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80 Rosebushes and Other Chump Manias

rosebushWhen cheaters cheat, they take a lot of time, attention (and money) from their marriages. Nature abhors a vacuum. So what takes place in  that absence?

Okay, jobs, children, laundry, sure. Chumps get the greater share of those, of course. But what feeds your soul? Where do you get your kibbles?

For my husband (a former chump) it was 80 rose bushes. The guy has antique rose mania. You can walk into any garden anywhere, and he can identify an antique rose at 20 paces. “Oh that’s Baronne Henriette de Snoy.” It’s like his superpower.

His snobby superpower. He’s sniffy and dismissive of hybrid teas. And don’t even get him started on knock out roses. “Landscaping trash.”

He’s got his habit down now to about 10 antique rose bushes. Which have a very short shelf life in Texas.  One hot day they go from glorious rosebud to withered ash. To love roses in Texas is to be forever heartsick. This isn’t the ideal climate for roses, so you have to be a good steward. Constantly mixing up their favorite foliar feeds, mulching, pruning…

But when properly cared for, rose bushes deliver. They bloom. They smell nice. It’s pretty glorious (if brief).

At the height of his former marriage to a serial cheater, however, the man once had 80 rose bushes. I guess his love and affection had to go somewhere. Because roses, unlike cheaters, are rewarding. He looks back at this time in his life as rather maniacal, and a symptom that things were terribly broken. As long as he had an all-consuming interest, he could ignore the fact that his wife was checked out.

He isn’t the only one. I see this with a lot of chumps, myself included. I used to be something of a crazy gardener myself. (My husband once looked at a picture of my over-the-top garden pots and pegged me as a kindred chump.) I did a lot of things alone while married. I traveled to my parents alone, with an older woman friend alone, to concerts alone. I landscaped alone. I scraped wallpaper alone. I raked leaves alone… I could go on and on.

One place chumps direct a lot of our attention, of course, is our children. And that’s right and proper to a point. But we shouldn’t expect emotional intimacy and kibbles from our kids. It puts a terrible burden on them.

Do you have any version of the 80 rose bush phenomena?

When you leave a cheater and gain a life, however, things fall back into balance. I still had my interests, but they just felt like that — interests — not escapes.

As for us and maniacal gardening? We’re considering an apartment in the next stage of life. With a doorman!

Writing this column, I just asked my husband to identify his favorite rose — and he couldn’t remember.

“Wow. They used to be my friends.”

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.
  • Okay, I just showed this column to my husband and he exclaimed “Is that the best picture you have of my roses? This is NOT my best work!” Rose: Maggie. (A “found rose.”) Not. His. Best. Work.

    • Same here… I’m working with an IC, but I’m consumed with the “what ifs” as a single parent who worries about what might happen if her kids had to live with ex-loser full time. What if I lose my job? What if I get sick? What if I die? What if my roof collapses from all this snow (I kid you not)? I’ve always been a worrier, but getting divorced and single parenting three young children has shot my anxiety through the roof.

    • Right now my roses are lists. I have lists everywhere. Lists of things to daily to-do, lists of dreams, lists of interests, lists of fears and anxieties, lists of emotions. I keep looking at all these lists; I write things down in the car waiting for kids’ practices to end; I stop in the grocery store and write things down; I carry them around. Now I’m thinking about choosing items from the list to put on post-its around the house. When I no longer need an item on a list, I cross it out, but then sometimes I write it again. I am wondering how long this will go on…

    • Just wanted to shout it to the four corners of the earth after 8 months of horrible waiting and drama my divorce is final today !!!!!! Now time to gain my life. I look foward to lansacaping MY house the way I want and finally putting in a small veggie garden in the back yard. ( exhusband never let me put one in) …and yes tasks are more enjoyable even washing the dishes and Laundry knowing that I don’t have to clean up after his slobby mess gives me happiness. I have enough cleaning after my two kids.

      @movingon I have the same worries and can relate to the anxiousness of what if’s. I hope with time that will subside as a new routine rolls in.

      Again thanks chump lady for this site it greatly helped me throughout the whole process and now I’m ready for my Tuesday to come and take me down the road to MEH.

          • {{{{{Shouting Applause / Waving pom-poms}}}}}

            Welcome to your new, authentic, cheater-free LIFE!!!
            Thank you for sharing it with us, Itneverends. (maybe a new ‘name’ is in order?)


      • Congratulations, Itneverends, along with that piece of paper is the door to your better future(maybe a little bittersweet but a good baby step forward).

  • Only emptiness here. I’m consumed with anxiety. Anxiety and worry are my 80 rose bushes.

    • You and me both. I still, three years later, still wake up some mornings with a knot of anxiety in my stomach. Usually it’s 4 or 5 am. It’s gotten better but it’s still there. Deep breaths.

      • Yes, the knot of anxiety! It’s like it’s there to remind me even when I’m doing my best to distract from it all. Like it’s saying, “Hey, remember that horrible thing that’s happened?” If I let it, it dissolves into tears. I’m tired of crying. Two and a half years of crying so far.

        I did lots of things alone during my marriage. Things that weren’t his thing. I actually felt freer alone because he tended to be judgemental about certain things I liked. I guess that was a red flag. Then I desolved into depression and anxiety. I gave up traveling once a year for my work which was a great joy to me because he resented it. He could have come with me but refused. So I gave it up, all to have him walk out in the end.

      • I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only one dealing with anxiety. I started taking an herbal remedy which seems to take the edge off. I mentioned to my therapist that I have resigned myself to the fact that I may suffer some low level anxiety for the rest of my life. Not sure if I will, but I’ve had to accept it as a possibility. It has definitely gotten better, but like you Nord, I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning with it.

        • Dear Lina and Chump Princess,

          I recently found out that when your liver is not healthy, that will give one the feelings and sensations that we call ‘anxiety’.

          Yes, all of the poo we have been through is clearly anxiety-inducing. No doubt about that!!! However, addressing your liver health, giving it a good cleanse and nutritional support very often goes a long way in reducing those feelings of anxiety, as well as the early morning wakings.

          I read that those types of nighttime awakenings can often be attributed to the nightly ‘dump’ that the liver takes. It has to dump the waste from all the processing it has done all day. During sleep is when it occurs.

          When I became aware of these things, I did some things to assist my liver. Guess what?! My ‘anxiety’ is dramatically reduced!

          The horrific distress these pathetic cheaters put us through causes great harm to our bodies. (As we all know)

          In addition to the liver, the adrenal glands suffer terribly! So, both the liver and the adrenals need some serious TLC.

          Anyway…..l did some researching and did some adjustments to my diet and added in some recommended supplements. It has really helped me a lot with the anxiety and the nighttime awakenings. (Not gone, but maybe the Seagram’s and Coke has something to do with that?! LOL)

          Hope this helps you……

          PS: My ’80 rose bushes’ were gardening, volunteer work, researching health topics and housekeeping! I also read & researched many resources that ‘fed my soul’ so I could be of assistance to my fellow humans in various ways.

          • I’ve had so much anxiety I thought I would never get over it. But I have gone to a nutritional therapist who practices functional medicine and she has put me on some supplements (vitamins) that have totally taken away the anxiety. Also the herbs Holy Basil and Rhodiola Rosea really help, they support the adrenal glands and calm your whole system. It is really worth getting professional input into this and not just a doctor, who will only recommend anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.

            • Awesome, Free!

              Thanks for sharing your excellent results with natural methods.

              I have used the rhodiola as well as ashwaganda at times. l have recently found out about L-glutamine for both liver and adrenals & have benefited greatly from taking it.

              Forge on, Free….ForgeOn, all…..

            • Dear ffghtr67,

              My best suggestion is to research on-line yourself. Educate yourself.

              Some suggestions: / / /

              From these, you can find links that will lead you to others who are well-educated professionals in Natural Health.

              ForgeOn to better health…..

    • Oh god do I identify with this. After 6 months my attempts to find new hobbies or rediscover old ones seem empty and insufficient. I keep trying to remind myself that progress is happening even if I can’t notice it, but my patience is running thin.

      I might have flashes of giving up on my ex’s narrative of me, but they don’t last long. I still feel like I’m the problem, that my depression and struggle against childhood trauma made and make me too broken to love. How is bowling once a week supposed to fix that?

      • Me too Which Way. I know it’s depression. Nothing means anything to me anymore, even things I used to be passionate about. I still feel like the problem too. I have a history of people walking away from me when they no longer “needed” me for something and now my husband of 23 years has done it too. It’s like the gravy on top of the shit sandwiches.

        • Lina, I’m sorry that you know this experience so well. I already felt like I had to be needed to be loved, so I tried to make myself indispensable to my ex’s dreams. If being needed isn’t enough to make me bearable, what possibly could be?

          We trust these people so much and they know exactly what to say and do to make us take the blame for their behavior. Recognizing that I was manipulated doesn’t make me accept her narrative any less, though. It’s a sick, twisted beast, this depression.

          • I’m so sorry for your struggle too. I agree, recognizing it doesn’t make it any easier.

            • Lina; IT IS NOT YOU! I realized no matter how many people do this it is not you. You may be picking people incapable of caring, or may also have disordered people in your family as well. No one normal treats people this way.

          • ‘We trust these people so much and they know exactly what to say and do to make us take the blame for their behavior. Recognizing that I was manipulated doesn’t make me accept her narrative any less, though.’

            Agreed, Which! I know the ‘knot of anxiety’ that both you and Lina are talking about. It’s ruled my world throughout my marriage and is still present during our separation. I hope it will be gone some day soon for all of us!

            • I am with you both Lina and Which Way

              I had a hobby – keeping him out of the financial messes he created and hoping against hope that he would change and actually pay the bills.

              It’s all I had time for. The anxiety of that hobby has been replaced by anxiety for my future. I’ll admit that it’s getting better though. Step by step.

              Oh and I gave up FB stalking – one week. The motivation for that…. That I could end up on the People You May Know Bar. No thanks.

              • I still hear his parting insults running through me like an icepick. I try to answer each one to push forward. For example: I will never get anywhere with you. You are correct fuckwit, I divorced you! You never gave me affection. Yup, because you were too busy fucking whores! You throw your laundry down the stairs. Yes, and I now own the washing machine and dryer!
                No one will ever want you unless you work on yourself. Yes, I lost 42 pounds and work out every day. I relax in a nice bathtub. I can read a book whenever I want. Now that your gone I have plenty of time to do what ever I want for myself. I look good in clothes. I want half your pension. Fuck you, you didn’t get it, fuck you again for good measure! After the divorce hearing and settlement: I think about you all the time. I’m single!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                We wasted so much time on these assholes. We never deserved it and wherever they go and no matter who they are with they will bring their serial cheating, Narc, porn addiction, drug addiction, sadistic selves with them. That is what makes me push ahead every single day as I am so grateful I had the courage to finally leave the creature.

              • I stalk OW’s fb a lot less now but it’s on lockdown anyway so can’t really see anything except profile pic (ugly). However, it doesn’t bother me if she knows or not, because I actually have a couple of mutual friends and besides, one of the most insulting and hurtful things about this entire experience has been watching the two of them just act like I don’t even exist. Which gets to the nut of what’s wrong with this picture in that they and their selfish deceitful actions got to decide unilaterally without me having a fair chance, what was going to happen here. That still makes me angry.

      • It may take longer than six months. You’re running a marathon, not a race. The first months are of course the worst.

        IC to learn how to re-focus all that energy spent on anxiety and worry into self-care was a huge help for me. Eventually it becomes habit and you realize that you’ve been so engrossed in living your life that you haven’t thought about Cheater all day. 🙂

    • Everyone heals at different rates of speed. Don’t beat yourself up if you still feel anxiety and worry. I just woke up at 4 in the morning wondering how I was going to give my daughter the wedding she dreams of on my reduced budget. Mind you – she’s neither engaged, attached or dating anyone with real seriousness at this point. So you get my drift – our minds can be our worst pranksters in the healing game.

      I’m 4 1/2 years out and recently finished some last settlement business up with my ex, who apparently took issue with my wording in speaking of his third wife (the OW he abandoned his family for.) He said that he was “just so tired” of the slights and smears against the OW and him because – after all – it has been almost five years. Funny how cheaters see time as some sort of magical redemptive for their unapologetic bad actions, but chumps see it as something that slogs along in a very slow healing process. I think chumps have the truer timeline, but I caution you to not let obsessive thinking (another big trick in our minds’ arsenal) about your ex or your situation bog you down. Follow CL’s lead – let your interests be your outlet when you start to feel anxious. Let them fill up that emptiness a bit. Keep yourself busy and force yourself to take those forward steps. It’s the only way to eventually leave the hollowness behind.

      I believe that time is the Chump’s friend and the cheater’s foe. We can heal because a clear conscience helps in that. But a cheater? They wait for time to absolve them of the many sins they don’t want to face, and it doesn’t work that way. They still wake up every morning and face themselves and have to pretend that they are wonderful and happy and really – it was all for the best. But somewhere, deep down, they know the truth. And time reveals that over the long haul. We in Chumpdom don’t have to wait to see it happen (that would be a waste of our lives and time)….but we know it will.

      Stay strong and carry on! 🙂

      • I believe that time is the Chump’s friend and the cheater’s foe.

        Char, thank you for that paragraph. That insight is amazing. I’ve put that in my “f*cktard be-gone” journal. I should make a cross-stitch of that and hang it above my desk. 🙂

        • Karma: So true that time is the Chump’s friend and the cheater’s foe. Narcissist cheaters end up bitter and alone – the chump is gone, the honeymoon phase with OW/OM is over, kids become estranged, friends abandon them, and jobs lose their meaning. Incredibly, they never figure out what role they play in all of their life’s losses. They grow old and dissolute – can’t muster up all that old charm anymore cause they’re just too tired. Who feels sorry for them? No one.

        • @KarmaExpress “F*cktard be-gone” journal~~ Now THAT is priceless, I love it lmao 😀

      • Char, yes that last paragraph was wonderfully said!!!! ” all for the best”…..I hate that phrase!!!!

      • ‘So tired against the slights and smears of the OW’? Maybe she shouldn’t have been pursuing married men then? No sympathy, BITCH.
        Char – if your daughter is anything like yourself – she would be appreciative of any support for a wedding in the future. You don’t need to splurge out on a single day like this – and if those demands are given its just a breeding ground for narcissism. The money spent on a wedding is far, far better spent on more practical things, after all. (But then again, I’m not married – this is just my personal view of what any future wedding of mine would be like – one on a budget :D)

    • Supreme,

      Me too. After uncovering my ex-wife’s misdeeds I spent about a year dealing with anxiety attacks. The fact that our daughter was undergoing cancer treatment at the time of my discovery had already put me on the road to it anyway. Realizing that you had been gaslighted for years and what the ugly truth was lead to an extended breakdown where I just barely kept it together enough to keep my job. My heart would almost bust out of my chest if the wrong thought train pulled into my brain. Three years away from it now and I am better off in absolutely every part of my life. All hail meh!

      My only odd “hobby” during my unknowing chump years was with true crime forensic shows. It was the weirdest way that my subconscious expressed that it knew some hidden nonsense was afoot, I was OBSESSED stories of how clever (narcissistic) criminals got caught.

      • That reminds me that I used to watch tons of comedy shows the last few years of my marriage. I couldn’t sleep so would stay up watching all the late night shows. It was a way to anesthetize myself I guess. Now I go to bed early and get plenty of sleep!

        • Yes, I love Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Myers. I liked David Letterman up until the scandal with the intern broke. I respected him for coming clean publicly, and asking his wife for forgiveness, but the Clinton jokes just weren’t funny anymore.

      • Omg! Me too! I became obsessed with the ID channel, which they should rename narcissist tv.

        Wives with knives! Who the bleep did I marry!

        Some of the stories felt uncomfortably familiar.

        • In the last years of my marriage, I became obsessed with the show, Snapped, about women who snap and kill someone (usually husbands). I guess that is why on Dday1, my XH slept in the extra bedroom with one eye open. That makes me laugh thinking about that now!!

          • My younger sister swears her ex was a sociopath… once she finally got tired of his cheating he started sleeping in a different room with the door locked… she said she would go in the middle of the night and unlock the door and just open it and leave it standing open. She just did it to screw with him…. wanted him to know she could get at him if she wanted to. Made me laugh :D:D

  • At the time in my life when my marriage blew up I did not have much energy left over. I was working full time nights, going to nursing school evenings, doing all the cleaning, cooking, shopping….etc, trying to be there for my boys, all on 3 hours sleep. Cheater ex was upset that I was not paying proper attention to him, so he went out and got himself another schmoopie. I know now there were others from looking back on his behavior at other times in the marriage.

