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Dear Chump Lady, I can’t kick hope

Dear Chump Lady,

First I want to say I am so glad I found your site, it is beginning to counteract the damage all the “save your marriage” sites have caused me. Thanks for exposing me to harsh realities. I wish I would have found this site in the beginning. I am still in the throes of wanting to believe he’s different from other cheaters, that it was mostly my fault, having the desire to reconcile because I still love him and it’s best for our young child, while he and one of my closest friend are creating a life together. Yep, the lies they told were to make sure our two families would spend a lot of time together. Because they knew their spouses trusted them, they could spend time together alone without arousing suspicion.

I guess almost two years of begging, pleading, crying, yelling, and individual therapy just isn’t going to work for him. Now what…

I’m in a crazy situation, basically we are not getting a divorce because of money. (Of course I want to believe it’s that he still loves me and will come back, or doesn’t want be is a situation to get too committed to her). We own property together, he knows I don’t see the point of maintaining a business relationship after divorce which means liquidate (which he doesn’t want to do). To make matters worse I let myself believe he felt some guilt for leaving me in a home that he was demo-ing for remodel, so we just purchased a home for my son and I to live in. He explained that it was so he could stop paying rent and so he (and the OW, when she can blow off her kids and make the 1.5 hr drive here) can live in our home, and so he can complete renovations he started… 10 years ago… This leaves me financially beholden to him because he is paying part of the mortgage for the place my son and I will be living in.

Go ahead, call me super-chump, I can take it. I keep telling myself that it fucks up her plans to be wife number 4 (I know, but I thought I was special, I knew about wife 1 and 2 but didn’t take it as a sign, I drank the kool-aide) and step-mommy to my son, but it also fucks with my life… or at least the one I hope to have one day.

So… now what? Any advice for a newly minted chump climbing this mountain of crap called my life? Any tips to keep on the righteous path to fully realized chumpdom? Is there a chump to chump dating service? Been a while on that front.

I read your 5 things that keep you stuck — Hope… that’s the biggest one. How do I stop holding out hope for what could be? Smart me and Emotional me are at odds. Emotional me tends to win out… still. I want to believe he is a good person even with every obvious ulterior motives Smart me sees.

Hopium Addict

Dear Hopium Addict,

Put down the crack pipe and let’s review the evidence — he’s continuing his affair, wants zero consequences, and has conveniently shelved you and your son out of the way in a separate residence. And his excuse for that is…. home repairs? Seriously?

Aside from his blatant, remorseless cheating, I think you should dump the man if only because it’s taken him 10 years to renovate a house. No one, I mean NO ONE should have to spend a DECADE in a demolition zone. My first husband was like that. He’d rip out a bathroom and then just leave it. There is a special place in hell for such home improvement sluggards. These people love chaos. Emotional chaos. Physical chaos. To live this way is to live in a constant state of disruption and delusion — pay no attention to the mess, see the Potential! Just wait! You literally are spackling to live like this.

Just like the House That Is Never Done, you’re holding out hope for a man who very deliberately wants to live this way. Noncommittal. Chaotic. Concerned with no one but himself. Oh goodie, you get to live in a new (presumably finished) house, away from the mess. How’s that working for you? He comes and goes and plays family guy when he gets an itch to. Then goes back to his lair and fucks around without your supervision. Cake is awesome.

But the reason you won’t leave him is money? You’re keeping this douchebag around for HALF a mortgage payment? Have you seen a lawyer? Half of that unfinished wreck is yours and half of the house you live in is yours. Unless you signed a separation agreement before you moved out, you’re still legally married and own all property jointly. Talk to a lawyer. You may be able to afford to live where you’re living, or for fuck’s sake MOVE.

You don’t leave a cheater painlessly, HA. You have to be prepared for a fight. You need to hit and get hit. The houses get sold. You liquidate the business. You take a loss. And then you rebuild. Your cheater doesn’t want those consequences? Too bad. You didn’t want to share your marriage with Ms. Pretend Friend OW. Get ANGRY! That’s how you kick hopium, you get PISSED OFF. When you’re righteously angry enough, you will ACT.

Repeat after me: HOW DARE HE!

Value yourself enough to get angry. Truly angry. Not the self directed, eat at your guts, depression, passivity anger. No, get truly righteously pissed. You do NOT deserve to live this way. Your son doesn’t deserve it either. You need to be the catalyst. YOU need to change this, because your husband is very happy to keep eating cake. He likes everything just as it is. This hopium is keeping you stuck in a delirium.

Dump him, and do not even THINK about dating (chumps or anyone else) until you do some work on your picker and figure out why you’ve tolerated this abuse. You MATTER. I can tell you that, but you have to believe it. You can only unstick yourself. I can’t do it for you, the chumps here can’t do it for you. You are living in far more pain now, then the pain you fear walking into if you leave him. That, my friend, is liberation. You’re teetering on the edge of it — go forward. Let the OW be wife #4. Let her live in the shit pile of his chaos. Let GO.

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.
  • Hopium Addict, I’m sorry to say I’ve been where you are — paralyzed by fear. CL is right that you are going to feel extreme pain whether you stay or go, but if you go you will eventually get better. Staying where you are is going to annihilate you. You really have no choice but to go. Visit a lawyer and find out what your rights are. They are very good at helping you to deal with the separation and detachment through un-emotional eyes. They will do the heavy lifting of communication for you. Unless you draw a line in the sand and let him know you’re tired of being treated as the booby prize he’s going to think it’s okay to keep treating you that way. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been where you are. Going through divorce is awful but life on the other side can be a lot better than living in limbo as somebody’s backup plan.

    Gather your resources, enlist a counselor, a pastor, friends, family. Talk to a lawyer. You can do this. You can make a better life for you and your son. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your son. Otherwise he will think it’s okay to treat women the way you’re being treated.

    The initial part of separation is like going through drug withdrawal. We are creatures programmed to bond, and when a primal bond is breaking our brains scream to re-establish it. The way I dealt with this was to go no-contact. I had a good friend who let me call her whenever I felt the overwhelming urge to look for comfort from the same man who had just decimated me. After awhile the intense longing went away. I’m just telling you this so you know that the pain doesn’t last forever.

    Hang in there. We are all pulling for you.

