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Don’t Need It That Bad

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paralysisI get a lot of mail and many of my questions boil down to — How will I ever manage? How can I be alone? Surely it’s a cesspool out there and All The Good People Are Gone!

Generally, these people are telling me this to make rationalizations to stay. On the one hand, they’ll outline chapter and verse about how completely untenable their situation is, but then they’ll tell me how the future is so scary, so they stay paralyzed with indecision. As if these things were commensurate and could be weighed — the dreadful existence you are currently living versus the nightmare you imagine you’re going to.

Did anyone ever hesitate to run out of a burning building because they were afraid of fresh air?

Sure, you could imagine future calamities, but does that justify staying in a burning building?

But it’s hard out there! I won’t have a house. I’ll have to rebuild one, stay with relatives, and be the sad object of pity because my house burned down.

Okay. But you survived the fire.

And uh, duh… your house was burning, what did you think you should do?

These discussions usually come down to — I hate that my choices suck.

Yes, they do. I’m sorry folks, often choices suck. But when choices suck, I think the best thing to do figure out where you have the most agency, the most control over a given set of circumstances, and move in that direction. (Remember, you only control yourself.)

That’s why my advice here is — go save yourself, you’ll figure out the what next.

And I know it’s hard. I lived it. But it’s also full of rewards and surprises, and it’s a hell of a lot better than being married to an arsonist.

But how do you get into that mindset? How do you become someone who acts with self-protection? I think you have to let go of whatever you’re holding on to and realize it’s going down with that burning house. Your ego. That intact family. Your sex life with that person. You need to tell yourself that whatever it is you’re clinging to — you don’t need it that bad. Seriously, you can do without. Let it GO. The shit you never, ever thought you could let go of — let it GO.

I need to stay married so I don’t feel like a two-time divorcee and middle-aged failure.

Nope, don’t need it that bad.

I need the constancy of an intact family for my children.

Don’t need it that bad. Not at this price. No sir-ee.

I need this person’s financial support.

Don’t need it that bad. Not at the cost of my dignity and self-respect. Nope, think I’d rather flip burgers and live in a box.

I need to be coupled, because no one will ever love me again. There’s no one left.

Don’t need it that bad. Living in a bunker alone with cats until the end of your days is preferable to this cheater.

See how that works? You have to be prepared to run into the arms of “I’ll figure it out.” I know it sucks, but I have every confidence in you that you WILL figure it out. Seriously, I do. I know there are huge, scary challenges out there — serious shit like supporting your children, like facing 337 lonely Saturdays, or figuring out how to reinvent your remaining years. But you’re a chump and you’re mighty. You have deep reserves of faith, misplaced until now, but directed to yourself? You’re going to be okay. And then fine. And then better than fine.

When you “need it that bad,” you’ll do anything for it. You drive down the price of your self worth. Demand a higher price. Know your worth. I promise you, whatever it is? You don’t need it that bad.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • I was scared of all these things. I was still scared when I left, and still scared when I filed.

      Eventually I came to realize, however, that I put so much time, energy and love into my “marriage”. I redirected all that into myself and rebuilding my life. And not only have I made great strides; it’s actually far less work than it was to try to maintain my so-called marriage. And the work feels honest, not existing in a state of constant cognitive dissonance.

      I think it all comes down to loving yourself enough, to realizing that you don’t deserve the shit sandwich, and choosing to eat anything else at all instead: whether it be filet mignon or peanut butter and jelly. Shit sandwiches lead to malnutrition and death; any other food will give you life!

  • Fear is a lie. You can’t negotiate your dignity. That is what is has come down to, for me. You deserve better than what you have received from the person you have trusted and invested your life in. “Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt” Some Shakespearian motivation for you…(and me too) xo

    • I have handed fear the steering wheel so many times in my life and then scratched my head when I ended up in a ditch. The times when I faced it and made a decision my life took a turn for the better. I hope from this point forward I will STOP, acknowledge the fear for what it is, and get back into the driver’s seat.
      Thank you for today’s validation. Have a wonderful day fellow chumps!

    • Wonderful quote on fear:
      “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.”

  • “When you “need it that bad,” you’ll do anything for it.”

    Yep, this is how he got me. Needed it bad, wanted it baaaaad….used it to manipulate me. Huzzah! Had the added benefit of driving my self esteem down 60 feet underground from accepting so much less than what I was worth.

  • Once I let go of the fear, I finally felt free!! I’m no longer afraid of the what if’s. My mindset is “I’ll figure it out”. Great post CL and so true.

  • I too was stuck and remained motionless out of fear. Fear of the future. Fear of intimacy with a new partner. Fear for my children. Fear of being alone. All of that!!!! I stayed this way for far too long. I am a super chump and just couldn’t take the hint that my husband wasn’t going to change from being the cheater that he had become.

    What finally did it for me was………..ME!!! I couldn’t stand ME anymore. I couldn’t look in the mirror and see myself as this woman who continued to take this punishment anymore. I hated myself for putting up with being second best. I knew I deserved better but I was too afraid to let go! When I stopped loving myself I knew I had to change it and get away from the crazy! I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the best part is I love myself again. I am a damn great person and anyone would be lucky to have me!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for posting this CL! You are right on target as usual!

  • I hate to say this but that is how the asshole felt about his massage rub a dub…he needed it THAT BAD at the expense of everything else. Health, relationship, finances, self worth, I can keep going….

    We have to ask ourselves…WHY do we need it that bad and who and what are WE injuring staying with them?

    Ouch!

  • “When you ‘need it that bad,’ you’ll do anything for it. You drive down the price of your self worth. Demand a higher price. Know your worth.”

    There’s an old saying about this: “Place a low value on yourself and rest assured the world will never raise the price.”

  • I read often, and I want to thank you for your way of expressing righteous anger and practical advise. I love your snarky comments, too. Often I restrain myself and don’t make snarky comments, because they make others around me uncomfortable, but sometimes I cannot contain my snarkiness and it is nice to know that someone else shares a slightly twisted sense of humor with me. Nice to know I am not alone in my perceptions and perspective.

    In relation to the fears you mention today — I would like to add that I have experienced the same fears, and I have been alone for almost two years. The hardest thing for me to overcome was my belief system of what my life was supposed to be. Nothing horrible anyone else has ever done to me ever added up to the damage done by me to me. I kept myself inside that “burning house” because I thought I “should”, “ought to” , “need to put others first”, and the worst, “I can fix this”. That way of thinking had to change, and it took quite awhile to process the change. Knowing what to do was not enough — it was only the start. Actually doing something about the situation was empowering. Surviving on my own has been healing.

    People who have been trained to think in terms of “couple” or “family” tend to feel guilty if they think about “self”. It feels odd. But it can also feel very good!!! When I wake up in the morning without someone telling me what he wants, needs, desires, demands — I love the quiet and peace! When I decide when to eat, when to clean up, when to shop, how to spend my own money, what to watch on TV, when I can read in peace, when I don’t have someone trying to manipulate me or make me feel guilty for not providing sex, money, or entertainment on demand — that feels GREAT!!!
    Is life alone difficult? Sometimes. Is it doable? Absolutely. I have many friends who have been thru this, and the one thing that is consistent is each of us regret how much time we wasted trying to “fix” things. All we really have is our precious time, and it is a shame to waste any of it on a losing proposition.
    I hope this observation helps inspire those who have read this post! For those of you who don’t think you can do it — have faith in your own abilities. It is much easier to make progress when you don’t have to drag around the hulking weight of a LOSER !

    • “People who have been trained to think in terms of “couple” or “family” tend to feel guilty if they think about “self”. It feels odd. But it can also feel very good!!! ”

      I think this is definitely true about chumps, but so is the converse. I know my ExW thought only in terms of “couple”, but just did not see being a couple as a two way street. Her identity was built on being in a “couple”, which is why after I found out about her first two affairs she kept me in the reconciliation mode until she could reel in a new chump to take my place. See, Chumps are mightier because though we may fear it, we can be alone. It is the NPD whose self-worth is dependent on the praise of a “partner”, is who has to be in a “couple”, but still only think about “self”. My ExW never lived on her own or was ever really single, which was a red flag I ignored…I won’t make that mistake again!