    Anyway, all I had time for was to study….study….study…..but I did graduate and pass my boards. Ex was counting on the cash rolling in and informed me that now I could put him through college. Then he pulled his ” I feel like killing you and the boys and then myself.” thing and the boys and myself went Bye,Bye.

    Now i have all the time I want for anything I want….Ahhhh, freedom!

    • Tessie, I admire your dedication. My ex quit working completely to attend nursing school part-time, and then constantly complained that I didn’t do enough housework after I got home from my job that supported me, her, and whatever wasn’t covered by child support for her 15 year-old son. She was of course free to go to jazzercise or take bicycle rides during the days while I was at work, and her son was perfectly entitled to do nothing but play video games all evening and all weekend.

      As I was crying and begging for an explanation for her leaving me, one of her replies was that she needed a real partner, someone who didn’t want to be another child for her to support. Part of our deal with her quitting work was that when she was hired as a nurse I could quit work and go to school; instead she waited until our savings were nearly depleted and then left me.

      I used to enjoy playing video games, but after she threw it in my face as an example of my being juvenile, I’ve had trouble having much fun with them. So even hobbies that I do have haven’t been as enjoyable.

      • I got the what are you doing being so childish and wasting all your time with videogames for playing … Words with Friends. Yes, all of the five minutes a day I spent trying to figure out what four-letter words end with V or C or J while waiting to pick up kids or some such downtime.

        • I got in trouble for playing words with friends also. Just about everything I did was wrong. Never played it since. I was bored out of my mind for the last year. He moaned and groaned about his back. Now I realize why he was so worn out and fell asleep so early.

      • There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with playing video games (I’m a gamer myself here, heh – female gamers are in the minority and a fair amount of them are skanks – I’m certainly not one of those types! Quite a few females on games have been OW in my experiences.). Its actually a proven fact that with some video games they increase reflexes, strategic thinking, leadership ability and social skills (if the right kind of games). Gaming is a hobby – just like anything else is.

        One would question her shitty obsession with ‘jazzercise’ (and all of those inane aerobics classes which seem to be a breeding ground for narcissistic mummy has-beens) among other things before gaming was an issue, really.

    • Tessie, every time you write I think that maybe some chump married to a dangerous person will see the danger and leave. Your story proves there are no guarantees, but you know you did the best you could and it is certain (based on what he and his family did later) that your X would have at some point done as he said he would do. The worst thing chumps can do is stick their heads in the sand and refuse to see what they are married to. Hugs to you from the frozen northeast.

    • Yes! This was me. I guess I got tired of always asking during about the last 8 years of our “marriage”: “Why are we do disconnected??” Only to hear, “We’re not!” yet no affection, little sex, I’m working full time, coaching our daughter’s soccer team for 7 years, doing essentially all the housework, laundry, & bills for the family ALONE. I finally decided I was gonna make myself happy. I earned a professional accreditation that about 5% of my industry have. Then, that felt so freaking good, I stopped coaching for awhile to earn a master’s degree over 3 years. Fuckwit and I had our first child at 18 & 19. I did everything backwards, but worked my butt off to make a great life for us.

      So 4 mos after I finish the master’s, I’m hit with DDay. Then more info, and more, and so it turned out that fucker had been cheating for about 20 of our 23 years together. Only, I was too busy achieving & not being an emotionally immature 16-year old kibble dispenser. I was too busy being a freakin’ ADULT, trying to improve things for my family. Yes, I was up till midnight reading and writing papers for those three years, but douchebag had the nerve to say during mediation, “Well, who was with our daughter while you were buried in books and papers??” I immediately barked, “Yeah – because doing something for hours to better the family’s earning potential is SOOOOO equal to your hidden adultery while I was busy, and which you also likely committed while you were SUPPOSED to be engaging with said daughter.” Classic lame fuckwit.

      I filed 8 mos after DDay. He had abandoned us and moved in with the married whore-worker and her two brats almost immediately after DDay. Strange how these dumb whores don’t think, “Hmmm. This cheating, scheming 40 year old abandoned his own blood and wife/loyal partner of 23 years. Why would he want to start over & raise some other dude’s kids and deal with my 30s dumbass? Plus, his kids are 21 & 14. Mine are 3 & 6. He also has a grandkid he hasn’t seen in a year. Why wouldn’t he do the same thing to me when I can’t be the kibble dispenser cuz I’m a MOM with little brats??” Well, we know why they don’t think past their crotch – they’re f-ing SPECIAL!!

      Since he was gone and I wasn’t begging for love, affection, or attention from a cheating fucktard anymore, or playing marriage police, I re-did my kitchen cabinets by hand, and am slowly finishing the dozens of projects he tore up, and left. Re-did my daughter’s room, lost 50 lbs, and am training for a first 1/2 marathon. People run for cancers, and various challenges, and losses. I’m running – and tell anyone who asks – to put a face with the destruction that adultery has on families. You want out – freaking GO, but to brutalize a loyal spouse, and tear up your own child’s home through emotional abuse and abandonment – just fucking GO before anything else. You actually ARE dispensable, you’re not special, and you suck at being a spouse and parent because your genitals are more important than anything else, and we’ve known it for a LONG ass time.

      Love to all u Chumps. You’ve each helped me through some dark days. Now I’m dealing with the asswipe’s inability to make freaking credit card payments that still have my name on it that he was court ordered to pay. I’m about to file a motion of contempt of a court order. I’m sick of it!

      • Awesome!! All of it!!

        On his way out mine said “YOU’RE just afraid of being alone!!” I said “WHO says I will be alone? What makes you think I am replaceable and YOU’RE not?? Please!!”

        • NCStevie – nice! But what we all know is: Hey! Douchebag! What the hell do you think I’ve been the whole time I wasted part of my life with YOU? ALONE!! I’m a freakin’ PRO at being alone! Asshat!

          They actually think they are infinitely capable of giving 100% to their whores, and being predatory whores themselves, AND giving their spouses & kids 100%. Dumbfucks. Yeah – center of their own universe. The only problem is: THEY SUCK AT IT and no one can be multiple lying scheming fuckups all at once and be good at it. At least not till we’re on to something being “off” at the core.

          If you were like me, you were alone in a loveless, sexless, “marriage” where you were taken for granted as the anchor for your kids, finances, spirituality, EVERYTHING. It may take some time to peel off the layers, but we all will, and we’re all so much stronger, beautiful, mighty and worthy than these f-tards and their disgusting whores. It truly is their loss, but even so, I don’t think any of us would take that mediocre BS back into our lives now that we’re free, and learning to truly love ourselves, and how to be kind to ourselves. (((Hugs!)))

          • One thing I don’t get is, my ex- was not great at communicating or having a emotional conection with me. Hell he never expressed his big unhappiness fords our marriage!!!He is not that deep. So if women cheat with other man for emotional conection how can my EX husband all of a sudden be with her sharing feelings and discussing stuff?

          • @ Wow33 I can tell you with mine… that his whore is/was married (now separated, with 3 little boys) and they are both competitors in bodybuilding. “She” appreciates his hard work…. appreciates his “passion” and encourages him and they talk about supplements…. burning glutes… leg day…. how “misunderstood” they are… how they aren’t selfish but “escaping” and how “mistreated” he has been…. how “mistreated” she has been. They were professing their undying and perfect LOVE after talking back and forth less than a month, they are f-idiots (fidiots) and they actually “BELIEVE” their own bullshit. Their “sharing” and “communicating” is based on their “NEED” to obtain kibbles and affirmation…. they NEED someone (who doesn’t KNOW better) to tell them it’s “NOT their fault they cheated”…. that they “understand”…. that they will “love” them better….. “be” better….. it is ALL part of the “love bombing”. There is no REAL connection…. and almost everything they share is FICTION or half truths…. put in play to obtain the desired result.

            I REMEMBER the beginning…. and I remember thinking “He is JUST too good to be TRUE!” and…. that saying …. “if something seems to good to be true… it probably is.” Yeah… that one….. he was… DELUSIONAL LIAR!! He tells her “I will always want YOU with me.” Yeah… I heard that bullshit too. Guess how may trips he has taken in the past 8 years…. roughly…. 15-18…. guess how many I’ve been on with him?? ONE… yes… ONE…. a week before he started this affair. Asshat.

            I remember him telling me that his ex-wife of 12 years “threw” him away, he left out the part where she did that after years of being his CHUMP and 3 months after her D-Day (the affair started 6 months after the birth of their 3rd child) and years of being alone with the kids (3 theirs, 1 from previous marriage), left behind and doing everything by herself anyway.

            They are sick, sad and vile people. Here’s to MEH!!

            • Reminds me e of that kid who disappeared in 2010? His stepmother, a bodybuilder, had married his father. She took him to school early for a science fair the day he dissapeared. He never made it to class, and the landscaper went to police. The new body builder wife had approached him about offing the father. That kid has never been found. I hope she rots in hell. Him too for that matter.

      • “You want out – freaking GO, but to brutalize a loyal spouse, and tear up your own child’s home through emotional abuse and abandonment – just fucking GO before anything else. You actually ARE dispensable, you’re not special, and you suck at being a spouse and parent because your genitals are more important than anything else, and we’ve known it for a LONG ass time”

        Exactly, KibbleFreeMM– I was just having lunch with a good friend yesterday, and we talked about how much less devastating it would have been if ex had just left when he realized he wanted to cheat or had just started cheating. If he had just fessed up that our life was not what he wanted, and let everyone get upset and then move on, we all would have adjusted– myself, our children, our families and friends. Instead, for unfathomable reasons, he chose to lead a double life for over 15 years, and did unspeakable things with the women he lead our children and even me to us get to know and like as “family friends.”

        That is how he truly destroyed himself and is now a mockery of what he once held himself out to be– an honorable, loving and steady husband, father and businessman.

  • Got very very good at ‘pick me dancing’ lol Think I tried everything possible to get my husband to re-engage as well as dealing with kids, home, own business, life in a foreign country and deteriorating health. Only dancing I do these days is Zumba 😀

  • I gardened and could name many varietals. I cleaned house, had my house painted and re painted. Granted my ex was my workman, but it fed my empty heart. I was a nonstop decorator and gardener. Always improving. A friend of mind finally explained what she had noted about my empty marriage being filled with my house.

    Now I live in a small apartment with my second husband. I miss my garden but I am much more at peace.

  • Before I consciously realized I was a chump I would read voraciously. Two to three books a week. After DDay slapped me in the face, I hardly read at all. (Except this site which I check daily). Now, I too am empty and Consumed with anxiety. Screwing up the courage to take the bull by the horns. Knowing what I must do. All the while acting like I believe the shit sandwiches I am being fed are peanut butter and jelly. Literally makes me nauseous.

    • Make a plan. Have steps to take. Do one at a time. If you think about the whole “bull wrestling by the horns task,” it’s overwhelming. But today you can copy tax records. Tomorrow, get all your bank stuff copied or in an online folder. The next day, sort out the pictures and heirlooms you value and start securing them. Then research attorneys. Have lunch with a friend who got through divorce. And so on. But the steps should lead to your goal. Doing that stuff gives you the courage and the self-esteem to act. Think of it like weight-lifting; the more you work out, the stronger you get. And if you are working your plan, you will find you don’t have to eat the shit sandwiches!

    • Amazon Chump here. I think I read 20-30 books in less than a year…but on a positive side, it did give me a very good knowledge base to help others beside myself. When things started to settle, I re-engaged in cooking, had my introvert night alone (i.e. homemade pizza and a movie), and continued to read.

      Willowchumpx30, it was a struggle for me to just do the basics when the first shoe fell. I think that is rather normal as I understand when dealing with the initial shock of all of this awfulness. It does get better.

    • Willowchumpx30…the anxiety miraculously disappears when you leave the cheater. You cannot know this now. But it. Will. Happen.

      I don’t know your specific situation, but please don’t confuse fear of the unknown with anxiety of living with an enemy. The anxiety is a signal that you are in danger.

      Leave a cheater. Gain a (real, anxiety free) life. You will see!

    • Willow, I was a big reader too. In fact, I wrote a books column and write for a living. Since DDay I have been mostly unable to finish a book and flounder on writing projects. If I could sue my STBXW for loss of income through the stress and anxiety this has caused me I would do that. If she’d negligently hit with a car, I could do that, but since she deliberately blew up my life, confidence and psyche instead, I can’t.

      • yup. ditto. Not a writer, but unable to concentrate to such a degree that work has been al but impossible. 2.5 years on, am starting to get my ability to work back (which involves writing and analysis.) And I’ve had heinous physical consequences, in addition to the PTSD, making my former “hobby” of house restoration out of the question as a single person.

        So, it reinventing an entire life: social, work, hobbies, no bf or companion. kind of wretched, but at least I’m free of the lying Crapweasel.

      • I have had 4 years since the original d day and four months since finally escaping through a series of events that prove in my mind somebody out/up there was looking out for this particular chump and my three chumplings.Of that time, my ex worked overseas for more than half of it while I worked full time, wrangled teenagers blah blah. Top two coping mechanisms; when I couldn’t read (a particular torture for me) I started downloading digital audio books from my library, when I couldn’t bear to be in the same house/felt down I walked; sometimes I cried and walked, but I kept walking and it saved me. The magic combo was walking through nature listening to an audio book. It calmed my frenzied mind, made me fit and meant I could keep my life together until this particular chumpy finally got closure 🙂

    • I loved to read, too. But I can’t sit still or concentrate lately.

      Get this- STBX recommended the current bestseller ‘The Girl on the Train’.
      So when he asks me how I liked it, I said “30 pages into the book two people have cheated on their spouses. I don’t want to read it”. He was surprised because “it’s just fiction”.

      • Gotta be something to this whole “I can’t read” thing. Not sure what it is, but 2 years and 4 months after D-Day I’m patting myself on the back because I read two chapters of a book the other night without my mind wandering or looking at the words and not knowing what they were.

        The first year after I had to reread darn near every sentence 3 times just to understand what I was reading. Last year I read two books (one was CL’s) and that was over an extended period of time. One page. Fall asleep. One more page. Put it down. One more page. Lose interest. One more page. A week later…you get the point.

        I think the trauma is so severe your mind is impacted horribly and your mind compensates where it can…

        • Its because reading is an activity which needs a decent amount of mental concentration, and at the time of being smashed with a D-Day – your concentration is obviously out the window.

          • I have the same problem with reading for fun. I have read a ton of psych books trying to understand all to this. One thing that has worked for me is to reread my favorite books. It’s relaxing and doesn’t take as much concentration.

          • I have always been avid reader with huge variety of interests, kind an eclectic reader, lol. I used to could read a book in a day, even an intense book would only take a week if time available. However, after BD I could read but not retain, finally, I decided to just browse books and pics etc. It allowed me to absorb myself without having to need concentration. Can say now I’m able to read and thoroughly enjoy again all the subjects I love without XH around anymore.

            • Unable to read here, too! That’s easy to recognize – used to read, can’t anymore – but I worry about how what is preventing me from being able to relax and focus enough to read is impacting the rest of my behavior and interactions.

              • Scott, Lania, Mooney & other readers who suffered concentration loss. I am also an avid reader, and was drawn to reading to figure this thing out. The first year I read over 300 books. The topics ranged from of course infidelity, narcissism, PSTD, RIC type books, psychology, co-dependency, character disturbances, etc. Sometimes I read a book in a night also, while other things piled up to do. The couple of shrinks I went to mostly to help me stop the rumination said I had read far more on these topics than they had. They had little help. Every day when I opened my eyes my first thought would be “Oh yeah, this is my new reality, Hell.”

                However, I tried to go back to school to advance my Nursing degree and found I had great difficulty retaining any information, (or giving a damn about completing it), even though I knew it would be so good for my self image and fledgling ego. I ended up abandoning the idea for now. It added another failure to my plate, but I just could not concentrate well, and most of it was memorization.

                The really sad part is the Cheater has the answers you seek, usually the cognitive dissonance is because of lies & half truths. It is hard to fathom that the cheating was not enough hurt, now they are going to screw with your brain. My Cheater did not read ONE book, yet wanted to reconcile. I could not understand why he did not want to help me out of this place he had put me. I thought he was my friend, but no amount of suffering on my part was enough for him to tell me or tell himself the truth. This was shocking to me. I could not comprehend this vast difference between us & I kept trying to close it. Giving him more than the best years of my life made it harder to give up on. It took a long time for me to give up on who I thought he was.

              • I should add I took 2 $20,000 pay cuts during this 3 year period because I could not do my job. I am lucky I still have a job, but loss upon loss is grave payment for someone else’s “fun!” I have not regained any of this pay.

  • Living the Chump Life™ destroyed my health. I ended up with multiple auto-immune diseases and could barely do the basics of life. Fortunately, the main one is controllable, and the others are all MUCH better now.