    • HA, Lyn used the perfect word; “annihilate.” It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to be scary. But trust me when I tell you that once you experience annihilation, you’ll make the choice to either lay there or get up and walk away.

      We’ve been where you are. We can offer encouragement along your journey. Just take that first step. You CAN do it! You deserve to be treated with respect and honor. Have you considered that his OW is already being cheated on? What a great start, NOT. And those two beauts deserve each other.

      Good luck.

      • I made a decision very quickly to end my marriage after the affair was revealed. It was a painful decision. I made it because for me staying meant that it was ok to lie to me and expose me to harm. No, it’s not ok. That’s not a marriage – that’s fuckery.

        It’s not easy but you will find that you can do it and that life will hold better for you. It’s difficult to believe that but one day at a time and with help, you can find happiness and freedom from your suffering. Get a good therapist and believe in yourself.

    • I agree with everything above! It hurts, strangely enough, to become healthy. I struggled—ok, struggle, with wanting to rescue my jackass from the mess he created. It hurts to stay strong and not give kibbles. It hurts to give up the hopium. Withdrawal sucks.

      But do you know what sucks more? Living in limbo. Letting your self esteem get demolished. Getting the air knocked out of you every time he chooses the OW. Your kids seeing what is going on and thinking this is normal or ok.

      I also have a friend who gives me truth when I feel the urge to indulge in some hopium. Friends like that are priceless. And so are you. Learn the value of YOU. Because your cheater is doing everything possible to strip you of your knowledge of your independent and individual worth. Don’t LET him!

      Go listen to some chick courage songs (seriously, google them!) and strap on your waders. You’re gonna have some shit to get through. But you will get through it, and it will have acted like fertilizer for the growth that you are experiencing!

      We are here for you!

  • Hopium: What’s with the other woman’s husband? Does he know? I’d make sure he did. If you’re having trouble getting off the dime with all this, the good example of an outraged husband would help. What does he think she drives 3 hours for? Plus time spent fucking, that’s a serious chunk of the day gone. You know him right? You said the families spent a lot of time together.

    You need to change you behavior and let your attitude follow. Do not engage in drama. No more ‘begging, pleading, crying, yelling’. Keep the therapy, but drop everything else. Be unflappable. It messes with their heads something fierce while it’s helping to straighten yours up.

    Am I getting it right that you’re already separated? He doesn’t want to pay rent so he got a mortgage instead? Wow, bad timing. That’s gonna hurt, but you know what? The judge will see right through it.

    Go see a lawyer. Get a separate cell phone for talking to him/her. Your STBX (start referring to him in your mind as that) has been through this twice before and knows the ropes. That is to your serious, serious disadvantage.

    • Chumpalicious,

      Her Husband knows, knew first actually. Her H is already seeing someone. This is over a long period of time. I found out Jan of 2012. We when through the whole attempted reconciliation, I thought he was a different person and was actually trying. I was wrong. They both moved out of their marital homes within a month of each other over a year ago. Even after that i swear he was giving me signals like he wasn’t sure if he is doing the right thing. Keeping me on the hook in case he wanted to reel me in… the power of hopium… So yes we are separated in that he doesn’t live with us but nothing legal yet. No booty calls or any of that, his choice, not mine but I am glad for it at this point, I wouldn’t want to be swapping fluids with her, yuck…

      This is a very long story, and I’m still coming to realizations of the lies and things he did to avoid grief, pain and misery for himself. I actually realized this weekend that he delayed telling me (her H threatened to tell me if he didn’t) so we were not in his home town with his parents. We live across the country from them and my family. The fall out would have been devastating for him. Thinking back to that time i find him pathetic.

      I have stopped the begging pleading crying etc but I’m obviously still making major mistakes, hence the new house and mortgage. I tried to figure out how to leave this house on my own but couldn’t. I’ve talked to a lawyer and I’m still in counselling. Working on no contact but I thought I’d let it wait until he finished the honey do list at my new digs. It’s a little hard with an 8 yo son. We are at least trying to keep all the nasty stuff away from him. He knows mom and dad are not together but doesn’t know the details or why. Not looking forward to that fallout in 10-15 years.

      I wouldn’t take him back at this point but I’m still feeling as though if we remain “married” their plans are getting fucked up. Financially it is smarter for me right now. Because he is retired military my cost of living goes up concerning health care, groceries, gas, stuff like that. Also, I make more money than he does so if anything I would lose more and I’m not in a position to do that right now.

      Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment.

      • As a good friend said to me the other day…

        Give yourself a break!

        In my case, it was a 20 year marriage, and I was 3 months after D-Day and being hard on myself for not being able to move on.

        Yes, you know the right thing moving forward is to MOVE FORWARD and AWAY FROM HIM. As long as you are heading in that direction and not having any setbacks, you are on the right road.

        Give yourself a break. You are trying to get over something that took a long time coming, and you may need some time on that. Just don’t move backwards, that’s all!

      • I find the retired military excuse doesn’t hold water! My idiot STBX is also retired military and that is the ultimate perk! He has to give me half his retirement and health insurance! Leave this a$$hole already!

  • Hey there,
    1) Go to I found my guy there, and he has integrity and fights for my rights.
    2) Find an attorney, and have a consultation. I think you may be surprised at what your rights are. Its FREE , and no one has to know. I know this because I consulted and it took me two years and a text from the OW to move.

    3) Find a good therapist, one who can help you to remember who you were before the lying sack destroyed your self worth
    4) Read my post about 4 days ago when I called myself feelinglikeasellout. ACTUALLY.. obsess over chumplady.. really helps to retrain your brain.

    5) Be Kind to yourself. YOU didn’t cheat and MURDER your relationship
    I believe you will be empowered once you find out what your options are

    • Winner

      Check 1, 2, and 3 off the list. #4 I’m already feeling the effects of this site. #5, always been and issue but counselling is helping, so are the anti-depressants.

  • Document everything and don’t take him at his word for anything! Half assed promises mean nothing.
    And don’t be afraid to document out of some sense of not wanting to make him mad.

    • This made me think of a quote from Parks and Recreation. “Don’t half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” ~Ron Swanson.

      Your husband half-assed your marriage. He half-assed promises to you.

      Whole-ass this divorce and you’ll own his.

  • Hopium,

    I too was wife #3. I would never have considered dating him, but his sister is my friend and gave him a very good reference. I later learned that she thinks he walks on water, so not that good of a character reference from her in the end.

