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Dear Chump Lady, I’m second guessing myself

Dear Chump Lady,

My husband has cheated on me with two different women over the course of the last year and a half. I found out about one, moved to my mom’s and then came back to the family home to find out he was cheating with another one about 3 months later.

I have been trying to reconcile in spite of it all. I have basically put love first and turned a blind eye to all his behavior. I won’t say it was all for not, because it finally got me to the place I am now. I have finally put my foot down and told him enough is enough — I am moving out. (I asked him to leave and he said no).

A bit of background, over the last 2 years he has constantly told me that he doesn’t know why I am home, can’t you find anywhere to go, etc. As you can imagine, this is very hurtful especially since I’m the one that has been betrayed. I am the primary breadwinner and can make this move no problem financially or otherwise. He continues to work with his latest fling and the last straw was when he didn’t come home about a month ago and I saw them coming out of a hotel together on Monday morning when I was on my way to work. He said they didn’t sleep together…really?!?! Just reading that makes the hair on my neck stand-up.

Of course, after all the pain, hurt and lies he is NOW staying at home, not getting drunk all weekend, (he has a drinking problem), helping out a little around the house (he is a man child). Why now? Flowers delivered to my work…..why now?

I’m now slightly second guessing my move. I have always had faith in this man and maybe this is finally my chance? Maybe all my hard work and suffering over the last year is finally making a difference?

We have a young daughter and it pains me to think that she will not have a “family unit”. I know, don’t stay for the children but it is difficult.

Please help.

Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed,

Let’s recap. You’re the breadwinner. You’re the responsible adult. He’s a serial cheater with a drinking problem. Just to round out the winning combination, he’s verbally abusive and yells at you and your small daughter for two full years on how he’d like to be rid of you. Oh, and he lies to you about his affairs and isn’t one bit remorseful.

And you’re second guessing yourself about dumping him because… of a bouquet of flowers?

Were they magic flowers?

Oh hang on — a bouquet of flowers AND a few household chores AND a weekend of sobriety.

Dazed, put the crack pipe down. It’s time to kick your hopium addiction. There is nothing to second guess here. This guy has serious, decades-of-therapy level problems and a colossal sense of entitlement. You can’t reconcile with that — and you shouldn’t subject your daughter to a chaotic, drinking, cheating father either. I promise you, two years of “get the hell away from me” rejection has  fucked with her young head. Her first steps were probably to the “pick me” dance. For two years you modeled to her how to respond to abusive behavior — stick around and try harder. “Turn a blind eye for love.”

But! But! He’s NICE for entire stretches of … what? Days? Hours? Fleeting moments?

Read up on the cycle of abuse, because I’m afraid you’re in it. He’s horrible to you, and when he senses consequences, like you leaving him, he ups his game, sends flowers, and it’s the honeymoon period. Tension builds, and there’s drama. He acts out, cheats, drinks, lies. Repeat.

The man who responded to your devastation from his first (discovered) affair with ANOTHER affair — that’s the real him. His sorry wasn’t a bouquet of flowers, it was another OW.

I know you want very badly for him to be sorry. And maybe at some level he is (I tend to doubt it with disordered types, but perhaps it is possible). The problem is — he cannot sustain it. He can’t wear his “good husband” mask for very long without indulging in more chaos — the drinking, cheating, and lying. You cling to those moments where he’s good, and give them far more weight than they deserve. You want to believe in that vision, when the overwhelming evidence points to his bad character.

I get it. I was there myself once. I understand second guessing. There’s a whole post about it at Five Things that Keep You Stuck with a Cheater. A shrink explained it to me this way — it’s a battle between your core values. Your heart and your head. You may think of yourself as someone who is not a quitter. You love unconditionally. You can rise above challenges. You are someone who gives others second chances. And then those values are in conflict with your head — which says — this person is not changing. These outcomes don’t look good. If I stay here, I will get hurt again. Heart says — oh, maybe not! Maybe there is hope! You’re not a quitter… and the values stay in conflict.

Shrink said — most people stay stuck like this. Locked in this battle. This is codependency. This is why people enable. Stay with drinkers, gamblers, children who steal their wallets for dope. The way out is to ACT. Listen to your head and love yourself more than this person who is hurting you.

Your impulse to say — enough is enough — I’m moving out — was a HEALTHY one. This is the voice you need to listen to and nurture. Pay no attention to the hobgoblins of hope.

On moving out — talk to a lawyer. There may be some legal ramifications if you’re homeowners. But I can’t see how any judge would fault you for getting you and your child away from that creep. Seeing a lawyer will give you a sense of agency, a road map for escape. You’ll feel so much better for it, so please lawyer up ASAP.

You’re a strong woman for surviving this crap. It gets easier when you leave him. I know it doesn’t feel that way now, but there is a good life waiting for you on the other side. You’re already so far ahead of other folks — you can support yourself, you don’t need him financially. The only thing holding you back is your hopes for him. Put those to rest. It’s okay to wish him well — but do it from a distance. Get on with your life. Model resilience to your daughter. Best of luck to you!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “Were they magic flowers?”

