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Dear Chump Lady, I wish I was strong like you guys

inert_chumpDear Chump Lady,

Every morning when I log on to chump lady I read all the stories of how all of you have made the right decisions to leave the cheater. You all seem so strong and consistent. I read, “I threw him out and never looked back,” or “I filled for divorce and could not be happier,” or “I am in no contact and healing”.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I go no contact for a week then call him for an excuse to see him. I make appointments with lawyers and cancel. I tell myself that I am better off without him, then the next minute I remember all the good times and want him back. I am so confused. My therapist tells me that 23 years of abuse from my narcissist husband will take time to heal. But it has been one year and three months and it seems I have weakened over the months. I want to trust that he sucks and not doubt myself. I have lied to myself for so many years and I can’t tell fantasy from reality anymore. I find myself asking friends and family if I am correct in recalling past events or am I exaggerating. I feel helpless against my own messed up thoughts and can’t find a way out.

I wish I was stronger. I wish I was less scared. I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I believed in myself. I wish I was consistent. I wish I felt safe. I wish I had more energy. I wish I was not weak. I wish I didn’t doubt. I wish I was more like you.


Dear Mgirontree,

Are you my cousin? Seriously, I’m wondering if she didn’t write this letter. Let me tell you about my cousin, so you know you aren’t alone in this helpless, chump-in-a-loop phenomena. Maybe you’ll read and want to bitchslap her, recognize yourself, and bitchslap yourself.

My cousin is married to someone who came out as gay after 25 years. But meanwhile, was “exploring” his sexuality for years on Craigslist. You know, just to make sure. Oh, and he bankrupted her. Literally. Had a failing business he wouldn’t quit, that was a nice excuse to not be around (you know, it’s business season). She worked, he played at business person. Missing money. No credit now. IRS troubles. And lots of other shady stuff I won’t go into.

All this shit went down a couple years ago, her first D-Day. It’s only gotten worse. And when she musters up the anger to see a lawyer, or FINALLY tell his secrets — he swoops in and mindfucks her. Tries to get her to feel sorry for him. And goddamn it, he succeeds because she won’t go no contact with him.

The business is gone, but he enjoys his freelance, non-working lifestyle, because she has a steady job. He also enjoys his open lifestyle now, vacationing with boyfriends on her dime.

And she won’t even clean his fucking shit out of her closet. She won’t take their wedding pictures down. She won’t cut off his goddamn money.

And YET Mgirontree, she wants support and sympathy. And I’ve given it. I’ve rallied. I’ve arranged financial support. I’ve kicked the “I’m leaving the cheater” football too many times to recount. And every. single. time. she pulls the football away.

“I’m not ready.” “I don’t know why I can’t leave.” GET THERAPY. “I don’t know how.” GOOGLE. (Blank stare.)

She calls a lawyer. Can’t decide to make the appointment. Sees the lawyer (who tells her pretty much exactly what I told her), she dithers. Months go by. She sees another lawyer. Dithers. Goes back to first lawyer. Files papers. Doesn’t serve them. More months…

I say DO NOT CONTACT HIM. No reason to contact him. She agrees. Then I see his fucking picture on her Facebook feed of him sitting at her kitchen table.

Fact is, I have to pay attention to her actions, just like I would a cheater. She likes it like this. 

She thinks she knows better. She thinks she’s different. She’d rather believe his obvious lies and cling to his mindfuckery than liberate herself.

As Dr. Simon says “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

Here I’ve been providing insight, when she never really wanted it. She wanted her pretty lie back. Her intact family. Her appearance of solidity and normalcy. The truth is ugly and you expect her to walk into THAT?

Try that Dr. Simon advice on yourself, MGirontree — It’s not that you don’t see he’s a cheating, abandoning motherfucker — it’s that you disagree. He’s not that bad. The situation isn’t that bad. You want your pretty lie back. That he loves you. That this is all a misunderstanding.

Except that reality is intruding on your fantasy. He’s not there.  

I have lied to myself for so many years and I can’t tell fantasy from reality anymore. 

I call bullshit. You don’t much care for your new reality, but it’s getting harder and harder to maintain the fantasy.

My therapist tells me that 23 years of abuse from my narcissist husband will take time to heal.

Yes it will, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave him this minute. You want to heal from the narcissist? Get away from the narcissist. People more vulnerable than you have been mindfucked for centuries, and they staged rebellions and liberation struggles. You can too.

I wish I was stronger. I wish I was less scared. I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I believed in myself. I wish I was consistent. I wish I felt safe. I wish I had more energy. I wish I was not weak. I wish I didn’t doubt.

You don’t act because you ARE those things. You DO and then you BECOME those things.

Nobody wakes up one day and thinks “Gosh, I really feel like a divorce today!” or “It would be a splendid day to put his shit in trash bags!” You DO IT, even though it sucks, even though it’s painful, because you MUST do it.

You are making excuses. You want  to be less scared? Go to where it is LESS SCARY — AWAY from him. Away from a person who lies, cheats, and abandons. You want to feel safe? See a lawyer. Find your bad ass. Protect yourself.

Examine reality. Who makes you feel scared? (He does.) Who undermines your self-esteem? (He does.) Who doesn’t believe in you and thinks you’ll always be his chump? (He does.) Who isn’t consistent? (Him again.) Who makes you feel unsafe? (He does.) Who drains the life from you? (He does.) Who mindfucks you and causes you to doubt? (He does.)


You don’t value yourself? I’m really sorry about that. I cannot help you with your self respect. I can make all sorts of arguments and draw cartoons and refer to 5 Things That Keep You Stuck with a Cheater. But, as the saying goes, I can explain it to you, but I cannot understand it for you.

Why don’t you pretend you’re like us strong folks here, and mimic what we do, and see if you don’t feel like a strong person later? Fake it until you make it.

I wish I was more like you.

Easy fix. Leave the cheater.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I wish I had been strong and consistent and steadfast in looking out for my own best interests a lot sooner than I was. But I wasn’t. And I encourage you to get there as quickly as you can so you don’t waste precious time like I did.

    Here’s an approach that worked for me. It started with me going to my counselor (the one who was going to be our marriage counselor but he refused to go. Needless to say I got her in the divorce.) Every week, I’d come in and recount some story of how he had treated me atrociously that week, and she would simply say “that is evidence”. That behavior is evidence of how he thought of me, himself, our marriage.

    It encouraged me to start building a case, to convince myself. I started keeping a journal of the things he would do and say. I could not refute my own truthful words when I went back to read it. I created a PowerPoint of all the phone logs, receipts, OW’s Facebook postings/screenshots of the texts she sent me, etc. just so I could review the evidence when I was weighing what to do and wavering (again, just for my review – it’s saved on my computer under the file name “yucky stuff”).

    I know it sounds nuts, but it worked for me…it took a lot of evidence to convince me that he was not who I wanted to believe he was, and that continuing to stay in contact with him was harmful to my health and mental well-being. So, I recommend you keep a journal and build a case for yourself. Good luck to you — it’s a brutal journey.

    • That’s a great suggestion. I love the “building a case” model. Focus on the reality. Fantasy isn’t really good at building a case. It builds nice unicorns though.

      • The case building is a good idea.
        When I am at a low with how sad it all is and reminiscing that IF I only did not get sick, X wasband would not have done XYZ.
        Not that I want HIM back, but the sadness is overwhelming. I was telling my brother last night that I need to write down ALL of the shitty things X did and look at the evidence when I am depressed so I can get angry again and reengage in taking my life back.
        I think I am going to start working on this and put laminated pages on a small notebook so I can easily take it out and flip through the pages get angry and then get pro active on the ME work! Thanks to all of you here!

      • I started keeping a diary. 46 years old and never once had a diary.

        I wrote down everything he said to me after our separation … the good and the bad … and would read it whenever I started to question my decision to divorce him. It was essential to keeping me focused on how messed up he was and why I needed to be away from him.

        Eventually I was strong enough to throw it away. It took longer than it might have for some but I got there.

        • A comment to anyone keeping a journal or other evidence–don’t tell your STBX about it. The ugliest part of my divorce was when my attorney husband tried to get my journal during the discovery process. I wasn’t keeping a journal to record evidence, I was keeping it so I could keep my sanity. Since my therapist knew of my journal and encouraged me to write in it, I responded that it was private because it was part of my therapy. Luckily it never came up in court–but this was an indignity I will never forget.

    • Doop- I also had “yucky stuff” folder in my phone so whenever what’s his face attempted to wooo me in with his insincere “but I miss you” crap, I would routinely reply to him with screen shots of his sexually graphic emails to several women. I had a big arsenal of those so it never was too repetitive. Having to pull those up a few times a week worked like magic for me.

      • Yep! I also keep all the texts I found on my BF phone. I used my phone to take pics of his texts and the ones sent to him by the OW. Unfortunately , I am STILL tying to break up……still have that spackling problem…… but I pull my phone out and look at the texts especially when he tries to tell me “it’s not what it looks like”….uh-huh….riiiight…..

        • another thing: what reeeaaally helped me and cemented my disgust for “my” cheater, is pulling up DELETED texts and emails- for all of you novices (said lovingly), yep- it’s all possible, as long as you’ve got access to their electronic devices, and not even physical possession (thank you iCloud and keylogger.) I was a hacking queen there for a while, but luckily for me, I was over the detective mode once I uncovered the real pile of shit. Looking back, 14 months post DD, I can almost be amused and crack half smile when I realize that idiot was using MY ISP, iphone registered to me and was actually technologically impaired, considering he didn’t even know how to delete emails from his trash folder.
          Here’s a bit of another irony: one of his multiple OWs was actually pretty clever in hiding her tracks. She used codes in her texts and never gave away her identity in writing. What a pro. When we parted ways shortly after DD, one of the things I said to him was: “next time take cues on how to cheat from claire. Her boyfriend still thinks it wasn’t her texting you.”
          Just a silly sowmthing I wanted to share. Back to the power of the written word: SAVE the evidence for years to come, especially when you have small children. Text transcripts, emails, screenshots, affidavit from private detective, whatever. It’s not only a powerful reminder of who you’ve been dealing with for you but it may be useful to the court as well. Ya never know, my friend always says…

          • Monika, what is icloud and key logger? I tried finding deleted texts but can’t……..when I was needing more ammo…lolol!!

            • They’re your best friends during this mindfuckery. Ask a techy friend or our all knowing Mr. Google. It will be worth it.

    • Dr. Doop! You continue to demostrate why your honorary doctorate is so well deserved.

    • I’ve done something similar. I started keeping little notes right after DDay #1 and I keep them along with all of his lying, deceitful emails to me that also fill in the timeline. And a few days ago I came across skanky pix of STBX and his whore on an SD card he lent me, which he hadn’t erased when he downloaded them onto his computer. Thanks to all of this evidence, it is easier to stop untangling the skein, to trust that he truly sucks. Something else that has helped – not living in the same house. We’ve been separated for months but he finally moved out a week ago and I feel so much better.

    • I just post here every time something jogs my memory of something horrible he did. Then I can just come and review them all whenever I want, and no one else is likely to find it.

    • I have an HIV test dated two years before my Dday which I have lovingly framed (our separation followed very shortly thereafter). Think art exhibit ! I discovered this while digging through all our financial paperwork. It is in my room to remind me that my POS ex was not only a LIAR and a CHEAT but a great BIG LOSER as well (in those last two years he also creatively and systematically destroyed our family’s finances). No contact has been my lifesaver and toxic people should be dumped. My life is 100% better now.

    • Good ideas. I kept a journal and read back through parts of it when I felt the urge to make contact.

      Also treated no contact as a bit like quitting smoking – if you just sit with the urge for a little while, and maybe do something else, it will pass.

      Good luck.

    • Yep, That was me as well. I filed, we separated and she began the hoovering while telling friends and family that I had asked her to come back. I fell for it and now although still separated we’re in limbo. I had enough evidence (after repeated reconciliation attempts and new cheating) to leave 3 years ago but I kept trying to solve the mystery and find that final piece that would tip the scale for me. The bigger picture was always there but I didn’t want to see it. I’m still there teetering on the edge of doing what I know I will have to do now or at some point…

  • Google it! Lol, Tracy, that’s some strong sarcasm in action.
    This is quite simple, actually. You don’t leave because you don’t feel worthy of a better spouse, you don’t leave because you’ve got low self-esteem, FOO issues, or are waiting for that proverbial kick in the ass… If notyou was still with us, she no doubt would explain it more eloquently.

  • First things first, Mg……HUGS to you…….
    Please take note that you used the word ‘wish’ an awful lot. And I mean, that is really AWFUL!
    Look up the definition of ‘wish’ and you just may get some enlightenment as to why you are stuck and as to why I say it is very telling that you used it so many times!

    Also read CL’s amazing post from Jan 30, 2014 on “Explain the Paralysis”.

    Take back your power, Woman!

    I have found an awesome web-site, Mindvalley, that has many excellent courses, videos & so on that are helping me. Take a look. Check out their “Awesomeness Fest” as well.
    Of course, there are a great number of resources to help retrain your brain & your thought processes. That must be done to help you get unstuck from this mess.

    Forge on, Mg…….ForgeOn, Nation……

  • MgIronTree,

    I think “fake it ’til you make it” is the key, here. The vast majority of us probably dithered for a while before we finally pulled the plug and walked away. I had a couple of years of false starts. I’d proclaim that I was done, start putting my affairs in order to prepare for divorce, and then get pulled back into the madness. He was “sorry.” He “didn’t want to lose me.” I’d swoon and fall back into place – rinse and repeat. It went on for ages, and I hated myself for it. I knew intellectually that this was a terrible situation, but denial felt better — sort of.

    I think I got to a point where I realized that there would always be a part of me that wanted to make it work, and that I couldn’t afford to wait around for that part of me to die. So I pretended it wasn’t there and started to move forward anyway. I played the part of a bad-ass — my own knight in shining armor. It worked. I got out. Divorced and moving forward. It’s starting to feel pretty good.

    I guess my point is that some of us are badasses on paper, but will always be recovering chumps. You have more strength than you think you do.

    Go be your bad-ass self,

      • I can’t like your comment enough Lilybart! If you act like a badass, you are a badass even if the whole time, you don’t feel like one. This is what I did, I convinced myself I was a badass by doing badass shit. I really wish I could say this more eloquently but it’s late and right now I’m not in badass mode cos I’m watching hummingbirds and they make me smile so much…

      • I couldn’t do it for myself. I had a bad ass lawyer who did it for me. Then he played the trump card. Do what’s best for your kds if you won’t do what’s best or you. Boom. I am still paralyzed at times. You can do it. ROAR like Katy Perry’s song…

    • I think I got to a point where I realized that there would always be a part of me that wanted to make it work, and that I couldn’t afford to wait around for that part of me to die.

      So much wisdom and freedom in these words LilyBart! I have been separated two years, trying to get divorced (very messy situation) and I still cry a lot for my family and my death dream. You are so right in stating that we will always be recovering chumps. One way or another. Live trauma survivors. But I want to live. I choose life.
      Thank you!

    • …”- my own knight in shining armor.”
      Love it!!! Thank you for posting this! In looking back on my 20+ year marriage and why I got into it in the first place I realized it’s because he was my knight in shining armor and that I had some kind of rescue fantasy (aka I didn’t want to take care of myself). Now, it gives me great joy to know I can rescue me myself and do everything I need to. It’s the best gift I’ve ever given myself!!

    • So, so, true Lilybart, I am still caught up in the denial stage, but today, right now, I know that I am heading in the right direction and that soon I will be able to make a clean break, and go NC. I am working on it…..(Third time is a Charm, they say)

  • Mgirontree,

    Listen to CL! It sounds very much like the lie/illusion is still stronger than the truth in your heart. I would add to possibly write out your reasoning for leaving/divorcing/going no contact. Put on a 3×5 reference card to whip out when you feel weak. Do this to draw strength in the truth. Just a thought.

    You are not alone in the waffling. I was there as well even after knowing about multiple Other Men. Cut yourself some slack in that. Focus on the truth by reminding yourself of it. As it gets stronger, you will find strength standing in it.


  • In the field of people that frequent this site, at this point in time I consider myself one of the “stronger” participants.

    I don’t feel any need to compulsively psychoanalyze my ex, I am no longer angry (though it took getting very angry at one point for me to ask “What is making me so angry, and what am I going to do about it?”), and I haven’t been sad/grieving my former screwed up relationship in a very long time. I also don’t imagine that every cheater is a narcissist (though the act is narcissistic) or need to construct any skewed counter-narrative because the trauma ended long ago, it’s over, and I am very much all about what is happening now and possibly in the future in my real life now, and none of that includes or is about what happened back then, and the sole exception is participating on this site and trying to support others who are going through something like what I went through (but I am growing a bit weary of bringing up something better left buried as a way to relate to others in my effort to pay-it-forward).

    All that being said, it took 2 Ddays for me to pull the plug and finally decide to stop second guessing and looking back, and I spent 6-8 months looking back, but NO CONTACT is what made that period relatively short (the second time around). I could have and should have done the same thing on Dday 1, but I didn’t, and the cost was years, $$$, and pain.

    So… I wound up here, but I didn’t start out here. I started out some place a lot like where you are now.

    What changed it? Pulling the plug and going NO CONTACT.

    • “but I am growing a bit weary of bringing up something better left buried as a way to relate to others in my effort to pay-it-forward”

      I get this. But in the same frame of mind that the ChumpLady has written
      I have all the time in the world for the freshies… But the stuck in sympathy are just that, stuck and they do not want out.

      That is not what this place is for. My opinion. YMMV

  • I know exactly how you feel Mgirontree. I felt the same way, but I kept on reading Chump Lady and I gained strength. It gets better. Throw out his shit and reclaim your space. I still feel sad about the happy times we had and no longer will have but that’s put in its place now. I cannot go back to then. He’s a different person now and not someone that I can be in a relationship with anymore. That ‘no contact’ rule is a must! Call a friend instead when you feel the urge to reach out.

