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Who Did You Become While Married to a Cheater?

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In our post on Joseph’s Letter, a lot of you shared that you wrote similar self-abasing dreck.

Nomar wrote: “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!”

I think a lot of us can relate. We hate who we were in those relationships. Not just chumpiness — that’ll make you cringe for sure — but the soul death. How the infidelity and mindfuckery brought out our worst selves. Hyper responsible (and resentful), critical, twitchy, sad, angry…

KarenE writes:

Who did you turn into, in your relationship with the cheater, that you didn’t want to be?

Personally, I became constantly stressed. Before his first affair, I was turning into a first-class bitch, in reaction to his negativity and selfishness. Realized that and got myself into better shape. Then for a longish period, I walked on eggshells bigtime, then when I stopped that, I was still far more irritable w/my kids than I would EVER want to be. I had lost part of my usually huge ability to enjoy the small stuff, and I had neglected ME, my self-care, my friendships, my pleasures, terribly. And I had stopped being the invested, highly affectionate life partner who loves sex! (I was still damned nice to the guy, and we still had lots of sex, but my heart wasn’t in it like before.)

And very little of this had to do with the cheating! It was mostly just the day-to-day grind of living with a selfish, disrespectful, entitled, negative, critical, judgmental, occasionally threatening, selfish selfish selfish person!

The part that bothers me the most, to this day, is how much more irritable I was with my kids, when things were not going well with my ex (which was probably 3 or 4 days out of every 2 week period). They deserved the patient, loving and attentive mom I can be.

At least they have that now, and I have myself back. Two years post DDay last week, this weekend will be 2 years since I told him we were separating, in the fall it’ll be two years that I actually got him out of the house. What a difference 2 years makes!!

So the question today is — who did you become? And who did you get back when you left? Assuming you left. For those of you still living it, perhaps you’ll gain some inspiration. 🙂

 

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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.
  • This post is so true! I didn’t get a pick me dance. My ex cheated, left, and remarried the OW a month after the divorce. My change is purely from removing him from my life. I live in the same house and work the same job. During my marriage, I became extremely anxious and needy. I was negative, unhappy, and quite frankly bored with my life. That all went away when I realized my ex was making me that way with his neglect, mindfucking, entitlement, selfishness, passive aggressiveness. His behavior definitely changed who I was… I think I might have been doing a pick me dance through out the entire relationship… I was totally given the message that I was broken and not good enough since before we were married. Ugh! Never again! Working on fixing that picker.

    Now that I’m divorced, I’m not as anxious and not needy at all. I take care of me and work on self care and self love. I’m no longer needy. I’m a much better mother! I’m a much better friend to myself. I’m looking forward to this uncharted territory. I have no idea how my life will go.

    What close family and friends say to me is they have slg188 back! That says it all to me.

    • “I became extremely anxious and needy. I was negative, unhappy, and quite frankly bored with my life. That all went away when I realized my ex was making me that way with his neglect, mindfucking, entitlement, selfishness, passive aggressiveness. His behavior definitely changed who I was…”

      THIS!!!! This was completely me. Over the course of eight years, he just chipped away at my soul, bit by bit. He circled me down and isolated me from the people, places, and things I loved and out of devotion to him, I replaced those precious things with who and what he wanted. #facepalm. Now, however, I may be navigating single mommyhood but I get more of the confident and happy me back every day. Never again will I allow someone else be the driver of my life and happiness. Especially not a disordered, narcissist! Hindsight may be 20/20 but I now have great foresight for the next go around 🙂

  • The first thing I realized was how much self-confidence had been sucked out of me after years of his negativity about my abilities. Even though I am a highly competent career woman, I apparently couldn’t do even simple things like paint or do minor home repairs, etc. Thirty days after the final hearing, I drove to NJ for my son’s graduation in a car with no gas gauge and only written instructions (no GPS then). I kept hearing his voice in my head telling me I wouldn’t make it, I’d get lost, it was too long, too far, the car would break down, I’d run out of gas, blah, blah. Well, I made it there and back and was the only parent at my son’s graduation over 1,000 miles away. The strong, capable, adventurous person I used to be has slowly been returning over the past 2-1/2 years. I can’t believe how I allowed another person, let alone someone I believed that I loved, to rob me of my inner confidence.

    Friends have shown me how to fix things around my home, bills get paid on time, the house and yard look better, Ive hosted parties and barbecues, I’ve traveled to Europe, found new friends, rediscovered old ones and drove again last year to NJ as the only parent at #2 son’s college graduation.

    The OW

  • The OW he rushed to the altar 90 days after the final hearing has no idea how what a passive-agressive manipulative negative mind-fuck her wondeful husband is. She wanted my life and my husband. Now she has them and welcome to it. I could almost feel sorry for her. Almost.

    I’m just so glad to feel free.

    • Isn’t that amazing how they do that. The OW in my case wanted my husband, to ‘adopt’ my daughter as she used to refer to her as her adopted daughter and I would get told that she was now my kids mother by my ex (they don’t even speak to her now) and has friended a few of my cousins on Facebook!!! Well all I can say is she is welcome to that nightmare.

  • I so agree with KarenE! I also think I was turning into a bitch because of dealing with his selfishness, etc.! I think that’s part of the reason that many of us do instinctively want to blame ourselves for the cheating… because we realize that we haven’t been the best people that we can be. And unlike what a cheater does, we look to ourselves and blame ourselves for that. And yes, we should take responsibility for choosing them, staying, and not recognizing the source of the problem and standing up to it – though actually, I believe our attempts at standing up to it also are what turn us bitchy, resentful, etc. because whatever we do doesn’t work or we are made to think we are crazy, overreacting, not normal, whatever.

    I also became pretty anti-social when I was with the cheater. I guess I didn’t see the need to really have friends outside of work and him. I’m still not THE most outgoing person in the world, but I have realized that I isolated myself and how important it is to have more people in your life. I wrapped myself up only with him and got my emotional needs met just by him… yeah, great to get all your emotional needs met by a self-absorbed narcissist! Must have met about 2% of them, but I didn’t notice it. So now I enjoy interacting with a lot of different people who meet different needs for me as I hopefully meet theirs.

    • Ahh yes the crazy making.. You over react? So do I? (According to him) I stood up for myself and our marriage and demanding counseling (this was before OW entered the picture, that I know of). He twisted this around and said that counseling wouldn’t help because I blamed him for everything. Mind you we only had 3 sessions….such selfish justification on his part. My demanding counseling to fix our marriage lead him to lie, volunteer for a one year tour behind my back, and find another woman….but there I go over reacting again!

    • First post. Reading for a long time. This one prompted me. I also feel that I turned into a beotch, sullen, confused, eggshell-walking, pissy, lonesome, unhappy chump in response to his actions. In between, I tried to make it all good again for us, whatever I thought he wanted or needed to snap out of it. He began making himself scare around the house, picking fights, doing weird things that at the time I could not understand but knew something was just not quite right. When I would confront, he’d lie, then bend over backwards to throw me off the track, tell me I was so fabulous. I bought it, but would have that nagging feeling continue. HE literally turned me into all of the above then blamed ME for it. It’s a total mindfeck, and they like doing it to you, watching you suffer. These feckers are so not worth it. It takes a really, really long time to get that, and it’s very, very painful getting there. Still not 100% yet, but reading here has helped a lot. Thanks for everyone’s input. It is doing a lot of good for a lot of people faced with this $hit. Maybe we can save some good people a lot of heartache.

      • My partner cheated over and over again, but each time it was rationalised, and he persisted until somehow he got back with me. I just gave up, thinking he must love me to try so hard to get me back. But in the mean time, what did it do to me? I stopped talking about him to my friends and family. I kept him a secret as much as I could. Why? Because I was ashamed of myself for loving him, for taking him back, for believing that maybe this time, he would stop. I didn’t demand a thing from him, hoping to keep him happy, to keep him faithful – like I had some control on that. I thought eventually he would see that cheating wasn’t worth it but it was wishful thinking. I am so scared about being on my own but I can’t keep despising myself so much. Can I be strong enough? Can I just see him for who he really is? I feel like I am at the edge of a high cliff with one of my feet in mid air, the wind blowing at my back, knowing that if I put my foot down (stay) I won’t die but continue to be sad and ashamed. I need to jump into the unknown. Anybody done it?

    • “And yes, we should take responsibility for choosing them, staying, and not recognizing the source of the problem and standing up to it” Totally agree with you ANOTHERERICA.
      All I did then was to bitch about how my husband would drag me down and verbally abuse me. And if I stood up for myself it would get physical. It did not take long for me to give in.

  • I became a sad person. Very sad. I lost my friend group right after the wedding because I had a panic attack on my wedding day….intuition perhaps? I dunno but 2 of 3 bridesmaids never spoke to me again and my maid of honor said that I was too negative and couldn’t understand why I was so upset (probably because my $800 cake was wrong, or the fact that the wedding planner started the ceremony without ensuring everyone was ready, or maybe even the fact that I had spent the night before the wedding all by myself alone as all of my wedding party had other thing to do, or maybe it was my gut telling me I was settling). In any case, I was sad. Then he came home from a deployment and everything was different. He didn’t want to talk, he didn’t want to make love, he didn’t want to do things together. I tried to make friends with people in his unit and the wives but nothing I did made him happy. He never outwardly said so, just the silent treatment. Months of silence.
    When he left for a one year tour I started really taking care of myself since we had decided to start trying for a baby upon his return and I wanted to be ready for it. Little did I know he had other plans….I’m convinced the only reason I didn’t do the pick me dance longer was because of this. I still carry a lot of self blame and I wonder if I hadn’t become so sad how would things have ended or would we still be together. I didn’t realize that when you spend every second apart feeling insecure about the guy leaving it is your gut saying something is off I always chalked it up to daddy abandonement issues but now realize I never felt safe & secure in that relationship…after all the smart girl still inside knew he was a fraud and a liar but the chump girl wanted to believe in tru luv! Lol

  • I turned into an angry, resentful, over drinking bitch in reaction to his selfishness and negativity. The problems were there way before the affair.

    I am a bit sad about that. Basically, because I chose to react like that and I gave him too much power (thinking that I would be happy if I could change him), rather than focussing on myself and developing and growing myself.

    Don’t marry someone who doesn’t know how to be married, is what it comes down to.

  • Forgot to add, I also became anti-social. I couldn’t rely on him to be friendly and not make people feel uneasy, he didn’t have my back and reassure me I did good/cooked something well/present a nice evening, so I would have confidence to do it again. I knew all this in a deep down gut feel. But still hoped he would change!

    • Exactly–I slowly abandoned all social life because it was so hard to figure out if he’d offend people, not show up, get drunk, or start yelling at me. I was so afraid people would somehow be mad at me or dislike me if he was a jackass. I knew it would inflect who would let their kids hang out with mine. At least I now am always careful never to lump couples together– I make sure to value each person as an individual! (Frankly, I think most people saw my plight before I did and were very kind to me, but fear and embarrassment blinded me to reality.)

      • Patsy and Eilonwy, I am so glad you wrote your posts – everytime I read this site there is something else about STBX’s behaviour that suddenly comes into focus, and I realize how much I minimized, ignored, coped with.

        It was the same thing for me on social occasions that I went to with STBX. I hated going out with him in later years because of all these things, and what social life we had together slowly disappeared. It didn’t help either that he also ate like a hog – he would hover around any food that might be laid out at a gathering and just eat for hours, not engaging in conversation, just smiling that creepy smile of his while he gathered up another plateful.

        What hurt the worst, though, was what I now know (I think?) is the gaslighting. I am a good story teller and like telling stories (grew up with some wonderful yarners) and I think he resented that. He would wait until I’d ended a story and everyone was laughing then look at me and in front of everyone correct some point I’d made (“no, we didn’t do that – we didn’t go there – I don’t remember that – I think you made a mistake about that – you are wrong about that”) . Suddenly everything would go flat and I would feel like an idiot and a liar in front of everyone. I hated it, and to this day still have real anxiety around talking to people in public if I do it at all. It’s sad because it is one of my gifts, telling stories, and it’s hard to get back to where I want to be after all the years of negativity from ToddlerBoi.

        So many memories that need to be processed, so many realizations, so much work I still need to do. I am so glad you all are here and that this is a safe space to tell our stories. It’s a big part of what is bringing me back to my life.

        • exrepeatedmeme, there was a post here about the time I started reading the CL site that was all about the things we lost in our separation/divorce, like favorite movies, songs, vacation spots, restaurants.

          One of the many things I lost was my love of shopping at charity shops because it was so associated with him that the joy was gone from it. To my surprise it is coming back now and I’m so relieved!

          Don’t mean to compare that to your situation of having that anxiety to talk in public, but I do think in time that will get better for you. You can always consider joining some supportive group, like Toastmasters, if you want to push yourself.

          I, too, have so much more work to do, and to be honest, I am proceeding rather fearfully (and maybe too slowly), but I do believe if we are patient and loving to ourselves, we will prevail.

          • My ex h and I had 2 different versions of the how we met story… I say he asked for my my number he says I initiated and told him he should ask for my number and then gave it to him without waiting for a response….because I’m in sales and have an aggressive personality people believed him….and that was just one of the things our versions differ. I totally understand the gas lighting

          • Yes, ML, it is something I have to learn again, the being kind to myself. I am so distrustful of people now, assuming that they will criticize me, mock me behind my back, misinterpret what I say, lie….which is generally not true, of course. I am just now coming to grips with the realization that it is what I was trained to expect for so many years and that I need to consciously correct my assumptions hour to hour, need to retrain myself to expect that most people tell the truth, are kind, are not deliberately deceptive. Hard, hard, hard – but so nice when the light shines in, however briefly, and I can accept kindness and truth into my life without conditions.

            And the “Two Stories” gambit – Ashley, my STBX did the same thing all the time. Even when I had pictures or family videos or documentation he would just sit there with his shit-eating smile and tell me I was wrong. Sometimes it was positively Monty Pythonesque, like the Dead Parrot Sketch –

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE

            You know, sometimes if you don’t laugh……!!!!!

            • OMG! That is like the great majority of conversations with my STBX!! I will try and remember this sketch the next time I find myself in that frustrating conversation. Maybe I will answer him with an English accent.

              • I need to remember this when talking to my STBX and is entourage of delusional supporters. what a metaphor LOL

            • Thats so funny. My ex is the shop keeper. Even when I read out motel numbers, texts to women, a box full of g-strings which he collected from his conquests, he would say NOTHING HAPPENED with so much conviction, even with obvious evidence, I nearly believed him.

  • I became a negative, grumpy, depressed person who would flip out over stupid things. I don’t do that anymore and I realise that the drip drip drip of his entitlement and selfishness in our relationship, combined with ‘remarks’ that were designed to rip apart my self esteem, turned me into someone who was pretty horrible. I also drink too much towards the end. And I didn’t go out much.

    In the time since I kicked him out I am slowly coming back to the person I once was. Sure, I get grumpy and sometimes I flip on the kids over something stupid, but it’s in proportion mostly and if it’s one of those unreasonable things it happens very rarely.

    Oddly, the few times where I get grumpy like when I was with him is when the kids talk about him. I can feel my body change and get defensive and I realise I felt like that for a very long time in that relationship.

    • And I was resentful as hell by him living his dreams and I was just along for the ride, basically. That’s on me, to an extent, because I should have stood up and said no. I tried but he always had reasons why he was ‘doing things for me and the family’. Turns out I was an angry, resentful bitch because he was fucking around for years and my gut was screaming.

      • I was dumbing myself down, hiding from friends and life, drinking too much, and generally wondering why I felt something was “off” in my life, because my gut was screaming too….but I never figured it out until he had beaten me into the ground, my ex was such an incredibly passive-aggressive creep. But I’m better now that he is long gone.

        • Yes, I dumbed myself down. I am big on learning and am into some nerdy stuff and he didn’t get it so would make fun of me about it. I thought it was gentle ribbing but after I kicked him out he would say the most bizarre things about my interests and I realise that he was threatened by them. He didn’t understand them, did want to know about them and probably saw them as just one more thing that took the focus off him.

      • Oh jeez. I got this too. I quit asserting myself …not only for me but also for kids.

        He’ d retort with a , ” see? You really are a crabby bitch” type comment.

  • He basically sucked up my whole life. I maintained friendships (he had none), but it was always a hassle to do things on my own with people. He either didn’t like my friends or they didn’t like him. These were the people who were miraculously there for me, though, on DDay and who now fill up my life and are there for me in ways he never was.

    Before DDay we thought I had an autoimmune disorder because I was getting hives and weird joint pains and that kind of thing all of the time. Since I left him, that has all gone away (going on over a year). In retrospect, the symptoms had started around the time he first started telling me he loved me.

    I also started succeeding professionally in ways I only used to do before he was in my life. Before I met him, I was class valedictorian and went to an ivy league for graduate school. After him, I couldn’t finish my degree, felt increasingly incompetent and reliant on him for advice on my work… by the time DDay rolled around, I was actually at the point that he was proofing all of my emails to faculty. How as a smart, independent woman I got to that point, I don’t think I’ll ever really know. Within a year of leaving him, I finished my degree, found a great job in an amazing city and, by all measures, am thriving.

    Strangely, there are still times when I miss him. I suspect that he was NPD and so what I miss is that sense of someone thinking that everything you do is amazing, that you are amazing, etc. Of course, he aggressively turned on me on DDay and has walked away without speaking to me again as if I’m nothing now. And I can see now that, leading up to DDay, he had begun to disassociate from me and slowly undermine my confidence in myself in order to feel good about himself. Once that process was complete and he had established himself on some sick pedestal in my eyes, he found OW and abandoned me.

    So my goal has been to live the best life possible and reclaim who I was. I continue to try to figure out how to fill that void that he left with my own accomplishments and closer and better relationships with friends, etc.

  • Karen’s speaks for me. There were so many things I lost without recognizing it. I stopped being myself and just arranged my life as a reaction to my narcissist’s demands.

    My biggest concern post- separation, though, was anger. My EX had big anger management problems and at home I had found myself fighting fire with fire during the last year or two. My parents never yelled in anger, and I was appalled that I had started behaving that way. Oddly, it was the simplest thing to fix– my therapist helped me identify the fact that when I didn’t yell and demonstrate violent emotion, my spouse had been saying that my calmness showed I didn’t care or wasn’t passionate about something, and used his anger as a way to always subdue me and belittle me. I had been mirroring his behaviors out of self-defense. Stopping was easy– and a relief. I am naturally a pretty reserved and quiet person. Home life for my kids seems so much healthier without his fury and manipulation.

    And now that our house isn’t a minefield, I am beginning to have friends over again (this did take me longer to do than I expected). Opening my self back up to friendships and even casual acquaintances has been slow–my ability to trust and my fear of being judged seems to be frayed on all levels– not just the intimate partner one.

  • “Humor is a distorted savior and a deeply sad cry.” -Rachel Sontag, “The Rules”

    I became cynical (ugh) and proceeded to hide my fear and pain of marriage to a loser with what I thought at the time was wry wit. Looking back, a lot of my humor wasn’t funny at all, but a desperate attempt to rationalize marriage to a thoughtless, selfish, load of a man.

    When I figured out that only I could rescue myself, that changed everything. It also ended our marriage. I went back to University so I could change our financial situation (I was a SAHM and he was the major breadwinner who was always unemployed). The bastard viewed my effort to improve as “employee” insubordination. He treated me even more like a non-person, and then found his fuck buddy at work.

    Mostly, I wish I could have the time back with my kids to model real joy. It went by so fast, and we don’t have a lot of fun now because they really don’t know how. I sugar coated a lot of my relationship with their father, and now they don’t know what is real and what is bullshit.

  • Initially, I thought it was just a matter of me telling him to get rid of her and that would be the end of it. He acted like it was. But no, he’d just taken it underground. When I found out the second time, I went into SERIOUS pick me mode. I bent over backwards, bought him gifts, treated him like a king – and he treated me like sh*t. The more I tried to please him, the worse it got. Looking back, I realize he’d lost respect for me. Lord knows I lost respect for myself. It took me awhile to get it back.

    I didn’t recover my marriage, but I recovered ME. Far more important, IMO, given what a self-absorbed hypocrite he’s become…

  • I call this the Cheater-Chump Boot-Strapping Waltz:

    1. The Cheater withdraws from the Chump to focus on finding and fucking affair partners;
    2. The Chump inquires about the lack of connection;
    3. The Cheater blames the lack of connection on exaggerated or invented flaws in the Chump;
    4. The Chump tries harder and harder to please, carrying greater and greater responsibilities to keep the relationship afloat;
    5. The Cheater finds the Chump’s conspicuous effort and sincerity annoying as they make the Cheater look bad by comparison, often urging the Chump to “just relax”;
    6. The Chump begins to resent the lop-sidedness of the relationship;
    7. The Cheater criticizes the Chump for being “mad all the time” and blames all problems in the relationship on the stresses and strains created by the Cheater’s cheating.
    8. Return to Step 1 and repeat.

    It’s a toxic tango that only ends when the Chump declares the jig up and walks off the dance floor.

    • Wow, such a revelation reading that. That is exactly what happened in our marriage. So glad I’m not the spectacularly chumpy snowflake I thought I was.

    • You’re so right, Nomar. I remember when I first noticed that ex wasn’t really ‘there’. I kept asking what was wrong, blah blah blah, and it was my fault – not enough attention for him, me too involved with the kids, my work, etc. blah blah blah – turns out that was probably one of his first big affairs (it seems there were other flings before that) but I had no clue. It’s the same shit all the time for everyone. It sucks, because I did headstands trying to ‘fix’ things, not realising I didn’t know what I was trying to fix – or that it was essentially unfixable. Pisses me off, looking back, to be honest.