    OK, laughed out loud in my office again CL!

    Dazed and Confused– GET OUT. You need him for nothing that he can give you- he cannot give you real love and real fidelity, it’s not in him. He has been telling you who he is, just listen. And yes they love to fuck with our heads. He’s scared…of losing his kibbles and losing your money. SAVE YOURSELF AND YOUR DAUGHTER, he has already shown you he only cares for himself.

      • CL,

        This post had so many good laugh lines, I almost “spit” water through my nose when I first read it and then when I got home, I had to read it again (I made sure I drank my water before I read it). “Put down the crack pipe,” and “hobgoblins of hope,” – you certainly can turn a phrase.

        Dazed and Confused,

        Grab your daughter’s hand, throw some essentials in a pillow case (or two) and run for your life. Your situation with this man is only going to get worse. His solution to you leaving him because he cheated was to cheat again. That’s all you need to know about him. His solution to a bad and painful situation was to – wait for it – do it again, because I guess the first time wasn’t bad and painful enough for you. Can you say sense of entitlement squared? At this point, if he mopped your entire home using his tongue as the mop and bought you a flower shop (probably with YOUR money since you are the major breadwinner), it should not be enough for you to have second thoughts. He’s a user and an abuser. You deserve so much more (and so does your daughter) and you can do better.

        • I chuckled too while reading CL’s response but it was just what I needed to hear. I’m moving forward and taking my daughter with me. He has been pretending like he is someone else over the course of the last 3 weeks, but I know his true self and I don’t like what I see.

  • The truth is hard to accept. I am there, too. I am leaving my own husband, who sounds nearly identical to yours. Despite not being at all remorseful about the affair up until now, he is now “sorry” and telling me that everything’s going to be okay. But here’s the deal: he was a cheating, lying, verbally abusive husband and father, for four years. *Four* years! CL’s right – this new behavior won’t last.

    I get how it’s hard to not get hooked on the Hopium again. Especially when you have kids. We want to believe what they say. We want it so badly to be true.

    If you stay with him, I give it a few months before he starts acting out again.

    • Funny how some folks seem to develop “remorse” only when facing consequences.

      It’s also funny how quickly such remorse tends to dissipate once the threat of consequences is less eminent.

      • Well, that’s what makes true remorse TRUE REMORSE – when they come, hat in hand, tail between their legs, no impending deadline involved, to apologize, atone for their sins, and beg your forgiveness.

        I’m beginning to think it only happens in the movies…

  • I went through this cycle to, 4 times actually. It was an endless cycle of cheating, lying, blaming me for everything, then the brink of divorce & back to “I love you, lets fix this”. Until I just couldn’t do it. Not. one. more. time. I just didn’t have it in me to even try again, because I knew I’d never trust him again. I’d spend my life spying and being the fidelity/marriage cop to keep him in line, all while waiting for it to start up again.

    Its that hope, that glimmer of the man you fell in love with that keeps you hanging on. You know the pain of divorce is going to be huge, so any tiny hope that life can be good again so you can dodge that bullet is awfully tempting. But honey, its not a lifeline he’s tossing you, its a anchor that will drag you straight the depths of hell. He’s trying to save himself, not you. He doesn’t want to lose his mealticket and comfortable life. He doesn’t love you, he doesn’t respect you, in fact I’d doubt very much if he even likes you. He finds you useful, and that’s all it is.

    One of the worst mistakes I made was pretending I didn’t know what he was doing, because I just couldn’t face what it would mean. Divorce and a life without him. But by far, the worst mistake that I made was to constantly second guess myself and my insticts. It let him blameshift and gaslight me to the point that I seriously was starting to question my sanity, and was I just imagining problems that weren’t there or making insignificant behavior into way worse that it really was. Please, trust your instincts. And look as his behavior, not his words, his actions. He has shown you what kind of person he truly is, believe him.

    In my case, my now ex sent me flowers (that I got the bill for and ended up paying) on Valentines day. The day AFTER I had confronted him about resuming his affair with his ho-worker and that I was going to be looking for a lawyer. Too little, and way too late. They went in the dumpster.

    • Ah, Angie – I swear these guys all read the same play book! Mine gave me $10 grocery store flowers for our anniversary paid for from the household account – which I was happy to get, scraps off the table that they were – while he bought $200 worth of lingerie for OW from his personal account. Yep, he lavished OW with lingerie on OUR anniversary! Moron.

    • Angie, your post is really so right on and helpful. One of the worst things that happened to me was BELIEVING my ex 13 years ago when he assured me he was not cheating. At least I told myself I believed him…but I fell into a deep depression, started to have anxiety attacks, questioned my own sanity, was dissatisfied and did not know why, etc etc. Of course he was lying and he had been cheating on me ALL THIS TIME, till I finally caught him last year. Over those years, he must have grown very confident, because the gaslighting and games escalated to a terrible degree, but I was too chumpy to realize.

