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Dear Chump Lady, What do I say?

Dear Chump Lady,

You have such an amazing way with words that I thought I’d ask you about something that bothers and confuses me. What do you say when you’re in the middle of all this chumpdom, and people ask you “how ya doin?”… I’m stumped.

I’m not as crumpled as I was, but certainly not “fine.” I’m taking baby steps to bad ass, not there yet, but I will be. What’s a good response in the meantime?

Nadine

Dear Nadine,

“I’m not quite bad ass yet, but I’m getting there,” sounds like just as good a reply as any. It really just depends on how well you know the person asking and how much you want to reveal about your emotional state, if anything.

For me, when I was deep in the “middle of chumpdom” (as you put it), I was emotionally sloppy. Except at work — there I was all business until the day I had to ask my boss for a vacation day to leave my husband. (They were shocked I’d kept all the Jerry Springer drama in for so long. One co-worker — a rather macho guy — nearly wept. Another kept patting my shoulder to ask how I was holding up.)

Nadine, I don’t think there is an etiquette on this. The grief and turmoil was like balancing an invisible bucket of toxic slop on my head all day. Most of the time I could walk around poised like one of those African women coming back from a well — but sometimes I got off balance and tripped — and the whole bucket spilled out all over everything and everyone.

If that happens to you — forgive yourself. You’re in crisis. People in crisis tend to overshare. Look at those people interviewed after a hurricane destroys their home. Most of them don’t demure and politely say “Oh, we’re holding up. Really nothing to talk about.”

No, they look stunned as they tell their stories. They feel COMPELLED to tell their story. The storm came. I was in this place. I heard the news from this person. Then I escaped. This is how I found what was left. This is what is missing. That is gone. Tonight I am sleeping here. I miss my dog.

You’ll find the people in your life will divide into different camps — those that can bear to hear your story — and those who cannot. And you will be surprised who those people are. Sometimes it’s the person you don’t know very well at all who is the most empathetic and kind. And other times you expect a shoulder to cry on from a friend or family member, and find it’s turned away from you.

A long time ago my pipes burst. A friend had just committed suicide. It was all too much and as the pipefitter was there to give me an estimate of the damage, I went to my office to cry. He could see I’d been crying and he said, very kindly “Look, it’s only a house. It’s just money. It’ll be okay.  It’s only a house.” Then he told me very matter of factly that he’d suffered a loss too. His 21 year old son died that year. Told me it put everything into perspective, of what matters and what doesn’t. Broken pipes can be OVERCOME.

I didn’t expect my plumber to comfort me and I was (and remain) very touched. Some people can walk into your pain and some cannot. Most of the time we do our best to not burden others with the real answer to “How’s it going?”

That’s why places like this forum are important for your healing. You can tell other people who have experienced the same kind of loss how you’re doing really. You can share your story and your evacuation plans. They won’t judge you and ask how you allowed this to happen (something they never ask hurricane survivors). Find a good therapist and tell them too. I find the more you tell your story, the easier it becomes to transition back into the world of small talk and social pleasantries.

Just know that you won’t always feel chumpy. The day is coming soon (a Tuesday) where you’ll answer “Fine! And you?”

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • It depends on who i’m talking to how much detail i’ll share. But generally my stock response is “I’m hangin’ in there”….because really at my lowest, I may have been hanging by a thread, but I was still holding on!

  • Thanks so much for that, CL.

    I had a hard time last week, when someone ASKED me my story – then told me not to be so bitter and angry! It was kind of unjust on a few levels: first, I didn’t bring it up, second, chump blaming just isn’t going down too well at the moment, and third I don’t actually want to be telling a story about a B S crazy person blowing up my life.

    • I have not experienced that – thankfully – but a good friend with friends who are still married has experienced it a lot.

      Why the heck do they ask if they don’t want to know? Aholes.

      ((hugs)) 🙂

    • That person is just rude. It was unjust simply because they have not been there any who are they to tell you how to cope with something they cannot even understand.

  • Sometimes when people would say they were sorry to hear about my divorce I’d tell them I was sorry too. I really was sorry that my whole life blew up, and I was devastated that my children got married and moved away at the same time my husband left. Sometimes I would tell people “this is not what I wanted” or “this was not my choice.” I didn’t go into details, but just saying that seemed to make people sympathetic. At the time all that was happening I didn’t know the full extent of why my ex was leaving, he just said he “fell out of love.” It wasn’t until later that I learned the extent of his A with his married coworker.

    I’ll warn you against saying too much to some people. It’s hard to be quiet since you are compelled to tell your story over and over to process it. Unless people have been through it themselves they don’t normally grasp the depth of pain you’re in. My biggest struggle was how much to tell my kids. At that point they were the closest two people in the world to me besides my husband and I needed their support, but they were too upset themselves to really provide it. I regret that I wasn’t able to handle that part better, but then again there isn’t much guidance in how to handle such things.

    • Lyn, any tips? They are 14 – 19. They love their Dad, but the truth is that he didn’t do things that were very nice, actions that don’t portray him as a good or nice person.

      I get a bit confused about how much to say, and err on the side of saying nothing (terrified of dumping on them).

  • I learned to be very careful who I confided in. There’s far too much chump blaming in our society and to be secondarily traumatized with that was just more than I could bear. I still can’t tolerate it.

    A co-worker who is young enough to be my daughter turned out to be the only person who ever really cut me slack for being a hot mess about being cheated on. It’s so strange because she is happily married. But she can always say the right thing to validate my feelings and to cheer me on.

    Sadly, even your best friends often won’t understand. My own children, who know the absolute truth, and are devastated in their own right, cannot bear to hear me talk about my own pain.

