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Dear Chump Lady, How do I get through today?

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Dear Chump Lady, 

My husband and I have been together for almost 6 years, married for about 2.5. For the last 3 months, we have been visiting a marriage counselor almost weekly, mostly to deal with some issues related to addiction and its aftermath. (He has been clean and sober for awhile, but it’s still a process). Other than this, things had been going pretty well.

We went to our counseling appointment yesterday. That’s when he dropped the bomb. He said that he needed to finally be honest, and that for our entire relationship, he had never been faithful. Countless one-night stands with girls he met online, affairs on almost every work trip, some as recently as 3 weeks ago. I sobbed until I thought I would suffocate on my own tears, he drove off into the sunset, and I drove straight over to my uncle’s law office to start the divorce process. By the time 9 pm rolled around, pretty much all of my family and friends knew, and the support I have received from them has been wonderful.

I woke up this morning and had almost forgotten. Then it hit me and now it’s fresh again. I walked around my house and took down my wedding photos and tried to hide anything that reminded me of him.

But I still love him. And that’s the worst. I wish I could hate him, and people have informed me I will get to that point. But I already miss him. I heard something funny on the radio this morning and my first thought was to text him, but I can’t. The loss I feel is overwhelming, and I know I’m going to be sad for a very long time and things will never be the same.

My friends tell me I’m smart for not hesitating with filing, although I would be lying if I said I haven’t second guessed myself at all. I am trying to go no contact because I don’t want to make a stupid decision in a moment of weakness. But it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Can anyone who has somehow dealt with this insurmountable loss help me? I just don’t even know how I’m going to make it through the next hour at this point, let alone the rest of my life. My heart is heavy with grief and I need reassurance that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

Sincerely,

Sleepless, but not in Seattle

Dear Sleepless,

You may not feel like it, but you’re mighty. You’re doing all the right things now. You’re telling people. You’re reaching out for support. You’re protecting yourself legally and financially by filing. And you’re grieving.

Do you know how many people get tripped up following through on any one of those things? Read here. Chumps can spend a lot of time in limbo, eating shit sandwiches, keeping secrets, and trying to love all the hurt away with a toxic partner. So give yourself some props, Sleepless. How are you going to make it through the rest of your life? With MIGHTINESS, because that’s how you’re dealing with the worst crisis of your life. Mightily.

It’s okay that you still love him. That’s totally normal. Chumps love with their whole hearts, they commit. There’s no shame in that. It takes a lot of grieving work before your heart catches up with your head on this. The important thing is to detach, even though you love. To pull yourself out of harm’s way. To love yourself more than this person who is willfully hurting you.

The crucial thing right now, to get through these awful days, is stick with no contact. The longer you maintain no contact, the stronger you’ll be. It’s like kicking a drug. You’re understandably vulnerable, so don’t subject yourself to his manipulation and your own second guessing when you’re with him. Just stay the course.

You’re going to cycle through the stages of grief. Staying no contact helps you skip the bargaining and denial stages of grief, which lie in your ear and say “maybe we can stay friends,” “maybe this was all a terrible misunderstanding,” and “maybe this can be salvaged if I just try harder.”

Embrace the anger stage, at least until you’re at a safe place divorced and out of danger. Anger will keep you lucid. Anger will kill the hopium. Anger forces you to look at his actions — a guy who cheated on you through the ENTIRETY of your relationship. He never entered into the sacrament of marriage, Sleepless. He’s a fraud.

And that’s part of getting to the other side too — realizing that the love you feel is for a figment. This man did not present his true self to you. If he had, I assume you would not have married him. (Hi! I’m a drunk and I fuck around indiscriminately! Marry me!) You loved a hologram. This is it’s own particular kind of mindfuck. It’s not the same for every chump — some people have some good faithful years to look back on, but others like you (and like me) married deeply disordered people who were NEVER faithful. You need to keep reminding yourself that by loving him, you’re essentially having an emotional hallucination. There isn’t a real person here to pin this “love” on.

And you’ll grieve that too.

What you hoped your life was going to be. Who you hoped he would be. And what that shared life together was going to look like.

But here’s the good news — YOU are real. You love. There are people who aren’t frauds and who will love you back. Invest in those people. I’m not just talking romantic relationships — I’m talking about ALL your relationships. Value substance over superficiality. Value actions over words. Give yourself to the people who bring out your best self, who show up, who challenge you, who love the things about you that you love, who GET you, who do empathy.

Your husband isn’t one of those people, and this cannot be a relationship of equals. You guys don’t share the same values. He’s never going to bring out your best self — if you took him back, you’d be a twitchy mess. He doesn’t show up — he’s been out fucking around for the duration of your relationship. He cannot challenge you, because he doesn’t respect you. He doesn’t live with even modest amounts of self-respect, being a liar, an addict, and a cheat. How could he ever honor you?

And you can never feel safe with this man because he lacks empathy. He put his addiction first, he lived a double life. He never “loved” you, because he doesn’t have the raw materials to love in a healthy way.

Some love isn’t a healthy kind of love. I’ve said this here before, but pedophiles “love” children. Alcoholics “love” vodka. Slave masters “love” their slaves. Abusive, paternalistic, addict love isn’t love — it’s some other weird shit. It’s power, fear, and loathing. It’s the toxic sludge at the bottom of a barrel of nuclear waste. It’s high fructose corn syrup (tastes great! totally natural! ignore the diabetes!)

It’s BAD.

You don’t have to hate this guy, but you need to recognize that he’s BAD for you, and act accordingly. Next you have to do the work on yourself — were you codependent? Did you accept lopsidedness? Did you stay in a relationship that didn’t reflect your core values?

Sleepless, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel — it’s a better life without this chaos and pain. The hurt is finite, but you’ll get to the other side. You’re on the right path, just ride out the grief. And welcome to Chump Nation.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Sleepless, do not second-guess your decision to divorce him. You are doing the right thing. I wasted years of my life trying to reconcile with my cheating husband. Instead of filing as soon as I found out about him, I tried to reconcile and we saw a marriage counselor. Things did not get better and I ended up filing for divorce anyway–almost 5 years later. Chumplady is right when she says you are in love with a figment. I kept hoping my h would be man and husband I needed him to be, but that never happened. I deeply regret not divorcing him as soon as I found out about him. You are doing the right thing. In time you will realize there is nothing in your husband to love. Hang in there.

    • Me, too, Sleepless. You are not alone in this. I was. I kept my XH first cheat a deep dark secret. We went to counseling. He never apologized, never felt the need. It was all about him. When the second cheat happened, I told everyone because it held ME accountable for my actions. And, even though I did that, I continued to do the “pick me” dance with him. Why? I didn’t want his sorry ass anymore, but I needed to know it wasn’t me, it was him. The man you think you love, doesn’t exist, never did. We have this image in our head of how they should be, but they aren’t capable. I wish I had done no contact from the first cheat. It would have saved me much wasted time. Don’t waste any more time on this cheater. You are doing the right thing. Hang in there and come back here daily for a daily dose of reality. Sometimes, we tend to let go of reality and slip back into “what if”. This place keeps that from happening. Hugs.

  • 10 years of marriage equals 10 years of cheating for me. Please be strong and know that you have support. It will get better. I am thankful that out of staying in a marriage with a cheater way too long I at least have a child I would never wish away. Otherwise, I wish I would have told him to get out within the first year of marriage. That is how long it took to find out.

    When I am alone and in pain, I have started reading Pinterest a lot. I like the fun quotes on cheating bastards. I like the quotes about hope. I like the inspirational quotes about moving forward. Whatever my mood dictates, I can find what I need. It is a small shot of energy at 2:00 am.

    • I have done the Pinterest thing too – after thinking I’d never use it – had no interest but i’d see cheater quotes from time to time that summed things up nicely and when for a while when I felt like I was going backwards I started collecting quotes there and it was great – got a lot out of my brain!

  • High fructose corn syrup gives you diabetes…Cheaters infect you with their lie-a-betes.
    Time for a cleanse, Sleepless. Stay strong. It might even get worse before it gets better. But it WILL GET BETTER!

  • Sleepless,

    I am so so sorry to hear your story. The shock and horror of learning about so much betrayal when I first went through it, I was sure would nearly kill me too. But here’s the good thing– it didn’t, and while in some ways the loss still stings even 4 years later, in many ways I’ve grown through the process. You will too.

    I also know the incredible pull that happens that makes you want to reconcile. I begged, pleaded, cried… you name it. And even when he claimed to be attempting reconciliation, it was all lies– and those subsequent betrayals were almost worse than the first if you can believe it. Like being kicked in the face while already bleeding on the floor. If I could go back and save myself that added pain of knowing what I learned the first time and still trying, I most definitely would. I know it’s hard, but if you can muster the strength to just fight that urge, you’ll really be better off for it.