    Anyway, you need to take control. My STBX came home one day and told me he no longer wanted to be married, he was happiest when he was single (when was that being married twice before and engaged, before marrying me?). I asked if there was someone else, he said no. Then he went on to say that we should not tell anyone because if we didn’t separate, there would be nothing to tell, and if we did, we should announce it when we had a plan. I was dumbstruck! I had no clue we were having problems, believe it or not. So nine days later I found about that he was cheating. I announced it to the world! I told everyone that we were splitting up because he was cheating on me. What could he do? Everyone was as shocked as I was. He wanted to frame things his way, and he didn’t get the chance.

    Taking control made me feel great! He was no longer calling the shots. He even had the nerve to say that I shouldn’t wait for him to decide whether we should stay married or not. As if he has any fucking control over my life.

    I had to share the house for seven brutal weeks before he moved out. Now the house is listed, I am living in it and he is living five hours away with his girlfriend. She is supporting him and her three kids. Good luck.

    You can do this. It’s only been a short few months for me, and I don’t have any children, but it does get easier. I can’t believe I forgot how much I love living alone. You will love it too. 🙂

  • ((((Hopium Addict)))))

    If you’re having trouble with the idea of murdering hope, you might consider a slightly different perspective on this aspect of recovering chumpdom. Specifically, instead of trying to stop the hope from happening, consider trying to *redirect* your hope. When you feel your heart swelling at the (remote) possibility that your cheating, lying, abusive husband will inexplicably become someone totally different, direct your aspirations to something else, something attainable, something you can control. Say, putting miles between you and CheaterBoy. Living in a structure he has never been inside, has no right to be inside, and is never allowed inside. Or cultivating friendships and interests you’ve put aside or never allowed yourself to pursue while you were trying to please Mr. Impossible-to-Please.

    Just a thought. I am hopeful by nature (except when I am physically exhausted). I rode hope like a fast horse away from my cheating ex and was glad to be carried, even though I lacked a big-picture sense of where I was going. In these situations, “away” is almost always more than good enough.

  • Hey Hopium Addict,

    Listen to Uncle Nomar- he is further down the line than I.

    Daring to hope for your own sake is frightening, you are not used to putting yourself first, or even third, I bet. It is hard, but it will shake out.

    Your husband lost all right to you giving a monkey’s about him when he cheated. Believe nothing. The mask will slip eventually. Lawyer up and be ready. Get into as limited contact as you can and manage kid stuff- the ‘Unending Punishment of Breeding with a Fucktard” article sums it up perfectly. Sorry…

    It is a long bumpy road to “Meh”, but you need to get to a place where he can no longer abuse you, and so you can think straighter. Because that is what he did. I hope he never gets back into your life.

    It gets better.


  • HA,

    CL is right on ALL points. You need to see a good attorney, put on your business hat and take care of business. This man goes through women like Sherman went through Georgia. And, while YOU may not have been his OW and cheated with him, I’d bet everything I have in the bank that numbers 1 and 2 booted him because he couldn’t keep his junk at home..and, of course, YOU heard a different story from him. Do what you have to do to protect yourself. Judging from his track record, I don’t see him changing anything but women..and pretty regularly, too.

    Best of luck to you. We know it hurts, but we also know that you won’t have a life until he takes his somewhere else–permanently!!

  • Dear Hopium, I invested 2 more years of my life in the pick me dance – high on hope and the illusion of connection. After all, he was my soulmate – any minute he would realize how much he stood to lose, right? Two years in which I suffered every day, wondering if he was in communication with the OW’s at work, reading into every slight, real or imagined. Do you know what I learned in that time? I learned that he was never going to be what I wanted him to be. He was a 2-bit actor in his own dramatic, fucked-up life. I don’t know anyone on this site who hasn’t come to the painful but unavoidable conclusion that is they wanted to be faithful and make it work, it would have already happened. I found a female attorney who get’s NPD and prepared all of the papers for me for a fraction of the normal fee. Once my SBXH realized that I was done with the pick me dance, he signed everything just to keep me from blowing his cover. Talk to an attorney, but don’t tell your husband that you are. It’s the first action to start moving forward in your own behalf. It sucks, but that what you have to do. Like everyone else has said, it gets better one you start moving forward. It’s either that, or you wait out this affair and then live half-alive waiting for the next one. (Hugs)

  • H.A.,

    I can’t say this enough. Don’t make someone a priority that makes you an option. The more you enable, the more you empower them. It sucks either way. You will either be a single mom or in my case a two weekend a month dad. Your self esteem will continue to grind down to nothing. If this person truly loved you they wouldn’t emotionally abuse you.

    When I left it felt like I was holding onto my family like balloons and I had to just let them go. You will be better independent than with this asshole. He is fabulous and so is she. They are both fucked up people. Move on and find someone genuine.

    • TennisHack, I like your metaphor “it felt like I was holding onto my family like balloons and I had to just let them go.” That is the hardest thing in the world to do and exactly what it felt like. It seems like the more we try to grasp and control the more we lose. I read something the other day that said “instead of grasping and controlling, practice releasing and receiving. I thought that was a good mantra.

      • Agreed about the balloons!

        A few things that have helped me in leaps and bounds in the past 2 weeks have been:

        1) The book, “Women who love too much”. It centers around addicts, drug and alcohol, etc. My cheater was none of those things, although perhaps a sex addict (his “affair” has been with any and all skanky girls under 20 he can find (and he’s 52), plus Thai hookers, indscriminantly and for short periods of time… no emotional ties at all… he’s a cerebral narcissist, incapable of emotion. But while the addict part didn’t ring true for me in some ways, looking at what women who love too much tend to do, to rationalize staying in something… that helped immensely. It helped me figure out why I feel this pull, this jealousy every time he leaves the house, and I think he’s going to get his knob shined. Among other things.

        2) The movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun” that i previously mentioned…about a woman who gets divorced and her friends fear she is “slipping into a place where she will be a shell of her former self permanently” if they don’t do something, and send her to Tuscanny. She buys a villa. Good things start happening. As she says, “Sometimes good things happen, and much later in life than you would expect.” Also, the movie “The First Wives’ Club” is a good one, for a quick revenge flick. We’d all like this to happen. And let’s face it, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler kick butt anyway.