      There is nothing more destructive to yourself than living a lie. There is nothing more damaging to a child than seeing the mother or father they love living a lie and being taken advantage of. I know that now, I lived it. I don’t want anyone else to go through it, or at least I want them to get out while they can, and with as much of their dignity, sanity, life and love left to give to a good person or to spend alone in peace.

      • Thank you Kelly. Its hard to explain how it feels when you are so unsure of yourself that you question everything. Looking back now Im like “Ah ha! I wasn’t just paranoid, it all makes sense!”. If all the pain Ive gone through has done nothing else, its shown me in no uncertain terms to trust my instincts. I wont be making that mistake ever again.

  • Dazed – I COMPLETELY understand second guessing yourself. A smile, a gesture, a kind word – like manna after a drought. Maybe he’s finally seeing the light!

    He IS. You know why?

    Because you’re going to leave and take your paycheck with you.

    THAT’s what prompted this sudden “return to normal.” It’s not remorse; it’s cake eating. He’s had TWO YEARS to fix this mess, and he didn’t. Not until you called the movers. It’s not coincidence. It’s him putting himself first.

    So let him do it – WITHOUT you. Go see a lawyer and get his name off your bank accounts and credit cards. Let him pay for his own damn mess.

    And if he DOES come back truly remorseful one day (see CL’s article on that)? THEN you can address it. Right now, flowers and chores – TWO YEARS and TWO WOMEN after D-day doesn’t sound like true remorse. It sounds like he’s whoring himself to keep his meal ticket. I know that sounds vulgar, but for those of us with time and distance from our cheaters, it’s pretty black and white. When you’re “in the thick of it,” it’s all shades of gray.

    Get away from this man, Dazed; in no time you’ll be crystal-clear…

  • Great Post CL! This really hits home and I needed this one.

    Dazed and Confused, CL is right on the money. He is who he is. Being the kind and hopeful person that you are, you want to see the best in him. Talking is easy, but WATCH him. Yes he is being nice now, but has that ever lasted?

    I think you are seeing what you want when the answer is right in front of you (lets face it, we all do it because we DO actually love them, unlike their feelings for us, which are superficial).

    Its like the color of the sky. Its blue. Yes, there are some days that the sun sets and the sky turns a beautiful pink and purple color and there are other days where its raining and the sky turns grey, but the sky is blue. There are moments of change, but never permanent.

  • This is a timely post. Dazed, my situation is very similar to yours. I too get the magic flowers every now and then when he has made some catastrophes fall on us or when he’s not here when he should be. Four years for magic flowers here, let me tell you I hate them…

    I’m filing for divorce in four hours… I’m not second guessing myself anymore, I know it’s the only choice I have. It will probably cost me a lot of money, as I too is the main breadwinner. I’ll deal with that (although it totally sucks..), but right now I’m just so submerged by the pain and a sense of failure. I tried the hardest that I could, even more than that and it failed epically…

    Chump Lady, thank you and I’m trying to believe what you are saying: I’m going to gain a life eventually, right?

    • M: it takes two to make a marriage and one to walk away. I, too, fought for my marriage, and even told a friend that I’d fought as hard as I could. Her response?

      “Yes, Red, but you were the only one in the ring.”

      I’ve never forgotten those words.

      Your husband doesn’t want the marriage you HAD, M, which is why he isn’t fighting for it; he wants an open version that includes you AND OW. Oh, and he wants you to shut your mouth and let him do what he wants, because he’s “entitled” to “be happy.” That you’re NOT happy – and are, in fact, quite devastated – is of little consequence. HIS needs come first, in his mind. And right now, his biggest need is to keep you paying for his lifestyle. If he has to buy you a few flowers and tell you a few lies to keep that happening, so be it.

      Which means the only way to retain your sanity – and your dignity – is to take yourself out of the equation.

      It will suck. For months. Maybe even for years. But it WILL get better, and you’ll feel like a different person without the 24/7 distraction of chaos and drama. You’ll even get to the point where you don’t care what he’s doing or who he’s doing it with. Hard to believe, but you WILL get there – especially it you return to filling your time with things YOU enjoy, like gardening or antiquing or going to the movies, or whatever.

      Divorce is like childbirth: you go into knowing it’s going to hurt. But once you’re on the other side, you’ll have a new life. Yes, you’ll make mistakes and you’ll do dumb things. But you know what? At least you won’t do it having someone else breathing down your neck, blaming and gaslighting you to detract from his own misdeeds.

      We’ll be thinking of you today, M. Good luck!

      • “Divorce is like childbirth: you go into knowing it’s going to hurt. ” As I am a male, I’ll just imagine shitting a bowling ball. Well I guess I would actually have to had shit a bowling ball for the analogy to work.

      • M, awesome – in an hour you will have taken the step to free yourself.