    • Leukemia for me…but that was the result of the stress/heartbreak from my FIRST unwanted divorce two decades ago. I am determined not to let THIS impending divorce take me down that road again and impact my health. The Lord is good. He has been slowly showing me what I will be facing in the months to come and at a pace that does not stress me. Discoveries comes a little at a time rather than all at once…I can handle that and process/prepare for it in a timeline that does not destroy me.

      God bless you and keep you well Elizabeth.

    • For me it was cancer, endometriosis, asthma and allergies. I’m a lot healthier now than I was living as a Chump!

      • “Supposedly” they are linking stress as a cause for breast cancer now too…. so I guess I’ll blame him for that too… why not?

        • NCStevie,

          It’s not really ‘blame’ when it is the TRUTH!

          Stress kills in many different ways!

          However, we can combat it by changing our lives to live better, cleaner, freer. Some of the ways we do that is by eating better, drinking better (water), avoiding chemicals whenever we can and, most important of all, kicking the cheaters to the curb!

          ForgeOn, all……And go create your best healthy selves!

          • Good point, I’m so used to him blaming me for everything that the word itself is always on the tip of my tongue. The “credit” not “blame” for all of the stress…. goes to the fuckwit!!

            The amount of stress I have endured throughout this relationship has definitely taken it’s toll on me, I am surprised it hasn’t shown itself in other health issues…. keeping my fingers crossed.

            • So true, NCStevie! ‘Blame game’ is one of their favorite, so that word does tend to get ‘stuck’ in our vocabulary! So sad that is the only kind of ‘credit’ they ever earn!

              Keep making at least small steps to improve / protect your health. It is truly possible some other health issue is ‘lying in wait’, so be pro-active.

              (Sorry, but ‘crossing your fingers’ is not a good treatment choice! Silly you…..)

              Seriously, now… health did not get as bad as some chumps, because during the worst of the horror I actually ate a very healthy diet & avoided a lot of things many people do that add to the destruction of their health during severe distress. (That is, when I was able to eat / lost 40 lbs on the infidelity diet!)

              However, I endured some very serious health crisis last summer, including one that almost killed me. I dealt with every thing through natural methods and have recovered nicely, with no side-effects and my over-all health is slowly improving.

              My Bio-feedback & natural therapy technician pointed out that a lot of it was due to the fact my body had been through SOOOOO much and it finally crashed! She said “No wonder, after all you have been through for so many years!”

              So, hang tough, NCStevie! It took years for us to get this bad…..takes some time to recover and heal, on all levels.

              Keep Forging-On to better health!

        • NCStevie; I have read that energetically the breast area represents the heart and that a broken heart can create breast cancer. I don’t know if there is proof of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised. There is no way something so painful is not tremendously damaging to your health. Or any of these other auto-immune system problems etc. What a dreadful price to pay for someone else’s “fun.” I am so sorry to hear of these challenges.

      • A year before DDay I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder; I had 36 vertigo attacks that year. Ex later complained to friends (they are still his friends and not mine) that I was “faking and he was getting sick of having to pick me up at work” after an attack of vertigo. At the ENT Dr. with me, he said, “Doctor, do you think this is just a symptom of her menopause?” I was so embarrassed. The doctor said, no, because men get it too. I was not much “fun” because I couldn’t go out to bars with Ex and our party animal friends. I often had to stay home, doped up on valium, when he went out anyway on a Friday night with the shallow people who are still his friends, who said, upon hearing that I broke up with him for cheating on me, “He must have his reasons.” I’ve lost 100%of the hearing in my right ear, have loud tinnitus but ya know what, I don’t care; I am scared of caring for myself along in the event of a vertigo attack but I know that I’m actually safer without that lying worm in my house.

  • World of Warcraft was my 80 rose bushes. That and jogging with my German shepherd and his backpack.. The jogging was a good thing.(something I should seriously get back into) Now, I did meet a lot of real life friends through World of Warcraft, but the time I spent emersed in game got out of hand. Of course, the ExH blamed the final affair on my gaming. When, in reality, I gamed because he was never there. When he was out of work during the winter, he would surf all sorts of sites on the web and then leave 20 minutes before I would get home from my 10 hour shifts. He had “band practice”. A lot of which, I learned later, he never showed up for. But yes, my obsession that was a reaction to him being gone, was definitely the cause of him being gone.

    I thought I was to the point of meh, but lately I’ve been having dreams (nightmares) of him. Where he’s smug and I somehow end up married to him again or all of my clothes have disappeared and the only thing left was one of his favorite shirts. Blech. My subconscious still has an issue with him, apparently.

    • Warcraft – (laughing) me too! The orcs are approaching! Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one who wasted hours and hours on gaming. Took my mind off of my problems.

      • WOW carried me thru the loneliness of my ex’s devaluing stage but I sucked at grouping up…lol,
        ….then my father took me bicycling and it felt like I was flying… I found my roses!. I spent the next two years racing my anxiety on my bike and now 4-1/2 years out I am still speeding along but taking it all in, living in the moment and enjoying the view – the anxiety only comes in little bits now, easy to talk myself down and I took up hiking and maintaining the PCT with a nice group too…life is so much better now!

        • I got through the summer riding four miles a day. It does help with the anxiety. I decided not to use my car for work.. I walk 2-3 miles a day in snow, sleet, and rain. I walk along the ocean to work and used to cry half way however since my final hearing I feel so relieved I sing instead. It really helps.

    • Bwahahah, it seems quite a few Chumps are WoW-gamers. Thats awesome.
      (I don’t play it, but quite a lot of my online friends do – and I’m into a similar genre of games)
      Nothing wrong with hack-and-slashing through stuff when you’re being treated like shit by your spouse.

      • I too played a lot when shit was bad, LOTRO was my game. Then went on vacation totally off grid and when I came back I had no interest. A few months later I discovered the cheating. Guess I was using the game to avoid real life.

        • My Cheater was obsessed with Magic The Gathering. He used to play with my teenage sons. Cheater was in his 40s and would sulk and get mad if the boys won. He would say that it wasn’t fair that he got bad cards.

    • Reading was my enjoyment as well. When he bashed me for keeping my head in a book (meaning you did not put it down when I walked in and suck my dick or fix my dinner plate) and made the comment I thought I was better than him; I stopped reading to keep peace. HOWEVER after leaving the only books I could absorb were self help books. The FIRST thing I did specifically for myself was join a book club. I got out of my comfort zone by being around others and it kind of forced my to read with intent. I was actually shocked at the first meeting with the women gave their opinions freely without a blink. I thought “wow these are strong women.” Crazy because it was about a book not life or death. I realized how fearful a relationship I had been in.

  • Everything else. I didn’t just cook, garden, budget>save, and do little household projects… I made the BEST meals. I nurtured the BEST, most-whimsical, most-efficient vegetable garden. I paid off ALL of our debts and saved and got us to where we could easily buy our home. I knocked down walls and built furniture. I rerouted furnace ductwork to be more efficient, and replaced plumbing in our I learned to do much of this from growing up- a teenager when my family built a house over the course of 3 years.

    Husband would appear MEH about my efforts/distractions and harbored growing resentment toward me about my projects. He didn’t want to do it with me; I offered to show him so we could do things TOGETHER, many times. He wasn’t proud of me or happy to have everything be better; he was jealous. He thought I was competing with him, ability-wise. He didn’t realize that DUH – we were on the same team!

    He was a jerk.

    • And that was all while being pregnant with>giving birth to>nursing>raising three very closely-spaced children. I had them over the course of 2 years, 3 months. THAT should have had me busy enough, right? WRONG. The void in me was HUGE.

      • Most people would love and admire strong, competent, creative, tough-minded partner and be inspired themselves to reach their potential. Narcissists feel diminished by anyone like that. That’s why so many of the APs are obvious downgrades (even those that are younger, etc.) It’s not about appearance or age; it’s about how being in a supposed intimate relationship with a fully-formed person triggers that black hole inside them.

        • Yes, Insistonhonesty, it is so disheartening when you are trying to help make things good and you just get resented for it. They don’t want us to be helpful, capable partners, they want a nemesis to scapegoat.

          I helped him with the business/admin details of running his restaurant. He just hated me for it, even as he was asking for help. He didn’t want to be successful, he wanted to blame someone for his problems. Well now he can blame the woman who provides his drugs, as I won’t be a part of it anymore.

          If you just go on, raise your kids and ignore him, it will drive him slightly crazy. He can’t be the hero in that story. But carry on, it is such a pain in the neck to try and incorporate their endless needs.

          • Oh my goodness…. same here… he didn’t WANT to really be successful just wanted ME to fix his problems for him. Legally I couldn’t, we weren’t married (just engaged for 8 years) so no IRS dealings for me. I TRIED getting him organized… he just shoved paperwork wherever he could… console, pockets behind seats, glove compartment, floor…. whatever. I also TRIED getting through to him that he could NOT start a new business until he cleaned up the financials & taxes on the one he had been “running” for the past decade. They are just SO stupid smart….. he even said “I’m not that smart” WELL then WHY wouldn’t he listen? I think they are SO untrustworthy that it is impossible for them to trust us chumps.

        • LAJ, you called it, that hole where empathy and compassion and hard work and giving should be… they got nada. So when you are a fully formed, blazingly capable person, you be come a huge threat to the pudding skin they have manufactured as a persona over that gaping hole. Yup, they do fo for a down grade.

          Jensays, I did that ignore the SOB, go on raise the kids, my mantra was ‘That is ok ringin’ single mothers do this all the time.’ But what did he do… he made sure he was the hero, with buying things. I am so divorced and he is SO GONE…

          I have to admit to a bit of fb snooping. CFMily’s recent post? A discourse on the merits of a particular type of pooper scooper, with pictures demonstrating as well. Me: I think I have just figured out how to get $30K to an orphanage where I work in Mex. You are getting what you deserve, Dr. Demento a pooper scooper queen.

          • Yep. Mine went from a writer with a doctorate (me) to the MOW (who recently wrote “I seen this in your store window…” Now, I am NOT a grammar snob (I teach linguistics) but for Mr. Smarty Pants Jackass who fancies himself a writer, he will know she’s a downgrade. But a literal pooper-scooper? Priceless.

        • Change can be very difficult, but things will always work out over time. Narcissists are always looking for ways to dumb you down because they feel threatened by you. I believe that the anxiety we feel is due to the fact that these assholes offer us no closure. They will feel you feel inferior and worthless, but are you really? NOPE!!!!

          In my experience, I thought I needed CLOSURE to move on. What I needed was to focus on me and my healing. To look at my worth and what I have accomplished and how much stronger I had become. One thing I do know, when you work on moving on with your life, you are modeling strength to your family and that you don’t need a fucktard in your life!!!

          • I think THAT baffles me more than any other aspect of the whole shit show…. WHY do they stonewall SO effectively?? Mine hasn’t sat down and had ONE adult or normal conversation with me about “us” “the affair” “our son” “next step (house/stuff/moving)…. ANY of it…… he was a complete crapweasel from the MOMENT I forgot my chump status and confronted him….. if I played house and pretended nothing was going on it was smooth sailing… if I DARED breach the subject of his “affair” or anything he might be “doing” he went ARTIC! It REALLY pisses me off where our son is concerned, how shitty of a person are you that you can’t put your own child (any of them) BEFORE yourself. WTF?

            • “the MOMENT I forgot my chump status and confronted him…”

              This is priceless.

            • Exact same for me Stevie. When I was still being a chump and told him we could still be friends, he was huggy and warm. As soon as I dumped my chumpiness and started calling him on his BS, he was cruel and cold and wouldn’t even make an effort for the kids. I’m not sure but I think that may be the behavior of a sociopath. Creepy.

              • My sister SWEARS he is a sociopath….. I’ll go with Narc 100% and possible Sociopathic tendencies…. he isn’t the Dad he should be but he makes an effort., I’M the one he punishes (with a vengeance) He AVOIDS everything and anything that makes him feel “negative” or “inadequate”. They are all creepy, crap weasels….. and mine did NOT like being called a narcissist… AT ALL!! He said “you called me a NARKACISST!!??” (yes, pronounced NARK by him) I always say to myself, when i need a laugh… “Well you can still BEEEEEE one… even if you can’t SAY it!!”

              • I called mine a narcissist too. He hated it and got rageful and then said “I don’t think I’m not narcissistic at all. I just need to work on being a better person.” He’s got a lot of work ahead of him. Huge crap weasel.

              • My therapist claims there is very little to distinguish a sociopath from a narcissist (even for practiced clinicians)–very similar symptoms.

        • Thanks! Another light bulb clicked on. Always had wondered why w tended to tell stories that painted me as a bumbler or ones that made her look like the heroine who pulled everything together when no one else could. Not blowing my own horn but I can pretty much guarantee that no one who knew me thought of me in that way except her. She’s intelligent and competent, and people know that; why would she need or want to do that? Great insight!

  • I have had multiple manias over my lonely 20 year marriage to a cheating narc- from beanie baby collecting, to gardening, cooking, cleaning, decorating, quilting, music- anything to fill the void. Since he is gone, the divorce settled and I have met someone new that adores me just as I am, much of my former interests are gone. I am still planting veggies, but not with the same enthusiasm as before. My backyard garden oasis is now just a lot of work. I too am thinking about a condo without a yard or pool to care for, and just relaxing in my new life with peace and joy.

    • Me too, ChumpedtotheMax…and I like the way you said it…multiple manias! I would pour myself into the new interest and then burn out and move on to the next one. When I grew my garden it was HUGE (we have acreage) and everything was organic and natural and no chemicals added…which means lots of work! When it was cooking, I made everything from scratch and was canning my heart out! When it was knitting, I knit a sweater a week! Since DDay and my decision to leave…I no longer feel the need to pour myself into any activities. I know now that I was just trying to distract myself from my misery and I don’t need to do that anymore. I feel that from here on out, if I have an interest or hobby, it won’t consume me! And a condo does sound so peaceful!

  • Chump lady: Your post brought tears to my eyes this morning. I divorced my cheater ex many years ago and am happily re-married to a fellow chump, but your words brought back such sad memories of the many lonely years of existing with a partner who had long checked out of the marriage. My 3 kids were young, so most of my energy went to raising them. My therapy was walking, whether pushing a child in a buggy for miles on end, or pounding the pavement after kids were put to bed, on those rare occasions when cheater ex was actually home. I walked and walked and walked for hours in the sun, in the rain, in the snow, in complete silence – can’t remember much of what I was thinking – certainly not deep thoughts because I was not capable of them at that point.

    I still walk a lot, and for a long time now, it’s with a spring in my step. On my walks, I listen to the birds, chat with a neighbour, pat a dog. It’s not about maniacally releasing pent up anxiety anymore, but rather a calm stroll to refresh and rejuvenate.

  • Does drinking count as a hobby? Everytime I got mad at him for being withholding or spending time with his other “friend with benefits” I would sneak shots of vodka from his freezer. He knew I was doing it and that was actually part of the fun for me. Only problem was I was only hurting myself, and it was enabling me to put up with the pain of the situation.

    I do not think I’m an alcoholic, as the problem is only connected to my psuedo relationship. I really wanted to get even. My behavior doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because he didn’t really mind if I drank. It was just “sneaking” a drink seemed to be the only way I could fight against him “sneaking” sex with someone else. I didn’t want to be with someone else, so that was the only thing I could do.

    • Dear Jen,

      No, drinking does NOT count as a hobby, even though many of us pursue it just as avidly while in these ‘pseudo relationships’, as you brought out.

      I sure did drink as though it was one of my ’80 rose bushes’, but it surely didn’t help me in any way!

      Even though I did not drink to the excess many end up doing, it certainly contributed to my health issues, which I am working at healing now.

      Hang tough, Jen and find a ‘soul-enriching’ hobby, please!


      • I think Jen’s point is linked to why many chumps gain weight while in these relationships–and I don’t mean we do it to get even. Drinking and eating are immediate and available ways to comfort ourselves and numb the pain. So some chumps like me, when in relationships that provide no comfort or emotional support, eat. Some turn to those three glasses of wine before, during, and after dinner. Some abuse meds. Some exercise like the Olympics is coming.

  • I became a “runner”. NOT……a jogger. I ran! I ran nearly every day. I ran as an escape. When I ran, I couldn’t think of anything else except breathing and willing my legs to carry me away from and back to the madness that was my life. IT SAVED ME!!!!!!! Really. It was my only peace. I challenged myself to run further and faster every single time I ran. I ran countless races. I even ran with my dog. I ran two half marathons (with injuries) and did pretty good for my age. I don’t know why I was drawn to running. I never ran in my life.

    Running made me feel good about myself. I was proud of my accomplishments. I felt I excelled at it, something I was not doing in my relationship with my cheater I guess. I felt so shitty about being less than good enough to be loved and I just needed something, ya know?

