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Dear Chump Lady, I still want to call him

Dear Chump Lady,

I have been living and following my new year’s resolution for three months now. “Chump no more in 20 1-4.”

You have shown me the light, enabled me to make the changes that I needed to make, and move forward in a healthy and confident way. I have attracted some terrific people, a new job, and for the first time in two years I really feel great!

But, I still suffer occasional lapses of “if onlys” or “shoulda, couldas.”

When I was offered that new job…who did I want to call? It still brings tears to my eyes to think about that.

So lay it on me.  I need to shake this last nut out of my tree.

Dumped at 57 after 33 years of marriage

Dear Dumped,

Why are you writing to me? You’ve got this new life thing nailed. Terrific people, a new job, feeling great.

So your only problem is after something wonderful happens you want to call your ex? You’ve got Phantom Spouse Syndrome.

You know, like a phantom limb. Even though it’s not there, your brain thinks it’s there and you sometimes feel the pain of the absent limb. Not surprising after 33 years of marriage. It’s sort of like an emotional hallucination, except the pain is very real.

Writing this just got me googling about phantom limb pain, which is pretty interesting reading. One of the theories is that our bodies are made up of a “neuromatrix” and when an amputation occurs, the brain has to substantially reorganize itself. (Even more interesting is some emerging evidence that our brains are “hard-wired” to assume we have fully formed appendages. For example, a person born with four fingers who loses that hand will have phantom pain in five fingers.)

I think something similar occurs in our brains when we amputate a spouse. It takes awhile for our brains to reorganize. The coulda, woulda, shouldas are just you chewing over the problem, rewiring that brain, processing the injury.

One reason chumps get stuck on second guessing is we think at some level we could have controlled this outcome. It’s frightening to realize that we’re vulnerable. That someone could just run their own life, and our lives, off the rails. We replay it over and over checking for loopholes, for some evidence that it was our fault or we missed a spot, or if our ex had been busy that Wednesday he or she would never have met the affair partner.

There are infinite possibilities in the realm of woulda-coulda-shoulda, but those possibilities don’t change the reality — this person is gone from your life. That’s your reality and you have to deal with it. Process the injury by accepting it.

Here’s the thing about losing limbs — they can’t be replaced. You lose an arm, you can’t grow a new arm. Lose a cheating fuckwit? You can replace a cheating fuckwit with another cheating fuckwit (please don’t) — but you can also replace a cheater with something much better — a bionic new life.

In the place of that loss, you can grown a new life. It doesn’t have to be another spouse, it can be new friends, old friends, family, a loving tribe, a faithful Australian shepherd puppy. Frankly, a bag of rocks would be better company than a cheating fuckwit. In any case, the centrality of losing a fuckwit becomes peripheral in time.

My prognosis is that as you experience that new life, it will eclipse the old life, and you’ll grind away on the “whys” less and less. The new life will BE your life. You’re only three months in. I think you’ve got a ways to go, but stick with the awesomeness.

 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “Frankly, a bag of rocks would be better company than a cheating fuckwit.”

    LOL Totally agree!! I used to cringe when I would see my ex’s truck in our driveway, or when I’d hear the doorknob turn when he came home from work. A docile bag of rocks would have been so much more peaceful than tiptoeing around that loose cannon.

  • Well, It is great to hear that you are slowly moving on and finding joy in your life minus your fuckwit! I think you are progressing pretty well! I am further along in this journey and I still experience what you are talking about. I just had to experience yet another wedding anniversary (he’s gone but I am not yet divorced). I was recently talking about this very thing with my mom and she gently told me that I need to just move on already. For the most part I have but there are still times, like what you described, that I get stuck.

    I tried to explain it to her in that the concept of losing (or burying) your spouse when they are physically still present is very difficult. Friends and family outside of the situation do not understand it. Imagine if your spouse died and you were grieving the loss…..people would understand your grief and would be delicate with your healing and how you are progressing. When you divorce because your spouse was a cheating SOB, people tend to say things like “Be thankful you are rid of him/her”, “you need to move on”, etc. And you probably are thankful to be rid of the cheater and you probably can’t wait to finally be over the entire mess but really you are still grieving the loss. You grieve the loss of the dream, the one person whom you confided in, someone you thought was your best friend. I think it is totally normal!

    Give yourself a break and realize that you are healing. One day, the urges to share with him will fade away. Old habits are hard to break. I can’t wait to finally get there myself!

    • Hi Kimmy, it will get better. Today in Australia it is Wednesday 26 March 2014 and under normal and good circumstances, today I would be celebrating my 38 wedding anniversary at 3.15 pm this afternoon. I am funny about remembering times of the so called special events in me life. The same as the times my daughter was born at 3.10pm in the afternoon 35 years ago and my son at 9.30am in the morning 31 years ago. I cannot celebrate those dates and times any more because those 3 people are no longer in my life. Long story short, I have reached that place where I no longer wish to share anything with my ex husband or my children. You too will get to that place in due course. It is a rough road to travel but travel it we must. You will get there trust me because I have and I never thought that was possible. I love too deeply but I have had to learn to not do that any more. I am now getting to MEH a lot quicker after joining this site. Keep coming back and reading all of the wonderful contributions because they will help you like they have me. All the very best dear girl.

        • Hugs to yo Maree! I hope you did not feel too sad on a March 24th? Felt sad to hear that your children are not part of your life.. Will be praying they one to their WENSES but I’m glad to know that you have made peace with it. Best wishes.

  • Dumped,

    You are going through a perfectly normal process, and pretty much everyone here can relate to this. For me, exH has been gone for 6 years, and we’ve been no contact for most of that (as in, he didn’t leave a number where he could be reached). We had two children together, so every once in a while, especially in the beginning, I would have an urge to call him, to say, “Our son just learned to ride a bike” or “Our daughter just lost her first tooth” or “My mom was just diagnosed with Alzheimers” or “Our son needs surgery” or last night, “Our daughter just won an award at the sports banquet.” I still fight that urge, but it’s normal because an ex-spouse and/or parent is SUPPOSED to care about stuff like this.

    But us Chumps didn’t marry the “SUPPOSED to” spouses – we married the disordered, unable to feel “normal”, and completely self-absorbed creepy people. And if we called to tell them about that bike or tooth or diagnosis or award – they wouldn’t care, because it’s not about THEM. Instead, they would take that call as a sign that we MISS them; that we still WANT them – because they’re that awesome and special and sparkly. So just call someone else who DOES care about you, and share that news. And leave the sparkly one to their own delusions.

    • Very well said. I have this often too. I have to fight it and it has been almost 3 years since we separated. I also agree with Kimmy. It’s tough to be in this situation because a lot of society is kind of a throw-away culture. The idea is that if someone is bad to you, throw him or her out of your life. I agree that we must do this with cheaters, but I think what Kimmy said about it being so painful and tender for a long time is also important to remember. Divorcing is one of the most painful and stressful events a person can go through. Three months later after 33 years of marriage? I would say that Dumped is an incredibly amazing example of resilience. It’s tough for so many of us and for longer, often, than the length of time we think we are “supposed” to go through this in.

    • Wow Redefining, you got that, so true. Call someone else who actually gives a damn (and leave the sparkly ones to their own delusions). LOVE that.

    • “But us Chumps didn’t marry the “SUPPOSED to” spouses – we married the disordered…”

      So right RDM. When I had thought to lean on my cheater in the past for support or encouragement I would always have to remind myself that anything he would say or do usually ended in having the opposite effect. I think I have finally outgrown that masochism, but how much harder it must be for a young child who should NEVER have to question the support of a parent.

    • Love this! I have had to stuff down the urge to call my XH to discuss things about our boys – good, happy things – because it makes me feel sick to my stomach to speak to him. I thought perhaps it was because I just wasn’t “over” him yet, but your post has made me realize that perhaps it is because I know in my gut that he just doesn’t care about his kids the way I do and that my calling him signals to him that I “need” him or “want” him in some way which is NOT the case at all. Perhaps my gut is protecting me from feeding his ego.

  • “Phantom Spouse Syndrome.” I love it. I’m going through the same thing right now. Although we’ve agreed to separate and mediate she’s still living in the house. Once the reality of divorce hit her the “lovebombing” began and is still going strong. I go back and read the sext messages between her and the latest douchebag to remind myself that words are cheap and actions tell the real story. It hurts like hell but it’s like a splash of cold water in the face to keep me away and on target. MEH.

    • Splash that water, Percival. They are not the person we thought they were for so long, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves.

      • When my ex realized we were divorcing for real, he went back and forth with the love bombing bullshit and abuse, when he was being nice I did the same thing you are doing Percival. Of course my water splashing was listening to the 911 call when he lied to the operator after he attacked me in order to get me arrested. But hey, reading email saying how much he loved the ‘soul mate’ for giving him an orgasm at Xmas also helped.

  • I go through this too, but my D-Day was in November and I’m newly divorced now.

    Every time I think I might want to speak with him, I let the dialogue do a trial run in my head. And every single time, I realize there is nothing to talk about. The man I married is for all intents and purposes, dead. The last time I physically saw him, he didn’t even look the same. He’s not what I thought he was so, I just let it go.

    I’ve been working on replacing my severed limb with friends and activities I enjoy. I’m looking forward to the summer finally getting here, and every day, I work hard at thinking positively. I’ve gotten pretty good at it too. 🙂 I’m just grateful that everything happened as fast as it did and now I’m just finding my feet. It’s nice to just stop and breath.

    Don’t be hard on yourself. 33 years is a long time so it’s normal that you’d feel this way. You won’t forever though.

    • Rumblekitty,

      I do the exact same thing. The urge to call him NEVER hits me for that very reason. Any conversation is going to end badly. I even stress over my infrequent emails to him about our son, as I know there is a good chance it will be returned with him working in some way to gloat about how great his new life is or tearing me to shreds over something. He’s poison that I’m glad is out of my system (still working on getting him out of my head, but the need to contact him is – thankfully – dead and gone).

      I like your reply in total, too. I’m in a similar place. Takes time, for sure.

      • P.S. Another thing that helps is that his eyes always glazed over whenever I shared anything about my life with him. Or, he’d simply walk away when I was mid-sentence, or give me rote (terrible) advice. So not much to miss there!!

        • Yep. And if you’re like me, you realize everything you miss is in the past and/or based on bullshit. I just feel like I’ve wasted enough time feeling like shit and now, I’d like to get back to living.

          I’ve found out a few more things about my wonderful X-husband too over the course of our marital death, and frankly, I can’t believe I got out as fast and clean as I did. I did some digging into his past before me, and also early into our relationship and I needed to take many hot showers afterward. I’m very very lucky. 🙂

  • Dumped, 33 years of marriage is a very long time. You are doing it right, but it takes time. Give yourself time, you will get there. I love how you wrote to CL for a nudge. We all need nudges now and again – you are wise to ask for what you need. Hugs!

  • As the others have said, still early days yet. We are chumps because we care (hence the would-shoulda-coulda). I got over the want to contact/share things with my ex within about 6 months, but even now, 18 months out, I still suffer from the woulda-couldas (23 yrs together for me, 18 yrs married). I get dragged back in due to kid issues, and the fact that exH married the OW and had a baby less than 6 months post divorce finalization.

    Chin up. You are going through the stages of grief. The end is in sight.

    • I just want to echo that zyx321. It’s our chump character ( caring decent people) that instinctively reverts back to “but maybe” and “maybe I made a mistake” thoughts.
      We should read them as affirmation of good character, and move on.

    • “and the fact that exH married the OW and had a baby less than 6 months post divorce finalization.”
      Okay..that made me throw up in my mouth a little. Wait..make that a LOT!

      • Then you would love impregnated woman (girl?) half his age 3 months after walking out of our marital home – we are still working on the divorce and she has already had the baby!

  • Dumped,

    As the others have said, this urge to share – just as you did for decades – will fade in time.

    I remember sitting at D16’s 8th grade graduation two years ago with tears streaming down my cheeks, as much for the milestone as for my sadness that XH was not there to share it with her. She didn’t want him there, and nothing I said would change her mind.

    This time around, I asked D14 if she wanted to invite her dad to her graduation. She said no and I let it go. He’s missed shows, scholarship dinners, awards, etc., and it gets easier with each passing event. He wanted out of the family; he’s OUT. It really is his loss.

