Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Standing on Lies

Thank you Dr. Anna Fels! I urge every chump to read yesterday’s opinion piece in the New York Times “Great Betrayals” by Dr. Fels. It’s the rare article on infidelity that recognizes the traumatic injury of deception — especially the sort we encounter here at Chump Lady — making sense of the double life.

Fels writes for every chump that’s ever sorted through their family photos after DDay and thought “Oh, Disney World? That’s when she was screwing her boss.” Or “There’s the OW at my son’s bar mitzvah. Wasn’t I the unknowing idiot?” Or wept over her wedding pictures, because really, the cheating began during courtship.

What was real? What was fake? You thought you were happy. Your children had an intact family. Maybe you weren’t really happy. You were depressed, but didn’t know why. You couldn’t understand the nebulous sense of disconnection and conflict that had no source you could point to… except yourself. Maybe if you just tried harder…

But it wasn’t you, chumps. You were living a lie.

Fels writes:

Frequently, a year or even less after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on, to put it all behind them and stay focused on the future. But it’s not so easy to move on when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on.

deception copyExactly. What’s the story of your life? It’s the hardest thing to explain to someone who hasn’t been chumped — I don’t know what my story is. I thought my life was this one thing (settled, “normal,” “successful,” committed, intact) — and in reality, I was being played. My investment was a Ponzi scheme. My spouse was a con.

Usually, chumps spend a lot of time untangling the skein of fuckupedness precisely so that they do NOT arrive at that conclusion — my life was a lie. They sift through the evidence to find shreds of evidence that they mattered. No, at THIS point we were really in love. She TRULY meant it when she said this. My children were conceived in LOVE. (Assuming my children are really my biological children at all. Pity the chump who has to check.)

Fels writes:

As a psychiatrist, I can tell you that it’s often a painstaking process to reconstruct a coherent personal history piece by piece — one that acknowledges the deception while reaffirming the actual life experience. Yet it’s work that needs to be done. Moving forward in life is hard or even, at times, impossible, without owning a narrative of one’s past. Isak Dinesen has been quoted as saying “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all.

Yes, but it’s not just robbing chumps of their story —  they were robbed of the opportunity to live an authentic life elsewhere, to not make life altering decisions based on false information, to not waste years of their youth. What does it mean to be robbed this way? Especially in a culture that doesn’t see it as theft at all. Hey, shit happens. People “grow apart.”

How did you piece it back together? For me, I had to simply conclude that I was real. (And in the end, that’s the only person I control, me.) I brought my A game. I committed. I tried to work it out. I was truly happy on my wedding day. I meant my vows. I enjoy the fine May weather. The love of my friends and family. I enjoyed the catering, the flowers, and the iTunes dance mix.

That grinning chumpy woman you see in my wedding pix, who paid the bar tab for one of the OW, and assorted other wedding guests who knew of his cheating? In that moment, she was happy. That naive woman on her honeymoon in Paris? She enjoyed the trip. That’s who she was THEN. That is the story.

When it was happening, with all the evidence she had before her — she had every reason to be hopeful and optimistic. What came months later — the truth of who he was — doesn’t change her.

This is what I learned about that narrative — I don’t need his story to tell MY story. I’ll never know all of what was going on and with whom. I know enough to know it’s disordered and dreadful and has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with me. I wasn’t living a lie. HE was living a lie.

I like the Dinesen quote “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” It probably goes a long way toward explaining why I created this blog. It’s not so much my story, as it is the playbook of cheating. This is how he did this. These are the manipulations that were used. This was my part in staying stuck. Let me describe this to you — it’s a tiger pit. I fell into it once –and I thought I was going to die. Here’s a roadmap so YOU don’t fall into it. Did you fall? It’s okay. Here is how you climb out. This is what happened to me after I climbed out — my life was blessed. I moved on. I fell in love again. I found “meh.”

I left a cheater and gained a life. That’s my story.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • So glad to hear your wonderful success story, CL! Still searching for my own way out of the endless loop mulling, thinking, wondering…

  • Thanks CL. Loved hearing your success story. This hope that I too will someday have a success story, and this strength to keep on going, that I didn’t know I possessed, is what keeps me going during the hard days like this weekend.

    I used to do that… look at those pictures and question it all – “was this a lie” ” was I happy in this picture?” and yes I was.

    Loved this quote!
    “I’ll never know all of what was going on and with whom. I know enough to know it’s disordered and dreadful and has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with me. I wasn’t living a lie. HE was living a lie.

    • Same here, CL!!! This quote is my new mantra: “I’ll never know all of what was going on and with whom. I know enough to know it’s disordered and dreadful and has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with me. I wasn’t living a lie. HE was living a lie”

      This weekend is really hard for me too…all of the fucked-up-ness of what’s happening…I stewed, tossed and turned all night trying to come up with just the right words IF I ever get a chance to say exactly what our marriage has been— until this moment reading that quote. Now I know what to say if I ever get the chance. It won’t phase him either way, but I know I will have the knowledge that he now knows how I see our years together.

      I would cry, but I can’t..

    • I love this article. Thank you Tracy! It has inspired a revelation for me. I was looking at old holiday photos thinking how happy I looked and how unhappy he looked. He was living with the fact that his double life was a lie. I was mostly happy so his five years of the affair were wasted not mine. I can be proud that I lived my life with truth and integrity and I’m the only one I can control. I’m glad I’m an honest and trusting person. I’m proud to be a chump!

  • This article is so dead-on it actually made me a bit nauseous, yes that is absolutely it.
    You (and Dr. Fels) explained things I could not verbalize since D-Day. I stare mesmerized at our wedding photo and think “I am so young and innocent, if I only knew then what I know now.” I have absolutely examined those photos from Disney, and thought, “the affairs and group sex started at least 3 years before then….” I come across a birthday card he wrote me the year before D-Day, telling me that he loved me “madly” and “forever” and wonder why.

    My mind reels as I look at the span of literally decades (25 years) wasted by a grifter, indisputably what should have been (and what I thought were) the best years of my life. My goodness, THAT’S why we cannot help but try to unravel the skein. The mind, heart and soul desperately search a hundred different directions after the truth is learned, trying to find something to hold on to, trying to find a narrative that makes sense. If everything was a lie on his part, how can my part be true?

    And oh my goodness, I’ve never heard it explained so well– how we search for some particle of love or concern from them, some proof that they loved us truly even once (I do it even now and never understood exactly why), so that we can believe somehow it was not all just a vile lie. And if we can believe there was something real there, then maybe it was not all a waste, maybe we have not been inexorably violated, and maybe we can move on truly instead of just fighting against the despair and pretending to some degree.


    • I know my husband did love me once, as much as he was able.

      But again – is that enough? It still left me anxious and depressed, and it took his affair to hit my denial smack between the eyes how little he cared about me.

      I would rather be and live normal to be honest.

    • Kelly you took the words right out of my mouth LOL!

      People dont understand how I could be “sad” I should just be pissed off and never want to talk to him again and just be done with and and dont understand the feeling of being lost.

      CL you were on point. I could never explain it. From now on I thinkIm just going to keep this post and article in my back pocket and just whip it out if it ever comes up.

      Your story is truly an inspiration and its a good feeling to know that good people can find other good people and be happy again. Cheers to you CL you made it 🙂

      PS I absolutely love your hair!!!

      • I had the same experience, Kristina. Some of my family members were so upset that I felt mostly sad and upset rather than angry when I first found out. The anger came but it took awhile. My mind had to rewrite a 36 years of history and that took some time to even comprehend what had happened.

        • I have moments of anger but not many. Just sad. I hope something kicks in soon because I’d much rather be mad and hold on to that.

        • My heart goes out to you Lynn as it does to myself–34 years and I have no idea if he was faithful until the first affair that I found our sbout-5 years ago so many lies I don’t know what was real anymore. Did he cheat throughout? He certainly had opportunity since he was rarely home before 9:00. It is heartbreaking, and I can’t expect the truth from him

    • I have accepted the fact that neither of my xws ever loved me. I know this because they treated me horribly and they cheated.
      I will never know everything about what went down. I will never know when the cheating started, the # of partners, the exact logistics, or if my kids are biologically mine.
      But, as CL points out, I know enough such that I am certain they are assholes and that they faked loving me because I am so handsome

  • Dear Chump Lady,

    do you know how beautiful you are? How much your honesty, courage and directness helps people?

    I cannot tell you how many mid life forums and web sites I have been on. How many e books I have bought. How many kindle downloads and amazon deliveries I have had.

    But my life started getting less shaky, and moved towards firmness, when I found your site. And simulatneously, my genuine imitation neugahyde (nah, he wasn’t even trying that hard)’s husband’s road started getting wobblier.

    You are a Godsend. Boy, did Mr Cheater underestimate you.

      • I really hope you write a book based on this blog. It really is a gaping hole in the literature on this topic. I’ve become pretty familiar with the self help books on being betrayed and none that I’ve found have been nearly as helpful as your writing. Thank you CL for keeping at it even as you’ve achieved “meh” and beyond. All us chumps still need you!

    • This comment speaks my truth about you and your site CL. It’s raw, it’s actual, it brings meaning to the madness. And with it the peace to know how valuable a life can be.

  • Chumplady has given those of us who aren’t writers a safe place to tell our stories of betrayal in our own way & in our own time. Mine comes out little by little when I respond to someone else who has eloquently articulated what I’m unable to put into words. I appreciate everyone who posts here for sharing your experiences & perspectives. Your stories give me the validation & hope I need to move on. Thank you all.

  • I am so tired of trying to fit the deception into a box labelled “mistake by an an otherwise good person”. So many good things have happened in the years of our marriage, but it all seems poisoned now. Thanks for being here, CL and all the other chumps. I hope, one day, I can learn from your success.

    • THIS. ANR, you have perfectly stated my own situation and feelings. Thank you!

