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Dear Chump Lady, Any advice for a new chump?

Avoid feelings of paralysisDear Chump Lady,

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.

New Chump

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.

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.
  • New Chump: It is really hard at first. By all means see a lawyer; it doesn’t commit you but the information you get will enpower you and make you stronger.
    Make copies of all your financial documents and store off site.
    take care of yourself 1st. There is lots of good information bookmarked here read them all. Find a therapist for YOU not for a couple couselor. That can come later if YOU chose.
    I’m 14 ms in and after giving him time to see the error of his ways (23 yrs married) I will be leaving soon. We are here for you.

  • New Chump,
    Yes, full recovery is possible. In fact, better than full recovery is possible (I’ve seen it here, although I admit I am not there yet.)

    The beginning is so horrible. I lost 30 pounds in just four weeks after ex husband dumped me for OW. I could not stop shaking, pacing, panicking. I had to go on anti anxiety medication and anti depressants. I thought I was going to die.

    That was three years ago. My divorce was final over a year ago. And low and behold, I DIDN’T die. Life went on, and in new directions I never imagined I could go. I am now a freelance writer (it IS possible to make a decent income as a freelancer, it just depends on what you do, how you market yourself, a bit of luck and a good work ethic) and I see a new life on the horizon. You say your income is minimal — can you find more work easily? If you can’t increase your freelance income, can you get a part time job to fill in the gaps and do freelance work in the evenings?

    Hold on tight, because you are in for a bumpy ride for awhile. Reach out to your friends and family. Get therapy if needed. Get meds if needed. Get an attorney ASAP. Make copies of financial documents, open your own bank account and credit cards if you don’t have them already.

    Fifteen years together and a child….. married or living together? If married, your partner likely will need to pay support. If not married, you can still get child support. Get an attorney to go after support right away — you don’t need to wait for divorce to be final.

    Take a deep breath. Make sure to eat properly each day. Go for long walks. Buy yourself some flowers (I bought myself a bouquet of flowers each week for several months after Dday). Treat yourself very kindly, the way you would treat a friend who had a traumatic accident. You HAVE had a traumatic accident, it’s just emotional instead of physical. Expect to recover slowly over time, and expect to ride a roller coaster of emotions for months to come. But it gets better, I promise.

  • Dear New chump,

    Sorry, but welcome to the club. It’s been about 9 months for me and I think you ae already ahead of the game because you found this site so early in the game. Chump Lady (and the “Chumpettes”) quite literally saved my life…..I have no doubt.

    I too was terrified financially, pictured myself on the street besides the gut sucking pain, humiliation, losing my best friend, etc. I honestly was so shocked that I was in a fog for months, and there was more than one affair at the end. But I think the worst part was that he had been cheating ALL along, that man I thought I was with? Well he NEVER was the person I thought he was…..he just got tired of lying.

    You WILL be fine. Like CL said no matter how bad you feel it is NOT YOUR FAULT!!! Stick close to us, there will always be someone here to talk to and know that you will be just fine. I’ve had alot of financial problems but now I can depend on ME and it’s working out just fine. And a job, ANY job will give you purpose as well as income.

    I would have NEVER believed in the beginning of the nightmare that I would survive and I don’t even think I wanted to but now I am pretty serene and feel better than I have in years. Like someone told me here in the beginning – it’s like being in a terrible train wreck and it will take awhile to mend. But you will. You will find YOU again. We are ALL here for you…XO

  • New Chump, I can only say that CL is giving great advice. Find a way to support yourself, even if it means a crap job with low pay that leaves you living in less than ideal circumstances. I divorced a serial cheater and I’m STILL putting my life back together financially. I was a SAHM for far too long so that I could help him build HIS career.

    Well, when I found out he’d been cheating for years I got royally fucked financially after kicking him out. Almost two years later and it’s still scary as fuck. BUT I have a nice little flat with my kids that we just moved into, I am slowly putting my career back together, networking like crazy, getting some really interesting opportunities and have made a new life that has little to do with him. Overall – and other than my financial situation – I am very happy. The ONLY thing that brings stress into my life is him.

    Isn’t it funny? Before I found out I wasn’t terribly happy and knew something wasn’t right but, in true Chump style, figured it was me with the problem and was actually looking into seeing a therapist to figure out why I was feeling so bloody down. Now I know why I was feeling down: I was living with a serial cheating man who had a whole life I knew nothing about: friends, dates, all sorts of stuff, while I was home with the kids, doing the hard work and the heavy lifting.

    To this day, almost two years later, that asshole hates me, badmouths me, treats me like absolute crap. I have little to do with him as a result because, as I said, the only thing in my life that is stressful is him. And I finally figured out that that’s the way it always was. When I was having issues with various people in my life over hte years the majority of the time it was somehow related to him and his actions. Not always, mind you, because I’m not a saint, but more often than not. Why? Because I was living for him and not for me.

    Now I’m living for me and as scary and petrifying as it is at times (and today would be one of those days, actually) I am back to being me – the old me who fought like mad to get a good life and have great people in it. He almost took that away from me during the two decades we were together but in the end I managed to salvage that bit of me and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

    Sure I have my days (did I mention today?) where I am anxious and scared and wonder if I really can keep putting it all together again but they’re fewer and further between all the time. I have fantastic friends, a great family, wonderful kids and I live my life more honestly and fully than I have in years. And the best part? I have loads of new friends and connections in my life that I would never have had had I stayed with the dickwad.

    I’m free and you can be too. It will suck and be hard and there will be days where you want to jump off a bridge because it will seem just too bloody daunting. But you won’t. You’ll get up the next day, fight a bit harder, get a bit more determined, challenge yourself in ways you never dreamed possibly and one day you’ll start sleeping better, you’ll belly laugh again, you’ll find yourself realising that dreams are possible and you can make them come true.

    For the sake of your future and, more importantly, the sake of your child’s future, get out, let him go skank around somewhere else, grit your teeth, ask for help wherever you can, reach out, work hard, cry if you need to and KNOW that you are worth more than this shit and you can make something amazing of your life without a dirtbag cheater dragging you down and making your whole life about him. Because that’s what’s happening now: the cheating is making YOUR whole life about him, keeping the focus on him and somewhere in there you’re not getting anything. He’s a big babyish manchild and you deserve better and you will have better….IF you’re willing to grab your bootstraps, pull hard and take that first, tough, really difficult first step.

    I really wish you all the best. It’s awful, believe me when I tell you I know just how awful, but you will reach the point where you’ll realise that this asswipe doesn’t deserve to even breath the air around you.

  • First off, big hug if I could. For about the next year it’s going to be a roller coaster of emotion, some days won’t be too bad, then you’ll hear a song on the radio, find an old picture of the two of you and the bottom falls out…let it happen. The ups and down level out quicker if you begin to work on yourself, but the process can’t be rushed. I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but this is what I did.

    -Went No Contact from day one, as much as I could with two kids in the mix.
    -Started a journal, at 3 am sometimes it helps to get it all out in writing.
    -Removed any item of the X’s out of the house, stick it in the garage if you have to.
    -Re-established old friendships and made new ones,
    -Make a bucket list, pushed the envelope, developed a new passion or restarted an old ones.
    -Excercise, excercise, exercise… it burns off stress hormones you are going to lose a ton of weight anyway, might as well get in shape.
    -Forced my self to get out to every free event and fundraiser I could get to.
    -Realize “Living Well is the best Revenge”.

      • Janet, I have been steadily gaining weight too! Help! Hoping that in a month or so it will cool off enough so that I can at least do some walking…I need to do something because it is NOT helping me with my (severe ….yes diagnosed) depression…….:/

  • Thanks, everybody, for always sharing all your great advice. It really helps me to know so many of us have gone/are still going through this, and to know that my curl-up-in-a-ball response to this pain isn’t overly abnormal. Yes, New Chump, the pain and fear WILL diminish, and yes, you will begin to have minutes, good hours, maybe even a good day. Keep reading all this great chump advice, and follow the instructions of those who have survived exactly what you’re going through!

  • Welcome new chump,

    Get organized and do it covert. I saw a therapist, priest, and an attorney. I found out what I needed psychologically, spiritually, and financially. Everyones relationship is a little different. The only consistent thing is the cheater. They all carry the same level of false entitlement. After you have your escape plan , execute it and go no-contact.

    I remember when I was a kid a friends mother went through this. She was housewife and had to get a job to support her and 3 kids. Looking back now she was amazing. She got a job at 7-11 and later became district manager. You need to get focused and treat this as a mission for your future.

  • Best thing I did was snooping. By means of a spyware. This saved me of a false reconciliation.

    Found a lawer fast, like during the first month.

    I say: enjoy the weight loss. It will be the best lost weight you ever had!

    6 months is the worst time frame. Then it gets better.

    Worst thing I did: I didn’t get NC soon enough. The sooner you deprive him of the cake, the better.

    Try not to drink much and not to send desperate text messages. You will regret them.

    Revenge? It is not for everyone. They usually are insensitive to revenge tactics.

    Get out and talk talk talk. Don’t feel ashamed. Don’t let him spin the lies. The trough should be out there in the open. The kid has to know. His relatives and friends have to know.

    And prepare for divorce. Life is going to be a lot better. You are going to find out a lot about yourself. Like you weren’t really depressed but he was behind your lack of self esteem!

    Wach him fall apart from a distance, or don’t watch him at all if you can. Don’t try to manipulate him. He doesn’t care. And don’t believe ANYTHING he says. That’s all.

    Read here everyday . You WILL survive and gracefully too.

    Big hugs.

    • ‘You are going to find out a lot about yourself. Like you weren’t really depressed but he was behind your lack of self esteem!’

      So, so true, Anna. I was depressed for awhile before dday and had lost all confidence in myself. DDay hit and once the huge trauma started to pass I was suddenly not depressed anymore and my confidence slowly returned with every step I took. I had reached a point where I would agonise over making a phone call to the electric company. Now I can and will call anyone for anything. It really was awful when I look back, the mind fuck he put me through.

