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Dear Chump Lady, When does the pain stop?

desperate_handDear Chump Lady,

Tonight is a hard night for some reason. It has been 11 months since D-Day. And since then stories of other affairs and how long I have been a chump has been trickling in. I finally said I can’t take anymore information and stopped all the asking of how many and how long.

We have been married for 22 years. I thought if I knew when and how and how many that the pain would lessen, but now my thoughts are even more clouded with, “Oh WOW! So this is why this happened, and so this is why he said this and did this.” It’s a never ending of  trying to make sense of something that I can never really make any sense of. I am so tired and wish so much to put all this behind me.

The kicker though is even though with all the lies and the extent and length of the affairs, I am still waiting for this guy to wake up and love me and want me.

What is wrong with me? Why can I not see him for who he is and kick him out of my life? Why do I wait for him to call or text me to tell me that he misses me and loves me? I am a total chump and can’t seem to know what is real and not real anymore. The pain continues because I am choosing it and then I ask him to stop my pain by being caring and nice to me. I am so confused and messed up that I feel as though I am going to lose my mind.

Why can’t I understand that he is the root of my pain and that he cannot help me stop the pain? I need help. It’s like all logic goes out the window and I become this pathetic, needy, illogical person. I don’t like myself when I get low like this, but it’s like I am not in control and this other weak person takes over.


Dear Marj,

My standard answer to “When does the pain stop” is Tuesday. I don’t know which Tuesday, but I assure you that Tuesday is out there and it’s pain-free. Because this infidelity shit is FINITE. I know it doesn’t feel that way now. I know it’s a kick to the gut every time you learn of some new horror. I know it feels like soul death every time he doesn’t comfort you.

But I’m telling you as someone years out from her D-Days, that if you told me my ex was a bisexual, white slaver who held orgies in Sunday schools — I would simply shrug. This is what “meh” feels like. I know he’s a freak.  I don’t really need to know how much of a freak. It’s not really central to my life anymore. I trust that he sucks.

Of course, it was a long time coming to this place and like you I spent a lot of time grieving and puking and getting horrifying details. I spent a lot of time longing for the person who hurt me to put things right. And he didn’t.

Marj, I can’t tell you how many pathetic emails I sent, how many wailing phone calls, how collapsed in grief I was. Let’s start with the emails, because I’m a verbal gerbil. I would send these detailed reconciliation missives. (Because of of course, he didn’t want to divorce, so I thought that meant remorse. I didn’t understand cake then). Just vomiting out my soul to him. Lengthy diatribes in which I would note how very UNsorry he looked. And what we could do to fix that. (I’m sure I cross referenced several Amazon purchases.)

He would reply with one or two sentences tops. Generally along the lines of my grief was very inconvenient to him right now and he had pressing work issues to attend to.

The only time I got emotion from him, was when I made a move to leave. And then he commenced with the wailing and crying and the “remorse.” So then I thought, oh he really is sorry, and that set me up for the next round of D-Days.

Like you, I was waiting for for this guy to wake up and love me and want me.

Here’s the sucker punch, Marj — I already had my answer. I was just in denial about it. His actions very clearly demonstrated that he did NOT love me, he was not going to “wake up” — because he wasn’t in a dream — that is who he WAS. And sure, he did “want me” — but that’s because I was of use to him. And wanting someone is not the same thing as loving them.

Every horrifying detail just solidified that reality that I needed to grasp. He does not love me. He does not respect me. He is not sorry. He will not comfort me. He does not care.

So a couple things had to happen to get past the pain. First, I had to wake up and pay attention to his actions (not his words) and draw the painful conclusions. Second, I had to assert my self-worth.

You should NEVER have to ask someone to be “nice and caring” to you. Especially after they just GUTTED you. Do not beg for the common courtesies that strangers would give you.

Never match a cheater’s misdeeds with your vulnerability. When they hurt you? NEVER show them more of your tender underbelly and hand them the harpoon. No — PROTECT YOURSELF.

Your pain is kibbles to him. He may not want to continue the relationship, or he may stick around to eat cake, but trust me, he is enjoying the centrality and the drama. My how powerful he is! How desired!

And Marj, that shit should piss you off. Do NOT give him the satisfaction of your grief. You want the pain to stop? You start drawing boundaries with him this minute. You take back control. You go see a lawyer. If you feel you can’t assert boundaries, you go find a therapist who will show you how.

It’s okay to feel weak, it’s NOT okay to not feel in control. As hurt as you are, you are still the master of your ship. You still control you. You still have choices. It’s time to start exercising them. Assert your self-worth. You’re not kibbles, you’re a fucking woman — his spouse of 22 years and you deserve respect! And if he doesn’t have the decency to treat you with kindness and caring, especially after he BETRAYED you? He can find his shit on the lawn in Hefty bags.

You are going to grieve 22 years, no question. But don’t do it in front of him. You can’t properly get past this until you go no contact with the man who is hurting you. And you can’t start to heal until you start to protect yourself. So my advice to you is start bagging his shit for the lawn. Take a little of your own back. You’d be amazed how it lifts the spirits.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I remember thinking, oh it was Trashley, that means he really doesn’t want to leave me. Thank God I had read Chump Lady, because that thought didn’t get a home in my head.

  • Marj, reading your letter to CL reminded me very strongly of how I felt 11 years ago. I felt exactly the same way. I knew my H was a lowlife cheater but at the same time, I wanted him to love me. Not just normal love me but love me more than the OW & love me enough to make everything else ok. Well, if you are a regular on CL’s website – you know, as well as I do – that simply doesn’t happen.

    Take your time, pause for breath and have a very good think about what you want to happen. This has to be reality based – so no unicorn fantasies of holding hands over in rainbow land. You need to focus on yourself and where you can go from here. Until you do that, you are going to hang in this torturous limbo that you find yourself in at the moment. So make some plans for yourself. Stop thinking about the lying git that you are married to & think about you and then turn those thoughts into action.

    While you do this, you’ll be amazed at how your focus on him slips away & you’ll find you get some perspective and clarity.

    None of this is to say that you don’t have to mourn the loss of the relationship you thought you had. You do, but there is mourning to let go and there is holding on to grief because it is all that connects you with your past. Pick the first one!

    Big hugs to you but as CL says, one Tuesday, you’ll feel lighter, better & you’ll have things to look forward to & they’ll all be unrelated to the man who cheated on you. 🙂

    • Thank you for the “mourning to let go and holding onto grief” comment.
      I don’t know how long that takes but I’m hyper aware that it’s what I’m doing – looking back. I keep thinking if I acknowledge it and am aware (meaning let it happen so it’s out of my system) that I won’t dwell there.

    • Yes its terribly painful i introverted and withdrew deep I have forgiven him that makes me feel better its difficult for me to hold a grudge. I loved him dearly altho he always made me feel as i was on a back burnner he never made me feel special. It hurt tremendously he become obsessed with his pc I developed health problems .i didnt want to weigh him down. i asked him to leave. It was painful but at that time i was so hurt i did not want to even look at him. HE left in my very dark hours that told alot. i gave almost my whole life to him TOO many fam members interfered! i am glad i never interfered in their problems WE rarely had alone time as i become a steady babysitter in wich i loved the babys but i felt as if they had no regaurds for me its almost as if they expected me to stop my life never taking into concideration some weekends i would have loved Alone time withmy husband! yes i become truly the own!er of a shattered heart THINGS become different golden years approached .all promised adventures become untrue. i will always Love my first husband even tho he did not stand beside me .i have no regrets of standing by him for better or worse. if i could go back to that time I would still stand by him just as i did!!!!! I keep him now in my heart untill my end**

  • It also sounds like you have an addiction to this person, personality type. 22 years with someone will do that to you. So you go in for “the fix” and it feels worse after the moment is over and you want more of “whatever” because whatever it was left you unfulfilled.

    I have an addition to narcissistic personalities, I’m drawn to them, I go into withdrawal when I’m not in “the game” trying to please to no end, filling the void. I had to go to therapy to realize where this is stemming from and I still have days of cravings and withdrawal but I’m working through it. I went NC the day my STBX walked out and I don’t regret it. However, I have other friends (for lack of a better word) that are just as toxic and damaging and so I tried to get what I thought I needed from them. I hope that makes sense.

    I deserve better. So do you.

  • Thank you, once again, Chump Lady for speaking the truth for so many of us. I didn’t even realize how much pain I was holding, that my Ex never said [any of that nice stuff]. Because he doesn’t feel it. I’ve done a lot of the the process you describe–and Marj–it really, really helps.

    I don’t conflate “helps” with “easy”. For me, that’s a lot of where my wonderful therapist comes in. Without my bestest cheerleader, I may have crumpled by now. But I still find her, if not setting, reinforcing, boundaries with me and for me. I tend to over-extend to everyone. I’ll bet it’s a quality I share with many chumps. She reins me in. It’s glorious to learn how to do that, how to say “no!” to my instinct to wreck my back once again, offering something to somebody who probably doesn’t want it…kind of like my marriage, come to think of it! Hey, and that’s a parallel she draws a lot.

    The other two magnificent people who helped me were two lawyers. My criteria were to find feminist family lawyers. I ended up with attorneys who were each pathbreakers in family law for LGBT families, and let me tell you they both knew how to kick some serious fairness butt. (What they privately made of weepy ole hetero suburban whitey mc-whiterson me, I’ll never know. Doesn’t matter.) They were fierce for me, when I couldn’t be fierce.

    When I was a puddle of goo, they were all business, and “are you sure he isn’t hiding assets?” (He wasn’t.) “Here’s the best strategy for X.” “Let me contact his attorney and we’ll work it out, what is your goal?” I’ve never felt so well cared for in my life. I’ll take a good lawyer over a thousand nice days at the hair salon.

    It’s, for sure, all the cliche’s you’ve ever heard about journeys of thousands of miles and single steps, but it’s (a) essential for your sanity and decency of life, and (b) so, so freeing to your soul and your person.

    Reclaim yourself. Reclaim your voice. Honor yourself. (I just heard Ruth Simmons talk, and her takeaway was “Take good care of your voice.” I love her.)

    So take good care of your soul, your life, your self– and that means, in the eternal words of CL, Trust That They Suck. And get a move on. Good luck.

    • What a beautiful post, NFV. 🙂

      I like “they were fierce for me when I couldn’t be fierce.” That’s exactly how it feels to find a good lawyer.

      • Aw shucks, thanks. I should have added: keep reading Chump Lady! It will keep your spirits up, make you laugh, you’ll see yourself, and find good company. It means the world.

        • NFV,

          What a lovely post and an awesome testament to your healing journey.

  • Marj,
    I am where you are. I was married 21 years and 1 year and 7 months ago I am still in agonizing pain. I don’t want him back. I just want him to love me and have regrets and to pay for what he has done. A few weeks ago he seemed to act that way by how he was talking to me through text messages and e-mails and I even saw him drive by my house about 3 times. However, I then saw on FB that he got engaged to the bimbo the next day on Mother’s Day after I started feeling like maybe he missed me. He has messed with my mind so much Marj. CL is right. It’s about cake. Anytime he interacts with you and he is feeling you out to see if there are any signs that you still care. And CL also talks about cake is cake and it doesn’t matter if it’s good cake or bad cake. If he can get you upset, he matters. If he can charm you and get you to start talking to him, he matters. He may even talk to you through e-mail and text messages for a few days and then he will stop for a week. When that happens, you will feel empty inside. I know I need to go completely no contact with him, but I am stuck at the house we both owne together and it needs lots of repairs and I don’t have the money to pay for it so I let him keep it up. I feel trapped.

    • My ex did this, when I was telling my therapist about it she raised her eyebrows and said “have you heard of intermittent reinforcement?”. I had, but hadn’t related the two. He was creating (and I was allowing) a behavior pattern where when I reached out, he’d sometimes respond, sometimes kindly, sometimes very nastily, sometimes not at all. I’d be so desperate for the kind responses (the way he had always been towards me before so I mistook for the “real” him) that I would keep reaching out, through the nastiness and the being ignored. He’d get bored with it and ignore me, but if I left him alone, he’d eventually reach out to me, and it would all start over again. It’s a sick cycle to be stuck in. The ONLY way out is to go NC, like CL says.

      • Same here, lale. The nice text here and there that makes me think he still cares about me. Followed by a week of silence. Or a slew of nasty texts if I dare do something he doesn’t like. It is a vicious cycle; and I hate the desperation I feel. NC seems to be the best course of action..I’m just not so good at staying on an even keel there.

        • Sandy R, something that helped me with NC is giving myself a time frame, like “I won’t contact him for a month”, then 3 months, then 6…once you get the hang of it it does get easier. Also knowing that when I don’t contact him, he notices and wonders why not, and usually ends up contacting me, helps (even though it’s not a good reason for NC, sometimes the wrong reasons get you through til you make it to the right ones 🙂 And when you don’t bite to their nasty messages, they notice. Knowing that all they want is attention/drama, when you stop contacting/responding, gives YOU the control – no matter how long it’s been the other way. Hang in there, it does get a LOT easier!

          • Divorced nearly 10 months now and I still struggle with occasional anger . . . when I allow it. I try not to give the fh any more of my thoughts, energy or emotion.

            During the first six months after I realized that my X, the fuckhead (fh), was fucking his new married friend/coworker who was twenty years younger, I did respond to his numerous emails. We even discussed reconciliation. We actually spent some time together but I had told him that we were divorcing and if he promised (HA HA HA) to be faithful and set me up financially, we could go back to being a couple. I wanted the fh to put his money where his mouth is/was. I thank God that he told me that he didn’t want to do my “laundry list of demands” or to give her up. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. I told him then that I would no longer communicate with him and that I was paying an attorney A LOT of money to communicate for me. The fh still emailed and I did still have to deal with him as he picked up what was left of his in MY house.

            I was (and probably still am) addicted to him. After being married 25 years, I know that it’ll take some time. The last email I received was in January and I ignored it. I admit that I still check that email account.

            I try not to give him any more energy. We have two college-age sons who are home with me for the summer and when they make their weekly hour-long dinner visit, I will try not to react. I refuse to think that fh is happy. I don’t want to care and I want to stop thinking about the fh. I want to spend the time and energy on me and on the people who are important to me – not the fh. . . . but I still struggle. I’m not there yet but when I don’t fall down that rabbit hole, my life is better.

            I still have triggers. Yesterday I drove by the fh running on the road. I had thoughts of hitting the fh. I want to believe that the fh hurt as I drove by. I want the fh to hurt. I have to remember that the fh does not have the capacity to feel human emotions.

            I deserve and deserved better. Even if I am never in another relationship, my life is better now. . . . and continuing to have no contact helps.

            • ” Yesterday I drove by the fh running on the road. I had thoughts of hitting the fh.”
              Joy-filled chump..I am not sure whether or not I would offend you by laughing, but I found that statement to be SO true and I laughed out loud! Everyone says the best revenge is to live well, which is fine and all; but I won’t lie..I certainly wish I could run both STBX and the OW over with my SUV about 20 times or so!

              • Laughter is good.

                Someone put a calendar up at work the other day. One picture is captioned, “I ran into my ex the other day.” At the bottom of the page, it reads, “And I put my car in reverse and ran him over again.”

                Hilarious. I used to say for the longest time that I wanted him to get in his truck, drive really fast, and hit a brick wall and die . . . before the divorce was final.

  • Marj – See how he’s acting toward you even though you’re crying? He is cold inside. He is not capable of loving you. You need to protect yourself by leaving him and getting yourself away.

    You need to mourn this relationship. It’s over. He essentially dumped you when he cheated. It hurts like hell. But begging won’t help. No matter which way you look at it, desperation is never a good way to go. He’s already made his choice, and he doesn’t respect you.

    • “He already made his choice, and he doesn’t respect you. ” Yes, when that penny finally dropped my mantra became – ‘He made a choice, I made a decision’.

      There’s a difference – STBX had poor impulse control and chose to lie, cheat and not be sober. I, after some bad pick-me-dancing (this was pre Chump Lady!) first of all decided to go No Contact – which was and is the most important way of keeping sane- and then decided to start over and moved 300 miles away. Then I discovered Chump Lady and decided to divorce.

      Decision making is taking back control-from small things ( eating what you want, when you want to…) to the the big one about bringing an end to the sorry mess we find ourselves in.

      Our emotions do get in the way- I’m a believer in the Stockholm Syndrome and PTSD being applicable to abusive marriages. And cheating and the related choices are abuse to the other partner, as Chump Lady reminds us. You just have to keep renewing that decision making vow we make to ourselves to get free.

      • These idiots made poor choice based on thier genitals and feeling good and being happy (barf)! They just followed thier so-called “hearts” (read: genitalia) but here is the key to your future, you get to make sound decisions on YOUR future! You get to make the decision to kick thier sorry asses to the curb! These losers would have you believe that thier affair “just happened” or “it wasn’t supposed to go that far”! BS! These are people who would have you think that these things are beyond thier control. Okay, fine, if they want to live thier lives following thier directional arrow in thier pants then let them! We can then use or brain and make a rational decision to divorce and move forward in a direction that will be FAR better than living with them!

