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Where Did Chump Lady Come From?

chumpladyI was not always a bad ass.

People say the nicest things to me on this blog, and I feel compelled to remind them that I was a blithering chump. The chumpiest. I chased the unicorn at a full gallop. Had four D-Days. Wrote the goopiest, most mortifying entreaties to my cheater to not cheat on me. Did the marriage counseling, the therapy, read the books. Championed my “reconciliation” to baffled friends and family members, and even my divorce lawyer. I tangled with the skein so deeply, that’s why my hair looks like this.

So where did Chump Lady come from?

She was there all the time. She was the bitch inside me fighting back. Getting angry and occasionally winning the arm wrestling contest against chumpy me. Chumpy me had the strength of ten, thanks to hopium (a powerful hallucinogen and reconciliation-enhancing performance drug), but Chump Lady — my bad ass persona — was tenacious. She was the creeping doubt. The nag that woke me up at night saying “This doesn’t add up.” The protector who yelled back. Who questioned. Who insisted.

Once she got completely off the leash, and boxed his ears. YOU WILL NOT THREATEN HER! YOU WILL NOT SAY THOSE THINGS! WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Chumpy me tried to put her back in her box, but she wouldn’t stay down. She fomented revolution. She would not shut the hell up.

Always the questioning. And the late night homework. She read infidelity boards (so many chumps, so few Chump Ladies and Men). She schooled herself about personality disorders and narcissism. She saw patterns. Things fit together, so that when chumpy me bought the lies, she said “This is manipulation.” Chumpy me wanted to go down the rabbit hole, had elaborate theories about why he did the things he did. Chump Lady said “No, he likes it like this. It’s that simple.”

Chumpy me got very upset with Chump Lady. How could two such different people live inside one woman? Chumpy me implored Chump Lady to shut up. Don’t you know what this means? It means we’re going to be ALONE. Fucked over! Broke! Humiliated! Chump Lady said — hey, we’ll figure it out. Chumpy me was too tired to make the journey. Remained unconvinced of the outcome. Where the heck are we going?

Chump Lady said “to a better place. Any place is better than this place.”

Sometimes chumpy me and Chump Lady were not on speaking terms. If chumpy me gave it another try, had sex with the loser, Chump Lady grew silent and just expressed herself as disgust. “It’s hard to have respect for you, chumpy.” Sometimes when Chump Lady grew quiet, chumpy me would try to summon her back, imagining what she looked like. (Chump Lady was several parts Aretha Franklin.) Chumpy me had to admit defeat — I can’t do this without you. Chump Lady said, “Okay, I’m driving. Get in the backseat.” Chumpy me tried to backseat drive and offer directions “Um, maybe we should pull over for that apology?” Chump Lady said “Shut up. I’ve got this.”

Chump Lady left the cheater. Chumpy me got used to the idea. They’re reconciled now. Chump Lady said “Don’t you dare feel sorry for him.” Chumpy me doesn’t. Chumpy me feels a bit sorry for herself now and then. God, what a waste that was. Chump Lady says “Nonsense. Look at how much we’ve learned. If it weren’t for that cheater, we never would’ve met.” Then the two sides of me embrace and have a good laugh.


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • What a lovely early Christmas present from you (LOVE the picture). When we chumps stand in awe of you it is good to remember you write from the heart and experience. Thank you Traci. For Everything

  • Wow!!!! What a wonderful post (yet again!). Thank you so much for being there CL. You make be believe that I can also do it. Sooner or later, I will.

  • But I guess taking that first step is the hardest thing to do, right? Or am I the only one to feel this way?

    • It’s a lot of steps, Ayesha. And falling on your butt. You just keep getting up — that’s the trick. I looked at your blog — he sucks. It sounds like culturally it might be hard to divorce him? Please be brave. Otherwise you’re in for a life time of his cheating. He’s got no reason to stop. And if you haven’t been in the US long, he’s got you isolated. Reach out for help, to your family, get independent of him.

      • Ayesha, realizing he didn’t love me and my love for him was used up, that was the hardest thing for me, once I did that the rest followed. well, of course I had abuse shit going on so my path was different from a lot of chumps but I think that’s the thing. Recognizing you are being screwed over, you are wasting your precious life, your time, the one thing you cannot get back. That is when you will take the first step and that leads to the next one. (jedi hugs)

    • Ayesha, as DDW said, your life IS precious, you are precious, get the support you need and take the first step, and then the next, one step at a time. (((Hugs))))

      • Yup Ayesha, You are a beautiful person. Never lose sight of that. Come back here for support whenever you need it:)

  • CL,


    What an incredible post. Maybe your best EVER.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You have a genius for taking psychology — normally stuff locked up in long and hard-to-read books — and boiling it down to “news you can use.” You make it all so concrete and accessible. Amazing.

    Your description of the Chump’s war within is perfect. Ultimately, Chumps don’t get conquered as much as they sell themselves short. You are a great, great coach and a terrific thinker.

    Thanks (yet again)!

    Chump Son

  • First, gotta say I LOVE your hair, which is similar to my own, only yours looks better. If you don’t already, check out Ouidad or Deva Curl products. Pricey, but great for curly girls like us.

    Second, I really appreciate this blog, and your post today is a beautiful description of the battle within. When I look back on my chumpiness, I am mortified. Ex first dumped me back in our dating days. The morning after our first time having sex (my first time ever), he broke up at breakfast, saying he just didn’t feel that close to me. A month later, he wanted me back, and I practically ran to him.

    I found out ex was having sex with men halfway through the marriage (he admitted it to me in a rage during an argument), and though I threw him out immediately, four days later when he came back crying and begging, insisting it was an aberration and he would never do it again, I stuffed it all under the rug and took him back. Then spent the next decade playing marriage police and not trusting him. Though at this point I did not know the full extent of his gay cheating, I knew enough. Over the years I found evidence of him looking at gay porn, but I spackled, spackled, spackled. I told myself there was no way he was actually cheating, talk about self delusion.

    He dumped me finally for OW. A nightmare ensued. Six months later, he wanted me back, saying he needed to give our marriage another chance, he didn’t want to be an adulterer, he knew he’d been wrong. AND I TOOK HIM BACK AGAIN. My friends warned me he was just looking to get out of paying support. My family went nuts. I did it anyway. I was that scared of being alone.