    CL is right– unfortunately the odds of someone with dysfunctional behaviors over extended periods of time being able to change completely, are very very low. My X went years between addictive patterns, only for them to re-emerge in more hurtful new patterns down the line. You have much better odds of healing on your own, finding new healthy love in the future when and if you’re ready, and having a brighter future without him.

    (Big big Hugs) I know you may not be able to see it now, but this is really not a reflection of you in any way. It’s a reflection of his character and dysfunction

  • Dear Sleepless, CL, is as always, so right about this. Coming to this website will save you a lot of wasted effort, it has for me. This is a long, winding, painful process. All you can do is your best. You will more than likely have a few setbacks along the way, but you’ll stand up, shake yourself off, and get back on track. I’m sorry about the pain you’re feeling due to still loving the man who betrayed you. I’m in the same boat and I’m 9 months out, but I can assure you it’s less painful now than when it was fresh. We don’t have a button to turn off the emotions like they apparently do. Stand tall, take a deep breath, keep your loving family and friends close, get some individual counseling, and visit us at CL as often as you can. You’ll get through this and when you do, you will be an improved version of yourself.

  • I am so sorry. It is so hard when you are looking for that good person you thought you married and there is just no evidence of they ever having existed. The only way through the pain is to accept that not only are they gone, but they were never there in the first place i am so sorry.

  • Hi Sleepless,
    I’m so sorry for what you found out about your husband. I know first hand that information is a major blow to your reality. I have been married for 12 years to a “sex addict”. He first confessed when my daughter was 9 months old, again when she was 4, and then again 2 years ago which in total means he cheated on me for 10 years. I had a whole year and a half (maybe) that he was faithful. Since then we have been very estranged and separated for a year this month. I recently decided to divorce him. Not because of him but because I just can’t ever imagine getting over it. It’s been 2 years since the last discovery and I have been in pain pretty much the whole time. I wish I was more decisive years ago but as long as I got there is all that matters. The sooner you move on the sooner you can heal. Staying with them only is a constant reminder that you are not safe. It sucks. Hang in there and do your best to do things that are good for you whether you want to or not. Also read the 4 agreements. It’s a short but powerful book 🙂

  • My heart goes out to you. I wish we could talk in person!

    My husband walked out on me abruptly after two years of marriage. Actually, we did not quite hit two years– Our anniversary was a few days away, complete with a trip abroad and Christmas. He just walked out. No explanation.

    I found out on my own what he was doing. The months that ensued were just horrible. They say knowledge is power, but it also hurts. I never share my whole story. But I knew about her. I never said a damn thing to him. He was no longer privy to my thoughts and intentions. I had to look out for me because I knew somebody who was so heartless would also be ruthless. He did not let me down.

    So, having been there, you are still in shock. There is only one hour at a time. Protect yourself. Do not make any major decisions (except for filing for divorce– This man is harmful to you and you have to stop that). Do not engage with him; any communication should be brief and limited only for the intent of collecting information. Keep communication in writing if you can (emails, text, etc). Do not agree to anything. Do not sleep with him (that can negate charges of adultery). Remember silence is golden. This man is not your friend.

    As for you, find a good therapist. Surround yourself with friends and family, even if all you do as stare at a wall. Take really good care of yourself– Remember to eat a little or not too much, do not drink, get sleep, and sleep on any impulses you might have.

    Get all your information now. As time passes, you will have less access to it. Write and rewrite everything. Tell people. Your memory will fail you at times. I cannot remember several days of my life, they are total blanks, but I at least wrote everything down.

    Look out for yourself. Do what is best for you.

    There is a light at the end, but you don’t know when that end will come and unfortunately, nobody can answer that. I know. I asked everyone. You do not wake up one day and think, “Gee! All better!” But one day, it will be a day too good to feel bad or his name will be on the tip of your tongue and you momentarily draw a blank. That’s the start. Don’t rush that along– This is a really difficult and dark road, but if you lean into it, it will serve you well later on.

    • One more thing: You were really smart to file for divorce. I did not for several reasons, mostly strategic.

      Sometimes, I wish I would have slapped him with a suit. It would have given me at least some marginal legal protections that I needed later.

    • Dr. Chump – This is a great note! Really good information here – Sleepless – You really are amazing, you are doing all of the right things right off the bat – good for you! The only thing I will add to Dr. Chumps info. When you are faced with “I don’t know what to do!” Simply remain NO CONTACT and do nothing, and collect more data. As you collect information, the path will reveal itself.

      Oh, another note, my Ex is a “sex addict”. I found out he was getting sexual services in massage parlors for our entire 6 year marriage. After a lot of reseach and experience with this situation I believe “Sex Addiction” is a crock. What I DO believe tho, is that a man who has done what you have described is NOT going to stop. Please don’t go looking for hope. Let this disordered man go. You’re doing great!

  • Sleepless —
    I promise it will get better and you were right to file the moment you found out. I didn’t and wasted a lot of precious time coming to this decision. Surround yourself with people who love you. I could not have gotten through all this without my family and friends who went above and beyond in their efforts to help me. And the Serenity Prayer (google it) became my mantra on the nights I couldn’t get to sleep. I’m separated now and working on the divorce but my friends tell me I’m blooming despite all this grief. Keep coming back to this website, CL tells it like it is and the advice is sound. All the best to you!

  • OMG. My heart hurt really badly just reading this. I’m so, so sorry you are going through this!

    Keep reaching out to family. Keep crying and grieving. Grief passes, but only if you don’t try to stop it. It hurts like hell and makes you feel like you are dying, but you WILL stop crying at one point.

    Keep writing to us here, Sleepless. We understand! Chump Nation is here for you!

  • Sleepless,

    I am so very sorry, but echo ChumpLady – you are indeed MIGHTY.

    I too had an entire 10 year marraige that was all a lie. It is a completely overwhelming, especially in the beginning. But just like the line in “Sleepless in Seattle” – in the beginning, you just have to focus on breathing in and out – just surviving the minute, the hour, the day. But in time, you won’t have to remind yourself to breathe…it will get better.

    And even though he was a fraud – YOU were real. YOUR love was authentic and true. Don’t let his fake life change you – YOU lived a real life, and don’t let him make you regret your decision to commit. You don’t always have the ability to be suspicious of what you are incapable of. Normal, healthy people don’t live a complete fraud for years. These types are a special brand of crazy – and evil.

    I like ChumpLady’s hologram idea – I used to think of my ex as a character in a great movie. I’ve mentioned it here before. You get completely immersed in the movie; you settle into the theater seat and fall in love with the leading man’s character. But then the movie is over and the lights come on, and you realize that he’s not real – it was all just an act. You loved something that wasn’t real. So now your movie is over. He was just an act. But YOU were and always will be real.

    Hugs to you. You’ve come to the right place.

  • Sleepless, so sorry you are going through this. I’m about 11 months out from D-day, and I look back on those early weeks and months and I am amazed I survived.
    Here’s how I survived:
    – stay in touch with family and friends everyday, long talks or quick texts, either way.
    – get a good therapist
    – get some meds for anxiety and sleep
    – cry it out and stay with your anger
    – excercise HARD, as much as you can – it helps with the emotions
    – read Chumplady every day and know that you are not alone in this horrific grief, and that you will get through this and you will feel better!! It won’t stay like this forever.
    – breathe

    • Good idea. Walking and sitting outside by water helped in. It was about the only thing that felt soothing the first few months.

  • Sleepless, you are so mighty!

    I am 3 months out from the end of my 6 year relationship. I discovered it was all a lie too. No contact is vital. Everyday I feel better. When I see or hear something that reminds me of my ex or remember some aspect of him and the relationship I particularly loved, I remind myself of his depraved behavior.

    It will get better, some days will be worse than others, but it will get better.

    Sending you much love and kudos to your strength.

  • Wow, Sleepless! I’m so sorry for this. I imagine every one who posts here has their own story of the hell they have gone/are going through. Ugh.

    The quick things that come to mind that haven’t already been said:

    (1) Try whenever you can to do something you normally really enjoy, whenever possible, even if you aren’t feeling for it right then. For me, just making myself check out from my own misery say, when a friend suggested doing something – even if I wasn’t really up for it- was good. I would find myself enjoying things more than I had thought I would.

    (2) Surprisingly, my sister-in-law reminded me that if I was doing something that I normally really like doing, that it’s important to try to just stay in the moment as much as possible. Easier said than done but like everything else, it gets easier.

    (3) Try to remember the three C’s. You did not Cause this. You can’t Control it. You can’t Cure it.