      • Nord, I was the same before dday. We finally had moved back home many years of being away because of his job. I was with family and friends again, got a fantastic new job and yet, I had this undercurrent of sadness and I couldn’t figure out why. I knew I had made my life too much about him and felt that over the years I lost my sense of who I was. But I didn’t realize he was the source of my sadness until he left. I felt shock, but I also felt relief! I’ve actually been doing pretty well. Yes, the whole situation sucks and leaves you numb because I and everyone else thought we had such a lovely relationship. He was very good at living a double life. I miss having someone in my life – but I don’t miss him. I went no contact right away and, with the support of family and friends, and keeping tremendously busy at work, not once did I have a desire to reach out to him. From the outset, I knew that what he did was despicable and that it was a reflection on him – not me. I’m getting through it and New Chump, you, Nord, I, and everyone else whose posts I’ve read on this site for which I am so grateful, CL, we will all get through this. I am unwavering in my thoughts that I’m better off without him and the pain, ten months in, has greatly subsided. Big, strong hug to you New Chump you will survive this.

        • I live far away from family, had just moved back to an area we had lived prior so my friendships weren’t as solid as they once were due to being away for a few years, no job and had been a SAHM for a few years. I seriously fell apart before dday because I didn’t know what the hell was going on in my life, where I had gone and what the future looked like. And ex had all my energy and time and care…but no one was doing it for me.

          Now I’m glad he’s gone because he wasn’t there for me anyway, I realise now. Sure, he could put on the act when it was really necessary to keep me on side but overall, no, he wasn’t there for me, he didn’t support me, my dreams, my aspirations, he wasn’t there to hold me up when I needed someone to do that despite me always being there to hold him up and then some.

          So him being gone is good but I do miss having someone in my life. My friends are fantastic but they’ve got their own relationships. I want someone to share my life with again and this time I want someone who really is here for me. On the other hand, despite dating, I’m really not sure I’m ready to trust anyone. The betrayal and bad treatment, not just by ex but by his family and the friend of mine he fucked, etc. has left me quite leery of allowing anyone new near me. One guy is a possibility but I think he’s as gunshy as I am…:)

            • We met in a business situation and just sort of started chatting. Then every time we’ve met since (3 or 4 times) we have these great, funny chats. And we do a lot of smiling and joking and sharing. We’ve actually both spoken (briefly) of our respective divorces. He’s not my usual type but he’s very nice and funny and smart and I don’t know, it’s the first time I’ve felt anything for anyone of the opposite sex in just about forever.

              We have no real reason to be in touch now so haven’t heard from him but am thinking of sending him a text (we did a bit of ‘business texting’ at one point) and asking if he wants to have a coffee or something. But then I get stressed he’ll say no and then I’ll be embarrassed and, well…ugh. We’ll see how it goes.

              • I say you go for it! It sounds like you don’t have anything to lose… like you won’t really see this guy again otherwise.

                You could just renew the conversation but on a more personal level, do a little flirting, and see if anything grows naturally from there.

                Keep us posted!

      • Nord,
        I’ve needed a new car for over 2 years. Finally got a loan from my 401K about 2 months ago, got the car last week. WTF did he do to me so that I was afraid to get something I so desperately needed? The cruelty of it just astounds me sometimes, he would have had a shit fit too…it’s a 2012!

    • “Best thing I did was snooping. By means of a spyware. This saved me of a false reconciliation.”

      Ditto – best $99 I ever spent!!

      Love all your advice!

      • My pops used to say “scratch a lie, catch a thief”. Well, start scratching, everything. Bank statements, phone bills, texts, look hard at everything! All of it! Although finding the truth will hurt emotionally, let me tell you, when you do, his, or in my case, her attorney will shift into “Oh Shit” mode. It was, and still is a bit relaxing to know that proof trumps in a courtroom. It’s there, black and white, I scratched her lies, I caught a thief. I played penny poker a lot when I served in the military. When you know you have a hand, and you know what your cheating soon to be ex has, the bluff never works. ” I call, show me your cards”.

  • I’m sorry for your loss of innocence, but hopeful for your future gain as a living, breathing, deserving-of-respect, bad ass and eventually happily FREE member of living again.

    Divorce is the death of a family, no other way to say it. For months after I discovered the depths of X’s deceit, embezzlement of family funds and blatant cheating, I felt as though my husband had been brutally murdered, and his sadistic killer was walking around in his body ala Silence of the Lambs style. It was torture, and didn’t help that I instantly became non-existent to him when I called him out on his lies. The kids became a hobby while he embarked on his “All About Me” adventure, never looking back.

    There are days it is still torture. Only now, I have some distance from his orbit to be able to take a deep breath before I decide how to respond to his nastiness. Mostly, he psychologically abuses the kids and continues to cheat us on the money he should be paying if he was an honorable father. As soon as the divorce decree was inked, he “lost” (I still think he quit) his temp job. The child support was cut in half and I had to pick up the family insurance on my second-year teacher’s pay. Not fun. He expects the kids to just roll with his new and improved life and bimbo, and punishes them with bluster, silence and withdrawal when they object.

    You have a tough road ahead, but never once think you cannot get to the end of it. It will end, and the choices you make now will determine where you end up. My advice is to be pragmatic and plan:

    1. Play along with your partner’s game until you can secure a lawyer that is known for his/her reputation as a pit bull. Let them advocate for you.

    2. Start asking your freelance connections if they know of any openings anywhere. Networking will make the job search more efficient, and they can also advocate for you. There is nothing more freeing than getting a paycheck with deductions for benefits, however small. It means you belong.

    3. Don’t move if you’ve been the stay-at-home parent. It will be torture to live under the same roof but worth it when the judge rules in your favor.

    4. Stop beating yourself up about the loss of your relationship. As Chump Lady so eloquently reminds us, “Trust that they suck.” Your partner cheated. There’s no way to sugar-coat, explain or reconcile such a scumbag move. You can and will be so much better off without them.


    • Just have to disagree with one thing.
      Maybe it is because I have older kids but divorce is NOT the death of the family. My sons and I are closer than ever.
      We are are happy, fun loving and committed FAMILY of three.
      We are so much happier now that the lying, cheating asshole is out of the picture.
      Living truthful, honest lives is much easier for my family.

      • Yep. Same for me and my daugters. He used to say we were a gang…..not like the gang we are now!

      • It’s the death of the “family” you thought you had. I did have to mourn what I “thought” I had. But I agree that now, my family of 3 (me and the kids) is far, far better.

    • That’s it, Chutes, it really is a loss of innocence. I remember soon after Dday I would look at pictures of myself taken during the time that he was having the affair but I was completely unaware of it. I would look and feel sorry for myself… how happy and naive I looked caring for the kids while my now-ex was off screwing his assistant. I wondered if the look in my eyes was different now that I knew and if I could ever look that innocent and carefree again.

      I think now that I can look that innocent and happy but I never will actually be that innocent again. I know too much. It took a long time for me to really stop believing in him. Even when the marriage was over, I still believed he was a better person than he actually is for a long, long time. I slowly adjusted my expectations of him downward every time he continued to disappoint me. So, I’m not so innocent anymore, but in a way I feel like I just finally grew up. I am much more emotionally intelligent and strong now that I have experienced this tragedy and did not let it break me. In fact, I made myself learn from it and become a better person. Because of this, I have now taken the time to sit back and really think about how I feel about serious things: morality, relationships, and, most importantly, myself. How did I become who I am today? Who do I want to be? What do I want to be doing? What is important to me? I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve at least thought about all the questions. I have also come out of my shell. I am so much more confident now – more confident than I have ever been in my life, actually. It took a while. I went through incredible fear and divorce shame at the beginning. But going back to school has really helped. I haven’t done anything on my own, or even for myself, in a long, long time (since the first time I went to college 16 years ago, probably). And now I’m successfully doing this. And raising my kids. And taking care of the house, etc. Sometimes it is hard… my bad day was two days ago, Nord, where I did break down crying because at that moment I was so tired of being strong and maybe even wished for someone that I could pour my heart out to and who would comfort me. Someone who knows and cares about all the facets of me and my life. But now that someone will never be anyone like my ex.

      Now that I’m free, I realize how toxic my relationship was with him… and he is not even really to blame. He was just being who he is (ie. a person who sucks). It was me that chose to diminish myself and cater to him. I was the one that made the majority of my world be about him and all major decisions were about what was best for him. Deep inside I must have known it was wrong… that’s why I wasn’t happier. That’s why when he kept constantly putting me out to make every little thing just the littlest bit easier for him, I would do it grudgingly. And he made me feel like I was just a bitch. That I was selfish and I should be happy to do all these things for him all the time. But all of the many things I did for him of my own volition were never acknowledged or thanked. He just expected more. And he never really did anything for me. But I also never asked him to. That’s something else I’ve learned: to enforce boundaries… don’t just give and give. And also, don’t be afraid to ask.

      So, now I also know that I’m not a bitch. I can be happy. I am happy!

      • That last paragraph has really made me think. I considered myself to be so strong in our relationship, always making sure things were ticking along, jumping in when things weren’t, fixing, fixing, fixing. But you know what? I was being strong, jumping in and fixing for HIM, not me. Everything I did was for him and yep, deep down I think I resented it, I think I was severely pissed off about it but burying that, and I probably was pretty bitchy at times. I remember exploding several times with a rage I didn’t recognise and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Now I know because it never, ever happens anymore and it never happened before: it was all the shit I was burying and ignoring and spackling like mad forcing its way out.

        The best part of this whole thing is accepting that it’s not selfish at all to want to do things for me and to put myself first at times, even before my kids. That has been a gift.

        • Damn…hit submit before I was ready!

          We’re not selfish bitches for wanting things for ourselves or for putting ourselves first…we were just made to feel that way because our idiot ex’s couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that anyone was equally important. Nope, for them they were number one and how dare you not bow down and serve!

      • ‘It was me that chose to diminish myself and cater to him. I was the one that made the majority of my world be about him and all major decisions were about what was best for him. Deep inside I must have known it was wrong… that’s why I wasn’t happier. That’s why when he kept constantly putting me out to make every little thing just the littlest bit easier for him, I would do it grudgingly. And he made me feel like I was just a bitch. That I was selfish and I should be happy to do all these things for him all the time. But all of the many things I did for him of my own volition were never acknowledged or thanked. He just expected more. And he never really did anything for me. But I also never asked him to. That’s something else I’ve learned: to enforce boundaries… don’t just give and give. And also, don’t be afraid to ask.’

        HEAR, HEAR! I am also going to look at my part to play in this, how I just whined and moaned but ultimately went along with his selfishness and self-absorbtion thinking ‘one day my time will come’. THATS ON ME. I was a dependent SAHM for 20 years. It took his affair to absolutely blast me between the eyes, that he doesn’t care about me, that he is incapable.