  • Here’s where I REALLY struggle. You see, I’m a chump who lived in false reconciliation for 17 years. Having already been cheated on (and separated for 18 months) I agreed to give the marriage another try with my cheater, who begged me to take him back. I felt like we were starting over. But obviously, I wouldn’t be here if my marriage had survived. So when I think back to those reconciliation years, I chastise myself for having let myself trust him again. I think “How could he have wanted to have a child with me if he really hadn’t intended on returning fully to the marriage? Should I have assumed he would cheat again? Was I foolish to have a child with him? Buy a house with him? Set up a life in another town with him” I don’t even feel I can claim the “I was happy then” story. I was happy, but did I feel entirely certain about his feelings? I guess if I have to be entirely honest with myself – no I wasn’t. That trust had been broken. So was I also the person living the lie?

    • You just kind of summed up the dilemma of reconciliation in one tidy paragraph.

      I think you were just someone who was trying to save their relationship. IMO there is no moral failing in trying to give someone another chance. It might not be the best investment, but that’s different than living a lie. You weren’t deceiving anyone, except maybe yourself in thinking you could trust him again.

      But clearly you DID trust him again — enough to have a kid and a mortgage with him. You demonstrated your faith. And he demonstrated that he didn’t deserve it. Again, I come back to — it’s not on you. It’s on him.

        • As I continue understanding the process of being Chumped, I am coming to the conclusion that the Chump is the “cover” story for the cheater. That is our value to them. Is it real to them? I don’t think so for most repeat or long-term cheaters.

          Who is the real person behind the “cheater”? Well, now I know it’s all the shit they do to cheat — lie, deceive, manipulate, screw others outside of marriage. There is no reason to “untangle the skein.” Their own actions inform us.

          • Yeah, I agree!

            Why is it that we will not see what is plainly in front of us? I ask myself all the time.

            • Because they are stone-cold liars and manipulators, Stephanie. We chumps just don’t operate that way, so we have a hard time seeing it, especially when these guys (or gals) are so very good at deception. They are profoundly disordered, have no empathy or remorse, and are willing to do things we would never dream of doing or even want to do to the person we hold most dear.

              • I did it too, forgave and trusted again and spent another 8 years with the ex. I no longer kick myself for it, he lied well and often for a long time, he only got sloppy once he had the marriage certificate. Then he thought he could treat me any way he wanted.

            • Here is the deal, IMHO: If your spouse cheated on you, she or he never loved you and is an asshole for marrying you.
              If you had access to their pasts, you would see that their lives before you contained similar betrayals and a lack of integrity in many aspects of their lives.

          • Precisely. The most truthful statement XH ever said about me was: “She makes me look good.” (Oh, how little did I realize at the time. Chump that I was thought he was being complimentary and self-deprecating)

    • Hi Jazzbox, I chose to trust again after the first affair. It happened before we were married & I truly believed we were ‘stronger’. Truth is I was strong & he wasn’t. I wasn’t living a lie & neither were you.

      • Thanks, Alice. Funny how we beat ourselves up about this, isn’t it? I guess the self esteem takes a huge hit. Takes a while to build it back up. And funny how we can’t really begin that building process until we emancipate ourselves from our cheater.

    • jazzvox, I had a similar situation. After 7 years of marriage and one child, my husband didn’t know if he wanted to be married anymore so he moved out. We were separated for about 3 months. I was still spackling and living on hope so I didn’t pay attention to the red flags, even after we decided to try again. I really wanted another baby, when he moved out he didn’t. Once he moved back, he “was ready” for another child and I became pregnant and had a beautiful baby boy. Well here I am 10 years after that split with eyes wide open. I know he has cheated on me and I know now that it has been on again off again since before we were married.

      I too had the broken trust and that is what led to the ultimate discovery of the current OW. It was HIS lie though. I truly wanted the marriage to work. I loved him with all I was. Was I happy? Not always. He “worked” a lot and I wanted him to be more a part of our family.

      What I have come to realize is he was so good at manipulating me, jazzvox, that everything he did after our reconcilliation was for HIM. He came back and had a second baby, and made it possible for me to stay home and homeschool, so that he could keep me “happy” and I’d let him carry on with his own life. I didn’t realize this until after d-day, and not until after I realized that is the game his own parents played. Father – in – law fooled around all he wanted as long as he brought home the good pay check. When he lost his job due to alchoholism, my mother – in – law left him. So, my husband thought marriage could work that way.

      What he didn’t get is that it was still HIS choice and he knew very clearly where I stood on infidelity. We all have parents who screwed up and we all choose whether to follow in their footsteps or be better people ourselves.

      So, don’t chastise yourself. Chastise him for using you twice. For lying twice. For deceiving you twice. And pat yourself on the back for finally leaving!

  • The heroic quest in literature and mythology follows the same pattern: a person must descend into the underworld–a “pit”–and have the courage to surrender their lives as they knew them. With strength of character and the help of the gods, they return with a great truth to the benefit of society….

  • CL – I didn’t think the Times article could be improved upon until I read this. Thank you for your honesty and insights. My story IS still my story – it was real TO ME at the time and he can’t take that away from me.

  • Dear CL, your post comes at a brilliant time. Recently chumped,less than a month into NC, I slipped up today and had answered my cheater ex fiancé s call. Lately he had been sending a gazillion mails and messages and songs expressing so much pain and so much remorse, he is SOOOO good at the lies.

    In short, he was calling to say sorry, I said I still don’t understand how he did what he did (sleep with my flatmate/ ex friend (snake) while planning a wedding with me, he said why am I still stuck in the rut and then went on to tell me how I am to blame for his cheating lol. The good guy mask dint last for long !

    The gas lighting and feeling of entitlement is insane !

    Anyway, was unpacking some wedding related stuff and thinking , he bought me pretty clothes 8 months back , we were so happy, then he went ahead and lied to me every single day for the next six months !

    He stole 5 years my life and I was feeling mad at him….. Till I read your article. Now , I just further resolved that will follow NC even at all costs and look towards the future…..

    CL, Can’t thank you enough for being you and writing like you do. And all the other chumps in the chump nation, just know that you are good people. Just by being here for each other, you have helped god knows how many chumps from caving in to more torture. You have definitely helped me a lot !

    Just please pray for me to be strong so that i dont let the reconciliation industrial complex (works overtime in India) …. Lengthen my journey to Meh !

    • You received a gift. You found out he was a cheater before you married him. Please do not take him back unless you want to spend the rest of your life in pain and lies. You deserve so much more.

    • Please don’t take him back! You know what they say about narcissists? It’s “come her closer… so I can slap you.”

      If you let him close — he’s just going to slap you again. They love the push-me pull-you game. He had you — how he valued you was demonstrated by his cheating. That’s all you need to know.

      • Newly enlightened – Stay strong and stay away. Uniquelyme is right, you’ve been given a gift with a big red bow. My STBX cheated on me very early in our marriage. I forgave him. Here I am 18 years later and he did the same thing and probably multiple times over the years – he just went deeper under cover.

        As others on this site have said before, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

        And CL, about today’s column…damn girl, you can write!

    • Hi NE,
      Welcome to CL’s Nation. I am from India and I write about the unique context of India on this blog, a lot of times. So, I just agree to your description of Reconciliation Industrial Complex. I have moved away from my 14 years of marriage with my 13 year old son (again in uniquely Indian way, which includes carrying so many deterrents under my armour that dare my serial cheater bastard use the complex again).
      To tell you the truth, India is also changing alongwith the world. Almost all my friends and relatives (even cheater’s friends and relatives), who saw me give a second chance to this guy which he faltered again, have welcomed my decision to walk away. They gave me immense support.
      You are still not married. Marriage is sacrosanct in India, Love/live-in/affair is not. Run…run NE. Don’t waste a moment more on this guy. Tying a knot in India with a wrong person is far more costlier than doing it in many other contexts. Run…NE…Run for your life.

      • Thanks everyone. It’s very helpful to get the objective perspective and know for sure that I am not crazy for thinking such behaviour is unacceptable and not a silly immature thing that boys do(u wont believe but that’s been said)

        Anudi, I have read your posts and I realize what you are saying. Things are changing here and surprisingly even I have got more support than I expected. Still I know how hard things are and can be and just know that I really respect that u made the tough but right choice for urself as well as for your son. Lots of hugs to you and thanks for understanding …..

  • This is another good one. I don’t think about it as much as I used to, but I sure spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was real, and what was a lie. The final conclusion is if I have to try and figure it out, then it was ALL lies. For a long time, all my good memories from my 20 year marriage were ruined, because I’d start thinking about how he was cheating with men the entire time. Now I try to enjoy the memories on their own, without the undercurrent of his constant double life. Good or bad, that WAS my life. I cannot get those two decades back. Sometimes I feel incredibly cheated, but then again, life is unfair.

    Now I just want to move on. The marriage is long behind me, I have almost no contact with my ex. When I find myself ruminating about all the bad, I shake myself out of it. I’m not sure I will ever entirely wrap my head around the incredible deception I lived with for so long, and I’m tired of trying. At this point, it doesn’t even make a difference. All I know is I was honest in the marriage, I meant my vows, I was faithful, I did the best I could to be a good wife. If my ex meant none of it, that’s on him, not me. Considering he sent me a text a couple months ago saying he should have added “LOL” to the end of his wedding vows, there’s really not much to think about.

    It’s incredibly hard to regain my footing, but I am stumbling on because I know there is a BETTER LIFE AHEAD.

    • Thanks for these words, Glad. I am now hammering it into my somewhat thick skull that I have to stop thinking so much, and just LIVE MY PRESENT LIFE. I will continue to do my best to be a good, kind, helpful person, but I’m going to whittle down all that time spent wondering What the heck happened? and Could I have done anything to change the outcome?

    • GIO,
      I still can’t believe that “LOL” what a F-ing prick! Mine did some incredibly cruel things to me too, such as parading one of the OW around in his truck while trying to still live with me, but at least it got me to throw him out. Unlike the tiny little cruelties he inflicted on me for years that I thought were just me going crazy… XO

    • Beautifully said, Glad. It is so tiring to continue to deal with this. I think I’ll print out and keep your observation–
      I was honest in the marriage, meant my vows, I was faithful, I did the best I could to be a good wife. If my ex meant none of it, that’s on him, not me.”