    Again, all these are easier to say than to do, but they have all helped me and continue to do so. All the best. I’m new here, but I have a strong feeling that a lot of people on this board are going to be thinking about you tonight and wishing you well.

  • Sleepless,
    The other chumps have all given great tips.

    I cried like a wounded animal for the first few nights. The sound was from my gut and I didn’t know how to get through the minutes, much less days.
    I needed an over the counter sleep aid but that may not be for you.

    Don’t worry about the light at the end of the tunnel now. We all promise it is there but you can not see it yet no matter what.

    These first few weeks are about SURVIVAL and NO CONTACT.

    Of course you love him; your dream or hologram was shattered and that will take a long time to heal. Know you are doing the best thing for yourself and do not beat yourself up because your brain still wants to love him.

    When you cannot move, you have to break the thought cycle. do anything except think about the situation. Go for a walk or clean the house.

    Eat if you can, take a shower if you can, go to work, see a friend or do anything if you can. This is a minute by minute time of your life.

    If all else fails…hold an ice cube. Your brain can only focus on the ice cube.

    • I find this ice cube idea really intriguing. I wish I had known this for the awful post-dday weeks and months. I bet Chump Nation could create a great resource list of good list of things to do to survive the darkest days after dday…

  • Hi guys. This hasn’t been up very long, but I sent this email to Chump Lady last week and thought I would take a moment to check in. It has been exactly one week today, and I’m still functioning.

    The grief comes in spurts, and while the sense of imminent doom isn’t lingering as much, I still feel very, very sad. I am doing the best I can with no contact, and any business that I do need to take care of is directed through email or text and is short and to the point.

    Now I’m just trying to get my heart to catch up with my head. I know logically that he is sick in some way, and that even if he were to never be unfaithful again, which is unlikely, I would never be able to get past what had already been done.

    But it’s hard. As one would expect, he has been trying to appeal to my emotions. Apologizing, telling me he’s sick and I’m the only thing that can help him through this, telling me that he loves me and hates himself. Having to turn a cold shoulder to the person I shared my life with, and frankly, still love and miss, has proven to be the most challenging feat of my entire life. Nights are the hardest, and sometimes it takes every ounce of strength I have left to not call him or reply to his messages. I thought I would be married forever. I thought I would start a family soon. I always felt loved and cherished, and to now see that I was being manipulated is really messing with my self worth. I know that he’s still trying, and while I recognize it now for what it is, I would be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that’s trying to bargain with reason and just call him one more time…In the past, he was the one who held me at the end of a hard day, and now I feel empty knowing that this time he’s the reason for my misery.

    The papers will be done tomorrow and he has agreed to sign an affidavit so that everything can be filed at once, otherwise he will be served at the beginning of next week. Untangling yourself from someone else is challenging, and although his things are pretty much gone, there are still reminders of him and our life everywhere. I backed up wedding pictures on a flash drive and had it and everything wedding related put in a box and gave it to someone else to hold onto so that the masochist in me doesn’t dwell.

    Thank you all for your kindness. Thank you, Chump Lady, for posting this and responding to me both in private and on your website.

    Hopefully soon I will be able to see that you all were right and that the light is at the end of this tunnel.

    • Don’t let him appeal to your emotions. If he’s creeping in, shore up the boundaries of no contact. He’s hoovering you. http://www.outofthefog.net/CommonBehaviors/Hoovering.html

      Sleepless, my cheater ex was one of these never-was-faithful serial cheating frauds — it took some time but I had to realize that the relationship was ABUSIVE. Your husband (my ex) made unilateral decisions about your life and your health. Please get tested for STDs if you haven’t already.

      He’s NOT respecting your boundaries. People who are truly remorseful respect boundaries. The best thing he can do for you is sign those papers and get out of your life. Please don’t wait around or try to get an explanation off him. He can’t explain it, and if you have a moral compass you won’t be able to comprehend it. You don’t have the framework to understand something so narcissistic and hurtful, this kind of deception. Can Bernie Madoff explain himself, other than… I like money? Same deal here.

      NC. Stay NC.

      • Amen, amen, amen!!! Do not engage! Trust me, his true self will surface, he will become abusive, or worse, blame you & threaten self harm…which as a narc he will never do, he loves himself too much.

      • Tracy is exactly correct in her diagnosis and prescription. Listen to her wisdom and those of the nation who have gone before. Sleepless, I was married 39 years – I forgave from the get-go, blamed myself and thought I could “nice” someone into being a stand up guy – morally, the whole idea was incomprehensible that someone could be unkind, deliberately selfish, and bankrupt of character. And where did it get me? Divorced but now happy, devastated but hopeful, and delighted that I’ve met the most amazing grandfather of 3 who wants to be the best grandfigure he can be to my 4 granddaughters. An honest, funny, darling, gentle-MAN who “gets me” : )

        Why on God’s good earth would we want what we thought we had when it was nothing but a messy mirage? I’m sure that Tracy is totally correct when she states you wouldn’t have married him if you had known. So why stay stuck with that misery? Go be mighty for yourself. Respect, pleasant peace and happiness will follow.

    • Hi sleepless, listen to CL, stay NC. You said: “But it’s hard. As one would expect, he has been trying to appeal to my emotions. Apologizing, telling me he’s sick and I’m the only thing that can help him through this, telling me that he loves me and hates himself”

      Only he can help him himself get better. Beware threats to commit suicide, that is a huge flag of an abuser and he’s likely to pull it on you. If he does, warn him you are calling 911, he’ll back off quick, if not then do call 911. I’m betting his addiction lissue came to light very shortly after you were married. You helped him overcome it, or more likely manage it without consequences. That’s called enabling, I did that too, ex would get sober, then loose it, I forgive it and I “help” him stay sober, rinse and repeat. You stayed with him despite it. Why confess to cheating now? My guess is he thought you were going to find out and he hoped by telling you, he’d get your “help” for this problem too. My crystal ball says his next move is to tell you he’s in therapy for “sex addiction”, don’t let that suck you either. I repeat, only he can fix his mental health issues. You cannot.

      Jedi hugs Sleepless!

    • Hi Sleepless,

      Just been reading CL’s advice and CN comments on your question of 3 years ago. I’m pretty much where you were then with a ‘never, ever was faithful’ cheat for whole 8 years of our relationship and marriage. He was involved with around 6-8 casual OW by time of discovery, despite loads of attention from me, exciting sex life, successful business etc. I don’t know where he found the time! I so admire your strength in acting so quickly. Amazing! You’re a star. Such an example. Wish I’d been like you but forgave after he said just got “silly buzz” and was embarrassed. In truth he didn’t stop for a day just got a new phone number for them all.

      I just wondered how long it took you to get through it? I’m new to CL/CN and everyone has been amazing. As you, like CL, also had to face shock of not one memory to look back on when he wasn’t deceiving you, do you have any advice for those of us facing same? 🌷

  • Sleepless,
    As a wise person here once told me – you didn’t just lose your partner, you lost your best friend. I think that was one of the hardest things for me, after 13 years. Oh, and altho’ he got caught bigtime, I would NEVER have believed he had been doing this since day 1…except that he told me so. I cried, I mourned, I felt sorry and wanted to step into my codependent fix it role but Thank God I found this site. CL and Co. Were strong for me when I couldn’t be and now, a year and a half later I can honestly say that I am happier than I have been in many many years. My only responsibility is to me and my family and friends and life is SO so good. Hang in there, come to CL and know we understand! XO

  • Hi Sleepless,

    I really admire the clarity and maturity that you’ve already achieved. I spent 2 years keeping in contact with my STBX — begging, pleading, spending many a sleepless night trying to talk him into sanity. It was wasted time and extended pain. And the love hurt like hell — no way around that. But you are on the right track already. The pain is horrible, but finite.

    Be well,
    LilyBart

  • Sleepless – I agree with the others – you are, indeed, mighty for determining immediately what a deal-breaker this is for you and immediately filing. That takes a LOT of strength. I know when I filed, I was shaking so hard when I signed that you can’t even make out my signature. You’re holding your breath through the whole process wondering if you’re doing the right thing.

    I’m sure we can all relate to the emotions you are going through. Just, utterly sick for quite awhile. 9 months in and I’m still missing the ass – but now, suddenly, thanks to your post, I truly wonder if my stbx has been cheating on me all along. Everything was a sham. Took me 35 yrs to figure that out but, as they say, once a cheater….
    I’m sure this was NOT his first time even though I never in a million years thought he was that kind of person. What these past months have given me, with all the reflection on him, is seeing him for who he really is. A charmer, charismatic, controlling but always seemed to be in love with me, and only me. I don’t think, sorry – I KNOW that’s not the reality. I’m convinced he used me as an alibi for a lifestyle, career advancement and relationships that are what so many benefits of marriage provide.