        3) Songs: “We are never getting back together” by Taylor Swift; “Don’t come around here no more”, “Change of Heart”, and “I won’t back down” by Tom Petty (one gets he feeling he had a bad divorce). “I’m Alive” by Jackson Browne. Start yourself a playlist. Get your anger up. Survive. Win.

          • Yeah, it’s a difficult road to navigate, that fine line between what movies and music are going to be good for you and which are just going to make you break down crying.

            Under the Tuscan Sun should be required watching for any chump going through a divorce.

        • I compulsively watched Under the Tuscan Sun over and over the first two weeks as I shivered under blankets on my couch, in too much shock to move.

          I skipped over the beginning and jumped to when she lands in Italy.

          It gave me hope.

        • It’s now at the top pf my list of things to watch (well, re-watch). I will be glad to see a movie that will give me hope. And I agree that movies are a whole different thing post dday.

          • It won’t just give you hope.

            It will give you the knowledge that you INDEED aren’t the only person going through this, and that it is normal to feel this much pain!

            The scene where she is in her attorney’s office, and she looks like she hasn’t slept in about 3 weeks… and he tells her his ex wants the house… because the OW likes it… and it’s in a good neighborhood… to raise kids….Argh!

            And when she goes to remove stuff from the house… and keeps going, “No, don’t take the couch” and ends up leaving with only 3 boxes of stuff, and just leaving it behind.

            And when she talks about how the most surprising thing about divorce is that it doesn’t actually kill you.

            Oh… SO been there. All of it. I’m hoping to get to the hope of a new life. And watching it over and over happen to someone… even in a semi-fictional movie… helps reinforce that.

          • YES to Under the Tuscan Sun.
            And The Rebound. Catherine Zeta-Jones is chumped, and ends up with Justin (Riley from National Treasure and my secret crush) Bartha

            And a couple on my playlist:
            Alanis Morissette, You Oughta Know
            Christina Aguilera, Fighter
            Kelly Clarkson, Stronger

            • I’m watching “The Rebound” right now!

              She just kicked the crap out of the 24 year old in the self-defense class, while thinking about her cheater! It was awesome!

              Let’s not forget the song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child:

              “ow that you’re out of my life
              I’m so much better
              You thought that I’d be weak without you
              But I’m stronger
              You thought that I’d be broke without you
              But I’m richer
              You thought that I’d be sad without you
              I laugh harder
              You thought I wouldn’t grow without you
              Now I’m wiser
              Though that I’d be helpless without you
              But I’m smarter
              You thought that I’d be stressed without you
              But I’m chillin’
              You thought I wouldn’t sell without you
              Sold 9 million”

              • I wish we could “like” replies!!!

                We should start a playlist thread! I’m adding some of these songs to my playlist now!

              • To All,

                I wish I would have reacted the way some of you were able to, the person that I was when I married him would have. I was in pretty bad shape prior to hearing the news, the only reason I was still breathing was because of him and my son. They were my only reason for living and I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. I’m still surprised I’m breathing actually. Prior to being told of the affair Every time I tried to get help medically and psychologically I had no support from him and felt less and less important. I was told I was fine by every medically doctor I saw. As for psychologically, the only way my issues were going to be resolved was if he participated and supported, each time I asked he said no, he felt I should be able to just get over it, make a decision to be different and happy and just do it. Even still after he told me about the OW I was desperate to save our marriage, and I thought he was too. All lies now that I reflect on it. But to this day I still cry, my heart is still broken, I still wish for a miracle, for him to realize what he has done and come home, for us to be what we both thought was possible. I know he won’t.

                He has left it to me to explain, distanced himself from our long time friends, I’m sure his parents don’t know the details. After almost 2 years I’m just now coming into a place of strength and resolving myself to the fact that we will never be back together. He was nothing I ever expected in my life. He came out of the blue for me, he was only going to be a lot of fun for a few months because he was moving, very far away. I fell hard and here I am 18 yrs later. I am no longer the girl that never wanted to get married or have children. Everything about me changed with him. Who am I now? A sad woman, single mom, betrayed by my husband and one of the closest people to me in my life, a woman I called a sister. That is what I see on sad days like today, brokenhearted yet again because I had to tell yet another few friends that we were no longer together. Trying to look at the fact that I didn’t lie about what happened as a glimmer of hope that I’m getting better.

                I know my hope is about what we could have been, it’s hard to give up on something and someone that became your reason for being alive. Now I’m trying to figure out how to keep myself and my son in a mentally healthy place. I’m still getting there but putting up a good front for him, he’s much better adjusted that I am, he has his moments but he is doing good. The only good thing I can say is that Mr. CheaterPants has not insisted that she be in our sons life. A counselor (my counselor) we went to said it was better to keep these realities away from him for now and to continue what we are doing. Shockingly that isn’t a problem for him. Neither is not getting a divorce. I’m confused by it all but as I get stronger I’ll take another step toward breaking all ties to him and try to stop looking for reasons and answer. I’m also trying to make my brain call him my Ex, that’s a tough one. Someone on here said it would go a long way toward helping he move forward and the fact that it is so difficult makes me believe it is true.

                Every step I take is difficult, the one I’m working on right now is moving out of the place that was our home. Seeing a lawyer was difficult, giving up on MC was difficult, stopping myself from sending emails to him hoping he will change his mind was difficult, not making excuses for him anymore was/is difficult, taking the next step is difficult but I don’t have any other choice.

                Ok time to move on with my day and put to put away my personal pity party.

                Thank you so much for all the support, if anyone can point me in the direction of Marcello, I would appreciate it.



              • I agree, Jet! Was thin king of asking CL about that. There are plenty of songs and things you shouldn’t listen to when going through this, but there are also plenty that help.

  • OMG, living for ten years in a house being remodeled. I thought I was going to go crazy living that way for seven months, and that was way before my marriage fell apart.

    I understand the fear about finances holding you stuck. I was there too, and quite frankly, money is still a huge problem and my #1 concern. But at least I don’t have to ALSO worry about who my ex is fucking, or feel sad that I’m so obviously of no interest to my husband, or feel my already low self esteem wither away to nothing.

    No matter how scary it is, you’ll be better off without a cheating spouse who clearly is enjoying his cake with extra sprinkles.

  • Hope is just that. I hope I win the lottery but I go to work everyday. Hope is a dream. Actions are hedges against hope.