    In time, you’ll feel the same way.

      • The crazy thing, Kelly, is that when we were dating, he often told me that part of my allure was that I came from a “normal” family. He really, really wanted that.

        Until he had it. Then he got bored. EVERYTHING became more important to him than us, and he’d often tell me how “lucky” we were that he took time out from work to come home and eat dinner with us, like he was doing us a favor.

        These days, I think he’d do anything to have dinner with all of us again. He’s in the exact same place he was 30 years ago: on the outside, looking in…

        • It’s so sad Red…for the children. My ex too thought my large, close extended family was wonderful, till it wasn’t. Then everyone was annoying–my sisters, my brothers in law, my numerous nieces and nephews, my parents, even his own children. Ex would often leave the holiday dining room table surrounded by loving, happy family members to watch t.v. and sleep on the couch…oddly just like his own parents.

          Now ex has no one. His parents are dead. He and his more publicly dysfunctional brother rarely speak. Our children will not speak to or see him.

          Guess he won’t have to worry about being annoyed by pesky children or family members for holidays anymore. It’s two years post D-Day, but I was thinking that Easter ought to be a real hoot, just him and his group sex partners. Oh, yeah, and online porn.

          • Mine is similar. I come from a large family, and we do family holidays. For a long time, it was great for STBX, as he was surrounded by people who basically loved each other AND liked being with each other. What a difference from the dysfunction of the alcoholic grandfather, the prescription-drug abusing grandmother, etc.

            For the past couple of holidays, he’s been very withdrawn (texting Schmoopie, I am sure), so apparently our big noisiness is no longer fun. In return, he’s getting Schmoopie, who drinks excessively and who has a lot of dysfunction in her own life.

            Guess he wants to go back to his roots.

      • Mine wanted out too! He was supposed to walk his youngest daughter down the aisle at her wedding, but walked out to be with OW 3 days prior!y daughter will not and cannot forgive him! She was so humiliated!

        • Oh Roberta, I’m so sorry! The best of times AND the worst of times, all rolled up into one! I feel so bad for your daughter! I just don’t get the selfishness of it all, of not seeing the bigger picture. Because of his thoughtlessness, your XH will never know those grandchildren. Sad.

        • What a fuckwit!

          Oh did he say to his daughter “i’m not hurting you, it’s about me and yer mother!” Was your daughter being “selfish” and a “spoiled brat” because her expectations of him were waaaay too high? Fucktard indeed. Why would you encourage your child to have a relationship with that?

        • Roberta, I cannot believe he would do that three days before your daughter’s wedding!!!! What absolute insensitivity and selfishness….

    • Yes, Red, you’re right. He wanted out and now he’s out.

      During my divorce mine actually told me he wanted to be included in family vacations and family holidays. I explained in very specific terms that that would never happen. He wanted out and being out meant no more involvement with the family – including updates .

      In the beginning it’s hard because you miss them. You miss the minutia of your life with them – ringing them up to tell them the landscaper mowed over the petunias or you’re not feeling well and could they bring you home dinner. You miss sharing family moments. Little by little, though, the holes in your heart and in your life get replaced by better people, better times and most importantly, a better sense of self reliance, self confidence and self love.

      Tincture of time is a wonderful cure.

  • Phantom Spouse Syndrome— oh hahaha, awesome CL!

    Dumped, the single most important bit of advice I’ve gotten (and I’ve gotten a lot from CL and my fellow chumps), is to go and stay no contact. It is the only way to stay sane. Because, oh yes, as CL says, we feel that phantom pain and instinctively think, “Oh I must tell (ex) what the kids did”, or “about my new job,” or about this issue at work.” But through agonizing trial and error, I now know that ANY contact with him whatsoever will Bring. Me. Down. And I CAN be taught, apparently, so I have learned not to do it if I don’t have to. If I decide after much that that I do have to contact him, I wait, take my time, draft an email and then cut it down to a sentence or two, and then e-mail him only the terse information necessary– no extraneous conversation, no feelings or thoughts, no editorializing.

    It is the only way I can survive, because every contact with my ex makes me wonder “how could he have DONE that??”, “why doesn’t he care about me?”, and my all-time favorite, “how can it be he does not even care or ask about his children?”

    The only way to survive the mind fuck is to get away from it, Dumped. And it sounds like you are not only surviving but thriving, so keep on getting on, you’re doing great!

    • Kelly, thank you for describing how to do NO CONTACT even though you sometimes have to contact the ex for real reasons. I really needed these instructions! “no extraneous conversation, no feelings or thoughts, no editorializing.” I am going to use that as my “bottom line behavior” that I have to abstain from, one day at a time. Total NC would not work for me, because we still have to un-twine our lives, but every time I talk to him, it takes DAYS for me to recover. I am still broken. I haven’t worked in a year and have been living off my savings. I just can’t get myself back to work – I have no self confidence left AT ALL. I am just barely getting through each day, but I am taking care of myself the best I can. Eating right, sleeping, reading uplifting materials (like CL), exercising. But that’s all I can manage right now. My ex started his affair 1 month after I quit my six-figure job and moved in with him. We had decided to move south to a cheaper state, and I was going to start my own practice. I bought a little house (an fixer upper that was unlivable that he was going to fix up in order to “buy in” to the house with sweat equity). We had the finances all worked out – I spent the last 18 months of our relationship fixing all of his legal and financial problems so we could get married. The agreement was that when I quit my job, he would take the reins. But the joke was on me. I went south before him to get licensed in the new state and start my practice up. Two days after I left, he started talking to the OW on FB, and went away with her to a wedding THAT WEEKEND in Boston. AND HE BROUGHT MY DOG WITH THEM WHILE HE FUCKED THIS WHORE AND DESTROYED OUR LIVES. Four months of lying and telling me I was crazy, that my feelings were wrong and that I was feeling this way because I was under a lot of stress. Came home and found a text message from the whore. Did a bunch of digging and figured out the whole thing. When she found out I was back, she sent me all of the pictures of them from the wedding – kissing, holding hands, looking at each other with what looked like love to me. HE JUST MET HER! IT MADE ME SICK TO MY STOMACH. Then she gave me all the sordid details (what a piece of shit worthless excuse for a woman, KAREN SS IN PISCATAWAY YOU BIG FUCKING WHORE). All he would admit was that “he was with someone.” He neglected to tell me that he gave her the key to our home; that he LET HER PACK UP MY CLOTHES AND MY THINGS, fucked her in MY BED, brought her to ALL OF OUR SPECIAL PLACES, and told her he couldn’t wait for “THIS” (meaning our relationship) to be over so he could move on with his life with her. He had NEVER EVER said that he was unhappy, or unsatisfied, nothing. He had begged me for 3-1/2 years to move in together. I FINALLY relented, and this is what he did. He left me for dead, I swear. No job, no home, no money. And now he wants me to forget all about it because he says he would never do it again after he saw how much it hurt me. WHAT??? I tried to reconcile with him, but every time I look at him, I see his face mooning at hers and kissing her at the wedding. I CANNOT DO IT. But this is like living in hell. When will I get my confidence back? I don’t know if I will ever get it back enough to resume my career, which was very high stakes and high pressure and requires confidence that I no longer have. I’m just taking it a day at a time. I have to believe that I am better off without someone who could so viciously destroy me and my life without a second thought. But right now, I am just hanging on by a thread.

      PS ***MY DOG, KELLY, BIT THE WHORE DURING THEIR WEEKEND AWAY!! GOOD BOY!!! AT LEAST MY DOG KNEW WHAT LOYALTY IS!!**

      • Holy shit, what a complete ASSHOLE! you are much better off without him and she sounds just as evil…After reading your letter you seem to be doing all the right things, but I noticed two things you may want to think about. First, you have been traumatized in the worst way and you probably need to talk it out with someone neutral, so get into therapy if you are not already, it is a life saver. Second, GET BACK TO WORK, it may seem impossible but at least for my recovery it was imperative. I am a college professor so having to be on in front of the class helped be clear my mind and reduces the obsessiveness that accompanies the trauma…go be a kick ass lawyer! and do it for YOU!

        • Thank you so much, Cletus! I actually cried when I read your post on my iPhone, because I keep spackling him in my brain. It is so hard to believe that he did this, but when I wrote it all down and see the reaction — like yours, “what a complete ASSHOLE” — it was so empowering and made me feel a LOT LESS crazy. Thank you so much. And thank you for the advice and the encouragement. You are right. I have to get myself back to some kind of work. Thank you for being so kind! LG

          • GET BACK TO WORK.

            When you are surrounded by normal people, who act normally, who treat you normally – pleased to see you, ask how you are, act as though you are a valuable person whose opinions matter – it gets you to ‘see’ more clearly and where the problem of disrespect comes from.

            It also helps distract you from obsessing, and reminds you that there is a way bigger picutre out there of which wiener winkie is just a part.

            Good luck. We’ve got your back.

            • This is great advice. Even when you think you can’t possibly go to work, just go! I took my sad ass to work and little by little, just listening to the buzz of my co-workers started to help.

            • Lol! “wiener winkle”!!! Thanks for the advice, Patsy. And I really feel that Chump Nation has my back. You are all awesome and I am so grateful for this site!

      • Oh, honey, your wound is so fresh, I can smell the blood from here. You’ve not only been chumped, you’ve been set up by a financial marksman. Do not accept any love bombing from him; only financial restoration will do. Since what he’s worried about is his meal ticket, if you ask him to pay to play, you’ll see him disappear. Partners are invested in a partnership. What you have is a parasite. A leech.

        Can you get your old job back? Take your loyal dog and RUN back where you came from? Because there is NOTHING in your present situation that’s worth salvaging. He needs his ass sued off for his fraud but I’ll bet his pound of flesh ain’t worth a wooden nickel. More money down the drain with lawyers fees. This is a bad economy for trying to squeeze blood out of turnips.

        The sooner you make this guy a phantom, the better.

        • No kidding. I keep thinking cheaters move their spouses away from any support (emotional, financial) on purpose to keep them from being able to stand up to their dicketry.

        • Thank you, Chumpalicious (love your name!). He is quite a love bomber – he acts as if he is the nicest guy on earth, and everyone that “knows” him agrees. But I know the truth. He has a hole in his soul, and he is fine with it. I am going to read your post over and over again, because it is all true. There is nothing to be gained by suing him, just more involvement with him, and then NADA. Barely has a pot to piss in. He was riding a bicycle everywhere when I met him – not for exercise, but because he was in such a financial mess. I got suckered by him. My sweet dog passed in December, my sweet loyal Kelly. I fixed up the house myself (used most of my savings), so now I am going to stay here. The farther away I am from him, the better. I can’t take another upheaval right now – I just have to figure out a way to pull myself together. Thank you so much!

          • Loyal, so sorry on the loss of your sweet dog. You can pull away from your shitty-ass ex right where you are (and maybe one day soon you will get a new puppy?!?). I know my baby-sheltie we got 3 days post D-Day has been a light and joy to me and our children (I kiss him waaaaay to much but that’s our little secret).

            (((Big hugs)))

      • Loyalgaga, you have been narcissitically abused…this guy and his GF do not deserve one more second of your thinking time…every moment that you destroy yourself by thinking about them, they win…you loose. He doesn´t care about you (or her), never has and never will. Plus, you don´t want him to care about you now that you know who he really is. That will only suck away the energy you have left. I suggest that if you are broke but still need some serious therapy that you should do a recovery program for Narcissistic Abuse. You can start by doing all the free stuff first:
        http://www.melanietoniaevans.com/
        and then, if you are ready, you can buy her program (I have no interest here, I just used the program myself and it has been very helpful) for the cost of one therapy session and you can use it as much as you want. All the best for you! You deserve to come back better and stronger after this….