      • I was going to praise that exact same bit. Thanks, CL and fellow chumps, for helping me on the path to sanity, meh, and a better life! The piece on taking away your narrative had me in tears over the weekend, it was so powerful.

  • Well said Chump Lady. Can we talk about the TV show Scandal and the character (Olivia Pope) played by Kerry Washington? I feel sick watching her relationship as the Other Woman with the President.

    • Funny you bring Scandal up, I was thinking the same thing. I have a hard time watching any movie or TV show that has cheating.

      • Betrayal on ABC – thats another one with cheating. Makes me sick. I cant abide by either Scandal or Betrayal because not one character thinks of doing the right thing. If Olivia and Fitz fall for each other and Fitz hates his wife – then he should have quit the race but no! he HAS to become president and HAS to continue to screw Olivia. Sick and disordered and the wife is the one who drove him to it because she is so cold, calculating and manipulative. Wow!!

        It makes me sad that even with six senses (supposedly) humans behave worse than animals.

        • Don’t even think about watching American Hustle! I hated all of it, even though it was an allegedly good movie.

          • Yes – I now know why I was not impressed with American Hustle. I could not put my finger on it until you pointed it out.

            The whole way the cheater and cheating is portrayed on television is also why I have never watched Mistresses. Ugh.

            I still think part of the reason I even tried reconciliation after OW #1 (that I know of) is that it seemed to work on tv, in movies and in books. I should have packed my bags when I found the sexts with OW #1, or the night he told me about OW #1 (because he drunkenly boasted about it to a friend), or the day I found the naked pictures he sent to OW #2. I could have done with 5 less months of lies and me feeling like a failure. I am not a failure – he is the failure for turning to alcohol and other women to make himself feel better.

            Chump Lady – thanks for reminding me that I have gained my life back.

  • It’s a strange thing, but sometimes I feel I’m going backwards when I read such great articles and posts because I feel like I should be “HAPPY” by now instead of wallowing, but I also know that it isn’t going to go away by itself. Or with me pretending. So I give my self about one day a week to be miserable, but I really think in the long run it’s making me stronger.
    So this all hit me hard again today, but I thank you for it CL, it’s just one less thing to feel guilty about. He did his best to destroy me without ever trying, but he can’t take away what I DID get out of it, so many years spent on the sea, the fishing, the dolphins, the sunrises and sunsets, had nothing yo do with him loving or not loving me – him cheating or not cheating…I WAS Happy! Thank you, I really do love you!

  • I loved the NT article because it really expressed how I’ve felt for almost two years: so much of my adult life was spent with this person who was living a lie while I was just cruising along doing what I thought were the right things to make everyone happy and enjoy life. It’s been horrible to realise that I based life-altering decisions on false info and that those decisions left me in a very vulnerable financial position, which I would not be in if he had just come clean when he first started cheating and said he wanted out. It would have been hard but at least I would still have my career and a lot of other things I gave up for him. Sure, one can say I made those decisions of my own free will – and lord knows people have tried to tell me that – but did I? I dont’ see it that way. If I had had all the information about what was REALLY going on in my life I would never have made any of those decisions. It’s a no brainer and it still has the power to piss me off that he was willing to talk me into making decisions that ended up being so detrimental to me without a thought – and even to this day tells me ‘stop playing the victim’ when it’s clear that my life is jacked up royally because of his lies.

    But I like the idea that they’re his lies, not mine. I never lived a lie. I was open, honest and committed to my family. He was secretive, a liar and committed to his dick. Therein lies the difference.

    • What weak pitiful men/women. The only way they could hold us was by lying to us. The only way they could feel powerful was by making us weak with their deception. They could only quench their fear with betrayals and manipulation. So we now try to figure out how to salvage the rest of our lives.

      We loved them, kept our promises, and did our best for our families. They did not. I try to hold on to that but it is sometimes small comfort.

      Really Nord, I believe you said it best at some point in the past, fuck them.

      • “What weak pitiful men/women. The only way they could hold us was by lying to us. The only way they could feel powerful was by making us weak with their deception. They could only quench their fear with betrayals and manipulation.”

        This^^^. I know it’s an older thread, but this describes RRR perfectly, and the reason he felt he had to do what did.

        Sad…. sad…. sad….

      • > What weak pitiful men/women. The only way they could hold us was by lying to us. The only way they could feel powerful was by making us weak with their deception. They could only quench their fear with betrayals and manipulation. So we now try to figure out how to salvage the rest of our lives.

        This is an amazing quote – thank you so much for articulating it so much better than I could.

        Who know feeling so weak, decrepit, and lost is actually because we’re strong, authentic, and principled? I hadn’t thought of it quite that way.

    • That’s exactly it. I was committed to family. I believed we would be together. I planned all my major decisions based on this one faulty belief. I need to fully process the anger about it before I can get all the way to meh.

      • Yep, all decisions were based on a false picture for me: he was cheating on and off for years while I was making plans for our family and the future we were all going to share. I’m getting past the anger but some days it still makes me nuts.

  • Sometimes when I read your article it hurts so much I want to cry. But after taking time to process it all, I find it helps me so much more. A good therapist and your blog has been the best cocktail for me.

  • Thanks so much for this, CL. I’ve been occasionally wondering lately if I’m being too harsh on the ex about the infidelity – maybe this is something that ‘just happens in long-term relationships’ as he puts it, or maybe people do somehow lose their heads and sanity when infatuated …. So many people seem to see it this way.

    Then I remember about the lying that this took, and that this wasn’t even a short moment of stupidity nor an exit affair. It was all just CAKE. And I remember how much damage lying does, above and beyond the actual fucking around.

    Now he’s also lied to our daughter (who is 12), and she’s furious about it, and figured out about his lying to me, breaking promises to me, and cheating on me. She’s so torn between all the love she’s always had for him, and her hatred of what he’s done over the past year and a half (on top of his just being a negative, critical and self-centered person forever). I vacillate between encouraging her to try to work things out w/her dad to at least some extent, and encouraging her to see his fundamental dishonesty for what it is, likely to lead to her having very little do with him in future.

    And then I HATE him for being who he is, and kick myself for reproducing w/that fuckhead.

    • ugh, “just something that happens in long term relationships”?? yeah it just “happened”. I hate these bullshit rationalizations these cheaters use to make it seem like it isn’t that big of a deal. And others can say these kinds of things because it hasn’t happened to them and they have no idea what the fuck they are talking about.

      • “Just cry and move on” is the one that makes me so mad beyond “these things happen”. Like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ that’s life. Like “Oops! My ice cream cone fell on the ground!” Faux contrite BULLSHIT handed out by people that have no idea. Makes me ANGRY! When the foundations of the life you’ve made for yourself are demolished and the ONE person out of the entire world that was supposed to have your back stabbed you in it instead THEN you can give me your platitudes and tell me what to do to get over it and move on.

    • I have those feelings as well, Karen. Was I too hard, did I get too angry? Can’t I be more ‘sophisticated’ about things (gag)? And yep, I sometimes intervene and try to help the kids with their relationship with their father. And then I remind myself that this is all his doing. He created this mess single handedly, with no input from me, as I had no idea any of it was going on. So I try to help the kids see that it’s ok to love their dad while still being aware of his unreliability and lies (which continue to this day, despite his protestations that he’s a ‘changed man’..hahahaha).

  • What I don’t understand is the continuing of lying. I have known about the OW for 14 months; I know the EA continues throught sexting/texiting and phone calls. He wants a divorce. Yet he keeps sucking me back into his life. Was about to leave when a storm damaged the house (6 weeks ago) OK well he needed help with all that went down with that but even though I said it didn’t matter what color carpet he choose because I was planning on moving it was supremely important I help him choose. Now he is having back problems. I not only had to go to the MD with him I had to go to the exam room with him. Afterwards I said it might help if he slept on a better mattress either the one on our bed or the guest room ( he has chosen to sleep on the couch) then added “but it really doesn’t matter which you chose as I am moving out soon.” he got furious. Continues to deny the OW. My head spins. I do not understand. Why continue to lie when the truth is already known?

    • Because you do what he wants you to do. You went to the doctor with him, you chose the carpet with him. He has sucked you back into taking care of him. You have to stop, you do NOT have to do anything with him or for him any longer. He is not your responsibility, his well being is not your shit to deal with. Until you say NO to all those requests he will keep doing it. You have to say NO, every time.

      • Janet, Datdamwuf is 100% right. He keeps trying, because sometimes it works!!! You need to stand in front of your mirror and practice saying a nice clear, calm ‘no’. Then you turn your back and walk away. Do it again and again until you can do it easily and frequently.

        What helped me a ton w/this was realizing that I was letting my ex frame the conversation. He’d get into a big discussion w/me about, say, what colour the carpet should be, and if I didn’t get sucked in right away, it would turn into a discussion about how unhelpful I was being, or how difficult, and I’d get sucking into arguing about that, whereas the IMPORTANT part that wasn’t being said was whether I chose to be involved in the conversation AT ALL AT ALL!

        Keep practicing; no, say it ONCE, then walk away. If he follows you, put in your headphones, start a phone call, or leave the house. DO NOT RESPOND FURTHER.

        (And in addition to helping you avoid being sucked into his crap, it’ll drive him NUTS. Bonus!)

        • Ha! The arguments about arguments! I’ve lived through those for what feels like a thousand years and the dingbat STILL tries to suck me into them. Any discussion, if it made him feel like he wasn’t a perfect special bunny, always devolved into being about something else. I would bring up him not helping enough with something? It would become about how I said it, or that I didn’t understand and thus was ununderstanding…or whatever. I look back now and see that he always deflected everything back at me and made everything become about me and my supposed shortcomings, instead of just talking through whatever issue it was and moving on. Drives me mad to think I put up with that crap for so long.

    • Janet,

      He’s continuing to get cake from you… he likes having you take care of him and figure out the details. You don’t have to go anywhere with him or do anything to help him, and don’t take care of him… he can figure out he needs a mattress by himself. These a-holes actually are grown-ups, even if they like to act like/pretend they aren’t. He does not deserve any of your help or caring.

