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Chump Lady Gets a Letter

If you ever wonder why I do what I do, why I keep writing about infidelity long, long after it ceased to be relevant to my life, why I’m still mad about the “support” out there for chumps, and where the anger that fuels my snark comes from? It’s letters like this. This writer beautifully express the entire chump trajectory. I wanted to share it with you guys. Instead of just getting all misty and sniffly by myself. — Tracy

Some day, I will tell you how I gave birth to my baby girl 48 hours after finding disgusting sexts on my husband’s cell phone;

Some day, I will tell you about the “work” trips to Denver, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Las Vegas;

Some day, I will tell you how many days and nights I solo-parented my two-year old son while pregnant with my daughter, how we were up for four nights with the flu;

Some day, I will tell you about the Craigslist ads, and the account, and the conferences in Minneapolis and New Orleans;

Some day, I will tell you how much money I spent on relationship books on Amazon and private investigators, and how much time I spent reading his sick emails;

Some day, I will tell you about the random woman who ended up with my husband’s phone and became the first person to learn that my baby had a heartbeat;

Some day, I will tell you about the chocotini recipes my husband diligently researched for another woman while I was putting my toddler to bed;

Some day, I will tell you how scary it is to get STD tested while pregnant;

Some day, I will tell you about leaving my new baby at home every Wednesday night to go to marriage counseling;

Some day, I will tell you about the living room curtains that were way, way too long, and, of course, a legitimate reason for cheating on one’s wife;

Some day, I will tell you about a married man who doesn’t think to use condoms and tests positive for herpes;

Some day, I will tell you how many cans of spackle I used when my husband had sex with another woman while we were in marriage counseling;

Some day, I will tell you about the broken dishes, and the dry cleaning in the bathtub with spaghetti sauce, and the other evidence of my rage;

Some day, I will tell you how many times my mother-in-law insisted that “marital difficulties” were to blame for my baby’s STD exposure;

Some day, I will tell you how much time I spent finding just the right individual therapist and how hard I worked to make the counseling appointments convenient for my husband;

And some day, I may even tell you about having my baby girl tested for HIV and herpes.

But today, I will tell you how I filed for divorce;

How I read Chump Lady every day and recognized all of the patterns in the playbook
And finally understood that this goldfish would never knit me a sweater.
How I found my voice and redirected my energy;
And how good it felt to hand him the papers, a feeling I’ll never forget
— on my daughter’s first birthday.

I don’t know what my life will look like, but I am proud and excited to find out.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
    • My thoughts exactly. I cried before I came to work because I still feel so sad after my husband left me almost two years ago. I sometimes think I will never, ever get over what he did to me. Leaving me for another woman really makes you have no self worth.

      • Maria, it does get better. My exH, my high school sweetheart, left me and the kids for a woman 12 yrs younger than me (and started a family before either divorce was finalized!). We had been together for 23 years.
        I am 2.5 yrs out, and this week found myself humming in the hallways at work.
        His loss, not mine. My life is awesome.

        • Thank you. I need to see this. We were together 21 years. Is he still with her? How can he be happy and not feel guilty about what he done and lives his life so carefree? I always wish they would break up because he doesn’t deserve to do what he has done to me.

          • Maria, the tears will stop in due course. There is no given time frame but one day you will notice that you will think if him and you won’t have a tear in your eyes. I won’t say that the sadness will leave at the same time but take each day as it comes. You are not alone dear girl. I was married for 37 years and have known the ex for 45 years and when he pulled the plug I literally wanted to die, in fact I was planning to. I am way past that feeling now and my life is really very very nice and your’s will be too.

              • Divorced for 2 years now Maria but he mentally checked out long before then and I never noticed because I was too busy being a wife and a mum. I was a fool but I did love him very much and I thought we had a lovely and unique family. You see right up until he pulled the plug, he was telling me how he could never live without me and how much he adored me. I have to say I didn’t really believe him. A red flag moment and there were way too many to mention. Our family has been destroyed because our 2 adult kids do not speak to me any more. It has all turned into a real mess.
                PS – Because I loved him so much to survive I had to learn to unloved him. I have managed to do that and I think that could be the reason I have survived all of his betrayals.

  • Wow! Such a Powerful letter. Wish her the best, we will be right here for her.
    She is Mighty!

    Thank you CL, keep up the good work!

  • sniff. welling-up. A beautiful letter.

    Tracy, I wonder if a next step is to have a fund for chumps to get our lives back together, particularly people with young children, or living in their cars or unable to pay rent or lawyers fees.

    Perhaps we can take a survey on what chumps wished they had or the worst scenarios that chumps found themselves in and what they needed and need…Perhaps some of the wealthy chumps and help those poor? A national/international recommended therapist list? A national/international recommended lawyer list?

    I am open to brainstorming. I am not sure how we would do this online and with all the crazy in my life (I am editing the final draft of my divorce contract in mediation and just now interviewing lawyers—way overdue) but I am up for trying.

    I am a decent grant writer, fundraiser and researcher.

    • Oh my goodness, my lucky day?

      Psychopaths are impaired neurologically, and (like drug users) are not fit for positions of leadership. Testing needs to be implemented.

      I need help fundraising for first USA, (then later, global) psychopathy awareness effort I’m trying to launch solo. I will need to make a non-profit org eventually,b ut I am hindered by PTSD breakdowns. Although I am okay much of the time, I can’t keep proper records. This is where I’m at right now, trying to spread the word with this message:

      Dear Concerned Citizens, Let’s Stop Voting for Psychopaths! But, How?? EDUCATION:

      Do you have resources to share?
      Thank you,

      • Hi Tina,
        I am very much interested in this subject. I have been reading everything I can about psychopaths and have wondered what to do to avoid one in the future. My therapist keeps telling me that a psychopath is someone who criminal. I disagree. I think many of political leaders are psychopaths and anyone such as my husband and others here who can lead a double life for an extended period of time with no guilt should be labled as psychopaths. Let me know if I can help.

        • If your therapist thinks all psychopaths are criminals, you have an incredibly ignorant and ill-educated therapist. It’s well known that a fairly large proportion of successful people, especially in fields like finance, law and politics, are psychopaths, And the proportion of narcissists (equally wounding, however less ruthless!) is scarily higher. And you can find friendly-neighbourhood-psychopaths pretty much anywhere. Only the DUMB ones end up in jail, or the ones who end up over-confident (right Bernie Madoff and Enron?),

    • Well there is kickstarter and indiegogo — I’m just not sure how you would oversee such a thing, or manage it on a larger scale. It’s rife for abuse (not sure how they get around that on kickstarter).

      But I do think it’s important to pay it forward to the people in our life. I was helped out of my cheating marriage by a dear, older friend. Payed her back with interest, but if I ever have her financial means, I would do it for someone else. Or on a smaller scale (have offered to help my cousin).

      I think the biggest thing we can do is tell our stories and work to change the narrative around infidelity. That it has COSTS, personal costs, as told in the letter above.

    • a sort of a Kick (in the ass to the Cheater) Starter Campaign?

      I do grants & research too–would be more than happy to collaborate. I do not have an institutional home, however.

    • I would love to work on a foundation like that, and also have marketing, grant writing, educational counseling experience and drive. Volunteering would be my honor.

    • We need “fault divorces” where cheaters and other women get to pay BACK what they’ve stolen! At the very least financially…

        • I know this is just fanciful thinking but, financial consequences assumes that the cheater is the main earner and that somehow a money-related penalty will provide compensation justice.

          For me, there’s no peace in that. She will never replace my lost of a career-job, loss of respect (man-can’t-keep-his-woman nonsense), or self-worth. Going after the men in her life? Not a chance.

          No, I may want justice but life shows us over and over again, it has no natural or man-made mechanisms for meting out real justice.

          The more effective approach is with public awareness and education. I heartily agree with CL’s, “I think the biggest thing we can do is tell our stories and work to change the narrative around infidelity.” That works!

          The baser levels of my being certainly disagree with such a level-headed approach but base-behaviour is the real enemy.

          • Dan, I agree. I probably should have said, “I wish there were consequences.” Cheaters would say they are paying if they are splitting their IRAs and 401Ks, etc., but that’s not the same.

            I think public awareness and education (as you said) is the way to go. If we had known then, what we know now, our lives would have turned out differently.

          • I like the idea of public awareness. I have often times wished I could send a letter to the editor anonymously writing about not only the evil of adultery but even more about those that don’t take a stand against it.

            If I did win the Lottery I would love to figure out a way to help those that are in need of a lawyer retainer.

            Better yet I wish the DA would have the balls to punish the cheater and the Adultery Partner.

