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Why Do We Over Share?

So, Part 2 on over-sharing.

I think there are different kinds of over-sharing. Sharing stories on a blog forum like this is not, IMO, over-sharing. It’s anonymously telling your story to help others and understand it yourself. Over sharing as I understand it, is that word vomit stage you have right after discovery. When you’re in shock, staggering around, trying to make sense of your nightmare.

I don’t think this stage is much different than those people you see on television after natural disasters, who stare dazed into the camera, and recount each detail. How the tornado approached, what it sounded like, what happened when it hit, what their neighborhood used to look like, what it looks like now, who was hurt, who survived. Chumps are like those survivors, trying to make sense of the morning after. The difference is when a tornado hits, everyone knows it’s a tragedy. When infidelity hits, only the chumps sees the wreckage. Tornados, however, are random weather events. Cheating is totally deliberate.

So why do I think we over share?

1. Because we need to believe it and saying it makes it so. Like those tornado survivors, we have to give a voice to what happened. And the more we repeat it, to others, to ourselves, the more it starts to sink in that, yes, this is our reality. This really happened. I wasn’t dreaming it. Especially if you’ve been gaslighted, had your reality continually denied, you feel compelled to blurt out the truth.

2. We need the reality check. More than just saying it until we believe it, we need others to see it too. It’s validating to see the horror and compassion on another person’s face when you tell them you’ve been cheated on. You internalize — wow, it IS horrible. This person is angry for me. It’s okay to be angry about this.

I remember one time having dinner with a girlfriend and her husband, and telling them my sad D-Day story. They’d just been at my wedding less than a year before. My friend’s husband got really upset and said, with such emotion, that this guy should be on his knees begging for forgiveness! He looked shocked to his core.

Perhaps because this reaction was from a man, it just really hit me. My cheater doesn’t seem appropriately sorry. These good people are horrified. Why isn’t he as horrified as they are by what he’s done?

After discovery, cheaters tend to minimize. It’s not what you think. You’re overreacting. It could be worse, etc. When we tell, and other people react in solidarity or even shock,we can feel so starved for that kindness that it’s a wake up call. Why is this perfect stranger showing me more compassion than my own spouse?

I think over sharing in the early days is a good sign. It means you aren’t going to keep their secrets. It means you’re reaching out for help, even it’s to total strangers. It means you know enough to search for a reality check. You’re not as deeply pickled in the mindfuck as you could be.

But over sharing past a certain point in recovery does get weird. You don’t want to be a pity vampire. You do want to maintain some dignity. Where’s the line?

Brené Brown writes in  Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them… We don’t just lead with “Hi, my name is Brené, and here’s my darkest struggle.” That’s not vulnerability. That may be desperation or woundedness or even attention-seeking, but it’s not vulnerability. Why? Because sharing appropriately, with boundaries, means sharing with people with whom we’ve developed relationships that can bear the weight of our story. The result of this mutually respectful vulnerability is increased connection, trust, and engagement.

Well, Brené, someone has to go first on this vulnerability thing. It’s hard to know if people can “bear the weight of our story” unless we lay it on them. While I agree with having boundaries, and working our way up to intimacy, I do think the miracle of some over sharing is finding compassion in the oddest quarters. Vomiting our sorrows on some stranger, we discover people who can not only carry the weight of our horror story — they’re lugging around a few of their own. It’s those random connections that are so meaningful. Dat’s Irish woman at the Xerox, my pipe fitter, the woman in the waiting room at the courthouse.

These people have their own buckets of emotional slop, they know the pain, and they’re standing tall with it anyway. They’re further out, but they see themselves in us. And they’re not afraid in that moment to walk into our pain. It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s a lesson to take forward with us. If someone emotionally vomits all over your shoes — give them a hankie and an encouraging word. Don’t walk away. Welcome another member of the chump collective into the fold.

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  • What you have been describing is at the *heart* of Christianity. Compassion (from complete strangers), ‘brotherly love’, the patience and willingness to ‘lend an ear’ to our troubles while they could be doing something more…useful…with their time, empathy, sympathy…all of it.

    I don’t see anything “wrong” with NEEDING help sometimes. And sometimes, the kind of “help” we need the most is a validating ear from a stranger.

    Yet some people would view us as *dysfunctional* for needing help, and they would also view the kind stranger as *dysfunctional* for helping.

    What a pity.

    I happen to enjoy helping others whenever I can. It’s one of the few things about myself that I actually LIKE, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon. I’m not codependent, and I DO know my limits. But if I have the time and the resources, I’ll jump right in to help with both feet.

    *raises a glass of orange juice to toast the kindness of strangers. May we all learn how to become more ‘dysfunctional’!*

    G.

    • G,
      You can take a seat on the bench next to me and be dysfunctional any time you like.

      I too am happy to help with what ever I have but am willing to say when a situation is beyond me.

  • What happens when they cannot “walk in our shoes” and there is no sympathy or understanding? I feel hurt because the one person I thought would understand was my pastor. He questioned me in detail and I opened up to him. At the end of the conversation he said to me that it was my cheating ass husband who had turned to him FIRST. It was the reason he had pulled me aside immediately after service and questioned me. He was not at all discreet in the way he did it. Yet I decided to trust him with whatever details I had at the time.
    I then discovered that he is also a cheater. I have never been back to service since because I may just vomit all over him! I have never been in contact with him either and he has not contacted me when prior to this he would always keep in touch. I am so disappointed.
    Initially before I had any real proof, just suspicion, I spoke to my sister also and then one day she just threw it all right back in my face in front of other family members. All I was looking for was support at the time.
    I know that I will always offer support and understanding to anyone in this situation because of all the pain I had suffered. The only time anyone can ever understand is when they have been in this situation. I believe having to deal with betrayal is far worse than death.
    And yes, the healing process is slow!

    • Lioness, have you told everyone he is a cheater? I would. There are far, far too many narcissists drawn to religion.

      There is a brilliant book called ‘I Don’t Love you any more’ by Dr David Clark, a christian pastor. In it he says clearly that cheating is a SIN and wholly responsible for the selfish person choosing it, and that they must be shunned by the community. Buy it, to get the validation you need that your ‘church’ has let you down.

        • did I write pastor? I meant to write psychologist! But I think I meant to say that he is more ‘licensed’ than just a ‘Christian’ counsellor.

      • My cheating assed stbx is a Minister. I feel sorry for anyone who would mistakenly go to him for advice about their marriage.
        We put too much faith in people with titles
        Unfortunately, the only people who will ever truly understand are fellow chumps.

      • Patsy, Thank you for mentioning Dr. Clarke’s book. I just read the first chapter, and boy, did he describe how I felt (and highly likely how all of us felt) when we discovered the affair/s of our adulterous spouses. What a great metaphor about being run over by a car and the driver is the husband/wife!

    • Wow. What your pastor did was highly immoral. I wonder if his superiors would agree.

      It’s bad enough to be betrayed by our partner, but by your pastor and sister too? I’m so sorry.

    • I think it’s a little weird to pull someone aside and ask them all about an affair. That’s completely different from listening to someone who starts talking to you. I think when someone does that it might be best not to talk. You were in shock and in pain, though, and you naturally trusted this guy. He took advantage of that.

    • Your cheating pastor pulled you aside after a church service and interrogated you like you were some sort of criminal? That is unbelievably inappropriate. Either the pastor is a kinky freak who got some sort of cheap thrill by questioning you about your ex’s infidelity, he is absolutely clueless about social conventions and human decency and compassion, or more likely, he a bully and a narc hiding behind the power of his position. And your sister is insensitive and a jerk as well. I am so sorry for what you went through.

    • My wayward wife used to lecture me about God and going to church the whole time she was screwing others. Just because they go to church or are religious does not absolve them of their actions. I think more times than not that they go to show, “see I am a good person. I go to church”.
      I contacted my pastor who I actually like hearing him but when I emailed him and told him how much I like going and listening to his sermon and then told him of what I was going through, his reply was come a support group their is someone their to consult you. I was kind of put off because he has never followed up and just asked, “how are you doing”.

    • I’m so sorry your pastor did this. My pastor was wonderful, he spent hours each week listening to me tell my story and wrestle with my feelings of Christian failure because my marriage broke up. He was so supportive, I’m just sorry for anyone who doesn’t have an understanding pastor! I think my pastor’s own father cheated, so he was familiar with trying to forgive and release anger over betrayal. Perhaps this made him more compassionate towards me.

      • My pastor was amazing. I am his secretary, and while I had been sharing stuff with him all along, as the details of the last affair were starting to emerge, he was encouraging and reminding me that I am stronger than I felt, and that it was my life, make it the one I want it to be, etc etc. And the best part was when the OW, who uses everyone in our community, texted him to ask if he would, as usual, deliver something for her, as he had been doing for months…he told her, no, I can’t do that anymore. (Jerseygirl) is not only my secretary, but she is a member of our church, and most importantly, she is my friend. I love her, I love her kids, and what you are doing is wrong. You need to break it off with this married man, and then we can talk again.
        His clarity and support meant so much to me. It was the validation that I needed, from someone I admire so much, to say, that’s right. It’s THEIR responsibility, it’s THEIR choices, it’s wrong, it hurts other people, and there are consequences.
        And that was that. He helped me stay focused on myself, my future, the health of my children, and reminded me every day with humor and kindness that it’s a big world out there, with many suffering people, and that to waste any more time on a past that can’t be changed, on people who feel entitled to selfish behavior, is a waste of OUR time. He’d give me a wink and say, “We have shit to do.” 🙂
        It was no accident that this person was in my life at this time. And I feel blessed because of it.

        • ‘…he told her, no, I can’t do that anymore. (Jerseygirl) is not only my secretary, but she is a member of our church, and most importantly, she is my friend. I love her, I love her kids, and what you are doing is wrong. You need to break it off with this married man, and then we can talk again.”
          What a wonderful, wise, and honorable person. I’m very glad you have someone like this in your life.

    • Dear Lioness,
      I am so sorry to hear your church let you down. For me, it has been my church community that has gotten me through this mess. It must have felt like Dday all over again. How awful. I’m so sorry you had to experience two betrayals back to back. Cyber hugs.

  • The reason why i told my entire family, closest friends, moderately close friends, and some select people at work was because I knew deep down in my heart that there was no going back. What he had done to me and our kids was atrocious and like he had no mercy on us I had no mercy on him. I wasn’t viewing it as revenge. It was the truth. The pure truth. I knew myself as my nature is of a “forgiving” person and I was scared of that. I did not want to forgive. I told to protect myself. I’m glad I did because I was able to get the feedback I needed to start my healing. I couldn’t see what they saw because I was too deep into it. I went from absolutely adoring my husband to seeing the monster that he was.

    • For those of us who have withheld information from our families for fear that they’d come to hate our partner, finally telling them everything is one more way to ensure that you don’t go back to that idiot. To do so would only let everyone you’ve told that you’re an idiot too.

      And now that my husband knows my family knows everything, he doesn’t even try to pursue me as he would have in the past. He knows it’s a lost cause.

      • THIS. I told my family EVERYTHING after Dday, and yet I still took my ex back in bogus reconciliation. I cannot tell you how hard and embarrassing that was, and how upset it made my family. After I ended the reconciliation and went ahead with divorce, I again told my family all the NEW details, because I knew there was no way I would be able to take him back again after that.

        Incidentally, during that bogus reconciliation, my ex told me how terrible it was of me to have shared all the details of his infidelity and my pain with my family during our separation. Apparently I was supposed to just keep it all inside and not make him look bad.

        • That’s exactly how I went about it. I’m sure it was painful for my family to watch and hard for them to support me, but they did their best.

          Yes, our narc spouses get really embarrassed when other people know their awful ways, don’t they?

          • GIO, that’s what my ex said– the intimate details of our relationship weren’t anyone else’s business.

            HA HA HA! Like I was going to stay quiet! 😀

            Clearly, the man didn’t know me. While I certainly wasn’t dishing every detail of my private life with my then-husband to the world, he knew how close I was (am) to my mom and sister. I tell them everything. I broke the news to my siblings two days after DDay; there was no way I would keep something like that from them. I told my two best friends at work the day after DDay because they’d probably notice the slight change in my behavior. Once I confirmed the extent of my ex’s asshattery, I told my parents because I knew I wanted a divorce (about five days after DDay).