      I think you should set your move date… and don’t tell him until it is set in stone. Or don’t tell him until the movers show up at your door 🙂

  • I was thinking about this the other day as I was housecleaning in our bedroom. We have a picture of the two of us, taken at our wedding. I’m holding my bouquet. He’s holding me. On the wall of the bedroom, we have an embroidery from a friend: “Those whom God has joined, let no man put asunder” followed by our names and our wedding date.

    I am dead certain that when I’m gone for the weekend, STBX has brought his OW over. They’ve had sex in that bed. And all the while, our wedding picture is there as well as this wedding present. How must OW feel when she sees that this room is not hers, and those pictures are not of her and STBX? And how does STBX feel about making love under the eyes of his wife and under the vows he made in front of the God he professes to believe in?

    Then I think to myself that it’s all lies and truth. The truth of the matter is that for at least a little while, I was, in his words as he tried to recall our wedding, the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. And I trusted him with my love. I don’t love easily, and had never dated widely.

    The truth is also that it’s lies. I don’t know how long he’s been deceiving me. I know for at least 14 months he’s been living a lie. Given what I know now, I would venture that this is not the first, but it’s been the longest. When did it start?

    I think these questions are natural, but they’re not getting me anywhere. What I do know is this. I’m taking more and more charge of my life.

    That’s my new truth. I’ll never know where his truth was for the entire marriage. I think he was true when we started. After that? I can’t tell. I can say that now that I’ve discovered his lies, I can see how I was lying to myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but by trying to please him, by trying to be available for those few hours he was home, by trying to accommodate his busy schedule, I was cutting me off from being me.

    Now I’m not. And since I’m now taking charge of my life, I find that this truth is setting me more and more free.

    • After Dday, I had to stay in house with my now ex for five months before I could afford to move out. He stayed in the guest bedroom during those months. Right by the bed, he had a framed photograph of the two of us with our son. I know for a fact that he brought both of the OW’s he was screwing into the house and did them in that bed with the framed photo staring right at them. Why would it bother the OW? They already knew perfectly well he was a married man with a child, in fact, both knew ME. I suspect for many APs, it’s even more exciting to have the reminders that they are doing something wrong. Maybe with the photo of the betrayed spouse right there, they feel even more thrilled that they have “won” the cheating spouse and they are getting away with their filthy nastiness.

    • In your BED? I don’t know what they’re thinking. Must be some sociopathic, high octane kibble they’re smoking.

      Please finish up that plan and get the hell out of there.

      • I’ve been counting the cash I’ve been saving for the retainer. I hope that I can persuade him that, given we have a very uncomplicated estate, it’s better to choose one of the two ways I’ve figured that we could split the assets (okay, both ways favor me slightly, but in different ways) than to go to court, pay out the nose for the lawyers, and afterwards still split things 50/50, but be poorer in fees. I’d threaten to depose OW to have her talk about how much money he paid for her upkeep over the past year, and perhaps that will have leverage if reason will not. I’m sure he tells himself that affairs are really nothing, and that everyone has one, but I’m also sure that he’d not like to have how much he’s paid out to her in a court record.

        Nearly there, though I admit it’s hard and will probably mean more time in therapy.

  • The way Erica Manfred describes it here was so enlightening for me way back when.

    When one party attempts to consistently undermine accurate reality testing on the part of another an emotionally aggressive act is taking place. Gaslighting is probably one of the cruelest things an individual can do to someone who trusts him or her.

    As Erica demonstes though, we do reach a point where we stop second-guessing the tormenter. We just don’t give a shit what they think or how they feel anymore (even after having been married to one for half a lifetime), as long as they don’t rob us blind on their way out.

    There is so much to be said for a peaceful, drama-free life, where the people you love and who love you are honest, first with themselves and then with you.

  • kb,

    Your situation sounds similar to mine. My STBX was a very busy, successful businessman and when he was home, I was delighted to be with him (well, most of the time.) I did my best not to interfere with work which left me feeling lonely and yet, also made myself available when he could be home. Now I see how I left myself in order to be there for him. I am now just starting to find myself again after investing so heavily in trying to be there for him and make him happy. BIG MISTAKE.

    I’ve learned from this painful experience to know that I won’t give myself away like that again. I’ll trust what I know to be true. It’s difficult but slowly I am beginning to realize I really am not “crazy” and that my truth matters. Instead I know that part of the “crazy” was me trying to right a situation that was all wrong.

    As for my story, I can say that I did my best and while relationships are messy; the cheating, lying and deception will always be on him. I remember that and take it one day at a time as I rebuild a new life. For me the best thing has been going no contact and letting him reveal to others who he really is. He will experience the consequences of his new reality because that’s the way life goes, there’s no way around it.

  • I haven’t read all the comments yet, but wanted to go ahead and also comment.

    One of my best friends has said this to me since the day all the lies came out:
    Your marriage was not a lie. You worked hard, you told the truth, you did your best, you made the effort to work on the marriage. He [exH] was the one living the lie.

    As I have said so me I first started posting on CL… My head is high. I am a proud chump.
    Hugs to all!

  • As the one on the receiving end of a 20-year-marriage-ending exit affair, this article hits home, but a bit upside-down. After he left (twice, both times to be with the sparkly whore), I had to start asking myself, “Is it me?” I figured out the answer was “yes” – I had been trying to be someone else (for him) for our whole relationship. When I tried to be “me” (the way he always claimed he wanted me) he didn’t like it. I would sense the displeasure and right myself to fit his needs. While I got great satisfaction in blaming him for the disgusting way he quit our marriage, I now know that I unintentionally “lied” all that time. For my entire marriage, I tried to conform to his definition of “wife”, all the while castigating myself for not being able to. When I realized that I had been lying, not to him, but to myself, I began needing to question every decision, every opinion. Now I have to check myself constantly – is this what I really want, what I’m used to wanting (to please him) or is it a subconscious attempt to do exactly what he wouldn’t want in order to piss him off (even though he’s not here!)? It’s a very difficult but educational time, this figuring out who I really am without him and his needs…

    • Your comment hit to my heart, mzmama! My ex was never satisfied w/anything, and I spent so many years trying to please him, make his life easier, make him happy. But I don’t blame myself for that – I wasn’t lying to myself or him, I was just doing what I would do for anyone I loved, and which I assumed that someone who loved me would also do for me.

      Eventually I figured out that he would never be happy or satisfied, that his demands were totally out of proportion, and that there was no reciprocity. So I continued to be a good person and a caring wife, but I scaled back on that extra effort I had always made. And he resented that terribly!

      But after I kicked him out, it took a VERY long time to get his ghost out of my head! Every time I cleaned house, I found myself asking myself whether it was for me and my kids, or a remnant of trying to please him by keeping the place cleaner and neater. Every time I took those extra steps to make something special or to organize something fun, I doubted myself – was this to please him, or for me? AND HE WASN’T EVEN AROUND TO SEE WHAT I WAS DOING!

      I hadn’t lied to himself or me about who I was, but I had let him take up WAY too much space in my head, and to control, indirectly, way too much of what I did.

      Fortunately, this has gradually faded away, and now I have more trust in my own decision making and my own taste. Freedom!!

      • Thanks, I thought I was just pathetic and crazy – I’m glad I’m not the only one who still considers WWMSTBXT (What would my STBX think)? Does CL have a recommend for some sort of ex-GhostBuster service? 🙂

      • “Eventually I figured out that he would never be happy or satisfied, that his demands were totally out of proportion, and that there was no reciprocity. So I continued to be a good person and a caring wife, but I scaled back on that extra effort I had always made. And he resented that terribly!” – This, this was my situation exactly! And I had spyware on the computer, so I could see exactly what he was claiming (to the OW) that was wrong with me and why he wasnt happy. So, I’d make changes to correct what his complaint was about and guess what? Bam – then something else was the problem.

        What the real problem was, was that I had finally seen behind the “good guy” mask to who he really was. A endlessly needy vacuum of selfishness that required a woman (or perferably several) to constantly blow sunshine up his ass and sing his praises for being just the best man EVER so that he’d feel good about himself. When I finally realized that keeping his penis happy was more important to him than anything or anyone else on earth, I decided to let go and move on.

        I does help to know that Im not alone, and as the days go by although Im sometimes sad or lonely, Ive never been as lonely as I was when I was with him. Being alone isnt the worst thing in the world, the worst thing is being with someone who makes you feel like you are alone.

  • CL, thank you. I read the article yesterday too. It made me cry.

    Your story has a happy ending in that you found your peace and your voice. I feel I will never truly be happy again, because I’ve lost any hope that I can trust someone else so completely ever again. His betrayal was epic.

    I once read that “I hate you” really means, “You have hurt me deeply.” That rings true. I hate what he did to me and my beloved sons. I’ll never get over my disgust at his cheating, stealing and insistence that the kids should just “get over it” and accept that the bimbo has replaced me in his life. He moved in with her and her family the day he moved out, a good nine months before we were divorced. They attend Catholic mass every Sunday. That blows my mind. How does one rationalize adultery? And theft?

    I’ve questioned if I will ever get to forgiveness, the ultimate act of a peaceful soul. I can’t see it happening, since X has never once admitted to any wrongdoing. When I confronted him on June 17, 2012 about his affair with his coworker, he was more indignant that I read his emails and texts from her when they popped up while he was at the gym. He told me that the last 18 years with me were the worst years of his life. Then he treated me as though I was dead.

    For all my disgust, I admit that I’m still really hurt. I don’t think I can forgive someone who will never acknowledge he even hurt me.

    But I hope for meh, and the peace that will bring.

    • My ex told me he was really mad that I got into his stuff and read his journal. I snapped back “Oh yeah? Well, I’m pretty mad you’re in love with another woman.” He shut up after that.

      • …aren’t they special?, my XH was all indignant too, for being discovered when I looked thru his briefcase and found printed out emails… the ‘effing gall…

        • When mine got pissy about me digging out his convos with his ho-worker on our computer, my response –

          Considering what you’ve been doing and saying to her, I don’t think you really want to debate ethics with me right now.

          That was end of that. lol

    • You don’t have to forgive him. I don’t forgive my ex. I don’t wish him dead either. To me, that’s enough.

