassed to have his dad be such an asshole in front of his friend. He stays at his friends house all the time and has never experienced anything like that.

          Father of the year, Mr. Fine Upstanding Christian is.

          They got up early, didn’t even shower, and split and haven’t been back.

    • I think it is the money shit they pull that further proves the type of person they really are. It’s like, well, if I was worried I might have been wrong about you before, I’m not worrying now. I really realized what an asshole he was during that part. As if the cheating hadn’t been enough to completely prove it.

      • I agree. I still can’t believe what an asshole he’s been and continues to be about money. I just sit there and think ‘really, buddy? REALLY? After years of me putting your career first and mine on hold because of this ‘team’ bullshit I fell for you’re going to now try to screw me over and thus make your own children suffer? this is how you show them how to be a man?’. Grosses me out but fuck him. I’m figuring out my career all over again at this late date and I’ll make it work somehow. He can kiss my sweet ass.

  • (((Nadine))))

    So sorry you’re going through this. BTDT. When I was going through my divorce, and I contemplated all the upheaval and loss that I faced after 22 years of marriage and starting 2 family businesses (material loss as well as emotional), I had a very wise friend tell me repeatedly: “Fuck stuff.” By which she meant, hey, it’s just stuff. You’re smart and hard working. You’ll get more. But you only have one self, and locked in a bad marriage, I’d given that away. I had to get my self back before I had a chance at the life I truly wanted. So, hard as it is, hang in there.

    A corollary to trusting that they suck? Trust that life is better on the other side. Because it truly is.

    Kind of reminds me of that old joke: Why is divorce so damn expensive? Because it’s worth it!

  • I was afraid that I couldn’t survive financially on my own either. But its amazing how the expenses go down when you don’t have to share your money with a moron who wastes $$$ on their own selfish pursuits. Oh money is a lot tighter now, that’s just a fact. But Im still in my house, the lights are on, we haven’t starved, etc. And I can’t believe how much pride I feel in myself that I am doing it!

    My Ex promised he’d take care of me and kids, that he’d always be there if I needed a friend, that he’d do everything he could to support us financially. Umm, humm. After he moved out I ended up paying for:

    -The flowers he ordered delivered to me AFTER I had confronted him with my –knowledge of his resuming his affair with his ho-worker.
    -The fee to shut off his cell phone because he just went out and got a new phone and contract and left me stuck with his old phone.
    -The property tax that was due 2 weeks after he moved out (which you pay for the past 6 months, all of which time he was living with me)
    – The vast majority of our divorce since all his lawyer did was file 1 motion.

    But I did it, and Im enjoying doing exactly as I please with MY paychecks now. The money is really the least of it, when its all said and done. I didn’t think so before, but now I realized that the truth. If I had stayed with him only for the money, its basically saying that he could lie, cheat and treat me like shit as long as I got paid for it. I’d rather be broke.

    • I had the same situation: he’s always take care of me, no matter what, he’d never screw me over or the kids. blah blah blah.

      And yep, the costs are so much lower now that I’m fully in charge of the household budget. He still runs out of money all the time (takes the kids places and then borrows money off them when his card is rejected) and promises the kids he’ll pay for activities and such then ‘forgets’ to sort it. I’ve now made an agreement with the kids that theycome to me with anything they want to do and I’ll find a way to pay for it. If I can’t get the money off their dad I just figure out a way to pay for it myself. I had to do this after he promised to sort out their summer activities but never bothered to get around to it and it was too late for me to get them enrolled.

      I have a bit of work, a bit of support from him and I budget the fuck out of everything. Hopefully the job I’m up for will come through and then I can not worry about money from him (or not, as it usually is) and just do my thing. It really does work out. It’s difficult but it’s better this way. Weird how I was always cutting corners for 20 years while he made an enormous salary yet we were always short. Now he’s still short all the time and I manage to make the money work quite well.

    • Yep, I paid for Andy to set up housekeeping with the AP, since he put it all on credit card, and I live in a no-fault divorce state.

      I’d like to know what the hell kind of ASSWIPES decided no fault protects anyone?

      It’s just a way to legally FUCK someone in front of the court.

      Excuse my language, but I would be less bitter about it if the court had been honest & called it a shit sandwich, instead of congratulating themselves that justice was served.

      I took THOUSANDS of dollars in credit card debt that I had not run up, and had not been spent on our marriage or our family (steak dinners for 2, etc), yet I got stuck paying for it + more. What the hell kind of justice is that?!

      Nadine, I will say, 13 months after the divorce, I owe $10,000+ to my parents, but the rest of it is paid in full. This is after I paid *another* $2K in medical bills, rather than giving Andy an excuse to scream shit at me any more.

      Once you have sole control over your money and your bills, you will find that you have more money than you thought you did.

      For what its worth, it really is much, Much, MUCH better on the other side of that court order.

  • My ex strung me along with mediation BS for 6 months before I realized it was a ploy, you need to file for fault, including the stealing of marital assets. Want your badass self? Your stbx stole that money from your children and you, he has seriously fucked up your life, your kids life! use a joint credit card for the retainer, you will need a big one.

  • I am doing collaborative divorce, but I think I have a particularly unique situation where it works. I only mention it, because it IS the exception – for the vast majority, get a good lawyer, and accept that it costs what it costs. It’s like surgery for your divorced future. You wouldn’t put off getting a tumor removed, right? Your kids need you as healthy as possible. You’d pay out of pocket for the best surgeon you could find, if you had to. That’s how you need to look at legal costs in the short term.

    Just so you can compare, my situation regarding collaborative divorce is this: my STBX-H is extremely conflict-avoidant. That’s it’s own special hell for a relationship spiraling down, but it means there is zero confrontation, pleading, hostility, etc. I don’t think most chumps find themselves there. Now, the rest of his behavior is classic cheater: he still hasn’t given up his multiple girlfriends, he went through the False Reconciliation phase, he’s telling different mutual friends, different versions of things (and thinks I should keep the Real Version to myself) – he has our young adult kids living with him, and they don’t know he’s invited the pregnant-by-someone-else girlfriend to move in – from out of state! With her sister! Yeah, he’s all kinds of fucked up.

    But in terms of divorcing him, he will agree to every reasonable thing I ask for, and that’s all I need (no custody or child support to sort out, straightforward support for me, no big assets to divide, the debts are straightforward too.) In fact, we had it hammered out before we even saw the attorney. Furthermore, he is an active duty military officer and I hold a great big bag of marbles over his head, should I choose to make a scandal for him on that front. Most chumps are NOT in this position, and so separate attorneys are called for – ASAP. Please see one and find out what your options are. Most attorneys will do an initial consult for free, so you have an idea what you’re looking at. One of my terms was that my husband pay all the legal bills and court fees – you can ask for anything (though you might not get it in the end) – but if you don’t ask, for SURE you won’t get.

    Best wishes – remember, your kids need you unstuck too. Show them how you’d want THEM to behave, in your shoes in the future (G-d forbid . . .) This is the right thing to do.

  • I completely relate to how overwhelmed you feel and how it leaves you feeling frozen, unable to make a decision. In the beginning all the things I had to think about were just overwhelming, but believe me there are many people just waiting to help you. Right after my ex left he called and told me he was coming back the next day to “tell me how this could go” and I said, “uh, no. I’m in no condition to talk about a settlement or anything else after you dropped a bomb in my life.” He seemed genuinely shocked that he wasn’t going to dictate the terms of our settlement. He’d been thinking about it for years so guess he had everything organized in the hopes of taking full advantage of my shell shocked state. I managed to keep him away from the house for over a month until I’d packed up everything and moved out. I immediately talked to a lawyer and enlisted the help of every family member and friend I could think of. I know it seems impossible but you can get through it. It feels so good to be captain of your own ship and not being steered by a drunken sailor, as CL says above.

    • My ex had nothing planned because he didn’t think I’d every find out. When I did he was out within a week and then I sat paralyzed for a bit. One thing I did do was refuse to agree to any of his half-assed schemes that would have left me fucked and him sitting on easy street. He remains absolutely furious about me not following his half-baked plans but too bad for him. He’s already fucked up my life enough – no more.

  • Nadine. All the above advice is right.
    A lawyer is imperative. As DMW says, that man who was your high school sweetheart, whom no-one can believe what he did, stole money from you and your children. And he will screw you over royally if you let him. You need help to stop him doing that, because you have to understand that he will screw you over. If he did that to you while he was married to you, his behaviour, when he no longer has cake, will be first for himself and his little stripper-girls. No, a lawyer is the only way to go.
    I was scared too, had no money, two kids in University. We were married for 27 years, 31 years together. We met when we were 19. We were so happy, affectionate and respectful with one another. People would ask us what our secret was. He was my love, the father of our children, a great husband and good father. He was also a good actor, a very good actor.
    My heart couldn’t catch up with my head either. In fact, my head couldn’t believe what he had done for a long, long time. We left our country of birth together to give our children a better future. I am without family here in a different hemisphere.
    But I did it. Sure, money is tight for me, the kids had to take out bank and other student loans, but we did it and continue to carry on living our lives. We’re fine.
    The judge looked at our lop-sided incomes and ordered that he pay me some spousal support.
    It work out Nadine. So sorry you are facing this.
    Hugs.