    I still run but I’m not as dedicated to it. I do it now so I fit into my jeans! My self esteem is fixed!!!!! I’m a pretty fabulous person that anyone would love!!!! (except for fucktard…..but I’m good with that!)

    • I started running and have a love hate relationship with it. Ex met smoopie at a running club , they where and are just friends of course

      • I am also running. Ex and whore bonded over XH’s love of marathon running. She now runs half marathons. X told me one of the reasons he had to leave me is because I wanted him to come home after he ran his races – heck yes, I did. He would leave me with a list of things he wanted me to make from scratch for him to celebrate HIS achievement – homemade pumpkin cake, Ragu Bolognese or Risotto etc. Typical cheater, he got to sparkle, and I did all of the work.

        I thought, ok, if they can run, so can I! I never ran a step in my adult life. I’m running my first half marathon in May: “The Tinkerbell Half Marathon” at Disneyland!” BTW, I hardly cook these days, I am very much enjoying taking care of ME!

      • Sorry for some reason it did not post the rest of my message. I used to love to read a lot too, but after discovering the affair 3 years ago, doing the pick me dance for 9 months,loosing 25 pounds in 2 months, being stressed and gaslighted I could not enjoy books.
        Finally after 3 years and divorced for 6 months I am reading, going on walks, going out with friends and going back to school:) I still run when it’s not -16 F. It’s very cold in the Midwest :((

    • Kimmy–right after D-day, I ran, too. Lots and lots–long distance, sprints, etc.. I got really fast–in fact, STBX is an excellent runner and I was beating him. I’ve tapered off over the 5 months since D-day (but still fit in my new skinny jeans!).

      • I hope your STBX is eating his heart out, Tempest. Shake your booty in front of that jackass and run.

  • I walk around the giant sucking hole in the center of my life. Its always there now. Most days I can avoid it… Jump over it… Circomvent. But other days the pull is too strong and I wallow in the fear and loneliness of it. Most of the time I can grab an edge and fling a foot back over to some solid ground. I hate that hole. I hate that I live in fear of the fucking bully that I divorced. He never fails to shit on some part of my day with a caustic text or message sent via our child. Always full of anger, hate and threats. Courts do little. And orders… Well they are tested.
    I do my best self talk and try to distract myself… Try to get back to myself…bake some bread… Go for a hike… Hug my great kid and asshole cat. I am faking it until I make it… I no long hang onto the dream of who we were… The family… But I have to say with all honesty that is what I miss most. i hate going to family events and watching the mom and dad hold onto the hands of their children… Or in line at the supermarket… Watching a family get their snacks for a night in front of the tv …
    As much as I would take the bullet … Or the whole clip to the head before allowing him in my life… The hole is still there.

    • “The hole is still there”. I am not sure if the hole ever really closes over but what I think happens is that a fine mesh covering appears over that hole and the anxiety eventually seems to fade or at least not be so present in our minds as it was in the beginning. That is what is happening for me.
      TheClip I love your writing and you say everything with such conviction. Believe it or not, you will get through this just like all us Chumps have and are still doing. We all have our own timetable to heal. Take your time and you will get there.

      • No the hole does go away. It did when I realized my son’s father didn’t want or deserve to be part of our family. It didn’t hurt anymore when I realized how damaged he was and how my son and I had each other. I actually felt sorry for my ex. And I didn’t miss having a mate because our family was complete. When he had been there he had only caused problems and unhappiness. Coincidentally, he started campaigning to be let back in at that point. But it was not at all attractive to me. I didn’t even feel the validation I had previously wanted because I just felt sorry for him.

        It sucks to be going through it again with a different man, but it’s helpful to know that it was overcome before. I know that eventually I will sober up from my delusion and realize that this man wasn’t capable of being part of a family. He is stuck in the child phase where you don’t understand that being a part of the group means more than being the star.

        • Hi Jen. I am working very hard for “the hole to go away”. I still struggle because my 2 adult kids have taken their predatory father’s side and have cut me from their lives. So you see, having devoted all of my adult life to a loser and my children, I still struggle now and again. It has gotten easier but I don’t think I will ever have complete closure. I hope I am wrong but I am 63 years old now and that is old in our society, so whilst I am not giving up and am possibly giving in.

          • Maree,
            I am only 42, and been through this once prior to now. What helped at that time was that I was a special education teacher at the elementary school level. My son belongs to both of us, and as such, choosing sides was horrible for him. My students had real, raw needs that their parents couldn’t fill between the hours of 8:30 Am and 3:30 pm.

            They were my children during those hours and their parents were so grateful that I had their babies backs. That really filled up at least half of my day.

            My point is, I think we need to find people who do need us and will be grateful that we are there. Sometimes that is not immediate family because they have their own issues with said narcissist.
            Maree, I don’t know how I will do it either because I no longer teach, but I think we just need to find people who do appreciate us.

            • Jen, I have found people who do need my help. I have started volunteer work at one of our major public hospitals here in Melbourne, Australia. You see I am a nurturer and nothing gives me more pleasure than helping people less fortunate than myself. Whilst I am 63 years old, I have been truly blessed with wonderful health and a very healthy warped sense of humour that isn’t always obvious to others. I recommend volunteer work of any kind to anyone who really needs or wants to give back as it is very rewarding. So, all is not completely lost.

          • Jen this is what scares me… That he will alienate my kids from me. Since D day he has been on top of his game being the best dad EVER. I get to be the snarky mom. Plus with all my anxiety over the affairs/whoremongering I am very impatient so always come off as terse, short tempered. He comes off as fun, understanding, supportive. I see through him now but kids don’t see they are being gaslighted by him! And how/why would I explain that to them with out blowing up their emotional stability. Oh, they have an idea something is wrong, but it’s just the tip of a glacier.

            • Willowchumpx30,
              The thing to do is relax. Everytime he tries to play you, just think of him as a really spoiled child that needs a nap. That way, you don’t take it personally. If you don’t take it personally, your reaction is not as much fun for him. And why should you take it personally? It’s not about you. It’s about a disordered person acting out on whatever is nearby for attention.
              The kids will see through him if you remain calm. My son has autism, yet he has always pretty much seen through his dad. He has said to me, “dad hates you.” I take this to mean his father doesn’t speak well of me, but he knows I don’t put the same amount of effort into my feelings towards his dad. I never worry, and my son feels stable because I have remained so.
              If you have ever waited tables, or been in any type of customer service position where you have to deal with a customer who obviously is only trying to make trouble, this is your ex. It isn’t about the waitress or even trying to get a free meal, it’s about trying to get attention. Waitresses that know this, know how to minimize the scene by not overreacting or taking it personally. Usually the people at surrounding tables ooze empathy towards the waitress, and the narcissist customer is shamed into correcting their behavior.
              Does this help?

              • Jen you are so right! If my Grandmother were alive she would say, ‘He’s acting like a spoilt child that has been ‘wooled’ too much! Put him down for a nap!’ LOL!!!

                xmr acts the same way…all for attention!

        • “He is stuck in the child phase where you don’t understand that being a part of the group means more than being the star.”

          VERY well said Jen!! My dilemma exactly!! Mine is mid 40’s and still honestly believes that he is “going to be a star” and yes… seriously!! I found it almost comical, got to the point where it just about made me throw up in my mouth. Sexiest man I’ve ever known and he turned into a narcissistic joke, he was certainly at his BEST ever when he was in between addictions. We were having a texting “tiff” the other day and I sent him a pic the other day of him playing with my son and said “Where the f*ck did THIS guy go?” WHY can’t narc’s go pick on other narc’s?? Why do they have to assault unsuspecting chumps?

          • Why can’t narcs pick on other narks ? Because they sniff out chumps like a blood hound. They would never be able to get that rush they get if they fucked over a person as shitty as themselves.

            • True, but I think they should designate some fly-over state for all the fuckwads to live, so they could only marry each other and make each other miserable.

              • Tempest,
                I dont know why yr comment made me think of this…I have this image of all of them living with all these mirrors… Everything is reflective… The coffee pot to the recycling bins… And like giant parakeets they would stand there enamored with their images… Never really having to engage with anyone else…occasionally checking with the other parakeets but always going back to that reflection in mirror. What would the State’s name be?
                Hmmmm… Maybe another cartoon for CL?

        • ” It didn’t hurt anymore when I realized how damaged he was and how my son and I had each other. I actually felt sorry for my ex. And I didn’t miss having a mate because our family was complete. When he had been there he had only caused problems and unhappiness. Coincidentally, he started campaigning to be let back in at that point. But it was not at all attractive to me. I didn’t even feel the validation I had previously wanted because I just felt sorry for him.” This is my experience exactly, Jen! What a difference a year or so makes.

    • There is a poem about that hole – THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK Autobiography in Five Short Chapters By Portia Nelson I saw it framed on the wall at a therapist’s office.

    • I find I can no longer tolerate romantic movies of any kind. Nor can I stand the Viagra and Cialis commercials showing the young seductress encouraging the mid aged men to use the product for better sex. Makes me want to vomit. Oh, honorable mention goes to all the hookup ads that pop up on my H’s server – looking for 30 to 40yr old for serious romance. Women in your city looking for a relationship, looking for a hookup, check out my webcam, and so on. Actually, my h just got one of those webcam solicitations as a text msg. Said she changed her cell number and to txt her. He said it was spam texting. TWO DAYS in a row. Highly suspicious. Since I could not prove it was not spam I had to file it away. Next time I plan to photo it.

      • Dear god can we get those Viagra and Cialis commercials banned? I can’t tolerate them either!

        • Reminds me of the ecard, “I can see your Viagra is working, because you are a bigger dick today than you were yesterday!”

            • My best friend sent it to me in solidarity a couple months ago, after I logged on to my Blue Cross only to discover that POS cheating ex is still trying to bill me for his Cialis, over a year after I left him. I’d say it’s fucking unreal, except I don’t think there’s any real fucking going on there. LOL The joke’s on him, anyway, since I sent the information straight to my insurance provider (can you spell “insurance fraud”?). I get that in his own sick way he’s trying to push my buttons, but how is his blatant advertisement of the fact that he has (porn-induced) ED supposed to make me pine for him?

              I get down on my knees every night and thank God that I am away from that man. I mean, seriously.

          • “I’m a bigger dick than I ever was.” Thank you Tempest 🙂 I misread the first part: “I can see my vagina is working…”
            I don’t know which is worse (or more in question for me but that’s a different issue). And I just want to slap that Aching For Your Cialis Charged Dick With My Osphenically Ready Vagina woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with super powerful insatiably horny menopausal women treating painful intercourse. Just sayin’. It makes me sad thinking this is what kids see nowadays, too. Yes it’s natural but as a culture we approach sex so unnaturally, more than ever.

    • I understand the feeling of having giant hole in your life. Right after D-day I had the most awful sensation of having lost a leg — I did some reading on grief and apparently it’s not unusual to feel like you’re missing a body part. Apparently a lot of people feel like they’re missing their heart. Anyway, it sure seemed weird to me but I decided the sensation meant I was like trying to “learn how to walk all over again.” After that got better I developed a “lost feeling.” It wasn’t exactly anxiety, just a strange feeling of being disconnected to anyone or anything. It was unpleasant but not horrible. I later read that it was “dissociation” caused by trauma. After that I had this weird feeling of walking over a bridge with a super angry troll underneath just waiting to devour me. That feeling would often hit me when I went to bed at night. I think it was fear of my unknown future that caused that feeling.

      Anyway, I’m 3 years out from D-day and am finally starting to feel normal again. Hang in there everyone, because it does get better. Just observe your feelings but don’t worry about them too much. As you heal and get stronger you’ll get past the anxiety! I actually used to be a horribly anxious person but feel more at peace now than I ever have.

      • Lynn, it’s good to know the anxiety lessens over time. I have horrible anxiety about my Ex wanting to come back into my life because this is typical of Narcs. I fear the woman he is living with will realize he’s still dating and throw him out. I have set so many boundaries but for some reason I think he still wants to control my life. Hopefully this will pass.

  • Ebay. Yep, I went on a two year shopping spree for our recently purchased house project as well as for 1940’s robes…the floor length ones made from chenille or quilted satin that tie at the waist (very slimming and elegant) and that make you seem to “glide” rather than walk.

    For two years, I worked alone (husband is detached) with construction workers during the tear down and reconstruction of the entire house, bringing it (with tons of money) to its potential glory. New everything, from roof to oak/slate flooring to tearing out two entire rooms and making an open floor plan and a new kitchen/bathrooms…not a room was left untouched and is unrecognizable to what it once was. Then I shopped the ENTIRE country and beyond for antique hand carved quartersawn oak furniture to fill it with. I then moved on to changing an old falling down cedar barn into a beautiful one bedroom cottage…the place now looks like the Hurst Castle. It is stunning and like stepping into another world entirely.

    I am still with my “husband”…waiting out this years end before I file (ten year marriage mark necessary for potential spousal support and Social Security benefits based on his earning income). So, my new project is to save lots of money and collect “proof of income” towards that day. I go to work with him on Mondays to our store doing his “office work” which he horribly neglects and paying bills…while helping myself to a couple hundred dollars cash each week…during this year I should have around $15k between our two businesses. I figure that HE is the one who should be paying for my Lawyer since HE is the one who has blown up the marriage. It is a lot of fun…he deals with cash mostly, has thousands at any given time…and never counts money or misses anything. Yes, the business is in my name also…but I must be stealth nevertheless.

    I run my own store Fri-Sun, take care of the entire house/acre alone, and enjoy it all immensely. Too bad it will all have to be sold/split, but I certainly had my FUN/distraction while doing it!

    Over the last two months, we have now started reading the Bible together each evening from cover to cover and having discussions about what we are rediscovering (we do not own a t.v.). Funny how issues like unfaithfulness can even tear down a once strong relationship even with the Lord…nothing goes untouched…but now I am getting focused on the Source of my strength and guidance once again.

    I am 60 years old…and looking forward to new adventures into the unknown.

  • Art. Lots of it. Different forms. Sketching, writing, painting, jewelry making, clay working…. I did many pieces and threw them away. The art pieces were my rose bushes.

    Over time they became my therapy, my way to channel negative feelings and energy into something …. It gave way to a feeling of accomplishment… So on my way to healing I started my gift store – Excluzvt ( Handmade items – made by me, and some sourced from other parts of the world….

  • Let me entertain you! I tried to be full time Mom and Dad everything. If I could have grown myself binary boy parts so I didn’t have to beg the Cold Slab for affection, I would have.

    Full time, midprofile job. Occasional business travel. Planned menus and baked daily from scratch. Packed lunches, Paid for most of the bills, all of the groceries, all of the health insurance. Separate accounts. 90% of the household wardrobes.90% of chores and home maintenance. Ex paid for two bills a month totalling less than 300 dollars (including his car insurance and celphone in my name) and his car payment. He made 42K a year, and contributed exactly 130.00 a month to household needs. Sometimes more. Rarely. I made the mistake of asking stepdaughter’s flaky mom to contribute to school lunches because they both would “forget” to put $ in her account knowing I would. She began to send over exactly five shitty Lunchables and Capri Suns a week. That was fine with MeatSlab. He was on the Gravy Train. He would always ask me why I was low on money. He never would be, because DUH!

    The breaking point was the Coupons, though. I would go to three stores a week preplanned with a giant binder. I paid for everything, Our pantry and freezer (ex did buy that for me) looked like a highly organized Tetris Board. I had a tough upbringing and having a lot of food comforted me in the absence of attention from the ex. This happened over three years, you know, I didn’t start seeking solace in double coupon cereal!

    Made the grave mistake once of bringing the fam along on a major coupon transaction. I had a procedure. I was maddening. Putting extra stuff in I couldn’t track the total from. Finally at the register I asked the girls to stop diddling by the gum and candy and snapped at hubs to give me the coupons. I knew I was out of control at that point.

    Since he’s been gone, I’m still neat but much more relaxed. Cooking for and cleaning up after 3 people is just easier than five. Because we no longer buy the processed foods and snacks ex and SD favored, I use maybe two or three coupons a week rather than thirty. I still make awesome food, but much healthier versions. Lost fifty pounds, and the raise and bonus I got first of year means I make much, much much more than he does.

    The best part? I just want to be content and live independent of the need to ‘best’ him. I trust that he sucks, and I AM too good for him.

  • My work got bigger and bigger in my life. It was like that when I was single, formerly, and like that during my marriage to an alcoholic and my chumping experience. But since DDay, work has slipped into a much more appropriate place in my life. I’m looking for balance–in the garden, in the house, at work, in my life.

  • I had a tough time doing much of anything for some months between D-Day #1 and the day Cheater moved out last fall. Since he moved out, I’ve increased the amount of time I spend on anything academic, solving math problems, reading literature, and watching history videos. Free and intellectually satisfying, albeit, unfortunately, not social. (Cheater didn’t appreciate these things–thought I was wasting time.) I am thinking about participating in battle re-enactments a couple of times each year to meet other history buffs.