    The support you need is here. I haven’t reached to filing for a divorce as yet but it’s coming. I feel stronger every day and this is because of several things: therapy, this web site, friends who support me, no contact, getting rid of all his stuff that was in my house and doing lots of reading.

    You can do it.

  • “I wish I was stronger. I wish I was less scared. I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I believed in myself. I wish I was consistent. I wish I felt safe. I wish I had more energy. I wish I was not weak. I wish I didn’t doubt.”

    Here’s some wisdom from someone who had to learn the hard way.

    Grab something to write with, legal pad and pen, computer, whatever.
    Start your lists. First list:
    What it would look like if I was stronger
    Underneath that, itemize 3-4-5 things that belong here. Don’t overthink it, just put down the first thing that pops into your head.
    I would clear the breakfast dishes off the table;
    I would be able to do chin-ups;
    I would call the garage and find out what that rattle is in the back of my car.

    Next list,
    What it would look like if I was less scared:
    I would call my lawyer and make an appointment.
    I would call a therapist and make an appointment.
    I would walk with my back straight and my shoulders lifted.

    What it would look like if I had more self-esteem:
    I would have a great haircut.
    and so on . . .

    Describe this as specific things that you would see or could itemize, or check off on a list, and complete in a reasonable period of time (like today, or within a week).

    Once you’ve done that, you have a tailored, custom-made to-do list of what it would look like to be all those things. Then you do all those things. Then you’ve become all those things you want to be.

    It really is that simple. It is, as Chumplady said above, easier to act yourself into believe than it is to believe yourself into acting.

    • This sounds like a wonderful idea. I’m getting started on my list right after lunch.

      I already have several pep talks to myself on file. I’ve got multiple “this is why he sucks “files as well. I’ve got folders full of evidence, full of confessions. I’ve got a file full of great quotes on cheating and another about lies. What I need now is an action plan. Thanks so much!

    • Great idea! I do a similiar thing but I break it up into 4 day chunks. Once I make it, I reward myself with little luxuries (like going out for ice cream, an extra hour of tv, go to bed early) for achieving my goals. Then I decide if I want to keep going, reevaluate the actions and start a new 4 day cycle.

  • Mgirontree,
    Listen to Chump Lady.
    I spent the last several years in my marriage like you just letting all the shit happen and not moving on.
    Ultimately, my now X wasband made his own decisions which were not in line with mine. He left but not until he had destroyed me financially, lost our home, cars and credit, forced me into bankruptcy (the list here is endless).
    The only thing I did wrong was to continue to stay while things steadily grew worse every day.
    “Act as if” and “Fake it till you make it” are the best things you can do. Pretend you respect yourself and your needs until you actually do.
    If you can convince yourself things might get better in your situation, you should use that energy to tell yourself you can walk away.
    Please end the madness.
    My dithering caused more harm to me than if I had just called it DONE.
    Yesterday, I spent moving my things out of our marital home and realized that X wasband and his new foreign import had sifted through everything of mine and took things that were exclusively mine and precious to me. It made me feel sad and violated all over again.
    Act quickly and decisively. Waiting will only prolong the agony.
    FYI, I have been NC except for seeing him at divorce court and the space has really helped me to galvanize how toxic he IS.
    I was hopeless, but I fake it and my life is moving on without the bullshit.
    I still have my moments of sadness, but they are not because I want him back. The terrible sadness is more because I want to forgive myself for what I let someone else do to me and he did it for way too long.

    • Hopium is a powerful drug. I think most of us had serious consequences that we ignored or played off, or thought, oh, it won’t happen again.

      But I also agree that most chumps have a breaking point. Enough, I’m done. Problem is we can take a LOT of shit before we get there.

      Thus, this blog. I wanted people to skip the queue and get results sooner. And yet i know it’s a process. I’d like to speed it up and avoid the pain and expense, however.

      In this letter, and my cousin’s experience, what bugs me — and it can only bug me the way smokers bother a newly evangelized non-smoker/former smoker — is the desire for sympathy.

      I don’t want to give you sympathy. You just found out? I’ve got buckets of it . You choose to stay mired in this shit? My sympathy is waning.

      You can read on this blog every day of people who have it MUCH WORSE and they leave. They figure it out, whatever it is, money, jobs, day care, living arrangements. They make a plan and they execute it. Of course it hurts like a motherfucker. Of course it’s painful.

      I reserve my compassion now for those who are trying and being brave and making plans. The longer I do this, the less compassion I have for those who stay stuck. I know, it’s messed up because I had 4 D-Days in 18 months, but it’s how I feel. I get the hopium addiction, but I have no tolerance for it any more. KICK IT. Deal with reality.

      • “less compassionate for those who stay stuck…”- thanks for this, I thought I was the only one who felt this way, 14 months into this process. There’s another angle to this- those less self-aware, which is tied into self-esteem, seem to take longer in recognizing the fact that this is indeed the dead end (infidelity, mindfuckery, etc.)
        That’s why therapy is such an important tool.

      • “Hopium is a powerful drug”

        It is. It’ll have you overlooking a mountain of crap for a few redeeming traits in a cheating partner. It’ll have you overlook what you are turning into yourself while you imagine the “potential” of that partner, and worse… if you can’t deny what you are turning into, that can provide justification for the poor treatment you are receiving at the expense of your own self-respect.

        • So powerful the way you put it.
          I am more than a year out from being “abandoned”
          Had my X not given me the gift of leaving, I would still be there today imagining the potential of what it once was…
          More than 1 year apart and I am stultified that I would have just stayed and lost more self respect or possibly ended up dying from the stress or perhaps have been murdered in a wasband rage.
          The truth is not always pretty, but it sure is powerful.

      • “I reserve my compassion now for those who are trying and being brave and making plans. The longer I do this, the less compassion I have for those who stay stuck. I know, it’s messed up because I had 4 D-Days in 18 months, but it’s how I feel. I get the hopium addiction, but I have no tolerance for it any more. KICK IT. Deal with reality.”

        Thank you CL for articulating this so very well. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately and I was beginning to wonder if I had somehow lost my compassion somewhere down the line. I too realize that this is a process (having been “stuck” for a long time myself), but I see some who are almost content to continue to play the victim, and I just can’t bring myself to offer them my endless support any longer.

        Like my great grandmother used to say: “shit or get off the pot”. Getting out isn’t as complicated as it seems…just get out already. If you actively choose to stay, I”m not sure you have the right to complain about your life and how miserable you are.

        • I think you can be a source of support without enabling. It’s just terribly frustrating, I’m sure. Once you see that someone is stuck in a cycle of crisis/going back to the cheater/abuser, calmly let them know you’ll be there for them if they need help leaving and back off. When they tell you the latest horrible thing he’s done, ask them if they think he’s going to change. Instead of dwelling on the details and wallowing in the emotion, bring it back to the real question at hand: do you think that he’ll ever change? Would someone who loves you do these things? Don’t enable the emotional rollercoaster but don’t cut them off either. Hopefully, rationality will prevail at some point.

          • Good points. On the Latest Horrible Thing, I think the best response is “And what are YOU going to do about it?”

            Always keep reminding folks, you only control yourself. That’s it.

            • Thanks CL. I have a friend who is a chump like me, quite recently on dday 3 after years of the infidelity rollercoaster. In reading some things on domestic violence recently, I was reading about how to help someone who feels stuck as my friend does in what is truly an emotionally abusive relationsip (in addition to the infidelity. ) I understand that I can’t rescue her but I tell her that I am here for her. I have tried the 2×4 but the issues of emotional abuse are so entrenched in her marriage. I keep offering support, reality checks and links to your blog and was going to ask you how you continue to help someone you love when it is clearly a very bad situation.

            • A friend of mine, in those situations, always say–with a strong note of sarcasm. “And you had no idea that would happen (or that he would do something like that.). No idea.”

              It always cracks me up, even when I am sad or hurt, to be reminded that yep, I know what he was capable of and, yep, I signed up for it anyway.

        • My best quote comes from the movie Shawshank, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Movies are full of relevant quotes. What About Bob? “Baby steps…”

          • Wow, Drew – the Shawshank quote has also popped into my mind on a regular basis since my d-day. Such a great quote. Yes, sit happens. Yes, it’s unfair. Yes, it’s scary. But you can either deal with it, or stay stuck. Get busy living.

      • I’ve been in AA and sober for 17 years — this is precisely how I feel about drunks who want sympathy but don’t give up drinking. So, fair enough.

          • Well, it sure beats the alternative. Ironically (?), I first went to AA in an attempt to be good enough for Cheater Wife. But I’m way past that initial motivation.

      • Chump lady, I understand your frustration with weak people like me. Believe me, I don’t like me, I don’t have sympathy for me. I am like a two year old having a temper tantrum and want my candy back. And who likes seeing a kicking spoiled brat screaming for her next “fix”. I am an addict and like all addicts I try me best to get my next “fix” even though at the end I know it will kill me.

        • mgirontree, I’m not an expert or anything but dont be so harsh with yourself that that it hurts your self esteem more than your cheater already has. Just try to be firm with yourself but don’t insult yourself. Maybe say something like, I know I messed up, but will do better from now on.

          • You don’t have to be an expert, NJ, because you’re right. I get into cycles of insulting myself — really, really harsh insults. That inevitably leaves me with an emotional hangover that just makes the whole problem worse. It’s like your mind believes that beating yourself up is the same as actually doing something.

        • We have similar stories, length of marriage, questioning reality. In addition to writing a new list of the reality of what X did (so awful) every time i found myself huffing hopium, i can honestly say, it took a LOT of work and time. I treated like an addiction. We all know the only way to quit something is to quit it. No contact is the fix. You CAN do it, one day at a time.

        • Hey, we’ve all been weak. It’s part of the shit sandwich of infidelity. Very few people just draw their boundaries right off the bat. But you CAN be stronger and you can start to protect yourself.

          That “candy” is poison, and when you figure that out, no matter how sweet it tastes, you won’t want it any more.

    • Hear, hear, EchoNoMorr: “The terrible sadness is more because I want to forgive myself for what I let someone else do to me and he did it for way too long.” Could’ve written that myself, have thought it so many times. 16 years of the pretty lie… MGirontree, it does get better but you need to see him for who he really is.

  • You’re going to hate me for saying this, but it does need to be said.

    You’re still in “wuss mode” because it’s not uncomfortable enough for you yet.

    Once upon a time, my then H (X#1) went to a party with me and got trashed. Wasted beyond belief; I’m not sure how he even walked home. I had our baby daughter with us, so I didn’t really drink anything that night – I knew I had to remain functional in order to take care of her. I put her to bed and crashed myself. H is in the bathroom, hugging the commode. He’s ralphing so hard I wonder how he’s still got internal organs left. It’s painful to both watch and hear. He turns to me between heaves and whines, “Sunny, don’t ever let me do this again. Don’t ever let me party this hard or drink this much again.” To which I responded, “You’ll only stop drinking like this when you get sick of the consequences.” I then walked down the hall to my bedroom, shut the door so I couldn’t hear him anymore, put the pillow over my head & went back to sleep. I felt like a cold hard bitch, but sleep deprivation & concern for my infant daughter won out. Turns out it was the right choice – he never got that messy again (at least with me).

    So it will be with you. The situation just isn’t painful enough for you. You don’t yet feel compelled to crack down & enforce your boundaries yet because not enough is at stake. You’re uncomfortable, but not enough of the time. That’s why you feel stuck. You have this vague persistent hope that someday things will return to normal. Until events kill that hope for you beyond the possibility of any resurrection, you won’t act. I know, because I once was you. In fact, most of us were.

    We’ll be here for you though. We always will. Because one day… you’ll know it’s time.

    • The one problem with waiting for it to get that uncomfortable is that some of us [raises hand] adapt to new levels of uncomfortableness. Proverbial frog in boiling water. You may be too young, Mgirontree, to remember the couple in NYC that had children who were given up in adoption. Husband was so crazy that he beat his wife and children for years until he finally killed his daughter. Wife became so crazy over time that she made up reasons why what he did was okay, until the final act of rationalization where her daughter lay dying on their bathroom floor and she stepped.over.her.body to use the bathroom, but did not call for help because she “didn’t want to appear disloyal to him”.

      That kind of batshit crazy stuff he did, had he done it the first day she met him, would have caused her to pick up the phone and call the police. But over years, she just racheted down and down and down until that was her new normal.

      Some healthy part of you still exists and is crying out for you to take control and fix this problem already. Listen to that part of you. She’s right.

    • Thank you Sunny for giving me hope. I actually hope that he leaves me for another woman so I can finally be over him. So I do hope things do get worse, only because I feel as though I have not suffered enough. I can take a lot!!!!!! And I will go on to say I must feel that I deserve all this shit since I am asking for it. I guess growing up in a boarding school and being abandoned at the age of 6 lets you endure the most horrendous stuff.

        • I asked him to leave in May. Finally, I went NC in the beginning of September. Sadly my mother passed away September 8th and I let him sooth me in my grief. I am feeling stronger again and am going NC again. I am going to take it one day at a time, and follow your advice along with the other chumps on this site. I know what you guys are telling me is the truth and I am learning to trust in others as well as myself. It’s going to be a long process but I will take the pain one hour, one day, one month at a time.

          • Reconciling will never be possible. His cheating is not the biggest problem in this so called marriage. It’s his abusive mouth and hands. He has promised to never to cheat again, (what a laugh) but has never promised to not abuse me again. He believes that his cheating made him a better husband. (He actually said that in therapy.) Maybe when he cheated he would feel guilty and be less abusive. (what a pathetic piece of shit) Oh but he sparkled so so much!!! There were times in the marriage that I though I was completely insane. His acting is superb! “And the Oscar goes to a man that has fooled his wife, family and friends for over 23 years! “

      • MG-You feel like you haven’t suffered enough?!? What, so this your penance? You’re doing time? No, no, no, no, no!! What on earth makes you think that you haven’t suffered enough? When is enough? When you’ve been physically beaten? When you can no longer even look yourself in a mirror? When you can’t even leave your house? When you pull an Opus Dei stunt and whip yourself with thorns b/c you haven’t suffered enough? You’ll never reach “enough.” You can’t set the bench mark of “I haven’t suffered enough” b/c enough always keeps moving. The goal posts keep moving.

        You have suffered enough. You asked CL a lot of “why” questions concerning yourself. You have your answer. You view yourself as doing time. You view yourself as so low that you just sit there and ask for more. You don’t know your own boundaries, you don’t know how to stand up for yourself. NO!! You’re not supposed to “endure horrendous stuff” b/c that horrendous stuff isn’t supposed to be dealt to you in the first place! Until you break that mentality you’ll just keep sitting there. You sound like you’ve had heavy abuse and I’m not just referring to the one who needs to be your soon-to-be-ex. Your shrink needs to crank it up a notch b/c you need to get to a healthier place where you actually see yourself as having worth. You’re trying to trust your own coping mechanisms and it’s those mechanisms that are pulling you even further down. You have worth. Now it’s time for you to be able to see it.

      • Mgirontree,
        A good therapist can help you understand your childhood wounds and how to heal into wholeness now. The truth is that no child receives all the goodnesses they deserve and every child experiences some type of trauma (ranging in severity from social rejection to abuse/abandonment). Part of healing is ‘growing up’ our child mind and understanding bad things happened to us…but this is not who we are. We heal when we stop internalizing the Big Lie that we are not good enough. We become whole when we remember who we really are. Loveable and precious. And we deserve honest partners who treat us as such.

        My DDay came at year 24. I was blindsided as were my young adult daughters, friends, family, community, church. I initially internalized all the cruel things he said about me because they matched perfectly with the childhood wound/Big Lie that i was fundamentally not good enough. I do not beat myself up for this. I have tremendous compassion for that little me.

        In addition to good therapy and practicing self care, what helped me move forward was my faith. I am not preaching here. I am telling my story. My entire life, the one i had built around my marriage, was summarily dismantled by my X’s affair (lost home, community, etc). Add my breast cancer, mother’s death, and major medical issue (big scare) with adult daughter..all within the same years as affair, separation, divorce. Prayer kept me glued and strong. Sometimes my prayer was simply: help me Jesus …now! The peace and Love i experienced in prayer in the middle of the night, on my morning commute, and over tear soaked spaghetti dinners alone was what got me through. This is not to say that my faith stopped the gut wrenching pain. Rather it helped me transcend it. In the cheater’s Pick Me dance (the parallel dance step to the Chump’s pick me) i consciously turned away from X and picked…God. And I remembered who i really am in my Creator’s heart.

        1.5 years after divorce and no contact 5 months, i am well. Very well. You will be too. But it takes time, attention, and focusing on YOU and your needs. He has proven he cannot be trusted to meet the fundamental basic requirements in a trusting relationship with you. As an adult now, it is up to you to become your own best parent…or fairy godmother. Your letter to CL is your guide. You are the only one who can make your wishes come true for you. It starts with not picking the cheater anymore.
        Blessings on all us precious chumps.

  • Mgirontree:

    I feel just like you. And so I didn’t much like what CL had to say to you, but I’m afraid she’s right. I think I am (and maybe you are) afraid of building a life that doesn’t have the certainty of our cheater in it — both the false certainty of having a “real” family, and the true certainty of having someone to blame for our own bad feelings. I hope you stick with it and get yourself free. Me — I don’t know. And I don’t even have anyone saying they’re sorry or they don’t want to lose me, like LilyBart. But I have that comfortable numbness I’m so used to — the numbness that says “stay where you are …. you’re not a big enough deal to rock the boat; if things don’t get better at least you’ll die sometime.” Maybe I’m not a big enough deal, Mgirontree, but I’ve followed your posts and I think you are. I really do. Good luck.

    • ANR, I think you are indeed a big deal. You have one soul, one life, and on this board, you reach out to others consistently and with compassion. You are worth rocking the boat over, today and any day. I hope you do it. (((hugs)))

        • And I will third that, ANR-your words have helped me, too.

          Mg-Big hugs! There is no ‘schedule’. I am almost two years out from Dday on a twenty plus year relationshit. Aacording to popular wisdom, you need a minth for every year. I doubt it works like that-I have some awful days, too, but the good ones, or, at least, the ‘Meh’ ones are starting to happen more often.