        • “Just happened” makes me laugh.

          “Right, she was lying on a bed with her legs apart and your penis went all torpedo on you?”

          There’s only enough blood for one head at a time and the bigger one better have a plan for when the other one takes over.

  • I haven’t seen (or may have missed) many references on here to anti-depressants, but I can say that they really helped me manage this kind of lowness. I tried without them for a very long time, and finally my therapist said something that clicked to me “they are science, the people who prescribe them are trained to see what chemicals your brain needs”. I was nearly a year out from my ex, and would still feel punched in the stomach over EVERY little thing that reminded me of him (and my sad little mind turned EVERYTHING into something that reminded me of him). With the meds I don’t do that. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or real, and I don’t care, it’s made a huge difference. Or judicious indifference I should say 🙂 I’m sure they aren’t for everyone, but they pretty quickly got me over a hill I’d been struggling with for way too long.

    • They’re not a magic cure for anything, but they’ve sure helped me too, lale

      • Me too. They helped stop the “why? Why?” loop that was continuously playing, on repeat, in my brain. Science.

    • They helped me, too! I would just end up in this cyclical spiraling down train of thought every day, and eventually felt like I wanted to “take a ride in the car in the garage…” Struggling with the betrayal, lying and on top of it, his giving the appearance that he had done nothing wrong, that we had just “grown apart” and were “sexually incompatible”…blah blah blah. I also cringe and rage at the thought of his being in a hurry toi introduce the new woman (#3 at least since his first cheating episodes, met during the 2 year divorce proceedings) to our 12 and 15 year old sons, who are clearly not interested. My fear is that they’ll feel comfortable with the whole idea of drink cheat and leave when things aren’t according to your liking if they have a relationship with him in his “new life.” That really sends me to the depths of depression.

      • Ooops, got off track — anyway, the point I wanted to make was that meds really helped me not go so far down that I couldn’t pull myself back up. This site has been such a help!

      • Aren’t they always in a hurry with the new woman and the kids? And mine did exactly that with the lies and telling everyone he just “didn’t have feelings for me anymore”. Convenient drivel. As far as our 3-year old son and the umpteen “serious girlfriends” he will be introduced to by his dad, I just plan (and have been already) keeping it classy. There are decent people and there are indecent people, it will be easy to see what his dad is. Especially if I can demonstrate the exact opposite in my life.

      • Just wanted to give solidarity because my cheater is doing exactlythe same things: acting like he is doing nothing wrong while moving in with other woman tho we are still married and having my kids stay with them to boot. Because ‘he wanted them to meet her’. Still unfathomable to me.

    • I would never judge what anyone chooses to do to cope and to heal themselves when they are in so much pain, but I will comment just a little about anti-depressants. Of course they can help and do help many people, myself included. But I had to get off the SSRIs because they were causing me to gain 10 to 20 pounds a year. It’s slow enough not to notice, but it is constant. I’m now on one that doesn’t cause weight gain, and in fact in some people it causes slight weight loss.

      I just throw this in because if you are already feeling bad about yourself, becoming fatter isn’t going to help!

      That said, due to severe anxiety, I have an emergency prescription of anti-anxiety medication to help me when I feel I might lose control. I’m taking about two of them a month so am not worried about their addiction potential. But I’m very glad to know they are there.

      • My doctor put me on antidepressants too and sooper doper Ambien for a few months. Couldn’t eat, sleep, function. I had a nervous breakdown. On the job. I guess people like us HAVE to have our nervous breakdowns on the job.

        I was seriously mentally ill for at least 2 years. What this does to a person.

        But, hey! I just bought a new car today. The first time in my life that I bought a car without a husband. As Rumblekitty says ‘I got a lady boner’ doing that. Haha~

        • Hey Tess! I got my first ever new car two weeks ago too! And the first car that has ever been mine exclusively. Lady boner indeed – I get a little thrill every time I get into it, and the feeling of freedom and independence is unreal!

      • Good to know, I’ve gained 10 pounds in the past year on SSRIs, but that takes me to 170 pounds on a 6 foot 1 frame, so I’m just fine with it. Wouldn’t want to do that for years, though.

        • Lexapro was a lifesaver for me but I started with 10mg then was increased to 20mg. All the weight I lost in the divorce came back and then some. I kept working at loving myself regardless of size. Been dating a guy who didn’t mind the extra padding and have been off meds for 2 months. Lost 5 pounds almost immediately. Now the my inside is “mostly” healed, I am working on making the outside match. Weight watchers and working out. If you really watch what you eat while on lexapro, you might not gain weight like I did…I was so focused on healing mentally and emotionally (because as we know that pain is far worse) that I forgot physically. Now I am in process of getting physical to catch up.
          Not sure if I would have made it with out the meds, they really helped the comtinuous loop of negativity I went through

          • no anti depressents helped in any way i felt way worse sometimes apparently they work for some unfortunately no for me best wishes toall and stay stong! MY BIBLE helped me more than anyone or anything stay strong! this too shall passforgive!&certainly no bad wishes on the man i thought was my best friend and husband He was my ROCK! things got way out of hand infdelity hits hard!!! some can just laugh it off! and find it amusing to hurt ones heart &soul ?

  • I’m only at couple of months since I found out, but I think I first started to feel a change when I realised that if I knew what type of person she really was before we started a relationship I would never have dated her in the first place. If I had known that she could have happily inflicted this much pain and hurt on someone, anyone, then that is not the type of person I would want in my life and I was better off with out them. As has been said on here many times, I’m not the one who is in any way to blame for what she did, she made a decision to cheat. I only know about the last time it happened, but looking back there were many instances when it could have happened and suspicious events surrounding them. I feel I’m now at the point where I don’t really care, she did what she did and that’s all there is to it. I can’t control what happened and I can’t change the past, the only thing I can do is take control of my life now and plan where I would like to see my future take me. One things for sure, I wouldn’t want my future to take me back to the horrible person who caused me this much pain!

    • “If I had known that she could have happily inflicted this much pain and hurt on someone, anyone, then that is not the type of person I would want in my life and I was better off with out them.”

      I feel the same. As painful as this is. As much as I still have feelings for him. I could never go back to a person who could turn their back on me even while I was on my knees begging him to let me come back. I have no choice but to go forward.

  • I so needed this advice today. My stbx called the other night begging and pleading for forgiveness and to have his family back. He kept saying he was sorry for everything he had done, but he said he would give everything up, including all contact with the other woman, IF I agreed to reconciliation. It hurt so badly. He was saying all of the things I wanted to hear from him, but I knew that he wasn’t being truthful. It’s an illusion that I want to believe but can’t. I’ve been thinking about it everyday since, thinking what if…maybe he will change…maybe he really does love me. No. He doesn’t. Your words confirm it. He sucks.

    • Instead of a clean break, my ex came back to me crying and begging 3 times and I believed him. The last time I drove to the OWs house the next week and there was his car. He said all the right things, he did all the wrong things. It’s all bullshit to suck you in again. CL nails it when she says “that’s because I was of use to him. And wanting someone is not the same thing as loving them.”

    • He will give up everything including all contact with the other woman IF you agreed to a reconciliation. Nothing like hedging your bets both ways. I strongly recommend to you a song by One Republic “Apologize” its too late.

      stay strong and live happy

    • Thanks both of you. I listen to that song all the time. I wish that he was one of those cheaters that just walk away because I was strong in my resolve to stay NC until he called in the middle of the night like that. Now, I don’t feel as sure. I’m sure that he isn’t good for me, but it almost felt good to hear him begging and it’s like I want that feeling again now. I shouldn’t care about how he feels, but I feel better knowing that he still wants me. I have the song “I Found a Boy” by Adele on repeat, hoping that I’ll get to that point sometime. It’s not very meh, I feel like I’m backsliding now and I’m so angry with myself.

      • RNE, stay strong girlfriend, he’s mindfucking you. Jedi hugs and block his ass on your phone and every where else.

      • Stay very strong, RNE. I got stuck in my soulless marriage for over two decades because my serial cheater ex did what your ex is doing … and I believed him. Twice. On the final OW, he came back after a year, apologizing and wanted his family back together. I told him I wasn’t interested and he went straight home to the OW and they’re still together. I wasn’t surprised. Different OW, same modus operandi. I’m in meh and just wish him the best – as long as he leaves me alone.

    • The responses from the women on here are so eloquent and moving, yours included, RNE. I can’t imagine what I’d do if my husband began to beg for me to come back. In the past when he did that, I resisted for weeks, but eventually caved in and soon regretted it. (This was pre-cheating days).

      Our pain is so palpable. Yours, mine, Marj’s and all of us. We loved our partner and we can’t just flip a switch and not love them anymore. I wish we could! So while they’ve moved on to be with new people and to fuck new women, we are wandering in a daze trying to rebuild our lives.

      I’m six months out and still wish he had not cheated and that we were together. Yet I know our marriage was a train wreck from the start and that we had no business being together. So when I’m sane I give thanks for the fact that, when I am healed, my life will be better than it would have been with him.

      The first four or five months I thought the pain would never cease but now I can look back and see the difference. What a fucking relief it is.

      Bottom line. They do suck. We do deserve better. Better days are ahead.

      • Moving liquid, we seem to be in the same boat. You grab one oar, I the other, and lets move away from the ship wreck our husbands have caused.
        I am with you sister “Bottom line. They do suck. We do deserve better. Better days are ahead.”

    • RNE,

      If he is a serial cheater don’t give him the time of day. If he is a one-time cheater and you are afraid you might not be giving him all the benefit of the doubt? Put him to the looooong test. Tell him that crying and begging aren’t going to do him any good because talk is cheap and behavior tells the true story. Tell him that you are going to go on through with the divorce, anyway (and do go through with it). Explain that trust is very hard to win back, but that there is nothing to prevent re-marriage in the future IF he proves himself… that he will have to give up all his lying, cheating, irresponsible ways…go out of his way to be be totally transparent, must show you and the family that he can be a mature, responsible husband and father, and THEN at some point in time after many months, you will take under advisement the possibility of reconciliation… but that you are making NO promises! Then sit back and chill and take care of your D in a fair, dignified, even empathetic way. Don’t engage him about anything or allow him to push any of your buttons. And watch. And wait. You will find out before long how sincere he is. Because not only will he not fight the divorce, he will set about trying to become a much better man. If he is sincere he will try to win back his family even if it takes years. You are in the driver’s seat with this (either way it goes) if you can just keep your cool.

      • Good advice. Let him earn his way back, but on his own time and his own dime.

      • YES to this. It’s the only safe way for the chump.

        I am separated from and divorcing Sparkles and his actions over the next few years will prove whether his reconciliation attempts are sincere or if he’s just a run of the mill selfish asshole with exceptional hoovering abilities.

  • Marj, it seems from your letter that you’re not NC, but, as CL recommends on this site, please try to go NC as much as possible (just limit communications with him to about finances and kids if you have kids). I know it hurts, and NC will be hard at first–it’s like weaning yourself from a drug–and lonely sometimes, but it only gets better, and you will feel stronger as time goes on.

    You say, “Why can I not see him for who he is and kick him out of my life?” I don’t think you can see him for who is until you go NC. NC gives you clarity. I don’t think I could see what a bad marriage I had until I was out of it. Now when I look back, I see that, even before the affair, XH was not a very loving husband/father, and I made a lot of excuses for him (did a lot of spackling).

      • It has mine lale. I regress once in a blue moon because I was married for 37 years but I still think I hold on to a lot of anger and the ‘whys’ have never been answered. I know now that they won’t be and accept that, so moving forward is becoming easier. Now to work on that anger!!!

        • Maree,

          Answer those ‘whys’ with your own answers but don’t take the blame. I know why my fucking ex-husband (fh – fuckhead) cheated. He could! He always needed applause from others. He married a mommy and when this mommy had her own kids, he started looking for additional sources of applause.

          I just want to make sure that I don’t hook up with another drunk like my dad. I thought that I had escaped my family of origin but in the end, I didn’t.

    • Blue, NC to me was the only way to gain clarity. And boy, once I took off all the blinders, I could clearly see my ex sucked. Nowadays, I barely remember him in any other manner other than he sucks.

      • I know what you mean Uniqelyme! With some distance and time I have had the te to look back over a 40 year marriage and see that it was not all that! It helped me look at moments in our marriage that I held precious and realized in retrospect that I was the only one who cared about those moments really! I see now my STBXH was just “there” and was NOT really invested as much as I was in us or our family. He was just “checking the boxes” so to speak. But it helped me to answer the “why”, he simply was never invested!

        • Roberta, good response. Mine was just “there” also and was NOT really invested as much as I was in us or our family and the kicker is, our 2 adult kids have cut me out of their lives. I was their constant, the one and only person who was there 24/7. Sad how it goes.

    • Yes, I limit my communications with my husband to email and text most of the time. Hearing his voice triggers me and makes me sad.

      • I think it can go either way for me. NC is the best, overall, because my ex is a really sick guy – damaged long before I met him, remained that way, and is still, of course. My life is better, more peaceful, calm, without his contrariness, his negativity, coldness, self absorption…

        But sometimes the NC lets me slip back into that magical thinking, the mystification, of imagining that he is different than he really is, or I’ll remember the good times, and forget the hundred horrible times for every one good time, and that is what my marriage was like…so then the NC doesn’t do the trick. I’ll get where Marj is today – sad, wistful, lonely, hurt, and in pain. Longing.

        So those are the times when I really almost DO need to see him, you know, like in a public setting; or hear someone say, you know what your ex did/said today??! and then I am reminded, oh, yeah. Still an asshole. Right. Great. Not my problem anymore! and then I am so glad he is gone.

        Marj, you are kinda early in, hon. Eleven months? so fresh still…it does take time, girl. You are grieving. But – you are GRIEVING A DREAM. The dream of the partner you wanted, deserved, tried to make happen. Your ex wasn’t that person. It was a dream you had. And those are hard to give up. It’s just not the reality.

        And god bless the lawyers, therapists, and the contributors on this blog to help us get out of our fog of false hope – kindly, firmly, clearly, and lovingly – and with lots of humor! – to bring us to our eventual state of meh.

        I am not there yet, but am getting closer every day. It’s not even two years since Dday for me, my divorce went fast, it’s been almost a year and a half. I still think of him every day, but I am choosing to give more power to the peace and gratitude I feel that he is gone, instead of wishing he were different. He never will be. While that is sad…oh well. Not sad for me anymore. My goal is to be able to see/hear/ etc about him, and just think, I knew that guy once. Whatever. 🙂

        hugs to all of you chumps tonight. You are especially tender with your remarks, and I am loving you for them….peace and love…

  • I actually read an article that said when you are feeling that heart sick pain from rejection that pain relief meds like Tylenol can help and I was desperate so I took some and you know what? It really did help – I was amazed. I used excedrin. Of course taking that type of med long term is bad for you but it did help when the pain was really intense. Who knew!!??!!

    I’m sure there are other articles if you google it (they call it social rejection pain)

    • Thank you for sharing the term social rejection pain, fenix. I’ve never heard it. I second the temporary use of a painkiller. Excedrin was what helped me too with the headaches I was experiencing.

  • Marj,

    I usually write really short comments but I have two things I want to share with you that I hope will actually help you.
    The first is: I encourage you to start the legal stuff. It will take away a great deal of your love/longing for this man. Although it is actually bankrupting me, I am almost grateful for the legal hassles because at this point (four months into my legal battles with him) I could not be more disgusted. He’s actually disgusting to me. I will never, never get back together with him and I don’t ever long for that in my secret heart-of-hearts anymore. Legal stuff kills all the longing you have for him. I’ve now blocked my phone from his calls and texts completely (free Dead to Me app. Recommend) and he can only speak to me via e-mail with our lawyers copied. We do child transfers at the police station. I was where you are and it only took four months of legal drama to get me to a completely different place.

    The second is a metaphor I came up with. You can’t make blueberry pie out of blueberries, flour and water. You can try- but all you ever get is blue mush. I did this with my X for years. I saw some of the right ingredients there and in my head I made him into a whole and supportive blueberry pie partner for me. But he wasn’t. He wasn’t a pie. He was mush. It’s my fault for not seeing that although there were a few of the right ingredients, the whole picture was never going to come together. I honestly think that these psycho cheaters that many of us have- they are not completed humans. I believe they don’t have finished souls, hearts, and brains. Now that I see him clearly I am blown away by his fragmentation. He’s not a complete human. He’s an imitation cheese human. How did I ever miss that? We’d all like to believe that people can change and grow but we know, because we watch the news, that people are capable of horrible things. Lots of people have fragmented and unfinished souls. Sometimes it’s really obvious because they kidnap little girls or kill people. Sometimes it’s not as obvious and they just steal one person’s life by cheating on them throughout a marriage- but there are lots of people walking around that are not complete. Your X isn’t going to feel bad. He only has parts of a soul. He only has parts of a heart. He’s an imitation cheese human. He can’t give you what you need. He doesn’t have it. He doesn’t even really see how bad he’s been. They really are sort of a different species, because they can’t think or feel like normal people.