    It’s a lonely walk, that’s for sure. Learn to say, “I’m hanging in there” and to smile as you say it. Most people don’t want to hear the truth.

    • “My own children, who know the absolute truth, and are devastated in their own right, cannot bear to hear me talk about my own pain.”

      —- So true Carol! This was the hardest part for me.

      • I think this must be very hard for Chumps with Children. The children are dealing with their own issues. Sometimes they will need to share, but other times they have enough to handle on their own without sharing in your pain.

        I have seen what happens when parents unload their grief too frequently upon their adult children. The children pull back. The parent feels hurt and betrayed, and lets the children know. They pull farther back. As much as it hurts, it’s important to give your children their own space to grieve, and to try to share their burden, which is a very different one from the one you carry.

        Best of luck.

        • “A co-worker who is young enough to be my daughter turned out to be the only person who ever really cut me slack for being a hot mess about being cheated on.”

          You know, I hang out on Captain Awkward’s site (and now there are forums) and what I’ve found is that younger people are much more aware of boundaries and empathy than my own generation. Most are not saying “suck it up”, they say “it sucks and how can I help”. I really appreciate that, maybe along with the explosion of NP type behavior on some peoples parts there is a whole lot of young people who are better at being friends and don’t have prejudices against mental illness or the fact that we can’t always “suck it up” and “move on” without processing shit.

          • I was a hell of a lot more compassionate when I was younger. After experiencing the devastating loss of what I thought was my best friend and marriage partner I’ve relearned a lot of that compassion.

          • You make a good point. I do notice that most of my friends that are my age do want to listen and help you sort though all of the mumo jumbo going on in your head.

            I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we grew up with the concept of accepting everyone as they are and who are you to judge someone. This can be good and bad, however. The whole only “God can judge me” bit is being misconstrude more and more these days (look at Miley Cirus. I can do whatever I want and if you say its wrong then you must be a judgemental person and who are you to say its wrong?) I do think my generation has lost sight that there are things in life that are just black and white. Right behavior and wrong behavior, no matter how you try to excuse them.

            Sorry that was a bit off topic lol. I dont find myself judging very many people because I can see where they are coming from (perhaps this is why I always used to lose fights with my ex, I could empathize with that he was saying and feeling) but then again there are just rights and wrongs. Cheating is wrong! No empathy for that. Like I siad, I do think it is helpful in the sense we are more able to alow ourselves to relate to overs and feel what they feel.

            • Yes, I do think Black and White thinking is discouraged. To further that I also think a lot of people develop intellectual or armchair compassion which ironically seems to lead to understanding for the betrayer and lacks sympathy for the victim. We’re too busy being “compassionate” for someone who might have the power to turn their life around rather than having any sympathy for someone who had no control over what happened to them. I think there’s a myth out there that we have complete control over our lives. I mean we must if we can in the new age sense attract whatever life to us we need right? Or in the far right, weird “Atlas Shrugged” way we are completely responsible for our own successes. So heaven forbid something awful should happen. This society certainly doesn’t like victims.

              • “We’re too busy being “compassionate” for someone who might have the power to turn their life around rather than having any sympathy for someone who had no control over what happened to them.”

                Ah yes, the people who want to help the people who dont want to help themselves and listen to their poor excuses why they wont. They root for the underdog, which is admirable in some ways, but not when what they did is just flat out wrong. Prodigal Son syndrome I call it. Forget about those who were good from the beginning, youre story is boring, lets see if I can help CHANGE someone. Our society loves excuses. It eliminates any need for accountability.

                My grandma does this with one of my cousins that we dont talk to. Hes in federal prison for something (I havent seen him since I was 10 I think) but even as a child he would steal constantly, been in jail multiple times for it and stole thousands from my uncle (I dont really know the story). Its true, he was an awkward child that supposedly seemed depressed and lost. But she will never condemn him for this. “Poor JJ came from a broken home and when your other cousins came along he felt unloved and he never really hada chance. I blame the parents.”

              • I have listened to those who have obviously done wrong and I will let them talk because thats what they need but yu will never see me try and help them come up with a reason and excuse they did it. I know Ive been there before where I know I did something wrong, I own it, No excuse, I have justifications in my head why it is acceptable to me but I will never try and convince someone that something that I know was wrong is kind of ok.

                For instance, when my x found out this lady was pregnant, he was actually telling her he was leaving and wanted to work out things with me. Thats when she told him… as he was packing his bags. She knew who I was. I called him a million times when they were together and we were supposed to be working on us. If shed like to put it out there that “she didnt know” thats fine. Its not the truth but thats fine. Even if she didnt know, as a 31 yr old woman who had been cheated on before, dont you think you would have gotten a clue something was up with me calling all the time, him going through a sexual harrassment case at work even though it got dropped? Wouldnt you ask yourself, what is HE doing that is causing these reactions? She knew all of this. But thats if she takes the stance she didnt know. Ignorance does not make you innocent.

                Anyways, I did see him multiple times in the beginning of this whole fiasco when he said that he was going to leave. She had been talking to her ex a week or so before that, they were both lying to eachother about things. She did not know but she obviously had feelings about it since she has a huge issue with me. Is it wrong? Yes. I wont deny that. I felt justified because of what was done to me but that does not mean that I try and have someone understand what I know is wrong. My friends will sit there and understand but say I shouldnt have done it simply for myself because he didnt deserve to hear another word from me or cry on my shoulder again.

  • Oh yes, my slop bucket has fallen in the middle of a grocery store, or at work with my new colleagues, who barely knew me at the time… I’m fortunate that most people have helped me clean up the spill then and there. Even those who didn’t know me that well. They helped me through my embarressment and I am very grateful, will not forget this.