  • Nadine:

    Think about this – FOUR YEARS!! That’s how long he’s been undermining your marriage, your finances, your family and your life. This is a no-brainer – get a lawyer and get the process going NOW!

    My ex was in an affair for the exact same amount of time – and it’s been like an archeology expedition as I’ve discovered layer after layer of debt that he racked up to indulge himself and the OW. Hotel bills, meals, etc – I’ve found evidence of all. But in court – under oath – he would only own up to buying the OW a “pin” and meeting for “coffee.” My divorce was a three year process because – just like your STBX – he wheedled about how “sorry” he was that “shit happened”…..but not sorry enough to settle generously or make any effort to actually atone for destroying our family.

    And neither will yours. He’ll be all about talk…..right up until he realizes you have an attorney – and then goodbye “sorry” and hello “that bitch is trying to punish me for wanting to be happy.”

    If you knew how many stories on this sight echo yours and mine…..it’s astounding. TRUST that there is a definite pattern to these types of NPD a-holes. TRUST that you are being played as skillfully as any grifter plays a mark. TRUST that you need to put on the big girl panties, make some tough financial decisions (public vs. private school, selling some stuff to get the retainer in place for a good lawyer, etc) and UNDERSTAND that your life as you knew it is OVER. You are down the rabbit hole and there is no way back to the wonderland of what you thought your decades long marriage was. It SUCKS – I know. But just like Alice – you will shrink and then grow and figure out how to get out of there and back to a new and better reality. But you must start by taking that first step. If you have a job – you are one foot into independence already. If you have been a stay-at-home mom – the lawyer will work that to your benefit in the settlement and you can look for a job in the meantime. Be honest with your kids, your family and yourself most of all. Get that divorce ball rolling and get your new life in gear. We are all pulling for you!

    CL gave you the greatest advice – “His sorry should look like a very generous divorce settlement, assumption of all debts, and him on the ticket for his kids’ educations. Let’s see if your attorney can shake that “apology” out of him.” Sorry is as sorry does. You’ll know soon enough how real his “sorry” is once you get your attorney. Don’t delay!!!

  • Nadine,

    My XWH makes more than I do, is very good with money, and inherited a lot of family money that, of course, I didn’t get to see a penny of. I thought about my future– how am I going to do this on what I make as the primary custodian of three little kids? We did mediation, and although the attorney I retained felt that I received a decent settlement, she felt that I should go after more. I didn’t because I wanted to be done with him and avoid court battles, so I was willing to take a hit in certain areas so that we could push the paperwork through. So, although I wasn’t penniless, I definitely had less of an advantage over XWH financially. XWH even told me that the marital asset split turned out to be 70-30 in his favor. He wouldn’t even let me take my dresser with me since it was an antique from his side of the family, even when my MIL told me that I could take whatever family furniture I wanted. We’re not sitting on milk crates, but I took a lot of furniture donations and only bought furniture that I absolutely needed, like beds.

    My whole point is this– I don’t live as nice a life materially as I once did. I keep my fingers crossed that my old car won’t break down. XWH can still take his kids on a fancy vacation (funded by his parents, I might add), and I’m honest with mine– we do local, one-day vacations like amusement parks and museums. I can’t afford a week-long vacation somewhere really nice.

    HOWEVER– my life is ten million times better. My stress levels, which were affecting me physically, are way down. I feel better and sleep much better than I ever did. I’m enjoying my social life because I actually have one now. I love my little, modest home that is in a much better location for my kids and me than the marital home was (marital home was bigger and fancier but on the outskirts of town– no sidewalks, fast traffic, playing at the playground requires driving there, etc.). I spend less money because XWH liked spending money on expensive house remodeling projects, and I’m happy with my house the way it is. Even if I never find someone to spend the rest of my life with, my life as a single mom has been so much happier in so many ways. I don’t have to worry about what XWH is up to when I’m not around. He’s no longer spending assets that are partially mine. I don’t have to deal with his temper, his laziness, the fact that I’ve grown up and he hasn’t… the list goes on and on. And I was just like you– scared to fail my kids, scared to be alone, scared I’d end up poor and living in a cardboard box.

    None of those things happened– I reached out to family and friends, found support online on sites like this one, and went to my attorney for help even if she’s crazy expensive. All of those things gave me the confidence to stand up for myself and get out of the toxic environment of my marriage. Reach out to everyone in your life, and please get yourself a lawyer. What you don’t realize yet is how you’re keeping yourself from the awesome part of your life that is yet to come.

    • Sorry, had to laugh about your ex’s parents paying for holidays for him and the kids. My ex inlaws do this as well. Hell, they even TOOK ex and the kids on a holiday, all paid for and planned by mommy and daddy. Then they gave him a large sum of money for an all expenses paid two week trip to an exotic locale. Like you said, we grew up, they didn’t. It’s kind of astounding when I think about it.

  • It helps so much to get the divorce over and done with and behind you, otherwise you’re caught up in the mess of it screwing up your head for so much longer. Bite the bullet and get it done.

  • Nadine – it reads to me like CL was really channeling some bad-ass as she wrote her response to you. It may sound harsh as you read it, but that’s why we love our Chump Lady, she tells it like it is when very few among us are willing to step out on that limb (you know, in case you reconcile!)
    I also was 18 months out and separated when the decision was finally made to divorce. I wish I could say “when I decided we should divorce”, but that’s not exactly how it happened. I was starting to accept intellectually and emotionally that there was no saving this marriage, but it was actually my XH who said, “It feels like you have made a decision, have you?” I was getting there, but I just hadn’t been ready to say it out loud. So, when the moment presented itself, right there for the taking, I took it. My internal monologue sounded like this though, “Oh my God, is this it? Is this the moment that I’m going to call it? Say it out loud? Make it real? Is it time? Can I do it? Holy shit, is this the day I end my marriage? Can I say – Yes, I have made a decision and I think it’s over – yes, it’s over – Can I say it??” So, I leaped off the cliff and I said it. Although he had been begging me all along to forgive him (for going to seedy massage parlors to be serviced by “massage therapists” i.e. hookers for 4 years) when I said our marriage was over, neither one of us shed a tear, and he did nothing to fight my decision. N O T H I N G.
    The “Begging” was in words only. It was not until I turned down the sound and ONLY listened to his actions that I saw the truth. What his actions told me very loudly was “How much more shit do I have to pull before she will finally take the responsibility and end this farce so that I can still profess my love for her and blame her for leaving me!” But it was very clear, he meant me harm. It took me a really, really long time to wrap my head around that. When I was stuck and on the fence a lot of the advice I got was “if you don’t know what to do, do nothing, you’re not ready, you will be one day”. However, my smart, smart sister gave me something better, she’s an academic and she said, “Collect more data. You need to collect more data, and then you need to believe your eyes.” “Do nothing” was too passive for me, I wanted to actively figure this shit out so, I collected more data. And it wasn’t good news …and then I had to believe my eyes.
    I also tried to settle with him uncontested. The first proposal he sent me was ridiculous (As CL says he wasn’t sorry for shit with this “offer”) When I sent him my counter proposal (with the help of an attorney I consulted with) he immediately hired a lawyer and informed me we would no longer be talking, only our attorneys would handle things. At first, I was upset. I thought we could be reasonable, and not end up giving most of our assets to the lawyers. But then something magical happened – NO CONTACT. The 2 months that I had of No Contact before I had to see him again at mediation was eye-opening. It must be what it is like to get off of drugs. It was like the addiction to him leaving my body, mind and heart. Just that 2 months of No Contact, and seeing how easy life was, how bright and lovely, was worth what I had to pay my attorney. My divorce is now final and I’m getting back to No Contact, and again, life is looking really good.
    I’m making this long post even longer, but, Nadine, I’m so, so sorry this is happening to you. CL wrote something recently that talks about the reality of the pain: https://www.chumplady.com/2013/07/musings-on-giving-a-shit/ Nadine, this shit is real and it is HUGE and it is awful and unfair and incredibly painful (and did I mention UNFAIR???) But, take the leap, take the leap, take the leap. You deserve a big, BOLD (BAD-ASS!) beautiful life and it is there. Take the leap. Big HUG.

      • Nadine – I’m not sure if you are monitoring this post, but I thought I would check in on you. Any updates for us? Hope you are out there kicking some ass and taking names!

        xoxo
        FLBright

    • “But it was very clear, he meant me harm. It took me a really, really long time to wrap my head around that.”

      They do mean us harm, taking the leap is a leap of faith in ourselves, and is the only chance we have to avoid a living death. LEAP Nadine!

  • I got the Let’s Go to Mediation and Be Amicable speech early on. I thought I could trust this guy who was fucking an alcoholic slut right under my nose. Chump!!

