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Joseph’s Letter? Return to Sender

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If you’ve spent any time on reconciliation boards, you’re familiar with Joseph’s Letter. It was written by a member of a defunct forum “BAN”, but appears at Surviving Infidelity and Marriage Builders.

It’s a plea from a man (Joseph) to his wayward wife to please answer questions about her affair instead of doing the ol’ rug sweep. “I don’t remember” or “Let’s stop bringing this up and move forward” or “Telling you would only hurt you more.” Rug sweeping is the nice word for it. Minimizing, lying, and mindfucking are other terms. We don’t really know what kind of mindfuckery is going on in Joseph’s marriage, only that Joseph’s wife has been less than forthcoming and it’s torturing the poor guy.

Joseph’s letter is invoked as as sort of holy relic in unicorn circles. A resource by which chumps should model themselves when approaching “waywards.” (The nice word for cheater. Fucktard, liar, fraud are other terms.) That is to say, approach with deference. Assume the very best qualities in your cheater — that deep down they’re good people who love you as much as you love them, and are every bit as invested in the marriage. Acknowledge that the cheater’s pain is equal to your pain. Tell them how much you love them.

Joseph’s letter is quintessentially chumpy — kind and forgiving, and glazed with more spackle than an army of dry wallers. When I read it, my heart breaks for the man. He clearly has a big heart and he’s trying to share it with someone he delusionally assumes cares for him.

But it also makes me want to slap Joseph. “DUDE! She’s DOESN’T WANT TO TELL YOU BECAUSE SHE PREFERS YOU DON’T KNOW!” That’s what her ACTIONS say. Know why she doesn’t tell you the details? Because she doesn’t want you to know them. It’s that simple.

But Joseph persists. Maybe if I explain this thing like a jigsaw puzzle missing a few pieces, she’ll understand! Because that’s what she lacks — insight! Did it every occur to Joseph that maybe his wife prefers the power seat of knowledge over him? That talking about it makes her uncomfortable, or calls into question her self regard, so she puts avoiding her discomfort over his pain? Did it ever occur to Joseph that his wife is a selfish bitch?

So today I thought I’d put Joseph’s letter through the patented Universal Bullshit Translator.

First, here’s the letter:

To Whomever,
I know you are feeling the pain of guilt and confusion. I understand that you wish all this never happened and that you wish it would just go away. I can even believe that you truly love me and that your indiscretion hurts you emotionally much the same way it hurts me. I understand your apprehension to me discovering little by little, everything that led up to your indiscretion, everything that happened that night, and everything that happened afterwards. I understand. No one wants to have a mistake or misjudgment thrown in his or her face repeatedly.

No one wants to be forced to ‘look’ at the thing that caused all their pain over and over again. I can actually see, that through your eyes, you are viewing this whole thing as something that just needs to go away, something that is over, that he/she doesn’t mean anything to you, so why is it such a big issue? I can understand you wondering why I torture myself with this continuously, and thinking, doesn’t he/she know by now that I love him/her? I can see how you can feel this way and how frustrating it must be. But for the remainder of this letter I’m going to ask you to view my reality through my eyes.

You were there. There is no detail left out from your point of view. Like a puzzle, you have all the pieces and you are able to reconstruct them and be able to understand the whole picture, the whole message, or the whole meaning. You know exactly what that picture is and what it means to you and if it can effect your life and whether or not it continues to stir your feelings. You have the pieces, the tools, and the knowledge.

You can move through your life with 100% of the picture you compiled. If you have any doubts, then at least you’re carrying all the information in your mind and you can use it to derive conclusions or answers to your doubts or question. You carry all the ‘STUFF’ to figure out OUR reality. There isn’t really any information, or pieces to the puzzle that you don’t have.

Now let’s enter my reality. Let’s both agree that this affects our lives equally. The outcome no matter what it is well affect us both. Our future and our present circumstances are every bit as important to me as it is to you. So, why then is it okay for me to be left in the dark? Do I not deserve to know as much about the night that nearly destroyed our relationship as you do? Just like you, I am also able to discern the meaning of certain particulars and innuendoes of that night and just like you, I deserve to be given the opportunity to understand what nearly brought our relationship down.

To assume that I can move forward and accept everything at face value is unrealistic and unless we stop thinking unrealistically I doubt our lives well ever ‘feel’ complete. You have given me a puzzle. It is a 1000 piece puzzle and 400 random pieces are missing. You expect me to assemble the puzzle without the benefit of looking at the picture on the box. You expect me to be able to discern what I am looking at and to appreciate it in the same context as you. You want me to be as comfortable with what I see in the picture as you are.

When I ask if there was a tree in such and such area of the picture you tell me don’t worry about it, it’s not important. When I ask whether there were any animals in my puzzle you say don’t worry about it, it’s not important. When I ask if there was a lake in that big empty spot in my puzzle you say, what’s the difference, it’s not important.

Then later when I’m expected to understand the picture in my puzzle you fail to understand my disorientation and confusion. You expect me to feel the same way about the picture as you do but deny me the same view as you. When I express this problem you feel compelled to admonish me for not understanding it, for not seeing it the way you see it.

You wonder why I can’t just accept whatever you chose to describe to me about the picture and then be able to feel the same way you feel about it.

So, you want me to be okay with everything. You think you deserve to know and I deserve to wonder. You may honestly feel that the whole picture, everything that happened is insignificant because in your heart you know it was a mistake and wish it never happened. But how can I know that? Faith? Because you told me so? Would you have faith if the tables were turned? Don’t you understand that I want to believe you completely? But how can I? I can never know what is truly in your mind and heart.

I can only observe you actions, and what information I have acquired and slowly, over time rebuild my faith in your feelings. I truly wish it were easier.

So, there it is, as best as I can put it. That is why I ask questions. That is where my need to know is derived from. And that is why it is unfair for you to think that we can effectively move forward and unfair for you to accuse me of dwelling on the past. My need to know stems from my desire to hold our world together.

It doesn’t come from jealousy, it doesn’t come from spitefulness, and it doesn’t come from a desire to make you suffer. It comes from the fact that I love you. Why else would I put myself through this? Wouldn’t it be easier for me to walk away? Wouldn’t it be easier to consider our relationship a bad mistake in my life and to move on to better horizons? Of course it would, but I can’t and the reason I can’t is because I love you and that reason in itself makes all the difference in the world.

And here is the translation:

To Whomever,
I know you are feeling the pain of guilt and confusion.

Joseph, your cheater isn’t “confused.” She knows exactly what she’s doing. Does her guilt pain her? Perhaps, but not as much as you knowing about her affair and nattering on about it pains her.

I understand that you wish all this never happened and that you wish it would just go away. I can even believe that you truly love me and that your indiscretion hurts you emotionally much the same way it hurts me.

Put down the spackle, Joe. Her affair doesn’t pain her the way it pains you — it’s NOT EVEN CLOSE. She enjoyed the affair — that’s why she did it. And went back for seconds and thirds. Ego kibbles and cake are awesome. That’s what her actions say — she had an affair because she wanted it, not because it “pained” her.

I think in your chumpy little brain you have to imagine your wife is in the same kind of pain you are, so there is some kind of justice. Gee, it’s all just one big clusterfuck and we’re all hurting! NO — she DID THIS TO YOU. And yes, herself. But for her to want understanding for her self-inflicted pain is like the guy who murdered his parents wanting clemency from the court for being an orphan. Fuck her, Joe.

I understand your apprehension to me discovering little by little, everything that led up to your indiscretion, everything that happened that night, and everything that happened afterwards. I understand. No one wants to have a mistake or misjudgment thrown in his or her face repeatedly.

Well, that’s true. No one wants their mistakes thrown in their face. But this wasn’t a mistake (singular) or misjudgment (singular) — this was an affair. It’s betrayal. It was completely pre-meditated, unlike a mistake — which is spilling wine accidentally on a friend’s sofa. You pay the cleaning bill, and yes, you hope no one mentions it again. But what you’ve got Joe is a much bigger mess to clean up. If you want to reconcile, she’s going to have face it (excuse me “have it thrown in her face”) for YEARS — because that’s how long it takes to heal. If it ever heals in reconciliation. (The Universal Bullshit Translator is very skeptical.)

No one wants to be forced to ‘look’ at the thing that caused all their pain over and over again.

“Their” pain, Joe? There you go assuming again that she feels pain the way you feel it.

I can actually see, that through your eyes, you are viewing this whole thing as something that just needs to go away, something that is over, that he/she doesn’t mean anything to you, so why is it such a big issue? I can understand you wondering why I torture myself with this continuously, and thinking, doesn’t he/she know by now that I love him/her? I can see how you can feel this way and how frustrating it must be. But for the remainder of this letter I’m going to ask you to view my reality through my eyes.

And there’s your problem, Joe. She will NOT view reality through your eyes. To do that she’d have to have EMPATHY, which she just demonstrated through an affair that she is lacking. Now, I know to reconcile, you have to believe that this lapse in empathy was temporary, brought about by the fun of naughty sex and such, but consider that it might go deeper, that lack of empathy might be who she IS. That’s her character. And character changes very slowly and painfully and isn’t brought about by heartfelt letters, but things like consequences. The most empathy deficient? Consequences don’t even get through to those idiots. They keep doing the same stupid shit over and over again.

You were there. There is no detail left out from your point of view. Like a puzzle, you have all the pieces and you are able to reconstruct them and be able to understand the whole picture, the whole message, or the whole meaning. You know exactly what that picture is and what it means to you and if it can effect your life and whether or not it continues to stir your feelings. You have the pieces, the tools, and the knowledge.

You can move through your life with 100% of the picture you compiled. If you have any doubts, then at least you’re carrying all the information in your mind and you can use it to derive conclusions or answers to your doubts or question. You carry all the ‘STUFF’ to figure out OUR reality. There isn’t really any information, or pieces to the puzzle that you don’t have.

Joe, you don’t share a reality, or values, or much else. There is her reality and your reality. She’s looking at this through the lens of ME, and you want her to see her world through a lens of OURS. She doesn’t do that. She’s got her own agenda. Not telling you the truth is about her gaining advantage over you. It’s for her own protection, so you won’t know the full truth about your life and what she did, so then you won’t impose consequences.

Now let’s enter my reality. Let’s both agree that this affects our lives equally.

Let’s agree that leprechauns run the state lotteries. Let’s agree that I’m Baroness Penelope Snootypants and I live in a castle. Let’s agree that Tori Spelling is a Rhodes scholar.

The outcome no matter what it is will affect us both. Our future and our present circumstances are every bit as important to me as it is to you. So, why then is it okay for me to be left in the dark? Do I not deserve to know as much about the night that nearly destroyed our relationship as you do? Just like you, I am also able to discern the meaning of certain particulars and innuendoes of that night and just like you, I deserve to be given the opportunity to understand what nearly brought our relationship down.

Of course you deserve to know, Joe. It’s just that your wife (as you dimly suspect) doesn’t think you deserve to know, because you’re a lesser being. A chump. Not the sort of fabulous, deserving person she is. This isn’t a contest of equals here.

Also, you’ve got to let go of the idea that it was “a night” — singular. Where’d you get that nugget? Let me guess — the wife who’s lying to you and not filling you in on the particulars, right?

To assume that I can move forward and accept everything at face value is unrealistic and unless we stop thinking unrealistically I doubt our lives will ever ‘feel’ complete. You have given me a puzzle. It is a 1000 piece puzzle and 400 random pieces are missing. You expect me to assemble the puzzle without the benefit of looking at the picture on the box. You expect me to be able to discern what I am looking at and to appreciate it in the same context as you. You want me to be as comfortable with what I see in the picture as you are.

No, she doesn’t expect you to be able to “discern what you are looking at” or “appreciate its context.” That’s spackle for SHE IS STILL LYING TO YOU.

What she expects is for you to shut up about it already.

When I ask if there was a tree in such and such area of the picture you tell me don’t worry about it, it’s not important. When I ask whether there were any animals in my puzzle you say don’t worry about it, it’s not important. When I ask if there was a lake in that big empty spot in my puzzle you say, what’s the difference, it’s not important.

The puzzle is a nice metaphor, but this isn’t a children’s game. You’re not seeing a tree or animals. You’re not seeing unprotected sex, or multiple partners, or all the emails where she tells her affair partner what an asshole you are.

Then later when I’m expected to understand the picture in my puzzle you fail to understand my disorientation and confusion. You expect me to feel the same way about the picture as you do but deny me the same view as you. When I express this problem you feel compelled to admonish me for not understanding it, for not seeing it the way you see it.

You wonder why I can’t just accept whatever you chose to describe to me about the picture and then be able to feel the same way you feel about it.

She doesn’t care how you feel about it. You aren’t expected to understand the puzzle. That’s the POINT.

So, you want me to be okay with everything.

Now you’re getting it, Joe. Keep connecting those dots.

You think you deserve to know and I deserve to wonder.

Yes, that’s it exactly.

You may honestly feel that the whole picture, everything that happened is insignificant because in your heart you know it was a mistake and wish it never happened. But how can I know that? Faith? Because you told me so? Would you have faith if the tables were turned? Don’t you understand that I want to believe you completely? But how can I? I can never know what is truly in your mind and heart.

Oh, she totally understands that you want to believe her completely. That’s how you manipulate chumps and abuse their trust. They want to believe.

I can only observe you actions, and what information I have acquired and slowly, over time rebuild my faith in your feelings. I truly wish it were easier.

So, there it is, as best as I can put it. That is why I ask questions. That is where my need to know is derived from. And that is why it is unfair for you to think that we can effectively move forward and unfair for you to accuse me of dwelling on the past. My need to know stems from my desire to hold our world together.

It doesn’t come from jealousy, it doesn’t come from spitefulness, and it doesn’t come from a desire to make you suffer.

Joe, it’s not jealousy when your wife is fucking another man. That’s righteous anger at being betrayed. Who told you those feelings were “spiteful”? You deserve to be in a marriage where your wife isn’t fucking another man in secret. You don’t have a desire to make her suffer? Well, she sure as hell doesn’t care if YOU suffer.

It comes from the fact that I love you. Why else would I put myself through this?

Because you’re a chump and you’ve got spackle issues.

Wouldn’t it be easier for me to walk away?

Walking away isn’t “easier.” It takes a huge amount of guts. Keeping your 401K and your family together is the societally accepted path. But I’ll give you this, doing what you’re doing is self-inflicted torture and much more painful. You should consider walking away for your sanity and self respect.

Wouldn’t it be easier to consider our relationship a bad mistake in my life and to move on to better horizons?

Easier? No. Healthier? Yes.

Of course it would, but I can’t and the reason I can’t is because I love you and that reason in itself makes all the difference in the world.

Love the all-powerful spackle. Joe, some love isn’t good for us. Some relationships are toxic and it doesn’t matter how much you love the person, you need to walk away, because they don’t love you back with mutuality and respect. They love you as a superior loves an inferior. They love that you’re of use to them. They love the kibbles.

Love yourself more, Joe and burn this letter. Stop spilling your guts to a woman who demonstrably doesn’t give a shit about you. You’re better than this.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Perfectly translated CL! It is so annoying that there is still a wealth of “advice” out there to take the “Joseph’s Letter” approach. I know that I would have written that letter 11 years ago. In fact I’m fairly sure I sent emails along very similar lines.

    I know now that ACTIONS ALWAYS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Doesn’t matter that much what your cheater says, it is what they did & do that really count – same for us all really. Just seems to be hard for chumps to get our heads around that, as we tend to do what we say!

    • The English Lady, I actually nearly sent a letter today wanting to know about one of his affairs.( He has said there were ONLY FOUR.) I am so glad I read today’s blog before I sent it. What difference does it make? I am dealing with a person who has and never had any respect for me or the marriage.
      Thank you CL!

      • When the word ‘only’ is used to talk about cheating you know you’re dealing with someone who simply doesn’t give a shit.

  • Wish I would have had you around to stop me from writing the 100 letters I wrote asking for my XH to think about what he was doing before he ruined both of our lives with cheating and divorce. I never asked the particulars. I pretty much knew how that scenario played out … they met in a hotel room and fucked. It couldn’t be classified as making love since love had no part in it. Oh sure … she tried to convince me that they loved each other in a way that I would never understand, but I didn’t desire to hit myself over the head with the picture that could have been painted had he given me every stroke of the brush. Why do we demean ourselves in these ways? Why do we feel the need to hang onto these cheaters or understand why they do what they do? Never again! I get cheated on again, the door is opened and my boot is planted firmly up his ass!

  • A good partner brings out your best self. Joseph is likely a very decent, nice, hard-working guy; however, his wife has brought out of him a sniveling, deluded, jabbering, pathetic, juvenile, spineless, hand-wringing fool.

    If you won’t leave a cheater because he or she is a horrible person, leave them because you have to be a horrible person to live with them.

    • Nomar — I love your last remark!! I never really thought of it in that way before, but you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

      • And, I want to add that the cheating is just the outward display of who these people are. In all other ways, their character is piss-poor!

        • Absolutely. My favorite saying is “how you do anything is how you do everything.” People who cheat on their spouses also cheat at work, cheat on their taxes, cheat in their business dealings etc. If they’re lazy and lying in one area of their lives, they are lazy and lying in ALL areas. If they’re sloppy at completing projects, they’ll be sloppy in their relationships. Even if they have a good mask, it will slip eventually. Everything is of one piece.