          None of it would have hapoened without NC, and fear of the unknown is a big factor here-it makes the comfortabke fantasy seem viable. I struggled with this for a good while.

          Is my life fantastic now that I have left? Not yet-solo parenting, thousands of miles from friends now, savings gone, job propspects low, no pension, no house, no pets etc etc etc. But that is STILL better than the emotional racquetball game. It is scary, but after NC for a while, there is room for YOU in your own head. What YOU need. What YOU want.

          Of COURSE you don’t want to believe he sucks. But he does. And when you do, you will ACT accordingly. As in take action.

          And when you do, Chump Nation will be behind you, every step of the way.

          love to Chump Nation!


          • “relationshit”
            I Love It!
            I am feeling kinda weepy today and that is just perfect terminology. Thank you!
            You are correct that space for you in your head is important and leads to productivity.
            I have been moving forward for some time, but yesterday, I was dismantling the marital home which is a HUGE trigger.
            Thanks for disrupting my sad reminiscing. X wasband really does suck and I am sure of that!

            • Overheard in a bar, so credit where credit is due….

              Echo-best of luck in YOUR new place, on YOUR terms.


    • Of course you’re a big deal ANR, and when you figure that out, you’ll un-numb. There is mighty in there, just unthaw it and serve.

    • ANR, you are so kind and compassionate. We both deserve better, but we are so used to feeling crapy that feeling good feels strange. Good luck to you too my dear.

      • You got that right, Mgirontree. Chump Lady and kind people posting above: OK, so I’m a little bit of a big deal 😉 Thanks for your kind words. My counsellor today said much the same sort of thing, then kicked my ass about not taking care of myself. God bless her.

        • Mgirontree & ANR
          We have to be firm but uncritical with ourselves. You may have had pretty decent self-esteem at one point, but staying with a cheater erodes it over time, so slowly sometimes as to be barely detectable. We can get to feeling defective for feeling stuck, but that is not helpful or often accurate, IMO. Often, it is the situation, not some fatal internal flaw that makes us feel so small over time.

          I would disagree with the premise that everyone who seems stuck “likes it” and is more attached to the drama or the ‘pretty lie’ than solving the problem. If you read about the psychology of abuse and attachment theory and betrayal/trauma bonds, you come to understand what can happen in the mind of the abused. It has really helped me during those moments I cried out “What the F is wrong with me?”

          Abuse creates mental injury and illness. People ‘frozen’ in that trap need support/safe harbor, affirmation, positive self-talk, and lots of gentle/firm reality checks, IMO. Abusers literally disarm their targets. We need to rearm ourselves and them. There is a delicate line between re-arming and adding to the abuse.

          Trust that they suck (even if you think they don’t mean to) and get help to get unstuck (even if you feel disloyal). That feeling will pass with NC.

          Hugs to Chump Nation.

  • Dear MGirontree,

    The only person who can help you is you. Although, if my therapist was your therapist, you would have been bitch-slapped into reality a year ago. You wonder why you are recovering after a year, when you cling tenaciously to what CL calls your pretty lie. Lots of people here have hung on to a cheater because of kids, money, religion, and fear of all sorts of consequences. You can either leave and a year from now read your new post here about the struggles and joys (yes, indeed) of building a life that is whole, healthy and authentic, or you can re-read this letter and see that you are still stuck and have let anither year slip into the black hole of living a lie.

    You “wish” you were stronger? Not weak? The only way to become strong is to lift weights, in this case, the metaphoric weight of picking yourself off the floor every morning to face a new day on your own. You “wish” you had self-esteem? That one is easy. Value yourself enough to get away from your abuser. Self-esteem comes from achievement, not the trophy you get for lat place. You “wish” you didn’t doubt? Well, if you are waiting for certainty, you will wait forever. We all doubt. I still have moment where I forget the Jackass sucks. I want to write a letter! I fantasize that he is “sorry”! But then I have a rational conversation with myself and remember how he walked away but dragged my heart behind his pickup, stringing me along, until I caught him on FB with MOW. I look at the screenshots with his Fb, her picture. I read my journal from this time last year. And then I can see that he sucks, I can trust my rational judgment, and remind myself that I would have kicked him to the curb before D-Day if I had simply valued myself and refused to be verbally abused and gaslighted. I read the chumpy, conciliatory letters I wrote pre- and post D-Day and I cringe to see how much I wanted him to care about me when he obviously did not. I am worth more than that.

    You are, too. But as CL said, no one can give you self-respect or courage. No one can reach your mind with the truth if you lie to yourself. It’s that simple. Not choosing is a choice. And you make it every day that you continue in the relationship or you cling to hopium and a guy who doesn’t care.

    You are a drowning person who has been offered a lifeline. Many people on the board can’t afford therapy and have made do with hard work, friends, and a rigorous campaign to rebuild a life. You can get serious about therapy–if your therapist can’t help you put a plan together to get your life in order, either the therapist is mediocre at best or you aren’t working at it. Of course it will take time. It also takes consistent, mindful effort. I tell students who come to me for “help” that I can’t do the work for them, which is often what they want. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” You. Plan. To do.

    • LAJ, to this, Yes! “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Chumps, Intentionality/mindfulness is what we always had going for us. Didn’t we raise awesome kids? Work hard? Be a good friend/spouse? Make a home?

  • Mgirontree,

    Listen to CL!

    I have recommend Melanie Tonia Evans – She deals with Narcissist Abuse. I installed the Podcast on my phone, she has a weekly radio show on the Empowered loved station – search for it, you’ll find it. I started listening to her old podcasts – about Narcissism, co-dependency, and empowering ourselves, (all free) – everyday on my daily walks in park. It has helped so much.

    One thing that she says about Narcissists – they never get better, EVER. In fact they get worst. There is no way for us to make them “get it” – NONE.

    Keep reading CL everyday, you are mighty and stronger than you think.

    • Ah betrayedfriend- I posted my comment before reading through – I also mentioned and agree about Melanie Tonia Evans. I also tried to post the links to her site but had a problem. But for anyone struggling with No Contact I’d recommend going to her Blog and find the post called hoovering-how the narcissist tricks you into breaking no contact.

    • Betrayed Friend, I have been listening to Sam Vaknin, a proclaimed narcissist himself. I will keep reading CL and listen to Melanie Tonia Evans too. Maybe one day it will sink in that my H’s charm is only an allusion.

    • I also have benefited tremendously from melanie tonia evans NARP program. She’s the real thing (money back if you don’t fine it useful!)

  • I am one week from my 2 year anniversary of D-Day, my birthday. The first year we were in false reconciliation as she fished around for OM #3 and exit affair. It took another 6 months for me to actually follow through on the divorce. The second year was much harder as I came out of shock and started facing reality. You sound a lot like that…You are beginning to see reality and it is much more difficult than shock as you now have the wherewithal and capacity to begin moving forward…but moving forward still seems daunting…You will get there, you will heal…I am doing great in my career, have a 50/50 parenting plan with my two amazing children and dating a wonderful, honest, beautiful woman I went to college with!! As soon as you can breath and begin moving forward your life will get better…LIBERATE YOURSELF!!! …Point is, what you are going through is part of the process, probably the most difficult part! But it is finite!

    • You are right Cletus. At first I had this amazing energy and the will to move forward and do what was right, but as time went on I felt weaker. I need to find my anger again, because I think that is what fueled me at the beginning.

  • Honey, we would be lieing to say we were never in your shoes. We worried, doubted ourselves, were stunned into taking it.

    For those that immediately tossed out their cheaters, I commend you.

    It took me several months to trust that he sucked. He was my first and only relationship and even tho i was always telling people to run, not walk, out of a cheater’s life, I had to try reconciliation. I didn’t think i could move on if there was always a “what if” lurking in my mind. But i did eventually come to the conclusion that it was he that sucked, not me.

    We understand your pain and bewilderment. We can’t make you move on with your life, but we’re always here to help.

  • So…I haven’t had time to read CL’s response – this work thing is getting in the way – but here’s mine: TRUST THAT HE SUCKS.

    I think the repeated contact is getting in the way of healing. Do you want to know how I made it NC? Because I shirked the responsibility. My therapist told me to go NC, my OLD therapist told me to go NC, my kid begged me to go NC, my very best girlfriend told me to go NC and my sister told me to go NC. I felt bad. I felt guilty. This was cruel and unusual punishment. I wouldn’t like being treated like this. Shouldn’t we ‘do unto others as we would like done to us’ ??

    Nope. I followed their advice. (I told myself that a 10-year old couldn’t be wrong). I repeated to myself at night, I am deferring to their judgment, these are people I trust. I trust their judgment.

    And?? So here I am 1 year later. Couldn’t be happier. Yes, the memories are still there and they still suck but I find that they are fading as I am letting them go. Yes, things are not exactly perfect but I am not miserable, I am not tormented, my self esteem is no longer in the shitter. Most of all I am almost to ‘meh’.

    His behavior in the post-NC environment provided the ‘proof’ I needed to see how disturbed he really was. It included finding his way around email/phone/text blockades and stalking behavior in the form of drive-bys, crashing my work event etc. That was all I needed to see that my support group (and my gut) had been right all along and I had been correct to follow their advice. You know what needs to be done, otherwise you wouldn’t read this blog, you wouldn’t write this letter to CL. Trust your gut, trust us!

    You CAN do this. But for the love of Pete, STOP COMMUNICATING WITH HIM.

    my two cents.

  • Mgirontree,
    None of us know how strong we are until we are through it. I went 2 years waking up every day thinking “I. Can. Not. Do. This. One. More. Day.” but I would make it through one more day and the next morning I would do it all again. And I cried buckets!! buckets of tears, I had to remind myself to breath and blink but I made it through every day minute and hour and day until one day I realized I hadn’t cried in a week and I smiled and I realized I had made it. All of a sudden people were calling ME strong. They call it a challenge because we don’t know we can do it.
    The reason it too 2 years?…….because the first year I stayed in contact, “wishing” things were different, alway saying I was not going back this time but in my heart “wishing” for a miracle. It was not until I went no contact that the healing began. The thing I missed the most was the hope. I knew he was not going to change for the new woman, not long term, but I resented the fact that NOW she had hope and I had no hope. I could no longer lie to myself and “wish” and Hope that things would be different but his new woman had hope.
    It will be 4 years this Dec I left him, 3 1/2 years since I went no contact and 3 years since he popped into my life and I listened to his bullshit false hope crap he tried to push down my throat and I told him to stick his “love and friendship” where the sun doesn’t shine.”
    For the last 1 1/2 years I have worked on getting MY shit together, getting a life, and rebuilding myself into a woman I respect, and I just spent the most wonderful weekend with my 30 year old son and grand daughter without one thought of what I was going to come home to. Without one call or text ruining my trip. I do not miss that parasite one little bit. I really like being happy, I forgot what it was like to be carefree and happy, now I “wish” I would have kicked the asshole to the curb years ago. I was 9 years too long in a 10 year relationship, I am so thankful I did not waste another year “wishing” things were different and “wishing” I was happy.
    You will never know how happy you can be unless you take that first step.
    It is up to you. You were a victim, whether you stay a victim or not is YOUR choice. YOU control your mind, you control your thoughts and only YOU can decide to be happy. I know, I hear you saying “but I can’t help it, I HAVE to call, or I CAN’T say no, or he is the one calling me”
    When you find wishful thoughts coming to mind change what you think about, make yourself think about the truth, call a friend and have them verify he treated you like shit, make a list of all the shitty things he did to you, DON”T remind yourself of the good times, force yourself to remember the shitty things. Our minds do not control us, our minds only know the past and present, so that is what it concentrates on. Your brain is programmed to think about asshole and rely on the asshole to make you happy, He has fed your brain with bullshit lies and so that is the automatic “go-to” for your brain. You have to retrain your brain to go somewhere else. It will get easier and easier but it is tough at first. Don’t think about it as forever, get through this hour, this day. There are site where you can read up on these asshole, most of them are narcissists or psychopaths, research them, read about the struggles of other victims and you will see you are not special, there are tons of women (and men) going through this and struggling. You are not alone. You are clinging to the hope he will change and I will bet you he is a narcissist and he CAN NOT change.

  • Mgirontree,

    I told myself (for most of our relationship), that it was fine that he flirted with other women and that most of his friends were women.

    I believed him when he said that he only kissed the neighbour after I found a slew of inappropriate texts on his phone.

    I comforted him when he was crying, telling me he was sorry he slept with the neighbour (weeks after I found the texts).

    I cut off our “friends” and stuck by him after he cheated on me.

    I didn’t make a plan for leaving after I found the naked pictures he exchanged with a new co-worker.

    I planned our whole move to a new rental house away from the neighbour. The new co-worker helped us pack, and I was ok with this.

    I still thought we had a chance after he admitted he was in love with the co-worker (but nothing had happened between them yet) and that he did not want to have kids.

    He would spend all his time outside of work with her, and yet I was waiting for him to tell me want he wanted. I should have kicked his ass out the street.

    It took months of being treated like crap. It took me realizing that I was never going to be put first in his life. There were copious amounts of tears.

    I packed up all my stuff. I ended up paying his cable/internet bill that he had racked up when he was unemployed (yet again) just to get my name off the account. I took on an extra $5000.00 of our debt because his credit was too crappy to have it transferred to his name. He still rents the house with the OW where I paid the damage deposit, and I am never going to get that money back.

    I lost friends, money, self worth, dignity, perhaps the chance to be a mother and my self respect.

    But NOW, now I can look back and realize everything I GAINED. I have a better job, I am completing an online course, I have paid off most of my debt, I have my own house, I have lost over 65 pounds and I am happy.

    It takes time. I was a mess for about a year (from finding the texts), and we were only together for 5 years and never had kids together. It would be understandable if it took longer for you to find your way.

    Keep reading and you can always ask us for advice and support.

    • ” It took me realizing that I was never going to be put first in his life.”


      The moment you KNOW it’s over & the only way through is OUT.

      It was then that I went “scorched earth” NC & was fortunate in that STBX was taking a job that required him to relocate several hours away for a few months.

      The physical space was a blessing in that while he was gone, the anxiety slowly dissipated, the “fight or flight” daily stress of it all evaporated slowly but surely. A blessing of breathing room, really.

      I really think that we need space away from their manipulation & puppet trickery 🙂 to change our perspective.

  • Excellent Reply from CL. The truth is that very few if any of the ‘strong’ who have left didn’t feel the same torture as you at some point. I was married 25 yrs , tried reconciliation & went thru that emotional roller coaster daily – and that was with a husband who did seem to be trying . Even as reality set in & I knew I could never get over it, lost all love & respect for him, I still didn’t wanted to let go of ‘the dream’.
    I’m here to tell you now, that I didn’t feel stronger & right & ‘meh’ until I forced myself to do what I knew was necessary – not what I ‘wanted’ to do.
    And when I did finally say enough/Divorce, THAT WAS THE MOMENT I FOUND MY STRENGTH. That’s when, as Chump Lady said, I *believed* what I knew.
    More recently I’ve gone thru the process with a bf who doled out more Chumpage. I’m not quite
    at Meh with it yet but getting there. Only because I walked away from it.
    For Chumps with hearts & hopes & dreams, NC is so important to breaking the cycle & finding your strength & self respect again.

  • Mgirontree… I have and still am where you are….full of all that damn fear! But I actually just got off the phone with my lawyer because I finally came up with the money to file for divorce! Yeah me!!! Anyway it took me 6 months to see a lawyer because I was full of fear, ” how would I make it on my own finacelly ” because I have always had some one to help with the bills and the Past couple years he was taking care of it all ( or so I thought) once I had to look into things for the lawyer I found out all our money was gone and everything was behind so it has taken me 6 more months to get things in order but finally it’s happening… My best suggestion is decide what you want and take one step at a time, one day at a time… I wanted out long ago but finances wouldn’t allow it and I have had to do a lot to get to this point…but I have done it slowly but surely one day at a time, it takes time but you will get to where you need to be! Good luck!

  • This post (and the recent Ken Burns PBS documentary) put me in mind of all the inspirational things Theodore Roosevelt had to say about how essential it is when facing real adversity to take action. Some of my favorites:

    “It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”

    “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

    And perhaps the best:

    “Get action! Do things! Be sane! Don’t fritter away your time: create, act, take a place wherever you are and Be Somebody! Get action!”

    There is more than a little TR in CL.

    We all have our personal San Juan Hills to charge up. Good luck with yours, MGI!

    • That’s great Nomar! We all have to channel a little more TR, probably the most can-do president we ever had.

  • I can completely relate to your post, because I’m one of the ones who just won’t leave. Things are slowely changing for me, however. Today, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’ll leave my husband if he tries to cheat again or starts in with his raging and humiliation. He knows I’ll leave, and I know I’ll leave. I’ve been in this marriage for nearly 10 years and he’s my only serious relationship. For a long, long time I did exactly what you’re doing now. Maybe some of my recent relizations can help a bit:
    1.) You probably have some FOO-related issues with boundaries. I was raised by a borderline mother and a codependent father. Both were very religious and I spent most of my childhood untangling my mom’s FOO issues. Making excuses for someone else’s bad behavior and failing to have ANY boundaries was a standard operating procedure from my early childhood. If that sounds anything like your background, you need to talk to a counsellor trained to work with people who have grown up around disordered individuals.
    2.) Like others have said, keep some sort of evidence/documentation of his behaviors good and bad. I found that I have a problem with dissociating (forgetting) bad things that happen when I can’t deal with them. The fantasy became my reality, until it wasn’t… and I started having a mental breakdown. Your mind will eventually rebell against the fantasy. Make sure you have evidence to support what your mind already knows to be true.
    3.) Realize that all of this really is your choice. I disagree with Chump Lady when she says that you somehow enjoy this treatment. That said, the brutal reality is that nobody can live your life for you. You control your environment. I will say that I was locked in place for years due to what I would consider delayed emotional development. Somewhere somehow I was expecting someone to come and help me to make the abusive behaviors stop. I expected my husband to see the error of his ways, I expected my family to be supportive (they’re incapable), etc. Welcome to adulthood, this is your life, your story. Don’t let someone take it from you.