    My parents begged me to get an attorney, pronto. I didn’t. My ex did. That infuriated me, so I hired my own, who turned out to be much better. My ex hired a pit bull lawyer’s son, who turned out to be a dumb ass. My non-pit bull female attorney was gracious and steady and exactly what I needed.

    I was scared, and also very, very angry.

    Nadine, could it be your concern about your reputation that is holding you back? Are you enslaved by worries that you’ll have to give up a certain lifestyle and social status? That can be very, very hard to do. It’s not just yours that you worry about, but your children’s, as well. You want the best for them–the house, the schools, the appearance of a two-parent home. But you’re paying dearly for this now, in stress that is taking a huge toll on your health. Additionally, your children know something is wrong, and are incorporating their observations into their development–you don’t want that! You don’t want them to believe that it’s normal for the family patriarch to do as he pleases, including walking around with his head up his ass, abusing his family, as he engages with a parasitic stripper who knows all the right things to say and do to keep that gravy train rolling. Your children may begin to believe it’s normal for the mother to just suck it up and do whatever she has to do to keep up appearances. That is not what you want for your children, is it?

    You want fresh air in your life. You’re gonna have to open some windows and do some housecleaning. Take back your dignity. Show your kids what is right. Be the mama bear. Only YOU can grab your bad ass back. It takes work, but you can do it. And it is SO worth it.

    You never know–you may have plenty of money in the settlement to keep the kids in their school or move to a really nice neighborhood with great public schools. You know, the burden for your kids, of having to keep up appearances, may be very high, as well. It may feel to them like everyone else around them comes from a happy family (so not true) and theirs is fucked up. Who knows? There may be some relief for them not having to pretend, too.

    Do you have any idea how AWESOME it feels to do something you never thought you could do? I refinanced my house. That was scary to me. My ex didn’t think I could do it, but I proved him wrong, in record time, too, much to his dismay. When I wrapped that up, I was all, FUCK YEAH. Same with getting insurance. I felt, when I did it, that I was a full-on grown-up woman, and it felt awesome. But if you’re smart enough to be at this website, you’re smart enough to do that. Are there other things that scare you? Make a list–be very specific and honest. I did that, too. I was able to tick off every fear after about a year–none of it came true. A lot of that was because I confronted every worry I had, thought about the worst case scenario, and made a plan.

    Be an example for your kids, or their friends. I have a reputation among my kids’ friends–especially their female friends–as being a strong and capable woman, not because it’s easy, but because I do what I have to do. Often in a really cute dress! 🙂

    Hang in there. We feel for you, we really do.

    Here’s another tip–download all of P!nk’s music and listen to it. http://www.slack-time.com/music-video-3298-Pink-There-You-Go

    “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
    ― C. JoyBell C.

    • Stephanie, you are so spot on, especially about the lawyer. My lawyer specialises in cases like mine and has been doing it for 25 years. Sure, she’s abrasive but she’s also awesome and she doesn’t fuck around. Idiot ex, probably because he’s low on money as he spends it all on good times, hired a kid barely out of law school who probably hasn’t gotten hair on his nuts yet.

      We’re going to court next month. Ex is so very, very angry at what he calls ‘your court case against me’. He can’t believe that I didn’t just sign the settlement he offered and then quietly went away. Poor thing…he forgot how tough I am and how kickass I was when he met me. 18 months after kicking him out my kickass, badass is back and Nadine, your kickass badass self will also be back, as soon as you get that tosspot out of your life.

  • Nadine, keep your head up, lots of us here have been financially worked over as well as heart-broken, you’re not alone (because it’s all THEIR $, ok?).
    One thing my therapist urged me to do was tell my attorney ‘please protect me in the negotiations, because I tend to feel sorry for him, and give it all away!’ It made me feel nice and safe. Legal help can be expensive, my law firm actually offered a plan where the client can do some of the filing and such, to keep costs down. But, you have to get compensated for all those joint assets he wasted!!! I also agree with kids going to public schools now, just a reality, at least it’s Summer and they can switch. Good luck! It’ll be a long road, but at least you’ll be rid of Parasite Man!

    • I remember my lawyer telling me that I was no longer to think of his welfare or try to be nice to him. I was so messed up, feeling sorry for him because of his crying fits, that I had a hard time standing up and asking for what I was entitled to. I’m really glad I had a lawyer, sometimes I wish I’d hired a meaner one. But overall I’m satisfied with the results. He will be paying maintenance for the rest of my life.

  • A thought from someone who may not know as much as many of you here, but – sometimes people talk about someone who wasn’t like that before, etc. My take on this is that there may actually be people who change for some reason – maybe they weren’t always narcissists. The problem is that now they are behaving in a way that means you can’t trust them. They aren’t the same as they were before, for whatever reason.

    Also, Nadine, how about summoning up your mama bear? Your kids need you to protect their financial interests right now.

  • I was getting there, but I just hadn’t been ready to say it out loud. So, when the moment presented itself, right there for the taking, I took it. My internal monologue sounded like this though, “Oh my God, is this it? Is this the moment that I’m going to call it? Say it out loud? Make it real? Is it time? Can I do it? Holy shit, is this the day I end my marriage? Can I say – Yes, I have made a decision and I think it’s over – yes, it’s over – Can I say it??”

    This is exactly how I feel right now. I’m afraid to say it. Afraid of the enormous life change coming my way. Afraid to split our asset since we do well but don’t have much left over for savings. Afraid to face my parents, our friends, the kids. I know it’s going to happen but I’m stalling because I’m afraid. Because once I say it, it’s done. The dream is dead. Not that it feels very much like a dream right now. I can tell that my husband is in love with somebody else. I feel like Second Choice Sally. But I’m scared to leave. I don’t do well with change and neither does he. Maybe this inertia will carry us through? I so want to be “on the other side” already but I know that won’t happen without a first step. I hate everything about this fucked up situation.

    • NewlyChumpified – I’m in the same boat right now. I need to say it out loud to my STBX, and I’m so scared. He has a temper, and isn’t likely to take it well, so there’s that, too. I’m planning and planning, which helps, but I still feel all messed up emotionally – wrapped in a wet, wool blanket on a 100 degree day.

      • DLU, I hope you have a therapist. The best thing I did when I was so stuck, was get a female therapist, and then a female lawyer! Not to be a sexist, it’s just what I personally wanted. In my state, I get one year of free therapy because I was emotionally abused (through Volunteers Of America, it’s a state grant). Going to see her every week made me see that a better life was waiting for me, once he went away!

        • PattyToo – Very true, I do need some therapy. I haven’t gotten any since I moved away from STBX. I just got in contact with a support person through my church, which will help. But I think I need an experienced therapist, too. .

    • Dear NC,

      I know what you are feeling. I didn’t tell my parents, my kids, most friends for 10 months… because what if we COULD get through this??!! That was the heaviest burden to carry. When you talk about it, tell people, it releases a little of the poison. Many people still don’t know what’s happened in my “perfect” from the outside life, but those I’ve shared with have been such a blessing to me. I am scared, I am terrified, but you know what?? I actually BELIEVE what these people have to say here on this blog. Strangers. I TRUST that they have my best interests at heart, because they have been there. Don’t do what I have done. It’s a waste. Things can never be “perfect” again, because they never really were. Change IS hard… But I’m beginning to realize that beauty, transparency and a really bad ass life can come out if it IF I ACCEPT the crappy circumstances and CREATE my new life. Hard yes, but from what these amazing people tell me, I CAN DO IT! One foot infront of the other. Hugs to you!

      • I kept quiet about my suspicions I had about odd events throughout our marriage. The fear of what would happen if he left kept me frozen and stuck for many years. I didn’t even want to acknowledge to myself what I suspected. I was really great at spackling. After our marriage was over and I started telling friends about things that happened they were shocked. During our marriage I always thought the problem was me, that I was too sensitive, that I was too suspicious, etc. I even went to counseling when he first starting spending so much time with his coworker thinking that I had jealousy problems. He kept saying “She’s just a friend.” But after I got out, other people validated that any normal wife would have been had problems with my ex’s behavior. That made me feel a lot less crazy.

  • Last night, as I hit “send” on my email to Chump Lady I felt a tinge of empowerment because I KNEW I would get a THE best advice and support here. Now, as I sit here reading CL’s response and the comments that all of you have taken the time to write… to me… I am flooded with emotion. Thank you CL. Thank you everyone here posting on this blog. When I found CL, I devoured the blog and comments from beginning to end. I spent an entire weekend reading everything because I finally found a community of smart, wonderful, good people who are maneuvering through the hell of betrayal… Just like ME! For so long I didn’t feel like there was anyone else in my shoes. Every comment here touches me with your honesty, humor (because that is so important right now) and the gentle (or not so gentle, but necessary ;}) kick in the pants. I love the practical advice. Sell some jewelry, put it on a credit card. Yes, yes. Sometimes the answers are right in front of me but I can’t see them because I am too overwhelmed to notice the obvious. This is what I needed. For someone else to tell me what I should already know. Every comment here has touched me and has added a little more bad to my ass. I have been so overwhelmed that I paralyzed myself. Not good. Has to stop. I am going out of town tomorrow for my job. The timing is perfect… I work with all women… Supportive, smart and fun! I’m going to enjoy a little girl time and march myself in to see an attorney as soon as I get back. I just can’t thank you all enough. Sending each one of you my love and sincere gratitude!