          • Clarys, you are dead on. Mine paid someone to do creative accounting on his taxes, ran a business without paying taxes, had an offshore betting account, and went through tens of thousands of dollars from a home equity loan (gambling, I suspect). He could be the perfect remorseful husband and I would not take him back–marriage should also be a business decision.

    • But isn’t this who a cheater targets … good people who are decent, nice, hard-working? Decent people bring respectability to the cheater and they, in turn, start chipping away at the core of who we are to turn us into this person who becomes convinced that it is us who caused all of this chaos in our lives. So we turn into a hand-wringing fool.

      • This is my X. Loved to bring me to work functions and family functions to “show” me off and to get pats on the back. But in reality he is cheating on me. Meanwhile, I slowly become paranoid and mean because I suspect something is going on but can’t prove it.

        I am so glad I am done with him. He brought out the worst in me. Life is good now.

      • Annie, I think you’re spot on. I am a decent person who is far from perfect but I live my life in as good a way as I am capable. I think it’s important to live with integrity and to own my shit when I fuck up, which I do probably more often than I’d like.

        My ex chipped away at that and by the time his years of cheating came to light I was a shell and nearly incapable of reacting in a way that was anything but kind of nuts at times. I seriously lost my shit because it was so shocking and I had no defences left.

        • Nord, you seem so strong. Most people on this site seem to have their sh*t together. I am so so broken. I could be writing the “Joseph’s Letter” right now.

          • MGirontree,
            You are right, Nord is strong and so many people here do have their shit together but trust when I tell you that they as well as myself all came from a place of broken. So look at what you read here from Nord and the others you feel have their shit together and know that it all came from a place of broken, broken heals and like a broken bone when it heals, it becomes stronger.

            Keep reading here, it helps tremendously to help keep you on track to not being broken. You will get there in your own time.

          • MGirontree, hang in there and stay strong. These days, I feel pretty together and my life is going well. But I’m far out of the nightmare days. Believe me, back during the first couple YEARS after final Dday, I was a mess. Right after Dday, I truly didn’t think I would survive. But I did, and here I am, better than ever. Just keep up your faith and your hope. Things will get better. There will come a day when you look back at your life with the cheater, and feel nothing but a slight sense of disgust that you ever put up with all that crap.

          • MGirontree,

            I too was broken and wrote many letters like Joseph’s. I cringe thinking about it. One day you won’t be broken. Trust your heart, leave and stay strong. It will all become clear one day, and it is sooner than you think……….

          • MCirontree, I am pretty strong now but I wasn’t when this all happened. It’s been 2 and a half years and it has truly been a rough ride. I’ve had no choice but to tough it out and figure it out. I have kids and my ex did everything in his power to bring me down – no way was I going to let my children see that happen.

            The result is that while I am still struggling financially I am doing alright otherwise, but it’s been a lot of tough times and hard work and there are still days when I wake up with a knot in my stomach, the result of stress, worry, and fear. then I get my bum out of bed and get on with things.

            You will be ok but I won’t lie and say it’ll be a walk in the park. It’s hard work but in the end it’s worth it. Just keep on going, step by step.

      • Exactly, Annie. The disordered( and what cheater is not disordered) target a certain type of person and destroy him/her.

    • Nomar, your last sentence brings up a subject that comes up in one form or another on CL every single day: differing values.

      If I had cared more about the differing values between my husband and I from the start, I never would have married him. Many things he did were out of my comfort zone but for some reason I ignored them and took the relationship deeper until I was in it all the way. The red flags were there but I refused to see them.

      Until I was cheated on and ruined financially I never gave a whole lot of thought about the importance of having the same or similar value system. I wish I could have learned that lesson earlier.

      As we move forward with our lives and perhaps develop relationships with new people, we need to keep values, ethics, and morals at the forefront.

      • ML … “If I had cared more about the differing values between my husband and I from the start, I never would have married him. Many things he did were out of my comfort zone but for some reason I ignored them and took the relationship deeper until I was in it all the way. The red flags were there but I refused to see them”. I could have written these words ML. What a price we have all paid for ignoring those red flags. Interesting, I haven’t had contact for 6 months now and the last few days I feel like I was weakening. I come to Chump Lady and then I grow strong once more and it all makes sense. I love this site. Thank you CL and all Chumps.

      • So true! I always thought we had the same values, were heading in the same direction, especially in the beginning. Yet 2 weeks before he left we had a conversation where he told me that people in the beginning said we were too different for it to work, that he believed back then that we had the same “morals and values” and that shut me up because I understood that to mean my morals and values were lacking somehow. How fucked up is that? I wish instead I had asked what the hell he meant…..I did tell him those people probably said that cos they realised I was too good for him 😉

        • Nat 1
          Around 6 months ago a mutual friend of many years said:

          “Toni- You give him WAY too much credit. He’s just another addict in the gutter”.

          I know this may not apply in most Chump stories, but Boy hearing it bluntly like that sure was good for me!

        • I realized when I began to feel worried about what would come out of his mouth, at a party, for example, or anytime we met new people, that I was in trouble. Also, literally everything is a conspiracy: 9/11, walking on the moon, etc. Oh, and he’s fascinated by Nazis. Yeah, he’s a great guy.

      • Yes, yes, yes. I am trying to pay attention to the signals I missed in myself, mostly due to spackling. what makes us as chumps willing to “not see” or to spackle what we do see? And why, once we know they have betrayed us, demeaned us, lied to us and then refused to change, do we continue to try to change them?–which is really what all the letter writing, pleading, reasoning and talking to them is about. I mean that as a rhetorical question, since the “why” can get us stuck in unravelling our own skein of fuckedupedness. We can just stop chasing after them, whether they are still living in the house or not, drawn in our resources and say “I won’t accept this.”

          • ML – yes – d-day for me last November and I am starting to understand (really understand, in my heart and gut, not just my head) that ultimately, WHY he did what he did is irrelevant. WHAT he did is all that counts. It’s like finally really getting that actions speak louder than words.

      • ML, lesson learned and good for you. But I will say this. I knew to look for similar values and morals. My ex not only espoused those but his actions said so as well. In the beginning that is. He also pushed my boundaries a little here and there though. Not about my values with the world so much as my values with myself. He still parroted those world values right up until the end. At the end he started getting shitty towards other people and not just me. They say the best way to discover if you’re with a narc is to marry them. Once you marry them it’s all over. Boy that was the truth for me. I dunno. Mine claims to be a sex addict, which I don’t fully believe in or think excuses things. But sometimes I wonder if some of his deterioration in general is related to the decline of an addict. I have been no contact for a long time but recently he reached out because there are a few things we still need to settle. But I swear he still hates me for catching him at his worst.

        • I think our culture is sort of funny that any time someone does something too much they are called an “addict.”

          Can’t they just be called selfish assholes?

        • My ex certainly hates me for not only seeing the real him (finally) but not being afraid to tell people. He truly hates me and everything about me, to the point that anything he liked while with me or anything that would have even the slimmest of connection with me is scorned by him with great vitriol.

          I woke up this morning (I have to see him at a kid event later today) and the first thought that came into my head was ‘He is such a creep’. And he really is.

      • Moving Liquid,

        I remember a friend back at university ending things with his fiancé and it shocked everyone because he was truly and obviously in love with her. Once night we had drinks and talked about what happened and he said that he realised they had different views on the big, important things in life and he didn’t think it would make a good marriage in the long run. I sort of got it at the time but couldn’t understand how he could walk away from someone he so obviously loved. He ended up marrying a very nice woman whose values were much more in line with his and they’re happily married to this day.

        I wish I had really thought about what he was saying way back then because when I think about my relationship with ex it’s apparent we were very different in how we viewed fundamental things in life. I was deeply in love and I think I saw it as a case of ‘it’s ok, no one agrees on everything’, instead of realising there’s a difference between not liking the same music and having very different views on, just say, how you would deal with a terminally ill relative. (One guess on who said they would take care of that relative and who said they would not).

    • OMG Nomar-you are so right! What an awesome observation. I was a shell of who I actually am the entire time I was married to my loser ex! I was not the best person I could be because I hated who I was when I was with him.

      To make it worse? The asshat gives me an awesome get out of jail free card when he has his affair in 2010 and I didn’t take advantage of it for another 3 years. Outwardly everyone thought/thinks he is awesome so I could never justify the niggling feeling that this was not the right man for me and I should just leave. The affair gave me the perfect reason and I was too scared to pull the trigger until therapy and chumplady helped me realize I could do much better.

      Chumpnation is awesome!

    • Awesome observation, Nomar! LOVE IT!! It’s so true that the person I was when I was with my ex was a wimpy, subservient, depressed and paranoid shadow of the person I am today! We have to strive to find someone who’s good to us and inspires us to be the best we can be.

    • Well said Nomar!!!!! The next time he says to me we should try reconciling, I am going to use ” I don’t want to be this horrible person to live with them.” because he has brought out the worst in me these past 11 months.

    • Thanks for this line of thought…my 15th wedding anniversary is coming up and I was grumpy today and a bit nostalgic, but I read this and started remembering how much I gave in to do things that I did not like, everything from changing my sleep schedule (sleeping badly) to screaming at my daughters, accepting his dietary rules (which are against my health beliefs), letting his OWs and students “work” out our home and then not say anything about how it bothered me, feeling depressed and scared when I spent money on myself (even though I make twice as much as he does), letting him hit our daughters “when they really deserved it” …OMG I could go on and on…I was really a yucky scared person. Now that I am on my own and am recovering friends from the past I realize that they really, really like me and feel comfortable with me and did not with him….so many red flags…but didn´t pay attention to flags though I always had the gut feeling…next time, follow gut on first date!

  • I wasted twenty years waiting for someone to wake up and realize what he had. A beautiful wife and three beautiful children. My ex was he’ll bent on destroying his world. Best thing I ever did was let those consequences fall. The disordered are like toddlers. No one else matters.

  • Oh dear, to my shame I was once like poor Joseph. I was that desperate chump, lying on the floor clinging onto my ex’s legs while he he tried to shake me off.

    I pleaded, I begged, I sobbed, I tried to make him see me. I sent him letters, emails, texts – and guess what? He ignored me and humiliated me and wiped his feet on my head on the way out the door. And even worse, I humiliated my self and lost my dignity for a spell.

    I assumed my ex would be as sad as I was at the impending demise of our marriage that if I danced enough he would eventually see sense and wake up from his zombie dream and realise he was going to the dark side.

    He was just a cold bastard to me.

    I really wondered where his humanity had gone. The shock of it all had me reeling. It still amazes me how someone can go from ‘I love you, you’re the best thing that happened me’ to completely ignoring you in a few short weeks. It’s the most painful mindfuck ever and takes a long time to recover from.

    • Is anyone else horrified that this thing is in a “Healing Library”? Used as a resource to help you recover from infidelity?

      Years ago when I was at SI I read it and thought it so profound, especially the jigsaw puzzle part. Oh! That’s just what it’s like! I’ll explain it to my cheater and they’ll just come round!

      So, so delusional.

      And all this “healing” is predicated on us continuing the “pick me” dance — only we’re competing for understanding and consideration.

      • It is truly horrifying, it’s like rubbing salt into an open flesh wound and then adding vinegar for extra pain and repeatedly picking a scab before it has a chance to set.

      • Just the phrase “healing library” makes me want to vomit! Meaningless verbage – irritates me intensely.

      • “Is anyone else horrified that this thing is in a ‘Healing Library’? Used as a resource to help you recover from infidelity?”

        Yeah, like opening and using a first aid kit in a medical emergency only to find out later those vials of “medicine” were filled with salmonella, oven cleaner, and pig urine.

        Healing . . . fail.

        • I think this letter does have a healing function. I found it shortly after I discovered my husband’s EA. That letter outlines the issues involved for an unsuspecting spouse who is suddenly faced with the unthinkable betrayal. However, I wish it had been accompanied by an explanation of the futility of such a letter actually being given to a cheater. Joseph gave me the language to express my pain. I had to discover that my husband was not going to help put that damn puzzle together on my own. I vote that CL donate her translation to that site!

          • I think I agree. Accompanied by an explanation of why writing such a letter is probably an exercise in the futility of trying to project your own pain and share it with a partner who most likely doesn’t share that pain at all, it could be healing in a “misery loves company” kind of way: “Hey, I am not alone. In fact there are probably millions of people going through this right now. Look at poor Joe; he had his heart ripped out, and look at how he was desperately trying to connect with his spouse while in pain. It’s moving. It’s so moving, that the curators of this site preserved his letter, like they were taking his ripped out heart to a taxidermist so they could put it on display for whoever happens click on the ‘Healing Library’ link while they grapple with desperate solitude of the emotional isolation within their own marriage”.

            • CL,
              Here is what has become my healing Library 1 Year and 5 months out…..
              1. Chump Lady and all of it’s Chumps
              2. Realizing that there is no set recovery time from this and that NC and using that Block Button on FB (out of sight out of mind) really helps to return thoughts to self rather than to Creep. This does shorten the time back to reality and healing and I wish I had been more consistent in doing this from the beginning but you live and learn from experience.
              3. Finally stopped beating myself up and being so angry that I had been duped and realizing I made a mistake and allowed a Creep into my life. I did the hard work of learning how and why this happened to me and I became my best protector so that this wouldn’t happen again.
              4. Taking back control of my life and working on starting a business which will be opening mid July of this year.
              5. Getting through the depression and self hatred by becoming grateful for what I do have, including myself, rewiring the negative thoughts into positive thoughts and actions. This takes time and is very difficult, along the way you do fall down but you get back up and try again.
              6. Patience – This is very necessary to healing as in the first few months I was ridiculously hard on myself and kept saying to myself, “why are you letting such a loser get to you?”. Accepting that what happened did happen and understanding what I was lacking in myself at the time that allowed this Creep into my life for any length of time.
              7. Forgiving myself for making a mistake and finally understanding and being grateful that I did learn from this mistake and trusting myself again.
              8. Arriving at Meh and moving forward with my life! : )

              The difficult part is realizing and accepting you have good days and bad days, there is no clean cut road or timeline to moving on. It happens with time, hard work and goals. Friends, family and a therapist are essential, but in the end it comes down to you and digging deep to get you back!!!

              • TimeHeals

                Your line: ” the curators of this site preserved his letter, like they were taking his ripped out heart to a taxidermist so they could put it on display” resounds my issues with the RIC.

                CL, of course you’re banned. You, too, are interfering with the “new reality” they are trying to build..

          • Yes! I remember reading the letter with tears in my eyes—it so eloquently described everything I was feeling. I couldn’t wait to give it to my husband, knowing this would, of course, change everything. I remember the annoyed “god, what do yo want me to read now” look on his face when I handed it to him. He read it over the course of a couple of nights, had little to say about it and was thoroughly unmoved. I should have walked right then.

            • Laura, your post reminds me of a quote from Suzanne Finnamore’s book, “Split: a Memoir of Divorce”

              “They feel life is for the taking, and that everyone deserves happiness no matter what the cost. I must remember these tricks if I ever decide to have my soul surgically removed.”

              • Did anyone else get and are bothered by the constant “happy” references from these cheaters? I wasn’t happy. We haven’t been happy for years. I was happy while I was screwing her (and screwing me at same time it seems). Do they really know what happy is? Isn’t contentment, part of being happy? Can you be happy when you’ve destroyed the lives of people who love you? (As you can see I’m just barely past the Joseph’s Letter stage.)

              • No, they do not realize what happiness is. Their version of happiness is anything that blocks out the demons they won’t face. Which essentially makes them all cowards. So yes I guess someone can be happy at the expense of others if this is their definition of happiness. Them projected those demons onto you is another way they hide from them.

                The cheater who says they haven’t been happy for years is more than likely simply changing the narrative to justify their behavior.

                There is nothing wrong with contentment. In fact to chase happiness all the time I think is unrealistic. Nobody is HAPPY all the time. But to be content is under appreciated. My greatest loss was losing that feeling. I have a bit of it now again with my infant son.

      • Maybe it’s wrong to trash another site, but I was on SI for only a short time and I left because it seemed so drama-ridden and dysfunctional. I’m wondering if anyone else has that impression.

        • I got a lot of help from that site initially. I found tons of people who were very sympathetic and helpful, I even privately email two of them now weekly. (I’m going to finally get to meet them both in person this fall too.).

          The problem was I outgrew the dialogue rather quickly. I felt limited in how I could respond to people, especially those that have been through 3 or 4 D-days and are still trying to reconcile with a spouse that obviously could give a fuck less. It was pretty frustrating, and heart-breaking. God forbid you should suggest divorce when the poor chump is just stuck in a bad, bad deal.

          I pop in occasionally to offer support, but most of my support time is spent here. As soon as I found this site, it was like I found a bunch of people just like me. People that could relate to the absurdity of it all. And CL speaks my language so it was pretty effortless to understand everything I read. It just all rang true to me.

          I’ve told lots of IRL friends about this site, and they think it’s pretty cool, although unless you’ve been through betrayal, you really won’t understand the value of a site like this until you need it. It helped save my ass though . . . Thanks Chumplings. :).

          • I recently met a woman who had been betrayed by her husband and best friend (not an uncommon story around here, sadly), and I was so excited to tell her about Chump Lady!

            Spread the word. Spread it wide.

            • Yeah, I have been spreading the word every time I meet someone else going through this nightmare…

          • Which site is that? This one fit me as soon as I found it and I agree with you about the dialogue. I used to spend alot more time here to offer support, and I feel guilty for not doing so as much but as better off without him I have had several other blows, $, Health, Depression, and MAJOR problems with the Narcs at my job. But I do take heart when I come and see how many people are here now! Love Ya’ll!