      • Nomar,

        Not only do they Waltz they also tango.
        1. The Cheater withdraws from the Chump to focus on finding and fucking affair partners;
        2. The Chump inquires about the lack of connection;

        3. Cheater blames work stress and other commitments, and love bombs chump to throw them off track. Chump is now confused by gut feeling.

        follow waltz steps to conclusion

        • A perfect description Nomar. My mindfucker would write me long letters telling me how amazing I was for step 3. I always felt numbed by these long letters. They made no sense to me emotionally. But I was committed and thought: “well this is his way of loving me and trying,” but my gut was feeling ill. Here was someone I loved writing to me about how great I was and I felt ill at ease. Nothing made sense. Now I understand that he was playing me, trying to throw me off track.

    • This is the perfect description of what I suffered through for over a year! I hated what he had turned me into due to his deceitfulness and denial of any wrong doing! It ends when you put your foot down or better yet, when you put your foot to their backside and kick their ass out! Enough is enough!

  • Bitter, angry, begging for scraps, uselessly fighting the scapegoating. And yet, also accommodating and tolerant in the face of intolerance, abandoning any needs of my own, suspending all feelings if hurt because it was all chalked up to over-reacting, and going it alone since no one would have my back. Thankfully all in the past.

    • I drew a picture of a woman starving th first year I lived with ex, then of a woman vomiting. That was in 2005, D-day was 2012. It took me that long to realize my intuitions were right all along. I became a bone but now I am connected to myself.

      Cheater divorce lawyer put up a really bad wedding picture of me in his office. When I asked why he chose that one he said “because you look like you would be satisfied with anything.” At that moment I had a terrified disembodied feeling. Was this really my life. Oh how I tried to explain, until I was a bone.

      Thank God for this site. I have learned to hear all his shit for what it is and disengage, no teaching ethics to a pile of shit or even how I feel. He denied all my feelings. Never again.

  • I became a very lonely, sad and quite angry person whilst married. I also lost all of my confidence because he made sure I knew that I was not good enough, but I had that from birth so maybe that is why I chose him, I don’t know. I am now alone but not lonely and I look after me which is something I never, ever did. I am now getting to be content with my lot and just take each day as it comes. The greatest gift that I have been given besides my 2 children is my wonderful health and I am just so grateful for that alone.

    • I agree–health is important. What a gift it is to be healthy and away from people who hurt us.

  • Always angry. I was such a happy , fun person. Years of his abuse and selfishness brought out anger in me i had never known. I feel so horrible that that was the mother my kids had for so many years. But things have been so much better since I left, and even they can see the old happy me returning.

  • I didn’t fully realize my husband was cheating until after we separated but our marriage was hard and it was a mistake from day one.

    Living with a man who had ruined me financially and alienated my entire family made me live a double life. I presented a happy and satisfied woman to them and others, but my life was a nightmare. I was too humiliated, I suppose to admit they were all right about him. I became very secretive.

    In the last year of my marriage I had begun to become a stereotypical beaten down women (some physical stuff, but mostly mental). There was no point in arguing because he always won. I lived in my head and spoke the truth to no one. I was in a daze.

    As our (my) finances ran out, any respect he had for me ran out with them. For the first time I began to see disgust on his face. I despised myself.

    I am only now at 56 beginning to get to know the person I really am. I am still raw from the sting of his infidelity and being alone but I am also beginning to feel incredible freedom about what I will do with the rest of my life.

    I battle this feeling that I’m less than other women because I am not a part of a couple any longer, at the same time I am enjoying getting to know other women and making friends for the first time in 20 years.

    It’s a roller coaster, as we all know, but as the months go by I can now see that I will live through this and I am slowly healing. As bad as my situation might seem to an outsider (lost everything, declared bankruptcy, living with elderly parents), I actually have optimism and excitement about my future.

    I’m in control now. For a woman who has been married to one man or another since the age of 18, I get to decide which direction to take my life in — a slightly daunting, but nevertheless marvelous feeling.

    • Great post ML! I feel the same. Even though my future is unsure I am excited. I no longer have him weighing me down. Life , for the most part, just feels good again. It’s a happiness and comfort that is hard to describe, but wonderful !

      • Moving Liquid and Freeatlast. I love your attitudes about feeling free from mindfucker. I wonder if you can comment on my struggle with this. The anger has been so profound. I really detest him and detest that I have to share custody of my child with him and see him every week. I am NC, only the fewest words in email. Perhaps because the divorce is not yet settled? It is in process. What do you do when the thoughts of the humiliating abuse come into your heads? I spend so much energy talking myself down. I am better. I tried drugs and they did not help but made me feel very disconnected (Prozac Effexor) I am done and doing good things (swimming, writing, my work, caring for my child) but the humiliation was so bad, it does not go away.

  • I became two people – at work I was this very social, easy going, excellent professional who everyone loved and who naturally progressed. At home I was this voiceless, isolated, boring person with no social life of her own. I like to think that the real me is the one that comes out when outside of the house. At least I remain the solid, reliable, understanding, loving, supporting, protecting (so sad to be protecting your kids from the other parent) mom. Even as young adults my two kids reach out to me for any and all that is happening in their lives.

    • I think that dual life dynamic is common for chumps, which is why many of us become deeply invested in our jobs and sometimes even workaholics. Work is the only place where we get any positive feedback and don’t feel like worthless a-holes.

      • yup. Became a workaholic but also very successful at work.
        At home, tried to focus on my daughter…tried to keep a happy home..very exhausting.
        Tried like hell to protect myself from my husband’s regular view of me as a loser….

      • I had the dual reality going on too. My husband criticised me for being too rational, emotionless and unfeeling (the cheater translator says that means I am a calm person who doesn’t like, or see the point in, yelling and shouting). He would say sarcastic things like ‘not all of us can control our emotions like you’, which would leave me feeling like there was something wrong with me for being a calm person – I felt like there was something warm and human lacking in me, like he thought I was a robot.

        Yet at work, I am genuinely known as a manager of choice because of the warmth and involvement I have with my staff – I am tolerant, supportive and genuinely interested in working with them to develop and grow. I get regular feedback from my people about this and frequently have people approaching me to see if I have any positions available. My friends also know me as a caring and supportive person. I don’t generally get angry or impatient and I am open to helping the people I love to work through their issues or just provide tea and sympathy.

        Seven months out and I am starting to deconstruct this in my mind (for this, he would no doubt accuse me of being over-analytical). I don’t understand how I let him convince me I was such an emotionally deficient person when all other evidence in my life says otherwise. Over the last decade I withdrew from my friends and family a lot, partly because of work and child rearing pressures, but also partly because I didn’t feel like I was a real person who could make genuine connections. I guess I actually just couldn’t provide the level of drama he wanted. Or I made him feel bad about his own bad decisions so he turned it on me.

        Happily, at this stage I am a bit like WTF ever. I am a fun person, and a light hearted person, and a warm person. And I am enjoying reclaiming that, without him around bringing me down.

  • My sadness is that I became me.
    I had been with my ex since I was 15. I have never loved anyone else and I grew into an adult with him. This is the person I became. I don’t have a ‘before the cheater’ life to reclaim. I’m just starting to try and figure out what parts of me are real and which were reactions to him, the situation, coping mechanisms, whatever.
    I know who I became with him, but I’m not sure who I am without him….and I find myself doing things, saying things, and then thinking ‘I don’t even care about that, that’s something he thought/valued. Wow.’

    • I’m in the same boat as you. I’ve been with him since I was 14. Now that I’m 32 and chumped, I’m afraid of finding out that I can’t make it on my own as I’ve never been on my own, ever. It’s a fear that makes me consider reconciliation, but I really don’t want to. I feel so stuck.

      • Hang in there and try to be strong. Get all the support you need. Being insecure is not the reason to go back. Listen to me, I’m almost 57, I’ve been married to one man after another since I was 18. I never learned to be independent and boy do I regret it now. You CAN do this and you will be so grateful you did. For the lucky man in your future, for the example you will give your children. Learn to be on your own. Be patient with yourself.

        • Thank you, ML. I’m so thankful for the encouraging words I get from everyone over here. It’s always the exact right advice when I need it. <3

          • I feel the same as all of you. I’m 50 and have been with stbx since I was 19…we married at 21. The 29th wedding anniversary will be this coming Sunday.

            Yeah, I’m scared too – but I’m doing it! 🙂 I’m really enjoying my independence. It’s feels good. Once I actually filed the divorce papers I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m starting to get to meh.

            Life is good!

      • Hey RNE, I’m 31 and scared to death. I don’t know how to do this grown-up thing on my own!
        Reconciliation is not an option for me, he doesn’t want me back and I refuse to re-live that. I sometimes imagine going back and how comforting and secure it would feel….but it would never stay that way. Half a day and I’m sure I’d have that awful feeling back in the pit of my stomach. ugh.

        So, when your scared that you can’t do it maybe think that I’m out there too. Just like you. Scared to death that I can’t do it, or that I’m doing it wrong. But doing it anyway. Just like you. Because maybe we don’t know who we are yet, but we’re better than that!

        • You’re right, we are better than that. I need to stop selling myself short. It’s scary, but I can do this. I don’t need him and I DONT want him. I deserve better and so do you. Yep, every time I start to think otherwise, I’ll be thinking of you. *Hugs.* thanks for the encouragement. We’ll make it through this.

        • We are not alone it seems. A whole lot of us, dying inside. Scared and so god dam lonely without them but disgusted with ourselves in even thinking of seeing them again. Please not again.

    • Jodetzer, that is the exact phrase that popped into my head! I became me and I am proud to be me. Long-term marriage, mostly grown kids. And I can truly say that I would change nothing about what happened to me or who I was during “the troubles”.Why? Because it made me who I am at this very moment, warts and all (or should I say wrinkles, stretchmarks and all)? I have been through what I thought I could never survive, but I did, and the mere fact of my survival is defining.

      There were times I wanted to die, there were times I raged against the world (and my kids), there were times I didn’t want to get out of bed. I am sure I drank too much. I was the biggest fucking mess you can imagine. I was the queen of the Pick Me Polka. I did EVERYTHING wrong! But I made it; I came through the other side,dented, cracked and broken. I’m still here, and I know I can make it through just about anything life throws my way. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I still rise.”

      I don’t forgive myself, because I have done nothing to be forgiven for. I loved someone deeply, loyally and with honorable intentions. The fact that I was not loved as I should have been is something I accept. But all of my experiences, both good and bad, have made me who I am. What I was before is a “chapter in my book”, but it sure as hell ain’t my whole story.

      The question for me and alot of folks here is, “What do I want the next chapter of my book to be?” That chapter can only begin when the asshole no longer controls your narrative.

      • Wow THANKYOU Louise!
        You’ve put a different perspective on some of this for me.

        I am printing this out to re-read. For days like today when I feel stretched thin and lacking I am going to remind myself that “the mere fact of my survival is defining.”

        And when I’m sad and shit-scared and doubting of myself I will remember that question “What do I want the next chapter of my book to be?”

      • I love that Louise, What do I want the next chapter of my book to be? Not like the last chapter, lonely, depressed, and in denial. I know that I do not want to keep reading the same chapter! Thanks for that inspiration. So glad I found this site, it is exactly what I need.

  • Me? I was tired. So, so profoundly tired. Everything was on me, raising the kids, working, any social life we had, attending to the relatives (his and mine), doing all the bills, housework, maintenance. Never getting enough sleep, never doing enough. Looking back there was an element of depression, but mostly it was physical – just not sleeping enough, and being in a hyper-alert state all the time waiting for the next snide comment or criticism as I worked harder and harder to try and make things work.

    I had a kind of bright brittle cheerfulness day to day but was not the person I wanted to be. I try not to beat myself up too much about it now, but of course I regret losing so many years like I have in his endless pit of need.

    A little bit of that bone-weariness has come back recently, as his lawyer is now relaying his “instructions” to me as to how he wants things to be settled around the divorce (not that he would actually do anything, mind; it’s all about how I need to fix up the house and sell it, how I need to give him money, him trying to control me still over two years after he left). I don’t deal with him directly but I can still hear that querelous voice in the back of my head and when I do all that imprinted emotion and fatigue comes back to me.

    I will be so, so, profoundly grateful when I am free of him. I sleep so much better now – I can’t imagine how that will improve even more once I can wash my hands of him and move on in peace.

    • Dear Extepeatedmeme, You describe my situation! When he walked out the door right after Dday to move in with the OW I realized how exhausted I was. I was also doing 100% of the child raising, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, yard work, home maintenance, etc. I also worked. His lordship was always criticizing everything I did. Glad that is behind me!

  • Honestly/ It was hard to say. I was raised by a covert narcissist mother and a malignant narcissist father. I had no clue what normal and healthy was.

    I have been married twice….I had two N husbands..(Do I know how to pick em or what!) Both times I was super stressed just trying to survive and keep myself and my kids safe. N husband #1 was a serial cheater.He was my first love and 8 and 1/2 years older than me. I met him at 17, married him at 19, and divorced him at 22. I spackled like crazy, and did the pick me dance with a vengeance, and he still picked the OW. What I had going for me was that I joined Alanon. They didn’t know it, but they definitely helped raise me and gave me a good foundation that I did not have before.

    When I met N husband #2, he was a great deal more sophisticated with his mind fuckery and after I married him at 23 it took me about 5 years to start catching on.
    all during that time I was going to Alanon and was getting a much better sense of who I was, and what normality was.

    By the time he got around to cheating I had detached emotionally and basically did not even like him very much. I just told him …” You want her …you got her….lets go home and pack your shit!” He asked for some time to make up his mind and I gave him 3 days. (I still was doing the pick me dance.) unfortunately…he picked me, half heartedly I think. His behavior only got worse, and scary. Only a few months later I took my kids and got the hell out.

    As I look back I think I was doing the best I could with the tools I had.

    • “I was doing the best I could with the tools I had.” Your story resonates deeply with me. And now we’re all about having more tools, more effective tools, and the skills to use them in our own behalf.

  • I’ve got a different perspective, as my long-term marriage was with an alcoholic/addict, which I followed up with picking a Cheater as my “true love.” (Yep, fixing that picker.)

    What happened to me was pretty much the same thing in both cases—and most probably just represents the struggle I’ve had all of my life to love someone and still have a Self. I won’t get into the FOO issues, but being raised by a narcissist parent sets people up for all sorts of trouble. It’s taken me to age 62 and I am still peeling that onion, trying to get to the core of what it means to be an authentic, loving person. Yesterday I went to a wonderful wedding, dealing with the feeling of having bought a single ticket to Noah’s Ark, where all the other critters are two-by-two. I am involved in college coaching, and there were many former players, their parents and their college friends, all grown up with fiances, spouses and babies. Now, I have just bought a new car and a few of the guys have seen it–a big black American muscle car after years of driving safe, practical imports. One of them asked me, “Where did that come from?” And I was taken aback, because even in simple things like the kind of car I drive, I had become someone who didn’t listen to her own heart. I see lovely things and think that I should buy that for someone else. I had lost my sense of style in the way I dress–not that I had bad cloths or didn’t care how I looked. I just lost dressing as a form of self-expression. I had lost my inner athlete. I had stopped writing. Some of that came from life circumstance (a narcisssist mother declining from dementia and needing care, deaths of close friends and family members, stress at work). But all of it was avoidable, had I understood that my own life is precious and it needn’t be spent in fixing other people and helping them achieve their dreams at the expense of my own.

    I’ve known about co-dependency for a long time, and my therapist always cautions me about labels like that. But it’s a term the impulse to fix the lives of others as a way of not living my own. “not you” on this board often gently prods us Chumps to look at our relationship with the cheaters as part of a dynamic. What, in us, says that we can make an active, progressing alcoholic’s life better by living with him or her? Or that “saving a marriage” by hanging in there with a Cheater is honoring who the Cheater is in our imagination–based on what the Cheater used to be before the denigration, disloyalty and gaslighting started? When I started a relationship with the Jackass, I thought he loved me. And set about designing my own life as part of a partnership with him, which he of course then blew up when something new and shiny, so he thought, caught his eye. So here I am, back at the drawing board at 62, designing my own life. I need to learn to chart my own dreams, make my choices, be and express who I am. It’s amazing how many people are shocked by how good I look (now that I’ve defined my style again), how fit I am (with my inner athlete out there every day), and the things I love (like fast cars and flowers) not just tucked away in a corner of my heart. But it was hitting rock bottom when the Jackass “changed” and showed me the hollowness of his words, that showed me I was investing in shadows instead of myself. The pain was terrible, excruciating, but I guess that’s what it takes sometimes to save your life.

    • Lovedajackass, I love this post. I’ll be 57 this month and relate on so many levels. At first I had a lot of shame to not be a part of a couple. It even took me three months to stop wearing my wedding band. Now I am finding out who I am and it’s exhilarating. Yes, from time to time panic sets in, but all of this is better than being with him.

      • There’s something about just doing it, going to a wedding or a picnic or a movie without an escort and just being myself, enjoying everything. At one point last night, I was sitting and watching this beloved group of young people dance together, and they weren’t in pairs–they were a big, joyous group, enjoying re-connecting with each other. And I could watch it and feel my love for them without worrying about whether my partner was getting drunk and making a pass at the groom’s mother or whether the Jackass was texting his Schmoopie while we sat there. I could just be me. And I thought that I don’t ever want to be involved with another man who can’t celebrate those occasions with me instead of starting up some version of a “pick-me” dance over the dinner salad. I knew last night I could go the distance on my own if I have to because I’m done putting myself in the corner (to invoke the famous line from “Dirty Dancing,” : “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” ML, we’ve got years and years of happiness ahead of us if we can learn to love ourselves and live in each moment. 🙂

        • I couldn’t agree more! The rest of my life is for expressing who I am, and being the best me I can be. I see it as all the static was swept from my life and I had to build a life that was authentically me. At 61 I’m looking forward with hope and enthusiasm that has nothing to do whether or not I have a partner or not.

      • Such a great post, LovedaJackass. When I was with Jackass an old friend of mine reflected to me that I used to strut when I walked and I seemed beaten down. That was before I married him but somehow I thought we would grow together. A doozy of an error. I became honed on his flirtations and daily humiliations of me. I stopped dressing the way that expressed me and just felt shitty all the time, like I had no place in the world and very very jittery. When someone would walk up behind me I would start. I was scarred in my own skin feeling that there was something inherently wrong with me. I now know it was not only because he ignored me but he went on a campaign to revile me as a person and mother by everyone who knew us. No more of that treatment, ever again. He can rot in his own disdain.

        I know just what you mean about just appreciating events and people. I now walk through the streets of NYC on my way to work and feel people going about their days, the beauty of the neighborhoods, shops, libraries, museums—my city, without worrying when he will do the next humiliating thing. I can just be me. Reverberating from the horror yes, but also appreciating life for what it is without the loser, passive-aggressive critic reviling every move I make. I can see myself clearly again, simply me.

        • “an old friend of mine reflected to me that I used to strut when I walked”

          You know what else I lost? My sass! I was a sassy, sexy, kick-arse girl at 22 when I met him – I was fun and smart and looking forward to life. 20 years later, I had completely lost my sass, no verve, no fun, and sure as hell no sex drive!

          I am pissed off about loosing my sass for so long, but I’m loving getting it back! Thanks to the infidelity diet, I had to buy pretty much all new clothes and they are smart and stylish and slightly quirky, I’ve had my hair cut pixie short and dyed dark brown and I feel like I’m getting my groove back again. When I go out these days I am holding my head high and walking like I have a right to take up the space I am occupying! instead of being a retiring mouse. It is good to own myself again!

  • “Who did you become while married to a cheater” That is such a brilliant question, no one has ever asked me that, I have thought of it a little but felt guilty as me realizing how I changed seemed like I forced him to cheat.

    This is such a huge question and such a healing question, I love it.

    I am still married we are living apart, am getting gaslighting and games which to me seems a waste of time on his part, what is the point everyone knows who he is now, he just doesn’t believe we know, and enough of that.

    Me, well, I used to be very trusting and loved to have friends over, entertain, go do fun things, travel, what I felt was a very normal life.

    A few years into our married life, friends weren’t coming by, he never wanted anyone at our house, he was drunk so I stopped inviting people. And one time buying things for a superbowl, I went up the beer isle and here I was buying some cheap 12 pack for his daily thing, there were people getting special beer for the football game, married to a drinker not realizing he was an alcoholic at this point I did note the difference in my purchase and the football revelers.

    Anyway, I used to do meditation, yoga, weaving, a lot of discussion, dancing, exercise, I when I meant my husband felt like I had the whole world I could go investigate.

    At this point, I feel like the family accountant, a used whore….as he actually spoke the words he had needs, when, excuse me hello yes and your needs are to not tell anyone what they are, that I had no idea your needs were to be a whore.

    I became a raving lunatic, yelling a lot at I felt and saw him turn into someone else, our finanaces being spent on his hobbies because “he never gets to do anything he wants to do”, I was working and raising our kids he was working napping around us, ignorning us as a family, he would just go do hts thing alone, he chose hobbies that he could only do alone, like 50 mile bike rides everyday, and then the bike ride with the gym, and then his special diet. Yes I was a lunatic at this, I was sort of expecting, let me see, my husband maybe having dinner with us, if I was a fried mess he would maybe start dinner for me not make a bowl of cereal and watch tv.

    I got so nervous I gained about 40 pounds, I looked tired, I was tired, I had to be on tranquilizers, I felt like I was living on the top of an hot air balloon with my children and it could deflate at anytime and then what would happen to us. So I tried more, nagged a hell of a lot, I nagged because he was fine having our marriage and family be on a sinking ship.

    Was a total control freak, I would control it all to keep it from collapsing on itself.

    I wish I had just walked off, would have saved myself years of being the way I was.

    So, still married as he is in this game of not wanting me to really not be his wife, just fuck him, he can go get fucked. I am getting better, I am feeling better in my mind, am doing more things like I used to do and how I felt.

    I do find, after having to speak to him, I am just a contorted mess in my head an entire day.

    He is horrible, can’t wait until he is out of my life where I never have to speak to him again, which I will not, he can just go to hell.

    I am so so so so so so glad I found this site, I could have done the other thing forever, chumplady THANKYOU

    • Beach – yes, having to speak to them can just turn you upside down, can’t it? Have a full- on physical panic reaction just when I see a text come through from his – heart rate goes up, my hands and knees start shaking, I go deathly cold and have trouble breathing. Just from a text!