    Nadine

    • I have to admit, I am flooded with emotion too.

      Asshole moved out March 28, official D-Day was April 10, and other than a pathetic excuse for attempting reconciliation (and me telling him to go die in a fire), I’ve received radio silence from him, so I don’t know if he began the process already, or not. I feel stuck, I read on here that I should get an attorney, but I was scared because I can’t afford it. I do not make enough money to refinance my home by myself.

      But you know what? Thanks to your question, and thanks to everyone’s answers, I contacted a lawyer just now. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it. I am tired of being stuck, I am tired of waiting for the shit sandwich I will inevitably have to eat. I just want to eat it now, gag on it, then move the fuck on with my life.

      Thank you for everyone’s awesomeness. This was the kick in the pants I needed today.

      • Rachel… I’m right there with ya girl! Let’s get this over with so we can start building a life for ourselves, and I don’t know if you have children, but for our children, as well. We are stronger than we know. The human spirit is amazing and with the right people in our corner… we can do this!!!! Go Rachel!

        • We can, Nadine, we can! I do not have children, but I do have two doggies, aka furbabies.

          We are stronger than we know, you’re so right. I keep reminding myself that unfortunately people are in our shoes every day, and of course most people can’t afford that $300/hour pricetag. But they made it through. I use my credit card only for emergencies, and ya know what, this is an emergency.

          If this is the ONE thing we can control, it’s getting a team together. Yes it will be costly but we can come through the other side, better, faster, stronger!

          I wish you the best!

          P.S. For what it’s worth–I came from a home where my parents have “stayed for the kids” and I will tell you, I hoped and prayed since I was little that my parents would get divorced because my Dad is a classic NPD. CL is right, your kids will be just fine, if not better.

          • Rachel and nadine – I’m with you! Time to eat the shit sandwich and get it over with, then be free to move on. Limbo sucks. Better to just file and then get it behind us. I’m meeting with my lawyer tomorrow and will probably file within a week. I’m scared as hell but there no point in delaying it.

            • I’m scared too, but we have to remind ourselves that we are not truly alone. You’re right that there’s no point in delaying it–I am sending good thoughts. We will get through this, one day at a time! 🙂

      • “…and me telling him to go die in a fire.”

        Thanks Rachel, I snorted with laughter on that one 🙂

  • Thanks to everyone for all this great advice. I have been inserting my own name into your paragraphs of advice to Nadine, and boy, has it opened my eyes. I sat on the fence for (get this…) 23 years before I finally got my own lawyer. This was two years after he moved out, one year after he got his own lawyer, and decades after he started cheating on me. Inertia? Fear? Hopeless hope? Doesn’t matter anymore. The empowerment I felt when I finally hired my own lawyer was amazing. FINALLY I have started to look out for myself, not for everyone else.

    I’m living in a temporary care-giving situation right now, halfway across the country. I left behind a four-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac, china, silver, etc., and I am presently living out of a few dresser drawers and one tiny corner of the bathroom shelf. Sometimes I’m so happy that I can’t contain it. What I have right now is puny, but it doesn’t have any gut-wrenching association with his lying, cheating betrayal. You can do this, Nadine! Trust us all. You will eventually wake up and realize how bogged down you were and be amazed that you couldn’t see it clearly. It REALLY helps to shift your perspective and imagine your friend/sister/daughter in this situation. What advice would you give her?

    • Isn’t it amazing how those gilded cages have nothing on a tiny little nest all your own? I live very small footprint but I’m debt free and don’t have to answer to Mr. Control Freak anymore. Meanwhile, he leveraged up, buying a huge house at the top of the market, just to feel like he “won” and keep the gold digger happy.

      And I’m so happy for him! Because now my support payments are secured by his new real estate plus the new wife’s income from the job she had to go get!

      Works for me!

    • It’s weird because I spent the last week getting rid of crap – some of it ex’s and some of it just stuff I don’t need or want anymore. Just ripped through closets and drawers and chucked away bags and bags of stuff. Next is the basement, where there is lots of stuff that belongs to ex. I’m throwing it all away. 18 months and he hasn’t come for it so it’s gone. It’s so freeing that I’m now looking at everything I own with a critical eye and decided what I really NEED, not what I want. And it looks like some serious housecleaning is about to happen. Feels VERY good.

        • I also did something similar about 8 months ago – I went through all my clothes and threw out every single dress and other items that had memories of ex tied to them,such as buying a particular dress for a big event with him. Only one dress was saved from this, because it was too beautiful to throw away. Then I hit the sales over time and replaced items on a severe budget. It felt so good to not have anything hanging in my closet that reminded me of him. No more of his stuff around, ever.

          • My daughter also married a cheater and when I told her about the pet snake, she said, “The day my divorce was final, I bout a pair of safire and diamond earrings.”

            Nothing more needed to be said. I went home and started pitching every “us” memory I could find. Then, I began finding things I had kept put away because he was not interested in them, i.e., my paints, my music, my books, my, my, my. Gosh that felt good.

  • Nadine – I see from your comment a minute ago that you are on board with getting an attorney, so that’s good. Just a few comment about your kids’ schooling:

    1) It’s *not* a given that your kids will have to switch schools. Maybe they can stay in private. It is the “status quo” for your kids, after all, which I’ve heard judges like to upload, for the stability of the kids. So a judge may make your husband pay more support. You never know.

    2) Given your husband’s selfishness, it is likely that given enough time he would have even started squandering your kids’ school money. In other words, entitled behavior (ex: paying strippers) tend to get worse, not better. If you stay married, it’s likely his bad judgement will increase and he will start spending money that you need to pay for schooling. So staying married won’t necessarily guarantee the schooling issue. In fact, I think staying married to this “drunken sailor” is more dangerous than going on your own. At least when you’re steering the ship, you can *budget* with a sound mind.

    3) I bet you’ll have more money that you expected, after you leave him. Your husband was probably bleeding money all over the place. It’s hard to quanitfy sometimes. Those ATM cash withdrawals are hard to track, but they add up. When you have control over your own finances, you might just find that things are better, so take heart.

    • And about the private school issue – if one parent ends up w/primary custody and not a lot of income, many private schools have scholarship or fee-reduction systems that allow the kids to stay. At least worth asking about!

  • I made is through without a lawyer, but I knew that she wouldn’t fight and didn’t have the resources necessary to fight if I chose to. I also knew that I could trust her in this arena because parenthood and responsibility aren’t her thing. HOWEVER, in your situation I would get a lawyer yesterday!! He is spending your assets and the longer you wait the worse of you will be. You can’t afford to get a divorce? Can you afford to stay married? The debts that he is racking up are half yours in most states. The money he is spending is half yours. A lawyer can put a stop to this immediately and you have to get that done in order to protect yourself and your children. Find the strength. It will work out in the end and this will soon be nothing but a horrible memory.

    Good luck.

  • Dear Nadine,
    I never believed it would get better, but it does. I was a MESS for a long time. Along with a lawyer, you need a good therapist. Ask your female friends for recommendations. Either they’ve been to a good one themselves or a friend of theirs went through something similar to you and have a good one. It’s amazing what you find out when you put out little feelers.

    I was given a recommendation for a good lawyer from my therapist. The first few times I met with the lawyer, I was such a fog that I hardly made sense or could remember what she told me. I started taking a friend with me who knew me well. It calmed me down and when I would break down, my friend could fill in for me and help me pull out the information I couldn’t remember. I didn’t have money available to give my lawyer a retainer and was freaked about putting it on a credit card with a high rate. A friend suggested I take out a loan on my paid-for car at my credit union at a very low rate. My lawyer let me do some of the work such as categorizing where the money my ex was spending was going. When the divorce was final, I had a 1/3 of the retainer left which I used to pay down the loan and steadily paid off the loan.

    Great timing on your work/girl time trip!
    Best wishes for you!

  • Nadine;

    I just have a few things to add to what Chump Lady said about getting a lawyer:

    1. Since it doesn’t sound like he wants a stripper for a new wife, you will have to file. He never will.

    2. I believe intent matters in this world. The men like using the legal system to hurt you. You only want to defend yourself and protect your children’s interests. This puts karma on your side.

    3. Get a cheap TracPhone (or somesuch) and dedicate it’s use only for contacting your lawyer and his office. Like Katie Holmes. I wish I had done that. My ex, upon moving out got me and the two kids brand new phones, so “we can all stay in touch easier” I was tracked and eavesdropped on with that phone, including private conversations with my attorney. Trust that they will fight dirty. They get off on it.
    Don’t ever take you regular cell phone into a meeting with your attorney.
    3 1/2. Don’t trust your home computer for email, or even wordprocessing a letter. My attorney was very suspicious of any electronic communication and allowed no emailing at all. We exchanged documents etc by fax.