      • Cletus…My XH has never been single a MINUTE in his life. He has went from woman to woman to woman. Always has to be a ‘couple’ but of course only thinks about himself. He never leaves a woman until he has another waiting in the wings. He wasn’t married when I met him because there’s no way I would have gone there. He was however, living with a woman that he told me he was leaving. Little did I know at the time I was the fool waiting in the wings.

        • My ex always had to have someone waiting in the wings too. He actually told me and our MC that during one of our sessions during faux reconciliation. ” That’s the way I’ve always been; when I felt a relationship was ending, I would just start a new one with someone else. The person I was ending it with, would find out and they would leave”. Hey if it ain’t broke right?

          I guess I should’ve run out of the room at that point but I hung on for a full two more years of that abuse. I was superchump!

      • Cletus, you have so got that right! I never wanted to be alone – I loved being married, being part of a couple. But I have been alone for far longer than I’ve actually lived without him and I am doing fine. I will not run out and jump into another relationship before I’ve finished the business of the last one. He, however, can never, ever be alone. He was setting her up before he moved out of our home. Now, four months later, he professes his love for her and how he is committed to her in the long-term all over social media. After some 20 years with me he was prepared to walk out, straight into a new relationship. He must have someone taking care of him and he must be entertained (read: distracted from his own horrible self) at all times. It has nothing to do with her and everything to do with him. He doesn’t know the meaning of “couple” because he cares about nothing but himself. That’s incredibly sad.

        • Same here! XW, a textbook NPD, has never been without a man since she was a young teenager. Her modus operandi (stupid me, giant red flag) was: meet a new guy, cheat on her doting boyfriend, leave him. Repeat for nearly fifteen years until she met me. After a ten-year marriage, I realize I was nothing special; I just lasted a few years longer than the others likely because we had children. But eventually her NPD came raging back, if it ever really had disappeared. Looking back, I know it was there all along. It just manifested in other ways, all forms of entitlement. And when she had The New Supply lined up? She was gone.

          • I always heard that some men (or women) will make sure they have a soft place to land before bugging out on their current relationship. Stbxh had a family member like that and he always expressed disdain for that type of behavior. So you can imagine my surprise when he did the same damn thing!

    • “When I wake up in the morning without someone telling me what he wants, needs, desires, demands — I love the quiet and peace! When I decide when to eat, when to clean up, when to shop, how to spend my own money, what to watch on TV, when I can read in peace, when I don’t have someone trying to manipulate me or make me feel guilty for not providing sex, money, or entertainment on demand — that feels GREAT!!!”

      OMG you just described me Portia! That’s exactly how I feel. My biggest and only regret is not dumping his ass much sooner and wasting my precious time on this POS who wasn’t worth it. And I tell you, since I got rid of his ass I have never been more happier, more content and peaceful!!

      Like CL said “Living in a bunker alone with cats until the end of your days is preferable to this cheater.” Which is so true. I just got asked out again for a date and I turned it down, because I love being single and be able to do what I want when I want, and I am not willing to give up my freedom, my life, my peace for anyone anymore. It’s also wonderful to do many things just with my son, spend quality time and do whatever we want, whenever we want and we both love it!!

      AND THIS!!

      “”””It is much easier to make progress when you don’t have to drag around the hulking weight of a LOSER !”””

      WOW! Beautifully put!! And thank you CL! You are right on target as always!!!

    • Great post CL and great comment Portia. It’s all starting to make so much more sense to me now. I guess I was determined to stay in that damn burning building or in its rubble for whatever reason. But reading here has been such an inspiration and an eye opener. I do matter, I do count and I am ready to become mighty.

    • I was going to write a comment, Portia, but you have said it all. I can remember thinking last winter, “Well, I will get through this recovery from betrayal thing and then I will be ready to meet someone.” What I’ve learned is that I need to meet myself, to learn who I am and what I want and need. I’ve been married more than once, and to the man I thought was my “true love.” Who was, of course, an alcoholic. Then the Jackass, who is a two-bit lying, weasel-faced con man whose head can be turned by a married, mother of three hyena willing to start an affair over the casket of her dead brother. Think I need to fix my picker? If all the breaks in the world go my way, I have maybe 20-25 good years ahead of me. It’s hard to imagine falling in love again since I have ZERO experience falling in love with someone who is not a substance abuser or some other disordered freak. But I am putting every minute toward falling in love with my own life and valuing the time and resources I have (including my talents and skills) instead of handing everything I’ve got over to a con artist so he can fleece me and hit the road with a Schmoopie.

      The truth is “nothing gold can stay.” Even the best marriages end because we are all mortal. At some point, we sell the house, the car, the big furniture. Just this week I pretty much emptied two closets full of beautiful clothes because I am down 25 pounds, post- DDay. Some of those things were gifts from my late mother, who was a narcissist but an expert on fabric, cut, fit and style. It was hard to let them go. But what was I holding onto? Clothes that didn’t fit and that just represented a way of living that I had shed like a skin.

      • Do you still have the clothes? If you wanted to you could modify them to your new figure and taste (turn a dress into a seperate top/jacket and skirt, change buttons/collar, place a slit in a skirt that goes up to your hip (wouldn’t that just make your Mother roll over?). In other words, make them YOURS and you would have a whole new wardrobe to boot, perhaps learn a new skill and/or make some friends (check meetup.com).
        Taking something old, dismantling it and making it into something new is called “creative destruction” (a phrase we could all have some fun with). I do this with old broken jewelry that I can buy for a song and turn parts of it into something new and beaautiful (lots of metaphors there). Just a thought.

        • need to figure out a “creative destruction” for my wedding gown.
          Went to the storage room the other day, looked up, and saw it
          right there, where it has been for 25 years, packed neatly away in
          a clear storage bin. hate looking up when I go i there now. What a waste. Any ideas?

          • Sodone,

            I have mine, too! I meant to wear it to celebrate my 25th but lost my nerve. It had been a few months after I realized that my marriage was over and the divorce diet had done wonders!

            I’m hoping that a future daughter-in-law or granddaughter might want it. I love that dress and I loved wearing it. It doesn’t make me sad to see it or to think about it. I was faithful. I loved with all of my heart. Unfortunately, I was attracted to a soulless hyena whom I thought was just a good-looking dog.

            • Joy,
              At one time my daughter who is 23 now, wanted to have it
              redesigned and wear it, but now she feels it is bad karma
              for a wedding, and wouldn’t dare wear it.

    • That’s where I’m at Partia, in the burning house because of what my decision might do to others, ‘putting others first’ including the cheater! 6 years ago I was in this same situation planning on leaving for probably the same reasons I want to leave now. I’ve wasted so much time trying to fix things, thanks for your post it spoke to me.

  • “I hate that my choices suck.” Absolutely! But…I also hated the idea of sticking around in a degrading and humiliating situation while my stbxh continued to disrespect me and our marriage. Am I afraid? Absolutely! But I am surrounded by people who love me, people who will not allow me to fail. I know I’m going to be ok. Am I lonely? Absolutely! But I will live my life alone before I will ever subject myself to the horrors of infidelity again. Do I wish my marriage had succeeded? Absolutely! But my marriage didn’t succeed, it failed and I have made my peace with that. I have accepted that failure in this case is ok…because I don’t need it that bad ; )

    • absolutely!! i agree with this exactly!!

      i hate that my choices suck and my asshat XH made really bad choices that effected mine and my childrens lives and it all was completely out of my control. but living with degrading and disrespect is horrible. Was i afraid? YES!! some days i still am but knowing that he didnt “want me bad enough” and that he wasnt choosing me and the kids is something you can never make an excuse for no matter how hard you try. Am i lonely? YES!!! i hate being alone, i have my children but it is not the same has having a man hug you, love you and care for you. but like you i have been alone before and learning to be alone again. i will survive. Do i wish my marriage had succeeded? YES!!! i completely NEVER thought i would be were i am right now. but i take comfort in knowing i did everything i could to make it work, i tried everything, changed, compromised, that i could have done. and it wasnt me who gave up on the marriage. it wasnt me who walked away. i can live with that.

      good luck to everyone living this waking nightmare. we really are stronger then we give ourselves credit for. walking away from the burning house was the hardest thing i ever did, and yet i survived.