      But I know it’s getting better and will continue to do so. Just a few months ago the panic would last for hours. Now it’s maybe half. No hour (as long as I don’t engage). I think that over time you become more and more confident in your ability to recover and let it pass. Hang in there – you will get through this.

  • I became increasingly depressed and anxious. I was often lonely and waiting around for him to show up again. I became an angry person and I certainly wasn’t that before I married him. He used to tell me I over reacted and enforced that I was “sick.” He rarely made me laugh and he worked a ton, then started to drink. I think I did the pick me dance through many years of my marriage. I remember always thinking, “Will he like this? What time is it? I should be home.” Everything seemed to centre around him. I think in many ways I walked on eggshells and just didn’t really know it. Our married life was 95% about him.

    Now? I’ve got a good job, I take care of my house, car, bills. I’ve gone on vacation with my child and we’ve had a great time together. I’m a better parent, more patient and kind. I’m more compassionate and overall gentler with people. I’m a better friend, I show up for them big time. I eat what I want, when I want. I plan holidays that I enjoy and am making my home the way I want it to be. I’m much less angry, bored and tired. I’m finding out what I love again. I gave far too much away in the marriage. Never again.

  • Oh and, I also became the one who did ALL cards and presents for everyone, my side of the family, his. HE HAD NO BRAIN TO BE THOUGHTFUL AND GO EVEN BUY HIS MOTHER ANYTHING, THE ENTIRE TIME WE WERE MARRIED.

    I had no idea on getting married I would be the husband and the wife.

    I have no idea what it must be like to have a husband who cares and will read a book or watch a movie I say I like. My husband made a point of NEVER reading a book I liked or watching a movie I like. HE MADE A POINT OF SHOWING ME HOW LITTLE HE THOUGHT OF ME AS A HUMAN, A LIVING PERSON, HIS WIFE.

    How I did not notice that is beyond me.

    Reconcilling with this thing, it is like you had this sparkly cookie with little stars on it, freshed baked that you loved. And now the cookie has a big bite out of it, and is dirty it fell in the sewer, there it is laying on the ground. Do you want that nasty cookie?

    I have become a mad woman from my marriage, I am a lunatic now.

    I never was like this before, I trigger all over the place we traveled so much, I can’t eat pasta anymore his family is Italian, god they all wore I am Italian shirts it was so damn annoying, he I am Canadian indian as much as you are Italian only I don’t wear a shirt about it.

    See I am insane now, that is what happened to me being married to this asshole.

    • Beach, I just want to give you a hug. I hope you are getting time to do nice things for yourself, and are getting breaks from having to deal with him.

    • Beach, I recognize so much of what you are saying. It really does get better. Everyone’s timeline is different, and it won’t be immediate. But for me, three months out I was felt so much better and more normal. A year later, I looked back and knew I had still been a mess at 3 months and felt so much clearer than I had. Now, at three years out, I feel even better, and know I was only halfway out of the swamp at one year. I suspect I’m still not totally free (the penalty of reproducing with a fucktard), but I like my life now. And I like myself.

      Contact with the EX would mess me up for a day or two. Then it would ruin a half-day. Now, I can usually shake his shadow after an hour or two. At least you can see your own lunacy now–that’s the biggest step. Now it is a healing sort of lunacy–reaching for better things not for ways to spackle and excuse and accommodate.

      Have you ever climbed a mountain–you hike up a hill toward a ridge thinking you’ve finished, and you see a great view, but you also see another hill between you and the peak. Separating from the dysfunctional is just the same except that each stage gets easier the more distance you get.

      Please go read a great book or watch a fun movie and know Chumpnation salutes your choice and is enjoying it with you in spirit.

      • Eilonwy – love your hill analogy – so apt. And at every crest you have a new perspective, as well – some angry, some sad, some just plain bewildered – but then also, some thankful, some excited and some just buzzing joy and anticipation! Every day further out brings new understanding, and sometimes new pain any danger, but also new resilience.

    • You sound like a person who probably was very upbeat, creative and positive. Your soul has been chewed and spit out by a parasite.

      Got that here too. Disconnect. Do you have a therapist? I come from a family who would NEVER seek professional help even if they were all serial killers. But I did. This whole experience is too much to wrap your head around.

      I’ll be thinking about you. All those things you were, you still are.

  • Excellent question. I wish you had asked it earlier while it was more fresh in my mind, though, because I am having a hard time remembering how low I had sunk.

    I vaguely remember feeling like the workhorse, Boxer, in “Animal Farm” (Orwell), “I will work harder”, but unlike Boxer… I wasn’t dimwitted and sufficiently gullible to swallow everything she said whole, and all going along with her did was encourage trips further and further down her personal rabbit hole, so there was always an element of ‘trying very hard to be very, very patient” especially near the end. I was sufficiently chumpy to think I could somehow work harder, and it would make a difference, but not chumpy enough not to be irritable or annoyed at times.

    I actually had a panic attack at one point not long before Dday 2, and so I knew something had to change, but i still had trouble pulling the trigger because that whole “I must work harder’ thing (like I could fix it by myself) was always in-play.

  • The ironic thing, for me, about this whole situation is the person I was becoming BEFORE my soon to be ex-husband hooked up with Miss TrampyPants. I was on the verge of turning 40 and was unhappy with the way I was looking physically and the way I was feeling about myself. I decided to get healthy (I wanted off my blood pressure and cholesterol meds) and embarked on making some life changes. I began eating better, exercising daily and took some courses to further my career at work. I encouraged stbxh to join me in this lifestyle change but he declined. So I lost 60 pounds, looked and felt better than ever, completed my courses with a 98 grade average and got promoted at work. Then…bam! He had “feelings” for a married female co-worker. She left her husband and children to be with my husband, he turned tail and dragged me through a year of false reconciliation while he continued to “date” the AP, and now the two of them live together in our marital home. I went from a happy, content woman with a healthy dose of self confidence to a sobbing, blubbering mess…fearful that no man would ever love me or want a life with me again. I was scared senseless, lonely, heartbroken and completely disillusioned by the husband that I had spent the last 17 years of my life with! Then, I finally got angry and laid out my plans for divorce very carefully, very intentionally and there was no turning back. He did try to change my mind and every once in a while I get a text from him asking if divorce is what I really want…and all the hurt and sadness just get churned up again! Right now I’m feeling better, keeping busy and creating a new life for myself. That is not to say that I do not have low moments…I still wonder why suddenly I was no longer good enough for my husband and why he felt the need to be such a weak, selfish coward. It would have hurt so much less if he had just been honest about whatever issues he was experiencing instead of engaging in an affair. Sometimes I rely too much on anger to get me through the more hurtful moments…but I am on my way to the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel!

    • Lovehonorcherish, you threatened your stbxh with your newfound fabulousness. As a toxic narcissist, he saw no other course of action than to bring you down so he could prop himself up.

    • He’s living with OW but still asking you is you’re sure about divorce? WTF?! This really pisses me off!!! What is with the mindfuckery?! Mine has told my lawyer he’s not sure he wants a divorce, and yet he’s not doing a damn thing towards reconciliation (I guess I should be glad about that). He thinks he deserves to have his cake and eat it too. I told my lawyer I don’t give a damn what he wants. I want a divorce!!

      • ExpatChump…I’m not really sure what his motivation is in asking me that question and I have given up trying to figure him out. However, when he does ask I usually reply with “Really? Does the AP know that you’re texting me asking me these kind of things?” That usually shuts him down fast. Idiot!!

    • I agree with Telo. You were on a healthy, happy road and he couldn’t do what you were doing, so he got himself back in control of things by having an affair to show you who’s the boss. He couldn’t be honest about what he was experiencing because that would reveal how utterly selfish he is: “How dare you lose weight, look fabulous, excel at your educational pursuits and your work and strive to live the best life possible. You are making me look bad! That is the opposite of feeding me kibbles! I’ll show you that I am the most important thing in your life by cheating on you to get you to pick-me dance to get me back. That should get you to give up the You that makes me look bad.” It’s practically a cliche for those who lose weight, get sober, conquer some debilitating fear. The person works hard toward the goal and then finds loved one buying them cupcakes, pushing beer on them, undermining the exercise program, interrupting school studies. At some level, the person wants you to fail because you are rocking the boat, making them uncomfortable. Even if the Jackass tried, he wouldn’t last long because he wouldn’t have my undivided attention now that I have myself and my life back. They can’t do it. I don’t know why, but I know that’s true. Lovehonorcherish, you hold on to your awesome Self. Your STBX can’t keep up. That’s his problem, not yours.

    • “I still wonder why suddenly I was no longer good enough for my husband”

      I wondered too until I discovered that I was actually too good for him and he wasn’t good enough for me.

      Now I have met a beautiful man who appreciates all of me and makes sure that I know it!

      • spiritwoman…one thing I grapple with that truly bothers me is the feeling of being “less than” the OW. My head knows with certainty that she is nothing special: married and divorced twice, the affair she engaged in with my stbxh was her THIRD (!!!) and she clearly has the boundaries, morals, compassion and integrity of a bag of rocks! But my heart hurts and a little, tiny voice still whispers “Why did he choose her? Why is she so much more special than me? How does 6 months with this stranger trump 17 years of a married life and family?” I’m not ashamed to admit that those questions haunt me …but I will be everlasting grateful to get to the point where you are now! Congratulations on your new happiness and wishing you all the best!

        • expatchump and lovehonorcherish: I have the same type of mindfuck from my (still) husband: he moved out, has the other woman living with him, but won’t pursue a divorce. I was still living on the hopium, but aside from all of your excellent advice, this weekend he invited me to go kayaking with him and the kids: Stupid chump that I am, I went, and had a good time, only to have him cancel an event with the kids the next day and ask me to take them because he and other woman were headed to the beach. WTF with the mixed messages? I still cannot untangle the skein. But it helps to read the compassion and understanding from you going through the same thing: It is all kibbles. The same questions that haunt you lovehonorcherish haunt me. But I think we are both getting there: Wishing the best to you…

          • Don’t be too hard on yourself, Chumparama…it’s hard to give up that little bit of hope, isn’t it? Wishing the best to you as well. Hang in there!

  • The thing I regret the most is being a detective. It is a double edged sword though. Had I not become a detective I wouldn’t have found out about him paying hookers for blowjobs. He hid it so well. He didn’t leave for work early, didn’t come home late, he was with me every minute on the weekends. He was cheating during his lunch break. *head desk* Talk about feeling like a chump! What a duplicitous lying cheating weasel he was.

    Unless I became a detective (because my gut told me something was going on) I probably wouldn’t have found out. So while I regret doing it, I do not regret that it gave me the information I needed to kick his ass to the curb.

    I also became anxious and angry and completely stressed out. I shut down in every way possible. Now he’s gone and I see just how awful it was living with him.

    I now am focusing on me and I’m healing.

    • Our situations are pretty identical. I had to buy a VAR, tracked him on his phone, even hacked into his email. It was so fucking exhausting. I knew that if I was looking, the marriage was toast. I was right. Especially when I found proof.

      His affair took place on Fridays when he said he was at work. I would have never known otherwise because we were inseparable. When we weren’t at work, we were together, and every weekend we were together doing something. Frankly, I’m surprised his AP put up with so little for so long, but I suppose she’s thrilled now because they are a couple. Hooray!!

      That’s OK; he’s going to triangulate on strange pussy soon enough, for it is his way.

      • I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would do that–lying about being at work to have an affair. The AP must be a bigger idiot than he is. I’m thinking the AP will be questioning every move he makes, knowing that he can lie about something so basic as going to work. That’s what we call Karma.

  • One of my ex’s favorite ploys to control me was to point out that I was angry and caste me as the abusive husband (which I was not) to gain sympathy/triangulate others. This was particularly nasty coming from a licensed marriage counselor that she is. As an introspective man by personality, this really hurt me as I knew I was not this person as well as put me on the defensive endlessly trying to figure out if what she said had any basis in truth. I can look back now and realize my “controlling” attempts were actually attempts to protect the marriage from her infidelities as well as her outright contempt for me. Plus, I can see how I got angry when she treated me as a child (one-down). After separation and divorce, I had to learn how to express my needs/wants more explicitly as well as not to put up with contempt valuing and emotionally supporting myself. So glad that I am now married to a woman who knows herself, actually means what she says, and treats me with respect as her partner.

    • My ex did this too, say and do horrible things then accuse me of having anger management issues if I reacted. He’d accuse me of screaming at him when in fact I barely raised my voice (I am physically incapable of screaming btw). Projection, that’s all it is.

  • I was a lot like KarenE– very stressed out (complete with physical symptoms, which I still struggle with today), high anxiety, and not as patient as I should have been with my kids. I really felt like I was raising our children alone; even when he was home, I felt like he wasn’t a part of the family. Instead of coming home from work, excited to see the kids, he’d say hi and then go engage in some other activity until dinner. Often, it was something like cleaning the pool or mowing the lawn, so I felt like I was being bitchy if I complained, and I kept it to myself. I did a lot of repressing, not wanting to rock the boat or offend him, and I should have spoken up and asked him to carry more of the weight and to be more involved with our family. Now that I’m on my own and truly carrying the bulk of the load alone, I feel far less resentful, but I’m still trying to manage my feelings of anxiety and stress that developed not long after the birth of my first child. While there’s no use in speculating about what could have been, I do sometimes wonder if I’d be less stressed out by life had I chosen a more supportive and involved partner. I feel like he helped to flip a switch in me that has been very hard to turn off.

    On a more positive note, Happy Father’s Day to the Chump Dads on here– your children appreciate you and your love for them, and there are many fellow Chumps in the world who would appreciate you as partners as well! 🙂

  • My cheater cheated once that know off….So I have not lived with OW’s every now and then or lived in suspicion. The last months of our marriage were weird. Things were off, but I could not understand why or what was going on. Picking fights, making himself scarce. Affair going on for months until I found out. Then he left. And never looked back. Turned into someone I did not even recognize. Hard to reconcile with the caring and loving husband I had known for years…..The kids became an after thought and he couldn’t be bothered with anything from his old life. As Katy Perry sings “You chewed me up and spit me out like I was poison in your mouth. NOW LOOK AT ME” . For a lomg time I took his actions to say something about me. I was boring, I was nagging about money, I was no fun, I was many unpleasant things and basically the marriage broke down because of me,……So he told me and I took that to be so…..And Now? NOW LOOK AT ME! I am doing great at work, haven’t missed a mortgage payment, kids doing very well….And today being Fathers Day…The kids have no idea where he is, they cant reach him. Call me boring and tight with money. I don’t care. My kids and myself have stability and love and caring. Who did I become in my marriage? Someone who wouldn’t stand op for myself and who was fine with carrying the load. That’s what you do for each other right? And I think that is so, as long as it applies to both partners in the marriage. I gave without ever demanding anything for me, without ensuring that he had my back as well….Now at least that is clear. He never had my back….And I am doing very fine…..whatever I still need to learn, I will learn.
    How do you guys reconcile the loving and caring person with the person they become after the exit affair and leaving? I just stopped wondering why and when and how. Just gave up and let it be.

    • Yeah, you were boring because you weren’t sneaking around with a male skank. Or ignoing your kids. Or disrespecting your spouse. Yeah–love, honesty, fidelity, kindness, compassion, and commitment. Boring.

      You make the best point, caribbeanchump, when you say “things are fine so long as it applies to both partners in the marriage. I gave without ever demanding anything for me, without ensuring that he had my back as well.” The imbalance is the issue, when one partner has to turn himself or herself into a pretzel or swallow indignities to keep a marriage going while the other does as he or she pleases. Yesterday at the wedding I went to, the minister told the couple that BOTH of them had to “protect the marriage,” that one partner could not do it alone. Cheaters have often checked out before the affair started, putting the weight of marriage and family on the Chump.

  • Oh jeeze…what chumpy thing DIDN’T I do? It would be easier to list all the things that I didn’t become. I was queen of the chumps! I can definitely say I became my worst. That’s no exaggeration. Rock-bottom, sniveling, hand-wringing, sobby, begging, crying, no self-esteem, spackeling, bargaining, C-H-U-M-P CHUMP!! I cried. A lot. I begged. I cried while begging. Ugh, it was embarrassing.

    In all seriousness, I completely lost my identity. I was so desperate for him to love me, give me attention and want to be around me, that I abandoned my own interests and tried to take up his in hopes that we would have something with which to relate to each other. When we had first got together, way at the beginning of the relationship, he said I was the perfect girl because I played video games. I quickly found out that I didn’t share quite the same level of interest as him (I didn’t want to spend 8 hours a day on a game console…) and toward the end of our relationship, I was feverishly clinging to what he’d said, trying to be his “perfect” girl. Even though that was an ever-changing concept that didn’t exist in the real world. To be his “perfect” girl I would have had to turn into a half-animal porn star with indispensable income, never aging, never getting pregnant and allowing him to do pretty much whatever he wanted, whenever with whomever. Such a person doesn’t. Frikkin’. Exist. But damn if I didn’t try.

    And the fact that this was a completely unachievable goal wreaked havoc on my emotional and psychological health. I had no sense of who I was anymore, so when he wasn’t around, I had no idea what to do with myself. I’d forgotten what my interests were, how to be an individual, and how to occupy my time NOT begging for his. My sense of self worth had disappeared into this pointless venture to be perfect for him. I couldn’t even tell myself WHY I wanted to be perfect for HIM. What was so damn important and special about him that made him worthy of all this? Back then, I would tell myself it was because he was the best boyfriend ever, but in reality, it was just my longest relationship so far. I hadn’t yet truly come to understand that the duration of a relationship isn’t as important as the QUALITY. Being together for a long time means nothing if your partner is treating you like the dog shit he stepped in outside on the lawn.

    I thought I wanted to get married. But looking back now, I didn’t really want that. I liked the IDEA of marriage. Having a ceremony and looking all pretty and being the center of attention. In reality, being married to him was not what I wanted. It wouldn’t have changed him. It wouldn’t have made him treat me better. Hell, if we’d gotten married he probably would have only done it out of a sense of obligation and not really wanted it either. I’m child free by choice. I don’t ever want children. Had I married my ex, I would have been landed with children I both didn’t want and would have been miserable with. And I would have ended up being the sole caregiver. One night he was in his room (we had separate rooms as this was my parent’s house) I came in just to freaking snuggle and he snapped at me, told me to get out before he says something that will REALLY hurt me, and rolled over. I asked him what he would do if his kids ever came to him after having a nightmare and he said “Probably the same thing. I like sleep. Get out.”

    Yeah. Father of the year material there. So children spawned from he and I would have had a mother who never wanted them in the first place and a father who threatens verbal abuse (which is kind of abuse anyway…) to children frightened by nightmares. …Real match made in heaven there…

    So altogether, I became a ghost of who I was before with no regard for my future or any sense of self preservation.

    What I gained back after the breakup?

    EVERYTHING.

    My identity, my interests, my friends, my sense of self worth, my spine, my LIFE. Everything. I even gained more than I had before I’d met him. I gained the ability to recognize abuse. Before I had considered abuse to consist only of the physical kind. But after, I learned how many different forms it comes in and the lasting effects. I learned how to read red flags. I learned the hard lessons about communication and trust and honesty. I learned that if you can’t speak when someone accuses you of not trusting them, it means that you probably don’t and there’s a problem. I learned that duration is NOT the same as quality, and I learned that it is okay to have deal breakers and standards and to never, ever compromise what you truly want for the sake of trying to be perfect for someone else. If someone really loves you, you are perfect for them already without having to change everything about who you are. (That, and I learned that putting something as dire and permanent as the decision to have children into the hands of your abusive partner is a surefire way to detonate your future.)

    I am better than I was before this happened to me. I won’t say I’m thankful that it did, because believe me I would have rather learned all those things WITHOUT being cheated on and abused, but I know it wasn’t pointless suffering with nothing to show for it.

    • Beautifully said. I echo many sentiments.

      Don’t you wish more of us could be exposed to this kind of information before we enter into serious relationships?

      The comments today are a goldmine of information.

      • So much yes. This is one of the reasons why I think sex ed should involve information about abusive relationships and how it’s not just physical. When I was in 7th grade, we still had the “just say no” policy regarding sex we didn’t want to have, and it was all about waiting.

        Yea, like it’s all that simple. Like saying “no” would have stopped him from cheating and abusing and being a dick. XD

        • Kara, you’re an inspiration!
          You suffer, but you learn, and you have clearly moved on.
          I remember when you wrote once that he’d say to you ‘Poor stupid Kara’, and I could so relate, my X thought he was better, smarter, and cooler than me.
          Now that he lost me, he’s a fucking MESS, and I am just fine. I always was, but it’s hard to feel like it, when you’re sleeping with the ‘enemy’.
          Better days ahead!

  • I never knew I could hate someone until the ex dumped me and then went out of his way to humiliate me for the next year. I learned how to hate, hold grudges, plot revenge, and in general make myself ill with seething resentment. This was all entirely new for me. I had made it to my 50s without ever feeling any of this toxic shit for anyone, and now my life resume would forever include “experienced at being bitter.” This was hard to forgive (and I’m still working on it but mostly there) – I was more upset about how his actions brought this crap into my consciousness than I was about the cheating, the dumping and the realization that I was married to an incredible asshole. I felt like a certain innocence and goodness in the deep part of my soul had been stolen from me. I learned how to hate… God, that was awful. This was 100 times worse than just losing him and our marriage, as bad as that was.

    I’m much better now that he’s gone, and I’ve managed to turn these bitterness lemons into some lemonade of wisdom and empathy. I understand things about the human condition I didn’t know before, and this gives me a lot of understanding for others who are still stuck in anger and bitterness. I had a very toxic, miserable grandmother who never got over some early experiences but instead wallowed in hatred and blame for 50 years until it ate away her humanity. I could see the seeds of this in me and had to make a conscious decision to work through this sewer sludge. Three years later I *remember* these feelings, but I don’t have them any more, thank God. But having slid down into that sesspool once, I have to remain vigilant. I need to strengthen myself so that no one has the power to put me there again.