    The inlaws I’ve shared ups and downs with for 20 years? They deny any spillage, can’t be there, can’t be toxic. Typical. Hurtful.

    I hope this will help me clean up other people’s spills, bursting pipes and leaking faucets – my bucket will have room or clean water some day!

  • Thank you for this one CL.
    “If that happens to you — forgive yourself. You’re in crisis. People in crisis tend to overshare. ”

    I do have a friend that was there for me some time and then said that it was too overwhelming anymore and that I needed to get over it already and just move on. She ended up not speaking to me for quite some time. She came back recently (a few months ago I think) and I have def been better since then and she trys to tell me that she thinks her walking away was a big factor in getting better. The reality is that it wasnt at all. Sometimes I have to tell the same story over again because Im trying to process it. I need to see peoples reactions to understand what he told me about the situation wasnt true and it was as bad as I though or hear another persons perspective. It was all the people who listened to me over and over again that helped me heal (not that Im anywhere healed).

    Ive been having a particularly hard time this week, Im not sure why. I find that whenever the weather gets a little cooler (not that its ever that cool in SFL lol) Im reminded of my ex a lot. I remember being outside in the backyard playing with the puppies and the big oak tree that made it so breezy there and being so happy and looking forward to the future. But I also rememeber that we would always fight or someone would come into the picture around the holidays. This weekend I went to our cabin in the woods with my Dad, nephews, and soon to be XBIL with his daughter that Im pretty close to. It was weird really, because last time I saw my BIL I was engaged, now him and my sister are getting a divorce, There were still pics of me and my x there together (I havent been to the cabin since the engagement broke off because I wouldnt go anywhere in fear of him cheating while I was away), my beautiful niece now cuts herself and just told me she was a lesbian (do you even know that at 15?). Everything is just so different and I feel lost. I just feel so uneasy and have been thinking about him a lot.

    I ended up breaking down and contacting him and basically just asked why (hoping that he could make me feel better but logically knowing it never would). Told me the same thing as always: wasnt happy, wants to leave but thinks he could make out material wise if he stays, wants her to do the leaving that way she does not make it difficult to coparent, etc.

    I told my friend that I contacted him and was just so upset and she basically told me that I have been lying to everyone and just pretending to be ok and that this is such a disappointment to people in my life and I am acting like a terrible person contacting another womans baby daddy, the fact that I stayed with such a bad person for so long says something about me to be able to associate with that, that I need some heavy anti psychotic drugs for acting like this, and if she heard about me from someone else she would think Im a bad and pathetic person and I need to just move on already.

    Move on from what? I dont know where Im coming from (am I leaving someone that loved me but changed, am I leaving a cheater, what about all of the other instances that constantly conflict with eachother?) and I have no real solid base to push off of so how am I supposed to know where to go?

    People think Im nuts when I say I think he made out better than I did in this situation, getting the lady pregnant and all. He sold his house and made $50k surplus, sold my $20k engagement ring and bought her one (although I found out a while ago that he really only sold the stone and she found the ring and freaked on him), has a house, new truck and is getting the baby hes been asking me for 2 years since we were 22. Point is that he has a destination. He knows what he has to do and an alotted amount of time to do it. His path has been chosen.

    I have no clue what mine is. Im still trying to figure out my past. I was thing last night and out of no where (like they usually do) a memory popped up. It was one of us fighting and he was upset at me for idk what and he was drinking and punched the wall. He told me that this is not who he was and this is who I turn him into and he was done and told me to leave (but mind you, if I actually left he would be pissed. He used to tell me that I should know better not to leave because all that does is make things worse. I so would just let him tell me these things and I needed to say back calmly, “you dont mean that”). He told me he was done and didnt want this anymore and I sat there crying and begging him not to go as usual (I think he might have cut himself that night but I cant rememeber). I remember sitting on the floor crying telling him I will work on whatever I was doing wrong and just balling and out of no where he would tell me everything was going to be ok and then just start initiating to have sex. I always did because I just wanted it to all stop.
    I just started crying last night becaue that cannot be normal; someone always wanting to have sex in the middle of a fight. He told me it calmed him down.

    I just think to myself, “I guarantee he is not pulling any of this shit with her because she would never put up with it, so why me?” I told me that its because she can give him an attitude and whatever she wants and he shruggs it off because he doesnt give a shit; with me he cared so he didnt like it. Does that make sense? He told me that he gets so upset when I would say, “I would have done anything for you, why did you do this to me” because he thinks its crazy that I dont think that feeling is reciprocated.

    I dont know why I still believe things he said to me. I guess thats why I know I tend to over talk about the situation when I am feeling alone because I liketo hear an outside perspective and remind me that maybe it wasnt me that was the problem and I didnt have to take “part of the blame for the cheating”.

    Then I have another friend that told me that she doesnt think Ive cried enough about the situation (she knows my whole story). She said that of course Im not coping with it well right now because I am trying to block it all out like I do every other instance with him.

    • I needed a variety of people to tell my story to — my counselor, my pastor, my friends, my parents. My sister who went through a nasty divorce was particularly wonderful and always knew the right thing to say at the right time.

    • Kristina. Not sure how long ago your dday was but everyone of us here know that turning off the pain and hurt is not going to come quickly. Will is ever completely go away? IDK. Others here tell me it will but until that happens it is still hard to believe. I’m not quite a year into my infidelity storm and I still tear up pretty much everyday, just not as many times per day as I did early on. I’ve always considered myself a pretty tough guy but this past year has been a foggy blur.

      As Carol mentioned on an earlier post “This is a lonely walk.” Unless the person you are speaking to has gone through this themselves they won’t fully understand how messed up it makes us. They try to push us through it when what we really need is help getting through it. With maybe a gentle tug. All of us here know what you are going through so post away….