        I go to Al-anon to help me learn through the 12 steps to accept with serenity, let go, stop focussing on him, take responsibility for my own happiness and to believe in a higher power that will guide me in my new life. It is a huge support, is FREE therapy and I urge anyone to go along. You don’t have to have an active alcoholic in your life, to go (and it is incredible how alcohol and the problems it causes cascades down the generations. If you are a Chump, chances are there is an alcoholic family member not 2 generations above you).

        From being SAHM I have gone back to College, got a part time job, and whisper the serenity prayer as a mantra when I get overwhelmed and anxious (usually first thing in the morning)

      • “Now that I’m free, I realize how toxic my relationship was with him… and he is not even really to blame. He was just being who he is (ie. a person who sucks). It was me that chose to diminish myself and cater to him. I was the one that made the majority of my world be about him and all major decisions were about what was best for him. Deep inside I must have known it was wrong… that’s why I wasn’t happier.”

        Hmmmmmmm… I have a slight issue with the above statement – he is to blame for being a lying cheating shitbag who knowingly lied to my face whilst pretending to be engaged in a loving marriage. Let’s not excuse their despicable behaviour because ‘that’s who they are’. When we engage emotionally with someone we do make them the majority of our world, we have grown with them, been intimate and vulnerable – we trust them 100% they have to figure strongly in our lives otherwise what is the point of having a relationship with them? Now until the day I discovered my lying cheating EX was a shithead I was extremely happy, now it seems I wasn’t. I am having a hard time digesting the fact that my relationship was built on lies for over 18 years, maybe it was not totally because he only became a ‘nut job’ in the last 2-3 years. I look at all the relationships around me and I can see red flags everywhere, most of these people in their relationships are compromising to some degree, happy, unhappy, disillusioned- whatever, but not all of them go off f@cking other people, that shit is for people with no morals and a complete lack of respect for others.

        Being a chump is hard enough without putting even more pressure on ourselves when we start to reflect and rebuild our lives, yes, we are not perfect, but I have no regrets loving someone totally and completely, rightly or wrongly, and making them the centre of my universe because I loved them. I will not over analyse what I could or should of done to make myself happier in the relationship than I thought I was, I was very happy- he wasn’t – he wanted cake and blew my world apart to get it, he is most definitely to blame, all of us could or should have done things differently when we look back, if he hadn’t of gone off looking for cake then I would be none the wiser and still blissfully and ignorantly happy (well in my opinion anyway).

        • Digbert –

          I’m definitely not excusing his behavior, it was completely and totally wrong, but at the same time, I believe it was inevitable. And, have no fear, I will not take blame for any of it. He is who he is – someone who sucks, who thinks he should be the center of the universe and will do whatever he wants to get what he thinks he deserves no matter who he hurts. Not because he does actively want to hurt people, I still can’t bring myself to admit that, but because he just literally doesn’t think of them at all because they are something outside of himself. Which I’m not sure if a complete disregard for others is much better than actively wanting to hurt them. The outcome is the same.

          Things may have influenced him to become shittier over the years (namely success at work and fawning employees), but I believe he was already weak willed and with little to no moral compass to begin with. If he wasn’t, these things like financial success shouldn’t have had any affect on him. The crazy thing is, how did I not realize any of this about him until the cheating?!? Like you, I can’t believe I was unaware of the person he actually is for the 13 years I was with him.

          The only blame I will take is that I’m not perfect, because no one is, and I was definitely less than my best when I was with him. That does not mean I deserved being cheated on… because myself at less than my best I think is still pretty good. And I also did think I/we were happy. But I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t admit that I did choose to be with someone that never treated me that well. Even from the beginning. And then over the years it became more and more about him. I don’t want to repeat the choice I made to be with someone like him, so I need to learn from it.

          • aE and Dig, I think this whole Chump thing is a process. First, I have to get over the shock, the anger, the sadness over the death of our relationship. That takes quite a while (not close to there yet). And yes, no matter who I am or what I did, I did not deserve to be cheated on. No one does. But eventually in this process, as aE points out, I do have to look at why I chose to be with someone who did not cherish me. Right now, though, I’m not there. But I hope to reach that point, get more therapy and come out smarter and stronger.

            • I agree that it’s important to figure out why I settled for less than I deserved, why I allowed someone to make themselves so much more important in our relationship and allowed myself to be diminished and my needs to be left unattended. I think before I met ex I was so independent and so able to take care of me that it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t keep doing this. The difference is that so much of me went into caring for him (and eventually kids and half his family – yes, I was their rock as well) that there ended up being nothing left for me. And eventually even the care that I used to give everyone else was so depleted that I was nearly running on empty. And that’s when, instead of just having side pieces (unbeknownst to me) he decided one of them ‘meant something’. She was young, full of independence and caring and could give all that energy to him like I used to do. He used me up and left me nearly on empty. Now the final OW has a full tank (already being depleted, apparently) for him.

              IN the months leading up to dday he was running around after all sorts of women, even asking some of them if they had ever been in love, did they want to be in love, etc. Final OW just happened to be the one who bit so when I threw him out that’s where he went. This is why I say again that I sometimes feel sorry for her. She wasn’t anything special, she just happened to be there offering what he needed since I was pretty much an empty carcass at the time.

              Now I’m filling back up, slowly but surely, and although I’m good most days the last few have suddenly become difficult again. I haven’t felt this down in months and not sure why I do but I figure it’ll pass.

              • Nord I relate to the feeling of being used up and discarded. How did we let our tanks get so empty? It does make a huge difference to know we can fill up our own tanks and don’t have to wait for someone else to do it for us.

              • Nord – It helps me in times like these to remember that emotions are temporary. It sounds like you know that. But, its one of my mantras when I start to feel down or overwhelmed. I hope today is a better day for you.

          • Chumps seem to have a similar journey when the fog of shock clears and the healing starts. In the beginning, we look back and try really hard to figure out what we could have done differently to avoid the cheating. Then we realize NOTHING because cheating is on the cheater. Period. But then, we have the opportunity to look into ourselves, how we can become better for ourselves and for those who value us, and in the process, we improve our picker. We turn a horrible situation into probably one of the best things that happened to us.

            • I am going to my add my two cents to this because that feeling of Wow! What the fuck was I thinking?! is so common to us Chumps.

              I subscribe to the theory that I did what I did because I didn’t know any better, but when I knew better, I did better. A relationship is like anything else – how it appears will be dependent upon what you believe you’re looking at and where you’re standing when you’re looking. It’s why eyewitness testimony is unreliable. Your relationship looks different close up than it does at a distance. The information you have going in affects your view when you’re in it. Yes, we should have known, but love and trust affect your point of view about what it is you’re seeing. Whether it should or shouldn’t is debatable, but the fact remains that sometimes it does.

              It’s like one of CL’s posts where she talks about the pig-faced aliens hiding behind the human face and the belief of “should have known.” Until I understood my STBX’s passive-aggressive covert narcissism, I had no lens by which to accurately view my life with him. I knew he had habits and behaviors that I didn’t like and that made me uncomfortable, but the frame of reference which I had at the the time led me to interpret the information I was receiving incorrectly. We sometimes ASSUME reciprocity because we’re living up to our part in the relationship and until it becomes bad enough that it actually grabs our full on attention, we chump merrily along. I also think that for most of us chumps it is a steady drip of and not an immediate deluge of entitlement behavior and our beliefs about our roles in our intimate relationships that keeps us chumping long past when we should bury the stinking, rotting corpse of those relationships.

              Let’s face it, most of us Chumps come out of relationships where we have been lied to, gaslighted and blame shifted into abject submission – until we’re not. The cheating revelation, while devastating, is sometimes the blessing dressed as the devil that awakens us from our stupor and frees us from our daily torment. That’s why it is difficult for me to subscribe totally to being responsible for something of which you were not fully aware. Satan’s Dog Pile of Stinking Shit From Hell is relatively subtle – until he/she is not.

              For you New Chump, welcome. This will not be an easy time for you initially – it may even seem surreal at times – but we will do what we can, as we navigate our own stories and recovery, to help you get through yours. There is no greater comfort that being able to “talk” to people who totally understand what you are going through. It will not be easy to eat, but try to eat small, frequent meals. It is very important to stay hydrated, particularly with water. You may find yourself unable to contain your emotions at very inopportune times and locations – just find a quiet, private spot if you can and let them out. We have all been there and it is all normal. CL and this group of Chump Allies, are the most empowering thing outside of individual personal counseling and Popeye’s spinach. You have really come to the right place. Good luck to you.


          • I hear what you are saying and agree Erica, I will and have definitely learned from this experience. I always thought he did treat me very well but scratching the surface – he obviously didn’t. His heartless behaviour is the result of poor self esteem (ingrained from birth from his F@Cked up cold hearted Mother) and even more f@cked up family orientated issues that I would have a cat in hells chance of explaining here. All in all, he knew what he did was wrong, there is no excuse because he was very vocal in his disapproval of cheaters for the entire time we were together.

            I think I am feeling slightly defensive because it’s the 1st non wedding anniversary since my divorce tomorrow 🙁

            Will be feeling more positive later on in the week 🙂 I just need to accept I married a f@ckwit and won’t make the same mistake again.


            • Diggs – Just wanted to give you a big (((HUG))). I hope you treat yourself well and have wonderful friends to remind you how awesome you are. If I’ve planned everything right, on my first anniversary post divorce, I will arrive in the new city I am moving too. Giving that date a whole new meaning and positive importance. And interestingly, I didn’t plan that on purpose. I saw your note and thought… what will be happening on my anniversary? and realize the answer I just wrote 🙂

              Good luck today 🙂

  • New Chump,

    Sorry for your situation, but you are a smart, capable person, and the advice given here makes me proud of “Chump Nation.” It’s all great advice. Hang in there.

    Chump Son

  • New Chump,

    I’m sorry that you are in this crappy situation. I was in the same place. When I found out about his affair I thought my world would end and I was very sad. There were times when I was quite sure I wouldn’t make it out. But I did and I am.

    I won’t lie to you. Leaving and divorcing my ex has been the hardest decision I have made. However, when I found out I knew that it was the only real choice for me. I could not tolerate another second of being lied to, manipulated, called “crazy” and all of the other crap he did. I did cry and felt just awful. I lost weight and needed to see my doctor. I panicked and had anxiety attacks.