          • I do think that cheaters who divert family assets for an affair or who leave the household taking income necessary to sustain it need to pay support. They should not be able to leave spouse and children, of either gender, hanging financially and then drag their feet and file for full custody or 50/50 custody in order to avoid paying child support. Divorce reform brought about “no fault,” which was a reaction to the shaming difficulties that accompanied divorce in the old days, when one party had to appear in court and say terrible things about the either to end a marriage that may have just been dead but not acrimonious. Divorce reform, round #2, could revive “fault” divorce in cases of infidelity, abandonment or financial shenanigans. Such a category could also provide more custody protection for fathers whose wives cheat and then want to take full custody of the kids. There’s no way to avoid selfish or narcissistic people gaming the system, but a betrayed spouse needs more protection than the law currently provides.

      • I agree. My ex 35 left me for a 23 yr old. He has a high paying career and she has a trust fund. They live the high life, beautiful house, cars, etc. While Im barely make it. Now he wants custody of our children.

        • So basically, spoilt brat princess with fucktard?
          Fight for your kids with everything you have and tell him to get fucked.

    • [well, if we had a decent social welfare network in the U.S., private donations would not be necessary. Alas.]

      When I was doing research into 19th century Insane Asylums, I found in the census records that many–many! of the women were there because they had been abused, and abandoned. Imagine if your only choices were an insane asylum, or living with an abusive spouse, possibly violent….?

    • Chumpectomy… I was thinking the same thing the other day! See I am still stuck in this marriage because I don’t have the lawyer fees. Because of course all our money disappeared during his affair? But anyway I told myself once I get out and get on my feet I want to do something to help others like me…there has to be a way!

      • I think helping with lawyer’s fees is a great idea. It’s why I haven’t started my divorce yet. I’m not sure how a foundation could work it out to where you are certain the money isn’t just “thrown away” if a spouse goes back to a cheater.

        • Yes!! Our stories are vital for changing the conversation on cheating!

          My mother offered to help me with legal fees but it is so hard to take money from her because she is old and needs it. It would be so ideal to have a funding source for legal fees to help chumps.

          Tina, I looked at your fundraising site and the list identifying how psychopaths act and the video explaining who they are are very helpful. It’s an important project. In terms of grants, it may be about calling this domestic abuse prevention and looking for grants that seek to prevent domestic abuse. These grants may be a good first inquiry.

 (see grants programs on the side)

          This looks potentially helpful for women seeking a lawyer’s help:

          I know your project is a larger societal one Tina, there must be a grant for it out there. I also wonder if you can hold a parlor meeting for people with wealth and do a presentation. One thing is to demonstrate how much money you need and how exactly you will spend it. A formal grant is useful that way because you are asked to give a specific plan and how you will meet your goals.

          Funding the lawyers fees of 10 victims of domestic fraud/cheating for example would be a great goal. It would mean explaining how cheating falls under domestic abuse (physical, financial and emotional harm to spouse and children by controlling with lies).

          Having a list of lawyers who understand how to represent chumps is so important. I spoke with lawyers who told me I could never get residential custody because even though my ex would leave the house every night telling our child that he would be home “later” after picking a fight with himself (I would stand there silently watching him yell at me for something inane) —then go out and drink telling me he was at “work” while I was left having to answer “where is daddy?” repeatedly—-One lawyer told me that ex could easily argue that he wanted to escape me (!) but if he had to care for our child he would of course never leave for the night to drink! (?) So there are a lot of family lawyers out there who are not good advocates.

          I spoke with someone today that may be different. If she is good I will tell her name.

          I will keep my eyes open for grants too! There are so many, there must be one for chumps to pay our lawyers fees. Not everyone has friends or family with money to lend.

          I am realizing that I needed a lawyer from the start rather than go through mediation—I took the cheaper route because I had no money—was a mistake for me. Now I will borrow from family.

          • Thank you, Chumpectomy, for pointing me to resources. I am just lumbering along for now. Even though I am a Chump Extraordinaire, I am not aiming my campaign at domestic violence cases. All people will benefit. I aim to bring psychopaths out of the closet in general, and in particular – to purge them from government and leadership.

            I have this page bookmarked so I can get in contact with the hopeful volunteers. I have to admit, I no longer have organizational abilities. I lost so much of my brain to the twisted reality my exH put me through. Basically, he murdered me. With no consequences. So, the little bit I’m doing now may not expand further.

            Thank you for being so supportive here, everyone.

      • Many domestic relations attorneys provide a free consultation. Take advantage of that. You might find an attorney that allows you to pay over time. Talk to someone who is good with money to help you figure out what assets you may be overlooking. For example, even though I am nearing retirement age, I tapped my retirement fund to take care of some of the financial issues that resulted from Jackass walking away with money and from commitments. If you have a term insurance policy on your life, you may be able to borrow on it. You may have gold jewelry that can be sold in today’s market for considerable amounts. I sat down with my banker to talk about the equity in the house; she was a huge help. And my therapist? Financial whiz. I also did part-time work to raise some cash. If you need to end your marriage, money does not need to be the only thing keeping you there. I had no idea how I was going to manage this house and property without a second income, but here I am a year later, doing very well. I’m not rolling in dough, but I am happy and solvent, even though I am taking on more work than I would like at my age. You can do it, too, if it’s what’s best for you (and any kids you might have.)

  • This sounds like my life – I am 4 months from D-Day….My husband of 20 years took on 2 new woman that he met on internet while I was pregnant (they keep coming out of the woodwork, so I don’t know how many women in total over the 20 years).

    The day I found out (my youngest was 3), I asked if he used condoms…he said no they looked clean. WTF. When I talked to him (now I am no contact except for kids) – I told him he had no regard for mine or his daughters life – he didn’t get it. He will never get it. But I am glad to say I get it, and he no longer in my life.

    Still feel like I am living a Lifetime movie – But I am hoping the end of the horrible movie is coming with the final scene in my divorce hearing this winter…

    • Agreed. We need to stop being afraid of telling the truth. Bad people do exist but there are things you can look for to spot them.

      • I don’t know that they are that easy to spot unless you know what to look for it – and the only way you get that through the experience of being locked in a closet with them. Before that, it’s hard to conceive that these people could actually exist. I mean, you know they are out there somewhere, you just never, ever expect to see one.

        The biggest problem is that you have to be intimately involved with them, because they can seem quite charming and normal to friends and acquaintances. They go unnoticed because a) people are so naive and b) they are GOOD at what they do.

        • Off the top of my head:

          Their actions don’t match their words
          Frequent boundary pushing
          They don’t do reciprocity
          Lack empathy
          Often times, they’ll just tell you straight up. “I’m a narcissist…hahahaha” (That really did happen to me. Date from hell.) “I’m a dirty dog.” –Mike Tyson

          • thats a good list but the problem is that they do all the right things, say all the right things in the beginning and are so convincing that you believe them. and everything on your list happens so slowly you dont even regonize it is happening until you look back and think how many times “their actions dont match their words”, They push boundary or dont reciprocate, lacking empathy sneaks up on you.

            even when they tell you over and over who they really are, we dont see it as that, looking back i dont know how many times my XH told me he was a loser, that he is just a fuk up, that i dont deserve him or he messes up everything good in his life. Every time he said it we were going thru some issue or event that he put into motion, and i would always say “your not a loser, your not a fuck up, you just made a mistake, you just made a really bad decision. we will get thru this. you are a good person, you are a good husband, you are a good daddy, just because you got ANOTHER DWI doesnt mean you are bad. we will make. i will stand by you. blah blah puk”

            i asked all the right questions (or i thought i did) while we were dating. i made it clear what i wanted out of life and how i intended to live my life. (own a house, stable environment for children, daddy who will stay and help and guide the children, i wanted them to have a better life then mine, a man who will fix shit around house and take care of yard, house vehicles, a man who supported me and appreciated me and loved me thru good times and bad times and even gave examples of what i thought would be upcoming bad times) i pulled no punches with my XH when we were dating. even told him if he couldnt step up he needed to leave me now. dont step up if you dont intend to do these things. he agreed with me, told me what he wanted (ironically so much like my own list but with enough differences i didnt notice), promised to never give up and would always be faithful (no cheating was on my list too)

            and i thought we were made in heaven for each other. it didnt happen over night. it happened over 14 years. and even then i was so caught up in the “we can fix it” mode, just another bump in the road we need to smooth and fix. and lots of married couples have these issues, this is normal married life. that i couldnt see the HUGE red flags he was waving all over my face, my house, my yard, out the back of his truck.

            i also believe that he BELIEVED he wanted those things too. he just couldnt put in the WORK needed to get the job done, he twisted so much shit to me that he got confused himself on what was really important. and of course he strayed so often from the original path, he finally lost his way. meanwhile, i hardly devated from the path, i was focused on the goal that i erroneously thought we were both working for. i patiently redirected his mistakes, forgiving his fuckups, supported his damaged ego, and loved him unconditionally with all his fault, bad points, and childhood damage.

            it took me a long long long time to finally figure out he didnt want the same thing as i did, so i compromised on a lot of things in the effort to “work with him” and all for what? now me and the kids are paying the price for trusting and believing in him while he wipes the slate clean and starts all over with someone else?

            what could i have done differently? how much more could i comprise my morals, values and integrity? how could i not trust him? how could i have forseen that he would bail out after all the effort we both put into our life, our marriage, our children. i was blindsided by this. i am not sure HE even knew what was going on. life has a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect it. i thought he loved us enough to fight for us and choose to do the right thing as he had before. when and how was i sappose to know it got too hard, too boring, too whatever?

            and that is why they suck.