      • Loyalgaga, huge hug to you and virtual treats to your awesome dog. Just from reading your post, I can tell that you are a smart, strong person. You’ll get through this because you’re a hell of a good person. He’s a disgusting pos that doesn’t deserve your time or sadness. It’s hard. I know it. It’s so fresh for me too that I still cry and find myself losing huge chunks of time wallowing in my own self loathing, but the thing that gets me through is that I know I’m not alone. Everyone here in chump nation is here with me and you. Many of us had to go through this and even worse circumstances, but they made it. You and I will too. If you ever need someone to talk to who knows what you’re going through I’m here. <3 -rebeccanespinoza@gmail.com

      • Loyalgaga, I know I sound like a broken record; please find a EMDR certified therapist to help you process this shit. I was in therapy for a year, CBT, talk, etc and nothing helped me until I tried EMDR. And you are strong, these people always go for strength, they are drawn to it because hey do not have it. Once they suck you in, they want you weak and will do anything to beat you down. Don’t let him take your amazing awesomeness, you still have it and you will find it again. Jedi Hugs!

        • I completely agree. I haven’t seen an emdr therapist for the cheating yet, it’s only been a month, but emdr was highly effective for panic attacks I used to get. It was almost like magic, after two sessions, the things that used to trigger me didn’t bother me at all. I really need to find a trained emdr therapist here in my home town. It works!

        • I’m so curious about this EMDR stuff. I know I’m still getting over everything that’s happened, but it sounds so interesting . . . I’ve been googling quite a bit today. 🙂

      • Loyal, he is a MOTHERFUCKER. Fuck him and the whore he rode in on (haha I like my joke!) . Really let me say it again, FUCK HIM.

        Look, I understand them wanting to bring you down. I also often described what my ex did to me as leaving me for dead. I am an attorney, we were married for 25 years, 3 kids, and he told me he loved me every day. I also supported him through his constant career changes (the most recent as a self-employed business coach and “consultant” where he worked with….you guessed it, his AP’s). I found out on D-Day that ex had been cheating on me for at least 15 years, having individual affairs and groups sex with “family friends.” The AP’s sometimes stayed in our home, we had stayed in theirs, and one of the AP’s also painted paintings for my daughter and me which WE HUNG ON OUR WALLS. I am sure they slept in our beds when we were not at home, and snuck in some exciting sexcapades when we were.

        I look back and think of all the innuendos, all the gaslighing, all the hatred they spewed my way while smiling to my face and making me doubt reality. I think of all the years “wasted” by my ex when all he had to do was tell me the truth and I would have moved on.

        But you know what, Loyal, this is the man he is. Your ex’s current AP is probably not his first and probably won’t be his last, but it doesn’t matter. You can hurt about what he did, and you can be stunned about what happened, but you can still move on too.

        You are obviously intelligent and talented, and you now have THE TRUTH. I found that my best years as an attorney occurred AFTER I threw his dead-ass out. I am more focused, I am more sure of myself. I am rid of the mindfuck. I am living in truth.

        Loyal, decide what you want and GET IT. Don’t doubt yourself, you are a good person, and there are good people out there if you decide at some point in the future you want a new relationship.

        But for now, decide what you want for YOU. Leave him in the rear-view mirror and hit the gas.

      • LoyalGaga, it might really help if you were just a bit busy with something – not so much you’re overwhelmed, but having something that takes you outside yourself for a few hours at a time.

        Could you volunteer? Either doing something related to your professional work, or any other area you’re interested in? (Maybe since Kelly was SO good and smart, just walking dogs at an SCPA or shelter?) A few hours a few times a week, helping others and being distracted from our misery can do wonders … and get you started on that path back to your ‘normal’ life!

        • Wow…I can’t add anything to these words of wisdom from Chump Nation, Loyalgaga, but I just want to tell you that what he did SUCKS on so many levels. And you will be okay. (((((HUGS))))))

      • LG, if it’s any consolation the same thing happened to me. I moved to another state for my cheater, bought a house with him (my cash, his credit) in a no-fault divorce state, and 6 months in, the mistress called. I was FUCKED. Gave up my job, my support system, 16 years in the same town. You know the drill.

        It’s imperative that you start ACTING. Beginning with separation. You CANNOT heal in this situation where you’re still in contact with him (or living with him, it’s unclear from your letter). This relationship is POISON. You can either get away from it, or you can keep drinking poison. Your choice.

        He didn’t break you. He abused you. But he didn’t break you. Staying broken or escaping is up to you. You’re a smart, competent woman who as of last year had a job. Go get another job — AWAY from him. Call your family, your friends, reach out and send the SOS. You need help escaping him. LET them HELP you. While you’re doing this — start applying for jobs PRONTO.

        When you change your actions, you’ll change your feelings. You’ll start feeling in CONTROL. You’re out of control now, you’re reacting to him. Start going on the OFFENSIVE. Make a plan and leave his asshole. NOTHING here to save — except yourself.

        • Thank you so much, Chump Lady. I am not living with him. I fixed up the house myself (took the better part of the year and almost all of my savings), so now I am living here and he is still up north. I go NC as much as possible, unless we have to talk about some logistic. I am going to put my resume together tomorrow and start beating the bushes. In the meantime, I can do some pro bono work, which will help take my mind off him. And thank you so much for Chump Nation. I feel so much kindness and support here – it is a life saver.

          • You are kick ass Loyalgaga ! May I suggest helping out at a local Women’s shelter? they always need good lawyers and I have a feeling you are one of the best. 🙂

      • Loyalgaga,

        First, I would like to echo the always Excellent Kelly – He is a MotherFucker, with a capital Mother and and a capital Fucker. He is a pile of shit that oozed from the ass of a donkey with diarrhea. If I knew voodoo, I would cast a boil curse on his foul, satanic ass. Fuck what he says – he showed you who and what he is. Believe that and not a word that comes out of his lying, villainous mouth.

        Loyal, I was married to my STBX for 25 years prior to the separation. We have four children, three of them together. I will tell you that I loved him so much, I loved his footsteps, I loved just the mere thought of his name. The woman with which he is currently involved came along over 20 years ago and attempted to lure him away (they were “friends” (if you have a loose definition of friendship) when they were children). She pretended to befriend me in order to be a constant presence in our lives. She actually married her second husband while at the same time still trying to sleep with my husband. I cannot honestly say whether they slept together back then or not, but I would not be surprised to find out that they had. Did I mention that she became a minister while married to her third husband, from whom she is currently divorced? I’m not sure who contacted whom, but suffice it to say that sometime during or immediately following the divorce from her third husband, she and my STBX were making plans to get rid of me and be together.

        To say I was devastated doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt. This was my second D-Day in three years, and there were others preceding that (prostitutes, etc.). I was suicidal – had the day and method picked out and the tools to carry it out. My daughters and two close friends were able to intervene and have me get into therapy instead. I also began to volunteer and I took no time off from work during this time.

        Your pain is palpable to me – it is a live thing which I felt as I read your post. You can get past this, but you have to move. As someone already suggested, if you feel that you cannot work, volunteer somewhere. A local women’s shelter, a place where they handle rescued dogs or animals – just pick something that you care about and become involved. Start out slow, maybe once or twice a week. Slowly, if necessary, ease into some type of job. If you feel that you can’t handle your old career yet, try finding a job in retail or someplace where you have some regular contact with people. You get the picture. Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help others. Pace yourself, but start moving.

        Unfortunately, you cannot bite HIM like your glorious dog bit the whore. But you can metaphorically bite him by beginning to live again. It is not easy (((HUGS, HUGS))), but I believe you can do it. All of us here at Chump Nation know you can and we are pulling for you. Now go volunteer somewhere and start being awesome and let karma bite that motherfucker in his ass.

        • Ahh Princess, you have me laughing and crying. Laughing as usual at your oh-so-vivid descriptions (“He is a pile of shit that oozed from the ass of a donkey with diarrhea”), and crying when I read how profoundly you loved him (“I loved him so much, I loved his footsteps, I loved just the mere thought of his name”).

          You have been through hell. These assholes didn’t deserve any of us!

      • jeez – not only fucked her in your bed but SHE PACKED UP YOUR STUFF…. ? that’s incredible.

        But he’ll get his because your POS BF chose to throw his lot in with a sadist. Yep she’s a sadist that got off on sending you those pics and filling you in on all the sordid details.

      • I feel you must get back to work. Not working weakens you, and you may come to regret the lost wages. It will make you stronger, I am sure of that.

      • Loyalgaga, you have been bitten by a parasite! A couple of the actually. Luckily it’s not fatal, but I reckon the best medicine is to get moving again. Even if you have to fake it til you make it. Not getting up would be like stagnating in his shit. You. Are. Too. Good. For. That!

    • And here’s how you’ll know that you are getting closer to Meh: the urge to contact him no longer occupies top spot in your mind when you have something legitimately worth sharing. Time will knock the urgency out of it, in the background, without you even being aware.

      Exhibit A: Last night, my daughter was sick with stomach flu symptoms. Neither of us got much sleep. This morning, I shared the news in the following order:

      Call school to say she won’t be there today.
      Cancel dinner plans with good friend.
      Email ex, who is out of town, with facts-only news.

      When you discover that your desire to alert your friend about rescheduling dinner plans trumps letting the father of your child know what’s going on with the daughter he’s not in town to see, you will do a little jig of gratitude for how time really does heal you.

      • Ah, this is a helpful barometer! “And here’s how you’ll know that you are getting closer to Meh: the urge to contact him no longer occupies top spot in your mind when you have something legitimately worth sharing. Time will knock the urgency out of it, in the background, without you even being aware.”

        And it makes me excited because something really exciting happened about a month ago, and it didn’t even occur to me to want to tell my ex! Ah!!!

  • Dearest Letterwriter,

    Have nostalgia for the happy memories – especially if you have children but it might help if you get your lenses readjusted. Change your name. Instead of “dumped”, maybe you’ve been “freed”? “Released”? “Uncaged” I fight the rejection feeling but I concentrate on what is good and better now. Give your energy to yourself and those who deserve it. 33 years. You did your time without committing a crime. It’s like throwing good money after bad if you give him any more. We all know that that isn’t a good idea.

    I am 54, had a 25-year marriage (28 together) and I have reasons to be sad. No time! I have been given a gift. I was truly a chump. No more! I have my life to live.

    I do think that I am healing faster than some because my formerly fucking husband made it so clear to me who he is. “When someone shows you who he is, believe him . . . the first time.” – Maya Angelou. I was in shock. I tried to bargain. Finally, I was able to get angry which is one of the other stages of death. You have to mourn your loss of what you had and what you thought you had and then you have to look for the silver linings.

    You are and we are all survivors. You deserve better. Waste no more time on people who don’t matter. If you had a friend who treated you poorly, would you think to call that person first? Give your energy to those who support you. Let the good people bask in your glory.

    Be gentle with yourself.

    • I think “Uncaged” is a good name. After all, when we first walk out of that prison our habits sometimes kick in and we miss the bars because they used to mean security, before we understood they were a cage not a comfort.

  • Give yourself time Dumped. You are very early days yet. As CL says, it just takes the mind a while to catch up with the situation.

    I’m pretty meh now – but that is 11 years on. I have to interact with ex-H, because we have two children but you couldn’t pay me to have him back now.

    However, there are still moments when I’d welcome his presence. Socially, he was an asset. Full of easy charm and able to talk to anyone. I do miss that. I think it is ok to miss that too. I can acknowledge that he was a giant, cheating, tight-fisted, selfish arse but also admit that he had a few good qualities too. It is about getting balance & perspective.

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Grieve his loss, grieve the loss of your relationship but remember that he wasn’t good for you either.

  • So helpful to read about the phantom phenomenon.

    I experienced it last week/this weekend as I was going through a cancer scare (all clear now). I very much wanted him to know, which means I wanted him to care…which, I concluded after talking myself off of that ledge, he does not. He would not.

    I had to remind myself what a shit-bird he became, and shit-birds are not equipped to provide emotional support. Also, I had to remind myself he no longer deserves to be privvy to my thoughts, emotions, and fears – it’s an honor to hold that spot in someone’s life and he dishonored the position.

    Hang in there, Dumped.

    • “I had to remind myself what a shit-bird he became, and shit-birds are not equipped to provide emotional support.”

      Hahahaha! I *love* that!! (Now that deserves a cartoon, or maybe even a whole post of its own.)

      “Also, I had to remind myself he no longer deserves to be privvy to my thoughts, emotions, and fears – it’s an honor to hold that spot in someone’s life and he dishonored the position.”

      And this is just so true and beautiful. Thanks for expressing it so succinctly, Doop.

    • Oh Doop – how I love this: “…he no longer deserves to be privvy to my thoughts, emotions, and fears – it’s an honor to hold that spot in someone’s life and he dishonored the position.” This is going right in my little file of inspirational quotes that help me through the day!