    With this journey, hopefully, like me, you will come to see who this fraud was you married. And, so glad you got out early before any more time had passed. That’s what makes you mighty and, I’ll bet you a dime to a donut that he’s intimated by your quick action and the control you ‘seem’ to have by NC. That is powerful control!

    SO sorry you’re finding yourself here amongst us – there is great support, wisdom and resources to help you. Please keep us updated and I wish you luck going forward.

  • I really feel for you. The ex was an addict and a cheater who was stepping out on me from he start (with women he met online). He never apologized, said sorry (unless you count yelling) or showed any remorse, but he nonetheless seemed sincere in his desire to reconcile. I’m sure he was, in the moment, but could ever resist the next hookup if some skank said “ok”. Addicts are notoriously fickle, so follow everyone’s advice, and stay strong and stay gone. There is nothing in reconciliation but more misery, anguish and heartbreak. Addicts can not, do not, will not keep their word, because they don’t even know what their “word” is.

    It’s REALLY tough for a long time, and then you wake up one day and it starts hurting less and less, till one day the hurt is just over. Everyone that has made it back to “meh” is stronger and happier than they’ve ever been in their life. Keep the faith!

    • This is key: “I’m sure he was, in the moment,…”

      Promises seem to be for the moment ONLY. I heard, “I meant it when I said it” about our wedding vows.

  • Sleepless,

    My heart goes out to you also. Reading your letter brought back some memories of the intensity of grief I felt when the same happened to me. It was worse than a death I felt. I think of it now as an abyss I was in and then I thought I would never get out of it. I remember thinking how unfair life was, that I had lost my lover and there was no funeral – no commiseration, not the sort you’d get if you lost your partner through death.

    But I got through the abyss – it was a long arduous process and many times I thought I wouldn’t make it but I’m still here and life is good and getting better. I think one of the biggest losses for me was of my self-esteem and self-worth. I am still working on that but I am making great inroads and you will too. You will walk through this dark tunnel and you will emerge and your world will be filled with light and truth. Look after yourself and don’t be afraid of your own anger.

  • I’m sorry you are in this awful place but one year out, I can assure you that it does get better. The first months seem like a blur to me and I was devastated. I filed instantly too and was very glad I did seeing how he moved on to another source of narcissistic supply within weeks of us separating. It was painful but I took one day at a time and didn’t think too far into the future. I got a really good attorney and he took care of me and had my back. I reached out to friends and family for support and I said yes to dinners out, movies and any offers of kindness. I got a job and went on a holiday with friends. I put myself and my child first. And I learned the beautiful lesson of NC. It was not without set backs and difficult days, but I KNEW that there was no way that POS was going to destroy me.

    If you can get a good therapist, do so. Shop around and see who is a good fit. There are really excellent therapists around. And give yourself permission to grieve. It’s a loss and there’s no way around it. You’ll have tough days but eventually the good ones will out number the bad.

    A year later I still have tough moments and wonder what the hell??? But overall, my life is better, quieter without his drama and his drinking. I’ve met a nice man and we are dating – taking it slowly and he’s showing me patience and kindness. It’s a whole new world out there when you allow yourself to be surrounded by people’s kindness and goodness. And the healing comes from trusting that there are good people out there who aren’t perfect but who will not lie and cheat. In fact, there are a lot of good people who don’t do this and you won’t believe the good that will come from finding them. You are good, brave and mighty.

  • Sleepless, you may not feel it right now but in my book, you are mighty. Twenty + years of marriage for me and who knows how many affairs my ex had. I know of three but I can bet my life there were more. Feel the pain, Sleepless, it’s finite. You have no idea now right your decision is to file. Stick with it no matter how much your feelings may tell you otherwise. Feelings just are. Period. They are not the compass to which we make decisions that are smart for our well-being. Use reason. Cheating is a deal breaker. He WILL cheat again…and again…and again… unless he undergoes a supernatural healing. (He won’t.) You will get through this even on days that you feel you won’t. Put one foot in front of the other if that’s what it takes. It will take time. I will not sugar coat it but going back to him will east the pain – but only temporarily. And then when his cheating resumes (it will, trust me), the pain will be tenfold. Cherish and love yourself enough to know you deserve so much better. Is he sorry? Maybe but it is NOT sustainable. He is sorry until the next opportunity comes along. He is abusing you and it will only stop when you say stop.

    We’re here for you. Stay mighty and listen to your gut.

    • So true….the only thing more devastating that the first Dday is the 2nd….3rd…..6th…..however many it took some of us to get it through our thick skulls.

      How I wish I had been mightier. I knew deep-down he would never change….it was just stupid hopium.

      Keep on being mighty!

    • Ah, this points out a big difference between how chumps think and how cheaters think:
      “Feelings just are. Period. They are not the compass to which we make decisions that are smart for our well-being. Use reason.”

      My ex made all his choices to follow the feelings of infatuation and excitement he had for the OW.

  • Sleepless…sending you positive thoughts and a great big hug. I don’t have anything to add except that I would encourage you to take the advice of all the folks who posted above. We have all walked the path that you currently find yourself on and each and every one of us can understand the devastation you are experiencing. Stay strong, do what needs to be done to protect yourself and never, ever look back. You can do this…I promise!!

  • Dear Sleepless,

    Your letter brought me back to some of the darkest days of my life.
    I am grateful that you wrote and CL posted it, because now I can see how much brighter my life has become. I’m here to tell you, yours will too.

    I was married to an alcoholic, addict, cheater whom I adored with all my heart. He was my favorite person in the world. He was the full package of wit, brains, looks, and good humor. That package also included lieslieslies, cheating, stealing, and subtle put-downs that I wasn’t even aware of until long after he was gone.

    I believe the addiction and cheating all stem from the same internal source, and I also believe that until he really does the deep, difficult work required to excavate the darkness in his soul, the yucky stuff will keep coming up. I truly applaud your decision to remove yourself from what would very likely be a continuing cycle of pain, chaos, and destruction. I wish I exited the cycle sooner, instead I ended up older, having sacrifed my ability to become a mother because I spent my prime fertile years with this man, and hoping he’d be better.

    I encourage you to train yourself how to stay in the present moment. I had to say out loud “right here, right now, I am safe and OK.” The past is gone and the future will sort itself out. I think you’ll need to review the past to learn how to avoid a similar relationship in the future. Al Anon and guided imagery/meditation were very helpful for me to learn how to stay in the moment, especially during the days I wasn’t sure I’d survive – I could easily go on a trip to the future that had me dying alone, surrounded by numerous cats.

    Ending my marriage was something I never wanted to have to do. I was abandoned, hurt, traumatized, and I had to conquer my addiction to that adored man. I tried to be objective and just look at the facts of all the harms he inflicted on me. I will never know if he ever loved me, or if it was a mirage.

    It is so hard. I hope your pain eases soon.

    • I too can go to the fearful place of ‘dying alone with cats’, but then I remind myself that if it’s between the cats or my ex – I’d take the cats a thousand times over! They don’t lie!

      • Wow! I had that same vision of the future alone with tons of cats! The only difference is that I saw myself also as a bag lady pushing an old grocery cart around and just about as crazy as a loon! Sometimes I still see this vision….but I’m still working on being mighty. I know I’ll get there but you already are! Big hugs to you.

    • Beautifully worded Doop. I also remember spending a lot of time trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t after my ex left. I would look at gifts he gave me and try to figure out whether he loved me or had stopped loving me when he gave them to me. Luckily I eventually decided that the only thing that mattered was that I know what I felt was real. I’ll never really know what was going on in his mind.

    • I so relate to your story Doop- including the part about giving child-bearing years to your overly adored x… and now facing the uncertainty of how how or if I will ever get that opportunity to have children again. This is the primary of many reasons I wish I walked out years ago when the first red flags started appearing

    • RJam & CTTE: The cats speak the truth. And bright days are ahead, not bag lady days!
      Lyn – I like the conclusion you reached, “I know what I felt was real” – I think that might be the answer I get to as well. And MKISD – I hate how many of us are there with the squandered wombs. At least we know we won’t ever get to the place again where we pay no attention to the red flags wafting in the breeze…let’s be like the bulls and charge at them. Ole!

      • Yep, squandered womb. Not knowing if I was ever really loved, or if he even believed he loved me. Knowing I’ll never know.

        MY feelings were real. MY commitment was real.

        “Right here, right now, I am okay and I am safe. The future will sort itself out.”