      I have 20+ years memories with my cheating wife that I need to deal with. Plus making sure our 3 children survive and thrive. I do know that the one step to healing is to just keep moving forward and try to create a new better future than what you thought you were going to have and try not to look back.

      The phrase that pops up here frequently is the one I tell my self the most when I feel down. “Trust that he sucks” I then tell myself that I need to survive and thrive.

      Stay strong……

      • Thank you for the kind words. Ive had a lot of ddays so Im not really sure if there was a final one. In June, when he knew this lady for about a month and moved in with her about 2 weeks after knowing her and we were supposed to be working on things together when he initially met her, he called and said that he wanted to come back and told her he was leaving, she ended up telling him she was pregnant. He was still calling me and telling me that he loves me and will never be in love with her, wants to come back, but then didnt, we got in a huge fight stopped talking , he ended up proposing to her with the money he had after selling my ring, then he tells me he doesnt want to be with her but fells like he should for the baby, but is numb about having a baby even though thats all he ever wanted, feels like he should stick it out bc he would make out material wise, doesnt think shell be a good mom but gives her the benefit of the doubt, nadda nadda nadda. They always conflict.

        The thing that bothers me on a day to day basis is how could he treat her better than he ever did me when I gave him everything and “she does nothing for me (him). She is no where near you”? He says that she gives him attitude and things that he would have never accepted from me and is ok with it because” he doesnt give a shit”. I still get that weird feeling on my ring finger as if there were a ring still there and it drives me crazy. I even tried to wear a ring on the middle finger in hopes of that sensation will go away but it hasnt. I guess she has a issue with me (and in all honesty she should because she knew what she was getting into whether she admits it or not) and says he still has feelings for me and found out he sold my diamond and kept the ring (he says bc he couldnt let go of it but who the hell knows why) and flipped.

        I had been with him since I was 16 and all of those important growing momens I was supposed to have I was spending with him, while he grew by himself. I only know how to be with him and take care of him. Not sure about how to do that for me and in all honesty its scary. He cheated so many times and I always took some of the blame. He would say that Im 99% perfect but the one thing I was missing was the one thing he needed and ifI just gave him that everything would be perfect.

        It hurts to think she is going to get someone better than I had just because she happened to let herself get pregnant, at 31 (shes a therapist btw), by a 24 year old, who she knew for 2 weeks and invited to live with her, who she got engaged to after 3 months (in the middle of a fight btw: they were fighting and he called her my name so she flipped and stormed out and when she returned he, drunk supposedly, asked her), talk about breaking up once a month. He tries for and takes care of that person.

        • It would probably help you a lot to read the Lundy Bancroft book. Here is a quote for you to consider: “Abuse is not caused by bad relationship dynamics. You can’t manage your partner’s abusiveness by changing your behavior, but he wants you to think you can.”

          You only have his word for how he treats her. Is he such an honest person that you believe that he treats her better? Trust that he sucks, and he probably sucks for her just as much as he sucks for you.

        • Kristina~ Even if he is supposedly treating her well now it is not going to last. Once an abusive cheating jerk, always an abusive cheating jerk. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It will take as much time as it takes to process it. Do not listen to anything he says blaming you. It’s called blameshifting and it’s a classic cheater tactic. Chump Lady is a wonderful lifesaving site and there are other support groups out there online. (Check out Marriedtoasexaddict.com. and sisterhoodofsupport.com.) I actually found more healing from sharing my story with others on a support group than I did talking with friends and family. I’m pretty lucky to have the support of my sister but really none of my friends got it and a lot of them stayed neutral.

          Quicksilver has a good point too!

          • Thank you Belle, I really hope I can get to trusting that he sucks. I cant stand the thought that she is all happy and taking in all of the excitement of having a baby, getting married, buying new cars, fixing her house and have this good guy to take care of her, all the while they completely put me in a tailspin. I know people ask why I think hes treating her good if hes calling me and saying he doesnt want to be with her. I guess Im just used to so much worse that sounds better thn what I was dealt. Plus, eventhough he says that doent men its true. What if they are really happy? They got the white picket fance, baby on the way, new cars, engagement, big house all in a matter of 4-5 months.

            • Kristina… HE is not a prize! There is someone out there who will truly love & care for you and treat YOU like a prize. Run from this guy! Don’t waste any more time.

      • Bud, just wanted to share a great saying I heard today…
        “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
        I’m moving forward from this new starting point in my life, and forward I go.
        All the best!

    • Kristina L…. It sounds like your ex was a violent nut-job. You are MUCH better off without those kind of mind games in your life. I bet having to navigate his emotional outbursts was very difficult, and I am so glad that you are now away from him. Even if what caused you to be away from him is painful (cheating), you have been given a gift of freedom from an asshole. I am so sorry that you are now dealing with the fallout. It WILL get better. I promise. Find some trusted peeps who are really on your side (this “friend” you wrote about is not one of them), and tell your story as many times as you need to. Be open to talking with a therapist. You are grieving. And grief is not linear. Each feeling you feel is valid. You don’t have to “get over it already”, but I do encourage you to deal with the emotions you are reeling from. Hugs to you!

      • “I bet having to navigate his emotional outbursts was very difficult”

        It was so difficult. But he used to say that nothing was wrong and the fact that I kept asking and pushing him was what would set him off. When he first met this lady he would tell me that she dosent do that and she gets him yada yada. I know I could def push his buttons even without trying or meaning to and I do think there are just some people that get to you faster than others. Thats what used to bother me. Maybe she wont have those reactions or will treat her better because when hes upset she just lets him for or he shruggs off her attitudes or she walks away when she gets upset and doesnt want to talk about it.

