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Naming It

So I was watching this TED talk recently, of Leslie Morgan Steiner talking about being a victim of domestic abuse. She was the classic “battered wife” and she talks in this video about what was going on in her mind, why she didn’t leave her abusive husband. Well, eventually she did leave — she’s very happily married with kids these days — but she talks about what she told herself that kept her stuck with a man who beat the tar out of her.

I pray her story is irrelevant to your situation. Being cheated on is horror enough, if you’ve suffered physical abuse as well, my heart breaks for you. If you watch the video, you’ll see that what she says pertains to infidelity, as well as physical abuse.

Steiner says what kept her stuck is that she didn’t KNOW it was abuse.

That was not her narrative. Instead she told herself that she was a very strong woman in love with a very troubled man, and only she could save him.

That’s what kept her there.

In that sentence she just summed up the entire Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Isn’t that the unicorn narrative? You are very strong to reconcile, and this person who cheated on you is troubled, in a fog, being terribly difficult. But you can Save This. You are a very strong person in love with a very troubled person.

She maintained that narrative until she couldn’t. Until the risks to her own physical and mental health became too much. Until he nearly killed her. At that point she had to ask herself — what is the cost to myself staying?

How much easier it is to judge someone in a physically abusive relationship. The pain is so obvious, so intended — unlike fucking around on someone. Because that “just happens” and they “didn’t really mean” to hurt you.

Steiner’s abuser apologized and wept and promised to change.

And she clung to her narrative. She tried harder to be there for him. Found identity in being the special person who Really Knew Him. The man who was beating her wasn’t the Real Him.

Until he beat her so hard she had to admit to herself — yes that was the real him. And all his apologies and better qualities didn’t matter. He was a man she could not be safe with — ever.

What do we tell ourselves that keeps us chumps? What was your narrative? She really loves me. This is just a midlife crisis. She’ll come back to her senses. I’m the one he really loves. The affair(s) meant nothing. We have so much shared history. My children must grow up in an intact home.

Until they do it again, and forget their promises. And you ask yourself — at what cost am I staying?

Steiner said she didn’t know it was abuse. I get that. I knew infidelity hurt like a motherfucker, but I didn’t think it was abuse. It took me a long time to realize that it was intentional. Planned. Justified. That if Steiner was of use as a punching bag, I was of use as a chump. The person that must be triangulated against, cheated on, the dupe who makes the sex naughty. The giver of resources. The front of normalcy. I was all those things. I just didn’t wake up with a bloody head on a bathroom floor.

What makes this community powerful, what makes Chump Lady unique in my opinion is that we clearly articulate that infidelity IS ABUSE. They aren’t in a “fog,” cheaters know what they’re doing, they just don’t care. It’s manipulation and mindfuckery. They are gaining advantage, keeping themselves in a one-up position, and the chump subjugated. Cheating is as intentional as a slug to the face. A slug to the face is at least somewhat honest. Infidelity is a sucker punch from behind. The unfairest of fights.

Infidelity is abuse. And when you know that, you can leave.

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  • It appears to me these days that a spouse, particularly without children or children at home, is scorned for wanting reconcile under any conditions. so I think times have changed. At least in some circles.

    I do appreciate the overall message of this blog. Definitions of abuse of any sort have been long in coming. And there does seem to be a free pass in this society for those who want to blame mental health on their anti-social behavior.

    but be careful, only a few get away with that excuse. Who exactly is an interesting question.

    • It really does depend upon your social circle. Mine pushes reconciliation at all costs. Also, you only have to look as far as the internet to see that many blame abuse victims for picking the wrong person. Some people are so beat down they try to make it work at all costs to avoid admitting defeat.

      • I was just reading over on HuffPo and there’s a common theme amongst some of teh comments that if a person ends up with a sociopath and/or cheater then it’s their fault for picking teh wrong person. Makes my head want to explode because they have no idea.

        • Hah, I’m a regular Huffpo reader. Maybe I should avoid the site for awhile. It makes my blood boil whenever I hear that. I think, “You have no idea…”

        • People who believe that narrative usually tend to believe that rape victims did something to cause someone to rape them, that abused women should just pack up and leave an abuser, etc. They tend to believe all types of victim/survivor blaming narratives – until they don’t. Until it happens to them or someone they care about – until it becomes personal. I call it “Until the Mighty Fall” mindset.

          • I think they believe that in a kind of ‘protective denial’ way. They can’t stand to think that something that awful could happen to them or someone they care about, so they find a reason it wouldn’t. Unfortunately, that reasoning leads to blaming the victim instead. Sigh. Not realistic, and so counter-productive.

            • I’m particularly curious about these comments.

              My husband is a cerebral narcissist. He’s kind and loving to my face. But behind my back he is screwing everything in sight. It escalated this year, when he not only started meeting up with some 19 year old (he’s 52) on Fridays in a hotel in our city, but when he flew her to Thailand to buy her a labiaplasty.

              Aside from having serious problems myself reconciling the good times we had and the man I “knew” not in fact actually being that man, I was quite mad at my therapist, who basically seemed to want to make me take the blame for his infidelity!

              After several months of reading lots of stuff, and not seeing therapists who think like that, I do understand that HE picked ME due to something in my personality that was willing to kow tow to him and give him whatever kibble it was HE needed.

              This is true. I have done that, and perhaps this is what is meant by taking some of the blame as victims. I don’t think it’s blame as such, as we probably didn’t have the skills to do any different… however, I think the point is learning how to use different behavior ourselves in order to not end up in the same situation the next time around.

              Having said that, I’m not doing very good at winning that battle at the moment.

              • They definitely target folk who they sense will tolerate the abuse. It is up to us to figure out what in us allowed this.

              • Well said. The only thing that we are responsible for (and it is a big one), was WHY did we think ‘this’ was love, having vanishingly small needs? WHY don’t we ‘get’ reciprocity? WHY was it ever acceptable for us? Why did we spend all that life energy focussed on them, and trying to change them to make us happy?

                I am finding Al Anon very helpful in this. Take the focus off of him and on to yourself. Live your life to the full. The serenity to accept what you cannot change (this IS the real him), the courage to change what you can (see above), and the wisdom to know the difference.

              • I know your post had a higher purpose, ChumpNoMore, but flying his teenaged affair partner to Thailand for a labiaplasty?! So revolting. Sounds like they deserve each other.

        • Well Nord, I have to to say I agree with the HoffPo because if the sociopath and/or cheater had a tattoo on their forehead or wore a t shirt that said sociopath/cheater on it then yeah it’s the person’s fault who goes there. But we all know that isn’t the case at all!

          In my case, he did tell me that he was a sex addict about one month into the relationship and I still got conned and manipulated as he was on antidepressants and had been through therapy and didn’t want to fuck up our relationship and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah……CHUMP! But before realizing I was chumped, I was very happy and believed he had worked through his sex addiction and that if he felt he was going to have a slip up he would talk to me and tell me as we had discussed when he confessed of his problem to me. He was so relieved after he told me and so sweet and teary eyed and all I could think was how brave of him to tell me knowing it could end the relationship right there. CHUMP! It was all just a passive/aggressive, sadistic ploy and it worked temporarily. 2 Points for the Sex Addict but I still win, I am free of him and any STD’s thankfully!

          I finally realized it was abuse on D Day when it all came together and I left without a second chance or a pick me dance and realized once a sex addict (using the term loosely as I don’t believe in that term at all, it’s bullshit and self serving) always a sex addict at least in his case.

          Looking back in 20/20 hindsight, yes, the signs were there I just never saw signs like that before and didn’t understand them so didn’t realize I was being mentally abused. But when D Day hit, the immed. feeling and words that came to my head was that I was being abused and used and it was time to go and so glad I did without one regret.

          I have never enjoyed peace of mind and body so much in my life without that kind of torture and now I am finally truly happy!

          Yes, I can totally understand getting caught up in an abusive relationship whether it be mental and/or physical. But I can’t understand staying once you see it for what it is, getting to that point takes different lengths of time for people as does healing after such a relationship and I understand that as well. Sometimes people just don’t want to see it or don’t understand it until it’s too late.

          It’s an eye opening experience for sure and a forever changing experience to the victim/survivor.

          I can never say I am happy to have experienced this but I have put a very bad experience to very good use in my life now.

          Clearly CL has taken her bad experiences to an even greater level of good use in helping all of us with her clarity and well written voice! Thank you for that!

  • Hmmm, what narrative did I tell myself? That I loved him. That if I was patient enough, and waited long enough, he would be able to slow down with his workaholism and spend time with me. That I wanted desperately to keep my family together, that I wanted my kids to have an intact family. That I wasn’t one of those people who gave up, who abandoned others. That marriage is a sacred promise. That there was hope that a good man could see what a wonderful family he had. That eventually he would learn how to talk about his feelings, and open up to me. That he loved me as much as I loved him. That both our parents had been married over 50+ years so we came from stable families that knew how to stay together through the tough times. That he was having a midlife crisis. That love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

    • Well said, Lyn. Chump Son believed similar things about his father, that he was basically good, that he’d served in WWII and that such legitimately heroic service compensated for bad behavior, that I wasn’t perfect and shouldn’t cast the first stone, etc. etc. These self-entangling narratives, self-binding nets, are one way that we Chumps anchor ourselves to the wrong people and avoid looking at harsh truths. The biggest one is that some people really are not very nice/are not good for us, and that sometimes those are people close to us. A hard truth, but a necessary one to recognize.

      Again, I really liked the way you expressed the “hopium narrative” that we sometimes indulge in and that can bind us.

      • Don’t you think the hardest things for Chumps is to see the mixture of good/bad in people we love and not focus on the good? I guess the problem is that we focus on the good and ignore the bad until it’s so bad it almost destroys us.

        • I totally agree. Chumps are positive people who are idealists and natural believers. It’s hard for us to recognize the rationing of happiness and hurt that abusive, exploitative people can dish out on a regular basis.

        • That’s a HUGE part of the problem; natural optimists, not good at staying mad, and very willing to cut people slack and give another chance.

          But part too is our difficulty in realizing that our partners are narcissists, and that narcissists DO NOT THINK LIKE US. THEY DO NOT FEEL AS WE DO. The Simon books helped me SO much w/this, and now so much of my ex’s behaviour makes way more sense.

          • I agree. In the end I decided that my brain chemistry and structure was very different from my ex’s. My counselor even read some of his documents I found and said it’s possible he’s on the autism spectrum. She said he was cerebral and almost emotionless in his writings. On the other hand I’m artistic, sensitive and very emotional.

      • David–STBX’s father was not in WWII, but Korea. He’d started out in life as a dirt-poor Appalachian, had not even finished high school, but ended up with a very middle-class lifestyle and two sons who graduated from college. He faced a lot of adversity, so except for his 20-year affair with his mistress and the fact that he wasn’t around to be a solid father figure was excusable, right? He was still a “good” person, just troubled. Why, he even sat with his dying wife! He must have loved her, even if he had cheated on her for so many years!

        I am sure that STBX uses the example of his father to help excuse his own infidelity–support to the lie that he can cheat and still be a “good” person.

        • One thing I have learned the hard way is that not everything in life is negotiable, fungible, interchangeable……whatever.

          Just because a parent puts a roof over the family’s heads does not mean that he/she has the right to abuse them…..

    • I’m painfully familiar with all of those arguments, Lyn.