      I made the mistake last year of telling my X about having to be tested for cervical cancer (after some abnormal test results and a “concerning” ultrasound…so of course I was worried to death). His response, said to my face, “I don’t want to hear your emotional slobber.” Yep, he is a grade-A asshole if there ever was one and he definitely “dishonored the position” of someone who is worthy of being in my life.

      • Oh my god! Most people wouldn’t treat their worst enemy that way! What an unbelievable asshole!! So good you’re away from him, he totally doesn’t deserve to be in the tiniest corner of your life!

  • The problem is, what do you do with the happy memories? I’ve got 23 and half years of them… I can deal with having no one to share my kid’s special days and have had virtually no contact by my choice since the bomb dropped, but only the last six months of my marriage was strained. The person my X wife is now in no way resembles the woman I was married to for all that time.

    • Hold on to the happy memories – no one can or should take those away from you. Enjoy them for the moments in time that they were.

      Then you have to go out and make more happy memories; by yourself, with different people, in different places & enjoy those too.

    • Mike, I have a lot of happy memories, too. 25 years of marriage plus 5 living together. All of my adult life. But for the last 18 months, since D-day,turning over the happy memories in my mind gave me pain — I was grieving the loss of the continuation of that life, and the loss of the person who shared my history. I’ve been feeling better recently, and I found I could even share a long-ago story of her dad with my daughter, with a smile. I think that, like me, you will get there. But if the memories are painful right now, put them on the shelf for the moment. You can always dust them off later.

      • Mike,

        I agree. Those good memories are some of the hardest part of the whole thing. And I agree with An English Lady here. Hold on to the good memories AND make new good ones. My xW did not resemble the person I married six years prior to the divorce. And I can both be glad I am no longer married to who she became (or always was) while still be grateful for the good memories from our early marriage.

    • I have just decided to tell myself that the ex I loved is no longer there. He’s gone.

      I was 100% happy in my marriage until dday. Of course, with more distance, I am seeing his negative qualities more clearly. The extent of his selfishness and immaturity is becoming more clear… But yeah. I am going to keep the happy memories because they were the best years of my life thus far. Though my goal is to top them in the near future and have much better memories… And the future is already starting to look pretty good. 🙂

    • Mike, I’m 2 years past D-day and for a long time it felt like a black curtain had fallen over my past, blocking out bad memories but good ones too. As I’m moving further along in my life and feeling better some of the good memories are starting to resurface. I really hope that eventually my mind will allow me to bring them back. Maybe they just have to recede far enough into the past that it stops hurting so much to remember them.

      Just this evening I was telling the man I’m dating about very happy memories of days with my ex in college. I stopped and waited for the familiar pain but it didn’t come.

      • Funny thing for me is that I can’t remember good things. I did stuff with my kids and we all had a surreal moment of visiting a museum that we had been to before but forgotten about, and not remembering if he was with us. We couldn’t work it out, yet circumstances suggest he must of been there. I remember feeling angry, and lonely, and desparate. But for the most part he was a non entity in our happy moments. Weird huh?

  • Loyal Gaga,
    My heart breaks for you. What happened to you is so much like what happened to me. I am also still going through what remains of the paralysis of depression and PSTD afterwards, like you are still going through now. I understand the awful self-doubt you feel, and how hard it is to face going back to work at a high-powered job, under the circumstances. You don’t feel powerful anymore, so no wonder you can’t push yourself back into any high stakes environment just yet. I don’t know if this will help you or not, but one thing that has helped me is to take another job for awhile and ease myself back into the “real world.” I don’t make nearly as much money, but that’s not the point. An opportunity almost literally fell into my lap when a friend recommended me for a 4 month temp job outside my experience but not my skill sets. I had just gotten out of the hospital about two weeks before (suicidal level of depression) and was terrified that I might fail or let my friend down. But I got the job, did well enough in it, and the daily contact with people and the daily doing of the job tasks helped me to feel like a functional and productive human being again instead of a “crazy” person and a complete failure. This is key. Doing almost anything in the real world will help show you that you’re still competent, and not only this, but people out there will actually recognize it and appreciate you. This really helped save my life, so I encourage you to consider it. Even if you just volunteer somewhere, get out of the house and let yourself experience people, places and things again, because it’s in the experiencing of ourselves interacting with the world again that we build ourselves up again, and begin to get a sense of our own abilities, power and worth back. It doesn’t matter what the volunteer work or temp job is, it just matters that you find something worthwhile in the cause or the task so that you can experience yourself succeeding. My mom always said to start small when you’re overwhelmed, just take one step at a time. I wish she was still alive today, but her wise advice does still comfort me (when I listen to it). After that job, I took another for 6 months in a different industry, and found myself in a chumpy situation. Fortunately, in time, my personal experience as a chump helped me to recognize that I was being chumped professionally, and I was able to resign and walk away, rather than keep giving and spackling. Am now unemployed again and job hunting (fun in your 50’s, let me tell ya), but I am not incapacitated like I was after D Day. And I’m starting to define myself again by what I can do, not what I can’t. Hang in there, LG, you’ll get your mojo back if you give yourself a chance. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers.

    • Dodged,
      Thank you for the great advice, your prayers, and for understanding. I hope you are right, that I will get my mojo back somehow! I have to stand up again, you are right. Your mother gave good advice . . . I will just do a baby step right now. And I DO feel like I have some kind of PTSD, or that I am having a nervous breakdown. Just making it through each day, sometimes a minute at a time.
      LG

  • I like this post. I have similar phantom spouse syndrome happen but I notice it more with the day to day stuff when I want someone around to talk to… since I only have a 5 and 3 year old around. I’ve started telling them little bits about my day… even though they don’t ask… so that they learn to do so eventually 🙂

    But also, I just have a lot more friends now. No one friend can be there for me the way you expect a spouse to… hell, they pretty much all of my friends have spouses of their own! So, I feel a little bad that I rely on them more than they seem to need me. So, I spread it around… trying not to rely on any one of them to be my replacement husband. In fact, the other day I was looking at my list of recent texts and it’s really cool the variety of friends I have now. It used to be just my husband that I would write to, punctuated with an occasional friend or two. Now I have all kinds of different people texting me about all kinds of different things and vice versa. A year ago, barely any of the people who I am now in touch with would have been listed.

    And actually I read the other day that not having someone around all the time can actually help you not dwell too much on the negative. Because you can’t have your bitch sessions, you just suck stuff up more and deal with it. And learn how to solve your own problems more. My ex never really helped me solve problems, but I know that his bad attitude about people would infect me with his complaints about the day and then I’d go there as well. It’s part of the reason why I feel like a better person since he’s gone… I actually think that I am. Not like I’m a pollyanna or never have issues with people, but my attitude toward others has improved since he’s been out of my life because he hasn’t been around to constantly reinforce the negative thoughts.

    • Erica, I think that’s awesome! Teach your children well how to share little anecdotes. What wonderful company they will be for you. When I was missing the ability to share little bits of my life, I started texting my kids more frequently. And emailing my sisters. And posting to Facebook. There are people who love you who will revel in the quirky life moments, and the bonus is that by sharing, you’ll be more connected to them, too.

    • AE – You really touched on something here for me. My ex hardly ever actually did anything to solve any real problems. We would TALK about issues (anything from household needs to interpersonal stuff), but then nothing would happen. And instead of just taking action myself… I would spend some time analyzing and negotiating and trying to “inspire” him to take action. Then I would spend some more time resenting the fact that he wasn’t doing what he said he would do. All that wasted TIME!

      Now, if there is a problem, I don’t have anyone else to hash it out with. I just take care of it. And, lo and behold, shit gets done. It’s amazing!!!!

      Yay to being better, happier and more efficient people without the jackass factor in our lives.

      • oh yeah, don’t get me started on how they never actually wanted to solve any of their own problems either. They just want you to be like “poor baby” and take their side!

        I think sometimes I thought I was just not very feminine… seriously, you read these articles that say women just want you to listen to their problems and be sympathetic and and men want to solve your problems. So, I was like, I just must not be a very good listener.

        I really think I can “just” listen… but when I’ve listened to the same shit over and over and he does nothing to fix it… and acts like he CAN’T fix it when he can, or he could at least do SOMETHING other than complain about it, it’s just insanely frustrating.

      • Yep. At first when my ex left I thought it would be a lot harder to manage the household on my own. Then I realized my work level almost didn’t change. And….I didn’t waste time kindly reminding him to do his small percentage of the household tasks he agreed to, and nobody gets grumpy at me….and things actually get done!!!

        • What I noticed is that the toilet must be cleaning itself now that he’s gone. I swear! It’s not me keeping it that clean!

  • Wow..Reading all of your comments here amaze me. I am totally struggling right now, and feeling guilty because I can’t seem to like myself enough to move on. My Dday was January 10th, and I filed divorce papers 3 weeks ago. I am having absolutely no luck with the whole no contact thing. I just can’t stop myself. If you’ve read my posts, you’ll know that our 25th anniversary would have been this November; we’ve been together 26 years. On Dday, he left my daughter and I for the OW. (We have 2 adult children) Yet I still hold on..I still desperately wish that he would “come to his senses” and come back to us. I know..why the hell would I want him back? But we spent more than half our lives together, and I really feel like he is that “phantom limb” that’s missing. I find myself in the same boat..wanting to share everything with him, because that’s what I’ve always done. And I know I will feel better if I go NC; but I just can’t seem to do it! I’m working on keeping myself occupied, but most days after I get off work, I just want to crawl right back into bed. So many of you here on CL’s site show such strength and resiliency. I just can’t seem to do it! He’s gone..deep down I know this. But also deep down, I want him back. I will continue to read all of your stories and advice, and hope that I will stop being so damn weak, and get some self-respect for myself, and try to recover some semblence of self-respect, which of course flew out the window when the H left. Dumped..you are light-years ahead of me..you should be so proud of yourself! You’ve managed to take the bull by the horns, and are moving on. I admire your courage!

    • Sandy, don’t get down on yourself! This is all SO new and recent, it’s entirely expected that you’d be a wreck right now! The No Contact thing is a skill set to be learned, for sure, and it takes multiple bad experiences w/the ex for us to learn that they will NOT make us feel better. I’m not actually sure how I got through those first months; functioned because I had to, for the kids, but not much more.

      I found it very helpful, when I was missing the fuckwit, to sit down and think about WHAT I was missing, not WHO. I miss cuddling and being affectionate. I miss talking at the end of the day. I miss good sex. I miss having someone who is all up-to-date with me on our lives and activities. I miss sharing responsibilities and talk about the kids.

      Then I can a) remind myself that the ex wasn’t actually very good at most of those things. There was lots of me doing 80% of things, and lots of spackling. And b) see how I can get those needs met in other ways, in my life. My kids love it when I do little affectionate things for them, my cats are great cuddlers, my friends are fun and very helpful, my family wants to hear from me, and the Hitachi Magic Wand is a great invention 😉 !

      And it also helped, a lot, in those first painful months, to remind myself that I did WANT him back, but that the person who might come back was NOT anybody I could have a decent relationshp with. He can’t unfuck that slut, untell his lies, unhurt his kids, or magically become a decent human being instead of a selfish, negative jerk. So I accepted that I wanted what I wanted, and then worked on accepting that I couldn’t have it, because it didn’t exist.

      It’s been over a year and a half since DDay #2 (#1 had been 7 years previously), and I am feeling SO much better! Sometimes a bit lonely or bored, would love to meet a nice guy, but NOT missing my ex anymore, NOT wishing we could somehow magically fix things, and really enjoying my life. You will get there too!

      • He can’t unfuck the slut, untell his lies, unhurt kids or magically become a decent person….so true, KarenE!
        I am almost 6 months DDay, went NC at the end of February (except for kids and $), we are taking turns nesting in the house with the kids and I sent the paperwork to my lawyer last week. I am doing my best to move along and know that I am going in the right direction, so why am I in such a funk? Why is this whole stupid thing not getting easier??

        • It takes TIME, Piper. I’ve heard a couple of rules of thumb; two years before you feel ‘normal’ fairly consistently after the end of an important relationship (especially if that ending was traumatic, dramatic, drawn-out or a roller-coaster ride – which it often is when there’s a cheating idiot involved!), or a month for every year you were together.