    • Yep, that was what kept me stuck. I would tell my therapist that I could choose the crap in the left hand, or the crap in the right hand, and it was so hard to choose. Eventually I couldn’t go on any longer and had to choose the crap I had the most control over, just as CL said. Not easy.

    • “I hate that my choices suck.”

      Agreed. And right now, those choices feel like staying in the burning apartment building, or throwing myself out a 100-story window to escape. Either way, I die. How is one better than the other?

      • Kris, your choices only “appear” that way because that’s all you know for now. I, too, was in your shoes nearly two years ago but I forged on and filed for divorce. I’ve been divorced for over a year now and I can tell you that leaving is not even close to throwing myself out of a 100-story window to escape. Instead, while it may feel like that initially, you take the plunge (feel the fear and do it anyway) and there will be a time when you feel you are free falling. Then, you will come to a point where you realize that you landed on a very soft cloud. And then you wonder why you waited too long to take that plunge. Staying with a serial cheater not only felt like staying in the burning building but also hoping that the fire will not harm me. It did. Big-time. Hand in there, it does get better.

        • Uniquelyme,

          Your time frame is exactly like mine. Two years ago, I had just filed and was so scared. There was no turning back. My x, then, started squeaking about reconciliation but my good friends made me realize that the language he was using didn’t sound remorseful. Thank God that I didn’t fall for it!

          I have moments of anger still but I don’t want to give him any more of me. My life is better. I am alone but I’m not as lonely as I was. It was like I was held at the bottom of the ocean. Once I realized who he is, I rose to the top gasping for air. Since breaking the surface, I can breathe. I still have uncomfortable moments but nothing like I had when I was still married.

          I was like the frog who was in a pot of water sitting on the stove. I didn’t realize that the water was getting hotter until I jumped out of the pan.

          Thank God! I’m free!

  • Thank you CL for posting this today , I so needed to read this. I am paralysed with – my choices suck !and the accompanying fear of all the what ifs and how can I !! Yes I despair feeling a need for him still but as you say – I don’t need it that badly !!!! Just got to keep saying it over and over till I feel it !!! Your perceptions and comments are so on the money and truly have kept me going through these past months so a big thank you again to you CL and all of chump nation for always being there in the ether whenever I need a dose of reality and common sense

  • One point my chaplain residency supervisor taught me is that we are especially vulnerable when we want something from someone. That gives them power over us. As they get to decide whether to give it or not.

    As Chump Lady says, it is best to focus on what we DO control (ourselves) in the present (not past or future). And it is important to not accept shame in our own hearts over things we do not control (e.g. the cheating choice of the adulterer/adulteress).

    • I think you nailed it, Reverend: “we are vulnerable when we want something from someone”. That mantra can app,y to all facets of life. I apply it to all casual relationships. It is very empowering to not try to control others, but just focus on oneself. I live a free, happy single life. When I date someone, their baggage is just something I observe with detachment, hoping it might resolve itself, but always with a Plan B in the back of my mind.

      • Thanks, Marci. Spiritually speaking, as we get grounded in who we are and our value in God’s eyes, we loose these “handles” as people no longer have the power to invalidate us. That’s why I think it is so important before dating again to get to a place where you like yourself or you will continue chasing that validation setting yourself up to be chumped again.

  • Don’t need it that bad. Living in a bunker alone with cats until the end of your days is preferable to this cheater.

    lol. Change bunker to 3bdrm house in the suburbs and cats to dogs, and that’s pretty much my current life, and I still don’t have time to get bored 🙂

    I work from home, and most of my work teammates are strewn across the planet, and we usually only meet for teleconferences or in virtual meeting rooms, and my family is in Texas or California (I am a transplant). I initially went out with a local hiking group in the “I ‘need’ a local support system” phase immediately leading up to and after divorce, but then… I started playing with the idea of learning to make film music as a hobby, and between that and work and taking care of the house and the dogs, I barely have time for a good night’s sleep lately. Not to mention, acquiring the sample libraries is very expensive. The bundle I have my eye on is 1699 pounds sterling (about 2800 dollars) and will take up another 500GB or so of drive space, and as the compositions expand, it occurs to me I might need more than 32GB of RAM, so a new computer may be needed too?

    That’s an expensive hobby, and I feel guilty about spending money on it often, but then I remember:

    I didn’t have it to spend when I was married, and 2800 bucks is less than it would cost to go on one more failed attempt at a “romantic” vacation that would have turned into something filled “nails across the chalkboard” moments, and yet more stress and more nonsense, so… wasting money on sound libraries is a HUGE step up from what was going on pre-divorce.

    At some point, also, the curation of sound libraries will slow as the collection expands, creating music will become easier as I learn more and take up less of my time, and I’ll have more time for new things and possibly more people in my life, so there’s light at the end of that tunnel too, and there was no light at the end of the marriage-to-a-cheater tunnel: it was just throwing more money and time down a deep hole whose bottom was a drowning-depth pit of crap and misery broken up only by delusional, self-deception that made things bearable.

      • Sorry your cheater managed to ruin Paris for you.

        Maybe, at some point you can go back with somebody who can’t figure out how to turn the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Montmartre into symbols of failure.

        I hope you can reclaim Paris.

        I have a long list of places I wouldn’t mind revisiting with pleasant company, and some of them… thankfully have never been tainted by nefarious association 🙂

        • Haha…Romantic holidays? Try a NASCAR race. That’s all I got from my cheater. Sitting in the boiling hot sun of Vegas for hours, the fumes killing you, the noise un freaking believable ….oh yeah. It was SoooOOoo romantic.
          I saw some pictures later on of XH and OW at their very own NASCAR race. She was getting her picture taken in a race car and he was kneeling beside it. *snort*

        • my cheater ex always talked about taking me to Vermont, in winter, while snowing, rent a nice cabin with fire place and snow mobiles etc for a nice romantic getaway, which never took place. After waiting for a long time, I realized it was never going to happen unless I paid for it 100% for everything, when it was mentioned later he also suggested we take his 16, 20 year old kids (back then)(romantic getaway?) with us too and mind you, his kids are inconsiderate, lazy, nasty, just picture hoarders, not the ones who collect things, the ones never throw the trash away and let it pile. (they destroyed my carpets so bad the last time they were in my house for 3 weeks summer vacation, that I had to change all the carpets in my house grrrr) HAH! and that vacation never took place! But my son and I took a nice long vacation overseas later 🙂

      • CL, I went to Paris with my cheater, too.

        I have since been back, and you know what? Walking there alone made such a difference. Paris is MINE, now!

        Thanks for such a great post, really needed it today (unemployment chipping away at my sanity). I think the hard part of getting to Meh and “I will figure it out” is that it means surrendering something. Something you never needed, like humans generally don’t need arsenic, but never mind….

        It reminds me of a sign a wise, wonderful woman I know has on her bathroom mirror: “What if it all turns out okay?”

        love to all Chump Nation!

        Meh-x

        • Mephista, hang in there! Been there….done that ….wrote the book. got the teeshirt.

          I am an LPN. Found myself being laid off at 58 when the hospital I worked for wanted an all RN certification. ….so bye bye Tessie.

          I am an LPN. I can get a job anywhere! Right?…..Wrong!
          I found it impossible to get a job….not just in nursing, but ANY job. I didn’t have the experience….I was under qualified…I was Over qualified….I wasn’t what they were looking for…..(whatever that means!)…..Yadda, Yadda, Yadda….. What they meant was they weren’t hiring anyone over 55 except they really couldn’t say that and not get sued.