            • I hear you; it’s hard to see. It takes Time and Clear Eyes (ie, no spackle) to see people for who they are; not who you want them to be. It’s not an easy skill set to master, especially if you were never taught.

              One thing about the School of Hard Knocks–you never forget those lessons. You learn them well or face repeating the course again. So here’s something I learned while I was “at university”:

              “what could I have done differently? how much more could i compromise my morals, values and integrity?”

              Lesson #1: Good people don’t expect you to twist yourself into a pretzel to accommodate them. They don’t want you to suffer at their expense and they don’t turn a blind eye to it either. Users, abusers and con artists like that kind of shit. Not good people.

              • Lesson #2: When someone shows me they aren’t Good People, I put them on the outside of my life. Immediately.

                This is a really, really tough one for me. I’m very good at accommodating and tolerating bad behavior. Plus, I don’t want to be alone. I’ve had to cut a lot of people. It hurts to cut them out……but it hurts less then tolerating their shitty behavior. I feel stronger for having done it.

                And if I’m fortunate, discerning and intentional about it, perhaps those vacancies will be filled with Good People. That’s my hope and my goal, anyways.

            • YES. It is hard to see when you’re in the midst of it. Because even when I tried to set a boundary, he would *immediately* test it. If I stood firm, he would find the loophole and work the “benefit of the doubt” angle.

              I now realize that if I am constantly being pushed to give the benefit of the doubt; if setting a boundary is too exhausting because it is so much work to enforce it; if he lies right away in the courtship and then “confesses” the lie as a demonstration of his honesty and trustworthiness; if he says all the right things and seems like a perfect match, HE’S NOT.

              If I find myself believing the fantasy, it’s time to step back and re-examine.

      • And when people say, “Don’t be judgmental” or “I don’t want to be judgmental” we need to speak up and say, “Why not?”

  • Tracy,
    That letter, with different details, represents what Chump Lady means to every one of us here in Chump Nation.
    A safe place to read and vent, inspire and be inspired.
    We all know why you do what you do…for us!
    Thank you.

  • Whatever our particular set of circumstances, we can all identify with the abject horror and hint of eventual triumph expressed in this letter. Getting so choked up after reading this and my hugs and love are being sent through the “interwebs” to this resilient, heroic and mighty Chump.

    Tracy, we not only “get” why you continue to do what you do, we thank God and the Universe for the gift of you and what you do. I liken you to the Harriet Tubman for Chumps. There is a quote attributed to Harriet that goes something like “I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves.” You could help thousands more if they knew (and could admit) they were Chumps.

    There are few, if any, voices out there who seek to free us from the shackles of Chumpdom. Your voice keeps us focused on that North Star and freedom when so many others tell us how lucky for us to be in the snare of our abusers because plantation life is “safe” and what we know and it’s scary out there running away in the woods. You keep us moving when we see the searchlights, catch glimpses of the “chump catchers” and hear the dogs barking and you help navigate us through the river and across to freedom, even when we don’t know how to swim.

    Thank you for your wisdom and thank you for your voice.

    • What a wonderful post Chump Princess. The analogy to slavery, plantation life and freedom is intelligent and spot on!

    • CP, praise so high I cannot accept it. I’m a chump. I did a lot of stupid shit. This blog is my brain dump about it, with the hope that other people don’t do the same stupid shit. The leader of the underground railroad was one of the mightiest people that ever lived, who took terrible, unimaginable risks to save people. I, however, sit on my ass in air conditioned splendor of the 21st century, and the biggest risk I take is the occasional troll who calls me names.

      I do, however, appreciate the kind sentiments behind the hyperbole. 🙂

      • Trust me CL, if not for you, I might still be operating from a place totally of fear and trying to find my way back to that emotional plantation. While Harriet was a great, incomparable and stunning figure to be sure (one of my true heroes), her motivation to help/save/free others came from her lived experience and her realization that she her life could and should be better and she was determined to make it so. That also describes you. So whatever the environment in which it ultimately had to operate, the foundation that motivated the behavior is similar and you are saving people every day. I know you saved me and you keep me focused on that North Star – and you don’t even have to hold a gun on me and tell me “you’ll be free or die” to keep me going. 😉

      • We’ve all done some stupid shit. In the first few weeks after Dday, I got so freaked out about not eating or sleeping (how would I pay my bills if I couldn’t work?) that I stole some tranquilizers from a nearby clinic. — I could’ve (should’ve!) been arrested! But I got so so lucky. That was rock-bottom for me, and shortly thereafter, I found your forum, and just the validation of my story was enough solid ground for me to start to turn it around. Since then, your posts have provided handhold after handhold as I climb out of the abyss. Stupid shit notwithstanding. Harriet Tubman, indeed.

      • Call it whatever you want to call it, CL, you are saving lives and we are grateful. I know it probably sounds absurd to you, but there’s no other way to put it.

        • Same here ML.

          CL, at the risk of swelling your head to gargantuan proportions, you’ve done more for my enlightenment than any other source. Your hard-earned wisdom and viewpoint needs to be expressed in strong vivid words so that they get thru thick heads like mine.


    • My feelings exactly, and Harriet Tubman for Chumps, says it all.

      There aren’t words to express my gratitude to CL.

  • Tracy –
    What a grand letter, and what a testimony to what you do and all you have helped through the long slog through Chumpdom/infidelity Hell.

    I cannot be as eloquent as the writer, but I want you to know that you – as much as my therapist, my family, my good friends and my children – have played a huge role in righting the ship that is my life. I have waffled, wept occasionally, dreamed at night of hellacious arguments with my douchy ex, and still wake up in the wee hours wondering where my perfect romance went and how could I not have seen that my great love was an icing covered turd of the first order.

    When that has happened, I have gone to your blog, reread some of the articles and also many of the comments from all my fellow chumps in the kingdom. And it saves me from myself – from that tiny speck of spackle, sparkle unicorn dreamer who surfaces every so often to tell me that if I were thinner or had liked his asshole best friend more he would have been faithful. Hopium is the most deadly, addictive narcotic for a chump to be strung out on – and like any addict – it takes “a day at a time” to keep from falling off the wagon. You, Tracy, have created a sort of AVA for chumps – Adultery Victims Anonymous. And the steps in the program are not easy, but they work.

    You tell the truth – unvarnished, unshaded by “grays”, and if you pardon the pun…unadulterated. Thank you for being there, for supporting me, this writer, and every other friendly chump on this site. You are – quite simply – a lifesaver to me.

    • “Hopium is the most deadly, addictive narcotic for a chump to be strung out on – and like any addict – it takes “a day at a time” to keep from falling off the wagon.”

      This is so true! Even after everything I still think of things I could have done that might have changed the outcome. I still struggle with feeling like I wasn’t good enough. That’s when I come to CL to turn my thinking around. I don’t know how many years it will take until I can let the past go. 36 years is an awful large chunk of my life.

      • I think for many of us who have left long term relationships, it’s not the relationship we want back, it’s the time wasted. I don’t spend alot of time on what ifs, but when I do, it is more about how different my life could have been if I had never met my X. I am one of the fortunate ones, who has built a nice life for myself, but I have lost my desire for “romantic” love. Sometimes I wonder if there was a nice, kind person, who I could have spent my life with, but that just makes me sad and I have to stop thinking about it. I have to consciously decide to choose joy over sadness and that is something I never thought I would have to do. Still, I refuse to become bitter, because then, he really has “won” and I will never allow that to happen!

        • Louise – I’m in your spot – I just don’t have any ability or desire for romance at all right at this point. I long for it….but I don’t desire it, which sounds crazy, I know.

          I think it’s a case of wait and see – I’m at the age where more children are not in the plan and I sometimes wish I wasn’t such a supporter of the rights of all people to marry, because I’d ideally love to be a “beard” for a wonderful, kind, fun and loving gay man! (Stupid equality for all! LOL!) So now gay men can marry and I lose what could have been my dream gig for Act II in my life! 🙂

          But don’t think about how different my life might have been – that’s kind of a self flagellation, IMO. You and I were as smart, kind, committed and loving as we could be – keep those parts of memory and try to eventually separate it from the shit that your ex dumped into the scene. We are better for knowing, better for being free of someone so toxic. Someday we may find love again…but if we don’t – we will still find ways to thrive. Gotta believe it!

          • Hysterical! But don’t give up hope. There might be some awesome gay guy who’s looking for a gem like you!

        • I have those days, too. Days where I look at young married couples with kids and I wonder what life would’ve been like if I had a true partner, someone who genuinely loved me and cherished the family he had.

          Onwards and upwards.