      But I think the key sentence in there is “That there was hope that a good man could see what a wonderful family he had.” Yeah… a “good man” probably could. But he wasn’t one of those!

      Why also do we repeatedly assume that these people are operating under the same moral code as we are? They aren’t. And yet it’s so hard to remember that.

      Bloody Hopium!

      • You all responding to this chain begun by Lyn on 12.10 describe my inner narrative (“hopium”) completely, but you are coming from a place much farther along on recovery than I. My ex-N of 4 years has been in a stage of hoovering, and while my head has prevented me from engaging, my heart still yearns to. I realize tonight after a conversation with my father (in which he refused, as always, to listen to me), that other people’s (whom you trust have your best interests) perspectives are key to understanding what is abuse and what is not, what is acceptable and what should never be. I’ve conditioned myself in my career to be an independent thinker and to distrust conventions, and it led me to feel that I was “strong enough” to stay with an abusive man. Yet everyone else under the sun could see it was not good for me. I took the warnings at first as something unicorn-like, something they were missing out on or just didn’t get. I think that this post by Chump Lady and the sentiments expressed by Steiner accurately illustrate the pitfalls of self-styled, so-called, strong, independent women. I hope for a day when I can let go of the struggle that in reality I only created for myself, of believing in him. (PS if we are narcissists for having this dream ourselves, is it a product of our environment that we can grow out of it?)

    • I’m so glad I found this website. It has helped me see that I wasn’t the crazy one. The reconciliation websites kept going on about how much “work” I would have to do to “fix” what he broke. I thank God that he left cause I’d still be spackling, still eating the daily shit sandwiches, still believing in unicorns. I did love him, I was patient, I wanted to keep the intact family, I tried and he didn’t or couldn’t or decided that he “deserved” to be happy. It’s senseless but it is what it is… abuse plain and simple.

      • Dee, what gets me about what you wrote is that the reconciliation industrial complex assumes it’s the betrayed spouse’s job to clean up the mess.

        That’s blameshifting. We didn’t make the mess. We’re not the ones who cheated. Our cheater needs to do the work regarding the cheating. Once that’s cleaned up, we might be able both to pitch in on building a better marriage foundation, but the cheater totally owns the cheating.

  • My exH had PTSD and depression from 11 deployments. I told myself that is why he lied, depression made him lie. How could I leave someone who was sick? After all I wouldn’t leave someone who had cancer or been injured in a car accident, so this was no different. The lies got bigger and bigger. I’m sure I still don’t know all of them. I too was a strong woman, I came from divorced parents, I was NOT going to be in the divorced category. I WAS going to live happily ever after! If I only tried harder he would see how much he meant to me and see me the same way and stop his shenanigans. I never left. Instead I received a phone call from him saying “get health insurance, I want a divorce” he was stationed over seas at the time in Saudi Arabia. I was convinced it was the isolation over there that caused him to act this way. Surely he must remember he just posted “loving you more today than yesterday” on my fb page 48 hours ago. Well, I will just fly to Saudi and fix this and all will be fine….HA! Instead I got to wears his mistress’ abaya (the long black robe women must wear over there.
    I fed him tons of kibbles. I found proof of the OW. I tried harder. I never stood in the way of him getting divorced. I didn’t fight it but I didn’t moved it along either. Until I did. I had to pull the plug on my marriage. I had to regain control of my life. I am 1 1/2 years out from Dday and I still have tons of self doubt and self blame, but I let him go. He is engaged to her now which makes me laugh. At the same time I still miss the him I thought he was…the sweet loyal honorable hero that defends our country from the bad guys….sadly though he is one of the bad guys…just a different type of bad.

    • My ex had PTSD, too. I tried to blame that, not who he really is.. blah blah blah. The truth is, he was an abusive bastard before he ever had the PTSD, and that just gave him an excuse to amp it up. The affairs were a symptom of a much deeper seeded abusive personality that the PTSD allowed to flourish unchecked. The emotional, verbal and physical abuse escalated to the point of police being called, him threatening to beat me with a large rock and me feeling that my life was in danger. Odd thing is, that was all before DDay, and I stayed for another two years after that episode. The abuse continued and I eventually left. Two years ago today. Yay me!

  • This article should be on every relationship and abuse site out there. You nailed it. As to my narrative? We were brought together by destiny – the unlikely fact that we ever met and yet did and fell in love was “magic.” And he was a ‘good man” who had everything he ever wanted…this four year affair was just some reaction to my weight, my disinterest or jaundiced view of his union involvement, his seizures that had arisen from nowhere in midlife, the death of both his parents and several friends/relatives in a few years. That was my narrative and why I tried for over two years to make him “see and understand” what he was giving up.

    Last weekend I ran into a couple that I met when I met my ex – in fact, they had been close friends of Jim and his first wife before I ever entered the scene. They gave me a big hug and asked how I was doing and then they said “There is something really missing in Jim – he’s got something missing in himself that makes him believe that he’s got the right to just throw lives away trying to find what will make him happy…but he’ll never be.” Then the man said “I ran into Jim at a union thing in Harrisburg, and he was with whatever her name is now, and he took me aside and we talked and I asked him how he could just throw away his whole life and he said to me ‘I’m entitled to be happy.’ I actually wanted to go over to his girlfriend and tell her to RUN – RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN – because he’ll do it again at some point because he’s just defective as a person.

    As they left, he looked back at me and said “Please remember, it’s NOT YOUR FAULT AT ALL.’

    And they are right. It took me over 3 years to finally get it in my head that it really wasn’t weight or differences of opinion or lack of excitement or the mundane patches that affect any marriage. It’s been him all along. And almost 4 years out from D-day, he still is telling anyone who will listen that he’s entitled to be happy. That’s his go to, and will continue to be, and he’ll do anything to try and find it. And he never will. But God help anyone who falls into his arms, because he is an abuser of the first order.

    Infidelity is, in my opinion, the worst kind of abuse, because you never can see it coming until it’s beaten you almost to death emotionally.

    • Thank you Char for sharing your story. My ex said the exact same thing…”life is too short not to be happy”. If I had a penny for every time I heard him say this!!! Only after reading it the way you’ve posted it here, do I now understand how defective that statement is. I used to think, sure everyone wants to be happy. But now I look at that completely differently thanks to you! My ex got married 2 weeks ago and is currently on his honeymoon (with the OW). I’m at home in the cold, raising our kids alone. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. While he’s off ‘honeymooning’ I’m the one that’s happy…because I have my beautiful girls. Funny how someone’s definition of ‘happy’ can be so different.

      • Sick of HER Chump,
        It is indeed. What always amazes me about the “I’m entitled to be happy” is the total lack of regard for anyone else’s entitlement of the same? I asked him once when he’d said that yet again “And what about your daughters’ and MY entitlement to be happy?” And he said………nothing. Just stood there with his mouth agape in frustration and had nothing to say- because in his world – there was no entitlement but his own. And now he is entitled to be happy with the OW, who currently pays his bills and lets him live in her house and afforded him the ability to retire and use bankruptcy to get out of his debts. But his entitlement stops with her – which he is NOT happy about. He is not entitled to be a parent just because biologically he fathered two children. His daughters are done with him and he is angry because – no lie – he said that “he’s entitled to their respect as their father.” That word entitlement – what a toxic creature it is. So believe me – you in your snug little house, with your girls and your self worth and the whole world in front of you – you definitely are the happy one. Your ex can honeymoon with the OW and claim happiness and bliss…right up until something kicks in that makes him think he’s not…and then he’ll start the search for his next “entitlement to be happy.” Only at the end (if then) will he realize that he left all his happiness in the wrecked relationships lost on his quest for happiness.

        • I also asked my EX about the happiness of his daughters and myself. Like you though, I didn’t get an answer. This entitlement floors me. My EX purchased a home back in March with the OW, was engaged in July and married in November. They are both paramedics and are given ample opportunities to work overtime. When we were married, my EX worked it all the time. Now…she works it so that my child support doesn’t’ go up. It’s pathetic. He hasn’t gone the bankruptcy route yet, but I wouldn’t put it past him. My daughter’s are still very young and have no idea what has gone on. They still view their dad as a “hero” which eats me up inside. I can’t wait for the day when he realizes everything he’s lost. Your EX is unbelievable if he thinks he’s “entitled” to respect from your children. After everything he’s put them through!?!?!?

        • It’s so interesting. I remember when I first met my STBX. Family members told me “It’s so great to see ______ finally happy!” And of course, that felt wonderful. Here I was, the one who could fill the void in his life. And that lasted for a few months, and then came the restlessness and unhappiness (and ups and downs with the SAD and everything else that was keeping him unhappy – mainly me, according to STBX.) And I, too, tried to convince myself that his cheating was part of his depression and general unhappiness with life, and if I could just hang in here, he would finally be content – finally realize that our daughter and I, and the life we had forged together would be what he wanted and needed. But in truth, he only needed me to catch him when he fell, to pay the majority of the bills, to hold down the full time job, to be there waiting for the times he was not out carousing or meeting up with god-knows-who. And in the end, it came down to “I realized life is short and I don’t want to spend the rest of mine unhappy.” Directly accusing me and our marriage of being his reason for unhappiness. But I know in my heart of hearts that until he can find contentment within, he will never be truly happy. No matter who he’s with.

            • Really, Nord, you’re right! How could we lose sight of that obvious obviousness? And of course, that unhappiness totally justifies their cheating, and all the crap that came with it. Poor sausages, we just about forced them into it!

              • I thought I could make him happy, I tried to make him happy I did all I could only to realize he didn’t have the capacity to be happy

              • Janet, that’s the chump refrain right there! When I realized that, whatever my flaws, I had really TRIED to make my ex happy and to make our relationship a happy one, and he never, ever had, it was much easier to just let go of the whole mess.

                He was unhappy before we met, unhappy for most of our time together, and is unhappy now. His problem, not mine anymore.

        • My ex went to IC for awhile but told me very little about his sessions. One thing he did report, however, is that his counselor told him “You have to be happy so the people around you can be happy.” I believe this is true, because around that time I was so confused, so gaslighted and depressed that I was almost suicidal. The best thing my ex could have done was leave so I could experience living around healthy people again. As much as it upset me to hear at the time, I think the counselor was right. Of course, the counselor probably knew a lot more about what was going on with my ex than I did.

        • Respect is something you earn. It’s not just given out. My STBXW expects the kids to just respect her. She has also quoted the “I need to be happy” crap just like all the rest of the cheaters out there.

          • My ex has learned that the hard way; our kids (now 12 and 14) are refusing to see him at all.

            I actually think that respect and trust are gifts we give people, but they can lose them through their behaviour. What us chumps need is to be able to SEE when someone is throwing away those gifts. When he threw them away, I kept picking up all the gifts I gave my ex; my loyalty, my love, our beautiful kids, our family life, our nice home, the respect of his friends and family, my contributions that allowed him to work so hard at his career and education; I’d brush them off as well as possible, and hand them back to him, explaining how and why they were valuable. And in the end, he would just throw them in the mud again.

            • KarenE, your comment made me think of a weird little verse in the Bible that I never really got before dday. But I do now. It’s Matthew 7:6: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

              Somehow cheaters can’t tell the difference between pearls and swine.

              • I’ve quoted that verse somewhere on CL before Northern. I never got what it meant either, until after D-Day. 🙂

        • Yep. This: “Your ex can honeymoon with the OW and claim happiness and bliss…right up until something kicks in that makes him think he’s not…and then he’ll start the search for his next “entitlement to be happy.” Only at the end (if then) will he realize that he left all his happiness in the wrecked relationships lost on his quest for happiness.”