          I’m a big believer of turning anything I am powerless over to a power greater than myself. I choose to call that power…Spirit. I believe that Goddess/God is both feminine and masculine, so I say Spirit. I kept turning the whole thing over. …Is this a possibility?….nope! OK…deep breath….turn it over…….How about that? …nope! Deep breath…..turn it over…. (many years of Alanon!) Finally, when I was literally down to my last 20 dollars in the bank… a job appeared. It was a volunteer job working with the elderly as a senior companion. It pays a stipend with along with mileage and is just enough to keep me afloat. I get what I need. The job fits me to a T. Love…love….love!!!!…my ladies. Each one is a precious and special gift and has something important to teach me. This job lets me support myself and lets me be a blessing to others. It is a joyful thing , and I’m the one who has been blessed much more than my ladies. Spirit gave me what I needed not necessarily what I wanted. Living on very little has taught me many important lessons and has helped me to grow.

          I believe the opposite of fear is faith. I have faith in Spirit as an entity that cares about me and has my best interests in mind. When I decide to let go of trying to control uncontrollable situations I get out of the way so Spirit can work a miracle. Believe me, I have had many, many miracles courtesy of Spirit. I am beyond grateful.

          As for leaving cheater hubby #2, it didn’t matter…..scared or not, there was simply no choice. It was stay and die, or leave and live…. for me and my boys. I did as much of the footwork as I could and then turned the rest over. By footwork I mean the things necessary to make the miracle happen….laying the matrix of the miracle, so to speak. Also known as getting our ducks in a row!
          For many of us, when we leave, we discover grit we did not know we had. We chumps are really a courageous bunch. We’re the ones who make that leap of faith onto the unknown with our raggedy little parachutes and trust it will be OK.

          You know, it really will be.

          • Thanks, Tessie,

            I am circling the drain a little bit-been job hunting for almost a solid year.

            I am in a similar boat-too qualified, not qualified, too old, etc. Not quite down to my last twenty bucks, but close…..but I will have faith. I liked what you say about Spirit (though I am an atheist), it IS about surrender, or at least, controlling what I can control, and letting the universe take care of the rest.

            hugs,
            Meh-x

            • Mephista-your situation sounds like mine. It has been almost a year since I got laid off & 10 months since dday. It took me about 6 months to get myself together & the rest of the time I have been burning up the pavement to try & find a job. I have 25 years in my field & can’t even get considered for lower paying or temp jobs. I need a job to get me & little man out so we can start a new life-we have no family or friends close that we can stay with. Of course unemployment has run out so we are stuck in the house with asshole iphone fucker cheater pants. It sucks!! But I haven’t given up. I had a job interview last Friday afternoon that I think went well-I should know this week ( fingers crossed) dickhead was yelling at me last week to get a job because he was tired/didn’t want to keep supporting us & told me to get any job I could get. No one wants a job worse than I do to get away from him!! Ugh-guess he’s really going to flip when he has to pay child support. Then he tells me that he knows why I’m having trouble getting a job-he said the younger women hiring are
              looking for a younger girl to party with & I’m 45 and that younger men hiring want something that looks good and looks good in a short skirt and you know I’m 45. He said he was relieved to find out an older woman interviewed me last Friday. I guess that means I should fit right in with the old broads, right?

              I must not be at meh yet cuz he’s still really pissing me off! BUT I’M NOT GIVING UP!

      • I hate Paris and the Champagne region.
        My husband had an affair with a lady who owned a vineyard.
        The family visited there and my husband made the “Love” connection and went back 2X.

      • Mine was a beach. That was about our only attempt at a romantic holiday. I really hate the beach now. Maybe someday I’ll try to go back to a beach, see if I can reclaim it, but I don’t know. I think I prefer the mountains anyway.

        We went on several family vacations with the kids, in which he sulked/was a pain to be around/etc.

      • I nominate Cancun! Nothing says romance like going on a couples orientated snorkeling excursion only to have to swim by yourself because your WH got plastered the night before and refuses to get into the water because he still feels drunk. Fun times!

        • Fiji.

          The MOW had the audacity to exclaim why I wouldn’t have sexy times with her boyfriend there. C’mon! I’m such a freaking shrew not to want to do the nasty with the contemptuous creep. He did send her some nice pics , wish you were here types, from the resort.

      • Oh, God! Paris and London. What could go wrong? I’m sure I’ll have some PTSD to deal with if I ever go back. It started on the plane when he told me he was hoping we could “start over” on this trip. Now I know what starting over means. It means I’ve been cheating because you suck but now I’m willing to give you another chance to impress me.

      • Driving the Alaskan/Canadian Highway starting out in the Midwest. It was to make up for the original crappy honeymoon. The one where he threw a fit, we left early, and he threatened divorce for 300 miles. At least the scenery was spectacular if the company wasn’t much of the time.

        • What is it about R.I. KellyOne? Mine insisted on a romantic trip to Block Island, mostly, I find out, because the OW couldn’t shut up about how great it was. I get ill just thinking about it.

          • Oh, long sad story, Annie. My ex and I honeymooned there in 1986. His “co-worker” who became our family friend lived near there with her husband and children and we often visited and went into Newport together. Turns out he was having an affair with her AND her best friend. I loved Newport too…..sigh…..

            I am remarried now, and ex recently moved up to Narragansett to live with her. Our children no longer speak to him and I cannot imagine ever going into Newport again.

      • Dreadful Romantic Holidays with Cheaters: Sydney.
        He stopped talking to me at the Heathrow. For 24 hours on a plane. I was so lonely I made friends with some little backpackers on their gap year.
        He treated me abominably for the dream 10 days.
        Later he said: you did something that annoyed me at the airport. Such nasty passive aggressive behaviour, and I still believed in him. What a chump! The marriage lasted another 10 years
        We need to teach our daughters what abuse really is.

  • Agreed 100% Chump Lady. BUT, when I was in the throes of panic over his abandonment of me I am not sure I would have believed I could have survived a week, yet alone months without him. Yet in time, very slowly, I saw that I could manage and even thrive.

    Just like “trusting that (s)he sucks” we also have to trust that it’ll get better.

    In the first few months I was so ashamed to be single that I couldn’t even take my wedding ring off. And for some reason I felt shame because I thought everyone knows I don’t have someone to make love to me so I must be a loser.

    I finally took the ring off and got used to my finger with no ring on it. I thought it would always look naked, but it doesn’t anymore.

    Then I got desperate and had to go hock the damned thing, and I don’t know why I felt, gee, maybe we’ll still reconcile and I’ll have to tell him I sold the ring. Even while I knew we’d never reconcile. I felt the sting of selling that ring for only a few days. Now I’m okay with it being gone.

    I have a lifetime of being afraid and not doing what I really want to do because of fear. At 57, those days are finally over. I am not ashamed now of being alone and I have butterflies (the good kind) when I think of the future I will create on my own.

    Four husbands and constantly bending myself to suit someone else’s will and personality really makes you forget who you really are. I think I did that all my life because of fear. As others have said here today, it turns out I like myself and think I’m a pretty great person.

    While I can’t imagine dating again or falling in love, I’m trusting that, like the other feelings I had that turned out to be incorrect, they will fade in time, and if I want someone in my life, I will be able to find it. First things first.

  • Fear has kept me stuck for a year and a half. Being in this situation and being a SAHM has been the most frightening experience of my life. But, you know what? I’ll figure it out. Time to get unstuck.

    • I’m a stuck SAHM too, and I’m scared. But my mediation is next month so it is one day at a time. This is my first post, I am ever grateful for this site!

      • I’ll be calling my mediator on Monday, so we’re in the same boat! I hope you keep coming back here. It’s one of my favorite places to go. It helps keep me in the right frame of mind.
        I hope you keep us updated!

        • Welcome laurabbs! SC, I was, err…*still am* a SAHM too. I’ve gone back to school (at night) to finish my degree. Fear kept me stuck for very long time too. I’m here to say that things can work out for the better. Incrementally, I’ve found that things have improved after I took the leap.