    • I could have written your post, only I’m not as far along in “recovery.”

      There’s this stigma of the “bitter woman” which just scared me to death. I finally resolved that I had a right to be pissed off and that didn’t make me “bitter.”

      I haven’t had an easy life, and much of it was my own fault, but until he cheated and turned his back on me, I had never known real pain.

      Eight months ago I never would have believed I could go a day without crying. The human spirit is truly amazing.

    • What a wonderful expression of coming out the other side! Anger and hatred in the moment is understandable. Bitterness as a way of life is corrosive.

    • I lost my innocence too when I was with my ex. I started to feel old. I also learned how to hate. Especially in having to deal with my ex’s psycho ex. But then again when I discovered what he did to me. I had never truly wished someone dead before. I think it was my innocence that actually attracted my ex to begin with. Didn’t realize I was playing with sharks. I do wish I could get that back. I don’t feel bitter, but really really jaded. I did learn and regain my empathy, but I think that innocence will never come back. A big part of me will always be guarded. But maybe, just maybe I can reclaim a little of how I used to feel young at heart. It makes me sad because nothing but horror came from the milestones that are supposed to give a person joy.

      Good luck to ye Clarys. And thank you for sharing. I forgot about my innocence.

      • You know what else I lost? My sexuality. As a woman it took a while for me to figure that out and to know my boundaries. The ex violated those. He mindfucked me so bad I felt wrong about saying no to things I would never do with someone else. He used me in a way I never allowed any other man to do. I would watch a program with a bunch of dumb young half naked women and feel inadequate. I never experienced that feeling of being found completely wanting before. I am smart and attractive and elegant and discriminating. I felt less then a pair of big tits. All of this I swear was almost worse because I didn’t know the cheating was going on, I just felt like I wasn’t being valued and couldn’t figure out the source. My ex held me up and made a mockery of me with the OW. It was like there was a spotlight on me I didn’t know about and couldn’t step out of. It was being secretly debased without being given the ability to leave and walk away from the situation.

        I don’t know when this will come back to me but I look at everything titillating on tv with disdain. I think I used to be pretty open and experimental and curious about the taboo. Now I look at all of that stuff like fire. Not as a person who got burned but as a person who saw an entire life and the people I cared about consumed by flames. It’s one of the things I hate my ex for the most. That loss of my sexuality. The staggering fear of fire. I guess maybe at some point I can do the work to reclaim but being the single mom of an infant leaves it as a pretty low priority right now. At least I no longer feel I’m being passed over for skanky hoes by someone I care about. Oh my god they can have him. I made my ex a respectable catch. Now he’s just a balding small dick with no money and no character who spends his time fishing for holes to use.

        • I made my ex a respectable catch. Now he’s just a balding small dick with no money and no character who spends his time fishing for holes to use. Kat, you have just described my ex husband. Our ex husbands must be twins!!! Poor buggers.

          • Maree,

            You might be sad, but you make me laugh with your sarcasm.

            Did he ever say that he needed to go out and get some, “strange,” and you were forced to tell him that he could get some “strange” right at home if he grew a few inches down there?

            Did he ever threaten to give you 12 inches and hurt you, and you had to tell him that the ONLY way that could possibly happen was if he diddled you 4 consecutive times and then hit you with a brick?

            Did you have to buy XSC (Xtra Small Crotch) briefs for him when refurbishing his wardrobe?

            • Now it is you who makes me laugh. not you, like all Chumps, if we didn’t laugh we wouldn’t stop crying!!

              • And Maree,
                I get the idea that you may be from somewhere “Down Under.” I absolutely LOVE the word, “Bugger.” It conveys disgust better than any other word. Here is a commercial that illustrates the linguistic eloquence of “Bugger!”

                Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbBx4Ql6Umo

              • notyou, I am an Aussie. We are across the ditch from New Zealand and I know that ad well.

        • “It was like there was a spotlight on me I didn’t know about and couldn’t step out of. It was being secretly debased without being given the ability to leave and walk away from the situation.”

          Beautifully said, Kat.

        • Kat – this is exactly how I feel. I haven’t been able to put it into words, but you have beautifully summarized the most painful aspect of this whole experience. Thank you.

        • “He mindfucked me so bad I felt wrong about saying no to things I would never do with someone else. He used me in a way I never allowed any other man to do. I would watch a program with a bunch of dumb young half naked women and feel inadequate. I never experienced that feeling of being found completely wanting before. I am smart and attractive and elegant and discriminating. I felt less then a pair of big tits. All of this I swear was almost worse because I didn’t know the cheating was going on, I just felt like I wasn’t being valued and couldn’t figure out the source. ”

          Me too. I agreed to do things I absolutely hated out of fear of saying no. I was so desperate for attention from him I did things because I figured if I refused, then he’d pay even less attention to me and I was physically starved already as it was. He told me that porn was not a threat to me, but I knew it was. I was constantly competing with perfect-porn stars with huge boobs who never said no.

          I too, had that feeling that there was some part of me that was not being valued in a big way, but I could never put my finger on it. I felt like it was something wrong with him that I needed to fix, but the problem (aside from it not being my fault…) was that I didn’t know what it was that broke. It would be like if someone handed you a broken bicycle and told you to fix it, but you’re not a bicycle repair specialist, nor were you the person who crashed it so you have no idea what even needs fixing. You know it’s a bicycle, you recognize that it’s a bicycle, but it’s messed up in a way you can’t identify. And riding it feels like a form of torture.

          That’s what it was like for me when it came to sexuality with my ex. I knew it was him, I recognized that this man was my boyfriend, but something had gone very, very wrong and I had no idea what, it wasn’t me that made something go wrong, and dealing with him deep down was painful.

            • Wow! Just Wow! This is something I have been trying to figure out through therapy. And it has been so clearly spelled out by Kara and Kat here. I am no prude and was very sexually adventurous, but somewhere during the 18 years we were together the pressure to perform (especially after the kids were born and I had a bout of post-partum depression) in the bedroom just made me shut down. All along he made me feel inadequate and like it was about my body image issues (some of it was, I gained about 60 lbs during our marriage, probably so that he would be discouraged about pressuring me to have sex with him, now I realize), but in reality now, just today, I understand the reason it was so emotionally painful is b/c I felt that ““He mindfucked me so bad I felt wrong about saying no to things I would never do with someone else. He used me in a way I never allowed any other man to do.” And only b/c I was already told that I was frigid, so I had to say yes to prove my value, my worth, my love and my willingness to accommodate him. 90% of the time I would cry after sex – he would never see me – but I felt so disgusting and cheap and used. Sigh. I was never going to meet his porn-addicted brain.

              • I’m very sorry Bella. I suppose if people knew some of the things I ended up doing regularly they would ask me why I would subject myself to that. When you love someone and are intimate with them of course you’re open to experimenting. For me that’s how it started. Then certain things became expected without asking me if it was ok. When I finally told him that I didn’t want to do those certain things he made me feel like I wasn’t accepting who he was sexually. When I stood up with a hard boundary for my sexuality that’s when his overt cheating started. In a normal relationship a man or a woman respects the other person’s sexual boundaries. Intimacy allows us to explore OUR sexual boundaries. Pushing over someone else’s boundaries is a form of violation. Pressuring someone to allow that violation by putting them in competition with other women real or imagined is pretty insidious. That’s part of what I was talking about with the secret debasement. That’s a game you can’t win. And with a cheater it’s often one you don’t even know you’re in.

  • I was anxious and fat and anxious and exhausted and anxious. He had an hour commute so all household and kidlet responsibilities were on me. Funny, I felt honored to take care of our home (while working full time) and could not understand where the oceans of anxiety were coming from. And, oh lord, I gained so so so much weight. Fatigue like I’d never known…

    D-day informed me that the timeline of his 5 yr affair coincided with my anxiety and enormous weight gain. Ugh – but this is on me. I was in denial and crazy co- dependent. In my deepest heart I knew how to take care of myself but chose to pour every ounce of energy into my marriage. My miserable joke of a marriage.

    I went off anxiety meds the week I kicked my cheater out of the house. During the year that followed, while dealing with the divorce from hell and single parenting my sad and bewildered kids, not only did my anxiety disappear but I lost an intentional 125 lbs. Perhaps it was one of those cases where one’s true self must just rise to the surface.

    • Paula, your comment hit home with me. I’ve written quite a lot about the fact that I denied how much my fat made me hate myself. And when you hate yourself you don’t feel you deserve a better life. I’m not saying weight was my only issue, but it was a significant one.

      I’ve lost about 70 pounds and have another forty or so to go. It’s hard, it’s slowing up, but I’m wearing “normal” sized clothing now and I had forgotten how wonderful it felt. Not to mention having energy to do stuff.

      But the main thing is I feel I fit into society again, something I didn’t even know I was missing.

      • ML,

        Your sustained weight loss is a remarkable testament of your will and dedication to live healthy both in mind and spirit.

        When we are in the battle, sometimes it is hard to see how much progress we have made, and I suspect you can’t see yourself as others see you through your modest but revealing little snippets about where you have been and what you are doing to get where you want to be.

        I can tell you right now that if I were your counselor I’d be pleased as punch with your progress.

        You inspire me! You truly do!

        [I have put on too much weight since I retired (partially b/c foot and knee injuries from an auto accident hampered my mobility during a long healing process and not cutting back on calories accordingly) BUT I am going to make you my role model for using swimming to take it back off. Old joints will appreciate vigorous no impact exercise.]

    • paula, your body knew before your mind did. Isn’t that amazing? And good for you to rid yourself of all that weighed you down.

      • I gained a bit of weight towards teh end and I think it was due to my body wanting to repel him, almost like it knew something I didn’t. Now the weight is mostly gone. Yay me.

    • Yep, it would be an interesting study indeed – fluctuations in body weight as related to infidelity.

      We can never underestimate the mind/body/broken heart connection.

      • I struggled to get back to idea weight for years, but the weeks before D-Day I lost 10 pounds. But the funny thing was once my appetite came back and food didn’t taste like sawdust any more, I stopped needing to eat for comfort. It was just over. I had put on a total of about 40 pounds during the time I was married to my alcoholic/addict husband and after my mother the narcissist began to show signs of dementia. I’d take off 10 or 15 and then gain most of it back. Now I am at a weight I haven’t seen since the mid-80s, with about 3-5 pounds to go. Marianne Williamson has a good book about how in our culture, being overweight has a lot to do with eating when we should be tending to our other needs. Think of that phrase “comfort food.” Our spouses, friends and other loved ones should be our comfort. So when a spouse disengages and demeans us, when we are being “secretly debased without being given the ability to leave and walk away from the situation,” as Kat said, we get comfort from eating, while we lay on a few pounds to protect ourselves from emotional starvation.

        • Caitlin Moran also writes about this, about how women commit slow suicide through food rather than through drink or other substances. It’s the kind of self-harm that seems harmless, but isn’t.

  • I lost most of my self confidence because of my husband’s verbal abuse. I lost contact with some of my family because of his rude telephone behavior and his habit of ridiculing them. I lost my sense of independence because I used most of my energies for housework, yardwork, and child care. I didn’t lose my ability to love, but I save my love for my kids and my pets. I worry that marriage is a form of servitude and I don’t have any time or energy left for that.

    I struggle to regain my confidence. As a young woman I traveled alone to Europe. The month before left him I packed up the two girls and we went alone to NYC, which was liberating for me (I was terrifed we would get lost and miss the bus). Since then, I have been attending graduate school, have gotten a full time job, and traveled with the girls to San Francisco. Now I’m trying to find a better job, either a better paying one or one more aligned with the degree I should get in about a year. I’m finding it’s hard to put yourself out there with other job seekers. To write a good resume and cover letter I have to sound confident–and I’m not. Gotta fake it to make it though 🙂

      • Get someone to help with your resume. When I sit with students, we talked about work skills and achievements, volunteer experiences, and other things they’ve done because most people have more to bring to the table than they realize. A good career counselor at school can help, perhaps, or someone in your circle of friends and family that does a lot of hiring.

    • Jade, I had that problem with my CV and cover letters, so I had a friend write my CV and she always went over my cover letters until I started to actually feel more confident.

      Ask around and see if anyone can help you. They often see things you don’t see in yourself.

    • Jade it’s so common for women to feel trepidation about selling themselves in a job search or interview. Between actually performing interviews and being exposed to how male professionals climb the ladder I’ve learned how important it is to advocate for yourself as a woman. Women interview for the job they think they have the skills for but pass up on the one they could learn but don’t think they’re qualified for. They also rarely negotiate for a higher salary. Men are used to doing these things. Don’t settle and never ever sell yourself short. Sweetie, you’re a single mom with a full time job attending grad school. You can accomplish anything!!!

      Sometimes local job service has clinics where you can practice interviewing and work on resumes. Look up situational interview questions. Ironically narcs usually rock at job interviews but have issues on the job.

  • I look at my married friends and think ‘why couldn’t I have that?’ What is so hard about just being human, friends, negotiating, acknowledging and sharing?’

    We aren’t talking about disney stuff, or twu wuv. Just friendship, teasing, give and take and humanity. The camaraderie of being together for a long time and having been through stuff together.

    Just so sad, and pointless, really.

    • So true Patsy. I have lost 45 years (technically) of my life. I won’t get that back and as you state, “just so sad, and pointless really”. But I don’t think of that in terms of myself but in terms of my family unit that has gone and it will never return.

  • I went from being a very positive and fun, happy person to a miserable and sad person who drank too much over night. It truly ruined my life for years until I could drag myself out of it. It’s been years and it still hurts sometimes. Especially seeing how happy him and the OW are and how great their lives turned out. I’m still alone and that hurts.
    I think something in me is forever damaged.
    Nothing ever hurt as bad as being cheated on and dumped by the person I believed with all my heart truly loved me. Nothing.

  • I know what I became:

    Crabby, depressed, unfocused, angry, lost sense of self.

    And I had no idea why. He just kept telling me I was always mad, negative, not fun. I was short with the kids when he was home. I was depressed when he was home. I was egg-shell walking when he was home. I was mad at his drunk ass when he was around. Things were a million % different when he was gone for weeks for “work “. Even the kids were happier.

    As soon as I understood the why of my behavior, walking around with a big knife in my back- inserted by him and repeatedly twisted by his fuckbuddies or porn or adult friend finders-it was amazing how HAPPY I’ve become. No more knife. No more black cloud hanging over my head.

    It IS my horrible mistake, a clouded choice I made that let’s him remain in the house. It’s true when I say I’ m not sad about him. I never begged or felt ‘lost’ without him. I’m quite sad about the marriage I thought I had. To have a spouse who can craft such a huge deception and let others molest me too, to consciously throw away and endanger your own kids tells me enough about him. 5 decades of what he IS cannot be erased by 6 months of intensive IC.

    • Need to add…this sounds weird but I feel like he really stole my sexuality as well. I’m no prude, but during the whole thing I felt so emotionally and sexually used. He repulsed me during the entire time and repulses me more even now.

      • When I found out about all the affairs my sense of sexual self really took a hit. I mean, damn! The man was screwing around for years – I must be repulsive!

        Then I realised that no, he’s repulsive because, you know, he was screwing around for years. But it’s hard to realise that when someone so blatantly lets you know he really can’t be arsed to fuck only you, for whatever reason.

        • Yes the damage to our sexual selves – it’s brutal. Twenty five years of marriage to someone who gives his sexual best efforts elsewhere surely messed me up.

          And as I’ve been writing this new post- divorce life story, reclaiming a healthy and whole sexual identity has been a priority. At 53 this part of my life is happily adequate

          • WELL SAID. Since I was a young woman men have said ‘there is something about you’… the gleam in my eye probably, because I am no oil painting and nobody ever got lucky, but I really loved that part of love.
            In my marriage I did think it was a sacred bond, I adored him and for me it was a special part of paradise. This wife never said no!

            Until it wasn’t. Those beliefs were all in my innocent naive little trusting head. It wasn’t special, sacred beautiful or anything else. I felt ugly, dirty, unattractive and less than.

            At a wedding a few week’s back, a man much younger than me got drunk and told me I was hot and he wished he whatever. He has NO idea what a gift that compliment of admiration was. Thank you you lovely generous young man.

            Their behaviour does not determine our worth.

  • Great posts and comments today. Last night I watched the movie “He’s not Really That Into You.” I won’t go into its many deep flaws, however the performances were great and the story line with the married couple whose husband cheats with Scarlet Johnson is dead on with regards to gaslighting, crazy making and no longer recognizing yourself. The pick me dance was perfectly depicted. Worth a watch.

    • I agree. And we don’t need to be movie critics to appreciate a good depiction of the effects of gaslighting, although until it happened to me, I wasn’t able to fully get it, even though it is well-acted in the film. One thing I do like about both the film and to book that inspired it is the message that someone’s behavior will tell you if he (or she) is interested in you. Extrapolated into marriage, that is what we can use to determine whether to stay or go. Is this person “into” me, or just going through the motions? Or worse yet, is this person faking it, gaslighting me, to keep me “into” him while he has an affair with his Schmoopie?

  • I don’t think I changed much over the course of the marriage except to assume the role of “she who was delegated handling of the unpleasantries” because Mr. Nice Guy was so conflict avoidant and passive-aggressive. In retrospect, I believe I subconsciously resented having this role so cleverly foisted onto me; and from time to time his PA behavior would aggravate me, but I’d call him on it and then go about my business. We had had a normal if not good marriage. I wasn’t plagued with serial cheating, addiction, or other greatly traumatizing behavior on his part. I wouldn’t have tolerated it. I did become a “warrior woman” when the shit hit the fan, but have since mellowed quite a bit.

    I was completely floored when he told me he was moving out and had made the unilateral and irrevocable decision that we needed to divorce. But he tried to get me to file for the divorce and I refused, “….until we sort this all out.” My attempts to repair consisted of trying to persuade him to slow down, go to MC, and find out why he all of sudden was so unhappy in the marriage because this was a life altering decision for four other people, whom he apparently was not taking into consideration.

    Might as well have been talking to a tree stump. He kept stonewalling; and as I would logically and factually overcome his rewriting of the marital history, he kept changing his story (sound familiar people?). He was acting like someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or a rapidly cycling bi-polar. I truly suspected something neurological. At first.

    Within a week or two my gut told me that I needed to think outside the box because something else was in this mix. I had never been a snooper or check-upper but I became one and confirmed my suspicions. It hit me that he was lying, gas-lighting, projecting, blame-shifting, and in full self-justification mode. I was enraged because I know how cruel and emotionally abusive it is to try to create an artificial reality for another.

    So, I had a PI document who, what, when, and where. Then I loosed all HELL.
    ( And, so perhaps did the “Dodge Me Dance” as opposed to the “Pick Me Polka.”)

    Confronted him. He became livid, called me crazy, etc. I responded, ” No, I believe my own senses and concrete evidence–not your lies, so don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. We can divorce, and that’s probably best because I will never trust you again, BUT you will not have both that woman and peace in your life–ever. Be prepared to either kill me deader than hell, or eventually give her up. Your preemptive strike robbed me of all I had, and now the two of you are the only ones left with a lot to lose. You handed me the ammunition, and this is going to be a very long war of attrition. And since I fight fair, I’m warning you; expect it. You know me well enough to know that when I make a promise you can take it to the bank. Better think long and hard about that.” This sent his ass into orbit. And, he stubbornly went underground, but I knew that one more mine had been laid in the field they would have to cross and that it would remain there for years.

    I confronted and told her straight out that if she was out of her delusional gourd if she believed there could ever be a happy, peaceful future for them subsequent to wrecking two families. Told her to be prepared to constantly look over her shoulder for the rest of her life because I would find a thousand ways to legally humiliate her and destroy any stolen happiness. That they were two cheaters whom I would personally insure could never relax and prosper.”

    I told her husband the truth. He was skeptical; but once you plant those seeds, people get hyper-vigilant and do the rest for themselves. I told our adult children and backed it up with the PI’s tapes. They didn’t like the truth, but stopped buying into his “poor me” routine.

    I went about rebuilding my life and worked though to the point that I’m indifferent to his personal life. I don’t care what or even if he thinks about me, haven’t for several years, but I won’t forget the damage he inflicted on our family. MOW eventually and predictably dumped X, and from what I suspect it wasn’t fun for him. Recently, he seems to be trying to build a decent life again with a nice, very ordinary woman who had nothing to do with the divorce. Perhaps he did learn the hard way about manipulative, narcissistic women. But as they say, “It’s not my circus and not my monkeys.”

    • Great post, notyou. Wow. I wanna be able to say that, convey that they will never truly rest and they need to forever look over their shoulders. I never thought I was vindictive – well, I wasn’t, but I make up little stories now to him. Hey – your HS friend that I know well on FB is coming through town tomorrow. Shall I tell her all the details? It’s not true but it’s harmless, it makes him sweat and I kinda like having fun with that. But, I want to get to where notyou is – I swear I could relate to so much of that post so I’m sure I’ll get there too and somebody – hopefully – forget I ever met this asshole.

      • Shechump,

        If you don’t have what it takes to blow him clean out of the water, don’t toy with him. I had a lot of leverage, and my children were adults so I was free to use the nuclear option without collateral damage on the child front. Some Chumps don’t have that advantage and are forced be more strategic and bide their time.

        I can tell you this: You will eventually get to Meh. Just value yourself and those who value you (the way the asshole should have), and take it one day at a time and one step at a time. Your pain and anger will diminish on your time table, and one day it will be gone.

        • First, this is brilliant: “I know how cruel and emotionally abusive it is to try to create an artificial reality for another.” Great explanation of gaslighting and its effects in one short sentence.