      Don’t set the bar so high for yourself. The point is to be indifferent to his failures or successes. Focus on YOU. Don’t let him steal anything else from you, including your future. It’s not hopeless. Just give yourself time to grieve.

      • CL – once again! Sometimes all those damn posters on Facebook and other social media can absolutely drive me insane about the “foregiveness” crap. Do it for you! Do it for your happiness! Do it to let go! ….

        Bullshit! I am perfectly fine and happy never having to forgive that lying piece of shite!

        Thank goodness for YOU and my amazing therapist who don’t fall into that cliche. No, you don’t have to forgive! Because the truth is somethings are just UNforgiveable!

    • Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to forgive. It’s a popular cliche that you have to. It’s one of the reasons I love Tracy. She’s one of the first to be out and proud about the fact that you don’t have to forgive.

      I’ve said for years, “No forgiveness without restitution.”

      I’m working toward his irrelevance in my life. I’m working toward indifference, not forgiveness. I forgive myself for being so naive, and for not walking away the first half a dozen times he made it clear that he didn’t love me.

      I didn’t live a lie. I did love him. I did have a lot of fun times.

      I was just talking to a friend about a fun trip my xH and the kids and I took a few years ago to Catalina. It WAS fun. (Until he had a melt-down in the car, screaming at us on the way home.) I can separate what was good about my old life from what was not good. That’s when you can see “meh” clearly from here. It was good and it was bad. He’s not good enough for now. He never will be. I will never forgive him. And, anyway, he hasn’t asked me to. He has a new life with a whore.

      My values are intact. HE will live with what he’s done for the rest of his life. HE will chase rainbows, and I will focus on what is real. HE will live with shame, I will live knowing that I lived honorably. I can hold my head up high. I’m not afraid of the decisions I make–but, oh, he should be afraid of himself.

      I know his truth. He knows that I know his truth.

      It would suck to be him.

      I plan to live well.

      • Thank you. This helps tremendously. I can’t see myself ever forgiving. Just moving farther and farther away from the hurt. My mind pictures “Meh” as “Oz” in the distance. And for all the amazing friends I’m making on the journey to Oz, those damn flying monkeys are still getting on my nerves.

        • Do you know how my ex has “cleared his conscience”? (assuming he even has one) He “owed up to what he did”. Apparently admitting to what I already knew about is the same thing as confessing his sins. I knew about a lot more than I told him, to see if he’d come clean about everything, but shockingly he didn’t. So he has forgiven himself so he doesnt have to feel bad.

          As for me, I’m not Jesus so I dont have to forgive anyone. My ex can just kiss my ass. 🙂

        • I found Oprah (of all people) has the right of it with forgiveness, at least for me. she basically took one of her guests definition to heart and I do to. What happened was as it had to be and I cannot change it, I accept it and I learn from it and I go on. That’s pretty much it, I can do that.

      • Stephanie,

        I’m impressed you can acknowledge the good times. Someday maybe I will too… just like someday maybe I’ll even acknowledge some of my ex’s good qualities. He must have some, I think?

        • I think if we can learn to see that our ex’s did have some good qualities, but then also realize that they have some fatal flaws, we’re better at not idealizing anyone ever again. We’re tuning our pickers. We’re able to be more choosy, more discriminating.

          We can say, “He’s a really good artist, but he’s sneaky.” Or, “She’s pretty, but she’s comfortable talking about mean things she’s done.” My xH is smart about some things, incredibly stupid about other things, built some nice things, did shoddy work on other things. He was a pretty good father when the kids were little, more absent and uninvolved when they got older–as was his father. He is a good employee. He was a terrible son-in-law–very rude. Some days he was supportive, but mostly begrudging.

          Now, it’s important for me to stick to my core values (No lying/cheating/stealing. Learn something new every day. Etc.) It is a good time for me to figure out my deal-breakers. For example, I will not date a smoker. I will not date a cheater. I will not date a guy who doesn’t like to help people with even small gestures. I will not date a guy who is miserable. I will not date a guy who talks about all the women he keeps around. Stuff like that. Nobody is all good or all bad. But there are deal-breakers. Cheating was just the last line in the sand, after all the other warning lines had been blurred and crossed.

  • In time or so I’m told
    I’m just another soul for sale, oh well
    The page is out of print, we are not permanent
    We’re temporary, temporary
    Same old story

    Foo Fighters – The Pretender

    There’s something about this song, cranked up eardrum bursting loud in my headphones, that releases the anger and frustration of getting fucked over. But it’s only temporary.

    • Chump Man,

      Here’s my end of marriage song I used to crank up and bawl to…

      I could feel at the time
      There was no way of knowing
      Fallen leaves in the night
      Who can say where they’re blowing
      As free as the wind
      Hopefully learning
      Why the sea on the tide
      Has no way of turning

      More than this you know there’s nothing
      More than this tell me one thing
      More than this no, there’s nothing

      Roxy Music – More than This

      • It’s so good, here’s the whole thing:

        Here’s the thing we started off friends
        It was cool but it was all pretend
        Yeah yeah
        Since you’ve been gone

        You dedicated you took the time
        Wasn’t long till I called you mine
        Yeah yeah
        Since you’ve been gone

        And all you’d ever hear me say
        Is how I pictured me with you
        That’s all you’d ever hear me say

        But since you’ve been gone
        I can breathe for the first time
        I’m so movin’ on, yeah yeah
        Thanks to you now I get what I want
        Since you’ve been gone

        How can I put it? You put me on
        I even fell for that stupid love song
        Yeah yeah
        Since you’ve been gone

        How come I’d never hear you say?
        I just wanna be with you
        I guess you never felt that way

        But since you’ve been gone
        I can breathe for the first time
        I’m so movin’ on, yeah yeah
        Thanks to you now I get, I get what I want
        Since you’ve been gone

        You had your chance you blew it
        Out of sight, out of mind
        Shut your mouth I just can’t take it
        Again and again and again and again

        Since you’ve been gone
        (Since you’ve been gone)
        I can breathe for the first time
        I’m so movin’ on, yeah yeah
        Thanks to you
        (Thanks to you)
        Now I get, I get what I want

        I can breathe for the first time
        I’m so movin’ on, yeah yeah
        Thanks to you
        (Thanks to you)
        Now I get
        (I get)
        You should know
        (You should know)
        That I get, I get what I want
        Since you’ve been gone
        Since you’ve been gone
        Since you’ve been gone

        Read more: Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  • “what was real? what was fake?” OMG –
    Every so often I come across an old photo album or loose pic or something and I know two things instantly 1) how much I weighed in that picture (irrelevant but true) and 2) what drama or lies were occurring at the time.

    I can barely find a photo (and I’ve been divorced from XH nearly 15 years) that doesn’t trigger it. Pictures of my baby shower? He was boinking my “friend” who held it for me. Picture of our 8 week old son in the arms of XH’s grandparents? Taken the morning after I went out for 2 hours with a friend for first lunch since having the baby, only to come home and find mom-in-law watching baby cuz he had to “run out for a minute” and didn’t come home for 20 hours. Family picture at his commencement for his grad school degree – those smiles of pride and relief as I’d supported a family of four so he could pursue academia? He started long-term affair with lab partner – telling her we were getting a divorce – two weeks prior to. Kids with smiles, opening presents on Xmas morning? Following the X-mas eve afternoon unbeknownst to me he’d shopped for OW….

    Funny thing about pictures – I looked 45 when I was under 30….

  • CL, I feel your posts in my bones. This one in particular. Thank you for writing what I have been thinking. It’s such a mindfuck! The photo/year/whatever that pops up and I run everything through the “that was before he was fucking her” or “that was when he was fucking her” filter. It’s sick. I cannot thank you enough. You are truly a gift to me and all of us on this forum. A true hero! Much love to you!

  • The way I came to terms with living with my ex for so many years with so many lies was to stop giving a shit what my ex was doing or thinking during those years.

    I was happy for the first several years of our relationship, ME – it doesn’t matter if he was pretending to love me or fucking my neighbor. I didn’t know about that shit, and I enjoyed being with him, the sex was great and it was fine.

    I’m still not good with the last 5 years because he was abusive and I made excuses for his bullshit and put up with no damn sex and much else. But I now know that a lot of that is myself, it’s how I grew up and being responsible for everyone, taking care of everything and not expecting much in return – that was on me. So I’m healthier mentally for having been through that shit. I’d rather have spent those years with someone who treated me as well as I treated my ex, who didn’t fuck me over, but I am out the other side. Now I won’t ever put up with that shit again.

    The article about how betrayal screws you is good and I think that it is really true that people just want us to get over it. I felt more grief over my ex’ betrayal than I did over my own mothers death. That’s saying alot because my ex actually blamed me for his last affair because I was grieving my Mom’s death and wasn’t there for him for quite a while. I’ll note that I needed HIM to be there for ME just that once and say no more on it.

    I went way off topic of what I really wanted to post, this guy said so well what many comments here are trying to express. When the person you have entrusted with your love and well being lies to you, he/she is stealing from you the most precious thing you have, your time on this earth. It’s worse than stealing money or any other thing that you might have because you cannot get time back, we have no time machine, our lives are short and stealing our time with lies is unforgivable for that simple reason. We can forgive ourselves though.

    Every Chump should read this, it is so well written, it so clearly spells out what lying does to individuals and society and in partnerships:

    We are our memories, we are what we lived – it doesn’t matter now what your cheater was doing during your happy times, you WERE HAPPY – don’t destroy those memories because of your current knowledge. Acknowledge we could have done better but I think many of us in long term relationships did have happiness for a large part of it.

    • sorry for double post, meant to put this excerpt from the link in:

      “Infidelity is of interest for our purposes here because it is involves lying (if we choose to have an open relationship, there is no infidelity, so the phrase itself requires that a lie have occurred). In being unfaithful, I create a situation in which my wife has a false view of reality: she loses her way. She reposes all her trust and love in me based on an understanding that we are exclusive, that all my concern is invested in her, and this understanding is completely false. She is in effect living in a house which may appear solid but has no foundation. I can’t imagine a greater fraud than to steal years of someone’s life this way. The opportunity costs are tremendous: your spouse had the opportunity to find someone else who was truthful and build a life with him and you robbed her of that.”