    I’m only 5 months out for DD but even now I have to say that my life is better. I got a lawyer very quickly and I got a good one. He did not incite my ex or cause unnecessary conflict. He asked me to list my priorities around money, custody, home, etc. I was serious and so was my lawyer. Fortunately this made my ex “sit down” and he behaved himself in front of him. A good experienced divorce lawyer is worth every penny.

    One of the best pieces of advice I got from my lawyer was to settle quickly and fast if the settlement was generous. I did and it was done. Now 5 months out my ex is with someone else and it’s only because I followed this advice that I wasn’t manipulated further. You have to understand that your partner is NOT on your side financially or emotionally. Trust this and get EVERYTHING in writing and don’t do or say anything until you have spoken to an attorney.

    Friends and family have been so supportive to me. I also got a part time job that helps get me out of the house. In the beginning it was hard to even take a shower. So take small steps. Get rest. Eat well. Exercise and get outdoors if you can. See that life does go on. And remember, NO ONE is worth dying for. No way. Get help for your mental health. Your worth it.

    The affair IS NOT about you. It’s about them. They just can’t deal honestly in life. It’s really about what they are not. That’s the hardest thing to believe but know that it really is NOT your fault. At all.

    I wish you the best. Hang in there. Do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

  • New chump, I am so sorry for your pain. I became suicidal when my ex told me about his first affair. Our child was just 6 weeks old. I lost all the pregnancy weight in a hurry, could barely function and it’s a miracle I survived. But I did. And then he cheated again 10 years later (got caught this time) and I was devastated all over again . Fast forward 12 years for the final affair, and I just threw him out like yesterday’s paper.

    You will recover 100% and be in a better place than you can imagine. You need to get out of this marriage/partnership as soon as possible. The longer you stay, the tougher the healing. Your partner will NOT change, especially after two affairs. It will be horrible the first year. What helped for me my healing after the final affair was allowing myself to feel the pain, didn’t judge it, didn’t try to change it, just observed it and let it go. Not easy but works. Do things that you love even if you don’t feel like doing it. Be around people who bring you up. You need to be with people who love you dearly. Seek out a good counselor. Take care of yourself. Eat well, avoid sugar, sleep, work out, again, even if you don’t feel like it. Come here for support and advice.

  • New Chump,

    Yes, full recovery is possible. In fact, a completely new and better life is possible! Don’t think of yourself as not valuble, start thinking of yourself as a pheonix about to burst out of flames into something new and more brilliant than your last form.

    Yeah, I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Think of yourself that way. It helps.

    When I was first broken off from my cheater ex, I really felt like life was over. I felt that I would never find anything like him and that he was the best I would ever get. I questioned my worth, wondered why I wasn’t good enough. Looked through pictures of the OW and wondered what it was about her that I didn’t have that he liked so much and how I could be more like her to get him back.

    I had no idea how silly that was.

    There was nothing that she had that I didn’t that I needed. There was nothing about her that was better than me. Not only that, but there were SO MANY men that were 100% better than my ex, that there were people who would treat me better than my ex, that what my ex gave me was NOT love, and the best part of all, I DESERVED BETTER.

    Once I realized that, I started valuing myself more and fixed my picker. I chose someone who surpasses my ex in quality of life and love by infinity. I have a better life. In fact, my life has gotten so much better without my ex, that my ex tried to contact me again to “congratulate me” on what I’d made of myself!

    I told him to fuck himself, but you get the point.

    Life can be better without the emotional vacuum that your cheater ex will be. CL is right. Get out, get away, and make a better life for yourself. Don’t bother with couples therapy or marriage counseling. Worry about you. Get therapy for yourself if you feel you need it (I would suggest it) and be selfish. No seriously, be selfish. It will help you survive.

    • Kara,
      I did the same silly things, too, with the first two affairs trying to fix me so my ex will want me. What was I smoking? Glad to hear that your life is so much better now, post-cheater. How can it not be? No other way but up. CL’s banner, leave a cheater, gain a life, is really guaranteed.

  • New Chump,
    I promise you won’t be a shell if you try not to be, and I want to warn you about anti-anxiety drugs, in particular, Xanax. If you haven’t taken it, don’t! It’s extremely physically addictive and getting off it is painful. I’m talking, if you take it for 3-4 days the addiction is there, it is physical, those multiple warnings on the insert? they are real. And then emotionally it’s addictive because it does a number on your gaba receptors that is great, you feel calm and can fall asleep soon after your dose, at first….then 3-4 weeks after you start taking it to sleep you find that the half a 5mm dose is no longer working so you take the whole tab. Now you have been taking it for 6 weeks or so…even taking the whole tab, it’s not really getting you to sleep any more, but you keep taking it because you don’t feel so anxious or scared. You feel calmer, like things are better, but it’s that damn gaba shit. Then the shit hits the fan. Big problem is, after a month or two your memory starts to go south – like you cannot analyze shit because you can’t keep the info in your mind long enough. You find your friends are saying that you already told them XYZ last week, but you can’t remember it.

    I am putting this here as a PSA because that Xanax shit is not your salvation and it’s a total bitch to go off it, major head pain and other symptoms. Be careful with the drugs, if you need the anxiety meds it is understandable, just be careful.

    • I got anxiety pills quite quickly but only used them for extreme situations, such as when I went to a HUGE meeting that was my first big attempt to pump life into my dead career. I took one and it kept me calm and relaxed. Didn’t get the gig but still glad I took it. I agree that one needs to be very careful with these things. Drink as well. I drank A LOT the first few months after I kicked him out and realised that it wasn’t helping me as waking up hungover meant another day of misery for me. So I stopped drinking completely and now two glasses knock me out.

      Try to be as healthy as you can be and it will help more than you can imagine.

      • I agree, Nord. Stay away from alcohol.

        funny, how I don’t need to drink now that he is gone.

        • Neither do I! In the several years leading up to dday I drank far too much – as did he. But I was aware of it and actually said to him at one point that we needed to rethink how much we were drinking. Nothing happened. Then dday came, I kicked him out and I got sloshed for a few months. And then I just stopped. It was no big deal, I didn’t have to think about it, I just stopped. Now I have a glass of wine with dinner once in awhile or a beer after work with friends but I think I’ve overdone it maybe twice in the past two years, and both times it was a celebratory situation where the night went late and everyone got a bit silly. Hell, I’ve had two bottles of wine chilling in my fridge for several months. Haven’t touched them but am thinking of a making a sauce today with one of them, just to use them up.

          The worst part of drinking in the aftermath is that you do dumb shit. And you usually do it in full view of your ex and/or people you care about. That gets embarrassing.

          • yeah, I didn’t drink very much after Dday… I’m not sure what I was doing. Was a zombie not eating, not sleeping, reading infidelity and marriage books from amazon, and generally having an existential crisis.

            Then after I kicked him out I had a bad experience with drinking that kept me from doing it to excess during this time either… my best friend came down to stay with me and offer support. And so we were up drinking and having a good time…when I wasn’t crying I’m sure 🙂 But then I woke up in the middle of the night with a headache and then my mind turned to all this shit going on and that was when I had my first (and only) panic attack. I couldn’t get back to sleep and I couldn’t make my mind stop thinking about shit I didn’t want to be thinking about. I just wanted to stop thinking and couldn’t. I had my only brush with suicidal thoughts then. Freaking out so bad scared the crap out of me. So, after that, I decided drinking was more harmful than helpful to me at that point in time.

    • Yep. Truth about Xanax. It’s a benzo. These are highly addicting, Xanax moreso because it works quickly and drops you suddenly, setting you up for over-use and physical addiction. I would never take the stuff. I was given Ativan, it’s longer-acting cousin, and after a couple doses I gave it up. You MUST NOT drive nor make any important decisions on this stuff–it works in the same part of your brain as alcohol and is just as dangerous. Getting caught driving on benzos is a DUI/DWI. It is illegal because it is dangerous. And, frankly, I don’t have time to be on drugs.

      The other problem is that the drugs only delay the inevitable–you HAVE to figure out healthy ways of dealing with your problems. There is no other way–nothing takes care of itself. And, frankly, working on your problems with the help of sane and sympathetic people, DOES solve your problems and DOES make you stronger and wiser.

      I PROMISE you that you WILL get better. Everyone writing here has been through hell and survived.

      I daresay this experience has made me stronger. I am wiser and have more credibility than I ever had. And it shows. I like myself better.

      As I’ve written before, knowing that other people got through it–some of them publicly, like famous people–really made me feel better. I realized that if other people could get through it, then it must not be impossible. I even realized that my pain was necessary–I had to feel my pain. I knew that feeling pain was a necessary part of healing. and so I took a sort of comfort in knowing that what I was feeling was normal and it meant I was facing the right direction. I was able to self-sooth. I remember saying to myself as I was driving, “That’s right, hon! The pain means you are healing. You’re ok.” And I remember looking at the tabloids of all the beautiful, talented people who’d been cheated on, and I thought, if they can do it with grace and dignity, I can, too.

      And I remember making a choice to NOT lose my mind. I consciously told myself that I WOULD NOT let go of the edge of the cliff. No, I would inch my way to solid ground, bit by bit. I would distract myself with living in the moment–buying these groceries, taking this shower, making an appointment to see the attorney, focusing on work, being grateful for my children’s love (and everything else good in my life, including my ability to make good choices.) I had everything to lose if I let myself go crazy, and everything to gain if I refused to do so. But it was deliberate.

      I connected with an old acquaintance who was going through the same thing–being abandoned by her cheating husband, and raising teens, and now we are BEST friends. NOBODY gets it like other chumps get it. And so, while I have my “normal” friends who, bless their hearts, have never been cheated on, I also treasure my chumped friends. I don’t talk about divorce and infidelity and all the nuances therein with my “normal” friends. That’s not the role they play in my life. It’s not fair to burden them with something they will–God willing–never understand. Their attempts to understand or be helpful are inevitably demoralizing, so I don’t go there with them. Besides, I am more than a chump. I am everything else that I am. But with my chumped friends? Oh, honey. They are GOLD!

      Exercise! I walked for MILES with my dogs, usually in the dark, where I could wear my sad or angry face, and rant in my head, or even under my breath–in total anonymity. Some people can walk in the wilderness with the same purpose–I’m not one who can. I walked in safe neighborhoods in the dark, instead.