        I went through reconciliation resulting in 4 betrayals and finally said enough, that pain just kept coming and yes he sent me flowers and made the same shit promises over and over. I can tell you that once you make the decision and start moving forward, doing what you need to do, you will feel much better, more at peace, stabilized on self preservation. My ex lost his job and got me arrested for domestic assault when HE assaulted ME and he still didn’t get half my shit or the alimony he was trying for. So don’t think you will loose too much of your money/assets, that is far from in stone. Do get a excellent lawyer.

        • and yes M, you are going to gain a life, if nothing else one that is free from the crazy train and has peace in it. (hugs)

    • You will absolutely M.

      Be strong – you can and *will* get through it, AND be happier and saner the other side.

      I guarantee it.

      • Thank you for your good words guys. I filed this afternoon. It went well, now I just have to tell him. It’s the part that freaks me out the most. On the up side, it seems I was pessimistic about the money. Apparently, his assets are worth more than I tought. Thank you again.

    • Your situation does sound very similar to me. Keep moving forward and keep your eye on the ball (saying from my dad). I think we are going to gain a life and really….could it be any worst than what we have been dealing with??? I think NOT!!!! No, way!!!

  • I have been abandoned (thankfully 🙂 ) along-with my son. I am planning to undertake a mutual divorce but with huge one-time monetary settlement with my H who I have mentally considered exH for over an year now. I feel the settlement that I wish should go through easily as in my case my exH wants it. It is for 2 reasons. First, in Indian society he can manage a bride easily, who would allow him to two-time, which I won’t. Second, I am smart enough not do give him any chance at cake-eating. As for me – Divorce is not a requirement at the moment. At the moment, my 13 year old son is left entirely to me. Also, I have a new career. Both need me to concentrate upon. I have become a professor after my long-drawn PhD and am in the job market after 7 years. My son is in a crucial make-break stage and I don’t wish that he feels insecure for any reason related to me. I do not intend to marry any time soon. In fact, I am working to get full-time into social work, as my son grows up. I do not know if I would remarry at all. I am 38.
    But, the fucking reconciliation industrial complex keeps working overtime. They get to my parents or people I trust for giving my exH another chance. But fuck it! How many chances? Just how many?
    And the news is: Most probably my exH has been sacked. He had got an awesome job. It was the status in his job that had gone into his head. I had worked overtime to get him there. He kicked me out. Then he kicked his job. And you know what for. Most probably for “sexual harassment of a female staff”…(I don’t know the reality, neither want to know)! This is what he is!
    CL is right….Just don’t second – guess!

  • Dazed – your daughter does not have a healthy family unit now. Her father drinks and is not in treatment. He does not contribute to the household. You are not the one causing this and leaving does not break an already broken family.

    • Great points. I have to remember that I’m really the only one provided her stability now so not much is going to change for us. The major change will be for him.

  • Listen to CL and every one else that’s ‘here.’
    I was raised in a household where my mother was abused, I am the youngest and my Mother was finally able to leave when I was 10, but all 5 of us are damaged and have baggage to work through.
    He straightens up because you are his paycheck, he can’t take women to motels without your money. The second guessing is part of the gas lighting….(yes, that’s my favorite song these days).
    You will mourn the person you thought he was, but you sound strong and capable.
    Give your daughter a strong, capable role model.

  • It doesn’t matter how sorry someone is. Even if they are really, truly and deeply sorry (which around here is spotted even less than the unicorns are) it does NOT erase what they have done. Cause you know what? Some things are just unforgivable. There is no way to fix it, no way to wipe that ol slate clean, you just cant unring that bell (or unfuck that ho) Just because someone is sorry, it doesn’t mean you owe them forgiveness.

    • And just because you forgive somebody (which is to say, you aren’t spending time ruminating on what they did, but it’s still wrong, and no amount of time will make what they did right, but you aren’t angry or sad about it because it’s just the past, and you’ve learned and move one)… umm… just because you forgive them, doesn’t mean you owe it to them to be close and intimate with them and make yourself vulnerable to them again.

      They had that. They lost it because they didn’t value it. Mistakes have consequences. When you’ve really moved on (and no contact really,really, really helps), that’s all there is: they made a mistake, and there were consequences. It’s not complicated, and it’s not even personal. There are rules for behavior, and they are being enforced.

  • You said you were the bread winner, wasn’t that your hard earned money that paid for those magic flowers too?

    • My ex used to buy me “sorry” gifts/flowers/jewelery.

      Then transfer money out of my bank account without my knowledge or permission at the end of the month to pay his credit card. Nice.

  • Dazed and confused, I know just how you feel. I had a serious addiction to hopium and believed I was a person who loved unconditionally, who could see the potential in my husband, etc. Basically I loved him more than I loved myself. He is the one who eventually left me, because I just couldn’t stop trying. I suppose it was a gift but felt absolutely horrible and devastating when it happened. I realize now that I’m out of the situation how abusive it was. It’s so hard to see the forest for the trees, and that’s where you are right now. You’ll wonder how you ever thought about giving him a second chance once you get out. Giving up on the dream of the perfect family is really hard, but the perfect family is already gone.