    Chumps are attached to hope.

    I stopped being a chump. I refused to be a supporting member of chumpness.

    Being a chump is a phase and not a life sentence.

  • Hopium Addict:
    I swear – My heart just broke as I read your letter. I can relate so well to the feelings you are going through. All of the other Chumps here can too. The pain and fear are just paralizing. I think we hold on the hope because there is apart of us that just can’t believe that this is our reality. Facing reality is not always an easy thing to do, especially when we find out the life we have been living with our partner/spouse is based on deception, lies and betrayal. It is difficult to visualize what our life is going to look like – and that is scary! Coming to this Chump Lady site every day for the past year and a half has helped me more than I can put into words. Please take some time and really go through the posts, because it will help you tremendously. There is a comfort in knowing that you are not alone when you are suffering from the level of betrayal you are dealing with now.
    I strongly suggest that you do not use a financial reason for keeping yourself stuck in the quicksand of a false relationship. You are a victim of abuse. Your husband has been lying to you and deliberately using you for his own benefit without any true regard for you as a person at all. He has no regard for your son either. In order for him to do that, you have to realize that he does not love you. In fact, he doesn’t really care for you. You serve a purpose for him – that is it. I know, it is really hard to hear that. But, it is the truth. The sooner you see this situation for what it actually is – the sooner you can make your life better for you and your son.
    My suggestion is to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you file for divorce, you should be able to get a temporary support order set up pretty quickly. That will legally require him to give you a certain amount of money each month while your divorce is in process. You do not have to stay in a house just because he is paying part of the mortgage. The judge will require him to pay a designated amount to you each month.
    This guy is a top notch dirt bag. He is always going to be that guy. He is never going to change. He will just go from one woman to the next using them until he is done with them. You deserve better than that. You need to take care of YOU and your son!
    As we have said on this site so many times – HE HAS SHOWN YOU WHO HE IS – BELIEVE HIM!
    Best wishes to you and take care,

    • Dear Hopium,
      All us chumps have been where you are and we will hold your hand and help you through it. Your marriage is over and has been for a long time, he just didn’t tell you. Now he is stringing you along and playing on your devastation and hope to screw you over. It’s not you… He’s got a history of this and that’s not going to change. Go see a lawyer pronto, go no contact to protect yourself from further manipulation , and gett ready to go on a journey. There will be a lot of losses and grief so you have to be kind to yourself and your son. That should be your first priority now. Someone once said to me” sometimes the universe has to empty your hands before it can fill them up again” and that’s really heartbreaking going thru so many losses, but it will fill up again! Use your hope there and have faith. Of all the losses, nothing compares to the loss of your self- esteem and dignity . You will build another life which is better this time and REAL.
      We will help you get there! ((( hugs)))

  • I love reading these posts, because I too know exactly what you’re all going through, and it helps to have the important stuff drummed into the old noggin repeatedly!

    I am 3 months past D-Day. After promising he ended the relationship and wanted to work on his marriage, I found out a year later that he lasted for about 6 months, then fell off the wagon again. That was the end in my eyes.

    I lawyered up, and am a few days from making him a settlement offer. Note that HE would not make a settlement offer to me, I presume because he has money stashed in places I don’t know about, so he doesn’t want to put any extra on the table! All I can say is having a clever lawyer is supremely important. I’ve had to change lawyers because mine was not knowledgeable nor proactive enough. I am so glad I changed, a good lawyer is everything in this game. Make sure you feel yours is taking good care of your matters, and if not, don’t be afraid to consult someone else who might be more suitable!

    Although he is very narcissistic, and no contact is the best policy, every lawyer I have consulted has told me to stay put in the family home… Apparently it gives you much better leverage during settlement, so I was told, “Unless you can’t take it, stay put.” I should point out that I have no kids, so it’s only ME having to be subjected to him, which makes it easier in one way.

    There is a view I keep seeing repeated in these posts, and I guess it relates to the hopium-esque “Pick-me” mind-fuckery we all talk about. I’ve noticed that being in the same house as him during this, I get incredibly stressed when he goes out. I wonder where he is, what he’s doing, WHO he’s doing, why she is better than me in his eyes… Stupid stresses, considering that this behaviour has apparently been going on in my marriage for almost 20 years. Clearly, IT DOESN’T MATTER. So why does it STILL hurt so much…. And how, besides being physically un-present, to make it stop?

    As several have said, projecting complete indifference, or even whistling a little tune to yourself, certainly does help quite a lot when being in the same house. They really hate to see you NOT totally centered around their hapiness and grovelling to their every need, even after you’ve split. Being happy or indifferent really seems to piss mine off… And when he’s angry, and I can see his true colors, it makes me stronger. Try that as a strategy, if you can manage it. It is difficult at first, since most of us have been programmed for so long not to rock the boat!

    Hang in there, everyone. YES, it DOES get better. I’m only 3 months in, but about a week ago, I could see this tiny pinpoint of light at the end of this tunnel. I’m confident that light will grow. You should be too!

    • FYI – I could not stay another day in the house with my husband after D-day. I asked him to stay away while I packed up to move out. It took about a month. I talked to my lawyer and she said there was no problem with me moving out in my state, it wouldn’t affect the settlement at all. Our house was huge and we had a lot of property, so I knew I couldn’t possibly manage it on my own, nor did I want to. So anyway, check with your lawyer about whether moving out affects the settlement in your state. It was a life saver for me to move in with a girlfriend and get away from crazytown. I couldn’t take one more day of abuse, moving out was the best thing I could have done for myself. By the way, after I left my ex tried to get me to pay half the mortgage but my lawyer had a fit and told him absolutely not. She said I was doing him a favor by not moving into an apartment and demanding temporary maintenance. I might add that my ex didn’t block me from our joint checking account in any way. That is probably unusual and not typical of most divorce situations.

      • Our exes sound very similar. I think it is a tactic.

        Unlike many narcissistic cheaters, mine is not a moocher. He is in sales (explains a lot, her certainly sold me on our life together), and we run a business together, which he is trying to screw me on. A few weeks ago I found a note he had left lying around, questions to his lawyer, that said, “Regarding the business, can’t I just pay her $50,000 and tell her to f&*k off?” Niiice one. Considering there should’ve been another zero on that figure… well… no! I don’t know if he meant for me to find that note, but he’s pretty stupid if he did, because it just makes me anxious to take him for as much as possible.