    Finally, my inner chump lady rose up, found the strength to fight, and went ahead and divorced him. It took eight months of bogus reconciliation, however, and tremendous emotional abuse. Still, I did it. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and back then, I thought it would kill me.

    Here I am, still alive, stronger than ever. Thank you, Tracy, and thank you to all my fellow chumps. We are all way stronger than we give ourselves credit for. ROCK ON!

    • You have to shake your chumpy self and say “Really? You thought leaving the dancing Sasquatch would kill you? WTF?” 🙂 Of course you’re stronger than ever — you lost the weight of his craziness.

      Tried the Ouidad line — makes my hair crunchy. I just slather conditioner on it like lard, and use the John Frieda frizzease. Keeps it somewhat behaved. You know if you’re of the curly hair tribe! It’s a constant battle.

      • On the topic of curls (curly girl as well) my holy grail for frizz and shine is a product called Curl keeper by Curly Hair Solutions. I use it under my Stalin products. I buy it at It is simply amazing! 🙂

          • Hahaha, I was wondering what a line of hair products called Stalin was like….

            • Seriously, I laughed out loud. I don’t even have curly hair but I am a problem solver, too, who will share whatever I have learned with everybody.. You are the best Chump Lady – and all the rest here, too! This is the first site I visit every day and, if there isn’t a new post I hit refresh and re-visit till there is as well as revisiting old posts and comments. There really is nowhere else like this. Thank you!

              • Hahaha yes, Done, I come here like an alcoholic goes to AA, it gets me through another day still sane, who else could understand the anger and injury I sometimes feel even though I have moved on even in my romantic life? Without this site and CL’s wisdom, and the support and incredible insight of my fellow chumps, I could not have loved on and am afraid I would slip back a bit.

                And oh yes, the Stalin comments are hysterical 🙂

            • LOL, no way do we want Stalin!

              I too am a member of the curly frizz crowd and I went almost completely off using ANY shampoo or conditioner. I only use Deva “No Poo” products when I use any at all. Mostly I just “wash” my hair with water. The deal is that for the first month or so your hair won’t be so great, but once you stop using all the damaging shampoos and conditioners your natural hair oil will be back. My hair looks really good now, much less frizz, nice shiny curls. Seriously worth trying, wished I’d known this years ago!

              • My curls need a little encouragement much like my chumpy self! I do use Deva low poo & conditioner, wonderful stuff!

        • My grandmother told me that too. To this day I don’t eat bread crusts.

          My thought at the time was — my hair is already curly! And if I eat this, it’s going to get curlier? NO!

    • You are so awesome! I, too, was cheated on and dumped by my Ex while we were dating. Why, oh WHY, did I take him back then? He cheated on me with an old girlfriend in a elaborately planned “romantic weekend away” that I found out about by snooping in his bedroom while he was at work because my inner radar was going off the charts (chumpy me always slept over at his place…necessitating a mad dash back to my apartment to get ready for work every morning). I took him back when he returned saying things like “I needed closure with her to know what I have with you” (gag).

      A few months later, he dumped me again saying “I love you but I’m not in love with you…we are not compatible…blah blah.” Why, oh WHY did I not listen to him? Why when he came sniffing around a few weeks later did I not say “thanks but no thanks – have a nice life – goodbye (door slam in face)??” Late at night I beat myself up saying that I DESERVED to be chumped after 20 years of marriage because I was so STUPID! In the cold light of day, however, I remind myself that my two amazing wonderful children would not exist on this earth had I not married the a**hole, and I feel (somewhat) at peace.

      • Nicole, this happened to me too when I was in college. Ex and I had been dating 3-4 year. We were engaged to be married and planning our wedding. Out of the blue he says “I don’t know if I want to get married.” I am devastated and fly home to visit my family. Come back the next weekend and he begs me to take his ring back, actually says “don’t make me beg.” I hesitate, but take it back. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time to that moment and tell that young girl “DON’T TAKE IT. LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION.” Unfortunately, chumpy me thought “but I love him,” and took it back.

        • I look back to creepy, nasty things my ex did when we were engaged and newly married. I still wishing had trusted myself and valued myself enough to run for the hills. But it took me 25 years of marriage to realize what he was- a pathological liar and serial cheater. Well, better late than never…..but I do sometimes wonder if I could go back and do it all over…..

    • Glad, I was as delusional as you. Kept taking him back until I finally smartened up. The best part? When ex showed up at my doorstep recently, all broken up and begging for forgiveness, all I could think about was, “When is he leaving? I need to get to the mall before it closes?” Yep, chumpy self is long gone.

  • Nice post CL. I think you’ve summed what gives you so much credibility. You are the exact opposite of the “reconciliation industrial complex”. They are in it for the money and narcissistic ego boost.

    You are here to fight for what you believe is right. You fight to help others who are traveling down the same murky road you traveled. I can see it, because I’m several miles behind you. But I’m on the road.

    In May this year, I left my cheating wife. I’d had enough of the lies, blame shifting, projection, gas lighting, lack of remorse. It took a lot for me to make that move. It was almost 3 years post Dday. Not a decision I made quickly. I did all of the chump stuff, the false R etc.

    The hardest part of making your way from the trauma of Dday to rebuilding your life is the lack of help. My own personal experience with family, friends and people I know, is that they are of little help, or worse. In my personal life, others were either totally naive to infidelity (lucky them), or they were cheats ( which in some cases took me a while to figure out). So I spent a long time listening to people who either had no idea, or were lying cheating AH’s giving me their distorted version of what I was going through.

    After wading through the swamp of the reconciliation industrial complex on the net and in real life with
    psychologists, I found more realistic forums. Some are better than others, but none comes close to this. CL, you nail every aspect of this so well. I don’t even bother with any other forum any more.

    Tracey, I don’t know when I made the decision to leave my cheating wife, but I do know that you were the one who got me across the line. Your influence gave me the strength to do it. I don’t say that lightly. I consider myself a strong minded individual. But this has been hell. I could see in your posts that you had been there too, and you were genuinely committed to helping others on that same journey. For that I thank you.