          I didn’t have the evidence (as the Jackass has reminded me when he said, “You don’t have actual proof.” And I didn’t go to the MOW’s chumped husband for that reason and others. But there are other ways to blow up their Cheater Bubble. I wrote a letter about some business issues and added that my discretion in not telling the MOW’s husband and family depended on their discretion in never allowing my name to cross their lips to anyone, ever. And I pointed out that MOW is highly indiscreet about the affair, citing social media posts. Two or three weeks later (and after I am certain some unpleasantries) the affair was over. No doubt discovery took some of the special fun out of it for Jackass the Cheater, once he knew that I knew he was of that species (hence his indignation at my accusations). And some of it had to be fear of getting saddled with his MOW, once he had begun to actually know her. Once the kibble avalanche stopped and some reality set it, reading her texts must have been torture, if her social media posts are an indicator (juvenile, with lots of extra letttttterrrrrrssssss) and Jackass the Cheapskate Cheater had started to add up what her “dreamz” were going to cost, what with 2 more kids to put through college) and then there’s how much he hates and runs from commitment (and she was posting “run away with me” stuff on social media). The beauty of it was knowing that he could not afford for people to know that he was having an affair with his dead friend’s married sister that began literally as soon as she notified him of the death. Her mother, her siblings, high school friends, her huge extended family–all would have seen him as a pariah. And his family literally took sides with his X in both his divorces (I know–that was a major spackle job on my part) and would have vilified him yet again, just as he was boasting about being the “patriarch” of the family after the death of his father. (His words, I swear–and thank God at that point I was beyond spackle). So even without “actual proof” to take to the MOW’s husband, it wasn’t hard to give the process of decay a little jump start and then go No Contact. For me, the pain is almost gone but he has to live with himself forever.

  • Bearing in mind I thought I was happily married…

    I was constantly irritated, I lived with a short fuse and tutted a lot. I was negative and sarcastic and very discontented. I often fantasised about living alone and being my own person, I felt so lost within that marriage. 3 years later (and after almost reaching ‘meh’) I have become the person I always thought I was. And it’s been noticed! I am so much happier, I smile, I love people, I love my life.
    I remember seeing my ex about 18 months after he left…. I told him how he hadn’t changed… he was frowning and justifying and blame shifting… and he just said “well you have… and for the better”

    That’s when I knew he had truly done me a huge favour.

    • Hmmm …. I think this hits home a bit for me. I thought we had a good marriage with normal ups and downs but yep, I was pretty pissy for awhile and very discontented and depressed. This was due to his behaviour to a great extent but also because I was just dealing with thigns and not doing anything to make myself happier. Now? Not quite out of the woods but so, so much happier and kinder and damn, much more cheerful. 🙂

  • not you -” I don’t think I changed much over the course of the marriage except to assume the role of “she who was delegated handling of the unpleasantries” because Mr. Nice Guy was so conflict avoidant and passive-aggressive. In retrospect, I believe I subconsciously resented having this role so cleverly foisted onto me”.
    This is very similar to my story but I did change from a happy go lucky girl to one who didn’t smile very much and slowly, without realising it, stopped making contact with all my friends.
    My ex husband planned my exit, pushed me out of my home by sending my son in to tell me and my son has called me passive-aggressive and many more humiliating names. My ex husband then expected me to make application and pay for the divorce. I refused and told him, if he wanted to be free he could pay for it and he did. The damage he has caused and I suppose I have too along the way will never be repaired. That is what makes me so sad.

    • Quite frankly I’d tell your kids to piss off. Give it to them straight and let the chips fall. They’re already being assholes so you might as well stand up for yourself and let them know where you stand.

      • Nord, I hear what you are saying. I wouldn’t take the abuse from a stranger that I have taken from my kids, so now I have decided to cease all contact with them, well mainly my son because my daughter has literally cut me dead. If someday they want to see me and treat me with the respect that I have earned and do deserve, well then they are most welcome back into my life. Until then, I am flying solo!!

        • Maree, I am betting that many women are forced into filing for divorce when their husbands were the ones who were cheating. I am one of them–I had to leave because my ex wasn’t leaving “his” house (of course, 50% mine) and “his” possessions. You’re right, it is passive aggressive. I also think it helps narcissists save face, as they can blame the wife and then give the cover story of “we grew apart.”

          • Jade – I’m so curious about this. The first guy that files is ….. like, what? I’m not sure if there’s a stigma attached to it or some kind of blame. In my case, I immediately filed when finding OW but he didn’t want to stay married anyway. I felt in great control for filing first and anybody that wonders why I did, it’s all in the initial court public papers of how he cheated on me. Can you shed some light on a subject I think I’ve missed and that is the reluctancy to be the first to file? Thanks!

            • Many of the Passive-Aggressive and Conflict Avoidant types don’t want to appear to the “bad guy”. They want the divorce but don’t want to look like they skipped out on their responsibilities…especially if there are children.
              Saving face is everything to them. The must appear to be Mr. Nice Guy at all costs. Plus they get bonus “control & manipulation” points (in their own minds) for having goaded you into doing it.

              • Spot on! This is the very thing I told a close friend as soon as I found out about the OW.

                It’s part of the re-write, you know…the horrible shrew, tried everything to to do the big R (except of course really wanting to “get ” the level of anguish and resulting anger from me), look at her divorcing me!

                This is the major reason that he MUST tell his close family members and I must be present during the conversation. There will be no minimization of this crap and I have stated I am exploring all of my options to cheater, to MC and to all of his family.

                His passive aggressive good guy crap is crap.

              • It’s a totally sick dynamic and SOOoo common. Honestly, it’s the rare cheater who files for divorce, IMO. Heck, some of these people abandon their families, are living with the AP, and still drag their feet on divorce. Total control tactics — and an inverted pick me. “Divorce me!” and from the AP “Why aren’t you divorced!?”

              • Even the single ones do this–the Jackass could have just said, “This isn’t working for me” and walked away, with no legal issues. We live on opposite ends of the city and could go for years without seeing each other. But he didn’t want to be the “bad guy” so he starts the gaslighting and picking fights and finding fault and blame-shifting–which as my therapist said sheds new light on both his second wife’s titanic rage at him and his first wife’s decision to never remarry after 20 years. So divorce is just another, more public stage that allows them to posture as “good guys” while they lie, cheat and stab people who love them in the back.

                It’s funny–notyou will make a post about the psychology of cheater behavior and I’ll see that I ordered a book from Amazon to study up on that aspect during the run up to D-Day; this time it’s passive aggressive types. Back then–10 months ago–I thought if I read enough about it, I could fix it.

              • One more thought: after 10 years, the Jackass is still paying the price with his FOO because his ex-wife took control of the narrative and never let it go. Now she is also a cheater, gaslighter and liar, too, just a better tactician than he is. But for righteous chumps, taking control of the narrative is a useful tool, even if his or her parents/friends seem to support the Cheater. That doesn’t mean he isn’t getting an earful from them or that they aren’t filing the other side of the story away for future consideration.

              • My ex waffled about for months andmonths about signing the divorce papers, giving the kids hope, making me nuts and finally I found a way to make him sign. I won’t say here how but it was genius and totally embarrassed him. 🙂

  • Well, what did I become? I think it was more of what I didn’t become. During the entire time of my relationship with my XW I always seemed to be making up for perceived deficits. Things like not being outgoing or social enough, not arguing enough (she called it “intelligent conversation”), not blindly voting the same way as her, not being open enough emotionally, not being involved in the church enough, and being too independent-minded. Then she goes off with someone who is supposedly a “strong man”, whatever that means. This is not to come across as “I’m perfect and she’s not”, because I have plenty of faults and made my share of mistakes, but there are plenty of people like me, and I can’t be ashamed of it anymore.

    What did I get back when the marriage ended? I don’t know if I necessarily “got anything back”, but I think I gained the knowledge that I need to own who I am and not concern myself with how I am perceived by all others. I can’t impress everyone all the time and I certainly can’t fundamentally change who I am and what I’m interested in just to make someone happy. It’s exhausting, and I’ve been tired for a very long time.

    The pick-me dance is over, I lost, and I accept and own the fact that I was never going to win. Even if I did “win”, I would have sold myself out to do so – I guess this is what she meant when she told me to “fight for her”. Now I can be something I haven’t been able to be for a very long time – me.

    • I think you did win. Eventually, you chose self-respect. We only think we lose because they start the game, make the rules, act as judge, and give the prizes (all to themselves). You were just too nice to yell “cheater.”

    • Sheesh, reminds me of a BPD woman I know. And a bunch of 19 year old girls. “Fight for her”? I don’t know how old your ex was but she needs to grow the fuck up. And I’m so over arguing for intellectual stimulation. Of course none of us ladies is perfect though so even if you get a decent one who doesn’t cheat we’re still gonna harass ya a little bit. But you didn’t lose out to the other guy. We can all work on our stuff but we can’t fill the hole that is missing in someone else.

      • wow! after 14 years of carrying him, supporting him thru one f*ck up after another, bailing his a$$ out of jail idk how many times, probations, arrests. fixing all the problems he caused by his selfish acts, ego boosting because he would tell he i should leave him, he is such a loser, making him feeler better, bigger, like he was a good person (i actually believed he was) loving him thru thick and thin, forgiving him to the point i completely forgot the bad.

        all i wanted in the end was him to “fight for me”, because i thought me and the kids were worth. (yes, pickme dance, i know) and was shocked as hell when he didnt.

        now you all are making me believe i was wrong in saying that he never fought for me or the kids.

  • He brought out the control freak/perfectionist in me. Not in a nice way…

    Last week I enjoyed a party I threw for the first time. Before I would have lost myself in themes, huge cakes, decorations and making sure everything and everybody was just perfect. This time? Plenty of food, fun and… I had a good time!

    This is exemplary for how I tried to overcompensate, I still stress out, want to keep things running smoothly, take too much on my shoulders, but not to the extend that I become angry, inflexible and… go over the top. I’m enjoying life so much more, so much more consciously!

    (oh, I never drove with him in the car, I’m not a bad driver, but he made me so nervous with his endless critiques I couldn’t even parallel park)

  • I became…Nobody. Unclaimed baggage, a wilted houseplant, a receptacle.
    Our “relationship”, (if one could call it that anymore) was false-tolerance in front of other people, bitter hatred at home, by the time we separated.

    Self-esteem was never a strong point for me and was nearly non-existent upon divorce. I remarried (an addict, jerk, horrible creep) within a year. Probably figuring it’s the best I could do, and I desperately didn’t want to *be alone*.
    By 2 years into THAT waste of time, ALL I wanted was *to be alone!*

    In fairness, I have to own Failure #2–because if I’d worked on my own issues, gotten counseling after #1, then #2 wouldn’t have happened–at least not to THAT creep.

    Single for 16 years after all that, and had no children. One long-term boyfriend passed away during that time, devastating because we were talking about marriage and had an excellent relationship…

    It was a long haul, but I got out of debt, got a decent job that I like (without a degree!) and am now married to a loving and considerate man–a PARTNER–and have a grown stepson.

    Life is GOOD! Not sparkly and exciting, but that’s OK–Normal, positive and rewarding are where it’s at!

    • Good for you! That’s quite a journey. (And I can relate to the disastrous second marriage — that was me with my cheater. Brief and god awful. And if I’d fixed my picker after #1, probably avoidable.)

  • I have always been a strong and independent person. My ex really really pushed the idea of relying on him and telling him all of my secrets. I thought he must know more about how you were supposed to be in long term relationship because his first marriage lasted for 16 years. Funny how they push you into needing them and then spend the rest of the time making sure they’re never there. I guess I kind of feel like Sampson when he got tricked into cutting his hair off. My warrioress self is coming back. I literally forgot how strong I am normally until just recently when I had to deal with a couple family crises in a row. Every once in a while I wish a had a husband to share with (not my husband, but a husband). But I’m good on my own. Yay me.

    I became very selfish too. I felt like our life was so self centered. I was always there for my ex and his kids but I felt like I didn’t have the time or compassion anymore for others. Not that I took advantage of anyone, just simply didn’t reach out or help like I used to. I am becoming a good friend again. I’m also looking into volunteer opportunities.

    I also sort of lost my sense of style/self. There is a woman who hosts one of my favorite shows whose style I have always admired. I remember noticing when she started wearing things that didn’t seem to reflect her anymore and weren’t the most flattering and I even commented about it to my ex. “I think she’s in a new relationship”. Turns out she was newly engaged. Knowing now how my ex’s devaluing and mindfucking affected my manner of dress and my confidence in my look I wonder if she wasn’t in a bad relationship. Seriously. I was no longer capable of matching or deciding what color lipstick to wear. In fact, the moment he started cheating I just didn’t feel pretty any more even though I didn’t have a clue what was going on. Maybe the fashion stuff sounds vapid. More than anything it was a loss of the ability to self express. I’m still regaining that.

    • I totally get the fashion thing. I was always fairly into being stylish. Not over the top but looking good and taking pride. Tht slowly went away, mainly because I didn’t feel good about me. Now I’m back dressing well and feeling pretty good.

      • Kat and Nord, I get that too. I have always been a stylish person in a quirky kind of way, but ex had pressured me to spend as little as possible and I had almost exclusively shopped at thrift stores for myself and the kids. When I left, I looked in the closet and realized that if I wanted to work full time, I could not be showing up to work in rags. I still love thrift shopping but I no longer feel guilty for indulging in a new dress or new clothes or shoes for my daughters.

        • I would say my style is classy with elements of quirk or fun. Ex made me feel guilty for not being flashy enough. Of course all of this stuff didn’t happen until quite a ways into the relationship or you know I would’ve run for it.

    • Yanno, Kat. I sort of did the same thing.

      I’m independent, capable, and versatile, but over the years I very gradually eased back and let him take over stuff…just stuff (except at work). Not because of any feelings of incompetence on my part but because he seemed so boyishly eager to take over, and it seemed to somehow please him. I was like, “Well…whatever floats his boat.”

      When the shit hit the fan, he accused me of not caring enough to do such and such for him. (All part of the 400 mile long Dead Sea Scroll of blame-shifting for his infidelity.) I told him, “Don’t even go there. I couldn’t have beaten you out of my domestic business with a stick because you are an ever-smiling control freak who if given an inch will take 52 miles. What you wanted was for ME to do things YOUR way…and when I did them a different but just as effective and efficient way you were compelled to take over. So, suck it up, Bucko, that shit won’t flush either. Now back to that affair of YOURS…. “

      • I am so glad I am not alone,

        my STBX would always take over, he could never come alongside and work with you he would alway do it his way. So I got to the stage that I didn’t care ‘ you want to do it knock your self out, then one day I came home from work (i worked casual on weekends to assist with our finances) to find he had rearranged to pantry and plastics cupboards in our kitchen, when I gradually move things back because at the time I just looked at it as him trying to helpful. he became upset and reprimanded me for undoing all of his hard work. My response ‘ would you be ok with me coming to your work tomorrow and rearranging your work space to how I would like it? Him, ‘NO’. then what makes you think it is ok to rearrange mine? , SOOOOO frustrating.

      • You want to know the weirdest thing of all? Animals have always loved me. In fact right now my mom’s antisocial cat is following me everywhere and insisting on sitting on my lap. But after my ex started cheated (though I didn’t know it at the time) animals would sort of ignore me or stay away from me. Not the family pets. Usually when I was out for walks I could get the neighborhood cats or dogs to come and make friends but they started to ignore me. I think the ex peed on my leg when I wasn’t looking or something. Honestly I wouldn’t put it past him. Demon pheromones are scary. Glad to say the animals seem to be ok with me again.

      • “What you wanted was for ME to do things YOUR way…and when I did them a different but just as effective and efficient way you were compelled to take over”

        So … you were married to my wife?

    • Some stylist named Rachel Zoe said, “Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak.” That suggests that even when we aren’t paying attention to how we look and dress, even if we are neglecting ourselves in this visible way, we are saying who we are in that moment. In the horrible days just before and after D-Day, I spent a lot of time writing in my journals but also on Pinterest, where I started to collect images and words to help me think through who I was and who I wanted to be. I saw the MOW pinning things like sparkly bras that show under shirts and clothes and makeup suited more for teenagers than a grown woman. So I started a board and it evolved into a way to think through my style. When I shop, I have those images in mind. I often have to use the internet to find appropriate stuff to pin because the women’s fashions on Pinterest, like those in the shopping malls, are heavily weighted toward the very young and foolish and the very thin. But a person could use a paper folder or a bulletin board to the same effect. Now when I am in a store, I can look at something and know it’s not for me or know that it is outside the box and quirkier than my regular style but it would work with what I have. This week, 3 designer dresses, three quality tops and a quirky maxi skirt for $200. That with a couple of pairs of “good jeans” bought on sale will get me through 3 high-end weddings, a big HS reunion, work days, and other summer social events for the next few years. All classic, well-made stuff. Style does matter, especially if you are on a tight budget.

  • Yeah, ex made me a little crazy too. I came home one day to find that he had ruined another one of my things yet again through misuse. I went all godzilla on his shit and broke a bunch of his stuff including some dvds I hated having to watch over and over again. Ex came home and called me a psycho even though prior to this I had begged and pleaded and reasoned with him to be more careful with my things. The bastard left and went to the OW to complain about how crazy I was. He didn’t come back until the next day, told me he stayed at his mother’s and then proceeded to tell me how crazy an unidentified person (ow) thought my actions were. Seriously, I take good care of my stuff and my ex destroyed almost everything that mattered to me over the course of our relationship and never replaced it. Stuff I’d had for ten years in perfect condition before I met him. It still pisses me off. But destroying that stuff still cracks me up. I should have broken everything of his I didn’t like.

    Ugh, and to think I did actually stop and wonder whether I was overreacting. All of us ladies get so worried about being accused of being a bitch. Sorry, I was incredibly nice and supportive and understanding of my ex and I will never again let my boundaries be challenged. I trust that voice that tells me what’s ok and what I need in a relationship.

    • Love when they tell you that so and so says you’re crazy. It’s always, always, always one of their enablers.

      • Ok. So asshat revealed all the analyzing he and OW did about me. You know, why is your wife such a bitch, why is she so negative, why is she so boring, why is she so cold/frigid?

        Really. C’mon. This person has never met me. Doesn’t know me and never knew me before all of the emotional focus was on her anyway. I did enjoy listening via asshat about her theories of why I was the way I was during their affair. It made for a great MC session. Seriously. I got to hear stories about myself, scripted by their POV and then I was able to my narrative to the exact same story.

        Really good session to flesh out mutual mindfucking by two assholes. Helped me a lot!

    • Xh used to grab the BEST bath towels from our linen closet for washing the car–nevermind the box full of ratty old towels, in the garage, *right next to the freaking carwash soap!*

      Oh, yeah, *who* was the crazy-aggressive one, again?

      • That is exactly what set me off. And they were my fucking towels that I brought to the relationship. I actually read somewhere that it’s typical of a narc not to respect your stuff because it all belongs to him in his mind. Stupid idiot once told me he had a right to treat my stuff shitty because he worked so hard.

        • What’s his was his, and what’s mine was his, too…he even had the balls to say that! To use an old term: “chauvinist” was spot on.

          His evil pleasure included spending our joint savings on whateverthefuck he wanted, while I needed to show receipts from the grocery shopping. (I still can’t believe I put up with that shit)

          Anyway, it was TOTALLY satisfying when, after years of him telling me we “couldn’t afford” a microwave oven–while he sunk hundreds into our various POS cars–that I took my own money from my own job, and went and bought one, without His Permission. (smirk!) He watched me unpack the microwave-cookware and then said: “well, I suppose we should get an oven after all” so I handed him the carkeys and said, “It’s in the car. Would you please go out and bring it in?” LOLOLOLOL!

        • My X (the alcoholic/addict, not the cheater) did the same thing. Broke all kinds of things and often never told me, including family heirlooms.

  • I went from a positive, optimistic, can-do person, to a negative, jealous cynical bitch. There were times I got on my own nerves. It was because I always felt on the defensive as I was given more and more for which to be accountable and being blamed every time something went wrong. My STBX always expressed himself in the “I” when things were going well, and the “we” when things went south (frequently) from his unilateral poor decisions of which I would initially attempt to talk him out of. I was always told that he loved me, with little to demonstrate that was the case. I seldom felt honored, loved or valued no matter what I did or how supportive I was. More often than not I felt he was judging me and finding me wanting. It appeared that nothing I did or became was ever going to be enough for him to find me worthy.

    Since we have been separated I have realized that I, yes, I’m intelligent, capable and a happy person by nature. I sincerely, after almost 30 years, had completely forgotten. The only time I feel out of sorts or on edge or lacking in self-confidence is when I have had dealings with him. I realize I don’t feel safe around him and that his behavior fuels that feeling and belief. I always come here and read, spend my alone time reading or meditating or praying in order to center myself and get my mind right. It really is better when you can spend time away from the madness and once again recapture your authentic self. It takes time, but in the end, it is so worth it.

  • The worst of me came out. Close to a raving lunatic at times. I am slowly going back to my old self that was fun, loving, playful, happy and content. I am learning to let go of the past. Growth and change is hard and even painful at times, but it’s not as painful as staying stuck where you don’t belong. Baby steps. I am getting there. Thanks to my amazing kids, family and friends, and last but not least CL!