    • That last line, NAILED IT. You are so right, they don’t think like normal people. They have a defect for sure.

    • “I believe they don’t have finished souls, hearts, and brains. Now that I see him clearly I am blown away by his fragmentation.”

      Rose, wow….just….wow….maybe you should write longer posts more often. You have incredible insight. The fragmented and unfinished heart, soul, and mind. That is the best description I have ever heard.

      • I am a very visual person and one of the comments made to me by my social worker when the x was pushing my buttons at the hospital was to look at it like he is fishing and I’m the fish I have to learn to swim and not take the bate.

        But I will not be able to look at X now with out visualizing Blue mush I love your description I think I have been making blue mush too. thanks heaps I am grateful for your post Rose

    • Dearest Rose,
      [standing ovation!!!]

      Excellent encouragement to Marj and to all!! So glad you broke away from your short comment habit, even if just for this once!
      Love your way of illustrating with blueberry pie (My favorite!) and the ‘imitation cheese’ (one of my cheaterpant’s favs!) So appropo.
      Your comment really helped me and I hope it helps Marj. She is at a difficult place in her journey.

      For you, Rose and for Marj, as well—–Have you read William Eddy’s book “Splitting:……” It is on CL’s recommended reading list. I also love his other books: “It’s All Your Fault!….” and “BIFF”. All three of these books are, IMHO, MUST READS for all us chumps. He also has a web-site: “High Conflict Institute” and a program called “New Ways for Families” and another book about High Conflict People in Legal Disputes. Please check out these resources if you have not done so. (I bought all mine through KOBO and have then on my tablet & my laptop. Very affordable thru KOBO.)

      Gotta go…..Busy time of year for me….But have been reading most days and have continued to be very inspired by Tracy and all of my precious fellow chumps!!! Has propelled me forward in a positive way! Please, keep it up! Love all ya all! 😉

      Forge on, Loyal Ones….ForgeOn!

    • Rose – wow! What an amazing insight. You put into words something that has been nagging the back of my brain for a while. I have always believed that no one can truly be happy when their “happiness” comes at the expense of others. I have struggled to understand why my ex seems so happy as his new life has come at the expense of his faithful wife of over 20 years and the two children who love him. He exploded all three of our lives to “find his bliss.” Your insight has helped me see that of course he can be happy at the expense of those who loved him! Of course he can just trip off into the sunset with his mistress and not think twice about how hurt his two boys are to see him with her! He just does not feel like a normal person…he is not capable of feeling guilt or remorse over his choices. He’s imitation cheese…not a real, living soulful human with empathy and feelings for others.

      • He isn’t happy. Anyone who looks for happiness outside of his body will never find happiness. This thought makes me happy. I said I was happy before because I accepted the life I had. My happiness was what drew my fh to me to begin with. He was attracted to my range of emotions. People who need externals are always looking for something to fill the hole whether it be through food, shopping, or sex. They will never find what they are looking for because it doesn’t exist. I am so glad that I am happy. I have always been happy. I thought that I was happy because I was married and because I had a family. I still have that family but I am so much happier now. I know that I’ll always be happy.

        • LIKE!!! That sums it up for me too. Happiness comes from within. When my ex ripped my life apart I have had to relearn that. My happiness is not dependent on him or anyone else.

    • “I honestly think that these psycho cheaters that many of us have- they are not completed humans. I believe they don’t have finished souls, hearts, and brains. Now that I see him clearly I am blown away by his fragmentation. He’s not a complete human. He’s an imitation cheese human.”

      YES! My STBX is fragmented in many different ways. I kept thinking I could somehow put it all together. I finally realized that you can’t remodel and rebuild other people like you can a house. I am now working on being the best person I can be and surrounding myself with wonderful, supportive, completed human beings.

    • “Lots of people have fragmented and unfinished souls. Sometimes it’s really obvious because they kidnap little girls or kill people. Sometimes it’s not as obvious and they just steal one person’s life by cheating on them throughout a marriage- but there are lots of people walking around that are not complete.”

      WOW! Rose, I love this. I often refer to my ex as a demon, because I feel he is exactly as you describe — fragmented and unfinished. These people are evil, and cause tremendous harm in the world.

    • Imitation cheese human — love it!

      On the fragmented soul comment — when I was reading the last Harry Potter novel, about Voldemort and the horcruxes (his soul/immortality divided into various amulets) — I thought — God, R.J. Rowling had to have been in an abusive relationship to think this shit up.

      So I read, and sure enough her first husband was physically violent and a mindfuck. And she ran away with her daughter to escape. Wrote the series as a single mom… I’m sure you all know the rag to riches story.

      Fragmented soul — when you’ve lived it, you know what this is.

      • I would never have thought of this–but a brilliant observation about Rowling’s work.

      • My sons call their father “Voldemort” whom they visit “at his lair” as they call it.

        But to be fair, they also call him “Darth” and his home the “Death Star”.

    • Rose, really incredible post and you truly captured the essence of a cheater – fragmented soul. I’d like to believe that because of our experience as chumps, we will come out as integrated souls with more compassion and love. Hopefully, we gain enough strength and insight to no longer give our love to those who clearly do not deserve nor value it.

      • Forgot to add that your metaphor about the blueberry pie is spot on. I will always remember this since my ex’s loved blueberry pie. Now all I can see is mush … and mush also sucks.

    • Rose,

      Thank you for your brilliance and your insight. This is so beautifully and perfectly descriptive. It was the exact thing I needed to read to compliment what CL had already written.

    • So well said and exactly how I feel now that I have distance from him and his manipulation!

    • From the bottom of my heart…thank you, Rose. Just beautiful. I can’t believe your words wouldn’t help Marj. Awesome.

    • Rose,
      Thank you for your insight. You are right when you say that he can’t give me what I need because he just doesn’t have it. I have known that for years, but I somehow can’t live in reality and don’t believe what is in front of me. I constantly make excuses and tell myself, I am wrong in thinking he is not a whole person, and who am I to judge since I have so may flaws. So I start blaming myself and tell myself that I am not a good person for thinking that he is bad.

      • Rose,
        Head slap for me! My friends used to describe ‘lover boy’ as ‘wannabe man’. Now I get it.
        For heavens sake, thank you.

        • Rose, am a couple of days late reading this, but try to get on Chump Lady a few times a week. It never disappoints. And your post proves that truth again…just what I needed to hear. This is going in my journal!!!!!

  • Please DO NOT waste one more moment thinking about or trying to change your cheaters way of thinking! Trust on this…… is a complete waste of your time. I am speaking from experience when I tell you that your time can be better spent getting your finances together and researching good divorce lawyers. I wasted five long years of my life trying to get thru to my exH of 23 years that he was losing the best thing he ever had and harming our two teenage daughters. He didn’t see it. Oh, he wanted to stay married to me, he just wanted me to be ok with his whore too!!! NOT A CHANCE!!!!

    NOTHING, let me say it again, NOTHING felt better than the day I asked him to leave! The weight was finally lifted. The giant elephant was out of the room and I could breathe. No more living in limbo! I made the decision to lose the cheater and gain my life!!! Even if he fixed himself, what are you going to be left with? A man who did not show you any respect. A man who did not treat you right. If you’re anything like me, you will NEVER forget that and it will destroy you. Trust is extremely hard to get back!

    Get your life back and kick his ass to the curb!!!!!! He simply isn’t worth it!!!!

    • Right! And you’ll also be left with- a cheater who longs and pines for the OW/OM. The cheater will ALWAYS be thinking about the delightful days of Pick Me!, and wish that could happen again. That was one of the biggest reasons I did NOT want him back, once I left! He begged, oh, he would do anything, move anywhere, we could start over!!
      I knew- he’d either keep her on the back burner, and find a way to get together, or he’d find a new victim.
      I was never enough for him, and I was a great wife, which he AGREES with! I chose to love me for a change, and I haven’t regretted that tough decision once.

  • I so relate to the sending of long emails laying out how he hurt me, wanting some sort of recognition of the damage. I now know it was cake. The only time I felt I got a bit of that recognition was catching him off guard with a phone call once relating to our child. I thought there was a glimmer there because he said he had to live the rest of his life with what he did. Didn’t change anything though.
    Marj, the pain will subside. It really will. It will take a while but it is so true that the sooner you are no longer around him the better. It is so messed up that we feel we need to get acceptance back from the one who BETRAYED us. Chumplady is right–don’t let them see your pain. They don’t get it. It’s all about them.

    • Ugh, me too with the emails. Looooong emails I’d read and re-read and hold my breath for his replies (“ok”, if he replied at all). Wish I’d never sent a single one.

      • I know, most were replied to, if at all, in a way where he appeared to be a decent person. That was important to him I think. But he was just a hologram. (And OW was privy to everything I said–must have been pretty entertaining to both of them and delicious cake to her too.)
        I had a friend early on say that I needed to let him know how much he hurt me. Looking back I certainly wouldn’t do that now. To a normal person, yes, seeing how much pain one causes would bring forth empathy, but it’s so informative to learn that not everyone is normal.

        • I think they don’t believe our sincere pain, no matter how careful we try to explain it in mail (been there, mailed that). They think it’s an act, a means to an end.

          Now I know that his feelings for me/our family didn’t really run so deep, I get it: I misread his feelings, just as he did mine. We both had our own moral compass as a filter, only they work opposite ways!

          • I don’t think they are capable of understanding compassion. If they were, they wouldn’t have been able to do a thing as deeply harmful and scarring as betrayal in the first place.

        • Some of the emails I received had language in it that wasn’t his when we were discussing reconciliation. The fuckhead was trying to get back into the house so that he could then put me out like trash. He had intended on getting me “set up” somewhere and then he was going to continue living our life in MY HOUSE. His fucking “You go” girlfriend helped the fh wordsmith his emails.

          HA! HA! HA!

          Thank God that I finally reengaged my brains. To quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya’?”

          I am so glad that I changed the locks! There is a God.

      • Me too-I wrote letters & sent text messages. I got very little response. I think I got “I hear you” and maybe even an “I love you.” The only lengthy response for anything was when I had a bad angry day & drove to his work to tell him to move out. It wasn’t one of my proudest moments but the next day I received a lengthy text message from him with some bullshit apology for everything.

        But, hey I’m sure he will act like he is sorry & want to talk once he is served with divorce papers.

    • I’m mortified that in the weeks following our separation, and before I knew there was another woman, I sent him a list of “thank you for this” and “thank you for that.” Looking back now every single “thank you” could have been balanced with a big “BUT”.

      I hate that I fed his fucking ego. I told him thanks for all the things he thinks he did for me, all the while he ruined me financially and abused me for years. Talk about a chump.

      • You’re not alone. I did the same thing. Twice. But ya know what? That’s the difference between them and us.

  • Marj, there is only one way to save yourself, IMHO, and it is to go NO CONTACT. He is a perpetual mindfuck. Accept that you will always look for some modicum of care or love or sign that he once cared or loved you, and that you will be PERPETUALLY DISAPPOINTED AND PERPETUALLY STUNNED THAT HE DOES NOT. I accept that now, I accept that even the slightest, random e-mail over financial issues with my ex stuns me with his distance and lack of concern for me or his children. But I then force myself to think, “No Kelly he did not love you, no Kelly he does not care about his children, yes this is unbelievable but it is true,” and I force myself to stop staring at his brief cold e-mail and I move on. It WILL get easier, but you have to get away from the mindfuck to deal with the mindfuck. Accept your bewilderment over his lack of love, that you will NEVER understand it, and that you must move on.

    CL has a hilarious and awesomely on-point article about how her dog barks at the mailman, alternately wanting to maul him and wishing he would adore her and tell her what a pretty dog she is. I laughed till I cried because that was SO me and she nailed it. We all understand, most of us tried to get comfort from our abusers, as absurd as that seems in retrospect. It’s like the Stockholm Syndrome. You have to just break that cycle, like a drug, and once you are away, your mind clears.

    On the morning after D-Day, in those not-quite fully conscious moments of awakening, my first thought was: “I am free, I am free, I am free.” On the day my divorce decree came through, my sister texted me: “You are finally free of the lies.”

    Free yourself Marj. There is a great life waiting out there. (((BIG HUGS)))

    • The Stockholm Syndrome comparison is absolutely true. Not to mention PTSD.

      • Maybe we should all be saying how many years we were held hostage.

        I know that I am not the first wife: I’m the one who got away.

  • I don’t know if anyone reads any Eckhart Tolle’s stuff like “The Power of Now” but that helps too. We’re all stuck in some kind of past and if we acknowedge the pain and acknowledge where the pain is coming from – the pain lessens. The mind / body is a remarkable thing. It lessens. It comes back. It lessens when you acknowledge the pain again.

    • That book helped me deal with pain, too. Also Byron Katie’s book, “Loving What Is” helped me in overcoming pain.

      • Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book ‘Wishes Fulfilled’ really helped me. The book comes with a gorgeous meditation CD with the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I would play it at night while I was drifting off to sleep. He talked about only thinking positive things while you are drifting off to sleep. He talks about the “I Am”….and what you put after it. Instead of saying to yourself ‘I am sad, I am depressed’ say things like ‘I am going to be okay, I am beautiful, etc.’ He talks about when you are dwelling on your despair to ‘pick another thought off the conveyor belt, a better one.’

  • Marj, I felt like I was reading a page of my journal when I read your post. Except my My initial D day was 19 months ago, and my wedding to this man was 14 years ago, not 22. I also had a difficult night last night, and did all the soul vomiting that CL described. I really needed to read this today. Thank you both for sharing. Thank you all, for sharing. It hurts like a MF to learn that someone you love really doesn’t think so much of you. It hurts to look back and see that I didn’t think so much of myself either. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I’m certain that this is the kind of pain changes a person. I believe that if I allow myself to experience this, I will heal, and it won’t hurt anymore. This shit is the stuff that integrity comes from. From personal tragedy hones Strength, grace, empathy, and power. Qualities I admire- qualities I see in people like CL, and many here on There are going to be many more difficult nights, but trust that it’s a process with precious rewards. You have already proven that you are one who sticks around when times get tough. You can do this. So can I. Thanks for reminding me of that. I really needed to read this today. Thank you. Xo

    • I recently read a book called The fault in our stars, yes I know a few people are probably thinking WTF. as I read it while sitting next to my daughters hospital bed as she was being infused with bright yellow chemo, But there is one line in the book that jumped out at me and it is ” grief does not change a person it just clarifies who they are.” not verbatim but pretty close. If we are honest and loving and faithful before this shit happens we will be the same during it and once we are past it. Which then really is the same for the cheaters they are cold and heartless before hand they are cold and heartless during and they are cold and heartless after.

      • Sammie D, hugs to you and your daughter, and please accept my best wishes for her speedy return to health. I’m so sorry you and she have to suffer through this.

      • That is so true Sammie D– warm thoughts and loving prayers being sent for your daughter and you.

    • Hypnagogia,
      Thank you so much for your reply. Wish you peace days and nights.

  • “Every horrifying detail just solidified that reality that I needed to grasp. He does not love me. He does not respect me. He is not sorry. He will not comfort me. He does not care.
    So a couple things had to happen to get past the pain. First, I had to wake up and pay attention to his actions (not his words) and draw the painful conclusions. Second, I had to assert my self-worth.”

    Wowser! Chumplady, I could have saved a ton of money on shrinks if i had you 9 years ago!! Your response is No #1 with a bullet. I could have wrote that letter. Still waiting on my Tuesday but I know its coming. You are a blessing dear lady!

    • “He does not love me. He does not respect me. He is not sorry. He will not comfort me. He does not care.”

      This is the truth that our PTSD-damaged minds simply cannot grasp fully, but we have to understand that this is the case nonetheless.

  • Ah yes, those long emails. Did my fair share of that two. Long, detailed, exceptionally logical, rationale, fair minded emails – where I would describe in detail all that “we” could do to make our marriage work again. Lots of careful positioning to make it look like it wasn’t all on him. WHAT WAS I THINKING???????? I’ve still got them somewhere, as I kept all of our correspondence. For some insane reason I wanted to keep proof that I couldn’t have tried harder to make it work – as though someone, somewhere would give me a medal or commendation for my efforts to marriage save!!!!!!

    Thank goodness “meh” finally comes.

    • I did that too, it’s because you think they just don’t understand and if you are rational about it they will get it. But that isn’t the problem, they do understand, they just don’t give a shit, until you want to leave…

    • I snorted reading your post and I am sorry, but I like you had this notion if I tried hard enough somehow somewhere everything would align and all the effort would be recognized and it would all be fixed. But I am on the road to recovery and Oh Look a sign post for ‘MEH’

      • We think we can just present a logical case, and they will ‘get it’ Magically see the light, and love and appreciate us. Just another attempt at trying to control the uncontrollable. It’s an unwinnable effort. The target keeps moving! and it goes back to what Sammie D said – we are who we are, in the end. And so are they.