    • I am also in the having a tough time doing much of anything camp. I have continued to be a great Dad, but my work has suffered, my health has suffered, although I walk or jog most days, and my mental health has really suffered. I long to have this over with and get my life back. leave a cheater, gain a life.

      • It’s very very sad but I’m feeling better about myself that I’m not alone in this. Everyone is pushing me to do things all the time. Volunteer, dance classes, computer classes. I know why and it makes sense but I don’t feel “up to it” yet. I do what I need to, care for my Dad, my pets, the house, etc. I feel like it’s all I can handle right now. But then I feel like a baby because I’m not doing more. My work and health have suffered as well. I wonder if this nightmare will ever end.

        • Lina, please take comfort in knowing that everybody is different and there is absolutely NOT one right way to move forward. Some people become dynamos and immerse themselves in lots of external activities. Others become more involved with their inner life, reading and reflecting. Some get more athletic, some more social, some want more time alone, some devote themselves to work, etc. I spent about six months lying on the floor and breathing when I had spare time. Six months. Just breathing. It was wonderful! I learned how to meditate. I developed a contemplative prayer practice. For the first time in my life I discovered the joy of doing nothing. It did wonders for quelling my anxiety. So whatever makes you feel comfortable and at peace, go in that direction. You don’t have to do “more” – you just have to honor what your true self feels like it needs.

        • Lina; I was just like you, paralyzed with grief and loss. It permeated every area of my life. I did make headway though and am beginning to feel my old self coming back! Like WF said, everyone handles things differently & you don’t need to add guilt to your pile of crap of things to think about!!

          • Yes Lina, I am underemployed right now and taking it one day at a time. I know all the things I am supposed to do that will “empower” me and help me move on. Truthfully, I don’t feel like doing them yet.
            The truth is, I loved him and I miss him. I want to grieve it a little bit, then I will move on. I’m going to move on because I know he can’t meet me where I’m at. At an adult level.
            I’ve been through this before. I do not know how I emerged on the other side of it, but I did. I informed my first ex I just didn’t care anymore. That way he could stop wasting both of our time. Things became easier for us as parents when we stoped playing silly games.
            So I think it’s okay if it hurts right now. It means you’re human, and that’s a good thing. It wasn’t your fault, so you do not need to review it for errors like football footage. There wasn’t anything you should have done differently. He is just much more immature than you are.
            When you are ready, you will find happier things to focus on. Until then, be good to yourself. We can’t make people be decent. If they aren’t, we can walk away and enjoy other things.

            • I needed to read this today. Thank you so much. I have been through this before myself and know I will get through it again. This time it’s been a deeper cut. I had just finished 5 years of dealing with a narc sibling’s abuse. She was supposed to be assisting with care giving for our elderly parents but was abusing all of us instead. I hadn’t had the opportunity to heal from that mess and this guy, first ex who I would have swore on a stack of Bibles was NOT a cheater. Oh Lord, I get tired when I look at how I’ve “spackled” my whole life. My head says be grateful for these experiences. I have “clarity”, now, right? Despite all the crap I’ve taken from all the “disordered” throughout my life I can still see the blessings that came with it. This time life is saying you must go to the CORE for your healing. Nothing outside of me for distraction. It feels like wading through thick mud. I’ve made progress thanks to CL and CN. I’m thankful I’m not where I was when I found this place. Could NOT cope and was so paralyzed for months. Ugh!!

              Wishing you all a lovely weekend where ever you are on this journey. Here’s a healing quote…”Acceptance doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

          • Thank you Regina and Jen. My therapist says it is my low self esteem. I did love him and our life together so much. Until the howorker and devaluation started.

            • Well I think part of it is realizing we focused on the good and turned a blind eye to the bad. The withdrawing, the devaluing, the cheating for goodness sake, etc.
              I have a hard time grocery shopping now, because he and I used to do it together. It was fun if we were planning a specific meal, a fire, a day off from work together.
              But as I was feeling bad, it occurred to me that it wasn’t enough. A few good memories and lots of being ignored.
              I just deserve better damnit. I shouldn’t have to dance for attention, I am actually pretty awesome.
              I don’t know you Lina, but you sure sound like a person with a big heart. Tell me honestly, did he deserve it?

        • Hi Lina, I’m with you, I totally get what you’re saying about not feeling up to it. My only advice, from a fellow chump, is that it does work. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, doing things like volunteering, getting out of the house, exercising, meeting new people, gradually does help you get to a healthier spot. I diligently went through the motions for 6 months, feeling mostly crappy the whole time, and I’m finally starting to see some progress in my day to day mental health. I tried to focus on a few different areas at a time. My first ones were to keep up with work, and do all the house projects that have been driving me crazy. After the house was in order, I have been focusing on seeing friend and family, and exercising. Exercising is especially good because it’s just for me, not for anyone else. For the first time in a long time, I’m putting my needs first, which is helping me work on my boundaries. I would never work out before d-day, because I was too busy catering to my cheater’s needs. My best wishes to you, what you’re going through sucks, and it’s not going to get easier any time soon. All we can do is keep working on getting healthier, one day at a time.

        • Lina, the most healing thing that happened for me (it wasn’t planned, it just happened) was that 6 weeks after DDay (almost 5 months after the gaslighting and discard started), I went on a planned sabbatical from my job. In the teeth of last year’s polar vortex. I was terrified because I was alone in the house and things kept breaking and it was brutally cold. But I stopped doing a lot of things other people wanted me to do. I was having a terrible time sleeping but because I didn’t have to go to work every day and be “up” I could contend with myself. It was wonderful to be able to focus on myself.

          You have so much on your plate. Other people love you and mean well but the best thing you can do for everyone is to mind your own boundaries and take care of YOU. It does get better, especially if you stay mindful of your own needs. The most surprising part of being chomped is that it can turn into such a tremendous learning experience.

  • Wow. I was doing so much now that I look back. Reading ferociously all the time. I was heavily involved with professional boards. i was being a mom to my son, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, decorating, gardening and working full-time at night. I got back into running too. That was my thing. After DDay, I sat. Stunned. Couldn’t read books for a while. No running whatsoever. I started organizing the house after he left. I wanted the attic empty of stuff; the garage empty of stuff. Orderly and organized as much as I could by myself.

    I realized after DDay that I was doing so much and I was completely exhausted…so I stopped. Everything. I resigned from the board I was serving on. I put my son in public school. I started working days instead of nights. I stopped cooking. I felt at peace. And I had time. I started getting out more FOR FUN. That’s when I met a fellow Chump. Holy cow. Totallyawesome.

  • Reading novels. That was my 80 Rosebushes. Since DDay, 1-1/2 years later, I have not read 1 novel but have read hundreds of self help/inspirational/motivational books. I will always love to read but right now I’m not interested in getting lost in a fictional story. They did serve me well though, subconsciously I always gravitated to plots with strong female characters that kicked ass!

  • I don’t know how many people find themselves buried in some form of numbing activity pre-discovery, but, in my experience, most Chumps develop some form of OCD (Obsessive Chump Disorder :D) after discovery.

    OCD Chumps tend to register with every infidelity forum known to man – even the ones that are quite obviously nuts (yes, that’s a clinical term), looking for an answer that they can live with. If they were honest, that answer can probably only be found on, but their quest for The Answer can be an extensive education in Chumpery.

    Post-discovery mania, though, can create different forms of manic Chumps. There are those who actually do inhale the excuse smog, get high, and helpfully start to pass around the hopium pipe. And then there are those whose fist whiff of skunked smog makes them so nauseous that they start handing out carbon filtered gas masks. The thing is, both types of Chump are well-meaning but one risks encouraging dysfunction and abuse in the name of that help. 🙁

    The mania happened post discovery for me. My Obsessive Chump Disorder turned me into a website n00b (Umm … css? html? … I know “wtf”. Does wtf count?? That’s got to count more than SQL, right? phpmyadmin? Oh crap, I’m screwed). Providing free resources to help others though an affair was a way for me to bulldoze the mess into something meaningful.

    So … If you’ve been beating yourself up that collecting a myriad of new hobbies with which to distract yourself hasn’t helped (though that toenail clipping collection you’ve created is an absolute masterpiece), don’t. If you’ve realized that taking yet another online macrame course has been about as useful as a chocolate teapot, take a beat. You probably spend a lot of time on infidelity forums, supporting people, providing practical advice, and challenging codswallop. Maybe that’s not a bad use of your OChumpD? In fact, perhaps it’s pretty damn awesome for now?

    Chump nation is an army of Chump Advocates – and helping others through it can help you through it too. And in my book, that’s pretty damn mighty in its own right.

  • Throughout my marriage I recognized the importance of getting an education. I went to school for computer science. I didn’t want to leave my children. Finally, I went back to college and went for seven long years. I knew the abuse my beautiful chump of a mother put up with and I was determined to find something I loved. I graduated with honors and now have a profession I love. When I graduated the fucktard moved to Florida leaving me with a house I couldn’t support and I had to file bankruptcy. He actually said its your turn to support me now. I allowed him to move back in with me and the next 14 years of my life was a living hell. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I spent those years helping my father take care of her at home. The Narc found a new way to meet women. He wanted to go to a casino and get drunk. I had to drive him home and it was sickening and I stopped going. Last year when my mother was dying he started going again and little did I know that he was sitting at the bar meeting women. That is where he met his whore. For the last 7 years I have lived with him only on weekends because of my job. I told him I wouldn’t go to the casino anymore and that is when he broke the news about his latest bj. When I checked the phone records he I found out he would call her to meet him there and disappear to a nearby hotel.

    Knowing he is with her REDUCED my anxiety because I know this is where he belongs!! I just stopped taking medication and focus on making my home bright. I am painting all the woodwork, the walls, and taking care of the yard. I decided to go forward with the dreams I had with the fuckwit that could NEVER have been fulfilled. I am checking out the best places to live according to my interests, salary, and cost of living. Knowing I wont be able to retire I decided to live in a different location for the next ten years. I love adventure and this will allow me to travel and meet new people. Giving up on hopium and having hope is such a positive change. I will store some of my favorite things and travel light, rent a small place and enjoy!!! Fucktards way of escaping will never bring them joy. Knowing this has helped me forgive myself for tolerating his abuse and to let go of the past and move forward. And I am changing my phone number!

    • That’s a great distinction, between hopium and “having hope” for your own life.

  • Work was my 80 Rose Bushes…As a college professor I had to be on when I was in class…It was a wonderful escape as for an hour at a time when I was lecturing I could focus on something other than what my XW had done. My DDay was in September of 2012, and I won Professor of the Year at my institution for the 2012/2013 academic year. During that same time I got a book deal, and the book has now been written and published. In reality the $30,000 in financial infidelity helped me focus on my job as I need it so my kids can go to college for free given that I am that much behind in savings and retirement…Reading the comments here I just want to assure all chumps that your focus will come back and you will enjoy things like reading once again!

    • Oh yes, I now enjoy reading all the time and have joined a book club. The ability to focus does come back when the trauma heals!

      • Agreed, I couldn’t concentrate on a book for about a year and a half. I also realized I read so much because the books were better than my life. I could hide in them.

    • Cletus, it’s amazing how we can put aside the shock and pain when we walk in, turn the lights on, and see our students. Cheers to you on your book deal!

  • When he walked out, every Saturday, I bought a dress and a blanket. They still line my closets.

  • I am over a year post-divorce but I want to share what kept me going from the moment I learned about the cheating.

    My quest and mania was ME!

    I had 2 kids, was deeply depressed and suicidal. I put my faith I the professional I turned to and every ounce of what little (and I mean little) energy I could find into getting ME better. I knew nothing would be right until I was standing on firm ground.

    I checked into psychiatric facilities when I couldn’t bear another moment, went through 3 lawyers until I found my bulldog, leaned heavily on my therapist who guided me through 2 psychiatrists and multiple medications, got help for my kids, moved myself twice, got a job after being a full-time mom for 25 years and took DBT classes to learn how to survive.

    My sons were over 18 and they were there for me very step of the way. Knowing the other woman helped them help me. I am forever grateful to them.

    I worked with my lawyers and taught myself how to find every detail of a carefully hidden 12+ year affair until I knew my case better than anyone. I used my anger to propell me into action. Digging up every detail was for my future financial security and I was determined. The divorce took over 2 years and was horrific.

    I felt like a dart board with every trial medication being thrown on me. The side effects were almost impossible but I knew I had to keep trying to find a way out of that hole. When one doctor gave up, I found another. EMDR did not work. Finally, I found a nurse practicioner who gave me a genetic test (cheap cheek swab) and and within a few days, was on the right comination of drugs and had solid ground under my feet. That included medication for sleep and anxiety. Remember, I said this was my journey; this may not be for everyone!

    I walked into a non-profit and volunteered my services, threw myself into demonstrating my willingness to do absolutely anything, and was lucky enough to be offered a paying position. I love my job and am so grateful for for this opportunity!!!

    I got rid of everyone in my life that didn’t support me and tried my best to still be a friend towards others. I gave to my community and tried to make life better for others that were not as lucky as me. I told myself every day to count my blessings.

    Life is amazing these days and my life is full and happy. To those still in the trenches my message is to HOLD ON and focus on YOU and your family.

    It WILL get better; Tuesday is right around the corner.

    As a postscript, I also am a voluntary spokesperson (no compensation) for the company that makes the genetic test. I just filmed a commercial because I am proud to be a survivor of depression. I may be on medication for the rest of my life and have come to terms with that. I am fighting for everyone that might be embarassed by their depression. My quote it that “Depression and infidelity found me, I didn’t go looking for either”.

    Hang in their Chumps!

    • Rebecca, you are so mighty! Your story brought tears to my eyes. You are in inspiration.

    • Rebecca, I suffered immensely for several unnecessary years because my psychiatrist doesn’t do the cheek swap for every patient, just those who want to change drugs. I thought I was as good as I would ever get, so I didn’t press for a change. When I finally did ask and was given the test, turns out I’d been taking a drug for over 13 years that was on the ineffective side of the spectrum for me. Since changing to an effective one things have been much better, but I’m tortured by the thoughts of what could have been if I’d been given the test sooner. Good on you for being a spokesperson!

    • What is the name of this test? Maybe I can ask a Dr for it, however I live in a very small town and health care is about nothing here but I can try.

      • FYI I was on a 6 month waiting list to see our only metal health professional. I finally got to see her tell her I needed help with severe depression and anxiety (diagnosed long before where I used to live) Her advise was start fucking daily their names or jobs don’t matter and you will get through it. I am almost 49 years old and have 4 daughters. So I’ve never tried to get help again and currently stuck here until i can get a job somewhere else. I was a sahm for 26 years so my future isn’t looking to bright right now.

        • Falcon, that MH “professional” sounds like a whack job. SEX as help for depression and anxiety? I’m assuming there isn’t another person you can see for help? If not, I would suggest looking into books on Mindfulness. I have a degree/background in Counseling and recommended this for many of my clients. You might also find it helpful. It’s not going to be a cure, but it may help you find some peace in all of this. Try Jon Kabat-Zinn as an author.

          • Thank you for your advice. Ive known for a long time that I need help, but I had to move back here to get my divorce (long story but my xh is military) Ive gone through all the motions got my divorce, live in a apartment (that should probably be condemned) I have my youngest daughter with me and share rent with my second daughter and my grandson. Most of your legal stuff is settled Now I really need to move new location but that requires a job (not going well). Ive been trying to get a job in a new location for months and not even an interview so far. My plan was to get to a better place a nicer home and seek mental health there, but Im wearing down fast now that the worst is over. I will have to seek mental health soon but nothing except-able here.

            • It sounds like you have a lot going on, but know that you can always come here for support. I try a “one foot in front of the other” approach when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Do what you can do, just for the day, and try not to focus on the big picture all at once. You may be able to find some books on Mindfulness at your local library, as a thought.

              • I also recommend typing ‘mindfulness meditation’ into the YouTube search box on the Internet. There are several free, enjoyable, meditation and mindfulness ‘exercises’ on YouTube. Some are narrated;’ others are not.

              • Thank you I will try it. I was married over 21 years his job paid over 60k a year and our house was 4200 sq foot. Kids and I left in the middle of the night and didn’t look back. I knew i would have to downgrade lifestyle but this is too much. I knew i would have to return to workforce but needing to return to this dead end town had been my downfall. I thought once all was final i could get a decent job and move to a better place but not finding the new job is keeping me stuck here for now. Once I get that job somewhere else and move my pieces will finally start to come together. I’m just running out of patience.

            • Falcon…another counseling option is Skype or FaceTime with a licensed professional. Tele-health is becoming more available now.