    4. Make any big changes — like taking the kids out of private school — before you file. Once the court is involved you have to “ask permission” and he isn’t going to want to give it. Understand “status quo orders” and the automatic freeze that is on disposition of assets once you file. Our kids were in private school too. I told him, “you pay for that, ALL of it, or they get to go to public school” He did — it was a prestige thing for him to be able to say the kids were in private school.

    • I had to write something in response to this. I am very sorry that your experience was so horrible and your ex was so devious, but I take issue with the generalization that “men like using the legal system to hurt you.” Manipulative and toxic people come in all shapes, sizes, and sexes. We have all heard the stories of wives who made up sex abuse allegations to gain advantage just as we have all heard the stories of men who use their power and influence to gain advantage.

      Also, family courts are heavily stacked in favor of women to this day. I, as a single man who is head of a household with children in it full time, am only 8% of the total U.S. population according to the census bureau. Despite what some people may like to believe that is not solely because of deadbeat dads and uninvolved fathers. A man who wants to be involved as more than a weekend dad or who wants to protect his children from an unsafe situation with mom has the deck stacked against him simply because he is a man.

      The rest of your post was filled with hard one good advice and Nadine would be well served to listen to it.

      • Sorry Geough (Is that pronounced Jeff?) You’re right. I did a grand lumping thing there. I should have said “He” referring to Nadine’s STBX only. You are also correct, I’m biased because of my experience. I apologize.

  • ‘ why do you think you hesitated to hire a lawyer sooner?’

    Can I try and answer this? – Because I believe his sorry. Because I thought he was going to do what he said, which was work hard to repair what he broke. Because I was blindsided: my marriage wasn’t that bad – I knew he was ‘difficult’, but if I tried harder my time would come…. Because I had been the boiled frog and got totally used to being treated as ‘less than’.
    It took finding an email to the OW after 4 years of ‘reconciling’ for me to truly understand, that if I stayed I was contributing to my own abuse.

    And I am as terrified as Nadine is! It is that dread word, AGENCY.

  • Dear Nadine: If you are found this blog, you are not on the fence anymore. We are here for you. Hugs, nmc

  • Ugh, this makes me feel bad. Right now myself and stbxw are working things out. I cannot afford a lawyer in any circumstance. I have a decent job, and when W moved to her mothers house she only had a part time contract job, about 180 dollars a month. She says she is looking for another job right now. I don’t want her to live in poverty but I also don’t and I would if I gave her alimony. I refused to pay her alimony and refused to give her any of my retirement (mainly because I’ve only been putting money towards retirement for 2 years), why should she get any of it? She is the one that cheated. We have worked out 50/50 for parenting, which is the best I can hope for unless she shows some self destructive behavior and I can prove it. Reading what others are going through just upsets me because W will be in that situation….Should I be feeling bad for her? My kids will be taken care of, she wont though.

    • If she’s living with her mother, she won’t be out on the street. It’s hard for me to feel sorry for a cheater.

      There’s a huge range of experience, financial status, and length of marriage here. A lot of it may not apply to you. Add to that that every state is different.

      Family courts try to be very supportive of those trying to do it themselves, because it leaves family finances better for supporting the kids (instead of lawyers) It sounds like you’re going that way — but if she ever talks to a lawyer, you better at least consult one yourself.

      • Chumpalicious,
        We aee doing everything ourselves. I’ve consulted a lawyer(s). I’m doing what I can do be peaceful but I would love to see the book get thrown at her. Taking the high road is tough. At least I can raise my two kiddos not to be like her. That is one big hope I have right now. That and to become a bad ass successful artist. BWAHAHAHAHA! Ah its the little things that make me smile right now

    • It depends on your circumstances and the state laws.

      We don’t have children. The cheapest thing we can do is agree on how to split assets. Thankfully, one of the local attorneys has developed a marital assets disclosure form that’s posted on the county courthouse website. I’m filling it in as best I can, and proposing how to cut the 50/50 split.

      With respect to your retirement, it sucks, but you may be forced to split that with her if she balks at signing the agreement. We’ve been married for 16 years, so there is no way that our courts would give me less than a 50% split of his retirement. I expect a fight from STBX over that 50%, though it’s 50% of what he’d have accrued now, not 50% of what he’d accrue by retirement. Your attorney can advise you on this, but see if she’ll agree to some (not all 50%) of the retirement accrued during the marriage. Again, it depends on the state, but assets accrued before the marriage don’t get figured into the marital assets, at least in my state.

      On the other hand, if she agrees to less than a 50/50 split, awesome!

      • She has agreed to not take any of my retirement. Because I told her if she wants it she’ll have to take 50% of my school loans. I’ve been doing my research and she hasn’t. I’ve also been reading books on kids and divorce, she wont. She thinks that because of what her parents went through she knows everything. HA! She also thinks that her mother is so wise in this department of life. However she forgets that her mother’s bf stabbed her sister and her mom, her mom manipulated her sister into not testifying against the man. And then her mom married said man………this is what I am dealing with.

        I’ve gotten her to agree to 50/50 with the kids, to not have primary residence assigned to either of us. She agreed to wave alimony and my retirement. My debt is my debt and hers is hers. At this point I just want out. It sucks we wont be divorced until October. Thank God I found this site though. It has given me a lot of hope and unexpected laughs which is one thing I need the most. I’m just wading through the shit show collecting my spine as I go along. She thinks we can be friends and I cannot lie I hope that I can be a friend but it will be hard knowing that she is lying to her entire family saying that things “Just didn’t work out” Not “I’m a cheating whore, and I cheated on him multiple times.” I get hope in the fact that I know I’ll become that bad ass once again and I’ll be confident in telling her Hell no when she tries to come back.

        • People need to know the truth about what she did – including her family. Why would you support her continuing to lie? Is that the example you want your kids to have? She can lie, and nobody calls her out on it? What her family or any others do with the correct info is up to them, you can only control yourself.

          Also, I’m betting most of your friends are not liars, that they don’t treat you with consistent disrespect, that they actually care about you and act like it. Why would you lower your standards SO much as to be your ex’s friend, or even somewhat-friendly?

          Because you’ll be parallel-parenting, the two of you need to act in a civilized way – and that has to be reciprocal. If she’s being an ass about something, you get to call her on it, and other people get to know about it. (And that includes the kids, in an age-appropriate way.) And civilized does NOT mean ‘friends’, it means polite, respectful, and can be carried out with absolutely minimal contact.

  • Thanks for this post. I started to phone a lawyer today and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

    I was thinking about a collaborative divorce because I don’t have much money. It suddenly occurred to me that I wouldn’t need a collaborative divorce if I’d had a collaborative marriage. So thanks for that.

    It also helped to remember that the last time we broke up (before we were married) he made me pay him for the furniture I took. We bought it as a couple and I had been making the payments in lieu of paying him rent. I was paying rent to live with him in a house he paid nothing for because…drumroll…his mommy pays for everything.

    I’ve been a chump for a long time. I read this post and I contacted two lawyers today.

    Thanks for the ass-kicking!

    • For chumps having gin up the courage to file — it’s also possible that the STBX won’t even care enough to answer. In which case, you’ll get everything you ask for. So be reasonable but don’t cut the narc any slack. Nice to know he has a mommy that will make things all better…….

  • “I wouldn’t need a collaborative divorce if I’d had a collaborative marriage.”

    Great point. If cheaters had honor and acted reasonably, they wouldn’t be cheaters. The point of getting a divorce from these people is that it is impossible to “collaborate” with them–without getting royally screwed.

    • Isn’t there Confucius saying something like “Only a fool deals honorably with a dishonorable person.” That one helped me when I came across it. Every time I tried to be accommodating (early on) there was no reciprocity.

      • Yeah, lack of reciprocity has got to be the largest and reddest flag indicating narcissism.

        In a law school class on professionalism I was told about a lawyer representing a client in a breach of contract case against a business associate. The lawyer negotiated a good settlement agreement on behalf of his client; however, the business associate failed to pay the settlement. The client then sued his own lawyer for negligence and won, arguing that the reason the client came to the lawyer in the first place was to get compensation from the deadbeat business associate, and to expect the deadbeat business associate to live up to a settlement agreement was so stupid as to breach the standard of care for lawyers.

        Which is all to say: it’s crazy to expect integrity from someone you’re leaving because they have none.

  • don’t have time to read all the comments now… but Nadine, maybe you should just think of it as going to see a lawyer for a one time consultation. You don’t have to put anyone on retainer, commit to anything or anything like that. But you need to have some information, especially since your husband already has blown a bunch of your money.