      • Agree Chump Lady….I CRINGE when I read stuff like that. Ran across another one the other day that suggested we be more ‘understanding’ when they find it hard to apologize. Poor schmucks have their issues, you know.

      • I too went through a phase where I fervently believed that if I could just explain how I felt better, could just find the right analogy to make my cheating spouse understand what he had done to us, that he’d have some sort of magical epiphany and transform into a human being again instead of a selfish asshole. It’s classic chump behaviour to believe that if we just work harder to find the right words, they will make a difference, when in reality, all the words just bounce right off the wall of selfishness.

    • Tonya, you are not alone in that shame. Most of us here have passed through the “desperate chump” stage of infidelity, I think. As Exhibit A from my own case history, I give you the concluding paragraph of a long letter I agonized over, pouring my heart into every sentence, before giving it to my serial cheating ex-wife during our attempted reconciliation:

      “I believe I can, eventually, trust you completely, and I believe we can, eventually, heal our marriage, maybe even forge something stronger and richer than we ever dreamed possible. I am so very grateful that you decided to give me the gift of the truth, as painful as it was to give. You have always been my greatest blessing, and I thank God that you also see our marriage as worth saving. What lies ahead is not easy, but I believe, truly, that a miracle lies within our trembling reach.”

      What humiliating dreck! What unholy drivel! What bullshit! I want to build a time machine, travel back to 2009, find the gutless asshole who wrote that, and punch him in the face. I *hate* that guy! There is nothing my ex did to me that is half as debasing and demeaning as what I did to myself when I gave her that damn letter.

      And “the gift of truth” she gave me? Not so much. She’d only told me about one of the half dozen affair partners, and soft-sold even that one (e.g., it lasted years longer than she claimed). Oh, and she was continuing to cheat throughout the reconciliation. Which may be one reason why my heartfelt chumpy “Nomar’s Letter” received . . . no response at all.

      Cheaters are assholes, Joe. And all the generous, knid-hearted metaphors in the world won’t change that.

      • “What humiliating dreck! What unholy drivel! What bullshit! I want to build a time machine, travel back to 2009, find the gutless asshole who wrote that, and punch him in the face. I *hate* that guy!”

        That made me laugh a lot nomar!

      • Your letter isn’t debasing and demeaning. It’s just a sign that you’re a truly good person. She didn’t deserve it, but it says nothing bad about your character.

        • It says a lot about one’s willingness to make up excuses for anything but sincerity and honesty in their marriage while they are traumatized, unfortunately.

          There is often an impulse to try to “fix things” (control outcomes) and provide clues for how the cheater ought to be feeling and behaving which is at odds with both how they are feeling and how they are behaving.

          Usually, the best behavior you will ever see is “OK, I was wrong, but can you get over it already?”. That’s pretty common, but it’s only as common as “I did it because of [insert pathetic excuse here], so get over it already” or “Am I supposed to pay for this forever [and note by pay for this I mean put up with you being angry and sad. I hate it when you are angry or sad, so stop that]?”.

          • “Usually, the best behavior you will ever see is “OK, I was wrong, but can you get over it already?”. That’s pretty common, but it’s only as common as “I did it because of [insert pathetic excuse here], so get over it already” or “Am I supposed to pay for this forever [and note by pay for this I mean put up with you being angry and sad. I hate it when you are angry or sad, so stop that]?”.”

            Yep, those were the exact “apologies” I received from cheating ex.

            I’d never heard of the “Joseph’s Letter” before this post. I still remember the days when I felt like Joseph, and would have (probably did) written something quite similar. But reading it now, several years out, I just shake my head in disgust and wish I could convince every chump who is newly reeling that there is no point in reasoning with a cheater. They do not care, they do not feel sorry, they have no intention of changing. Walking away and starting a new life is truly the only way, and it feels SO MUCH BETTER than life with a cheater.

      • Been there, Nomar. Kicked the sorry sod out but for a brief period still though there was hope if only I could make him ‘see’. He wanted to keep me around but he sure didn’t want to stop seeing the sidepieces. So that was that.

        • “I want to build a time machine, travel back to 2009, find the gutless asshole who wrote that, and punch him in the face. I *hate* that guy!”

          This made me laugh, too, Nomar. I am one month out from D-Day, and to my horror, I have spent the last two weeks writing such letters to the STBX. Mine are a lot shoutier than yours, and more filled with expletives, but I may as well have been laying on the ground, clutching his ankles as he walked out the door. Like poor Joseph, I wanted him to make some tiny sign that he was willing to try to see things from my point of view, to recognise that I am a person, to show he cares about what he’s done.

          I’ve got nada of course, we all get nada, but I kept asking and asking and asking. At not one point has he acknowledged my feelings, even in response to ranty demands that he do so. He just keeps saying how difficult the whole thing is for him. Despite the fact I have CL and chump nation to explain that this is the exact problem, they simply cannot empathise, I don’t seem to be able to wrap my head around the reality. Can’t they at least fake it? Would an “I’m sorry for what I put you through” kill them??

          (Sorry, still raw here.)

          • Dear Hecate,

            Of course you are still raw. And in shock. Be as kind to yourself as you can be, and do your best to follow CL’s advice on No Contact. Your focus should be on you as much as possible — what you need for support, what keeps you safe, what helps you process this horrifying new reality. Leave him out of the picture, because he does none of those things for you — support you, keep you safe, help you process.

            Best wishes. You do have Chump Nation here to guide you through.

          • “Despite the fact I have CL and chump nation to explain that this is the exact problem, they simply cannot empathise, I don’t seem to be able to wrap my head around the reality. Can’t they at least fake it? Would an “I’m sorry for what I put you through” kill them??”

            I don’t think it’s that they “can’t” empathize. It’s that they won’t. Because to empathize with you would involve:
            A. Acknowledging that what they did is wrong
            B. Seeing you as a valid human being, worthy of respect
            C. Giving up control — because watching you suffer as they withhold basic human feelings makes them feel like a bigshot.

            It may not seem like it now, but the truth is that cheaters are insecure, puny little cowards. There’s no shame in not seeing that right away. The shame is all his.

          • “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got.”

            You’re only one month out so I can completely relate with how you feel. My best advice is write away . . . start a journal if you haven’t already, but DON’T sent any letters or emails to him. I’m so glad I didn’t do that now. I wanted to, big time, but I didn’t. I’m over six months out and I promise it’ll get better. It’s like clawing up a mountain and all of a sudden you’ll be on the other side. 🙂

            • And the journal doesn’t have to be very elaborate. Since DDay, I’d write notes, sometimes just a sentence or two, on my iPhone. I was looking them over a couple of weeks ago and was surprised to see how much further ahead my head was than my heart. I’d noted the information about the family lawyer I’m now using weeks before I actually contacted her and during a time when we seemed to be making progress (or so my heart wanted to believe). I’m also surprised at how, despite being an emotional wreck, somehow my head managed to let me know what was really going on.

              • I started a journal immediately after D-day and that one went 236 pages, or 167,462 words. I started the second after the divorce, and that one is still climbing at 37 pages. But, you notice the sharp decline in those numbers?

                That’s because I spewed relentlessly as I got ready for Freedom day to arrive. Once it happen, I was in a much better place. Not to say I didn’t still feel sad here and there, but that journal, along with my therapist and a script of Prozac saved me. The other things helped, but that journal was instrumental in getting me to where I’m at right now. It stopped me from sending crazy emails to an asshole too, and helped me sort out the misery I was going through.

            • I kept a journal for a long time after Dday, and then started journaling again after the bogus reconciliation ended. Those journals were filled with so much pain and confusion and anger. Page after page after page. But as time went by, I wrote less and less. Eventually, I gave it up altogether. Finally, a couple years out, I took out all those journals, read through my entries, and then threw the notebooks into the dumpster. I just didn’t need them anymore.

              I think journaling is a great help when dealing with the mind fuck that is infidelity. And one of the best parts is the inevitable day when you realize you are past it, and you feel free to throw those journals away because you no longer need them.

      • Your letter is not debasing, it’s how you genuinely felt and there is nothing wrong with that! The problem is we are dealing with sneaky, deceitful, two-faced assholes who think they have a turn style on thier bedroom doors! Love is not defined the same way for them! So-called “love” is situational for a cheater depending on what they feel they need or want at that point in time! They equate love on the same level as a kid in a candy store! They are emotionally and mentally underdeveloped when it comes to considering anyone but themselves!

      • Wow, I would of fallen in love with someone who can write la letter so heart felt! I am a sucker for letters, and its such a loss that no one writes them any more. An old boyfriend that I should have married instead (long story) wrote me letters for years and I still treasure them as something so very special. Keep writing letters nomar, just not to her!….

        By the way, this is a good idea for a CL petition: send the most humiliating phrases that you wrote to your cheater during attempts at reconciliation…

        • Beware those can Only write good letters..and Live them out in Truth and Action, Not at all… It’s CHUMPBAIT.

      • nomar, I think you’re a really good writer and I would have loved a letter like that. LOL. Anyway, I used to write my ex long letters when he was away at college and I was still living at home. He used to make fun of how long they were. Then I would write letters and leave them on the stairs for him to find because I was so tired and couldn’t wait up late enough for him to get home. I was always trying to connect to him through writing, but my letters never got much response. It’s pointless to write to a person who doesn’t value words. What a Chump I was.

      • “What humiliating dreck! What unholy drivel! What bullshit! I want to build a time machine, travel back to 2009, find the gutless asshole who wrote that, and punch him in the face. I *hate* that guy!”

        Tru dat! I look back at my actions back then and wonder what in God’s name was I thinking?

        I never wrote the letter, but I kept journals. They helped get my thoughts organized, to outline what my conditions were to move forward, to detail exactly what I would accept and what I would not. My take on the 180 was that it gave me some breathing room to slow down the emotions and start to think, to put some distance between us so that I could think. This helped me out a lot when she finally came to me to say that she was sorry and wanted to stay together – and I was able to state under what conditions that could happen. I think that she was stunned – that I would not simply agree and forgive and move on. That she would have to prove to me that she could be trusted again. That she had made the mistake and would have to atone for it.
        I remember to this day the first sneer. That was it for me – it made me take a cold hard look at myself and realize that I had become pathetic in her eyes and mine. After that moment, and a lot of self talk, things changed. Every lie she told me was greeted with a simple and heartfelt “bullshit”. I ceased doing anything for her. I pulled away and regrouped.

        And I became grumpy, cynical and mean. And it took time to get over that as well, but I am not as I was.

      • It’s hard not act like a Chump when you first find yourself in the unenviable chump situation. I wish I can say I always took the classy road, but I don’t think I acted any differently than 95% of the population would have. I wasn’t myself for a looong time, but that’s okay. I think we all come out of it stronger and wiser.

    • Tonya, I could have written every word of your comment.

      I am still in a state of shock because of how quickly his feelings for me changed as well. It makes you doubt everything!

      And you end up mourning the man you thought he was because that man is dead and gone.

      • What causes such cognitive dissonance for me is that if he was hanging out with the OW and bashing me for such a good long time then why move forward with a wedding and a baby? I get the idea of grooming the next woman….or of cake but cheater ex had no real benefit to fathering a child with me that I could see. Either he was an Exceptional coward who just kept going despite wanting to exit out or he was evil. I think some of that cognitive dissonance comes because the logical answer would appear to be that there must of been some part of him that loved me. But I know that can’t be true. I swear it’s harder to move on from someone who sends such incredible mixed messages. (It’s harder for me that is. Not in comparison to anyone else.) In one of those rare backward mindfucks my heart knows he didn’t love me, but my mind isn’t sure.

        Moving Liquid I think that’s part of where our ego gets stuck. And I don’t mean ego in a bad way. Are we mourning some form of lost love? Or … I guess I find it easier to move on when I can pin exactly down exactly the way I got fucked over. This last little bit is sending me back and forth in my reason like a pinball. What the hell?

        PS, I’m not pining for this guy. I’m just sort of in the middle of realizing I got stabbed instead of bombed…no wait it looks like robbed..er maybe drowned? I’m trying to identify exactly what I should be so pissed about.

        • Kat, we’ll never know what they were thinking or how they felt because they don’t know themselves.

          And now that they are done with us they just have to create an alternative history to make us the demons they were forced to leave. Poor guys, they tried so hard to make it work!

          I’m pretty sure my husband really loved me at certain times. I’d bet yours did too. Which makes it all the more baffling that he flipped a switch and now despises me.

          We were stabbed. In the back.

    • Tonya…I wonder as well how a man (or woman) can turn away from their spouse so completely in such a short period of time. My soon to be ex-husband claimed to love me more than life itself, insisted AP was out of the picture and that he wanted to be the husband that I deserved…and one week after I moved out of our home the AP was living there and making herself quite comfortable amongst my things (stbxh included!). To me it would be beyond weird, after 17 years of marriage, to walk into the home we bought together and see the AP standing there instead of my spouse. Just one of the many things in this whole mess that I will never comprehend : (

      • I don’t think they do turn away rapidly. I think (know, actually) that they lie about commitment to their partner, while laying plans for the next nest/affair/whatever.

        It just seems abrupt to we chumps since we had no clue–believing the lies, whether we are spackling, they are convincing liars, or both, we can’t see the avalanche coming since our weather report read “all clear”.

        Theirs, on the other hand, read “laying dynamite under the snowcaps on the ridge tonight.”

        • I think they have to stay with AP to justify/legitimize what they did, or they latch on to someone else quickly because being alone and having time to think about what the did would be too much for them to handle. Or that could just be wishful thinking on my part

        • All that Vera and this too.

          Quite a common thread amongst these character flawed fuckwits is that they can’t possibly ever be alone. They have to set up their nice soft landing after they are done detonating the relationship they’re in. That’s also the reason they like us to “stick around and be friends with them.” You can be their next soft landing spot just in case their schmoopie twu wuv story doesn’t have a “happily ever after”

          Vomit!

          • CS I agree. I tried to make a bet with my ex that he wouldn’t last 6 months past our divorce…turned out he already had a new GF during it ! and lied about it (duh) and all in all, lasted 4 months from when I moved our to when he got a new “mommy” / fuck buddy.

            I would have won that bet damnit!

            So he went from home, to college, to living with a bunch of pals post college, to living with me, to us being married (25 years) to living alone for FOUR WHOLE MONTHS!! to getting involved again–he’s not quite shacked up, but will be soon, once he moves to the other coast. Crikey.

            You’re right, they can’t survive alone. Like 3-legged stools with 2 legs. Fall right over without at least one, if not more, props.

          • This was certainly the case with my STBXH. He told me he left to “work things out” because he was “confused” and “in a fog” (having obviously read up in the Cheater’s Handbook that all of them seem to reference), and he swore that there was no other woman. I believed him, and paid for his new bed and many of the household items he bought for his new place, chump that I am.

            I found out ten months later that he moved OW into his new place the day he left me. That was the day of no return, when the true extent of his lying, cheating behaviour crashed down on me. All the previous ten months I was trying so hard to be understanding, to work things out, looking after the kids, the house, my mum, working full time, be a better, more understanding wife, a patient partner, just like the RIC advised. I wrote him far too many e-mails doing what we all seem to do, wanting an explanation, thinking that if I just explained myself more clearly suddenly the empathy would kick in and he would come to his senses. But all he did, of course, was feel sorry for himself in an endless 24/7 pity party. Never once, not once, did he ask me how I was, or if the boys were ok.

            His OW left him a couple of weeks ago, from what I understand. In my idle moments I wonder who he might have lined up to take care of him now. With him being permanently stuck in the emotional and social developmental stage of a toddler, I believed it when one of my kids told me that “Dad has to live with someone because he can’t take care of himself.” Thank Goddess that someone is no longer me. And maybe that low humming sound I hear is the Karma Bus approaching, finally…….

            • The Jackass had his Schmoopie while he was still gaslighting me to keep me on the hook but he also has–his Mommy, newly widowed, for whom he became the “go-to guy” so he could compete with his brothers to be #1 just like he “competed” with Schmoopie’s unsuspecting husband and the various other partners of his married Other Women. So even when he kicked the semi-literate, 45-yr old Britney Spears wannabe to the curb, he had his supply of ego kibbles all lined up. And if he hadn’t been caught, he would still have me on the back burner. And really, I had been on his back burner for 30 years, always ready to believe, admire, care.

        • Named For Vera: ‘It just seems abrupt to we chumps since we had no clue–believing the lies, whether we are spackling, they are convincing liars, or both, we can’t see the avalanche coming since our weather report read “all clear”.’

          That is a genius observation. The avalanche is so suffocating and…in the end, no matter how hard we’ve tried to claw ourselves out to gasp with breathe again…..the outcome is the same but we didn’t realize they detonated the man-made explosion in the first place.

          (you must have grown up around snow and mountains too – :0 )

    • “I pleaded, I begged, I sobbed, I tried to make him see me. I sent him letters, emails, texts – and guess what? He ignored me and humiliated me and wiped his feet on my head on the way out the door….”
      This was me, too. I get comfort from your words. I think it is so strange that a person can receive comfort from someone else’s misery. I feel like I could sit down and talk with you and you would be an instant friend.
      I have been in such a terribly dark and lonely place these last few weeks. Pretty much at the end of my rope. It is difficult to sort out feelings and the bullshit translator is such a help as well as people sharing their stories. It is such a lift.
      I think I will go run instead of crying and wallowing in my misery. Thanks for sharing at just the right time for me.