          • Me, too! I have the most amazing (mostly) grown children, who are smart, kind and so loving to me. It would be great if I could enter this phase of my life with a true partner, but it was not meant to be. I live a very full life, for which I am beyond grateful; a certain melancholic nostalgia remains.

          • Yes, that’s what I do too. See nice young couples and the husband is supportive and seems to genuinely value his wife and family, and I wonder why I couldn’t have ended up with someone like that. But most the time I believe we each have our own path and this is the one I’m supposed to be on.

            • Sometimes things can appear very different from the outside to how they actually are. People used to say that my wife and I worked great together.

      • 36 years is HUGE. I had just shy of 26 years from first meeting to D-day. I think we sometimes are just so hard on ourselves. What do we expect – that we will shake off a relationship timeframe that was the majority of our lives and just “start fresh” with no scars and scabs to occasionally pick at?

        “What might have been” truly are the saddest words….but in our cases – we have to understand that this wasn’t fate conspiring against us – it was one very defective unit we were gullible enough to fall in love with and marry. Be kind to yourself when you have those moments – it may be there will always be that tiny, goofball unicorn inside just to stir up trouble – but with Chump Lady’s help – you can put it back in its cage and ignore it’s bleatings! 🙂

      • Last wednesday would have been my 36 th anniversary… So much time invested. So much history lost in the mind fuck of narcissistic/sociopathic “love”. What gets me every time are the constant triggers of a song, a phrase, a photograph to send the mind on a confusing loop of “was that real?” Or “was that a lie” … “But you guys were Perfect Together” I hear time and time again, as I slowly come to terms with the discovery of not only this affair, but the gradual realization of his serial cheating. Not to mention the financial infidelities… So why does this hurt so much???
        Its the lifetime of his lying and the resulting loss of personal my personal and family history that is the haunting price I am continuing to pay. I just hope he will someday face the realization of what his recklessness will cost not only him, but his family’s life for generations to come. He’s an idiot to blow up his life at 65…. i feel like shrapnel.

        • It hurts so much because it mattered to you. You gave your love with honesty and good intentions. The fact that your X did not is on him, not you!

        • Chump change, I understand about the loss of your personal history. It’s hard not the have the person I raised my kids with to share memories of their childhood. My ex was a great storyteller and often had us in stitches. Now all those family stories don’t mean the same thing they used to.

        • CC,
          Last month would have been our 25th anniversary, and we were together 5 years as a couple before that. I get the constant triggers as well. I am in the banking industry,
          and I see people I know every day. My worst triggers are the old couples holding
          hands, and just being there for each other. That’s a horrible trigger where I feel
          that should have been us. I look back also and wonder how much was a lie? What
          exactly was real? I was, my faith, my love was given genuinely.

          I don’t know if they really care about the devastation they have left behind.
          His only daughter won’t speak to him, and his family is a wreck. I just think they
          focus only on the self gratification they are getting in the moment, and it is easier
          for them not to look back and see the hurt they caused.

    • This blog has helped me develop the courage and confidence to tell the truth all the time, about everything, including when people are stepping all over me and my boundaries. It has helped me tell the truth to myself, as well.

  • Wow, that letter was powerful. Most of those points were my life as well. Trying not to cry right now, since I’m at work.

  • Fantastic letter! One we can all relate too…how much time we spent alone, how much time we poured into trying to fix our relationship, how many sacrifices we made for someone who didn’t notice. The Chump journey — as horrible and heart wrenching an experience as it was, finally taught me I was worth my own love and protection.

      • Yes–we learn to fall in love not with ourselves and our ego, as a narcissist would, but in love with our “wild and precious lives,” which is all that we really have.

  • “And finally understood that this goldfish would never knit me a sweater.”

    Amen sister! That moment is the moment your life begins again.

    Thank you to Chump Lady for helping so many reach that moment faster.

    • took me years to figure out that you CANT teach goldfish to knit much less knit a sweater. i keep holding on to the fact that he could LEARN to love us. i might as well had been trying to teach goldfish to knit.

  • If there’s two things I am not “meh” about, then it’s the fact that people treat other people like the writer of this letter was treated, and … the horrible, horrible, chumpy, codependency-reinforcing advice I and others were given when dealing with sick fucks. 🙁

    • Problem is, it’s always the chump that writes letters like this. It’s the chump letting go, the chump on a journey of discovery, the chump trying to fit the pieces of their life back together. The biggest problem? It’s the chump still, after everything, missing the cheater and wishing someway, somehow, that the cheater loved them the way the chump does. Still, I realize it is unavoidable when bad things happen to good people.

      That’s the beauty of your work CL; your words and your directive help break the suffering from their fog. Better yet? It allows the suffering to forgive themselves.

      My cheating, now remarried ex would not and could not express herself in this way. She’s still miffed that I didn’t roll over and allow her to keep wiping her feet on my face. She thinks I ‘hate’, but that’s the plight of the self-absorbed. Not my problem.

      • Yes, our cheaters, many of them narcissists, may be intelligent, but they’re not really able to self-reflect. Why should they? They’re already perfect.

        In an odd way I feel honored that I seem to be able to grow and change.

      • yes, that is the biggest problem. that we hope they will snap out of it (whatever it is). i thought i was doing good and dealing with this until i recently found out my XH moved out of town last weekend. no phone calls to see the children and say goodbye. and of course i meant so little to him that moving away without saying a word killed me. i cried all last night, no sleep, forget to eat breakfast and lunch. only ate dinner because i cooked for the kids and i had the shakes. had to actually force the food down my throat because by moving without saying a word , just made one more nail on the coffin that it was truly over. i didnt even realize that there was a part of me STILL hoping that he will realize he loves me, loves the boys, and want his family back so much that he quits using drugs, and would actually put forth the massive, unselfish amount of work it would require to get us back. i guess i was just waiting for him to come crawling back and tell me he fucked up and would do anything to get us back. (and then actually do it) even thou i have been telling myself for MONTHS that i knew he wouldnt, he is not strong enough (weak willed); telling myself he doesnt love me, or want me. that he doesnt really care with examples because you dont do this kind of shit to people you love and care about.

        my problem is my heart is silly enough, strong enough and stupid enough to actually FORGIVE HIM for all this shit if he was truly sorry for it. there is a part of me that believes he does love us, that he just got caught up in using drugs to forget his pain and SOMEDAY he will snap and come back. and maybe that will happen some day, but by that time i will on the road to meh. i guess i was hoping he would do it sooner then later. now i realize he will not. and it hurt me all over again.

        unavoidable, yes. even when you think you are over it. it comes back and bites you in the ass when you least expect it. God help me. i am a fool

    • I’m going to second that Expat. This site, more than anything else, gives chumps the assurance they need to trust that the cheaters suck.

  • Today is my 3 month Divorce Anniversary. I found this blog after my second DDay in a year. It has been a mirror and a life line. Going through infidelity and divorce is such a confusing and self worth sucking process and the letters, experiences, advice, and support that is shared on here is so therapeutic. It has been the most consistent and helpful aspect of my recovery. Thank you, Chump Lady and Chump Nation.

  • Tracy – Your work here is so, so important to so many. It is your voice alone that finally articulated the babble in my head and heart. Your words and perspective and PASSION that canceled out the dissonance I could NOT make sense of. I don’t know how many times I exclaimed out loud “Yes!! YES!! THIS!” as I read through the articles and letters and comments on your site.
    Please accept my humble gratitude for the work that you do, and for attracting and assembling an amazing group of folks. Your work will remain a seminal moment in my life.
    FLBright (Future Looks Bright)

  • When I came here to CL my eyes were opened. Adultery aside, I wish someone in my life twenty years ago would have told me my behavior and choices were silly, selfish, shortsighted, and would ultimately ruin my life. Twenty years of seeing psychologists and psychiatrists and not one of them has the guts to tell you, “YOU ARE RUINING YOUR OWN LIFE. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT YOUR FUTURE WILL LOOK LIKE IF YOU DONT CHANGE.” No, they only asked me for my insurance card and payment.

    I read CL religiously, coming to the site twenty times a day, reading nearly every comment. Realizing I’m far from alone, and far from the worst case, I began to feel hope. I am friendless and live with my elderly parents. I’m doing things to learn about myself, face my fears, and give myself the future I want and deserve.

    I am realizing how frightened I am of nearly everything in the process — this has been the story of my life and what has made me so dependent on men. But I am going to continue to move forward because I do not want what’s happened so far in my life to be my life story. Sometimes I feel ridiculous that I am so socially stunted, but I must continue.

    Even in my shyness I formed a “Leave a Cheater — Gain a Life” MeetUp group in my town. I was terrified to go on my own, in fact I kept postponing it because there were too few people interested. I was on the verge of just deleting the group when I realized I just needed to try it and see what happens. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t succeed, I just have to give it a try.

    I sat there this week at a table with three other chumps and we spoke much like we speak here. It’s so refreshing to do that in “real life” and sit with folks who know exactly how we feel. Unless it’s happened to you, you cannot understand. I hope the group will continue and grow, this will be our way to “pay it forward.”