    • Thanks Kraft. Three years of false R is a hell of a sentence. I’m so glad you crossed the line.

    • Kraft– I sympathize with your long journey. Mine has not been so long, but I’ve had similar experiences with friends and family. I would only add, there’s that lovely group of people–most of my (former) friends in fact, who, like rats and a sinking ship, stranded me totally. The only friend from my 25 year marriage who hung in with me–is one woman whose husband also chumped her. And my sister, also chumped, and my sister in law, also chumped (by STBX’s older brother). They are a family of philanderers, and I’ve realized that the family’s acceptance of the ho-wife gave my STBX flaming permission to have his own little set of fantasies, excursions and flings.

      But yeah, the friend for whom I made meals when he had surgery, and he knew about the cheating– that fucking hurts and I’m having trouble getting to meh on that betrayal. To call someone your friend, dine at their table, and know that their spouse is a lying, cheating asshole (in fact, confides in you) is more than I can stomach.

      What the hell is wrong with people? (Rhetorical question 🙂

      My therapist does say that so much of it is cultural– your lucky to be a man in that people tend to blame the wife, no matter who does the cheating–the wife must have not been “enough”. Plus I wonder if there is something about female intimacy and friendships that makes adultery by a friend’s husband just so goddamned scary; women flee (unless they been there). They don’t want to look–it might be catching. Just thinking out loud here, and still untangling the skein of my fucked up former friends….

  • “Chump Lady left the cheater. Chumpy me got used to the idea. They’re reconciled now. ”

    Finally, a reconciliation story I can believe!!!

  • Tracey,

    Thank you for this astounding letter. What a wonderful gift to all of us in this holiday season. You are brilliance with the pen. Even though I am On The Other Side, I gain new insight and strength from your posts and those of this community that YOU created.

  • Good to hear because some of us are still trying to find our inner bad-ass and wonder if were supposed to be born with it, or if it can be learned. I think it can be learned.

    • Oh, it’s totally learned. It’s borne of circumstance. If I’d had the good sense and the good fortune of choosing better relationships, CL would never exist. I doubt I would appreciate my husband in the same way as I do today, without the fuckupedness and pain that went before.

      The point of my rather self involved post is that every chump has this battle inside, I think. This duality of the person who wants to stay and try harder, fix it to “win” — and the angry justice seeker who says “no more crap. I’m not letting you get chumped again!”

      • “This duality of the person who wants to stay and try harder, fix it to “win” — and the angry justice seeker who says “no more crap”.

        Tracy you are the fucking Ninja Jedi Master beyond any bullshit PHD Goddess of this shit. Yeah, your that good. Damn. Whatever hell you went through, if somehow in this moment, you can know that your helping others.. that it connects, resonates, rips, hurts, heals… know that now. know it. know it. ~ Tim.

  • I’m so thankful that Chump Lady overcame Chumpy and ended up writing this blog.

    I remember the very small, weak Chump Lady in myself. On the worst night of my life it said in a small, thin voice, “But what about MY life? Don’t I deserve a life?” That voice was so weak it was almost dead, but Chumpy me clearly remembers hearing it.

    I’m still struggling with how Chumpy me feels sorry for herself, especially here at Christmas when I see so many happy faced children dancing around strong, married parents and grandparents. Chumpy me wonders what I’ve done to deserve feeling so alone? But thanks to Chump Lady’s reminder, I’ll tell Chumpy me to go to her room and not come out until she stops feeling sorry for herself. Chumpy me needs to remember I’ve been given the most precious gift, which is to be the star player of my own life, not a supporting player in someone else’s.

    • Listen to your inner bad ass. Feed Ms. Bad Ass some xmas cookies, and let chumpy you out to join her when she can buck up a bit and enjoy herself. 🙂

    • “Be the star player of my own life, not a supporting player in someone else’s”. Lyn, I LOVE that. That is my new moto!

  • Dearest CL: the first thing i do in the morning is read your posts (i live on west coast). After 3 ddays, you are shelter from the storm. You have no idea how you have positively influenced my life. Thank you. God Bless you TS. Hugs, nmc

  • Thank goodness this site is here. It was a desperately-needed dose of reality when my mind was running around in every direction. I might still be in somewhat crappy shape today, but on my way to getting better. Still no clue what my life holds in the future, but I have kids to help raise and lots of work ahead of me.

    Tomorrow is what would have been my wedding anniversary. I thought I would be a crying mess, but honestly I’m numb to it now. Still plenty of anger though. I’m more motivated on making sure middle age doesn’t completely suck before I enter it.

    • CW, I promise you in time your former anniversary will be just another day. Hugs for tomorrow.

    • I hope tomorrow goes okay. Do you have plans to do something with someone? I made dinner plans for my first anniversary after dday, and it helped a lot to have dinner those two friends.

      • CW, on my wedding anniversary after he walked out on us, a good friend of mine invited me to go with her to a winery/ spa. I couldn’t afford it but went anyway. I’ll be paying for it awhile, but it’s the first self-indulgent thing I’ve done in more years than I can count. And I had a better time than I have ever had on any anniversary (which usually consisted of days of his whining about “I don’t know what to get you — can we just skip presents?” followed by a last minute present that was usually a kitchen appliance). I know it’s hard. Hang in there!

      • Well, I actually spent it at home with the flu. Too sick to care, which is perfectly fine by me.

        Thanks for the words of support.

  • The road out of Chumpville is rocky , the map we are given by most keeps detouring us back into town. I found I just had to pick a direction and keep on that heading..

  • This was my favorite post of yours! Merry christmas CL, thanks to you mine will be one too! XOXOX

  • “If I’d had the good sense and the good fortune of choosing better relationships, CL would never exist. I doubt I would appreciate my husband in the same way as I do today, without the fuckupedness and pain that went before.

    The point of my rather self involved post is that every chump has this battle inside, I think. This duality of the person who wants to stay and try harder, fix it to “win” — and the angry justice seeker who says “no more crap. I’m not letting you get chumped again!”

    CL – Although I am sorry for what you went through, and what we are all going through as Chumps, you have been given a gift. I am sure that you are reaching more people than you will ever know, and helping us get through one of the most difficult times in our lives. I know that for me, reading your posts (and they all seem to be on topic and exactly when I need them) have helped me through more tough days than I ever thought I would have to go through.