      Come here. Read all of Chump Lady’s columns. She is shockingly always dead-on with what needs to be said. Her words of wisdom and insight run counter to prevailing cliches that were likely started and perpetuated not by chumps, but by cheaters and ignorant bystanders who are inconvenienced by our pain. Fuck ’em. Listen to Tracy. She knows.

      Count your blessings. You don’t want other people’s problems. Other people deal with some seriously bad shit. Count your blessings. Being cheated on SUCKS hard and it is devastating and horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Well, except the OW and her dick-head, my xH. I hope they each get cheated on somehow. Or something. But I have a good life and it is good to remember all the good stuff in your life.

      Trust that they suck, sweetie! Cheating is only one form of abuse. It is often THE form of abuse that cuts you free from the earlier abuse. Cheating is a sign that your partner did not value you, felt entitled to hurt you. There were other signs of these feelings. You might find, as many of us here have, that you have come up for air. You have finally pulled the curtains back and can see light. Choose whatever metaphor works for you. Many of us were working VERY hard to spackle a bad relationship, to compensate for shitty and/or embarrassing behavior exhibited by our partners. No more. The cheating, for many of us, was the final “Get out of jail free” card. Some of us realize that the OP maybe did us a kind of favor, may (s)he choke on a chicken bone and die.

      You know?

      You will be ok. Imagine me brushing that tear off your cheek. You are WAYYYY stronger than you know. You are one of us. We are fucking awesome.

      Who do you want to be? What would your life be like if money were no object? What do you want to do for you? These are fun things to think about. Do that.

      I really enjoyed getting rid of all my ex’s shit. I kept what I wanted to use for myself–what he didn’t grab and leave with–and put the rest of his crap not neatly in boxes on the front porch and told him to come get it. Chumpy me felt bad for not helping him to load the boxes into his car, but I forgive myself. I got a new bed. Went from a King to a Queen. It’s still big enough for two, but doesn’t require super-human strength to change the linens. I also like being able to cough and sniffle all I want in bed without worrying I will wake someone else. I like going to bed and getting up and turning the light on and off and on and off when I want. There are advantages to being single. I did some painting. Got some inexpensive new furniture at Ikea and some “new” furniture from Craig’s List, too. Super fun! I read up on how to do things and I do them and I am learning new skills every day. I like flirting with men sans guilt (not married dudes–I’m not a whore like OW is.)

      Hang in there. Life’s about to get hard and good all in one glorious ball of reality. You can do it. You should do it. It’s awesome.

  • This essay from the Sunday NY Times (about the harm of lying) just validates what so many of us know from experience, that the lies that our exes, cheaters, STBXs and so on, tell can be the most corrosive and damaging aspects of the whole experience.

    But, we can persevere! We can trust that they suck…. we can keep talking to each other, and sharing the reality, rewriting and affirming our narrative. When we keep seeing, and saying, how similar the cheaters’ stories are, we are doing just that. Good luck on your journey–hard, but so very worth it, as everyone here has said.


    • Thanks for sharing this, NfV. Probably the best explanation of the psychological effects of betrayal that I’ve ever read.

        • Thanks for sharing. That was a great article. I love the last line, “Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all.” That perfectly sums up so much.

  • New Chump, it worries me what you wrote so adding this post.

    Depression lies, it might help you to check out, got a large tribe of people who find ways to laugh and stop depression from lying to us there.

    If you are not normally a person who suffers from depression, you are what is called situational depression, and it will pass – but it feels just as bad – like grieving a death is where you are. The first year after my ex went crazy I would have the thought run through my head “I want to die” on a very regular basis. It would just come into my head any time, I’d be working and suddenly “I want to die” would be there. It was so hard not to just stop and wonder if there was a way I could die. But it passed. I’m 2 years out and I do NOT hear that thought any longer. I just beat myself up for not doing more cool/fun stuff.

    BUT, If you are actively thinking about ways to kill yourself, please see someone right away, please don’t do anything to hurt yourself. It will not stop the pain, it will make it worse.

  • I’ve not yet divorced my cheater, but it’s in the final stretch.

    Discovering the affair was an accident. STBX had “withdrawn all affection, ” so I knew that if he wasn’t getting any from me, he had to be getting some from someone else. I asked him out of the blue one night if this woman who used to work at his place had feelings for him. He said no, and we left it at that.

    Except he also left his cell phone, which normally autolocks but at that point did not. I saw his FB chat with the woman about how I’d confronted him, and her response. I didn’t say anything else, but I knew at that point I’d have to divorce him. However, I made about 30% of what he did, and would not even be able to afford a very small apartment on mine.

    The first thing I did was to start to take charge of my life. I lost weight (I needed to). I looked for and found a better job. I talked to lawyers. I started saving for the retainer. I got educated not only about our finances–at least enough to scare the bejesus out of him with threats of a forensic accountant, as I still can’t access his finances directly–but found communication about how much he’d supported her. My state is a common property state, but while he’d be allowed to spend his money on gambling, he can’t spend his money on a mistress.

    I expect the divorce to be hell, but over the past few months I feel as if I’ve started to take my life back. This feels great!

    I also realized that Dday was a year or so ago, but I don’t know the exact date. This is probably a good sign on the road to Meh.

    So yes, it does get better.

  • New Chump,

    I am so sorry for what you are going through, and I am glad that you found your way to this site. I think the advice given here will save you a lot of unnecessary pain, and speed your healing. Yes, you will get through this. You will be whole again. But you have just begun and there is a long road ahead of you. It is important that you take good care of yourself both physically and emotionally, as best you can.

    I remember the weeks following d-day. Although there was no actual violence, I felt like the victim of a violent crime. I felt like my very life was in danger. The longer I stayed in the same house with my alcoholic, insane, NPD spouse the worse my emotional state became, until I had what can be called a nervous breakdown (sympathetic nervous system overdrive?). I had to quit my job and move in with my parents (I have no children). I lost about 25 lbs in a little over a month, could not sleep at all, and started to have auditory hallucinations, maybe from lack of sleep. Yes, this is serious shit. Take it very seriously.

    Although it is super fun to lose a few pounds, try very hard not to drop a ridiculous amount of weight. It makes you weak and vulnerable, and you will gain it back in a flash once things settle down. If you can’t stomach much food, try smoothies with added protein. Get a prescription for xanax or whatever you need to get some rest. Also, if at all possible, talk to everyone you can about what is going on. Friends at work offered me a place to stay, and ultimately lead me to my new home. My parents took my in. My good friends were available 24/7 via phone, and I leaned on them a lot. Do not try to go through this alone. I went to one counseling appointment, but didn’t click with the woman, and then found some great online sites that took the place of formal counseling for me. Many people will not understand the emotional devastation that you are experiencing – the “just get over it” crowd. Feel free to cut them out of your world, at least for the time-being, and surround yourself only with supportive people.

    You will come through this okay. People told me the same thing, and I only half believed them. But here I am a year and a half from d-day and already days go by without even thinking of my XH. Not in anger, longing, curiosity. Nothing. I very recently ended a relationship with a man who I have been dating for nearly a year (yeah, I dated quite soon after d-day, but that is another story). The relationship was wonderful in many respects, but he was showing me some behaviors that I very much disliked. When I asked him to stop (twice), he essentially told me no, and so now we are done. How’s that for boundaries? How’s that for personal growth? Not bad for a chump who put up with unbelievable crap for 21 years. See? You might not only return to normal, you may actually become smarter and stronger from this experience.

    Stay strong. You will get through this. Keep us posted.

  • New Chump,

    Like everyone else, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. I don’t even know how I got through those initial days of hell. They are a blur. But I am here to say that 4.5 months after D-Day, I am doing so much better than at Day 1. I scraped bottom 4.5 months ago, and am climbing out of that hole, bit by bit. It’s a horrendous process, but you will get through it.

    Find a therapist! Also, I talked to my doc and went on Wellbutrin, which is helpful.

    Find a job! If nothing else, it distracts you during the day. I find that nights are worst but again, they are getting better.

    I truly believe this is a 2 year journey to happiness, but at the end of it, you will come out renewed and glad to be without your cheater. At least I’m counting on that for myself.

    Just know we are all walking it with you.

  • New chump,

    I have been newly chumped as well. Still in the primary days but even I can tell the difference from the days right after the d day (2 months back) to today. It does get better slowly …. I think.

    Just know that there is someone who is struggling through the same darkness and tell urself ‘we will not let this crap define us’.

    Be strong !

  • Hello fellow Chumps,
    I am the OP of this post, which CL graciously included on her website. I appreciate everyone’s input so far. I literally discovered this community 2 days ago and I’m glad I have because otherwise I would be in the process of being brainwashed by another site titled–>> totally different approach!
    Here’s a little more background to clarify my situation: I discovered on August 22nd, in the most cliched way: by noticing that my boyfriend of 14 yrs (and father of my child) started to get extremely protective of his cell phone. The classic signs that something was up in the air were that he changed his phone password and started deleting texts. After a few weeks of observing his behavior, I finally asked to see his phone and he agreed (reluctantly!)but only after he went to the bathroom first (to delete those incriminating texts, something I found out later.) When I saw the phone a few mins later, I didn’t see much electronic evidence but he surprisingly (not sure why this was a surprise to me) confessed very quickly when questioned. He even admitted to deleting those texts but cited not wanting to “hurt my feelings further.” So after a couple of hours of my initial shock after his admission, which by the way, entailed me literally laying on the sofa in the fetal position unable to move, think or even cry, I waited until he went to bed, grabbed his phone and plugged it into icloud which retrieved many of those deleted texts. Silly him, he didn’t think I was able to retrieve them but I’ve always known it was possible with smart phones. Yes, he was absolutely correct in assuming the evidence I would find would be very incriminating as I have found many very intimate exchanges with a married woman (wife of his client.) They were seeing each other for few months earlier this year, then he claims he broke it off because… ready for this?… she became “too needy” and started to ask him for money. Either way, reading those texts was sickening and i vomited a few times. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was completely blindsided.
    Now, in all “fairness”, we have been having challenges in our relationship for almost two years, mostly financial problems and lack of intimacy. Yes, I did threaten to leave him a few times and apparently he took my threats as “permission” to start other relationships. I suppose it could be considered an exit affair on his part. What’s interesting and perplexing to me is that a few weeks prior to my discovery we agreed to go to counseling and work on repairing our relationship. Things were actually looking up for a while there. We started to have intense sex again (first in a few years), he seemed very eager to want to work on himself and generally I was very very hopeful. Needless to say, the discovery threw away any of this progress and actually, part of me wishes that I’ve never found out. For my mental well being, if anything.
    Fast forward to a month and a half later, I am still shell shocked. I am on Wellbutrin which is finally starting to kick in, at least I hope it is because I am no longer having those awful suicidal thoughts. I am also relying on benzos to get me through the occasional sleepless nights. I also have an occasional glass of wine, usually mixed with OTC drugs like Calm Forte. The only upside? The weight loss, of course. I’ve lost total of 40 pounds in 2 months. I am actually starting to look great since I was about 60 pounds overweight. I started to replace my wardrobe and getting this new superficial boost of confidence from it. I have been seeing a clinical psychologist for the past 6 years (self esteem/anxiety issues) and he’s been very helpful in sorting out this mess.
    I will post again later today because I have so much more to share with you all. I’ve asked Tracy if she’d allow me to start a new post and she said to just ask my questions to you in the comments so that’s what I will be doing, if you don’t mind. I do have dozen questions and will need to sit down and put them in writing. For the time being, I have an adorable, smart and beautiful toddler to take care of. My heart breaks for him and I will need your guidance.