    • You dodged so many bullets with this guy. You are lucky he is out of your life. Wish you lots of courage.
      Move forward and you can’t guess what the AP/latest girl’s attitude will be when she has to be the single parent while with someone who is ” not happy” and yelling and resents coming second after the baby.

      • Kristina L,

        You have been with an abusive asshole who blamed you for his shit since you were 16 years old. I think you said you are now 22 years old. Your boundaries and your ability to care for YOURSELF seems to be severely messed up based on your comments. You don’t know how to care for you because when you were a child (16!) you went into a relationship with an abuser. He made you responsible for his happiness, that is not how it is supposed to work. I know how it happens, I’m out of such a thing myself now, I am much older than you are and I could not get through it without a therapist. I actually ended up with two therapists, one for PTSD and one to talk to. PLEASE get a good therapist, start by calling the local women’s abuse shelter, they have free and/or cheap therapy options in most places. You need to process what happened. Your ex didn’t just cheat on you, from what you’ve said he was abusive and threatening in many ways. Get help, there is no shame in that.

        As for the idea that he’s better with the new chump, that’s bullshit. For a while he will be and then he will abuse her the same as he did you. If he treated you like he did from day one would you have stayed with him? No, damn straight you would not! That is what abusers do, they treat you well, they are charming and nice and then very slowly they change. They do it slowly so you will accept that it is your fault, that somehow if only YOU changed they would be a better person. This is BULL.FUCKING.SHIT that you should never, not ever believe. Are you messed up? Hell yes, you have been living with a person who treated you like shit and blamed it on you, a person who is utterly fucked up and told you “if only you would do THIS, I would be OK” and you learned to believe it. DO NOT BELIEVE IT ANYMORE> Please call the local women’s abuse shelter and ask about therapy. (((massive Jedi Hugs)))

        • Thank you Dat. I am actually 24 now. It has been a long road and I never thought it would have ended like this , even though I should have. I was seeing a therapist but I didn’t feel like she helped much. I have good insurance through my work ( I work for thigh insurance companies so I better lol) so that isn’t the problem. I just need to figure out now to find the right one.

          I know it sounds bad but I do wish that he will treat her the way he did me. In a sense I feel like I had failed. I tried so hard and instead he has gone farther with her in 5 months than we did in 7 years. I looked on her fb page and she finally put on there that they are engaged and it makes me wonder if she’s happy and is getting everything she wanted: a good looking do-boy that will take care of her and look picture perfect to everyone. I know she lies about when they met and started dating so it doesn’t sound so bad; even says that he cheated on her with me when we were trying to work things out.

          I’d like to think they will go down in flames in about a year after the baby is born(although poor baby to have such fucked up parents) but a part of me still worries she’s going to get this life without even putting any effort and I had to be hurt so bad. I still question if it was something he could grow out of since we are relatively young if he was with someone who was more stern.

          • It is hard to find a good therapist, I went through a bunch of them, the very best one I found was at the women’s abuse shelter, check there. You might also look for a certified EMDR therapist.

          • I second Ddwolf’s recommendation. I also have good insurance, so I assumed I would find a better therapist if I paid for it, but after several tries I found that the free therapist at the womens shelter was so much more helpful. It is hard to find someone who really gets all the tactics that these abusers use. The domestic violence agencies absolutely get it. I also go to a support group there, which is great too.

            I can tell you, he will go down in flames. It may take years, and hopefully you won’t care anymore. You should have a better life than what he was willing to live with you.

      • Kristina – thank GOODNESS you never conceived. There is a new life ahead of you, with a decent man!

        How do you know he is lying? When his lips move. He is lying. You are a ‘thing’ for his benefit, and she is a ‘thing’ for his benefit. ITS ALL ABOUT HIM.

        This stuff hurts so much. But the thing that hurts the most, and is hardest to accept? That they never felt for us what we felt for them, it is about them and there is nothing we can do about it.

        That I was going to leave, ring, etc? All lies. He will say whatever to the thing in front of him, for his benefit.

        Kristina don’t laugh. But go to Al anon. Go 3 x a week, whatever to stop you being by yourself and your traumatised thoughts. Al anon teaches you to let go. And that is the hardest thing for Chumps.

        Keep talking to us, xxx

        • Thank you very much.

          I just dont understand his actions. He would tell me that he needs to figure out what he is going to do. He wants to leve but wants her to do the leaving. He would then tell me to move on and I would go through the grieving all over again as if it just happened and ask him the questions I always do. Then, even 2 weeks ago, he sent me a text saying”listen to the song Better Than Me by Hinder… It makes me think of you… it explains how I feel really well. Then he would send my an “I miss you text” then call and say that he just saw the old house where we lived and he was crying saying how things could be different but had to go because he had to pull himself together before he got home. Then the texts came back saying how sorry he ws and what he could have done different and how he thinks he was a bad person then and it makes him reflect and see how he can change it. I never heard back from him so I asked what he was referring to changing. Did he mean changing to be a better person for her because of the hell he put me though? He said he can change it by letting me go and having a life with someone who can treat me right and love me the way I need and he thinks its best if I move on because even in our relationship when I was happy he wasnt and when I was unhappy he was (or something like that. Mind you he kept telling me before how I make him so happy and if he treated me half as good as he treats her we would have been perfect) Then the tears came back. Then he tells me that he cannot talk now but will the next day (this was Sunday). I get a text later that night saying that things have changed again and he will explain it to me tomorrow. Said the way he figures it they will only last one month or so (but lets be real a pregnant woman whose own family doubts the fact that she can be a mom is not going to leave any sort of support) but she cannot find out that he speaks to me because she already has a major issue and I guess they get into fights about it. He says that it would make coparenting hell. So he calls me the next day and told me that he wants to still talk and wants to be with me but he cannot talk to me and he is not sure when it will end but it cannot be because of me. Said he doesnt want to tell me to move on but thats not fair so I need to move on because he has things he needs to work out.