          Even my ex’s mom said she thought he would repeat this pattern forever…

        • “Only at the end (if then) will he realize that he left all his happiness in the wrecked relationships lost on his quest for happiness.”

          You really nailed that Char, thanks for putting it into words so well.

          • Yes, Char. That sums it up perfectly! I actually said to my EX when I kicked him out “one day you’ll realize that the only people who truly loved you were in this house, but by then it will be too late”.

      • Seems like the “Life is too short not to be happy” is a favorite line. I think life is too short for me to not to maybe screw things up by dating too early after my divorce becomes final. Right now the things that make me happy are my kids, my work, and quiet time, and I don’t expect this list to change any time soon.

    • I got the ‘I deserve to be happy’ as well. But he isn’t. He tries to put on the face but when people see him they all say he’s haggard, desperate and is generally the saddest looking person around. I felt sorry for him for a long time when I’d hear this. And then I felt satisfaction because I thought it was about what he lost and him seeing it. Now I see that it doesn’t matter who, what, when, where, how…the dude has an empty hole inside that can never be filled, no matter how often he changes the players or what he does. So I feel pity now. I have the ability to be happy and that’s all I need. 🙂

      • These guys who leave will desperately try to create a show of post-abandonment happiness. It’s a fireworks display. And it’s almost always fake. They are incapable of sticking to anything or anyone. They are trying desperately to convince themselves and others that they are better off. That’s all it is: sparkly fake fireworks.

      • My ex blamed me for “holding him back” from his self-proclaimed destiny of becoming a famous actor. It’s been over three years now and needless to say, he still hasn’t fulfilled that destiny, even though “God opened all the doors” to this dream. I really don’t know how he feels inside, because I have not seen or spoken to him in person for over two years, and I hope I never have to speak to him again. But I think he really is happy in this new life, which is 100% built around boasting about himself on facebook, trying to build up his dancing bigfoot gig (he just told our son again last night that it’s about to go huge) and basically living a life of delusion and complete lack of responsibility. I sort of feel sorry for him, because I think he is mentally ill on some level, but at the same time, he chose to abandon his family, his responsibilities and commitments and to cheat more than anyone I’ve ever heard of. There is absolutely an empty hole inside him that will never, ever be filled, no matter how many strangers “like” his quasi-inspirational posts on fakebook. But he can’t see that, and is happy now that he lives entirely for attention.

        • Sorry Glad, right now your ex gives me my nightly laugh (telling your son Bigfoot is about to go huge), it would be so sad if they weren’t so destructive. Well now he can just hunker down with the little false narrative inside his head, god forbid if reality ever hits, he’d probably decompensate and have to be committed. We treat my ex the same, like an overgrown toddler bragging about his less-than-impressive accomplishments. I always wonder what will happen if and when he figures out his sad little truth.

        • Kinda sad…. Probably a lot of the hits on his youtube videos are chumps who were just rubber-necking…. He’s so not going anywhere with that gig, and it goes without saying that it’s due to lack of marketable talent, nothing whatsoever to do with you. Except you were the one person who supported him. Yikes. He’s deluuuuuuuusional.

    • Char, that is a powerful story, and not far off my own. I’ll bet it felt good to hear your friends confirm that your ex is defective. As you say, the cheaters who are convinced that they “have a right to be happy” probably never will reach that goal. Happiness doesn’t come from using and abusing others, and at best, is an elusive goal. I myself would prefer to live a life of quiet joy, contentment and peace. Those feelings last, happiness comes and goes. As do cheaters.

    • Char,

      Mine has been saying things like that all along too.

      Just before D-Day, his excuse for the affair was that he was getting older to the point where he needed glasses and couldn’t remember things well, like he used to, and it was making him so unhappy that he had to do something to make himself happier….

      So let me get this straight… his excuse for having an affair (that day) was that his vision and memory were going? Hah! sounds stupid to me now… felt sorry for him at the time.

      Other people posting here are correct too… we chumps have to find it in ourselves to realize it is not our fault… checking our reality against how others see our cheater definitely helps, but I have yet to completely be able to remove myself emotionally, despite that.

      i’d be curious to know how others’ meh moments have finally come…. and stuck. i SO want to get there.

  • I disagree on the “Fog” issue. I’ve seen this in women who have done the “Grass is Greener” thing on their husbands after marriages of 10-25 years with no history of infidelity and they clearly are “Not Right” in the head, according to their family and friends. The “Twuuu Love” hormones are in an uproar, oh they know it’s wrong, but it’s like an addiction, they get off on the fix.

    • But… that says a lot about who they really are. The mask is off, and you are getting a glimpse of the person who hid behind it because they feel free to fly their freak flag.

      • Sorry, but I’m talking about those who’ve really been great husbands and wives for the last 20 years, not those that have been unfaithful for years, or whose negative traits have been put up with for a long time. Some people just loose it at middle age and most of it has very little to do with us or some hidden BPD… I went through my own at 50, but it was mild, I just looked around and realized my life was no different than anyone else I knew and just made lifestyle changes that improved my life. My X on the other hand at 45 went the full bore “I’m 22 again” route . They truly are not in their right mind.

        • Same here. As soon as the Daughter was in her last year or so of HS my 45 yr old wife thought she needed to be happy and the best way was to act like she was in High School/College again. Drinking and screwing her recently divorce old HS boyfriend. (that she felt sorry for) I hate to be cliche here but. She went crazy.

          • But what does that tell you?

            Seriously, trying to write it off as “fog” or “addiction” or “midlife crisis” just doesn’t fly with me.

            I get “person who was pretending to be something (and if you were honest with yourself, there may have been clues along the way) and who got tired of acting”.

            That’s what I get: low ego integrity.

            • I think my ex really did pretend to be someone he was not for 20 years. In looking back, the signs are obvious that he was always cheating, is gay, is NPD and is quite disordered. I chose to overlook those red screaming flags because I was terrified of being alone, and because my ex was very good at covering up his disorder with the Mr. Great Guy routine.

              For whatever reason, he finally reached a point where he didn’t feel the need to pretend anymore. I view his current life situation as the real him. Our marriage was nothing but an act, it’s just I didn’t realize I was only playing some sort of bit part in his own internal movie.

              • Yeah, Glad. You’ve hit the nail on the head with that one.

                Mine was exactly the same.

                I don’t know how much this happens to other Chumps, but I have actually been having flashbacks to situations and events over the course of our 20 year marriage, .

                Even things that happened very early on… things I haven’t thought of in years… and realize, “Wow, that makes a lot more sense now.”

                For example, when D-Day first came about, I thought of right after we got married. The sex immediately changed from something fun and nice, to something it was my duty to perform whenever he wanted it… and nevermind if I was enjoying myself…. as long as he had a warm body to stick his dick in. It became very mechanical for him, and he was very demanding. no emotion, no foreplay. To the point that I started to refuse.

                Then, of course, there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to have sex… not like that, I didn’t!

                I spent so much time overwhelmed with guilt about that, that I spent much of our marriage shamed into accepting that the problem was me, and being conditioned to think he should be allowed to have sex with others! What in the world was I thinking?

                The truth is, he’s a cerebral narcissist, and doesn’t know how to relate emotionally. Our brains are wired totally differently, and he used guilt against me to fake a life to the outside world.

                There are many other, smaller flashbacks to things too… that didn’t make sense at the time, but sure do in hindsight!

          • Bud, my ex-wife went through something similar, though she hid the affairs and engaged in lots of cake eating before and after D-Day.

            When I told one of my sisters about what was going on she paused for a long moment and then said, “When she wakes up and realizes what she’s done, she’s going to feel really, REALLY stupid.” But, of course, she never work up. And maybe “crazy” just means a stupid-from-which-you-never-wake-up.

            • For a long time, I thought my ex might one day “wake up” and feel some sort of remorse, shame or embarrassment over the way he treated me, the way he financially devastated us, the way he uses and manipulates even his own parents, and all the rest of his craziness. But I no longer believe he will ever wake up. In fact, the deeper he slides into delusion, the more he has to justify his evil by pretending he is really happy and a wonderful guy and his life is an inspirational success story. It’s gone so far, there is no chance now of him snapping out of it. Batshit crazy. No cure for that.

              • Yep, GIO. In your case, BSC is undoubtedly the proper diagnosis for your ex.

                Come to think of it, my then-44-year-old ex-wife’s addiction to World of Warcraft and fake trips to visit old college friends in the Pacific Northwest that were really Las Vegas hookups with her WoW Guild Leader (among other affairs) are no less bizarre and delusional than mincing around in a blue Sasquatch costume.

              • Glad, do me a favor and remind me of the term Bat Shit Crazy from time to time, will you? That’s what I need to remember to fully get myself out of this.

        • Mike,

          My STBXW did the same. She was a decent woman for 18 years of marriage. When my daughter became a teenager she wanted to be one with her and started dating again at the age of 39 behind my back. She wanted to be the “cool” mom. All my daughter’s friends were on a first name basis with her. Never “Mrs.” for a surname.

          Thay are crazy…what can you do with this?

          • All you can do is let them go, go “No Contact” and build a new life. For the ones that were not screwing around throughout the marriage or exhibiting batshit crazy behavoir before hand, I truly believe it’s hormone related. A lot of women are thrown into depression when Peri kicks in, they feel like crap and figure the common denominator (You) is the problem. 23% of women in their 40s and 50s now take antidepressants, that should tell you something…

  • Lyn and Ashley: My narrative was so close to yours. Lyn, I said some of the VERY same things to myself in order to justify staying after the first affair, and enduring 9 more years of emotional withdrawal and less than I deserved, up until the second affair (that I know of.) And Ashley, mine was a cop who had been diagnosed (right before the first affair and after a major incident or misconduct on the job) with a lifelong depression. I told myself, it was the depression that has him so confused. That is why he did this. I can’t leave a person who is so sick. I can fix this, fix him. I need to keep my family intact, fight for it. Well, I realized now, that was so wrong and a classic narrative of victims of abuse. I stayed and allowed the continued abuse up until the second affair in 2012. He’s still with her too and it hurts, but he is showing me more and more, even now, the guy he truly is through some of his behavior in regards to our boys. He too is one of the bad guys, just a different kind of bad. Remarkable how similar we, and our cheaters, all are.

    • StartingOver, I used to feel so unhappy about my ex’s relationships with his coworkers, but I thought it was my problem. That I was overly jealous. I had no evidence he was actually sleeping with them, but he never enforced boundaries to protect our marriage. One of his coworkers used to call our house and tell him all about her sex life, ask his opinion on which guy she should pick out of the two she was dating. She was his BOSS. He followed her around like a little puppy and eventually got promoted to her position. She called him her “work husband.” When I went along with him on work vacations he’d walk with her and leave me to follow behind. I felt like the second wife in a harem when she was around. And that wasn’t nearly as bad as his relationship with his graduate student after his BOSS retired. Why did I stay? I thought it was me. I thought I had insecurity issues, which I did. I had no clear evidence that he was sleeping with either of these women. What I wish is that I’d walked in on him with one of them in bed together. That would have been so much easier and more clear cut. Then I could have named what was happening to me as abuse.