    • OMG, I went to that website you mention. It is written by a cheater and it’s full of the same crap my MC told me when I was stupid enough to pursue the Unicorn AGAIN. The Reconciliation Industrial Complex also says the same shit. It Gags me when I read that having an affair is like an addiction and the betrayed spouse should be understanding and help their cheating spouse resist the OW/OM. THAT is some real bullshit right there. And, And don’t get too angry at your cheating spouse, it will drive them away, yeah, well, they already drove away all on their own.

      • Some of the stuff on there is bullshit but there are a few articles that ring quite true – basically the ones about what the affair really is and the role it plays in unicorn land. It doesn’t put it that way but essentially that’s what is being said.

      • Jim, well…. are you ready for this? Against advice of many (“why would you stoop yourself to THEIR level and do this…”), I DID reach out to the husband of the affair partner and he DID NOT BELIEVE ME! I played him a taped confession from my cell phone and he just stood there and simply said that he believes his wife. WTF? Needless to say, I was floored by his reaction. Can someone decode this for me?

        • Decoded :
          “Who the HELL are you to tell me “?
          They rarely believe what they DO NOT WANT to BELIEVE !
          As I have stated here before, “There’s none so blind… as those who refuse to see”.

        • As soon as you busted your SO, he told the OW, she went to her husband and told him a story about this crazy bitch who thinks her SO is having an affair with OW… I’m not clairvoyant but it’s what liers do. She got her story to him before yo could get to him.

    • ” experiencing suicidal ideations (really)”

      Consider myself relatively knowledgeable in this arena. If you’re serious please take my phone number. Or ask your therapist to make you sign a suicide contract. Xoxo

  • Heartbroken, you know we are all sending you Jedi mindhugs! Just wanted to add my two bits. Like you, I was in a 14 year common-law relationship, but w/2 kids.

    It helped me SO much, in the early days, to keep reminding myself that I WOULD feel like crap for a few months, then intermittently like crap for quite a while after that. That I WOULD be on an emotional roller-coaster. And that this was normal, even healthy (what kind of sociopath wouldn’t be a wreck under these circumstances?). But that it would gradually, inconsistently, get easier. And it totally did.

    Two other things really helped in the first months post DDay (which was the second one, he’d cheated 6 years previously, at which point I bought myself a unicorn). I talked and talked and talked to my close friends and family. They were totally there for me, said all the right things, and offered even more support than I ended up needing. I spread the ranting and crying around, calling or meeting up with 3 or 4 friends at different times, so as not to be a burden. And it did especially help to talk to a couple of people I knew (who hadn’t even been close friends before) who had been chumped themselves. And I wrote about everything I was experiencing and thinking, got it all down on paper.

    And corny as it seems, it helped so much to try to stay in the moment, and to find the teensiest smallest pleasures where I could. When I felt awful, I stayed with that, which weirdly enough, helped it pass sooner. And then I could focus on enjoying the sun on my face, or my kids being adorable, even if it was just for a few moments.

    Right now things are a bit rough around here, my kids are having a tough time in their relationship w/their father. This has led to my seeing or talking to him a little more often, never a good thing. But it’s 15 months post DDay, and in general my life is SO much better than it was in the years leading up to the end of that relationship. The ex even made two pretty serious attempts to come back, but these times I could so clearly see how entirely self-centered he was even about wanting to reconcile.

    It’s now clear to me that I want a relationship w/someone who loves me and values me enough not to even consider fucking around to be an option, who cares enough about his kids not to put their family in jeopardy for a side-dish, and who thinks about the consequences of his actions before acting, not just when those consequences hit him. I want a relationship w/a loving grown-up, like me!! And if I never find that (I’m 54 w/a meno-pot and two young teens!), I’d rather be alone than w/someone who has so disrespected me.

    • Can you share what difficulties your children have had with their father? I “only” have a toddler but I’m paralyzed with fear how he’ll behave when the news becomes official.

      • My kiddo was 6 when I caught my wiener cheating-after 22 years together. So I’m not sure how a little one will feel, & every child & relationship is different, of course. All I can say for sure is that even the little ones can pick up on things we don’t expect. I almost wonder if maybe it’s better that your kiddo is so young, that this happened before your child was old enough to start-what’s the word I want here-trusting? Bonding? Not even sure. Think what I’m trying to say is that with my daughter, she’s old enough to be hurt right along with me, she feels his neglect, she’s so confused cause he’s breaking promises with her too. It also depends on your cheater-is he a full-fledged narcissist, do you think? My stbx is, I think he’s at the extreme end of the NPD spectrum, he’s so textbook it’s pitiful. It makes it pretty easy to predict how he’ll react to a given situation.
        I know right now you’re reeling, lord, I’ll never forget the first month or so after I caught him. When D-day came, I was already in the process of detaching, the emotional abuse that year had been the worst yet. So, I already hated him when I caught him, it was simply the last straw. And yet, D-day still hit me like a hurricane, my heart didn’t ache, it BURNED. It’s true that we chumps go through the grieving process, our lives as we know them are over. We also get the added pain of realizing our lives were lies, for many of us. For me the anger stage was incredible. Sheer Sheer rage, for all that he took from me. And because my daughter wasn’t exempt from the abuse. We all still live together-my daughter & I share a bedroom, he has his own. We are finished, he killed the relationship, my plans to leave are stealthy, he’s not allowed to touch me, at all. If I had the money, I would’ve left on D-day.
        The advice & understanding here are wonderful, but this post, the responses to you, are the best yet. Dare I say-they take the cake? (Teehee)
        A quick note on the anxiety meds, I take lorazepam, very rarely, when my chest gets tight, because when it gets hard to take a deep breath, I know it won’t go away til I fill the script, but I’ve only filled it twice this year, for me, taking it regularly would be risky. Only you know what’s safe as far as your meds, you know whether you have an addictive personality, & I don’t get the impression that you’re whacked out on meds. 🙂 I take celexa right now, but I don’t think it’s working well enough, so on to the next med. Depression & mental illness are a family legacy for me, the meds will most likely be necessary forever.
        If I can survive this, then anyone can. Take care of you & your kiddo, right now, that’s enough. You’ll get there. We’re here for you, & each other. Have faith in yourself, you’ve got this.

      • my kids were 2 and a half and 8 months on Dday. Kicked him out 6 months later after failed reconciliation – aka limbo. The most horrible 6 months of my life. Oh, that’s not true, he came back for 4 months before he got his apartment. That sucked as well.

        My 2 year old witnessed me crying and packing up his crap and delivering it to his place of work 6 months after dday. I did tell him daddy was going on a trip at the time. He witnessed me discovering the texts on Dday and flipping out. I worry he remembers more than I think because he is now 4.5 and does tell a few stories that he remembers that involve something he did when daddy lived here. My son who turned 3 a few days ago does not seem to remember him living here at all.

        I got a book called “Two Homes” to read with them. I’m not even sure how we told him he was moving out… they were so young it didn’t really register. I think we waited until just a week or so before (they say not to talk about stuff too far ahead and freak them out about it) and just said daddy’s getting his own place or something. Tried to make it sound completely matter of fact and not a big deal. Like for all they knew every family has two homes. Now this is pretty much the only reality they have ever known, which does make me sad, but at the same time, they can’t miss what they never had. So that’s good. Their dad is good with them (they are after all his DNA carried on… narcissists love that!) even though he does try to pawn off parenting to his parents too much (who I somewhat blame for my ex turning out to be such an a-hole, so that doesn’t thrill me). I worry how he’ll be as they get older, but that doesn’t do anybody any good, so I just take everything as it comes. He gets them one night a week and every other weekend.

        So, my kids are very well adjusted to this and it helps I think that it did happen so young. They are happy, have no shame about it… I used to feel shame when they’d tell strangers about going to daddy’s house and stuff. But they never have.

        The only thing is I have like barely spoken to them about the concept of marriage at all. I’m not sure if the word husband or wife has ever really crossed my lips with them. Actually, I remember one time my oldest asked why his daddy didn’t live here or something and I just said “because we’re divorced”. And he just accepted it at face value and didn’t even ask what divorced means, thank god. Because I don’t want to open up some discussion with questions I’m not ready to answer. I know I need to change that…

  • My kids were 11 and 12 at the time of the separation, June 2012, and we only told them we were splitting, not why. They weren’t terribly surprised, as this had often been a tumultuous relationship (although ironically it had been much better over the previous year, after I had threatened to leave because of my ex’s constant negativity and general meanness). Probably bc of that negativity and meanness, the kids chose to spend about 80% of their time w/me. The ex seemed fine w/that (although we live in a jurisdiction where custody shared 50-50 is absolutely the norm). Everyone seemed to adjust pretty well, except that the kids always dragged their feet to go to their dad’s place – he’s not a fun guy, and he got himself a very small apartment, not set up for the kids to be ‘at home’ there.