        But even so, he seems to have this incessant need to “help” people. He still tries to help me and give me advice on things, and when he does, it actually puts me back in that weak position where I worry that on my own I won’t be able to look after myself. This, of course, is years of pavlovic training and conditioning on his part to get me reliant on him, so he can go out and stick his dick in whatever he wants while I sit at home pining for him and feeling like I can’t leave or look after myself.

        Anyway, our house is actually paid off, so there’s no mortgage issue. In fact, the house is the easy part. It’s pretty easy to put a current sale value on it, and he wants to keep it (I’ll probably move back to the US), so whatever half is, that’s what I get.

        I live in Australia, and in my state here, it is no-fault. The reason for staying in the house actually relates more to possession being 9/10 of the law… I’ve had 3 different lawyers tell me that while technically we are both allowed in all areas of the house because we have equal title on the ownership of the house, once one actually moves out, your ex who stays in it is likely to try things like limiting your access to certain times of the day, and perhaps changing the locks to make it complicated for you to get back in at your own leisure. I’ve also been told that for settlement purposes, since it is so uncomfortable in the household, it’s likely to make him more anxious to settle faster.

        If I had kids, I’d be out. I know I would be much happier if I was not in contact with him at all, but since I have to be in contact with him to continue to run the business (which is also run from our home, so I feel some obligation to protect my interest there, by staying in the house too), and 3 lawyers have told me it’s strategically better for me to stay, so that’s what I’m doing.

        I was actually going to move into a friend’s place up the road, and I actually spend a lot of time at her place during the day, to minimize my time near him. When this first happened, and while we were waiting for the accountant to get this year’s company taxes together, I went back to San Francisco to visit my family and get away. When I came back, he claimed that I wasn’t allowed in our bedroom anymore because I’d effectively “moved out” for 3 weeks. He tried to block me from getting in, the police were called, he told them “there was contact”, to try and get me kicked out on an AVO (restraining order in the US)… it backfired on him, and they told him to appear in court on AVO charges. Hah! I held those charges over him and adjourned the court date by 2 weeks while I decided exactly how much emotional abuse I was willing to put up with, and whether I felt I needed this extra protection or the threat of it. Then I finally withdrew it.

        We are in separate locked bedrooms, but of course douchebag is entitled to the best of everything and of course never did anything wrong, besides the affairs and tens of whores in Thailand over the past 20 years, so he wouldn’t get out of the main bedroom. I’m in the pokey little bedroom. I wanted to fight him on that, but my lawyer told me to choose my battles, and was right. But I’m still in the house, I’m getting stronger everyday despite being there with him.

        My lawyer will be serving a settlement offer on him today. He is not going to like it. And then we’ll negotiate. I am moving forward in small steps and trying to remember that he doesn’t matter. That he needs not to matter anymore… heck, I haven’t mattered in his life for nearly 20 years (the whole of our marriage) as it turns out, so why should I cry for him, right? I couldn’t have said that 2 weeks ago.

        Oh, and I recommend the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun”… even if you’ve seen it previously, seeing it after your D-Day, it holds new meaning. There’s a part where she talks about how the most surprising thing of all about divorce is that it doesn’t kill you…

        People have been telling me for 3 months now that it does get easier. Really. You’ll see. And you sit there and feel like, “Well, not for me it’s not going to. I can’t see that happening.” And then one day you wake up, and you aren’t crying when you realize where your life is at… and you feel this little twinge of hope.

        Then slowly you start to realize that not only aren’t you crying, but hey, wait a minute… YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG HERE… WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU PUTTING UP WITH ANY OF THIS SHIT? Then you get your attitude on, see the lawyer, and start kicking some butt.

        I’m approaching meh now. I find I can maintain meh for up to about a half a day. Then I have to get out and away from him to regroup. But I come back into it with meh again, and maintain it for another half day.

        I also find that the more indifferent or downright happy you act when you’re around him, the angrier he gets. It doesn’t even matter if you really ARE indifferent or happy, only that you maintain that guise as long and strongly as you can. Boy, as soon as he gets pissed off because he can’t bring me down into his unhappy world… it makes me stronger, and him angrier, and in turn, me even stronger! As a friend reminded me, “Fake it till you make it.” Too true.

        • Amazing CNM….. well done, hope it all works out for you I had to live in the same house as my XH for 6 mths in separate rooms and ended up at the Docs getting my blood pressure monitored etc. It is really, really stressful but it was in my interest to stay put until I landed a job abroad (Australia actually) and I forced my XH to rent the house out whilst I plotted out my next stage which was divorce, only started thinking straight when I got away from his mind games, “I love you, am fond of you – still care for you etc.” Absolute nuts………………I was a chump, I even paid for the fuel that he put in the car to take me to the airport so he could say bon voyage ……………:-)..I have comes to my senses now, approaching meh, but his cruelty and callousness never fails to take my breath away.

          • Are you in Sydney? Cause I am. At the moment.

            The settlement proposal is being delivered by mail to him at our house later today. Kinda nervous about that.He’s gonna go ballistic when he sees my proposed terms.

            Feeling edgey today. I can hear him out there having breakfast. Time to get my meh on and face the day.

            • No, in sunny Perth CNM cos my sister is based here and she could see I needed to get away from his mind games, had I stayed in the UK I would have been still dangling on a string with all his mindgames and probably 2.5 stone lighter 🙂 – no I am joking, but my weight settled healthily again now after 18 mths, still trying to sleep through the night though.

              I filed for divorce last year the first week in December – right about the same time a year previous he ran out the door screaming he wanted a divorce. (out of the blue) You know what he said, “okay-so I got your little package from the solicitor- but, (yes, but!!!) I will go with this”- like he was doing me some favour or something!!!!! but I could tell he was seething, well he had 12 mths of chanting ‘I want a divorce’ and he did nothing…………… Keep out of their way as much as possible- I practically lived in my bedroom and study and ignored him 99% of the time. He complained it was stressful for him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              • Did you get any of the PTSD symptoms? Like really vivid dreams and stuff?

                I had those intermittently, but not all that frequently.

                I’ve been fortunate, that I’ve pretty much slept well tge whole time.