            Then, I told my book club, the woman who runs the spa I get my pedicures at, other colleagues at work, LD friends on Facebook, high school friends who still live nearby… yeah, I exposed his shit because he IS shit. If he had really cared that much about his image, he wouldn’t have rolled down in the cheating mud like the pathetic piggy that he is.

            A colleague of mine recently divorced her ex and found out after the divorce that cheating was likely involved. I gave her a few websites (CL of course) and told her that she wasn’t alone. I hope I was helpful.

            • it’s funny he called them intimate details of the relationship when they are actually details of his behavior.

              • They really are all the same. “Our personal business” is my wife’s euphemism for her cheating.

            • Yeah, every aspect of your intimate life is open to his affair partner, but God forbid you share his INFIDELITY with your family. The Jackass’s first words were, “You better not go public with this” even as he was denying the affair. Just another sign that they know they are doing something that decent people find abhorrent.

          • Mine was the same – My response to this was simply “If you were interested in not looking bad, you shouldn’t have done things that make you look bad.” Pretty dang simple.

            • Of course, even simpler: ““If you were interested in not looking bad, you shouldn’t have . . . DONE BAD THINGS.” ‘Cause it’s not just that their behavior LOOKS bad. It IS bad.

        • Well, you had kept it inside all those years I’m sure he expected you to keep doing so. I think that’s what my ex thought too! There’s also the issue of not knowing whether people will believe you. Even some people very close to me chastised me for saying anything because they said he didn’t “talk bad” about me! I wanted to scream “does a burglar go around telling everyone what he stole?” Of course not. Sheesh. People who say that have no idea about how much infidelity hurts, and I admit I was clueless until it happened to me. I used to believe “there’s 2 sides to every story.” After it happened to me, I called my sister to apologize for not understand the depth of pain she was in when it happened to her!

          • Would you send an apology letter to a former friend who stopped cut off contact for this same reason? I said she wasn’t traumatized by the infidelity, because it happens everyday. I can’t believe how insensitive it was of me. I guess karma got me? What should I say in the letter?

            • What would you want to hear in a letter to you?

              I guess I would just try to be very honest with my feelings about what happened.

              I think an apology starts with acknowledging exactly what you did or said, why it was wrong, and exactly how you would imagine it made the other person feel. If there are financial restitutions to be made, you make them. In this case, it doesn’t sound like it. I would let this person know that you are now in the club of those who’ve been cheated upon, and that your experience has given you a new perspective that allows you to fully comprehend, finally, just how hurtful your words may have been. I would say why you said it–maybe you misunderstood her intense emotions as being overly dramatic, but that now you are closer to understanding just how deeply painful it is to be abandoned and lied to. Just write from the heart. Realize that this person may or may not reply to you–it’s up to them to decide. Write the letter not for you but for her (him?) And realize that it will say a lot about your own character when you do it. You can only give the gift; it may not be accepted. But that doesn’t make it less of a gift.
              Save it in draft form so you can review it a few days later, to make sure you’re not saying something in a way you don’t mean.

            • Dear heartbroken no more,
              I think it is a great idea to send a letter of apology to your former friend. Basically just write to her what you wrote here on the website. Keep the focus on her, don’t spend too much paper/writing on your own stuff. Reach out to her. let her know you completely understand now why she felt like she had to cut off contact with you, and that it was right of her to do so given how unsafe she must have felt in your presence. Let her know that you will understand if she wants to keep it up.

            • Dear heartbroken no more,
              Once my eyes were opened, I apologized (either in writing or verbally) to the folks I had offended in years prior during my ignorance. I would definitely send a letter to your former friend. Don’t expect her to rekindle your friendship — or if she does, for that friendship to be the “same,” but do know that she will appreciate it. I would write something along the lines of “Now that I personally know the heartbreak of betrayal, I realize how insensitive I was to you during your divorce. I cringe when I think about how unsafe I must have made you feel with my “advice.” I am truly sorry for not being there for you during your time of need. I hope that one day you will want to be friends again, but if not I understand. Sincerely, heartbroken no more

        • I got the SAME response. My response to that crap, was that was his problem alone. I don’t care about his Image, and the fact that I have close relationships with my family and friends was a testament to my support group.

    • Right On folks! I told my whole family my wife was cheating. Some people have asked “why would you tell everyone”? My wife even had the nerve to ask the same thing of me, Why? she said. Why did you tell everyone I have been cheating? I thought about it long and hard before I told everyone. I look at it this way. Why is it that when you are in love with someone, you tell everyone, you have a wedding and take vows in front of all the most important people in your life. I mean hey, you are in love and you want to share this news with all. However, a cheater wants to do the exact opposite. My wife said she was in love with her AP and was not ashamed of having an affair. I told her “great, then you wont mind if everyone else knows it too then will you”. Her response, “well its no one’s concern except me and you”. Hahahaha typical cheater. Like pop used to tell me, “scratch a lie, catch a thief”.

  • Seeing other people’s reactions was very helpful. My wasband was busy acting like his fucking the OW was his right, and btw, why isn’t supper on the table? Sheesh. The two therapists were both appalled by my ex’s behavior, and validated for me that no, I wasn’t crazy, he was really was just being an asshole, and I needed to leave him pronto. I thank the Lord for those therapists, they really did save my sanity.

  • I told my 2 grown daughters, “I think your dad is cheating on me, as I found many texts calling his coworker “baby” and saying “that’s my girl”. I also said if anything happens to me he did it. (This based on the verbal abuse he uses on me and rage when I accuse him of cheating when noone’s around). I have watched too many episodes of 20/20 and 48 hours,etc. where the children stand by the murdering parent and profess”no way could he/she have done it”. If I hadn’t pointed this out, they too would think no way also, as cheaters hide their true selves very well.

  • I didn’t overshare with any strangers. On D-Day, I was so shocked and blindsided, my initial reaction was to not tell anybody – perhaps a crazed attempt at denial? But later in the day I thought I would explode and made a few calls to close friends. One friend wisely said I should absolutely NOT keep this a secret and that I should tell everybody – “you need to circle your wagons”. This was the best advice, and over the course of the next week, I contacted my family and closest friends and told them everything. I’m so glad I did. As the PTSD and anxiety and tears started to flow over the next week and following months, the support of those people saved me.
    I think it’s what we do as healthy humans – share with words and language. It’s how we connect. Friends, family, strangers – we need to tell our stories and listen to the stories of others; the good, the bad and the ugly. If we lose that basic human need for connection and the ability to talk to each other and support each other, we might cease to be human.
    This is part of why this site is so important. Thank You, CL!

  • Not sure if anyone is in a similar situation as I but I’ve been oversharing in order to “beat” ex in controlling the narrative. He’s already told multiple people that I’m “crazy” and mentally unstable, and once I’ve found this out, I’ve found a rage in me that I didn’t know I had. I’ve immdiately went to town with telling everyone who would listen what a monster he really is. Not sure if this equalized my image at all, because there are still members of his family that want nothing to do with me (because “I’m crazy”), but I feel like if I didn’t speak up, he would sell them on his story entirely. I just don’t know what else to do. And believe me, he goes the extra mile, told a neighbor that I was committed at some point, which is a horrible lie. My attorney seems to think there’s nothing I can do legally either. I share a child with this monster.

    • Yep, similar here. My ex is such a manipulator that he always throws in something truthful/kind so the rest of his BS is believable (i.e. “she’s an amazing mother to our child but she is so jealous of my girlfriend that she picks fights with me” – I AM an amazing mother, I do everything BUT pick fights with him, I try my damndest to ignore him and HE picks fights with ME). It is maddening. Thank goodness for my close friends who defend me every time they hear his lies and tell me over and over “you aren’t crazy, he is an a-hole, people who know you know the truth”.

      • People who know me know the truth, and people who know him know HIS truth. Two very different versions.

    • I agree with the comments above and below. They try to make themselves look justified in what they did and they do their best to make it known that they are long suffering. Poor guys!

      In my case I do have emotional issues. Plenty of them. And I told him all about them before we were serious about one another. But he sure does love throwing that and everything else in my face now that he’s through with me.

      My husband thinks he can tell the judge his wife is crazy and get his way. The way I look at it, I may be crazy, but I had all the assets and long work history, bill paying, tax paying, etc., while he just moved in and sucked it all up, contributing nothing. Leaving me broke and bankrupt.

      I’d call that taking advantage of a vulnerable person. I’d call it entitled to nothing at all.

      • Moving Liquid,

        Hopefully you have records to prove where YOUR assets went so that he can’t siphon off any more.

        Anyway, hat is it that makes these cheaters believe that THEIR “emotional issues” aren’t much worse than the chump’s issues?

        A good psychologist might beg to differ with “Mr. Saner-Than-Thou!” (I can think of quite a few mental issues that I find significantly more destructive to others than BPD….just sayin’…)

        😉

        • A wise old psychologist I knew (and he was a hoot) had two truisms he sometimes quoted:

          “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t really out to get you.”
          and
          “Just because they’re crazy doesn’t mean they aren’t being abused.”

          [There ARE crazy-making people in this world, and some of them are experts at it….toxic people who should be avoided.]

          • I was thinking just today how much more level headed and peaceful I feel now. Sometimes I did feel crazy with the crap that was going on in my marriage, and the gaslighting too! There were times I blew up at him (when he didn’t come home until hours later, when he walked around with his coworker and left me to trail behind on a trip, etc.) It’s interesting to see how peaceful life is when I’m not constantly worried about losing someone I depend on. Now I’ve learned I can depend on myself!

            • Lyn,

              IMO, the gas lightings are the single most emotionally abusive acts they do when cheating. To cause an individual 9who would trust you with his or her very life0 to question his or her own “reality testing”, (i.e what that person can clearly see, read, hear, and discern is blatantly lies that a four year old would not believe) is unbelievably CRUEL and it IS crazy-making.

              Gas lighting is actually a torture technique used to brainwash POWs. Which is why our military are trained to give out only name and rank, but to not divulge any other information.]

              I knew intellectually what was going on due to the mountain of circumstantial evidence, yet I STILL hired a PI for purposes of independent corroboration, in order to banish any last shred of remaining doubt that I was indeed correct and to dislodge any remaining inclination on my part to trust him… about anything. Trust built up over many years is very hard to dislodge; we are inclined to cling to denial.

              Isn’t is amazing how when we finally detach, our lives become normally peaceful and we get this empowered feeling again?

              • It’s been 10 months and I’m nowhere feeling empowered or peaceful. Any suggestions how to achieve this, notyou?

              • heartbroken,
                To be honest 10 months out is not a long time when you’ve been nuked. I don’t know your backstory, but I can tell you it takes time. I had benefit of strong family and friend support, my own education and excellent professional help, and it STILL took me nearly 3 years to feel like I had become truly stable on my feet. Took five years to reach Meh. But then I had been married for 33 years and he had never cheated before either. All I can tell you is that these things will eventually come for you. I know you don’t believe it but they will. You must hang onto that knowledge.

                Diana,
                The more personal knowledge (your family, where you are from, what you like and dislike, your values, etc.) someone has about you would provide more ammunition to twist and manipulate that knowledge as mind games and gas lighting. This kind of mental torture can still be done in POW situations by the captors using how they treat (or pretend to treat) other captured POWs as a form of mental torture/ gas-lighting. So, POWs are not even supposed to own up having more than the most superficial of relationships with other POWs with whom they may have been captured. Of course, spouses are not trained in psychological warfare. They are amateurs and aren’t in the same league with people whose job it is to deliberately think up ways to get into and mess up somebody’s mind…but they do a cruel enough job on chumps anyway.

          • Not you,

            I love those truisms.

            My husband is a crazy making person, for sure. And he looked for a vulnerable/unstable person to inflict himself on — it makes the job easier.

    • Surely if you can prove he is spreading defamatory lies about you such that your reputation is tarnished, he can be forced to repeal what he said in court…. I mean, someone having been committed may have an impact on all manner of things from bank loans to job opportunities to… you know, custody. This must be raised in legal terms!

    • You fucking betcha. I KNEW he would create a narrative whereby I was some sort of cruel spouse and we were heading in separate directions. It has been a condition of mine that he tell his family with me PRESENT because there is a huge difference between “I had an affair” and ” I’m a serial cheater, chronic liar, thief, emotional rapist, etc..” .

      • Not that having a ONS, etc is any less traumatic. This guy is a master manipulator. Believe me, he did NOT want his mom to know details, but I let her know of a decades worth of paid fuckbuddies, howorkers, hookup websites, porn, the church lady of the past 10 yrs all topped off with unprotected sex while I was nursing our babies!