  • Sleepless, for the first time in a long time I am again brought to tears over a CL post. I know where you are and I know how bleak it seems. With my ex, after seven months of D-days, false reconciliation, gas lighting, etc, my husband left me with our 16 month old. Two montgs after that, my best friend sat me down, got me drunk, and told me that she too had slept with my husband (before we were married) and had heard rumors about him cheating with other friends of ours. I thought I had been through the worst of it – but THAT was the worst day of my life. Finding out that I had been so fooled, that there never actually was a happy time, gave me the worst pain. BUT – IT SET ME FREE! I was so convinced he left because I wasn’t good enough, I failed as a wife. This knowledge of his REAL self eventually let me see that he is evil. That is who he is. This had nothing to do with me and he will do it again.

    I am so sorry that you have to go through this because its awful. It fucking sucks. You are doing the right thing – 100%. Stay strong in no contact. Believe when he says he wants you back, that what he really wants back is his thin veneer of normalcy that your relationship provided. He doesnt want to appear as the bad guy. Thats it.

    I am almost a year from that day and I am soooooo kuch better. I thought I would die from the pain, from the dehydration of crying all night, from losing the life I thought I was getting. I have much better people around me, much better support. Things aren’t perfect, but we are happy. I sleep again, I eat again, my kid is happy. You will be ok. You will thrive. As others have said, you are crazy MIGHTY! stay the course, it’s so much better on the other side. And giant hugs to you 🙂

  • Sleepless, I so understand the almost unbelievable pull to look to the person who just cut your heart out for comfort. What you are going through is normal. One thing that helped me was to have a friend who told me to call her any time I felt the overwhelming desire to contact my ex. It’s like trying to break an addiction. It does get better but the shock and disbelief takes a long time to work through. My heart goes out to you!

    • The pull is just so strong, isn’t it? I do think the parallels to addiction seem to be the best comparison (from what I understand of addiction). I too relied on friends and reached out to them when I wanted to contact my ex. When I wanted to tell him my news, I stopped myself and thought, Okay, who else can I share this with? And then I would write a real friend instead of my ex.

  • sleepless,

    Do not try to rewrite your marital history into something ‘good’ or salvageable. It wasn’t good. Your H was a fake and a fraud. He tricked you into believing you had a ‘husband’ and a ‘marriage’…for YEARS. He took advantage of your love, your trust, and your good nature…leveraging these things for his own gain and self-gratification. Your marriage was a string of his self-serving, self-indulgent hidden agendas in which you played a peripheral and supporting role. Squash any thought or impulse to break NC by reminding yourself that your relationship moving forward, IF you were to take him back, would be riddled with distrust so severely that when his mouth would move, you’d second guess everything coming out of it…is it truth or another lie? And I mean everything. You’d question every ‘action’….is it real or just more manipulation? Looking at him…being with him…would be the worst trigger to keeping all the mental images and mind moves of what he did to you behind your back with all those other women so fresh that the pain will always feel raw and intense. Your healing would slow down to a grinding halt if you took him back because there would inevitably be NEW hurts at his hands. It’s unthinkable, but he would re-injure you. Possibly even worse pain than being blind-sided with discovering years of infidelities. I thought I could die from the intensity of the pain of discovering my H’s 10 year deeply emotional and physical A with a co-worker (“his soul mate; his one true love; the one who forever holds the key to his heart”). But, honestly, that was nothing compared to his utter lack of empathy during the after math of d-day. The most painful experience of my life was the ways in which he mismanaged the days, weeks, months, and even years after d-day. I hate to say this and I apologize if it hurts to hear, but not having children is a gift in all this. You can truly and completely extricate your H and all his bullsh*t from your life. Cause that’s all it is: bullsh*t. I know 6 years feels like a long time and an insurmountable loss to overcome, but 6 years of a 70…80…90…year lifetime is nothing. A future relationship with a good man could potentially last magnitudes longer. As time goes by, those 6 yrs will just become a blip on the screen of your life. I am so sorry for your shock, confusion, pain, and loss. You will hurt for a long time. But, you are on a path of healing. And, the further out and away you get from your H, the better. Again, I am so sorry. Hugs (((((sleepless))))

  • Sleepless, I share with you my mother’s wisdom.

    I recently informed STBX that he’s a STBX. We have been married 17 years. He’s been part of my life for over 25. I let my mother know he’s a cheater, and she has been wonderfully supportive. Also very angry.

    Anyway, we talked today. I have known longer than they have, and while it is a relief for me to talk to someone, they still need to process it all. Here’s today’s conversation:

    Mom: Once he is gone, there will be a hole.
    Me: Well, it’s been 17 years of marriage, over a quarter of a century being together. Of course I will miss him.
    Mom: I mean, you’ll miss him. It’s like a boil. You’ll lance it. There will be a hole, and then you’ll start to heal and feel better.

    Sleepless, you’ve lanced the boil.

  • Run, do not walk, away from him. Seriously. You think that is rash or ludicrous or crazy right now, but trust me and everyone here who is at some stage of healing: THE PAIN DOES STOP.

    And pain it is. It feels as if your soul is dying. For my fellow Harry Potter fans, it is the equivalent of a Dementor’s Kiss.

    (Yes, I’m over 30, and like Harry Potter. Don’t judge…)

    Not a HP fan, imagine it like this:

    As trite as it sounds, it really is like ripping off a bandaid. Exponentially to infinity. You know it’s going to hurt. But the alternative is slow and brutal.

    As much as this hurts, do you *really* want to live through D-Day #2, or 3, or 37?…

    I know you’re skeptical and uncertain, but back to the bandaid analogy–You rip it off fast, and you may pull out some hairs. But you don’t miss them, and new hairs replace them eventually.

    You rip it off slowly, you still pull out hairs.

    Your doubts about whether to stay or go are the hairs. You’re gonna have them either way. It’s just a question of how much pain are you willing to endure.

    You’ll always have doubts, but wouldn’t you rather have doubts about things like “do I buy this dress if I don’t try it on with my Spanx first,”

    Or

    Do you want to question whether or not the person to whom you are most vulnerable in every aspect of life will hurt you again?

    He’s already proven he can and will. Leave his ass.

      • Harry Potter? What’s Not To Love? My kids and I (they are early twenties, me late 40’s 🙂 lol) grew up with Harry. The midnight book releases, the countdown to each movie. Good vs Evil. Love vs Hate. Characters to love, characters to hate. Noble gestures. That whole series was beautiful. Authors really do live forever.

        • I love Harry Potter, and have found great solace in JK Rowling’s story too. Single mother etc etc. “Hitting rock bottom makes for a solid foundation from which to rebuild your life”.

        • And her Cormoran Strike character (under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym) deals with a narcissistic X through the first two books, though we never see her. Rowling understands character disorder and psychopathy.

    • Yep, right in the early days a friend told me that I had the quick rip off the band-aid version. And he reassured me that it might hurt like hell, that he felt it was better because I would heal quicker (in the grand scheme of things). A year out, and my experience supports his theory.

      Hang in there Sleepless. I so feel for you and your pain.

      But you are making strong, smart steps, and you will be okay. You will come out on the other side and be stronger and happier when all is said and done.

  • You have already showed your mightiness Sleepless. It does take a lot of strength to follow through with the actions you took, and all in the same day it sounds like! It’s okay to grieve your losses, the dreams and realities that are no longer. Grieve however you need to, whether it be crying hard, yelling at the picture on the wall for being crooked, smashing your wedding china on the sidewalk, running out your anger, punching your pillow, setting fire to pictures of him that you find (just make sure the flames are gone before you put them in the trash 😉 ). Find your healthy medium that that works for you and express it. It’s likely others around you won’t understand your grieving process, your style and/or will try to put a timeline onto when they think you should be “all cried out.” Don’t let them cramp your style and take as much time as you need. (((HUGS)))

  • Sleepless, my heart hurts for you. You will find a lot of loving support here from so many of us. As painful as this is, understand that you are in love with who you *thought* he was. And that’s ok. Like others have said, you loved. You loved with all your heart, honestly and completely loved him. There’s no shame in that. Know now that he has shown you who he really is, and you need to believe that. The pain comes from knowing you were hoodwinked- tricked into believing he was something he’s not. He won’t change because he can’t change. He’s disordered, sick. Continue to take steps to protect yourself. As others have said, he’s not your friend. True friends don’t do these kinds of things to friends. Take time to grieve. After all, this is a significant loss. Not him- he’s not the loss. Your loss is in what you believed to be true about your life. Your family sounds wonderful and you should keep leaning on them. A crisis plan of sorts helped me- write down things you’ll do, people you’ll call, etc, when you are feeling low. This will help keep you in NC with him. Soldier on- you’re mighty!