    • An English Lady,
      I am so hoping I will get to “meh” soon.

  • Marj,
    Your letter was such a reminder to me of how far I’ve come – I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’m here to tell you, life will get better. I’m so touched by CL’s response and the comments already posted this morning.

    During The Troubles, this site and one for friends & families of people w/ alcoholism gave me so much encouragement and I was strengthened by the wisdom shared at both. The title of today’s post immediately brought me back to the most helpful words I read (copied from the other site). I don’t know who wrote it. I hope these words will encourage you and whoever else needs to see them today.

    “The Pain Stops: when you stop looking at the person you love as the person you love, and you begin to see them, not as a partner, a lover, or a best friend, but as a human being with the strengths and weaknesses and even the core of a child.

    The Pain Stops: when you begin to accept that what you would do in a circumstance is not what they would do, and that no matter how much you try, they have to learn their own lessons, and they have to touch the stove when it’s hot, just as you did, to learn that it is much better when it is cold.

    The Pain Stops: when your longing for them gets slowly replaced by a desire to get away, when making love to them no longer makes you feel cherished, when you find yourself tired of waiting for the moments where the good will truly outweigh the bad, and when at the end of the day you can’t count on their arms for comfort.

    The Pain Stops: when you start to look inward and decide whether their presence is a gift or a curse, and whether when you need them, they cause more heartache than bliss.

    The Pain Stops: when you realize that you deserve more than they offer and stop blaming them for being less than you wish. When the smile of a stranger seems more inviting and kind, and you remember what it’s like to feel beautiful, and you remember how long it has been since your lover whispered something in your ear that only the two of you would know.

    The Pain Stops: when you forgive them for their faults and forgive yourself for staying so long. When you know that you tried harder than you ever tried before, and you know in your heart that love should not be so much work.

    The Pain Stops: when you start to look in the mirror and like who you see, and know that leaving them or losing them is no reflection of your beauty or your worth.

    The Pain Stops: when the promise of a new tomorrow is just enough to start replacing the emptiness in your heart, and you start dreaming again of who you used to be and who you will become.

    The Pain Stops: when you say goodbye to what never really was, and accept that somewhere in the fog you may or may not have been loved back. And you promise yourself never again to lay in arms that don’t know how to cherish the kindness in your heart.

    The Pain Stops: When you are ready.”

    • Oh, Precious Doop!!

      Thank you so much for sharing that amazing passage!!

      A mental image that just welled up in my mind as I am typing: “Why do we wonder that our feet are cut, bleeding and screaming with pain while we continue to walk over and over the broken shards of our former lives?!”

      Forge on, Brave ones…..ForgeOn!

    • Great list of thoughts to process, Doop.

      Let me tweak it a little bit for some specialized situations that have been reported here…that of a heterosexual chump being married to an obviously gay or bisexual cheater:

      Take this one…

      “The Pain Stops: when you realize that you deserve more than they offer and stop blaming them for being less than you wish.

      To amplify a bit, it stops when you become REALISTIC and accept that your mate never had the capacity to provide what you needed.

      Think about it for a minute…gay people don’t choose their sexual identity. Nobody and I mean NOBODY would deliberately set him or herself up for what society dishes out to homosexual people. What most gays go through (all over the world) is every bit as torturous as what chumps go through with the caveat that for them it is a life long torture.

      I know that the first objection I will hear is: “That still does not excuse my partner from hiding who s/he is, marrying me and then lying to me like s/he did.” No your partner was not literally forced into doing that to you but s/he may have felt that they had been.

      When people have spent an entire lifetime denying to world (and to self0 their core identity, they have issues that we heterosexuals simply do not have…nor can we fully understand. And, while their denial behavior ultimately can be very hurtful to others, I (for one) can at least understand how they got so messed up with identity issues.

      But that is not even my main point. Given that homosexuality is NOT a result of FOO issues; NOT a result of abuse, NOT a result of anything dysfunctional– it is just an irrevocable matter of WHO the person is, I have some questions that common sense would seem to dictate should be asked:

      If you knowingly stayed with a marriage partner who had a proclivity for cheating with same sex partners, at what point did you become complicit in keeping up the charade?

      Did you ever examine your own (selfish) motives for participating in this charade?

      Was your complicity in helping this individual ever in his or her best interests?

      Was it even remotely kind, considering the long-term ramifications, to either of you?

      Why in the hell did you stay after the first time you found out?

      Healthy people come to terms with who they are, their strengths and limitations, and what they are realistically capable of being and doing. This process is even more difficult and painful for most homosexual people because NO ONE likes to be in the position of general social pariah and reject.

      And when one has “lived a lie” from as far back as one can remember, it is almost impossible to not lie as a default social survival mechanism.

      And anyone who expects “love” to change another individual’s core identity is just asking for heartbreak. Love is just not enough.

      So again, I ask: When you first realized your mate was probably homosexual, why did you help him or her continue the charade? For whose benefit was it?

      Just my 2cents worth….

      • And, yes, I know I am going to hear, “Well gay people cheat on each other, too.”

        Yeah, they do, and those who do also have problems with monogamy and honesty.

        But the thrust of my post above was why is it that the chump will continue to beat self over head about things the chump absolutely cannot change?…believing that reality is going to change just because chump wants it to change, and in the face of irrefutable evidence of a total incapacity for change.

        • Chumps,

          The Pain begins to stop when you dig deep down into your own soul, find your shit, own your shit, and do something about YOUR shit. Not your cheater’s shit: Your Shit.

          If you indefinitely reiterate the laundry list of what your cheater did to you, and are unable to begin laying it to rest gradually and begin to find peace, then that too is a form of “blame shifting”.

          Your cheater may have started that ball rolling down that hill, but at what point are you going to find and apply some brakes?

      • I’m one of the few here with a gay cheater, probably the MOST gay cheating, considering he admitted to hundreds of times during our marriage, so it was probably around 1,000 times.

        I stayed because I was too afraid to leave, and that is the bottom line. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid I could not financially survive. I was afraid of being a single parent to a child diagnosed (at that time) as autistic. I was afraid that no one else would love me.

        So I believed him when he claimed he wasn’t going to do that stuff anymore. I spackled and occasionally played marriage police and occasionally found gay porn and emails and communications, but I spackled really hard and told myself that he wasn’t really DOING the cheating anymore, it was just in his head.

        But of course, he WAS still doing all the physical stuff, maybe even more than before. I never once found any actual proof of his cheating, I only found out when he eventually told me. And by then he was cheating with married women as well.

        I obviously cannot go back and do life over. I wish I could have back the two decades I wasted with that horrid, evil man, but they are gone. All I can do now is head on down the road, hopefully stronger, wiser and healthier. My life is so much better now, although not easy.

        My ex, by the way, still pretends that he is not gay, despite having LIVED with several gay men over the past few months.

        • GLAD,

          I am in no way diminishing your pain. I know it was horrible. You have also let us know that you built a new life which includes a straight man who is capable of reciprocally supplying appropriate needs in an intimate relationship.

          It is great that you now realize that your reasons for staying were not only invalid but also selfish on your part because you had bought into the myth that love can conquer reality. Now you know that it cannot. And a great part of the pain you experienced was also self-inflicted because you chose to stick your head in the sand.

          It doesn’t surprise me at all that your X still lives the charade. He has had too much practice and too many enablers for too many years. His character is not fully formed, and he may have exacerbating mental health issues.

          But I wonder if it really give you any deep satisfaction to keep on referring to him as an evil monster? And, have you ever paused to consider that your long tenure with him, caused by your own insecurities and denial, resulted in you being a bit of a monster to your own self?…perhaps not consciously but the end result was the same.

          When they are a lost cause, ya gotta let ’em go…in peace.
          Because if you haven’t found inner peace, you have NOT completely let go.
          And this is NOT about them anymore; it’s about YOU.

          • FEAR cripples us more than anything else.

            About 95% of our “fears” are unfounded. Churchill was brilliant when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

            Just like about 95% of what we believe are “needs” are really just “preferences.”
            CL was brilliant when she said, “Leave a cheater; gain a life.”

          • I don’t see where Glad was saying her reasons for staying were “not only invalid but also selfish” nor do I believe the fears she had about leaving were “unfounded.” They weren’t in her best interests longterm perhaps, but anyone who has ever experienced parenting a child with health issues or lived with serious financial issues or even poverty, has reason to be scared.

            I will say that being poor was scary. Not having a place to live or not knowing whether you can keep your home even though you are doing everything you can as one person was scary.

            I can only imagine the emotional, physical, and financial stress related to caring for ill or health-challenged family members, and dealing with the trauma of infidelity and betrayal on top of it is more than I think I could have borne.

            Respect to all of you who have clawed your way out of abuse while taking care of your families’ needs. Obviously doing that required brave choices and that’s what I like about this blog. It helps me be empowered and brave enough to do what it takes to care for myself and my children in the midst of severe pain and turbulence. To make my life better and help those around me.

            I can understand why you were scared, Glad, even though I know I wasn’t in your exact situation, and I’m happy for you that you are living a more joyous life now.

            • Sorry Hawk,


              Fear is always an invalid reason for remaining in abuse. There are no valid reasons for remaining in abuse–at least in the United States. There are always solutions if we dig deep enough, long enough, and hard enough. Additionally, huge chunks of our fears frequently turn out to be unfounded.

              “They weren’t in her best interests long term perhaps, but anyone who has ever experienced parenting a child with health issues or lived with serious financial issues or even poverty, has reason to be scared.”

              YOU are making the assumption that I have not experienced this poverty and fear as a very young divorced mother, and you would be DEAD WRONG.

              You would also be wrong if you assume that I do not have experience working with single parents who have more than one disabled child and who live in real, stinking, hall-bedroom, hand to mouth poverty with very little means of EVER climbing out of it…but still managing to be content because nobody abuses anybody there.

              Nobody’s pain or fear (past or present) trumps anyone else’s.

              If someone knows full well he is making a choice to remain in a bad situation temporarily for the sake of the children, then he needs to OWN that decision and write it off as loss/risk that he was willing to absorb.

              Don’t even imply that I am blaming those who have been victimized. They have my empathy and support. There is a huge difference in having been victimized and in assuming the mentality of a victim.

              People who are steeped in “victim mentality” (whether the cheater or the cheated upon) can always rationalize their own erroneous beliefs and self-injurious behaviors.

              People who spend years upon years beating their head against the stone wall and even bringing more children into abusive situations (without bothering to find out why they keeping doing this)…not so much. They need some serious self-examination.

              • I have a question for you, Hawk.

                If Tracy had been around 20 years ago to talk some sense into some of these people, how long do you think they would have continued to tolerate abuse….even it if meant getting out of their comfort zone and taking financial risks?

                NOT very many.

                Tracy’s talent is that she can make it entertaining and almost fun (under the circumstances) reading; but if you look close, she’s telling people almost the exact same thing…. which is in a nutshell:

                Why do you keep doing this to yourself?

                And how long are you going to feel sorry for yourself before you get up, get going, and find good things in life to supplant the shitty things?

                I am more direct (sometimes even brutally honest) when laying it on the line, unvarnished and all its unpleasant splendor. There comes points in people’s recovery where they need that in order get past a plateau and closer to “Meh.”

                If you don’t enjoy my posts, don’t read them. Others enjoy and have found them very useful. We cannot please everyone in this life, and I long ago ceased trying.

                When on forums the best policy is to take what you need and leave the rest.

              • Notyou, i generally feel your posts are thoughtful. Not this one so much, I take exception to your blanket statement: ” Fear is always an invalid reason for remaining in abuse. There are no valid reasons for remaining in abuse–at least in the United States. There are always solutions if we dig deep enough, long enough, and hard enough. Additionally, huge chunks of our fears frequently turn out to be unfounded.”

                When I told my ex we were divorcing he attacked me and I called police, it was a set up, he got me arrested and used the courts to exert more control. I’m not telling my entire story again, but it is utter bullshit to say there is no reason to remain in an abusive situation the US, I don’t give a shit how many people you know or help in abusive situations. You cannot tell someone else what the correct action is in situations you know nothing about. I am not a motherfucking victim, I am a survivor. I almost got shot getting the fuck out, there are sometimes valid reasons people stay. And, sometimes our fears are entirely real and well founded.

              • Fear is often healthy. It helps us lie low until we can find an escape route. Living in fear isn’t a permanent solution, but it can be valid. One of the things I most appreciated about the domestic abuse counselor who helped me is that she showed me how to see my fear as a compass, not a kind of weakness. When I was afraid that a domestic protection order would make things worse, she said, ” You are probably right. It is still only a piece of paper, not a magic shield.” And then she helped me form a different self-protective strategy. I just am not comfortable with having fear dismissed as some sort of social ill that we all have the resources to overcome–fear is double-edged. Letting it take over is dangerous, but is treating it dismissively.

          • There’s just so much that pissed me off in this one but suffice to say I disagree that Glad was being a monster to herself. I can’t judge people who are at different steps in the learning process and I was worse to myself in the beginning than I am now through all of this because I’ve learned and practiced. Kind of like a child learning to walk. My entire FOO and its previous generations was screwed up and I had never seen a healthy relationship in my life so excuse me if I didn’t know what the hell one looked like. I hold myself accountable for my decisions based on what I’ve known at the time.


            • We’ve all spackled here, at one time, about our exes, to some degree or another. We all had our own denials, big or small. We all wanted to believe the best, smoked the hopium. We all were scared, at one point, to leave, for whatever reason.

              In hindsight, Glad’s ex is more obviously crazy than most, but her reactions to his mindfuckery and betrayal are the same as everyone’s that I read on this blog. Given the information she had at the time (pre-ChumpLady, might I add!), Glad did the best she could for her family. It’s what most of us did – we chumped out and tried harder and kept on believin’. We’re all wiser now, but it took each one of us awhile to get here, to put down the hopium pipe ourselves. Remember too, that Glad’s ex was a successful real estate businessman, witty, and lots of fun to be around, very sparkly. It’s only relatively recently that he went off the deep end.

              If I were in Glad’s shoes throughout that marriage, I likely would have stayed as well (again, pre-ChumpLady!). Heck, I stayed waaay too long with my own ex, and he wasn’t nearly as much fun as Life-of-the-Party yeti man.

              • Ducks, speaking for myself I was a spackle queen in TWO marriages. I write this blog to save other people some of the time and pain.

                My spackle is not a crime commensurate with the shitty things #1 and #2 did to me. (One, not treat a mental illness and sue me for years and the Second, cheat on me) — BUT it did keep me stuck. I should’ve gotten out much sooner of my first marriage — hindsight being 20/20. His message was VERY CLEAR in his actions, that he would not, absolutely REFUSED to get help for his condition. And he was a miserable person to be married to. And I refused to accept it. I just tilted at that windmill until I couldn’t do it anymore.

                Shorter learning curve on #2. Brief marriage — but I spent time in the trenches being a chump because I was going to be goddamned if failure was an option. As if *I* controlled that. Humbling to realize I do not.

                I think we do need to own our chumpiness. But it’s a process, and it’s too hard in the beginning, because we’re still letting the injustice dawn on us. And, speaking for myself, I needed that anger to push me forward.

                But there was always anger at myself too, for being a chump. I forgive myself for it, and I’ve learned from it– and this blog is essentially a brain dump of what I learned.

                The crimes are not equal IMO. I don’t think not you is saying they are, Hawk. No one should be abused. No one has the right to abuse us. But we sure as hell do NOT need to stick around and take more of it.

            • My issue is with the idea that “Fear is always an invalid reason for remaining in abuse.” To take Glad’s post as an example, I think concern about a child with health conditions and about being able to manage financially alone with any child or children are absolutely valid; in more general terms, even though we share a good bit on this board, no single post can tell the whole story of how we found ourselves in an abusive relationship or why it took us time to extricate ourselves. A woman who has been a SAHM for 15 years, with kids still in school, or a woman with health concerns, or someone living (let’s say) in a rural area with limited options for employment may be justifiably “afraid” of leaving and starting life over alone. And as someone raised in by an abusive parent and a negligent one, even after lots of therapy, I have a hard time pulling the plug on relationships that are “abusive” but short of physical abuse and screaming fights. Finally, I think a man who is at least bisexual and probably gay who finds himself cheating “probably 1,000 times,” and then asks to return and is taken back but continues to cheat not only with gay men but with other women is in a very special category of horrible. Evil. And it’s unfair, I think, to berate her for both calling him evil and being unforgiving and also being afraid to leave. She shared her story but did not ask for judgment or therapy. Glad, you had a horrible situation to live in and very tough choices to make. But you made it through and life will get better from here. And thank you for sharing your story.