    Thank You CL!!! Keep up the wonderful work that you are doing.

    My wish for you is health, happiness and prosperity to you and yours in 2014.

    PS. I love your hair! I am soooooo jealous! 🙂

  • I third the hair jealousy, CL! ( Mehphista’s hair is curtain straight. As exciting as a Puritan’s picnic.)

    My badass self is returning, and Chumpy Me and her tuck up with a bottle of something single malt and philosophical, or daydream about Mr Fab and the Downgrade dying of genital warts over time….

    Trick is, the Me that is a Mom can’t be a badass and so veers toward Chumpy- DD sometimes shows signs of ‘fleas’ to use narc parlance, which deserves to be dealt with badass stylee, but can’t be. She has no illusions about Mr Fab, but that is her Daddy, the Achilles heel, even if he is a vicious narc, but today with her was awful.

    She self-harms, and holds it over me-Mr Fab doesn’t know, and she wants it that way. She had stopped, but when she told him before, he went apeshit, accused me- so I carry the stress. And she uses it to rule me by fear sometimes.

    Because badass Chump Lady would vaporize everything in sight if I ever let her out of the can, and Chumpy Mum can’t stand up to DD for fear of her doing something disastrous to herself (a result of Mr Fab’s emotional abuse-as good as him holding the knife) can I ask-where is the middle?

    ‘Meh’ is an utterance of equanimity, the middle, where the right things happen, but how can I do the right thing by Mehphista and her woman-cub, when Badass Mehphista might fuck it up worse for DD by dishing up reality checks, and Chumpy one really just needs to crawl under a rock? Just for a day….

    But, naaaah, Transcontinental move in 21 days, first separated Xmas, DD barely going to school, work deadlines, cats to rehome and dismantling the last thirty years of life abroad, Mr Fab doing his Monkey Dance to the Deliverance theme, Downgrade treating DD like shit….and the skein tangles on. And the unending punishment is unending.

    DD never deserved this. Neither did Mehphista. Badass part knows that, Chumpy part does too. But that primal energy that enables the badass to carry the chump is too big to let out, with fragile younnguns to care for. Best thing I could do is change tickets and leave tonight, but that is rash, and Mr Fab doesn’t deserve the satisfaction.

    Sorry, ranting….but this Chump is scared and her inner Badass is smart enough to keep it canned. Because, despite the name, Mehphista never really believed in evil until she saw the slices on DD’s arms. And if the badass comes out, she won’t go back in.

    At which point Mr fab might freak, and do something really stupid…..


    • Don’t let your daughter manipulate you with threats of self harm. Egads, get her some professional help ASAP. I think one of the hazards of breeding with a narcissist is that kid’s pick up that emotional abuse as “normal.” You call it catching fleas, I just think it’s bad modeling.

      Holding you hostage with her self harm works. So she uses it. She needs to find healthier ways to get the things she wants — OR she needs to live with NO. A boundary. (Something narcs cannot abide.) Call her on that shit. That’s love.

      If you’re doing a transcontinental move away from him with your daughter — GOOD. Then get her a shitload of support to learn how to deal with her visits with him. She has to manage that relationship, you cannot do it for her.

      As for your own dealings with him — you cannot “nice” a narc into submission. Some people have had luck managing them with flattery — I fail at that. In my experience a full frontal assault of boundaries/consequences and the boot of the law on their neck is what works. Assert yourself.

    • Mehphista, get her help, fuck him. And if she is manipulating you, the manipulation will stop there too. If he freaks, let him, what is he gonna do? Take over parenting? I have learned that secrets and silence are where fear and evil thrives. It’s why these bastards can do what they do. I’ve read a lot about co-dependency and there are a lot of definitions, but one that stuck with me was that being co-dependent is believing you have no options. I made a vow after D-Day that I will never accept lies, that I will not pretend for anyone or anything, and that I will live an authentic life from now on. You have options, use them, don’t let your husband, your daughter, or anyone else believe you have no choices here.

      • Mehphista, I am so sorry. I hope when you get moved you will figure out the right thing to do regarding the cutting and her using it to manipulate you. She’s really hurting. I suspect you will need to check her into an inpatient facility. Look for a good therapist first thing when you move.

  • Oh, Mephista– I hear you. First husband was an unsafe character, but thankfully no kids. Second one was the one who brought me here. Still– you need to be safe, and help your gal to a safe and healthy family future. That means getting away from the narc. I feel your pain, though, I have a DD too, and nothing about this pisses me off more righteously than what he’s inflicted on her…..

  • Mephista,

    I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like DD needs to get professional help. I suggest getting her in to see a doctor, your family doctor perhaps, who can assess her and document that she is in distress. If you feel she is unsafe or going to harm herself, take her to get care. I know that is hard to do but it’s your job as a parent to make sure you do the best you can by her despite what your asshole, narc says. In this case, you need to stand up and get her some help. If you think he’s going to bite back, keep a friend nearby to witness any of his comments. Grab a neighbour, family member, pastor and have them be there when you discuss your DD. They can be a witness to this abuse and help keep you safe.

    Get as far away as you can from him. Stay calm and walk away if he gets abusive. Your DD needs help. Get her some as soon as you can before it spirals into something worse.

    My STBX diminishes the emotional scars he’s inflicted. I understand how ridiculous therapists can be in that they will defend an absent, cheating father and say “well, the best thing that can come out of this is that he’ll be a better dad.” Really? Cause he had plenty of opportunities to be a better Dad but he decided to spend that time fucking someone else and then caring more about his social life than if it was the “right” thing to do by his child. But sure, let’s give him another pass. I get it. I do. These therapists need to give their head a shake.

    Still, you need to assert for your DD and yourself that this shit is not tolerable. That there IS harm here. Document it. Get a witness and stand up to this bully. A bully hates to be stood up to so be prepared. Do it anyway. Get her help. And some for yourself too.

  • Yep, it is a killing anger, sometimes, but how to balance the narc. Be good.

    Hard work…..tomorrow is another day, though.

    • Focus on your daughter and forget him. Get her help. Don’t believe his bullying that he’ll use this against you somehow.