      • Proud of you. Running is a great release. Run, journal, listen to music, garden, cook. Whatever it takes to get you through the day.

      • Patticake, I did the exact same thing. I will just never ever forget the ‘smirk’ he did more than once. It was really weird, and after a full year of monster-mode, I decided he was actually laughing at me. If I yelled for him to watch a dog or 2, a smirk – like there I was being a crazy woman for yelling – but he seemed in a total trance while he was constantly texting ‘someone’ and I was just trying to get him to help me. I will never forget his incredible cruelty for poking fun of me while texting the g/f. Of course, I found all this out later.

        I guarantee this sadness will go away. I never thought it possible and I am still raw at 5 mo stage, but it is slowly getting more positive. Please have faith. That’s what I’m clinging onto.

        Yeah – I wanna go run a little bit tomorrow too (or just a great walk with some weights – Great Danes. Run-Shechump-Run.

      • It’s worse when a betrayal is followed by sheer coldness. It’s a really, low blow that rips you up in places you didn’t know you had.

        It does get better patticake….hang in there. You will come out the other side.

    • Tonya, I was once like Joseph too… sent emails, texts, sobbed and begged him not to leave… oh dear, so mortifying now!!! I so wish I had found Chump Lady 3 years ago. I had made myself so small and insignificant over so many years, lost all my self esteem, allowed him to use me over and over again as the doormat just to wipe his feet on. I thought my whole world crumbled… He treated me with such contempt, like I was not even worth considering. I pick me danced like nothing else.

      Fast forward 3 years, doesn’t time, distance and no contact open your eyes to what a loser of a man I was married to… I wouldn’t even give him the time of day now

      • Jode70, it is good to hear that you have made it to the other side. I was married for 37 years to my one and only love and the pain of losing him and our marriage was almost too much to go through. I never thought I would stop loving him and yet I have. And as you so eloquently stated … I wouldn’t even give him the time of day now. So true. I just miss my kids.

    • OMG Tonya, I cried so hard reading your post. I can picture “lying on the floor clinging onto my ex’s legs while he tried to shake me off.”, because I went through the same humiliation. He told me to go kill myself while I was groveling at his feet. The sad part is that I am so broken I am still on the floor crying after 11 months.

      • MGirontree-You seem really low this morning. You won’t be broken like this forever…honest. Just wanted to let you know someone cares

      • 11 months isn’t so long. I was still in a daze at that point. Hang in there, better days are ahead.

      • MG,

        Remember, when a person treats you like poo, that speaks volumes about who/what they are, but zero about who/what you are. You are defined by how you treat others, NOT by how others treat you.

        Please believe ‘The Nation’ when we tell you it does get better! Much better……you will someday be so free and light……And the only tears you shed will be tears of joy!!!

        Forge on, MG….ForgeOn!

        PS: Once you heal——“Stronger at the broken places”…….it’s the truth!

    • Tonya, I could have written your post.
      “It still amazes me how someone can go from ‘I love you, you’re the best thing that happened me’ to completely ignoring you in a few short weeks. It’s the most painful mindfuck ever and takes a long time to recover from.”

      Twenty years of “you are my home, my queen, the love of my life”, flowers every week, amazing sex, fun vacations, date every week, dancing classes…you name it… my amazing stbx and I had it. And then one day… he was leaving me…and a month later, after crawling at his feet begging and crying and begging some more… I found out about the OW and then another OW and another and another…

      It’s the most painful mindfuck EVER.

    • YES. I totally agree with this:
      “The shock of it all had me reeling. It still amazes me how someone can go from ‘I love you, you’re the best thing that happened me’ to completely ignoring you in a few short weeks. It’s the most painful mindfuck ever and takes a long time to recover from.”

  • CL–that post is perfect for where I’m at today. Thank you.

    I’d like to add:

    “I can only observe you actions, and what information I have acquired and slowly, over time rebuild my faith in your feelings. I truly wish it were easier.”

    Joseph–YOU’RE doing all the work to rebuild your faith. She’s not–and she would if she were honestly wanting to work this out with you. Sadly, honesty and cheating liars are about as friendly with each other as a muticultural gay-pride parade at a neo-Nazi convention.

    And it’s not her “feelings” that you need to rebuild faith in–you need to rebuild faith in YOURSELF. And that’s not easy either–but at least you don’t have to write a letter to yourself to beg– you get THAT dignity out of it.

  • I stopped marriage counseling because she and my h viewed reconciliation as the only goal, which didn’t sit well with me. I was Joseph for a few months, so I know that desperation. But I also know that for me it didn’t last. I think as you accept the new reality as the hand you’ve been dealt you stop trying to fix what can’t be fixed. I’m in a different frame of mind now, even though I’ve only known for 5 months, and my Joseph phase wasn’t even the most embarrassing. But what that letter says is, “if any of this is my fault, than that means I can fix this”. Ouch, that was a painful time.

    • Nic, I also practically groveled at my ex’s feet trying to make him remember our early years together, what our family meant, the loss of playing with our future grandchildren together. I took the blame, I said I was sorry in the most heartfelt way, and he sat there and shook his head no. He looked at his feet. He said he was a bad person and I exclaimed “No, you’re not a bad person! You’re a good father, and a good person.” LOL. I can’t believe I acted like that, but that’s where I was at the time. It’s true that when you don’t have all the same pieces to the puzzle you can’t make out the picture they’re seeing. My ex had long since moved on in his mind. He was already with someone else and I was just holding him back. Finally, I walked in one day and said “Leave. I’ll be fine.” He looked shocked. I went into the utility room where he couldn’t see me and cried my eyes out because I didn’t know whether I’d be fine or not. Sometimes I’m still not sure I’m going to be fine. But anyway, once he left I slammed the door and locked it behind him and that’s the last time he was allowed to enter my life, even though he wanted to stay “friends.” You can’t be friends with people who lie and betray you, who rip your heart out and grind it into the floor with their boot as they’re leaving.

        • He was shocked because he viewed me as weak, all the begging and groveling I did at first didn’t help. I guess when I finally told him to leave, that I’d be fine, he was shocked. He expected me to keep begging to keep our family together I guess.

          • Mine was shocked when I served him with divorce papers. I think he thought I was to comfortable with our lifestyle or simply to afraid to leave. Surprise!

            • I’m proud of myself because the minute I found out I packed my pregnant self up and moved out of state. Dumbass. I told him if I ever caught him cheating I’d be gone no matter how long we’d been together. The one time I re-read the texts I sent him in the process of moving out I realized I actually sound pretty strong. I have to remind myself of this sometimes. He may have cheated, but I Left Him. If I could go back and do it again I’d take a bunch more of our shared stuff though. And his pants. After all I think I paid for every damn pair he had.

              • Oh, that’s some scary shit. Pregnant? How did you manage on your own? Did you have a support system in place? A job? I had an infant when I found out about first OW, but didn’t have resources to leave. I still feel trapped.

              • Well I did have family to stay with temporarily, but no job and as my pregnancy progressed I had complications that didn’t allow for work. Plus my earning potential in this state, and with my situation is about half what it was. Honestly it was hard. I applied for all kinds of aid and subsidized housing. I learned to work all of the resources I could find and became an expert at that. Some states have reduced daycare costs if you’re poor. It’s embarrassing as heck to have to sit in those offices and prove how sorry my situation is to get assistance but I am grateful it’s there. I am going back to school though because I want to be able to support my son and I without any assistance from the state or anyone else, not even a husband if I remarry. Plus if I’m going to raise my kid as a single mommy in a family conservative state I want to at least have an education and professional career that my son can be proud of and use as an example for what is possible to overcome.

                I had a decent job and good benefits when I left. I was pretty pissed at the idea of being a single mom and I won’t lie, it is hard sometimes but it’s soooooooooo beyond worth it leaving behind the horrible person that my ex showed himself to be. You’d be surprised at what you’re capable of when you have to. Good luck Ann.

      • By the time I found out, the a was over. But the ow refused to stop asinine unprofessional contact until I forwarded everything to her chump husband. I was pissed that I had to clean up a mess he had made, due to the fact he was worried about a work harassment problem. Wuss. He’s the one grovelling now – on a feeling chart, I’d pick apathy for myself this week. With a splash of still angry. We are living in the same house and I can’t even look at him.

      • Lyn and Nic – love this! I also groveled for a short time. Then, by God, I kept hating myself as I knew he was DONE.Cold-done.Rare.A moving zombie. When I literally screamed him to the curb with every ounce of anger I had after he waltzed in making himself a martini, after he promised to leave me alone for 30 days. The nerve. I made myself very monster-mode I guess. lol
        I immediately changed all the locks. It was not exactly legally permissible during this time of the 30 day separation, but I did every bloody bluff in the book. And, it worked! He hasn’t been able to enter MY home for the past 6 mos now. ^5^ to all you who have been controlled by assholes 1/2 your life and finally get control. Keep bluffing, if you have to! I’m kind of enjoying it.

  • I agree, naturally, with ChumpLady.

    We can ask the “why” and “how” questions but need to understand from the start that the person who has been lying, deceiving, and betraying us isn’t compelled to tell us the truth. It’s not in their makeup.

    In my case I’ll never know when it started. I’ll never know who she is. I’ll never know what lies he told her and his friends about me. I’ll never know why he decided to do it.

    All I can do is move on with my life without him.

    It kills me when Dean McDermott exclaims, “I can’t win!” when he tells his wife and MC some of the details of his affair. It bothers me that no one says to him, “You’ve already lost. There will be no winning. Get winning out of your head.”

    But if they did that, he’s reply would be, “Well then why should I bother to tell the truth if I can’t win? What’s my motivation?”

    • Yeah, I’ll never know the truth of how many affairs there were, what was really going on in his life. All I know is the little bits I discovered when I started snooping. I’m sure what I found out was just the tip of the iceberg.

    • It took me a long time to fully understand and accept that even with all of the awful things I KNOW my ex did, those things were only the tip of the iceberg. I used to spend so much time wondering about all the stuff I DIDN’T know, agonizing over it, trying to bring some sort of meaning out of the madness.

      I don’t bother with any of that anymore. I’ll never know the full extent of his wrongdoings, and I know now that it’s for the best that I don’t.

      • I reached that point of not even bothering anymore when my phone and computer synced one day out of nowhere and some odd emails turned up on my contact list. The computer was registered to him and I realised I could see some of his old emails. I looked through a few and it became even more apparent that he really had lived an alternative life, populated by people I’d never heard of. It creeped me out big time and that was one of the many times when I moved closer to realising he was seriously fucked up. I can’t think of one person in my life when I was with him who he had not met or at least heard me talk about. He had loads I didn’t know existed on this earth. That was very, very weird.

        • Nord, that is really weird! I also felt like my ex was living two separate lives and I told him so. I guess he decided he liked the other one better. He practically moved out of our house and straight in with OW’s family. It will never make sense to me how someone could trade their own family for someone else’s.

  • CL, thanks for doing a dissection of Joseph’s letter. Maybe you could do one of the Marriage Builder’s Plan B letter, where you tell the cheater how much pain he caused you, that you love him and believe that you can have a better and stronger marriage but have to go NC because it is too painful to be with him? In the letter you also say that you will stop the NC only if the cheater meets certain conditions, e.g., provides email passwords, takes an STD test, takes a polygraph, write the OW an NC letter, commits to 15 hours of “date nights” per week.

    Unfortunately and embarrassingly, I did send my XH a Plan B letter (and he tried to use it against me in my divorce proceedings). Thank God he didn’t even begin to meet any of the conditions, or else I might be in a false reconciliation now.

    Marriage Builders knows that it’s hard to reconcile with someone who has done a lot of shitty things to you, so MB has the betrayed spouse do a lot of mental gymnastics about how/why her spouse had an affair: The cheater is “wayward” and in a temporary “fog” due to a drug-like addiciton (i.e., the affair). But once the affair ends and consequences are imposed (legal and financial), the cheater “wakes up” from the fog and realizes it is in his best interest to return to the marriage.

    However, I have to say, at least MB demands some action on the part of the cheater before considering reconciliation. And MB acknowledges that infidelity is incredibly painful for the betrayed spouse (says it’s more painful than being raped) and that doing the pick-m-dance for more than 3 weeks for women (and 6 months for men) can be dangerous one’s psychological and physical health. MB also recommends going NC, i.e., doing Plan B, to protect one’s health and only coming out of Plan B if the unfaithful spouse ends the affair and tries to rebuild the trust through his actions. So, I have to give MB some credit, but what MB thinks is a formerly wonderful spouse entering some wayward fog I think is better explained by CL as spackling plus character disorder.

  • Yep. I sent one of those letters 3 months after he left.
    His reply was to take OW on holiday.
    On my birthday.
    Then send me a ‘Happy Birthday’ text.

  • I think the thing that helped me feel better after the discovery was the realisation that had I know what type of person she really was and how she was capable of inflicting this much hurt upon me, I would never have started a relationship with her in the first place. This helped me question what I was really upset about, it wasn’t the lost of her from my life at all, it was simply the betrayal.

      • It gets better ML. You’re brain knows it wasn’t about you long before your heart, but that day will come. Then you will get your groove back.

    • I think I was lucky to realise early on that if our marriage was going to continue, it would have to be a totally new relationship, and that if I was planning a new relationship at the age of 43, I wouldn’t be choosing a man who had lied to his family, cheated on his wife and hurt so badly the people he should have protected from hurt above all.

      No matter who he used to be (if he ever was that person), that is who he is now. Is that someone I’d choose? Hell no.

      • These are good points and helpful for me to think of it that way. (Not that my ex ever wanted to come back, but still…)

  • I had to stop going another infidelity site because I just couldn’t take the idea of reconciling with a person that has ripped out your heart and tossed it in a Cuisinart. If a person does this to you, it’s not that they are scared or hurting or made a boo-boo. They are selfish fucks who care nothing for you. They like you contributing to the mortgage. They like that their laundry is getting done. They like having an additional person to fuck when they aren’t with their AP. They like to be paired up with another because that gives them society’s smiley-face of approval. They don’t love you, because if they did, they wouldn’t be sweating all over another individual. There really is no need to over-think it. I think the sooner a chump learns to accept this fact, the sooner they get to a happy place.

    Once you acknowledge this, it makes rehashing it all so obviously pointless. Reading some of those sites, I got the feeling that we should encourage someone to run a fucking flaming gauntlet to get things back the way they were. (Like that ridiculous 180 thing oy!) What for? The person who was in that marriage with you took an M-80 and blew it all up. There’s nothing to fix. You’ve got 10,000 itty bitty pieces left of your marriage scattered all over creation. The best thing to do is clean up the mess and get on with your life. The idea of trying to drag your cheater down on the floor to help you find and glue all those pieces together is a time-suck of epic proportions.

    • Yeah, the 180. I should dissect a reconciliation tenet of faith for each column. Should give me a lot of material. There’s also “make the marriage a good place to be” and “don’t make any decision for at least 6 months,” ad nauseum, etc.

      • CL you are right– everyone, including the few women I knew who had divorced cheaters, said to me “Don’t make any decisions for 6-12 months!” and I trusted them. It’s definitely a decision I look back on and wonder about.

      • Here is how you do the 180:

        The 180/Human Pretzel

        A.K.A Human Pretzel

        If integrity is being who you really are, what is the 180?

      • Tracy,

        In many cases not making certain decisions until after one has regained control of wildly fluctuation emotions is a good thing.

        I can vividly remember that early on I was willing to make certain concessions about property and assets just to get rid of the pain and hassle of having to deal with X. Several people and my therapist told me point blank, “In the state you are in right now you cannot think clearly about your long-term welfare. If you make these concessions just to get rid of the toothache, you will be kicking your own butt a year or two from now. Get control of yourself so that you can suck it up, endure, and deal effectively. Otherwise you are going to get screwed.”

        They were right. I essentially had to start over from scratch at age 60. If I had not had a supporting cast to help me settle down, gain some guts and hold my ground with about these things, I wouldn’t be able to afford having a decent home and better financial security right now.

        When we are “crazy” we don’t always make the best decisions. Sad but true.

        • True. Except I don’t think people give that advice so you negotiate a better divorce. They give it to keep you from enforcing boundaries with a cheater and not divorcing — i.e. waiting for them to “come out of the fog.”

          I give the advice to lawyer up immediately and get professional support.

          As you point out in another post, most chumps are in a desperate state of grief bargaining and aren’t ready to hear that advice. But it still stands, IMO. I wouldn’t tell someone in a physically abusive marriage to wait 6-12 months to get out. I’d give the same advice with infidelity — get your ducks in a row and protect yourself.

          • I agree.

            Physical abuse should never be tolerated. Get to safety first and then make a good plan. What good are material possessions if you’re dead? Never saw a hearse pulling a U-Haul Trailer.

            Get professional help immediately FOR YOURSELF…NOT to save the marriage, NOT to try to change the cheater, but to learn how to get yourself under enough control to handle unpleasant things without breaking down, wimping out, and abandoning the much needed boundaries you have tried to set.

            Lawyering up, gives dazed and confused chumps necessary information for problem solving and decision making. You don’t have to act on it yesterday, but the old axiom that “knowledge is power” is true. It also provides the beginnings of some sense of control in all the chaos.