    I actually did go through a mediator, but only after I’d seen a lawyer first. And before I signed anything the mediator drew up I consulted another lawyer. And then in my state I needed a lawyer to file it so I had a 3rd do that. Yes, the mediator saved us both money. But I also was the one that knew all the finances (actually controlled the passwords) and also knew his work account info. And I was dealing with a super cheap cheater who had probably spent all of $200 on his AP. And even mine still pulled some shady financial shit on me… but only a couple thousand dollars worth buying crap for his new apartment. I still might have missed out on some money, but in my case I truly believe not enough to overcome the expense of lawyers and additional heartache.

    Also, yes, divorce is expensive. It’s like the worst financial decision you can make. But that doesn’t mean it’s the worst PERSONAL decision you can make. It’s the best decision I’ve made in a LOONG time. I can’t imagine still being with my ex. You gotta do what you gotta do. And there are so many things more important than money. That being said, even with me doing it on the cheap, our assets are now split in half. Retirement, etc. Yeah, it pisses me off. I had plans (or at least general expectations) for nice trips, etc in the future. Hopefully I still have time to build up my own retirement. And hopefully still do some trips. I also like to have some nice things. But that isn’t actually bugging me. Because even though I do like some nice things, I wasn’t obsessed with brands and having the BEST of EVERYTHING like my ex. And now I can spring for nice things that I care about and save on the stuff I don’t. And no one is here to make me feel guilty about spending money on myself. I’m still in our marital house, but I actually look forward to getting a smaller place in the next year (just too much expense and time on upkeep). It’s actually kinda fun, like starting fresh. Makes me feel young, a little like when I started college and was on my own for the first time. I just have kids to take care of this time as well. I know it would be hard to move your kids into different schools, especially since the older one went all the way through doing the private thing. But who knows? Maybe your ex can afford their schools and your spousal support 🙂 Take all that you can, you deserve it and don’t feel bad about one penny!

  • Nadine,

    In my state your spouse could have hired a lawyer and started a divorce action. This process would have set a date. The date is important because anything earned after that date is not marital property.

    The worst part – HE DOESNT HAVE TO LET YOU KNOW THAT HE HAS DONE THAT.

    (Sorry about the caps but this is important!)

    The only way to find out if he has done this is to have a lawyer check with the courts. You had better do that ASAP.

    You need to come up with enough for a retainer for the lawyer. Beyond that, you will have temporary support and he may have to cover your legal fees. It varies from state to state.

    THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO SAVE MONEY. Get the toughest, meanest lawyer you can find and hire him.

    Also, the kids are going to have their lives change any way you look at this. They are not babies and they can survive a dose of the real world. You can go to the middle and high schools and ask for a scholarship or any other option. You can’t not do this because of tuition or fear.

    It is better afterwards.

  • I know of a SAHM who was married to an executive and they had four children together, ages 2-14. She discovered he was cheating, called him on in, and he packed his bags and left. Then he fell of the grid.

    She couldn’t find him. He quit his job, left no money, and cancelled all their credit cards. She appealed to his parents for money and help finding him. They refused to get involved. Her house was foreclosed on, she had to pull her kids out of private school, and she had to go back to work for the first time in 15 years. She hired a lawyer and filed for divorce. But no one could find him, so she couldn’t divorce him, which meant no alimony or child support.

    She struggled to pay for necessities. Clothes and shoes for her rapidly-growing teenager were a huge stress. So were holidays and birthdays. Every day was a struggle.

    This went on 18 months. Finally, she somehow managed to locate and subpoena his new bank and credit card records. After going through them, she contemplated suicide.

    Her estranged husband had been traveling the world with his girlfriend, staying off the grid. OW was 28 and have VERY expensive tastes, including:

    *A week at the Ritz Carlton, Paris
    *Clothes shopping at Chanel and Givenchy
    *First class plane tickets from London to New York
    *A week at the Carlyle
    *Two tickets to a $1,000 per person celebrity event
    *Trips to Toyko and Sydney
    *A week in Greece

    Etc., etc. – more than $500,000 in charges in the last year alone.

    All while the wife was struggling to put food on the table and a keep roof over her head.

    But he didn’t have a job. What he did have was a decades-long obsession with James Bond and large, suspicious deposits every now and again from a bank in the Cayman Islands. All banking activity had stopped abruptly about six weeks earlier, and all the accounts were now frozen.

    Turns out he was involved in something illegal, was wanted by Interpol, and the first time OW went to charge something and it was declined, she got mad, packed her bags, and called the Feds. He’d been sitting in jail ever since.

    Can you say OW spoiled brat?

    So, not only did the wife lose her house and marriage, she’s also lost any access to alimony and child support while he’s in jail. And OW’s million dollar globe trot? Salt in the wound.

    So, Nadine, trust that CHEATERS SUCK.

    Sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes it’s COLOSSAL, but there comes a point when you have to draw a line in the sand and refuse to take any more.

    Your husband has ALREADY spent $200,000+ into OW (that you know of) – money that SHOULD have been spent on you and your kids. I was furious that my XH spent $200 on his OW; if it had been $200K, I would have gone ballistic and hurt someone. A first class globe trot with OW? They’d never find the bodies.

    He’s not putting you first, Nadine, so YOU HAVE TO.

    Get the lawyer, freeze the assets, raise your shields, and prepare to fight. You didn’t ask for this, you don’t want to deal with it, you hoped it would go away – I get it. We all do.

    But it’s time to shut down the Sugar Daddy. His wayward penis has cost you enough…

  • “An ostrich with it’s head stuck in the sand gets it’s ass fucked”, this line had me laughing outloud hysterically. It’s sooooo true! Cover thy ass!!! Lord knows these cheaters will try to cover their own asses any which way they can. It’s very hard to have the reality of who these losers really are sink in and what they have actually been doing without your knowledge and the harm they bring to you without your knowledge and that they really DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU. These are the things that had my mind and body stuck in trauma for months. A healthy person can’t comprehend these things as we could never do them or not feel something for someone we say we love. So of course we will be traumatized and shocked and unable to understand or grasp the reality of what these assholes do and do repeatedly!

    Hell my body reacted with a suddenly rapidly growing thyroid that just had to come out completely last month. I know it was the physical reaction to all that happened when I walked away from my ex boyfriend this past January. So please save yourself and your children before any physical side effects happen to you. You feel so much better taking action, you really really do. It enables you to take your power and life back. My ex asshole had the audacity to email me a speedy recovery love note when he found out about my upcoming operation. I hit delete because all he is to me now is SPAM.

    I sat across from him at a dinner table three months ago in a restaurant when he turned on the water faucets crying about losing me and I just sat there in utter amazement watching this freakshow because I felt nothing coming from him that fealt real it was all a surface facade side show with no real feelings. I knew the tears were fake and when he saw I wasn’t reacting they stopped almost instantly. The reason I decided to have dinner with him after I dumped him was to make him see I was fine and to have him stop trying to get back into my life. Which he was doing non stop via emails, a letter sent via regular mail (that was when I saw all his cray cray come out full blown), texts, phone calls, attacking people we both mutually knew in public to find out how I was doing, etc… At that dinner he told me was seeing someone and that she liked him but he was emotionally unavailable! I said you haven’t been emotionally avail. your whole life and I feel sorry for the woman you are seeing. He jumped right into another relationship with someone else maybe a month after I broke up with him or maybe before I did for all I know, not even sure and at this point and I don’t even care. This is his lifelong pattern and he is now emotionally 2 but chronologically 55, I don’t think it’s changing anytime soon. He likes Craiglist hookers and happy ending massage parlors filled in with women he meets online of which I was one.

    It took me until now, six months to no longer care and get to meh and accept fully that he is not capable of loving anyone after only a 1 year relationship with this loser. His own 24 year old son will have nothing to do with him in any way shape or form and my ex doesn’t even know where his own son lives. His ex wife (divorced from this loser 11years ago and remarried someone else last year) can’t stand him.

    The stories I have after only being with my asshole for a year are sooo many this is just a tip of the iceberg.

    I am finally really really happy to have removed him completely from my life. I feel lighter and so grateful that I didn’t move in with him or marry him. My life would have been complete hell with no happy ending, I saw and knew this. I was lucky to instantly walk when I saw the Craig’s List ad on his computer screen this past January that was the first solid evidence I had to explain the oh so many fucked up things he was saying and doing and the backward way in which his brain operates.

    In the aftermath I really saw how sick he is and takes no responsibility for anything even though he repeatedly said to me, none of this is your fault. I know that, I didn’t cheat. But, he would not stand up and say that he would go to therapy, he wanted “us” to work on our relationship together. I said I have nothing to work on, I came into this relationship as a whole person not knowing you have a big hole that hasn’t been filled.

    Ironically, I did wind up going to therapy for 2 months to help sort through the feelings and trauma that I felt so I could start to function again. But most of the work getting to meh for me was done on my own and repeatedly trying to figure out why he is the way he is by reading online.

    Then I found Tracy and she backed up what I was feeling with her amazing blog here! She said exactly what I was feeling but couldn’t verbalize myself.