      • Eloquent article, Dat! I loved the use of the phrase “opportunity cost,” a term common in economics but equally applicable to all areas of life. Infidelity is not just a “personal” problem, it is also a cultural problem (diminution of moral and ethical responsibility actively endorsed by today’s culture as a result of groundwork laid in the 1960’s), and I like the way the author worked that in.

        ” Another set of excuses arise from a loss of respect for the institution of marriage. Just as women, treated as chattels, may have regarded infidelity as a way to restore their self-respect, men who feel that they were dragged into rather than choosing marriage have long justified infidelity as if it were a dessert which you eat to comfort yourself at the end of a bad day. There is an entire literary genre of the 1960’s, which I find to be infantile and unreadable: the self-pitying novel of adultery, by a male author, presumably autobiographical, where marriage is portrayed as an absurd collection of social expectations which the protagonist undertakes because he has no choice and because society expects it. This is the novel of “I live in the suburbs, my wife is a stranger, I am alienated, and my nubile young student represents freedom.” Such excuses are pathetic because they justify lies by denying that the liar is a moral actor: he is just a chip in a billow, carried into marriage. By blaming society, his or her parents, the spouse, everyone but himself, he obscures what is essentially a simple situation: as a moral actor, he has a responsibility either to make it work, as earlier generations did, or not to be there. But the “not to be there” must also be seen through a lens of moral responsibility, because where there has been very substantial reliance, “make it work” may be the only moral choice. Otherwise its too facile. She invested thirty years of her life in me, but she’s not who I thought, so I’m going to abandon her and start over,” should not be an easy or common choice.”

        I find it ironic that the ones who rationalize their so called “midlife crisis” as worded in that last sentence are typically the very ones who virtually stampeded the betrayed spouse down the aisle years ago. But for them, it’s “All about ME!”

  • My XW used to forward me NYT articles fairly often, and I assume she does the same now for her AP. Thought for a split-second about forwarding it to her, but what’s the use.

  • Great link and, boy, what a post….you hit out of the park with this one, Tracy.

    Like one of your other readers commented, none of the self help books I poured over in the last few years helped me “metabolize” this pain & navigate these waters quite like your voice & those of your readers. What a life saver you are!

    I remember asking STBX incredulously on d-day, “But what about our STORY?” How we met…how it was love at first sight for us both…our (natural) disastrous honeymoon…

    We’ve moved several times & shared our best & funniest experiences with new friends so many times that losing the narrative was excruciatingly painful. Now I am going to reclaim the chapters that make me smile & finally let go those that break my heart.

    • Yes, I agree losing our shared story and those of our children’s growing up years was the worst. No one to share those memories with now

  • “My children were conceived in LOVE” I’d already read the original article but I cried when I read CL’s version with the comments. I caught my STBX husband cheating in July, a week after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. This is the very thing I was trying to reconcile.

    Thank you Tracy. If there is such a thing as angels you are one. Before I read your version of the article yesterday I was ready to throw out years of memories. Thank you for giving me my story back. He may have been a lying POS but I am grateful for the love and commitment that I gave with all of my heart. I know that my child was conceived in love because my love was real. Thank you for letting me access that big off limits part of my memory again. Some of the best times of my life are there and now I can feel good again about who I was during them.

  • Dear Tracy:
    For me this is the post that sums it all up in one post! Reading it now 8 months out from my leaving my abuser was perfect timing. It puts it all in sound perspective and makes me so grateful for myself and listening to my gut to run and never look back. Of course after I ran and didn’t look back I had to deal with the trauma and processing all of the subtle and not so subtle mental abuse that occurred during the year long relationship.

    Just last month I went on my annual business trip to Paris and before I left I had a complete anxiety ridden meltdown, crying, shaking and all. I don’t have anxiety attacks but have had 4 since I left the abuser. Three friends talked me through it. My body was reliving the trauma in my head from last year when I was with my abuser and went on this trip where he took care of my dog and after I broke up with him earlier this year admitted in a letter he mailed to me to try and reconcile with me that he had gone to a prostitute for a hand job while I was in Paris last year. Yet, he emailed me every day while I was away pictures of him with my dog at his office and telling me how the bed is too big without me – quoted from Sting and how he missed me.

    I didn’t realize why I had this meltdown before my trip until my return, thankfully once I arrived in Paris it turned out to be a great trip both business wise and socially.

    I knew the minute I left this “relationship” that I had without question been abused and traumatized and my body knew it as well. A couple of months after I left my thyroid started growing tremendously and had to be removed. Turned out to be Hashimoto’s where your body attacks your thyroid. I know this was due to the trauma as it happened so quickly.

    The deeply profound affect of this abuse from only 1 year of being with such a deeply disturbed abuser is unimaginable until you have experienced it.

    All I can do is be thankful that he has now been with another woman that he met shortly after I left and told me that he was emotionally unavailable for her but that she liked him. It shows that they do these things knowingly and with intention and have no regret or remorse for what they do. It is evil and deeply disturbed and sick.

    When he tried to remain friends with me I told him my friends don’t treat me as you did and you are not my friend. I don’t like you and I don’t respect you and I never will. I want to leave it in the past and I have moved on. Thankfully that was back in July via text after he saw me at a trade show and I haven’t heard from him since. I didn’t know who had texted me at first as I had removed his phone number from my phone.

    If I do ever hear from him again, there will be no reply from me but I doubt he will make contact with me again as he knows I see him completely for what he is, scum. If he does, he will have to live with silence in return.

    Now I am just thankful after two gyno visits that I remain STD free from this asshole whose hobby has always been visiting prostitutes and keeping ex girlfriends as friends!

    I have so much to be grateful for after all of this, myself, my friends, family, my therapist and for you and everyone here!!!

    My growth from this now knows no bounds and I have always been strong but now I am strong in my very foundation. Cynical but always Optimistic and Grateful.

    It has taken me 8 months to get to the point of going easy on myself and forgiving myself for not knowing better. How could anyone know this kind of evil when it doesn’t exist inside of yourself?

    So please, everyone, don’t waste time forgiving them (they don’t deserve it) but do forgive yourself and be kind and good to yourself.

    Unicorns roam only in Fairytales!

    • I was also diagnosed with Hashimotos at the height of the trauma and drama of my former relationship. In retrospect, my body was screaming at me, “GET OUT!!”

    • I have a new (male) boss. He made a sarcastic comment to me that was intended lightly, but it was something my ex would often say. Should have been like water off a duck’s back, but I had a reaction like he had punched me in the gut. Teared up, started shaking, heart racing…I’m afraid I’m messed up deeper than I realized. It was like some kind of flashback. I don’t want to be a man-o-phobe now.

  • The NYT article was dead on, and affirms what I only recently have considered–that my ex is moving on more quickly because he was already out shopping for another woman (he’s on GF #3, and I am sure he will find someone and be remarried soon). I am still struggling with the fallout from all the deception, and with “rewriting” the story of our 27 years together (24 of them married). It’s hard for me to accept that I missed the signs of cheating, and fooled myself for so long that I was living in a happy marriage. There was so much verbal and emotional abuse I chose to overlook, but when my ex began to inflict it on the children it was simply too much for us to take. The article is right–how do you accept that you were deceived, without believing the whole experience to be a failure and a waste of time? I’m left questioning my ability to judge people, and am miles away from even thinking of dating.

    Thanks for posting this, CL.

  • I have one more thought to add. I actually considered posting this article on my FB account, but I fear the controversy. I think there’s social pressure for the betrayed spouse to quietly move on, to not reveal the true reason for the breakup. I’ve felt that pressure and I’ve seen it in my real life, when the moms of my kids’ friends were abandoned by their husbands–few people want to talk about it. I haven’t found many people in real life willing to talk to me about this situation at all. Has anyone else had this experience?

    • Actually Jade, I told everybody I knew that I had kicked him out and why, all the family (including HIS family), close friends, distant acquaintances, the other moms at school pick-up, his hairdresser, our dentist ….. Everybody I talked to was super nice and supportive! Probably helped that I framed cheating (esp his repeat, cake-eating cheating) very clearly as dishonest, irresponsible, uncaring behaviour.

      I think it’s a lot like any taboo subject; when I was a kid, nobody talked about cancer or childhood abuse, now people aren’t ashamed. The more we talk about cheating when it occurs, and the more we make it clear it’s about character and its unacceptable, and the more we show that WE have no shame because WE did nothing wrong, the easier all this is going to get!

      Be loud and be proud, chumps!

      • P.S. Talking to lots of people about the break-up/cheating also gained me some extra support in the form of people who had also been chumped, that I hadn’t known about, and appeared to free up some of the people who needed to talk about their own experiences w/being cheated on, and hadn’t previously had many people to talk to about it!

        More mutual support among Chump Nation!

        • KarenE, I didn’t have the same luck as you did. Most “mutual friends” sided with my ex, even though they knew the truth. Who knows, maybe they all already knew. I only have a few friends from those pre-separation days, and I am fortunate to have made a few more friends who don’t know my ex at all.

          I live in a large city with close-knit neighborhoods where everyone seems to know everyone else–maybe that’s the problem. I’ve learned just not to talk about it, except with the few people who know and understand what I am going through. It’s good that there are places online to find support–I don’t know what I would do without CL’s blog.

    • I feel like you describe. It’s been almost 2 years since the divorce, but it still is just as painful, only not so constant. The few people that were my sounding boards are so “over it” now, that this is the only place I find some solace. Even my sister is dismissive when I need to talk.
      I ran into him and the new wife a few days ago. First time face-to-face with her. Brought back all the grief.
      Even though I don’t want to be anywhere near him and his dead-eyed self, I think this Times article pinpoints what is so painful. Another step forward to realize that and to learn from you all.

  • Spot on and this is where we get stuck for awhile, sort of an identity crisis limbo.
    Someone told me once about realizing that her husband was basically a con artist, which applies to cheaters too and it is this
    The good news is that ‘it wasn’t personal.’ And
    The bad news is that ‘it wasn’t personal.’
    Cheaters don’t cheat because of anything we do or don’t do, they just cheat.