      • Lyn: The OW my ex is currently with is also a co-worker. And, as I confronted him on the inappropriateness of their numerous overbite texts (he works straight overnight, but she works days,) he stared me in the face and said “we’re just friends.” I knew all along they weren’t, especially since he used his job and the cell phone to cheat on me the first time, so he lacks in creativity. I fought him on it. I told him he should stop talking to her. He said she was “his coping mechanism” and “his escape.” And the statement that really devastated me and made me see the futility: “I know what I should do…but I don’t want to.” And I STILL didn’t pull the plug until I had actual emails as proof, even though I knew. THAT is abuse, I realize this now. I was BEGGING him to tell me the truth, BEGGING for him to just let me go then. But he hung on and made me do the dirty work of pulling the plug, filing for divorce, etc. He is an abuser and a coward. And he will do the same to her. I just wish it would be sooner rather than later. I would get to meh much faster that way. And I don’t think seeing them in bed together would have made it any better for you. I think it would have made it worse in that you could never get that visual out of your head. Once you see something you can’t unsee it. I can still see those words to each other in their emails. They still hurt and haunt me. I wish I never saw them and had just kicked him to the curb based on everything else. You know what he did was abuse, you didn’t need the visual to confirm that.

        • My ex tried to get me to file for divorce too, but I refused. At the time I didn’t know everything about what was going on with him, so was still high on hopium. Over and over I told him HE had to file for divorce if that’s what he wanted. As CL said in one of her earlier posts, expecting me to file was like asking me to shoot something I loved (our history together, my family). I’m still glad I stood my ground on that because it was HIS infidelity that caused the divorce, not mine.

          One scene that sticks in my mind is when I woke him up after 2 am and told him I’d found his journal and knew he was in love with his coworker. He started blurting out all kinds of blaming statements but I just kept repeating “you’re in love with another woman, you’re in love with another woman” to everything he said. It was a technique I’d used with my kids when they were trying to blame everyone else for their bad choices. Anyway, it worked and eventually he shut up. Of that I’m a little bit proud.

          • They really aren’t very original. I guess they figure, why change what has worked for them. Lazy, pathetic assholes.

            • It’s just the entitlement thing.

              Firstly, they think they are just entitled to do whatever they want, and have learned from our behavior that we will put up with it, so why bother hiding it?

              Secondly, most of them actually think they’re so much smarter than everyone else that they wont get caught… and need to learn repeatedly that’s not the case.

              I also think that in many cases, mine included, they do it intentionally, to force us chumps into finally calling it quits… they want to, but are too cowardly to actually pull the plug.

      • Lyn,

        Yep, my ex started sleeping with his assistant… who was basically his work wife. Apparently everyone at work talked about how they were best friends, etc. Ugh. I never felt jealously (because really, she was stupid, crazy and not that hot) until nearing the end as it became clearer they were crossing boundaries because they started being in touch outside of work more. Previously, he kept more of his boundary crossing to the workplace I guess. But he would do the occasional thing that I thought was not something a boss does for a coworker and he’d act like I was just being mean. I did know they talked about inappropriate things like her sex life but he said everyone at work said stuff like that (I thought maybe that’s what small offices were like) and HE never said stuff back. ha!

        Anyway, that thing about walking with her and leaving you behind struck me. My ex used to walk ahead of me A LOT… even when there wasn’t anyone else walking with us! Like I guess he was in a hurry or something and thought it would make me speed up? I don’t know why you wouldn’t wait to walk with your wife or girlfriend?? I would say stuff about it every once in a while and he acted (again) like I was being ridiculous. I’ve seen him do it some with the kids now… leaving them in his wake a little because I guess they don’t keep up (uh, they are 4 and 3), maybe just when I’m there to herd them for him I’m sure.

        Soon after kicking him out or something I actually had a dream about meeting someone new who, in the dream, made a point of walking back to me to walk WITH me and in my dream I thought this was the most obvious and romantic gesture ever! Sad, I know. But my dreams almost never are so literal, so I took it as yet another sign that I had made the right decision.

        • I had the most vivid dreams the first couple months after dday. I’ve read that the brain tries to work on healing, even while we sleep, and after all the dreams I’ve had…I don’t doubt it.

        • Oh God, anotherErica, my ex totally did that walking too fast thing! He has long legs, and I guess his natural pace when he’s alone is fast, but he KNEW I couldn’t keep up w/him, much less the kids when they were smaller, he just didn’t give a fuck! I think he really felt he shouldn’t have to adapt in any way to being w/someone else, it should be everybody else who adapts to him! And I think he secretly liked it when we’d call him to slow down and let us catch up.

          One time when the kids were pre-schoolers we were walking somewhere together, not even in any hurry, and the ex was getting all impatient. I finally told him to cool it, and he started explaining to me what ‘torture’ it was for him to walk at the kids’ pace – that’s actually the word he used.

          The man is a freak. An entitled freak. And not even a very original freak.

          • AE,
            My STBX did that walking ahead of me thing too. Not always–just the last five years when he became distant (and with his GF). It felt so wrong and he seemed to be saying that he would not walk through life with me…so disrespectful. I called him out on it every time and he became very angry and told me that’s how it always was, and that I was just too slow. Ah, it was such a strong signal and it took me so long to get it. He wanted to leave me behind. Now, I am so glad I have left HIM behind.

            No doubt you made the right decision, AE! I have vivd dreams of still being with X. I am so ready to be done with all of this, but I guess my mind continues to process..

        • anotherErica, my ex always walked ahead of me, even when we were teenagers. I repeatedly asked him if he’d slow down but it would make him mad. Eventually I just gave up because I wasn’t going to jog to keep up with him. I also have the fantasy of finding someone who would walk with me, who wouldn’t always be in a hurry or impatient.

  • This was a great post. I never thought of it as abuse until recently coming across many links that always brought me to PTSD and the possibility of having it due to a relationship with someone with NPD. Infidelity being a sucker punch from behind. So well put. I’m reading the reasons why people say they stayed. I had the same reasons. I’m so close to “meh” these days and I can feel it, but some days I get in a panic. The time of day when “normal” people would be coming home to their families is a big trigger or when I didn’t get something finished by the end of the day. I don’t ever want this man back in my life, but I can still feel the damage that has been done to my psyche. I’m going back to therapy after the holidays and I read a lot these days on this blog as well as books about codependency. It’s not too hard to figure out why you stayed and where your FOO issues played the role in the staying. It’s changing our own behavior to not do it again with anyone else who isn’t worthy of us. That’s the challenge.

    • Going home after work was a really big trigger for me for a good while. Especially Fridays. I cried while walking home from work many times. It’s much better now though, thankfully.

  • In Martha Stout’s book “The Sociopath Next Door”, she says the #1 red flag of a sociopath is the pity play. In this woman’s case, he told her he was savagely beaten as a child, and you could tell she sympathized with him. She then continued to spackle, to make up for the distress he claimed he suffered as a child.

    Another early sign was the flattery and the charm. That is also a manipulation, not a character trait.

    Excellent video and important message. Thanks for posting.

    This woman has a very important message.

  • I must say that I was guilty of this kind of spackling, codependent behavior.

    Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt 🙂

    If I have learned anything, I hope it is… don’t just write-off the parts of somebody’s personality that aren’t what they would like to project or you would like to believe.

    There’s a fine line, though, between being flexible and forgiving of minor faults and living in that kind of denial/codependency. And, for me, it happened so gradually that I didn’t really notice until I was in pretty deep, and then I just didn’t want to believe it or believe that it couldn’t be overcome. I definitely was desperately awaiting her ‘eureka’ moment . Didn’t happen.

  • I’d invite anyone who says infidelity isn’t abuse to talk to a dozen chumps. I’d guess the majority of them, like me, would have *gladly* traded a dozen punches to the face, hell, I’d have allowed my right arm to be cut off, if it would have meant I could turn back time and prevent my ex-wife’s cheating.

    • You know, I would NEVER minimalize the horror of being physically beaten, but I have often wish he had punched me in the face or otherwise physically abused me. I feel like the physical scares could have healed much faster than the emotional and psychological scars left behind my the emotional abuse of infidelity. It will take me years of recovery and the scars will always be there on my psyche.

      • Agreed. I don’t intend to minimize physical abuse, and I don’t mean to instigate any Pain Olympics, but in terms of the mental pain they cause I believe they are comparable.

      • For me, I think it would have been more clear to me that I was being abused if he’d hit me instead of screwed around on me. I often thought “He hasn’t hit me, I don’t have solid evidence that he’s sleeping with someone else.” I kept watching for the smoking gun.

        • Yep. I remember being in marraige counseling before D-Day for issues that I thought were normal for a 20+ year marriage (not spending much time together, friction over raising teenagers, etc.). And the subject of divorce came up and I said, “Well, people don’t get divorced over these things. They get divorced over issues like cheating and addiction and such. And we don’t have issues like that, right?” My wife just nodded along, like, yes, yes. And the whole time, she was essentially hitting me in the head with a lead pipe.

          • There is something important here.

            Many times, an abusive spouse (and my experience with with abusive male spouses) knows how to walk up to certain lines and then not cross them. Now, these men are probably not as bad as the fist-tossing types, but they are not good either. They know how to “ration rationality,” how to blow up, frighten everyone with an air raid siren yelling fit, and then wake up the next day, providing everyone with sudden relief, and then it’s all over. Until the next time. Think of the scene in the movie “Marathon Man,” where the Nazi doctor trills into Dustin Hoffman’s teeth and then suddenly applies oil of cloves to stop the pain he has created. Such men (and I know this applies to female spouses, too, but I speak from what I’ve seen) are probably not as bad as the true stompers, but they are not good people either. They stay on the right side of the physical violence line so they can reassure themselves that they are still “good” (“I never hit her”) and so that the Chump Spouse will not jump into the escape pod and hit the eject button. But this is not really a superior moral choice, but more like a tactical one. Yelling, vicious cursing, saying in appropriate things to children, and infidelity: all this stuff can be bad enough to justify hitting the road. So, watch out for the guy who rations rationality, who acts out really badly but then does a quick U-turn the next day so as to take advantage of everyone’s relief. He’s doling out the hopium in little doses, but he’s not going to change.

            At least that’s my experience.

            Chump Son

            • Chump Son you are right on. I was pushed, threatened, dragged around the house, gas lighted. He hit walls behind me, yelled at my face, drove erratically with me in the car (or on the back of the motorcycle) always… ALWAYS threatened to leave me in inappropriate and dangerous places (we lived in Central America), but he never doubled up his fist and hit me. I told him to once, after he threw me to the ground and threatened to hit me over the head with a large rock. Got back in his face and yelled “just hit me mother fucker, go on just do it.” Our neighbors called the cops, and he said if I hadn’t yelled so loud they wouldn’t have been called, so it was my fault.

              • his intimidation and tactics were because he knew if he crossed the “hit” line you would leave. My hit me once and I called the cops, I told him if he did it ever again we were over so he never went that far again. He got a new tactic, ex raged at me and it scared me but I didn’t admit that on a conscious level, that’s why Gift of Fear book is so important. You and I? we convinced ourselves we were safe, he wouldn’t really hurt us. Then one day we knew he would, he crossed a line. Abusers are never out of control, they know how far they can go before you leave until one day they underestimate your boundary and you finally see that they will hurt you or kill you. Then they keep going, loss of control of their partner is the thing that makes them lose their ability to continue without putting themselves at risk.