    • Lyn – we were like soul sisters with this post – until the last line.

      “Giving up on the dream of the perfect family is really hard, but the perfect family is already gone.”

      The family dream IS hard to give up on, but for me, we NOW have a “perfect” family, because it no longer includes someone who doesn’t want to be here. Dinner, entertaining, celebrations, vacations – all stress-free, because XH is gone. I haven’t enjoyed my family this much in YEARS!

      • My oldest son made the comment that he could enjoy family get together more without his Dad who typically sat in the corner refusing to participate, or who tried to hurry everyone to get finished so he could get back to his work. So I know what you mean. Still, there were some very good family times and I loved it when we were all together. It was almost good enough to make up for the lack of emotional connection in my marriage. The hardest thing for me with the divorce was struggling with the loss of my family. Although they weren’t really “gone,” the kids got married and moved away at the same time my ex decided to leave. It was like one day I was a mother and wife and the next day I was shopping for one at the grocery. It was so disorienting and horrible. It took a long time for me to come to terms with everything I’d poured myself into for so many years disintegrating like that. But my kids are making their own lives now and I’ve begun my own as well. I know everything changes when kids grow up, but the transition for me was just too abrupt.

        • Lyn – Empty nesting AND Walk Away Husband? Oh, you poor thing! I can’t imagine! Yes, I understand your comment now. Too much, all at the same time. Insane!

          I’m glad everyone’s starting to move on. But you’re right – going from a full house to an empty one takes time. My thoughts are with you.

  • Red – Hell yeah! I totally agree with that! 🙂 My ex keeps asking if I miss him, does he really want me to answer that one honestly?

    • “My ex keeps asking if I miss him.”

      Angie – weird! Sounds like his misses YOU. Projection, much?

      Mine has NEVER ONCE asked if I missed him. He’s said he misses the girls a few times, but that’s it. Interesting…

  • Dazed and Confused;
    I left two weeks ago after much the same scenario as you describe. Even now, I require debriefing after any conversation with him because second-guessing myself is habitual. Every day, I remind myself that he has had countless opportunities to show examples of all the wonderful qualities I attribute to him – and have for thirty years. But that’s just it: I see that this has been all me all along and that hopium is not sustaining.
    Separate from him I can think straight, I am calm, I am fearless. With him I am confused, anxious and afraid. This is not a healthy way to live especially for a prolonged period. Your situation sounds very similar. As difficult as it has been to leave I have freedom and I don’t even make enough to fully support myself and my children right now.
    You said: “I have always had faith in this man and maybe this is finally my chance?” and I think you are partly right. It is time to put the faith back into yourself and finally take your chance to live the life you have imagined.
    Here’s a quote that may resonate with you:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest all that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Liberate yourself = liberate your child

    • Who has written/ told the above-mentioned quote. I am making it my status message 🙂

        • Oh I LOVE this quote. He wants to put out your light and make you think you are weak. DON’T LET HIM!

    • Not, you said “Even now, I require debriefing after any conversation with him because second-guessing myself is habitual.”

      get a cheap recorder from Radio Shack, when you listen to the phone call at a calm time, you will feel much better and be 100% sure you are sane and he sucks, I did this to keep my sanity, well worth it.

  • The ‘put the crack pipe down’ is such a brilliant line – hilarious.

    The cheater will reoffend! And worse, he’ll make you feel even shittier when he does. I felt like such a fool fool fool, on second infidelity, (there were others I did not know about but have since found out). And, to add insult to injury, my ex said,’ if only you had gotten help the first time I cheated, this never would have happened’. So I was to blame because I didn’t get HELP! And what’s worse is I started to believe him, such was my low self-esteem at the time – the fucker. When you’re in the woods it really is hard to see the trees.

    • Dear D & C….
      Step away from the giant glass of “crazy KoolAide” you are apparently so thirsty for. Do not look at your post for a week.
      Ok…. after a week…. read it out loud or better yet, have a friend read it to you.
      Do you hear how crazy it sounds ? Hopefully , you will distance yourself enough to realize “your second thought” must propel you to make him….. a bad memory.
      Why do you need him ? Why would you want him ? Your better than the” sick psycho- drama” he is making your life. Cut your losses…. walk.. no run away from his crap.We all have “99 problems”… but tossing a lying, cheating, bastard out is NOT one of them !
      Besides… your daughter doesn’t have a “family unit”, by staying with him.
      A healthy, happy, confident Mother & your daughter will be a safe, stable “family unit”.Do it for her…. if you can’t do it for you !

    • classic example of a gaslighting mindfucker. its almost laughable in its grotesque absurdity.

  • The sooner you get out, the sooner you can end financial support of him. Every day, week, year to stay attached to and responsible for him, you will one day regret.

    Free yourself so that you can live and love your life.