  • Thank you, Chump Lady. Just like all these cheaters seem to be reading from the same script I feel all of us chumps are too in a way. Everything written on here feels like its written for my issues personally and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. What you just wrote about how you get through looking back at your life is exactly what I’m trying to do now. And it’s hard. And it doesn’t always sink in, but I’m working on it and eventually it will. I’m the real person here. Not him. I had real feelings and experiences those years and I was happy in a lot of ways. I’m going with that. Thank you for this blog!!

  • I so wish I’d found this blog five years ago (better yet, before I married my ex). He had it all – sparkles, stories, lies…and I was the dutiful, smiling, spackling, kibble-feeding wife. I lasted ten years – he left five years ago, and until a court date last week, we hadn’t seen him since (two children, now 7 and 10). I struggled so much with the “what was true?” issue – and this post is so very healing. My life was lived with truth and commitment. His complete double life of lies and garbage cannot take that away.

    Now he’s back in the area, and fighting against the extension of a protection order (it will be “bad for his career”). I am very afraid, and I hate being back in this shit storm of doubt, wondering what is true, and trying to figure out what he say/means/is capable of. There have been threats to kill me; threats to take and hid the children (who he wouldn’t even recognize). I’m hoping this is just his attempt to engage again (since I’m ignoring him); hoping it doesn’t have the opposite effect and cause him to escalate. And it continues, after five years of peace. Actually, the first year was just learning to breathe without crying – but I’ve experienced a little of life outside this nightmare, and I will fight with every breath in my body not to go back there. Thank you so much for your wisdom, humor, and truth. Bless you.

  • This article really hit to the core of what I am feeling.

    My XW had me do the pick me dance for 7 months and then wanted to do marriage counseling. She called it “maintenance” and that “it was not a big deal”. The counseling became a front for her to start her affair. She asked me “how didn’t I know” and has told me that I need to move on since she already has. It really irritated her when I said that it might be a year or two before I can think about dating again (it’s been 5 months since the breakup). You just can’t start dating again when your confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, and value as a man (she has said to friends that I “wasn’t a strong man”) are all pretty much shot to hell. I am so grateful to my therapist for providing me with solid insight through this. I am also grateful that I went through a 34-page-long forum that I don’t even remember anymore and clicking on the link to this site on page 34.

    • CW – I’m sorry you have to be here, but it’s good you found us. My STBX also seems to think I should be over it by now & DDay was only 4 months ago! They don’t want to acknowledge how much pain & hurt they’ve caused. I guess they think everything would be fine & dandy if we’d just meet someone else already. Like you, I can’t even imagine dating now.

      Welcome to Chump Nation. The people here have helped me through some very dark times & I’m grateful I can read Chumplady wisdom 24/7. I think you’ll be glad you hung in there to page 34. I wish you well.

      • Martha, at 4 months Ex actually SCREAMED at me ‘Get over it. It’s been four month!’ Yes, four months since I had found out he’d been cheating for years and I was dealing with two devastated kids nearly full time. But hey, he was riding a unicorn so get over it! Fuck these assholes who run from the hurt and pain they cause others. And don’t let them set the timeline for your recovery. Then again, don’t let them see your pain anymore. They don’t deserve to know that you’re still hurting. Just cut them cold and let them go screw up their lives somewhere else.

        • Thanks, Nord. Your posts always resonate with me. STBX is passive- aggressive & turns nasty very quickly so I keep contact to a minimum & only by email. Strictly business. I don’t tell him how I feel – he had no empathy before & that’s never going to change. It’s pointless & makes NC much easier.

  • Chump Lady, I adore your writing. I am ten months divorced from a narcissist who cheated on me for my entire 12-year-marriage. Me? Clueless until I stumbled into evidence that set everything I believed about my life on its head. One of the very first things that I screamed from the rooftops: “I hate that this will always be part of my story!” I hate that he robbed me of so many years instead of letting me go. I’ve read much of your blog but this post resonates and helps me. If everything was built on a lie — it wasn’t my lie. I was real. Thank you.

  • Of course, at the end of her piece, Fels says, “I can tell you that it’s often a painstaking process to reconstruct a coherent personal history piece by piece — one that acknowledges the deception while reaffirming the actual life experience. Yet it’s work that needs to be done.”

    Up til then, I was in agreement with her piece. At that point, however, she kinda lost me. I just fell off the page, so to speak. Maybe I’m wrong. No doubt it’s a definite possibility. But I do think some of us can adjust without that painstaking process. That also might not be true if I were 20 years younger. Forget all that painstaking stuff and come to Get your daily dose of therapy. Discover Meh.

  • As part of our working it out, my wife said that we had to be honest with each other. So, you start asking questions. To the question of why she married me in the first place, she told me that she was afraid no one else would ever ask her. Finding out about her soul mate was one kick in the gut – this was another. You feel like your life is a lie, and all your plans for the future are crap.
    It’s been 20 years since D-Day and I can tell you this – you might forgive, but you’ll never forget. You never “get over it” – you learn to make peace with it. You wonder if you should have divorced her then; you wonder if you should divorce her now.

    • George, try try try not to take stupid comments like that one from her too seriously. She may well have been very much in love with you when you married, but she has to revise that now, re-write history, so she sounds like a slightly less shitty person. If she lied and cheated on someone she really did love at one point, that sounds worse TO HER than her lying and cheating on someone she probably should never have married to begin with.

      I say sounds worse to her, because you know, and I know, and everybody here at CL knows, that honest people stay honest and make honest choices, even when they’ve gotten themselves into a situation they regret. She could always have tried to make the marriage better, or have left with honesty and consideration for you. It still would have been painful, but nothing like living through infidelity.

      It has helped me so much to figure out that 99.9% of what my ex says has NOTHING to do with me, personally, and EVERYTHING to do with him, how he’s feeling at the moment, what he wants his image to be like, and what he’s trying to achieve at the moment.

  • Me: I have proof you’ve been cheating woman! Here it is. Look at it! Have you been cheating? Tel me the truth!
    Her: I don’t think so?
    Oh the lies! What a tangled web cheaters weave, when first they practice to deceive!

  • Me: I have proof you’ve been cheating woman! Here it is. Look at it! Have you been cheating? Tell me the truth!
    Her: I don’t think so?
    Oh the lies! What a tangled web cheaters weave, when first they practice to deceive!

  • SO glad I found this site. I am a new chump… I am in the middle of hell.. I found out in the beginning of May 2014 he is having an affair on me.. he says for about 6 month.. come to find out its been YEARS with a howorker. So now I am going thru STD testing.. and all that fun shit. My daughter is getting married this Oct. I am taking care of my 82 year mom and trying to work and keep my job. It has been a horrid, horrid time. I am going thru panic attacks and sick stomach etc etc. He is gone this week golfing so that has helped . He doesn’t like his counselor he saw *one* time.. too judgmental. LOL!!! OKAY, DUMBASS.. not too many counselors are gonna like cheating on your wife of 24 years!!!! He said he will look for another one.. but not this week.. cuz he has golfing for a week with the guys.. PRIORITIES! I am not of them, his kids or his marriage. I am going thru counseling; have a family support system; am going to yoga; am enrolling in school; am going out with my friends. He doesn’t want to drop his girlfriend and still loves me he says (weird way of showing it). Said he doesn’t know what he wants..doesn’t know why he is doing this.. Needs time to think about this… sort out his feelings.. (BARF).. Still loves me but not in love with me..(CLASSIC) blah blah blah.. but he is not doing anything to make this right or show me he wants to work on it.. (cake eater) he won’t even take me out to eat or get a beer (says he is not ready to do that yet.. not” there” yet) . He is so angry at me and cold. Somehow this is all my fault I guess. He has not told his mom or dad yet.. CHICKENSHIT. He says its nobody’s business. No one knows from work.. yeah right! derr da derr.. idiot.
    So here is my adult solution/cheater solution
    Adult problem: We are both working, taking care of elderly parents, had have to face deaths of family and friends, and have kids at home. Life is stressful and we are pulled in
    many directions.
    Adult solution: We talk about it. Go to counseling, go on mini vacations, be honest with concerns and support each other.
    Cheater solution:
    Find a fuckbuddy, treat the wife like a piece of dog shit.. stop talking.. get cold and hard with our kids, ignore other elderly parent, don’t help with anything with the house and home, bitch about the kids, spend more time with fuckbuddy, lie to wife, drink like a maniac and drive. AND make sure to have a beer in hand at all times!! Have a cooler of beer handy at ALL TIMES- Use beer to suppress all emotions and feelings. Keep blood pressure up to 152/91 , get fatter and eat greasy bad foods. Ride motorcycle all afternoon and be the old creepy dude at the BAR all the girls think is too OLD TO BE AT THIS BAR! (oh yes.. had to get the mid life crisis Harley– cuz he is KOOL like that!) Hang out with your divorced alcoholic friends-that did the same thing to their wives… learning from the best!!! haa zaah!

  • so I was advised to write a letter telling him how much he has hurt me.
    i think I will just link him here..these stories are my stories

    He stole my life and made it into a nightmare.. that is how he hurt… and all the other thoughts here.. all of them..

    He took 10 years of my life and turned it and everything in it into a Vale of Tears..

  • You put words to my thoughts and inner most feelings a 32 year life of a lie…….I can’t move on cause I cant make sense to it. Thank you for the amazing insights and the article by the therapists. I have books to order

    Thanks Jenny

  • I thought I was a unicorn…even stopped by here and left a unicornesque comment. His affair had been 7 years prior and he had a narrative he gave me at the time when he “came clean”…his bomb drop and the days I discovered his affair were worse than the day he died .

    So 11 months after his death, I was going through some files of his and found receipts for a trip he had “bumped into OW” on…the documents indicate that the whole trip was planned and premeditated. He packed his suitcases in our bedroom knowing what his plan was and lied about it for years and I didnt know the truth until after he dropped dead.

    Talk about ruining my damn narrative.