    Over time, things started to happen that undermined their trust in him. They had assumed I had initiated the separation; when they eventually asked, I told them it had been 100% their father’s choice. During a midnight argument w/our daughter about he not turning off the computer to go to bed, as told, he screamed and smashed the computer to smithereens, scared the heck out of them. Months later, our daughter figured out he had a girlfriend, said nothing to me, and asked him about it on two separate occasions. He lied to her, which made her furious. Then he was again sent to another city on a project (where he had been at the time of the affair), and seemed to walk away from his weekday evenings w/the kids quite easily, seeing them only on alternating weekends. While he was away, our daughter figured out he had cheated and that had been the cause of the separation, but when she asked him about it (again before saying anything to me) on two separate occasions, he changed the subject. She was again extremely hurt and angry at him; the lies, especially, drove her nuts. When she came and told me she knew he had cheated, I confirmed it, and when she asked if it was the first time, I admitted that it wasn’t. Then he informed us that he might be out of town for work for up to a year. The kids felt completely abandoned by him, but adjusted quite well, counting more and more on me, my family and our friends. It was what it was.

    Ended up his out-of-town project wasn’t as long as he thought it might be, he was back in the city after 4 months, at the beginning of this September, and expected the kids to be back at his place the 2 evenings a week as well as alternating weekends, and for everything to be fine. Except it’s not anywhere near fine. Both kids feel really disconnected from him, and don’t want to spend all that time w/him. Both feel that, by cheating and lying and leaving them for so long, he has abdicated his parental role, and doesn’t deserve to have it just handed back to him. And both know that his work may again take him out of town for long periods (this was new in their lives, the affair happened quite early in his first out-of-town project), so how can they reconnect, knowing they may be dumped again? Our son admits he’s felt disconnected from his dad for years, and our daughter is REALLY angry at him, and so hurt. (12 year old girls can be EXTREMELY difficult, you can imagine one that has good reason to be furious!) And they also recognize, at some level, that he was OK w/barely seeing them as long as he was very busy w/work and was with his girlfriend (AP); it’s because HE’s lonely that he wants them back. It has very little to do w/them or their well-being.

    I’ve stayed out of this as much as possible, but because it’s upsetting the kids so much, I’ve had to be a bit more in touch w/him. Fortunately, he eventually agreed to my suggestion he get a family therapist to try to help them work this out, he should see the therapist in 10 days or so.

    The way I see this is that the same issues that caused problems between him and me, his negativity, entitlement, dishonesty and general selfishness, are causing problems between the kids and him. When all this started, I was really upset, because I so wanted to the kids to have a decent, even if limited, relationship w/their father. Then I was able to let go, recognizing that if he can’t do it, he can’t do it. At least the kids have their eyes open, and there is a professional who can help them get as far as possible in resolving this. The ex has already threatened just to move to the AP’s city, if he doesn’t see the kids as much as before. Sometimes that breaks my heart – he would abandon them if he weren’t getting his ego kibbles from them. Sometimes it actually sounds like a good idea.

    The moral of the story is that;
    – whoever your soon-to-be-ex is, he will continue to be, and that will have repercussions in his parenting
    – your kid’s relationship w/his father will be his father’s responsibility, NOT yours.
    – your kid may eventually ask about why you separated; it’s best to tell the truth, in an age-appropriate way. It’s wreaks havoc on kids to have secrets in a family, and they probably will eventually figure it out anyway.
    – there will be rough times, but if YOU are doing OK, your child will still have a solid base, a safe harbour, that will get them through. It takes at least one sane parent to raise a healthy, happy child. CL is a good example of this; her son’s father is far far worse than my ex, and her son has turned out great!

    Keep breathing, and remember the ‘oxygen mask on the parent first’ rule! The better you can be, the easier all this will be for your child.

    • Thought I was getting to a good place, it’s been 2 months since DDay and just about to file papers. Had the pleaser of seeing some texts from my excheater to my 10 year old with pictures of him and some collectible toys our daughter likes that “a friend” gave him to give to her. Well I know for a fact he is with OW today. I’m furious that he would be so disrespectful but held my tong because the papers aren’t signed yet and I don’t want to cause any friction. I feel like an ass who just ate the biggest shit sandwich but have to keep my eye on what matters and that’s getting this divorce finalized. I worry about how my daughter is going to handle the truth when he finally comes clean to her. He told me he would not lie to her if she asks him anything but then he lied to her this morning when she asked him where he was and he said in a hotel… He was face timing her and you could clearly see that the tacky headboard in the background wasn’t from the Hilton!

      • Nockae4u, he WILL lie to her, you KNOW that in your heart! He lied to you, he’s already lying to her, and he will continue to do so. Because he still wants to eat cake; he wants to be able to cheat on you and break up the family, while still retaining his daughter’s love and respect for him. Only way to do that is by lying!

        If I were you, I’d prepare myself for questions from your daughter, and figure out how you’d like to respond. It’s especially important that you NOT keep quiet if he’s lying to her or if she suspects he’s lying to her; any situation where there’s clearly a lie, be clear about it. Kids NEED to know where there is solid ground.

        • You hit it on the head when you said he still wants to retain his daughter’s respect and love. Yes, he’s in full “I’m missing you so much, your the most important thing in my life” mode, but at the same time lying about being on a business trip and who and where he is. It’s so gross of him to face time her from the OW’s bed, I mean come on? Don’t you have even one mature parental bone in your body?
          I know I’ll have to be the one to eventually tell her the whole truth, I’m not looking forward to it. I have been working on myself every single day to get over and accept who he is now and while i am in a much better place then i was, shit like this seems to push my buttons in a way that i wasnt expecting. Thanks for your response.

  • I should also add that the OW’s husband was in such denial that he actually had reasonably sounding excuses for my boyfriend’s admission of adultery: he said things like that the reason he “made up” the affair is because he owes him money! among other things. If I was an outsider here I would almost believe this theory, he sounded so convincing.

    His wife just stood in the doorway denying everything but her body language said everything. When I started to play the taped confession she quickly got very frazzled and threatened to call the policy if I didn’t leave her property. Thoughts on this? Why do people have such weird reactions? I am fairly certain that if another man came to my door and brought this news to me about his wife, I would not only invite him in but would entertain the possibility that he might be correct in his findings. Am I the only one ?

    • The OW’s husband could not handle the truth. Simple as that. You have no idea what his issues are and what’s at stake in their family. He’s in denial. I bet there was a part of him who believed you but he needed to NOT believe you to survive at that very moment. Sit back and wait. I have a feeling the story isn’t over yet.

      • yep. Even if he wasn’t ready to admit it to you then, he’s onto her now. And it’s only a matter of time before he figures it out.

        I actually feel bad I didn’t tell the OW’s husband. He called me months later about it when he found out on his own. The only reason I didn’t do it was, sadly, I guess I didn’t want her to be really available to my now ex.

        • I called the OW’s husband and outted her. He was stunned but appreciated knowing. The only good thing to come out of it was that OW confessed, thereby finally busting X (he had continued to deny despite so much evidence!–more of his Crazy Town shit). OW’s husband promptly took her back! Perhaps I should show him this site? 🙂

        • Hahaha…Another Erica, I actually, in the months after I kicked ex out, kicked MYSELF for telling final OW’s partner because it blew up their relationship and made her more willing to be with my ex. THAT’s how fucked up my thinking was. Like what I did or didn’t do was going to make a bit of difference in the long run with a serial cheater.

    • I, too, told the OWs husband; and despite the fact that I was not the first wife of another man to tell him such a story, he really didn’t want to hear or believe it. think of it this way: You discharged your duty to someone who was potentially ignorant and a victim of deception. You can look at yourself in the mirror with a clear conscience that you did the right thing whether it was appreciated or not…and you are done there.

      As CL pointed out, “The only person’s behavior you get to control is your own.” Please take practical advice about how to financially protect yourself and begin the process of finding out what kind of future support you can expect for your child, while you work out a good solid plan to become independent. You may feel overwhelmed right now, but you are not powerless and hopeless. And you may not believe this right now, but you are going to find out just how strong you are over the next months.

      This was one of my favorite songs to listen to back when I was in the pit. It always helped me galvanize myself. The words are spot on and the video with it is awesome.

      Take care of you. The best helping hands that you will find are at the end of your arms. Study up, and use them wisely.

      • Thanks for the song link. I needed that just now. Here’s a good playlist for feeling empowered:

    • While you stay stuck in the “I’m proving it” … “why did they do it” dance… you won’t be able to focus on your own recovery and self-care.

      Forget about the other people and the wheres and whyfors. You need to devote all your energy to yourself right now. Because the quicker you’re able to bring yourself back up a bit, the quicker you’ll be able to see the wood for the trees.

      I was suicidal too – now I frequently think “what the f*ck was I thinking?!!!” – over THAT asshole?!!!

      Keep reviewing your meds with your doc until you find a combo that works.

      As for income … I was earning minimum wage in a brand new temp job at the time, new to the country (so many employers were loathe to even consider hiring me) and no immigration status so I thought I could be kicked out of the country at any time. I survived, and thrived. You will too.

      Best of luck 🙂

  • I don’t know if I have any real good advice, being a new chump as well, but I am compelled to say something after lurking on the site since mid-June (I was dumped by my XW for the AP 5 months ago). I felt very much (and still do on some days) paralyzed by a combination of sadness, fear, and anger. Here are some of the things I have done that seem to have helped:

    1. Therapy – by all means find someone to talk to. My therapist is one of the few people outside of my family who I am able to tell the whole truth to.
    2. Exercise and just being healthy – Exercise helps to channel aggression, since it doesn’t matter if you weigh 90 pounds, you’ll sometimes have so much rage that you think that you can take down the Army. Eat and drink right too (and try some new cooking techniques and recipes).
    3. Don’t compare yourself to the AP – I made this mistake early on. It makes you feel responsible for the affair, which you’re obviously not. You don’t suck, they suck, and you need to trust that, as CL always says. Responsibility, integrity, and faithfulness are NOT the traits of someone who sucks.
    4. Simplify life – Think about everything you do, your routines, and ask yourself “Do I really need this?” It’s like spring cleaning in a way, and can be just as hard, since you may end up removing things from your life that you thought were really important. Keep things that you enjoy and can control, and get rid of things that might give you stress or remind you of the ex. Don’t let anyone influence you on these decisions. Bring things into your life that YOU want to do. Your ex put themselves above your marriage, now it’s time to put yourself (and your child) first.
    5. Take it slow – Married life has many perks (we know what they are), and you’re going to miss them. Don’t rush into something or make bad decisions because you may have an urge one day. Thinking about the future can be intimidating, so don’t fire up that profile until you’re absolutely ready. I know for me right now the thoughts of dating and people in love in general give me nausea, but I expect that to pass one day.
    6. Read this web site – Yes, it’s a plug, but this site has helped my mental state significantly. To know that there are so many people (particularly guys) in my situation. It gives me hope that there is a way out, since I’m nowhere near out yet.