    • If he had punched me in the face, I would have had an easier time leaving. I broke my nose in a sporting accident that left me with 2 black eyes and a crooked nose. I had so many people come out of the woodwork, offering me support and advice on how to leave my abusive man. I had to assure them that the nose breaking happened quite publicly, with many witnesses, before they believed me.
      But the cheating was so insidious, that it took me a long time to realize what kind of abuse it was, and no one saw those wounds, or offered any help.
      The same people that were ready to back me when it looked like I was beaten were the same ones who assumed I did something to drive my ex to cheat.

        • Roxie,

          I’m glad you didn’t get hit by him, but in some ways the abusers who stop short of hitting (who yell, who say awful things in front of the kids, who engage in affairs) are also quite bad, maybe not as bad, but certainly bad enough to deserve leaving behind. They play a careful game. They are good at Chump manipulation, and they understand where the lines are. There’s a category of spouse abuser who always wants to be able to say, “What’s wrong with you? Sure. We had some problems, but I never hit you….” as if that’s some sort of badge of honor. (NPD types love to rationalize their actions by measuring the alleged distance between themselves and some bottom rather than aspiring to be better…..)

          Such folks might be marginally “better” than physical abusers in one sense, in that they aren’t violent, but they are also harder to recognize and harder to get rid of. Their good behavior is more camouflage and smart tactics and probably reflects somewhat better self control than it is really a sign that you are “lucky” to be with them.

          I haven’t quite got the word gift to characterize this kind of person well, but they know how to push a relationship to the limits and then pull back when they sense that they may have gone too far. They might yell rather than hit or become practiced experts at apologies. Please beware of the types who dance repeatedly into the danger zone but never quite cross over the red lines. That can be a sign — not of good things — but of another kind of bad.

          Chump Son

          Sorry to be so abstract. Feel free to say it better than I did!

          • David,
            You’re so right that the non-physically abusive types are great at chump manipulation. It’s crazy how good they are at keeping things right at the edge.

      • Guys… I don’t think it’s quite true to say things like “I would have preferred to be hit” or if I’d have been hit it would have been easier to leave…

        we don’t like it when people that haven’t experienced infidelity say these kinds of things about our situation…

        we really have no idea what it would be like to be in a physically abusive relationship. We’d like to think we’d leave, but you never know. I also thought that if my husband ever cheated on me, I would leave immediately (besides that my husband would NEVER cheat on me). I mean, it SOUNDS really obvious… until it happens to you. I’m just glad I did draw the line somewhere and did leave. I assume I would have reacted the same with physical abuse. But where that line would have been, who knows?

        • Well, the thing that comes to my mind is all the people who have been physically abused and stay in it. We’ve all heard these stories.

          What makes any of us chumps think that if we’d been hit, we wouldn’t have stayed in it? We stayed in being emotionally hit.

          If the progression is slow enough, and the rationalization good enough, who’s to say any of us wouldn’t have put up with that physical abuse.

          What I WOULD say is that this type of emotional abuse needs to be made more public, so people understand that it happens. Knowledge is empowerment, as usual.

  • I take exception to the criticism of the statement, “Life is too short not to be happy.”

    Cases in point?

    Life IS too short and too precious to stay in a physically or emotionally abusive situation that causes chronic pain and unhappiness.

    Life is too short to remain with a serial cheater who risks not only his or her own emotional and physical heath but that of the partner.

    The crux of the matter is one’s definition of happiness. Those who would define happiness as “getting mine regardless of whom it hurts” don’t have a grasp of what creates happiness. They are chronic discontents who believe that external forces cause us to be either a content person or a malcontent. But being content in life comes from within…from living a life of respect for self and others…from doing what is right even when doing it is sometimes difficult..and from balancing our own needs and preferences with the needs and preferences of those whom we love and value in such a way as to create win-win situations to the greatest extent possible.

    I would go so far to say that “takers” with an entitlement mentality seldom if ever find inner peace and contentment unless they experience a life altering epiphany that gets their attention completely. Thrill seeking and temporary “highs” leave a deeper void when the thrill fades and the high drops…which they always do.

    On the other hand, those of us who in the past were traumatized by an exploiter can hold on to the outrage and bitterness far past the point of them having been useful. Anger should be a temporary way station, useful at the time when needed, but something to resolve and let go or else we become as emotionally crippled as the one who hurt us.


    “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    “He who would fight monsters should be very careful that in the process he does not become a monster. For when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”

    • (Hit post before complete).

      I take Nietzsche’s words to mean that we need to be very careful about how we work though having been abused. We aren’t allowed the luxurious double standard of holding our abused-abuser to a higher standard than that which we hold for ourselves….otherwise we stay too long in the pit…ending up bitter, mistrustful, and just as warped.

      There comes a time to let it go and look only forward.

      • notyou, I agree. My ex described his OW as “his coping mechanism” and “his escape.” He will never be happy with her or anyone else, when he places his happiness on outside sources rather than within. Glad to see other people feel the same.

        • StartingOver,

          You are correct. As long as he tries to run from reality and tries to avoid becoming an adult, he will never find contentment. His life will be one long sprint from mirage to mirage. The one person we can never run fast and far enough from is our self. Solution? Make yourself someone that you love to hang out with. Everything else will fall into place.

          • Now if only I could get my heart to really get to believing this about him and his life, really implanting this in my heart (I am close) , I will finally get to the “meh” I so desperately want. It’s there in his history and in his behavior, but some small part of me still thinks he is getting away with abusing me and destroying our marriage and family and that he is really happy with OW now. All the signs point to him continuing his selfish search for happiness by leaving a path of destruction in his wake, but until I actually see his life, and his relationship with OW implode, a tiny part of me can’t get to “meh.” Working hard on that, and making me and my boys the focus now. That’s why I keep coming to this site and soaking in everything relating to this topic. Eventually it will really click and stay with me. Then I will come to glorious “meh.”

            • Starting….

              The only thing I tell you as the unequivocal truth is that you are capable of achieving a contented and even joyful life, you have the tools to do it, and you appear motivated to do it.

              I can speculate with reasonable assurance that you probably won’t get to watch the “implosion,” because it will be internal for him…actually it already exists. He is already damaged.

              Don’t allow him to permanently damage you.

              CL is fond of saying “Trust that they suck.” I will add a corollary: “Trust that they are not really happy either.”

              Do you really believe that after the way he has behaved, he is going to show you anything other than, “the good face”? He has been donning the mask all of his life…and when that didn’t get the job done, packing it in and running. Running away from problems never solves them. It indicates lack of courage and honor…or indeed even good sense.

              If you wait until your idea of justice is served on those, you could be waiting forever to reach “meh.” And, BTW, “meh” doesn’t mean we won’t have roadblocks, set backs, and other traumas in the future. It just means we achieve a state where we recognize that these things are not to be terrified of –that they are problems to be solved–that we have the capacity to solve them and then return focus to all that is good about our lives.

              Think about it. You have your priorities straight….working to rear a good boy of good character. You now have a poor role model distanced from that boy– which may be a blessing in disguise–even if you cannot see it now.

              As I am fond of saying, “There are nearly 8 billion people on this earth and HE and SHE are only two of them.” There is a whole big wide world out there just waiting for YOU to decide to sample it, enjoy it, and take some risks…calculated risks, but risks nevertheless. All of life is a risk. We don’t like to acknowledge that fact; but reality is reality.

              For whatever reason, we tend to be hesitant to cut our losses and start prospecting for a better life. We hate to get out of our “familiar zone.” I purposely did not use the phrase “comfort zone,”…because for those who have been exploited or abused there was nothing comfortable about that “zone,” but we feared change more than we feared the pain of staying.

              Have you ever noticed that children are born confident and fearless? Somehow we beat all of that out of them in our efforts to keep them from making mistakes and to protect them. There is value in allowing children to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes while they are very young and the price tags are small. It teaches critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, and ability to adjust to set backs…all of which are precursors to character development. What we should be after in this life is progress not perfection, and unlearning unnecessary fear.

              But I digress. I believe you when you say things will click for you and you will find out how to walk the path. Why? Because you want to and are determined to do so. And when it clicks, you will no longer have a tiny part of you that can’t move forward until they fall on their faces. Doesn’t mean you might not have a twinge of satisfaction if you find out that they have (you ARE only human) but that it does not have any kind of “hold” on you anymore.

              I know you feel like you will never trust or love again, but am here to tell you that you ARE able to do that. Not all men are like this man. Most of them are good, decent guys who want the same things that you want. A drama free, and even ordinary life, with a companion who respects and loves them…one who appreciates any efforts they make to give their woman a good life.

              Your possibilities are endless. Work through this and as CL says, “Gain a life.” It is right there within your reach, and you are the ONLY one able to reach out and pick it up.

              • Wow, NotYou, you knocked it out of the ball park with this one. A lot of food for thought here.

              • notyou: Wow. I read what you wrote twice, and may even read it many times over. And you are so right about his “implosion.” Knowing him, it will be internal, then released like a pressure valve on the OW or some other “coping mechanism” that he is using. And he is very good at putting on the happy face. After all, he fooled me and everyone who knows him, with the “happy face” for decades. I am taking batter care of me and focusing on me and what I want for a change. I am very guarded about being hurt or deceived again and am on again, off again about dating right now. Sometimes I think I need more time for me and more distance from the trauma of DDay and the divorce (it’s been 15 months since DDay and 14 months since the divorce.) I am trying very hard to “gain a life” and know in my heart I already have by removing such an abusive man from my life. Thank you for your advice. It renews my hope.

      • Leave a cheater — *gain a life* — That’s the payoff.

        But to leave, I think it’s important to realize it was abuse. You were victimized by someone’s entitlement. There are power dynamics. And then when you realize that — it’s almost not personal any more. It’s who they are.

        Abuse is finite. Once you leave, it’s only infinite if you let it be. You can’t let it fuck with your head. You owe it to yourself to gain that new life.

      • Whenever I’d find myself brooding too much about the pain of the past I would quote the following scripture to myself. It always seemed to help me focus on the present:

        See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19

  • I wanted to say, “Thank you” for posting this. My husband flirts around with infidelity (emotional affair, attempted physical cheating, etc.). He’s also hit me. You’re right on the money when you say that infidelity and physical abuse are two types of abuse. I can’t speak for every relationship, but many of the same patterns emerge along with many of the same justifications. The same cultural forces encourage reconciliation at all costs. I’m currently of two minds. I’m holding onto hope that he can change. On the other hand, I read your site religiously and use it as a reality check. You have no idea how much this means to me. I felt completely alone, like I was crazy and pathetic until I started reading your site. It gives me hope and strength. I stand up for myself now. I set boundaries. He knows if he does the cheating/beating thing again, I’m leaving without any discussion. I’m standing up and saying I’d rather lose everything I’ve worked for than tolerate being abused. Your community gave me the perspective I needed to do that.

    • KT, I think you should just leave now. I doubt that your husband is going to transform into a loving version of himself who doesn’t cheat or lay hands on you. He may pretend for a while, but the mask will come off again.

      I’m so sorry that you’re in this situation.

      • Agreed. I’d refer you to my comment above. Very seldom to such folks change. Hang in there. Wish you the best.

        Chump Son

    • KT, I’m so glad you’re sticking up for yourself. I hope you’re getting some professional support. If he’s physically abusive, it can be very scary when he clues in that you’re not going to take it any more — when you make noises to leave. That’s when it escalates. It did with me.

      You’re NOT crazy and pathetic. But please do leave this man. It’s okay to hope that he gets better — but let him do that on HIS time, not yours. You get safely away from his iffy self improvement prospects. Make your plan, and execute your plan in secret. Just DO. Don’t give him a head’s up.