  • Sleepless,
    All I can say is you will get though many days. Why? Because you immediately knew what to do for you, get a divorce and go no contact. You have become your own amazing protector. That is the first step to recovering from this nightmare!

    Congrats for taking care of and protecting yourself, that is a huge positive step.

    Don’t go too hard on yourself or try and speed up the recovery too fast. I did that so much in the beginning as I just kept telling myself don’t waste a moment on that low life, he is not worth a second of your thoughts. Although that is and was true at the time, I had to take the time to get through it and feel the emotions as they came rather than push them down or try and speed them up. Also I was very unforgiving of myself for making such a bad mistake. I learned to ease up on myself and forgive myself for making such a bad mistake as I learned so much from it.

    You are on the right track. It sucks but in time it will turn from Suck to your feeling great about yourself again and truly being happy that you removed this sicko psycho from your life. At some point you will realize there is nothing to miss, he is a pathetic excuse for a human being and a very weak man with nothing good going for him. You on the other hand are smart and strong.

    Hang in there and come here often to re-enforce the truth at times when you feel really badly. There couldn’t be a better group of people to have your back than this one.

    Those of us who are now further out will never forget where you are now and how much that hurt. I know for me, I went right back to my beginning when I read your post. We all know that unbearable pain unfortunately and we all also know the joy that comes after getting through the pain.

    Please know that you will get there in time and that you are already on the road to getting there.

    Sending you love and hugs and comfort in knowing YOU ARE SO NOT ALONE in this!!!

  • Oh, I have been almost where you are, though the marriage vow breaking makes it bewilderingly hard. You must find your reality; that you were good, that he was not. That you tried and gave, and that he was a narcissist coward (plenty of literature on that subject.) Your only fault was trying therapy, doing all the work, when he wasn’t worth a moment of effort. You will feel strong and vindicated with the support of friends and strangers. The protective psychological veil will fall away and you will punish yourself and mourn the lost years. You will mourn, you will see how NOT-special he is, you will suffer the effects of PTSD and be trust’s greatest skeptic. You will obsessively replay all the difficult moments in your relationship, and the good moments will frustrate the hell out of you, because they meant something that now means lies and betrayal. Continue with your therapist and be good to yourself. You aren’t alone!

  • Dear Sleepless:
    Right now you are experiencing debilatating grief. Let yourself feel the pain. It hurts because you cared. You invested.
    Listen to ChumpNation: the pain is finite. And with time, it will get easier. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour if need be.
    Take care of yourself and let your family and friends love you. Get a good therapist and let yourself cry…it’s ok. Post here when you need to. We all understand. And you will soon discover an inner strength you never knew you had.
    Try not to waste time trying to understand him because you never will. Instead, concentrate on healing yourself. Soon, you will find your footing and more importantly, yourself.
    Sending love and prayers, nmc

    • “Try not to waste time trying to understand him because you never will. Instead, concentrate on healing yourself. Soon, you will find your footing and more importantly, yourself.”

      This advice is so true.

  • This is such a hard time, and I am sorry to hear that you have to go through it.

    I am 2 years out of my marriage and can tell you that life has not been this good for a very long time. There are still challenges. Some remnants of the hurt crop up occasionally as my ex and I have a child together (and therefore can’t avoid eachother entirely).

    For the time being you can try and break your time down a bit by focusing on getting through the next hour, and then the next one, and then the next one. I know this sounds lame, but you can also congratulate yourself a little bit at the end of each hour for making it one step closer to feeling better. Finding a good online forum was very helpful to me. DailyStrength has a few relevant ones. Also search for “Getting Past Your Breakup” as there’s another great forum there. I read “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing” by Susan Anderson and found it validating and helpful. I also booked weekly therapy appointments for myself.

    One thing I did in the early days was sleep on the couch with my laptop, reading about other people’s experiences with infidelity and broken marriages. This helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. I also learned as much as I could about personality disorders (NPD in particular).

    I started a journal and wrote in it daily. This was good because I could write whatever I wanted, knowing nobody would ever read it. Good for getting in touch with anger. I also did a lot of physical exercise (really had to force myself to do this, as my body just wanted to lie on the couch). I let myself get angry when exercising (e.g. hitting a punching bag or lifting weights). This let me get angry without inflicting my feelings on anyone else.

    People will tell you to be kind to yourself. It sounds like trite bullshit, but I think it works. I did stuff like having a long bath after work, with some candles and some of my favourite podcasts.

    Sometimes I listened to triggering songs because I wanted to cry but was having difficulty getting there. Sometimes I cried so much it felt like I couldn’t stop. I feel like this was a good thing to do. I am not somebody who cries very easily.

    Another thing that helped me was writing daily gratitude lists. I thought this was bullshit until I was desperate enough to give it a try. Early on it was hard to find anything beyond “Had a good coffee today”, “Went to the gym” or “I still have a job”. It helped me to understand that my whole world had not ended.

    Stick with no contact – it works.

    Whatever you do, do not go back to this man. In my view, reconciliation is a pathway to a life of second-guessing and a nagging sense of mistrust that never leaves. You can rebuild your life and it will be far better than it was during your marriage.

    • It’s interesting to read what people did to get themselves through the worst part of the pain. A couple of other things I just remembered I did:

      1. Every time I wanted to contact my ex I would ask myself “is this something that will help me or hurt me?” Every time my answer was “hurt me,” so I wouldn’t do it. This was the beginning of learning to protect myself.

      2. I reverted to an old trick I used on my kids when they were little. Whenever I had a good day, I’d draw a smiley face on my calendar. Then when I was having a bad day, I could look back and see that there were good days in the past and think about the fact that good days would come in the future. As the weeks went by, there got to be more smiley faces on the calendar which was encouraging. Some days I even drew half a smiley face if just part of the day was good. LOL. It sounds juvenile but it helped!

      • I love the inquiry – will this hurt or help me? (Autocorrect just changed that to “will this hurt or help meh” — also good!)

    • Kendoll – this is such a great summary. I think you and I followed very similar play books for healing. It’s a blessing of our era that we have so many resources available.

      • Kendoll – lying on the couch with my laptop, reading your experience. Trying to get through another minute, hour, day. Thank you for sharing, it helps to know I am not alone.

  • First things first.

    CL, You are FUCKING Awesome. See, I can use that word in a positive way. 😉 This post here is a brilliant piece of work and it is why I keep coming back. “Two Thumbs Up! ***** Five stars 🙂 Are blogs given awards? I can see again why I am so thankful I discovered your Blog. Easily the BEST piece of writing today!

    Sleepless, Do Not Go Gently…. A toast to you, this post is beautiful. I can’t tell you how much this blog means to me. It set me free. Be kind to yourself and know there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Sleepless,

    Hi I am so glad you left that therapist office and went straight to file, good for you. Of course you love your husband, you thought you were dealing with substance issues and this bomb is dropped on you. This is all news to you that this was going on in your marriage, you walked into the appointment thinking one thing and then heard another.

    My husband who cheated is an alcoholic, and believe me, you actually have been given a blessing that this happened and you filed. You would have had years of enduring his on and off spells and spiraling of getting worse, it only gets worse.

    You are going to feel raw and this is going to feel fresh for awhile, you may wake up very sad, it is the way the mind works making sense of this. It is trying to rationalize this, and you will think about this over and over for awhile.

    Maybe when it gets hard to stay in nc, remember how he had one night stands quite a bit and put your life in jeopardy. You weren’t considered at all, you were there trusting and loving him and thought you had a husband who was being a good husband. Remember that, and don’t contact him, he has made it very clear what he thinks of you, he has used you for 6 years.

    I’m sorry, and you are very strong.

  • If the urge is really strong to contact him, have a notebook you write in and write out what you were doing to make you want to contact him, and then write out several reasons as to why you want to contact him, why it is necessary, and then write out all of what he has done to you, and then write out why you still want to contact him, and then write out positive things about yourself, and then write out why it would be beneficial to you not to contact him.

    Remember he didn’t consider you at all when he did this, do not contact him.

  • ” I wasted years of my life trying to reconcile with my cheating husband. Instead of filing as soon as I found out about him, I tried to reconcile and we saw a marriage counselor. Things did not get better and I ended up filing for divorce anyway–almost 5 years later. Chumplady is right when she says you are in love with a figment. I kept hoping my h would be man and husband I needed him to be, but that never happened.” –

    What Supreme Chump says, word for word. Word for word.

  • Sleepless-

    I am so sorry for your loss. We hear that when people close to us die and you are experiencing a death of sorts. The image of the man you thought you were married to is dead. Once the illusion is shattered, I think that’s when the grief really sets in.