            Tracy, you know what I believe about this. Even if chump desires and would attempt reconciliation, chump has to work from a POWER POSITION. Immediate and painful consequences and strong boundaries must FLY into place and stay there. NOT WITH WORDS BUT WITH BEHAVIORS… behaviors which typically include (if at all humanly possible) NOT living in the same space with the cheater, and the imposition of no contact or minimal contact while chump sorts self out and figures out how to maintain boundaries until cheater either verifiably shapes up… or ships out.

            There is an old joke about the farmer who bought a mule from his neighbor. Buyer got mule home; mule wouldn’t work when given correct commands. Buyer asks Seller to come help. Seller arrives, immediately picks up a 2×4, whacks the mule hard enough between the eyes to bring mule to knees. Seller tells Buyer, “Try now.” Buyer’s commands get immediate compliance. Buyer says, “Wow. Remarkable. Why wouldn’t he work for me before?” Seller says to Buyer, “With all willful and stubborn creatures, FIRST you have to get their attention.”

            Whether you would like for cheater to change and re-engage in the marriage or you want cheater gone for good. FIRST, you have to get their attention. This is a psychological concept called, “Traumatic One-Trial Learning” [First time cheating and experiencing Draconian consequences must be like ‘touching the proverbial hot stove’. Cheater must internalize with ONE trial the s/he NEVER wants to go there again.]

            I think what happens in so many cases, the chump didn’t use the 2×4 the FIRST time the cheater pushed the envelope. Chump is so desperate to keep marriage that chump takes left overs and hopes for the best–at which time chump totally loses face and rarely if ever regains that lost face.

            • Absolutely, Notyou.

              My IC observed ‘he has learned he has got away with it’.

              We are divorcing 6 painful years later.

            • Great advice. Now, why is the transition from being a chump to being an independent woman is having so much negative impact on my ex? He left me with a small child and no job. He knew I wouldn’t survive on my own, at least not initially, so he very much tries to control me with money. Oh, do you want me to help you pay the electric bill? First, you’ll have to give me a blow job. Or do x y z… it could be anything really. The sexual requests / demands threw me off completely. If he says he doesn’t want me, love me, respect me, actually, I ruined his life, why get satisfaction from me demeaning myself begging for money, or did I just answer my own question? I really don’t get it. Worse, whenever I try to assert myself, I’m reminded that I’m nothing without him. But the level of cruelty is astounding to me. He’s the one who cheated on me and now he wants more satisfaction by watching me lose my house, cars, private school for my child… Is it naive to ask again- why? Anyways, it’s not the only thing that bothers me terribly these days, he also says that our child will know the truth about what a horrible person I am and will not think his father’s cheating will matter to him. Why am I obsessing about this being a possibility?
              By the way, I’ve been branded a horrible person because I refuse Brazilian bikini waxes, I’m 20 pounds overweight, I am not a sexual person and I always have a messy kitchen. Who would put up with this, really.

              • Ann, first put aside the notion that you are “not a sexual person” until you have removed yourself from the grasp of a sexually abusive person. I am not sure of your financial situation but you would be better off walking away from everything in order to go NO CONTACT with this abuser. Do younhave an attorney? A therapist? Family or friends to help? You hit the nail on the head when you say he wants more satisfaction from demeaning yiu and controlling you and making you suffer. I am not a psychologist (see notyou and her posts for more pro insight!) but what you say points to a sick sick sick individual. And you have been abused and tortured by that sicko, so it will be awhile before you have clear insight into anything. Please get help. if you live in an urban or suburban area, there may be a counseling center if you can’t afford a consult with a therapist. If nothing else, talk to your doctor about getting a psych referral. If you don’t think yr doctor will be kind to you or listen, ask friends for names of a good one. If there is anyone who will take you in, i would get the hell out of where you are. Get friends/family to help you move stuff that matter to you into storage or into their attic or wherever. Or see an attorney and route all contact through him. File for child support. You don’t have to suck you child’s father’s dick to get money for the electric bill.

              • Ann,

                You need to lawyer up pronto. Find out if you can get a LEGAL SEPARATION and court ordered INTERIM SPOUSAL SUPPORT while a divorce is pending.

                Why is he doing this? You’ve described a pathological control freak. It doesn’t matter what made him a control freak; it only matters that he IS one and that he is emotionally abusing you.

                You believe (erroneously) that you must tolerate this. You don’t. Standing up to him won’t be easy, and is most certain to require the assistance of the aforementioned lawyer. But you can do this.

              • Ann, anyone who demands a blow job in order to pay the electricity bill is a sexual abuser, flat out. Find a job and get away from him any way you can. Even if you bag groceries and live on someone’s sofa for a year it would be better than this kind of abuse.

                As far as what your kid will believe-don’t listen to that asshole. My ex tried to say that shit (and still does every so often) and I laugh at him because the kids are not stupid and they know that their dad is a jerk. They figured that out all on their own.

            • Right on, NotYou. Chumps almost always give all the power to the cheater. I love reading the stories here (too few, unfortunately) from chumps who immediately threw the cheater out at Dday, went NC and started divorce proceedings. Now THAT is power, and that gives the cheater the 2×4 between the eyes they need and deserve. I wish I had done that at the first Dday, instead of becoming the Queen of Spackle and the biggest chump alive.

        • Yup. This has been the best, most solid advice from the legal pros and counselors for me. Don’t let emotions dictate your outcome.

        • I feel your pain Not You! I am 58 and we have been married 40 years! The idiot is 59 going on 12! Selfish people!

          • Roberta, I am 62 was married for 37 years and have known the boy/man for 45 years. He is 62 and screwing 20 year old prostitutes. Selfish people indeed!

          • Thank you Roberta,

            I often write from First Person point of view on here because people often relate better to it. But I’ve been divorced for over five years now and am at “Meh.”

            I try to help people here understand that their have much more power than they believe and that their current traumatized state won’t last forever…that it just seems that way.

            • Not You and Maree, I wish I could say I am divorced and getting on with Meh, but I filed almost a year ago and I cannot get him to actually agree and sign anything! He is IMO, postponing the inevitable! He even told me HE wants the divorce, but always finds something he just cannot agree with! It’s maddening!

              • File for divorce Roberta, he’ll sign something before he spends a fortune going to court. it’s what I had to do.

              • I agree with datdamwuf. Call his bluff. Remind him that if he won’t agree to terms of property settlement, custody ( or whatever the issues are) that a judge can and will do these things for him–probably with a grumpy ass attitude. And when the judge does it, he probably isn’t going to be happy with the outcome.

                My D was in a Community Property state where it is a bifurcated process. The D can be obtained without settling the property. I ended up taking him to court to settle the property (a year after the divorce) because he was dragging his feet to try and wear me down.

                After my attorney filled the judge in on all my attempts to settle fairly(including paying for private mediation) the judge looked straight at his attorney and said, “I will not keep these two divorced people chained together financially for one more day. This is what I am going to do with respect to the retirements, joint real estate, and big items. [And he enumerated a fair settlement.] Now go back into my chambers, get real, and get the small stuff ironed out this morning. After lunch I am going to put the gavel down this case. If I have to sort out the rest of this, I guarantee you aren’t going to like it. I despise having my docket clogged because one party is being stubborn and unreasonable (another glare at X and his lawyer).

                They got real, and it got done.

      • Yes, yes, YES!!! THIS IS GENIUS! Please, please, can you make it happen?

        After you dissect all the tenets, then Chump Nation takes it viral. We post everywhere we can (facebook, twitter, etc.) – spread the enlightenment far and wide – everywhere the tenets are, CL’S translations appear right next to them.

        We need to do this!! What a fantastic tie-in to your upcoming book!

    • I didn’t mind the 180. It was the baby step that got me started. Then I needed to learn to walk away. So, yeah — 180 (for yourself). Then walk. Go in that direction — away from the problem.

      • I couldn’t eat, sleep, and barely made it to work for the first few months. (I lost 40 lbs literally overnight.) So, I wasn’t capable of acting carefree and upbeat in front of my cheater. Instead, I had him move out and I iced all communication. That was way healthier than interacting with him at all, or trying to force myself out and enjoy new hobbies. Yeah right. lol

    • “The person who was in that marriage with you took an M-80 and blew it all up. There’s nothing to fix. You’ve got 10,000 itty bitty pieces left of your marriage scattered all over creation. The best thing to do is clean up the mess and get on with your life. The idea of trying to drag your cheater down on the floor to help you find and glue all those pieces together is a time-suck of epic proportions.”

      This is a great metaphor!

    • These comments make me really glad I never even found any reconciliation sites and have never been on any. The first I found was for Runaway Husbands and here. I think I google-searched in the middle of the night one night: “what to do when your husband suddenly leaves you for another woman,” which led me to Runaway Husbands, which led me to here. THANK GOODNESS I found this place because the healing you all have facilitated has been amazing. I am so, so thankful for the wisdom of chump Lady and all you in Chump Nation. I don’t know how I would have made it without you. And I do know that I would not be anywhere near as far on the road to Meh as I am now.

  • Embarrassing crap like that letter is why it might be worth hiring a therapist if you have nobody with both oars in the water to use as a sounding board before you commit to sending letters and such while you “struggle to control” your situation in the aftermath of infidelity.

    If Joe was a real person, I bet he’d gladly pay enough to hire a tribe of good therapists just to make that disappear 😉

    • You don’t think Joe was real? Come on, a chump HAD to write that.

      I wonder where Joe is now. How far out he is after his divorce and is he mortified that he wrote that?

      • I agree Joe is real,,, I could be Joe minus the letter. Trust me I had some very chumpy emails I never sent. I am so glad I did not hit the send button.

            • AND since the company I work for is going under ,,I might have a week left before we shut off the lights ,, I am going to be a SAHD LOL how fucking funny is that ? But don’t worry my fellow chumps I will not let that be an excuse for letting my penis stray.

              But seriously my resume is out I already have 5 interviews and shot one job down so my SAHD career might only last a week 2 at the most. I am going to take a week and just do nothing at all to get my head straight. Maybe sleep past 445 just 1 or 2 days 🙂

  • Ugh. In the early days after D-Day, when I was in hell, I think I may have sent a copy of that letter to my stbx. I thought I could teach him empathy. If I could only make him SEE that my pain was real — and even normal, that he would have an ah-ha moment and show some affection, love, and understanding. Crikey, what a horrible time that was.

    If you find yourself trying to teach a grown person how to be decent, the jig is up. Game over. Save your love and understanding for people who don’t need basic instructions on “How to be Decent.”

      • Lily Bart, I am living your horrible moment, and this was SO HELPFUL to read.

        “If you find yourself trying to teach a grown person how to be decent, the jig is up.”

        God yes, exactly.

        • I’m glad it helped, Hecate. And I’m genuinely sorry for your pain. It’s just the worst — inexplicable to anyone who hasn’t been unfortunate enough to have lived it. But I promise it does get better in time, once you’ve stopped trying to fix the cheater and get on with your life.

    • “If you find yourself trying to teach a grown person how to be decent, the jig is up.”

      Exactly! The job description for Spouse does not include teaching your partner courses in remedial integrity.

      • “Remedial integrity.” Ha — love it.

        You know — that actually reminds me. My stbx got his MBA a few years back. His lowest grade was in Ethics. I’m not making that up. We used to laugh about until it became clear that he was actually just ethically deficient. Some things can’t be remediated. 🙂

        • Low grade in ethics, no doubt. I remember watching my ex tell occasional “white lies” in social and work contexts with such ease that I was fairly astounded. I thought, “It’s remarkable that such a good person is so facile at doing that.”

          HA! Pretzel logic much?

          Why is it that those red flags are so much more visible in the rear view mirror than they ever were when we first encountered them?

          • Nomar, it’s not that we don’t see the red flags, it’s that we don’t understand their meaning. My ex was unruffable in a crisis, completely calm and steady. Nothing seemed to upset him, ever. Boy, I thought what great traits he has! He’ll be my rock. He’ll be solid and dependable. This must mean he’s mature and composed and deep… all crap. A normal person’s pulse goes up at least a tad when they’re dealing with an alarming problem – because they care!! Important things are at stake! The red flag I misinterpreted was that my calm and steady guy really didn’t give a fuck about anything. A cold fish to the core. Again, I should have paid closer attentions to the signs because they were all there. This is how he was with everything and everyone. Again, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

            • He didn’t Get Ruffled cause Psychos Got Icewater running through their Veins..but Believe me if He was Losing Control over Something he Gave a Crap about You’d See some Emotion. and it’d be U G L Y.

            • Clarys – this chills me to the bone. I know exactly what you mean. I started noticing that the awful things going on in America, dating back Baco and to Oklahoma Bombings (I was SO shocked by all of this) were met by H with a sort of weird disinterest in the event. I was horrified and completely shaken for a month after that (and I live thousands of miles away from there). Then, of course, all the other big ones – the Shuttle, Columbine, the Amish, Sandy Hook – so damn many that I watched faithfully for hours on CNN. Husband – shrug, not much interest or comment other than on 9/11, talking to him on the phone from the States while he was in London on vacation with his mom…and he calmy said, ‘See, I’ve told you all along we’ve been in 680 countries (or wtf the #) for over 40 years and we shouldn’t be surprised this happened.” I was completely, and still horrified by such an insensitive comment when we were all reeling that day and weeks after. Hmmmm…shall we say Extreme Narcissist? Sociopath? Anyway, it still chills me to the bone to think of how cold he reacted to every one our countries disasters. Well, even the Japanese tsunami wasn’t much interest to him unless it affected the markets. bleh.

    • Lily, I could have written that. Thank you! Exactly what I did. I gave my ex a copy of the “Joe” letter to try and make her remorseful, to see if she would come clean with the truth, which I knew she wasn’t at that point. It made her stop and think, but it didn’t stop her from being the heartless remorseless bitch she had been all the way through. It was more confirmation for me that I had to get rid of her.

      CL, that letter opens up a few old wounds for me, and I feel silly reading it again now.

      But most importantly, what you’ve written today is affirmation that “leaving a cheater” isn’t a decision at all. It’s just a case of when, not if. The sooner the better.

  • I think Joe needs to throw the puzzle away and go find a new toy. Hopefully one with no sharp edges!
    Let his wife be alone to play by herself.
    She ‘s a mean girl and everyone in the playground knows that if you don’t play by her rules – you are in trouble!
    I hate bullies 🙁

  • I did write groveling letters to my husband to come back to me, but that was before I knew he had fucked another woman. One of the letters I wrote to him was a huge list of why I was thankful for him in my life. Most of them were true, but I left out all the many, many ways he was horrible to me.

    Months later when I got some of my senses back, I wrote to him telling him I needed to tell him why I’d never met him. It became the opposite of the “thank you” letter. I felt I had to write it in case he might someday hold that “thank you” letter up in court and say, “See how happy I made her, judge?”

    I even wrote the OW a letter although I’m sure he never showed it to her. I have finally gotten to the point where my emails to him are really short, thank god.

    • I wrote a “all my favorite memories” letter to my ex the night he left too. I thanked him for helping me get through the delivery of our first child when I thought I was going to die, how he’d been there for me during my cancer treatments, etc. I told him I wouldn’t change a thing. About a year later I was seriously wishing I’D NEVER MET HIM to begin with. LOL. We sure go on a roller coaster ride of emotions, don’t we?

    • Oh, ha ha! I sent a card with a list like that 4 days before D-day. Becausemhe had said He didn’t feel appreciated. Of course, he didn’t respond. Because the truth is, he didn’t appreciate me.

  • I saw Joe’s letter within 24 hours of DDay and emailed my husband with the letter. God how I wish I had CL’s translation then. I would have sent that too!

  • The fact remains that doing the ‘Pick Me Polka’ is intuitive and almost all chumps participate in it to some extent or another…due to desperation. Has to do with the “distance-pursuer” dynamic which comes into play in these situations.

    Later chumps hate themselves and have such a hard time getting over having done it. But you must come to terms with the fact that while it was a mistake, caused damage to you, and your pride is majorly hurt, you cannot effectively move on until you reach the point where you chalk it up to simply having made a mistake,acknowledge that you must give up “hoping for a better past”–and then LET IT GO. Chumps hold themselves to standards of perfection that are completely unrealistic, and all it does is make them crazy.

    I am sorry people, but desperation in anyone is disturbing and even repellent to others who have not experienced your particular brand of pain. Even concerned family members and friends have an incredibly difficult time being around it. People avoid it because they feel helpless to assist you out of your misery and desperation…not because they don’t care about you. They are bewildered about how to properly support and help you.

    Any therapist who know his business will tell a chump, “What I’m going to ask you to do is counter intuitive, and hard as hell to do–but you MUST do it, in order to regain your self-respect and in order to command some respect from the other person. You are going to have to BACK OFF, cloak yourself in dignity and restraint and stop begging or trying to persuade your partner to see the light. You must SHOW them by your behavior that you respect yourself, you must change your behavior to set boundaries and standards, and then maintain that behavior consistently.”

    I don’t mean to be rude or hurtful, but in the early stages chumps just won’t HEAR that advice. They are convinced that they know their mate better than anyone else, that what the chump is doing has worked in the past (and it may have) and they keep on beating that dead horse while their therapist inwardly cringes. Chumps don’t want to acknowledge that this is a whole new ballgame with different rules. And quite frankly, it is all about CONTROL on the chump’s part.

    There is a huge difference in being deferent and demeaning yourself to the cheater, and in showing empathy while putting the cheater’s problem squarely back on the cheater’s shoulders. The fact is that people are NOT going to hear a word you say if you don’t show empathy to them about the situation that they have created.