    I’m far from perfect and I have my share of issues, but I hope this helps you.

    • KT, I was referring to my cousin when I said “she likes it like this.”

      And that isn’t to say she enjoys it. I actually think she’s truly quite miserable.

      I’m being flippant. What I mean is that — she doesn’t hate it enough to CHANGE IT. She’s cake eating. I’ll keep my marriage, but without all the scary changes and consequences. Let’s delay that shit and forget about it.

      You want to tell me how bad it is, how sad you are, What Terrible Thing He Just Did Next? No. Tell me what YOU are going to do about it. That is all we control — ourselves.

      As you rightly point out, a lot of us chumps stay in this dependent thinking… someone will show me the way, someone will make him stop doing this, maybe he’ll see the error of his ways…

      No, it IS your story — start writing the narrative you want to see, and take your power back.

    • KT, I was abandoned and sent to a boarding school in England at the age of 6. I do have PTSS and terrifying abandonment issues. I know as an adult I can take charge of my issues and that no one is going to come and rescue me except myself. I can relate to your post so much.

  • I understand where you are coming from here, when you said,
    “I wish I was stronger. I wish I was less scared. I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I believed in myself. I wish I was consistent. I wish I felt safe. I wish I had more energy. I wish I was not weak. I wish I didn’t doubt.”
    I think on some level we all have (and do) share these feelings. I know I do. But just like anything we wish for, we have to DO something to acquire and accomplish it. I’m on the verge of action, myself. I’m almost 2 years in, since DDay, and I’ll tell you for free, nothing changed until YOU do. Until you choose yourself, and your dignity. I’m going to give it a go, and I hope you do too. Draw strength and inspiration from that which you KNOW to be good, and true. Real. Your faith? Your family, Your friends, and the people here. We can do this. If someone truly loved you, they wouldn’t ask you to make your needs very small to convenience them. They would protect you, ( as you have protected them). If it was a healthy relationship, it wouldn’t cost you your values, or your dignity. You ARE strong. You are simply mistrusting the wrong person in your relationship. So am I. We can do this. It couldn’t possibly feel worse than the toxic shit stew we are marinating in presently… Could it?

  • We all know the pain, immense pain, of separation from the crazy, lying, soul sucking, bullshit, damaging life we came to know and love.

    A wise old man once told me: The difference between those who do and those who don’t is….THOSE WHO DO.

    That’s all folks.

  • Mgirontree, please please listen to to CL! I have wasted too much of my life on fear and fantasy. I stayed in that dark place because of my kids. I didn’t want to be away from them and share their time with a narcissist. The reality is, I can’t stop it. He’s around whether I’m with him or not. He influences them either way. I can’t completely shield them from him. It’s been the last thing keeping me from letting go. But I finally have let go.
    And it feels fantastic. My real feelings of hatred and disgust for him are finally coming out after a year and a half of trying to control everything. That shit will eat you from the inside out. It’s not worth it. It will take a bit more time for me, as I’m a sahm, but just knowing that one day, he’ll be the fuck out of my life is enough to keep me going. I cannot wait for complete freedom.

  • I recall soon after my ex moved out how inconceivably hard it was to stay in the house, leave the house, remember to eat, to breathe, to not want to die.

    Every joyful place around my neighborhood was flooded with memories of him and the stepdaughter he cut me off from though I had done absolutely nothing wrong. She was bereft, too, but he controlled her and the narrative. When asked why he began the affair, of course he had a litany of ‘reasons’- basically every good aspect of my competent and independent personality he once loved turned on its’ head and twisted into a flaw. And a couple valid minor and correctable flaws thrown in for hilarious good measure. The shock of the blameshifting and mindfuck was more than I could bear. I began to believe him and beg him for the opportunity to even put on the pick me tap shoes. But he was resolute. My worthlessness as a person and mate was insurmountable. It wasn’t lust, he said, “The core of Schmoopie’s person is a positive beacon and the core of me was negative.”

    I don’t even have to qualify what a load of shit this was, how I treated his lazy ass like a fucking king and gave him thousands of dollars. But I was so gobsmacked I just believed him.

    I recall one day water jogging at the Y, assailed by memories of happy times there with our girls. My mental state was so fragile at that point and my devastation so complete that I was reduced to chanting silently “I am good. I am good. I am good.” I effing water jogged and meditated simultaneously in an effort to not run home and become catatonic.

    The moving my body and mind helped. Opening my eyes helped. I had not been particularly interested in the OW, and of course she had hidden herself from me on FB before I even knew she existed, but friends peeked, and satisfied my curiosity enough to know what I needed. 1) She was ugly 2) She is a downgrade in looks, intellect, career, salary and most of all morals. 3) The glowing things he told me about her and the crappy things he said about me were identical to the situation he told me about his ex-wife, but at least I have the ethics not to be involved with a married man.

    The bottom line, is, Mc, This is and isn’t about you. What happened isn’t your doing, but what happens now is.

    I still have cry days. I sleep way too much. I don’t socialize enough. I’m at least two months from being out of the debt I had to rack up to adjust to life again on my own.

    But I don’t have some crazy cheating 300 pound fuckwit standing over me in the room where my father died telling his daughter that first of all he would never cheat, then a week later when of course he cheated because it’s the only logical thing to do sitting under her roof eating her food on the furniture she bought using the phone she provided to text Miss Sunshine at 3 am. To tell her the wife who pays 80% of the bills, most of the cooking and housework and has said a cross word to you less than a hand’s count in three years is a negative harpy.

    Sometimes the NOT HAVING that bird in your hand, shitting all over your hand, is worse than the entire effin’ bush.

      • Hey Luziana,

        That is MIGHTY!!!! I think we are in the same phase-I am still finding it hard to interact with the world sometimes, but well put-no shit on my hands!

        • IT’s hard to know where the line is between safe harbor and hermitage, but at least I have reclaimed my home.

          This last weekend I was invited out of town for an art show. There would have also been the opportunity to see and NFL or MLB game in the same city. It sucked, but we just didn’t have the money. I couldn’t even charge it. I didn’t want to borrow it.

          The weekend before that, I remember just lying on my couch watching college football eating nachos and being extremely content. It’s horrifying how much easier my emotional life is now. I know that in two months, all the Time of Troubles expenses will be paid off and I will be back to having a grand extra each month to save.

          I recall Fuckwit, in some narcfog ploy for sympathy showing me is new Schmoopie Love Budget showing NO ROOM for error. Literally. Between his crappy apartment, his car payment, and his salary, he has no discretionary income and no liquid savings. He had to borrow money from his 70 something dad to even move. So either he goes into debt to continue to woo her or they sit at home with nothing but their interlocking puzzle parts to amuse themselves.

          And Schoop-a-Loop? Even if she foots the bill for their dates, I figure she has a good six months left before the devalue and discard phase. And I doubt that long as she makes about half what I do. Fuckwit needs supply. He bores easily.

    • Luziana, I like that you were chanting “I am good, I am good” to yourself. I remember going through a phase where I felt completely unloveable and unworthy, but somehow still felt like God loved me. I couldn’t look in the mirror and say I loved myself, couldn’t even form the words without bursting into tears. But I could say “You are loved, you are loved…” when I thought of being loved by God. It did help. We have to do whatever it takes to get us through that awful phase of feeling completely worthless and discarded…

      • I’m glad you found your strength too. After D-Day, I was busy slamming every gift that creep gave me into the garbage, including a very expensive Lego VW Microbus model. In the empty space on the shelf, I put up baby pictures of myself, may daughter and my son. I wrote on a pretty post it note- “You are worthy of love. You are here for a reason. Don’t give up. You ARE LOVABLE.” Creep stood and looked at it, which made me feel like he was invading my privacy. Then he went and sat on the couch and bawled. It was the ONLY time he ever showed the slightest remorse or understanding of the scope of his verbal abuse. It’s still there. He is not. Or one memento of his fake affection.

        • Luziana, you brought tears to my eyes with your story. You are freaking amazing! I, too, bought the story he wrote about our marriage for a long time. I remember when we were in a couple’s therapy session and I said, from the absolute depths of my soul, that I felt he didn’t hate the things I did but actually hated me down to my core. His response? “That’s about right.” It was all I could do to remain upright in that moment. I stayed with him for about 6 months after that, if you can believe it. Now I love me and don’t need anyone else to validate my lovability or my right to be treated with decency. That’s a place I never dreamed I could get to.

          • You are LOVELY. When someone you love deeply says these things, it’s hard not to believe them. But I have remained friends with many of my ex BF’s and with his only two friends, and they all called bull on my supposed flaws. These are things the cheater and AP do to blameshift their deceit.

      • Yes, I go through that phase of being unlovable and unworthy A LOT — i just keeps coming back. And whenever it does, I remind myself that I am loved — in my case I think primarily of my children and friends. And I say to myself, reluctant as I am at times to admit it, that someone who such wonderful people find worthy and lovable must really be worthy and lovable, even if they don’t see it themselves.

        • I really enjoyed a meditation book called Radical Acceptance. Got it on my kindle. It very thoroughly deconstructs Western beliefs about self worth being tied to the external. Every honest seeking human being has intrinsic worth, and acts of audacity (doing the next right thing) enhance our birthright of goodness. It made sense to me. It helped combat the evil.

          • And evil is exactly the right word! Thanks for the tip Luziana-I am finding my way to a spirituality, but suspect religion immensely (historian, can’t help it), and that book has been recommended before by a Buddh-ish friend , will def read it now!

            big hugs!

    • Wow. Spot on Luziana. So much of what you’ve written describes what I also went through, only I couldn’t describe it. Thank you for your clarity.

    • Luziana. I am very sorry about the loss of your step daughter. I lost two stepkids that I loved like my own. They now have a baby half brother they’ve never seen. There’s a bench in hell for guys (or women) who do this to their kids. Let me go out on a limb and say that what your ex did had NOTHING to do with you. In fact it seems to me there’s a paticular sick type who gets a big rush out of discarding the strong amazing independent woman. The only way I could process that mindfuck was to relate it to a hit and run or getting struck by lightning. Sometimes really bad shit happens to people for no reason. It doesn’t mean we don’t learn about red flags…we just don’t internalize it. Because what happened was never a result of who we are. I still think about my stepdaughter every day. I would always see things I wanted to tell her about. And my stepson is so present in my son’s expressions. Of course ex has already replaced me and integrated his kids. I don’t expect either one of them has much of a chance to grow up normal. As for me I water jog too right now, take it a day at a time and enjoy the hell out of my six month old, who is right now slobbering all over and destroying some papers from my lawyer that it probably cost me twenty bucks to have her paralegal copy and send. 🙂

      • I marvel at you for having the strength to welcome your child in the midst of such pain. I just applaud and cheer you.

        I had the loveliest conversation with SD’s mom. She reached out to me after D-Day because her daughter was wrecked with being bundled off and having OW and her kids shoved into her life and begged to like them, really like them. We had a good long textathon figuring out he has an MO, triangulates like crazy, and creates misery and drama and then pretends all the anger around him is a Woman Problem. OW is the THIRD gf and set of kids he has jammed into her life since her parents divorced at age six. I had to slow him down, insist we date for many months. And our girls love each other. Her mom got her a cellphone of her own, and they still talk. I am friends with her on FB but I don’t really seek her out. Her dad puts pressure on her to move on, but she isn’t a sociopath like he is. It is what it is. Not my circus.

  • Today, I’m commenting before I even read what others have written (not my usual approach).

    I’m doing this because the idea that we of chump nation are already strong is misguided. I found Chump Lady more than a year after I separated because I was still googling all kinds of things trying to “understand” my STBX. I was very consumed with what I now recognize as “untangling the skein of fuckupedness.” I was agonizing over every contact and phone call and screwed up exchange of custody.

    Discovering that my stupid plight was common rather than horribly unique was one of the things that helped me move toward new ways of thinking and living.

    Courage is not the absence of fear–it is taking appropriate action in the face of fear.

    There will never be a better day than today to start moving toward the life you want.

    • “Courage is not the absence of fear–it is taking appropriate action in the face of fear.”

      Very true. I also liked this paragraph that Chump Lady wrote:
      “Nobody wakes up one day and thinks “Gosh, I really feel like a divorce today!” or “It would be a splendid day to put his shit in trash bags!” You DO IT, even though it sucks, even though it’s painful, because you MUST do it.”

      For me, there came a point where I had to accept that I would have to go through the darkest time in order to come out on the other side. For example, on the day I started packing up his stuff it wasn’t really planned. I just was staring at his stuff and couldn’t anymore. So I moved a few things, then decided I should pack it all up right then. I vomited a few times as I was going through his stuff and taking down photos, etc., because I was crying so hard. I desparately wanted to quit. But I knew if I quit that day, I would just eventually have to continue later on, and that seemed even worse to me. So I pushed through. And I cried more and maybe vomited again. But I made it through! And I felt better after the awful task was over. And I felt a little bit stronger.

      The faith that things would one day get better when I came out on the other side and the conviction that the difficult parts where a necessary part of the journey kept me putting one foot in front of the other. And it slowly got better. And now I am nearing the land of Meh. I have faith that Meh is out there and I will reach it, and life is already so much better than those awful times.

  • Those wishes will never come true until you face the truth and ACT. It’s going to hurt and be scary, but it beats living your life in pain, disappointment and shame.

    It’s way past time to reclaim your life. And like Chump Lady says, the pain is finite. You will recover. But first you have to decide you are worth something more than the way your husband chooses to treat you. Every day you stay stuck is one more day he takes your inertia as approval.

  • Mgirontree:

    I do not feel strong much of the time. I was with my cheater for 20 years. We have 8-year-old twins who are grieving the intact family and blaming me .

    We had 12 years before kids where he was the center of our world. We had great times, travelled, enjoyed life…and he cheated, we separated, we got back together and had children (I know, I know) and he is a terrible father and cheated again.

    But he is the devil I know. He is the standing excuse for why I am unhappy and why I don’t fully commit to pursuing what I want.

    So I filed for divorce (not legal separation as he suggested that would keep us tied).

    I am getting my kids into therapy to help me help them because I can’t control that their father lacks empathy and that impacts them.

    Therapy for myself and the choices I have made.

    My therapist helps me accept that I am grieving and that when I have a thought like “I wish he would change”. I am supposed to acknowledge that I thought that. Remind myself, he is not going to change and that I am thinking that because I am grieving and that I am working on moving past it…

    Another thing he told me was to tell people what was going on. They would support me. They do, but it also helps pull you away from the fantasy that it can get better. That the cheater will realize the error of his ways and reform (hopium is hard to kill — friends help!) And you may feel really weird about telling, but really you can tell who is an appropriate person to tell, and who is oversharing. When you make yourself vulnerable to appropriate people who care — they will see your vulnerability as courage (look up Brene Brown for more on this).

    We are no stronger than you. You can move on, but you have to actively choose it.

    We (and others yet to come I’m afraid) are here for you.

  • Mgirontree….when I was so mired in misery I couldn’t move my good friend would always remind me of this story
    It was about two old men sitting on a porch with a dog lying between them. The dog was always yelping. The one old guy would ask, ‘Why is that dog crying?’ And the other old boy would answer, “He’s laying on a nail.”
    “Well…why doesn’t he move?”
    The old guy would answer…”Guess it doesn’t hurt that much.”

  • Mgirontree: I’ve been where you are, it seems that many of the chumps here have from their posts. You’re lost in purgatory, as I call it. I know that right now your whole life is terribly confusing (and that you’re probably even confused about why or what you’re confused about), and everything seems completely overwhelming, and I know that you think that no one understands your situation or gets how you feel, and that there is no way out of this dark forest. But I don’t think this stage is abnormal or unusual. I think it comes from the complete breakdown of your reality from the constant lying and gaslighting. It’s extremely hard to get your bearings again.

    From the posts here it seems that some of us stay there longer than others. I stayed in it about 9-10 months before I finally got moving. It was the worst time of my entire life; far worse than even the sadness or anger associated with actually leaving the marriage, because I literally felt like I was insane. I think you end up there when you know with your rational mind that this “relationship” is most definitely over, but aren’t ready for whatever reason to pull the trigger. The cognitive dissonance between what you know you have to do to save yourself, and what you are actually doing to yourself by staying, is absolutely staggering. It makes you feel like a complete moron, like why am I continually beating my head against this brick wall? It hurts! I should stop! Some people have an easier time resolving that than others and stepping away from the stupid brick wall.

    Here’s some good news. In my experience anyway, you are almost there! When you realize that you are totally completely lost, like really super unable to find your way out, you have to do something. So do it. Move. Act. You won’t feel confident about it, and you’ll have tons of doubt. Do it anyway. Fake it, act confident and decisive. Once you take some of your agency back, I promise you will begin having more faith in your power and your ability to make decisions for yourself and control your own life.

    And, just so you know, I have never been more proud of anything I’ve ever done than leaving and moving out and taking back my life. Nine months out, it feels f-ing fantastic, and I’m just getting better every day. Do that for yourself, you deserve it.

  • Mgirontree,

    There is such wisdom in these comments. Read them over and over again. In the early days of my separation (before I knew there was another woman) I tried hard to get my husband to take me back. I told myself that ego has no place in a marriage and whatever I had to do to get him back was okay, no matter how humiliating. This was my marriage and there were no rules to abide by.

    I was wrong. Having dignity and self respect is important in our lives and helps us to make tough choices.

    The choice to move on from our cheaters was not easy, in fact I’d venture to say that for most of us it was the hardest thing we’ve ever experienced in our lives and we only did it after we had tried everything else.

    It’s time to admit you have tried everything else. Just put one foot in front of the other, no matter how small, and do your best not to take any steps backwards. If your therapist isn’t helping you enough, find another therapist. I hate to use the oft repeated “fake it ’til you make it” but it’s 100% true.

    Stand tall. See yourself as a dignified human being, deserving of respect, love, courtesy. And then give those things to yourself because no one else can give them to you.

    Life is short. I hope you are able to start the new life that is anxiously awaiting you. You deserve it.