    Hope this helps. I’m still in the trenches, but I was lucky, the legal issues were actually not too tough for me (but don’t ever rule out legal help). Still, there are some days where I have no clue how there is possibly another side to all of this that doesn’t involve me in a catatonic state. At some point I hope to tell you all my story, but right now I respect my laptop too much to defile it with that just yet.

    • Welcome to Chump Nation, CW – sorry you had to join us, but at least you have great company! I think you’re absolutely right, reading CL has helped me re-gain my balance, so many times …

      We’ll be here when you’re ready to tell your story.

    • Very helpful reply, CW. I agree with all of it. Number four was especially good for me. I had built my whole life around him and I was finally able to think in terms of what works for ME. So I threw myself into wiping him out of my house.

      One cool project I did was a freehand silhouette depicting myself and my kids all standing together hand-in-hand. I put it against a plain white background and framed it and replaced our old family portrait on the wall with it. We look so strong, standing together, connected, as one unit. It’s been hanging for over a year and I still look at it and feel pure empowerment. I CAN do it! I AM doing it! I am super girl!!! 🙂

    • Welcome CW,

      You’ve come to the right place. I remember when my STBXW turned our happy home into a fun house. It wasn’t fun anymore. 20 years of marriage, 4 great kids then the wife goes batshit. Multiple guys, drugs, lies. You’ll open up when you’re comfortable.

      As a man we’re ashamed that this could happen in our house. We also learn their are asshole men amongst us that would sleep with married women. But NO, she wasn’t seduced, assaulted or raped, so you can’t defend her honor, she has no honor to defend. I know that you wrestle with this the most so Don’t! Trust that she sucks! You’re just a good man that got taken advantage of.

      • CW, glad you are getting there, good post. I still live in MY house (had it before ex was in the picture) and really cannot move. I didn’t just pack up ex’s shit, I’ve been redoing the whole damn house as much as I can afford to. Paint is cheap and you’d be surprised at how great it can feel to paint a room in a color you love. HAH, my living room is purple, two shades of plum with white trim, it is awesome and it makes me smile. Now if only I was handier this would be faster! Thing is after 17 years, I have to make the changes to “take back the house”, if that makes any sense. It is so cool to be able to make decisions with no arguments, no fear, no compromise.

      • Thank you all for the kind words. It’s great to hear from people who understand this situation.

  • Jim, well…. are you ready for this? Against advice of many (“why would you stoop yourself to THEIR level and do this…”), I DID reach out to the husband of the affair partner and he DID NOT BELIEVE ME! I played him a taped confession from my cell phone and he just stood there and simply said that he believes his wife. WTF? Needless to say, I was floored by his reaction. Can someone decode this for me?

  • I’m still waiting on the “gain a life” part, but I don’t for a second regret leaving my cheater. I was a stay at home mom, working part time, when OW’s husband informed me my ex was having an affair. Things were already pretty bad anyway–I had been emotionally abused for years, and he wasn’t treating the kids any better. It took me two years to save enough money to get out. Like Nord, I have a lot of money troubles, but so far I am able to pay the bills and feed my kids.

    The best advice I have for you is to get yourself organized and do a bit of research. I believe my ex was probably hiding money, and he definitely drained a joint bank account without my knowledge–AFTER the affair was revealed, making it yet more difficult to get the money for an attorney. Print out records and store them away from home. If you decide to keep a journal (for healing purposes) do not reveal this fact to him and guard it carefully. My ex was an attorney who tried to subpoena my personal journals for divorce proceedings (when he met me, I was an grad student in English, and he knew I took my writing seriously).

    I was concerned that emotional abuse would one day translate into physical abuse. He was already physically punishing the kids in ways that concerned me. I was advised to have an exit strategy in case of emergency. I didn’t think it would ever be needed, but in fact one day the kids and I had to leave with the clothes on our backs. It’s important to have a plan, just in case. IMHO cheating is a form of abuse, and abuse can always escalate.

    You are so lucky you found this blog so soon! CL’s advice goes against accepted wisdom, but it’s important to view your situation with realism. I don’t know too many people who “reconciled” and ended with a happy marriage–at least, not without a lot of honesty and a lot of work. I seriously doubt most cheaters are up to the challenge of a real relationship.

  • If it makes you feel better, go to
    Tell your story there, post a photo….. some stories are ALMOST as entertaining as CL.

    • I heard about that place but it seems kind of wrong to do that. i don’t know why but once it’s on the internet it can’t be erased and that place uses real names. Here, it’s anonymous and i don’t know about anyone else but I am quite careful about which details I reveal. Even though I have no problem telling my friends and family about what he did and how rotten he continues to behave I’m not sure shouting it to the world at large is the right thing to do. But to each his own.

      • If the cheater is vindictive or violent it is a bad idea to post on that site, from my experience and others here, I’d say most cheaters are vindictive so don’t post there unless it’ s safe for you. I know the temptation is strong to warn others that the person is an asshole but safety first.

  • “I played him a taped confession from my cell phone and he just stood there and simply said that he believes his wife. WTF? Needless to say, I was floored by his reaction. Can someone decode this for me?”

    Sure. It’s called denial. He probably knows. And he knows, if he opens up that can of worms, his life as he knows it is over. So, better to look away. I would. I did.

    Until you can’t look away anymore, because the cat and mouse text game becomes too tempting and you play.

    Finding out your partner is having an affair via text message suspicion is *so* classic. I actually hated her phone and blamed it. How stupid is that? We Spackle, deny, purchase gas for the gas lighting, sign up for blame shifting, and generally behave as Chumps.

  • The thing about trauma is that it takes a bit of time to process. You don’t “process” it, though, by pouring over the details of the trauma in some kind of endless loop and continuing to re-traumatize yourself. That’s a way to stay stuck the way some veterans get stuck in a PTSD loop.

    The human mind is capable of great resilience. People who have survived watching their whole families and communities be wiped out (and worse: genocide and the accompanying depravity), tend to return to their baseline of happiness within the range of 7 months to 2 years (more than 70% of them anyway).
    Less than 5% of the individuals who were tracked in following studies (Kosovo, Rwanda, WTC 9/11 survivors) got stuck in what is usually termed “chronic grief”.
    Chronic grief is rare, but people who who get stuck in it tend to make a habit of re-visiting every detail of every bad thing that has ever happened to them.

    So… the first thing you probably want to do is establish one new habit. It doesn’t need to be an epic, novel or even huge habit to be a keystone/transforming habit.

    For me, I started by saying “I will walk my dogs every day for at least 1 mile”, and I decided to do that in the depths of surreal despair (took a week off from work because I couldn’t function). The new habit will keep you from letting the compulsive desire to revisit the trauma become the sole transforming habit in your life.

    It does get better. It gets great, in fact. So get up, start small, but start to transform your life 🙂

    • I agree, TimeHeals, that we doesn’t help us to get ‘stuck’ in revisting the bad stuff that happens to us. But we DO need to process it, and there’s an unhealthy push in our culture to ‘get over’ any kind of bad thing that happens, any grief or trauma, much faster than is realistic. People want to put stuff behind them, without realizing that you have to go THROUGH it in order to do so.

      I think there’s a balance, where you need to think about this stuff, write about it, talk about it, and then you need to move on. We shouldn’t be avoiding either. And most of the time, the shift between one and the other happens pretty naturally. I see it all the time here, in how the topics and tone of people’s posts changes over time, and I’ve seen it happening in my own life, w/o forcing it. The one period when I found I couldn’t let go of stuff, that it was still really upsetting me again and again, I saw a therapist briefly, and that helped a lot (I’m previously ‘therapized’, so brief was enough).

      I love the ‘one new habit’ idea! I had to keep going through the worst of it, because of my kids, and it really helped me to remind myself that there were so many other things in my life that were great, and had nothing to do w/shithead and his behaviour; a new, healthy, happy habit would be a great way to do that!

  • I’m sure everyone of us can sympathize with you. The early days are unbelievably difficult but as everyone says, it DOES get better. Just get through each day one at a time and eventually you’ll have to stop trying so hard and will just start living again.

    As hard as it is, turn your thoughts of him off and think of yourself. I still forcibly have to do that… if my mind wonders and I think ‘I wonder what he’s doing right now and who he’s with?’, I make myself do something else… Clean a closet, cook a meal, whatever to stop thinking about it. He’s an asswipe, doesn’t deserve your thoughts at all.

    You WILL be fine, us chumps are a hearty breed and are good people…. You will be happy again… more happy than you’ve been with that loser.

    Hugs to you.

  • New Chump,

    Im so sorry for what youre having to go through. I know this isnt a place anyone ever wanted to be but this is a great site to help you grieve and hopefully move on.

    I wouldnt exactly call myself “successful” in regards to getting over my ex the way I know I need to (CL really tells you exactly how to get there its just hard but Im sure worth it), but I am more successful now than I have ever been. I dont seem strong, but I am so much stronger and enlightened at leaset, than I used to be.

    One thing that always helped me was the concept of Karma. He/she has done you wrong, has done your family wrong, and Im sure many other people considering cheating is a very selfish act and Im sure the selfishness has shown its face to other people in other ways. You know Karma will be coming to get him/her… Dirty. Why would you was to be subject to his karma for what hes done to you by staying with him? Thats like getting punished twice. Let karma’s storm hit him and only him (and the OW too of course). Why should you have to pay for what hes done to you? Why should your child have to?

    For your own sanity, escape the wrath that will hit him. Let karma do its thing and stay way out of the way because it will happen and you are too good of a person to have to go through that.

    Best of luck!!! <3

  • Dear New Chump – I’m so sorry for what you are going through. All of us on this blog have been there. I can only tell you that it WILL get better. I dated my XB several years ago. We were both very young and he wanted to conquer every girl who would look at him twice! I left him because of it. We both married other people, had children, and have since gotten divorced. Recently we ran into each other again and with doubts on my part we started to date again. He had me so convinced that his womanizing days were over. Our relationship was everything I ever wanted. It was a storybook love story. After a year I started to get “bad vibes” about him. I questioned him and of course he denied anything was wrong. Needless to say he had been cheating on me for a few months. I thought my world was crashing down on me. Never did I expect this from him again. It’s true…once a cheater, always a cheater! Put your energy and time in making you better. Don’t waste it on a loser of an X. You will have set backs but each day will bring you closer to your true happiness!

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