            • Yes. I’ve seen one of those videos, too. And my reference to his mental issues above was one of my rare attempts to be diplomatic. Dude has other equally or even more serious issues than just being closeted. And of course none of it gave him the right to behave as he did.

              But can we only control our own behavior. Thus, again, my point primarily goes to “How much more does anyone feel compelled to endure when they know it’s killing them?” Along with my belief that you aren’t even treating the offender right either unless you understand that the only thing that is going to possibly get their attention enough for them to seek help is quite frankly to abandon them. But I suspect abandonment issues of our own factor into that decision making process. Matter of fact I’m sure of it.

              There is a point where behavior gets so pathological and flamboyant that those who stay and tolerate it can’t do anything else but recognize that they are continuing to put themselves in harm’s way–needlessly! That is pathological, too, and also needs to be addressed.

              • “But can we only control our own behavior. Thus, again, my point primarily goes to “How much more does anyone feel compelled to endure when they know it’s killing them?” ”

                Ah but see, years back, the first time I found out he was cheating on me with men, I DIDN’T see that it was killing me, and I didn’t understand the subtle, passive-aggressive abuse and mind fuckery that was so prevalent in the marriage. I REALLY believed that “we could work things out” and that the marriage could survive and even thrive. To be sure, the underlying push there was my fear of leaving, but I really thought things could get better. I am a master with spackle, what can I say. Wish Chump Lady was around back then!

                After the marriage ended, and then I agreed to bogus reconciliation, THEN I finally started to see that being with him was killing me. And at that point, despite the terror, I DID go ahead and divorce him.

            • No, I haven’t seen his video’s. Where can I find them. Cheap entertainment to say the least.

          • Sorry, Notyou, but I do believe Glad’s X is an evil monster. He knowingly and intentionally lied to, cheated, and generally mindfucked Glad for years. He used her love for him to manipilate her. I don’t give a damn about gay versus straight. By his actions, he has shown himself to be a no good bastard. And that has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Glad has found “peace.”

            • I agree Louise, he is a monster and evil. All one has to do is look at his actions in the past, his actions now….look at the horrible things has said and done and continues to do. There is no excuse and no other explanation needed.

            • How can you know the perfect escape route from an erupting volcano when you didn’t even know you lived next to one in the first place?! There is a fine line between empowering someone with the truth and blaming the victim. No one needs to hear how they SHOULD have better Controlled an uncontrollable situation. We can’t change the past. And I’ve never noticed Glad to come across as a serial victim.

              Our cheating spouses represent all different levels of awful. My ex certainly did a lot of things that I would refer to as evil. But in my mind Glad’s ex IS evil. Denying reality is not moving on. We don’t find peace by beating ourselves up and not calling a spade a spade.

              • And for the record Kelly your ex and his partners are also Evil in my book.

        • Glad, someone close to me is going through similar. No Yeti videos, 🙂 but the coming out after many years — and he’s financially bankrupted them as well. So many secret lives. I know she spackled and denied (more about the money than the gay thing, but she did stay in the marriage for a year after she caught him — for all the reasons you listed), but she’s start to come out of it.

          My sympathy is totally with the chump. I’m pro gay marriage, pro gay rights, and homophobia is a sin. But being an oppressed minority does not give you a right to oppress others — and building a life with someone based on a lie is using and abusing them in the worst of ways. Yes, we can say we should’ve known better — and at the point at which we discover abuse, we must move forward and get out. But it’s a crime to front a facade to someone and let them build their life on you.

          Who did Liberace marry? I don’t believe every gay man gets a pass for living in the closet. If you did that and chumped someone — allow them back their LIFE. Your ex has punished you — and I don’t care what his sexuality — he’s a disordered narcissist freak.

          • Well said, CL. If he thought marriage was going to change him … OK but it was something he needed to tell the woman he was marrying. When he found it didn’t change him and having sex with men was more important to him than his marriage …. he should have been honest and got a divorce, telling his wife why, BEFORE he found himself a man.

            • Thanks ANR — no he was never honest. He was having high risk sex with men on hookup sites and got caught. And his response to that was that he “had” to cheat to know he was gay. Clearly, you are a man who knows your orientation and you didn’t have to cheat to discover it. In this guy’s case — yeah, after which affair did he find out? There were years of them.

              I’m so glad to read you’re moving forward with your life ANR into an authentic, happy place and getting away from a remorseless cheater.

              • Like all chumps, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I just don’t get that an adult man “didn’t know” his own sexual orientation. Didn’t like it, didn’t want to accept it, didn’t want to give up the million and one kibbles the world gives straight people for being straight, OK. But “didn’t know”? Bullshit.

          • I would actually have a little respect for my ex if he came out and admitted he was gay. I’m not holding my breath though, because it doesn’t seem that will ever happen.

            This has been a very hard week, as he is going off on our son with a lot of mentally abusive craziness. Very hard.

            • Hope it gets better for you and your son, GIO. There are a lot of married men who fuck around with other men, though few of them are quite as batshit crazy as your ex seems to be. Do you know why they do? Of course you do:

              a) Being openly gay can be difficult
              b) Straight people get treated better
              c) They think they deserve the best treatment and the fewest difficulties
              d) They still want sex with men, though, and they don’t give a shit if they break their marriage vows to get it because they think they deserve everything they want

            • GIO,

              His treatment of your son is because he is CAS (Crazy as Shit). ( The closeted gayness is really a side issue.) He can’t change being gay; he CAN do something to help himself with his crazy symptoms.

              Wouldn’t you respect him more if he looked you dead in the eyes and said, “I KNOW I’m Bat Shit Crazy, and I NEED help.” ?

              • “Wouldn’t you respect him more if he looked you dead in the eyes and said, “I KNOW I’m Bat Shit Crazy, and I NEED help.” ?”

                Oh, absolutely. But I know that is even less likely than his coming out. This is a man professionally diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder years ago, and that’s just one of his problems. I don’t think he’s going to admit there is anything wrong with him, because he TRULY believes that he is superior to everyone else and here on a mission from God.

                And I stand by my affirmation that he is evil. Not just because of the cheating, the emotional abuse, the financial devastation, the lying in the past. But because of his continued harmful, vicious, damaging and intended emotional abuse directed at both me and our son.

                It’s not like I sit around a lot dwelling on all this anymore, though. I write about it quite a bit here, but IRL, I’m pretty busy.

            • I am so sorry, Glad. It is so difficult when it involves your kids. I think it is challenging for people to understand(even other champs) the emotions one can feel when long-term, calculated damage is intentionally inflicted. It is no reflection of how well you are coping; some negative emotions will always remain.

              I consider myself to be a mostly content, well-adjusted person and I am proud of how far I have come. Ask me about the OW, though, and you will hear language that would make a sailor blush. It’s not because I haven’t dealt with my “Shit”, it’s not due to my failure to “examine” myself. It’s because she was an evil woman, who inflicted extreme and needless harm to my family. End of story.

              I also know how hard it is to protect your children from the crazy and I hope your son is okay.

            • Glad, would you saying that evil freaktoid is bullying your son? What would Junga Yeti do? Have you ever taken that name apart? jun=young, gaY=gay, eti=etymology? I dunno, but I have to say it’s hard to look away from that trainwreck.

      • I didn’t intend to bring this up on the blog, but it might be helpful to someone. I am a gay man who married a straight woman who, after years together, then cheated on me. My wife knew full well that I was gay — she believed, I think, that her wonderfulness would change me. I wanted to believe that, too, not because of a problem with my own sexuality per se (though that was there — it is for every gay man my age I know) but because I’d been raped twice by men who took me home and found myself unable to have a relationship with a man after that.

        I gave my all to the marriage — I did the best I could not to even THINK of men, and largely succeeded. Our sex life, as you can imagine, was not terribly satisfying for either of us, but we did have one until my wife decided she was “off sex.” After a long time being rejected, I gave up. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was some relief there for me. I decided to “suck it up” for the sake of the marriage and our two sons.

        I didn’t especially want to conceal who I was, but it was obvious that my wife wanted me to, and wanted to put my relationships with men entirely in the past. So we did that. Again, I thought something along the lines of “it’s not like I’m going to have a relationship with a man anyway, so I can live with not being who I really am for the sake of the marriage.”

        You know what I never did? Cheated on my wife with a man. She, on the other hand, realizing that her fantasy of changing me was just that, didn’t suck it up OR honestly end the relationship. She cheated, while keeping a man (me) who was a good father, her main emotional support and friend, and who (to the extent he could) honestly loved her.

        I’m now, after twenty years, in therapy to deal with the trauma of the sexual assaults and, of course, the trauma of the cheating. If nothing else, all this pain has given me the impetus to make a fresh and honest start, and for that I’m grateful — though, ya know, not to my wife.

        • ANC,

          I don’t want to hi-jack today’s thread, and will keep my response brief. You were sexually abused as a child, and experienced the same trauma as anyone who experienced sexual abuse of any kind. You needed trauma therapy back then, but for so many reasons that too often does not happen to sexually abused children. Hooray for you that you have finally accepted your personal identity and are taking steps to be who you are and in an honorable way! It takes a ton of guts. 🙂

          • Thanks, ny. Wanted to clarify I wasn’t sexually abused as a child, but raped as an adult. Not that it matters to anyone here, but I’m lucky to have been spared that trauma.

            • ANR, (Sorry about the typo earlier)
              Rape is rape. It can traumatize adults just as severely as children. It just makes me feel good to know that you have come to terms with a lot of baggage and are taking healthy steps. 🙂

      • I’m one that sure needed this blog today. Notyou – you are so spot on. I believe I was married to a bi or gay man for 35 years. I kept suspecting something was off and should have listened to my gut way back when we were dating. And, continued to live with him in a non-sexual relationship (to me). He wanted all the pleasure and I gave it to him. He never wanted to reciprocate. WHY the hell did I stay with him? My therapist has asked me that too. I guess I thought love would conquer all and that turned out to be the biggest mistake, causing me this unbearable pain now. I need to go and really self-examine myself. My depression has gotten worse and now that I can seem to identify what the real issues were, it has helped a lot! Thank you for your inspiring post!

        • SheChump,

          Your therapist sounds right on. You had no control over your cheater cheating, but you can learn to exert control (and it takes some time and a good coach) over traits in yourself that allowed you not to act on your intuitions and to not be assertive enough to get out of the situation sooner. If we never take a hard and honest look at why we tolerated abuse, we don’t “fix our pickers” as CL likes to put it. After the initial and angry phase when you vent your spleen about how horribly you were treated, and use the anger to galvanize you into protective action, every minute you spend low rating the cheater is a minute you do NOT spend working on becoming a person who doesn’t recycle baggage into any potential good relationships in the future. Or as they say in AA, “Don’t continue to allow destructive people to continue to occupy rent-free space in your mind.” This is simple to say but hard to do. It takes a plan, specific strategies, and strong follow through. Good luck to you and hang with your therapist. Sounds like s/he is pointing you down the right road.

          • What I think about fear in specific and in general.

            Much of what we term, “fear” is simply a preference for some things changing while others do not. But we don’t always get to have our preferred list of what goes and what stays.

            Like everything else, fear is relative: The man who is about to have his head blown off by a murderer will gladly trade places (probably 100% of the time) with the man who is about to lose his entire fortune and become poverty stricken but keep his life and have a chance to start over.

            A certain amount of healthy concern for getting hurt or killed if we openly confront a brute is a rational, positive self-protective fear. It should inspire one to make a carefully executed escape plan, regardless of the comforts and familiar environment that may be sacrificed.

            Fear of the unknown, fear of change, or fear of a lowered standard of living is not healthy or rational fear if it keeps one paralyzed and “attempting to survive” in a long-term, chronic situation where there is no way to predict just when the next beating is going to happen but knowing that it is inevitable.

            Old Buddhist saying : “The things we fear the most in life, have already happened to us.”

            When you think about that, it’s true. We fear things that are scary or that hurt. We wouldn’t know something is scary unless we knew what the outcome could be, and we wouldn’t know that something would hurt unless it has hurt us before. So if we know the outcome already and survived it once, then we have the power within us to learn how to avoid that outcome again…in most cases.

            [ This does not apply to the literal minded objection that someone will inevitably put forth, “Well what about accidents, sickness, or random acts of violence, etc?” …because that is a red herring in this particular discussion.]

            As I said above, and I stand by it: If we dig deep enough, long enough, and hard enough to find them, there are always solutions to abusive situations ( At least for those adults who are competent and intelligent enough to get on here and write). Those solutions may not be our preferences; but when weighed against the cost of our sanity or our very lives? The choice becomes clear.

            To those who use their own childhood as an excuse for being emotionally damaged to the point where they are unable to make the rational decision to remove their lives from harm’s way …that their past renders them incapable of acting in their own rational self-interest? Well, I could ask exactly the same thing about your cheater using his or her FOO issues or childhood abuse as an excuse for his or her destructive behavior. Why should your childhood give you a pass for disrespecting your own life but your cheater’s should not?

            First answer out the gate is going to be, “Because I am only hurting myself not anybody else.”

            And my responses to that are these:

            Are you sure about that?


            If you don’t respect your own life enough to insist on fair and decent treatment, how can you expect anyone else to respect it enough?


            It has been my observation (and I am old) that continuing to hate and fear your former cheater and their partners in crime (or anyone else who ever screwed over you in love or work) past the point of it doing anything truly meaningful and useful for your NEW life is simply allowing those people to occupy “rent free” space in your head that could be put to better uses.

            • Notyou – that is a fabulous essay all in itself and I can relate to it so much. Thank you for so much wisdom. You have a perception to life that I need. You seem like a very special person IRL, and certainly on this board. I am breathing again. 🙂

            • I think there is a huge difference between using childhood FOO issues for an excuse not to fix problems in your life, including a bad or abusive relationship and being in the process of living and learning to recognize that the situation is not “normal” and you deserve better.

              And there are far too many stories of women who did leave abusers, both husbands and boyfriends, and ended up stalked and harassed for years or ended up dead because an abusive partner couldn’t or wouldn’t give up control. Fear is not just a response to “a preference for some things changing while others do not.” I refer you to Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” for an expert discussion on why no one, male or female, should take this most basic emotion lightly. And I write as someone who very young divorced a man who tried to strangle me and months later, scared my parents so badly (and my father was a government official involved in law enforcement, with 2 family members in FBI) that when I went into the hospital for emergency surgery, they had guards at the hospital door. All because I decided to leave a relationship.

              In cases of infidelity or abandonment where the “fear” is more about the person’s ability to manage without half or more of the accustomed economic resources or the social support that may disappear with separation or divorce, my empathy is entirely with the chump. Someone who has been married 5, 10, 20 or 30 years, who believed the vow “till death do us part,” who remained faithful and trusted that he or she was building a life and future cannot be faulted for struggling with the idea that he or she must give up a lifetime of memories and dreams, a lifetime of efforts to save for the kids’ college or retirement or secure himself or herself against illness in old age. The people on this board are the ones who have either left and struggled with the consequences or those who know on some level they should leave but who need the time to become the person who can leave. I tell students who are struggling to learn something that learning takes time and commitment. Often we come up against internal barriers that are invisible to others and we just have to keep at it until one day something shifts and we see things in a new way. It took me 10 years to finish a Ph.D; I had to become the person who could finish. It took as long as it took. And when people tell me I should be “over this” are missing the point. I had a life when I was with the cheater. It’s clear that I will never be the same person as I was, and it’s clear that in the long run, I will be better for this. I am facing the day-to-day fallout of both his behavior and my own choices and building my new life. But I am totally comfortable with both my anger and my sadness, and while I wish I was on the other side already and the jackass was just a dim memory, grappling with the end of 32 years of friendship and the tremendous pain of what he did to me is not letting him live “rent free” in my head. It’s grieving.

              • LovedaJackass, thanks for that. I can attest that if you heal yourself, you will finish grieving and everyone does it different. Gift of Fear helped me a great deal, I’ve read it twice and read portions of it over again sometimes. I had literally pushed my intuition so far down they only way it manifested was through my dreams. Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time of all – I am lucky, my abuser truly fears going to jail so a piece of paper worked for me once I violated his ass, when he realized I would put him in jail if at all possible. Many, many other people are not so lucky.

              • Ladies,
                I’ve worked with people from one extreme to the other… from those paralyzed and dis-empowered by chronic acute anxiety (based in nothing more than their own malfunctioning neurotransmitters) to those who were behaving in a reckless and stupid manner because they clung to their denial even after I made it clear to them that they were dealing with an extremely dangerous and unpredictable person and that their situation had a high potential for becoming deadly if they did not devise a well constructed plan to remove themselves from harm’s way.

                BUT I found this to be true in every case: Validating someone’s pain is only a FIRST step in a recovery process, and that if the client can be guided around to generating multiple OPTIONS and SOLUTIONS, it empowers them and speeds up the recovery process tremendously. …as opposed to allowing the client to become chronically immersed in venting mode which can become counterproductive and even self-damaging.