      In fact, I think concealing it from him would make you look worse. FYI, you should be aware I had to take DD to the doctor today for (self harm). Look and be every inch the responsible parent. If he second guesses you — IGNORE.

      • Thanks all of you. She has been with a therapist for six months. He knew about the cutting before, blamed it on me, yelled at her it was attention seeking and only assholes commit suicide….etc….it worsened, hence her decision that he does not get to know.

        Doc, therapist and school all informed. I have my own therapist, initially for PTSD, but latterly, to help the badass and chump work together. DD has managed to stop for two months, until last week, and months ago blocked her Dad from accessing her medical and school records under her own steam. Her therapist concurs I should keep that confidence for her, as she has…DUH….trust issues.

        She is meeting her Godfather for lunch today and they are going to talk about it, because Mr Fab has sent his version of events, directly contradicting hers. And that of the other kid who was visiting, and her Mum, who took DD in. Godfather will also impress that manipulating her mom by fear is a tactic worthy of Mr Fabulous.

        DD and I have many angels, including all of you.

        “Soon we’ll be away from here, step on the gas and wipe that tear away.”

        • Mehphista, sorry, I posted above without seeing this post, it sound like you are doing all the right things.

          • Not to worry, Dat….getting to the end of this godforsaken road. DD had a good talk with her Godfather about her situation. She has her own Chumpiness, so she is learning more assertion.

            And there are good moments, too-DD just mooned me goodnight!

  • Thank you CL for reaching a hand down into the rut I was stuck in and freeing my own inner bad-ass chumplady. You have been an undisguised blessing in my life, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart (all those broken pieces that are mending now). I hope that good karma follows you wherever you go! You are contributing to peace on earth for all of us!

  • “I tangled with the skein so deeply, that’s why my hair looks like this.” —->Laughed harder than I ever laughed at one of your quips (and that’s sayin’ something)!

    CL, this article is AWESOME, geez don’t we all have both personalities inside of us warring away, I never thought about it before. Anyhow, I love you Aretha….errr, I mean Chump Lady, as well as your little sister, Chumpy you! What would we do without you!?!?!?!

  • Where, oh where would I be today without Chump Lady? I am so glad Chump Lady won in the end, otherwise I’d still be chumping around for the next millennium.

    Tracy, I love how you described your struggle. I’m sure we’ve all had similar struggles except mine spanned two decades. But so what? What matters is the gift of today. The gift of no longer being with a cheater, the gift of waking up each day, grateful to be ALONE and at peace, and finally understanding that each day is indeed a gift where I can celebrate myself and my new life.

  • I don’t regret my “textbook “fake” reconciliation, which lasted five months ….and I am sure it could have gone on and on. I hold my head high knowing I gave him a second chance and gave it a shot. I know that if I hadn’t been reading Chump Lady during this phase, I would STILL be living a hell sentence. (After a fourth D-day, he begged and pleaded, grabbed my waist and wrote me a Retrovaille-style letter–those who have been through this bogus marriage therapy program will know what I am talking about). Chump Lady helped my “Chump Lady” emerge sooner than usual….. Happiness is ditching a cheater.

  • OMG Tracy what an awesome article.It describes everything I went through when I was trying to leave the cheater.You have said what I felt better than I could have said it myself.

    X lives in another state and after DDay I knew and had decided I had to leave but just couldn’t get myself to do it.I was in unbearable pain, was in counseling, had contemplated suicide blah blah and used to think that only being with him would ease that pain.I met him twice after DDay and had sex.I used to feel absolute disgust and would be horribly depressed angry and crying all the while after the meet ups.It took me a while to finally understand and bring to surface that ME that was disgusted by this man.

    The conflict that you write about, I remember it oh so well.I remember how the fearful me tried to repress the brave me , the me that was the conscience, the me that kept shouting I deserved better, the me that tried to see through the dense fog created by years of brainwashing and gas lighting,the analytical me, the rational me that kept screaming that things are not adding up and WHEN THINGS DO NOT ADD UP START SUBTRACTING. And I then subtracted the cheater from my life.

    When I stumbled on to your site I had already left the cheater but the understanding, the validation that you and the heroic community here gave me is what is healing me.

    As you so rightly said, today there is no dichotomy in who I am and who I want to be.The cheater had split me down the middle.I was not fighting with him as much as I was fighting with myself during the limbo phase.Today, I am whole.Ergo , my screen name.

    Doffing my hat to you once again, Tracy.

    • “I was not fighting with him as much as I was fighting with myself”

      I completely relate to this 3 years later, while still battling the tail end of limbo land. It’s almost like I don’t want to accept that I could be such a fool so I’m trying to prove to myself I wasn’t. But the signs of that never come, just more proof that I was. Radical acceptance is a hard reality to swallow.

      But this blog/community has helped make me start to feel ok with that. Authenticity really does trump the facade, once you find it again.

      • MyKnight,

        Please do not let yourself believe ghat you were a fool.I can relate with this totally because this is exactly what I felt post DDay.

        When I expressed my anger with myself at being made a fool of my counsellor told me this is like being angry with yourself when you get mugged at gunpoint.Is it fair? In fact he told me the conning that cheaters do is worse . I then realized that even after discovering the cheating and multiplicity etc etc like a typical chump I was directing all the anger at me instead of him.
        I gradually learnt to direct that anger at him and not at myself.I treated myself with compassion instead of anger.We chumps have to learn that it’s the perpetrator of the crime that deserves anger not the victim.We walked down an alley we thought was safe and a mugger came out of nowhere and robbed us.We do not get angry at ourselves for getting mugged but we just have to ensure we do not walk down that alley because it is unsafe and we start keeping a pepper spray with us .

        It is when I stopped being angry with myself that I started to heal and eventually the anger at the cheater too dissipated and am now on the road to MEH , a state which Tracy has guided us to.

        • Sanity, it was the same with me. I remember feeling like the biggest fool in the universe to have invested so much time waiting for a person to slow down and stop working so much. He was a workaholic, driven towards accomplishments and accolades, but I thought eventually he would figure out the people who really loved him were waiting for him at home. Alas, it was not to be! I sure wish I’d known how things would turn out and I’d have put the hopium pipe down and made a life for myself instead.

