Dear Chump Lady,
I want to thank you for what you are doing for us betrayed partners. The many other sites I that I have reached out to for help, in the past, encourage the idea of staying with a cheater and they made me feel horrible for instinctively wanting to leave my cheating wife. This resulted in a traumatic seven months of limbo after D-day. The trauma of staying with her to “reconcile”, while she continued to cheat, was worse than D-day itself. This after a year long affair.
I’m lost Ms. Chump Lady. I would love your guidance regarding my plan of rebuilding my life.
Here is my story:
I have been with my wife for 14 years. We have been married for 6 years and we have an 11 year old son. She is 31 and I’m 35. We got together young and I was her first sexual partner. We came from nothing. We put ourselves through college, got our careers in order, moved into our starter home, sold it a few years later, built our big beautiful home with a white picket fence, and got our new cars. Our son has always been a great kid and does great on school. I cooked, cleaned, fixed everything regarding the house and cars. I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, or party. I never worked long hours. I loved being a husband so much. We went on two vacations a year, and we always got along great. She was my buddy. My best friend. Our life together was progressing as it should.
I don’t understand why the following happened.
Her affair started in the beginning of 2012 and was a year and a half long. D-day was after a year. However, She continued the affair for 6 months while I thought we were reconciling and even going to counseling.
I caught on to the affair after she locked her smart phone, and became addicted to facebook. She was constantly texting. She was buried in her phone. It was as if she disappeared. She began going in to work early and coming home late. She started going out on Friday and Saturday nights with “girlfriends” and would come home at 3 or 4 am. She would also be gone all day on Sundays to go to the mall to “window shop.” She started working out heavily when she never did before. She started having her hair and nails done at all times and was always staring at herself in the mirror. She seemed so high on life. However, I was no part of it. She even had this weird walk. I cant explain it, but I knew she was cheating.
Her actions were beyond obvious. Every time I would ask her about her behavior, she would blow up and accuse me of being controlling. She gave me the “I need space” and “I love you, but Im not in love with you” speeches.
She told me I was unattractive and just a roommate to her. I didn’t get it. I was somewhat in denial. I started doing everything I could to win her heart back. I just turned the other cheek for our son. My son and I had many many movie nights, or weekend days at the park, while she was gone with “her friends” (Him). Sometimes for three days at a time. What was worse was when she started to cycle up and down. Mainly after D-Day. When I would start to pull away and prepare to leave her, she would switch and be so sweet for about 2 weeks. She would tell me how much she loved me, our family, and house. She would swear that the affair was over. Once things settled, she would treat me like shit again. Back and forth this went for 6 months after D- day. She used to wear a necklace in front of me that her lover gave her. She even had me put it on her. When I found out it was his, she refused to get rid of it. She’s in our family holiday pictures wearing his necklace. It goes on and on.
After D-day, she begged me to stay. I did and we went to counseling. She even made a no contact call to him on speaker phone.
One month later they met back up and screwed on the beach while I watched a movie with our son at home. I stayed up all night like a puppy looking out the window waiting for her to come home.
I learned of the above details because they both confessed “everything” to me a few months ago. He told me everything and she confirmed it all. He confessed to me because he claimed that she had lied to him too and was angry at her.
I stayed for another 5 months after the second D-Day. She treated me horribly while the affair continued. I cried and begged like a weak loser. She would look at me and say “That’s unattractive. If I were to break it up with him, he would not react like that.”
During the affair and limbo, when we were together and she would be on the phone with her mother or anyone else, she would refer to herself as if she was alone, like she was disconnected. It seems so trivial, but it’s as if me and my son disappeared to her. It was excruciating. Chump Lady, please understand that I am not a weak person. I have a very dangerous and demanding career in the legal field. She destroyed my self esteem and turned me into this damaged person.
Her lover was an old high school friend from 15 years ago. They caught back up via facebook. I get the feeling this has been going on, on and off, for years. He lives close by. I have had the same weird gut feeling in the past about her cheating, but then it would go away (before this affair). She is a nurse and has worked at a hospital around doctors, cops, firemen, and so on for years. Sometimes she would act weird for a few weeks but it would stop.
I’m such a fool.