    • Heartbroken_no_more,

      Yep I told a friend in the beginning when I had been instructed to not share by my church elders, to control the narrative. Reason being STBX had met up with her husband after I put him out claiming that we had separated because I had caught him doing porn, SO she came to dinner at my house a week or so later with a speech all prepared about how porn isn’t so bad and surely we could work it out.
      So I overshared and I will remember it for the rest of my life as she was the first person to get the whole truth and I have to say I felt guilty at first for telling her. But she has been amazing and as a result has since confided in me about her own issue that have not gone public. BTW after hearing the truth she put her speech away declaring she had nothing to offer on the topic at had and we both laughed.

  • It’s been a year and a half and I still over-share. The FACT is, I am single mom because he unilaterally decided to end the marriage by cheating. I refuse to cover for them. They can both think that I am a bitter person who needs to get over it. Meh, don’t care.

    • It took me two years to stop. I finally just didn’t care anymore to talk about it. “He’s a dirtbag” sums it up just fine now. When he does something extra-obnoxious, I talk to my close friends about it but not everyone I run into 🙂 It was taking too much time to explain the whole story to strangers, haha.

      • I am almost 8 months from dday and I am finally telling people outside of my inner circle what I have been going through and how I moving forward with divorcing my cheating husband. It has been hard, but also very empowering, because I know that I am doing the right thing and deserve so much better. I feel it inside, but I also feel it by the words of encouragement and validation that I have received from people. I have learned from others that I have quite the story to tell and refer to myself as a “walking Lifetime movie.” I don’t think I tell my story to receive sympathy, but to let others know that life is not fair and we all have our shit. I was dealt a really crappy hand and need to deal with it, but I won’t always have these cards. I see and hear stories of people fighting illness, death, major loss and it makes my shitty hand look pretty manageable…in fact, I would probably pick the same cards then deal with something else, because I know that I will survive this and come out of it, better that I was before!

    • I still over-share at a year and a half. I’m slowing down with details unless asked… But it’s hard. My ex keeps doing shitty things that I need to verbally vomit on everyone about. He’s now remarried, so I think it should get more peaceful…

  • And they’re not afraid in that moment to walk into our pain.

    That is so beautiful, and exactly what I was searching for after D-day. Not in a ‘misery loves company’ way, but in the ‘you are not alone’ way.

    Now when people ask why I’ve moved to their town I find it hard to say ‘It was a marriage separation.’ Without also saying he had a drug habit and a fuck buddy I didn’t know about and he stole our kids savings and gave away assets to pay drug debts and signed my car over to his mum and cleaned out the bank accounts and I had to take him to court twice and he still wouldn’t sell the house. He wasn’t paying the mortgage because he quit his job a week after he left so I get no child support but he still wouldn’t sell the house and he hasnt paid one single thing since he walked out and he cheated with a chick who had a son in our kids class at school who then bullied my son and caused who-knows-what emotional scars and he lied to the kids about it which made it 10x worse and i had to look at her stupid face every day at school which made me simultaneously want to punch her in the throat and slit my wrists, and he still harasses me even though I have a restraining order and his family is trying to destroy me and get my kids taken off me and THAT’S WHY I HAD TO MOVE.

    It’s hard. There have been so very many lies that now I crave truth. How do you control the wording of your truth so people don’t freak out? While still being honest about where you’re at in life? And how you got there?

    I hate that this is my story. I want a mulligan. Or swapsies.

    • Good for you! You did it. You got away from the toxic situation. I’m especially glad for no more bullying to your son. You got away from that POS. You go girl. You are mighty.
      I see good things to come in your future!

      • Keep at it, Jodezter. I am in a simolar leaky boat.

        I am on the fence about the ‘over’ part of oversharing-I was telling people a truth I could hardly believe, but it was and still is the truth. How some reacted was very telling-almost as if they think ‘chumples’ are contagious. With so much practice at image-management, Mr Fab managed to keep alot of friends. I think after a while, they just can’t cope with your pain and the challenge to reality cheaters like mine and your represent. It is easier for them to swallow the-“See what a crazy bitch she is.” line than acknowledge the fact that some people are Just. Fucking. Evil.

        So, we need to switch up our reality-hard to do, when you are the Sane Parent. Can’t change it, might as well embrace it.

        love and strength to all Chumps!
        x-Meh.

      • I second the good for you!

        I think we have no control over how people react to our stories. I think most people are compassionate, loving, and willing to listen. For me, I decided to live my life being as authentically me as I can. That includes my story, as hard as it is. Being authentically me means I will live my life being as honest about my life as I can. It takes away my shame, and I developed the attitude that , most people will be understanding, some will not, and a few due to their own issues, will be adversarial. And that’s fine. Truly, it’s not my problem, what others think of me. It only matters what I think of me, and I know I am a good person.

        I understand, your stbex’s family are trying to paint you as a bad mom, but I am sure that there legions willing to testify you are a great mom. You got yourself and your kids away from them, that speaks volumes as to who you really are.

        My exes family took over for my ex after he killed himself and did some really shitty stuff, But you know what? They wound down eventually, as far as I can tell. I can only think that as crazy as they are, they are more involved in fighting each other to a standstill these days. . Still, I’ve taken precautions to ensure my safety.

        I’m keeping you in my prayers, girlfriend….hang in there.

    • Perhaps you can keep it simple, but honest. “My ex had a drug problem and we had to get away from him,” or “my ex had a drug problem and a girlfriend,” or “we’re in the middle of a difficult divorce.”

    • Sometimes I just say “I didn’t get along very well with his girlfriend.” They usually laugh, but don’t ask me any more.

      • That’s a great one! And Jodezter could add, “Her son was bullying my son after the affair started.”

        • Thank you all for replying. I have read so much on here and I know that a lot of you guys have things so much tougher than I do. And yet here you all are for little old me.
          Focusing on me instead of him. Amazing.
          The police told me yesterday that he’s on his way to jail or a grave if he doesn’t change. I am in this stupid headspace where I want to call him and comfort and fix him. I am back on CL to read the no-contact post again (because I have learned from CL that I can’t control him) and here you all are lifting me up again!
          I will take all the advice too, and try and keep it simple until I know people at least a little bit 🙂

  • One word……VALIDATION! We need someone (anyone) to validate that we are not worthless!!!!

    I kept my exH’s cheating a secret for a good long time. I thought perhaps he would extricate his head from his ass and I was protecting him from harsh criticism from our friends and families. I sometimes would find myself telling a random person (bartender, mailman, store clerk) what I was going thru. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone who actually knew my cheater. I relied on strangers to give me a pep talk and it made me feel better at a time when I really needed it!!!!

    Obviously, my exH never did back his head out of his ass and so now EVERYONE knows the truth. Including the helpful cable TV repairman who unfortunately asked where “MR. Kimmy” was???? LOL He will never innocently ask another female that question ever again!!!!

  • I shared with all of my friends and family after Dday, and total strangers as well. I just could not keep all that pain and fear inside.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned here — within a week or two after Dday, my ex contacted every one of my close friends by text or email. He told them how “thankful he was” that they were there for me, how great it was of them to “take care of Glad.” That was a skillful move on his part: it made him look like a great, caring guy and it subtly conveyed the message that I was fragile and might not be able to cope with life on my own, a message my ex had been covertly telling me for years. Luckily, none of my friends bought his bullshit. They saw him for what he was: a lying, cheating douche bag of a man.

    • Wow, that’s like he throws you in the river Glad, leaves you to drown, then rings people to come and rescue you and clean up the mess he made. What a nice selfless guy Glad! Prick!

      • While my h was cheating (and I was unaware), he would tell any new women I met, “she could really use someone to help her out, she’s having a hard time.” (we had just relocated and 6 wks later his underling was his ow). It infuriated them all – what kind of husband passes off a problem wife to new friends? A wife who is clearly a strong independent woman? All these women had been expats all over the world and would have felt like shit if their husbands said that about them. He was trying the narrative on for size way before I even suspected anything. Didn’t work so well for him, said much more about him than about me.

        • That just infuriates me Rock Star, this shit they pull, making chumps out to be some feeble charity cases while they try to keep their reputations in tact. It’s such a low-life thing to do because this is the person you trusted and then he goes off blabbing behind your back. It just abdicates him of his responsibility to his family. These fuckers expect everybody else to tidy up and take over when they make a mess of things. So so juvenile. Grrrrrrrrrr!

    • Seems like the Madoff analogy works here. What if he had called up the friends of a widow who lost all her savings and thanked them for being there to help her out financially?

    • That’s awful. But he didn’t get it–if the Jackass contacted my friends or family, they simply would not believe it. They’re entitlement always fogs their judgment of other people–who, in your case, already know and care about you.

    • My cheater did the same thing. Told his mom to be there for me. Pfft! Lot of help she was blaming me because her baby has anxiety and she told me having a child would be difficult. Haven’t spoken to her since and she doesn’t understand why! Thanks for raising an entitled narc.

  • I think one of the reasons I over shared was because I thought I was close to going crazy. After D-Day my husband was still presenting himself to the world as if nothing had happened. He went back to work (same place the OW worked) and pretended nothing had happened. Meanwhile I am on the floor, shocked and devastated so I just wanted to expose his sorry ass because I almost did not believe what had happened myself. I resorted to a childish ‘this is not fair’ version of myself.

    We chumps are left wondering WTF, did that really just happen, while the passive psychopathic cheater minimises and goes on his/her merry way leaving havoc and chaos in their wake.

    I guess over sharing was a need to have someone verify that what just happened WAS indeed really horrendous and that I was not losing my mind. My husband said we can still do things like take the kids to the park on Sundays, we can still spend time as a family. I know now that he was just greedy for cake but at the time I thought I was selfish for not agreeing to play happy families.

    It’s a small detail but I remember thinking, wow he wants to sit on a park bench with watching our kids play me with the scent of skanky OW all over him. Gross I know but that’s how I was thinking then.

    • Sorry that should be – to sit on a park bench with me, watching our kids play with the scent of skanky OW all over him!

    • My ex wanted to still hang out and go out to dinner… Maybe even with the OW. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I don’t play “happy family” with him.

      • I guess they want us to behave as though the breakup wasn’t that bad. Well, it wasn’t, for him.

    • Tonya, my ex thought the same thing. He told my oldest son that we would still be good friends, and he told me we would still have many happy times with our sons and their “lovely ladies.”

      I also felt that I was being selfish for feeling so devastated at the prospect of this. It was like he’d decided the marriage was over years ago, and assumed I felt the same way he did. It wasn’t until I found CL and learned about manipulation and read others’ stories that I realized why I felt so confused and abused.

    • my XH kept talking about how, even though we were divorcing, we could get together with MY parents and MY family for the holidays . . . . the only thing I could figure out from that desire was that he thought it perfectly reasonable that he could pick and choose pieces to keep the pieces of our life that he enjoyed….

      • Marcie – this!

        I had to refrain from telling my STBX that he didn’t get to abandon the bits he didn’t want but keep the bits he liked. He would text me about programmes we both watched, ask me what to do when my son was at his place and angry with him, send me messages talking about how lonely it was without the kids and expect me to commiserate! (Chumpy me, I did for a while).

        (Hey, anyone notice I just called him my STBX instead of my husband? I have moved on a bit over the past few weeks – calling him husband just gives me the creeps now!)

  • I will tell you I have a strong mind, previously thought I was a very secure guy. The realization of betrayal absolutely shattered my entire view of what I thought my life was. In the days / weeks that followed I literally fell apart, I have never in my life felt so desperate and powerless. I really needed a lifeline of help, so in hindsight I believe that is why I couldnt help myself from oversharing, I needed others to pick me up off the pavement. I am back to feeling strong again, I can tell you that I know for a fact who are important people in my life, friends and family alike, vs those I no longer have use for, based on the tremendous help I received when desperately needed. There are some that came forward that I never would have expected to be there for me. There is a couple of good friends and a family member that did not want the bother of having to help me in need. The good and the bad I shall never forget. I would like to shout out an anoymous thank you to my family and friends for what I view as saving my life. and of course chump nation daily, a must read for helping with the pain.

    • Oh yeah, when the SHTF, we really find out who we really matter to…..that’s for sure. Glad you’re doing better Chumpincanada-eh?