    Our society has a blind spot regarding this horrific and painful issue. It needs to come to light and we must educate young people about the importance of maintaining independence, a career, and protecting finances, and always being a whole person and not simply part of a couple.

    To say I’m grateful for Tracy and Chump Lady is an understatement. At 57 I am becoming the person I wish I had been at 37. I’m changing, growing, facing my fears and my faults.

    When I first came here only about 5 months ago I complained incessantly on these pages that I feared I’d be alone for the rest of my life and couldn’t deal with the shame of knowing I’d never be made love to again. But these days I don’t worry about things like that and what a relief that is. What’s more important is dignity, self respect, and what I’m doing to help my family and my community. If love finds its way to me again, I will be a whole person for the first time in my life.

    Thank you, Tracy. I can imagine this subject can take its toll on a person, so count me in as one of the people who will be eternally grateful to you for this gift. The gift of my life.

    • Wow MovingLiquid…I was just writing about how I need to consult CL and Chump Nation daily to stay strong. Your idea of a MeetUp group is excellent! But you don´t need to wish for more members if that means more people getting chumped 🙂 The right people will come, don´t worry. This is a wonderful contribution. Maybe you and others who have tried these groups could give us some guidelines on how they work and how to start one.

      • Susan, I’m making it up as I go along, but thankfully there’s no end of good information here at CL. And I’m going to try to make certain that the quiet ones don’t get overshadowed by those of us who yak a lot. It’s too important to allow anyone to slip through the cracks.

    • I think a meetup group called “Leave a cheater, gain a life” is a good idea. However, are we allowed to give it that name since that is the name of this website? What do you say CL? If I started one in my town, I would always post your link if it allows me too. I’m not sure though. I certainly don’t want to do anything illegal or against what CL would want.

      • Maria, I made certain to say in the write up that this website and Tracy have no affiliation with our little MeetUp group, but that we are basing our philosophy on her website and book. I had seen that there were other people here who met in person, so I figured it was okay!

        • Moving Liquid, you rock woman! You did it, you not only went to a meetup, you created the group, that is mighty and really cool! I am so happy for you. You are gaining a life and pushing past fears, it’s terrific.

    • MovingLiquid:

      You’re amazing! I admire your bravery, and am glad the meet-up went well. And I think you’re taking the right approach — just keep forging forward and grow from this.

      Thanks for the inspiration,

    • Also, you’re not friendless, you got a bunch of guys on this very site who are rooting for you and are friends to you, even though you may never meet them IRL.
      Screw wanting to be friends with superficial types IRL which are connected to the cheater.

  • Thanks for this letter…but it reminds me of the hardest part of all of this…telling your kids that one of their parents is a cheater and trying to explain how that could be…How can you explain to them that they are loved by the cheater if he was capable of lying at such a scale and breaking his mother´s heart? Last night my daughter was in tears when I put her to sleep because she was thinking it was her fault…if only she had told us not to fight more, if only she could put back the clock again and made everything right so we could be a happy family again. I tried to be strong but I cried right along with her…She slept with me in our bed (still haven´t changed it) and I slept on his side of the bed in order to take back that space and conquer it as mine; but this morning I woke up miserable, feeling angry at him because I was needing him as my partner and friend and as the girls´father. This letter reminded me that the bad stuff was really, really bad…so I got over it now, but as other Chumps have mentioned, this journey is really one day at a time. Some days we feel mighty and on others we are triggered and dragged down by the reality of what we went through. I have to read CL daily as if I was a “Chump Anonymous” and these are my recovery meetings….”My name is Susan and I am a Chump…”

    • I too have to read this daily. I was doing sooo good. Then BAM as usual he feels the need to write on FB (which he never ever used and still doesnt use except to keep changing his relationship status) He has 10 friends 7 which are mine whom I work with at different schools. The other two his daughter and her boyfriend and his new OW We separated March 16. He has changed his relationship to separated and then just recently to In a Relationship. Hello dumbass we are still married no where near finished with the mediation. This is a guy who doesnt use his FB page for anything else never did. I have blocked him but was at my daughters and checked lol dumbass me tooo. Why is he changing it on FB and Whom does he think needs to see this. He has no friends since the 34 years we have been married except her. Then I had to text him after a couple of months of NC to tell him to put 1/2 his school tax money in our joint account for the house and he felt the need to tell me he was on vacation has been since whatever and wont be back till Friday can he do it Saturday. I dont get these people. and yes I know dont sneak a peek at my daughters computer 🙁

      • I have to give my husband a tiny bit of credit. I don’t know who the other woman is/was. I don’t know a thing about her. He’s not on Facebook and he is discreet in town. I honestly don’t know how I’d deal with knowing the information that you and many other chumps know. I still pray I don’t run into them together because I honestly feel I’ll collapse on the spot. I know it’s hard to not know what your ex is doing, but you can see how much it hurts, so protect yourself, even though it’s hard.

    • This is why its important to tell the truth on what your ex-husband has done.
      Don’t answer for him and his ‘love’ – that’s on him to do that.
      Just reassure your daughter that you will always have her back and love her – and screw what he thinks. His actions will show quick enough as to his character.

    • ironically i got hit with this same thing this morning. my 12 year old is still struggling (well both the little boys are) but his is anger. he is so angry about everything. i am at a loss what to do. little things upset him in a big way. so this morning as i am rushing out the door, have an 815 meeting and getting the boys to school. he just blows up. refuses to go to school, hates his little brother, his big brother and everyone in the world. fights with me to get to the truck, and angry!! the first thing i think of after dropping them off is i need to contact XH to tell him he needs to talk to his son. there i was struggling with what to actually say to him, and thinking he needs to know what is going on with his boys because of his selfish actions. And in the past, of course he was the first one i called and he would talk to the boy. Then i started struggling with SHOULD i call him, tell him. in the past he was involved with the kids, but now with his super wonderful new hood rat and starting all over, he hasnt acted like he even cares about the boys. oh yes, he tells everyone how much he misses his kids, but for the past 3 months has not called to see them. the 2 times i initiated conversations about visitation both him and his hood rat took the opportunity to tell me how wrong i was, how i was hurting the kids, how he doesnt need to see them at my house even thou the boys were the ones to tell me they dont want to go to dads house and how i cant control XHs visitations, it doesnt have to be MY way and lastly (and so much fun) how i am just going to have to accept they are a couple. not sure how much of that was XH but he was sitting there allowing her to say all this crap to me.

      it was the hardest thing i had to do by NOT calling him and telling him what is going on with the children. i struggled with it all morning.

      • This is where, when she starts to put her $0.02 in – you tell her to back the fuck off.
        She’s lower than nobody and therefore has no rights or intelligence whatsoever to be making parenting decisions for your own kids.
        Derelect scum, thats all she is.

  • Dear letter-writer. I am so very sorry that you have had these things inflicted upon you and your children.

    However, I’d like to say welcome, or welcome again, and very pleased to meet you. You are a very impressive person.

  • CL,
    It takes great resilience on your part, no doubt, to keep re-visiting these scenarios for yet more chumps/victims. I can see how anyone would easily tire of such a venture.

    However, your impact is wider than just coaching. You are also helping many of us “cut to the chase” and learn how to speak eloquently on the subject. I find my discussions lately around relationship matters have made me much more effective in getting the message across. We all need to serve as mentors to our friends in trouble and help them see through whatever brand of gaslighting they face. I mentor (in a formal capacity) several young women at work, and they often say how I am able to point out/zero in on what is bothering them while making personal choices.

    I can honestly say you have tipped the scales on some life decisions for me lately and I greatly appreciate that. The input from other intelligent and thoughtful chumps has been awesome.

    They always say we should each find our purpose in life. You certainly have succeeded in that.

  • Wow…definitely teared up as so many of those hit close to home, but then jump to the “way worse” territory. I can’t imagine having to deal with some of these.

    So proud of the author of the letter for taking her stand (after giving it her all), and becoming free of this horrible cheater/father/husband/human.

  • This site and these letters keep this chump in check.

    Thank you CL for your time and effort in putting this site together. From your pain came a forum that was so desperately needed.

    Thank you for your continued support. Please don’t stop.

    There are many new chumps waiting to be born.

  • What an amazing and brave woman! She is a mighty mother warrior and her children are blessed beyond belief to have her in their precious lives. Her hopefully-very-soon-to be ex is weak, sick, perverted, soulless waste of skin and flesh. I hope and pray she receives beyond what is fair and reasonable in a settlement, feels the love and support of friends and family who recognize that she needs them to rally around her, and that her children glow one day with pride as they tell others what a truly incredible human being their mother is and will always be!

  • The author of this is mega-mf’ing-mighty. I think how absolutely devastating my experience was to me… and I was not pregnant (well… I am a dude) , got no STD nor suffered a 10th of what this woman is going through.

    I was an anxiety attack-ridden, mourning and broken person 2 years ago. I cannot imagine this level of suffering. And yes…isn’t cheating sexy and daring? (puke). Thank you CL for providing this forum.