      • Jedi hugs and you will be fine at mediation time, I hope that works for you! Don’t give up important shit just to get it over with, stand your ground. You are mighty!

      • I’m a newbie here as well. I was a SAHM 5 years ago when this all began and have since gone back almost full time, but I’m still married. When I originally found out I think the financial aspect kept me there. Now I feel like I could almost make it work am trying to work up the courage to do it. I ordered myself a new bed and it was delivered today much to my husbands dismay. Making myself a little sanctuary.

        • Way to go TimeToGo! line up the ducks – I have great admiration for all the SAHMs here, makes it so much harder to leave a cheater and gain a life

        • I bought new bedding. It’s fushcia. 🙂 I have also moved his stuff out of the master bathroom into the guest bathroom and I took his key, effectively giving him his eviction notice.

  • Funny, for me I always knew I would be ok in the long run.
    I had always been honest, I had a great job, a good support network, and wonderful children.

    I did fear being able to keep the house for the kids:
    the horrible housing market (no equity!) and my STBXH’s guilt solved that one (he walked away from it).

    My paralysis was due to the gaslighting and lying. I could not wrap my head around the fact that the person I had been with for more than half our lives (our first “real” date was when I took him out for his 17th birthday!) was truly a stranger.

    • Me too. I think all the time how sad it is to be with someone 36 years and never really know them. I still remember the exact moment I realized he wasn’t who I thought he was all those years.

    • zyx321 and Lyn, I have known my ex for 45 years and we were married for 37 years and I can pick a dud a mile off. In my ex’s case, I was blind to who and what he really is. I get sad now and again to think I have wasted my whole life, as I will be 63 soon. Having said that, having my 2 children was the best thing I ever did, even though they have pushed me aside. I wouldn’t change having them for anything.

    • I Know that feeling, thinking you know that person that you have been with for 30 years and surprise when doing my investigative work, still in shock at some of the things I have discovered, He obviously has another life without me in it.

  • Yup. Not only, but also: the more I HAVE to step forward and do things that were intimidating/awful/scary/weird whatever… the more powerful I become, and the more in control of my life I am.

    Then, it get less intimidating/awful/scary/weird or whatever to approach the next hurdle.

    I’m finding that I like being on my own. I mean, physically I could do with some help–I have a suck-o back (more shots Monday, wheeee)–but mentally….bring it on, world.

    What I can most live without, is fear (itself, as Mr. Roosevelt would maybe have said…).

  • In medicine/surgery, we have a saying: Just get the cancer out, and figure out how to close up afterward.

    Until this post, I never realized how much that has applied to my life. I most recently excised my “best friends” as an extension of the main tumor (which had not been immediately visible or obvpvious to the naked eye, but is now, thanks in part to CL’s recent post). Now I’m looking at closing the wound by rebuilding a new life for myself, with new or deeper connections to people who were previously less close friends or even new friends. And, like any other wound healing, it takes time and sometimes cannot be closed by “primary” closure of quick stitches or staples (think slicing wound), but instead needs to heal by secondary intention, or granulation (think big gaping knee gouge from falling off your bike as a kid, or maybe as an adult). Those take longer and leave a scar, but they do heal.

    Thank you for reminding me that my spirit and my soul can do what I trust my patients’ bodies to do every day. That hunk of cancer? I definitely didn’t need THAT that bad!

    • Whoa. I really needed to hear this today. I’m finally done cutting the toxic people. Now I’m removing the maladaptive behaviors and mindsets that allowed me to tolerate those kind of people in the first place.

  • In a regular relationship minimizing certain behavior and being accommodating (hair in the sink! not quite as much sex as I’d like! he charged two new pairs of shoes to the credit card when we’re supposed to be saving up for the holidays!) and focusing on the big picture (I want an intact family for my kids, I want financial stability, I want to be viewed as an upstanding member of my community) can be a *good* trait. Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and every relationship has difficult patches. The problem is when this good trait is being used to try to cope with an abusive relationship.

    I think it’s just that a person is *inside* the relationship and has lost perspective on what is normal/healthy that they apply this perfectly good trait to a perfectly awful situation.

  • Thank you for the great post, CL! No one needs this crap “that bad” or at all.

    On a side note, I just read a post by an old high school friend on fb which stated that he and his wife had some differences in opinion, and are divorcing after 13 years and 2 kids. And guess what? It had nothing to do with the new love of his life, and he swears that he only started dating her after he moved out of his marital home 3 months ago! Are you kidding me??? I do not know his wife, but I am praying for her. Not only does he cheat, but then he goes on social media to tell people to embrace the OW because “his kids and him really love her.” Yeah, no longer his friend. Some people really do just suck.

      • No kidding…they actually think they’re fooling people. Like we’re all new. My daughter left her husband and four kids after 15 years of marriage because she wasn’t ‘happy’ anymore. When I asked if there was someone else she went scorched earth on me. She was with another man exactly 9 minutes after her divorce was final. Uh huh.

        • Yeah…..my ex had found a brand new schmoopie the VERY same day I finally broke it off with him for good. In fact…they got on so good – that she spent the night!

          These bastards are SO lucky to have these new loves just drop into their laps like that!

          • I don’t think the next Schmoopie drops into their laps, Einstein, I think they are groomed. (Or my sarcasm filter is in the fritz) Mr Fab had someone lined up, and likely will by the time he drops the Downgrade. Or he will keep his side-dishes warm.

            It sucks to imagine or to see them with all the ‘ingredients’ of a ‘normal’ happy life, while you’re struggling as a solo parent, wondering how to put Kraft MacnCheese on the table.

            I am getting on with my real life, and in one year, or less, I will wonder what I was moping about.

  • Being abandoned was my deepest underlying fear throughout our marriage. I didn’t think I could survive it, I always felt like I was trying to prevent it. Boy was I surprised when my husband left and I DID survive. Although I couldn’t rebuild all by myself, I was capable of reaching out to others for what I needed. Sometimes I think it’s weird that it took being thrown away to find my self worth. What I wanted from my husband was missing from inside of me. Now I love and protect myself more than he ever did. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company.

    • That’s awesome, Lyn. I’m discovering more about myself every day too. I’m VERY excited that I get to choose my new path all on my own.

    • “Being abandoned was my deepest underlying fear throughout our marriage. I didn’t think I could survive it, I always felt like I was trying to prevent it. Boy was I surprised when my husband left and I DID survive. ”

      Nailed it! That was me too. The minute we got married, he went into the devaluation phase. There, I remained for 15 years until he left. I told someone today that it reminded me of that scene from “Coming to America” with Eddie Murphy. His wife-to-be is telling him she will do what ever he wants/likes. He has her jump up and down and bark like a dog and she does it all and asks for more. That’s not me anymore! The thing is, they are also surprised when you do survive. And……….it pisses them off! As long as you have some kind of contact with them, they will keep trying to make it so you can’t survive. They want you to be lost without them. NPD!

      I, too, have many vacations that I would like to revisit without the NPD. I was terrified of taking the kids on a scout camp out by myself. Now, we camp like champs (even during freak hail storms while out on a boat in the middle of a lake) and I do it all as a single mom. The tent setting, the cookouts, the camp fires, teaching my boys how to fish (when I knew nothing about it), etc.

      I am so better off without him. Nope! “Don’t need it that bad”! If only my poor kiddos could go NC.

      • My kids and I went on a road trip that we had taken together probably 7 of the last 10 years – without STBX. It was emotional but good. While I reclaimed that trip, those places and the memories we made there, I don’t know if I ever have to so that trip like that again.

        • You will be surprised at what you can do when you set your mind to it, make a plan, and go for it. I really was worried about doing it all by myself the first time (the Grand Canyon over a Memorial Day weekend). We had so much fun! My kids love old TV shows, so they laughed for 20 minutes when I started yelling “Bobby!! Cindy!!” as we were hiking down a trail. As we were getting ready to go on our summer camping trip this year (a whole week this time! – no RV! real camping!) My 8 year-old daughter asked if we could go farther away and never come back. 🙂 Love that girl!