    You can feel as sorry for him as you want. You can say, “If only he would XYZ, he’d be perfect,” all you want. (You know what they say, “If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle…”) But YOU CANNOT CHANGE anyone! YOU CANNOT make someone into your image of them. YOU canNOT help someone to live up to their full potential–only THEY can do that, and so many people never do. It IS a shame. Don’t let it be your burden. Don’t waste THREE lives. Don’t let HIM take your ship down with your daughter on it.

    Get away. Get some fresh air. Breath. It will hurt for a while, like exercise does. And then the next thing you know, you are strong and healthy.

  • Dazed,
    Yes, it does get better. Though it’s hard, you can break your addiction to the hopium and start a new life without an alcoholic, cheating, lying moocher. You won’t believe how much better you will feel when the fog clears.

  • Dazed, my situation sounds lot like yours. He’s been “nice” to me for three months now. The problem is, I know that his heart has not changed, just his strategy. The flowers don’t come from any genuine feeling or remorse. He is merely calculating how to continue getting what he wants from me. Don’t be fooled.

  • My experience seems to be different than most people’s because my ex left me, and never looked back. He said he “fell out of love with me” but I didn’t know for sure about the OW until much later. My ex would barely communicate with me once he decided to leave, there were so many questions I needed answers to! Most people seem to experience their ex coming back trying to reconcile, even though they’re not sincere. The hardest part for me was that my ex talked to me like a robot, with no feed. He addressed me as someone he barely knew after 36 years! I asked him how he could watch babies come out of me and then treat me as a stranger? The lack of closure was so hard to deal with. I finally had to decide that there would never be an explanation he could give that would truly make sense to me. Anyway, I can see how your ex coming back and being “nice” could be very confusing. The I love you/I don’t love you dance cheaters do is so crazy-making!

      • Lyn, same exact boat as you. He left me, and hardly any communication since, other than discussing finances. He tried to “reconcile” once last month but it was so incredibly lame than I had to put it in quotes. Zero remorse, blameshifting, rewriting history, you know the usual. Thanks to this site, I read everything here before he came to me with that lame attempt, and I was able to tell him to go die in a fire. Since then, silence.

        I am seeing a lawyer on Friday.

        So I know exactly what you mean by no sense of closure–it was like the rug was taken out from under us, and they are so cold and turned into totally different people, ones we do not recognize. To say the least, this year has been a whole lotta WTF. But it’s comforting to know that we’re not alone!

      • Lyn,

        After years of infidelity, this too, is how my marriage is ending. My STBX has always been a stealth narcissist I believe, and a lying, cheating, pig from hell, I know. To be honest, now that I am away from him and can objectively look at our life together, we had lots of good times, but undergirding our entire marriage was infidelity, lies and deceit. None of what I believed about him and who he I believed him to be was true. I believe CL described it as being married to a Hologram. I projected onto him qualities that I wanted him to have, that he said he possessed but actually didn’t (and still doesn’t). My IC has removed my crack pipe and I am in rehabbing from my Hopium addiction. After 26 years of marriage (and 28 years of being with him) I am determined to kick this habit. Yes, it was, and still is, very disorienting to go from planning meals for a family, coming home to my house, looking forward to summer trips and holiday planning to being alone and trying to recreate my life. I have faith that you and I will keep taking baby steps and it will get better. My children are grown, but I still have them and they are still my children. I am looking at this as an opportunity. For what? I’m not sure, but I hope to find out.

    • Lynn,
      Your story is my story except for having children.

      Once during the 3 weeks between dday & move out day, he told me that every time he was home I was home. I told him that’s because I live here!

      • Hurt1 – that has been my life for a very long (too long in fact). But yet he doesn’t want me to move out….

        • Dazed, I’ll trade places with you.
          You can take mine….financially stuck with a narcissist and I’ll take yours because if I had the ability to leave I would have been gone a long time ago.

    • Lyn, I had the same thing as you in many ways. I was married for 25 years, and have two children in college/law school and a 13 year old at home. My ex professed to simply adore me and our children to everyone he met, but behind closed doors he was not always as charming, appeared to rage over nothing, and often withdrew as soon as he could from family events (especially in the last 4-5 years). I just thought it was stress and aging, chumpy-me. But when I caught him on D-Day a year and a half ago, he simply walked out and never looked back, never professed to want to come back and never seemed sorry. He turned almost seemingly overnight into someone who simply did not care about me or the kids. Turned out he had two APs/co-workers/family friends he had been having individual affairs and group sex with for 17 years before then. I’m sure there’s much more, but at this point I know all I need to know. Other than this site, a book that really helped me was “Runaway Husbands”. While I know you and I are luckier than most in that we did not have to deal with a False Reconciliation, it blew my mind that the man I thought truly loved and would always be with me did not care enough to even pretend to want me back. Some days I still wake up and can’t believe what happened was real. I do know in the end that we are lucky not to have wasted any more precious years with these fucktards doing the Pick Me dance and enduring the living death of False Reconciliation.