  • Powerful letter, and I can feel the writer’s strength. It is sad that all of us here can relate to what she wrote, even if our details were different.

  • “…this goldfish would never knit me a sweater.” That line is going to be my new “go to” whenever I wonder why. God bless beautiful writers! And I agree that life becomes so much more liveable when you finally lose the weirdo that has made it his/her mission to fuck you up. I wouldn’t say I’m “happy” yet, but I now have this wonderful, powerful, freeing feeling of contentment!

    One of the most cathartic things I did during the beginning of my journey out of hell was to write a “Goodbye to…” missive. I just looked back at it, and I’ve come so far. A few snippets if anyone is interested…

    “Good bye to…

    Believing you were an honest guy, a man of character. Finding out what an expert liar you were was heart-attack inducing, crushing, shock and awe. Your affair and calculated deception rocked my world. I’ve never been so shaken by anyone in the way you totally betrayed me and the kids in my life. Your intentional deception hurt me more than my father’s fists ever did.

    Realizing it was all about the secrets; of our relationship at work when we first started out, and how we lived together before we married without anyone at work knowing. You liked it so much you reinvented it with this latest dimwit you are living with. I wonder how long it will take her to figure out the secret is that you are nothing behind your lies.

    The peculiar, disassociated way you talked “at” people. I first noticed it in your exchanges with your sister, who you always seemed to treat like garbage. If you were asked a genuine question, you always replied with a question or a sarcastic quip. For a “professional communicator” (your self-description to your bimbo), you suck at it face to face.

    Having to come home in a crying puddle from front-teeth dental surgery to a screaming newborn and a two-year old waiting for their dinners. I wanted to drive right by our house, buy a fifth of whiskey (and I don’t drink whiskey) and a Motel 8 room rather than come home that night, especially knowing you were waiting for me so you could leave to go to your alumni event. When I walked in crying, obviously overdone, you skipped out the door to a college alumni thing you “had to go to,” leaving three of us crying in your wake. Asshole.

    Your death breath. Your lack of dental hygiene. How you brushed your teeth like you were on a mad, dental, killing spree.

    Moral relativism. You could rationalize anything to make it suit your “beliefs,” even breaking the Seventh Commandment.

    Your insistence on dressing like “Where’s Waldo” or a “Flashdance” extra. You wore the same three shirts and same seventies shorty shorts everywhere. You looked ridiculous, then like a hobo.”

    I’ve got 12 more pages worth, but you all know it because you’ve lived it too. I love our little community of kick-ass chumps! Bless Chump Lady and everyone here.

    • I kept a journal for quite a while. I stopped (for the time being) because it got to where writing all the stuff up was making me sad rather than being cathartic. Kind of like going through it twice.

      Anyway, one good thing I did do a few nonths after D-Day was to take the time to write a piece that detailed why I was angry. I tend to be the kind of person who isn’t in the habit of venting, so it really helped me to have to understand exactly why I was mad and why I had a right to be.

      This “Goodbye to…” reminds me a little of that.

      More recently I wrote down 10 reasons I have to be happy and thankful. They came pouring out, almost effortlessly. Then I sat down and asked myself, what is there to be unhappy about? The sad answer – one person and what they were doing. So many reasons to be happy, one reason I was unhappy.

      Seems ridiculously self-evident, but it really helped me to put it in those terms.

      • BTW, I realize there are many here whose lives are far more torn up than mine is, and in many ways. My heart goes out to all of those good people; I do not mean to come off as cavalier.

        Most of the blessings I was talking about are things like a great son, dog who bumps me with his snout all the time for pets and hugs, a couple of really close friends who have my back, good health and good docs on board, etc.

        Not perfect but pretty darn good, except for ONE aspect.

        • Don’t worry Chumpguy

          You didn’t come off as ‘cavalier’ at all to me 🙂

          ‘Count your blessings’ is a fine nugget of wisdom – not as an admonition (which it can sometimes sound like) but as a powerful coping tool when life is full of pain and heartache. You were kind to share how it helped you to reflect on the good things in your life, not all ruined and destroyed by your own particular cheater. No, you did a nice thing and it came across as a nice thing – don’t worry 😀 (reminds me of me a few months back – so mindfucked by my particular cheater I couldn’t trust anything I said – at all – to anyone – wasn’t misunderstood, despite my best intentions).


          • I agree with Jayne Chumpguy. I don’t think you came off sounding as cavalier. I think it’s important to remember what good things we have left so we don’t get mired down in what’s happened. Clearly, as evidenced by this writer’s story and by countless other stories on this website, I know that others have had it much worse than me. It keeps me humble and from feeling too sorry for myself.

            Everyone in the nation is mighty!

            • Not only that, but if we just persevere, we will get to the stage where we see how wonderful life can be again. Perhaps Chumpguy is there. I am nearly there and hope I continue.

        • I have an Aussie that bumps me with her snout and herds me around the house too. She’s such a wonderful companion! I always said she was an angel to crawl into bed beside me the night my ex left and lick me while I cried. An absolute angel!

          • Don’t get me going on about my dog (rescued bully breed)! The only thing more boring than hearing me tell tales about his adventures would be hearing me talk about my incredible son. True blessings and cornerstones of my life.

        • Absolutely not, Chumpguy. In fact, I think it is the secret to success. I got whole again when I could start valuing all the things I did have (or forgot I had while I was in agony over the ass). It’s amazing how gratefulness can fill your heart with peace and calm (and joy!).

          Good advice!

  • Can’t stop crying….
    Enormous hugs!
    18 months out for me and it still feels like yesterday at times.
    So “happy” there is this place to come to so we can all support each other.
    I know I just chime in here and there.
    But I wish good things for each and everyone of you!
    What would we all do without Tracy?
    Thank you for doing what you do!
    You are a voice for those that are working on their courage.
    I am still sitting here in limbo, separated and NC.
    Even my therapist at this point sees why I don’t move forward with the Divorce.
    The day will come. I am just not ready to face the inevitable yet.
    I have no plans on returning. I am just preserving a place for me and my daughter and three grandchildren until her Divorce is final and she can find a place to live.
    Best of Luck to you and those kids of yours… will be better off without him!

  • Powerful letter. Makes me want to cry, swear, give the cheater and his mother a good smack upside the head, face palm, shout for joy at her strength all at the same time!

  • Chump lady, you rock! And the author of this letter is truly mighty! So much of her letter I can relate to associate many of us can attest to. I’m 3 years past day, and going through divorce now, but this letter reminds me of the horrors I had to deal with at that time. It really was that bad….but life moves on and things will be better.

    I lost so much in my marriage and the aftermath, and have gained so much of myself detaching from the sick prick I’m divorcing. Not at meh yet, but getting there. I am finally gaining back so much of the life I have lost, it takes so much time and energy, but so worth it.

    Chump lady, thanks for paying it forward, your posts really help to put things in perspective and help me to move forward.

  • Thanks CL and to the author of this letter.

    On my way to work this morning I was thinking about how when I discovered my husband’s infidelity I went home and burned every love letter, card and picture of us. At that moment I realized I had a fake husband and a fake life. I cried every single day for 16 months. I cried in front of my coworkers and I cried in front of my clients. I had a mental breakdown. I belonged in a psych ward. I thought about suicide constantly for the first time in my life. I went from being a happy well adjusted woman to a miserable wretch over night. It has taken me YEARS to get better. No one understands this quite like the chumps here do. My friends and family think that I’m totally over this whole thing. Little do they know that I still have daily flashbacks like the one I had this morning on the way to work.

    I’ve finally met someone after seven years that I’ve let into my life. I’ve known him for two years and went slow and got to know him well. He never cheated on his wife in their 27 years of marriage. He’s a fellow chump. I honestly never thought I would allow a man into my life again. It feels pretty good.

  • I just tacked the goldfish/sweater quote up on my cube wall – perfection

    Today is my “should be” 4th wedding anniversary to the Whorenado. I have to admit…feeling pretty MEH about it.
    What’s for lunch? 🙂

  • I can’t even handle this site today! Total insomnia – only 3 hours of sleep after a horrible MET meeting yesterday, 2 more MET meetings this morning (a fourth coming next week) at a shitty public school my kids are being forced to go to at the moment. Can’t stop crying!!! Not even functioning now that I’m home.
    SOMEDAY!!!! Someday: I will tell you my story; my children’s stories

    • HSM, hang in there. You are stronger than you realise. The pain is soul destroying but you will get there. Your children need you and you also need ‘you’. I don’t know what more I can add but it does and will get better.