      • Yeah, indeed. When the Jackass’s father died (after the affair started, before D-Day) I was devastated that he didn’t want to see me. I just couldn’t figure it out. A young friend that I had helped years ago spent hours walking local park trails, trying to figure out what was going on. She liked and respected the Jackass but now just says “he sucks. And the OW is gross.” This weekend I had a meltdown over not being able to start the lawnmower; she and her husband saw a social media post about that and showed up to help. My friends save my life, for sure. We do indeed find out who we really matter to–and while sometimes that is painful, too, at least we know. We know who loves us.

  • CL, I do think both of the reasons you have listed were key in my case anyway.

    Each time I shared my experience with somebody, it did become more real to me. Goodness knows denial wasn’t going to help a gosh darned thing.

    And each time somebody responded with compassion or kindness it reaffirmed that people can be kind, and that was a total contrast to what I was experiencing in my marriage. Also each time somebody reacted with anger or shock at what my ex had done, it was very affirming that “Yes, this is terrible, terrible crap behavior”.

    I don’t know how long I might have been stuck down in that rabbit hole if I had tried to keep it all secret, but at the time I was pretty sure I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t tell somebody.

    • TH, I relate to all you have said. There were times when I thought I would go crazy. It would have been better had I, because my ex husband and 2 adult kids were telling everyone that I was. I don’t care about my ex but it kills me that my kids have said some terrible things about me and my son has done something to me which I know I will never forgive him for or get over. When I have shared with others what my ex has done, I find that the men react in such a protective way to me. They are scathing of my ex, so it does give me some comfort that there is some decent men out there. They aren’t all cheaters, scammers, liars, frauds and rats.

      • I actually did check myself into a day program…that lasted about 1 hour. Seriously, the place was appalling! (Including a psychiatrist who had had her MD license pulled for biting a policeman…I called my HI provider and complained, to no avail. What a story! But I digress.)

        Since I had to take medical leave to do it, I had to do some explaining at work, and my boss turned out to be a worse and more sadistic narc than my Ex. My workplace became hellish, too…. fun times, fun times.

        I had zero good outcomes from telling people, except my therapist–once I got a new one!, my (already) chumped sister, and my (already) chumped SIL.

        Every single other person in my life was out of there and dropped me like a hot potato(e).

        • namedforvera, you are better off without those people who abandoned you. I know how difficult and painful it is but eventually it won’t hurt at all. I am starting to get to that place, however, I will never understand my kids behaviour towards me as long as I live.

        • Wow. Makes me appreciate my job. My boss, when I told her I was getting divorced, forced me to take a week off to ‘get my head clear’, and then i was told that if I needed more time off (e.g. to see lawyer, etc) to just take it an let people know.

  • One part of this post really gets me- we over-share because we need to believe it. I am in this stage where I have a powerful sense of unreality- about everything. I don’t feel like anything is real right now, everything seems to small and pointless. Has anyone else experienced this? I don’t know what it means. My X had the bambini this weekend for his 2 non-overnights and he brought him back on the second evening 1) with his hair cut really short 2)in pajamas- what?? 3) in training pants. He is not potty trained. We haven’t even started that yet. So, he cut his hair really short without talking to me about it, had him out and about town in pajamas for some unknown reason, and decided unilaterally to start potty training him every other weekend? So, so, so weird and wrong. I just feel like nothing is real- my whole life seems like a dream. Does anyone else feel like this/felt like this? Just a powerful sense of unreality.

    • Yeah, I described it as “surreal” or later “I need a new life narrative”. I was a bit of a compulsive zombie for a bit, and at first it was a pretty power feeling of “this can’t be real”, but … of course it was real.

      • TH, you are not going to last too long on TAM. Love your stuff. I got kicked off relatively quickly way back when. Keep up the good fight.

        • Meh,

          I don’t want to “last” too long there 🙂 Too much poison involved in that interaction. I don’t think it would be good for me. Luckily I have family coming into town this week, so I will be away from the interwebz and have a forced detox 🙂

          It’s too much like hanging out and arguing in a political forum: the majority people who stick around in those are the most ardently partisan people, they’ve mostly jettisoned their humanity in favor of trying to piss off folks from “the other party”, and they behave like sociopaths, so if you interact with them too much, you will either have to develop a very thick skin (and become cynical), or turn into an online sociopath yourself.

          With infidelity forums like TAM where they’ve imported Marriage Builders/Divorce Busting/Surviving Infidelity pseudoscience and all of the attending mythos plus the absolute worst form of group confirmation bias along with catering to the codependent need to smooth things over for their “wayward contingent” while simultaneously punishing them and trying to control them, things eventually devolve for the group into the kind of irrationality that most of us were pleased to discover disappeared along with our marriages 🙂

          You would think “everybody is responsible for whatever they do” and the “Golden Rule’ would be enough to keep people on a sound heading, but alas, nope.

          Life–real life–has more meaning when there is real, honest compassionate connection. I’m not fooling myself into believing that’s on the menu there for the most part. Whether it’s Democrats and Republicans bent on dehumanizing one another and turning themselves into angry cartoon characters in the process, or ‘Waywards” and “BSes” rationalizing dysfunctional (and sometimes blatantly bad) behavior, there is so much of a dishonesty involved, that it can’t ever really be about real, compassionate connection, IMO.

          It brings out the sarcasm in me, and I don’t like being like that all the time. A little bit of sarcasm/satire is amusing, and maybe one person will get it and know that they aren’t crazy for thinking the same thing. Those forums, though, are nut magnets, and the nuts outnumber the non-nuts, and non-nuts don’t stick around forever, so the forum hierarchy is eventually dominated by nuts (a.k.a. misguided, and unhappy people pursuing what are often questionable, personal agendas).

    • Depersonalization. Look it up. It is one of PTSD symptoms. It also appears in severe anxiety. Psychology is my hobby and I’m an avid reader, just never predicted I’d be applying this in real life. I always thought such extreme emotional states just happen to other people.
      Does this sound familiar: had a nice weekend over friend’s house. The host was beyond gracious and accommodating: I had a private swimming pool, books, good weather, grilling with friends, discussing films and politics, jokes, great company. And through out the entire experience my interactions with them seemed like they belonged to someone else’s reality. I no longer recognized my life.

      • I feel like it’s even more basic than that. I can barely get through a coherent thought. Just today, I was at the police station at lunch because last week my X broke into my storage unit and stole my son’s baby book and other various things. I filed a report and the police are going through security footage etc. The investigation is ongoing and I hope he’ll be arrested. I had to live through this weekend’s visitation pretending I didn’t know anything because I don’t want to indicate that I know. (It’s a long story but he had falsified documents to get into the storage unit and so it’s a burglary via fraud and he doesn’t know that we know). On my way back to work I stopped at a gas station and realized I was standing there looking at the chocolate thinking
        “Chocolate. Weird.”
        “Candy is weird. Do I want candy?”
        “Do I like candy?”
        “$1.88 is really expensive for chocolate.”
        So I buy peanut butter cups and eat them and then I sit in my car and think
        “Was that good?”
        “Do I like candy?”

        I’m just- so out of it. How can this be real? Who has an X who breaks into their storage unit to steal a baby book & diary I kept from the time I was 8 weeks pregnant? Why would he do that to me? He took all his infant clothes too.

        • Why would they do it? That’s the question of the century around here. Asked over and over and over again. Who are these men we thought we knew and could predict at least to a degree?

          You described the daze I am in very well. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m safe to be behind the wheel. I’ll suddenly wonder where I’m going or how I got there.

          • ML – I can sure relate to that surreal-ness. The Daze. Looking back, I never should have been driving. I was worse than a drunk as far as preoccupation. Ran straight into one garage door full blast with my truck – and it wasn’t open yet. Another day, a different garage, turned a little too soon and took out the whole side of the garage and side of the van. I think I ran 2 4-way stop signs and at least one red light. I hardly remember those 3 weeks but I was dangerous, no doubt about it. I think they can give you a DUI for being under ‘the effect’. Not even drunk or on drugs. Just some other form of ‘shouldn’t be driving’. Just glad I didn’t kill someone.

            • I also felt so disoriented after D-day I was afraid I’d have a wreck since I couldn’t pay attention to anything! When a friend invited me over for dinner to get me out of my empty house I felt so odd walking among all the other people who had normal lives. It was brutal trying to make conversation. I was sort of shaking, and just generally felt like I was in some other reality.

        • The candy episode is a great (and hilarious) example of the Zombie or “Walking Dead” phase of Chumpdom. Last about 6 months in most cases, I think.

          • I also loved the chocolate/candy thing. It’s the way you look at all food. Since it all tastes the same, I’ve been living on cheese sandwiches and pb&j’s for months now. It’s all just bleh.

          • Really, Rose, I am sure we can all relate to your daze – I agree with nomar, mine lasted about six months. It’s just fucking bizarre and strange. I got stopped twice for speeding (like, going 35 in a 25) in those early months, I know I wasn’t paying attention, just dream like. And talk about oversharing! Both the officers patiently listened to (briefly) what was going on in my life. Only warnings, ma’am…take care, now.

            The surreal part for us now, almost two years out, is going to public functions and seeing the ex and his girlfriend, and he passes by his kids as though they were invisible. It’s surreal for all the people watching it, too. I mean, he lived with us for 31 years. I agree. I think the oversharing is to check in with other people to see if they think this is as whacked as you think it is. Disordered people are soul – less zombies. The walking dead.

            • and that chocolate story is hysterical! I can relate!! It’s all a dream that you can’t wake up out of….

              …it gets better, honey. Be safe. And take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. This is tough stuff we all go through.

              • Locked myself out of my car numerous times. Also, frequently forgot where i parked and had to employ the alarm button.
                Wierd how this affects us. I have no recollection of not eating, yet found myself 40lbs lighter in 2 months. I was not hungry and was not intentionally not eating. Just forgot , I guess.

        • Rose, I’m so sorry that happened to you. My ex took the baby crib without telling me. Just weird stuff that idiots do.

      • Hi Rose,

        Gevalt! You’re your very young child’s mother-primary care provider, protector and teacher–and here is this shmuck making all kinds of decisions that affect your child’s most intimate life without even consulting you and you have to bear it because is the ass-father.

        My guess is that when you had your child you did not buy into this fate for either of you. No wonder everything seems unreal. Who would have thought of this disturbing reality for you and your child.

        My rage keeps me from this feeling. When my ex even makes a dentist appointment without letting me know I become incensed. Not because I am hyper controlling but because my ex is a pathological liar now in charge of a small child. I can’t help my kid as I would if my ex would not be pulling all of his shit and it matters.

      • Monika is right about depersonalization. It is a psychological mechanism that helps us put a protective barrier around self so that we can take the pain out bit by bit and process it (which is difficult enough) because if we tried to do it all at once we’d be completely emotionally overwhelmed and possibly have a complete breakdown. (Although, sadly, you feel like you’re having one anyway.) It’s a kind of “compartmentalization” that helps us survive as we slowly adjust and cope better.

      • Yes, depersonalization. I often felt my mind would have to play “catch up.” I’d think about all the horrible lies and decades of cheating and gas lighting my ex did, pretending he adored me and our children, but then how he abandoned us when caught. And my mind would “wobble,” and I’d think, “no, that can’t be real, is it? Was it? Yes it was, yes Kelly he did that, no Kelly he is not here anymore and he does not care, he is gone.” I’d have to REASON with myself that it was all true and not a bad dream. I once looked up the concept of depersonalization and realized that’s what it was. We have post-traumatic-stress-like symptoms.

        • Kelly – I’m six months out from d-day. STBX has been sending me all sorts of ‘I’m so sorry’ messages over the past few days and I have trouble resisting it (luckily it is all interspersed with passive aggressive digs at me as well). Tonight after struggling for hours to write an appropriate response to his ‘do you hate me’ email, I had to go and look through hi saved Facebook messages, old emails to OW and recent timeline of fucked up behaviour.. ‘Yes, he did introduce her to his parents while she was still living with her husband. Yes, he did invite her to stay at his house the week my kids were there when they had never met her. No, he didn’t bother to tell me first. Yes, he did plot with OW to defraud her husband’.

          I think if you’ve been gaslighted (and I am starting to think maybe I’ve been gaslighted for years?) the sense of unreality is intense. I have to mind myself regularly he is not the beloved husband I know.

          I think sharing is also part of this – I have to reality check things with friends. Emails he insisted were just jokes between good friends and I didn’t really believe him but did believe him at the same time (my girlfriend looked at those and said ‘hell no!). It is horrid to realise my instincts are so trashed that I need to check with my friends whether his behaviour is normal or acceptable. Once they say hell no, I feel an immense sense of relief that I’m not over-reacting or being overly sensitive.