                It is a simple fact that we all have only so much mental energy (just like we have finite physical energy). We can choose to spend our energy one way or spend it another. There is an opportunity cost associated with every thing we do. Why not spend our energies in the most productive way possible?

                So, I’m pretty confident that I have the necessary skills and experience to help someone sort out what they really need to be truly afraid of and what is something that (while very unpleasant) is neither life threatening or even future threatening.

              • “I had literally pushed my intuition so far down they only way it manifested was through my dreams.” Nicely put, Dat. Mine were dreams, stomach pain, and skin rashes. I’ve always had clear skin, but it’s like my intuition was literally pushing its way out of my pores to get my attention.

              • Great points, LovedaJackass. Thank you for expressing how grief is a process and not a just get over it, one time procedure.

                And your experience illustrates how for many people in abusive relationships it’s not that they are mired in using their FOO as an excuse for staying, or that they don’t have a life outside of their abuser and are too clueless or scared to want better than how they are being treated. It often comes down to strategy and timing when navigating one’s way out, ESPECIALLY with violence and even a corrupted system involved, and that isn’t one size fits all no matter how clear it may seem to those outside of the particular situation.

                “The people on this board are the ones who have either left and struggled with the consequences or those who know on some level they should leave but who need the time to become the person who can leave.” This.

        • I sometimes wondered if my X wasn’t latently gay. Sometimes when he drank he’d do some questionable things. ALL the women he was attracted to (except me) looked like boys. He was always attracted to women with really short hair that wore no make up. And if they didn’t shave their legs, that was a real turn on.
          I am the only girly girl he has ever been with. And he cheated on and left me for a woman who is very masculine looking. Hmmmmm.
          Things that make you go Hmmmmm.

          • Hmmm. Tastes differ, of course, but this sounds a lot like me at 18 trying to persuade myself I liked girls

      • I respect and like CL- been a true godsend, especially after I’ve spent a few weeks reading crap on recincilaition (and was half way there), however, I do wonder if she can comment on her life before the last husband. What was that life like in regards to closure from infidelity? Did she have hope that she’d ever find someone else to share her life with? The pain may be finite for some of us, but for others, it’s a lifelong burden we carry… Don’t mean to sound like woe is me, but at 38, I’m slowly giving up hope to find a lifelong partner. No, it doesn’t help that friends describe me as bright and attractive. My heart has shut down, and the walls around it are 6 feet tall. I’ve become the cynical, bitter woman I’ve never intended to be. I’ve tried the online dating thing for a minute, just to realize there are just leftovers on there. I just don’t think there are many normal men out there left after 35. Can I go on living as a single female and not die? Absolutely. Is it a nice life? Hmm, some days, sure. Most days, it isn’t so great. It’s lonely, hopeless, my income is that of a poor college student, my friends have all married and are busy with their families. Ive left a cheater, all right. Have I gained a life? Not so much 🙁

        • Tanita – stop focusing on pairing up with someone and figure out what makes you happy solo. A man isn’t going to complete you. And 38 is hardly old. 🙂

          What does Tanita like? What kind of goals do you have for yourself?

          Keep reading here especially in the archives. My opinion is this is the best place to be, especially if you need some boosting. :). Cheer up!

        • Tanita,

          If a partner is something you want, I hope you won’t give up hope for that because of what one mean, selfish person did. I second Rumblekitty’s advice.

          Also, regarding, “I’ve tried the online dating thing for a minute, just to realize there are just leftovers on there. I just don’t think there are many normal men out there left after 35.”

          I’m not sure it’s an age thing as much as that you are wading through narcs and such and you have a more realistic idea of companionship than you did, and you have better standards for who you will consider getting close to. That sounds healthy rather than hopeless to me. Hopeless would be having a whore OW mentality which you are certainly not.

          When I met Sparkles, he wasn’t anyone’s leftovers. He was young but not too young. I realize now that he sucked all the same in some of the important aspects of character.

          I also don’t think a decent non-sparkly “normal” guy would necessarily be found on a dating website. Not that they never are but I think it’s more rare.

          If you’ve left a cheater than you’ve opened your life up to be abuse free and happy. It’s what you do with this opportunity that can let you gain a life.


    • I don’t really know what to say other than Thank you for this Doop – I’m printing it out and hanging it in my bathroom to replace the saying “Yes, sleeping with a married man DOES make you a whore” on my inspiration board

    • Doop,
      Thank you so so so much for sharing that. I read and re-read. Had to, since I cried too hard the first time.
      I will keep the passage and read it when I forget that I am worth saving.

    • Perfect, thank you finally making sense after 15 months. I hope the pain stops soon!

  • I forgave my ex for cheating and completely regained my trust in him in 2000. Ten years later I found him cheating again, through that I realized he had never stopped. He’d just gotten better at hiding it. Sunk costs suck, so far as I’m concerned unless your spouse comes to you and confesses he/she cheated and begs you to forgive them you cannot even consider a unicorn. Even then, best make sure spouse did this out of true guilt, not because they KNEW they were about to be caught anyway. If you RIC with a spouse you caught, you will get serially betrayed. Pull off the band aid and live again.

  • Marj, The pain you have is horrendous and sometimes all encompassing. I had a lot of days in the beginning when I thought I was literally going to die from it.

    The confusion was just as bad and I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of what had happened. I learned from this blog and from painful experience that understanding why only helps to a point but then it becomes a trap that hinders personal progress. You will not ever be able to fully understand the whys of what happened because you would never do what he’s done. You are not selfish and abusive so beyond studying character disorder and abuse dynamic, you will never really get it. And that’s a good thing. That’s why we think of bombings and shootings as senseless behavior because to healthy people it is. Infidelity is like being emotionally and mentally bombed. That’s why you feel broken right now. You do not need to waste precious energy on trying to understand why he did what he did. You know enough from his ACTIONS that he is cruel and dangerous for you.

    The best way to get through this is to take the focus off of your husband’s cheating and your years of marriage together and put it back on you. Just you. Not in a critical way but in a caring way. Take your power back. You need to give Marj all of the comfort and love she needs right now. Let go of the expectation of your cheater giving you that comfort. Console Marj and treat her with kindness, like she is a sweet child you are responsible for. It is imperative that you do that.

    I would like to recommend the book Victory Over Verbal Abuse by Patricia Evans. I clung to the weekly affirmations included in the book for dear life at the beginning. It helped me remember I am lovable no matter how I was being treated.

    I also recommend the book Should I Stay or Should I Go? By Lundy Bancroft and JAC Patrissi. As the title suggests it is geared toward those trying to decide if their relationship is worth pursuing, but what I found invaluable were the self evaluations and the depth of emotional understanding it offers.

    There are plenty of resources listed on this blog that will help you understand your situation more clearly, but I was glad I started understanding myself better first.

    Marj, you are strong and lovable and I am sad for your pain but glad you are here.

    • I second Should I Stay Or Should I Go…again, not because of the premise (whether a relationship should be worked on), but because the focus on SELF-HEALING and affirmation was a wonderful thing for me in a vulnerable time. I actually still use some of the principles about focusing on “self” to this day, and some of the chapter exercises about regaining who I was were extremely helpful to me in the beginning (first year after D-Day).

      Good read.

    • Thank you Hawk,
      I will read both books. I need all the help I can get!

  • you deserve respect! And if he doesn’t have the decency to treat you with kindness and caring, especially after he BETRAYED you? He can find his shit on the lawn in Hefty bags.
    During the month following my D’Day I was like many others emotional, dry reaching, angry, crying, angry, confused, and every emotion in between. He showed little emotion and I was being managed by our church. So during that month we spoke very little but he still came to collect our kids and dropped them at school so I began to pack up his things including a couple of art pieces because every time I looked at them I wanted to smash them and I left these things on the front step for him to take when he collected the kids. One month after D’Day my emotional crisis hit tsunami proportions as I sat in a small room at our local children’s hospital and was told that my 9 yr old daughter has cancer.
    A few hours later I sat in the same room now with a team of medical staff my STBX my sister in law and a friend who were there to run interference as this was the first time he and I had sat in the same room together since his confession of 8 years of adultery with other men. (wow I didn’t think typing this would be this hard) anyway.
    The team outlined what the following days and weeks would look like in terms of treatment for our daughter and then left leaving the 4 of us in the room. I remember saying to him ” I don’t hate you. I am disgusted with what you have done and it is going to take me a bit to get passed that and now deal with this.” He responded with “you could have fooled me”. Me ” what did you want me to say? Gee thanks for that?” I got up to leave the room and as I opened the door the next thing he said was ” by the way I like our new glasses” I know that he would have also been in shock but as usual the emotion that I hoped for was not there. It now looking back has never been there, I had spent my entire married life performing for him in order to get some form of love recognition.
    CL you could not have put it better, “you deserve respect! And if he doesn’t have the decency to treat you with kindness and caring, especially after he BETRAYED you? He can find his shit on the lawn in Hefty bags” In the weeks that followed STBX sauntered in and out of the hospital like the was on a cat walk and I still played the game in the hope of getting some shred of decency out of him as a sign that he may still or at least at some stage loved me. But no, the day I demanded that he at least show me the same courtesy resulted in me being pined against the wall of the corridor outside our daughters hospital room. ( I must say by this point I lost my cool and followed him outside where I then slapped him, which resulted in him reporting me to security but thats a story for another day) My point is as it was later put into perspective by the social worker assigned to our family by the hospital. I had unrealistic expectations of a man that he is unable or unwilling to meet and the only thing I could do was to regain my self respect.
    During this time a lot of people would say to me ” look after your self” And this made me think what is that suppose to look like. Then the most startling realization of all I had no idea who I even was any more. I had allowed myself to be pushed down to enable his own sense of entitlement that I had lost sight of me. CL is right when she says ‘Do not beg for the common courtesies that strangers would give you.’ I know looking back that is exactly what I was doing in the hope that some how the light would turn on and he would hug me and reassure me that it would all be ok but it’s was not going to happen. And that sucked it sucked the worst, but it is the reality of being used and then left. And it hurts all the more when you realize that they are happy to see you do the dance of pick me, when they see you longing for something they know is not going to happen because they have already checked out. Yep our pain is their Kibbles because in their maladjusted mind they cannot connect that our pain is a consequence of their action.
    So 6 months in and I have good and bad days and this site has been exceptionally cathartic. But I have begun to do things for me . I started with some lists, List 1# all the things I hate about you. List #2 all the things I don’t like. List #3 all the things I do like. And I am focused on the future. I have been with my STBX 20 years and I look at it this way He may have gotten 20 years but he’s not getting my self respect. On my bad days thats when I crank up the 80’s music and dance around the house. Please Marj don’t let your ex rob you of any more. Bless you

    • “He showed little emotion and I was being managed by our church.”

      Every time I read something like this I want to go postal and hurt someone.
      Managed ? I mean who the fuck does that shit. They should all be taken to the wood shed.
      Bless you Sammie D & your angels good vibes and hugs your way 🙂

      Marj please listen to what these fine people are telling you . They are all writing from their heart & soul & WILL NOT STEER you wrong. They bring the truth and yup sometimes the truth is really REALLY hard to swallow and hurts like a 2×4 to the back of your head. Good luck to you Marj 🙂

    • Sammie D, I can’t imagine how you got through what you did. How does anyone survive betrayal and a child with cancer at the same time? Betrayal and all that entails, and the terror for a very sick child. What I love about your post is how much hope it offers–you are only 6 months out and you are rebuilding your life. And full of compassion for others. Your STBX is missing out–not just on a partner but on a person who would be a terrific friend, I think. Bless you, too.

  • Oh Marj – your letter could have been written by me! Wow.

    I battle myself all the time on missing what was, wishing it could have been fixed/work out and knowing that one day it’ll be ok that he’s gone.
    Recently I’ve come to realize that one of my problems is looking backwards. Looking at what was and not what IS.
    The person he was is gone.
    Still, like you I’m looking back over 20 years. 1/2 of my life seems like a lie now.

    For the longest time I wanted him to acknowledge my pain but only recently have I realized he just never will. He can’t. He’s never been hurt to this degree. He’s never been betrayed. He just doesn’t seem to have the capacity to by sympathetic.
    I think over time you will come to realize and understand that it’s just not there. They don’t get it.

    I can’t say I have any advice to offer but I wanted you to know that you’re not alone in your pain, confusion, sadness and wishing things could have been different.
    I don’t know how it’ll be ok or when but I trust that it will b/c I see so man others have gotten better.

    • My ex was so emotion-disabled that he had to ask his counselor why he felt upset when he saw me and my oldest son crying after D-day. His counselor told him, “either you’re upset because you sympathize with their pain, or you’re upset that they’re making you upset.”

  • I am shaking and crying as I read this post. It is me pure and simple. 4 1/2 months out, in the middle of divorce, but still some part of me will wake up, leave the OW and come crawling back to me. Even though I’m discovering more affairs that took place over our 26 years together. Even though he trashed me mind, soul and body. Even though he doesn’t care enough to respond to my pain and angst. And believe me, I’ve tried to illicit some sort of remorse, regret and love from him..doesn’t work. And now, this assfart that I’ve spent more than half of my life with, is contesting certain aspects of the divorce. I am being beyond fair..I am not asking for the moon. However, Mr. Asshole thought that he would be free and clear so he could run off with the OW, with me laying hear dying and not asking for anything at all. Wait..what? HE is the one who cheated and decided to crap all over me and our kids. But him being reasonable in all this? Way too much to ask! Like marj..I know what he’s done to me. Why oh why am I still longing for him? It’s advice like today from CL that is the main thing keeping me going right now. All of you here are so wonderful with the TRUTH. Making us remember who these people truly are. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone I am sure it is for all of us. And they JUST. DON’T. CARE. Beating myself up over the “why” and “what does she have that I don’t” questions has been so detrimental to me. Yet anytime he texts me something nice, I am so grateful. Stupid, I know. It seems that I will never get to “meh” or even to the point where I’m not crying and dwelling over it everyday, and everyone here certainly helps as we make that painful journey. Thanks CL and everyone here! You are all wonderful!

    • SandyR, it’s like breaking an addiction to stop wanting comfort and acknowledgment from them. I remember feeling exactly as you do, but I’m much better now. You will feel better with more time, distance and separation from your ex, so just hold onto the fact that better days are coming!

    • At first, for my own survival I had to turn the emotions off. We live in this culture where we are supposed to constantly be aware of our emotional state. The ONLY way I got through the awfulness of it all was to pretend it wasn’t my life. I truly don’t know what would have happened if I had allowed myself (in the beginning) to fully comprehend the extent of my X’s betrayal, probably a nuclear incident! It takes a long time to recover from the destruction of a long term marriage. It’s okay to take the long way home.

    • Sandy R
      I cried so much reading your post. I am so sorry that you long for your Mr. Asshole too. I wish there was a pill to take to get to the “meh” state.

  • Marj, every time you are about to do something, or think something, ask yourself “Will this help me or hurt me?” If your answer is “hurt me,” then don’t do it. Choose to protect yourself. I had to really struggle with this concept, but asking myself that question over and over really helped me to start taking care of and protecting myself. The best thing I did was to refuse to see my ex after he left. I did everything I could not to see him, down to asking to sign our papers for the sale of the house. I went in early, signed the papers, then left to have a leisurely breakfast with a supportive friend while my ex came later to sign. Do not put yourself in situations that will only hurt you more. This is how you will heal yourself!

    • Great example of NC, Lyn. I did the same thing. We spoke only through our lawyers after he left. It was more expensive, but so worth it. It helps start the disentanglement, and it helps you see them as they really are – crippled, fragmented, basically, pretty fucked up… He’s actually quite cartoonish, and that helps with the detachment. We haven’t spoken in a year – which, after 31 years, is kinda weird, in a way – but…it’s better this way. It’s over.

  • Another thing I’m dealing with..the STBX still wants to have sex. He’s even joked “you know what they say about sex with the ex!” I have taken that as a sign that part of him still cares about me! I tell myself over and over that it just isn’t true. He wants the “love” relationship with the OW..but still sex with me. WTF? Have any of you dealt with this?

    • (((Sandy R)))

      So sorry you’re going through this. What is it with cheaters who have found their “TWU WUV” but still want to have sex with the person who is “less than?” If he’s ever dumb enough to put that sentiment in writing, in an email, say, I’d forward it to the OW in a heartbeat.

      Additionally, when he hints at wanting sexy-time, you might respond: “Sorry, but I’m not into anal. And that’s what sex with you is, because you are an asshole.”

      4.5 months is very soon. Another 4.5 months and you will likely feel much better. Hang in there. Endure. One day to the next. It gets better.

      • “Additionally, when he hints at wanting sexy-time, you might respond: “Sorry, but I’m not into anal. And that’s what sex with you is, because you are an asshole.”
        Nomar..thank you so much for the best laugh I’ve had in months!!

