Help Chump Lady!
I’ve made a complete and total eejit of myself this week……so ashamed…..
One and a half years ago husband starts affair. Simultaneously turns into a monster overnight. All the usual — lies, gaslighting, accusations, buying me presents, disappearing, feeling sorry for himself, refusing marriage counselling, refusing to say marriage is over blah blah and into the twilight zone for me.
One year ago I am diagnosed with cancer. He spends appointment fainting and being fanned by a nurse, the afternoon crying about how sad his life is, disappears next morning for two and a half weeks and fails to respond to texts, etc. Later I found out he was at her house. He comes back (after my scans, chemo, lost my hair etc.) and tells me repeatedly he’s not cheating on me.
Then disappears again leaving me very ill. Whereupon I discover various lies and give him an ultimatum to come back and man up or get lost. D day. He tells me he is having affair and dumps me. I throw him out, divorce him before he knows what’s hit him, buy a flat — all during chemo, surgery, radiotherapy. He continues lying, playing mind games, never offers any help with my treatment/the divorce etc. and cries about how people aren’t as sympathetic to him as he had anticipated. Since January when I (on my own) finished all the break-up bureaucracy, I’ve been sticking to no contact. Overall it has been utter hell for a year and a half and I have been so heartbroken and grief-striken, the pain is beyond words.
The problem: This week I stumbled on emails from him to her on my computer proving yet more lies and that he’d taken her on a dirty weekend to the same place we’d been on holiday that year way back nearly a year and a half ago. I lost the plot. It was something about seeing it in black and white. I rang her. She told me she knew all along he was married. I emailed him. His response: “Congratulations for making her suffer.” For real.
My friend said this is like Jerry Springer. I lost it even more and have spent the week crying, not eating, not able to work, and sending a range of truly deranged emails that made me look like an absolute crazy. Now I’m feeling back to square one, plus with a total loss of dignity. How do I pick up from here? Is it normal to make a prize ass of yourself in these situations? Really, I’m struggling a lot to get over this because I can’t do any of the normal things people do — I’m too sick to socialise, make new friends and finding it hard enough to keep clean, fed, and watered. I’d really appreciate some wise words from you if you have any to spare.
I actually don’t have any words.
Sometimes, I think I’ve read it all on my site. Cheaters who leave women pregnant with a toddler at home, skanks with so many affair partners the poor chump has to check the paternity of his kids, discovery of exorbitant hooker habits, parents who walk out on their children without so much as as backwards glance. And I think I’ve even read here of chumps being cheated on while battling cancer. But yours is the first letter I’ve read where you’re battling cancer AND D-Day AND the nightmare of divorce logistics all on your own.
I mean WOW. M, you are MIGHTY. You’re sitting there bald, puking your guts out from chemo, and you divorce the son of a bitch.
Read the last post of how people stay stuck. How chumps spend years waffling, undecided. Days of ennui, staring at their half-finished copies of “Not Just Friends.” The sad self destructiveness, the inertia and indecision — and YOU M, you get up from your fucking DEATH BED and divorce him before he knows what hit him! Hell, you even manage a REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION. You bought a flat? M, in the months after D-Day, I couldn’t even buy a sandwich without apoplexies of self doubt.
And cancer thinks it can kick your ass? Cancer fucked with the wrong woman. You are a warrior, M! An INSPIRATION. And you’re beating yourself up again, why? Because you sent a sociopath a nasty email? Because despite incredible valor and superhuman powers of composure, you slipped up and lost your shit?
When he accused YOU of making the OW “suffer” — that’s the kind of provocation that kills people. It’s the most obscene blame shifting. It’s the cruelest thing he could say to invalidate YOUR suffering — the one-two punch of his betrayal AND a life-threatening illness. Oh yeah, those are a cake walk compared to an unsettling phone call from the wife of your boyfriend.
This is where I don’t have words. To tell you what a disordered, cruel, fuckwit he is. The peddlers of “compassionate divorce” can bite me — is it normal to make a prize ass of yourself and lose your dignity? YES, it’s normal. YES, you’re human and you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it any more. You told those two cheaters what pieces of shit they are, and you lost your cool. And so WHAT?
You didn’t napalm them, you didn’t put a bullet through their heads, you didn’t run them over with your car and then throw it in reverse. You kept your dignity and you divorced him. Alone. Without one bit of help from him. (Asshole.) You faced the worse crisis of your life like a hero. And then one day, you discover the betrayal was worse than you knew, and you got righteously pissed off.
And your mistake — why you’re feeling like an ass — is you directed that grief and rage to someone who just doesn’t give a fuck. No, worse, he takes your grief and rage (which he so deserves, which is infinitesimal compared to what he should be forced to hear), and he uses it to injure you further. You exposed your vulnerability to him, and that’s why you’re embarrassed. Your rage and hurt give him centrality and he uses that to hurt you. This is why no contact is essential — don’t let him keep hurting you.
He is a wicked, horrible person. It’s okay to show your grief to good people who love you. But you can’t show your ex your grief. He is impervious to shame. Clearly, he feels zero shame or he would not be capable of cheating and abandoning you this way. You may as well try to shame a doorpost. He cannot feel a fraction of your pain — and attempting to reach him will drive you insane. So please stop.
Delete any more evidence of his affairs you have. Erase your hard drive. He is your ex, and assuming you have no children with him, you never, ever have to speak with him again. You need to heal — on all fronts — and no contact is the best way to do that. Keep his crazy away from you! Your job right now is to just to grieve and heal. You’ve already been totally amazing, so let’s shelf socializing, and getting out right now. We need to kick cancer’s ass, so your ex cannot have any of your precious energy.
When you need to scream at the unfairness of it all — scream. Scream to us, we get it. No one here is going to hold you up to some impossible standard of zen perfection. You’ve been through HELL. Be kind to yourself, and you can start by recognizing that you’re amazing and strong, and not an eejit or a prized ass. You’ve been waging a war of self preservation on all fronts! You don’t think Winston Churchill lost his shit some days? When the Germans were dropping bombs on London, do you think he struck a yoga pose and said, “Gee, I feel like an idiot, being so bitter about the Germans. If they would just consciously uncouple from Poland, I’m sure we could all get along for the sake of Europe. I should find my compassion! I probably contributed in some fashion to Hitler’s invasions, (I can be a pompous windbag and… I do smoke). Perhaps these bombs were sent here to teach me a spiritual lesson…”
No. This is what Winston Churchill said:
“Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”
You had some bumps last week on the long, hard road M — but victory is yours. Don’t lose sight of that. He’s out of your life — you achieved that, and it’s a huge achievement. You never yielded. You did not let him destroy you. Cancer did not destroy you. Keep up the good fight. We’ve got your back.