    • HSM

      Please sleep. Sleep tons. Sleep as often and for as long as you can. Get a prescription from doctor if you need to. Try Nytol or Kalms if you don’t like the idea of sleeping tablets. You need to break the cycle going on in your head – not your fault shithead has got you in fight or flight mode – you are actually dealing with this like any living animal is programmed to deal with threat, but you need to break the cycle. Other people recommend physical exercise but I suspect you may be too down to raise the energy for that. how about re-reading a well loved book (something untainted by associations with shithead) – perhaps something you really enjoyed as a child? – nothing too taxing, just something to get your mind on something else. Another thing I found worked for me – (I always read before I sleep, even if it’s just a sentence) – was giving myself permission to leave the light on! Daft, I know, but I used to find I’d be reading until my eyes started dropping, then I’d put down my book and turn off the bedside light and it was like I’d switched my brain back on in doing so! Drove me crazy! So instead, I pretended to my own brain that I wasn’t preparing to fall asleep, I was just resting my eyes – and it worked (still does – if I find myself pinging awake when I want to go to sleep).

      Hugs and virtual mugs of warm milk to you xxxx

      • This is a great explination of what happened to me… I was on full adrenoline 24/7 for 6 months. Shithead that he is.

    • Home, if you don’t have a therapist, please get one ASAP. If you cannot sleep, that makes everything 100 times worse, I know, I was there. So get something for sleep. If you can use judiciously, an anti anxiety drug like Xanax or some others short term can really help. Jedi hugs!

      • Xanax saved me in the beginning and stopped the horrible panic attacks at night. It helped me sleep. My dr warned me it is addictive and to only use it on the worst days.

        • Exactly, Xanax is pretty much instantly physically addictive so you have to not ever take it more than three days in a row, you get withdrawals after that, depending on the person it can really be bad. Ask me how I know? Heh, you don’t have to ask, it did help once I knew how to be careful. The first time it was prescribed I took it every night for a month, wow it helped my anxiety, I could sleep, no side effect obvious to me. Then I started having short term memory issues and research indicated Xanax might be why, I analyze data for a living so I quit taking it….but evil withdrawal so I had to do it very slowly. This won’t happen if you don’t take it daily

            • Try Kavinace; it is a supplement, so you do not need a prescription, although I bought it at my doctor’s office. There is also a Kavinace Ultra PM version. It calms down all the chemicals that are firing in your system.

              “Natural Calm” magnesium powder (Vitamin Shoppe, etc.) is also very helpful. We all deplete magnesium at these times. Most people don’t get enough magnesium anyway, so imagine how depleted most of us are.

              • Thanks All! It’s my weekend with kids and they have a habit of all crawling into bed with me (4 of them!). Couldn’t ask for a better sleep aid! Even when body parts are on my head! 🙂 Got 7 hours!

  • This broke my heart…and I didn’t know I had any heart left to break. Thank you for sharing it. Tracy, I can’t tell you what ChumpNaton has meant to me – divorced a month ago. I save everything you and our Chumps write. Thank you all so much. PS I’m up for any MeetUP opportunity and am in the Columbia, SC and Augusta, GA area. HUGS to ALL of you.

  • Powerful, powerful letter. I don’t know WHAT I would have done if all this garbage had happened in my life when my kids were that small.

    The writer is DEFINITELY mighty!

  • Again, another beautifully written letter full of pain and anguish that we all relate to.
    I realize we are all at different levels of recovery but I’m all for CL to create a ‘dating’ website for us!! We all have been there, seem to have the same morals, loyalty etc; I’d join!
    And all the more, CL, how about an annual (or more) CL conference!! I’d travel to TX to hear you speak!! I’d travel anywhere! For those of us that can’t…….skype!! I can envision it now…..

  • CL, this is such a pain filled blog today that I hesitated to write but I want you, and your fellow chumps, to know that you actually change people for the better. I have not cheated on my husband and as far as I know he has not cheated on me. I saw the horrible mess my ex SIL left when she abandoned her family. I found your blog by accident and stayed because I never got past the devastation she caused and how little I helped.
    Over the course of several years I have had three different women tell me in confidence that they were cheating with a married man and I said nothing. In essence I colluded with them by not passing judgement. Not anymore. After finding all of you I am ashamed of myself. Your post on thinking in black and white is so true. I will not be gray again. Ever!
    I am sure there are thousands of people like me who read your blog. If we can be supportive of a chump or express outrage when we hear about cheating maybe we can help in a small way.

    • Thewatcher, you’re not alone in that. Speaking for myself, I didn’t condemn cheaters I knew, but I’d sure as hell give them a rough time now — in fact no mercy at all. Hindsight. I think it’s great if non chumps find their way here, it can only help them to look for red flags, or keep their marriage healthy, or allow them to help friends who are in anguish over infidelity. Some people won’t listen to friends and family who try to warn them, but they might listen if they come by here — it’s nearly impossible not to face the truth when you’ve been here a while.

    • You know, I don’t think of speaking up about infidelity as “passing judgment.” I think of it as standing for something. And I don’t mean marriage. If someone told me they were cheating with a married man, I would say, “I am so sorry to hear that, because you are causing terrible pain to his wife and children, if there are kids. The man you’re seeing is a jackass because he is hurting the people he is supposed to protect. And you are settling for someone with no integrity. Nothing good will come of what you’re doing. I care about you but can’t support you in this behavior.” That’s not judgment; that’s the truth.

      • Powerfully said. My best friend said to a mutual friend who was cheating something along the lines of, “You are my friend, I care about you and want you to be happy, but the things you are doing do not make me proud to have you as a friend.”

        My SIL, who has historically been extremely close with my wife, told W that she wanted W to be happy and fulfilled, but she did not support what she was doing. Go figure.

  • Love, love, love this letter. We can all relate to this and have our own lists.

    To the writer – No need to wonder what your life will look like. I can guarantee you that:

    Someday, you will look back and wonder what the heck you saw in him.
    Someday, you will wonder why you wasted all that money on books and marital counseling.
    Someday, you will wonder why you didn’t leave sooner.
    Someday, you will sleep diagonally on your marital bed.
    Someday, you will wonder how you could ever have procreated with him.
    Someday, you will smile and be gleeful that you are happy, content and drama-free.
    Someday, you will find someone who will love, value, respect and adore you and your children.
    Someday, you will look back and feel disgust, then pity and maybe compassion for your cheater.
    Someday, you will be grateful that while he hurt you so deeply, you are at peace because you did everything you could to save the marriage.
    Someday, you will look at your children and be thrilled you gave them a chance to have a healthy family life without the cheater.
    Someday, you will look in the mirror and say, “Why did I ever ignore the person who loved me the most?”

    Stay mighty. You are awesome.

    • Beautifully said Uniquelyme. It is not a journey any of we Chumps have chosen but we have lived it nonetheless. Your final line is so apt.

    • Uniquelyme,

      You are not only “Uniquely You,” you are “Beautifully You.”

      So much beauty and serenity in all of your posts. Hugs to You! I will be saving this post to remind myself what is ahead when that road looks dark, scary and daunting (which it often does). Thank you for being you.

      • Thank you, Maree and Chump Princess, for your kind words. The last line is based on my favorite poem from Derek Walcott:

        Love After Love

        The time will come when,
        with elation you will greet yourself arriving
        at your own door, in your own mirror
        and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
        and say, sit here. Eat.

        You will love again the stranger who was your self.
        Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
        to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
        all your life, whom you ignored
        for another, who knows you by heart.

        Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
        the photographs, the desperate notes,
        peel your own image from the mirror.
        Sit. Feast on your life.

    • Yes, this is wonderful. And I do sleep diagonally on the bed, with two cats, my laptop and iPad, and a book or two. 🙂

      • I still sleep on my side, but there are often other things on what was his side. I have to stop that so that there’s room for my kids to jump in the bed with me.

  • To the writer:

    Your letter broke my heart for so many reasons. I can’t imagine having to go through this nightmare, pregnant and with a toddler. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to serve my ex with divorce papers with two children under the age of three in tow.

    It’s been said before and I will say it again-You are mighty! I hope you keep coming here if you have a moment or two and let us know how you’re. You are an inspiration.

    Chump Lady you are also mighty awesome yourself. I am utterly convinced that I would still be with the ex asshat and he would’ve definitely cheated again. I just found out he is living with the original other woman. He hedged his bets the entire time we were together which I could feel. I felt it when he wouldn’t tell the OW to fuck off whenever she contacted him and I felt it when he wouldn’t do the real work to earn back my trust. Though I’m glad these two worthless individuals wound up together, it really highlights what a waste of time that sham of a reconciliation attempt was! The thought that I might’ve stayed with him longer had I not found this site makes me absolutely want to vomit!

    Thanks again for doing what you do and I promise to spread the word, not put up with cheating ever again (from anyone) and pimp your blog and book as much as possible.

  • Kudos to everyone who has posted today….you are all mighty. I am honored to be in your company.

    CL….I will also say thank you for this blog. I too have learned a tremendous amount here. Even I am many years out from D-day, divorce and all the crap that followed, this blog along with Out Of The Fog has helped me connect the dots in my life as to why I made such a poor choice twice. Knowledge is power, and I believe the more I know, the better choices I will make.