    • Unfortunately, I succumbed to this, but it was my own stupidity. It only lasted 4 months because I got my gut full of his shit and decided I was worth more than the whore that he left me for. It’s a great boon to their egos … having not one woman, but two to take to bed. Of course, she never knew about me, but I knew all about her and how much he hated having sex with her, how she didn’t know how to kiss or suck dick or all of the variations on the theme. Of course, in my head, THIS will make him see that he still loves me, wants me, will come back to me. After all, he obviously loves me because we are still having sex. And, she is a dog. As ugly outside as she is inside.

      I shake my head now when I think back to it all because I knew it was all a lie. I knew he probably told her all the same things about me as he was getting ready to stick his dick in her. All it did was demean me. Even after I got strength and drew the line in the sand and said “no more” he still sent me texts, emails and suggested it whenever we met in the courtroom. He was using getting back together as his bargaining chip in the whole thing. Usually, talk would come around to getting back together, but he always needed more time to think about it. Of course, he never left her. I, eventually, said no more contact. We have no children together and the divorce is done. He owes me a check each month, but I want nothing to do with him so I had my lawyer send him a letter telling him if he needed to contact me, to do it through the lawyer. I haven’t heard from him since. No contact is a wonderful way to live!

      • ” how she didn’t know how to kiss or suck dick or all of the variations on the theme. ”
        In my case, he’s always been selfish when it comes to sex. All he ever wants is BJs (can I talk about that here??), and always tells me it’s because I’m so good at it. He sees no problem at all with us being intimate, even though he is with Miss Sparkles. For shits and giggles, I asked him awhile back if he still wanted to keep doing this down the road, even with his commitment to the OW, and he said yeah, of course, why not?

        • Of course he does. I am certain mine would to if he didn’t move away (thank God for that too), but it’s just for his ego. Has nothing to do with you or any feelings you may have one way or the other. Obviously, neither of these guys care about us or the women they have taken up with. All about them and their pleasure meter. Tell him the vacuum cleaner has good suction if that is all he is looking for.

          • And, ps, he’s not committed to anyone but himself. He should be committed but that’s a whole other story.

      • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sleeping with the ex (DON’T DO IT!) is the bargaining stage of grief. You lost a husband, so you bargain. Maybe it’s friends. Maybe it’s friends with benefits. Maybe I can use them like they used me. It’s craziness — but it’s very human to want comfort from the person who hurt you.

        But you have to rise above it. Don’t debase yourself. Don’t feed the beast any more kibbles. Pick yourself up, and move forward. (((Hugs))) to anyone in this position.

        • This is the perfect description of the bargaining stage. It’s a bitch alright.

    • {{Hugs}} indeed.

      This is very typical cake-eating behavior, and also intermittent reinforcement. On one hand, he’s telling you that you should be grateful that he’s having sex with you (because no one else would?). On the other hand, he has an itch and you’re there to scratch it.

      You can get a battery-operated boyfriend who’ll be more faithful, and at least you’ll be able to disinfect the b-o-b.

      • “You can get a battery-operated boyfriend who’ll be more faithful, and at least you’ll be able to disinfect the b-o-b.” THIS.

    • The answer is CAKE. He likes CAKE. Sex with you and the OW–cake plus cake.

  • “His actions very clearly demonstrated that he did NOT love me, he was not going to “wake up” — because he wasn’t in a dream — that is who he WAS… He does not love me. He does not respect me. He is not sorry. He will not comfort me. He does not care…. You should NEVER have to ask someone to be “nice and caring” to you.”

    Amen times 100,000.

  • ” You can’t properly get past this until you go no contact with the man who is hurting you”

    I don’t think this sentence can possibly be emphasized enough.

    You’d be surprised what good 12 months of no-contact can do for most people.

    I can’t even identify with who I was 12 months ago, though I vaguely remember being resolved to move on and divorce, but I was still focused on my ex and “needing to get over it”, but it wasn’t quite as bad as the “I think I will just melt into the couch and disappear” first month or the “When I manage to do things like buy groceries, I will share my situation inappropriately with random strangers” second month 🙂

    • That made me laugh out loud. Many a casual acquaintance of mine got more than they were bargaining for when they asked “how are you?”, for about 2 years – kudos for cutting that off at 2 months!

    • “I think I will just melt into the couch and disappear” first month or the “When I manage to do things like buy groceries, I will share my situation inappropriately with random strangers” second month 🙂

      So true! can laugh about it now.

    • Oh yeah, emotional sloppiness. It’s a thing! I’m sure the grocery is safe now. 🙂

      • I’ve learned another new term – “emotional sloppiness.” Something that I always feel I have to guard against.

    • That made me laugh too! I remember blurting out everything that had happened to me to a casual acquaintance. Apparently he went down the hall and told one of my coworkers “I asked how she was doing and now I know more than I ever wanted to!”

    • What a great line! And during that “second month” I thought I was being restrained because I only overshared with half the random strangers I wanted to. I now feel obligated to patiently listen to every nutcase I meet because I owe an awful lot of favors to these strangers in recompense for my period of unhinged nuttiness.

  • “And sure, he did “want me” — but that’s because I was of use to him. And wanting someone is not the same thing as loving them.”

    This is a really important message for those who struggle with a cheater who says I love you and always have. This is the truth, not the mindfuck lie they tell you and possibly themselves.

    • This is definitely key to getting out of the mindfuckery and escaping the unicorns. Another gem from CL.

  • Marj,

    By your letter it sounds as though you and your husband are separated, maybe not divorced and defintiely not at the no contact point yet.

    My dday was at 23.5 years and I stuck it out another 3 years, decided I had enough and went to divorce court one month shy of our 27th anniversary. I know what it’s like to be grieving a relationship that lasted such a long time. I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you it’s easy. It’s not at. all.!

    No contact makes it way more palatable so please try it. Our children are both adults so our contact was limited to business transactions after I moved out. I even went about 6 week stretch where I didn’t have to contact him for anything; not even by email which is how all of our correspondance has been since our day in court. Those 6 weeks were absolute heaven!

    Then a bunch of loose ends popped up so we had to have a lot of email correspondance all of a sudden. It was around mother’s day and I was feeling so nostalgic and made the HUGE mistake of letting him know how weird and sad it was that I wasn’t sharing every moment of my life with the man I would’ve called my best friend for most of my life. His response “I hope you’ll want to talk to me again someday. You know a lot of exes are really good friends and still do stuff for eachother.”

    Like CL said, being wanted is not the same thing as being loved. I pour my heart out and his only concern is that he still finds me useful and wouldn’t it be nice if “I did stuff for him”. It set me back a while but luckily I’ve been gone long enough that each stretch of no contact makes me that much stronger.

    When you’re not contacting him and not worrying about him, you can focus on you. The more you do that, the more you realize just exactly what you’re not missing.

    • cheaterssuck, I know exactly how you feel about the ex wanting to be “your friend.” I was married 31 years and together with my ex for 36. I do so much better when there’s no interaction with him, but whenever there’s a family event the anticipation of seeing him again causes anxiety attacks, etc. It’s so hard to not be able to share the memories of the most important days of your life with the person you spent them with. No one else who remembers the birth of our children, etc. When my ex said “We’ll always have our memories,” I remember thinking “but now remembering is painful.” I think the change in the meaning of my memories was the hardest loss of all.

      • <>

        This has been on my mind recently. There were happy times and they seemed genuine but it all seems like such a lie now. The memories are no longer precious. They bring pain.

        • I agree. I feel like if there are any good memories in the past 20 years, they’ve been ruined by the shit that went down during the last 10 with his drinking, DUI’s, selfishness and cheating, ultimately ending with the “I’m not happy, I want a divorce, I drink because of you” speech. Two years after “move out” day, he’s shacking up with his bimbo singer already and moved on (this would be #3 at least, since I found out about his cheating). Like it’s no big deal. It sucks, really.

      • “When my ex said “We’ll always have our memories,” I remember thinking “but now remembering is painful.””

        My ex told me, “I have some good memories of our marriage, but it’s just a business deal that’s over to me now.”

        I know what you mean about remembering being painful, though.

  • I think it is always going to hurt a little when you look back. That just means you have a heart.

    Some days, it will just be something you did. Others, it will be a loss. But one day, it won’t be a shadow over your day.

  • Marj-I am so glad that you have found your way here to CL. There is a lot of amazing advice & support here for us fellow chumps. Once you make your way out of the fog, you will find your right path.

    Please take time to focus on YOU-not your cheater. If you can’t go NC just yet then try putting some distance between you. It will help you gain some perspective & insight once you start separating yourself from the crazy. Find a good therapist to help you & have your Dr. give you something to help with the anxiety. That will help break the obsessive mental loop of torture. You won’t get to Tuesday by tomorrow, but do it in small baby steps one day at a time. Don’t waste any of your thoughts, time & energy on your cheater…’s a dead end. His sympathy/empathy/caring chip is gone and well, was frankly never there to begin with. Cheaters are like soul-less parasites who just shift from one host to another……………..

    • currentchump – “Cheaters are like soul-less parasites who just shift from one host to another……………..

      Now there’s another nugget of wisdom to add to my fridge! Thanks.

  • I’m glad someone addressed this issue. My D-day was nine months ago and filed for divorce six months ago. I know I’m not as weepy and physically sick as I was nine months ago but still have moments of inexplicable pain. Feels like I’m going to die especially at night when I’m alone in bed. I guess the solitude leads to flashbacks and nightmares and I can’t wait for daybreak. I had a little clarity though last week at my pre-trial hearing when I found out my ex wanted to depose me and bring in a vocational expert to try to get out of paying me alimony after a 22 year marriage and him making 10 times more than me after being a SAHM for 18 years. I finally got mad
    more at myself than him for idealizing a less than perfect life with a serial cheating narcissist. Unfortunately after a day or two that familiar pain returned. I hope one day
    I can look back at my life and know that leaving him was for my own good. I still blame
    myself for his cheating. I guess I was brain-washed for so long I believe all the excuses and lies were because of my inadequacies not his. I am scared I am one of the rare chumps that never will get over the abuse I went through. I read this site daily looking for inspirational stories of people who have reached a point of acceptance for the situation they endured and contentment with their current life.

    • All of this GL4R.
      *not as weepy as 6m ago
      *night time is the worst being alone in bed after 20+ years
      *why do they think that we’ll just roll over with settlement and take no $ after putting in all that time as SAHM’s? We have no retirement, no savings, no current job skills.
      *brain washed about my shortcomings
      *every time I feel sad or lost CL’s daily post hits home and I feel better. Reading everyones stores, thoughts and advice helps so much.

      • GL4R, For the first 6 months, it was tough at bedtime. The first couple of months, I just didn’t sleep. Truth be told, I fell asleep on the couch with the TV on 5 or 6 nights a week. One thing that helped me was a friend came to stay with me for 10 days or so. I got back into the ritual of “bedtime” and it got better after that. This week, I still did 2 nights mostly on the couch, and I almost always take the laptop and iPad to bed, along with the cats. I had a bunch of websites on the iPad homescreen about a major interest of mine and I would read those or read books on the Kindle app. Slept with the lights on, too. It’s still not great, but it is so much better than it was in the first weeks.

        • It took me 5 months to sleep in my own bed again. I stayed on the couch because I just couldn’t handle it. Now, the bedroom is finally mine. :). That first night back in my own bed was quite a milestone for me. Lol

    • Gaslighted, it helped me to use an iPod at night when I was in bed. When I couldn’t sleep, or woke up with panic attacks, I could put the iPod on and listen to inspirational, or relaxational podcasts. It took my mind off my own thoughts and I almost always feel back to sleep. One night my mom was in the hospital and we almost lost her due to a reaction from her pain meds. When I finally made it home I was exhausted, but too keyed up to sleep. Sure enough, I put the iPod on and within 30 minutes I was sleeping like a baby. Anyway, you might try it to help you sleep at night. Personally I enjoy listening to Joyce Meyer’s podcasts. Her voice is like a mother to me.

      • Lyn,
        Thanks for the suggestion. I love Joyce Meyer’s. I will definitely try it.

      • This really does work. Better than Ambien for me. The right voice + interesting subject matter means nearly instantaneous somnolence. It’s kind of frustrating because I end up not remembering a thing about the podcast or lecture and have to listen to it for real during the day.

        • For those of you having trouble sleeping and are looking for non-medication ways to fall asleep, I highly recommend something called ASMR videos, which is a clinical-sounding way of saying “Watching and listening to a person who uses soft-spoken language, often with a soothing accent, as well as slow, deliberate, elegant hand movements and different sounds to soothe and relax you.”

          One woman in particular is awesome at this sort of thing. Look up “Gentle Whispering” on YouTube and see if her soothing Russian voice works for you. If you have a tablet computer with a wireless connection, you can take it to bed with you and play her videos close to your ear. It’s not for everybody — some people, like my daughter, find the whispering creepy. But it totally works for me when I want to relax and fall asleep.

          Some ASMR artists, as they call themselves, use sounds like tapping, hair brushing, page turning, plastic sheet scrunching and even gum chewing to prompt a relaxation effect.

          • I second this recommendation – I love to listen to ASMR artists before I go to bed. Really relaxing and if you get “tingles” very pleasant. I tend to like the male artists, but some of the women have lovely soothing voices too.

            I also enjoy Lita. Try out one of her videos if you want to relax a bit. Her handle is “massageclips” on Youtube and she has the best voice.

            • Well, my best method of falling asleep is with a heartbeat that is a 190# Great Dane. He actually cuddles and puts paw on hand, foot, whatever. I’m SO grateful for him to comfort me every night, even though he’s very selfish and I wake up clutching the edge of the bed trying to figure out while I’m sideways and he’s got all the pillows. (still better than ex – at least dog doesn’t turn away when I snore in his face) Not saying a big dog is for everybody, but cats do the same thing and so can smaller dogs. But, this boy is almost the size of my husband and much more affectionate – fwiw. blessings to animals who give us the best of their hearts.

              • ditto for dog.. .. no such thing as a dog too big for me. I call my Newfy girl my petite princess…. at only 120# 🙂 she really is a diva…

              • I have a fifty kilo Rottie x Rhodesian Ridgeback who now takes up the empty space on my bed. I can’t quite believe I’ve turned into someone who let’s the dog sleep on my bed, but some days that’s the only cuddles I get.

                I am a life long insomniac but since d-day my sleeping patterns have gotten way beyond just messed up. I listen to mindfulness meditations at night at they often help. I am particularly fond of Mark Williams (finding peace in a frantic world and the mindful way through depression) He has a lovely, kind, gentle voice and often I will just listen to the same lectures on YouTube and fall asleep half way through.

            • I’m very fond of BelleRuth Naparstek’s mp3’s. She’s a psychologist who has done a lot of work on PTSD, and has tape routines for grief resolution, abandonment, PTSD symptoms, headaches (I get migraines) and a bunch of other stuff. I just downloaded them to iTunes and crank em up. The headache one is especially good.

              I also have a 120 lb dog who will on occasion sleep on the bed with me, but always in the room with me…she snores and gurgles. It’s lovely, and I adore her. My best pal. I honestly don’t know how anybody gets through this without a dog to hug and cry into and talk to. Truly, unconditional love.

              • namedforvera – you got it! I also don’t know how anybody can get through this nightmare without a pet to cuddle. Dog, cat, or even a turtle – don’t know about a fish, but I’d take that too if I had to. Anything is better than the affection I never got from my waywardassedhasband. Selfish bastard that he is. WAS.

              • I’m on Team BelleRuth too….to the point where I fall asleep hearing the firs few notes of the opening music now. The Anger & forgiveness and self-confidence recordings helped me so much.

    • gaslighted4real,
      “I still blame myself for his cheating.” I am afraid I am in the same boat and will not recover from 22 years of emotional abuse any time soon.

      • mgirontree, I hope you have a good therapist. Emotional abuse does take time to recover from, but it certainly can be done, with appropriate help! You deserve to be free of self-blame, and to feel comfortable in yourself again.

  • I understand where you’re coming from. Dday was 18 months ago, and we were looking at our 16th anniversary, but we’d been together for a lot longer than that. We have no children, but my nieces have always grown up with him as their uncle. My mother treated him as her third son. He and I were viewed as a rock-solid marriage. Then I discovered that he’d been cheating on me with one of his staffers at work. Worse, I realized that there’s a very high degree of likelihood that this is not his first affair, though it’s probably the longest.

    At least I found Chump Lady quickly (within 48 hours), and Truth About Deception in the first few hours, so I was able to clamp down my initial response to run and tell him I knew. I kept quiet and saw a lawyer to find out where I stood.

    Where I stood was in a bad place. The lawyer told me that once I told my husband I wanted a divorce, I needed a plan to go with the different options. I needed to be able to leave then and there if he reacted violently. I needed options, but I didn’t have good ones. I had no savings, and my salary was insufficient for me to live on. We both agreed I needed options, and that if I could get some, I’d be better served if I could stick it out.