      • That is unreal, Kelly! Holy cow. I heard of Runaway Husbands and I am curious to read it. Mine just up and left too. What the hell? I think that although we will get through this and we know about these types of people, there will always be that sense of “what the hell just happened??”

      • Kelly, it is somewhat comforting to know others have experienced the cut off of a long time life partner. I kept telling people we had been together so long (36 yrs) that he was more than my husband, he was family. A part of me I guess. In fact the grief at first was so bad I had a sense of having lost a body part. I read later that this phenomenon is common after the death of a spouse. Some people say the feel like their heart is missing. For me it was my leg. I later decided it was because I was having to learn a whole new way of moving about in the world. But I am so much stronger now, and the CL site has helped me move the mountain of blame and shame off my back where he placed it, to his where it belongs. I feel so much lighter now!

        • Yep, mine up and left one day, too. After 18 years of marriage, and three awesome kids, one day he abruptly announced that he’d never loved me, was sorry he’d not been a good husband, and professed his enduring love for an ex hook-up of his he found on FB. I was dumbstruck. Never in a million years did I think he would cheat on me, let alone abandon me suddenly. He left a month later, when I finally asked him to leave. His behavior had been strange for a few months leading up to BD, but after BD he became just plain bizarro–cruel and unfeeling, with totally irrational thinking and behavior.

          How could I have been soooooooooooo stupid as to not see that he was having a blatant affair right under my nose? I trusted him. I don’t know why, but I did.

          I read the book “Runaway Husbands”–I bought so many books on Amazon. I joined a reconciliation site that speaks about MLC and learned a lot.

          I finally faced the truth and admitted to myself that he’d have left years before if he’d had a chance with any of several women he openly fell in love with throughout our entire relationship. He admitted it to me, as well. “I’d have left you for J,” a co-worker, he said. He was passive-aggressive and irritable the whole time I knew him, expressed many symptoms of depression and anxiety. He was a ticking marriage bomb. I was naive. I believe now that he may have cheated before, but really fell for the last creep.

          She’s pretty on the outside and ugly on the inside. She hurts innocent kids–MY kids. HE hurt my kids. HE HURT HIS OWN KIDS.

          I miss the companionship (even though he was an asshole most of the time), the dreams of having a whole family into my future, and the sex, but, truly, I don’t miss him. I am looking forward to dating again when my youngest finally leaves for college and my home remodeling is done, which should be just about a year from now, unless Mr. Awesome shows up in my life in the meantime. I divorced my xH to take my power back, since BD was like a huge, humiliating slap in the face, one that left me cold with stark loneliness and insecurity. I propped myself up on what I could do to reclaim my self–my dignity, my freedom.

          I am so grateful for CL (and even the reconciliation website, for although I never intended to reconcile, I found comfort in understanding and others’ stories.)

          • Stephanie,

            After reading your post I considered that my STBX might be a bigamist since there were so many similarities between him and your description of your xH. My STBX has been telling anyone who will listen that he has been unhappy for the entire marriage (26 years) and that he has now found happiness (with an old “friend” who has 3 husbands under her belt, all through divorce). There are times I consider going to the hopium den, but I come here (this site is my methadone) and realize, nope! not going to pick up that pipe. Nothing there but death. I recognize that I don’t miss what I had as much as I miss what I thought I had, what I created in my mind and projected onto the situation. I do miss lying next to someone, being held, the companionship, but if you’re sharing that with Dracula, you eventually just end up being one of the walking dead.

            I am grateful for CL’s wisdom and the wisdom and compassion of everyone who posts here. Forward and Onward Fellow Chumps!

          • Stephanie, my heart goes out to you. I think we will find that we are happier than we ever have been eventually. My prayer has been that I will be able to look at my ex and feel nothing, and I’m almost there.

            • We’re getting there.

              Sometimes I think our hearts are like an implosion that left a giant black hole–an enormous vacuum of emptiness that is liable to suck up the worst CRAP just to fill the space.

              [nerd alert!]

              So we have to have a filter on that shit. That’s what CL is good for. Don’t let the ex get near the heart vacuum. Don’t let other creeps near it, either. Stay strong. Fill your heart with GOOD people and interesting hobbies and wonderful memories.

              We’ll get to “Meh!”

              • This is beautifully put. I know that what I went through left me quite susceptible to another predator like my ex. As you say, it’s like a black hole that wants to pull something into the emptiness and if crap is what is available, crap is what sucks in. We all have to be careful about this, it’s very easy to go from one terrible relationship right into another.