          I like the analogy of being angry at yourself when you get mugged at gunpoint. So many people don’t understand what it’s like to be in a relationship with a cheater. They believe it when the ex says “it was a mutual decision” and “the marriage had been dead for years.” Even my own kids said “Dad never says anything bad about you” when I told them of his infidelity. Of course he doesn’t say anything bad, what is there to say? Did I cheat and lie and manipulate him all those years? Honestly, that’s why this is such a great community because people here really understand.

          • Lyn!

            “[Dad] never says anything bad about you.” This!

            Thank you! I have been at such a loss when people, including 3 of my 4 children, say that to me! Exactly and Hell-the Fuck-O! WTF bad could he possibly have to say about someone who ate his shit sandwiches, complete with shit condiments, with a side order of shit fries, preceded by a nice garden shit salad, for the past 28 years? I didn’t gaslight, project, blame-shift, deceive, cheat on, lie to or emotionally abuse him for the totality of the relationship.

            Thank you for naming and clearing up the confusion that wells up inside of me whenever anyone says that to me. You have given me the exact context by which to lay another brick on my road to Meh. (((HUGS))) and gratitude.

            • You know Princess, I was thinking, it’s like if a thief breaks into your house and steals all your money and jewelry. And then afterward said he was sorry, but hey he spent it all and he was moving on. You’d have a lot of bad things to say about him. No one would expect that he would have anything bad to say about you.

              If your ex hit you, everyone would understand you talking shit about him for as long as you chose, and would not give him kudos for refusing to say anything bad about you, and would not tell you to please just “get over it.”

              But these guys can steal how many years of our lives away, and we are not allowed to have an opinion on it or anything to say about it?? We have to listen to people berating us as to why can’t we all “just get along?”

              Wasn’t that part of the problem when we were married? Our inability to see clearly and stand for ourselves and our worth? Telling us to shush, or shut up, or to smile sweetly, is just a refusal to acknowledge the harm and abuse that happened to us, and in a way a refusal to acknowledge reality.

              The truth of what happened to each of us is our truth….it is an uncomfortable truth, especially for the children, but a truth nonetheless. I will never be silent again.

              • Kelly,

                I love you for putting so many of my feelings into those few paragraphs.

                I went to see the movie “12 Years a Slave,” and toward the end of the movie there is a particularly painful to watch (and to have received, I’m sure) beating of a female slave. They showed the deep, bloody and painful scars across her back and I thought to myself, “That’s what I looked like inside when I left my STBX.” If those scars had been on the outside no one would have said to me, “You just need to move on. Don’t speak against him to the children,” and whatever other nonsensical bullshit people tell you when this shit happens to you.

                The difference becomes when the deep and painful scars are on the outside and you speak your truth, people are horrified and disgusted by the Cheater. When that same deep wounding is on the inside and hidden from view and you speak your truth, people become horrified and disgusted by YOU. I often liken it to having surgery and being all stitched up and the hospital sends you home too soon and an infection sets in. You’re walking around and people can smell the stench and they think it’s something you’ve done or haven’t done, when the stench is coming from the hidden infection which was caused by not being treated well or cared for properly.

                That’s why I love this place and I come here like a recovering heroin addict going to a methadone clinic.

  • Thank you so much for this Tracey! Thank you so much for you!

    You may not believe it, but you may have actually saved my life, or at least kept me from checking into an inpatient facility and being placed under chemical restraint – for real. I was so emotionally beat down from the years of projection, blame-shifting, gaslighting, infidelity, deceit – my STBX is a true passive-aggressive, covert narcissist. Narcissist Victim Syndrome doesn’t even begin to cover what it was like when my relationship finally imploded. I was suicidal and went into therapy. I searched for a group to join to supplement my therapy and could find little to nothing in my area, so I joined an online support group. I appreciated commiserating with people who actually understood my experience, but I felt stuck in sadness and despair because so many of them seemed to believe their relationship needed to be or could be saved. Holding on and continuing to take hits on that hopium pipe was only serving to keep me stuck, sad and completely unable to move forward. My STBX was able to continue the emotional abuse even though I had moved out because I allowed him in my head and in my physical space.

    Then a miracle occurred. Someone on an infidelity website mentioned this website and I came over and had a look. It was as if the heavenly hosts began singing and the heavens opened up. I felt as if I had been shaken awake and kicked in the ass. That part of me that had been a little voice inside me for years screaming “Bullshit!” but then gagged and trussed up by Chumpy me, slowly began to emerge and reclaim sanity for herself and the Chump.

    Chumpy and Madam No More Bullshit are still wrestling with one another, but Madam No More Bullshit wins more arm-wrestling and full-out mat contests than she used to. Chumpy is loathe to give up her hopium – she is a sincere addict, having been a faithful user of the hopium pipe for so long. Thankfully, Madam No More Bullshit is becoming stronger and helping Chumpy to become wiser and deal with her addiction. I have you and this group of Chumps to thank for that Tracey.

    Your voice (and the voices of so many wise Chumps on this site) is empowering. Your voice has provided strength to me when I had little of my own to rely on. I thank you for that. I thank you for showing me a way out of the abyss of hopelessness, self-blame, sadness and despair in which I found myself. I thank you for giving language to what real healing can look like – also known as hope (not to be confused with hopium, a dangerous and addictive narcotic). Your words have been the ladder on which I began my climb to true recovery.

    Much love to you and yours and all of the wonderful people on this site.

    • Hey CP,
      I am glad you stuck around! I know you are one of the beginning Chumps that I read alot when I first found this site.

      So glad you too found this place and much love right back to you!

      These faux people are not worth the destruction they cause it just continues to amaze me how really unamazing they are yet they do what they do so well!!! No wonder we all feel like we are crazy at some point.

      Welcome home Chump Princess and Happy Recovery!

      • Thank you so much Deborah!

        (((HUGS))) Happy Recovery to you as well. One day at a time. We’ll make it.

    • Amen! Dropping the hopium pipe is truly difficult. You know, when you have spend over 20 years, kids, life … and you find out you don’t really know him? The hopium pipe is all you have between staying deluded and accepting the truth: he Really IS like this (trust that he sucks).

      It is the beginning of the rest of your life, but jeez, what a painful enlightenment. No wonder hopium is necessary.