  • Dear Mgirontree
    It’s one year and three months for me too, since D-Day. I’m waiting for my Divorce Absolute to pop through the letterbox. I’m No Contact with the STBX. I haven’t seen him for nearly a year and it’s 6 months since I spoke to him on the phone. Does this make me happy? Am I glad this happened? No.

    But There. Was. No. Alternative. If I hadn’t taken the action I did, I would probably be under lock and key- a prison, a mental hospital. I couldn’t have handled another day of living in the crazy alternative universe my STBX had created.

    Yes, it can seem a Hobson’s choice, the rock and the hard place but being married to someone who does not want to be married to you in an ethical way is just another way of dying. You have to let the marriage die instead, grieve and move forward. And yes, grieving is hard. I’m currently doing that for my marriage and my mother who died this summer. Life is loss. (The Buddhists have this issue nailed).

    As CL says, the only way to do it is to do it. Like the Nike slogan- Just Do It. My slogan was ‘Marshall your resources’- find anything and anyone who can help you get out and stay out of the relationship. Like many here, a lot of my help was online –like Chump Lady.

    I would also highly recommend who is brilliant on Narcissistic Abuse. Although she does promote her own healing system- she has loads of empowering free resources via her website and her blog.

    She’s good because she’s been there and like you, me and many of us on this Forum, we struggled to get free for a very long time. Try this on No Contact-

    Mgirontree, you have to believe it’s possible for your life to be better and then go get it. I wish you courage.

  • Dear Mgirontree– I’ll add to the general chorus. When I first started reading here 9and mostly lurking…I was a shadow of myself, afraid to share my story…not sure what it was…yet…) anyway, I was still thinking of my husband as my “maybe -to-be-ex”.

    I have to say that this place was the very strongest, the very best, the very clearest–clearest message to help me understand things. Things like my choices; what was happening to “my” story; why people treated me so badly (not just now-Ex). Lot and lots and lots of stuff.

    Those early posts/essays like Untangling the Skein? wow were they ever helpful. I mean, I was a busy, busy unraveller–spent all my time in therapy talking about HIM…and through wisdom gained here, I realized that I had been doing that for years. I used my therapy as a spackle-central to make it possible to hide the awfulness of my life with Ex.

    But through the god graces of CL and her hardy band–ChumpNation–as well as one or two decent theraputic interventions, I realized that I had to get the hell out of hell.

    I was frozen. I was despondent. I was leaden. I was sad & grieving the life I thought I had. I felt over the hill, washed up, not that all the good in me is gone, who would ever want me? What will I do? How? Why? All the things, all of them.

    Thankfully some part of my mind still worked, and I began to act like a prisoner in a gulag, and plot. and pot some more. In a funny way, once you get their number, if you need to, narcissists can be manipulated for a little while, until they realize it’s not fun for them. SO I used that leverage,I was desperate, and I knew I ad to act when I did or I might end up on the street. Seriously.

    So I guess what all this rambly stuff means, is what others have said so much better than I–it has to get to the point where you’ll just die, a soul death if not a physical one, sometimes, to move us to action.

    But given the choice? I would have even moved sooner if I knew then what I do now. (And I got out relatively fast, and lifestyle intact-ish. Health, not so much. We all pay a cost.)

    I won’t sugar coat–last winter there were days when it was hour by hour.

    But here I am, and it’s a glorious autumn day, and I’m getting on an airplane in 2 weeks to go see my loving daughter–and *she* knows I’m a survivor. I’ve modeled that for her. She knows that you get through shit by picking your feet up a little higher even if you think you can’t stand it. You can. Eventually, you can sleep for a few hours, you know?

    Best of luck to you in your journey. We are with you.

    • ” I was a busy, busy unraveller–spent all my time in therapy talking about HIM…and through wisdom gained here, I realized that I had been doing that for years. I used my therapy as a spackle-central to make it possible to hide the awfulness of my life with Ex.”
      namedforvera, I am not the only one who did that?
      It was so tiring that I actually got physically sicker until I had been through 40 surgeries since 2006, became unable to work and then became a total basket case. I have been on total disability for 3 years now.
      I am starting to believe that X wasband left because I no longer had the capacity to spackle and would actually call him on his inconsistencies or outright tell him he was being abusive. Not that I had plans to leave I was so sick…
      X actually had his final tantrum walk out while I was stuck in the house with a line to my heart for medication and the visiting nurses there to witness some of the bull shit. Some highlights were “I would have honored my marital vows but you did not die soon enough”
      Clearly I was too compromised physiologically and mentally to put on my shoes and run. But the last of my energy was used to tell him he was full of shit. That shit sack moved to the other half of the duplex and quickly moved in the “New Import” When I was well enough, I left with my parrots and the clothes on my back. No contact, no roof over my head and no money (X made sure to empty the accounts while I was so sick).
      It was a gift in a weird way and a miracle I was not killed in one fashion or another. It was also a super mindfuck that I had worked so hard and been so loving all to get a super sized shit sandwich.
      I am still alive and the divorce is almost final.
      I do not have my own home, but I will be building a nice private bedroom where I can have privacy and be at my mother’s home so that I can take care of her with her Parkinson’s Disease.
      There are no grand plans, just some flexible incremental plans that will work while I gather my health and strength!
      Five days after divorce court, I packed a tent and camped in Maine for 8 nights. I am so lucky to have had that opportunity to be alone with my thoughts and plans.
      I still have crying jags almost daily, but I am learning to redirect myself to the here and now and try to stop thinking of what could have been.
      To all walking this road, we all know it is our own to make of it as we wish. It is hard, but in my case it is not as hard as losing my dignity and self respect for staying where I was hated.
      Thank you and peace and love to all my fellow Chumps!

      • You are mighty, Sweetie.
        I know …..marching towards a better future is a hard, hard road for many of us but you are doing it! You Go Girl!

  • Mgirontree,

    My ex and I divorced very quickly after DDay, with him outlining all the ways I was a bad person and he HAD to cheat, and then back to wanting to reconcile (but living with the OW) all the way. After the divorce was final, he quit for a month or two and settled into hellish bliss with her, and then was right back into the wanting to reconcile again (but STILL living with the OW.) She finally dumped him, and that’s when he kicked it into high gear, wanting back with me, to be a family again, etc. Stupid me entertained this for a while, he was going to “prove to me” he had changed, etc. And then something happened. I didn’t care any more. I liked my life the way it was – with my kids, with my friends and with my family. He wasn’t doing anything that proved he changed, but beyond that I didn’t need him or want him to be in my life. This life was better. I started making plans of what I was going to do one day, with the kids or just by myself. I was FINE.

    Mgirontree, you will be FINE. You are stuck in limbo right now and that cannot be a fun place to be. It wasn’t for me when my X was trying to “make up his mind.” (Just reading that now makes me sick to my stomach. Make up HIS mind? If BF said that to me now, I’d tell him I just made his mind up for him – we’re DONE. Never again.) See, you’ll get like that too, but you’ve got to get out from under this before that can happen. It has to be done before you can move on. I know it’s scary, but you will be FINE.

  • “I wish I was stronger. I wish I was less scared. I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I believed in myself. I wish I was consistent. I wish I felt safe. I wish I had more energy. I wish I was not weak. I wish I didn’t doubt.”

    Who is really talking there? Is that you MG or is that someone else?

    I’ll bet money that that’s not really you. You’ve got an Iago hanging around you. You know what happens when Iago is around? Desdemona dies, murdered by the hands of her own beloved Othello. Only this Iago’s plan is to get you to murder yourself.

    How to stop the murder? Take your voice back. Kick that voice out!!!! Erase every single “wish” and replace it with “am” or “can.” “I am strong.” “I have self-esteem.” “I am not weak.” “I can be safe.” “I can believe in myself. I believe in myself.” “It’s okay to doubt. I can doubt. I may have doubts but I also have resolution and I can still walk forward even when doubting.” You will not start believing until you take action.

    You say that you read the blog but in your letter you fail to point out that all the stories you’re reading of how people are happier and better now for leaving, they took TIME. You’re separating yourself from everyone else here, you’ve created this illusion that it’s everyone else and then you, and it’s by your own choices. You drew a line in the sand and told yourself you can’t cross it b/c you have to name off every digit of pi first. You’ve marooned yourself on an island and while you have a boat with paddles, all the materials there to build the bridges you need to connect yourself and get off the island, you instead sit there waiting for the cement blocks to move themselves, for the boat to just magically float across the water, continuing to hold a gun in your hands. So look down at your hands. You need two hands to paddle a boat. You need two hands to move those blocks and build a bridge. You need two hands to swim. You have a choice to make and only you can make it: one hand on the gun or two hands free to paddle that boat and get the hell away from that island?

    You will never name every digit of pi. The digits keep repeating. There is no end. You’ve set yourself up for failure.

    It’s time for Theoden to wake up. Gandalf and his company are already there, his staff has been lit up pointing in your direction but you refuse to let Saurman and Wormtongue out. Run to the light! GET THEM OUT before you or a son die (strictly speaking in metaphorical movie references).

    You ARE strong. You CAN do this.

      • MG-Good! Then keep reading it, ditch the gun, row the hell away from your island and kick some ass!! Oh and if you need to leave your mark go find the abandoned storage of rum and light all the palm trees on fire while you’re at it too!

  • It takes as long as it takes. We come to this problem from many different places, but in the end we have to face the truth that our relationship…and with it the relationshit…is over! It took me 10 years to get the divorce. I count my blessings that it didn’t take longer! I got 4 children through college while the drama unfolded. I went to 5 different therapists in that 10 years and they all said the same thing: he’s a narcissist! Run! And then one thing happened (the second OW overlapping with OW1) and suddenly I put on my running shoes ( a good lawyer) and I ran towards MY future. Some of us get stuck in the past, and some of us get stuck in the present. Stuck is stuck. You will know when it is time to make the leap of faith into YOUR future.

  • Mgirontree, I couldn’t leave my husband of 31 years (36 together). In fact I refused to file for divorce. I insisted that if he wanted a divorce that he be the one to go file for it. We don’t all have the strength to walk away, and at the time I felt I was standing for what was important to me. I was willing to endure anything to keep our family together.

    The day my husband announced he “loved me but wasn’t in love with me” I collapsed in my boss’ office sobbing. She picked up the phone and made an appointment for me with her counselor. I thank God she knew what to do because I could barely think one coherent thought.

    For several months I sat in my counselor’s office sobbing and telling her of this tiny change in my husband’s behavior that might mean he was going to change back into the person I knew. Finally she said “do you see what is happening? Do you see that you go days without meaningful communication, then he does one small thing that gives you hope, but nothing ever really changes?” I told her yes, I could see it, but I couldn’t give up. That’s the stage when I was powerfully addicted to Hopium.

    After my ex told me he’d filed for divorce (and by the way it was all my fault according to him, I had no one to blame but myself) I told my counselor I wanted more than anything to have self-esteem again. It had been so long since I felt confident about anything. She told me “the way to self-confidence is making decisions about your life and then following through with them.”

    Think about it this way. What if your self-esteem/confidence was a muscle that was very weak? The first time you went to the gym you would pick up the smallest weight and lift it a few times. You’d probably get really tired and put it down pretty quickly. You’d look around at other people lifting much heavier weights and feel inferior but you’d tell yourself “at least I’m trying,” and you’d show up tomorrow to lift the weight a few more times. Day after day you’d do this until the muscle got stronger and low and behold you’d find yourself lifting weights as heavy as the people around you! The important thing is to focus on yourself. Give yourself praise just for showing up the first day, for lifting the weight a few more times the next day. If you needed help with encouragement you’d enlist a trainer (or a counselor) to help you stay positive.

    CL is right when she says you have to DO to BECOME stronger. You don’t start out being strong. When you take that first step you are a quivering bucket of jelly. Every time you do something that scares you, though, you get a tiny bit stronger. With every decision you make you go further down the road towards self-sufficiency.

  • Dear Mgirontree
    It’s one year and three months for me too, since D-Day. I’m waiting for my Divorce Absolute to pop through the letterbox. I’m No Contact with the STBX. I haven’t seen him for nearly a year and it’s 6 months since I spoke to him on the phone. Does this make me happy? Am I glad this happened? No.
    But There. Was. No. Alternative. If I hadn’t taken the action I did, I would probably be under lock and key- a prison, a mental hospital. I couldn’t have handled another day of living in the crazy alternative universe my STBX had created.

    Yes, it can seem a Hobson’s choice, the rock and the hard place but being married to someone who does not want to be married to you in an ethical way is just another way of dying. You have to let the marriage die instead, grieve and move forward. And yes, grieving is hard. I’m currently doing that for my marriage and my mother who died this summer. Life is loss. (The Buddhists have this issue nailed).

    As CL says, the only way to do it is to do it. Like the Nike slogan- Just Do It. My slogan was ‘Marshall your resources’- find anything and anyone who can help you get out and stay out of the relationship. Like many here, a lot of my help was online –like Chump Lady.

    I would also highly recommend Melanie Tonia Evans who is brilliant on Narcissistic Abuse. Although she does promote her own healing system- she has loads of empowering free resources via her website and her blog.

    She’s good because she’s been there and like you, me and many of us on this Forum, we struggled to get free for a very long time. (I would put the links but I think the post get moderated if I do…?

    Mgirontree, you have to believe it’s possible for your life to be better and then go get it. I wish you courage.

    • “Does this make me happy? Am I glad this happened? No.
      But There. Was. No. Alternative. If I hadn’t taken the action I did, I would probably be under lock and key- a prison, a mental hospital. I couldn’t have handled another day of living in the crazy alternative universe my STBX had created”.
      You took the words right out of my mouth Mikky!!!

  • There is no one size fits all formula for healing, and no one is born “mighty” enough to know the right thing to do all the time. You will have to figure out when you have had enough, and you will have to find what works for you, or you will probably not survive. I know that sounds harsh, but everyday people who live with abusers and who do nothing, die. Sometimes it is a child, who is not powerful enough to get away, but sometimes it is an otherwise healthy adult who simply refuses to move on.

    Healing takes movement. You may have to gather evidence. You may have to overcome FOO issues. You may have to keep a journal. You may need a strong and helpful friend. You may need all of this or none of this, or something else entirely to work for you. But YOU have to MOVE. YOU have to Take ACTION. No one else can rescue you. You have to decide to do something about it, and then do it.
    I have a friend who married a complete jerk, even though her family and best friends begged her not to make that mistake. She thought her love could change him. She sank deeper and deeper into despair, and leaned on her friends and family — we told her to leave, again. However, as long as she had an outlet — someone to listen to her and commiserate with her, she would not do what she KNEW she needed to do. So her family told her they could not listen any more. Her friends told her they could not listen any more. Her counselor told her she was wasting her money if all she wanted to do was come to him and complain. She was truly alone. Frightened, She was truly almost dead inside. She finally did something.
    When the pain of not changing becomes stronger than the pain of changing, you will change. When you survive and look back you will say “What took me so long? Why did I waste so much time?” The waste of your time will be your biggest regret.
    Do not cling to the belief that your love will change your POS into Prince Charming. He will not and can not change. You must.

    • I know that sounds harsh, but everyday people who live with abusers and who do nothing, die.

      Sometimes. Sometimes they live long drama-filled lives as victims and imagine themselves martyrs for the imaginary nobleness of “sticking it out” or “being the rock that holds the family together”.

      I have a cousin and an aunt that can be described like this. Sad, sad state, and the aunt is in her mid 70s.

      • Speaking as someone who tends toward this behavior (hey, brutal honesty), I think that most who do stay have major FOO issues and/or have been inculturated into the idea that they must keep the family together. I’m nowhere near your aunt’s age (late 20’s), but I was raised fundamentalist. While I don’t ascribe to that belief set anymore, deprogramming myself from the idea that it’s my job to save the marriage has been (and continues to be) horrendous. In decades past, sticking it out for the marriage was the only dignity someone might be able to must. Now, thankfully, divorce is more of an option. Your aunt might still be living the older reality.

  • Hi Migrontree,

    I don’t consider myself “mighty” at all. I was scared absolutely sh*tless. But when I discovered he was cheating, I lawyered up big and he was out. It cost me some. I had to give to get, but I got him out. And sure, I made mistakes along the way. I think for a bit of time I thought he’d eventually say he was sorry (never has) or that he’d be fair (nope, he’s been a pain since Dday) or that he’d be reasonable (nope, lawyer does the “reasoning” now.) So sure, I made some mis-steps along the way. But the truth is, cheaters really do suck and I’m so so so glad I got out when I did.

    It’s not easy to take those first steps and it’s hard to give up on a life you had so much hope for. It takes great courage, but it can be done. It’s a choice. Nothing changes if nothing changes. And I still have panic attacks and moments when I’m not sure I’ll get through it but I make another decision and carry on. I have a job now, my finances are in order and I’m planning a trip over seas. I consider myself lucky that the SOB didn’t get my whole life. But the freedom I have has been hard won. It doesn’t come easily.

    You have to decide how much you can tolerate in this life. But I believe, from my experience, that you can recover and you can make a good life for yourself by leaving your cheater behind. Step out from underneath all of that and you will be amazed at what you discover about yourself and your life.

  • “I wish I was stronger. I wish I was less scared. I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I believed in myself. I wish I was consistent. I wish I felt safe. I wish I had more energy. I wish I was not weak. I wish I didn’t doubt.”

    “Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won’t” is a mantra for me when reality bites into my fantasy.

    I’m a romantic and like many chumps fall to optimistic traps…a solid family being the one that appeals to every bone in our bodies. When a partner in that vision destroys it, we putty-filled till we’re puttied out. Because we’re typically non-self orientated, it’s only the well-being of family that wake us up.

    Yes MgIronTree, while you self-admit to a lot of weaknesses, that doesn’t mean you have to remain in paralysis. For this phase of your life, borrow from the strength of others. Follow…mindlessly if you have to…the advice of your cousin and many other chumps who have gone before you. Borrowed strength is as good as your own if it gets you and your kids to a better place. Then that personal strength comes out. Practice, practice, practice.