              • Yes, awesome idea! Doctor on Demand is one service I keep seeing commercials for.

              • I Just called insurance company and tele-health is a no go. 1 Mental health place 60 miles from here (no new patients). Even the insurance company is baffled at no help no where not even a place near by for them to do a individual contract with. So back to fighting the mental health battle alone and pray I can get a job near civilization soon. I so cant wait till I move, it is my biggest obstical right now. I knew this was a small town but geez

      • Google GeneSightRx and call the company directly. They will find the closest provider for you. Ask them about your insurance also. If you don’t have insurance, they charge on a sliding scale. The maximum cost of the test is $200.
        It measures the length of the receptor sites on your cells that the medication has to reach.
        NO downside!

    • Rebecca can you provide a link or may I contact you on a separate thread about this genetic testing? I googled what I could but don’t find any local resources. I’ve gone through countless, agonizing start up periods for meds that don’t work, had years of therapy both useful and not so useful, paid a king’s ransom for a hyped up voodoo treatment supposed to be the best science has to offer (depressed chumpery) and tried EMDR and I’m still suffering terribly with major depression. Thanks in advance and I’m so happy you found peace.

      • Oh and…pathological shopping and *returning*. Maybe that was genetic; the packages I had to return for my mother after she died! Boxes of unopened 300+ count Egyptian cotton sheets, declined tchotchkes she’d offered me, can openers that proved more vexing to use than your teeth, endless tacky cat shirts, clothing we’d agreed she should return that she secretly put back in her closet. That was her theme but I carried the torch of shop’n’shame in my own right, clearly anxiety based. I also traveled and went most places alone or with a friend, especially in the last two years of marriage. But I did spend more time playing music which the ex conveniently never heard–on purpose. Only room for one in the hall of narcissism!

        • My mother is a hoarder and my best friend’s mother is a compulsive shopper hoarder. They present differently. The shopper is generous, my mother is like a vicious raccoon. Don’t take a pen from her, she will see it as an assault.

          I went threw a period where I threw everything away and tried to be minimalist just so I wouldn’t be like my mother. I think all of these things are OCD reactions to anxiety stemming from scenarios we can’t control.

          What does Jewel say? Just breathe.

  • Today’s post explains a lot. I am much less manic about…everything. It also means that 3rd book would be published already if I was still with cheater XH! Joking.

    On related note, after reading another chump’s resource post on the Forum, I now know why my anxiety has gone from 10/10 to 2/10.
    I lost a cheater and gained a life.

  • I was actually really lucky with the mania thing. My obsession became a Facebook group of mom friends. We all live in my town, we just use Facebook to keep in touch but we also get together regularly. Boy did my ex hate that group! But it was my lifeline. Still is.

  • With HB#2 I had a 2400 SF 1921 craftsman house relocated to our property in three pieces. Something I always wanted to do. Why, I have no idea. My family says I’m crazy.

    I dedicated myself to putting it back together with the help of my brother and brother-in-law and HB#2. Roof, electrical, plumbing, foundation, you name it. When it was done and all that was left was the cosmetic work, I had a breakdown. I realized it was my marriage I was trying to put together. I immediately sought individual counseling, there was no way my husband would attend.

    I became stronger and started setting boundaries with him. The sex was great but he was very verbally abusive and controlling.

    The beginning of the end was when I told him I needed tenderness. I just needed a little tenderness between us. Such a foreign word to him. The sex completely stopped and he went from bad to worse.

    If I couldn’t be what he wanted me to be, he would find someone else and sure enough, someone else he found.

    When I went to the MC, alone, the counselor told me, “What marriage? I don’t see him here.”

    I stopped the dance. I just now realized writing this, I stopped a pick me dance that I was doing since I met him and he left. My greatest fear realized. The source of my anxiety.

    Wow. Thanks for the thread, CL.

    I still live in the house. Raised the kids.

    Unfortunately, I went from a overt narc husband, to a covert narc boyfriend.

    I am very happily on my own now. And, I think I am at meh…

    • CJ, I was also doing a pick me dance with XH long before i knew of his affair. probably for much of the marriage.

      though grieving and traumatized after DDay at year 24 of marriage, i became noticeably peaceful, almost immediately, when he left for his crazy schmoopie. the absence of anxiety continues, 3 years later.

      it was just this week that i made the connection (my constant anxiety=the danger i was in as his wife).

      i also found today’s post to be helpful. and i too am enjoying being single for now!

      • Me too. I realized recently that he had me doing pick me from when I first met him – told me he was “also” dating someone else, showed me stupid letter he wrote to his father bragging about all the women. I stupidly thought he “chose” me when he asked me to move in with him. Major red narc flags, I was so naive. For 16 years I watched him flirt with every cashier and waitress no matter how old fat, thin etc., kept telling myself “boys will be boys, if he flirts he’s getting it out of his system.” So wrong. I’m so old now it doesn’t matter, but if I wasn’t you can be damn sure I would never dance pick-me for anyone. ever.

  • When he began to emotionally detach from me and our marriage, (after 30 years together), I all of a sudden became interested … strike that ……. obsessed, with eBay. First I sold some things, but as time wore on, and he became physically detached as well, and denied me, not only sex, but the simplest of human touch, I immersed myself into a constant and steady buying frenzy. The worse my life got with him, the more lonely I felt, the more I bought. It became a steady obsession of little meaningless thrills. Winning an auction, going to the post box or post office. The little trinkets, were like putting silly putty into holes in the dam. A mere diversion, of course. Not a solution to anything. But it kept me going. It gave me a reason to get up every morning. As stupid as it sounds, at the time, it gave me a reason to live.

    After 3 years of severe psychological and emotional abuse, the affair I knew in my heart he had been having, was revealed. Oddly enough, the day I discovered the affair, was the day I stopped buying on eBay. Just like that. Just like that. Done. Finished.

    I’m sure eBay thought I’d died … when actually, it was a turning point. It was the day, I started to live again.

  • My compulsion was shopping at charity shops for household goods. I got great deals but my god, eventually I just didn’t need any more, plus I couldn’t afford to be doing it. I did, however, get a lot of enjoyment out of the hunt for treasures at those shops so I began to sell it on eBay. I really don’t make any money at it, but at least I break even and it keeps me busy.

    If I get hired in the coming weeks I will probably be just fine with visiting the charity shops on the weekend and adding new and better hobbies, such as having a space in my home to set up my painting supplies.

    • Hi, ML–do you mind reposting your ebay store? I am doing some remodeling & had your site up a month or so ago, and then the computer re-booted.

    • I’m starting to paint, too! A friend took me to one of those Paint Nites, which was so much fun and I’m signing up for art classes for the first time since I was about 16!

  • If there’s one thing my ex taught me it was how to be alone. The very first summer after we got married he took a job that involved traveling for 2-3 weeks at a time and left me alone in our new apartment. We’d graduated from college and all our friends had moved away. That summer my job was to work at a warehouse and answer the phone, which only rang a couple of times a day. There was no one else in the office. I cried all the time. Little did I know that was just the beginning of how my life would be. My ex always seemed to deposit me someplace, then take off to do his own thing.

    I feel like I raised the kids alone too, at least when they were little. I definitely poured all my passion into them. I miss them a lot. It doesn’t make sense to move closer to the kids, though, because my elderly parents need help. They live about an hour away and have been and out of hospitals a lot.

    Gardening was a nice pastime when I was married. We lived on a farm and I spent a lot of time revamping the gardens. They were really beautiful and I still miss my peonies. I don’t miss the isolation of living on a farm by myself most the time, though.

    Now my life is filled with friends and activities. On a daily basis I feel happier, but I still really miss our family doing things together. When I see other families vacationing or spending holiday time together it’s hard. I’m looking forward to a trip to visit my son and his wife this summer.

    At least now I’m not lonely. I enjoy my own company and do what I want to. There’s nothing more lonely than being alone in your marriage.

    • Lyn,

      Like you, I infrequently saw my now STBX. He’s had a traveling job that kept him away from home approx. 70% of the year at irregular intervals for the entirety of our ‘relationship.’ (Ironically, now that he’s moved across the street, he is almost always home (his new home) because he voluntarily doesn’t work!) Sadly, I don’t think that I ever felt married while married. I hope (against all odds) that someday I can re-marry and get that (contentedly) married feeling. I work with families a lot in my work (both paid and unpaid). I get a bit ‘choked up’ when I see ‘whole’ families engaging in activities together, especially when my young kids are with my STBX. I’m working on using my time, energy, and money on better companions than my STBX.

  • Thanks, CL. This is a great post.

    I’ll say that my hobbies / interests change after infidelity, although I don’t know if any were previous obsessions at which I excelled. I used to be a runner, and a writer, in my spare time. Very healthy (maybe too healthy), and introspective. I spent my free time enjoying these things.

    But now, I get less fulfillment out of them. Post-divorce, I’ve turned to my job, and to figuring out new hobbies, to get fulfillment.

    I know this is advice we all see on those “how to move on” divorce lists, but it has truth…at least for me. What used to get my attention no longer does…and new things do. I didn’t *choose* for this to happen. It just…did.

    Happy Friday, everyone.

    • Oh, Ellen. I’m sorry. Make a list of all the crappy things about the fucktard and read it over & over again. New wifey may not know it yet, but she is in for exactly the same things in a few years, or a few months. (Trust me–my cheater gave appalling treatment to his former wife; explained that I was SPECIAL and so he wouldn’t cheat on me. Yet here I am.)

      • Oh, too right. I was different, she was more mature and ready to settle down and would never treat me the way she treated her exes. I was so eager to love and be loved that I bought it. Damn return policy sucks!

      • My former neighbor used to let his dog poop on my family’s lawn instead of his own. My family of origin had no dogs. You just lost the poop-producing dog. Now, new wife (OW?) gets poop-producer–and, no, she doesn’t get to send him over to your place to poop. Get out the pooper scooper, new wife.

        • Ellen….My XH treated every single X exactly the same way he treated me. And guess what? He cheats on the OW. None of theses people are special in the least. I know it hurts and I’m so sorry for you. I’d feel hurt too but turn your eyes and your heart inward to your own rose garden.

    • I’m sorry, Ellen. Just know that your idea of what a marriage is (love, honor, fidelity, trust) is so clearly NOT your ex’s idea of marriage. I suspect your cheater ex feels marriage is a legal, binding document designed to ensure his spouse will serve him until it’s no longer convenient or beneficial to him. Then he’ll be on to the next kibbles conquest.

      You don’t feel it now, but you’ve won by losing a selfish loser. While he sucks the life out of someone else, you will heal and hopefully find a love that mirrors your definition of love, too. That is my fervent wish for you.


    • There are children’s paddling pools with more depth than that fucktard, Ellen!
      The fact he announced a remarriage within weeks of a divorce shows you that he has no depth of feelings and doesn’t give a fuck about anything except himself. Its a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.
      You however, aren’t like that at all (the devastation) as you have compassion and ethics, which he clearly does not have.

  • I sublimated all feelings of worthlessness and cravings of affection into my schoolwork and graduated with top honors and a prestigious award from the university. They also asked me to become an instructor.

    When he refused to leave our home but continued to openly date his skank, I took up walking. That and the divorce diet resulted in a 40 pound weight loss.

    • WHAT is it with these assholes refusing to LEAVE the house when THEY destroy everything?? Fuckwits!! I already knew that if I made mine uncomfortable enough he would go… I tried saving it and then got tired of having my nose rubbed in it. Really pissed me off. Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer I just couldn’t take anymore, he left 6 days after I was diagnosed…. ask him… he’s a “nice” guy and I’m the mean one…. really?

      • Because they know whats in it for them – if they leave, they relinquish half-rights into the house via abandonment. They can’t have that, remember – its all about them.
        They need to fuck over the chumped one hard – and take them for everything they have (as well as their skank-pieces).

  • Oh, I forgot that the most healing thing for me after our separation was finding someone who enjoyed dancing with me. I spent a lot of time dancing and it made me feel like a kid in college. I started to feel alive again!

  • I certainly relate to the roses, I had 50 bushes, all different varieties, in my beautiful garden back in the marital home. Don’t tell your husband, but I had a few Knock Outs, although I kind of agree with him — they aren’t the greatest, but they are useful for covering ground. Of course, my 50 bushes were nothing — I was in the local chapter of the American Rose Society, and several members had well over 250 roses in their gardens.

    These days I live in an apartment, and my garden is restricted to 15 pots on my balcony. No roses at all, because I don’t get enough sun. But even if I did, I would never want to have so many roses again… they took a lot of attention. I don’t really have any specific “passion” these days — my time goes to making money, spending time with my son, spending time with my boyfriend and general life requirements.

  • Ellen –

    You mean the man who tried to destroy you has just announced his destruction of another. Unless, of course, she destroys him.

    The pain you are feeling is for the loss of a dream and I am so very sorry. Surround yourself with your friends right now and stick close to CL. We are here to help you to the next level.

      • Oh Ellen… What an insensitive piece of shit he is. This proves it. I know it is another slap in the face but you stay strong! I wish I had better words to console you. I am sending you hugs and hoping your ex comes down with a permanent case of ED.

      • Ellen- Part of the reason I stayed so long married was because I couldn’t stand the thought of OW replacing me and gaining all that I worked for in good times and bad. I was waiting for his miraculous transformation, his epiphany, “I am married to an irreplaceable woman, the love of my life.” Surely he would change when circumstances changed- like being retired, no further stresses? I was loving and supportive of my spouse our whole marriage. Other people saw him for who he was and used to call me Saint SeeTheLight. After the first D-Day and counseling, to demonstrate I was a trusting wife, I let him go back to some of his hobbies that had formerly led to skank connections, bad habits, etc. because he swore he was a different guy. I just gave him more opportunities to abuse my love, trust, health and well-being.

        These types all go on rather quickly to their next kibble source. They need an ego masseuse. Your X hasn’t replaced your goodness with this OW, he is just using up another kibble source. He is not going to change. May the OW have many years faking a happiness that can never exist with this self-absorbed jerk.

        • STL- that’s what I feel too. I even told a friend maybe he will have an epiphany. The other part of me want to make it as difficult as I can for him to get the kibbles. Make him stress and sweat about getting caught, make him lie some more, turn him into a bigger douche bag. Help him dig a bigger hole. I fantasize about calling the cops on him to bust his whoring ass. Him in the news would send him over the edge. (Local High profile exec) Just like he sent me. (Sometimes I fantasize about putting Nair in his shampoo but that’s another story) the cops probably don’t put a lot of energy in the Craig list whores or the backpage whores. not to mention webcam/chat room prostitutes. Most of which are difficult to prove. Why do I want him to suffer? Why not just let go? Sometimes I think I have become the sick one.

          • Been there too, Willow. Have had many wicked visualizations over the years where cheater became a victim of his own rancidness. Then I realized in retrospect, that many of the people I have come to find out were cheaters, end in a bad place. I don’t know if God is intervening or these cheaters overplay their hand and do themselves in. I have now placed my trust that God will see to it, one way or the other.

            • Yup, i think many of them do wind up alone. My father, a malignant narcissist and one of the most selfish, self involved people it has been my misfortune to know died last week. I didn’t find out till a few days ago. He threw me out of his life 5 years ago and I stuck to being NC when he tried to weasel his way back in. He died utterly alone. Having lived a life of using and discarding people when they were no longer useful to him, this behavior brought him to the end of his life….alone. He was a horrible human being his whole life and it came back to bite him in the butt in the end.

              As I am the only child, and the closest relative, I got to make the arrangements. There will be no funeral. there isn’t anyone left who cares enough to go. He has been cremated and his ashes will be scattered at sea. I am 1800 miles away. I won’t be there either. Even if I could afford the plane ticket, I still would not go. I see the whole thing as a sad end to a sad, selfish life, I kind of feel sorry for him, but he earned every bit of his final chapter.

              And that is how many of them wind up.

              • My mom sounds a lot like your dad, and I’ve been NC with her for 16 years. I dread the phone call that I know will come one day, and I wonder if I will go back. My kids have never met her (no way would I give her another shot at screwing up more children), and a few years ago, one of my older sisters actually had a mock funeral so she could try to get some peace and closure. It’s too sad, but like you say, this is how many of them wind up. Hugs to you, Tessie.

            • It sounds like a great fantasy, but sucks in real life. It’s not just the cheater who gets the media blast, it’s you and your entire family. It’s about one of the most traumatic experiences you can imagine. Ask me how I know…

              • Oh Violet…. So sorry you had to live that! I recognize the fantasy is just that. Wanting him to feel SOME pain, SOME suffering for what he did.

          • Willowchumpx.
            You sound NORMAL to me. I, too, fantasize about my cheating ‘husband’ getting busted by the cops. I also fantasize about him soon getting HIV from one of his prostitutes or affair partners but not giving it to anyone. That, to me, would be a bit of poetic justice and an appropriate consequence.