    • Rose, it sounds like your ex is SUPER trying to affirm his authority over your child, by doing these things, and I would bet also trying to provoke you into some kind of reaction. If you manage to avoid reacting, he’ll probably get tired of it pretty fast. Just ignore this kind of thing completely, as if he’d brought your son back in the exact same condition as he’d picked him up.

      If he’s a narcissistic like so many cheaters here, your ex will tire pretty quickly of the actual ‘taking care of’ part of those visits, and haircuts and possible potty-training attempts will stop. ‘Cause ya know, taking care of a child is a lot like WORK! And mostly work done for no credit other than your own satisfaction and your child’s well-being – not very important stuff to a narc!

    • Rose, of all the things, the haircut would really piss me off. My son’s father did this once — and he *cut my son’s hair himself!* — my kid has beautiful blonde curls – and his dad took a literal HUNK out of his hair. It was like he defaced the kid on purpose and sent him home. It was one of the sickest, most fucked up things he’s ever done — and I still get mad to think about it years later.

      It’s about control with these freaks. Control over you. Control over the kids.

      I agree with the others, at some point they give up. Doesn’t seem soon enough. My son and his dad don’t talk or see each other these days (now that son is a teenager).

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. It just sucks mightily.

      • God. I’m not sure I can get through this without being bitter about men. These stories (added to my own) are so awful.

          • ANR – amen. The men on this site have helped me so much to realize this works both ways. Having the male perspective has helped me so much to realize this happens to either gender and so many men, usually reluctant to share emotions, have done it here. It’s been a big help for me. Thank you for contributing, all you Real Men out there!

            • Me too. Though I wouldn’t wish the nightmare of chumpdom on anyone, it really helped me reading the stories from all the men here. It’s also amazing how similar cheaters all are, whether they are male or female, gay or straight.

              • I’ve noticed zero difference between the genders re cheating. Same with abusiveness and personality disorders.

            • Gotcha. Just remember that there are decent men, not for the sake of men, but for your own sake. I am so glad a) that I have good female friends and b) that I found this site. Otherwise I might have found myself buying into the the bitter misogynistic crap you find on various parts of the interwebs.

        • There are really good men out there. They are kind and faithful. And once we get to “meh,” we might even meet a few. 🙂

      • This is thing I read about Chump Lady. When abusive cheaters feel they cannot hurt you anymore they try to hurt you through your children. It’s so low.

        My ex took my six year old daughter to have her ears pierced without consulting me.

        • Ok…I’m gonna go all psychodynamic on ya’ll for a bit, about the crap like the sneaky hair cutting, and the stealing of the baby memorabilia.

          I personally believe it is more about their own pathological control issues (I’ll SHOW you that you are not the boss of ME!”) than about deliberately hurting you, although the PA is not above “twisting your tail” out of spite, in hopes that you will lose control of yourself. You are secondary to their pervasive personal need to feel in control all the time.

          Notice that these behaviors are all UNILATERAL and sneaky…just like their decision to cheat. This is the hallmark of an individual who is incapable of participating in true reciprocity because they secretly feel less powerful than YOU.

          Whatever else is wrong with these people, they are passive-aggressive and conflict avoidant. They have pathological control issues (stemming from their FOO issues) that cause them to (1) view honest reciprocal decision making as having somehow “lost” and (2) keep a life-time internal scoreboard of resentments about every time their preferences did not rule the day.

          They believe somewhere deep within them that they won’t maintain control (a fear driven drive) on a consistent basis without cheating….doing “end runs” around boundaries (rules) to insure staying ‘in control’. And big or little, their “losses” mount like the thousand proverbial paper cuts…with festering resentment.

          If or when they finally cheat in the “marital sense”, years of stupid penny ante shit that should have been forgotten years ago ALL comes out in this horrible, vitriolic spew that just floors you with its pettiness. Most of this shit you can’t even remember, or you have some vague remembrance of it having filed away as resolved 10 -25 years ago.

          Unlike the true sociopath who expertly pretends to be a victim toward a strategic end and a big prize (think con-artist), the sad-sausage PA really perceives himself as a potential perpetual victim. He will cut off his nose to spite his face…just to keep control. Does not make the PA any less obnoxious or destructive in the intimate relationship sense than a sociopath, but the sociopath will cut his losses early and look for an easier mark if he sees the “game” is not going to run as smoothly as he would like. He is detached and strategic.

          With the PA, it’s PERSONAL; and dammit he makes it PERSONAL for you, too.

          If anyone ever says to you, “It is so much easier to say, ‘I’m sorry’ than it is to give an FYI or to ask for agreement ahead of time,” be on your guard for a PA. At some point habitually behaving this way about many smaller things is going to end up with it happening about something huge. [The true sociopath will almost never say such a thing to you; it would give away too much of his unemotional strategic advantage in the “game.”]

          • Wow, notyou, that’s incredible.

            I’ve said all along my ex is a sociopath- when I caught him he was stone cold and just quickly moved on to plan B, one of his AP’s he had waiting in the wings for over 15 years. He also told me he had never planned to tell me the truth and just thought we’s stay married (probably the truest thing he had ever said to me). I never saw that often counter-productive rage and need to control so many of my fellow chumps deal with. He simply walked away from our 3 children, so I never had to deal with custody fights or even handing them over for visitation. Thank goodness for small mercies I suppose.

          • Notyou, you have literally made my day. You described my ex to a T. He said compromising means doing it my way. It’s just crazy!

          • “If or when they finally cheat in the “marital sense”, years of stupid penny ante shit that should have been forgotten years ago ALL comes out in this horrible, vitriolic spew that just floors you with its pettiness. Most of this shit you can’t even remember, or you have some vague remembrance of it having filed away as resolved 10 -25 years ago. ”

            notyou, this is EXACTLY what my narc ex did, when I (quite gently) confronted him about his second affair (6 or 7 years after the first one, and supposed reconciliation). Spewed all this criticism and resentment of me, accumulated over 14 years. THAT was what made me finally 100% sure I had to end our relationship permanently. It opened my eyes to the depths of his fucked-up-ed-ness, and of the slime he carried inside him, and that made him feel truly superior to everyone else.

            At the same time, it had this surreal quality; you have AGAIN screwed around on someone who loved you honestly, loyally, who tried so hard to make you happy, and who had already put up with a lot of crap from you, and did not hold that against you. And you respond to being asked about it by attacking HER? Sick, very very sick, the kind of sick that there is no fixing.

            I’d been figuring out just how messed up he was, and how unlikely to change, over the previous few years, but this attack was what made me clearly and definitively see that he is not a poor messed-up pathetic immature fool, but actually a bad person. Selfish to the bone, entitled to the max, and someone who I just had to get away from, forever.

            • PS, I agree with Bancroft and Simon; it isn’t about fear on their part, or defenses. At least in my ex’s case, it’s true arrogance, entitlement, a deep belief in his own superiority, and in my obligation to serve that superiority, manage his emotions and his life for him, and never ask him to do anything differently than he wanted to do it. All wrapped in an attractive poor-sausage casing. How DARE I have boundaries! That brought out the narcissistic rage.

              Interesting that the only times I got him to change anything significant were times I was honestly ready to leave him. Then he would comply – but it was only ever compliance, not actually consideration for my needs or wishes or well-being, or that of the kids. It took me a long time to understand that, because I reached that point only a few times over the years, and I was a) sparkling like crazy, and b) unable to comprehend a way of thinking so foreign to my own, but I guess he saw those occasions as ‘losses’. Sick tucker.

          • I love your insights, notyou. They make so much sense.

            You describe my ex to a T.
            Am reading that book “why is it always about you?” by Sandy Hotchkiss. You guys are filling in all the blanks for me…. Thanks!

          • notyou,
            can you please elaborate on the last paragraph, My ex will become aggressively indignant if I request something as simple as when will he be bringing the girls home on the monday of our up coming long weekend. especial as I was not willing to settle for his answer of ‘sometime between when camp ends and dinnertime (they are going with him his churches annual camp) camp ends around lunch and the site is only an hour away. His attitude to this request I have seen many times and pushes my buttons. your insight is valuable.

            • SammieD, your ex is still playing the passive-aggressive ‘you’re not the boss of me’ game. You need to find ways to step aside, so that he’s not able to use the kids to jerk you around and keep you waiting on his decisions. If you ask him when he’ll bring the kids back, and he doesn’t have a definitive answer, don’t push him to decide; decide yourself. So something like; ‘OK, then I’m going to assume some time after 4 pm and before 6 pm. I won’t be home before then, and we have something to do afterwards.’ Then make sure you’re OUT until 4, and do something after 6, even if it’s only walking over to a friend’s house or out to get ice-cream cones.

              He is DELIBERATELY pushing your buttons, because your irritation with him is still kibbles! Look as calm and bored by him as you can manage – fake it ’til you make it!

              • And if he does stuff that might upset the kids (deliberately coming by to drop them off before 4, and you’re not there, or bringing them home after 6, and you’re not there), be CHILL. The kids will be upset this once or twice that he pulls this crap, but you can explain to them beforehand when you’ll be there, and afterwards that their dad needs to learn to work with other people cooperatively. And any upset the kids experience is ON HIM, 100%. For your sake, and the kids’, you need to make it clear you won’t keep on catering to his ridiculousness. The sooner and more consistently and more calmly you do it, the faster he’ll adapt.

        • Tonya – I would COMPLETELY freak out if somebody did that to my little girl. Like, Savage: medieval-on-your-ass savage. How dare he!

        • My cheating XW has primary custody (thanks, family court) and I do not consult her about things like haircuts or ear piercing. Why should I? Did she consult me about moving the OM into the house with the kids? Did she cosnult me about filing her income taxes and taking the kids as her deductions, leaving me with a 6 grand tax liability? Did she consult me about driving with no licenses or insurance or failing to pay her electric bill such that the kids had no power at their house for two months? I could go on. But, the last person I will ever consult on anything re my kids’ welfare is their cheating mom, who did not care enough about them to get an honorable divorce.

    • Why pajamas? Because the clothes had pee or poop on them! That’s what happens when you suddenly put a kid in training pants.

      Is there an OW in the picture? Maybe she is trying to establish her relationship to the kid and show that she knows how to bring kids up in order to make your X like her. Maybe she is still playing the pick-me game against you, even if you aren’t playing?

      It might also be that your ex-MIL was the one taking care of your kid and she thought your kid needed to hurry up on the potty training front, etc.

      The other thing I would consider is the possibility that X is trying to prove he is a better parent who gets your kid potty trained faster and will blame you if doing it every other weekend doesn’t work. You might want to build up your support system just in case (people who know you’re a good parent) or document things, if your lawyer thinks you should.

    • My kids were older when everything blew up, and my X never fucked with anything relating to their care (they were old enough that he couldn’t have anyway), but I still have that sense of unreality.Is this really my life? Someone here so eloquently called it being “emotionally deep frozen.” For alot of reasons, I haven’t been able to talk freely IRL about what I have been through and I think that inability has made it hard for me to restart my emotional life. I feel like I HAVE to act like I’m okay, even when I’m not, and that it turn makes it seem like I am just going through the motions. I am not unhappy and I know I have a good life, but I can’t stop thinking,”Is that all there is?”

    • My current husband and I raised his two sons and mine from middle school age onward. Husby’s EW walked out and left him when his two boys were preschool age. He still encouraged the kids to have a relationship with their mother and they’d visit her a few weeks a year. Husby has always had full legal and physical custody.

      A couple summers ago his 17 year old son (B) wanted a tattoo. Husby says, “no way. When you turn 18 that’s your own decision but until then you do not have permission” B goes to visit his mother for a couple weeks out of state that summer, which occurred over B’s birthday.

      On B’s birthday, my son tells me I need to look at B’s FB page ASAP. I pull it up and see B’s shirtless, bathroom mirror selfie and he has a tattoo sleeve from his elbow to his shoulder, over his shoulder and covering one of his breasts. His FB post indicates his mom took him for the tattoo (he now looks like the illustrated man) and got a good deal on it for $1700 for his birthday, and it took two days.

      Husby FLIPPED OUT. His EW had no right to do that.

        • If his dad had full legal custody, COULD the mom ‘sign’ off on it? I mean, it doesn’t matter now, but just wondering…kids! Pushing buttons!!!

          • could and did are two different things. Don’t think the tattoo parlor checked asked for the custody papers when he was visiting her.