  • Dear Mgirontree,
    I don’t know about everyone else, but I am not some overcoming infidelity heavy weight champ. Far from it. I’m just a regular everyday person who was run over by a truckload of shit from which I am trying to yield a garden.

    I was married over 25 years (technically, I’m still married, but not for much longer) to a man who many times was my first thought upon waking and my last thought when I closed my eyes at night. I could not imagine my life without him. A man who repaid my love and devotion by lying to me, betraying me, spending every dime we had (and blaming me) and ultimately, asking for divorce to be with someone who is as terrible (maybe even more terrible) as he is. It never occurred to me how much emotional abuse I had lived through until I was away from him. Even then, I often thought that if he “came to his senses” I would go back to him and I envisioned (like those Hollywood movies) the fabulous reunion we would have and he would become the man he pretended to be.

    I have been away from him 19 months and the only person who has come to their senses is me. I got into therapy, found this blog and slowly began to rebuild my life. My mind has registered the truth that he was NEVER the person he pretended to be and he never intends to be that person FOR ME. CL wrote in one of her answers to a chump that it doesn’t matter who they are for the other person if they are not that person FOR YOU. You have to deal with the reality of who they are for you. I trained my STBX how to treat me by allowing him to treat me that way. A more confident woman with a healthy sense of self-worth would have walked out on him 2 or 3 years into the marriage, if she would have married him at all. I was more afraid of the pain of living without him (which is finite) than the pain of living with him (which could have gone on until one of us died). Shudder.

    I had to force myself to give up on the dream of him becoming a better person for me and for our eventual reconciliation. I had the wandering thought yesterday that even if by some miracle my STBX had a personality transplant and appeared to be healed and wonderful, I no longer want to be the wife of a man who cheats on his wife. There is still that little part of me that misses him (or the him he pretended to be) and takes hits off of that hopium pipe, but the stronger part of me clubs her into silence every day when she tries to raise her obviously muddled head.

    I love CL’s advice that the only way to heal from the mindfuck is to get away from the mindfuck. Mgirontree, you have to go no contact if you ever want to be strong and not scared and all of those other things on your wish list. Wishes require action. Even Aladdin had to at least rub the lamp.

    Don’t think about whether it is easy or difficult – think about what is necessary for your well-being. Start out with baby steps, but start. It has taken me me many, many months to get to this point and I am still not where I want to be – but I am not going back to where I was because from this vantage point, I can see that it was really no place I wanted to be. How many more years do you want to feel the way you’re feeling right now? Think of it as having a diseased body part removed – when you wake up from the anesthesia, you are in so much pain. You worry about how you will function without the missing piece. Then, slowly, after awhile,as each day goes by, you feel slightly better. Then one day you get to a place where the pain is gone, you’re completely healed and that missing piece of you is not forgotten, but you don’t feel anything significant about its absence. That’s how this process works. Some of us are faster healer than others – but we all eventually heal.

    Good Luck to you in finding your strength.(((HUGS)))

    • ” There is still that little part of me that misses him (or the him he pretended to be) and takes hits off of that hopium pipe, but the stronger part of me clubs her into silence every day when she tries to raise her obviously muddled head.” I will carry a club around and I will silence my muddled head. Thank you Chump Princess!

  • I’m coming off the worst weekend of my life, which came off my 19th wedding anniversary, so forgive my emotional puking. Nutshell: on dec 31 my h confessed to a 6 month ho worker ea that had ended months before (she was struggling to let go, and since he promised clarity and transparency, she gave herself away via electronic love begging that I was able to see). I let him do all the work, it took him 6 mos to fire her – fear of lawsuit over an ea? Weird. He did everything for real reconciliation except tell the truth. Until Saturday when he wrote out everything – the hotels, the dates, all of it. I was not prepared for this at all. As a passionate kinda chump, I threw his shit all over the yard and told him to get out not now right now. He sobbed with his garbage bags and drove off. Then I looked at my 16 yr old and said, “shit, we only have 1 car and he just took it.” He came back in the morning to be with the kids and said he was moving into the dungeon, er, basement. Fine, I need the car sometimes in the city. Talked to lawyers today, wrote out all the gory details for the ow’s husband (I let fly, poor guy), and made a doctors appt. I’ve lost 7 pounds since Saturday – unreal, but groovy ill take it. So I did some mighty things, but I feel awful. I’m so sad. He was my love for 27 yrs, and I’m 45. Until 2 years ago, we were an awesome team, drama free, a very easy relationship, fun and easy. Enter major life change (move to Canada, working w his npd mother who decided she was actually his wife – gross) and he became a different person to me and the 3 kids. I’m folding laundry that was dry Saturday morning – do I fold his shit? His laundry makes me cry. Do I throw it into the dungeon? Do I wash his stuff? Can I keep his iPad since its newer than mine and just lie and say I think I threw it out the window? The little shit is killing me. I struggle with pettiness and I have a mouth that can spew vulgarities in very colorful, very personal vindictive ways like no one. I want to be mighty but I don’t feel mighty. And my 16 yr old son and 14 yr old daughter, who gave h the most despondent emotional earful that buckled him at the knees (“I didn’t think I was hurting them at all nic I was mad at you”) calling him a pussy coward motherfucker, and really going to bat for me, crawled into my bed sobbing last night begging me to not divorce him – please mom for the baby, the poor baby (8yr old) don’t break up the family please, we leave the house soon, but the sweet sweet baby will be so crushed. Whew. We live in a posh neighborhood, may need to explain the honey boo boo shit coming from our house. To me, my husband is the most dangerous man in my life – because I trusted him and he did not have my back and did not keep me and our kids safe while he led us to believe that he was. I still feel love in my heart for him. Plus the redneck ow is cuckoo for cocoa puffs and knows where I live and tweets pics of herself with shotguns (???)Aargh. I’m really fucked up today – glued to the couch for the last 6 hrs, paralyzed. help.

    • Nic, no words of wisdom from me since I’m in the paralyzed state also, but hang in there, girl. You are mighty even if you don’t fully realize it. You’re taking the steps necessary for the well-being of yourself and your kids.

      Fuck his clothes, etc – you do what you have to do for only YOU!

    • ((((((Hugs))))))). Start with your own therapist and work from there. Get some therapy for the kiddos too.

      I know it’s heart breaking that the kids want their intact family. Hopium for them too. Just stay strong. Model dignity and resolve to them. Even when your heart is breaking and you feel like shit. You’re going to have awful days, like this one, but keep moving forward… moment by moment.

      See a shrink, see a lawyer, make a plan. As long as he lives in your basement, you’re going to be in limbo hell. No NC when he’s living there. Can’t he go live with mumsy?

      • Ha the narc mother in law, a marriage counselor (!!!)who viewed herself as his wife/life partner and was not a fan of mine? She got a new boyfriend – her ex husband of 25 years who has some financial success of late and has moved in w him so she can enjoy and decorate a brand new home (they divorced because of……infidelity!), so, h got dumped. And all the sparkly friends I didn’t care for? No where to be found. He’s spent 2 yrs cultivating relationships with his mother’s entourage/employees, plus one serial cheater turned white collar criminal, so he’s getting back what he put in.

        We are not interacting at all at home. He cries and i step over his body to text people i dig. Like he did to me. I have rock star moments and harpy moments. And petty filthy mouth moments.

        • Nic,

          I’m really sorry. However, the primary job now is focusing on you and your children. I recommend that you get a lawyer now and start making photocopies of all your financial information. If you have accounts make sure you know the amounts in them. Make sure you know the balances on credit cards. And yes, get yourself an STD test as soon as possible. Again, I’m very sorry.

          And as hard as it is, ignore him. Step around him, over him whatever you have to do to get some space. Don’t engage in conversation. If you have to, I’d suggest having a friend over to witness what was said.
          Don’t be alone with him if you don’t have to be. I was terrified of my cheater after he confessed. He simply turned on me, got drunk and scared the crap out of me. So, be on guard. If you need to have a safe place where you know you can go to with your children.

          I guess what I’m saying is take care of yourself and trust your instincts. This man is no longer your “friend.” Take care of yourself and you will get through this.

        • “Ha the narc mother in law, a marriage counselor (!!!) who viewed herself as his wife/life partner…” WTF?!?!?!?!?! IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!?!?! Whoa whoa whoa!!!! I bet Oedipus Rex is her favorite play. Gross and disordered don’t even cut it with her! Seriously, can she be reported for incest? Oh wait, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists only looks into ethical violations when it’s with a client…they’re nice and messed up too! I’d still love to send an email saying: here’s the deal. What do you do about a marriage counselor who thinks her own son is her husband/life partner?

          Keep stepping over his body. Next time go ahead and fart as you’re doing it too. You are strong!

          • It’s called parentification, look it up. her training, compassion and ethics only kick in for paying clients – I haven’t heard from her in 10months when I reached out to her after dday. I was desperate for support and she never responded. She also kept the ow on the payroll for 6 months, continuing to have her report to my h after the affair was disclosed. Shes the type of person who isnt very intelligent, but thinks she is the shiniest most brilliant person in a room – No self awareness at all. Impresses no one, but can only talk (and talk and talk) about how if it werent for her, how many lives would be fucked up. She taught my husband that he needs to shown that he’s special (this all came out in his therapy) because it reflects well on her. His only sibling has a chronic illness, so shes the pitiful one, my h is the hero. Our huge geographical distance from her for 25 of 27 years of our relationship allowed us to see her only once a year. When her 2d husband died, my h became her emotional support again – we were in a good place, i told him he needed to help her get thru losing her 53 yr old husband to a 6am sex heart attack. There’s no question that the demise of our marriage coincides neatly with him becoming her business partner (his eyes), and her life partner (her eyes). When I have called out her actions, he was in major denial, it’s the only mothering he’s ever had. His attraction to me was that i didnt tell him he was awesome, i made him constantly reach to be better, and he was. I’m sorry for all this – I’m so sad and I need to get my feelings out and know someone hears me. Late night and early morning suck.

    • nic, you are in the middle of the worst of the worst and you are still doing the laundry for your kids and you still have the moxie to kick him out, call the lawyer, make a doctor appt. And you are only two days from a D-Day hydrogen bomb. The one car thing is a problem that you can solve, once you start making a plan.

      In the end, I have out together a great team of people that help me think through my options, including my banker, my therapist, my spiritual advisor, and my best friends. Start thinking about who your team is and start planning. It ain’t great to have him in the basement but as long as he’s contributing financially, it does buy you time. Ah, your poor kids. Of course they don’t want a divorce. Kids never do; kids are full of hopium, too, but it’s a true teachable moment–that they should never take abuse. The best thing you can do for them is to not abuse your POS cheaterpants STBX husband. But give yourself some time, if you can, out of the house to process the terrible pain. Go walk and cry. Run and cry. Cry in church. Wherever. My BFF had to go to unlimited minutes on her phone because she lives 2000 miles away and I needed her a lot. Every day for a long while. So lean on the people who love you, even by phone. You might be surprised at who will step up.

      In a way, he was already “cheating” when he let his mother walk on you and insisted she was the “wife,” which is so creepy I can’t even wrap my head around it. I wonder if it would make sense to move back to your own home area, get re-established, since that whole situation is sketchy, to say the least. Moves to work with mommy and goes right off the rails. That makes me wonder how much of the “life weight” you have been carrying for years. You may be mightier than you think. These will be hard days. Take one at a time and do not fear the couch paralysis. It’s totally normal. I didn’t know that until I started reading here at CL.

      • Yeah the mother thing was pointed out to him by his therapist and he almost threw up. Because the ow is rumored to have had a relationship with mil’s late husband (h’s stepdad). Do the math it’s gross. It’s called parentification and it’s classic npd. I’m playing my cards so that he signs legal documents stating that we (me & kids) will move back to USA by July 1 when school ends. 9.5 months from now. He agreed, in front of the kids and I have a lot of emails detailing the move back from him. They made him swear. I’m getting that done this week. It’s all I want, to get out of this beautiful country and amazing city that he and his trailer trash have covered in scum. It’s cheaper (free health care) for me to stay here, but I will not. This forces him to move back as well, since he would not leave the kids or be 1000 miles from them, and vice versa. And his mother situation has him rethinking all kinds of shit. I can give my kids 9mos of pseudo- normalcy for long term support and family at the end of that time.

        And I only need a car every day when I get back home. In the city it’s only for groceries and giant bags of dog food. I can take public transit, I want to save every penny for my move. And show my kids that I will not abuse him back, but stay normal and easy going. I love you guys. You buoy me up and not get sucked in by what I’ve learned are unoriginal clichés.

    • Ooooo Nic I really like you!! I admire your Mightyness, hell I bow down to your Mightyness!

      Honestly, I think you are wore out from epic volcano explosion which is why you are on the couch. No you don’t fold his laundry and yes you get the better iPad.

      I’ll bet you’ll move on to meh real quick like and laugh your @ss all the way to the bank.

  • nic, Above all, you do not fold his laundry. After D Day, I said nothing, I just began to sort all his dirty clothes out into a separate basket. So one of the last things he had to do the day he left was stuff it all into a big black trash bag.

    He already took my stepdaughter away to her biomom’s house, so I stopped setting a place at the table for him as well. He raved about my cooking for years. That stopped the minute I knew he was a cheater,

    Stopping loving him. That took longer. The pain of having my husband ripped away from me by someone else of his own choice was worse than the 8 months in 2011 that both my parents and 42 YO best friend died in quick succession. I knew they wanted to stay. I knew they loved me. They had to go. This was soul crushing.

    I have taken this to mean one thing. I am capable of a deep and abiding faithful love. I am willing to work on a relationship. I understand commitment and fidelity. He does not. I deserve what I give. I deserve reciprocity, or at the very least a good life on my own where I do not model for my children how to be a doormat or narc supply.

    You deserve this, too.

    • You said this beautifully, Luziana. I think all of us chumps should remember that we understand what love really means and they do not. And they never will.

      Nic, you are doing a great job hanging on in a terrible situation. This is one of the worst times you will ever face in this process and it will pass. Others have given great advice so I will simply say that you should not let what your kids are saying/feeling influence you. Of course they want an intact family and to protect their little brother! But they are also speaking from fear and anxiety because it is a terrible loss and one they did not choose. My daughter begged us not to divorce when we told her. Like got on her knees and begged us not to do it. If my heart wasn’t broken before that it surely was that afternoon. I will never forget it. Flash forward almost a year later and I don’t think she’d beg us to stay together now. She still wants us to be a family, don’t get me wrong – if she had her way none of this would have ever happened. But she is doing great even after a move out of the only home she remembers, the absence of her father on a daily basis, going back to school after being homeschooled for 3 years, and finding out that daddy has a girlfriend when he ‘accidentally’ posted pics of them on vacation where she could see them. She is honestly doing just fine (she does see a therapist and that helps)! We are happy because there is peace here in our new home and her mother is no longer a broken down, miserable woman. There are things way worse than living with just one of your parents – but there is no way for your kids to know that right now. Reassure them that you will all be okay, get everyone to a therapist, get that fuckwad out of your house as soon as you can, and take care of yourself. I know that you will come through this and so will your kids. Hugs and more hugs!

  • Grab a girlfriend and go on a vacation… or start running, anything where you really have to concentrate on something other than your current misery. Rock climbing is a good choice. You will be so surprised how your brain is craving some normalcy… once you give it something to chew on other than that asshole, you will find it gets easier and easier not to think about him and put all of his shit in perspective.

  • Mg,
    Do it on your own time. Don’t feel pressured into anyone else’s schedule. Of course it’s a good idea to stay NC, the only way out, in fact.

    However, it took most of us some considerable time to extracate ourselves from our Chump situations. I planned my jail break for years, while my kids were growing up. I loathed him and his arrogance, but I concluded that being a good actress was the only way I was going to escape unscathed. That old thing about going NC then wanting to see him again…we mostly all face that. One has to get to the point of anger/being fed up/seeing him as an adversary, before we are strong enough to say ‘enough already’.

    In your time alone, work on plans that only include YOU and your future. Dream of what is possible for you, then go and pursue that. Make sure that you will be OK, make a plan that works for you. Then get busy with it. You will soon find that you gradually stop thinking about him for a few hours, then a day or two, then a week. It really does happen.

    You will have setbacks. I still get maudlin now and then. Then I slap myself (figuratively) and come back to my senses. Sometimes the Cheater has to do some landmark dorky thing that sticks in your mind, then you can recall that dorkiness to deter yourself from contact.

    My Cheater ignored me for months. Then one day out of the blue, he texted me and said “Shall I take you off my call list?” I have never forgotten the cruelty, the arrogance, the stupidity of that message, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t cross the street to help him now.

    I think once you have a good plan, you will start being able to move forward. You are the most important person – so treat yourself well.

  • Iron,
    I read your letter and I can’t believe it’s not me anymore. I did leave. Took me way toooo long, but I did.

    One thing that helped was to take it one step at the time. I could not focus on the end game (divorcing). I was just paralized by it and I felt so disloyal to him (??? I know).

    BUT I could focus on intermediary steps. Today, I find myself an appt. Today, I go see a laywer. Today, I pack some of my stuff, etc. It really helped me to just focus on the task I had to do on that day and black out on the big picture.

    The key for me was that all those steps I could undo if I changed my mind. Individually, they were not super important. But once I saw them all together and I saw my exit, I took it without a blink. You will take it too. Sometimes, it helps to figure out how it is going to be on the other side before leaving. I could’nt imagine a life without him until I had one waiting for me to chose it. Then, I saw there was another way for me that was safe and good.

    Just take a step today. Tomorrow, take another one. In three weeks, you’ll gain a life!