          Personally I’ve found the 2 year rule most accurate for me, and I’ve seen it work out that way for others too. But 6 months post-DDay, less than 2 months NC, you can expect it to be damned hard still!

          (Getting myself a therapist was also a HUGE help in moving along that rocky road to Meh. Not quite there yet, 22 months out but very very damned close! Any Tuesday now …)

      • Karen wrote: “I found it very helpful, when I was missing the fuckwit, to sit down and think about WHAT I was missing, not WHO. I miss cuddling and being affectionate. I miss talking at the end of the day. I miss good sex.”

        Geez – I’ve been feeling like I wish I had him back now that the divorce is going through until I read this! I did not have cuddling, affection OR great sex. I think that’s enough said to myself today. Now I know why I don’t want him back. None of that would change. This has been a great thread on a day I needed it.

      • Your next to last paragraph is SUCH a good point. What we wish we could have just doesn’t exist.

    • Hey Sandy R, the important thing is you FILED. Be kind to yourself. No contact as I wrote below is like kicking a drug. You have to will yourself to do it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Stay STRONG. When you get weak, make a list of every shitty, disrespectful thing he’s done and meditate on it. Post on the forum here, reach out for help, distract yourself madly, but do NOT keep injuring yourself by loving a POS who can’t (or won’t) love you back.

      The pain is finite and it’s going to get better in time, the longer you stay NC and focus on yourself.

      • A friend of mine agreed to be the person I could call when I had the urge to call my ex. It worked pretty well!

    • Hi Sandy… You will get there. Most of us struggled with no contact in the beginning. It feels very, very abnormal at first. You just have to trust that they suck and that any contact you have with them will send you back to a place you don’t want to be. It takes some slip ups to teach you how abusive their contact is, and how much it can hurt you.

      Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. And start again. And keep coming here for support. You deserve better than what you’ve had. You can’t make room for the better stuff coming you way until you let go of the past.

      You DO have courage… you filed after 3 weeks. That is better than a lot of us ever did. Big hugs to you, my friend. We all know how hard it is. Fake it till you make it. If you start with no contact, as foreign as it seems, it will eventually become normal and even healthy. Then anytime you DO have to have contact with him, you will feel an alarm, instead of comfort.

    • Sandy,

      I think it is two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. Not many people can just go NC right away and not slip up. I still can’t be NC because of our two young kids. I know it took me a long time to accept both who he really is and what I can really count on him for. Even after we were over, I honestly hoped he would grow and become a better person because of this just because I couldn’t bear the thought that he was actually who people were telling me he was. I thought we could be these divorced “friends” that co-parent together. And then he pulled all kinds of money shit and just other little things along the way with the kids and I adjusted my expectations downward over time. It took a long time for me to kill my dream of a family with him. But all along I kept moving forward away from him – moving in the direction that was best for ME for the first time in my life.

      Just keep making the big steps toward getting a new life… focus on you and your new goals, etc… and forgive yourself if he drags you back in the mud a little bit. Just don’t let him pull you back too far. We (and you!) all know you are better off without him.

    • Sandy,

      Of course on some level, deep down, you want him back. Just like on some level, deep down, you know that’s not going to happen, and if it did, what would you do with someone who treated you so shabbily?

      I still struggle with NC, sometimes because we are still in the process of divorcing. Then other times its because he contacts me and I eventually give in. However, when he contacts me, I discover the reason he is contacting me is all about him – he needs something, he wants me to capitulate to some terms in the divorce (hmm, that would be a hell to the no) – something – but it is ALWAYS about him. And do you know what? Each time I break no contact, no matter the reason, he always ends up doing and/or saying something that was more cruel and/or asinine than whatever he did or said the prior time I violated no contact. And each time that happens the emotional hook is less effective and whatever residual hopium may still be present dissipates that much more.

      Don’t beat up on yourself. No contact and letting go for many people is a process and it is not the same process for everyone. I will tell you that I started getting over the hump when I was completely no contact for about 3 months and during that time found Chump Lady. That was the 1-2 punch I needed. Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself. Just understand, the longer you are able to be no or low contact, the better you will feel. I liken it to an addiction – some people quit cold turkey, go through the shakes and pain without assistance and some people use methadone or a patch and it is a gradual process. The only thing you don’t want to do when you’re suffering from an addiction is to stay hooked.

      It’s all pretty new for you Sandy – you will get there.

      • CP, this is SO totally what happens w/my ex! He takes advantage of times we have to be in touch (because of kids or house) and quickly starts looking for what HE wants, usually for me to listen to him and encourage him and feel sorry for how awful his life is right now – in other words, EGO KIBBLES! (Possibly for me to let him come back, but I won’t even let him get near that topic any more!) When it becomes clear I’m not going to provide them, I’m going to politely stick to the topic at hand, he quickly becomes aggressive and insulting. Pretty stupid, since I’m the only connection to his kids that he has left!

        Kind of funny, in a way; he’s still counting on me being the reasonable one, me being the one who will keep the kids’ interests front-and-center, me being the one who won’t retaliate in kind ….. And I am still that person – because that’s who I am. And he’s still the alternating attempted-seducer and abuser, because that’s who he is.

    • Sandy, it sounds like you’re still in the early stages of grief and going through the denial part of it, hoping he’ll come back and things can go back to being normal again. I went through the same thing and that is a very painful stage. Eventually, when the reality sunk in that he wasn’t coming back I got VERY angry. That felt really scary because I was taught to hide my anger, but it was a much more productive stage because the anger fuels you to move forward to a new life. Anyway, it is a process and eventually you will move to the next phase. You are doing fine.

      It helped me to have a girlfriend who let me call her when I had the urge to call my ex. Breaking the habit of looking to your ex for comfort is like kicking a very powerful drug.

  • Dumped-

    I totally get how you feel. I was married 27 years, just divorced at the end of January and moved away from the cheating fuckwit at the end of December. I know how tempting it is to want to call them when anything (good or bad) happens but if I do that it’s like taking 10 giant steps backward. Our children are grown so there is no reason for me to be in contact but it’s still a hard habit to break.

    This past Friday I had something happen that I would’ve normally defaulted to my ex to fix. It was a technical difficulty that resulted from a short power outage and it took a couple of hours of trouble shooting with two different companies to get everything fixed.
    When I was done I was proud of myself for being able to take care of it, but the emotion that took over me was a profound sense of loss. I spent the better part of the night crying because I didn’t have anyone to lean on anymore. It didn’t help that earlier in the day a couple of work friends were telling me about the fun things they had planned with their husbands that weekend and I really missed being part of a married couple.

    It helps to stay busy though. Fill your days and nights with interesting stuff to do and allow yourself time to grieve your loss. 33 years is a really long time and it sounds like we’re both relatively new at all of this. I have to believe that it gets easier and I think one of the things that makes it easier is the whole no contact thing.

    Hang in there! {{{{{{Hugs}}}}}

    • I could have written this myself – the profound sense of loss. The grief. The gut wrenching ALONENESS of it all after some crisis happens. And the resulting tears. Are chumps also co-dependent? NC is easy, finding a way to joyfully want to live each day is something else altogether.

      And I know friends mean well (or at least I hope they do) when the talk about all the fun activities planned, but I have started to slowly withdrawal from the couple happiness team. It just gets hard to take and it seems to just…I don’t know…amplify the lonliness. I know that in time this may all change, but right now — there are more bad days, horribly terribly awful days, than good.

      • Walking It, I am so sorry for the pain you are in. I’ve been there – we all have. It gets better.

        In early days, I benefited from joining a divorce support group. And I get together with friends who are also single so I have some balance with the married crowd. It’s become much easier – over time – to spend time with my married friends, but in the beginning, it frequently sucked. Watch that “friends meaning well” thing. They may, but they may not. They may discuss their happy married couple plans as a defense shield so they don’t catch your divorce cooties. You know which is which. Stay away from insensitive people for now.

        Yes, in my experience, many of us chumps are co-dependent. Not speaking for the group, but I can say I was/am (?) and it seems many of us are…just my observation. Get therapy, join a support group (CODA is one for co-dependents) and try to get out of your own head. It’s hard, I know, but it helps.

        Stay strong. You can do this.

      • Walking it, one thing I did that helped was to put a calendar on my wall and whenever I had even half a good day I’d make a smiley face on that date. When I had bad days I’d look at the calendar and see that indeed I’d had at least some days that were partially good, then I would tell myself there were probably more good days coming. As I went through the weeks I noticed more and more smiley faces showing up on my calendar. Although it sounds really juvenile it helped me move forward.

      • Walking It, I think many Chumps have some aspects of co-dependency, in that we keep investing in our relationship, keep spackling, keep HOPING, even when reality is trying to show us who our partners are.

        But I don’t like the ‘co-dependency’ stuff in general, because it pathologizes a LOT of normal, natural and understandable behaviours. Not always behaviours that are good for us or smart, but natural!

        It is NORMAL to grieve what you thought you had! It’s normal to miss the good aspects of that person or relationship (and there WAS some good; we’re chumps, but we’re not entirely stupid!). It’s normal to long for that person you were attached to, normal to think about them, wonder if you could have done something differently that would have made a difference (the answer is NO, but it’s normal to wonder!). It’s normal to feel lonely at a moment when you should have had a loving partner beside you.

        Time really does heal all, and building a new life without that fuckwit.

  • So sad to read your letter. I texted my ex after I had been involved in a car accident. I was pretty shaken up and wanted some comfort. He sent me an immediate reply with a ‘virtual hug’. I was pleased he had done this but in the end it wasn’t enough and I then regretted being in touch.
    Here is something I found recently. Not sure where I found it.
    “There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right. Pray for those who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of life, but getting back up is living.”

  • It impossible for me even go NC. I try to keep it all about our son but sometimes I get to talking and spill all my beans. I hate it because I know he doesn’t care. Like I get a job interview-who do I tell. Or when my life is on the upswing-who do I invite for a glass of wine. See it’s pretty bad. Did I mention he got us an apartment like 2 blocks from our house. I think his situation with the OW has run aground. It’s pretty much a sinking ship. He’s dipped his toe too many times in her pool but keeps going back. And I feel like I’m the second string. Oh did I mention he went to therapy and hopes he finds answers. Like how to be a better father, better guy, and why does he act on impulses. Like to go to his business partner and have her suck his dick impulse. Or the take her to dinner and breakfast impulse while I sit at home thinking he’s probably exhausted from working all hours. Did I mention I felt guilty because he would say he works so much so my son and I can have everything.
    It’s still such a mess. Now he’s got me in the hope stage. He’ll say he loves us. This mickey mouse BS is exhausting. If I could go a week, just a week from it, I think the skies would be clearer.

    • I think you’re right, Rain, that even a week of true NC would help a lot – 2 weeks even more. Can you set that up somehow? Get friends or family to really step up and help w/your son, socialize, have fun, and just let your ex know that you and your son won’t be available for those 2 weeks? Then take NO calls, read NO e-mails and delete all messages from him over that period. Unless you already have a written custody agreement that says otherwise, you should be able to do that. And even if you are thinking of trying to reconcile (won’t repeat what you already know us Chumps think of the chances there … but only you can know what to do!), a couple of weeks break to clear your head before making any decisions would help a lot!

      (And when you can, move further away!)

    • Rain, jump off the crazy train! NC is essential to your healing. I know you have a kid, but manage that relationship with online calendars, short emails, and neutral drop-offs. Post on the forum, call a friend, do anything else when the urge strikes you to talk to him. It’s like kicking a drug. Seriously.

      This “mickey mouse BS” is just cake by a different name. He can ping pong back and forth and play the sad sausage about his therapy for impulse control. He wants answers? The answer is he’s a selfish jerk who indulges himself at other’s expense. It’s a choice. He chooses to be that way.

      People who have impulse control issues, like ADHD, or bipolar, or schizophrenia (the voices in my head told me to shoot you) are impaired in ALL aspects of their life, not just the coworker sucks my dick aspects of life.

      He’s got a character problem, not an impulse problem. Stay AWAY from this idiot.