    • MGirontree, you made me laugh with the “close to a raving lunatic at times”. Sounds just like me!! 🙂

  • I have a totally different experience. My relationship of more than twenty years, three kids, was truly AWESOME. I didn’t have the narcissist, or the serial cheat, or any of the things that most here do. I had a wonderful guy, who I adored, and who adored me right back. We laughed, we shared, we loved deep and hard. We had amazing sex, even after more than two decades together! (We still had amazing sex during his affair!) Until he made some life decisions that had him spiral down into a form of depression that he didn’t recognise as such. I tried to talk with him, as we had always communicated brilliantly. I asked if he needed help. He told me he was fine. I brought his ex-girlfriend, one of my oldest friends – but someone I knew was a sociopath, a narcissist and a generally dysfunctional person – yeah, good one horses, very clever – back into our lives. Basically, I felt sorry for her. This person (I am being very kind in that description, I am a fucking kind person!) had multiple cheated on him and had talked smack about me years later when I started seeing him. I still ask myself why I needed to rescue her??? Anyway, fucked up man, bunny boiling woman, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, they fucked almost literally, under my nose for fifteen months. At around the twelve month mark, he woke up and realised he had fucked up – BAD. He ended it, trying to gently extricate himself from their “fun thing, we deserve this” (her words.) Her all-of-a-sudden un-retractable claws were stuck, she blackmailed, she threatened our children. He was absolutely horrified at his actions, but thinking he had dodged a bullet. Not so, six weeks later, she texted me all the details, while I was at a party I was going to take her to, but she reneged on. That was just over five years ago. He has done everything “right” in that he is terribly ashamed, remorseful, attended all counselling (there’s been a lot!) with vigour and participated fully in it, he’s been completely transparent, and endured me kicking him out three times, so much more. Sadly, I was a fantastically independent, happy, intelligent, fun, loving, CONTENTED person before I knew about his affair, and since, even through separations, so much love, I am now, sad, feel unsafe in the world and just damn overwhelmingly heartbroken. I am okay, I re-enrolled at uni – an hour away, I work two days a week as well as study fulltime, I have a great job, with a great boss, my kids are fine, only one left at home after the end of this year, but I have lost my sparkle (his description) we lost a truly wonderful thing. He knows it, and I know it. He is still my best mate in all the world, and is so damn gutted at my heartbreak, and that HE caused it. I don’t go out much anymore, and if I do, it is away from the community I was once so involved in. I know I am not, but I FEEL judged. None of my friends had any understanding of the level of the pain I felt, the diseases I dealt/deal with and the bunny boiling that went on for two years after he left her. So, I walked away from a lifetime of friendship – I discovered they were not my friends, just people who were happy if I was entertaining and giving. I have become someone who feels deep sadness every day, even though I have sought treatment for my pain. I am not a complete sad-sack, I go to uni, am doing well, in fact. I go to the odd concert, run, read, still enjoy arthouse cinema, etc. My life is fine. I just lost my happy chip. And I have fought to not let this change me. Pisses me right off that I am not okay, when I did nothing wrong, except love two people who weren’t worthy of me. Although I know my background is material here (FOO stuff, rape, only one sexual partner, etc) I don’t fully understand why I am still so affected, there is a tiny degree of meh, I know I can’t change any of it. Lord this is a whiny post! No question affairs change people, I don’t know that marriages have to, I know they do a bit, sometimes for the better, I became more loving, more selfless, I think my pre-affair relationship allowed me to grow such a lot. I think until he fell off that cliff, he would have told you that he had become a fuller, more interesting, loving and caring person with our relationship, and parenthood. Fuck, we lost a goldmine. I know I can live without it, but I don’t FLOURISH the same way.

    • horses, this is so sad!! And I think a lot of us have had that feeling of ‘having lost a goldmine’. My relationship with the narc cheater was never ever what it should have been, he was too negative, critical and selfish for that. But there were always glimpses of something better, moments when I could see what we COULD have had. All it would have taken was him putting in even 50% of the effort I did. We had so much in common, and were building a great life together. We were so lucky to both have work we enjoyed, our kids were healthy and happy, we were moving away from those ‘broke and over-worked’ years and into an easier and lighter life.

      Now, two years out, the ex hates his life and realizes he threw away a hell of a lot of good stuff, because he was too lazy to maintain it, and so entitled he thought he deserved an affair when it wasn’t as good as it should have been. He keeps sniffing around, but there is no possible way on earth I could ever let him back into my life. I think of him as being like gangrene. You sure don’t want it, but amputation is the only solution.

      But there’s such a sense of waste!!! It could have been so damned good, but he threw it away. Worse still for you, I bet, because it actually WAS that good.

      Stupid fuckers.

      • Bugger, Karen. Just bugger! Remorse after you’ve lost shit that coulda, woulda, shoulda been good. Damn. But you’re right, keep him away!!!

        • Yeah, especially ’cause that was affair #2, after what looked like reconciliation, 7 years previously. I may be a slow learner, but I do finally learn!

      • Horses,
        I am so sorry for you. What a heart break story. I felt like I lost a gold mine too. Obviously my X didn’t feel that way but I did.

    • Horses, this is the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me, and I have had some trauma in my life.
      I learned that safety is an illusion. Maybe this trauma blew up all the earlier trauma and magnified it? He keeps saying ‘I am not responsible for everything that has happened to you’, and he is right. The nuance is, all that other stuff was external, I chose him and trusted him and he knowingly chose to betray. That is the difference.

      The thing that is really helping me is 12 steps. Learning to let go and trust in a higher wisdom, a higher energy. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.

      • Hey Patsy, yep I agree, the most traumatic thing, and I too have had a few. Mine also (gently, and it has been discussed with counsellors as well) says that my pain is “not just what he did” – and that is true, but don’t YOU dare tell me that, as I was coping with the previous traumas really well until you pulled the rug out ;-)!

    • Horses, this is such a sad story. It seems particularly grim that the only “best mate” you have left at the end of all this is the person who caused you the heartbreak in the first place, so I hope some better friends are on your near horizon. You sound like an incredibly strong, resourceful woman.

      • Hecate, thanks, I have some wonderful friends – but they are all online, that’s okay for now. We are all stronger than we realise. I have always been strong, and this utter agony has had me stumped, as I have always been an “overcomer.” I understand it all so well, but can’t change the emotional lens I view everything with. We have discussed this ad nauseum, and he gets it – I know what happened, why, where, how, blah, blah, blah. I even UNDERSTAND where he was, and how fucked up he was to allow himself the permission to do what he did, but how does that help the way I feel, or the effects on my sexual being, and sexual health. I know this was a bit of a rant, I really am mostly okay, but the pain is still saturating the foundations of who I am these days. And it pisses me off, “get over it already.” Trying not to be too hard on myself, but I wish I could just give myself an upper cut, lol.

    • Horses, such a sad story. I think you’re unhappy because you’re still with him. And every day that is a reminder of what you lost. It’s very hard to feel safe with someone who was capable of living a double life for 15 months. SHE told you — he didn’t. Fucking under your nose? I don’t just think it was Ms. Bunny Boiler. What on earth did he tell himself to make that okay? THAT is the guy you’re afraid of, and you live with, and probably every day you have to convince yourself that “that person” doesn’t exist any more. But you don’t feel sure. How could you?

      I’m sorry he ruined everything with that affair. And I really don’t know how you get it back. Knowing you were betrayed and becoming “okay” with it are the mental gymnastics required to reconcile. And it exacts a horrible price IMO.

      • CL, yes, I know. We have had a proportion of time living apart, about eight months. I felt worse, unfinished business? The worst thing is when you actually see there was/is a good thing, not just a cluster fuck, but you can’t ignore what someone has PROVEN they are capable of. Yes, the fact that HE didn’t tell me is VERY material, SHE did. Of course, he felt he could take it to his grave, and therefore I wouldn’t be hurt, I do know it was about protecting himself, but also protecting me – he knows who I am, and that I was not going to go, “oh dear, never mind, it’s over now.” When I quit my very stressful job that was taking me further and further from him and our family, after much joint discussion, and he had sacked her, we were having a BLAST! Those six weeks were better than the following hysterical bonding. We farm, so we fucked everywhere, on vehicles, in barns, on the grass, multiple times a day, every day……..we laughed and laughed, and kept telling each other how lucky we were to still be so crazy about each other, we had weathered a storm of around two years (his affair started after a particularly stressful year – our worst ever) Man, we were so relieved – only I didn’t realise why HE was so relieved!

        He told himself that me working every waking hour was because “I didn’t love him anymore, and if he left me/I discovered the affair, I would be relieved as I would have ‘grounds’ to leave him.” Yes, he knows this was man-child bullshit! But at that period, when he was so fucked up, so full of doubt about what he had chosen for us, he actually believed his own bullshit – of course, helped along by skanky-pants! He shakes his head in horror now when he thinks about the crap he justified with. Yep, that is totally my fear, he showed me who he is/can be/might really be???

        We both know it is over. But, the economics of separation do not work in any way anymore, and we do get along well, even laugh a lot. e have separate bedrooms. Our plan is one I would have NEVER dreamed I would be living – two and a half years until youngest leaves for uni – I should be graduated by then, and we put the farm on the market and divy up the proceeds. I know I am MORE miserable without him, and quite honestly, the reasonable standard of living (heck, this is the cheapest option, I don’t have to get a student loan! And he is on board with us both paying for my education) I have and the shared parenting is good. But it is a temporary measure. No one gets a better marriage after cheating, and anyone who thinks they have, I pity, because it must have been absolutely shit to start with!

    • Horses, your story breaks my heart. Betrayal is brutal to the soul. As for your old “friend”‘ don’t blame yourself. You viewed her through your eyes of goodness and hope. I doubt you will ever make that kind of mistake again. Your husband, on the other hand, is an ongoing problem. Many urge the betrayed to simply walk away. I ponder this action too. Should I? Should I not? I haven’t decided yet. Take your time. I am impressed that you are making good solids moves to improve your well being. My advice is this that my minister once gave me. ” Your husband has betrayed you. You have every right to do whatever you choose. But, I have never known anyone to regret choosing love.” I say choose love. Love yourself. Love your kids. Love your family. If it is in your heart, love your husband…but don’t feel obligated. You are free to choose.

      • Thanks Linda. I don’t feel any love anymore, not even for my kids, who I was FIERCE about before this. I like them (mostly) but something broke in me, and I am working on trying to manufacture, or repair love for them and for myself. Good advice! That is what I want to burn her house down (with her in it, lol) about, how dare she take my love for my kids away??? Like all of us, work in progress, and I know I am a survivor.

  • What did I become ?
    Unstable, antisocial, critical of myself and others, sarcastic, dumb (unable to even think things through) my personal appearance plummeted, massive weight gain and aged excessively, a great big anxious mess…..
    I’m still coming to terms with my life and the mind fucking, he is still here as I just can’t seem to build up any courage to leave and second guessing myself constantly – is this real and I must be the problem or am I crazy ?
    Is it normal to absolutely terrified and frozen with that ?
    He comes across to the outside world as a well mannered, successful, intelligent likable person who has all this credibility and I have been labelled some horrific things by the people he talks too about me and the kids (always the OW)
    I actually feel like the kids and I are the dirty secret as these relationships with multiple OW are always initiated with the lines of he’s separated but lives in the family home to facilitate shared care of the children, he always states that I make it difficult for him to move out and live independent, recently I read his conversations with the next potential OW that he regretted marrying me and having children with me and that I suck his happiness out of him, mind you I guess he puts his status up on facebook all the time with those bloody quotes then denies that its anything to do with his life with us and I just read into things.
    Something has to give, life just isn’t suppose to be this 🙁

    • MoJoJo, I hope you have a really good therapist, because you need to take care of yourself, until you can be strong enough to get this asshole out of your life. You deserve so much better! And you can have a much better life – lose the cheater, and you WILL gain a life! There are so many of us here who were as scared and beaten-down as you feel right now, and things are SO much better, out of that, and given time to heal and grow.

    • You are absolutely right MoJoJo. Life isn’t supposed to be like that.

      And if you don’t stop the downward spiral, you are going to allow this man to slowly kill you.

      Please take Karen’s advice and get individual counseling if you have resources to do so. Please do it quickly, and do not allow this man to browbeat you out of staying in counseling.

      You are being emotionally abused, and you need someone to guide and support you through some serious healing. You may need medical attention for the serious depression and possibly for the weight gain if you are giving any indication of developing pre-diabetic or diabetic problems.

      Think of it this way: Would you want this man raising your children if something happened to you? You cannot afford to sink any lower. Reach for the life saver.

    • Remember, he lies to you. He lies to the OW. Nothing that comes out of his mouth can be believed. I second the advice to see a therapist, if you can. Some insurers pay most or all of early visits, especially if you are diagnosed with depression or trauma. Make some phone calls. Don’t assume you can’t afford it or it’s not possible. Your family doctor may be of help here, in terms of suggesting a good in-network therapist and starting to help you with weight management. You might also contact the local hospital to see if you can get an eval that way. Or go on the internet and see what your insurer provides. If you are living in a rural area, it’s more difficult but again not impossible. Most counties have a MH unit; years ago, I worked with low-income families and had a list of resources when people needed counseling. Something does “have to give,” and you don’t want it to be that some OW finally lights a fire under him and he leaves and you are left alone. Even if you start with joining Weight Watchers or a gym, do one thing to start taking your life back. Do it today. Then tomorrow, do another. And the next day, another.

  • Love this post. I was some one who had so many dreams about my future, about things I wanted to achieve, places I wanted to travel. I always envisaged living a wonderful life shared with the person I loved with all my heart to a shell of person who was too scared to ask for anything for fear of being yelled at and belittled. I made myself and my needs virtually non existant, let go of all my dreams to make my ex happy. Just stayed at home looked after my kids and worked. My ex had his single married life always away doing his own thing. I worked so hard to keep my ex happy, to protect my kids from him.

    I’m am such a different person now. I’m am alone, I have my kids and have a wonderful life. I make choices for me, for my kids. We go to the movies, camping, holidays and a really happy house.

  • When I found out who I became while married to the cheater?
    Really really profoundly sad. I used to laugh a lot, used to sing to the dogs when feeding them, a happy gal generally; then turned into this pathetic soul..
    Sad as hell
    Confused
    Surreal
    A Rager
    Quiet
    Anti-social
    And, lots I’m not remembering when I first found out.

    That left me living with myself with a ton of anger. Far too much ‘excusing’ his behavior and trying to just forget what he’d done and try to move on. (ya riight – that works), Teeth- my damn teeth started chattering, like when a cat sees a bird in a tree. Only, I couldn’t control it. Looked like I was freezing to death. Then, of course, the embarrassing and severe hand-shaking. I couldn’t write my name, pay cash for a small item, kept breaking down – like running out of the dentist chair 1/2 way through my cleaning. Of course, this was early on.

    I then progressed to even more anger! Hateful, spiteful, revengeful, awful words coming out of my mouth to anybody and everybody. Turned Exorcist – as my sister said.

    Fast forward 3 mos or so and I’m still bloody Angry! Angry I have to sell my home. That *I* have to move out of the home I love, probably out of town and maybe even out of the country. All because of THEM. And, I lost all control of the little I had control of. Resentful – you bet. Especially because they seemed to have waltzed off into the sunset and we’re not even divorced yet. No consequences for them? And, *my* life has totally changed! wtf

    I have made a TON of new friends and wouldn’t have had them had I still counted on dickhead to be my best friend. I’m finding much more positive in life and the support I got made me realize how many wonderful people are in this world. I am far more compassionate than I would be had this shocking/hurtful/horrible/nightmare thing not occurred. I can SO related to others with big problems. I couldn’t do that well at all before. I know all they sometimes need is just a hug.

    I am being extremely stubborn about the divorce. Thought we were all done and he would take my final offer and we could be D’d by our 35th anniversary next month. But, noooo, he rejected my offer and wants to mediate. So – man, I’m fucking ANGRY about that. Angry all over again.

    Summary: Anger, More Happiness since he left, Peace and quiet, Grateful, Feel like I’ve grown a ton in exploring my mind thanks to CL Nation! Thanks to you all. And, Happy Fathers’ Day to you great dads out there!

    I’m probably way off topic – just couldn’t quit writing there.

    • “I am being extremely stubborn about the divorce. Thought we were all done and he would take my final offer and we could be D’d by our 35th anniversary next month. But, noooo, he rejected my offer and wants to mediate. So – man, I’m fucking ANGRY about that. Angry all over again.”

      SheChump,

      35 years is a LONG time and you are entitled to as secure a future as you can get.
      DO NOT let this greedy bastard grind you down about money.

      If you can support yourself and he is not spending or hiding money that cannot be recovered while the mediation is going on…just do your best to sit back, chill, and think about the fact that it must be frustrating for Skanky Panties that Stud McGreedy is not yet “FREE.

      If you concede too much out of desperation to be done with him, you will hate yourself a year from now. <—-That was the best advice I ever go from divorced people.

      • Thanks notyou! I needed to hear that because I didn’t know if I was being unreasonable about becoming so stubborn. Yes, this is the important part (spousal support) for the rest of my life and he insultingly low-balled my most recent offer. I don’t really care, certainly not as much as HE cares, about all the extra money this mediation will cost. He’s paying for it so I’m going to hold out until I get exactly what I want. Surely, he’ll cough eventually with all the charges his hi-priced attorney is costing him. (my attorney is 1/4 of the price)

  • I’m finally coming into a peace about being alone. I go places with friends without expectations. My X wanted me all to himself and gradually tried to run off most my friends. The thing that I regret the most in my life is that I should have pursued my PHD instead of always putting all my eggs in some man’s basket. I have a fulfilling career now but I could be so much further ahead if I had put more faith in myself instead of letting men define me. Especially a cheater.

    • life is not over yet if you have the possibility to pursue your studies do it.

      I love your line of “always putting my eggs in some man’s basket” everything I did put him and our kids first and me last if there was time left.

  • I totally lost myself. There was one time, a couple of years before DDay, we were talking about emotions. I don’t remember the details of the conversation, I just remember saying: “I know you’re trying to tell me something important, but I just don’t understand.” I couldn’t wrap my head around the meaning of his words. I look back now, and wonder if that was my common sense screaming at me that this was the early stages of gas-lighting or it just truly didn’t make sense because I’m not a narcissistic cheater.

    There were a couple of deaths in my family. I went crazy with grief and with trying to hold my marriage to a NPD together along with raising the kids. Everything I had went to marriage and kids. When I finally had time for me, the dye had been cast and I had no support to go out and find who I truly was. This led to depression, which I’m finally, slowly coming out of and rediscovering who I am.

  • Self reflection is a shitty job but when you deal with someone on a daily basis who expects you to not only deal with your own shit but theirs too. Well where do you start.

    Who did I become in my relationship with a cheater. I became a woman who was constantly ashamed, ashamed of my anger over pretty much everything. my frustration at the lack of participation from my husband in our lives especially in raising our children and all aspects of their lives. except the ones that made him look good. I was ashamed that I let my emotions become so overwhelming that I ended up in hospital. I felt ashamed that I could not function positively in social settings because I could never quite put my finger on what made me so uneasy when out with my husband,( i have since come to realize his actions were flirtatious and not with the opposite sex)I felt ashamed that on my gut feeling I questioned my husband if he had been with someone else and after a few years of watching him did question if he had been with another man, and when told NO felt more guilt, and with the guilt came anger. lots and lots of anger, I felt ashamed that I was critical of everything and felt the need to control every small detail of our lives and then wore the labels, Your so negative, you always put me down, your such a bitch, why do you have to control everything?, which was then counter balanced with ‘why can’t you just relax and not act this way’ ‘ have some fun’
    “i love you’ ‘ there is no need to be so negative’ ‘why cant you see the glass as half full for a change” what ever it is we can get though it’ ‘ IT WILL BE OK’ . And when I would feel at my worst due to the children baring the brunt of my actions because I had become this irrational crazy person, and when I would show remorse for my actions towards them, STBX would come out with, ‘why are you so upset your a great mum you do a great job” GEE THANKS! I too suffered the physical ills, for the last 4 years up till D’day I suffered from the worst leg pain and struggled to walk. Since D’day I have walked for hours at a time and felt great.

    I now reference the feeling of living with my STBX as constantly living in FIGHT or FLIGHT mode, and I still feel that way when I see him or have to have a conversation with him regarding the kids, But I am no longer ashamed, I am not the person who lived with him. But coming to realize that I am not that person was a challenge as I came to a startling discovery that as a result of my relationship with him as he had also limited my relationships with others over the years so I to looked to my STBX for my support. I had no idea who I am.

    WHO WAS I , ashamed, sad, irrational, angry, isolated, confused, desperate, lonely, needy, discouraged, depressed.

    WHO WAS I ACCORDING TO STBX , critical, violent (on odd occasions I would throw things, just in frustration but never directly at anyone ) rude, angry(bitch), controlling, argumentative, negative, difficult, outspoken, harsh, frustrating, lazy, attention seeking.

    WHO I AM NOW, Calm, passionate, loving, spontaneous, caring, just to name a few this list is a work in progress. In discovering me I now do more with my kids, we attended our first football match as a family this week and I spent all of yesterday in the tv room watching FIFA with my kids and just hanging out laughing and goofing off, something that would never have happened if he was here. I am glad for my d’day it is the day the us died and the me was reborn.

    • OMG was just thinking more on this and realized I use to be a pleader.

      I would always be pleading to his better nature, I would plead for him to not disrespect people or me, to think how his actions my affect others ( he has always acted with a sense of entitlement that would bug the crap out of me). I would plead for him to engage in his kids lives especially our sons. I would plead for him to be engaged with me as his wife and not just the house keeper, Basically I would plead for him to show signs of being a decent human being, and not some distant remote individual.
      I remember specifically pleading with him on more than one occasion to have ‘the talk’ with our son. Earlier this year post d’day when processing stuff in my head this came to mind and I go to now 15 yr old son and ask, “difficult question but I have to ask did you and dad ever have “the talk”? Son ‘ the talk?’, Yeah you know “the talk”? Son, ” no mum you and I had the talk remember?” And that is when it hits me. The only “talk” my son has had is when I had a brief chat with him when he was 10 so he could understand why a joke he was telling the staff at after school care was inappropriate.

      What did I become living with a cheater, resilient –

      resilient |riˈzilyənt|
      adjective
      (of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. See note at flexible .
      • (of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

      • The “talk” with your son….

        That part of your post hit me because I asked my now 19 yr old if his dad ever talked about sex and relationships with him when he was around that age. Nope. Never.

        I had the “talk” with my kids. In fact I just had another talk about sex, std, etc… With the same son prior to sending him off for his first yr at college. I even asked him if his dad had had this discussion with him. Again, nope.

        My asshat believed his sexual drive was super human and no mere mortal could meet his needs (me). His various fuckbuddies and online gratifications helped satisfy his man-driven beastly hunger. Thank GOD he never spoke with our kids about sex. I won’t let him now that I know what a freaking walking Petri dish of disease he is. His actions are more illustrative of what not to become.