    Go to a lawyer to discover your options and what kind of planning you need to do. Going to the lawyer will give you back control over your life, and help you see things more rationally.

    As I got my plan together, and was still doing a lot of obsessive snooping into STBX’s dealings with OW, I realized that STBX was NOT going to come out of the fog and say, “kb, I can’t think what happened to me! You are the one and only and I will fall on my knees to beg your forgiveness!” Instead, STBX was quite content to tell OW how much he loved her, that her lips were like cherries, their love was from the Dawn of Time, yadda yadda–and then when OW would threaten to leave him if he didn’t divorce me, he’d tell her that he doesn’t respond well to threats–a very chilling response!

    So you need to trust that he sucks. Talk to the lawyer. Start taking back control of your life. As you take back more control, you’ll start to see that the life you live now is one where you have to step on eggshells. Then you’ll want more control, and you’ll decide that you’re worthy of someone who’ll treat you with dignity and respect, not someone whose mercurial moods force you into a Pick Me dance to get his good side.

  • It’s 2 1/2 years since D Day for the boys and I. It still hurts. It’s just I don’t express it.

    I don’t know how you get rid of it. I guess you just get on with it.

    Only last night my youngest and I were out into 7.30 sorting out things with patents and coaches for today’s footy. The two boys and I didn’t eat until 8.30.

    The ex and her POS on $300,000 + no doubt were sipping their merlot watching a movie, relaxing in each others arms. I’m bloody sure they engineered this and planed it for years.

    But we are living the real life. We struggle with money and we are all busy. Friends coming and going. The only difference is the ex is absent.

    Just got to keep going, never give up, and try and not let those arseholes dominate our thoughts. The resentment and betrayal often get to me

    One day it won’t hurt. I look forward to Tuesdays now

  • “…he did NOT love me, he was not going to ‘wake up’ — because he wasn’t in a dream — that is who he WAS. And sure, he did ‘want me’ — but that’s because I was of use to him. And wanting someone is not the same thing as loving them.”

    This was the hardest part for me to acknowledge. While I don’t really know if my ex is disordered, he is very selfish and spoiled, and I think he viewed me as part of the picture perfect life he felt he was entitled to. Then, when I didn’t quite measure up to what he thought he deserved, he looked elsewhere for the kibbles (all the while keeping me around because my image and what we represented together was still useful). After 17 years together, it was ugly for me to have to wrap my mind around the fact that he loved the idea of me and what I could give him rather than the actual person that I was.

    But, it has to be faced, or you will stay forever stuck in limbo, deluding yourself with the notion that this was a one-time mistake that will never happen again (and that the cheater will fully own and repent for) or that “love” will conquer all. I don’t think that ever truly happens– it’s only spackle that disguises the destruction.

    • “After 17 years together, it was ugly for me to have to wrap my mind around the fact that he loved the idea of me and what I could give him rather than the actual person that I was.”

      What a great way to put it. They love us for what they can get from us, and that’s all.

        • Yes ^^ this. We were just accessories, alibi’s even, for their rise to the top. Then, once there, okay – time for some MORE action (entitlement). I feel so used that I want to accept that to help me move on. Surely, it’s within myself to know I allowed myself to be married to a guy moving up the ladder to success (ok, I was fine with that and very socially able to handle it) and this is what I’m dealing with now. How could I have allowed myself to be that low? dunno . .

  • Marj, just keep on keepin’ on. It really does get better, but sometimes it takes a long time. And sometimes, I believe, there is a scar left behind, but that doesn’t mean the wound is not healed.

    For me, after a 20 year marriage, it took around 2.5 years to not be thinking about the whole nightmare experience for a good portion of every day. Probably another year where I only spent a small portion of each day thinking about it. Now I’m more than four years out (two years since divorce), and most of the time, ex doesn’t cross my mind at all. Now, there are times like this week, when he’s really going bat shit crazy on our son, that I am once again filled with rage, but for the most part, the emotions are faded.

    It takes time, NC, focus on your OWN life and often therapy (I am in therapy still), but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Believe it.

  • Marj, I don’t have any answers for the question about why you want what most of us want: for the person who betrayed us to show some sign that he or she loved us once or still cares about what happens to us or just has some of the basic decency we expect in other people. I’ve come to the conclusion that once we get through the shock of finding out about an affair, or the disengagement created by the affair followed by DDay, once we get through the debilitating physical effects and tears, your question is at the core of the problem. I knew on some level before DDay that he was “gone,” and I knew immediately on finding out what he was up to that even if he came to his senses and wanted to try again, I could not go back. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about how we went from being glued at the hip to he’s too busy texting the OW to answer a phone call in a matter of weeks, as if he were some adolescent who just switched from ne crush to the other….but once I started mulling that over, there was the beginning of my answer. CL rightly tells us not to get caught up in “unraveling the skein of their fuckedupness”—figuring out the FOO issues or their midlife crises or (in my case) whether failing to “be appreciative enough” was really why he took up with a married woman on FB and found it suddenly too far to drive to my house, although I would have thought the cash I put in his business account should have been at least several thousand indicators of appreciation. So it doesn’t matter why he did what he did, but I needed to look at WHAT he did. And not just lying, sneaking around, dropping his schmoopie’s name in our conversations early on, breaking his promises, etc. I needed to look at him, who he was. What I had spackled over or ignored.

    The first thing I noticed was the adolescent tone that cropped up as we faced some changed in living arrangements, finances, etc. and that accelerated after the first seemingly legitimate contact with the OW. Smirking was a huge sign, just totally uncharacteristic of both our long friendship and our “romance.” Baiting me into fights. Walking and talking differently, at once both adolescently awkward, as if he didn’t know what to say or how to position his body, as he did on my birthday when he walked in the house waving two cards he had bought 5 minutes before at the Walmart up the road, no gift in sight, but making a show of the cards. Just “adolescent.” And at other moment, the adolescent disappeared and was replaced by a bully, condescending, superior, unkind, impatient. My friends and my therapist helped me to get a handle on the difference between the man I loved and thought I knew and the man/boy/cheater I was actually dealing with. I talked through with my therapist what I knew about his previous marriages and what I spackled and what I see now that I didn’t see then. My therapist early on told me that I would always feel sad about “the loss of the dream.” She said: “You had deep feelings for him for a long time, and dreams that were important to you.” It’s helped me focus on myself–what I brought to the relationship, my hopes and dreams, and my own offering of love–and mourning not the loss of a man, but of a life and connection that was important to me.

    Therapy has been a huge blessing, if an expensive one, since insurance won’t cover it. My best friend flew in and stayed for 10 days in the dead of winter, about 6 weeks after DDay. She saved my life, I think. And I am living in what has been a Money Pit, one thing after another, but that too, is becoming a blessing because I am determined to make this house my sanctuary, to focus on these problems and solve them on my own, with some help and advice from my friends. I got myself in shape. I look forward to the “Law and Order” marathons for hours on our cable. I go to the movies every week, even if I go alone. I got serious about exercise and built on the “grief and trauma” weight loss and I am almost at my weight goal. I write. I read. I have people I can call when I feel overwhelmed. We all have to find what works for us, individually, but it comes down to confronting ourselves, not our cheating partners. Who am I? What do I want to be in this next phase of my life? What do I love? Who makes me happy? Who comforts me? How can I use my time and talent to give back, to pay things forward? How can I get my mind off the hamster wheel of thinking about a jackass? (for me, meditation and hot yoga). I am at the stage where I am not as lonely and have started to cherish my quiet house, my time to think and write. I am not ready to share me yet, and even a week like this with too much social contact makes me look forward to a few nights of solitude. When this started, I would never have believed that would happen. Of course, you should trust that your cheater sucks. But also trust the process of healing. Work at it. Be committed to your healing, just as you would if you were diagnosed with a physical disease or had a car accident. Do your rehab!

    • BEAUTIFULLY SAID, Lovedajackass. I am doing many of those things myself. The me that will emerge from this devastation will be the best version of me yet.

      At first all I could think of was how old I was and how no one will love me, but something magical happened in the weeks and months that followed and I have finally realized that being alone isn’t the worst thing that will happen to me. I have also realized I like myself!

      I work out hard five days a week. I’ve lost 68 pounds and have about 45 more to go. My energy level is high. I volunteer two days a week to interact with people other than my family in a field that can be quite sobering (child abuse). I keep busy and can barely keep up with Mad Men!

      If Marj does not hear one other thing from the great posts on CL today, I hope she hears your final comment, “But also trust the process of healing. Work at it. Be committed to your healing, just as you would if you were diagnosed with a physical disease or had a car accident. Do your rehab!”

      • You rock, you simply rock. 68 down. Only 45 to go. You can do that. This time next year, you will be at goal weight. Your volunteer work is awesome, and after reading your post below, just look at how far you’ve come. What an inspiration!

      • Moving Liquid, By your above comment alone, you are obviously an incredible woman.

        “The me that will emerge from this devastation will be the best version of me yet.” Now that’s power!

        • Thank you very much, Hawk. It’s funny, a month ago I would not have believed I could say that and mean it. This grieving thing is interesting.

    • Wow, Lovedajackass…
      DO YOUR REHAB!! Thank you so much for those wise words. I need to work harder on my rehab. You are so right, if you had a stroke or were in a car wreck you’d be working your hiney off to get better. But we do get stuck in our misery and I’m the first one to admit I spent waaayyyy too long there.

      • I had to do rehab for an injury a while back and was totally committed to getting back to full function. I have a plate and screws holding a bone together, and it still bothers me when the weather is very cold or damp, and I can’t do “Upward facing bow” or whatever it is called in yoga, but otherwise, I can do everything I did before the accident. And Tess, it took you as long as it took you. You’re unstuck! YAY! Do your rehab! 🙂

    • Thank you, LovedaJackass – your post was so helpful to me. Especially this part:

      “We all have to find what works for us, individually, but it comes down to confronting ourselves, not our cheating partners. Who am I? What do I want to be in this next phase of my life? What do I love? Who makes me happy? Who comforts me? How can I use my time and talent to give back, to pay things forward? How can I get my mind off the hamster wheel of thinking about a jackass?”

      Thanks for articulating so perfectly the direction I need to be headed in…it’s hard because I don’t know the answers to those questions right now….but I know I have to put one step in front of the other and trust that, in time, the answers will be made known.

  • Marj,

    Like so many people here, I too could have written your letter. Time does help, of course, but being proactive in how you spend your days can help as well.

    Are you seeing a counselor or therapist? Are you finding time every day to exercise, walk, move your body? Are you getting enough sleep? Eating well? Reaching out to friends or family for support?

    You, like many of us, are in a state of shock. We know we can’t take our partner back, but we can’t process that someone we were devoted to can hurt and abandon us. Plus we simply miss them (or the person we thought they were).

    For the first five months when my husband would call I would drop everything to talk with him. I’d be calm and charming and interesting because I thought the man I knew would come back and want me, especially the new calm version of me I was trying to project.

    Because my husband is broke and manipulative, I’ve been paying his cell phone bill since we separated. I’d ask him to please separate the lines and get his own contract and he was hesitant to do that because he has no credit. He would say to me, just cancel my line, I don’t need it. No one calls me. No one texts me, he said. I didn’t because I was worried that his daughters outside the country, would not be able to reach him and didn’t want to be responsible for that.

    One day, after a very large cell phone bill, I called the phone company to ask about it. For the first time in seven months of separation I realized all the detail that’s in a phone bill! I looked only through the last one and saw that the boy is active. Very active. Calls, texts, incoming, outgoing. All this time he wanted me to believe he was alone, lonely, bored. And as usual I fell for it.

    After looking over that bill and seeing the hundreds and hundreds of calls and texts, I realized that he will continue to lie to me and hurt me for as long as I’ll let him. At that moment I told him to only contact me via email or text and I gave him one week to get his own contract.

    After seven months of me paying his bill, he got his own contract. I was hurt by what I saw, but now I feel empowered.

    A day will come when you will realize that you simply won’t tolerate being hurt over and over and over again by lies and deceit.

    Even now, when I have a very bad day and think that I can’t get through it. I have discovered that if I tell myself yes, today is bad. It hurts, but most likely it won’t be as bad tomorrow. And so far, that’s been true every time.

    Sorry this post was so long!

  • MovingLiquid and MovingOn – thanks for taking the time to express your deepest feelings today. It is really helping me a lot in a day that I’ve been in a bottomless hole, and now I’ve had folks on this website that threw me some clamp-ons and an ice pick (!) to drag myself up. Now, heck – I’m gonna go make me some scrambled eggs. Thanks to ChumpNation many times over!

  • The Moody Blues song ‘Tuesday Afternoon” lyrics feel like a Tuesday afternoon filled with a mysterious sense of possibility and a positive future. A good song for a Chump’s Tuesday!

  • Marj, give yourself permission to get furiously angry. You have more than earned the right to express your outrage at this hologram that you’ve been married to for 22 years.

    He’s a lying, cheating sack of shit. Trust that. He doesn’t now nor has he ever deserved your love, loyalty and consideration. Trust that. Oh and by the way, that broken heart and depleted self esteem that you are carrying around? He is 100% responsible. Trust that. Do you really want to give any more power over to this dirtbag? He sucks. Trust that.

    Own your anger Marj. Turn that fury into a big old legal missile he won’t see coming.

  • Profound, profound, profound, with broader application for many relationships:

    he was not going to “wake up” — because he wasn’t in a dream — that is who he WAS. And sure, he did “want me” — but that’s because I was of use to him. And wanting someone is not the same thing as loving them.

    Every horrifying detail just solidified that reality that I needed to grasp. He does not love me. He does not respect me. He is not sorry. He will not comfort me. He does not care.

    So a couple things had to happen to get past the pain. First, I had to wake up and pay attention to his actions (not his words) and draw the painful conclusions. Second, I had to assert my self-worth.

    You should NEVER have to ask someone to be “nice and caring” to you. Especially after they just GUTTED you. Do not beg for the common courtesies that strangers would give you.

    • “Do not beg for the common courtesies that strangers would give you.”


  • I can attest that given distance (NC) and time, chumps will get over the “I know he’s a jerk, but I still believe he will wake up and love me again” stage and come to a point of ” What was I thinking?” You have to do the work, though, to get unstuck. Every time you start wondering what he’s doing, if he loves you, etc (in other words, waste of time thinking), just tell yourself over and over “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter” because it really doesn’t. I spent, and still do, the vast majority of my time getting to know myself over again, being kind and loving to myself (biggest gift to self: remove cheater permanently from my life) and to those who are also kind and loving to me, doing things that bring me peace and joy, nurturing my spiritual life, embracing all feelings, be it good or bad but not giving it a story (just observe, don’t repress), and then it, lo and behold, it was Tuesday.

    Marj, define what is good for you based on REALITY. Once you stop wishing for your husband to be who he isn’t, you can move on. If he really wants you back, you will know it based on his actions. In the meantime, work on being your best self. When you get there, I have a feeling you won’t want any part of him.

    • “You have to do the work, though, to get unstuck.” Yes to everything you said, Uniquely me. The work is worth it. Marj, you can do this!

  • I wanted to share someone who has been an extraordinary healing influence in “getting through”. His name is Easton Hamilton and he is a therapist in England. He has done of series of MP3 and videos through his practice, ‘The Reach Approach”, What sets him apart for me, is that he has insight, intelligence and a wonderful male voice that is speaking love, truth, wisdom and growth – And hearing it made me realize that THIS is what I need right now, not the disordered mewling of someone (my ex) who doesn’t have a clue. He has a purposefully low-key internet persona, so you won’t find a lot about him. (I searched for a picture – lol) Check it out if you want.

  • This really hit home. My 22 year relationship ended 2 years ago but we tried “reconciliation” last year. It lasted about 6 months, me waiting for at least some sort of sorry from him and I accepted crumbs. I glad its finally over now but I could kick myself for trying to work things out. It did additional damage to my self-esteem and I am now trying to figure out how to be alone and get on with my life.

  • Can’t tell you how many times I’ve come back to read this one.. Thanks CL.. this is like getting my head fixed each time I’m on the brink of a collapse.. More than 18 months after D-day and finalizing the divorce.. yet can’t get over how he duped me totally.. absolutely for 9 years.. and can’t believe that he really doesn’t give a damn least of all love me…. Disgusted that is still surprises me and hurts like hell but hey.. like CL says pain is finite.. one day i will get to my Tuesday too.. and enjoy life in Meh-land. CL’s response here is as if its addressed to me.. and I’m sure there must be many others who feel the same way too! And Marj Thank You for sharing your situation.. I’m sure u will make it like the rest of us..

  • Chump Lady – May 2015:

    To any recovered Chump reading this email, Chump Nation needs you. Could you spare a few minutes to help drum-up support for Chump Lady’s (Tracy’s) new book?

    Go to this forum post, and see if you have anything to add.

    If nothing else, could you come over to the forum, start a thread, and give us new Chumps an update on that “Gain a Life” thing?

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