I moved out 3 months ago. I left everything behind. The house, the furniture. I just wanted peace.
When I left, she lost it, and continuously begged and pleaded for me to come home. She called my mother, my therapist, and even had her “ex” lover call me to tell me that it was over between them and I should go back to her. She told me that if I was a man, I would step up and fix my family. She made me feel so guilty. I gathered the little strength I had and filed for divorce.
I feel so guilty for doing so. I feel as if I should fix my family. My heart still loves her, but my mind is terrified of her. Why do we become so addicted to these monsters? When I see her or hear her voice I become phobic. As if I was looking over a very deep ledge with a fear of heights.
It wasn’t just the year-long affair that destroyed me. It was the treatment. The fact that it continued in my face after I found out for 6 months. Her poor excuses killed me. She would tell me how she downloaded a new song to her iphone and only liked to hear her songs in her car while she drove around. She would go “drive around” for 5 hours at a time. She later confessed that she would go screw him and not drive around. They never used protection. They had sex just about everywhere. Her car, his car, the beach, even behind some bushes on the side of the road, his house, and so on.
I had to just look away. I never dared to question l her or face her wrath.
She humiliated me. I feel so disgusting. I feel as if somehow this is my fault. She took everything. I feel empty. I sometimes don’t even know who I am.
Any advice and/or words of strength?
Yes. I have words of advice and strength. First — do not feel one bit guilty for divorcing this wing nut. Disordered people (and boy does it sound like she ticks all the boxes) like to operate by FOG — Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. The voice in your head that told you to file and save yourself is your best self, the voice that tells you owe her something (fixing this, coming back, subjecting yourself to more abuse) is your sick self.
You cannot fix this. The game is rigged. This woman is high on cake. She is abusing you. She’s taking your very best qualities — your devotion, your sticktoitiveness, your sense of responsibility — and she’s using them against you. Read Dr. Simon’s books (in the Amazon box) on manipulation. You can only manipulate people who are capable of feeling guilt or shame. In other words, GOOD people. You’re good people. She’s using your good against you, trying to get you to feel responsible for her crazy. That’s the FOG. Go spend some time at this excellent site on personality disorders — outofthefog.net — and especially the list of Top 100 Traits of Personality Disorders. I think you’ll be having some A-ha moments.
You married young and stupid, Paul. Many of us have been there. Look, your pre-frontal cortex, that center of executive decision-making, isn’t even formed until around age 25 (by which point you’d been married 4 years). So cut yourself some slack, it’s not as if you had a bunch of relationships to compare the wing nut too. You’re a good guy, awesome devoted husband material, and your stock is going to trade really high. So don’t let this woman’s abuse make you feel like damaged goods. You’re not — you’re a gem. Don’t forget it.
You’re a person who married young, and perhaps thanks to some of your own issues (go explore that in therapy), you chose a wing nut. A bad picker isn’t fatal. This can be fixed. Look for healthy relationships based on shared values and reciprocity. I get this sense from your letter that your ex has had a flamboyant sense of entitlement for a long time. How many “girl’s nights out” does a working mother need? Or long drives alone to listen to “music”? Or window shopping days? The fact that she could pass these activities off as normal requests tells me you were pretty used to a dynamic of Give Her What She Wants and No One Gets Hurt. You say yourself, you didn’t dare question or would face her wrath. That shit’s not normal, Paul.
Narcissists have this little dynamic that goes: “come here closer…. so I can slap you.”
She doesn’t want you back to work on this. She wants to slap you. That’s why you’re phobic around her. Because your gut knows this bitch is going to slap you. Hopeful you wants an embrace — don’t fall for that. It’s a slap. It’s wearing his necklace and making you put it on her. It’s staying out all night while she fucks him on the beach. She wants to humiliate you, make you dance the pick me polka, make you feed her cake. Then she wants to abuse you with the details of her fucking around. It makes her feel powerful, fought over, and central.
Step away from that crazy, Paul. You filed for divorce — that’s healthy self preservation and you shouldn’t feel one bit guilty. Would you feel guilty if you ran out of a burning building? Oh, but she’s trapped inside! I must save her!
No Paul, she’s the FUCKING ARSONIST.
Run, run, RUN out of this burning building and do not look back. God speed.