  • Happy Father’s Day to my fellow father chumps 🙂

    Here is my inspiration courtesy of my 6 yo sweet peas home made Father’s Day card.

    ” I love you so much because you love me so much”

    He just makes me cry 🙂

    • Thanks I am just trying to stay positive in what should be a really down & out time for me. That little man lifted me right up 😉 He is my sunshine !

  • In my marriage I became a person who was depressed often sick, occasionally having melt downs from feeling overwhelmed, unsupported and lonely. The thing I remember most was feeling like I needed to stop talking because he often pointed out something stupid I said. (It wasn’t always this way but as he rose up higher and higher in his department (and became involved with his coworker) it started happening more. Anyway, I sat up late into the night watching comedies to numb myself. I stuffed my feelings because expressing them seemed to get me nowhere. By the end of our marriage I felt stupid, unattractive, unwanted and unloved. Many of these feelings I attributed to my depression. I thought the problem was me instead of our relationship.

    Since being out of my marriage my self confidence has slowly returned. I laugh a lot now, and go out dancing all the time. My friends often remark that I’ve really blossomed and have seem much more confident. I definitely feel more authentic. I take care of and myself, and no longer let someone else determine my worth and value. I was blessed with tons of friends and professional support during the year of my separation and divorce. The biggest thing I struggle with is that my children have moved away so I don’t see them as much as I want to. Holidays can be hard.

    • Me too, they are very far now

      Go Lyn! Look at you so many things you are doing! Bet your kids are proud of you!

      Mine were really watching me in my basketcasedays wondering when mom would return.

      • Beach, thanks for the words of encouragement. I wish there were a group of us chumps who lived close and could hang out together on the holidays. We could help each other!

        Some day I might move closer to my kids but for now they are trying to establish their careers and marriages, so better to stay where I have a network of friends. Also, I need to stay close to elderly parents. Still, I miss my kids so much.

  • I cringe to think of the person I was when with my cheater. Every moment was spent trying to appease him and not allow him to get in a bad mood. I’m just happy that my friends/family understand and have not held my behavior during that time against me.

    • Plead, appease, try to keep him in a good mood ….

      God, I’m nearly at ‘meh’, and these words just gave me the worst kind of flashbacky icky horrible feeling. Just a reminder of how things have changed, I guess; that feeling used to be my normal. Yuck!

  • Before I met my ex, I was strong, independent- a take no nonsense kind of girl. I paid all my own bills, owned my own home, etc. Fast forward after 9 years together- I was someone I didn’t recognize. The transformation was gradual- I never realized how he eroded everything I loved and was proud of about myself, until after we split. I became dependent (ugh) on him financially, always being afraid of him leaving and putting me in a bad financial place. I’m embarassed to say I put up with a lot of nonsense for that very reason. I sold my super affordable house to buy a larger one- one that needed two incomes to support. I thought the house would be where we lived out our lives.

    In between relationship crises, I worked so hard to smooth things over. I became angry, short tempered and often isolated myself from family and friends. I was embarassed at the things he did to me, and felt I really couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on. When I did, I often got the impression that people judged me like “why don’t you just leave?” I started having terrible anxiety- such that I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was paranoid, never trusting his word and constantly checking up on him. What a way to live :-/

    When we split for good, people remarked often how different I was- nicer, more laid back, etc. Things were more stressful financially, for sure, but the rest of the trade offs were well worth it. I think I was more afraid of what would happen when we split than I ever needed to be.

    A friend said it to me best: “Stop selling yourself to him, trying to prove your value and worth.”

    • It is funny how in the relationship we become people we do not recognize and then post relationship we become people our friends do not recognize, because we are much better people without them, in so many ways.

      • Agreed! I’m a better daughter, friend and, now, woman for having gone through it. I can now be open with my mom where I never could before because I was so ashamed that I let him do what he did to me. The best thing I ever did was tell my family what he had done to me. When I did that, I knew it was over- no going back and it felt GOOD! I stopped doing the “pick me” dance; I could dance my ass off and he never would have picked me without picking someone else on the side.

    • “I was embarassed at the things he did to me, and felt I really couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on.”

      I relate to what you said about feeling embarrassed about the things he did. I felt ashamed that my husband had no boundaries when it came to other women wanting his attention. I kept the shame and humiliation locked inside and tried to focus on the positive things about him that I loved. Besides, I didn’t have any concrete proof that anything was going on. One important lesson I’ve learned is to trust my instincts and not what someone else tells me.

      The overriding feeling I had in my marriage was that my husband really didn’t want to get married. He said he did, but I think he was too young and didn’t feel like he got to sew his wild oats. We met at 16 and 17, and married when we were just 20 and 21. When our kids got to that age they seemed much too young and immature to get married. That’s when I realized we didn’t even know who we were at that age. But both of our parents had gotten married at 17 and 18, so we thought we we more mature! The funny thing is that our parents are still married, 60+ years. Since we came from a history of families with long marriages, I believed we both have the same level of commitment to keeping our family together. Looking back, I don’t believe my husband was ever really comfortable with commitment.

      • Yup, me too. I tried to spackle desperately because of my humiliation/shame at my husband going to hookers/excessive porn use and I wanted to keep our family together for my young son. But the more time went by, I realized I was the one doing all the work with my son and that we didn’t need him around. I started to like it the more he was gone-it was easier for me emotionally. No more walking in eggshells or being on the defensive. Nothing I ever did was going to be good enough for him-he would just find something else to put me down for.
        I was depressed, withdrawn, sullen, etc. Not the type of mom I wanted to be for my son & not the type of family life I wanted for my son. I almost let stbx suck the life right out of me.

        In some ways, catching him cheating is giving me my life back. In the last few months, I have been working on myself and can see how I had changed over the last 17 years. I am taking steps to reclaim the old me & plan a bright future for me and my son. On the days I have small setbacks, I make sure to come to CL to keep me on the path!

  • I was a badass, I took no shit, I didn’t give a rats ass what others thought of me unless I respected them. I was hot and happy and I could do any fucking thing I set my mind to. I was all that. I now know that’s why he targeted me, I now know you can loose parts of yourself if you have someone you trust who wants to take them and is a fucking sociopath. I didn’t lose it all at once, it was in inches. I am taking it back in inches, I want to be the badass bitch I used to be but I keep failing and it’s getting late in the game and I am having a bad night. I feel right now like I will die without ever finding me again. This post seemed like it was meant for me tonight.

    • I dunno, Dat, you seem pretty damn badass to me!

      This night will pass. Keep on the path, sister, and you will get to where you deserve to be. Yes, we stumble, we have regrets and bad nights, all of us, but we are mighty. It takes a special kind of badass to kick these cheaters to the curb and walk away with no looking back, after all.

      I’m hoisting a micro-brew in your general direction, as I can’t drink with you in person, but I hope you get the good thoughts I’m sending. Sleep well.

    • I don’t know if it’s any consolation, Dat, but I can tell you’re a badass every time I read one of your posts. I mean that in the best way. I have a lot of respect for you and know you can get through whatever difficulties are going on right now. I’ve had bad nights too, hugs!

      • Thanks for the support but I’m not feeling it tonight, I’m feeling defeated, I’m feeling like I’ll never get me back, I’m feeling like I’ll never find friends again, I’m so tired. I keep fucking up. I rise yes, and I get beat down to the ground. I remember when I dreamed of flying every night and it was so strong that in the morning I nearly lifted off the ground, the memory is so faint.

        • Dat, we all know how that feels, and it is worse during the night and the early morning.

          A good old pint of Belgian Stella Artois (wifebeater) being hoist in your direction too!

        • Dat – Jedi hugs! I hear you, it’s hard to get back to yourself. I feel frustrated that I’m not making more progress, more quickly. I hoped that once my asshat husband was gone, I’d spring right back. But it is taking longer. Still, it’s progress. I’m essentially building an entirely new life. The experience with my ex has changed me, so I’m also building a new life perspective and life philosophy. Actually, a big deal.

          When I feel bummed about how long it’s taking, I remember that I still have a choice – I could go back to my asshat ex…..and I think “No way!” and remember how much better life is now. Does the trick every time.

        • Dat,

          You still have that can of Whoop Ass Girlfriend,….you just misplaced it. Trust me…it is still within reach…I found mine and I’m no longer afraid to use it.

          Because we strong women pride ourselves in out strength and and figure we can handle just about anything, we are so devastated when we lose it we find it a little harder to recover our self confidence. Being taken down by a narcissistic cheater scum bag makes us reluctant to trust ourselves again. One of the things I had to forgive myself for was being vulnerable. I had to grow into a place where I learned that an open heart is a good thing. It’s one of the things that makes us good people.

          I’m here to tell you it will get better Honey. We all get tired sometimes. I have a note taped to my wall where I can see it every day….it says….”Never A Failure, Always A Lesson”.

        • Dat – even bad-arses get tired and sad sometimes.

          I have so much admiration for you and get so much strength and insight from your posts.

          I know that as chumps, we need to learn to value ourselves and not need other people’s good opinion to validate us, but maybe sometimes it’s ok to rely on the good opinion of friends when your inner bad-arse is too tired to keep going. You may not be feeling it tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day – that’s ok, I hope you know you are among friends here and you can lean on us sometimes. We all know you’re bad-arse – not from what you feel tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day, but from what you show us of yourself over and over again, consistently, over time.

          Take care.

    • Dat,

      You ARE a badass. I’ve read what you’ve been through, what you’ve done and where you are now, and you are at the top of Badass Mountain. One rough night cannot change that. It just means your inner badass took a short commercial break and will return momentarily. 🙂

    • It’s not easy to find friends as an adult. It is a lot easier in school, when kids are little and need playmates and have activities, when a marriage or relationship is going well and you meet people through a spouse. For me, work is always a place to be careful about friendship, as I have been burned by people who have bad boundaries. So it’s hard to find connections. But my therapist tells me to keep doing what I love with an open heart and friends will come. She’s a recent widow and treks all over the world to photograph stuff and meets people on these trips. And she is older than my 62 years. And remember, you have friends in Chump Nation, even if we can’t meet for coffee every day.

  • In 17 years of 3 rotten marriages (one of the husbands a cheater), there was so much in common between the cheater and the non-cheaters that I’m not sure anymore they didn’t cheat 🙂 . In all: I became “demanding”, a “nag”, “unforgiving”, “vengeful”, “violent” (all their words) in response to them undermining me at every turn while pretending otherwise (or blaming me), being too busy to hold up their end of a bargain, etc. The last one was smooth – he ran off my friends when he could (or tried to take them from me), found ways to make me look bad to his friends so they wouldn’t like me as much as they liked him and even feel sorry for him for having this fishwife who only wanted to stop that great guy from having fun, and it took a good many years for his “good guy” mask to fall off so I could see who he really was. By the time that happened I was obese when my natural state is thin, and I was bedridden with depression for an entire winter. That was when I woke up to the fact that our life together was 99.9% about him. He had actually trained me to choose activities he wanted while I thought I had free choice: it was just that, after seeming to support my decision, he’d become a “lump” and I’d know he wasn’t enjoying himself and out of consideration wouldn’t ask him to partake again. Even though he said he enjoyed it, he would not participate as if he did if you know what I mean. In later years, he got mean. By the time we went to my best friend’s daughter’s wedding he could not hide his overbearing condescension towards me while we were there. This was when our lives were already 99% about his family and friends because, when I saw mine, he made it unpleasant. After I left him? He accused me of trying to get between him and his friends and of course I was speechless! (He was good at declaring the opposite of fact as if it was true – it was a good conversation-ender and, if it didn’t end the conversation he had word salad up his sleeves). After 10 years with him that conversational dance wore me out and nothing was solved. After I left: after a long, long period of catching up to myself and seeing only glimpses of who I am and what I could be, I’m on top of the world. I am lucky to have at least one friend who always knew who I was and what I’m capable of despite the setbacks. I do wonder how I put up with it for so long but a good part of it was a) trying to learn what I could change, what I could or could not live with, and finally concluding that nothing would change except his binge drinking was getting worse and he was doing it “at” me quite conspicuously in the last year. When I was ready to go, there was no place to go and no means to get there and it was an agonising time. When I escaped, I did it with style and boy did he howl. I actually felt sorry for him until he unleashed his demons at me. I’m surprised he didn’t hold up the divorce but I think my strict no-contact policy didn’t give him the fuel to make it last. He can take his pity party to another woman. He won’t say bad things about me, this I know, because he didn’t say bad things about his ex wife to me: he’s smart enough to know women see it as a red flag if a man talks badly about his ex. He played the role that he loved her and (insert reason in which he played a role) they grew apart and she had an affair and left him. I talked to her after and he treated her the same way he treated me: I wished we talked earlier but I believed his spin because they did appear to be friends and their shared child. Anyway, I am much better off and I’m discovering that I am naturally light hearted and fun. I’m actually surprising myself discovering who was buried under his crap all those years.

  • Yes Dat,
    I love reading your wise posts and just know I’d get the biggest kick out of you in real life. I’m also hoisting a microbrew in your general direction this evening. The bad nights they come, but so do the sunny mornings. Hugs )))

  • I don’t like I became a spy and stalker, I did some really stupid things, I just could not stop. I would not change a thing actually some of my spying was hard emotionally but damn it I did what I had to do. I sort of wished toward the end I had gone into that line of work, I could have gotten cute black leotards, a little cute hat, a bunch of gear, learned stealth repelling….My spying was like momofspyworld.toyrus you know, night maneuvers in jammies with cocoa

    • I shook so hard when I first started looking into my ex’s private things to try and figure out what was really going on. I felt incredibly guilty. The worst was reading his journal and realizing he’d been lying to me for years about his coworker. Although that was terrible, it still felt better to know the truth. Then I didn’t have to wonder any more. Still, I’d rather be single than live with the suspicion and anxiety of being the marriage police. Better to be away from that nonsense.

  • I am having issues with normal people now, so prepared for it all to be lies, coming off very paranoid, triggering all over the place.

    Oh, also, I turned into his mommy and secretary, he could not apply for jobs without me helping him look, typing the application, doing mapquest and hotel reservations to the place, go with him, what the hell was wrong with me.

    I had to actually remind him to do anything with our kids, like look at their homework, hug them, who was I with? What in the world was I doing not noticing this was not normal? I was so busy doing everything myself I had no time for me at all.

    He always said “CAN’T YOU DO IT YOURSELF”? Holy shit, in all our year he went let me see, 1 dentist apt an emergency after a fall at night, a follow up surgery, 1 other apt for a cold with me and the kids for them, I did every single other appointment. I would sit there and see other parents, both of them, or the dad, but no not my husband.

  • I remember, at the start of my relationship with the STBX, feeling like I was, by some amazing alchemical process, becoming so much more fully realised and capable as a person, like all of my potential was expanding wildly in every direction: I was more patient, more tender, more interested in everything, I felt like I was achieving in every aspect of my life in a way I had never even known I was capable of.

    It took such a long time to discover that that joy in giving was being tapped into by someone who simply was not fully reciprocating: so that we would both take his feelings/thoughts into account with the utmost attention and concern, but if I were worried or sad or angry or needed something, I was often met with . . . a sort of blankness or non-responsiveness that slowly started to drive me crazy as I tried – increasingly shrilly – to elicit some sort of mutuality. Or even an acknowledgement that mutuality was important and he should commit to it.

    These dynamics erode us so gradually; it took me ten years to realise what was happening. When DDay exploded in my face, there was no question of trying again. I have spent the month since raging at him, but reading all these hundreds of stories has convinced me, in the last week or so, to save my fucking breath.

    I have started working out to get rid of the anger from my body, and am slowly feeling more strong. I am putting all the energy I put into “us” into me, and doing nice things despite wanting to lay in foetal position still: I have been on an arthouse cinema binge, I have booked theatre tickets with friends; I have a big stack of novels to read my way through in soaky scented baths. I am directing my love to family and friends. And I am focusing, hard, on my work.

    Just yesterday he wrote to me to tell me how terribly difficult everything is for him with all this, and all I thought was: yes, I imagine without me to constantly support and help you, you *are* going to find life more difficult.

    What I am choosing to think is that I didn’t lose anything but time with him: I learned that I could love harder and better than I realised before, and now I can turn what I *gained* from that experience to people who actually deserve it. Including my good self.

    I am so grateful for Chump Lady and Chump Nation for helping me navigate through this time. You are like guiding lights winking my way to safety in the dark.

    • I was diagnosed PTSD as a result of childhood abuse. And I think infidelity is worse in some ways because as a child you can grow up and leave.

  • I haven’t read all the replies yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

    I was constantly anxious, stressed, pick-me-dancing (even before the affair), walking on eggshells. I was protective of my children because he would scream at them all the time. I was lonely….oh, so lonely. The loneliest was when I was with my husband. Bad feeling, that. I was scared of him – home was not a safe place, emotionally. Not for me, and not for our children.

    I started to shut down, not functioning properly. Still kept up appearances nicely (FT job, head of my Mom Club), but inside it was all falling apart. For the first time in my life, I developed a stutter. Fun times.

  • I became a neurotic psycho path. Paranoid and terribly insecure. But after it was all over, I was an even better woman than before I met my ex husband. I learned a lot about myself and marriage. I learned the lesson. I think that is what some of us miss. The lesson. When someone cheats emotionally and physically, with one person. Often times, that type of cheater doesn’t want to be in the relationship with their spouse anymore and does not know how to end it. I mean really! It’s not an easy thing to do!! Nobody deserves to be cheated on, and the cheater is have more courage, but more often than not, they don’t. In my opinion, the marriage was in trouble way before the cheating started.

  • My life changed overnight. Year 17 of our marriage is when he started his affair. We had MANY friends and enjoyed hosting parties and had a very busy social life. Once the affair was underway he changed. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it. I was on edge. I was suspicious. I didn’t want to go anywhere socially with my friends and leave my husband behind. I feared what he was up to. He encouraged me to leave the house but he just wanted rid of me so he had time alone to talk to the OW. My kids always wanted rides somewhere or wanted me to take them for activities and I did not want to go. I did not want to leave my husbands side for fear of what was going on behind my back. I did not want to take my kids to the beach or on vacations without my husband. I hated leaving town. I was always worried what was happening when I wasn’t around. I withdrew from my friends because I was hiding my suspicions. I was cranky and I yelled at my two daughters way too much. I was often irritable for no real reason.

    It was horrible. I deeply regret the time I missed being a great mom to my girls. I was still a good mom but I knew I should have been better for them. NOW I AM!!!!!! I enjoy my time with them and we do everything together!!! I am now divorced and I am ME AGAIN!!!!!! Thank God!

  • Just read the post… how have I changed? I’m absolutely positively 100% happier since I’ve severed ties with what’s his face… Will I ever go back to the psychological abuse and multiple infidelities? No fucking way.

  • I don’t know who I became, but I sure know what I am now. No spark, personality is gone and I isolate myself. Each day I wake up I am disappointed. Each day my life feels worse while his gets better. Those two will have been together 3 years this summer if you count the first year of their secret affair. I pray for the Karma bus and it never comes. The ho and his life gets better while I sink into a deep hole of despair. He just e-mailed me late last week asking how my arm was (out of the blue) because I had to tell him I injured it because I canceled a trip that he knew about a few weeks ago. What the F-ck does he care about my arm for. It’s my brain that is dying.

    • No, he doesn’t give a fuck about your arm. If he cared about your arm, he wouldn’t move in with his whore. Trust that he sucks.

      • I know. You are so right. Every day is a dissapointment when I wake up. I used to dream of positive things and that’s why I try and sleep all the time. The last two dreams were about him leaving me as if it was yesterday. I have never been this low in my life. And I have contacted several Psychiatrists and they don’t even call me back. I guess they are high demand. One had an aswering machine that stated they are no longer taking new patients and that I had to get on a waiting list.

        • You don’t need a psychiatrist- he will only prescribe meds, which you can get at your family practitioner. Get on low dose of AD, anti-anxiety meds, whatever it takes. Yoga? Running? Join a support group. There’s a Chump Nation meetup/fb group too. Stay away from assshole, go NC, believe it will get better.

  • Several comments about turning into a spy and a snoop and feeling so queasy and disgusted about it struck home with me, too.

    I was not that way before and hated it during the brief time I did it. Ugh. Never again.

    Did bring to mind an old Rock and Roll song tho….:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOQUNYz3KaM

    SLIPPIN’ AND A SLIDIN’ By Little Richard

    Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’
    Been told a long time ago
    Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’
    Been told long time ago

    I been told, baby, you been bold
    I won’t be your fool no more

    Oh, big conniver, nothin’ but a jiver
    I done got hip to your jive
    Oh, big conniver, nothin’ but a jiver
    I done got hip to your jive

    Slippin’ and a slidin’, peepin’ and a hidin’
    Won’t be your fool no more

  • I find myself very surprised at how difficult this post and all the responses were for me to read, stories of resilience and inspiration notwithstanding. I did and became so many of these things. I was determined to emerge from the process a better person, one who learned from the experience and integrated it all into a whole, healthy, kind, mostly happier human….but Goddamn if that wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of very expensive and painful work.

    How dare these people treat such well-intentioned, trusting people the way they do? It is such unacceptable bullshit.

  • I became a man obsessed with trying to keep his family together. I wanted her to stay, but much more than that I didn’t want my family to come apart. As a result I became someone who tolerated emotional, verbal, and occasionally, physical abuse. I became a person who comforted the party doing me harm. I became someone that forgot my self worth and allowed my ex-wife to twist up the world and the way that I saw myself fitting into it. I became someone who was lost in nearly every sense of the world.

    I wish I could back in time and slap some sense into myself. I needed to try and save my family, but I did not need to spend 2 years being shoveled bullshit in order to feel that I have done everything I could have. A few days of the shit sandwich should have been enough to satisfy my appetite thank you very much!