    I am also in awe of your mightiness. I stayed in false reconciliation for three years and it got me nothing but more pain and grief. I was so indecisive and co-dependent that it is scary to me.

    In total I was with my ex for 27 years. After 8 months of not being together and 7 months of no contact there are days that I still miss him. Fortunately our children are adults so my contact with him has been very limited and only in emails. No contact definitely makes it easier.

    It’s hard to turn away completely from the person that you’ve spent so much time with but I promise it gets easier with time. Hang in there and visit this site often. You’re ahead of the game because you have respected your deal breakers. Hold on to that when you’re feeling really low.

  • I’m sorry you had to join the club. You are doing the right things. I’m also happy that you have a strong, local network of family and friends who are supporting you. Stay true to you and move on. Your spouse’s crazy is not your burden. Grieve the death of your marriage and the man you THOUGHT you knew.

  • You are now at the lowest point you will ever be. It is a long road ahead and the pain comes back a number of times. We all have been there and thank goodness it gets better. You have just been so absolutely screwed, rejected and lied to by the one you should have trusted and loved the most. This is trauma, plain and simple, leaving you to try to glue together a marriage history that was not what you thought it was.

    Huge amount of respect to you for moving on to a lawyer despite the devastation, this means you are going to survive. When my mom told me I’d be better off in the long run at that low point, I half believed her. She turned out to be 100% correct. Strength to you.

  • Sleepless,
    I know you are going through a horrendous time right now, and I don’t have any additional advice to add to the great stuff already said. But I wanted to reply to you anyway, because I am flabbergasted by your inner strength. Mightiness is not always so quick to come by and yet you immediately pushed forward and kept moving. My bet will always be on your horse for the win!

  • A couple of days before he moved out, my lying sneaking hooker visiting cheater said “I still want us to be friends.”

    To which I replied, “I’m not friends with people who lie to me.”

    And so began no contact. I’m at almost 60 days and feel like a new person. It really was “leave a cheater, gain a life” for me.

    I will never put up with lying or cheating ever again. I would rather be alone and happy than be miserable and full of anxiety with no-self esteem with a liar and/or a cheater.

    You are amazing. Hang it there. I promise it does get better. No contact is the best way to restore your sanity.

  • Sleepless,

    We know how you feel. All of us at Chump Nation have had our discovery days and we know it brings a shock to the system along with profound sadness and mourning that you have probably never felt before. Your best friend is no longer your best friend, but your worst enemy. You must not trust his words, his pleas to be understood, or his sniffling and tears. He has hurt you with intention and has planned every move, every lie, every excuse to give you in order to get his ego kibbles. You have to get hit with the 2X4 sometimes in order to realize that this man did not keep his promises to love, cherish, and honor you EVER. I went for a run this morning because today I felt angry at my STBXH. I filed 3 weeks after discovery day and like you, I told everyone in my family. This was probably a subconscious move because I knew my family would never let me go back to someone like that. During my run, I started remembering that time he didn’t come home because he said he “slept in his car and was too drunk to drive home” and that time he got a weird phone call at 9 pm from a “girl he was trying to help plan a party with”. I thought about all the times that he said he was going to play golf and it lasted almost 8 hours. I thought about the time that I tried to come on to him in our bed and he was reluctant to kiss me. I think now because he didn’t wash up after having sex with one of his girlfriends. I remember he smelled different that night. It all made me furious that I was played for all these years. I’m a good person and I deserve so much better. I know you are a good person too with a loving and supportive family. Girlfriend, we have to come to terms that we were a front of normalcy for these con men while they continued to do their deviant behaviors. We have to accept that we were used and abused for a period of time. We also can accept that we refuse to be part of it and that the cheater is out of our lives for good. The pains are horrible and devastating. My advice to you is keep talking to you family and friends, pray if you are religious, read all of CL blogs from the beginning to present, research personality disorders and codependency, eat, drink, sleep, and exercise. Hugs to you!

  • Sleepless, just make it through the next hour, the next day, try not to think too far ahead. I have been there, I had to remind myself to breath, even thought I could just forget to breath because surely pain that bad would kill me. But it didn’t and every day that I woke up and thought I can’t do this one more day; I did and it’s now over 3 years and I have never been more at peace, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    I have been where you are and was not as strong as you, I succumbed to the love bombing, even though my gut was telling me to run I lied to myself and chose to believe his lies. I went back and spent another two years with him being told I had to forgive and forget, that my suspicions were driving a wedge between us. “If I trusted him he would be faithful.” or “Your suspicions are forcing me to look elsewhere.” By the I did leave I was so shattered I am amazed I was able to recover, and then discovered all my suspicions hadn’t come close to the depravity he was capable of. He had 3 of us going at the same time for the whole 2 years.
    Listen to your gut. It is ok to still love him as long as you understand you can not fix him. If he knows he has a problem then he needs to fix himself, he is just trying to guilt you into coming back and if you did he will take it as “Well I got away with that, what else can I get away with?”
    Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to grieve, you are doing everything right, stay the course, stay no contact. You can do this! To go back would only be prolonging the inevitable. Yes it hurts, life really sucks sometimes, you have no idea what the future holds but I can guarantee you if you go back you will be going back to more heart ache.
    Big hugs to you. We never know how strong we are until we get through a tough time and look back.

    • “We never know how strong we are until we get through a tough time and look back.” So true. When my world came crashing down I gave myself time to mend. I spent those first few years doing things to balance myself out, I was thousands of miles away from family but I loved my home and work. I spent hours swimming in the lake nearby and then walked nearly every day. I spent time outdoors and with people who loved me. My coworkers were all in their late twenties and early thirties and they just insisted we travel. Tahoe, Reno, we had the best times together. I also listened to music, everything. Lilly Allen, Paolo Nutini, Patty Griffin (Peter Pan). I spent time with my children but worked on having a better relationship, they were devastated too. Ido things now that please me. One of these days I will build another house and it will be my home. I never had a home with my cheater. You can’t build a foundation on lies. Yes, mighty bodes well for a great future.

      • Wow Drew your line “One of these days I will build another house and it will be my home. I never had a home with my cheater because You cant build a foundation on lies. ” This could be why since I moved back into “our old house” after 4 months when I found out that I cant seem to make it my own. 🙁 My grandson was sleeping over last night and I told my daughter I think I may have to move. I have been with my X 34 years and my grandson who just turned 7 said Grandma make sure the next place is a place YOU want!!!!!!!! And my daughter and I just looked at each other and thought WTF where is this coming from ……. out of the mouths of babes 🙂 Hugs to everyone its only 4 months for me but I havent found the light but I think maybe just maybe I can find the tunnel xxxxxxxxx

    • It took me a while to stop loving my ex. I also think that is okay. But I knew that I did not want to get back together with him. (Of course, I never got that opportunity, so I never had to be tested on that, thankfully.)

  • Sleepless, first, it’s amazing to me that you go blindsided the way you did and you still were strong and coherent enough to know you had to tell people and to file for divorce.

    I wan’t married to the cheater who devastated my life, but we had a 30+ year friendship and finding out that he was a “hologram,” a con artist, a fraud. A narcissist. Many of us here would, and will, tell you that betrayal was the most painful experience in our lives. As I’m 62, I’ve had a lot of painful experiences and can tell you that nothing ever hurt me the way that Jackass hurt me. Sleepless, for sure. Food tasted like sawdust or stuck in the throat. Racing heart, pounding heart, tears and more tears. Body pain. You name it.

    You’ve gotten a lot of good advice. The most important thing is to focus on THIS MOMENT. Let yourself go all the way through the grief. Hot yoga helped me. Working out, boxing, walking and running helped–any outlet to get endorphins and other mood enhancing chemicals in the brain and to help you stay in the moment.

    Nightime is still the hardest time for me, but my cable company has WE TV and Sunday-Thursday they have CSI Miami and Law and Order marathons. I turned on the TV, do paperwork, read CL or work on my Pinterest boards. In early days, I often slept on the couch with the TV on. Whatever it takes. My best friend came to stay with me for 2 weeks about 6 weeks after D-Day (we had to wait for vacation time). But just having someone in the house during last winter’s worst weather was a comfort. So have a sleepover with a friend, a sibling, anyone who can listen endlessly to how screwed up things are right now.

    It’s been a year since the gaslighting started for me. And I still think way too much about this cheater. I loved him. And he was, I thought, also my trusted friend. I still see and do things that I wish I could tell him…no, that hologram “him” about. But I have no urge to call or contact him or respond to any overtures he would ever make. No matter what he would ever say, I know he never intended to be my faithful and trustworthy partner and companion. I still get up and try to live in the moment, one day at a time. Because really, that is all we ever have–this moment, today.