  • Dear CL,

    Thank you for your posts. I’m new to this game and have read a lot on your site. 7 months ago my husband told me he was having an affair with a work colleague. They had slept together 6 times and had fallen in love. After telling me, I asked him to stay. He stayed for one week and then left. He moved in with her 2 months later. We had been together for 6 years, but only married for one. We had one major issue in our relationship.That he wanted to live in London and I wanted to leave. Because we couldn’t afford the lifestyle. And as he is 40 and I’m 34, I wanted to buy a place in a city that was do-able. He started his affair at the same time we began looking for homes in another city. We were give a mortgage and the day the papers were due to be signed was the same day he told me he was in love. The woman he is in love with owns a house in London and has ties in his business. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that love and reality of our moving happened at the same time. I completely lost the plot when this happened. In our relationship, I was the more difficult one i think. Because I was the honest one. He was like a prince to me…until he was a monster. You’re going to (rightly) say: how was he a prince while he was cheating on you? But when I look back I have all these regrets about the way I acted. And clearly with his narrative…he doesn’t have regrets. He says “I’m doing what’s right for me in the long run” I feel completely used. We has terrible fights over the last few months (while he is living with OW) because i would not give up the relationship. He always wanted silence but I would not let it be. I guess according to CL speak, this makes me an amazon chump. I really loved this guy and I moved and compromised so much. I’m so, so angry. In our last confrontation, which was super bad..he said to me that he hadn’t been into our sex for the last few months and that he just “didn’t feel compelled to try with me”. I slapped him in the face. Not a move I’m proud of but after months of being humiliated…it just happened. The part i’m confused about is writing my own narrative. He told me he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. Because he is with someone else. But on my screen, I have all the other info, about moving, his debts, his insecurities and what you call FOO. I just want him to tell me he made a mistake. Even though I know we will never be together again. I feel so helpless because the script has been flipped. He didn’t fight for me for a moment and he’s the one that never wants to speak with me again. Although he emails me about “having nothing but love for me” (which makes me thrown up in my mouth a bit). I can’t get over the fact that he didn’t like being with me and I feel so bad about myself. I thought I was a good partner.I may not have always said positive things but my actions were clear. For him, it was the opposite. I feel not worthy of another relationship at all, even though I’m relatively young.
    I would love any advice you have. I’m really trying to move on and see positive but I can’t get this guy out of my head. x

    • Waiting for a cheater to say he’s sorry and mean it is like waiting for the second coming. Not going to happen. They are NOT sorry for the hurt they caused and they never will be because they are not quite human. They look like real people but nothing could be further from the truth. And the reason he didn’t want to have sex with you anymore was because he was dipping his stick in some ho.

  • So…I have been married to a NPD man for 16 years. We have 4 children. He is a jerk. He is mean. My children love him. So did I. His girlfriend divorced her husband for him. Its been 1 year. #sucks

  • Cheaters, adulterers, liars, betrayers, sinners, unkind people…but they are with my four children this weekend having fun at the lake.

  • At least in this situation I have mostly had it easy. The actual ACT came after our 10 year anniversary trip and was disclosed within 2 weeks of happening so it feels as if all the good of the marriage wasn’t tainted. However the after effects feel as if they will go on forever. I hope I won’t be dwelling and depressed for life but I don’t feel very hopeful I’ll ever move on or find someone new. I’m only 32 but feel as if my life is over already. After being married for a decade we had saved enough to buy a condo and I thought we were happy. But apparently it was only me ?

  • As always, an excellent clear mighty article that makes me grow and liberate a bit more .
    The problem with a Fuckwad is not that we should have done or known or been anything different. The problem with a Fuckwad is that they are always simply going to be a Fuckwad.
    If we don’t like being in the boat with one, we have to let go.

  • “ why do you want to erase all the good memories and stuff we had together?”

    ( fucking, dating, paying for sex the whole time we knew each other- gaslighting, lying – gradually loosing his grip, shit started hitting fan)

    “ I said I was sorry, how many times do we have to go back to that?”

    “ you will never change… one year after dday and I still hear anger in your voice” – said to me
    – that was after a year of mindfucking with me, blaming me for everything and providing no remorse or support.

    Myself: “ find me one great memory from our life together, that is not connected to you fucking around”

    Crickets ????….

  • After D day I realized that I had a fake marriage and a fake life and I was married to a fake man. All of it was FAKE !! I will never in a million years believe that he ever loved me. After many years and getting to Meh, I know now that he’s a fake person and I’m not. Schmoopie can have him and her now fake life too. They deserve each other.

  • Not sure how long ago this post was posted, but it rings with me today as I am cleaning out my home office desk and filing cabinet 6 months after kicking him out, our divorce now final. The stacks of papers tell the tale of all his deceptiveness and fuckery. The wedding pictures, the love notes, the names and phone numbers I stashed trying to figure out who they were (playing the cop as I did the pick me dance for so long)….ugh.

    Was it live or was it Memorex?

    I was truely happy on our wedding day, I had the entire hope of the universe in my heart. Those were such good memories, such complete trust and happiness – that lasted only …. well, did they last at all?

    The fuckery had been present all along but I had chosen to ignore it, excuse it, justify it, forgive it…ya, I thought I could fix him, lol……looking back I am full of regret at the fool that I was, but there’s nothing to be done about it now but forge onwards and upwards. I will smile when that huge bag of trash goes up in flames.

    You’re right. HE was living the lie. He was the one lying to me every single day. I have wondered about our wedding day, was he literally thinking, “I have her in my power to destroy now!” ? Do people really think such things? I have to believe yes. My memories go back to a point where we broke up because i caught him cheating but took him back six months later and he said to me, “I see it now, if i want to keep you I have to marry you.” The tone of his voice as he said that haunts me. I wish I could go back in time and respond to that differently. He intended to keep me, but not for the right reasons.

    I was living my own truth, the truth that I loved him and kept my vows. I wonder how people can thrive on that, yet some do. I tried my best to forgive and move on as all the experts tell us to – but there just comes a point where living in fear is no life at all.

    I used to have 2 budgets and 2 game plans. One for if he “got better” and we had a normal healthy marriage, that’s the one I kept him informed about – and Plan B because I couldn’t count on any of that. My secret exit plan. How do you go through life always having to have a Plan B on hand because you sleep with a cheating, drunk, violent man you can’t trust for even the slightest thing? You can’t.

    What really astounds me is that all these people are so alike. As I began to learn about narcissistic abuse, it was like everyone was describing their abuser with the exact same stories. There’s no originality involved, they all do the exact same shit! I learned i wasn’t alone in all this, nor was I unique – but most of all, I wasn’t crazy.

    2 years ago I began keeping a journal because I felt I was going crazy. before long I realized there was a very definate pattern to his abuses, they could be predicted with accuracy. I began to learn his tell-tale signs that a blow up was coming, that he was up to something, and he would be punishing me for his own ill behavior soon. As all the abuses ramped up, I knew Plan B wasn’t just a side note anymore, it would have to become my Plan A.

    In March of this year he ramped up from “just” screaming and kicking and throwing shit, to physical harm of me and my children (his steps children). I had to have a serious conversation with my children that we would pretend things were OK, we would pretend to kiss his ass, when he came home they would see me hug him and kiss him and say I love you, but trust me, we are working on a plan to get the fuck out of here and until then, just play the stupid game with him. He thinks he has us in his grips, let him believe that for now.

    Two months later I was set to kick him out, cause I’d always had Plan B on the back burner and for the past two months I’d put it on the front. Full rolling boil.

    Originally I had hoped to string it out till the first of the year just so I could put back more money, but one day we were all home on the weekend, he was drunk of course, and although I had no plan to do any of this, all the sudden I walked in the bedroom, shoved him awake, and said, “You need to go.” followed by statements that we don’t like him, he’s disgusting, we’re sick of living with a nasty cruel drunk man and I want a divorce. I’d never said the D word to him before. I don’t know where any of that came from, I was just suddenly moved to go kick his ass out and did.

    I came out of the bedroom and told my children, “Stay out of his way, he’s angry.” They asked me,”what’s he mad about this time?” living with his stupid anger was a way of life by now. I told them, “I just kicked him out.” The look on their faces was priceless. An hour went by, no movement from the Angry Man. It was dinner time and i was cooking when he came through the kitchen with his suit case, not speaking to me (the Silent Treatment had been hsi biggest weapon until recently when I just didn’t give a fuck anymore). He drove away, I let him go. Once he was gone the kids reappeared and we blocked all the doors with furnature so he couldn’t get back in. I stayed up all night to guard, next day we got a protection order and new door locks. Never looked back.

    It’s been a hard journey coming to grips with the truth of the matter. We were supposed to have a great life with financial security, and instead we got lied to and beat up and left poor as church mice. I have nightmares about getting fired from my job. When I have to fill out paperwork that requires an Emergency Contact, i don’t have one. I’ve got no family at all but 2 minor children. If I get sick or disabled, I’m fucked. My kids are fucked. All because this man was fucked and he fucked us. If I could have the past five years back believe me I would have done things differently! But I can’t. So I move on, each day a gift from God as we try to get our lives back under control.

    Still, the fear of being a single mom in the world with a painful tooth dangling out of my head because I can’t afford a dentist is less frightening than living with this man and living a life of lies. I tried so fucking hard.

  • Lisa Firestone, PhD. wrote the following: “Earlier this year, I got a call from a well-known women’s magazine and was asked to explain when it is okay for a woman to lie to her partner. I declined answering the question, for one simple reason: it’s not! Since when did lying become okay? Lying to someone, especially someone close to us, is one of the most basic violations of a person’s human rights. Whatever one’s stance is on open versus closed relationships, the most painful aspect of infidelity is often the fact that someone is hiding something so significant from their partner.”

  • Hi,
    Was only in a 1 year 2 month relationship (though very much ‘in love’) with what turned out to be a serial cheater. Discovered by finding condoms in a pocket (after he removed them of course and threw them under his bed first).
    Thank you for this article – it articulates the worst part of cheating for me. That sense of the story being smashed or reconfigured in a way you will never fully understand. It’s so disempowering and debilitating. Your thought bubble on your photo can be applied to the (thankfully only one) photo album I have of the relationship – to every photo. It makes me so sad but thank you for putting that feeling into words. Will read the NYT article now.

  • >