            • After some recent bad news about his sexual habits, I have sporadic fantasies of my cheater going through a grain thresher. (Time for another martini, isn’t it?)

            • It’s probably better for you to walk away from it. The truth is we don’t really want them to be hurt, we just want them to stop hurting us.

              My first ex (my son’s father) was in a car accident a long time back. He left me a frantic voice mail message that he was in the emergency room. I got it a few hours later, and even though I was in a happy new relationship, I went to see if he was okay. When I got there, five other women were in the waiting room worried for him. I did go back and talk with him, and whoever was the “most important” woman at the time was with him.

              I said, “well I’m going to go, I think you are going to be okay.” (He wasn’t even injured as far as I could tell). We both laughed about it. I felt a little bad for him. He wasn’t hurt, but he was so empty. He didn’t even know who to call to be by his side. I did feel a type of “sibling” bond to him because we share our son, who is autistic. It’s the closest thing he has to anything real. I truly pity him.

              And I worry for his new wife, who I like very much and has been decent to my son. Really, they deserve our pity because they can’t connect. After you are done being hurt, just feel bad for them. We are so much better off.

      • Ellen–feeling immobilized is natural (and it will sometimes return). Find SOMEthing that allows you to pull yourself out of that–read The Little Train that Could (sorry, I’m still immature & into children’s literature!), or I have found some of the Holocaust literature useful–anyone who can live through a concentration camp without it breaking their spirit is inspirational to me.

        • Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankel, really helped me. It’s a downer while reading it, but it gets the message across that those who survive are those who choose to thrive by taking control of their spiritual life, their inner life.

          • That’s one of my favourite books, and such a powerful testament to the power of inner purpose. I used to read it every year, until D-day struck and I somehow lost my ability to process the printed word for a while. Happy to say I’m back reading novels like a fiend. I feel like me again!

  • Cooking! Martha Stewart could have eaten my dust. Now, not so much. A little here and there. Now the best thing I make is reservations!

  • I threw my energy in to making our house a comfortable home. I like house projects be it painting, decorating, fixing, landscaping or whatever. He helped but it was a reluctant effort particularly to my face. A relative left me a small amount of money and I decided to use it to build a stone wall around a flower bed in our back yard. We bought the stone and began working on it. He complained the whole time and kept getting frustrated with me. Then he disappeared. I walked around the side of the house and heard him talking to one of the neighbors about our project and how it good it looked and how hard he was working on it. It made me sick.

    In hindsight now, I know I was really doing all this stuff to engage him, have him spend time with me, make our home a place he’d want to be, etc. but of course, I didn’t realize it then. The marital home will be sold later this year and I’m looking forward to my own place (even though it’s a little scary too) and doing the projects I want to do to make it a comfortable home for ME!

    • That’s just more manipulation, for sure. Husband would brag about me to EVERYONE, just never in front of me. Or TO me.

      When it all came out, I realized that bragging so much about me/our home/our family made him look like the good guy… and deflected suspicion when he got too friendly with ho-workers. “He couldn’t possibly, don’t be silly. . he’s always telling everyone how awesome you are! You’re so lucky to have a husband who appreciates you and all you do so much!” Heh – he did that to not look like an ass and to safeguard his “friendships.”

    • Let’s see if I can explain Dr. Dementos circular fuckedupedness. Fact 1) He hated anything to do with house work or chores. Fact 2) He hated working with me to do them, and would just rage and throw things when it got tough or frustrating or he got sick of doing it, effect, I really didn’t like to ask him to do anythings. Fact 3) He would feel really bad for himself when the house looked like shit, and start up the poor sausage machine, Fact 4) He would go out side and do some really hard but materially not very important act of cleaning up the yard.(It would be easier with Roundup) Then he would come in grumpy, put upon and very unhappy that he ‘had’ to do it himself. Fact 5) If I went out and did the work myself, I was a) making him look bad, b) making him feel bad… retreat to the bedroom for some solace reading (his favorite thing) Then return to Fact 1) Net effect… house looked like shit and he only did something about every 4 months. Worked for him.

      Now I am cleaning up the yard, doing all sorts of jobs myself, it looks very nice… so you can see how from his perspective … it was just better that we broke up… I am not stopping you from having the house you always wanted. I was always inadequate in your eyes… fuck yes you were. Laziest and sorriest sausage on the planet.

      His father just died, and he had a really horrible relationship with his father… I thought his father was a total abusive Ass… but Dr. Demento was tasked to do his father’s eulogy and in it he talked about how is father thought he was the laziest kid ever… Now I am wondering who was the bad guy here. The guy is slick, really slick that is all I can say.

      Last bit of head scratching… Not only is his down grade, CFMily, the pooper scooper queen but she also lives in a house landscaped likes his parents. The front yard is all rock. with a central little circle of different rocks and a tree, and a few intersperse harshly pruned junipers. All it needs is a tacky little pagota and a couple of cement squirrels, my kids would look at it and say, Hey GranmaD’s house. WTF?! Also CFMily went one step father, she asphalted the backyard and painted it green. He couldn’t have asked for a better downgrade. Please oh please move to eNVy.

  • I did the same as most which was tending to home and kids. I went to every family, school, extracurricular, fun event alone. Three years I threw myself into trying to make the yard presentable because my children were approaching dating age and I did not want them to be ashamed. I did not grow up like this. He had no interest since he was never there. Turns out they were ashamed of the enviroment not the physical appearance and rarely brought friends there anyway. Once I sweated and swore putting up a gazebo only to have it demolished in a storm. His mom actually stopped by and watched a minute then left. I think in 33 years , he may have been there 5 times when she came by. But its my fault. I got an “I’m so sorry gift ” of a really nice tree house with screened porch after d-day. I spent many hours out there crying and looking at house that was totally empty of feelings.

    I also grew my garden in pots which were beautiful only to be told that the neighbor probably thought were were trashy people with that in front of our house. (thats what go the most sun) We had raised beds but shade overtook the area. He was going to trim the trees, but that like everything else, it never happened.

    Two years ago I finally gave up. I was so depressed. Nothing-Nada. I took care of interior and the kids and that was all. He said the only connection he had to the house were his clothes in the closet. Like we didn’t know that. It was the first truthful thing he said to me. So I let his clothes become his problem. I did not wash, dry, or put them away. I figured I had done enough of that while he took them off for others.

    He had a problem with manic spending. A wife not enough, I need girlfriends and prostitutes. Like the shoes, I need two more pair just like them. Coat-like it- need another. Car? love it , need another just like it. Motorcycle, I need 6 more of those. Airstreams, love it. I think Ill buy, redo, and sell them. Can’t part with them so now I keep buying them and have 8 of them. Oh, Argosy campers! Love them I need six of those.What? I don’t have a steady job? Can I put this in your name? Mom’s name? Friend’s name? Let me pour money into those things but you need to pay for half of college, manage all the bills with your income and on any cash allowance I decide you may need. Can’t afford a new roof! I need to put $$$$$ into campers, riding motorcycles, ( see how great I am for my age)!!! and whatever else I want. Oh, you have had to buy water for the house for 33 years because it is unsuitable for drinking? Now you are gone I’m going to dig a new well because you are not here to buy water anymore? I was shocked a new well would have solved the problem.He had me research filters and try to solve the problem for years. Total shithead with years of mindfucking. Dry Drunk is a really good description only he was a complete stoner.

    Happiness was never there. Reading this I would think a new life should be easy, but days are still hard.

    • They all suck the happiness out of the home of people who love them. Broken. “Total shithead with years of mindfucking.” Yes… yes they are.

      Here’s to Meh!!

  • Don’t laugh… It was cake! Not your ordinary baking, but planning, creating and decorating birthday cakes that grew more elaborate and impressive over time. Pirate ships, Minecraft blocks, an army tank, correct in every tiny detail.

    Of course there were more activities that I tried to fill the hole in my life with, before D-day exposed it in all its horrid emptiness. But my over the top children’s party planning was my 80 rose bushes.

    • But your cake is wholesome and delicious – not the cake which leaves you feeling empty!

  • Um, when my X was with me, I consumed myself with eBay; learning about antique glass, and working on a farm. My X and I had a business, and if he was home? I did the best I could to stay away from the house.

    During my marriage, when I would go for getting a degree or obtain a real estate license to bring in alternate cash (I didn’t get the degree, but got the license) – my X would be so supportive at first, but then started knocking it (and me), then raging about it. As a result I backed off the very things that *would* have helped me be independent today I think he did it on purpose. It was STUPID. OF. ME. to not press on anyway – I was WAY too reactive to him. (I *did* let the real estate license lapse because I had no friends for referrals, and, really didn’t enjoy the job).

    Now, I still work on that farm, and still eBay. There are times where I really wish I didn’t work on the farm – like today when it is all of 1 degree at nearly noon. When I get to work later, it will likely be below zero. The money isn’t good either, but, it keeps me in great shape and out in the fresh air (bitchy-cold though it is). So I think it has some “back door’ benefits, if you will. It gives me rainy day money too. I drive a bus part time as well so that is part of my income, but I can’t make enough doing that (it would be nice, because I love driving and always have).

    So….. I am going to county college to get some help in figuring out what kind of certification I can get relatively quickly so I can start a decent career …. at 55. Good luck to me, lol.

  • Oh, something else popped up in my head, after D-day I read a message from OW to XH. That she longed to also have a nice garden with flowers (insert: like me), but lacked the time.

    Ugh, hello! Stop screwing other people’s husbands and you’ll have plenty of time for at least 80 rose bushes!

  • My hobby then and still is (after 10 years of hell-7 pre-divorce, 3 post) a good Snapped marathon. I sit on the couch all afternoon (something the ex detested-sitting) get a bowl of popcorn, snuggle up with the dogs and watch for hours. Hey, a girl can dream, right?!

  • I have a knot in my stomach after reading this.

    Betta fish. In the few years leading up to D-day, I was emotionally very unhappy with someone who sporadically devalued and criticized and emotionally abused me. I took to rescuing betta fish–those poor little guys in the cups at pet stores, gasping for breath, with bacterial infections of the eyes, or fungal infections eating away at their fins. I tried to nurse each and every one back to health, and if I could not, made sure that they at least died in a plant-filled environment rather than a sterile cup. I became crazy fish lady.

    I have had as many as 60 betta fish in the house at one time (and yes–those are the fish that need separate tanks or containers because they are also known as Siamese fighting fish). As soon as cheater left, the obsession left me (though I will still rescue an odd one or two).

    My sister nailed it when she said, “You nurture those bettas the way you want to be nurtured.”

    • Bless you for rescuing those poor fish. I always feel so sorry for them when I see them for sale.

    • Tempest,
      Thank you for being a friend to sentient beings that deserved tender loving care! I hope that someday, if I ever get a break from working two jobs (after kids reach adulthood?), I can resume protecting helpless animals!

    • Tempest, you will have to forgive me for laughing my head off on this one. Must be my Irish black humor.

      I think it is wonderful that you did this crazy life saving beta fish rescue, but I still think it is funny as hell.

      • CalamityJ–it is funny, and pretty ridiculous. I have two entire rooms upstairs lined with betta tanks. It’s part of the reason I was able to initially force my cheater to move out–how could I possibly move all those fish tanks out on short notice?

        My children refer to me as a fish hoarder (but… I know the psychological literature here–“hoarder” means you have too many to take care of properly and so the animals get neglected. MY FISH, on the other hand, have lovely tanks with plants and little pagodas to swim through. F*cking Club Med for fish, I tell you.) And the damn things have never uttered one word of criticism, and are frankly prettier than STBX in his Armani jackets. Win-win.

        • I love this! I have seen these fish at PetSmart and thought how horrible that they live in these little cups! You rock!

    • Tempest, I say this with all the love in my heart…. Glad to see there is some crazy in you! You have been so strong and full of wise words. I laughed my ass off about yr closet fish saving campaign.

    • Dammit, I’m so late to this party! I wish I would’ve read this earlier!
      Tempest, you have a big heart and I love it. I’ve got a huge soft spot for animals and little creatures of all kinds. Did I mention I own a deaf ferret? Lol.

      Well my obsession was purchasing high quality clothing and such for my daughter at consignment shops. Before child I shopped like this for myself but now it’s all her. Girlfriend is decked out in Ralph Lauren and looking goooood;)

  • Roses, eh? That sounds like a great way to channel one’s energy.

    So how did I cope with my loveless marriage?

    By eating…



    I would clean and clean and clean some more. I would find things to clean/scrub, closets to organize, basement, attic, you name it… all I did was clean and organize so as to ignore the fact I was being ignored in my marriage.

    I also ate, ate and ate… I looked for love in food. I was a vegetarian at the time (not a vegan) so I looked for love in cheese — basically anything dairy as well as at the bottom of a bag of double stuffed Oreos.

    That was then, this is now…

    Today I am 20 lbs lighter since my divorce. I no longer look for love in food and I no longer feel the need to spend every minute of my weekends cleaning.

    • OMG this was me in my marriage you could eat off my floors. I was soo organized I bought one of them labelling machines and even lablled where his fucking shorts went in the cupboard. Now I have to climb over my clothes to get into MY house lol the cleaning thing hits me once and a while. I often wonder how after marrying him my bedroom as a child where my dad put a sign over my door “Disaster area”!!! went to a house that made Martha Stewart feel inadequate and all without much money. Now I realize as I look back over 34 years I never got what I needed out of him he never even made one fucking friend in 34 years that we moved until the OW, so I put my all into my house and my daughter. sigh ps havent picked up a book since Dday but have gotten back to music and watching TV again, so the other things will surely come back.

  • Exercise. Any and every class I could fit into my schedule while holding a career and being a mom. I just didn’t want to be home with him. The list is long: biking, yoga, pilates, turbo kick, insanity, tabata, Step-bata, piyo, yoga strength, step class, ultimate conditioning. I lost 15 lbs. I have quit drinking and my eating and sleeping habits are getting better that he is out of the house. If it wasn’t for my 5 year old little boy I probably would be at the gym every night…like I used to be.

  • I was Martha Stewart and Pinterest in one, when I look back at pictures of my house I’m ill. I had three under three in a tiny townhouse and you could eat off my floors! People didn’t know I had a dog or kids! My kid’s rooms were decorated beautifully, but I never got around to the master bedroom. I turned out gourmet meals and made homemade tamales by myself every Christmas so my husband wouldn’t feel homesick (he was military). I made a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings just so he could have leftovers to take to work. I had to stop watching Desperate Housewives because Bree’s character was triggering my spackle abilities. At the end, I was sewing the holes in our 10 year old couch and me and the five kids were walking around Hawaii to save money while he was dropping money on craft beers, home brewing supplies, classic car parts, karate (where he hooked up with his mistress) and techno goodies and drove around in the family car!
    Now, I get exhausted making a cake with cake mix and ready made frosting.

    • Sunny
      I hear you. I used to could plan out a whole beautiful meal just by inspiration of walking into the grocery store!! Everything was fresh and from scratch. If I don’t have a list at the grocers I come out with chicken salad, hummus and oranges!!! Gourmet is now Philadelphia Creme Cheese spread on ham and rolled up!!! YUM—so much better than Coq au Vin!!! I’ve lost my housekeeper Mojo most def!!!

      • Lol- I feel the same way. I was just lamenting yesterday how my lovely home made meals have turned into whatever fits in a tortilla!

        • Universe–I am in Texas, and you would be amazed at the variety of fabulous & gourmet foods that fit in a tortilla!

    • Interesting that you never got around to the Master Bedroom, you know? Your inner voice was at work there ….

  • Before I came to Chump Nation, I did the reading we all do trying to find answers. I was fairly certain my cheater was an NPD/sociopath and came across an article that actually encouraged the spouses who stay with these individuals to cultivate a life outside their marriage. Hobbies, travel, etc., was the only way to survive a life WITH them in it. I submerged myself in work and reading fiction- it only went so far. Might as well be divorced and live fully or as CL says, “Leave a cheater gain a life.”

  • I put my energy into work around our home – gardening (lots of it!), remodeling, painting. I dug up half of my one acre lot for gardens using only a shovel. I did all of the maintenance on the exterior of our house – powerwashing, staining, painting, etc. Everything inside as well. Most of the time he couldn’t even be bothered to change a lightbulb (but if he did, I better show some appreciation!!) I hated to ask him for help because I knew he would act resentful. Most of the time he would ignore me until the work was almost done then waltz in with advice or criticism.

    Last fall I had one of those rare moments of pre-dday clarity… I drove by an older couple doing yard work together. He was raking leaves and she was holding a bag. I remember feeling so sad at the sight of them together because I knew that my H would never want to spend time with me doing something so routine. That’s all I wanted from him at the time but I knew I would never get it. That was BEFORE dday but I think it helped me make the right decision when dday rolled around – there was nothing about our marriage worth saving.