    • Yes! When I let myself say, ” this is such 1st world drama! There are people dying from real issues in the 3rd world!!!!” My therapist bitch slaps me. It is real, it is not pointless.

    • Rose,
      It is shit and it is real and you will feel at times like it is all just happening around you.
      In regard to the shit your Ex’s is pulling with the child get a diary or a note book and start writing down everything that happens, Date at the top of each new piece of writing signature at the bottom, take photos if you need to he is fucking with you to see if he can make you crack. My STBX did similar shit in the hospital with our youngest changing stuff with the staff as to how our daughter should be cared for even when they knew she did not live with him and that he was only there at times for less than an hour.

  • Am new to posting, but have been reading and enjoying CL’s message for several months. I’m two years out from a 30-year marriage with a cheating psychopath. I could have been the patron saint for false reconciliation. Lots of attempts to end the relationship followed by 5 months of reconciliation, and then return to a more vicious form of abuse and lies. When I left for the final time, protected myself in a secure place, and mailed him information about my plans for divorce, he killed himself. (Thanks, Tessie, for sharing your story. You inspired me to become visible on this site.)

    Living in a small town, many think the local chatter is reality and were fooled by his thin veneer of charm. I love the landscape and many of the people where I live. I’m not willing to relocate, so I’ve learned to care little about what others think about me and my history. I answer questions honestly and directly and without malice. I share details with my closest friends and those family members who demonstrate that they can handle my story. Above all, I have learned that I AM NOT MY STORY.

    Early on I had a lot of moments of oversharing and realized that there were scandal seekers out there. Those who wanted to appear in-the -know at my expense. That was hurtful. There were also those who were unwilling to speak ill of the dead and had to deny me my truth. I learned to narrow down the group of people I was willing to talk to about the details.

    How can anyone be prepared for the shock of learning the truth about their perceived loved one? I particularly liked CLs reference

    “But over sharing past a certain point in recovery does get weird. You don’t want to be a pity vampire. You do want to maintain some dignity. Where’s the line?”

    My solace through this ordeal is appreciating what I’ve learned. Through the difficulties of life, I learned where the line starts to form, and realized that it’s a shady band of gray that we all have to figure out for ourselves. Fortunately, that lesson will follow me for the rest of my life.

    I have so much gratitude for CL and you other chumps here. I appreciate that you share, and I suppose I’m trying to share in return.

    • Welcome Ali Rose! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with a suicide on top of infidelity — in a small town no less. I should do a whole post on rubberneckers. It’s a thing.

      ((Big hugs)). It takes a lot to face people like that and hold your head up. You know, “I’m not my story” — I’d edit that to “You’re not HIS story.” His drama is no reflection on you, your values, or your worth. You have a story, but it transcends that crap.

      • Btw, what’s your suggestion for commenting on ex painting you as “unstable?” I feel so helpless and at loss for words when I hear the same feedback from different people “But you seem so normal and rational, how can it be that he says you’re not?”
        I actually don’t know for sure what he’s saying about me exactly, but the general feedback I receive isn’t good at all. Therapist says it’s a common scenario that negative evaluations happen after infidelity/divorce/breakups and they’re beyond my control but wtf? Can I say something effective?

        • I’ll jump in here. Turn your response into a question. Ask them, “Wouldn’t you be unstable if your spouse of XX years left you for someone else?” The best way to take the sting out of a question is to admit that any rational person would feel that way. However if he’s taking shots at your integrity, you can say “projection is such an ugly thing”.

          Whatever you do, don’t own the judgment that comes along with his antics. You actually know right from wrong, fidelity from cheating. That makes you such a more worthwhile person than he.

        • I would say, “Well, he has to make up stuff to say about me because the real reason our marriage ended is that he cheated with —-. The stress of living with his infidelity was hard on me but I am doing so much better now that he is gone.”

          • Yeah, that would be great if they said it directly to my face. I just get 3rd hand reports…everyone using the same, rather peculiar, word “rageful”. Who says “rageful” on an ordinary basis? So, clearly Ex got a narrative to a few key people and it spread. Yes, indeed! I was mightily pissed off, and in shock in the first few months–and grieving, and numb. Who amongst us isn’t?

            But, I believe the anger is a healthy response to betrayal, not a sign of dysfunction. It didn’t go on forever; I didn’t become an arsonist 🙂 (and why would anyone even suspect such a crazy-ass thing?).

            I think people are deeply uncomfortable with female anger, honestly expressed.

            And I think they are uncomfortable with their own issues that others’ anger provokes in them. So they look away.

      • Thanks, CL. I appreciate your humor and am determined that his actions will not rob me of my own humor. You’re right, it is his story.

        I would enjoy a post on the rubberneckers. The Germans call them lookenspeepers. . . such a great word.

    • Oh, Ali Rose, I’m so sorry. What a nightmare. You sound so brave to me, I am in awe of your strength. I often try to convince myself that I am not my circumstances, but then I doubt myself. Maybe I am. After all, I’ve made one bad decision after another. What does that say about me? But I have no choice but to plod on and try to have the life I think I deserve.

      Glad you’re here at CL.

      • ML, if you see any braveness or strength in me, it’s just because that character lives within you. It sounds like your pain is still fresh and raw. I was there for a long time, and only through time and lots of reflection, discussion, and self-care, have I found some healing. I’m glad I’m here too. Thanks.

    • Ali Rose I think the worst thing is when people deny you your truth or try to censor your story to suit themselves or sugar-coat your reality. Some people like to beatify the dead regardless. Some like their stories with neat endings but as we know life isn’t like that for most.

      I got really tired of this one friend telling me I needed to get over things and reinvent myself. WTF? It all sounded a bit Disneyland to me at the time, like I was supposed to find a magic wand and wave it and become a new version of myself while dealing with all the shit that was thrown at me.

      “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
      Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

      • Reinvent yourself? Really? She may as well have said, “your pain is getting to be inconvenient for me, could you please stop? ” I hope you took your magic wand and made that so-called friend go away.

        How appropriate, the psychopath’s mother loves to go to Disneyland, and her denial of reality is legendary. Now that I’ve won my life back, you can be sure I won’t be going to Disneyland.

        • Someone told me just a couple of weeks after D-day not to become one of “those women who make their identity their divorce.” I guess she said it because she was uncomfortable hearing about the details. It made me feel like I needed to pretend to be happy even though I felt awful. Another person told me to watch TV at night so so I wouldn’t feel lonely! Hey — there’s an idea!!

          People say crazy things when they have no understanding of what it’s like to be chumped.

          • You have to almost limit your disclosure to fellow chmps. Folks that have not been through this have no clue what it is like.
            That said, I was telling a lot of people, initially. Probably thought I was nuts.

    • Ali Rose, what a selfish awful man. Over sharing is when we have told too much for ourselves, no one else. We each heal in our own way and own time….and yes, we each have to realize where our own lines are drawn.

      • After a while, I started to figure out a better way to disclose, one where I did not apeear vindictive or nuts.
        I’d just work the fact of her cheating into a conversation, like in the middle of a sentence, a slight aside or whatever.
        Like, in describing a vacation , I would say, ” Yeah, went to the Cape shortly after discovering L’s affairs, withthe kids. We had a blast. Weather was great…
        Folks that knew us, but did not know of the reason for the divorce, would, invariably, follow up : Affair? You mean L was cheating etc?
        I’d respond : Oh, yeah. Thought you knew. Yeah, it was pretty ugly etc.
        Then, you come off as not having intentionally disclosed, so as to not appear vindictive. And, the casualness of the disclosure and the allusion to it being common knowledge, seems to lend credence to it, which you will need in the face of the smear campaign and denials your cheater will be doing.

  • I also found that compliments from people I knew more casually, on how great I was looking after my tremendous weight loss, often prompted bitter oversharing. I would get a compliment or people would jokingly ask me my “secret” for such dramatic weight loss, and I would vomit the story out. It was especially bitter to me, because my husband had spent years making snide comments about my weight, and of course he cheated with a former anorexic marathon runner/yoga devotee. No button pushing there… So it was not really possible for me to revel in my 25 lb. drop, and instead of nicely thanking people, I would respond “It’s called the infidelity diet and I don’t recommend it.” Instead of making me feel better, their comments really cemented for me the thought that I must have looked hideous and that somehow that was part of his justification for cheating.

    BTW, I am 5’6″ and weighed 160 lbs before the affair. Sadly it’s all back now, but it stayed off for nearly a year….

    • Mine is coming back too. Ugh 🙁
      What was it that made us lose so much in a first place? Loss of appetite? I don’t even remember what it was like 10 months ago, it’s a blur.

      • Ha – I lost 10 lbs in the week after Dday – when I told my ex, trying to show him just how much he hurt me, he said,”You should be happy.” Just one more instance of him showing me who he is. Thank God I started to believe it. I remember that I just couldn’t eat, I think your body goes into a weird physiological state when your under acute stress.

        • Tiger Woods’ ex wife lost 20 lbs and half her hair for a while, I think.

          And she was never overweight.

        • I lost 30 pounds in one month after Dday. My ex told me how great I looked. Then, when I had to go to Walmart and buy all new clothes, because everything I had was literally falling off me, he sent my divorce attorney an angry email saying that I had “gone on a $200 shopping spree at Walmart” and that was unacceptable. My attorney couldn’t believe it.

          Unfortunately, I’ve gained back about 25 of those 30 pounds, sigh.

    • Weight,
      in the second month after D’day of my husbands infidelity and a few weeks after my daughters diagnoses of cancer I had a staff member at the hospital corner me in the corridor and question me on the last time I had eaten. Confession it had been a few days except for an endless supply of coffee. to this I was advised that I was to eat something for my daughters sake. Which I seriously took on board.
      I remember joking to a friend one day who commented on the weight loss ” yep I have lost 85 kilo ( I think that is about 180 lbs) in total, 15 of mine and 70 of his. 🙂

  • I’d like to add that to anyone other than a best friend, *any* talk about surviving infidelity comes off as oversharing. Because this shit isn’t pretty.

  • At first I only told a select few of my tale of woe. Like others have said here, I was hoping he’d take his head out of his ass and come to his senses and come home to me and I didn’t want everyone to hate him. He would also say things like “It’s so funny when a woman goes out and tells the world what a jackass her ex is because inevitably they get back together and she looks like a fool.” This was right before DDay. I kept thinking of that every time I would tell someone. But he really doesn’t give a rat’s ass if I ever look like a fool, he only cares about what people think of him. I found out about a week ago that when he is out and about and he gets asked where I am, he puts on a real sad face and says “She’s not talking to me” and proceeds to infer that this whole thing was my fault. So I set the record straight whenever I can.

    This weekend I came across a fabulous rental property. I really am not ready to move out of my home yet but this place is perfect – I think it’s a sign. I was so worried about looking for something because STBXH destroyed my credit. I was totally open with the landlord about my situation – why I was moving out of my house and why my credit check may come back as less than stellar. She told me she went through something similar and said the house would be a perfect place for me to heal my wounds and get me back on my feet. There was another couple who had looked at the place first and I ended up getting it – I think because of the chump camaraderie factor!

    • Kitkat, my idiot ex always comes up with that bs “she doesn’t talk to me, text me back, etc…..”. It’s just another play for kibbles and it’s not even a good play. The people who fall for his stupid sad face should watch out cause he’s going to screw with them too. I found a little house to move to and I’ve been really comfortable in my own space without anything to remind me of “the Loss”. I hope you find peace and contentment in your new place.

  • My gut tells me that over sharing in the beginning is trying to make sense of what’s happened to you. Recently, my father told me he and my mom were worried about me right after it happened because I kept repeating the same stories over and over. He said “We thought maybe you were getting Alzheimer’s!” Thankfully, my mom then said “I think telling her story over and over is part of getting past what’s happened.” Thank goodness my mom said that, because the Alzheimer’s remarked worried me. It worried me so much that I searched online and discovered that mental lapses and memory problems are common after trauma, which made me feel better.

    It was gratifying in the beginning to see other people’s reaction to stories about my ex I’d kept quiet during our long marriage. There were little things that bothered me off and on, suspicions I had, odd happenings…but I didn’t want to believe them so I did my best to suppress them. My husband certainly didn’t want to discuss my concerns over these incidents, and he did his best to minimize them or tell me I was reading something into nothing.

