I am a new chump. As in my wound is so raw that I don’t think I’ve entered any significant stage of recovery yet (still shell shocked.)
For what it’s worth, I appreciate your blog and your writing style. I’ve bookmarked it on my phone and I read it at least once a day.
I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before so I apologize if this sounds like that redundant, cliched question — but please tell me that full recovery is possible. My definition of ‘full’ isn’t that I will be the same person as I was prior to the discovery, but that I won’t become that empty shell of a person, experiencing suicidal ideations (really) and calling my doctor frantically asking for anti anxiety medication.
In case you’re curious, my partner of 15 years had two affairs within a relatively short timeframe. We have a child together and I have minimal income (freelance, say no more?)
It’s essentially a textbook scenario of someone “stuck” in her economic situation, at least for the time being.
I’m overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Dear New Chump,
Full recovery is possible. Actually, radical improvement over your former life is possible as well. The pain — especially the acute pain you feel in the beginning, the puking, the suicidal thoughts, the paralysis — is FINITE. Right now, you’re just in shock. You’re ahead of the game if you remember to eat, stay hydrated, and shower. If you haven’t already, do check out What To Do and What Not to Do when you’ve been cheated on (bookmarked on the home page here).
You’ve fallen down an elevator shaft. It’s totally normal to feel like you’re going to be crushed in the darkness before you can ever crawl out.
But New Chump, that’s exactly what you have to do — crawl out. Fight like HELL to not let this destroy you. He’s not worth it. You need to begin taking your power back. There’s no such thing as “stuck.” I promise you, a hundred chumps reading your story were stuck in equally dire circumstances — or worse — and got UNstuck. You will too.
First, you need to understand that this isn’t your fault. You didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it. Whatever you perceive as your failings as a partner, did not compel your cheater to cheat on you. (And if they’re blameshifting it on you, don’t take that shit!) You only get to control YOU. Whenever you feel yourself drifting over into cheater-centric thoughts (what makes them tick, are you prettier than the OW, what will please them to make them do X) — slap yourself. Ask yourself — is this relationship acceptable to ME? Can I feel safe in this relationship? Respected? Cherished? Valued?
NO. Two affairs, and I don’t know from you where it stands. If this person left, or you haven’t confronted, or what’s going on. Doesn’t matter. You need to be clear in your mind that THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE and you are now act in your, and you child’s, best interest.
You need to make a PLAN. When you have that, you’ll begin to have a sense of control over this nightmare. Every little step you make toward independence will make you feel better and will spur more little steps.
First step — see a lawyer. Even if you aren’t married to this person (I’m unclear, and perhaps you’re gay?) you have a child. Temporary support orders need to be drawn up. Find out what rights you have as a common law spouse.
Next step — find a job. Time to say good bye to freelancing. Be open to all possibilities. Maybe you can move in with a friend, or family member until you get on your feet.
What I don’t want you to do is NEED your cheater for anything. Your job is to remove yourself from the orbit of their control. So long as you live with this person, and they control the purse-strings, you will be afraid to stand up for yourself.
There is the other side of this too, that you’ll be afraid to break your dependency on the cheater because it’s a tie that binds you — hey, I’m the mother of our child! You need me home to raise our kid! Don’t you see how valuable I am?
If they saw how valuable you were, you wouldn’t be looking at two affairs. Break FREE.
Who were you 15 years ago? Find that person. Summon her up. Kick start her into gear.
What I’m not going to do is encourage you to stay with someone who is actively cheating on you, because you “need” them financially. Find away out — by any means necessary.
I hope the other chumps will weigh in with their stories and encouragements. They escaped — and you can too! Hang in there, New Chump. I swear it gets much, much better.
Leave a cheater, GAIN a life. Guaranteed.