    • If you can take a vacation alone, even if it’s somewhere simple.GO. Do not fall for the “I’m working on myself before I can work on us” bullshit. My ex did that too, it’s just a way to keep being married while acting single. Actions, always look at the actions. Going to therapy once a week is NOT a *real* action, he’s most likely just ticking the box to convince you to stay. You know it’s bullshit, you need a place to be with yourself and hear your own voice. It’s whispering to you now, it will grow stronger with NC.

  • I have a few things I’d like to call my ex. “Demon,” “piece of shit,” “loser,” “freak,” “pathetic delusional scum bucket,” “sociopath,” and “glittering piece of turd that has lots of people fooled, but not me, not anymore.” Call your ex anything you’d like, just not in person! 😉

    I am sorry, Dumped. You had so many years with your ex, of course it is going to take a long time to get over the phantom pain. Maybe there will always be an occasional tiny twinge when certain things trigger you. But look at how great you are! You’ve gone on with your life. New job, new friends, new you! Obviously you are strong and you rock! Just give it time, and be gentle on yourself.

  • It will get better! I let my XH sweet talk me into unicorn-riding a few times because I allowed contact. That went on for 6 years, with lots of games and lots of feelings of anguish for me. I thought he was my best friend; I was certainly HIS best friend! It was hard not to share or listen. I also recall how hard it was to extinguish the loving behavior on my end, like an addict I kept looking for a fix. Every single contact made it worse. But once I went NC, except for finance-related emails, it got better and better. I got through the divorce. No more feelings of anguish. No anger or bitterness. There is no contact to fuel those feelings anymore. I also made sure he couldn’t text or call me by blocking his phone humber. I filtered email into a separate file called XH. If it doesn’t have to do with finances, I ignore it. One other thing that helped for a while was that I found a really ugly picture of him (this wasn’t hard) and I bring it to mind when I see other couples walking together, and miss the companionship. I am 57 years old. I was married 34.5 years. I am throwing a big Happy Girl party on my former anniversary.

    • Meg, good for you and I like the idea of the party. I am 62 years old, today would be my 38th wedding anniversary, divorced 1 year. I find that I cope better by locking the world out. I have the warped view that he did what he did for a reason and yet I know what a really good and decent person I am. I could never have done to anyone the things that he and our kids have said about me and done to me and yet I accept that I have done something for him not to love me, if he ever did. My kids have sided with him, so I have lost big time. Shutting the world out is best where I am concerned.

      • Maree, this is heartbreaking. Both of us have kids of a similar age who turned against us. It’s very very hard to trust that the man and his sphere of influence sucks heavy when the price of freedom is this high. For me, it has been a long hard time to understand that I would do the same all over again even if the price tag was shown to me. It’s something to mourn. I keep thinking of a documentary film about Murdoch vs. Murdoch, a famous case that changed Canadian laws. The ex Mrs. Murdoch didn’t want to be interviewed but I believe Mr. Murdoch and their son went on camera to state their case. What the son said about his mother echoed his father’s point of view like he was a little carbon copy and it gave me the chills. At the time I saw it, I was trying to gain the right to leave town with the children and at pre-trial a judge shot the idea down saying if it went to court it didn’t stand much chance. You’d have to know where in Canada I come from to understand that mindset so I’ll narrow it down to “mining town”. Many mothers lose custody of their children to guys who weren’t interested in the kids at all until DIVORCE loomed. I have no faith whatsoever in the laws and enforcement of the laws where I lived – it was no better than rolling dice. I had to nail the cops for making a false report on assault by my ex (they sided with him and called it an accident), and I proved it, and I proved it to the satisfaction of the Duty Counsel and the Judge. This got me my life back but it still didn’t help me get increased rights regarding my children. Leaving all of them might have been best. They’d still hate me, but for different reasons. At least I wouldn’t have lived with their father’s boot on my neck just to be near them. Losing the kids’ love thanks to the ex getting away with shit is very painful. It’s at moments like that I wonder if the shithead was right – like he had a reason. Those are really low times for me. Thanks to Chump Lady and Chump Nation, I am learning to trust that he sucks.

        • MMargaret, thank you for your comment and I think we have spoken before. I have to say that finding this site has been absolutely amazing for me. Today I am down because had all my dreams come true, I would be celebrating my 37th anniversary tonight with my husband and 2 adult children and son-in-law but no, I am having a quiet day at home with tears every now and again and I will have a quiet night. It does and has gotten better but like everyone on this blog, we take 5 steps forward and 1 step back but there is still a long way to go and we all mend in our own special way and time. Just between you and me, our adult kids have lost the best friend and confidant they will ever have but that is for them to find out. I hope you are well?

          • Maree,
            If I was close by we would go to dinner and order a fine bottle of wine and celebrate ourselves!~ My birthday is tomorrow so we could do it up right! I’m taking the day off.
            My adult daughter and I are estranged also. I haven’t seen my grandkids in 6 months. She’s a cheater too and left a nice husband for some guy 17 years younger than she is. She has four little kids. Somehow she has blamed me for her poor choices.

    • Ugh. I am totally dreading what would have been our 25th anniversary on November 8th. More power to you for coming up with a great way to get through!

      • This is what helped me on my anniversary — I planned a party and invited friends. We called it an “uncelebration” party and brought homemade chocolate deserts and drank wine. It turned a day I was dreading into one I looked forward to. Even now it makes me smile to think of my friends doing that for me. I felt wonderful and much loved on that day.

        Don’t forget you have the power to make yourself happy.

        • Me too! I even made cupcakes. It turned something I hade been dreading for months into a shared experience with two of my close girlfriends. We laughed and cried about our lives…

  • This is a timely post for me today as I just got elected to chair the faculty…first instinct of course was to call the STBX, as that is who I shared any good news with for the past 13 years of my life…Called my dad instead, had to tell someone…it is weird not being part of a couple, but in reality I wasn’t … there were always 3 or 4 people in the marriage. Getting to Meh!

  • I read all the posts here and my heart breaks for all the heartache these people have caused us. It’s unbelievable to me that someone can cause this kind of pain. I would have never dreamed this kind of torturous pain was even possible unless I had gone through it myself.
    I miss my phantom husband every single day. He’s the last thing I think of every night and the first thing I think of every morning and it has been years. This whole thing was a soul rape to me and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get completely over it. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes.

    We never went completely NC because we continued to work at the same place, different departments. He left six months ago to live with his schmoopie on the east coast. A little easier to go NC but he still emails and sends money. I have no idea if he has regrets, he’d be the last guy who’d tell me if his life sucked because of his poor choices.
    I recently started dating so maybe I’ll meet someone to fill that void.

    When I first got single I tried to be with lots of friends and family but found they were all half of a couple and most didn’t have time or didn’t want to make it so I just got used to being by myself. The only good thing to come of that, is I certainly won’t feel bad if someday I don’t have the time either to spend with them should they find themselves ‘suddenly single.’ I’m not saying that to be mean or anything. I felt completely and totally ignored by most of my friends when husband ran off with OW. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. People avoided my like the plague. It was without a doubt the worst time of my life. I’m so happy to be SO much better.

    • “He’s the last thing I think of every night and the first thing I think of every morning and it has been years. This whole thing was a soul rape to me and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get completely over it. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes.”
      THIS times ten thousand! And to make matters worse, the turd permeates my dreams! Yay..we think of them first thing when we wake up; last thing before we fall asleep; and during the night in our dreams. And they don’t deserve to be a fart in our thoughts! I hear you about the whole friends situation..all of our friends are married (and what pisses me off is that they still talk to the H like nothing happened) so it’s not like I can head out and have fun with anyone, because they all have their plans with their spouses. But I tell you what..whenever I talk to someone who isn’t aware of what happened and asks me how the hubby is doing, I say “I don’t know you’ll have to ask his girlfriend.” The shocked looks are very gratifying for some reason, lol! And I make it a point to tell them that he dumped my daughter and I and ran off with the trashy OW. I will NOT protect his lying ass..I will tell the milkman if he comes to my door. (Are there milkmen anymore?) I’m sure some will think that it’s wrong to spout off about the H when people ask, but you know what? If the H hadn’t decided to be an asshat, there wouldn’t be any reason for me to tell people what a fuckfart he is!

      • Gosh Sandy – I find myself doing the exact same thing. For 34.5 yrs I protected the ‘image’ of my stbxh with my life. Now, I’m trashing it to everybody. First. Before *his* story comes out. I’m sure it’s a bad idea but just can’t help myself…
        I’m grateful he’s ignored all our friends so now I have them all to myself.
        Hope he’s having fun with his mistress who has no family or friends herself. jerks. both of them.

        • SheChump, gosh we are twins separated at birth!! For 37 years I ran the same protection racket for my ex husband. Not now, the gloves are off and his reputation is ruined, as it should be.

  • Woulda, shoulda, coulda….my life long mantra. Not any more. My EMDR therapist guided me through the last woulda, shoulda, coulda moments of my life and after processing that experience with her, I am cured of it. And it is simple; when we think to ourselves “woulda, shoulda, coulda”, every scenario we play out creates a better outcome. Every.single.one. When I had to process (relive) the day my ex pulled the gun, that was the day I learned a better mantra. I discovered that most every woulda, shoulda, coulda I thought of led to a terrible place. A very dead place or jail. I hadn’t fucked up, I had in fact navigated a very bad situation very well. That was freeing. Now I trust myself – woulda, shoulda, coulda is so not my style anymore.

    We think, if I’d only done __________, then it would have been OK. It doesn’t really work like that. When that feeling comes on you, think of the negative outcome, go down the path of what changing that one thing could have accomplished from the opposite perspective. We are hopeful creatures so in our woulda, shoulda, coulda imaginary worlds, changing something we did in the past creates a positive result, the truth is that most times, the outcome could have been much worse, a negative result. This is especially true for most Chumps who are “fixers”.

    • So right, Dat! At one point I got a bit stuck in ‘if I had just kicked him out the FIRST time he fucked around, maybe he would have opened his eyes, done all the right things, figured himself out, really changed ….’ (This abetted by the fact that now, over a year and a half after DDay #2, he’s declaring how much he regrets what he did, how guilty he feels, how much he wishes he could go back and change things …)

      Then I realized that even if he had seemed to change because I had kicked him out, it would have been because HIS life wasn’t going as he wanted, because HE had decided he did want to keep me, our family, our life, etc, and that having those things was worth a little effort.

      But what I actually want in my life is someone who doesn’t screw around because it’s unethical, dishonest and WRONG. Someone who treats me and the kids well because they LIKE to do that. Someone who values us ALL the time, not just when he loses us. Someone who regrets hurtful behaviour because they feel terrible about hurting us, not just because they don’t like the consequences, in their life, of that behaviour. (You know, someone like me, like a Chump!)

      And my ex is not that person, never will be. I believe he does regret what he did, now, but guilt? Nah, I’m 100% sure he’s not even capable of that

      If I had done things differently, they would have come out just the same, or even worse. He is who he is.

      • Hear hear KarenE!

        STBXH kept saying this was a lesson he needed to learn. That he will come back stronger and better (all the while still being with the AP, even though I gave him a chance to break it off). And that when in the future when he makes it back to me, he will no longer fool around again because he knows what’s the price. It’s incredible how much they believe their own bullshit.

  • Dumped, give yourself permission to miss him. It’s normal. Remember that what we resist persist. Don’t fight it. Just observe that you miss him and don’t give it a story (“if only he were here, etc”). Just notice how you feel. No drama. State facts (“I miss my ex.”) Be a watcher of how you feel and don’t condemn yourself. You will find out that if you just feel the difficult feeling (whatever that is), it will find its way out quicker. If you fight it, then you start telling yourself, “I shouldn’t feel this way, why am I feeling this way” and just gets you deeper in the hole.

    And you will definitely get to a place where you will not want anything to do with your spouse. I was married for over two decades (divorced a year next month) and I just am completely grossed out now with the thought of having any contact with the ex. He will be the last person I want to share any news, good or bad.

    • I agree. You have to process the grief. My friends all thought I would die … I cried that much. I went to counselors, had PTSD, had to be out on antidepressants (for a year). Like everyone else I ran the gamut of all the symptoms of the Chump Syndrome: pick me dance, sparkling, Hopium, attempting to Unwind The Skein, villianizing the OW, etc. There comes a day when it hits home (and CL was God’s personal handmaiden in my recovery) when unvarnished Reality breaks through and the pain of being in pain becomes the motivator to help you slam the door shut on the Postman bringing you the box of snakes everyday when you wake up and when you go to bed at night. You DON’T have to sign for the package. There is a strength that comes from closing the door. And each door after that increases your resolve.