    Showing empathy can be done by telling them outright, “I can see that this is a bummer for you. Yes indeed it sucks! So what are YOU going to do about it?” And then backing off and giving them time to either fix it… or to drop out of the equation. Chump eventually gets chump’s answer without trying to micro-manage cheater. Trying to micro-manage anyone else is the surest way on earth to make yourself crazy. Your cheater’s cheating is already making you crazy so why add your own crazy-making to it?

    You DO NOT offer to or try to fix it for them. Chumps are famous for trying to fix everything. Chumps have the hardest time putting a problem not of their making right back onto the shoulders of the one who created the problem to start with. Chumps need to tell themselves, “Nobody died and made me God. Where did I ever get the idea that it is imperative that I fix this person’s problems?”

    The hallmark of the emotionally mature person is to be able to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. Most humans like predictability and certainty as it gives them a sense of control and security. But looking at it realistically, life is full of uncertainties and events beyond our control. In order to regain a sense of security and self-control, we must be able to discern which things we can realistically change and focus our efforts there. And the bottom line is that the only person’s behavior we can control is our own. We can influence the behavior of other people only up to a point, after that we have to sit back and accept the outcome, whether we like that outcome or not.

    Another way of looking at it is: Let it freaking go. Focus on you. Take care of you within your ability to do so. Stop trying to control the relationship situation. Allow the cheater to either sink or swim on his own merits and efforts. When you do this you will get plenty of answers soon enough.

    Easy to say; hard as hell to do. Absolutely necessary for your own sanity.

    • Notyou, I feel as if I need to send you $ for your post (therapy session). This was exactly what I needed hear today!

      • Justanotherchump,

        It may be what you needed to hear, but it is incredibly hard to do.

        I know this and don’t envy any of you in who are in the early reconstruction stages. I clearly (but with detachment from my own) the PAIN and sense of our entire world spiraling into chaos. But as we pull it together (with time and effort) we realize that we have much more power and control than we initially believed.

        When we are totally “fried” and our lives as we know them have been nuked, it is darn near impossible to put the cheating back on the perpetrator’s shoulders, step back, shut our mouths, and in an empathetic and emotionally detached way FORCE them to OWN it. But is precisely what we must do for self-preservation.

        We want to get in their face with our wagging tongues and our wagging fingers and “enlighten” them; but doing it that way is almost always counter productive because they perceive this as micro-managing and attempts at control. You will almost always get the, “You are not the boss of me” response.

        When we are cheated on (particularly if the cheater wants OUT by Saturday night) the balance of power in that relationship becomes heavily skewed in favor of the cheater. But this can be TEMPORARY if the betrayed partner learns how to NOT play into the cheater’s self-perception of “victimhood”.

        And, if chumps are totally honest with themselves, a huge part of their pain and outrage is due to the unilateral behaviors on the part of the cheater that (in the moment) appear to be controlling the chump’s life. The fact that a partner can, in one fell swoop, steal so many of the chump’s marital options is totally infuriating.

        Chumps also experience the consuming feelings of, “You are NOT the boss of me! Why are you trying to wreck my world with your UNILATERAL and terrible decisions? ” And chumps need to see this in themselves in order to shift from victimhood to problem solver.

        In my opinion the two biggest destroyers of committed relationships are underlying, unacknowledged control issues within BOTH parties and long-simmering conflicts that have been swept under the rug and thus never been satisfactorily resolved or disposed of.

        Cheating is simply the absolutely worst way for anyone to attempt to deal with their own emotional issues or skewed perceptions of how bad their marriage is because it’s a coward’s way out and very seldom works out well for the cheater either.

        As for my comments on here?

        It is my way of paying it forward. While some of what I say will not be applicable to everyone, some of it will be applicable to some. People will read, process, take what they need at the time and leave the rest. I think most people appreciate that someone even takes the time to address their concerns.

        • You are trying to control them. They’re right. But as somebody else has already pointed out, when you have to instruct somebody about the basics of being a decent person, the jig is already up 🙁

          Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and had my picture taken.

          • ” when you have to instruct somebody about the basics of being a decent person, the jig is already up ”

            This part is true. You cannot overhaul their character. Only they can do that.

            ***But you sure as hell CAN teach them what you will or will NOT tolerate as far as how they treat you. And at the end of the day, that is ALL that matters. …..Any improvement on their part is purely lagniappe.****

            • Agree, but, hesitating to stand up for one’s self may not be a sign of co-D as there are often other considerations at work (kids, vows, financial obligations etc). Fear of impacting kids and no longer abiding by vows and the logistics of the financial fallout myay cause many reasonably healthy folks to delay ultimately jettisoning the cheater.
              Richard Skerrit writes about this trend of lableing folks who delay getting out as co-dependent. In a nutshell, he feels the label is overused as it fails to consider that the non disordered psrson has to deal with some complicated fallout, on himself/herself and the kids.Bootm line, if you take somne time to get up the courage and resources to enforce your boundaires, it may be something other than codependency that caused the delay.

        • Please don’t leave this blog. I love you. I love my therapist too but after 6k in therapy bills, I can honestly say you break it down in a way that’s easier to process for me. I’m also just now coming out of the fog and mental clarity is slowly coming back.

        • There is one point that I looked at my ex and realized that I NEVER wanted someone else to make major decisions about MY life without my input again. It was just horrible to have someone else hide the truth and keep me in the dark so I couldn’t make informed decisions about MY life. That’s the part that’s hardest to forgive. It makes me never want to get married again.

          • When I was freshly separated and realized there’d be no reconciliation, I was consumed with wondering if I’d ever date, or marry, or have sex again. Now that I’ve got some months behind me, I’m imagining a life that might include someone and it might not, but it’s a nice life. What a fucking relief.

          • THIS! Felt this same way…I am supposed to make big decisions about MY life based on what sounds like LIES!! This pissed me off greatly. This site has taught me that this WAS the deal breaker and I should have been done talking & trying, etc.

        • I do not agree that cheating is some attempt to deal with emotional issues, nor I am do I believe that “control issues within BOTH parties” have a damn thing to do with infidelity. Sorry, I’m just not buying it. There are many, many reasons why people cheat, but at the core of cheating is a belief that somehow the rules just don’t apply to the cheater.

          For chumps who are looking to move forward, the question should not be in what way am I “responsible” for the cheating, it should be why did I value myself so little that I allowed another person to engage in behavior that was wrong, hurtful and deceitful to me.

          • Perhaps stating it this way will make more sense to you, Louise.

            Most cheaters are not going to deal honestly with their own emotional issues or personality problems. You can’t truly be honest with others until you are first honest with and about your self. The majority of cheaters either won’t or can’t do that.

            What makes you think that believing that the, “rules don’t apply to me” is not an emotional or personality disorder? Of course it is. Highly dysfunctional but unless they are stone cold sociopaths they HAVE some kind of emotional involvement.. even if the predominant emotion is anger.

            If we truly believe that rules don’t apply to us, we are out of touch with reality. Being out of touch with reality is a mental issue. If someone doesn’t believe the rules ever apply to him, typically his attitude extends to other areas of his life. Most people who keep on breaking rules eventually end up facing reality in hard ways. Many end up in trouble with the law. When we have a habit of chronic, rough-shod riding over others or even if we are really slick about it and fool most of the people most of the time, sooner or later somebody gets smart, picks up that metaphorical 2×4 and shows us that there is always one who is bigger, meaner, has more resources, or is just plain smarter than we are.

            As for control issues, sorry but we all have them. They may not be overt or easily recognized, but we have them. Everybody manipulates to some extent. Everybody. Codependent fixers can be ace manipulators…they choose to believe their kind of manipulation and duplicity is OK because it is for a socially acceptable and good cause. This is not necessarily true if codependent manipulation and fixing enables someone to be a slacker in any area of his or her life. Enabling people does them no favors Martyrdom is also a form of control.

            Not telling someone straight out that they are stepping all over you, that you feel disrespected, and that you resent being treated like that is also being dishonest, whether we like to admit that or not.

            • I do not agree with your basic premise that “everyone has control issues”. Nor do I agree that everyone who is cheated upon is “co-dependent” or that all cheaters have some deep-seated emotional problems. Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole.

              But I also do not share your your opinion that attempting to repair a relationship is an attempt at manipulation. There simply is no one-size-fits-all answer to the causes of infidelity and there certainly is no one right way to move on from infidelity. I do believe chumps tend to over-analyze their “role” in the destruction of a marriage, usually to their detriment. But terms like “co-dependent” leave me cold, because it is nothing more than a one-dimensional label, which once again leaves the chump asking,”What did I do wrong?”

              • Louise,

                Whether you agree with me or not, everyone has control issues to some extent about some things. They can range from mild to pathological and can be about trying to exert control or, conversely, about feeling controlled (or manipulated) and being angry about it.

                I did not say that everyone who is cheated upon is co-dependent. What I said was, “Codependent fixers can be ace manipulators…” Manipulation is a relative term. Some people intentionally manipulate and in harmful ways; others manipulate people quite unconsciously and are genuinely shocked when they realize what they do. As you say, “One size does not fit all.”

                I was cheated on and I’m not codependent. If the term codependent does not apply to you why should you take offense to the observation that some people may be?

                You are correct that sometimes an asshole is just an asshole. And, being an asshole is not synonymous with narcissism, sociopathy, character disorder or feeling entitled. Martyrs can be assholes, and people who are cheated upon can be just as narcissistic and entitled as cheaters.

                I don’t hold the opinion that attempting to repair a relationship is an attempt at manipulation. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t. Depends upon motive and methods. You chose to read your personal perceptions as an “absolute” into my comments.

                [“There simply is no one-size-fits-all answer to the causes of infidelity”]

                Indeed. Some cheaters are just plain naïve and gullible. Some of them end up getting chumped, too.

                [” and there certainly is no one right way to move on from infidelity.”]

                No argument here. How one does it depends upon the individual’s coping skills, resiliency, and motivation.

                [“But terms like “co-dependent” leave me cold, because it is nothing more than a one-dimensional label, which once again leaves the chump asking,”What did I do wrong?”]

                This is your individual and personal take away from my comments. You well may not be, but some people definitely manifest all the behaviors that are commonly subsumed under the term codependent. Because you don’t like the term doesn’t keep it from being useful. If it doesn’t apply to you personally, why allow it to annoy you? If you know better, that is all that matters.

        • I think the control issues don’t have to be simply between the committed partners. In my case, the Jackass brought what I now see is a long-standing pattern of running away from any real emotional commitment. He’s over 50. I brought my tendency to “fix” things (codependent history) and unresolved grief from a recent difficult life passage. He got scared, distanced, and galighted me; I read books, tried to reason with him and cried a lot. We were just living out our old dynamics with each other. This may not be true for people who have been married and have a longer history in a supposedly intimate relationship. Not arguing with you, just extending the thought to account for newer couples doing the same things….

          • LAJ,

            Short marriage or long marriage, if we get divorced and don’t find a way to deal with and neatly pack our baggage, we are almost certain to recycle it through the next relationship.

            People who get cheated on and abandoned typically sort though their baggage so obsessively that they learn a lot and don’t recycle nearly as as much.

            Cheaters? Not so much They tend to recycle repeatedly, as is obvious by the fact that when the ‘new’ wear off the next relationship, it’s back to their old tricks. [I suppose you could call them “slow learners” 😉 ]

            • My earlier comments about control are not out of annoyance or”offense”, but they certainly hit a nerve! You do not have to analyze your way out of a bad relationship, you just have to leave it.Indeed.

              • The Joseph’s Letter thread was written to address “analyzers.” It elicited a lively discussion as I am sure CL intended for it to do. If my posts strike a nerve with you, follow your own advice: Don’t read them. Don’t analyze them. Leave them.

        • notyou, YES! I definitely appreciate that you have taken the time to post this. I always get a lot out of every post you do. Once again, for me, this was such an appropriate time in my life to read every sentence you wrote about…oh, 15 times. Finally got a pillow behind my back. Talk about hitting a nerve with me as far as learning..

          i.e. I still stalk my stbx and my therapist hates this, but I still want to do it as some form of control it makes me feel I have. Besides, I think it’s kind of funny he doesn’t know how to turn off the stupid iPad button. Every weekend he goes from his trailer park up to her house for the weekend and I always send some very skanky letters when this happens. (especially now that we are near the end of the D settlement and now he wants to go to mediation! over my dead body)

          So, NO, my emails are not nice. I’m sure choosing to know he is at his gold-digging g/f’s house that enrages me (since we’re STILL MARRIED) so I impulsively send these nasties off. (yeah, I’m sure they laugh when I call her horse-face)

          I also sent a few….ummm…why do you suppose our marriage ended? type things. When he refused to answer but said he’d always love me, I felt so foolish that I will never do that again.
          So – HEY – I’m slowly learning . . .

    • notyou, you are completely right when you say your family members and friends don’t know what to do when you’re in so much pain and pining for the person who just blew up your life to come back. My family thought I was nuts! I’ve done a lot of reading on the psychology of abandonment by Susan Anderson and I believe we are often driven by our brain chemistry after abandonment. I certainly went through the stages written about in the following article:

      http://www.lifecoachinglls.com/site/112.asp

      So I forgive myself for the crazy groveling at his feet in the early days. In fact, I’m just grateful I survived the pain and made it to the other side. No one knows what the pain is like unless they’ve experienced emotional abuse and abandonment for themselves.

      • You know Lyn, I believe it also has to do with what else is going on in your life at the time, who is your support system, or do you have one, and are you dealing with other heartbreaking, scary or downright depressing things. There is never a good time, and it would ALWAYS be a huge trauma, but let’s just say that it can occur in the middle of other things you are experiencing that already have you worn thin. ( sick children or parents, deaths, job losses, career changes, moving to new location, you get the idea.) Sometimes it comes as a wreaking ball from Hell and just wipes you off your feet. The people on this site that were also pregnant, sick, had a couple/few young kids & don’t work are an inspiration. Sometimes it all just caves in at once. I know my friends were surprised at how crushed I was, had never seen me like that before. One of the many humiliations the betrayed face.

        • Regina, my ex decided to do his “I love you but I’m not in love with you” act at the same time our children were getting married and moving away. I was already struggling with what my life was going to be like after they left because I spent a lot of time with our kids.

          In some ways it doesn’t surprise me that my ex bailed during a time I needed support because he bailed on me when the kids were little. Back then he found every excuse he could to travel for “work,” he took up new hobbies, he developed troublesome relationships with coworkers. Whenever I really needed his emotional support he just couldn’t deal with it. He was very emotionally repressed himself.

          It was so disorienting to be a mother and wife one week and totally alone the next. But when I read the stories of women who were cheated on and left while pregnant, it makes my blood boil. I know there are others who have it worse, so I try to be grateful for what I have.

      • Lyn,
        Thank you for that link. Neuropsychology is a wide open field which shows great promise in helping explain the biological bases of behaviors. Thanks again.

    • Wow.
      A perfect description of the 12 steps.
      Which is, a programme to live less dysfunctionally, and love more healthily.
      Which is, admitting your trying to control others has made your life insane, trusting a higher power, letting go and putting the focus on the one person you can nourish and change, which is yourself.
      Thanks, HLI x

    • Not you, I read a whole book on distance-pursuer 2 months before D-Day! I was trying to “understand” what was going on, which later became rather obvious, in order to better respond to what seemed crazy.

  • Chump Lady – this post is so amazing, I think it should be pinned at the top of the General forum for easy access – or at the very least put into resources.

    Let’s start Chump Lady’s Healing Library!!!!

    😀

  • This letter reminds me of the few letters I’ve written (and sent!) to my ex. I basically kept asking the same questions but was wording them differently. And all I wanted to know is whether he felt any remorse about the affairs. And guess what? What I got back each time was a response full of complaints about the lousy spouse I was: the weight gain, the messy kitchen, the depression, and inability to have sex everyday, the fact that I called him a loser each time he lost a job since he kept losing jobs right and left. CL said in one of her earlier posts that infidelity is an act of aggression towards someone you’ve come to hate and I so believe this statement. I would never fuck around on someone who I thought was a lousy spouse. Counseling or divorce is the only way to solve marital issues prior to infidelity.

        • Do they hate themselves for the affair? Are they projecting those feelings of contempt and disdain that they are feeling within themselves for themselves into their chump spouses?

          • Yeah – right on, Expat. What did *I* do to deserve contempt and disdain? Seriously – I thought I was doing everything right up til the day he met HER.
            I think you’re right – it is projection, and they’ve come to hate themselves. In my life, I was doing more, was in better shape, eating better, doing many more things than he was and he seemed to get more depressed and out of shape while he was forming his lurve-attachment to his lover. What a way to learn to hate yourself – deceit, lying and stealing.

  • I could have written that letter EASILY. In fact if I bothered I’m sure I coud have found 5 similar but I stuck it all in a box.
    I get the jigsaw puzzle analogy. They have control at the biggenning and in my case I eventually accessed her phone and learnt the history and reality. REALITY is a reallyimportantvplace for us BS to be because at first its like being in a movie directed by a madman. You go through some crazy shit at the beginning. Fuck me sideways, its a mind fuck I’m not going back to
    It’s not until you find CL and the TRUTH that you realise you’re better off without them.