    Now I really feel ok with the fact that he never gave a shit for me as that is the only explanation that makes sense as to why he did the things he did. I don’t take it personally or as a reflection of my own self worth as I know I am pretty amazing and I really enjoy my own company and always have fun. What he did and who he is is his. What I do and who I am is mine. THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT REALITY. He can have him! I win big time with me!!!

    I just want to you, Tracy to know how much I love you and all of you fellow and fella chumps here, how much I love you all as well.

    Nadine, listen to Tracy, there is nothing I have read here and I have read it all to help me get to this point that is even remotely questionable. She really knows what she is talking about. It is scary as hell at first. You have been traumatized. In the first couple of months, I was shaking, would have anxiety panic attacks, cry at the drop of a hat, all either on my way to work or at the office where I would have to go and take a walk. The one thing that kept me going was not for one second did I question my choice to walk away from this asshole. I was 100% certain I had to get away and stay away from him. No one who I call a friend has ever caused me to have to run to my Gyno and get tested for every STD known to man and no one I call a friend has ever caused me to go to therapy or traumatized me.

    So if your husband is doing this to you and your children, get rid of him!!!! Do it NOW! Otherwise face a lifetime of hell and total unhappiness. This is your choice, lighten your load now. You will NEVER be happy with your asshole and you know this. It’s all about Action and Time with regard to getting to MEH and getting back on track with your life and your children’s lives.

    I was lucky, I wasn’t married and didn’t have children with my ex asshole but that only means, I had less at risk.

    You have more at risk as you have children with your asshole which means you have more than just yourself to save which is more reason to get the hell out now and fight like an animal to protect yourself and your children. The longer you wait the more assfucking you will experience per Tracy’s Ostrich head in the sand analogy.

    I wish you luck and I am cheering for you Nadine but I know what Tracy is saying and what we are all saying to you is the best and soundest advise. We have all experienced this pain. Beyond the pain there is hope, a self confidence you never felt before in your life because you see clearly and take control back of your life and protect your children from further cray cray and harm. Last but not least a self love that can and will spread beyond you and possibly bring to you down the road a wonderful and loving man who does have your best interest and your children’s at heart. It ain’t over yet Nadine, just beginning!!!

    xoxoDeborah

    • Thank you Deborah… reading all these posts… there’s no manual for us who have been traumatized, but it sure sounds like our idiot cheaters all read the same one! Thank goodness for this amazing community of chumps. We really should have our own convention! There are such smart, caring people here. I truly have found a lifeline in this blog. It has been my therapy!

      • That’s the point Nadine, it’s been all of our therapy, including Tracy, she gets to give back to all of us with her experience and her success from the other side of Shit Eating and share her now strength with us from the other side.

        When you go through something this horrific you simply can’t do it alone. You have to know and understand that you are not the only one this happened to! It’s abuse without question. Dangerous abuse at that because in some ways it’s so quiet and subtle and creeps up on you like a vine until the explosion hits! Then Wow! Run for cover.

    • Deborah,

      This is the truest thing:

      ‘No one who I call a friend has ever caused me to have to run to my Gyno and get tested for every STD known to man and no one I call a friend has ever caused me to go to therapy or traumatized me.’

      I said something similar to ex recently, when he was making noises about being friends. I gave a few reasons as to why he was not my friend but I missed these. I almost hope he tries that crap again so I can throw that at him. It’s so, so true. A friend would never risk your health and would never leave you prone on the shrink’s sofa after the trauma they brought into your life.

      Nadine, it’s tough as hell but it’s worth it. It’ll be two years in November since I threw him out, with no job or career, with kids in private school, with a whole host of reasons as to why it would be more practical to just stay with the idiot. And one of them was that horrible hope that somehow I had gotten it wrong, that he really wasn’t so bad after all. Guess what. He really is all that bad after all – in fact, he’s horrible and has gotten worse and worse since I threw him out and it became very clear that the bakery was shut down and there was no more cake.

      You can do it and once some time has passed you’ll be so happy you did. Be strong and show your kids that self-respect is paramount.

      • Nadine,
        The saddest thing is even if you said this to him he probably wouldn’t even react to it or give you a reaction without any satisfaction.

        This past New Year’s eve (our first together), I got sick as a dog and I almost had to go to the emergency room until I finally fell asleep, then on New Year’s Day, his phone rang at 1pm, he leaped out of bed claiming it was his daughter (who still talks to him) and he got dressed and ran to have brunch with her. He didn’t look back, invite me or even ask how I was feeling. I didn’t hear from him again until the next day at which time my stomach was still having contractions from being sick the night before but I was feeling better just nauseous and weak.

        That’s really when I should have ended it. But of course the chump in me had to wait 2 more weeks until I discovered the Craig’s List add on a tab on his computer while I was checking my Netflix account.

        When I asked him at the dinner we had “who does such a thing?”, running out when their girlfriend is sick and not even ask her how she is or if she wants to join. He just stared at me blankly and said nothing. Previously when I mentioned it in emails after we broke up, he would reply that he is and was terrified of losing his daughter because his son doesn’t speak with him. So when she calls, he jumps.

        All lies, I told him he probably went to go fuck someone else on New Year’s Day.

        Just remember the whole thing with these deeply damaged people is that they WILL NEVER GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT, NEED OR EXPECT at the times you most need it. It’s too much for them. When it’s at their convenience they treat you well, otherwise you are on your own.

        • You’re very right. Shortly after I threw him out and was completely in pieces but of course was taking all the resposibility for the kids I called him to say that I needed a break and that I couldn’t carry it all. His response? After 20+ years together? ‘I don’t know what you expect, Nord. I can’t do anything for you to help you with your problems’. Not even kidding.

          And today, when I was just out with my kids having some fun, we were in the woods poking around and I started thinking about him and his family and how they’ve behaved and it really hit me: they don’t understand my pain because they simply do not feel things like regular people. They get upset and hurt, to an extent, sure, but really feel things deeply? No, they reallydon’t, so they’re always able to move on from people without a backward glance and just forget about it other than to badmouth people who haven’t followed their script.

          It’s kind of sick, when I think about it.

          • Nord, It’s very sick. It’s a pretend life of denial they live with little to no pain and go straight to anger. You can’t grow without pain and they just keep going in the same way over and over and doing the same thing over and over like a crazy person expecting different results. It’s all about pain avoidance much like any other kind of addict.

            The upside to all of the pain you and we experienced and experience is that we see how crazy and abnormal they are and how sane and ok we are. How much better life is without them. They are not changing as long as they are pain avoiding and lying and denying etc…So their new boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife are in for a real treat and you know what the treat is like and don’t have to deal with it anymore. For chrissake my asshole was having dinner with me while already in a new relationship with someone else in the hopes of getting me back which will never happen. So clearly no change there.

            I was so happy when I found out my ex jumped right into another relationship, that meant he would hopefully put all his energy and attention to her and stop bothering me and trying to appear in my life any way he could. Not that I wish her harm as I don’t even know her but that he would stop harming and hurting me and allow me to recover and move on from the shit he put me through. Unfortunately, we are both in a business that still connects us via some friends and a few shared customers but it’s minimal thankfully. I don’t ever have to see him or speak with him unless it’s by accident but New York City can be a really big or small place which I am grateful for.

            It’s only now (6 months out from D Day) that I realize all of the fucked up things he did and that I now can clearly see how fucked up they are and understand that. Before it was too painful to even really grasp or understand in my mind. Now I can accept that it did happen and he did it to me and that I will never allow a red flag to go by without thoroughly examining it and how I really feel about it and taking whatever action at that time I feel is appropriate for me.

            I gave him second chances after I told him things that he did which weren’t acceptable to me only to see if he would improve his behavior and listen to what I was telling him I didn’t and change that behavior. This only showed me new fucked up things each time that he would do that were not acceptable to me, until the list of fucked up things got so long, I couldn’t stay with this asshole anymore as I saw that he was a complete asshole.

            For me the final deal breaker was seeing the Craigslist ad on his computer, that tied all of the red flags I saw and had addressed along the way together. Before the red flags were just random, weird, unexplainable hurtful things he did to me and left me with questioning feelings about this fucktard. New Years Eve and the Craigs List Casual Encounter ad incidences were the final straws for me.

            YES I WAS A CHUMP AND I WILL NEVER EVER ALLOW MYSELF TO BE MISTREATED BY ANYONE AGAIN! I HOPE EVERYONE ELSE HERE FEELS THE SAME AND GET’S TO THAT POINT.

            My apologies for rambling about my experience but it’s the first time I really feel expressive and able to communicate with others about what I went through. As I know you all really do understand and no one else I know can as they haven’t been through this. So thank you for reading and understanding.

            Hopefully I can be of some help to some of you because some of you have been of great help to me!!!

            • Deborah, thank you for sharing what happened to you! Every time I read of other people’s experiences and there are so many echos of what I went through w/my narc ex, it heals me a little more!