      • Good comment CL. Engage professional help.

        NPD type abusers will not be changed by a Chump, if they will ever change at all. In fact, sticking around gives the NPD-type or the abuser-type a reason NOT to change. You are their punching bag, and the punches can be physical or emotional (infidelity, yelling, etc.) So why change if one doesn’t have to? Even when the relationship breaks up, they often don’t alter their behaviors. More often such abuser-types just look for another victim. Sad, but true.

      • We have a lot of student loan debt and two small children. My oldest (the three year old) is mildly autistic. My job/career is keeping us on track with our payments, bringing down our total debt, and paying for my daughter’s treatments. I’m only 28, and it’s a very difficult balancing act to pull off. I’m afraid that the whole mess will come falling down on me if I act rashly. This week I’m interviewing with a company that has won the Forbes best place to work award several years in a row. They have free onsite childcare/preschool as well as plenty of other benefits that would stabilize us immensely. I’m keeping the goal in mind: financial stability. That opens doors whether we stay together or not.

        • You’re his meal ticket too, eh? You should be getting more RESPECT, and that’s exactly what they don’t give you once you let any form of abuse slide. Bullies don’t respect their victims, period. They keep on coming for whatever psychological fix they get from their sadism.

          “We have a lot of student debt” — who’s “we” Kemosabe? (old joke) Get the new job and cut him loose with his share of that debt.

          BTW — the travesty for your generation is the non-dischargeable status of student loan debt. But at the same time, court ordered child support isn’t dischargeable either.

          Cut him loose! Before you wake up in ten years and discover you’ve been mommy to 3 kids and not two.

        • KT, I can understand your position. You are thinking ahead and planning, setting boundaries. I think that’s a very good start.

        • KT,

          I have to say there will never be a “good” time to leave. Especially from a financial stability perspective. If you wait for the perfect timing it will never happen. But obviously you do need to be comfortable with the decision and you don’t need to act rashly. Maybe you should meet with a therapist and/or lawyer first?

    • Sorry KT, I’ve got to add another thought– he has HIT YOU on occasion? You need to dump him now. You are at risk physically as well as emotionally. The courts will make him pay what the law requires. Stay safe, but thinking we can control on abuser is like having a tiger by the tail. (((Hugs)))

    • KT, the better situated you get financially without him helping, the more liable you will be for alimony if you do finally reach the breaking point. You might be digging yourself in deeper, instead of digging your way out.

  • I used to be a super romantic, and XWH’s lovebombing of me was the perfect way to suck me in. Interestingly enough, though, once we had been together long enough that life was not all sparkles and romance, I thought that marriage was about taking the good with the bad, so I was accepting of his very not-so-perfect self. He could be selfish, sulky, a tightwad, a snob, and extremely short-tempered (fortunately, he took it out on objects instead of people, and never anything meaningful or super expensive to replace). But, I knew that I wasn’t perfect either, so I kept that in mind when he annoyed me, and I thought that we made things work.

    When he had the A, though… well, I was in the same lackluster marriage and didn’t choose to cheat. For a few days after DDay, however, I wanted to stay together mostly because of our kids and because I didn’t think that what he had done was impossible to recover from. We had built an entire life together, had been together since college, and I thought we had a solid foundation that we could rebuild from.

    Once he told me the truth, though, I knew that I was better than that, and I couldn’t stay with someone who had so little integrity, decency, self-respect, and respect for me and the kids. Fortunately, the amount of time I considered staying after DDay was less than a week. However, I probably should not have stayed with him to begin with. We were on the verge of breaking up after a fight when we were engaged, and I should have walked away at that point because now, in hindsight, I can see how incompatible we were. But, for all the aforementioned reasons, I stuck around. That’s when I made my mistake in staying– I should have left when we were really young and didn’t have any permanent ties to each other.

  • “Instead she told herself that she was a very strong woman in love with a very troubled man, and only she could save him.

    That’s what kept her there.”

    And that would be the summary of my marriage – which included physical abuse (which I still hate admitting) and his many affairs. But I always reminded myself how he’d had such a TERRIBLE childhood – and he always told me how wonderful it was to “finally have a family”. It’s taken a while to see it all as lies and manipulation. What a wonderful article – this should be required reading… for everyone, everywhere.

  • Wow. I totally understand the not getting abuse. To me, my marriage was normal, all I knew. I had nothing to compare it to, had never been in a relationship with any other man. And my ex is so very good at acting kind, loving, caring and generous when he wants to.

    To this day, I periodically ask my therapist if what I went through during my marriage and during the separation was abuse. She always replies, “Yes.” I also periodically ask her if there is really something wrong with my ex, or if it was just the circumstances of a bad marriage. She reminds me that something is VERY wrong with him, no question about it. I know these things in my head, yet in my heart, there is still some lingering confusion and doubt about the whole thing.

    At any rate, what I do know is I am Glad It’s Over, and I am happier and better off now that I am away from that bad, crazy man. There is nothing I could have done to “save him” from himself and in fact, as he himself told me right before leaving, he “loves himself and would never want to change.” Leaving him was the only option for saving myself.

    • Glad, I was like you. Had no other relationship experience to compare it to. We met when I was 16, married at 21. We were both professionals, had advanced degrees. He had a Ph.D. I thought we’d waited long enough to get married but really we were just too young. Our parents had married when they were 18, so we didn’t think it was unusual. Our other friends were getting married too. But having raised my own kids and seeing them live on their own and do some exciting thing before settling down has opened my eyes to how truly immature we were to get married so young.

    • Glad –

      its funny because sometimes when my friends say stuff about how they want to yell at my ex or something I like it because it validates my feelings. I’m usually not even really telling them about any of the really crappy stuff he’s done and even they can see how much he sucks. Actually, it seems like it’s the mundane complaints that get people to actually say things like that more often, which I think is funny. When they say it about things that barely faze me.

      But then, I think no, they are hearing it from my perspective and therefore it is the bad stuff… and if they met him maybe they might not think he was that bad. And maybe I am even exaggerating… could it even be that he isn’t that bad?? I’m sure they probably wouldn’t think he was that bad in person… because it takes some time for my true EX to show himself. Took me over 10 years and a massive betrayal before I saw it. But he really is that bad… just a selfish, selfish guy. My therapist also agrees he sucks 🙂

      “Leaving him was the only option for saving myself” – YES.