  • My rationalizations for not running , or really kicking his ass out after the complete shock wore off, are my children.

    I do not regret hunkering down right now and getting shit together. Supporting my daughter as she looks at colleges, tries to ace her senior year and qualify for national playoffs in her sport has been the right decision for me.

    Not presenting the truth to her and her brothers now is something I can accept today. I hope they will forgive me when I throw the shit sandwich to the fan. Gads! That’s eminent.

    I’m scared and excited and worried. It’s not the alone part that is worrisome. Life with an NPD is single parenting. I’ve been alone for decades. The financials freak me out, so I am concentrating on understanding that part clearly. I know I will be ok. I think my kids will be ok -with therapy.

    • “Life with an NPD is single parenting.” YES!!!! Yes, it is! My oldest is almost 12. I have been single parenting the entire time. He likes the newborn phase and wants the attention of “look what I did” but when it came to actual parenting/involvement, he wasn’t around. Now, that we are divorced, he puts on a dog-and-pony show. That’s when he wants attention for being the awesome dad that he is not. When no one is looking, he is neglectful. Kids wish he would disappear!

      • Yes – I was the married single parent too! He did whatever he pleased when ever it pleased him and my job was 100% the kids.
        Oh yeah, and the household chores, the yard work and even a job.

        Living on my own with shared custody has been a cake walk. I no longer look after his sorry ass and it’s amazing how much more time I have in my life!

        Our kids are getting older, and when they are at my house are a joy to have. He on the other hand now has to cook and clean – and prepare meals for the family. He is disinterested at best and I have taught my kids to cook so that they don’t starve.

        The drama and the crazy are gone. I no longer somebody’s wife appliance. And I no longer have to lead my life according to his whims and fancies or his moods.

        I would say it’s a giant blessing from God to be where I am today – even if it’s not where I pictured myself!

      • THIS!!! Home School Mama-exactly this but we aren’t divorced & still in the same house. I do everything as a single parent while he acts like he if dad of the year in front of other people. Then he says the most stupid crap like “it’s such a privilege to watch him grow up” WTF? Yeah, because watching is about all the effort he can make. Sad thing is, little guy loves him 🙁

    • “Life with an NPD is single parenting. ”

      God yes. My son went NC on his dad about two months ago. It’s been fairly nonstop barrage of bizarre, manipulative, guilt trip text messages to son since then. A couple days ago, my NPD ex texted son, “I accept you unconditionally, well, except for your being Jewish.” WTF, that certainly didn’t inspire son to break NC and reply to his dad. And it wasn’t a secret to ex that I am Jewish, hardly like I hid it or something during our dating days.

      • WTF?! I’m sorry, I laughed. Seriously?! What is wrong with these guys?! Mine does the same thing to our oldest. He has a gophone because I can’t afford to put him on my plan. So, x shouldn’t be texting him or calling him on it. He doesn’t contribute money for it. Doesn’t stop him from calling that phone when I won’t answer mine so he can yell at me, or from the crazy guilt-tripping manipulative tactics he bestows on son. Crazy!

      • Glad,

        The most creative mind could not make up your totally insane, douche EX. You deserve a purple heart or something for putting up with him for as long as you did. Oooh Lawdy! He’s enough to make a bubble-butt go completely flat.

        You are obviously a wonderful and patient woman and I salute you.

  • I most certainly don’t need it that bad. I’ve been single for years and if a man doesn’t treat me the way I think I should be treated I can fade to gray so fast they’ll wonder if I’m a mirage. I don’t give second chances anymore. That might not be a good thing but that’s how it is these days.

    At first I was terrified just like we all were but it does get better. I do what I can myself. I ask for help. If I absolutely can’t find a way to get something done, I suck it up and pay to have it done.

    I used to feel really bad about being a singleton, now I couldn’t care less. I think a lot of married people might be a wee bit jealous of me. My cousin who has been married 35 years spent the weekend with me recently and kept asking (with awe) ‘You live here all by yourself? You don’t have to cook for anyone? Clean for anyone?’ ” Yup. Nope. Nope.

    I met a nice man a couple of years ago and this summer we kicked it up a notch but we came up with some parameters. He asked me how many times a week I would like to see him and I said ‘Once’ and he was happy with that arrangement too. I don’t want someone in my house every night. I have a routine. In bed early, up early for work. I don’t need it that bad. I’ve come a long way, baby. (-;

    • I like your style, Syringa. I, too, am quite content with the single life and my married friends are envious of my unencumbered life. I’m not at all interested in dating – way too much work, if you ask me. I guess I’m too busy making up for all those years I forgot about myself. Now is my time. In a good and healthy way, that is, and I am loving, absolutely, loving it.

  • I stayed with my ex for 20 years because I was too terrified to leave. I really thought I could not make it on my own, that I would whither away to nothing.

    And yet somehow, after bogus reconciliation was revealed to be bullshit, I found the strength to go ahead with divorce. Didn’t know how I’d make it, but I guess I finally realized I just “didn’t need it that bad” anymore to stay with my ex.

    And now I’m a long way out, and you know what? Not only did I survive, but my life is better now than it was back when I was married to that horrible man. And I have come to realize that I am a better person than him in every way possible.

    It is so true, no matter how desperately we chumps cling to the crumbs of our marriages, we really don’t need it that bad. Life is better outside the burning house.

  • I think of it this way: ideally, you learn to fly before jumping. But for us chumps, you have to jump first, and hope you learn on the way down. I have been learning to love my newly sprouted wings. Living alone for the first time ever, and being away from my cheating NPD ex is nothing short of a revelation. Reinventing my life at age 50 is not an opportunity I’m going to waste, even if the circumstances that got me here were heartbreaking.

    • Well said. At 57 I’m doing the same and experiencing independence for the first time in my life and I’m digging it. I won’t go so far to say I’m glad this all happened. But I think I will be able to say that in years to come!

      • Hi Moving Liquid, from a baby chump to an adult chump ( I’m 33 and been married for over 14yrs to a serial cheater, we have 4 young children; 14, 9, 4 and 8 months. I have a question….if you were in my shoes would you have left now or cling on until you’re 35, 40, 50? Hindsight is 20/20 but I don’t know how I will look back when I’m 50 and judge my life now…..

        • Leave now, it what I would do. One of the things that hurts most is what I sacrificed for people unable to appreciate it-I was in a twenty year relationshit. Your kids are entitled to that sacrifice to some extent, but your (supposedly grown ass) ex is not. You are running the risk of your kids growing up to be exactly like him, or further kibble-dispensers if you stay and keep spackling over the cracks. That just passes the capacity to abuse or be abused further down. It is a real generational thing in my family, and a cycle I am determined to break.

          Another thing: Chumps judge themselves more harshly than anyone, but like anyone else (non-cheaters, anyway) they just have to do their best, and as this post says, trust ourselves to figure it out.

          big hugs, trying2fly (love the name). All the cheater bullshit does get easier to cope with (coparenting) if the cheater is released on their own recognizance.

          x-Meh.

          • I agree with Melphista,
            in 2009 I gave him a second chance, and today at 53, that is the
            one thing I can say I honestly regret. 5 years of marriage police,
            no trust. Wasn’t worth it. We would have been in a better financial
            situation then had I ended it. Also, I feel I would be in a better
            position now, had I ended the marriage then.

  • Over in the forums CL let us know a fellow chump is entered in a contest to win a pretty big gift card, she’s a mommy blogger. She’s damn funny check it out: http://www.happyhausfrau.blogspot.com/

    I’m wondering if Chump Nation might be able to put her in the running, it’s looking mighty bleak right now…

    here’s the clickable link to the vote page: http://www.mommyshorts.com/2014/09/horrible-household-smells-the-finals.html#pd_a_8285493

    Scroll to the end of the entries…and then vote for “Jenny and Middle-Aged Dating”

    Ps: you can vote once every day…

  • This may be one of my favorite posts. I really needed to this. This may be one of those posts that I re-read until it becomes completely internalized. So much of the fear I still experience is rooted in not being able to see my future, so I try to stay focused on what I can do and control right now.