          I ended up looking at her fb and she took the profile of her and him down and put one of her and her sister up where you can see she has some sort of belly. She just looked so happy and I cant help but be hurt over the fact that she seems so happy with her new life after terrorizing mine. She also finally put up that she was engaged.

          He says she is not a terrible person (even thoug he has called her “no prize and a bitch even when she wasnt pregnant”) and they dont fight except about me. IDK I kind of find that hard to believe if they have talked about breaking up quite a few times.

          I think I try to put on a happy face so much so I dont have to think about everything that I actually forget a lot. I had to ask my friend if he has ever told me to move on before. She told me yes, about a million times. I remember an incident when we got in a huge fight over him cheating again with his coworker, the one who gave him the STD, after we weree engaged. The whole thing got blown out of proportion, I ended up pushing him and he ended up choking me and cutting himself and so much I cant rememeber. My friend knew about it that night but when I went into work the next day she said, ” I dont get it, I see the marks and you keep saying how upset you are, but you are laughingh, smiling, making jokes like you usually do and are acting perfectly fine”. I tend to do that a lot so when I get like this I start to remember a lot. I work in a very corporate environment, I do negotiating meetings all day, have to shmooze the company reps for the interest of the clients. I dont really have time to be all upset. Ive told a few people at my new job and they have been supportive and have given good advise but I dont think many people understand.

          Why would someone come back just to say they want you just to tell you to move on. I feel like he is constantly showing me that he is choosing her over me. It went from OMG I dont want to be without you and she is nothing compared to youand I dont want to live without you and want to leave her to well, we had our problems and I wasnt completely happy with you either, it was always just moments most of the time and Im still going to leave her but you deserve better and should move on. I just have such a fear of them making it work and lasting because I feel like a failure at that point. I know he only stayed because she got pregnant but its still a huge fear. Not so much that he wont be with me but that she will get what I wanted simply because she let herself pregnant.

          • Block his number. Seriously. He is fucking with your head, and won’t stop until you stop him. Block him on FB, and her too. You are still tangled up in their lives and it is tying you up in knots and keeping you from moving forward. Free yourself.

          • Agreed. Go completely NC. It’s the only way you can get your own head straight after he’s been fucking with your mind. You are being gaslighted from here to Kingdom Come.

            You say you don’t understand his actions, that you wonder “why would someone come back just to say they want you just to tell you to move on.” Two things. First, you cannot understand. This is because you are rational. He is not.

            Second, you are trying to untangle the skein of fuckedupness. You can NEVER do this because 1) you are rational, and 2) he is a nutcase. You cannot expect insane people to operate by earth logic. Untangling that skein isn’t good for you. It leads you down into the rabbit hole where, no matter how hard you run around trying to catch his meaning, you never move. That is because he’s stuck.

            Unstick yourself. Go NC. It’ll drive you crazy at first, but you will feel a LOT better.

            Also, let me also weigh in on the side of a counselor from the abuse shelter, because from where I sit, it looks as if that’s what you’re dealing with.

          • Read again, very carefully, ‘the unified theory of cake’. It ISN’T ABOUT you v OW. It is about him being the centre of the universe and SAYING WHATEVER IT TAKES to get two women dancing the ‘pick me’ dance around him!

            All that lovely attention, all that brilliant sexual availability, all that DRAMA – on him!!!! He must be truly fabulous.

            You are not a person to him. You are a thing. OW is not a person to him. She is a thing.

            You MUST get this.

          • Al-anon is for the family of alcoholics/those whose lives have been intertwined with the lives of alcoholics.

            If you have had a family member or partner with an alcohol or other substance abuse issue, Al-anon is a great support resource because you learn that a lot of what you feel/experience is typical of those who’ve walked in similar paths.

            It’s a lot like what we see when we read each other’s experiences with cheaters. While we may have been gaslit before, once we see our aggregate experiences, we start to wonder if our cheaters all read the same playbook because they say the same things, do the same stuff, lie the same lies. It’s the same with Al-anon. I’ve never been–I don’t have experience with being around those with substance abuse issues–but my friends who’ve opted to go find it liberating and a real help.

        • “This stuff hurts so much. But the thing that hurts the most, and is hardest to accept? That they never felt for us what we felt for them, it is about them and there is nothing we can do about it.”

          Whats weird about this one is I used to tell him this, that I do not think that he loves me the way I loved him. He used to get soo upset and ask how I could even say that and he has done so much to change for me. In a way I do think he loved me as much as he was capable of. But when he had the urge or was unhappy or found some way to say it was my fault, he could block any person or emotion out and do whatever he wanted.

          I think it truly stopped when he called off the wedding. We kept trying to make it work and when we would have a good week he would tell me that he wanted me to move back in and kept asking me to wear the ring again. I would tel him it needed to last longer than a month for it to count. But when something went wrong (half the time I didnt know what happened, he would just start being more distant and weird, I would keep asking him what happened and things went down hill) he would say that is why we cannot live together right now and why he called off the wedding because I still did not listen or understand him and I piss him off so easily.