  • It’s been the biggest struggle of my life because my X and his Ho’s lives just get better and better or so it seems. Nice big house, great jobs. I’ve had to rebuild my life from the ground up. Debilitating loneliness. Shortly after Dday I lost my job due to the tanking of the building industry. My misery was complete. I isolated myself because I didn’t have much to say. ‘My husband left me for another woman and I lost my job’ didn’t seem to be conversation starters. I’ve tried to date but get a lot of rejection so pretty much quit that. My only child quit talking to me over her infidelity and leaving her family. Sometimes I wish I could move to the moon.

    • Syringa, earth is better and your life will get better. Hard and all as it is, start to remove the thoughts of your ex and his tart from your mind. What looks all rosy from the outside is not necessarily what is going on in the inside of their home and we the dumped do imagine all types of things. My 2 kids, 35 & 32 have cut me dead so I feel your pain there. Are you looking for another job? If not, start. That alone will start you focusing on getting up and out. I am 62 and I left the work force 2 years ago because I just couldn’t face people after losing everything. I have recently pulled my resume together and I am actually going to start to apply for roles. I may not get anything but I am certainly going to give it a try. For me to be doing this shows me that I am on the mend and that I want to get back into life. Also, instead of looking to date, focus on yourself. What do you want to do and your needs. I bet that will be the first time in your life that you will do that. I look forward to reading more from you. Best of luck to you. You can do it just like all the Chumps here. It takes effort and that can be hard.

  • It is after work in my time zone, and this reminds me of one of the ways my STBX leaving has made my life better: he has always liked to think of himself as a man with fine taste in wines – nothing super expensive, he just really fancied himself as a sort of connoisseur.

    I wonder if he is thinking all those cellared bottles will be in the official settlement? Because I have been consoling myself quite nicely with them since he left . . . (At some point I will pay attention to how much I am drinking, but frankly, it’s only been a month, so that moment has not yet arrived.)

    • Give them away to friends! I wouldn’t recommend drinking as a coping mechanism because we all know how that ends, but being a generous friend with gift giving I can support. Or party at your house? 😉

    • We have an extensive wine collection – some of which are very prestigious vintages – and I’m asking for
      half. Cheers!

      • ha ha – me too! Expensive wine cellar that took years of building up. I am enjoying putting on many dinner parties and raiding that thing every chance I get. When I’m done, I’ll leave him a couple bottles of Franzia.

  • What did I become while married to a cheater narc? When I met him I was living on my own, had a good job and a huge circle of friends. But as the years went on and the kids came along, I began to loose myself. I worked 40 hours a week, took care of both kids, and EVERYTHING else – house work, lawn care, home repair, groceries, checkbook etc. I became resentful because he did what he wanted while I adhered to the responsibilities of life. He used the mac card like it was hooked to a money tree. I get calls from the bank telling me that we were overdrawn because dickhead didn’t give me the mac receipts for hundreds of dollars he had stashed in the car. I was stressed, anxious, cranky, angry, sick all of the time , walking on eggshells and packing on the pounds because food was such a stress reliever at 9 o’clock at night He made me feel like a spec of dirt on the floor. It was horrible. I’d ask to talk to him and he wouldn’t discuss things. Days or weeks without talking. But when we did argue we would yell, scream, curse, it was awful. I will never forget the look in my kids eyes as they huddled on the sofa during one of those outbursts. It was horrible.

    Left him and took the kids three years ago .The first year without him was just decompression. I remember one of my sons saying that he hadn’t heard me sing in the car in a long time and that was when I realized I had started to recover. No more walking on eggshells, no more wondering what he would be like when he got home from work. No more stalking and being the marriage police. A lot of therapy and some truly good friends who helped me and my kids more than they will ever know.

    Here it is three years out. Mr. Control Freak won’t settle on the divorce agreement and continues to drag it on.

    I however am out and about. Hanging with friends (mine and plenty of his who dumped him), feeling better about myself, providing a much better environment for my sons and teaching them how to respect women.

    This is not how I pictured my life. But this is my life, so the kids and I are going to live it to the fullest. Some days that is easier said than done. But I wouldn’t trade this life for my previous life. That was pure hell.

  • One of the reasons why my ex was attracted to me, was because I play roller derby. He instantly loved the sport, loved the community and was first to say to anyone how awesome the whole sport is, and what positivity it brings to me.

    Then, the reality surfaced. Less than a year after we moved in together, we were out with another couple at dinner, and inevitably the conversation turned to derby. I started telling them all about it, and I look over at cheating ex, and he says with an “ew” face: “I mean, it’s kind of like a cult.” It was like the needle scratched off the record. Instantly deflated me.

    • I just started derby myself, it’s changing my life. I saw this quote on FB the other day –

      “Most seem to find roller derby in transitional periods… We ruin our bodies to save our souls, and for some reason that makes perfect sense.”

  • I became a scientist. Everything I did was an experiment to figure out how to make our lives better. I was in denial of the affairs. It turns out I was in denial of 18 affairs in a 12 year marriage. I delved into self help books and psychological texts. I started with me (like most chumps do, believing the lies being told by their spouse). Co – dependent no more, the fear and anxiety workbook, private counseling, and medications. When that didn’t work, I dug into her. Started reading about abusive childhoods, about sex less marriages, about personality disorders. She didn’t like that. We want to three sets of counselors. She would quit each. Eventually, she left, while I was still experimenting with validation, “I” statements, listening, showering affection, being as supportive and non judgmental as I could. Sitting for hours alone on Friday nights, wondering where she was, and not texting or calling, because such actions were “controlling” in her words. Trying to work out compromises. And journaling what worked, what didn’t work, and making my life a giant experiwment, seeking a cure for a disease I was in denial of.

    It didn’t work.

    I spent the next three years after she left, using all that research and knowledge to find a way to cure myself of the worst pain I had ever known.

    • I related to this. I was big time fixer too. Nowadays, I’m trying to do less analyzing and more feeling. I find it hard to give up the sense of control that fixing brings.

  • Well this is a hard one for me. I”m still with my cheater and, unlike, a lot of you, I wasn’t exactly fabulous before I met her — I was burdened by a lot of shame for various reasons, including a fucked-up childhood, sexual assault, self-harm, etc. And my wife swept in like an answer to all my problems.

    So I started off pathetically grateful, and sure that I didn’t deserve her, and I just continued that way. Burying my feelings, apologetic for having any interests of my own, ready to shuck off family and friends to win her approval. I was afraid of losing her, and I was frustrated by her constant criticism, her sarcastic, backhanded compliments, the way she treated me as an accessory and a tool rather than as a partner and friend. I became used to thinking of myself as a person of no worth, who deserved no real love or emotional support, and I thought of my frustration as a sign of insufferable arrogance, which rightfully angered her.

    I drifted so far from the person I am inside, and it was obvious to me as it was happening. I was so less anxious, so more human when she wasn’t there. But that just made me think that, on top of being a loser in every other way, I was a bad husband too.

    And then she told me about her affair. It took a lot of friends, and a lot of work, but I am slowly coming to realize that I am a person of worth, a person who deserves better. All of you on this site have been a huge part of that, so thanks.

  • Towards the end of my infertility struggles, when I was feeling so completely hopeless and defeated, I used to ask myself, “Where did that dynamic, smart, interesting, funny, sweet girl, who had the world by the balls, go? Why am I giving up?” When I got together with dumbass, I really felt I could do anything. I was almost a little too confident. But I did have some accomplishments to back that up, unlike him. Over the years, he would subtly tell me my accomplishments meant nothing and I was doing everything wrong. Unlike some other cheaters, he was involved in the day to day of keeping up the house but would never miss an opportunity to let me know when I missed a spot. I would correct whatever the problem was and then, surprise! – he found something else to bitch about. I was the monkey to his organ grinder – constantly dancing to keep him happy. It was the the typical self esteem erosion at the hands of a controlling narcissist.

    Also, I became ultra critical like he was, and about superficial shit. If he had something to say about a person, it was usually something negative – went to a lame college (he didn’t even graduate), had an ass that was too big, drove a stupid car. It was annoying to me but I just figured that was the way he was. But it scared me when I started doing it – I felt so yucky.

    In the months leading up to D-day, some stuff was turning around for me – I started losing weight, my job was going well, we were recovering from our colossal business failure. I actually told him that the infertility didn’t make me as sad anymore because I was “happy” at the way things were going. But I wasn’t happy at all. I had given up so much of me so he could live his dreams, and I had a little resentment because that was not reciprocated. It was just a peaceful time because he was not unhappy at the moment and I felt like I could relax for a little while. The feeling that I was never good enough for him was at an all time high even though I was getting my shit together and I had just supported him through the worst time in his life. And the weirdest thing is that on D-day, when I should have felt the lowest of the low, the first thing I thought when I read their ridiculous FB love notes to each other was “I’m good enough! It’s not me that is the problem! It is the loser asshole I am married to!”. Too bad it took 15 years for me to figure that one out.

    I still have days where the sadness is overwhelming and because I’m in the midst of the divorce, I know I am not out of the woods just yet but the hopelessness I felt for the last 5 years is gone. I have no idea what KitKat’s next act is but it’s gotta be a helluva lot better than this last song and dance has been.

    • Thanks for THIS: “The feeling that I was never good enough for him was at an all time high even though I was getting my shit together and I had just supported him through the worst time in his life. And the weirdest thing is that on D-day, when I should have felt the lowest of the low, the first thing I thought when I read their ridiculous FB love notes to each other was “I’m good enough! It’s not me that is the problem! It is the loser asshole I am married to!”. Too bad it took 15 years for me to figure that one out.” Diddo..except it took me 17 years!

  • Married 10 years to a narc. I was never certain if he cheated or not; I have my suspicions. I ended things when I recognized what a shell of a person I’d become. I was raising my kids in a toxic environment. I finally gave into the truth that no amount of codependent fixing could cure that. I never had a D-day but I did the pick-me dance for at least 6 years.

    I was a “Bree Van De Kamp” type, for you Desperate Housewives fans. Charity work, home baked goods–that was me. For the longest time, I put on a good face to the public. I used denial and lots of comfort eating to stuff down the sadness, anger and shame that I felt. I alternated between begging my husband to love me and treat me well to pretending it didn’t bother me. It was really, really, really messed up.

    Near the end, the real feelings started coming out. By that point I was a wreck. I stopped taking good care of myself, I wore the cheap, ugly clothes because I didn’t think I deserved better and the comfort eating caught up with me. Basically, I looked like how I felt on the inside–like shit. I stopped participating in my kid’s schools or doing charity work because I had no energy.

    I started counseling and played around with the radical idea that maybe I should take care of myself instead of focusing on & trying to fix everyone else. I started attending a church that felt like my spiritual home, meditating regularly and took up screenwriting. Little by little, I allowed my true feelings to come out. I started naming all the fucked things that were wrong with my life, my ex’s abusive behavior and my tolerance of it being at the top of the list.

    I’m 10 months out from the day I moved out with the kids. The first several months were pure euphoria. I was finally free of the constant criticism, gaslighting, stonewalling and other shit I’d lived with for 10 years. The kids adjusted well and it was easy to get them set up with a new routine. Finally, I had the time and inclination to take care of myself. One of the first things I did was to reconnect to some long-lost hopes, desires and passions. I bought new clothes and started taking care of myself again. I dared to begin dreaming again.

    We had been in mediation during all that time. Things were going “well” until two weeks ago when I decided I was done giving into every one of his demands while my requests were denied. I’ve hired a lawyer to litigate my case. I feel stressed out , guilty for standing up for myself, scared and sad. I miss the post-split version of me who felt so emboldened by her new-found freedom. I’m feeling stuck again and I don’t like it.

    • Hang in there, Flying Squirrel. There will be many ups and downs, but your upward trajectory will continue. Lundy Bancroft writes about this in his books: when you leave an abuser, there’s first a happy period of intense relief, and then you face difficulties as that relief fades: we get used to the peace and no longer appreciate it as something remarkable. (Which, if you think about it, is itself a sign of healing: we’re no longer astonished and grateful just not to have anyone threatening us!)

      Even as you work through all the difficulties, trust that you will keep improving: it just won’t feel like that every single day. Just be kind to yourself on down days, and keep moving forward. Some day we’ll come out into the clear.

    • Wow…exactly me! I did the pick me dance without realizing I was doing it (before Dday). What I have learned now after lots of meditation and denarcotizing (its an addiction and you have to treat it as such) is that it takes a long time to get to place of absolute tranquility and joy with oneself. Addiction to a narc destroys your spirit and your body and it took a long time for that to happen, so it will take a long time to come back. But the thing is you are conscious about it now and took the most important steps to avoid continued abuse. You may be feeling a relapse and that is normal (and exhausting and scary) but you KNOW you are stuck, and that means you will get out of it soon. You are already Mighty..I think the most important thing is to work on what brought this all to begin with…there were probably other narcs in your past, so it is really about you now and how you are so awesome to have learned from all of this and begin a new life with such enthusiasm. If you think that you were probably being cheated on, you were (we let narcs destroy our intuition as well). Maybe trying to a bit of research on your husband´s possible cheating might help your court case, but it might take you back in your emotional progress or just confirm what an asshole he was. Just a thought…

      • Thanks Psyche & SA. Your comments help me quite a bit. Most of my “friends” drifted away during the divorce. I’m no longer one of them, I guess. Its really nice to share my story and feel heard. Thanks again for your kind words.

  • I became a paranoid, jealous, mean person according to my ex. It had nothing to do with the crazy making, blameshifting, gaslighting, emotional affairs, possibly PA’s soon after our son was born 20 years ago. What a shame that it took him leaving me for his schmoopie for me to know, just know that it was all in response to him. I wish I could say that now 9 months out I’m taking care of me and that things are better but it’s a process and it seems that I’m a slow learner. The weird thing is is that I wish I had listened to my gut sooner. One day about a month before dday 2 I got upset about how he was acting at his friends house and I told him when we got home that I was tired of him and the way he acts and for him to grow the f@#$ up. He amped up the flirting according to him (I just can’t imagine what form this flirting took cause he is so damn bad at it). Anyway that was the end of the beginning unbeknownst to me. Damn asswipe, we were supposed to be working things out that whole month, what a mindfuck, because I wasn’t important enough to be in the loop.

  • My marriage to a passive aggressive, self centred, alcoholic cheat turned me into a ghost of my former self. I walked on egg shells, I often dreaded him coming home and what mood he would be in. High on Hopium I tied myself in knots in a futile attempt to make him happy. I put myself second all the time while he never made me a priority. I lost self confidence and gained fear. I remember 3 weeks after Dday drunkenly and honestly pouring my heart out about the last few years of my marriage to my sister and my oldest friend and seeing their faces say ‘Why the fuck have you put up with this? What happened to the Alice we know?’. I spackled and put on a brave face until it was second nature and I lost myself completely. Like many people here I wish I could reach back and slap sense into that person. I think that Alice was trapped by fear and ground down by constantly never being ‘enough’. Life with an alcoholic who refuses to change can destroy your sense of self worth, throw cheating into the mix and it is soul destroying.
    I left my cheater and gained a life. Kicked him out when he refused to commit to working on the marriage and he made a pathetic attempt at cake eating. Self preservation took over, I think deep down despite the pain I knew I could never forgive him. It was the second time I knew he had cheated and I suspect at least one other.
    What did I gain? I am 14 months from Dday. I have a peaceful drama free life. I never realised how much love and support I had from family and friends until I really needed it. I reached out to friends I neglected and they welcomed me with open arms. I forged new bonds with people I had never been close to before, I made new friends.
    Before I met my cheater I was a quietly confident person, I was resilient and very independent. It took a little time but the old Alice is slowly emerging. Even though I was at my lowest ebb I treated the divorce like a military campaign (I even recruited a ‘War Cabinet’), I stood strong while the fucktard refused to sign the papers & tried to bully me into dropping my claim for fees (in the UK you can still get a ‘fault’ divorce in cases of adultery) and won my application for solicitor & court costs. He can kiss my arse if he can catch it as I walk away.
    It has been an uphill struggle but I am still here and stronger than ever. I have learned what battles are worth fighting and what to shrug my shoulders at and walk away from. I have learned who my true friends are and they are greater in number than I could have ever hoped for. I have learned I can support myself, rebuild and move on. Most importantly of all I have learned I like myself, other people like me for who I am and I can be happy on my own.
    Five months after my marriage imploded I found out my cat who I adored had an incurable mammary gland tumour. She lived for three months after the diagnosis. I always joked she was my ‘Meh Cat’ as in the first weeks after Dday she was just ‘Well you’re still here and you feed me & take care of me so what’s the problem?’. My heart broke when she passed away, she was a constant source of love, companionship and laughter. I still miss her more than my cheating STBXH. Shortly after she passed away I adopted a rescue kitten. I needed something to love and she needed someone to love her. She is an utter joy and has taught me that we may not ever love the same but we can love as much again differently.
    The most important thing I have learned is that you do love again. You love yourself, you love your family, you love your friends, you love your pets, you love your life.
    Fellow Chumps please don’t waste a minute more loving those that don’t deserve it.

    • Yay Alice!! Hooray for you. Your story is inspirational. Congratulations on your new rescue kitty.

    • I loved this post Alice! So many great lines.

      “Life with an alcoholic who refuses to change can destroy your sense of self worth, throw cheating into the mix and it is soul destroying.” Truer words have never been spoken.

      And this – “The most important thing I have learned is that you do love again. You love yourself, you love your family, you love your friends, you love your pets, you love your life.”

      Sorry about your cat, but glad you found the love of a new one…

  • as i read this, i cutted and pasted bits and pieces from just about every single post. My husband was a little of everyone X. how sad. i actually thought i had a good marriage. i believed that all we went thru was just normal marriage stuff. but reading all your stuff made me realize that all my stuff was NOT NORMAL.

    i am ashamed to say i did it all. all the above and then some. detective, yes. eggshells, yes. not like myself or knowing who i was anymore, yes. sad, yes, lonely, hell yes. feeling like he never appreciated all i did, yes. feeling like i was unattractive, yes. constantly blamed for everything, yes. cook, housemaid, mechanic, house fixer upper, child disciplinarian, child care, secretary, bill payer, appointment maker, yes, yes yes. pleader, yes. negotiator, yes. peace maker, yes. devalued, yes. demoraled, yes. jealous, yes. enabler, yes. manipulated and gaslighted, oh god yes. discontented and resentful, yes. boring, yes.
    denigrated, yes. compromiser, yes. confused, yes. stressed, mother of GOD YES!! unhappy, resounding YES YES YES unloved and uncared for. unfortuantly yes.

    its been 6 month since i kicked him out, 5 months since he moved in with MOW, and 3 month since divorce was final. i am finding peace. researching has made me realize that it wasnt all me. looking back and seeing things that HE did, usually after reading it from someone else and thinking… Shit, he did that to me. i didnt see any of it.

    i am keeping the copies, to remind myself how bad it was. i can beat all of you on Spackle and forgetting. i can still see the “GOOD” in him. he once told me i asked to much from him, i was confused because all i asked for was his love, honor and faithfulness. did not seem like a HUGe unattainable item to ask for. I sill think he is “lost” but i know now that he made a really bad and unforgivable choice. and is still making it.

    i love the “Not my circus, Not my monkeys”

    • oh. and God Awful tired. physically, mentally, emotionally spent.

      i would make excuses for all of it. it was this reason, that reason. of course i am tired, my daughter just died in 2012. who wouldnt be tired.

      i remember when one of my kids told me “mom, how come you dont laugh anymore.” killed my soul to hear that come from my child. he was 13 – 14 years old then, he is 20 now. it pains me deeply that my last 2 have never seen the laughing, joking, fun-loving, energetic, happy go lucky mommy that my first 3 had. this sad, lonely, depressing, living one day at a time life is all they know.

      and i never ever suspected. never saw it happening. always wondering what is “off”

      right now feeling very blessed and lucky, that he choose not to “fight for me” , sad for the lost of 14 years, yes. sad for losing my dream of what “should have been”, yep have those days too. but watching him now. seeing him act like a person i dont even know, seeing that whole other side of him, his bitterness, his hatefully, his viciousness. FINALLY SEEING IT. his true self. the one he couldnt hide from me anymore, the “real” him he pretended to be.

      i FINALLY realize i dont want that person in my life and she is welcome to his circus

      • sorry, typo. actually quite a lot of typos

        Finally seeing the “real” him, and NOT the one he pretended to be.

        • Wow, MrsM. Thanks for sharing such terrible pain. And, very sorry to read about it but it hels us all.

          I’m with you tonight – totally seeing what he really was, thanks to reading so much honesty about relationships on this site. My stbx seems to have been a sexual Sadist! I had no idea but it all makes sense. Withholding intimacy and sexual dynamics from me most of my marriage.

          Just want to say that, thanks to this site for excellent information that I’ve garnered, you only endured 14 yrs instead of the 35 I did. Don’t waste another minute of your sexual identity or your needs another moment. Good luck, we’ve got your back, MrsM.

  • MrsM, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter passing. No parent should have to endure that. Prayers to you and jedi hugs for all you’ve endured. You are inspiring for keeping it all together for your family and us here at Chump Nation! ROCK ON~

  • I became a person whose life was centered around catering every single one of her needs. Whenever she needed me, I was there.Supposedly, she “COULDNT LIVE WITHOUT ME” so she would make promise I WOULD NEVER LEAVE HER, and there I went, reassuring her of that. Little did I know that she would be one to leave me. I always thought that if we were to ever end our relationship, it would be me ending it since I was the one with the higher self-esteem, she was always needy and needed a lot of reassurance. Whenever I was with her, I would ignore my friends phone calls because I felt guilty for not spending as much time with her due to my crazy grad school schedule. And the funny thing is that we were living together for 4 years, and I still felt like I didn’t spend as much time with her, because she would always make it seems like she needed MORE of me. Like she wanted me to spend EVERY second with her. I felt indispensable, special, and irreplaceable. But then, following our 4 year anniversary, I leave on a two week vacation and she betrayed me with one of her co-workers. And when I got back from my vacation she said ” I love you, but I like him to much to let him go.” Will never forget this freaking phrase. I became in denial, angry, sad, and begged her to wake me up because I thought it was a dream.

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