                I’m not sleeping so well now, but not because of emotions or stress, but rather because I’ve been relegated to the pokey little second bedroom with the teensy, uncomfortable bed.

        • “He still tries to help me and give me advice on things, and when he does, it actually puts me back in that weak position where I worry that on my own I won’t be able to look after myself. This, of course, is years of pavlovic training and conditioning on his part to get me reliant on him, so he can go out and stick his dick in whatever he wants while I sit at home pining for him and feeling like I can’t leave or look after myself.”

          Bingo! I don’t trust any of his so called “good” advice or “supportive” attitude. I see it as a continuous need to control me and see himself as a good guy.

          • Yes. The trick is staying in that sort of “third party” zone where you can see clearly the game he’s playing, rather than letting his “concern” and “helpfulness” put you back in that victim place. It’s very energy draining.

  • hopium addict: I know your pain. 1 1/2 yrs later I still feel it in my heart even though my head knows that my marriage is over. From some of your letter it sounds like he is afraid of breaking up because of financial reasons. “I’m in a crazy situation, basically we are not getting a divorce because of money. We own property together, he knows I don’t see the point of maintaining a business relationship after divorce which means liquidate (which he doesn’t want to do). 1. Go see a lawyer you have a child with this man
    2. gather all pertainent financial documents make copies and store them off site.
    3. continue to see your therapist.
    4. Don’t sit by the phone go out with friends who support you let himdo some childcare.
    Good Luck keep us posted

    • I have seen a lawyer, I am in a not fault state and we are listed on the properties in a manner that no one else can be added. Letting him have more time with my son means in the future when divorce does happen, I get less child support. No alimony, I make more than him. pulling in a forensic account is an option and he has been told so. I have access to more than he knows. I plan to ask for money he pays her bills with back…

      I will remain in therapy and try and figure out my next step… Trying to look at it as I’m using him right now.

  • My Dday was almost 11 months ago…followed by 3 months of an emotional cyclone whilst I tried to figure out if I had a future with him….the answer was a resounding NO WAY!

    At that time our son was 18 months old. There was a time before the proverbial shit hit the fan where I **KNEW** without a shadow of a doubt that we’d be together forever, we were special, he’d never cheat on me blah blah blah….until he did.

    The most difficult thing for me was the incongruence between what my head knew he really was, and what my heart *knew* he was for so long (pftttt)….we’d been together my entire adult life since I was 18. It’s still trying to align itself, and I still get hit with waves of memories of how it used to feel, and the loss of our new family unit is incredibly painful…but then I just have to remember any one of the hundreds of effed up, disrespectful, completely devaluing and abusive things he’s subjected me to, and that HE made his own choices to go outside the relationship….but it’s still hard.

    I’ve been basically exactly where you are, with a young child and financially enmeshed with them with businesses and properties.
    Life WILL be better on the other side, you can’t put a price on the peace you will feel when you stop trying to make a “relationship” work with such a descpicable creature…and being free to someday find a man you TRULY appreciates you and your son as much as you do them!! It’s really only been 6 months for me, but the longer you are away from their shit, the clearer it becomes just how badly you’ve been treated, and how they really weren’t that great in the first place. You’ll also question EVERYTHING from day one that they’ve ever said to you as being “true”…That shit is ingrained in their personality, they didn’t become what you see now overnight…

    Put your boundaries up, make them sky high and built of concrete….and get the fuck out of there. Please.

  • We are here for you, we’ve already been there in many cases. You are frozen, sounds like you feel you cannot do what needs to be done. I don’t think that’s hope, that’s fear. That’s also depression and betrayal and a swirl of pain that seems too hard to escape. I’m so sorry you are going through this. You can escape, you will feel better if you act for yourself, it’s really hard to make the first move when the manipulative bastard is lying to you and gaslighting you. Trust yourself, act, move, start, make what you need the most important thing, if you can’t do it for you, do it for your kid.

    Take the first step and every one after will get easier. I am worried he moved you some place else. You really need to gather all financial documents, every damn thing. With the lies he has told you, the deceit, you have to be aware that he may destroy unrecoverable documents. Mortgages, refis, old records, I found out the hard way those are not recoverable from the source, I had tossed some things years before that I should never have done. Also, after the divorce was final I found out the ex had secret accounts, that’s why his credit card bills were so high for so long, he was using paypal to funnel money to himself.

    Consult a lawyer, start separation. The financial reason is no good reason to stay in the hell he’s put you in. He knows it will hurt HIM financially, that’s why he gives you hope. Trust that he sucks and take the step, one single step, make the lawyer appointment. Do not tell him, just do it.

  • Hopium addict, it hurts like crazy to leave a cheater ex. It really does. But it hurts more to stay. Staying with him is simply prolonging the pain. He will not change. I gave my serial cheater ex 23 years to change. Never did even though he “appeared” to have changed. Or maybe that was just my unicorn-induced brain taking over to dull the pain. Now that I am nearly a year from the final DDay, the fog has lifted and I cannot, cannot believed I stayed as long as I did. Whatever was I thinking? I feel so good now, so grateful to have a life of peace and joy, rather than be on constant alert in case he’s cheating once again. No way to live at all. I can now live in the moment because I don’t have to think about the past nor worry about the future since he and his cheating ways are no longer part of my life. His OW, who probably think she’s got a winner (good luck with that), deserves him 100%. Give your cheater to his OW. They share the same values and they can join forces on the road to self-destruction. Get off the merry-go-round and create a new life for yourself and your child.

    You mentioned that you believed you believed you were special and it would be different from his first two wives. Now that you’re proven wrong, what are you waiting for? You are definitely special, special enough to deserve a much better life.

  • And there will always be reasons to stay. I had a list a mile long but when I finally decided to look at them honestly, they were all excuses.

    • Well, the thing is, ONE fabulous thing doesn’t justify ALL the other bad shit.

      Mine used to wave shiny designer things in my face. He used to take me on extravagant vacations. We had a nice, profitable business we ran from home. Life was easy.

      …Except for the fact that he spent as much of his time away from me screwing other women as possible. I’d trade all the shiny stuff above for just one moment of him rolling over in bed and putting his arms around me like he meant it. It never happened. And it never will.

      Time to move on to someone without that missing component.

      • I just got a dog. A really big one. Loveable, hug-able, genuine. Cheaper too.

        But I know exactly what you mean.