    I absolutely LOVED being married and being a mother. I absolutely LOVED that cheating piece of dog shit one time known as my husband. My greatest fear was that he would abandon me. I thought if he ever left me I would not be able to live. Well, I have had to face one of my greatest fears because he surely turned his back on me for the OW. And look at me – living and shit.

    Is my life all that I would like for it to be? Of course not. Have I fully recovered from the trauma? Nope. But he did his worst and he has continued to try to destroy me, and I’m still here. My grandmother once told me that people can only do to you what you allow them to do. That and CL’s quote, “the only way you can heal from the mindfuck is to get away from the mindfuck,” are part of my, “stay silent, stay strong,” mantra. I have begun to realize that I was more than Cheater McDonkeyturd ever deserved – that I was a gift to him. Since he has re-gifted me to me, I have decided to honor and appreciate the gift of me and take care better care of it this time.

    In time, if it is to be, I would like to give the gift of me to someone who truly deserves it.

    • Chump Princess, all the validation, respect, kindness, compassion and love you wanted your ex to give you? Identify them, make a list and give them to yourself. I did that and figured out in a hurry that I did a much better job, and I didn’t have to anxiously wait, hoping he would give them to me. The heck with that.

    • Yes. Similar shoes. I loved being married and loved being a dad. I also LOVE who I thought she was. I gave everything, including my heart and soul, unconditionally. My absolute worst nightmare, abandonment, came true when she left for the OM. Like a sick chump I didn’t leave the burning building, I was thrown out. I’m slowly realizing that was the best gift she could have ever given me. I intend to also re-gift myself to me for a while. Then I will share again. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. Your purpose in life is to share it”. -Shakespeare (I think)
      Thanks for the inspiration.

  • While my ex-cheater is a total douche, and I can’t stand him, it also pains me to see him. While he’s coupled up with his Owife and has more money than I do, I would never, ever want his life. Yes, I’m single. I’m raising our children by myself as the primary custodian. Life is very busy, and I wish I had a partner to share it with sometimes. However, for the most part, I enjoy my relative freedom. This weekend, my kids are with the sad sack, and I have some nice plans that I’m looking forward to. Although I admit that I sometimes let the stress get to me (and having to deal with ex-cheater and his pathetic ways is a huge part of that), I’m doing pretty well.

    But him? He rushed almost literally from our marriage to his next one with his AM partner– they were married one month after our divorce was final. She’s got him on a short leash– he is never anywhere without her; she will even come with him when he drops off the kids after his visitation weekend (we live about two minutes apart). He now has to play father to two stepchildren, and when my kids are there, he’s daddy of the year to FIVE kids. This is the same man who thinks children should be seen and not heard (I kid you not). Whenever I see him, he looks constipated and old. I hear about his uptight, douchey ways from my kids. He’s still spending money hand over fist on silly home renovations. He still works from home, so he’s probably still around all the time (drove me nuts… totally suffocating). The Owife is a desperate parasite who needs a man to take care of her, so she happily shovels up whatever shit he dumps on her, while I…

    …AM SO GLAD TO BE FREE OF HIM. Seriously, living life with ten cats in a cardboard box and flipping burgers for a living sounds like paradise when compared to having to spend one more moment with my selfish, narrow-minded, uptight, suffocating, boring ex!

    Folks, you’ve gotta leave that shit behind. What lies ahead is not the same shit sandwich you’ve been served for years– it’s liberation, and it’s awesome.

  • It’s a magnificent moment when you realize that you are no longer afraid and that fear has lost its grip. Where in the world did we women get the idea that being alone was so difficult and terrible?!! Too many sappy movies and the false messages we get from culture (it’s an obsession really) about how essential it is that we have/find/keep a partner. All those decades of women’s magazines aimed at how to get a man, how to please a man, how to be more attractive, etc. Ugh. We’ve all been brainwashed. I think I’ve finally freed myself from those tentacles! The mantra I now have etched upon my soul is “Whatever happens, I’ll be ok.” I’m also a big fan of “Whatever happens, I’ll handle it.” And also, “God is with me so I’m never alone.”

    The hardest thing for me was not finances or house repair or taking care of everything on my own – it was realizing that my husband had never really loved me and in fact in all of my 55 years, I have NEVER been the love of anyone’s life. I may never be the love of anyone’s life. I may never have a relationship again. I may never be kissed again, or have sex or wake up in bed again with someone I really love. For a long time this seemed unbearably sad but after a year of grieving, one day I unexpectedly broke through the bars of this self-made prison and came out into the sunshine. It’s ok finally, in fact BETTER than ok, because I have learned who I am again and how much I like being on my own! It would take a lot now for me to give up my independence and freedom. It would take an exceptional man who is crazy about me. I will not settle for less than that ever again. I am worth being the love of someone’s life – and if such a quality man doesn’t come along, I will be the love of my own life. I finally know how to do this.

    • This is nice, and similar to how I feel. For me, there’s a lot of talk about finding someone who’ll treat you better than he did. But I don’t think that’s guaranteed or even likely. I feel like I can say pretty confidently, for my own self, I’m not the girl I used to be. And even if I do find love again (not looking, just open to it), I doubt I’ll have the same starry eyed wonder I had twenty years ago, if I had it even then. In any case, although I enjoyed being par to f a loving, giving partnership, it IS harder when you’re older, somehow, and I’ve always been okay on my own, so if it happens I’m on my own now until the end of time, well, that’ll be ok, too.

    • NeverAgain, thank you for your words. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. This is why I love this site and those on it. You all make me feel like I am not alone, the only crazy person in an otherwise sane world. I always knew I loved my husband more than he loved me, but I never expected the betrayal. I guess that makes me a chump, but I am OK with that, I know I am a good person.

      • You thought you were the only one on a site filled with people who were married to cheaters who has discovered life without a cheater is so much better than life with a cheater that it’s ridiculous, then discovered that you had been focused on that cheater for so long that you had forgotten how focus on yourself, and then figured out you can be so much happier on your own that you are jealous about giving up your independence?

        Not bloody likely 🙂 Did I tell you about how I decided to pursue a ridiculously expensive hobby only because I can now, and it wasn’t possible when the world revolved around my cheater ex? (I ramble on about this hobby, so that’s a bit of an inside joke).

    • I’ve been by myself and have been happy. The times I was married I didn’t feel like my love was reciprocated. I usually ended up feeling worn out and depressed. The other day I wrote the following on my bucket list. “Experiencing the same love back from another that I have the capacity to give.”

  • Fear paralyzed me. I stayed in that burning building long after I was burned to a crisp. And yet when I finally left, I found out that all that fear that bound me to the cheater? All false or if it any of it were true, it was overblown. But I needed to believe that I had it in me to carve a new future, a future that did not include an intact family, a decision to not define myself as a failure because I left the marriage and a belief that living authentically was worth the pain and hurt along the way. I may look the same on the outside today, but inside, I am completely a different person after leaving the cheater. I am calm, content, happy and have no fear of abandonment any longer because I know I would never abandon myself.

    Thanks for this great post, CL.

  • Thank you Chump Lady for today’s words of wisdom and all of my Chumpy peers for your sage comments.
    Divorce court was 2 weeks ago today. I lived through the humiliating process and took myself on a vacation to the woods.
    I lived without what I thought I would die for over the past year and I will keep going… My self esteem was so battered by the end that I thought I deserved nothing and would be given even more shit sandwiches to eat at the hearing. It was sad and humiliating as I thought in my head everyone can not only see but hear how unlovable I am…
    Hopefully with much self love, therapy, reading here, and being consistent at moving forward, I can carve out a midlife solo existence with some meaning and fulfillment. Should I find the right partner who compliments me, that would be wonderful. I do not need it that bad to have someone in my life who is so empty and needy that they consume all of my life force.
    I appreciate the snarky way CL is driving home this truism “I Don’t Need It That Bad”. Even in my worst loneliest moments, I did not need something so badly that it almost killed me, nor will I ever remain with anyone so cruel and empty ever again.