  • HI
    I posted this on another article but I’m going to post it here again because I think It definitely has more to do with this article about physical abuse.
    I am going to start at the beginning I was married to a man that I was with for 13 years. He was the love of my life, we had everything and worked for it together. A beautiful home, cars, vacations and he treated me like a queen. Until one day when I got home and he wasn’t there I called him and as soon as I spoke to him I noticed he was drunk. We had issues about this in the beginning of our relationship but worked through them and we were fine until that month Feb. 2009 this was actually the 3rd time that month. I was livid I through all his things out and told him I wasn’t going to go through that again. When he got home at about 4 a.m. the only words that would come out of his mouth were that he was sorry and he is disgusting. I didn’t even look at him and he left that was a thursday. He called me through out the weekend and I didn’t respond thinking and hoping that he would straighten up as he did before and we would resolve this. Well that didn’t go as planned when he got home on Monday he said he wanted a separation the he was confused. Of course I was devastated. But I let him go I am not one to beg. After 2 weeks of not knowing what was going on I find out that he had been cheating on me with (wait for it) a STRIPPER. Once I found out I called him to meet me at our home and he did I told him everything I knew and I also told him that the only true thing that ever came out of his mouth was that ” he was disgusting” I made it very clear to him that I wanted a divorce, I was keeping the house, the car and the money and he would be paying for them until the divorce was settled PERIOD!. Even though I felt my life crumbling down I was so strong in my decision. It was never nasty between us and even during our separation anything I needed or wanted that was never a problem he gave it to me always. Never a problem with the payments nothing. He would even call me now and then with excuses to talk to me or see him nothing I never gave in I was strong and had decided he always new that cheating was the deal breaker and I held my end of it with pride. I never did the pick me dance nothing I was done and out.
    Now I’m telling you this story because I just wanted to let you know a bit about my self. I was proud of myself. This was the man that was the love of my life who I adored and wanted to grow old with and yet I was so proud of myself for having the strength and courage to walk away for him with my pride and dignity and I decided at that time I was going to improve on myself which I did. I started working out, I lost over 40lbs, I had a social life. I was strong. so you may ask o.k. what’s the problem.
    So here I go. Fast forward month 1/2 later. I go out with a friend and she decides to bring along a friend of hers and he brings along his friend. Of course I don’t think much of it because in my mind i’m not even there I thought they were both very nice but the tag along friend was much younger than me so I thought nothing about it. We all talked for a while and of course as this young man is talking I’m actually surprised as how together he supposedly has it. He’s talking about all these companies and investments he has going on so on and so on. Know I don’t know him and neither does my girlfriend so there is no reason not to believe this from him. So the following week is my friends birthday and she invites both of them. My friend calls me and tells me that this guy just keeps calling her to make sure I will be at the party. Again I didn’t think much of it. The day of the party comes and he shows up I really didn’t pay attention to him but of course as the night goes on we are talking and dancing and just having a good time. At the end of the night he gets my number and the only excuse i have for it I’m recently separated and to be honest I didn’t think much of it i just kind of like the attention. I wasn’t looking for anything serious and to be honest I thought a little fun in my life couldn’t hurt. So we talked during the first week made plans for the weekend to go jet skiing since I own one. Now within the second week he is already telling me that he is in love with me which I thought was crazy and I told him so, I told him even though I was divorcing my husband that didn’t mean I wasn’t still in love with him. Well we kept seeing each other I’m going to be honest it was refreshing because he was so different from my husband he liked to go out and have fun so to be honest I was having fun and it kept my mind off the pain of my husband of course until I got home and closed my eyes and fell asleep everyday crying. I didn’t and wasn’t looking for anything serious with this guy but boy was he putting on the charm. This man treated me like I was his everything he had won over even my mother. But as the first few months go by things i’m seeing just don’t seem right. He doesn’t have a car, I see no signs of all these business and investments and mean while I’m paying for everything. I tell him I think it’s time to cool off a bit and this man starts shaking and crying and telling me that he is so madly in love with me he can’t live with out me and even gets my mom involved so I start to feel like shit and give in but still I feel something is not right but he treats me amazing. Yeah that’s all fine and dandy but I still see no money no real job no nothing mean while months are going by. He’s driving in my car (yukon denali XL brand new) Somehow he managed to move into my house( to be honest I don’t even know when and how this happened) My house was a 3,500 sq ft home on an acre with a backyard that had a massive pool and tiki house that cost my husband and I over $350,000. So basically he’s living like a king and he still has no money to pay for the electricity bill. He is still treating me like a queen, he’s still absolutely amazing still to me but still I tried to end it a few times to no avail and having my family call me and asking me why am I being such a b***h with him. So there goes the guilt trip again.
    Well on the following july 2010 my husband passes away I was still legally married and my husband never even asked for the divorce to be honest. By this time me and this guy have been together for over a year still treating me like the best thing that has ever happened to him but still no money. As months go by of with my husbands death I loose my car, I lost my home eventually and everything is crumbling around me because my husband was still supporting me so of course with his death everything is gone, but I just don’t have the energy to even brake up with this guy. By this time I’m starting to see a little more of the real him but it’s very suddle nothing to bad YET!. When I lost my house I move in with my family we had our separate wing the family house was very large over 5,000 sq ft. , but by this time we are fighting more and more. But here we go again with my family why am I being so mean blah blah blah. But he still has no real job no money no car I’m still paying for everything. Everytime I ask him about a job is always the same answer don’t worry I got this and I’m going to pay you back everything. Now at this point He starts being or trying to be more controlling. Now I’m not a pushover and I have a very strong personality so i’m the type that fights back. If I make plans with my girlfriends he was to come along but he’ll stay in the car until i’m finished. No of course not that’s just crazy!! but some how he would always know where I was and show up. I even went to a club once as a girls night out and he showed up there to. I found out months later that he had put a tracking device on my phone so he always knew where I was. Months keep going by and I’m started to feel more and more trapped but no matter how much I try to break up with him there goes the shaking the crying the I’ll kill myself. Some how he always manages to convince me and I couldn’t understand this is not me I am a strong person. But here we are still together and going into a 3rd year together. On March 2012 I catch him in a lie and that’s it i brake up with him and send him packing by this time no one is buying his bullshit any more. I go NC for about 10 days mean while he’s going out partying having a great time trying to hook up with girls and I’m home feeling like shit. So after the 10 days I stupid me break NC and here we go again but this time things are very different he’s more aggressive and just a complete different in his personality of course at this point my funds are depleted I have no car and it soooo much easier for him to control me. But after a few months back my father suddenly falls ill and he’s literally fighting for his life. In the meantime one of his friends dies and that day he got really drunk and started to physically abusive me to be honest it wasn’t the first time but the worst by far. The cops were called and he was arrested he was in jail for three weeks but of course stupid me I took all his calls paid for his lawyer and dropped all the charges because he would cry everyday saying that he couldn’t believe he had done that to me and he would never do that to me again. When he got out my father to a turn for the worst and My BF was there and to be honest he helped a lot at that time. MY father passes away within 2 months and I just felt like that was my breaking point after everything that I’ve been through the last few years I fall into a deep depression. But now it’s just me and my mom and of course my BF. Now he nows I have nothing and I’ve told him it’s his turn to start paying bills and to support me. Things to a change for the worst now when we fight all the time but know it’s not crying but insulting me its pushing me around, it be aggressive and abusive cops called on him which he was arrested for domestic violence but like to complete idiot I have become I drop charges because I don’t want to ruin anyones life. So again I forgive because i just didn’t even have the energy to fight anymore. So everything is fine for a few weeks our lease is up and we move to another home of course at this point i’ve completely cut him off financially boy oh boy did things change (at this point I already had told him that I thought he was a narcissist) of course that didn’t go well. So here we are in the new home constantly fighting because I don’t keep my mouth shut and call him on his shit all the time but the abuse continues but I am at such a deep dark place with depression that it just feels like another day. All of a sudden things change for him and he actually starts getting contracts and work so I’m thing wow maybe things are going to change( yea right) some how manages to sabotage everything and burn all the bridges with these big companies. He would call me everyday crying how this person did this, how that person did that NOTHING!! NOTHING!! is ever his fault WOW! When we go back last time I told him if I catch him lying to me again that was it. So july 27 this year he tells me he’s working but I knew, I just knew that was a lie so I pass by work no car pass by his parents nothing he’s not answering his phone so LIES, LIES, LIES. The next morning I show up at his shop and inform him that it’s over!! I went total NC I disconnect my phone which his phone was on my family plan and that’s his work number(yep he went crazy) I disconnect my home number I close my FB account he tried contacting me through everything IM , Email my moms phone nothing no response from me. I dropped of all his belongings in the middle of the night.
    Yet for over a month it was constant him trying to find ways of contacting me swearing he didn’t lie blah, blah, blah. Then I find out he’s been seeing and talking to this girl who by the way was married and apparently just left her husband the whole time he’s calling me. So after a month with no success of course here we go he starts posting pictures of him and his new girl. He calls me again after about a week and I tell him that I am very happy for him that he found someone and that eventually this was going to happen and this first words out of his mouth are why are you seeing someone!!. I had to laugh and hang up so 2 weeks go by and then here we go again he starts texting me about things he left behind OK it was actually 2 shirts and old iPhone so i text him and tell him thai I will drop them off his friends house that lives by he comes up with excuses as why I can’t and that he’ll pick them up I said absolutely not and his friend can come pick them up when ever he is available a few days back and for over this petty stuff because of course he wants to pick them up and I said no. Finally his friend picks up his things and here we go now here start all the pictures of him and his new GF and how in love he is. I assume it’s all done and I’m never to hear from him again when I get and email about something that happened to a friend of his which I barely now but I was polite and wrote back and said I’m very sorry to hear that I hope it all works out for the best and take care. In the meantime he’s writing me going into all this detail and story when he gets me take care oh of course that he didn’t like and sent me an angry text OK FINE!… and then magically the next day his FB is in a relationship!!!No not calculating at all.
    Now the good news is haven’t heard from him again since then about mid September. Now the bad news is he left owing 3 months rent and i’m the one having to deal with this shit and owing me over $5000.
    OK so here is there real thing I cry all the time it’s been about 4 months I just found a few weeks ago because the idiot had a dropbox account that I didn’t know about which was connected to my computer to find out that he had been talking to this girl over a month before we broke up. At least I broke up with him for myself not because I even new he was cheating. MY thing is why do I still fell like this I’m so full of anger and I cry all the time. I know I did the right thing walking away he literally sucked the life out of me, but to see him lalalaling away as if nothing. He left here owing me $5,000 and 3 months rent we barely did nothing because of course I wasn’t going to pay for it but he’s gone to visit her family they go out all the time he makes a point of me knowing how happy he is because when ever he bumps into someone i know he goes out of his was for them to see him and his GF. I have always considered myself to be a strong person. I walked away from my marriage of 13 years with my head held high and i was madly in love with my husband. Why why do I feel like this over someone who I was never even” IN LOVE ” with. I feel like a shell there are days I don’t want to get up and the anger fills my days. I know he’s a narcissist and he’s playing the game with this new girl and she’s probable the one paying for everything. I get it but why do I still feel like this. I feel so full of anger it consumes me sometimes when I see him and his supposed happiness. I feel so bitter and angry that in a way still has such control of my life. I have tried to better myself I started going to school, working out, lost more weight, and have gone out a few times but I don’t have a lot of friends and the ones I do are married. I’ve been reading your post and comments and they do make me feel better for the moment but still I wake up the next day still with this anger. To be honest I just want to see him & her explode yes her also because she new he had a GF that he lived with for 4 years so she’s not so innocent. I don’t care if he gave her the whole dance oh she’s crazy or we are blah,blah, blah. I don’t believe in that shit it’s happened to be when I’ve met someone to find out they’re married and have told them to go off. I would never disrespect myself like that so yes I blame her also. I just want to get passed this. I don;t understand how someone who has been so strong her entire life could feel like this. I want to get to MEH but am no where near it. And know thanksgiving he posts the best thanksgiving ever and yesterday was his birthday and he put that he was spending it with the best gf he has ever had meanwhile all my pics are still on his FB account even though the first thing I asked him when we broke up was to remove them and he promised he would but of course he hasn’t.
    I know I know i’m torturing myself looking at the FB I have decided to just shut down my account. Buy why is all of this bothering me still after 4 months sometimes I feel like i’m going backwards instead of forward.
    I’m at the point that I do thing I need therapy but I am so broke I don’t have the money for that I have to pay for everything in my home I support my mother which is 74 and my grandmother which is 92.
    Sorry for all the details but the reason I’m telling it here also is for those of you with the physical abuse. They will swear and cry and promise that it won’t happen again like he did to me. There was always an excuse he had a bad day, I provoked him because I would bitch and complain about our financial situation. My point being it’s not going to stop believe me at first it was just a push, then just a slap and so on it doesn’t stop it actually get worst each time. I honestly thought one day I was going to end up dead. Once they cross that line and you accept it only once that’s it prepare yourself because it only gets worst. Like CL said above when I would tell him that’s it I’m leaving it would get worst. He would attack me and pin me down and tell me I wasn’t going anywhere. That’s why when I finally had the courage to brake things off I made sure I didn’t do it here at my house I did it at his job where there were other people around and of course he could never let others see the monster he really is. And he won’t come by my house because my community has a criminal watch and they were the ones that called the cops on him last time when they saw him tackle me to the ground and drag me back inside the house so he could continue his rampage. So believe me when I say it won’t stop!!

    • This is long Maria — but you know what? When you tell what happened, you just have to sing like a bird. Get it out there. Spew. Recite every detail.

      It helps make it real to yourself. This happened. It helps to think you can help prevent it happening to someone else.

      Thank god for your neighbors for calling the cops. Stay strong Maria. And for godsakes, don’t look at his FB — you’re so much better off without this creep. He’s someone else’s problem now.

      • Maria, please contact your local Women’s Shelter, most of them have free or nearly free therapy. I did this myself and the therapists are very good. I know how hard it is to do this when you feel so very depressed and beat down but you can do it. Abusers are very good at making you feel really good. The highs are very high, the lows are very low and when you are ready to leave they bring on the high. It’s addictive, your brain betrays you, the gaba receptors become accustomed to the highs. It takes time to get off the crazy train and recognize peace is better than the dramatic highs and lows of the charming bastard that hurts you. (jedi hugs)

    • Maria,
      You and we have all been through alot. When I found CL I followed the advice she and the other kind people here gave me.

      As much as I didn’t like it I put on my BIG GIRL panties, went NO CONTACT (including people that continued to talk about him to me when I clearly asked them not to) and BLOCKED everyone on Facebook that I know he either cheated with, or is friends with, etc. That way when I was feeling weak I couldn’t look.

      You are doing exactly the same things over and just without him physically in it. You are wonderful to take care of your Mom and Grandmom and lucky you still have them. Maybe you could start by looking at THEM socially for thier sake and doing whatever your Mom and Grandmom like to do. surely you will meet a different class of people because they are looking out for thier relatives too. Good Luck.

      • Maria:

        Sending hugs–you’ve been through a lot. Don’t conclude that you can’t afford counseling. Go online and search, call a crisis hotline, or call your local library to see if there are any free counseling services in your area. The best counselor I ever had when I was going through my worst days was someone who didn’t cost me a penny. Before you get involved with anyone else, you have a lot to sort out, and a good counselor is a great support.

  • What a great talk!
    Thank you CL, as a survivor of childhood beatings, and a prior physically abusive relationship before this one I think that’s what this last one was leading up to. He kept trying to move us “out of town” but as much as I loved him something just didn’t “feel” right. I didn’t trust him enought move away from family and the people that had known me all my life. His temper was beginning to get scary at times and I really think it would have escalated.

    As far as being “happy” I think far too much is made of it. I’ve been through so much in my life that if my kids and grands are healthy and I can pay my bills I am satisfied. Some lives just have more rain than others and happiness is not guaranteed to us. Imagine my surprise now that I am becoming happier every day now that I followed the advice here! 🙂 XO

  • Maria,
    Are you getting any professional counseling for trauma? If not, think hard about it. You obviously are not coping well right now, and at some point this cycle of spinning in the mess had got to be broken. (The man sounds like Male Borderline Personality with a few other co-morbid personality issues involved. Cut your losses and detach while working on YOU.)