  • Dear CL,
    I am so sorry that you went through so much of your own shit but I have to say I am really glad that you decided to share it and used all of your experience to shed light on the reality of what seems like a small epidemic.

    The self healing part is so important for the victim turned survivor and there is nothing out there on the web doing what you are doing, not even close.

    The fact that you are intelligent and witty and write so well with a sense of humor makes it all that much more human and real. The opposite of what reality is with a narc/sociopath/psychopath. I add the sociopath and psychopath as I really believe my experience was definitely with a sociopath.

    Since you were duped it puts in perspective that really anyone can be just as easily duped and there is no shame in that. It is truly an experience that can not be simply explained by words because there are so many emotions tied up in the experience. Your writing is so good that you are able to explain the unexplainable and with clarity!

    I searched alot early on for something online that made sense to me and you were it. I found you and found home.

    Thanks for being such a good chump and sharing your whole chumpiness with us.

    This post really brought you back down to earth for all of us and reminded us you didn’t get so good without living through so much shit yourself and that just keeps it all in perspective. So thanks for always keeping it all in perspective. That’s sometimes the hardest part on the road to meh!

    Much love to you and my fellow and fella chumps.

  • CL the biggest gift you gave me, was naming infidelity as abuse. I would have like to have worked on issues, gone to counselling, moved towards a mutual outcome, I just wasn’t ever given the chance.

    I felt the rage. There was a huge, slim, carving knife in my back going straight into my heart – so why didn’t even the psychologists mention it? The closest he got was saying ‘affairs are about aggression’.

    You helped me work out that my trauma was that – trauma. Otherwise I am a lunatic. Thank you.

    • Been there, too. Infidelity is abuse, end of, and that unflinching witness is what makes CL unique.

      The abuse made me Chumpy, and kept me there- Chumpy me didn’t want to call it that, but a spade is a spade.

  • CL, I love this part: “Chump Lady said, “Okay, I’m driving. Get in the backseat.” Chumpy me tried to backseat drive and offer directions “Um, maybe we should pull over for that apology?” Chump Lady said “Shut up. I’ve got this.””

    I filed for divorce a few months ago after XH had an affair with someone 20 years younger than him, moved out, wouldn’t tell me the address of his new apartment, and changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policies from me to his sister. My story is here:

    Since then, he has stopped depositing his paycheck into our joint account (I’ve filed a motion for temporary support), but still sends me emails about how he’s sorry, how divorce would be a mistake, how we need to keep the family together, how reconciliation would be the best Christmas present we could give our kids, how we need to forgive each other (not sure why he needs to forgive me), how we need to sit down and discuss this. At times, Chumpy me wants to believe him, but my CL part says to keep on moving forward with the divorce (which I plan on doing).

    Fellow CLers, please, remind me, why does XH keep on sending me these emails? Someone I know said he might be “confused,” but do you think it’s something more manipulative and calculating?

    • See today’s post.

      It doesn’t matter why he’s sending them. What matters is who you are and your values. Is a man who did these things, who thinks he needs to forgive YOU (we’re all equal here), someone you want to be married to? Is that your idea of a relationship?

      Trying to figure out his motivations is untangling the skein. He probably wants cake and to have you eat the shit sandwich of He’s Not a Bad Person. It’s also not insignificant that you’re divorcing him and he’d like to control that outcome.

    • Oh blueberry, nononono! He is not confused, at least not in the sense that non-pathological people think of as confused…he is “confused” like a fox (my apologies to foxes everywhere). You said yourself the magic words~~ “I filed a motion for temporary support.” He does not want to lose his control and lose money, HE DOES NOT WANT TO LOSE HIS CAKE. He’s just fucking with you. He is a sociopath, as astonishing and downright horrifying as it is. You know he has no conscience, no heart, no soul, no love for anyone but himself, right? And he thinks he can manipulate you, use the Christmas season, your chumpy nature, your love and concern for your children (for god’s sake!), to lure you back into the cesspool with him. Don’t fall for it, don’t look backward, blueberry.

      What is that quote by Winston Churchill? “When you are going through hell, keep going.”

    • Your divorce is still in process. His bullshit apologies and talk of reconciliation is absolutely a ploy to soften you up so you don’t try and nail his balls to the wall in the divorce settlement. You watch. Once he sees you aren’t giving in, and he is going to lose $$$$ in this divorce, those nice words and emails will come to a crashing halt, and instead, you’ll probably see his inner evil show its true face.

      • +1000 to this. Blueberry, once you refuse to allow him to control you he will pull out all the stops to get you under his control again. At first he’ll “be nice”, once he sees you are immovable on the divorce, watch out – do not for one minute think he has YOUR best interests at heart. Treat him like the enemy he is. Go on contact on him, let the lawyers handle it as much as you can.

  • Yes, he’s manipulating you. Don’t go there. In fact, don’t respond or open his emails. He’s proven to you that he doesn’t have your back in any possible way. He WANTS you to discount your own ideas and values. This ain’t his first rodeo, remember? He WANTS you to remember how wonderful (if he was at all), he was.

    Don’t go there. You’ve made the first really difficult steps to get away and stay away. He sounds like a jerk to me. If he’s going after your money, cutting off your access to finances, all the while telling you he wants to get back together please tell me how that is a kind, loving person? He’s playing on your hope. He’s playing on your pain. He’s distracting you from the real issue. HE NEEDS TO PAY SUPPORT!

    Don’t be suckered back. I know it’s hard. I know you want to believe. But he’s gone. He’s just poking around seeing if you’ll respond. Play dead. He’ll leave you alone. You can do it.

  • Blueberry- A dud(e) who changes the beneficiary of his insurance policy, cuts off financial support, leaves no forwarding address, etc.., isn’t serious about reconciling with the mother of his children or the well-being of his children. He is primo in his book.

    • Blueberry,
      He is a POISONBERRY! Don’t drink the juice!

      When I walked away, I knew there was never any turning back. Here was someone who said he loved me, showed it in some small ways but where it really counted, He never had my back. The fact that he put my mental health and physical well being at risk behind my back and without my knowledge is not love it’s abuse.