  • Wow, just wow… Thank you so much for all your concern. Wow. I just want to let everyone know I have seen a lawyer, I have my ducks in a row where that is concerned. He hasn’t blocked me from any accounts and with the right investigation the account they use under her name will become know. He doesn’t know I know about that account but I do. I have been just a little sneaky when it comes to all that. I have also noted that when specific amounts of money leave his account that same amount of money shows up as payment on the card under her name. Yes, you read that right.

    As for the new place… I needed to leave this house, his ghost is everywhere here, now he can live with all the ghosts and memories here. This was the best way for me to get what I wanted. A house that has no memory of her and no memory of him. I have a difficult breed of dog for decent rentals and he has agreed to pay part of my mortgage. I plan to take some time to settle into my new life. this place will have none of him in it and I can limit his access to this home. Right now I am reluctant to allow her to benefit from our divorce. We would profit from the sale of properties. I’m not at Meh, especially when it comes to her. I have not laid eyes on her since I found out, I’m afraid of what I might do if I did. Any pain I cause her, even at his benefit is fine with me for now.

    Hopium Addict that I am, I have been on a forced withdrawal and whenever I want to write an email to see if this will be the one that will knock some sense in to him, I journal, with a few minor slips but nothing to the level of the first 8-10 months after he moved out. Can you blame me though he said he just needed space and time to breath, then we would get back to MC and work our way back together…

    Although my heart is dumb and has clouded my brain for a while I have slowly started to regain the smarts I had before I met him. I still get caught up by him, what ever it is that he does to me is baffling. Maybe it’s because he was my identity for so long that it seems familiar and comfortable and I miss it. I know I’ll get there one day but I’m still climbing up that hill. It’s hard to think that someone I loved so much could be this person.

    I want to thank you all again, I will be stalking the halls of chump lady, building my resolve to move on.

    • Hopium,
      I got that same line from my cheater too” I just need space and time.” Maybe in their minds they want to go have their affair and hope to return at some point, but that is abuse and I think they are just stalling for more time to get their ducks in a row and screw you over. Don’t fall for it! You deserve better than that!
      Keep us posted and have faith you will get over this and be a better person for it.

      • I was also told the same thing…”I need some time but will move back in February” (after a counseling weekend we went on together). He never moved back…he had no intention of it. While we were on that weekend he was texting her. When I eventually found out about her I asked him “why”. His response…”I didn’t think you would ever find out”. Makes me sick to think about that now. He fully intended on having his cake.

        The more I read on this site (only found it last week) the more I realize they’re all the same. Good for you Hopium for starting to take the control back in your life. It’s time to take care of you!

        • Hee. Yes, if it wasn’t so pathetic, it would almost be funny how alike they are.

          With mine, after he “decided he wanted to save the marriage” and supposedly broke it off with the 19 year old (he’s 52, by the way), and I found out he was cheating still/again, said these classic gems to me:

          “I’m sorry you had to find out.”. Yeah, I’ll bet you are.

          “People tell me it’s a mid life thing, and in a couple more years I won’t want sex anymore anyway.”. (huh?)

          • Just wait til the younger woman finally decides she doesn’t want to touch his shriveled d*ck and saggy balls anymore. Hello poetic justice!

            Happy Thanksgiving fellow Chumps and Chump Lady! Here’s to big change in all our lives! It can only get better from here! Kick the cheaters out, fumigate the poison of infidelity and betrayal, and build a better life!
            Best wishes to all of you!

            • You know, my ex is 52 years old, seriously overweight, hairy and smelly.

              I have thought to myself many times over the past few months since D-Day, that I could have married a supermodel and not been treated as badly by him as this guy… and at least I would have been with a hot guy!

              Now THOSE are the kind of regrets to hold on to. Rather than the “Pick-Me!” dance.

      • They don’t know what they want and they lack the moral courage to just do what’s right, so they default to all the screwy behavior and mind games that eventually drives YOU crazy so you make the decision for them and kick them out. A more pathetic approach to one’s life I just can’t imagine.

        Long before Dday, before I realized what was *really* messing with his head, I told him to just go be free somewhere for however long he needed to get his head straight. The kids and I would hold down the fort (we had a farm) until he got back. He ran screaming in other direction that I “just didn’t get it”! Well, fuck me.

        No wonder reconciliation doesn’t work. They’re just plain nuts.

      • Yep, space and time was needed for ex to ‘figure out what he wanted’. It never seems to have occurred to him that I should be part of that decision-making process. Which is why I kicked him out. Took me three days to make that decision but I did it. And then fell apart for half a year.

    • Well done Hopium, glad to hear you have the legal end set. My ex pulled the same thing. He moved into his own apartment so he could go to therapy and work on himself. That was bullshit, it was just a way to continue his affair without me in the way. Oh, and he “dated” me during that time. But, my ex never wanted a divorce, he wanted me and his cake so once I brought the divorce hammer out the crazy train went ballistic. I too make more money than my ex and he lost his job during the insanity (drinking did that). He tried to get alimony from me, he tried to screw me financially which I really didn’t expect, so fair warning that your husband is likely to get pissed off and try to do the same to you.

    • ” He doesn’t know I know about that account but I do. I have been just a little sneaky when it comes to all that. I have also noted that when specific amounts of money leave his account that same amount of money shows up as payment on the card under her name. Yes, you read that right. ”

      Busted. Yeah, you’re going to be all right…….

  • It is Thanksgiving! I just want to say that I am thankful for Tracy and her brilliant website, and I am thankful for the sharing of my fellow chumps–together we will push and pull each other through the madness, and have a lot of lightbulb moments and laughs, too. You all are lovely, lovely people most undeserving of betrayal. Enjoy the holiday season, everyone–and for those of you for whom it is not “the” holiday season, I wish you blessings and love.

  • I was so high on hopium I couldn’t function. What has helped me was what a friend told me: “he is a junk yard dog”. Which was very surprising for me to hear, because both of us (but especially me) used to view him more as “a tiger” (lion, whatever you like). A superman, blah, blah, blah… And it was soooo hard to let him go because of this.
    Rationally, I understood this before, but I needed a metaphor.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • I had a short period of hopium and then I, too, had a friend who knocked me in the head with ‘what are you going to do, sit there and be a Stepford Wife?’. First bit of sense I had.

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