  • Oh, I am so there with you. Still….And as I was reading down through the comments, besides makeing me want to puke because I am sitting here right now wondering if he is at work or out with someone for lunch, or hooking up for a lunchtime quicky, I saw where someone said that you “weren’t there yet”….And I get it. We do take a lot of shit. A LOT. And I think it is very sad that people take advantage of other people so much. I know you probly feel like it’s your fault for staying, I surely do< but it's really very difficult. when I was younger and never had been in a bad relationship, I used to get so mad when I would hear about women who stayed with men who were terrible to them for whatever reason. I was all about, "well, then leave, quit complaining!!"….lol, Oh my lord…I had no idea. And now , here I sit. Being and A#1 Chump!!!! I keep waiting…maybe he will change, he swears he will make it up, he swears its over, he gaslights, pulls out all the strings, even where he said I could come stay every night with him just to prove he's not with anyone else…..on and on and on…..And what do I do? I think…"maybe this time….." and it's the THIRD TIME!!!!!!!!
    We are our own worst enemy…….Good luck to you, and keep moving forward…….and hopefully we will both be able to get out of this shithole……

    • I hope you are getting STI tests every month, I hope you are insisting on condoms. I hope you will find the ability to take one step away, after the first step you gain momentum, each step becomes easier, unless he escalates to physical abuse, listen to your gut on that. If he rages, or has been emotionally abusive don’t ignore the possibility of escalation of abuse. Strap on your light saber and make one step, Jedi Hugs

  • Ohhhh, man, do I remember being stuck in that spot. Fear and self doubt kept me under my cheater’s thumb for months.
    I don’t have any living family and very few friends. He and his were my family – to give up the “safety” net and strike out on my own was terrifying.
    Terrible fears circled my brain – who would look after me if I were sick? Where would I go if I lost my job and couldn’t pay rent? Who would see me into the ground if I got hit by a bus? etc. etc. etc.
    Better to ask for help from complete strangers as needed, rather than Sparkly Jackass McCheaterpants. I’m a year out of a 14 year relationshit (!) and holding my own just fine. If scaredy-cat me can do it, you can, too, I promise.

    • VVV, “If scaredy cat me can do it, you can, too, I promise.” Love this! (Music now)…WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!!! Yes, we are mighty. Or will be.:)

  • I can’t speak for anyone else but I have a long history of hanging in there with relationships/marriages that I shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place. Looking back, much of it was about fear. I was afraid to be alone. To not be part of a couple. To not have someone to distract myself from the work of my own growth and development or the risk and pain of adult life. And it wasn’t easier to be married to that second income, when in every single relationship except one, I was the better wage earner, with a better, more secure job or career. And in that one exception, I was working 2 jobs to help him meet his bills and child care expenses. In my last marriage, he had a pension and Social Security and I still paid 70% of the cost of living. Meanwhile, the man I was married to or cohabiting with or dating could either lay aroud and do nothing, drink, take drugs, or cheat while I carried the burdens on my back like a stupid mule. I was 62 when Jackass came along (the guy who was gonna change all that) and I hit my bottom when I caught him cheating. Enough.

    I can’t say I’ve never been happier. I certainly can’t say that the 9 months from August through April were the happiest, best days of my life. But I will say they were the days that brought me, finally, at long last, to myself. In the end, we all have to stand up and take on our own lives or we miss living entirely. That’s the big problem with having too much money as well as too little money, too much support from others or too little. Either way, we will struggle. With too much money or too much support from others, how do we develop confidence, agency, strength, resilience? With too little, we are often terrified, fearful we will end up on the streets, as some people do.

    I’m still scared. Retirement isn’t even a wish for me. I will need to work as long as I can, if the economic status quo holds. I still have moments where I fear no one will ever hold my hand again and I will never feel that feeling of walking around in the world bulletproof because some man (or jackass posing as one) loves me. But I am committed to finding out what I am made of. I can’t say I’ve never been happier, but I can say that I am happy and at peace with this life as I have never been before. I am not interested in giving up my power, my peace or my life to anyone. So if there is a man on the horizon, he will need to be extraordinary. The thought of that makes me happy. Meanwhile, there are cats to feed, birdfeeders to fill, leaves to rake, and students to teach.

  • Mgirontree–

    Dday for me was nearly two years ago. I filed for divorce about a month ago. I look forward to liberation from my cheater in about 4-6 weeks.

    In my case, the delay was due to planning. Oh, hopium raised its head. I wanted very badly to believe that my STBX was lost in a fog and would return to realize that we were meant to be together. It was clear very early on that not only was he not lost, but he knew full well what he was doing, and that kibble and cake were his to be enjoyed!

    I set myself very concrete goals and then worked toward them. Once I had reached those goals, it was time to retain the lawyer (I’d talked with several) and move. To help keep me on the path, I read Chump Lady every day, and I set aside a little bit of evidence that showed me what STBX is really like: a lying stack of shit who doesn’t deserve someone like me.

    As I worked for, and achieved my goals, I realized I was taking back my life.

    One step at a time. Take the first step. Do it. You’re okay. Take the next step. You can do that one, too.

    Eventually, you’ll be running toward your new life.

  • Migirontree, maybe it would be helpful if you do like they advise in AA, and take NC one day at a time. Or five minutes at a time, if that is what you can do. Just say, I can call or text or whatever AFTER that period of time. Usually, you wont, and it’s lots less intimidating than thinking in terms of forever , especially at first.

  • Hate climbing a mountain of shit just to get to a little bowl of ice cream! Not worth it.
    It’s just hard to give up, period.
    Chances are you have already made plenty of excuses for him and are realizing he is everything you feared he was and then some.
    Sometimes the time we wasted/lost is part of the reason it is hard to face, but better late than never.
    I for one tried very hard to find reasons to stay. Looking back, it is scary, some of what I put up with.

  • Cringing a little on the chump’s behalf. God bless you Tracy for calling it like it is. But sometimes chumps really cannot tell up from down after many years of gaslighting and emotional mindfuckery.

    Raging at them in frustration doesn’t jar them into reality, it makes them stick their head deeper in the sand and withdraw from the eager. The devil they know is better than the devil they don’t. And they’ve been bullied about what to feel and think for so long that they don’t recognize their own thoughts and feelings, and they don’t listen to their intuition. And it feels risky and dangerous when they do.

    I am 5+ years out from seeing the reality of chump life, and I still fear trying for a new relationship because I don’t know what healthy intimacy looks like. I still wonder if USER FRIENDLY is tattooed on my forehead. I still catch myself apologizing for disagreeing with someone’s opinion.

    What’s it gonna take? Something pretty earth-shattering, most likely. Everybody has their limit, but you can’t get them to it. They have to arrive on their own. The good news is, mgirontree already knows you’re here for her when she does arrive. And eventually she will recognize herself in one of the horror stories posted here, and reality will crash into place hard enough to make the dishes fall off the shelves.

    Finding one’s inner badass is a process, and it starts when the chump can allow her self to feel righteous anger, scary as it may be. And it may be anger AT her self for eating so much shit for so long, but eventually she will see that the person serving her all that shit is the one who deserves the righteous anger, and THEN mighty sets in, and it never leaves.

    So feel what you gotta feel, mgirontree. And let yourself feel it, and don’t let someone else bully you about that. You found the right place to hang out. You will love how righteous feels and how mighty looks on you. It’s here for you when you are ready.

    • Raging in frustration? Hmm. I think some kinds of support are over rated. I also don’t really care for the whole “take your time” advice, like wait 6 months before you make a decision. In general, I think that advice stinks. What’s your cheater doing then while you’re not protecting yourself? Helping themselves to marital funds? Wasting more of your precious time? Positioning themselves to fuck you over while you lie there inert and grieving?

      No. Much better to trust your inner bad ass, however wobbly it is, and get professional support. A lawyer. A shrink. A plan. Even if you don’t FEEL like it. Even though it is HARD.

      Chumps seldom weigh the consequences of not acting, as if the situation would remain in stasis.

      Of course you have to grieve and feel it. That’s not inconsistent with acting and going NC and protecting yourself.

      I don’t think cheaters are timid forest creatures and I don’t think chumps are either. We are the sum of our choices. Speaking for myself 2x4s helped me immensely. Buckets of support and folks to feel sad with on infidelity boards FELT good, and was good in terms of having a sympathetic tribe, but it didn’t move me FORWARD. A good shrink, a good friend, and a good lawyer did that.

      A dear friend the minute I would moan about What the Horrible Cheater did would change the subject. “Enough about him.” I wouldn’t leave him, so she wasn’t going to listen to me bitch about him. When I DID leave? She was right there, with every resource she had.

      I knew another person who didn’t leave a cheater, in a much more privileged position than I was, and she said “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I’m not strong like you are.” Bull shit. She’s still with the guy, fronting her life.

      Those comments are conversation stoppers — oh, well you’re different, you’re STRONG. No I’m not. It was fucking HARD and I did it anyway. I fucked up over and over and over — but I got up, corrected myself, humbled myself, and DID it. That’s what I encourage here. It’s okay if you fuck up — but MOVE FORWARD.

      You move in that direction? I’ll be like my old friend — I will give you all the encouragement and support you need. I’m just not going to listen to you bitch about your cheater if you aren’t prepared to help yourself.

  • We have a very short time on this earth. I know this because I work in an ER and I see people dying everyday. Some as young as babies and some as old as in the 90’s. All in all, its a short life. What helped me is thinking, “If I die tomorrow, will I be fulfilled and happy?” I knew that deep down I didn’t want to go down with my last memories flashing before my eyes of what my cheating husband did to our lives. I chose to make my life the best that it could be and I knew that it couldn’t involve him anymore. I played the pick me dance for two months after D-day. I slowly weaned myself to No Contact. Just recently I was able to tell my husband to his face that I was no longer attracted to his insides or outsides. I told him I was an authentic person that deserved honesty from a husband. I told him he could NO LONGER have the right to hold my heart in his hands because he has thoroughly abused it. He looked bewildered as he asked, “What happened to you? You were so ready to reconcile right after you found out!” I wanted to tell him, “CHUMPLADY HAPPENED!” I refrained. I didn’t want that sociopath to let on on my secret to freedom. Thank you CL! Also, I had to TRUST that HE SUCKS. I watched his actions after the no contact. He wasn’t getting kibbles from me. I knew he had to be getting them from somewhere and he was. Someone spotted him all over a big bobbed blonde three days after he sobbed in front of me (real tears and all) about how much he missed his family and how he would never stop fighting for us. NO CONTACT=FREEDOM from the crazy.
    Be strong. Keep your own fight going.

    • chumpalot,

      Your post got me to thinking about what motivated me to actually begin packing to move to leave my cheater after so many years of complacently consuming his shit sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of my children, who told me it was time to leave Cheater McPigturd because he had repeatedly shown himself to be an asshole, asked me, “Do you want to die never having been loved or cared about the way you deserve?” My answer to that question was “No.”

      I was not ready to give up on my marriage. I was mentally and physically paralyzed and was looking for a reason to stay. That question and my mindful “No” was the realization that I had to leave, no matter how painful and shattering it was.

      I was just discussing with my therapist that the thing that has allowed me to successfully remain no contact this time (3 months and counting) is that I made up my mind that I was done volunteering to be emotionally abused by STBX, whatever that takes. The hardest part is making up your mind.

      • I am in AWE of you Chump Princess!!!!!!!!
        “I was just discussing with my therapist that the thing that has allowed me to successfully remain no contact this time (3 months and counting) is that I made up my mind that I was done volunteering to be emotionally abused by STBX, whatever that takes. The hardest part is making up your mind.”
        I will start my NC from this Sunday. I will take it one day at a time and by years end I will pat myself on the back and give myself an amazing Christmas present(it will be my birthday too).

        • @mgirontree: You go girl! Chump Nation has your back! When you feel wobbly, come here to shore up your boundaries. But know that your Narc may be motivated by NC to undermine those boundaries with more determination than you ever thought possible. It will look like charm or heroic acts or rescuing you from a situation you don’t like.

          And when you stay the course, the charm bombs will go away, and be replaced with rage bombs, which can be scary as hell. Or Poor Sausage Pity Parties.

          The thought that helps me withstand these tactics is that THE NARC THINKS THEY ARE LOSING POWER! Isn’t that amazing? The person who seems to control EVERYTHING is behaving so badly because secretly they think YOU’RE TAKING THEIR POWER AWAY and they’re working double-time to take it back.

          So when you feel wobbly because the Narc is undermining your boundaries, know that they are scared by your strength and power! And if they think you are powerful, YOU’VE WON!

          When I started seeing my Narc’s behavior through this filter, it was more empowering than anything my support group ever said, more motivating than a 2×4, and it puts a smile on my face every time. And Narc doesn’t need to know why you’re smiling… that’s your secret, so hang onto it. And stay the course. 🙂

          (sorry for the all caps… I didn’t know how else to put strong emphasis on the thought.)

        • No need to be in awe of me mgirontree. I’m you and you’re me. This has been a process for me to get to this point.

          Let me also say to you, be forgiving of yourself if you should break No Contact. I broke it a couple of times before I ACCEPTED that he was hoovering and was still the same aluminum foil wrapped turd he had always been. The most important thing is that you pick yourself up and just start again. No Contact allows you to gain perspective. It allows you the space and the peace to look at your life and your “relationshit” (love that term!) for what it really is and not how you want to imagine it to be. Once you can ACCEPT and INTERNALIZE the truth that your cheater actually does suck, Staying No Contact becomes easier.

          • Ok, Chump Princess, I am really pissed. Not once in all the “massacre-ing ” I have done of the English language regarding cheating did I think of “relationshit”. That is just absolutely classic! I really did LOL. About choked on my sandwich.

      • Yes, Princess, I remember thinking, “I’ll be damned if I go to my grave never having been truly loved.” I kicked ex cheater out not knowing if I could ever meet anyone else….but I knew there was no chance of that if I didn’t move on.

  • Mgirontree,
    My x spit on me 7 times; the first six times this happened I was shocked and immediately went into some unconscious primitive survival reaction. This unconscious reaction immediately took me over. My conscious awareness was instantly overridden by this survival reaction.
    He would spit at me and I would be on the floor in fetal position terrified about some primitive survival issue that I was not even aware I had.
    The reality of this disrespectful degrading act of being spit at barely registered in my logical intelligent mind.
    I am an intelligent person and my normal healthy conscious self would of never allowed anyone to spit at me. If someone had ask me if I would allow my then husband to spit at me my answer would of been “of course not”.
    Fast forward to the last spitting event. Right before this event occurred I had started going to therapy and my therapist recognized that I was in a covertly abusive relationship and that I had some C-PTSD partly due to this. She suggested we treat this with a therapy process called EMDR.
    Long story short, I did my first session of EMDR with her on that day.
    I come home after this first session of EMDR and it just so happened that spitting event number seven occurs very soon after.
    How I perceived and responded to his spitting at me this time was 180 degrees different to how I had reacted to the other six times he had spit at me.
    This time I did not hit the floor in some primitive reactive response with irrational thoughts of survival swirling through my panicked mind. Instead this time I looked him straight in the eyes and said very clearly directly to him “you can not spit at me ever” and I kicked his tush out right there and then. He never got back in either not once. I was actually surprised and amazed that I had responded so clearly and directly. I realized , even in the middle of this event, that EMDR had something to do with my new found ability to not react but to instead respond in a conscious manner. In this first EMDR session I must have addressed and neurologically reprocessed some aspect of the primitive neurological patterns that had been triggered by my then partner spitting at me and displaying aggression towards me. This reactive response had most likely been set in place during childhood and I had happened to reprocess it and correct it in this first EMDR session; so I was then free of this trauma reaction and to being triggered by it.
    This was after one session of EMDR. I then did EMDR for well over a year and a half usually twice monthly and I believe it played a huge part in my being able to step out of the “chump in a loop phenomena”
    When intelligent sensible people do not make intelligent sensible choices and do not take normal sensible self protective actions for themselves and their own well being, when being treated poorly, then there is usually some primitive reactive pattern (set up in the reptilian part of our brains) that is at least partially to blame. The need to survive as individuals and as a species has depended on this neurological function however it is often also what is responsible for this looping that causes intelligent people to become stuck in an abusive cycle with an abuser or cheater. The abusers cheaters narcissist uses these blind-spots and vulnerabilities to control us through a primitive fear we are not even consciously aware of having. I do not think I would of been able to get out as quickly without addressing my primitive responses and the trauma that is a part of being married to a jerk.

    • Martha, “When intelligent sensible people do not make intelligent sensible choices and do not take normal sensible self protective actions for themselves and their own well being, when being treated poorly, then there is usually some primitive reactive pattern (set up in the reptilian part of our brains) that is at least partially to blame.”, this got me thinking a LOT!!!!!
      THANK YOU!

    • You’ve convinced me to try EMDR. Your description of that primal response to emotional (and physical) abuse is spot on. That’s how I reacted to my mom’s verbal abuse as a child. That reaction transferred to my husband when he would verbally, emotionally, and later physically abuse me. Sadly, my reaction would activate the narc loathing of vulnerability, and he would escalate his attack in reaponse.

      I’ve long thought that I’m so broken that there’s no fixing this part of myself. That and I’m freaking ashamed. In my daily life, nobody would ever guess that I have this issue. My I tested at 156 when I was in school and I’m very successful in my personal/academic/career endeavors. This is my dark secret, and you’ve given me hope that I can fix it. Than You!!!

  • Dear Mgirontree,

    I still get stuck all the time! I’ve been NC for almost a year now. Divorce is in process, I trust that he sucks, though in absolute perfect honesty, I still think about him daily, I still engage in way too many one sided arguments with him in my head, where I confront him over and over again with the evil shit he pulled on me. It drives me mad! I’m not crying anymore though – so that’s a good positive step forward. I’m no longer shocked to the core of my being that he turned out to be such a complete bastard, that’s another great step forward.
    What I’m trying to say is – it’s absolute hell, it feels like it will go on forever, it’s probably the most pain and grief I’ve ever known (and that includes the deaths of people I’ve loved deeply, the loss of my still-born son, the demise of my first marriage) BUT, so what if it took me years to stop crying, so what if it took me years to get over the shock and the fright, so what if I’m still tearing strips off him in my head? So what if I still wish this nightmare had never happened? Eventually it does, slowly, slowly, slowly, get better – it really does.