              Your ex left you alone, sick and miserable. Mine, when my back was a mess, I had barely avoided major surgery and the surgeon still had me on his wait-list because he was sure I would relapse, refused to carry the heavy laundry basket downstairs for me. Refused angrily, BTW. Note that he was lying on the couch, after a hard days work, while I was doing the laundry, after a hard days work, making supper, and getting the kids to bed. His suggestion was that I make several trips downstairs w/smaller amounts of laundry.

              Yours came, while in a relationship w/another woman, to ask you to take him back. Mine did exactly the same! 6 months after I kicked him out, he went on vacation w/ the OW, then came three times to ask me ‘to talk about what would have to happen for him to be able to come back’. Then he went and spent the weekend w/the OW, and came back to ask me again. I almost felt sorry for her!! And it sure didn’t make me feel like he was any better a person.

              Chumplady and all the chumps here are so good for my soul! I am NOT alone, what I’ve gone through is not unique, I can trust that my ex sucks because he’s so much like everyone else’s, and it’s easy to see how much they suck! And whenever I feel low or discouraged or in doubt, CL and Chump Nation buck me up and make me laugh.

              • Same for me Karen! CL and everyone here, THANK YOU! – Karen, I hope you and your back are doing very well!

  • May be a topic for another discussion, but I was never a bad ass to begin with. So, what do I do? Stay stuck at where I am, married for 20+ years, grown up kids and family who absolutely adore me (mother-in-law calls me her daughter and him the son-in-law), comfortable life with a good job (for me, while he works whenever he feels like it), and a cheating husband from the very early stages of our marriage (true, he never really spent much money on other women, but the psychological hurt is immense), or build this one absolutely tough bad ass. I would love to build one, though, but it is not going to happen at the gym or overnight, so how do I go about it?

    • AFA – I’m not a typical bad-ass either. My nature is to be calm, caring, considerate and otherwise pleasant. But I can muster up some bad-ass when I need to. For me, my situation with my cheating STBX had to hit rock bottom, which for me was dday and the continuous cake-eating that followed. That was my rock bottom, and it awakened a bit of bad-ass. I’ve made a lot of progress since dday but I still have a long way to go, as far as making a new life for myself.

      I gave up a lot of things when I physically left – an *awesome* job where i would have been set for life, a beautiful house in a great neighborhood, a beautiful State with amazing weather, great friends, and a loving relationship with my STBX’s family. But I had to leave. My STBX was disrespecting me in the most horrible of ways, over and over again. My self-esteem was taking hit after hit, and it just wasn’t a workable situation.

      You said that the “psychological hurt is immense”. You don’t deserve that from your partner.

      If you want to leave but need to channel the bad-ass, how about taking things one step at a time? Listen to some music that makes you feel like a bad-ass. Finish something that you’ve been putting off for awhile. Clean house. Whatever makes you feel strong. I had to do quite a few of these things in order to get up the courage to make the leap of faith.

    • I learned to be a badass and so can you. I was one by the time I met Ex and he slowly leeched that from me…but it’s back and I promise you, as someone who was so compliant as a child and who generally has that in my nature, you really can get strong and tough and do what is right for you.

      It’s baby steps but every time you stand up for yourself or go against what people want you to do but that you know is not right you will get that little bit stronger and more sure. It’s hard but it can be done and you will feel much better about yourself each time you do it (although you might also have those questioning moments that go against your people pleasing ways – ignore them..they’re what was allowing you to put up with this shit in the first place)

      As far as the inlaws calling you their daughter? I had that as well, right up until the day I told my MIL I had seen a lawyer. After that she pretty much disowned me, although moans that she can’t believe it’s come to this. Your idiot didn’t get hte way he is on his own, I’m almost certain.

  • Wow. Reading this just now made me think I was the one who wrote it. I’m in the same exact place and scared out if my mind. My STBX is still looking for a cheap place to go move into and part of me still wants him to stay. I truly believe he is playing on my emotions and because I’m scared of the next step it may be working on me on some level. I have lawyers to call and I keep telling myself I can never go back without hating who I see in the mirror everyday. I can never forget what’s happened so why even try to go back into denial. I hope you call a lawyer. I have full intent to call in the next week. We deserve OUR cake and it’s time they ate the shit sandwich. I used to feel that if I ever admitted to anyone how my husband was it was a reflection on me. That I must be some sort of loser that can’t be loved. True in one way and that it was a reflection on me but only because I didn’t have enough love in my own heart for myself. He didn’t deserve my love so now it’s time to give back to myself the live that I needed for so longtime get through this mess. Good luck.

  • Chump Son,

    I know of a victim/chump (wonderful person and Mom) with a departing narc doctor, who was abandoning his three kids for the firm’s secretary (imaginative, no?) Doc kept saying to his wife, “No lawyers. We’ll work this out.” A gentleman’s agreement? I asked a friend about this who had experience. He said, “Tell her to get a lawyer.” She did. Best thing she ever did. Clarifies the situation.

    Now, had the departing doc not been a narc, he would have said, “I understand your need for an attorney, but let’s see if we can use the same one.” Narcs, however, are not rational. This departing doc could have had a peaceful separation, but he wanted to make a fight of it. He did. He wound up paying plenty.

    If you have children in these situations, you need strategic clarity, someone who can take a cold-eyed view of the situation and let you know your rights. It’s also best NOT to get all emotional. Narcs and other manipulative people will not be bad ALL the time. Of course not! They have to produce some sparkles to give you the energy to spackle. But don’t fall for that. If things have gotten bad, they will likely not get better. Don’t worry about “stuff.” Worry about you and the kids, and get a lawyer, a good one, who can lay out the path to freedom, the Road to Meh….. And make sure that your partner is held to his responsibilities.

    (The above can be reversed in terms of gender. Just talking about a situation I know.)

    • The shared attorney can be a dangerous proposition as well.

      Andy proposed we share an attorney. According to Andy, the guy was willing to be shared. Found out afterward the “attorney” was one of Andy’s friends–who’d never even met me–who supported Andy in his affair (and by extension everything else).

      My attorney stated if I knew the guy’s name, she would have reported him. If there were any emails etc, verifying the attorney was willing to do this, my attorney stated in all probability he would be disbarred.

      Shared attorneys might be possible in a handful of situations, but I doubt infidelity is one of them.

      Cheaters tend to be wingnuts, as you know, so I think for most of us the shared attorney would just be handing ammunition to the cheater.

      Just my 2c for anyone reading comments at a later date.

      • Blue Eyes and Bruises,

        I totally agree. Good point. I should have been clearer.

        I said that if the departing person had not been a narc, he could have suggested that. But as a narc, it never works. And it might be only a rare thing for the best of circumstances.

        Anyway, good caution. When the breakup is not with a narc or does not feature betrayal, it can be done. I know, since that’s what happened at the end of a first, brief marriage that I had (to a nice person; we realized we were incompatible). But, again, that may be very rare circumstances. I was very happy when the friend I mention got an attorney. It made all the difference for her. Divorce is complicated, like brain surgery. Don’t do it yourself, and that’s double true for departing from a narc.

  • My XH told me pre-divorce that we would just “split things down the middle,” and I would “probably” get to live in the house for a few years. He was so confident, and so busy love-bombing the newest girlfriend that he did very little to prepare. My kick-ass, but completely respectful and professional attorney, had me meet with his firm’s accountant. We went into mediation with a thorough financial assessment of his medical practice, present and future, where the XH didn’t even have his correct salary from the previous year. He had no idea of expenses since I had managed his life for him for 18 years. I had meticulously gone through 3 years of bank and credit card statements to back up what I would need.
    After 12 hours of mediation, I walked out with all of our savings and checking accounts, and half of his retirement account. I got the house, flat-out. He didn’t ask for any visitation or custody (which he has later regretted terribly). He was left with a couple thousand dollars from his recently discovered “secret” account. All this was accomplished through fancy accounting of his “future” income. He was absolutely dumbfounded and refused to shake anyone’s hand. The poor thing was “forced” to move in with his girlfriend because he couldn’t afford rent.
    Point being, I hated every minute of the preparation and lawyer-talk. The preparation was miserable because everything I came across broke my heart all over again. I was terrified and depressed, and it was expensive. IT WAS WORTH IT! He has since married the princess, bought another house, and a tacky flashy car, so he is surviving. Who cares, though, because so am I, and so are my children.

  • I made an appointment with the lawyer in 2 weeks (earliest I could get).

    I pray I won’t be in enormous debt for life, but I gotta think this is worth it. It has to be.

    • Yea!!! Good for you!!

      Oh, it’s totally worth it, Rachel. Just you wait. Enjoy the rush of bad-ass-ness coming your way when your lawyer gets to work.

      It’s a down payment on your new future. 🙂

      • Thank you C-Lady, you’re the best! At first I thought “he did this, he makes more money than me, HE should file” but now that he’s not with his co-worker anymore, I doubt he will file, he’ll just rack up more debt for his new apartment. Although I am grateful there’s been no contact, but that also means I don’t know what he’s doing, so I gotta take the bull by the horns.

        “Down payment on my new future”–brilliant!

  • >