          When we were younger, around 18 he stopped speaking to his Mom for about 3 years. He always used to say that he hated her (I understand to an extent but its still your mom). Him and his Mom never relly got along at all when he was younger, mainly because he was just like his dad (which he used to take pride in but stopped talking to him for a while also and “doesnt like his dad, but does love him”)(they were divorced obviously). I guess when he was in his early teens they got into a huge fight and I guess she told him she deserved a better son than him and should have aborted him when his dad wanted her to. I dont really know exactly what he went though in middle school but I do know his entire head of hair turned grey from “stress” and was also on suicide watch or something like that. Well fast forward to 18 yrs old… His dad was extremely well off and told him since he was young once youre 18 youre out (Dad had a shitty childhood as well; johnny is the oldest person in his family to have a child at 25… his great great grandmother is still alive… his grandmother is my dads age) but he had a bank account with about 20k to start him off. On his 18th birthday he found out that his Mom drained the acct to get a pool and denied it. You NEVER mess with his money. They stopped talking for 3 years. he used to always say he could cut anyone out of his life at the drop of a hat if they pissed him off enough (which he had) except for me. I urged him to call her all the time (no thanks to his Dad) now they get along really well andhe is closer to her than he is to his dad. I always liked his mom. She, when I knew her, was very level headed and much more rational than the dad.

          Now he says that he has changed all that and does not cut anyone out of his life anymore and he has grown (even people he cheated on me with). But he left me a million times. The one time I truly left (packed up everything I had at his house when he was at work, left a note, left my key, and turned off my phone) he was livid (BAD BAD Night I finally spoke to him). He said he had NEVER done anything that terrible to me before and didnt know if he could ever look at me the same again and the multiple times he left were better because at least he didnt just disappear (he could have gotten a hold of me the next day if he wanted to) and he came back. He said this way worse than any cheating that he did and I obviously didnt ever love him. I truly dont think he ever did look at me the same after that. That was the biggest betryal to him.

          he treated mere aquaintances better than me on many occasions. If you met him on the street you would think I was crazy for these stories. Hes not over the top, hes laid back, not cocky, gives great advice, listens well, great conve, very good looking, makes you feel great, yada yada. He would be that way too in the relationship as well sometimes. He said that is truly who he really is and yes his mood can swing a lot but I make it so much worse with asking the same questions over. If I just stopped talking, hold him rub him and have sex with him it would have gone away eventually (sometimes it was only a few hours and other times it was sometimes days or weeks. I would think he was better then he would still be in a mad mood because something else little upset him. My friend always youed to say, “My God he always has something wrong! Cant you ever jsut ask him how is day was and he say “Good”??) But I exemplified it. Those statements are what make me wonder if she does just leave him alone and give hoim what he wants whever he gets like that maybe everything would go away?

  • My only thought is that it probably seems like it is going to take forever to get though all of this, but it probably won’t be that long before you are back on all cylinders (though time may seem to drag), so hang in there.

  • I was extremely lucky in that I have 3 good friends and a wonderful mom that I could confide in. When I first left, people would ask me where’s ExH. I would reply that we separated. If they asked why, I would just say no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. This was pretty broad, and then they could draw their own conclusions. I also was trying to shield my kids in the beginning too. No reason to trumpet it from the rooftops. After a few months, I would say I filed for divorce. Most people said they were sorry, I would tell them not to feel sorry. I wasn’t sorry that I filed, in fact I was happy that I filed because the kids and I would be better off. 3 years later I am still not divorced, but if asked I just say I am divorced. Its a waste of other people’s time to keep talking about it now. My friends are always there for me to share my anger and frustration at this point. I have moved on (although I am still dealing with all the BS from him, gotta love control freaks!).
    It takes time to process it all. As you heal, you see things in a different light.

  • I have told exactly two people about my situation; both have similar experiences. One moved out of her house and went completely NC with her husband for months. They’re back together now, but he had to prove that he was worthy to be married to her, prove that he could be trusted. Even now, though, you can tell that this is a huge scar on her soul, even though she does appreciate, respect, and care for him. The other is newly Chumped by a husband who’s having multiple EAs with former girlfriends through Facebook. She’s still reeling, and does not understand that she needs to trust that he sucks.

    The first woman I’d not seen in a year, so she asked me how STBX was. I said that it looked as if he were temporary. She said she was sorry, and I said I was sorry, too, but apparently STBX had discovered an office diversion. She gave me a big hug and told me her story.

    I am sorry that my marriage is broken. I’m also sorry that what I thought we had was an illusion. I’m sorry that the future I thought we’d build together won’t ever become a reality. I need to grieve all that, and that’s going to take some therapy.

    I’ll get support from my family, but in varying degrees. My siblings are grown and have their own lives, and thus limited capacity for sympathy–especially at a distance. That’s another reason for therapy. I want to feel better on my schedule, not theirs, even though I know they are there for me.

  • I learned the hard way who to trust and who not to trust. I thought I could confide in a really good girlfriend of mine what I was really truly feeling. Boy was I wrong. Little did I know that she is upset at ME because my 25 year old daughter chooses to not have any contact with her cheater father (after five years). She’s also the daughter that discovered his affair. (The other two see him occasionally.) I made the mistake of having lunch with this friend (who needless to say I haven’t seen since). She told me that “you need to get (25 year old daughter) back into counseling. I mean it’s not like he killed somebody… Seriously?

    • How terrible of a comment for someone to make… he did kill someone… the person you were who found out your life was a lie. Plus its none of her damn business what your daughter does! People grieve how they grieve! Who made her the all knowing?

      • Kristina, thank you for this! Thank you for understanding and validating the pain that I felt and still feel to this day. Only someone who’s been through this can understand. I’m sorry but he killed ME. Maybe not physically, but emotionally. He also killed my 26 year marriage and the three daughters from that marriage. My youngest daughter is the reason I am still here today and I owe her so much. I feel so sad that I can hardly trust anyone with my feelings anymore. Thank you again. 🙂

        • Of course that is what we are all here for! Emotional abuse is even worse in my eyes. Ive had burises on me because of him and that hurt, but not as much as what people cannot see. For whatever reason people are more inclined to empathize with what they can see because they know what it feels like to have a bruise, maybe not from their partner, but they know what it feels like to have one and can empathize then because it was done intentionally. But when they havent been through it? A lot of people negate feelings which isnt empathy at all.