    Chump Nation is wonderful, CL is wonderful. I can honestly say I just don’t know how I’d have gotten through some really dark days without them – BUT, and with the greatest respect to all, I do recognise that feeling of terrible inadequacy when you read how mighty so many have been and you know in your own heart you don’t feel anywhere near the same strength. I wouldn’t dream of ‘giving you down the banks’ for admitting your weakness – hell, been there, just skirting the edges still! Quite a few people have already said it, and I wholeheartedly agree, it’s a process and you’ll be ready to move on when you are ready to move on. I don’t agree ‘you like this, or that it’s not horrible enough for you yet’ – I really don’t – I think you are in hell but you are stuck, that’s all. We won’t be there forever – but tell you what, come back in 10 years time and if we are both still in this shitty place we’ll start our own site and call it ‘The Miss Havisham Club’ – can’t see it happening really, can you? 🙂

    What you really need now – more than a ‘set of balls’ – is patience and faith. It’s not going to be like this forever 🙂

    Hugs and best wishes


    • PS

      … And make an exit plan. Make sure you’ve somewhere to live and make sure your finances are as separate as you can possibly make them – take this from someone currently facing homelessness and destitution without ‘a pot to piss in’ due to ‘The Great I Am’ and his disgusting financial abuse!

      • PPS

        …. And lawyers are OK up to a point, but Mr ‘Trust Me, Trust Me’ is so much in debt (with no tangible assets at all) that there is a very, very long line of people ahead of me making claims on the rather splendid income he’s making currently – so no protection from the law for me – nosiree!

        • – What I mean is the Law cannot protect me – not that I need protecting from the Law LOL – the one saving grace is that none of his debt is my debt – but as he has the house mortgaged to the max and in negative equity and the monthly interest payments on the house are more than I earn per month – well, turns out being the ‘love of his life’ was something of a curse, I feel! And this man was a Financial Advisor for 30 years! Pfffffffff – WTF! Lots of one sided arguments going on in my head about this! 😀

          • Great Expectations! Miss Havisham line cracked me up. I don’t know if you can save the house but I believe court ordered support may pull rank on debts owed to others (any family lawyers out there please correct me if I am wrong, thanks). Do research his finances, so many of our Cheaters cooked the books. I wish you the best, Jayne. And what a lovely great sense of humor. Lol

  • I hear your pain and understand that you are just stuck right now. But CL is right: you have all of the evidence you need that your life will always be miserable with this guy. Time to suck it up and take care of yourself before you waste another precious minute on that loser. You are no stronger and no weaker than anyone here – I was a quivering mess a year ago and today I am halfway to being a badass. I became strong because I did things I was terrified to do – did things I absolutely believed I could not do. I was not in a good position to be on my own when the marriage ended. Almost 50 years old and 14 years out of the work force; mom a ten year old and a disabled 14 year old, no money of my own and on and on. But here I am doing the single parent thing and while money is always a concern and he is still an asshole I have to deal with, I couldn’t be happier to be out of that mess. I am in therapy and looking at EMDR to rid me of my flashbacks and monkey brain hijacking my body whenver he starts raging about something. Steps I am taking because I won’t let him destroy me – and you cannot let this guy destroy you either. You think you aren’t strong enough and that’s bullshit. Yes, you are! The first time I walked into my lawyer’s office, I was shaking so hard that my teeth were chattering. My parents had to just about throw me in the car to get me to keep the appointment. I wanted my life to be the way it was. I wished it would all go away. Well, it doesn’t. That’s a fact and one there is no way to get around. Please take just one step forward. One tiny little step. Find a therapist or talk to a friend or see a lawyer or something. Anything. Because every step gets a little easier and you become a lot mightier.

    • Inspiring Lissa, you did have a lot to contend with & situations to overcome. You had a lot of things that could have kept you stuck, but you chose freedom!! Congrats!!

  • I should have added that I don’t think I am special in any way or have done anything that most people could not do. I just didn’t want to die – literally or figuratively – so I had to change. You can do this. See the other’s stories as not something you can’t imagine being able to do or that make you feel inferior but rather as proof that you are just as capable of transforming your life as anyone else. Because you are.

    • Lissa, the more I read stories like yours the more inspired I become.Thank you for sharing your story. I will get there. I will!!

  • Gotta echo CL here, along with all the others. A week after DDay, when he walked out the door abandoning our 33 year marriage, and appeared to be in no hurry to follow through on his decision, something finally, finally , finally flipped in me. In the midst of all my victimized weeping and wailing on the phone to my mother , I suddenly said “You know how many times I’ve been at this rodeo, with him, and this is the last time.”

    Just three weeks later, I knew that INTELLECTUALLY I had made a decision, and that EMOTIONALLY I would catch up after I got things started, so I filed on a Friday. I was high all weekend because I actually followed one of the best pieces of advice from several divorced friends: be the plaintiff! Turned out I beat him to the courthouse by one business day, and taking the lead and control of the process was the key to my sanity. He lost control of the process he had envisioned for himself and the easy path to screw me over he’d also planned, and has been furious ever since. Yes, it cost me more, but I was no longer passively waiting for whatever he deigned to sling at me, I got the last word in the documents to respond to his revisionist history and blame shifting with facts and concrete proof, and felt stronger and more empowered every week. And yes, though you hate to hear it, time IS of the essence, and they may have been, and may still be doing, unethical things in the financial area while you dither… Mine sure was. He is still after 18months trying to have the last word, won’t sign off yet on the final pleadings that he agreed to in mediation, even having unveiled and moved in with the final OW who I had hard evidence was there all along and I think cemented his choice, still texts me asking for help with insurance claims and day to day “remind me again where the storage unit is and where I dump the recycling?” crap, but the wrap up is so close… And my new path feels so much better, more right, every day.

    Like so many others tell you, action brings strength, and options! The surety and peace will follow along.

  • Mcgirontree-There is so much incredible advice & wisdom on this page….Utilize it as much as you can but you have to pick a time/place to start. It doesn’t matter if you have one dday or multiple ones under your belt-it is all overwhelming in that instant. You need to realize that you will never be able to go back to the way things were before with the man you thought he was before…….it is over. There is no amount of Hopium or Spackle that can repair the damage or give your cheater a character transplant. If you are not in a position to immediately kick cheaterpants to the curb now-start making a plan to do so now. Make a list of things to be done (keep it to yourself) and start completing the items on that list-one thing at a time. I love the “yucky list” mentioned as well because when you are feeling weak you can use that as a reference to keep you moving forward. Keep reading this site & educate yourself on NPD or disordered people. Chances are your cheater is one and it makes dealing with them a little easier. Be prepared for anything & stay safe.

    This site was a lifesaver for me-it cut me out of the fog fast & helped me get my game plan together. The secret storage unit, talking to & finding an atty, putting money aside, etc.It makes me feel good that I know which direction I’m heading toward. I’m close to landing a job so that I can find somewhere for me & my son to go and then divorce.

    Yes, sometimes I’m sad that my young son will be greatly hurt by the divorce but I’m not the one who chose their dick over their marriage & family like stbx did. And that yucky file comes in handy to make sure the sad part doesn’t last. I just need to look at the phone bill for data/porn usage, see all the local massage parlors, remember that he has a secret phone/bank account etc. There is so much bad crap that the sad doesn’t last for long anymore

  • It’s malignant hope. They don’t and won’t suck as long as you refuse to believe that they do.

    Believe in what you see, feel and experience and trust it. Your resolve comes from trusting that they suck. That is the key that unlocks the door.

  • Make a list! One year after d day and a failed reconciliation, I had a good cry and made a list. I got a tattoo on my ankle, had a burger and glass of wine at the bar alone, went to a movie by myself, donated my wedding dress to military brides. Bought a beautiful painting of a peacock spreading it’s feathers (a new beginning). Filled out the papers for mediation (no tears). I didn’t do this alone, I have a great therapist and take lexapro and go no contact unless it’s about the kids, house or divorce. I have a plan…get half, after 30 years and make a new life. It’s better to be alone, then to wish you were. Be a bitch with balls! You can do it!

    • “Be a bitch with balls!” That’s awesome. I filed about 2 weeks after he left when I was still a mess and it was THE best decision that I have ever made. He’s still dithering over the settlement, wants to screw me over with the house, but you know what, I will come out good one way or another, because I am FREE of the bullshit. It will be a bitter pill to swallow if I don’t get half, in a no-fault state, but wtf at least I’m free to be me (whatever that will be)!!!!

  • The counselor I spoke to told me to stop listening to my heart and start thinking with my head. It took me awhile. I had to keep reminding my self of all the shitty things my cheating wife did and said to me. I finally could see that she sucks. Now you need to trust that your cheater sucks. We know it and so do you. He is no different than any of the other cheaters out there. Get over that hump, lawyer up and go NC. You will then get to the point where it pisses you off when they try to contact you. Some people need to take baby steps until they are ready to jump. Sounds like it’s time to jump.

  • Mg, Your story brought up a memory of my DDay#2, the day that my entire life changed in less than 6 hours. 22 years of marriage down the drain and abandoned. It was horrible, but it was the best damn thing that has ever happened to me. At the time I didn’t think that at all. I was a mess, I had verbal diarrhea told every single person I met up with at work what had happened to me. It was an awful time. My daughter basically gave me an ultimatum, she said that she was moving out and I could go with her or I could stay but she was out of that house that was going to kill me slowly. I went to work and I “functioned” but I’d get home and cry for hours. About a month later we moved and I was so scared, I doubted myself so much that I thought I was going to go crazy. It’s a horrible time, the time after you leave or get left, but it is not finite, just like CL says. I didn’t believe it at the time. I remembered part of a conversation with my daughter where apparently I must have said something to the effect that “what if he changes, what if he wants me back”. She said to me, after giving me a weird look, “well then he’s just going to have to come and live with us here in our new house”. Let me tell you, that I thank God everyday that he didn’t do that around that time (that came later, as it always does, when schmoopie leaves them). I probably would have wanted my “fantasy” life back. But I have come to know, actually know it deep down, that it was just a fantasy, hopium at it’s worst. You are strong, you just don’t know it. If a person can live with the crazy-making, the cake eating, abusive son of a bitch, then you are strong enough to do what IS BEST FOR YOU, FOR YOUR SANITY. The life that you thought you had was all smoke and mirrors, you were the only one “having a relationship”, he just had a home base from which he could do whatever the f!@# he wants to you and to any other woman who is unlucky to be with him. Make some of those wishes that you have come true, you ONLY control you. You are not a couple anymore. That is the most devastating thing to come to terms with but once you truly see it for what it is, it is sooooo freeing. Most days I am at MEH, and I laugh cause it happened on a Tuesday, but some days are really hard (I’m out one year and one week from DDay) and I know that I am far better off than I was last year and that gives me hope that I can and will have a good, sane life.

    • And the most important part is going no contact. It has been the best form of getting out of the hopium fog. Having only your thoughts, wants and ideas in your head, without the idiots input even though it seems foreign to you, is very therapeutic.

  • Yeah that No Contact is definitely the key in this one. It hurt but felt empowering at the same time. It WAS empowering because it was something I had control over. As each day passed I felt more and more self love, self esteem, and self respect creep in. I still remember the first hoover which upset me terribly because I honestly wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t acknowledge it. I didn’t acknowledge the 2nd, 3rd, 4th…until the last one. The last one just ticked me off. How dare you is what I felt. How dare you try to violate my space. I broke it but I wasn’t in a sad, lonely, desperate place. I guess I had been on this forum long enough to know the drill and sure enough he wasn’t a unicorn. I didn’t take the bs and lies personally. More personal empowerment. Still working on reducing the amount of head space provided for those “one sided arguments” but I will get there. Thanks all for the Melanie Tonia Evans tip. Already signed up for the 10/3 webinar.

    Mcgirontree-that handle just about says where you are at. Chained in irons to a tree. A dead tree at that. You are the only one with the key to free yourself. We can shout encouragement, be your cheerleaders, but you will have to trust the process that lead to your freedom. Personally, I like freedom.

  • Ah, CL, another brilliant article. How do you do it? I haven’t read all my fellow chumps’ comments but wanted to post before I get too tired.

    Haven’t we all had that dark bleak moment where we pondered that we may want our pretty little lies back? I remember thinking, “if I had just stopped asking questions like I usually did…if I had just accepted his lame explanations like I always had before….then….I’d still be…..” I’d still be what? Happy? No. Loved? No. Safe? No. I’d just still be LIVING A LIE.

    So Mg, we know, more than anyone else, we know. Remember, we are chumps, we have spackled, we have wondered, we have feared. We are definitions of co-dependent. We faced the incredible mindfuck, the soul-rending horror of having wasted decades and the best part of our lives with a con man (or woman), and the possibility that we have never truly been loved and never will be loved again.

    But you know what, Mg, as CL says, you KNOW the answer, it just sucks, it’s just a shit sandwich, so you don’t want to know it. There is no magic solution. The only way out is to go through the pain and accept it is over, accept he truly sucks, and go no contact and move on. It is not be fun, it is not what you would have chosen, but you do not have a choice, you cannot, put the pieces of your marriage back together again, it is not within your control.

    Mg, your life is finally up to you. You can choose to live in truth, or you can cling to the pathetic lie that is your ex and was your “marriage.” I hope you choose freedom from the lies, I hope you choose yourself and not the pathetic grifter that was your husband.

    The only thing worse than having him squander years of your life is to squander more of them yourself. The only thing worse than being his victim would be to become your own victim.

    Please please please Mg, save yourself and salvage the rest of your life. Leave the cheater.

  • Journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.

    You must take that first step, or remain stuck where you are. Which holds more promise for your happiness?

  • Mgirontree, Strength comes at a price, but it’s well worth the investment. You have to peal back the layers of your soul. Face the ugliness of how you let another person degrad you, lie to you, mindfuck you. My strength to leave came when I took a long hard look at what I’ve become. I sold myself out. I would of NEVER thought I would become so weak. It disgusted me. I realized it was about ME. This is MY life & I could not live in the abyss another day. Did I have fears? Hell yes! Was I worried how I was going to make ends meet. Hell yes! Did I have concerns about being alone this far into the game? Hell yes! Did those fears prolong my quest for freedom. Hell yes! Do I regret divorcing and breaking free from the shackles of betrayal and abuse. Hell no! Remove yourself from the cancer. Make it about yourself. After the shit storm of infidelity, every chump DESERVES to make it about themselves. My dad always use to tell me that people don’t always get what they deserve, but they get what they allow. Take your control back. Everyone deserves peace.

  • One thing that got me unstuck is realizing that probably the best chance of saving my marriage was to go no-contact and impose consequences on my XH, because people do not “fall in love” with people they do not respect. I thought that, once I did these things, my XH would regain respect for me, realize what he was missing and somehow want me back again.

    Funny, it was only after I filed for divorce did he say how much he missed me, loved me, how he couldn’t live without met, etc. But, as CL, says, I think he said he said those things only because he wanted to avoid the yucky consequences of divorce. Also, funny thing happened after I went no-contact–I realized I didn’t want XH back!

    I guess my point is is that you have nothing to lose by going no-contact and filing for divorce and everything to gain–it’s your best chance of saving the marriage if it can truly be saved, and divorce protects you legally and financially. In any case, divorce is just a legal dissolution of the marriage–it doesn’t stop anyone from reconciling if they truly want to, and people have been known to remarry each other after divorce (but after you go NC, you may realize that remarrying your ex is the last thing you want to do).

  • When I stood in that family court for our first hearing I remember looking around and realizing that a majority of those divorcing in our small town were a direct result of one partners infidelity. I remember gaining in that moment a better understanding of what it means to divorce. I admired the strength it took for us to stand there, listen to crap, and try to settle fairly. The judges see this every day. No one is fooled. Cheaters are not worthy, you can not fix them. In the short moment it took me to process my husband’s affair, I realized that my marriage was over. I would never forgive this. And I recognized that I wanted and deserved a new life.

  • McG- You mentioned boarding school at a young age, and abandonment issues. For different reasons, I have had to work on these, but what helped me get out of the paralysis was knowing I couldn’t abandon myself to that fate. I have great friends who would never let me do that, and you have great friends here. Keep us posted, please!!!!

  • I started to treat my x like an addiction. He wasn’t good for me, and I had a hard time “quitting” him as he was my best friend (in my mind/heart) at least until dday. I googled “addiction help” and manicured the suggestions to fit quitting another human. It worked for the most part. This was after his first affair.

    I ended up doing great with it – went no contact unless it was about the house which we owned together, or our pets, etc. I got myself back together and had started on my new life. I failed in the end, because over a year after we went our separate ways, he came back around with all of the fine sparkles and words and I fell for it. We tried a reconciliation that went on for around 10 years – which never felt complete (of course!), and he recently started “hanging out” with a woman.

    So, I’m in friend mode with him now because my heart isn’t confused by him anymore. If I did still want him back at all, I’d do the How To Quit An Addiction stuff again. Not the 12 step, or groups, but the advice on how to focus on the things you DO want in your life instead of the addiction – that stuff worked very well. I recommend checking it out!

  • I did that very thing. I built a case. I kept a daily log in an Excel spreadsheet of all ACTIONS, chronologically, including the lies. Or when he told me anything that didn’t ring true, I’d make a note of it for later comparison. The evidence started to mount.

    After D-Day, before this site launched and I would make the mistake of taking his calls or have some other kind of weak moment, I’d just go back to my log. It didn’t take long for me to go into full No Contact mode.

    And to you, mgirontree, saying “I wish” over and over is a lot like saying “I can’t” (in this case). You can’t wish for something to happen without putting some effort into it. And you aren’t doing any of that.. not really. That’s the difference between you and those of us who are now strong. You aren’t truly willing to make an effort. You’d rather stay in the now.

    mgirontree – you wish he would leave you for another woman? Apparently he is getting his narcissistic supply from YOU, or he would have left by now. Stop supplying him, and he WILL leave. But please do not wait for that. This isn’t his call, this isn’t his game. The ball is in your court.
    And he is abusive? At what point do you stop tolerating that? When he kills you?

    • Moda, you are right in saying, “You can’t wish for something to happen without putting some effort into it. And you aren’t doing any of that.. not really.” I am going to take it one day at a time and keep reading this site and start building “my case”. I will post my progress. I will be strong. I will put the effort.

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