  • I am one of these people you are talking about chump lady…I am so full of fear and don’t have the finances right now (but I am still slowly getting things in order) I have made up my mind I want a divorce and that he is full of shit but it’s still hard…. I have worked all of our marriage except the last couple of years because I lost my job due to cut backs…so if this had happened at any other time in our marriage I could have left his ass already! This sucks!
    And I still struggle with everyone pointing me towards – Beyond affairs with Brian and Anne Bertch – ” my husbands affair was the best thing that every happened to me” – I will never understand that…. How in the hell could this be the best thing that ever happened to me? I am glad they made it and can help others but I still don’t see how anyone can forgive a spouse that causes so much pain!

    • That was one of the first books I read post DDay. It’s written by Anne, but the husband writes a few sections also and even then, reading that in the earliest, darkest days after finding out, before finding chumplady and understanding chumpdom and how narcissism plays into cheating, I wrote notes in the margins throughout the book akin to she’s kidding herself and he doesn’t sound sorry, and was really afraid if that was what I had to hope for.

      • Hi- yes this was one of first Amazon chump purchases last year too. I remember impatiently waiting for it to arrive and hoping it would have the solution to the mess I found myself in. But once it arrived and I began reading it I soon realised it was not applicable to my situation, not least because I didn’t have a husband who wanted to stop his affair. However I don’t believe this is a reconciliation con book as Anne does clearly make the point that you have to put the focus on you whether you can heal the marriage or not. That’s the reason for the title. Whilst we are NOT to blame for our spouse’s choices, we are responsible for ourselves and how we have been in the marriage. I was very codependent and allowed the trampling of many of my values and boundaries. So the affair ‘being the best thing’ is eventually true for many of us, as we build better new, refocused lives, which is exactly what Chump Lady is all about.

    • Forgive the damage and pain but certainly not the cheater. The goal is to care for yourself and that means we must move on and move away from that soul-sucking experience. In this sense, FORGIVE means to pay the price for repairing the damage ourselves. Rebuild, restart, revive.

      “The best thing that ever happened?!!!!!” Nope.

      What we make of that torturous experience, what we make of ourselves after that traitorous attack on our souls is a measure of our ‘awesomeness’ and ‘mightiness’.

      2 pence worth.

    • It’s the best thing that ever happened to her because she is making serious money off of it. I went so far as to get my ex to talk to that woman’s husband. That’s right, chump I was.

    • Better books include, “Runaway Husbands,” by Stark, and “Getting Past Your Breakup” by … Elliott. And any number of books about grieving and loss. There’s also a funny one called “Dumped,” by a couple of women whose names I can’t remember. It’s funny, and strong.

  • This is a great post! I’m well on my way to meh. I saw him yesterday when he came to pick up the kids. He was tearful and I ignored it. He stood in the driveway and looked at me with longing eyes. I wanted to puke and laugh at the same time. This made me realize how far I had come from being that person that felt like dying and withering away after D-day. Life is so much better now. I concentrate of myself and the kids and that keeps me plenty busy.

  • I think it just seems like the choices suck, from our immediate perspective. Stay with a cheater, endure the lying, gaslighting. Wonder if the cheater is texting an AP from the bathroom. Know that your partner doesn’t love you enough to protect you from the devastation of betrayal. Live without trust or being able to truly admire and respect your partner. (I could go on.) Or Take the risk of managing your own life, including the fears of going it alone financially and socially. For Chumps with kids and STBXs who don’t want to pay support or ran up bills or stole the money, that might be a lot of fear. This time last year I was nearly paralyzed with fear that I would never be able to keep up this house, think about retirement. But what we are doing is not trying to preserve every artifact of the old life, only without the cheating jackass; we are building new lives. We can chose what to keep, based on our resources, and what to let go. I went out last night for a lovely evening with the child of my heart and her husband. The two of them got overextended financially and decided to offer their spare room (in a nice apartment, but not the deluxe penthouse version) as a “bed and breakfast” kind of deal for business and convention travelers. There’s some website for this, I gather. This week they had a Harvard grad who owns a business and was in town for a meeting. They will have football weekend guests. There are many ways to organize a life, including keeping the expensive house but adding a college student or an older woman who no longer wants to live alone or even another chump and a kid or two to help pay the way. Or sell the house, find a modest garden apartment and recover for a year without worries about home repairs or grass cutting or trees. My house is a lot of work. I may get to the point where I don’t want to do that anymore if I am still living alone. What we have to let go of is the false security of marriage or “living together” or being a couple. My young friend said yesterday that she likes ME better without the jackass. And I do, too. That’s what a year alone has done for me. I have no idea what the next year will hold. I didn’t even know the MOW’s name at this point last year and now it’s seared in my brain. That’s worth thinking about. We only have this moment. And our “wild and precious” lives are too important to waste waiting for someone who has demonstrated no regard for us to suddenly grow a solid, ethical character and a conscience. What we can do is grow our confidence in ourselves, that whatever problems lie ahead, we can face them and find a way to peace, love and joy.

  • CL — You are INSANE. And I mean that in the best possible way. No one can make sense of the nonsensical like you can. Fantastic post. Incredible analogies.

  • CL, beautifully said and so true.

    And this is great advice that can apply to any situation, not just infidelity:

    “But when choices suck, I think the best thing to do figure out where you have the most agency, the most control over a given set of circumstances, and move in that direction. (Remember, you only control yourself.)”

  • For years, he had me convinced that he would kill me if I left him. Finally, I looked in the mirror one day and said, “I’m already dead anyway.” So, I ended it. And yeah, he did try to kill me 2 months later. But I fooled him and I escaped. Sometimes, you just have to do it.

  • New York Times today had her response… She didn’t think Jenny was to blame. He wouldn’t commit to marriage because his political star was on the rise again. Man, they do not change their spots.

  • Thank you chumps for your words of wisdom.

    An update on me, I finally left a week ago with my 4 little ones. Moved over 2000 miles away. It was heartbreaking and so very hard the day we left (husband was currently out of state and was not even home when we left) my
    heart cried looking around my home, going from room to room knowing this will be my last time here. Walked away with just two bags of clothes for me and 4 kids and leaving everything behind. I was also scared leaving, uncertain whether Im doing the right thing, how Im going to start over with 4 kids, and throughout it all I was still loving my husband. But I keep telling myself, he will never change, never stop the online dating profiles, the secret phone, calling/ txting his online fuckbuddies, meeting up with them, coming home hours after his work finish time, the addiction to porn, him not telling me he loves me in months, no kiss goodmorning or goodnight, no loving emotions from him except for when its sex time. I didnt have hardproof of him cheating these past months but I know he was. In March he accidentally left his phone and on it I found a new dating profile, the messages were all sexual and some even showed he has called them and built up a sex friendship. I can go on and
    on but its not worth the time. I have been NC for a week despite him calling daily to speak to the kids as he already had my relatives phone number stored. So far it hasnt been as hard as I anticipated ie crying nonstop, not eating and sleeping. My apetite has returned but I was starting to loose weight and wished my apetite can eff off again lol. Im looking for work and have already turned down a job interview as Im holding out for something better. Kids are adjusting except my 13yr is griefstricken that we no longer are a family. Hopefully once school restarts she becomes preoccupied with it to “forget” some of her sadness.

    This website has been one of the anchoring strengths that has enabled me to run from my burning house. This is only the first step but Im proud Ive come this far even if its just been 1week. Thank you CL and all chumps.

    • “Inch by inch the job’s a cinch. Yard by yard is too damn hard.” I was there. 4 kids, huge mortgage, no money. My second loser husband with whom I had two of the kids.

      I hoped you moved near a network of friends and or family. You will need them to be there for you. Just do what you have been doing for the last years. Only this time, you will be doing it without your attention on him and his affairs. It will get easier, then harder, then easier and back and forth until it is easier and better. Hang in there. You can do it. Take baby steps to your future. It is patiently awaiting the great strides in your life. Give your children the strong role model they deserve. You will never regret it.

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