    CL you are a welcome breath of fresh air. I love your take no prisoners…balls to the wall, this is reality deal with it… Truth can be painful but better to know what is really going on than to break our hearts and risk our mental well being fighting phantoms in the fog of a never ending nightmare. At least when we are operating in reality, we stand a chance of making our lives better. Yes, it takes courage which we chumps have in spades even when we think we don’t.

    Rock on CL and Chump Nation! You are all MIGHTY!

  • CL, Nobody says it better. 🙂 Infidelity Sucks. To the young mother, hugs and best wishes on your journey to a better life. This blog is a great place to come for advice!

  • LW, you are not alone, you are mighty and you will have a good life. Be strong and lean on us, your family and your buds as much as you need to. You are worthy of love and support.

    Jedi hugs x 1000

  • like the Watcher, I also feel bad that I didn’t “judge” when my friend was cheated on.
    Another friend, I’ll call her “Elle” knew; I had no idea of the affair until it busted wide open and everyone knew.
    Both the Chump and Elle are good friends to me. I valued Elle’s friendship because she gave me guidance through tough times. I was SHOCKED and disappointed that Elle knew and didn’t notify the Chump. That she knew and helped the babydaddy cheat by asking him to hang out some nights without the Chump.

    I told the Chump that I was shocked and disappointed, but I didn’t stop being friends with Elle. That action speaks louder than words. I regret it now. But I don’t know how I should tell the Chump. After two years, will she want to hear my pitiful apology, or will it just block her steady path to “meh?” She is amicable with the cheater as they raise their daughter together. Will she want to hear an apology from me? Would you?

    • Regrets, ask yourself what motivates you to apologize. If it’s coming from a place that you truly regret your choices back then, then it might strengthen your relationship with the Chump if you choose to apologize. If it’s coming purely from a place of guilt and you just want to feel better, then maybe the time isn’t right yet for the apology. If you do decide to apologize, realize that you cannot control how the Chump will respond to your apology. She may receive it well, she may not, so be ready for that. I am at meh and recently, one of my dearest friends confided in me that he heard my ex was cheating on me while we were engaged (that was nearly 30 years ago) and he was so sorry he never told me. He didn’t have proof and didn’t want to believe because he liked my ex (not anymore). I embraced his apology because I knew his motives were pure. Did it mess up my state of meh? No, it was just another confirmation to add to my long list that I made the right decision to leave my cheater.

      • Uniquelyme–
        thanks for your response. I thought about it a lot this morning, and I’ll think hard about my motives. There is guilt intertwined with how I’m feeling, but there is also real change in my heart. I feel like I’m not that person anymore, who will just continue on even though friends mess up other friends. Now that I know better, I can do better. I do plan on apologizing one day and I appreciate your point of view.

  • Dear Letter Writer, I am so appalled that any man can treat his wife like that. It is shocking. Even after what I have lived through myself and what I have read on this site, some part of me still reels every time I read another one of these stories. I wish every single person in the world who has ever minimised or made excuses for cheaters (including many counsellors out there, seriously some of them so need to get a grip) could read what you have written. It is clear. It is straightforward. It is eloquent. I wish you the best luck in the world with rebuilding your life. I won’t pretend it’s easy but I can tell you from experience that it does get easier as time goes on (I didn’t believe that this time last year). Just keep going and trust that one day you will be completely free and happy. That man didn’t deserve you (times a million) and has lost the most precious thing he will ever have. You out-class him in every way.

  • Yes. Thank you all for helping me get my life back. It’s as simple as this: I wouldn’t/couldn’t have done it without you, Tracy. I’m so grateful I found your blog when I did, and I’m still pulling strength from everyone here, EVERY day.

  • Thank you for sharing this intensely powerful letter. The writer is indeed MIGHTY. Much strength and love to you and your children as you move forward. So glad you found this place.
    I will never forget the searing wave of anguish that lifted off me when I first found this site almost 7 months ago. I got up from crying, made food – I had barely eaten in two weeks – built a fire in the fireplace and read all the key posts. Everything resonated and I felt stronger immediately. I have read here every day since then and I echo what others have said. This site has helped more than anything to give me the strength to get through the horrible days and nights and the words to articulate my situation and grow and change from it. I am eternally grateful to you, Chump Lady.

  • Without all of you here, I would still be wrecked and convinced that the affair was my fault as my ex was following a playbook I didn’t know existed. All the other infidelity support ‘resources’ are geared toward reconciliation, and since I got the full sociopathic discard, that option was not available and it soured me to see people with the opportunity to keep their family intact complaining about it constantly.

    Now I truly have relief that I didn’t have to chase any unicorns. When I think back on the ease and repetition that he lied to me over an extended period, and the elaborate deception I was living with, it chills me. There is no way I would want to go to that Herculean and futile effort for someone who held me in such little regard. I was already exhausting myself catering to his sense of entitlement as it was.

    I choose to invest that effort into myself and my children now. While things aren’t perfect and I still mourn some days, I now believe the three of us are an intact family.

    It is because of all of you. Those of you who were with your spouses for decades, or faced financial ruin, left the marriage while pregnant or sick. It’s not that I look at your pain and say, “Whew, it could be worse!” It’s that you all demonstrate an extraordinary depth of character and strength that I marvel can exist in an ordinary person. Non-chumps have no idea the miracles you all are working quietly in your homes and hearts, and will never know the darkness of that abyss.

    Thank you from the bottom of MY heart, which is now illuminated.

    • OK, this made me cry> It’s church, to borrow a term from a local blogger, meaning, “righteous and true”: ” It’s that you all demonstrate an extraordinary depth of character and strength that I marvel can exist in an ordinary person. Non-chumps have no idea the miracles you all are working quietly in your homes and hearts, and will never know the darkness of that abyss.”

      • Thanks, LAJ. Three months out I am stretched on my couch having healthy buffalo chicken fajitas with my son and watching college football, content as can be.

        I credit Divorce Care, Lexapro, Chumplady and Chumps and ME for taking this devastation and turning it into an opportunity. I count my blessing every day.

  • Critical Defect, above, said, “Problem is, it’s always the chump that writes letters like this.” Of course, it’s always the chump. We are the ones who got the gift of betrayal–which flays the skin off of us, squeezes our hearts and lungs and minds until we feel on the verge of death, and leaves us with a horrific mess to clean up. And even as chumps, we get the choice to lie down and make excuses and cry for years or stand up and fight for our lives, our kids (if we have them), our pets, our homes–everything we love. For a long time, what got me out of my bed was my students and my cats. And if we stand and fight for ourselves , we can see the opportunity to figure out not the cheater and his skein of fuckedupedness, but ourselves: what we want to keep in our lives, what has to go, what we want to build. What makes us mighty is our resilience and our willingness to look ourselves in the face and change. And it’s sure easier to do that in the company of people who are going through the fire too.

  • My ex was cheating with a terminally ill, married male client. She was also helping herself to his opiate pain meds. I didn’t find out until a year later. My ex was high as usual and told her sordid story to my daughter-in-law, who told her to tell me or she would tell me herself. So when my daughter-in-law informed me of this story, I asked her and my son to come with me to confront my ex. She admitted this was true. I kicked her out that night and put her stuff on the front porch in big black plastic garbage bags.

    Later that week I found all sorts of sleaze on our computer. She had pages and pages of history visiting Craigslist ads for “booty calls”, 420 hookups” etc. I also found all the hot chat she was having with her current married lover via Facebook messaging. He was a mid-life crisis bozo into fire dancing. I got onto her chat and told the bozo “Hi, this is _______. You really should stop cheating on your wife. She seems like a nice person.” Then, when I was cleaning the bedroom, I found empty pain pill bottles behind the bed with other people’s names on them. My ex obviously has a drug problem, but even if she got help, there’s no way in the world I would ever want to stay with her.

    I asked my ex when she was planning on telling me about all this. She said “Never.” So “Never” is when I would ever want to get back together with her. Our same-sex divorce is final now.

    She has a blog where she publishes all the details of her “polyamory” and her “sexual re-awakening” complete with nudie pictures. I skipped over most of it because it was totally gross. I’m glad I’m not with her.

  • Thank you CL for posting this powerful letter from a mighty brave chump.
    Thank you for creating a forum for us chumps to vent and learn from other chumps. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t crazy and that there is a pattern to the behavior of these cheating fucktards. Thank you for showing us that there is hope/something positive that will eventually come to us once the fog has gone and the cheating parasite removed. Thank you for reinforcing that true love of self, children, family, animals is something to be treasured. Thank you for reminding us not to let fear stop us from moving forward but also that it will be worth it in the end.

    I’m 9 months out from dday & have my exit plan in place. Just trying to land that job so me & little man can start our new life. Thanks to CL I see him for what he is & how to deal with his bullshit……… has made life a little more bearable.

  • You are awesome CL. You and chump nation, you are a life saviour for me and my daughter. Today I met with a bull dog solicitor who is going to take us on the next step in our ‘gain a life’ journey. I could not have taken this next step feeling so good without you. Thank you

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