  • Kelly,
    Me too. I asked my husband to leave about 9 months ago. I found out he was a serial cheater. When I confronted him, he was all tears and sorrow. Once he moved out, now he says he will not come back until he finds out “why” he did it. I can tell him why. Because he wanted to! He has not tried to reconcile. Unfortuantely, he has a counselor who is validating all his feelings. I just asked him again if he was going to come home. It was my last “pick me” dance. He said some self centered thing about finding out why he did these things, again. We were married for 31 years. Now he just threw me and the marriage away like some piece of trash. Tell me that it will get better soon, CL nation. It is amazing to think that the man you thought was one person is really another. Oh well, I had another good cry! I did jjust sign the legal rep agreement. So, it is a beginning.

    • Hang in there Boston (and Lyn and everyone else), it DOES get better. First I had to cycle through the WTF was that??? But you slowly get enough info to get out and stay out, slowly see what a monster he was and still is. Sometimes you slip back but you keep moving forward, you crawl if you have to but you keep going. You have no choice cause you can’t give up, the bastards can’t take the best years of our lives and win. Because while we were in it for love, it was a horrible sick little game to them.

      And since we’re not working on a False Revonciliation, at least our exes are not wasting any more of our time. I’m sure if my ex had wanted, I would’ve tried reconciliation, and since D-Day was 1 1/2 years ago I calculate I’d still be in the middle of hell right now and going nowhere fast while he lied and cheated and I tried to he the marriage police. That would be utterly soul-numbing.

      Instead during the last 1 1/2 years, I had peace, no one raging that the house wasn’t clean, or gaslighting me, or lying to me. I began to date, and met a wonderful non-sparkly guy I am recently engaged to. The differences between him and my ex are subtle yet amazing- I never realized how shallow my ex was, or how it is when someone really cares about me, until now.

      So chumps, thank god they let us alone, to grieve, to rage, to arrive at some semblance of peace, and to move on. That bastard took some of the best years of my life–I’ll be damned if he gets any more. Fuck ’em, you can do it chumps!!

    • Yeah, I relate to feeling as if you were thrown away like a piece of trash. It is the devaluing they do that allows them to walk away and not look back. It’s been a year and a half and a lot of therapy since D-day for my and I can say I’m truly happy most days. It does get better, I always say when you start to like your new life more than you miss your old one you’ll know you’ve healed.

      • I was tossed like trash and told him so.

        I also told him a lot of other choice things.

        It does get better. Eventually I believe you will finally clear the cobwebs from your eyes and realize he was not good to you in many ways. I don’t believe people just change overnight–bar some devastating brain illness/injury. I do wonder if these guys are showing early signs of dementia, but truly I think most of them were asses throughout the marriage, and we chumps were very skilled and experienced spacklers.

        Memories come, and you can look at them differently now. I have a friend I confide in because she, too, is going through a divorce, she from a serial NPD cheater. She is able to point out that the way he treated me was crap, and it is enlightening to say the least.

        It really does get better, when you get away from an abuser and you can see and hear and feel again. You will discover yourself again–fill your life up with REAL friends and loving family and hobbies and work and happy memories. You will go where you want to go. It isn’t all roses, but neither was being married to the sort of guy who abandons his family.

        You WILL be ok.

        • A good friend of mine pointed out that he had betrayed me on many levels. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it was true. It took a long time to go through hopium withdrawal, but after I did, I could finally see the relationship more clearly.

  • All – thank you for your comments and support. My head knows that this is the right decision. My heart is the one that needs to stay with the program. I’ve pretty much got everything lined up for the move. I spoke to an attorney today as well. It did make me feel better.

    My life has been a chaotic mess, it feels empowering and good to take the control back. Somewhere my respect was lost and I have now decided to take it back.

    I’m not sure my next steps, I have learned in al-anon to take it one day at a time and do the next right thing. I know the next right thing is to get me and my daughter out of there.

    I would welcome advise on letting others (family and friends) in on separations and divorce. I’m struggling since I have put on the brave, happy face for so long….

    Thanks again to everyone, I will read over these comments again and again and i know they will help me to get through this.

    – Dazed

    • Dazed, you need not to worry too much about what friends and family think. True friends will understand. As my late mother would say – ‘those who care don’t mind and those who mind don’t care’. This is about you and your daughter’s lives so look after yourselves and get to a safe place where you can breathe and think about your future. Best of luck to you both x

    • Dazed, hang in there sweetie. Tell family and friends the truth, it’s that simple. The amount of detail is up to you. I know it helped me to tell my story. In telling the horrible things my ex did to me and our children, it was empowering to speak the truth and to see the reaction of friends and family. And in each telling I grew stronger, and my ex somehow grew weaker and smaller. Vent if you need to, cry as much as you want, scream if it helps (I tried that in the car once, just sorta scared myself and was hoarse the next day). You will survive and thrive, you will get to the other side. What is that saying? “When you’re in hell, keep going.” (((Hugs )))

  • All,
    I wanted everyone to know that my husband’s true self came out over the weekend. His behavior reaffirmed why I’m moving out and why I have lawyer’d up. He is who he is and I’m so proud of myself for not wavering from my decision. My daughter and I will be all settled into our new place by the end of the wkd. Thank you to everyone for your comments and support!!!

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