    BTW about to board a plane for Dallas to enjoy some of the life you guys talk about. LTD (living the dream)

  • Oh, the letter. I wrote one of those too. After D-Day, I wrote him an “all the things I love about you” and “all the things I want to be for you” letter. I left it on his desk. I saw that he’d opened and read it, but he’d said nothing. After a couple of days I finally had to ask about it. He said, “Oh yeah. Thanks for that. I just didn’t know what to say.”

    A couple of weeks later I came home to find he’d cleaned out his desk. The letter was on the floor in a pile of trash along with old bills and food wrappers. I couldn’t have asked for a clearer metaphor.

    • I am so sorry that happened to you yet how symbolic (the discarded letter) was of your relationship.

      • That’s heartbreaking. I don’t know if it’s worse to have my h grovelling to reconcile or to be dropped so cruelly. I feel like I’d be a year ahead right now if he had just left instead of me fighting for a marriage I was unaware had an extra vagina in it. I’m sorry for what you went through tictoc.

    • Tictoc – I’m so sad to read this. What an incredibly hard way to finally realize he’s left the building. Not to mention humiliating. I have no idea how somebody can live with themselves after having a great relationship with somebody for so long and just toss away such a heartfelt letter like that. I guess, I would definitely concur – you are better off without a man with a heart of stone. Peace to you – that’s just awful.

  • Truth.

    The steamrolling and intimidating language and manner to make me shut up. I can’t shut up and fuck him if the truth makes him feel bad about himself, because it IS all about h I’m.

    “Walking away isn’t “easier.” It takes a huge amount of guts. Keeping your 401K and your family together is the societally accepted path. But I’ll give you this, doing what you’re doing is self-inflicted torture and much more painful. You should consider walking away for your sanity and self respect.”

    Money, guts and self respect. I need more of these.

    • …I never wrote a Joe Letter. I just repeated he and all the people he screwed sucked. Nah, he crossed the boundary many many times. I have never been sad about HIM. I know now what he IS. I’m sad about the relationship I THOUGHT I had. It never existed. I’m mad at being used, being devalued, being abused and all from an asshole who knew, first hand, how destructive this shit is not only to the spouse but also to the children.

      • I am mourning the same thing, ANC. I was never sad about him either, because he sucks. But I am sad about the relationship I thought I had too. 🙁

  • I can’t tell you how many times I tried the “Joseph’s Letter” approach over course of my 10-year marriage. I learned that the only thing this approach does is to make the narc feel all the more special. It blinded me, the chump, into believing that I could manipulate the narc into being/doing something they aren’t capable of.

    Doing crap like this is what kept me stuck for many, many years. One thing my narc excelled at was putting out what I called the Crumb Buffet. I went something like this: I make a passionate plea for empathy and compassion, and narc shows a glimmer of humanity. He concedes one single, solitary point and lets me savor it for a moment…..and then he systematically destroys my cogent argument for basic respect and fair treatment with his “logic” which devalued my point of view and put me back at square one.

    Yeah, I don’t miss that guy much. I like the new me who doesn’t fall for that BS too.

    • Flyingsquirrel, I could not have put it better.

      The Chump Buffet, have eaten there so often I have a loyalty card. Have to say the services was average and the company sucked. but I do have to say that there was never a shortage of shit sandwiches and I am pretty sure I saw my STBX swipe a few Bitch Cookies while no one was looking.

  • Well Done Chump Lady! Oh how I wish I was a wordsmith like CL. You always nail it CL, simple and unabashed. THE TRUTH! She wanted to have an affair, so she did. BINGO! Man, Woman, it makes no difference. Circumstances, emotions, physical, all bullshit! Cheaters quite simply want to cheat. They do not give a husky squirt of piss what the consequences are. How they will hurt someone? HA! No matter to a cheater. IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM! PURE, RAW, CLEAR SELFISHNESS. CHEATERS THINK THEY ARE THE ALPHA AND OMEGA! Lately, I have been rather enjoying my single father chump life. She thought she defined me, as with all cheaters. We chumps are sorely underestimated! LORD HAVE MERCY, I DO ENJOY CHUMP LADY!

  • You guys are great.. I am a fellow chump– just found out in the beginning of May.. SUCKS HUGE. I am hurting.. have done the PICK ME DANCE like an idiot. I have thought about writing a stupid letter LIKE THIS ONE.. glad I DID NOT! My friends are helping, counseling is helping me.. he quit his counselor. He said he is too judgmental! WELL ,YEAH! Most folks don’t think cheating on your wife of 24 years is OKAY , DUMBASS! He also canceled his very first counseling appointment so he wouldn’t miss his golf league.. that was a good wake UP CALL TO ME! DERRRR. ACTIONS do speak louder. I am watching. Our daughter is getting married this year to boot! NICE, huh. The kids know.. my son caught them our driveway.
    I had a feeling in my gut something was wrong.. Checked the old cell phone which he holds closer than his own ****.. and there it ALL WAS! Tahh DAHH! And now my life is in a shit storm. I am being treated the I DID THE CHEATING– he is cold and distant to me.. he is being a shit head. Or as CL says “flaming dog turd”–riding away on A mid -life crisis Harley! IDIOT.. he is now the old creeper dude in the bars with his old creeper divorced, drunk, idiot friends. Oh yes.. let’s toss in a good dose of alcoholism on top!
    JERK WAD! DICK HEAD! NOT divorced yet… but…

    • lifeinashitstorm, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. My ex of 31 years did the same thing and we had to go through a wedding for one of my kids as well. It’s all so hard! My heart goes out to you. Stay in counseling and gather all your friends and family around you. Hope you got a good lawyer too.

    • You had me at “too judgmental.” I mean, you had me convinced you need to divorce this ass-hat.

      And if that didn’t seal the deal, you drove the point home with “golf league,” and “Harley.” Game. Set. Match.

      You will NOT miss having Rumple Foreskin in your life.

        • lifeinashitstorm, keep that anger and use it to get yourself divorced. Trust me, if you wait he’ll start trying to drag you into reconciliation, in one, two, three… Jedi hugs!

    • Sorry to hear that you just joined chumpnation, but you are in the obsessing stage, and that is inevitable but try to begin healing by planning your way out of this ASAP because it will help you get distracted, there will be many more tears and disbelief but I promise you, it does get better. I am five months from Dday, not at meh yet, but everyone says I look so much younger without all the stress. I am sleeping better and eating what I want while loosing stress weight…what a relief not to walk on eggs anymore!

      • I’m 5 months too – new years eve! – I’m past the denial and pick me dancing, hysterical sex and all the nonsense. I wish you all the best. I am not the same person I was, but I know that I’m strong. Chump nation helps.

      • God, I’m already almost 8 months out, hard to believe. I thought I’d never live this long! I thought it would never get better. But goddammit somehow it slowly does. I still have bad days, but they aren’t as bad as the old bad days.

        • ML, I hear you. Living without the ones you love is the hardest part. Today I thought I would text my 32 y.o. son and say hello because my 2 kids have taken their father’s side. My son’s response was ‘hey’ I am in a meeting and I will text you later. This is from a boy who has abused me relentlessly. I responded by saying, my name is not ‘hey’ it is either Mum or Maree. He has not responded in the last 4 hours. What am I doing wrong I ask?

          • Maree – every time I read one of the cruelties from your kids it makes me sob in sadness. I can’t even imagine the pain of that type of rejection. Especially from children you bore and nutured. Please keep writing how your reaching them out is working for you. I think of you often. Surely, those brat kids will come around some day? See you for who you are? Know how much you love them? It is sure evident here.

            • Thank you Shechump & ML for your kindness. My son still has not contacted me, so I can only assume that his nose is out of joint because I pulled him up. My kids know that I would give my life for both of them in a heart beat. So I live in hope that one day they will be in my life again and we will all be happy once more but it is difficult because I cannot and will not ever be in the presence of their father again, so I suppose they have pushed me out for good. I hope not.

              • Maree 🙁 I wonder if you let your kids live with your ex for too long and developed all his mannerism and ideas and crap to ‘be accepted by Dad’ in any way. My bff has 2 boys like this. Her emotionally and verbally abusive husband taught his boys to do this. All 3 of him treat her cheaply to this day, after 43 yrs. I just wonder if you had gotten those kids out of that asswipe’s influence sooner than they may have been more on your side?
                And, sorry if this is hi-jacking the thread!!

              • Shechump, I am sorry about your friend. It is sad for we women who were good wives and even better Mums to end up on the scrap heap. I don’t want my kids to take sides, however, I wish they would or could see how manipulated they have been but apparently not. I wish I had taken them and left when they were small because the writing was already on the wall but I want my kids to have a better life than I did and my ex husband was not a physically violent man like my father but he was emotionally abusive which can be worse because nobody sees it as it is well hidden from the world.

      • Nearly seven months out and like Nic, I understand I will never be the same person again. And at first that was just another thing he had stolen from me – myself. But you know what? I kinda like the person I’m becoming.

        And some days, in among the ongoing shit, I feel this crazy kind of hope and joy at the thought of my life stretching out before me, to be lived on my own terms and no-one else’s.

        • Rosie Boa – very well said. I’m starting to emerge from my cocoon and sort of like what I see. I will never be the same again, and that’s probably a very good thing.
          I’m liking my new independence quite a bit but after a very controlling xh, it sure does take time to peek you head up out of the apocalypse.
          It’s quite exciting after such a long journey to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • lifeinashitstorm Take it from us chumps, a cheater will always try to put the cheating “ON YOU”. Negative! NO NO NO! The cheating is ALL ON HIM! absolutely positively 100 percent his friggin doing!

  • “Walking away isn’t “easier.” It takes a huge amount of guts. Keeping your 401K and your family together is the societally accepted path. But I’ll give you this, doing what you’re doing is self-inflicted torture and much more painful. You should consider walking away for your sanity and self respect.”

    So right. For two years I tried what people expected of me. I stayed with him and was completely miserable, because he didn’t want to change a damn thing about the dynamics of the marriage. In fact, he got nastier and nastier with me and the kids, so I had to literally walk away from it all. This “Joseph’s Letter” reminds me very much of a letter I wrote to my ex a few months before I left. I pleaded with him for a more authentic relationship, because increasingly I felt we were living the lie of a happy marriage. Walking was hard. Working full time at a stressful job, going to grad school, and raising teenagers alone is not easy. Sometimes I wish for the happy marriage I once remembered, but I now wonder whether that memory only illustrates how I could deceive myself. I would say I am amused by the fairytale tone of Joseph’s Letter, but it makes me sad to think that wronged spouses might read it and think it’s worthwhile to stick around to solve the “puzzle” of their spouse’s affair. Cheaters can find their remorse while living at another address IMHO.

  • I am just trying to think through what I’m learning here and put this together.

    Signs that a Cheater Doesn’t Get it and Never Will: After D-Day—You have to keep asking for information, explanations, clarity, “puzzle pieces.” You hear variations on “he/she is just a friend, it was just once, it didn’t mean anything” and other forms of minimizing, You have to ask for transparency. The cheater is impatient, whines about his or her pain, and wants to know “when this will be over”–or is angry, defensive and blames you. The cheater isn’t asking about how you feel or what you need or taking the lead in making changes in how you interact. The cheater doesn’t realize it wasn’t just physical contact, sex, and lying that hurt you, but also the betrayal of marital confidences, the disloyalty of criticizing you to the affair partner, and the shifting of time, energy, attention, friendship and finances from the partnership and family to OMs/OWs. You feel the need to ask the same questions over and over, hoping for what the cheater has refused you since the affair started–honesty and transparency. You feel the urge to explain your feelings over and over because there is no indication that the cheater “gets it” and you still after weeks, months feel unheard. You know on some level what you are hoping for is the cheater to change, and you think talking will get him or her to do that.

  • Thank you chumplady, if only I had found your site when this happened instead of my church and sites telling me to do the pick me dance.

    It was painful to read and helpful thank you. I am going to re read and re read.

    My louse has the attitude of it isn’t my business, he is fine saying “won’t talk about it”. Does not care if I ever know anything.

    Myself, I am the type of person that likes details, it would help me get to hate and wrath much faster and never go backwards again. I am trying to move forward I see it is a must, but it sure would help to read emails that were written about me and have photos of them fucking. It would.

    I would be done.

    It is a not going to talk about it from the king of whorehusbands. He owns this wand with all knowing of fucktarts. He can shove it up his ass now. Only he would probably enjoy that now, ok he can spear his ass with his wands of all knowing fucktarts.

    • As a pastor’s wife AND a chump–if your church don’t have your back, you’re in the wrong place…and just because you get free coffee on a Sunday morning don’t make you a counsellor…and I wish those pseudo counsellors would shut the fuck up…

        • This chump thought he was the only one treated with complete indifference by his church. Of course! I am a chump. My church was the one place I felt sure to find , at a minimum, UNDERSTANDING. To my surprise and disgust, they actually wanted me to be concerned with the my cheating wife’s happiness! Yeah, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I never expected to hear such words of support for the cheater! I voted with my feet. I have been contacted by that same church a few times since then. My reply, POUND SAND, I CAN FIND ANOTHER HOUSE OF WORSHIP! As chump lady says, TELL ME HOW YOU ARE MIGHTY.

          • Miles,
            I am coming to understand that there are those who go into ministry because it is their calling to do so and they are great at it and then there are those who do it for purely selfish motives.

            Yes I too voted with my feet and just this week have had them challenge me on the validity and there (possible, not! lol ) involvement in that decision. If I here my X minister state anymore how good he is at what he does and how grateful I should be that they are putting the effort into my STBX. My dropping the F word to get his attention at our last meeting will be the least of his worries.
            as I have recently discovered if you put his name and the name of my x church in to a search engine you get very interesting results.

            • Sammie D, What has happened to religion when they have compassion for adultery? Perhaps I am in the wrong. NO! I am not! Cheating, Adultery, call it what you like, IT’S WRONG. And for my church to literally condone it, Makes me mad as a wet hen! Three strikes you’re out, don’t touch a hot oven, what in the hell has happened to COMMON SENSE? Life is not so complicated! Marriage is between two people. Can anyone on this site, please tell me if you attended a wedding ceremony where the marriage involved three people getting married? NO! I was completely let down by my church. But, I wont abandon religion. My STBXW may have broken my heart, but NO ONE WILL BREAK MY SOUL!

              • It is going to be a process as my kids are still involved there, 15 yr old prefers to fellowship with his mates. But I promise I am on the way to NC.

              • Loved the “move” song. Thanks for posting. Music like this is SUCH a valuable tool. Like Tony Robbins says, sometimes you have to first change your state (of mind). Tunes like this, helps you change your state really quickly. Then the endorphins start flowing and sometimes that’s all you need to your vibration up a notch. Love CL. Love this site. Love all of you.

                By the way, everyone needs to post about this blog on “those” kind of sites to reach the poor fools who are “standing”. That’s how I found CL. I thank whomever it was that shared. You have a reward waiting for you.

      • You are a pastors wife? Im horrified you sound awful.

        Chump Lady is still insulting the learning disabled using the term
        ‘fucktard’

        Shameful

        • And you’re insulting pastors’ wives.

          Shameful.

          I’ve gone over fucktard before. Consider it a blend of fucker and bastard and leave the learning disabled out of it. If you don’t like it, don’t read here.

          • Dear @pastorswife,

            Thank you for sharing your opinion. I am not sure who it is that you are referring to in your post, but I would like to put it to you that unless you have walked a day in the shoes of any of us that you keep your narrow minded opinion to your self. Shameful? Your horrified, they sound awful? Really?

            Ministry is not a Job description it is a way of life and those who have walked this path before me are better equipped to assist in ministering to my pain than any jumped up individual with a title, with or without a theology degree.

            @pastorswife if you have not or are not walking this road yourself I suggest to you, you get of the road to Meh, maybe take the next turn off to a craft destination or maybe take a bible study where your can be condescending to those who don’t meet your standard in person.

            Quite frankly if more churches invoked 1 Corinthians 5 vs 9 when adultery is brought to their attention things would be fare better.

    • Yes, a revered woman in my church also said that I should write such a letter. (unconditional love will win the wayward. Yeah right … I wish I could recall that email. Just fodder for his centrality mindset.

      It’s 3 years down the road, and this religious upbringing made it very hard to get into the anger stage that is so necessary to heal i believe. It’s “bad” to get angry. Let the SOB beat you mercilessly with the fact that you actually HAVE some redeeming qualities.

      There is a phase in CL’s post here that causes (as the religious folks say) “the old woman” (unregenrate/bad part of the self that needs redeemed) to rise up. I read this and went from 0 to 60 in nanoseconds, causing me to react in Tourette’s fashion and blurt out a loud vicious “Fuck you bastartd!” when I read it.

      Here it is. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Look at it every time you brush your teeth, comb your hair, or use the john. It’s the “good religious girl’s” weapon. Use it! It freakin’ works!

      Quote: ” … because you’re a lesser being. A chump. Not the sort of fabulous, deserving person she is. This isn’t a contest of equals here.” Now THAT!!!! pisses me off, being a revelation to me now.

      Oops, I did it again. I screamed out “”Fuck you asshole!’ this time.

      Damn, that feels good. I rue the day I shed one tear on such a soul-less asswipe. He’s his own Karma. Good riddance.