  • CL sorry it was long
    It’s just when you have someone telling you that you are crazy for so long you start thinking maybe it is me. I just needed to know that I wasn’t the crazy one I was being driven there by a calculating monster.
    I am staying a way from the FB I know that he is still the same turd and all that fake happiness is exactly that fake and in a way it’s his way of punishing me because he can’t believe I actually did it and never answered his calls and text pleading to talk to him he really thought he had me so controlled I wouldn’t do it he even sent me a text telling me I can’t believe you’re not answering me. He just wanted to make sure that I knew he had a new supply(victim) that gives him and maintains him since I no longer was willing to. Good luck to her.

    • Just remember, when you look at your ex’s Facebook page and get upset it isn’t HIM who is hurting you, it’s you hurting yourself. You have to protect yourself from pain so you can heal.

      Thinking this way helped me to avoid the temptation of looking at what my ex was doing. It really saved my life to focus on myself and go no contact with him.

  • Notyou
    I’m just 4 months out. I’m not in counseling this man depleted me financially I guess my soul wasn’t enough. I just don’t have the money and I have no insurance. I’ve been looking into some support groups locally but thank good I came across this site I does help.

    P.S. CL thanks for TRUST THAT THEY SUCK I read that every night before going to sleep.

    • Maria, you can talk to a pastor for free. There are divorce support groups, and of course coming here will help too. I’d say of the myriad things I tried, reading CL did the most to improve my self-esteem. Helped me feel empowered instead of discarded and worthless.

    • Maria,
      Did you ever consider that you might be grieving? You have had a lot of losses and not much time to process the feelings. Sending you big hugs.

  • ” a very strong woman in love with a very troubled man”

    Well, I fell for that one twice, although in different flavours. They both LOOKED so good, on paper, and in the first months and even years. The things they admitted were making them unhappy seemed so … fixable. It crept up on me, what a mess they both were. And eventually I realized that my love could NOT heal them, and my health and sanity required their problems not be mine, any more.

    Realizing I would never again feel safe in my 1st husbands arms (he was a smart, charming, sexy … alcoholic) was what finally allowed me to leave. And w/the 2nd one, the cheating narc, it was recognizing that I didn’t want my kids to grow up thinking emotional abuse and acceptance of that abuse were normal.

    Right now I feel like being single is just FINE, but if I ever get involved with someone again, they have to already be healthy and happy – like me!

  • Well, so many triggers with this post comments that I’m afraid I’m not diplomatic here. Some posts say things like: I wish he had punched me in the face or physically abused me. and. I feel the physical scares could have healed faster than emotional and psychological scars of infidelity.

    I was cheated on and I was abused, after I said I was divorcing it escalated to near death. If you think the betrayal of infidelity by the person you trust and love most in the world is worse than that person pointing a gun at your head or hitting you is harder to deal with, or somehow worse, then I can’t be cool about it. That’s a fucked up view. DO you really think there are no emotional and psychological scars from physical abuse? I’m sure you don’t, I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that fucking someone else is equal to putting someone’s head through a wall. I know you didn’t mean it that way.

    The person I loved and trusted beyond all others cheated on me and that was horrible. I agree, I lost 20 lbs in 3 weeks, I was a wreck. It was bad, it hurt. I decided to leave him because I couldn’t take that pain, guess what happens when the person who does this is abusive? Leaving causes the worst betrayal of all and it is not infidelity.

    The person I loved and trusted beyond all others physically attacked me, he lied to police after I called and got me arrested for what he did. He later pointed a gun at me and considered whether he could get away with killing me. He was undecided, I got away. That was beyond horrible, that was my fucking life he was about to take away. The.person.I.loved.trusted. That person wanted to kill me. That person put me in jail for his offense.

    That is a betrayal far beyond infidelity, I agree cheating is abuse and I believe that many more chumps dealt with much more emotional and physical abuse then they want to admit before the cheating was discovered. But be careful how you equate the two types of abuses. Saying you do not want to minimize physical abuse and then saying you think infidelity is worse DOES minimize the physical abuse.

    • and it minimizes the emotional abuse that goes with it. I cheer when some chump does the right thing and goes straight for a divorce. I did that within a month, and when I did the full force of his abuse rained down on me. I did that and he manipulated the shit out of the situation, he cut me off from support, he enlisted the good ole boy police, and all the time he told me he loved me and lied about everything. Consider where you would be if your cheater was also a smart and manipulative abuser who would do anything to keep you and continue his cheating. Anything, including punching himself in the face to set you up for arrest, pointing a gun at you, convincing the few friends you have that he was rational and you were completely crazy. Anything, including pointing a gun at you 1 hour after he agreed to divorce mediation. Anything, anything to keep you under control because he is entitled to that. Anything to keep you in his control, anything at all and then you realize he would kill you if he thought he could get away with it. That betrayal after 17 years is so much worse.

      • You’re giving me chills DDW, terrifying. You experience makes me thankful my ex was a charming snake who walked and never looked back once I caught him.

      • Datdamwuf, you are right that is a nightmare even worse than being cheated on. I’m so glad you’re away from him now!

    • I don’t think she said infidelity is WORSE… she said infidelity IS abuse and that some of the mind games and bullshit you go through with infidelity are similar to the mind games you encounter along with physical abuse.

      Maybe that’s what needs to be understood better… that physical abuse is more than solely physical abuse – there has to be a mental component in order to keep the victim with the abuser. That’s why it’s easy for someone on the outside to just say “why didn’t you leave?” when they have no idea what it was like to be IN it. Like how people also claim they would “just leave” if they found out their spouse was cheating on them. It’s so easy to say these things from the outside, but when you’re in it, doing it is not as easy. Slowly over time the abuser warped the situation (and/or life warped the situation)… that whole frog boiling thing.

      What needs to be understood about infidelity is that it is abuse at all. I think everyone agrees on the horrors of physical abuse while I feel that they act like infidelity is “no big deal” and “everyone does it”. However, I also believe in both cases, people assign blame to the victim in order to make them feel like it can’t happen to them. Or that THEY would handle it differently and better, of course.

      The few slight brushes with any type of physical harm I encountered with my ex (which didn’t occur at all until his infidelity and “reconciliation” and then the kicking him out… I wonder if abuse breeds further abuse?) freaked me out enough that I can only imagine what it would feel like to be REALLY afraid of him and unable to control him. I don’t think CL or anyone here was trying to negate the pain anyone physically abused feels, they were just trying to draw upon similarities of experiences of abuse.

      • My comment was not directed at CL, it was for the comments that said this deeper betrayal would have been better than being cheated on. Those that said it would be easier to overcome being attacked than being cheated on.

    • I agree with you!
      I used to be one of those. When I found out my husband of 13 years cheated on me I remember thinking god I wish he had just slapped me instead because I thought I could forgive easier the slap than the infidelity so I left him. But believe me I know better now after being with this monster of my exbf and the last year of the beatings boy do I know better. I remember one the last times he was hitting me he told me that if I screamed for help he would kill me and my mother. I completely agree with you

  • Holy shit yes CL! Abuse is abuse. Physical or mental. The only difference is where the scars are. I deal with kids daily and I see the results of both types. Neither is pretty and the same is true for adults. My X occasionally tried to physically abuse me, but she couldn’t do any lasting damage that way. However, I bear the scars of her mental abuse to this day and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. It doesn’t define me and I am nobody’s victim, but it is what it is.

  • Steiner’s narrative is eerily like my own, minus the physical abuse. Not long after we met he confessed that he came from an abusive household, which made me feel sorry for him and helped me to ignore his angry outbursts. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, he shrunk my world, controlling who my friends were, which relatives I could see and when, and whether I could go home for Christmas. Even before I found out about his affair, he was in the process of persuading me that I had to quit my part time job because it didn’t make enough money. Things got a little uglier once I began getting involved in political activism, but a great deal uglier for me and my kids once the affair was revealed by OW’s husband. There was one day, a day it chills me to the bone to recall, that we were having a tense conversation, and he got out his loaded gun (which he kept because we live in a big city) and began to play with it. He asked me why I was so nervous, what was wrong? To this day I wonder if I was overreacting, but it also doesn’t escape me that he must have been pleased with the psychological effect it had on me. It doesn’t take a beating to beat down a person, but somehow I eventually understood that my children needed a better environment than this.

    As for telling everyone, I’m glad Ms. Steiner found so many people willing to believe her. I didn’t have the same luck, because so many people refused to believe that such a great guy as my ex could have been capable of anything bad. I stayed in the same neighborhood for the sake of the kids, and now keep a low profile.

    • Jade, many Abusers stop short of hitting if they can control you with other methods, like rages and intimidation, and the ever popular way to isolate; that guy just wants to fuck you, your friend always upsets you, your sister hates me, I don’t want to go out and I miss you so just stay with me at home. Don’t talk about our relationship with her. And tracking isn’t so obvious either, it’s the call or emails all day asking if you are OK, where are you, I’m worried, I miss you. It’s not noticing that he’s listening to every call you make. The martyr man doesn’t forbid, he guilts and he protects you from all those bad people until you have no one to rely upon but him. When the rages don’t work to keep you he threatens suicide, when that doesn’t work he escalates, that is how it happens often, slowly breaking down boundaries and when you stand firm for some final thing that you cannot accept, that is when the danger is greatest. I believe cheating is a facet of abuse in many cases, I’m not arguing against that. But it’s not equivalent to the pain of the person you love wanting to kill you.

  • I was never physically abused and I cannot speak to that horrible experience. I am so sorry for anyone who experienced that.

    When my cheater was caught I asked for a divorce. The next night he came home drunk. He was belittling, angry, defiant. He came up to my face and mouthed “fuck you” so that our child could not hear. He’d come home drunk so many times before but that night I was terrified. I called the police and they took him away. The next day he refused to leave our home and stay away from me so I took our child and left. We stayed with relatives for a few days before my lawyer negotiated an agreement to get him out.

    He laughed when I told him how scared I was and called me hysterical. He told me that the police thought I wasn’t well. Eventually I got a copy of the police report and it was very clear that they identified him as a “mean drunk.” There was no mention of me being hysterical or otherwise and I received a follow up call for support for domestic violence.

    It was a terrifying and mind blowing experience. I never slept under the same roof with him again. And to this day I have a hard time believing it was really domestic violence. I guess it was.

    • It definitely was domestic violence if you were scared for your safety. I hate the way the manipulator uses “you are crazy, you are overreacting” to make you feel like you’re the one with the problem. I often questioned my feelings and decided to stay quiet because I didn’t want to seem “crazy.”

      • My ex threatened me very convincingly a couple of times, leading to my calling the police once (that kept things calm for a good 5 years afterwards), and leaving for a friends’ place once (that worked again for another few years). Then he threatened me very very convincingly again, hand around my throat, holding me against the wall, screaming in my face. Did I mention he’s 6’3″, 200 lbs and works out 3 times a week?

        His rationale for why it ‘wasn’t a big deal’? (He explained this while attempting to convince me to reconcile.) He never actually hurt me. I was over-reacting, it was ridiculous that I said I had been so afraid, because I must have known he would never hurt me.

        Uh huh.

        And then he doesn’t understand why his attempt to get back together with me didn’t work. And laughs when I say he’s a violent man.

        • What you are describing is similar to what happened to me except my ex convinced the cops that I attacked him when I was the one who called. I was hysterical when they arrived, my ex was calm and he lied to the cops. He got me arrested for what he did. After that success he became more and more violent.

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