    When I told others about the times I’d walk around a corner to find my husband standing too close to a neighbor, the depression he seemed to develop after she moved, the odd phone calls telling me my husband wasn’t where he said he was, the love notes I found in his pocket from a “student with a crush on him”…it validated my feelings to see others react. Many of them said these things would have upset them too! I’d kept my mouth shut for so many years because I wanted to protect my husband’s image as a great dad and family man. I wanted everyone to believe we had a great marriage and family (and in many ways we did). For so many years these incidents made me feel humiliated and not good enough, bringing them out into the light lifted the shame off of me.

    Lately I’ve been working hard not to bring up my ex or repeat stories, though. It’s been 2 years since D-day and I feel like it’s time to move forward and let the past go. I still have triggers but there are fewer of them. I’ve found that “overwriting” hurtful memories, revisiting places that have negative associations, helps me create a happier narrative.

  • I find myself so conflicted by this topic.

    On the one hand, I have always considered myself a sympathetic ally of the “over-sharers” of the world. A couple of months ago, the brother of one of my best friends committed suicide. By *decapitating* himself. If you need someone to pour you tea/whiskey and listen to you as you helplessly talk over all the hideous details of something like that, I’m your gal.

    On the other hand, over-sharing was precisely how my STBX reeled me in. He has a well-deserved reputation as an extremely cold fish, and in our very early days, before we were dating, I found him both extremely attractive but also off-putting for that reason. Until I made some very sharp comments to him about it and he suddenly burst into tears and proceeded to unexpectedly pour out all the tortured details of his horrible childhood in a very posh English boarding school.

    For ten years, TEN YEARS!, he has cried and opened up whenever – but only when – it looks like I have had enough. The rest of the time, it’s like I have been suffering some kind of emotional anorexia at his hands.

    I think it’s going to be hard for me to distinguish genuine sharing and emotional manipulation for some time.

    • My god. We’re so scarred now, aren’t we?

      A couple of months after DDay I was on the phone with my husband and began to cry softly. He told me to stop crying. That it was “emotional manipulation.”

      I knew he had learned that phrase from someone else. I also knew that my pain was very, very real.

      The idea that comfort won’t be coming from the person who hurt you is still sinking in after seven months.

      • My first ex, the alcoholic (yeah, I’m working on that picker!) said to me on several occasions, when I was crying about something awful he’d said or done: “Stop crying, you’re doing that in order to make me feel guilty.” And I was so young and naïve, I didn’t even see it for the manipulative, giant red flag it was.

        • Whenever I had a feeling, any feeling, any input, any attempts at discussing our problems/issues, it was “are you feeling sorry for yourself again?”

          ABUSE.

          • Abusers have disdain for people who cry. I did it , once, after years of being tortured by my XW. Never a-fucking-gain. Never show these assholes weakness. They are like sharks smelling blood.

        • My ex told me that crying wasn’t going to “work” on him anymore. He had no sympathy for any pain that I might feel at all even if he wasn’t the one causing it. This was not the case for the first 10 years or so or our marriage. That should have had me looking closely at wtf was going on in our life but super chump here just heard what would make him feel better about himself, as in me not crying, that I didn’t cry in front of him for years, then after a while I wouldn’t cry at all and if I did I found it to be a weakness. Talk about internalizing the mindfuck. After d day #2 I would overshare with anyone that passed by practically and the tears, they would come freely and it was so freeing to be able to cry and not give a shit about what anybody thought. No doubt I got a lot of weird looks and awkward pats on the back.

  • I called my period of oversharing My Season of Blurting.

    It seemed imperative that I repeat my tale again and again and again to as many ears that my voice could reach. Through the telling and retelling, that which was gray became balck and white. Armed with those absolutes I was could pull back my power and begin reclaiming the 26 years I spent married to a cheater.

    And my Season of Blurting was so much more attracitve than my Season of Projectile Vomiting!

    • Lol – some people handled my vomiting better than my repeating and over sharing. That’s how I found out who had my back. And my best friend of 27 years proved to be a disappointment in that regard, but my new neighbor of 5 months was a champ. That I was required to learn other lessons besides the original crappy infidelity one was a shock at 45. Thought I was savvy, but man I got blindsided by so many things – best friend, in laws, husband – the fact I didn’t have to be locked up is a testament to having to function for 3 chipmunks who need 3 meals a day. Since January dday, I have bounced from pissed to hurt to furious to I want him forever to (today) wtf am I doing with this pinhead. Who knows what the next months will bring me.

      This part of my journey sucks. I’m so grateful for this outlet and the opportunity to not see your eyes roll when I repeat and over share my crap 😉

      • I’m so grateful for this outlet too. And I’m actually fearful that my sadness will get old to people here and that I’m not healing and moving on fast enough. It’s been seven months for me but feels as though it just happened.

        I’m still in shock. Still can’t believe he’s done this to me.

        I’m glad when I read that it can take two or three years, even more. That makes me hope that I might end up in the normal range.

        • Moving, it’s been two and a half years for me now and I am just getting to some kind of equilibrium. I’m not sure if these kind of events attract or are caused by other crises in our lives; I just know that for me the year following STBX leaving was so full of loss and grief that all I could do was grit my teeth and hang on, forget about any kind of healing or resolution. I still wake up some mornings in disbelief, gobsmacked that this could happen to me. I suspect it will be like this for the rest of my life, although I hope that overwhelming feeling of betrayal does lessen with time.

          I think approaching Meh depends on so many things that you have to allow for – for instance, having the CS in your life for any reason slows things up and makes the process harder to get through. I really began to make progress once I went NC last August and wasn’t having the wound re-opened on a regular basis. Hard to do if you have small kids, and I have nothing but admiration for those in Chump Nation who are getting through while raising kids with idiot exes.

          I love this place because there is unconditional support for our grief and disbelief and retelling of our stories. We’ve all been there, done that, and know how it goes. I also love that all of us are moving through it, one shaky step at a time, bravely, and never losing our empathy and concern for other people. Considering what people here have gone through it is an amazingly positive place, full of humour and good advice and love. I’ll thank Tracy yet again for managing to build such an amazing place for us here.

          It’s just been this past week that I have truly realized that I have choices now, and that the drama imposed by Toddler Boi over the divorce will end. Once I am free of him I will be able to finally finish this particular journey and move on. In the meantime I come here every day to replenish my store of optimism.

          Hang in there, Moving. It really does get better!

          • Well said, exrepeatedmeme. You described this site and its essence so beautifully. Thank you!

  • I have been very fortunate that everyone I told was pissed. Male friends are still telling me that my ex is an asshole and not all men are assholes. They keep on encouraging me to date but I’m not interested right now. These men gave me great hope when I was in the stage of “all men cannot be trusted.”

    I had to overshare because I felt I would suffocate if I didn’t. Like holding down vomit. That energy (more like a volcano waiting to erupt) had to get out of me; otherwise, it would have manifested itself physically. I felt like passing out at times.

    I have vowed that if a friend or anyone overshares with me, I will listen, however long that takes. I will be there for them. Final DDay for me was about a year and a half ago, and I find a lot of people NO longer want to hear about it. I don’t have a need to overshare nowadays but there are still times when something happens and the old emotions come rushing in. I have to be quite selective on who to call now. Otherwise, well-meaning “friends” seem to listen but then quickly change the topic. The only ones who truly listen are fellow chumps.

    • Unique – I, too, was so relieved that a couple of men I told said stbx was an asshole and I would have been their ‘first choice’ – couldn’t figure out how he could give me up for HER. I know they meant well but I was also in the stage of ‘hating men’ even. But, they were so sweet and it made me feel a little better. Also, with so many people, I was shaking so bad in the hands that I couldn’t even hold a pen, so many were concerned if I was okay or not. Hell no – I wasn’t okay .. . blah blah and more blah. Don’t know what caused the bad shaking but glad I’m not doing it as often as it was so obvious.

      And, I agree, I don’t feel like verbally vomiting as much anymore and in total agreement that only fellow chumps really understand it. As understanding as one of my sisters’ has been and a couple close friends and nieces, who initially felt empathetic, soon wanted to change the subject. And, realized those folks had been cheaters in their marriages as well. So, they don’t have the same whatzit? Stamina? to keep hearing me talk about how hurt I was and am. Although my talk-to folks are more limited, I know they’re the ones who hear every word I’m saying (and so much repeated! good grief) because they have also been cheated on. We have make our choices with who we want to tell, going forward, I guess.

  • I don’t over-share because I don’t think most people will understand. I haven’t told any of my friends or relatives on my side. I did tell his mother and father and his mother couldn’t keep it to herself so she told other relatives. However, I do lose my shit in the most inappropriate places and at the worst times! Today, for instance, at a medical appointment I started losing my shit and I almost told and over-shared but I stopped myself. Good thing I did because the tech saw my last name and told me she knew my sister-in-law (H’s sister)!
    It’s a small world and you never know who the hell you’re talking to.

  • Something else, too, about over-sharing.

    It may be an instinctive, subconscious urge to self-desensitize, to gradually come to grips. As unconscious emotional survival mechanism, if you will. Which may be why the need to over-share diminishes gradually over a period of time until it becomes more abbreviated sharing for a time….then very selective abbreviated sharing for a time…and finally no longer a need to share unless the sharing of your experience can benefit others. (And this last is what some of us are doing on here.)

    This time table will vary for different individuals, based on complexity, severity and duration of the personal trauma and the pre-existing personal tolerance for ambiguity and anxiety. We need to encourage people to work on adjusting and making progress; but there is no ironclad time table for, “moving on.”

    Part of PTSD therapy is to allow clients with this kind of psychiatric injury to tell their story over and over in a safe, controlled environment with an experienced trauma therapist present to help guide outcomes. It is based in the theory of systematic desensitization… repetitious, limited, incremental exposures to a traumatizing stimulus in order to help the client to learn to tolerate and then subsequently lose their anxiety.

    Everyone knows the classic example of a water phobia. First one is persuaded to just look at water until it no longer elicits the anxiety reaction. Next comes progressively getting nearer the water, then putting only the toe in, etc., etc., until over time he can go into the water. The therapist is present and “fades in and out” as support in each stage, and then finally “fades” the supports entirely as the client masters his anxiety. It can be long process, but can work.

    • That makes a lot of sense. Also explains why I’ve had three bouts — once after DDay, once after my wife ditched couples counselling, and recently as I’ve come really to accept that the only forward is to get out.

    • Notyou,

      I really needed this post of yours. When I see my counselor on Wednesday I will tell her that I fear she will get tired of treating me because I am not moving along fast enough. I know it seems crazy, I want her to know she’s helping me. I swear I am capable of learning, growing and changing, but right now it’s just so fucking hard.

      • “I will tell her that I fear she will get tired of treating me because I am not moving along fast enough..”

        Moving Liquid,

        Have you picked up on any kind of attitude like that on her part?
        OR is it possible abandonment issues and depression are coloring your perceptions?

        It’s her job to work with you at your speed, and to help you learn the skills to adjust your “speed,” as you regain emotional resiliency.

        She knows your diagnosis and is probably very aware of the depth, scope, and recent aggravation of your underlying insecurities.

        Make notes about just what you posted to me above, think about your feelings in light of both your diagnosis AND the exacerbating circumstances of the break up….then talk honestly about these things with her.

        Always be as honest as you know how (no matter how silly it might seem to you) with your counselor. If she’s been in the business for even a couple of years, you’re not going to shock her.

        .

    • notyou, can you become too desensitized, where you start to think that “maybe” things weren’t all that bad, but you rationally know that they were that damn bad.

      • DeeL, thank you for asking this question. I have been thinking about this very thing myself of late.

  • Here’s how I knew something horrible had happened to me: D-Day was a Friday. I had a regularly scheduled session with my therapist the following week. I didn’t just spill about the cheating–I spilled about things in my marriage to X (not the Jackass) that I had never told anyone. It was like finding out about the OW opened some sort of door inside me and all the secrets I was keeping just came pouring out. And while I try not to share with people who aren’t trustworthy (working on that picker) and I try not to overshare since I am now 6 months out, I’ve learned the difference between intimacy (two people sharing their lives deeply) and keeping secrets when shitty things are happening.

    • “I’ve learned the difference between intimacy (two people sharing their lives deeply) and keeping secrets when shitty things are happening.”

      This is so true!

      Notyou, I appreciate the info on overcoming phobia. I definitely developed a phobia about being around my ex after D-day. Just the thought of having to see him at an event still causes me nightmares, although the last time I had to be around him went okay. The anticipation of the event is usually worse than the event itself.