      • I have to admit I found Joseph’s letter years ago & printed it out as well as many others…but I thought the puzzle analogy explained perfectly my feelings about knowing I was not getting the truth. The problem for us Chumps (or surely me as a Chump) is that we don’t understand all this lying, and we are trying with all our might to believe the “truth” because we have been/are invested in their truth often for our whole adult life, or many years of commitment. This IS the ultimate mindfuck!! I never wanted to believe someone so much ever, but my gut told me it didn’t add up. In my case, he wanted me back, but expected me to be OK with him still seeing the OW twice a week because of his job. Like has been described on this site, the insensitivity was tremendous, and just wanting to “move on” was not possible for me. I felt like I fell into the Rabbit Hole of Hell where nothing makes sense & one lie morphs into another. I think another fault of Chumps is that they don’t’ lie & don’t understand lying. Why not just not do things you regret or have to lie about? That would be novel! It seems so much easier (???) It just doesn’t fit in with our sensibility. I wanted to believe him so badly I went against my GUT. To me, this is the ultimate abuse, to make someone think their gut is wrong, to make them go over & over & over all the “facts” & stories in your head that don’t leave you alone. This affected my recovery more than ANY of the rest of it. Finally, it was hard to distrust. my gut about so many things, and I finally realized he was only going to tell me what HE wanted me to know, which would be white-washed, varnished, sprayed with Lysol & roses thrown on top. Better known as bullshit in most circles. This was by far the chumpiest thing I did. I never gave him Joseph’s letter but I wanted to. I, like others thought if he could understand my pain, he would have done anything to help me-WRONG. I think these kind of people have an internal “Chumpometer” to find us trusting good people with the motive of pulling one over on us. Now when my “Narcometer.” goes off, I run! Better than calling Costco for another 55 gallon drum of Vaseline.

  • Thank you CL for my daily dose of reality!

    I read Joseph’s letter and thought you poor sap you seriously think she gives a shit. You are hoping that she will help you sort the pieces or at least hint as to where they are hidden so you can solve what is puzzling you and then set to devising a plan on how best to solve the problem.
    Don’t waist your time. I was proud of the fact that I did not write a letter to my husband in the hope he would get it.
    Then I began to read CL’s unpacking of the Letter and realized No I am a WHOPPING great big CHUMP, I didn’t write the letter, because I lived it for more than a decade. Oh and the comment made by Flyingsquirrel about the Chump Buffet, OMG I have been eating from that thing for years. I also love the comment about when your life is in 1000’s pieces all over the floor you cannot make them help you pick them up and glue them back together. Trying to do that just makes it worse. I remember trying to get him to act like a decent human being at the hospital one day and his reaction was just childish to say the least, and someone said to me “you still expect him to act like your husband, he is not that person anymore and you have unrealistic expectations” and they where right I wanted this person to treat me like they had with respect and consideration, it was never going to happen. “STBX said to me in the early days following D’Day, “I don’t understand why you are so hurt, I just don’t get it” And form that comment I knew there was no point in me trying to make him see it from my side. So I pissed him off my systematically emptying the house of some of his stuff ( there is still a truck load to go) but that hurt him. Yep he showed more distress over me throwing out an old stereo then about cheating on me. And there was my line in the sand for what I was dealing with.
    He will never get it and the line that hit me hard is where CL commented ” No one wants their mistakes thrown in their face. But this wasn’t a mistake (singular) or misjudgment (singular) — this was an affair. It’s betrayal. It was completely pre-meditated, unlike a mistake” He did this, he deliberately did this, he lied to do this, he manipulated me so I would look the other way, to do this, he used me as a cover as not to be caught at doing this, he used me and our kids as justification that he was not doing what he was doing.
    His actions were deliberate, they were not a mistake. Thanks CL I needed that conformation.
    But reading this today has made me realize that, I may not have been Joseph since D’Day but others are and they feel that it is for my benefit. ( if they bothered to talk to me and listen to my responses they would know this is purely their own agenda) I in the early days I considered, what if I said to him” how would you feel if I came home to you and said that I have been having sex for the last 8 years with random strangers, how would that make you feel?” but I realized that it would make no difference because his tiny little cheater brain cannot engage in information that might illuminate the enormity of what he has done and the gravity of it. So imagine my surprise when someone felt they had to big note themselves this week by telling me that that is the exact question they put to my STBX over the weekend, because they want him to realize just how much he has hurt me. Seriously, that hurt was 6-7 months ago, moving on people.

    • “I don’t understand why you are so hurt, I just don’t get it.”

      Well, precisely. He just doesn’t get it. Because it isn’t him. And you and your feelings don’t matter. Notice that “you are hurt” is not the same as “I hurt you.” That passive sentence structure shows that he accepts zero responsibility. In the one conversation I had with Jackass after D-Day, even as he denied the affair, he couldn’t and didn’t say he was sorry he hurt me. Because he isn’t sorry. He did what he wanted to do. Sounds to me like you are making rapid progress, even though you have a whole nest of “cheater supporters” to deal with.

    • This is what I told my Cheater:
      Cheating & it’s deep betrayal is not a MISTAKE!!
      A mistake is Not:
      1.) Done on purpose or premeditated.
      2.) Done over and over again.
      3.) Pleasurable! It is a mistake.
      Bouncing a check, backing into a fence, forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning, not remembering to pay a bill on time – these are mistakes.
      Nice try downgrading it to something benign Cheaters!

  • I’m Not gonna be Popular Here with this.. but HONEST..

    THIS is Bullshit…It’s VERY VAGUE. Talk About someone that Can’t Actually SAY WHAT THE ISSUES ARE.
    HE Dances Round ” IT. ”
    Talk about WORD SALAD.

    Quite Frankly It Sounds like a Certain Guy I WENT NO CONTACT WITH FOR MY OWN PROTECTION…and Attempts At HOOVERING BULLSHIT…..and GUILT…that Obviously Are NOT Working for This Guy and He’s Pissed.

    And if It’s the CASE….I’m GLAD She’s Not Biting…

    ANYWAY…

    You LOVE HER….. LET HER GO…..She Has her REASONS…

    GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE.
    Nuff Said.

    LOVE DOESN’T CONTROL.
    LEARN IT, LIVE IT.

    • Bloomingroseinwinter: I read it too. The guy got his ass handed to him. He loves her! Yes I agree, he will have to get over her and of course get rid of her. Yet, what the fuck folks? I enjoy chump lady. However, I will not become some cold hearted, my wife cheated on me so I will stay single and hate women and never trust anyone again old man! Nope Aint gonna happen! We are human beings! Yes we got cheated on, and it fucking sucks buttermilk! But it is obvious that joe is hurt, and I can guarantee that we all recall those emotional rollercoaster rides, the weight loss, sleep loss, financial loss. The early , first days of discovery. Yeah, joe sounds a bit loopy to me too. But , there were a great many of us chumps, myself included that went nutty as a shithouse rat when we found the person we loved cheated. Did we not? bloomingroseinwinter, you are being too damn harsh. Joe got gutted like a fish. Don’t kick him while he’s down, his spouse has left her footprints all over him already.

      • You Don’t Know MY History…..

        and Regarding Chump RedFlags…..
        I DON’T THINK You Guys are SEEING Them.

        Anyways…..

        I Have MY Reasons to Believe it’s CRAP.

        Agree to Disagree.

        And If I’m RIGHT….No, The ACCUSED was Gutted Like a FISH and Discarded Like TRASH..and WORSE…. and Had EVERY RIGHT to GO NO Contact and He’s Just Pissed He Can’t MESS with Her ANYMORE….
        Including making Her Feel ” GUILTY” about Something SHE Didn’t Do but he’s ACCUSING HER of cause He’s Guilty Himself..THAT is Why He Can’t SAY EXACTLY what Happened that ” NIGHT “….Maybe Just Maybe He was Shocked She wasn’t Putting Up with ANYmore of HIS Blubbering Lying, Pity Me, Tripe.

        But Hey, If I’m Wrong, So Be It…

        I’m NOT a Psychopath Nor a Narcissist, so I Can Admit Such things…

        As For EMPATHY..I Have it in Droves…Too Much Perhaps….

        What I’m NOT Anymore is a Mark…

        I See and Smell Bullshit, I Call it.
        It KEEPS Me from Being a Chump AGAIN.
        Last Time Almost Killed Me, and I’ve got a Little Girl Who NEEDS Me. I Can’t Afford to FALL APART.

  • After Dday, I sent ex an email listing all the things I wanted to apologize for. Things like not playing board games enough, and not going with him to his 5:30 AM exercise class and just generally not being as fun and exciting as he wanted. He told me that he absolutely treasured that email and would never delete it. And I’d almost be willing to bet that he still has it on his computer. What cake that was, ME apologizing to HIM for the ridiculous things I did “wrong” in that marriage. Ugh, it’s hard now to believe that I felt the need to send that email. As if my simply being human and imperfect was in any way equal to his nonstop cheating, lying and abuse. I certainly never received any sort of apology from HIM.

    • GladIt’sOver – my ex called me after Dday, asking if he could be kept on the insurance (I carried it, of course, because I was the responsible self-employed one) until the divorce was final (at that point, I didn’t know he couldn’t be removed anyway) because he wasn’t going to be able to qualify on his own for our state-sponsored self employed health insurance, the only thing available before the Affordable Care Act. So, like a schmo, I go on and on about how divorce hurts everyone and makes it more difficult all around, and no one ‘wins’ and how the kids will be affected and that I was sorry for “making him feel stupid” and “criticizing him” and “not making him a priority” and for “not being any fun” and “depressed all the time.” I actually asked him to forgive me…..and you know what I heard on the other end? (THIS, in light of the fact that he was cheating, lying asshole, at that point a secret to me) …NOTHING! He says nothing. You know, like when someone acknowledges their part in a conflict, the normal response is to acknowledge your own contributions to the issues…..but no, not this one. After 20 years, this is when I first realized the dude was seriously narcissistic…

      • And, by the way, the last ten years of our marriage was fraught with problems with his drinking – two DUI’s and a domestic dispute….but of course, this was all MY fault. He “drank because of me…”

          • And when you do confront or bring up an issue or apologize because all of a sudden your screaming like a crazy person and the little voice in the back of your head is screaming WTF is wrong with you? and they just sit there and don’t make a sound. which is even more frustrating because it is like you have just spent 10min having a conversation with your self. Not even a grunt in recognition and then when you press them they either just get up and walk away or give some lame excuse of “I can’t just answer that I need time to think about it” aarrgghhh!
            OMG that dumb blank stare over the years has been so infuriating that I have thrown things, because he would just stare right through me like I was speaking a foreign language.

      • omg Paula. It would take me a long time to uncover my ass out of the sand for that one. As heartfelt as it was sincere to your H, and how he totally ignored it is just enormous to me – like mine has done and I always cried for a couple days after realizing I wasn’t ever going to get a response. You think after 36 yrs you are willing to disclose some errors you might have made in the marriage (like I stupidly did) and hoped he’d disclose some of his errors. What a laughable mistake on my part. Zero-with-a-cape, nada answer. Never again will I let him know my feelings. This man is now a true bloody Zombie when it comes to our history. Oh, but he wants to be ‘friends’.

  • Im changing my name to Baroness Penelope Snootypants right now and I fully expect my pet unicorn Stabby to turn up with keys for my castle any time now.

  • The Joseph letter… oh yes I know it well. Since my cheating husband and I used to do jigsaw puzzles together I was SURE that the puzzle analogy would the key to unlocking his mind from it’s inability to understand my pain and grief. Yeah right because it only takes the right analogy to grow some empathy and a conscience. How chumpy is that?? I bet if I look I still have a copy of the letter in my “save my marriage” file on my computer. Well I’ve moved on from wanting to save my marriage to focusing on saving ME. Now that letter is nothing but a cautionary tale. Poor Joseph. At least none of the horrifyingly embarrassing “pick me” letters I wrote to my cake gobbler ended up as chump bait in some “healing library”!!!

  • I don’t get around much and so could someone please fill me in on two things,
    1< what is a health library?
    2< I sometimes see on posts people write 'THIS' what does that stand for?

    thanks

    • 1. Online library of documents that help you preserve your emotional health after infidelity, in this case
      2. I strongly agree with the post above

    • Sammie – when people write ^^ THIS, or just THIS.
      It means they whole-heartedly agree with the above post.
      It’s a good thing 🙂

      I have no idea what a health library is other than think it’s somewhere between my stbx’s dick and his diseased whore of a g/f. Probably full of ‘little dick and little pussy’ names.

  • I didn’t write that exact letter, but I could have… my absolute gem in chump-writing was a hand-written letter, for him to be read in the week that I took our children away for a short break. He would be able to use that week to think (without my constant “nagging”), speak to our MC and maybe his brother… at least, that was what I hoped he’d do.

    I know. Super-chumpy. I pick-me danced for six months, it took me two broken ultimatums (nooooh, said the MC, don’t force him out of the fog, give him time and space) and seeing through all the flimsy trimmings of false reconciliation to finally figure it out. Thanks in no small part to CL and the kind people here.

    Do I regret trying to give CPR to a zombie? I do shudder, did I really try to kiss that disintegrating piece of rotting flesh back to live? But I have no regrets, it was humiliating and horrible, but I know I tried. I didn’t see the rotting flesh at the time, tried not to smell the horrible stench – part of it was fear, of the unknown, part of it was refusing to believe the love of my live and father of our children could be something so horrible. What I did was sincere and from good intentions and I should not be ashamed of that. But… would I recommend it? No, I recomment CL and a much more safe and healthy approach!

    • “Do I regret trying to give CPR to a zombie? I do shudder, did I really try to kiss that disintegrating piece of rotting flesh back to live? But I have no regrets, it was humiliating and horrible, but I know I tried. I didn’t see the rotting flesh at the time, tried not to smell the horrible stench – part of it was fear, of the unknown, part of it was refusing to believe the love of my live and father of our children could be something so horrible. What I did was sincere and from good intentions and I should not be ashamed of that. But… would I recommend it? No, I recomment CL and a much more safe and healthy approach!”

      Beautiful!

      That actually just helped me.

      I can’t even read the whole letter; it makes me shudder and feel ill. I wanted to believe it so much after the coward left. I swam in denial. I bought into the RIC before Chump Lady came along. And now, looking back, it gives me a cold sweat to think of the texts and e-mails I sent, all-knowing and patient and righteous in the confidence that he was just hurting and in a fog. It’s humiliating. I did it to myself.

      So your words are comforting, because you’re right–my efforts and sentiments came from a good place. Which is more than we can say about the coward and downgrade sidepiece.

      Thanks!

      • MS, I think like you but cannot articulate as well as you do. So well said and written. We Chumps seem to mostly all do the same things to try and save the unsalvageable.

    • For whatever reaon, I somehow realized a letter like this would fall on deaf, unempathetic ears and resisted the tempatation to attempt writng one.
      I did copy my first XW on a letter iIsent to a friend who had also been betrayed. I detailed all the evidence i had of the cheating and told the friend what a horrible partner my XW had been. I just wanted her to know that I was on to her and what she was/is. But, I would never try to appeal to her sense of decency , as I realized she has none.
      I think this is one of the toughest concepts for a betrayed to accept: that the cheater is , fundamentally, different than a normal person with a conscience. Consider the fact that , in most of our case, this cheating went on for a ling time, requiring all types of lying. Consider how cruelly many of us were treated both during the affair and after discovery. A normal person simply could never act this way, especially when you consider how well they continue to function and sleep while doing this stuff.
      Yet. we loved these monsters and we saw signs/flashes of what they are and ignored them, many times. So we have to admit that we were asleep at the wheel in many cases.
      Tough to do that, but, essential to avoid doing it in the futuer.

  • This. Just when I think I’ve read the best ever post on this site, you come up with another one. For anybody who has ever been cheated on, this is a Must Read.

  • This letter made me relive the sad, pathetic part of being chumped by my stbx. Yes, I was a loser who wrote letters, sent text messages and then proceeded to have one individual yell fest at his work. Yes, I couldn’t fathom that I had invested my whole love & life into my fucktard stbx who has the empathy/emotion of a gnat after ripping my heart out and destroying our family. I wrote the letters & had to ask him if he read them because there was of course no response at all. I sent text messages pouring my heart out only to receive no response or an occasional I love you? (WTF!? You love me so much that you have a porn & hooker addiction you hid from me and still continue to try & hide?) Oh, and then the worst-the hard confrontation where I screamed, cried, basically had a mini-meltdown only to have him say “Ok-I hear you, I hear you” WTF is that?! Then send me an vague, blanket apology via text the next day. In hind sight, I wish I would have never done ANY of that. It makes me sick to my stomach that while I was devastated he was gloating in all his kibble glory without a care. Never again. Joseph’s letter is a definite what not to do when cheated on!

  • Kibbles n’ bits & bits & bits of your Soul.
    While they are on the “Gravy Train” of pussy/dick, easy and fun!
    We are “Beggin'” Strips of hollowness and grief.
    And on a related topic, Real dogs make great pals and I wouldn’t have made it through without their warm welcome and unconditional love.

  • This is the only letter that I wrote to him. It took 1-1/2 years for him to get it, and he said this resource was the most straightforward approach that got him to think about his actions. He and I may be the 1 in a million – but I’m thankful that I had this resource. I thought as you did, too. It was way harder for me to stay and work on this than to leave – but in the end, I will be better than okay, and stronger.

    We are both older than most of your readers, and my children suffered physically from the effects of my first divorce (alopecia areata and encopresis) – so I had to really think about the consequences physically to put them through this again as there was no abuse in this marriage (aside from the affair, of course). Each has their own individual path.

    Thank you for providing a voice for the betrayed to have strength, and to know they have choices.

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