          You have every right to be devastated. He made a choice in your marriage and didnt even give you the decency to make a choice for yourself. He made it for you knowing it would KILL you. HE CHOSE THAT, not you. So what does she mean “its not like he killed anyone”?

          Just rememeber there are shitty people out there with small minds that think they are the all knowing, but dont forget to look for the good ones 🙂 Be Strong!

  • CL, thank you for this post. Sometimes–much of the time–I don’t know how to answer when people (especially ones who haven’t seen me in a while) ask me “how I’m doing.” I can’t seem to find a happy medium between oversharing and saying “the girls and I are fine.” It’s hard to give the latter answer because it feels like a lie. And Babs, I know what you mean–I think I made the mistake of trusting too many of our mutual friends when I told them exactly what was going on. Most of them took his side, I suppose because it’s all a popularity contest, and not at all about who’s right and who’s wrong.

    Not totally sure how to tell when I get to that “gain a life” part of the equation. I managed to subtract the cheater…

    • Me either Jade! I’m also waiting for the “gain a life” part! All I know is that I am thankful for CL and everyone here.

  • Cl, thanks for sharing that you lost it sometimes during the worst, I beat myself up for that even though most of the time when I did loose it people would open up to me and be really good and sympathetic.

    I generally would loose it with utter strangers though. Like when I was making copies of a pic of the horrible knife I found in my ex’s bed for evidence to get the PO. A woman asked me if I could help her with the photo machine after I was done and I said sure as soon as I get this knife pic done. Then she said that knife is scary as hell and I swear my story just poured out of me. She says to me; I know how that is, I’m here from Ireland because I had to get away from just such a one as that, he beat me bloody and I hope all the best for you. She hugged me and then handed me her disc with pics of her baby from her new marriage, she told me her story while I helped her make the pics. The last thing she said is that it will get better, and she was right. It still chokes me up that a stranger in a CVS helped me that day. And she was so young and so right.

    • Damdamwuf, I don’t know if you are religious or spiritual, but I think you were meant to be speaking to that woman from Ireland at that moment. For sure, I’ve embarrassed myself by blurting out too much about my situation, but I’ve met some amazingly supportive people that way too.

  • I was just cheated on by my boyfriend of one & a half years. I previously dated him several years ago. He was a flirt back then and couldn’t commit to just one girlfriend. We broke up because I wanted an exclusive relationship with him. Years went by and he contacted me again. I was reluctant to go out with him again because of my past relationship with him. But he promised that he wasn’t like that anymore, he grew up and now knows he wants only me. We had a great relationship for over a year and even talked about living together. Then all of a sudden he decides he wants his old life back and wants to be able to go out with other women. Meanwhile I just found out that he has been cheating on me for a while. I am now a firm believer that once a cheater always a cheater.

  • ha! I was totally a mess at first… my worst was when I went to order a new bed just before the ex moved out. First, I felt so obvious without my wedding ring on that I just assumed that was like the very first thing people noticed. And I also thought it was so obvious why I was in there buying a queen bed (we’d had a king before, so I also thought this was some kind of crazy obvious sign of a single person, I know, I know… dumb). It’s hilarious how full of shame I was and how I just assumed all these teeny tiny details were so completely obvious that everyone would brand me DIVORCED WOMAN or something.

    Anyway, the saleswoman asked me how tall or something my husband was or something about his sleeping habits, whatever… and I started balling and telling her that there wasn’t going to be a husband and that is why I am in buying a bed, etc., etc., etc. That’s when she handed me a tissue, and patted my back, and told me that she knew how I was feeling and had been through it before herself.

    It was very helpful for me just knowing she had been divorced because I was pretty much feeling like the only (about to be) divorced person in the world. She handled my insane breakdown pretty well… and did get a bed sale out of it. 🙂

  • I learned a couple of things: Many of my friends were NPD, to one degree or another, and I’m just as well rid of them… I see a pattern, yes I do….

    For example, the one I wrote to who mocked me for saying that I was having trouble getting out and seeing people, and that my back made walking difficult—her response was all about her, except … an invitation to go for a walk!

    Another person suggested that “I was just overreacting”. No, really !?! Our kids are somewhat friends, so I’ve stayed a bit in touch–she persists in telling me how I *should* feel, so I finally just told her that she should simply accept that I feel the way I feel whether or not she understands it. Backing slowly out of that relationship, since her husband is still friends with my STBX, and I won’t countenance any behind the scenes communication.

    Finally, the only folks who have really stuck by me in a meaningful way are chumps, or former chumps themselves. They are just the only ones who get not only chumpdom, but what it means to be a middle aged woman to have built a life around a very long marriage, and have the whole frickin’ enchilada blow up–lose my house, friends, husband, work…. all at once…

    That the rebuilding is a long, painful, confusing road, but a road that we are on together. OTOH, all of us have the kids. (which makes me sad for the kids– that they had to chose really sucks). But, we definitely all have the kids’ love and respect, and exes most definitely do not. And that, to me, is the most important thing.

  • I just learned a great new expression…what do you say to someone who has ended a challenging relationship to someone they once (and may still) love and adore? “Congratudolences.”

  • I have been emotional mentally abused by a man who cheats and has midlife crisis. I have tried leaving staying and working on it. I would never want to inflict the pain on another human as what has been done to me, over twenty yrs of marriage and his view of all is textbook. Cant seem to find resources and some help to guide me. Dou Have any or advise? trying to protect myself and assets.

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