      I researched everything i could about grieving because I couldn’t get my head around how I could be such an accomplished professional with “gravitas” in the workplace and such a pile of emotional goo regarding this fucktard. One thing that helped me was one author (cant remember who) said that essentially ALL addictions came from NOT standing still long enough to feel the pain and get over it … They only delayed it.

      That hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized that “I” was the source of my own pain at that point (3 years down the road after a LONG period of intense grief). Chump Lady was the kick in the pants I needed to add the cherry (slap up the side of the head) to all the research and reading I’d done. Head knowledge (we all know what we “should” do in these circumstances) has to become a part of your free will. YOU have to make a conscious choice to say, “No more”. Yiur strength will get better every day as you feel the self-esteem that comes from being your own caretaker.

      That said, I (the one who cried oceans of tears) also send the one-finger salute to those who say “snap out of it” and think you can just “get over it” in an instant. Grief is … Well, grief. There IS no end around going through it. That’s why good support is so crucial. Give yourself permission to cry, scream, and grieve the loss of what you “thought” would be reality. It’s NORMAL. You’re HUMAN, and not a soul-less monster like the ex.

      It takes time. (I was nearly 30 years in when I was handed the news). You WILL get to the other side. You WILL get strength. You WILL come through the firewall. You may have a smell of smoke on your clothes but you WILL be ok. You will always have the people who don’t understand, who blame the victim, who side with the ex, who buy the BS … yada yada … But always keep this site in your arsenal as a reminder (sort of like a memorial) to how far you’ve come. Reading the daily posts reminds you of your progress, reminds you that you (unlike ass wipe) have empathy for others, and is like taking your vitamins to keep you healthy.

      I read CL on my Ipad and when posters say pithy things, I cut and paste them to a neat little “Best Of” sheet that, when the loneliness or self-pity feelings try to creep back in, I open it up and read the Nuggets of Wisdom. They’re like attending a pep rally and get your Juices flowing, causing the pride to well up and say, “yeah, that’s right!” and get going again with more determination.

      I still curse having to do everything alone … All the errands, work around the home, snow shoveling, etc. (pain in the ass as you get older) but there is a bittersweet sense of accomplishment after you get it all done.

      Keep plugging away. We’re all behind you, cheering you on. I’ve even stopped wondering “does he ever have a twinge of regret when he closes his eyes at night?” (He was very religious (ha!) before all this.) but you know what … That thought dissipates very quickly because any thought of him is associated mentally and physically with a nauseous feeling/memory, and having entertained it for so long and having it hurt me or so long, ther comes a time that you say, “no thanks”. In other words, processing the pain (by feeling it, crying, and experiencing the grief) becomes its own aversion therapy and you, yourself, will say, to yourself (when the demons of memories and speculation come lining up in the queue for processing) “The show’s over folks. Nothing here to see! ….. Next!”

      Sending you love and support!!!!

      • What a great post, me! I LOVE the imagery of not signing for the parcel of snakes.

        It’s so hard to get that realization, but yes, it stops when you say it stops. You grieve, but you also must will yourself to the other side.

  • I had limited with my ex after he disappeared, but in the few instances we came face to face, I fought the urge to smile.

    Then I took a peak at his crotch and recalled precisely where it was residing.

    I also have to avoid laughing at inappropriate times. Livid, red-faced parent yelling because I was out past curfew? Snicker. Pissed off boss? Giggle. Husband boning his mistress? Howdy!

    None of it is funny. Some people vomit, pass out, spike their blood pressure, yell back. I just give the reactive smile.

  • This part really hit me:
    “It’s frightening to realize that we’re vulnerable. That someone could just run their own life, and our lives, off the rails. We replay it over and over checking for loopholes, for some evidence that it was our fault or we missed a spot, or if our ex had been busy that Wednesday he or she would never have met the affair partner.”

    I know I spent a while just thinking if he hadn’t gone on the work trip where he “fell in love with” the OW…. He wasn’t supposed to be on that trip originally either… And I had thought of going along on that trip too…

    But then I stop and remind myself that this behavior is who he is. If it had not been on this trip, it would have been later, with someone else. And then I feel thankful to have gotten out sooner rather than later. To have been able to cut my losses and move on to build a relationship with someone capable of loving deeply and faithfully….

  • Last week I had to put our 15 year old dog to sleep. Even though I’ve basically had no contact with my ex in a couple of years, I texted him after I left the vet’s office. I just felt like he was there when we got our dog, and I wanted to share the moment she left the world with him too. I wasn’t sure whether he would respond but he eventually did. It took a few hours. When I heard from him I shared another memory about our first dog and he texted back that he remembered it too.

    It’s very hard after a long term marriage, the person you turned to for comfort since you were a teenager is no longer there. Certain major experiences of your life were shared with this person. I’d never thought of the phantom limb syndrome being an explanation for why I still feel my ex is part of me even though he’s gone. It makes a lot of sense, “Phantom Spouse Syndrome” is the perfect term!

  • I just found this website yesterday and am weeping in relief and laughing my butt off over the unbelievable (yet totally believable) stories. So many of them sound like they could have come from my own diary, and it’s like now I have the Rosetta Stone to interpret my own experiences. I honestly had no clue. How can a person be such a colossal chump and not know it? My D-Day was last September, when I found out my former partner was engaged in an emotional affair and also a major porn addict. The day I found out what was on his browsing history is the day my whole world fell apart–it was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced, and I grew up with an insane and violent bipolar alcoholic, and D-Day happened in the last 6 weeks of my stepdaughter’s terminal illness from brain cancer. The man I thought was my best friend and the most noble person I’d ever known turned out in an instant to be my worst betrayer and the cause of the most searing pain I’d ever felt. Probably sounds crazy, when someone in my house was dying, but death is something none of us can avoid; cheating is a choice. When I confronted him, he actually said: “If you can’t trust me, I don’t know if this relationship can work.” And it was like, Are you even hearing yourself? The problem isn’t my lack of trust; it’s your lack of trustworthiness! Oh, plus the fact that you’ve been shopping for sex on the Internet the whole time we’ve been together. I found out that he’d been surfing the Craigslist casual encounters and ‘therapeutic services’ as well as escort sites that featured DD whores a year younger than his terminally ill daughter who provide the “girlfriend experience.” All this when I’ve pretty much put my own life on hold for the past 4 years helping him deal with what no parent should ever have to face. Wow, what a slap in the face. To anyone who thinks porn addiction isn’t as bad as a real-life affair: I can say with complete conviction that it’s just as bad and maybe even worse in some ways. It wasn’t just one woman or even 5; it was countless women, day after day after day after day. Each attempt to address/confront was met with denial, gaslighting, deflecting, basically turning it into MY FAULT. I moved out within a matter of weeks of discovering just how deep the problem was, for the sake of my own sanity and that of my own two daughters, but 6 months later, I still fight the urge to call or text when something happens. In fact, my eldest daughter is now suicidal, and I’m dealing with that on my own as her dad is in Europe indefinitely (very long story). I know rationally there is nothing he can do for me or for her, the people he once claimed he would do anything for, as he is an addict (which means by default that he is a liar). Yet I still find myself missing my Phantom Partner. He’ll still email and text occasionally as if nothing has changed. I truly miss the person I thought he was, the partnership I thought we had. But he still has not acknowledged or taken ownership of his actions and I fear he never will. I’m glad I have found this group of people who get it. My friends and family have been phenomenal, yet there is a latent air of frustration at times in the way they sort of sigh over my ramblings. “Get over it already.” There have been so many losses piled on top of each other over the last 6 months that I don’t even know anymore what I’m getting over. Thanks, CL, for this awesome oasis of sanity and encouragement.

    • Welcome FoolMeTwice and thanks for sharing your story. You are definitely going through a lot of grief and changes at once. Unless people have been through it they don’t really understand. You will find the support you need on this site!

      • Thank you so much, Lyn. I’m going to continue reading and learning, and what’s great is that I can pop on here periodically throughout the day so that I can keep myself steady when I start feeling wibbly-wobbly. I recognize myself in so many of the postings (have definitely been trying to Amazon.com my way through understanding how this could happen to someone who was supposed to be smart and savvy). It’s so comforting to realize how many other people have been chumps but come through it stronger and more aware and FREE on the other side. I am determined to be one of them! Glad at least part of me, the animal instinct part, was still healthy enough to get out when I did. I just hope my head and my heart catch up sooner rather than later. Feeling this wounded totally sucks, and it’ll be nice when self-esteem isn’t just a word I know how to hyphenate.

    • FoolMe, hi, just read this. Welcome. My story sounds similar in some ways to yours, I am sure that you’ve found by now that many are. My ex was as charming and loving (supposedly) as they come, and I along with everyone else was blown away to learn of his porn “addiction” and affairs with co-workers and family friends, group sex, unprotected, you name it. After I caught him he just disappeared for the most part from our lives. People are great but that want you to be okay and “get over it” already. This site is the best. Numerous counseling sessions, talks with wonderful supportive friends and family, a library of Amazon books….they all help but nothing gave me the assistance I got here. And when I feel weak or just need a boost, I come here yet, 2 years post D-Day. Your ex is a lying cheating pathological l freak. Two was mine. I understand still the desire to reach out (I just visited our daughter who is studying in Florence Italy this semester and instinctively thought to share it with him, then stopped myself because he has no contact or relationship with our children. It is a process, there may always be some phantom spouse twinges, but it will improve. (((Hugs)))

        • Hi Kelly, and thanks for your comments. Yep, it’s just like you said: people want you to be happy already, so there’s such a weird disconnect between the “I’m here for you; you can let it all out” reassurances and then the “be positive” comments that follow almost immediately. It’s almost like being strong-armed into this fake wellness, but then maybe the people closest to us don’t want to imagine that they could conceivably be chumped one day as well. I dunno. I just know that every single thing about it feels inauthentic to me, and I’ve had enough inauthenticity to last me the rest of my life. For so long I found ways to spackle, even when my gut was telling me something was wrong, and I’m not doing it for one more second. Having said this, it is strange to me that I should be struggling so much more 6 months out than I did immediately after moving into my own place. Maybe then I was just too numb to do more than just get through each day. I feel like I should be getting better not worse, but the rage and the pain is at times like a tsunami it its intensity and unpredictability. I’ll be having a perfectly okay day and then WHAM I’m so fucking mad I could pick up a brick and start smashing things. My kids had told me that for the past 2 years I’d gotten into this habit of shaking my head, whenever I’d be thinking about the situation, and they’d go, “Mom, you’re doing it again.” I thought I had really gotten much better, but they both tell me no; I’m doing it just as much as I was before.

          How do your kids feel about their dad now? Do they know the whole story? (Sorry if these questions have already been asked and answered). How old were they when things were going wrong/D-Day? I’m guessing mid-teens? My girls are 12 and 15, and I’m struggling very much with how much they need to know about their ex-stepdad, whom I was in a common-law relationship with for 3.5 years.. It’s not my intent to vilify anybody, but at the same time, I don’t want them to be spacklers-in-training or disconnected from their OWN sense of reality.

          Hugs to you and again, thank you for sharing. I take so much hope and courage from these postings.

          • FoolMe, so much of what you have said is identical to what I have gone through and how I feel. After realizing that I lived in years, actually decades of lies, and that my entire marriage was a lie, I vowed I will live in the TRUTH, that the truth will “set ye free”, and that I will never accept lies or inauthenticity again. I told my children the truth about their father…believe me, they were eons ahead of me on knowing anyhow. Mine were then S23, D19, and S12. I told the oldest two everything (“your dad has been having affairs with our family friends/his co-workers, Molly and Kirstan, and also having group sex with them, unprotected. I am getting STD testing and we are getting a divorce.”) The youngest son who was 12, I told “dad has girlfriends.”