    • LovedaJackass, I used to sleep on the couch with the TV on also. I could be dead tired but the minute I went to bed I would be wide awake so I just gave into it and slept on the couch. I knew every late night show on TV but at least I’d get a few hours sleep and I didn’t wake up to a silent house. I was really nervous about my ex showing up in the middle of the night also and the TV covered up those little “bumps in the night”.
      My ex’s sister came to stay with me through the first few days, she had lived with us and knew how things had been. The only way I could sleep was if she was reciting all the shitty things he did, poor thing didn’t get any sleep herself. LOL The minute she stopped talking I would wake up and start crying so she would start reminding of all the crazy shit he did and I would doze off.
      I still have times I see something and feel like calling him, it doesn’t hurt any more I guess it is just habit, I never shared things with any other man like I did him but the urge passes quickly. It is hard to accept that he was just a hologram (good analogy) but it became glaringly obvious to me that he was nothing more than a hologram when he came to me full of apologies about a year after we split and he was talking to me about me and obviously didn’t have a clue who I was. Here was this guy that I thought was my soul mate and I thought knew me like no one else ever had and he didn’t even remember the most basic things about me. He had moved on to the new woman and was her hologram now.

        • Northern Light, it was the weirdest thing and I didn’t like him, I never would have dated him if he would have been that person when I met him. It’s amazing how they can change that much. Mine also went from being religious to not believing in God. From being a workaholic to semi retired.
          And he talked like I hadn’t just spent 10 years with him, he was feeding me the same bullshit lines he must have been feeding her. I felt like I had entered the twilight one.

          • There isn’t any real core there; they just change their masks. We always are surprised by the things they do because their world is wholly defined by the limits of their narcissistic brains.

  • It seems to me some of these sex addicts really over compensate in other areas of their lives. I got a shiny guy who was a great father, did the dishes, laundry and half the other housework. He was intelligent, funny and extremely hard working. I thought I’d won the lottery. In the beginning he was the least selfish person I’d ever met. I slept so safely and comfortably in his arms. We fit together and I loved having him as a housemate. He was like a shiny Lincoln Navigator. The interior was all leather with all the bells and whistles. It was amazing at first. And then the heat stopped working in the dead of winter, the windows refused to roll down, the radio was stuck on the country rap station and damn if that vehicle didn’t stop taking me anywhere I wanted to go. When I finally got out to take a look under the hood I realized the bastard had a lawn mower motor. Once I knew that it tried to run me over numerous times like a Stephen King novel car. My point of this really long silly comparison is that there usually are qualities these guys possess that are luxury vehicle type but they’re still death traps and when you get far enough away you’ll realize they never had the ability to make a go of it.

    For me, I cried like a wounded animal as someone said above. I watched a lot of crime television which helped take my mind off of it. I tried to figure out which part of my history was a lie. Tried to reconcile the man I’d known with the man I knew he had to be. I mourned the loss of the love that I held for him. It felt like my heart had to shrink because my love for him had been big. i felt fear and disgust that I’d been with someone like that. I finally realized it was all a lie. It took about six months to stop missing him. It took ten months to mourn our life/the dreams hopes I had. And at a year even though I trusted that he sucked from the very beginning I finally truly truly get it after he bald faced lied in a hearing he requested to modify child support to almost nothing for my infant son who he has yet to pay a dime for. He is an asshole through and through. And if it wasn’t for court stuff I’d be moved a bit further beyond him.

    I am sorry. I remember the feeling of waking up after Dday and the dawning realization killing my normal feeling of contentment. It took a very very long time, the birth of my son and then something to help with depression before I could stop feeling like nothing good would ever happen again. I’m not all birds flying high in the sky yet but you’re way ahead of where I was legally. Check out married to a sex addict and the sisterhood of support. Those places helped me immensely after I found out.

    • I know the “crying like a wounded animal” part. And I don’t know what it is about crime shows on TV but I watch Law & Order marathons (all 3 shows) all the time–and CSI:Miami, for some reason. Maybe it’s the effort to get justice that these shows represent, the sense that people who are victimized by those without conscience matter, that is so comforting.

  • Sleepless, what you miss is only the image he wanted you to see. The brochure that promised an ocean view. In therapy, you learned his mind is actually a swamp pit that allows him to treat people like objects. The disparity is shocking and it’s understandable you grieving what will never be.

    That’s why No Contact is so important. When the disparity becomes too much to bear, it’s tempting to reach out for a reassuring sales pitch. You know now it’s all a lie, but in desperate times, you’ll want to believe the lie. You’ll want to believe he’ll keep the promises he’ll make. Or that his excuses are valid. Or that you caused this somehow and can, therefore, un-cause it in the future. Whatever. Just give me back my ocean view!

    You fell in love with an incomplete picture. Although the complete picture makes you look away in disgust, please don’t long to be naïve again. Robert Frost is correct in saying, “The best way out is always through”. To echo CL, even in the midst of this hell, you’ve acted mightily, so you have the strength to make it through.

  • This is so amazing. For some reason all of my searches in the last year failed to lead me to you. Rather it was a HP article someone posted in the One Mom’s Battle facebook page group that let me to you yesterday. So anyway, this article is amazing. Chumplady, your response is dead on. You completely synthesize everything I have read, compiled, learned and worked through in the last year. I cannot believe I just found you now. But better late than never. I will also say that after perusing through your site I find myself breathing a little bit deeper, feeling a little bit better as your words confirm so much of what I have been feeling. Thank you.

  • You are not alone my dear. I was married for 22 years when I found out my husband had been cheating on me for most of those years. When he confessed last June I thought I would die. I loved him so much. After the initial shock all I could think of was that we can make it and be the few unicorns prancing around. But as time went on, my broken heart started to heal and I regained my self confidence. I kept reading the posts on this site and every time I shed some old self defeating thoughts. I also kept taking care of myself, by going to counseling, exercising and talking to friends and family. Slowly but surely things started to shift. The clarity I found was overwhelming. I am so grateful for this past year. I have grown so much and continue to empower myself by doing the right things for me. I no longer cloud my thoughts of “why”, “when” and “how”. The process happens. It just does. Believe in yourself. You are amazing to have taken the first courageous step of filling for divorce. Don’t doubt ourself. You are on the right path to heal. Just know that it takes time. That is all.

  • So much excellent advice. I’ll add the following (I’m 4 months out myself). I am a private person by nature so I initially only told a few people but I assigned (requested of them) specific duties.
    My Dad and stepmom – keep me logical and don’t let my emotions take over so I do something stupid or ill advised. I went to grad school with BFF #1 and 2. Before I confronted h I decided I was leaving the city we live in and am moving to where BFF #1 lives (I have lived there before and loved it). Her job is to call in as many favors as possible and help me get a job. I have had 3 interviews so far. Painfully slow but we are getting there. BFF #2 is the designated “2×4″ and is to bludgeon me if I waiver or start deluding myself. She has only had to swing it a couple of times (very effectively I might add). All of them have loved me and supported me from the beginning but I needed to ask for what I needed (and give the”2×4” permission to be brutally blunt; works for me, may not be a good idea for others).
    Reinforcements (other friends) have since been brought in to assist but this is my core. I would not have survived the initial trauma without them.
    Please be gentle with yourself. It’s quite a journey but you will make it.

  • Dear CL,
    I keep reading this post and all of the comments. I see that it didn’t get as many comments as some other posts, but is really one of the most powerful and I’ve read them all.

    This one and Timid Forest Creatures are SO IMPORTANT, I wish they were pinned. This one under “Featured” and Timid Forest Creatures under “Reconciliation”. At 18 months post DDay I’ve been an avid follower for over a year, and I think these two are potent.

    Thank you, thank you.

  • Sleepless: I’m impressed by your resolve! Driving straight to Uncle’s office in mind numbing pain takes a lot of guts. How easy it would have been to circle the parking lot and go home “just to get your wits about you.” No contact is the only way to go, and it’s fucking hard at first (those shared, inside jokes that no one else understands). There is a lot of experience here and they know what they speak of. I saw the signs, knew something was going on, but he would never admit it. Infuriating. More than that, I am pissed at myself. You know the saying, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…” Don’t go back, you’ll only have more rage, but this time directed at yourself. “He’s never going to bring out your best self — if you took him back, you’d be a twitchy mess.” CL is so right. You will never feel safe again – with him.

    I am so sorry this happened to you. To me. To everyone here. We understand the hell. You can’t know what it feels like until it happens to you. There is comfort to be found on this site and you will need plenty of it in the coming days. You are mighty, you’ve done what many of us couldn’t after finding out the 1st time. Two snaps up, Girl! (kickin it old style.)

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