      Your mind needs to separate the reality of who he/she is (if you are a manly chump) from the fantasy they created for you and it is a fantasy without question, they even get us Chumps to participate in the fantasy relationship with them.

      Even though I knew I would never go back it took me a long time to recover from everything and process it. It is so bad and unbelievable that someone can do this to you who you love and claimed to love you that your mind can not process the ugly reality of the abuse all at once. It goes back at times not wanting to believe the entire truth and sometimes only the good is remembered and you get a little shaky and weak in your decision to divorce, leave and move on. But they left the minute they harmed you in two ways without your knowledge. That IS who they are and what they are made of, betrayal and lies and without question abuse and in some cases they add a sprinkle of STD’s on top. They are trauma, drama and without question low life losers without one gram of character.

      Don’t you and every one of us deserve so much better and more than that? You’re damn right we do and it starts with you loving and caring enough about you to protect yourself from any harm the same way you would a family member, a child, a friend or a pet.

      Don’t ever forget that and remember it especially when you get a bit shakey, go straight to remembering what they did as that is who they are. The rest is a facade and temporary just to trick and manipulate you for their benefit. These are really sick beings.But they are the sick ones, not you or any of us.

      Be Strong Blueberry and stay away from the Poisonberry!

  • This is where I am at right now with the self talk….
    The what next, and why……
    I have no desire to go back because what he did was so horrible.
    However I can’t help but “feel sorry” for the bastard sometimes.
    And I need to stop that….
    I am empathetic to the maximum. Which obviously made me a target.
    But I still can’t believe I let myself be fooled for 30 years.
    He was good….really good!
    My friends and family are blown away as much it not more than me.

    Thank you so much.
    I look forward to your posts daily.
    It’s posts like this where people bare their souls and become vulnerable.
    I am slowly becoming more open, even though it scares the living shit out of me to admit that I feel victim. I am a Chump.
    Hate that word. But if the shoe fits……

    • Same here sueallen, except married for 25 years. And yes, I don’t know who was more blown away, me , my family, our friends, or people in our community after the D-Day revelations. You know who wasn’t blown away, though? Our three children! Guess they haven’t learned to spackle or believe the hallucinogenic images induced by a charming sociopath.

      And no, do NOT feel sorry for him (I know, I know I go through the same thing myself and come here to be talked down, we are chumps after all!). Yes we were victims, as if someone broke into our home and stole our most beloved possessions, except the thief was the person we loved and trusted most and he took away precious years….no decades….of our lives. And these guys were good, obviously, to fool not only us but nearly everyone else too. You do need to understand you’ve been abused. I remember when a friend told me that early on after D-Day, and I thought she was nuts. Now I get it. You need to accept and work through that, or else it does not make sense. I even had post traumatic type symptoms, and I know other chumps here have gone through much the same.

      But you know what finally got me to meh? I was on a plane (on a Tuesday no less!), and I realized that as good as my ex was at deceiving and lying and pretending, I was smarter than that, I was more capable than him, I was literally better than him in the ways that truly matter. I saw the signs, subtle as they were, and I didn’t trust myself and trust in myself enough to say, hold on, this guy is a good, but no, he is a fraud. I didn’t have the guts to follow my gut and kick him to the curb. For some counterintuitive reason, it gave me back my power and got me to meh.

      So be a victim, you are one so you may as well accept it. Acknowledge that you were abused. Understand that it hurts, that it is hard to accept, that you long for it not to be so. But then there will come a day where you can accept that it is so, and you can take back your power, and you can truly move on with your life in every way. You WILL get there, sueallen, trust yourself.

    • The chump condition is not permanent, unless you let it be.

      Please don’t feel sorry for him. Save your compassion for yourself right now. ((Hugs))

  • CL, I’m late to the post – thank you for creating this blog and I am really glad you are writing a book. I actually was pretty bad ass when shit went down but the Reconciliation Industrial Complex, the counselors and my ex convinced me that I should try to reconcile. I am very happy that now chumps have a place to get the validation they need to kick the asshole to the curb.

    For myself, this site has helped to validate my experiences, including the fact that cheating is a part of domestic abuse. I also appreciate a place where I can share my experiences and someone else might benefit. Plus the community where we can laugh and crack each other up. 🙂

    Thank you CL for doing this and I hope you make a ton of money off your book! That would be some massive karma in action.

  • Long-time lurker here. Your best post yet.

    In other news, I just got engaged to a fellow chump and am in a great place. D-bag EXH is still shacked up with OW, and she’s still married ….. three years later.

    Merry Christmas to you, Chump Lady, and all the other chumps on here.

    • Yayay, congratulations DC! I love hearing happy stories of chumps moving on and succeeding, especially romantically (and it is always a nice little kicker if the cheater’s life simultaneously sucks, like your ex’s). Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Welcome DCnomore! Congratulations on your engagement! Chump to chump unions are the best, IMO. Merry Xmas backatcha!

  • Chump Lady – This is great. But my chump recovery story seems to be going sideways. I helped XH develop a career…after 21 years of marriage he divorced me getting half of everything AND an Alimony buyout. He loves his career (that I enabled), lives in a townhouse his parents bought, has a trust fund AND the money I made while he was narcissistically preoccupied. (he rarely put any $ in the family — pastors, counselors and family couldn’t get him to contribute)

    I’m glad to be out of the tornado…but I’m sitting in the torn up trailer park. My kids know his Issues but his Disneyland dad charm and wad of cash is enticing to a high schooler and college kid.

    I’m doing all the positive stuff to get on with life except traveling (can’t afford it) and dating (I have nothing to emotionally give right now).

    I know it’s childish but I want justice. Thoughts?

  • For a few days after D-Day and The Confrontation, I lingered in thought about whether it would all turn around, despite what I knew and what I was told would not happen (i.e. that it would all turn around.)

    And then, as I was going to bed, I had a thought that I wrote down for myself:

    * the eternal question i.e. “what do you want” does not mean, “what do you want that person NOT to be” *

    I realized at that moment I’d spent more time over the years wanting her to NOT be something than wanting her, as-is. Duh.

    And then her weird and unexplainable, out-of-bounds behaviors over the years came flooding back to me. Stuff I’d shelved and worked hard to forget. Shit! I wasn’t crazy after all! I was just being a chump and a damn good one.

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