            I have said on here before, and I told my ex this when he asked me not to tell the children or others what he had done: “if it wasn’t too bad for you to do, it certainly isn’t too bad for me to say.” For goodness sake, the last thing I needed was my children or others being manipulated by a man I now knew was a narcissistic sociopathic pathologically lying freak. Evil, lies, manipulation, cannot live in the light and truth of day. I was finally free of the lies and my own spackling, feigning and pretending. He did what he did, everyone may as well know. If he robbed a bank I’d tell, if he raped a woman I’d tell, if he defrauded a business I’d tell. Why would I lie because the person he defrauded and robbed was me (and our children)? I’m no martyr and I wasn’t gonna start being one on D-Day. (Oh and by the way, I found out well after D-Day that my ex was going around telling everyone astonishing lies about why we split up, blaming me, but the truth spread like wildfire, was innately believed by everyone because it was TRUE, and shut that shit down).

            So on D-Day, my ex skipped off and decided to reinvent himself as a true narc-sociopath would. He had the AP’s literally waiting in the wings for 15 years that I know of. He told me shortly after D-Day that he never intended to tell me, that until I caught him he just intended that we would “always be together,” and he would continue with his affairs. But since I had caught him, he decided that he loved one of the AP’s more than me and was going to marry her. Too bad murder isn’t legal here in Pennsylvania, huh?

            My kids do not see their father at all, nor does he try very hard to see them. While knowing what he did was the icing on the cake, my kids (again light years ahead of me) always knew there was something “missing” with their father.
            He now is completely detached and removed. At my continued chumpy encouragement/insistence, the two older have seen their father twice for dinner in a restaurant in 2 years. After the last dinner with him this past Thanksgiving, my daughter told me that since ex admitted he was still seeing one of the APs, “what was the point?” She would never have a real relationship with him and she did not wish to see him again. She told me “he is sick.” Oldest son felt the same, he was a forensic psychology minor and is the one who told me shortly after D-Day that he felt his father was a sociopath. The youngest never liked his father, always clashed with him, and refuses to him at all. Nor does ex even ask about his youngest son or try in any meaningful way to see him. It would probably take my ex some time to recognize his own 14 year old son right now if he passed him on the street.

            Finally, my children and others want me to be okay. And there is an end to friends or family’s patience in listening to my bitching. I am engaged and getting remarried in June (to a wonderful man I had known for 30 years and who was himself a chump in his first marriage). He and I often talk about our experiences too. But here is the place I come to fully vent, to regain strength, to help me through the next stage. The pain, the fury, the confusion, comes in waves, it is not a linear progression. The stunned rage gets you through the first 6 months. Then reality hits alternating with disbelief he could do what he did. Then you cycle back through rage and grief. I never knew the stages of grief were so cyclical, so not linearly progressive. Even with me getting remarried, I recently found my rage returning, for me now because my asshole ex stole so many years of my life when could have been with my husband-to-be, someone who truly loves me; where I would not be facing getting married with a stomach and jowls; where I could have given my fiancé my best self and not my aging, tired and somewhat pudgy self. I am always surprised by these new stages of mourning and recovery, and now accept that I have them instead of trying to pretend (as others may want) that I am okay all the time. Look I’d love a lobotomy so I could forget what my ex did, because I was violated in a profound way. I now accept that I will always have something of a wound. But I have also decided that I am going to choose to live. I decided shortly after D-Day that the last story in my romantic life was NOT going to be the nauseating story of what ex did to me. So wounds and all, I’m going forward, and know that at least I have love. I shudder when I think that if I had not caught ex, I would have gone to my grave having never truly been loved in my marriage. Thank god I caught him, thank god I am out, and thank god I have what is left of my life to move on.

            ((((BIG HUGS)))) to you, FoolMe.

            • Wow, Kelly. THANK YOU. Your story blows me away, especially the fact that you’re choosing to move forward. And you’re right: as nauseating as D-Day was, for all of us, just imagine not having had it and continuing to live in inauthenticity/fake love. This is a really great and positive way to look at it. Right now I can’t even imagine being romantically/intimately involved with a man again, because I feel so fucking traumatized and violated. Just the other day I went shopping for a corset with my older daughter, who’s totally into Cosplay. Those kinds of get-ups (corsets, school-girl mini skirts, thigh high fishnets, platform heels, etc. etc.) are totally normative for Cosplay, and my daughter just digs it because it’s cool and pretty. No sexual connotations at all. But the minute I walked into the shop, I felt myself having this extreme reaction of rage and anxiety. My heart started racing, and I felt like I wanted to run screaming into the street. Instead, I laced her into her corset, told her how great she looked (she did), and bought it for her. I REFUSE to contaminate or constrict her experience of her own postmodern femininity (she doesn’t know that’s what it is, even though she’s living it). But my God, being in that shop was hard for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover my sense of self or worth as a person, much less as a woman. I just know I’m going to try.

              “Look I’d love a lobotomy so I could forget what my ex did, because I was violated in a profound way.” Have you seen that Jim Carrey movie, “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”? I vacillate so much between wanting a spotless mind and an informed mind. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not real.

              • Thanks FoolMe, I have not seen that movie, but now would like to. And good for you with your daughter. We are strong as hell, and we have to continue to be for ourselves and our children, especially our daughters, I think. (My sons seem to get through things easier but we’ll see).

                For many years before D-Day, I use to dream my ex was off with other women, completely indifferent to me, unwilling to even speak to me or tell me what was going on. When I would awake, these dreams left me with the most terrifying helpless feeling. Once I dreamed that happened but I also knew I was dying and that this was it for me, and in my dream I just couldn’t believe he would let my life end that way. Prophetic, huh?

                My sister texted me after my divorce was final and said to me, “Now you are done with the lies. You can move on.” I was not dating my now-fiancé yet, but I thought, “you’re right, I don’t know what the final story will be about my romantic life, but this is not going to be it.”

                So kick ass FoolMe, whether you decide to date sooner or later or never. The informed decisions about our lives are finally ours to make. <3

            • Kelly, thank you for what you shared here. I also took the same “truth will set you free” approach, right from the beginning because I instinctively felt that being open with the real circumstances was the only way I would survive. And for me, it somehow helped me minimize the feeling of shame. What happened happened and I decided to be very open about it. There was no way I was going to go along with the “we are no longer together” version.

              And what you said here resonated strongly with me: “I now accept that I will always have something of a wound. But I have also decided that I am going to choose to live. I decided shortly after D-Day that the last story in my romantic life was NOT going to be the nauseating story of what ex did to me. So wounds and all, I’m going forward, and know that at least I have love.”

              I also am realizing that I will always have a wound from this experience but I will not let it be the end…I am rebuilding. Something better is ahead. A friend has said that this had freed me to one day experience true, deep love, to be truly respected and cherished…

              I want to have a relationship someday with someone who truly, deeply loves me and who attaches deeply and authentically in their relationships (with me and their family/friends). I have been reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly because I am trying to stay open to others and keep taking the chance to trust and let others into my life. I will not let what my ex did to our marriage and me destroy me and my life.

              And congrats on your upcoming marriage. And am happy for your new chapter in your life…

              • Thank you Northern Light. I remember Nord I think gave a great summary about how telling helped her, something along the lines of that when she told what her ex did, she saw the horrified reaction of friends and acquaintances, and it affirmed her and lightened her burden with each telling. I too never felt shame, my ex owned all of that.

                You will get what you want, as I said to FoolMe above, the decisions about our lives are finally ours to make, we are finally free of the lies….wounded but free. And we can make our lives how WE want now, and that is amazing and scary and wonderful.

                (((Big hugs))) Northern. And watch carefully but keep trusting. The one thing I have learned through all of this is that there are many good people out there, and if we choose, we Chumps can and will find them.

  • I’ve been divorced 15 years and remarried for 9. I’ve been NC with XH for 4 years as he’s a true, disturbed shit and neglectful father. My now husband picked up his sorry slack and became the father my children deserved and didn’t get – and a rock of a partner to me.

    But,

    On rare occasions I have PSS about our now grown children or weirdly, about childhood references. There’s a fleeting impulse to send XH a text or email or pick up the phone.

    I knew my XH since 7th grade. Every so often there’s a memory/joke/flashback about something in Jr High or my small hometown, that he’d “get” – no explaining or describing necessary. No one in my current life shares memories of hometown landmarks, local characters, or high school dramas or highs but XH does. Not too long ago I realized that 27 years after moving several states away from my hometown, none of my close friends even know my literal maiden name.

    For whatever reason, I think once in a while think about the classic Star Trek episode about parallel universes – where every one and everything had a mirror image. In a parallel universe our family remained happily intact and XH reached the potential he had. Even 15 years later with no regrets and a stable remarriage – I suffer a whiff of what-ifs for a moment every so often.

    • omgosh, Marcie – I have thought of that episode of Star Trek a lot. Especially when I discovered the 2+ yr affair. It was like I was living with a parallel of my husband who I suddenly didn’t know any more. Creepy.

    • I’ve also thought of that one. And Voyager and how they were suddenly stuck in a quadrant they didn’t ask to be stuck in and had to build a new life…

  • Lyn – My old dog is 11 and he was my husbands dog. He’s getting close to me having to put him down. Romeo slept with H every night. Since he’s left 8 wks ago, he hasn’t asked me once about his dog. (and yes, poor guy misses him and is not in the best health) Not sure who this person is anymore not to care about his dog but when I do have to put him down, I’m not sure he deserves to know. Not sure how to handle it. He just seemed to abandon this old dog, his other 3 Danes, one a Top #20 dog in the States that I thought he loved and was so proud of. Well, go figure. Any advice would be nice 🙂

    • SheChump, we had another dog, an Australian Shepherd puppy I got for my husband. He abandoned her too, but that was fine with me because I loved her and she was a great help to me after my ex left. In fact she climbed into the bed on his side and slept on his pillow and licked me while I cried. My ex would never let her on the bed. I felt like she was an angel sent from heaven to comfort me.

      • My ex bought us a “family” dog 2 months before DDay. I was then left with 2 kids under 5 and a 4 month old puppy all by myself. He has never asked about the dog. Honestly though, he barely asks about the kids 🙁 I was so devastated at first that I considered giving the puppy up…I just couldn’t do it all on my own. I’m so glad I hung in there though. I too had many days where she would lick me while I cried. She still lays with me at night. Who knew a pet could bring so much comfort. Once again…his loss.

    • SheChump, he’s shown you how much he cares about your beautiful and loving dogs. Respect that. He doesn’t ask, you don’t tell him. (He’s showing you who he really is – a disgusting asshole.)

    • Your ex is gone and hasn’t asked about his dog. There is absolutely no reason for you to bother informing him about the dog’s health. If he cared, he would be asking. You are thinking of him as if he is a normal person with normal feelings. This is the #1 mistake chumps make. The disordered are NOT normal people and they do NOT have normal feelings. The less contact you have, the better. And I am sorry about your poor dog. 🙁

      • Thanks everybody. I may tell him after the fact (put Romeo down) unless I’m feeling gracious for him to see the dog one last time. You are so right about dogs. My big 190#’er has slept me me on hubbies side of the bed since he left. I do not know what I’d do without this wonderful heartbeat beside me. Yeah, he dirties the bed and sleeps on all my pillows and I wake up upside down clutching the mattress holding on, but he does put his leg around me at times, like a lover (well, not quite but..) the affection and love these 4 dogs have given me is the best therapy of all. They love unconditionally.

  • I know how it feels, I just got really good news that I have been waiting for ages. First instinct was to tell him. I hovered over his name on my phone for about 10 minutes and then I thought “no, because I’ll open a can of worms that I don’t have the energy to deal with”.

    Still have that instinct to just tell him, because he knows all the effort that took me to get this, because even after the break up he asked me about the status, etc. Every time I want to tell him, I just go and tell someone else. One by one. People who care about me. By the point I run out of people, it will be old news and I won’t need to tell him 🙂

    Hang in there, it’s hard, but it’s doable!!!

    • Okay, here’s the bottom line… It is all easier said than done, but it needs to be done. No contact, take care of yourself, trust that he sucks, believe that it’s not your fault, feel it and then just let it go, show gratitude.
      The best revenge is when he sees that you are better than okay without him. So make that your goal. If you can imagine it, you can have it.
      I did, and I do.. .. Now about that phantom limb that I’m having removed next month…wish me a quick recovery:)

      • Dumped, I hear it’s easier if you’ve been thinking of yourself as without that fuckwit for a while already, before it’s actual removal! Good luck for that quick recovery!

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