  • Married for twenty years, dated for five +, and telling meant honoring my truth. “The truth will set you free.” The day I learned of his affair was the day I became brutally honest about my marriage. I knew I could no longer spackle. The guy I married spent the last two years of our marriage destroying us and everything we had worked our lives for. And the next two playing every dirty trick in the book. His BEHAVIOR said all I needed to know. In twenty eight plus years I realized he had been doing this our entire relationship. So while he was busy fucking his racquetball whore he got an additional job at the family court the next county over so he could figure out exactly how to destroy me financially, left a two year old HIV test hidden amongst the paperwork for me to find, refinanced the house so he could pull out the equity and buy a lot of crap (a new vehicle, guns, travel…who knows what else), stole money from all our savings (kids’ college funds) and then walked out the door saying, “every thing in my life is perfect except for you”. (Project much?) this is the same man who ran away from everything hard, my son’s accident, deaths in the family, and this idiot gleefully walked out into his new life with OW# what the fuck ever.He stopped paying the mortgage one that he could easily afford and in the two years it took the local court to process the divorce and for the bank to foreclose on the house (and the twenty acres it sat on) he still managed to control his narrative. I called the cops when he vandalized the house and he was stuck having to discuss with the local authorities why it wasn’t his God given right to destroy a house he no longer owned. In less than two weeks now that same POS idiot will be attending our daughter’s graduation at UCSB surrounded by his POS family who care little about what really happened (cheating’s okay ya know) and no longer treat my children well except on these “big, all for show” occasions. I guess it makes it easier for him to get up in the morning and look at his ugly lying face. THIS still makes me mad. I think in telling my story over and over and over it gives the whole sordid tale less and less power over me. I can only control myself. It is not a reflection of me. I know shit happens, it just does. We have no control over crap. I think there are people who have morals, and there are people who don’t. I just happened to marry someone who didn’t. CL’s story about the little girl and cookies illustrate it best. One of these days when I have recovered from the financial nightmare his affair has caused me (and our children) and have reached meh I hope to be able to properly thank that OW for poaching that POS husband. I believe they “were meant for each other.” Lol. Some days though I am still troubled by how truly betrayed I feel.

  • Talking and oversharing is something that I can really relate to. Sometimes when I talk too much I feel embarrassed afterwards. Maybe its just a natural reaction to shit partners that cheated. No such thing as oversharing when you’re alone.Too bad you don’t get the same results.

  • WOW,
    once the gate opened the day our daughter was diagnosed with cancer one month after D’day, I overshared, and emotional vomit is a great description for it. I found myself abandoned by those who had jumped into my separation with STBX which I have come to understand says more about them then me. But I was in such a state that I physically felt like I was drowning. I had resolved in myself that my marriage was over but this as I have shared in other posts did not sit well with the minister of the church I was attending at the time and resulted in him verbally abusing me for stating my marriage was over and that in his opinion (clearly the only one that counts even now in his opinion) that I had “no right to say my marriage was over”. I struggled to understand how someone could behave in such a way and it really mucked with my thinking and so my oversharing included my husbands infidelity, my 9yr old having cancer and my minister yelling at me and stating I could only say my marriage is over when I have his permission. Yes to my regret some people as a result of my oversharing felt like they had gone three rounds with a prize fighter. And in the beginning their reactions to my tale helped me to measure if I had fully given into the grip of insanity, but by their response I was able to see that despite it all that I was ok. I was not wrong in my thinking, that my decision to end my marriage due to my husbands infidelity was an acceptable decision. That it is ok to loose our shit when told your Kid is seriously ill. No your minister has not right to yell at you let alone tell you you can’t make a decision about your own marriage.
    No you have not lost your mind you are ok! To see emotion register in the faces of those I shared with, that emotion that reflected my inner voice the thought that went through my head is ‘people wouldn’t say this person is crazy and they think the same as I do on these things so I can’t be crazy? Or that my thinking is “skewed” as it was once put to me by one of my elders after I stated that by their actions clearly they were more comfortable dealing with an actively gay man than me and my ill daughter.

    But over sharing for self preservation is very different to oversharing to gain sympathy.
    In the hours and days that followed our daughters diagnoses STBX overshared like it was an olympic event. Everyone on his FB, Twit account, Phone directory received a lengthy exaggerated and at times grossly incorrect account of our daughters illness and treatment. And I mean everyone. and then as days turned into weeks in the hospital and he went back to his single life except for the odd night he would stay at the hospital or the few minutes he would drop in at night which where hellish to deal with. People began to realize that there must be more to the information he had sent and so people began to message me directly. And I then realized he was out for an initial sympathy vote so depending on who they were they then had me share with them which often resulted in WTF no he had not told me that. Surprise! As to this day he is outraged that I have shared his shit my truth.

    ‘Those who listen and then have to fix it for you are not being friends — they’re pre-occupied with their own experience’. I read this today and now wonder if the people from my original church who felt the need to manage the issue of my husbands infidelity may have their own CHUMPINESS to deal with.

    Please keep sharing this is great therapy and much cheaper. With my daughter at the moment I a pretty house bound so love reading what every one posts. todays has been exceptional. thanks

    • Sammie – that you are expected to keep the secrets of someone who has certainly not kept yours is BS. Doubtless they talked about you to whomever they were cheating with – so you owe them nothing.
      Another way of putting it – fuck ’em.
      Same for your minister. Maybe I’m just in a mood but I was raised Catholic and while they take a dim view of divorce at the end of the day you alone are responsible for the decisions you make and the actions that you take. And actions have consequences.
      Take care of yourself and your family first. I hope that your daughter pulls through.
      And give my best to your minister.

  • Well, this post as usual is frighteningly timely. I have been a super-over-sharer. I told everyone and anyone after D-Day– friends, co-workers, neighbors, the lawn guy, our hairdresser– and continued to do since then when the topic arose. And doing so simply Saved. My. Life. many many times. The horror on the listener’s face, the shared stories, the support, were simply the things that kept me alive, let me know it was true when my mind was recoiling in disbelief, and ultimately allowed me to move on. I truly believe at times I got divinely inspired and divinely timed support because of it.

    But in incredible CL-perfect timing, I decided just yesterday (2 1/2 years post-divorce and 3 weeks before I am to be re-married) that I have had enough. I am done talking about my ex, wondering if he will ever make an effort to see or be a father to our children again (S25, D21, S14). HE WON ‘T. Besides committing incredible acts of deceit, and having abandoned me, he then abandoned his own children. I learned yesterday that ex has moved 6 hours and many states away to live with one of his APs, without even telling our children. He ferries around her children and assorted cousins, like a super-dad and super-guy, but does not speak to or have anything to do with his own beautiful children. And with that last thought, I said, I AM DONE. I have analyzed, agonized, dissected, studied, reasoned, intuited, and wondered long enough. I have tried to encourage him to see our children, facilitate meetings, begged him to go to counseling with them (he refused). This is the end of the story for him.

    I have asked myself how many times my mind can be blown before there are no bits left to be blown away, no pieces left to care or be hurt anymore. I nauseate myself with my stunned anger- okay, so I’ll never understand him but surely I understand enough to know he is not all there, is wired differently, and just does not care and never will.

    NO. MORE.

    So, oddly, but not so oddly, just yesterday, I decided I had my last conversation with anyone outside of this website about my ex. I have expressed my last bit of outrage and fury over his being a liar, cheater, and abandoner. Blahblahblah, that has most decidedly been established. I have discussed him for the last time. He is not just dead, he is a sperm donor who is dead. There is nothing to say–whether good, bad or indifferent about him (any such comment makes my children recoil with horror anyway)–and all my friends, companions, coworkers and members of the community know and despise him already, he is now an outcast from the community where he considered himself the golden child and star quarterback all grown up.

    Oh and yes, I am also no longer allowing myself to think and wonder about him, his AP’s, the betrayals. Been there done that too. Every time my mind goes there, I simply steer it away now. Nothing left to say, nothing more to think about. So buy-bye loser.

    • Proud of you, Kelly!! It is super hard work – but I am glad to hear of your resolve.

      Someone sd they saw this on FB – I am not on it – but it hit home for me: ‘When God closes a door…quit knocking on it.’

      It’s hard to give up the dream, and the hope that we can somehow find a way to make them different. True NC, in all of your parts. You deserve to embrace a life ahead completely without him. Good for you!

  • Hey, CL, another idea for a possible future column – when people cheat they don’t let their partner know the new arrangement in the marriage. Sometimes they are actively planning to get everything they can in a divorce. This is something I think is important to talk about.

  • I think one of the benfits of the oversharing I did was that it made me realize that what he had set up as ‘normal’ in our relationship was really outlandish. When I started talking, people started telling me what a selfish ass he was being. But he had normalized this response in me for YEARS and I didn’t see it – I couldn’t see it. I was quiet for a very long time, hid and protected him from HIS actions. I will never do that for anyone again. I was a sloppy, emotional mess, but I think being that way made me realize really how much he had gaslit me, lied to me, and altered my reality.

    I’m a smart, loving, and kind individual. I got some people that made me feel like I was stupid to fall for his shit (these would be the people he showed his true self to) and I got the complete opposite “omg – i can’t believe it” response from other people I poured my heart out to. Do I wish I could have been more in control of my emotions – hell yes! – but do I regret telling the people I told – no. I have weeded some really crappy people out and I’ve developed some great friendships that weren’t really at that level before all of this. I’m super thankful for that.

  • This and CL’s last post on oversharing has really lit a light bulb in my head. I have been really angry for about a month now, coinciding with the “anniversary” (hate to use that word) of my being dumped. Along with that, I’ve had a bunch of other things happen, such as (like CL has had) write a bunch of big checks for unexpected things, being sick for a month, being overworked, and the XW giving me “advice” in a similar tone and manner as she does the kids (which, come to think about it, is how she always gave me suggestions).

    As a manifestation of that anger, I have been posting here and on another site that I am a member of, things that I think fall under the category of “angry rants”. These haven’t been targeted at anyone, but blowing off a lot of steam, except for the fact that I have been getting angrier. In non-online life, I’ve found myself being short with people and not having as much patience as normal. I mean, I screamed for 20 minutes to no one in particular about how my XW’s cats make a mess of the house I no longer live in and how she never did her part to do housework, but she’ll move Earth and heaven to do something for the OM. I’ve pretty much been a really lousy person to be around.

    But, reading this post and the previous CL post on this topic, along with looking at what I posted over the past couple of weeks, I was laying in my bed last night thinking “WTF am I doing? Do I really want to become ‘that guy’?” What I mean by “that guy” is the guy who always has something negative to say when the topics of relationships, love, or marriage come up and never got past these bad things. I looked around and asked, “This apartment, this bed, nothing in here has been poisoned by her and the OM. Why am I letting myself still be poisoned by it? Do I want 40 or 50 more years of misery?” I woke up this morning feeling like I hit a real milestone in my recovery. My mind is a much clearer now than it has been recently, and I even posted on that other web site that I am done with the rants. Now I still don’t know about the future (dating, re-marriage, etc.), but I no longer feel like the entire world is out to get me as I have these past few weeks. I hope that continues.

    I hope this is a significant step in terms of getting closer to “meh”. I just continue to be thankful for this site and how willing people are to share their experiences.

    • “the XW giving me “advice” in a similar tone and manner as she does the kids (which, come to think about it, is how she always gave me suggestions)”

      Boy did that ring a bell. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling less angry. I’m still angry as hell, but not such a bad person to be around I hope. Can’t pretend I’m not short with people more than I should be, though. I am.

    • CW, after marriages of such length and so much history together I think we all have a right to be angry. It propels us forward. Is part of our grieving process. My anger got me moving. Just know there are good people in the world. Life is short so I admire those who are able to move on fairly quickly. I confess though, that has not been my story. I was stumbling forward for about two years. Thank God for my coworkers! Then was forced to relocate. I think where we are in life influences our healing as well. When my ex walked out my children were finishing up high school, looking at colleges to attend, (empty nest) and I was looking forward to spending time together though my career was really blowing up (in a good way 🙂 lol). I think our values dictate how we live and respond to challenges that come our way. In my experience I think Chumps handle things very well, and the same will be true for you. Move forward with the same dignity you own. And spilling your shit once in a while is not all bad. It’s one way to make friends.

      • “And spilling your shit once in a while is not all bad. It’s one way to make friends.”

        That’s what I’m hoping to work towards. Once in a while, but not too often.

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