  • Wow – This column gave me new insights into the last few years of my life. About 5 years ago (exactly 1 year after my cheating STBX now says he lost “all emotional connection to me”) I rekindled my teenage passion for horses with a vengeance. I bought a gelding and poured all my free time and money into spending time with my horse (at least he loved me!) and re-learning how to ride. At one point, I rode a couple times a day (other horses and stables in the mix). It went beyond obsession; I jokingly referred to it as an infection.

    I also poured myself into my kids, which cheaterpants encouraged since it enabled him checking out physically and emotionally with a job, travel and long-term coworker affair(s). I eventually abandoned my small consulting business. I’m starting to wonder now if too much of my identity and worth dissolved into parenting… I am not exaggerating to say the kids are the only thing that matters to me, especially now while they are a mess from the impending divorce. And maybe the kids sense that burden? Feels like an “adjust your own air mask before helping others” issue I really need to work on.

    My last insight on this; for years I have kept a daily journal of my moods, if I drink, overeat, have anxiety, sadness, etc. When I found out about the affairs and learned the timeline of the sexual trysts, I was sickened to discover that years before I knew a thing, I could tell exactly when he was having sex with someone else, since my mood tanked, I drank too much, overate and had bouts of anxiety. It was a perfect overlay. And one month before the first D-Day, I became horribly allergic to my wedding ring. If nothing else, my body has a good sense of metaphor…

  • As my thirty year marriage to Mr. Cheaterpants was in its final stages, I went a little crazy with old Singer sewing machines. I had been frantically dancing, baking “cakes,” and throwing kibbles for decades, and my soul needed some sort of creative outlet. I’d buy the unwanted machines and rehab them, so they looked and ran like new! This went on until my divorce was final. Soon after everything was finalized, I carted all seven of the machines off to donate to charity. What a great feeling it was to turn my weird “therapy hobby” into something good for others.

  • Huh. Maybe this explains why I have SIX LARGE DOGS eating me out of house and home! 🙂 I didn’t set out to be a crazy dog lady but I had two rescue dogs and then rescued a third that turned out to be heart worm positive AND pregnant! And then the mama had health problems after the birth so my daughter and I ended up bottle feeding six puppies and got so attached that we couldn’t bear to give them all away. Having them saved my life on more than one occasion. The thought that they would be split up If I offed myself or ran away kept me going since it seems highly unlikely that someone else would want six large, shedding, couch eating but utterly loveable demons on the loose in their home! And if I ever get around to dating again, I’m sure they will make a very effective barometer to determine who is really interested in me.

    • Daisy–after we adopted a 4th dog, I lamented to my daughter, “Great, now I’ll never get a date since I’m the crazy dog lady.

      She responded, “Date a dog person.” There’s wisdom in that!

      • Yes there is Tempest and you can tell you daughter that you now know a dog lady even crazier than you. 🙂

        • I have 6 dogs and babysit for a 7th on the weekends. They are up on the bed with me as I write this. I also have been feeding a feral cat outside for about 10 years. I Am the Crazy Dog Lady & I love it. When I come home from work and I pull up by the mailbox, they go crazy for me to come in. Unlike fleeting romance, it never fades but gets stronger with time! Yes, there is a little downside, but at least they never fuck me over on purpose! Two have only one eye, a 3rd is totally blind, another has those fatty lumps all over him. One is stone ass mean and can’t be exposed to many people (small dog though). I find others homes.
          I will stop and save anything alive, and it is a going joke with my friends. Birds, turtles, raccoons, opossums, anything in trouble, out in the street, etc. Can you say Dyed in the Wool Chump? There are probably a bunch of animal loving Chumps. They have definitely gotten me through, and have had pets always.
          If any Chumps like animals and don’t have one, I recommend it, it takes the edge off the pain, and loneliness.

          • Regina–I knew we were kindred spirits! chumps to the end. Kudos to you for rescuing all those poor and sick and blind and ferocious animals. If I remember, you’re in Florida, right? Any alligators on your rescue list (my sister is in the Everglades and we routinely see them on, and alongside the road).?

            • No, but I did rescue a pot bellied pig (got up to 120 lbs.) had Petunia for a little over a year, a Huge sea turtle (In addition to the regular 5 lb variety) People I know used to sometimes get mad, now they just pull over and let me out. Luckily, I am usually driving and don’t have to request a stop. I got a calf back into a pen that was in the street & myself & 2 others in different cars herded 3 horses that had gotten loose & were galloping towards I 595 to turn around and run back towards their paddock. Thank God they went back into the open gate, I am not sure what we would have done if they hadn’t.
              I am afraid of alligators. A jogger got eaten about 6 years ago just a few miles from my house. They caught it & found her inside! I am not kidding! They are the Narcs of the animal world with their eyes sticking out of the water, calmly observing and sizing up their prey. I do feed the big lizards and the ducks. I like to take the stress of having to find their own food every day, and I like to watch them eat!

          • Oh yep!! Me too! I’ll stop traffic if I see a box turtle trying to make it’s way across a road! I’ve picked up stray dogs (one just a few weeks ago), nursed a mourning dove back after a cat attack, feed the neighbors’ wayward pig….my Auntie once told me, when I was just 6-7 years old, that I was going to grow up “helping all the strays”.

            I think it’s a Chump-thing. But you know what? I love that about us. Empathy. We cry at ASPCA commercials (and Budweiser commercials, too!), visit homeless pets at shelters, pick up stranded and helpless ANYTHING so that we can help out. Call us sappy and suckers for hard cases–but I would much rather say I am a bleeding heart than that I make others’ hearts bleed.

            • SphinxMoth; I agree and realize I can’t change anyhow. I sometimes feel I am being sent somewhere where animal things are happening, and often other chumps show up too to help. ASPCA commercials are off limits for me. I dive for the remote.
              If I don’t stop I know I will be haunted about what happened to that animal, they are so innocent and really can’t survive without help. Thank you for helping them too!
              Sometimes time goes by in between, months sometimes. But in the last 2 weeks I helped two dogs in the street, both obviously totally not street smart.

    • I love this! My son is autistic, so he definately chases away assholes. Assholes can’t deal with autism. I rescued a German Shepard lab mix who was so grateful. She was my best friend until she died in my arms. Why can’t men be like dogs, appreciate, protective, loving, and loyal?

      • Jen, I’d be happy with a man who was loyal, loving and non-couch eating. 🙂

        • Well Cody never tried to eat the couch, so I guess she was my soul mate. She loved the porterhouse bones I brought her home from the restaurant I worked at. And she truly would’ve killed anybody that crossed me.
          There are ways to get the love and appreciation we seek without a mate. Sounds weird but it’s exhausting the other way. Why not just find ways to share with those that actually deserve it? I was happy then, I am so tired of trying to recreate that with someone who mistakenly believes he’s better.

  • Fool that I am, I thought that my New Year Resolutions were just that – things to make my life, my daughter’s life, and my darling husband’s life a little bit better. Stupid things, like cooking taster, lower-carb meals (because I’m guilty for making him fat), organizing his home office, and being a better, more patient spouse. I guess they were kibbles-in-training? Now that I discovered and am getting accustomed to the fact that he’s lying, cheating scum, well, the kibbles seem a little stupid. I’m not even sure I know how to find a kibble that might be a little bit for me. How do I figure that out?

  • I used to love to cook, bake bread, had a wonderful garden and veggie/herb garden. Last summer, my first since the breakup, I joined a CSA instead of planting vegetables. It felt good to have things be a little different.

    I started watching movies and TV again only in the last 2-3 months. He and I had regular shows we watched together, but it spoils the memories to know he was texting OW while sitting next to me in our matching chairs; and that after I went to bed and he rose from his chair and said “love you! sleep well!” and kissed and hugged me, he started texting her even more, all frigging night long, on my phone bill.

    Last year in the good weather I slowly reclaimed hiking, something we often did together. Those memories are spoiled now too, by instrusive bad realizations, like one pic I took of him standing next to a waterfall – – later in emails to his prior OW, because my photo’s properties date/time were saved, I discovered that wonderful weekend we had hiking, I made homemade pizza, we fucked and watched movies, he had emailed the prior Schmoopie, “thank you for a wonderful Friday night. It made up for a crappy weekend.” Crappy weekend spent in companionship with me.

    Often I feel dazed and confused, still, by these juxtapositions. Slowly I am reclaiming activities I enjoyed with or without him though, and I’m determined that in 2015, the year in which I turn 60 as a newly single woman which I was only 2 out of the last 30 years, to get back into my kayak and get out in the water again.

    I hate this “new life” still so I guess I’m not at Meh. I thought by the time I was ready to turn 60 and soon retire, that the part of my life involving love and partnership, a paid off house, grandparent-hood, was all settled and yet now it’s turned upside down.

    For the Chumps who are in their 30s, 40s and early 50s I am happy for you that you have a chance to meet someone new, someone who isn’t a liar and cheater, or user and abuser; and make a new life for yourself. For someone my age, it feels like a weird ill-fitting role that I’m unwillingly forced into. About half of the friends we shared together as a couple have retired and moved out of state. Of the other half, half again have stayed friends with Cheater. The ones who have declared Switzerland, well, it just doesn’t feel the same and it certainly doesn’t feel comfortable when I am with them and there is this elephant in the room that we cannot and do not talk about.

    I try to keep it in perspective because I truly know that this is a good thing, it’s a blessing, and that I wouldn’t want to live with a liar anymore. But I have no idea what will happen to my house, I have no idea if I’ll lose it to him, or have to sell it and move, and how much if any money I’ll have left to retire with at the end. I have a lawyer (we weren’t married so it’s not as simple a procedure as divorce), but I can barely afford that either. There are days where I feel like I can just let it all go, and it won’t even matter if I have a penny afterwards… and other days where I feel panic and fear of not knowing.

    It’s a daily struggle and I know that time is a powerful medicine and I am counting on that, and on my perserverence to survive. It’s wonderful to read about other chumps who are farther along in this recovery process.

    • TheMuse, I am 63 years old and I also “hate this new life”. However, I know for certain that I do not love, want to see or hear my ex husband voice ever again. I never imagined myself being in this position because whilst our marriage was not perfect, I did love him and I hoped that he would love me forever when in fact he never loved me at all. I still shed tears now and again but it is not for my ex husband but for my family that has been destroyed.

    • Dear TheMuse; Cheaters know how to hurt in such deep ways, but do know what he told OW’s were lies too, lies to get kibbles, sympathy & probably a better performance in bed! Just how cold they are afterwards is shocking & chilling. We are just finding out about the distance between us & they are the creators of that distance, so of course they are in a different place. They ruin someone else’s life, or many lives and look who they are worried about-themselves as usual. This perplexed my Chumpy brain a lot. I have realized I am the Chumps Chump. Always digging for new excuses as to why someone is an asshole! Well, no more.

      I am 60 also, just turned at the end of November. Over time I am glad that I found out I was living a lie by proxy, and anything removed from that is an improvement. Do I wish I hadn’t wasted decades of my life with this person, well of course. At least with CL & CN I can hopefully help along with all others in CN & CL to make this crazy experience clearer for someone else.

      All I can say is I believe God or Karma or whatever one believes in, wants to reward Chumps for their goodness. Chumps are salt of the Earth people. Not every man is looking for someone half their age, or a size 2. Some men are real people looking for a real person. I will bet you are more attractive to others than you know, should you decide to look. Many of these younger ones are looking for a wallet, so there may be nasty surprises ahead for these Narcs hooking up with those.!! I have to admit I get a hearty chuckle out of seeing the User get used! Poetic Justice in motion.

      Like the one’s who end up in someone’s basement in midlife! We don’t have basements in Florida, but we have back sheds. A nasty old Narc who lives in his Mother’s basement who lost his job & is fresh out of sparkles is too hilarious. This didn’t happen to mine, he is good with money, but I sure enjoy hearing about it.

      • Regina, your post to TheMuse explained my own experience also. xmr did exactly that…one of his ow’s divorced her husband and tore up her family and went after mine…once I found out and filed their affair fell apart and xmr started pressuring me to come home…

        I will be 58 this year, I lost my good job due to lack of work just before Christmas last year and I am struggling but I know I will be okay and so much better off without the constant anxiety of the disordered ass in my life.

        I know all of us will be better off in the long run.

        • Jeep, “the constant anxiety of the disordered ass in one’s life”….oh that is to true!! Even on a good day, a calm day, when he or she seems interested in the kids and the pets and the house and the life, one treats with suspicion…hmmm…what’s being schemed? What’s the motive here? With a disordered person, there can’t just be kindness and interest for the sake of being authentic….there’s something else because chumps are the cover story at all times.

          • Malbecrioja, the cover story is so true! The ‘perfect husband’ behind closed doors became a raging monster! xmr’s ow broke up her own family to enjoy life with mine. But once i’d seen the ‘secret cellphone’ and the truth hit the fan…one more straw upon this camel’s back…I filed and was no longer the buffer for his secret life…they had free access to each other which apparently took away the sparkles. This life has to be taken care of regardless of events…and I was no longer there to take care of him while he played. The ow left him soon after I was no longer in the picture.

            At the end of the day this life has to be taken care of…the day to day realities are the same for all of us…working, paying bills, having meals, laundry…etc. The reality of that was apparently not on her agenda with him.

            I loved him over and above his flaws and thought he love me over and above mine…I never nagged him about his drinking, he’s an adult (I thought) and can make his own choices. The reality of taking care of a drunk is mostly not pretty or sparkly at all.

            These disordered asses aren’t who or what we think they are…they are empty spoiled children that now lay in the bed they made for themselves.

          • Malbecrioja, I imagine xmr will soon find some other chump to enslave…take care of his life while he continues his games…at our age I don’t think his campaign will work as well as it did with me…and in the end I’m thinkin the ‘slave’ will become his master with time…or his slave will run away and leave him to it alone.

            We are so fortunate they messed up so bad 😀 We are free to enjoy our lives and those we choose to share it with.

  • My 80 rose bushes were orchids. Some thrived, some died, and I happily watched a young Kagawara Pinatubo grow into a beauty that was blooming almost the whole year round. In summer, I gardened relentlessly, starting my own seeds for everything perennial and annual, choosing challenges for my Zone 3 garden (the tropics compared with where I was from) and, in Year 8 of our marriage, I added up all the vacations he took without me, allocated 200 dollars for each, and bought myself a super gorgeous pair of diamond stud earrings. I ate to fill the void, gained lots of weight and then, when I was on to him, had a breakdown where I spent all winter in bed and he “tried” to make things up to me. Boy did he start watching me closely when I started losing weight and taking care of my health. I had to get a new wardrobe and, although his weight didn’t waver by an ounce he had to buy a whole new wardrobe too 🙂 (So finances were a problem for US, but somehow, in all the years I’ve been alone now, finances are just fine for ME). He must have figured something was up when I started looking after my health, and lost weight (thanks to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes which I blame on the stress of being married to him) and he didn’t like it. Ha ha. Despite his close supervision, under the guise of loving me so very much, I got away! I do have to say that while I took care to “compensate” for the lack of genuine love from him, it was always second best. I thought it would have been cheaper and healthier for both of us if he treated me decently.

    Nowadays, peace is listening to jazz, dancing a lot, and spending time with friends and a wonderful boyfriend.

  • Okay, so when I was married to ex-sociopath, I was a shopaholic. And shortly before D-Day I started loading up the house with…what is the word…..chachkies? I mean porcelain roosters, owls carved out of rocks, decorative glass, multicolored bowls, urns, flower arrangements, wicker, pottery, wall hangings, you name it. Our house was always an old and elegant home and we kept it clean and neat, but I just started putting things everywhere. Interestingly, my ex was an OCD neat freak who hated mess and really really HATED CLUTTER.

    My 51st birthday was two days after I found out ex was leading a double life for 15 years and walked out claiming he loved one of his group sex partners more than me. I calmly packed all of these items up into plastic bins and moved them into the basement. As I was walking back up the cellar steps into the newly recleaned house, I felt like dusting my hands off and saying “My job here is done.”


    • Huh. So it’s almost like those tchotchkes were a visual representation of all the extraneous people who were cluttering up your marriage. Once you called it quits, you didn’t need them anymore. Cool.

    • Haha Kelly; I became a shopaholic too! Not constructive! I thought Chumplady was looking for CONSTRUCTIVE hobbies and time consuming interests. I now have a pair of jeans in what I believe to be every color in the universe. (And yes, my dogs think I look very cute in them! Two paws up!) Self destruction is also very Chumpy, and we need to be on the look out for it.
      So if you hear of a “Crazy Dog Lady” in South Florida who became trapped in a toppled wall of jeans in every color, you will know it was me. Not proud of this by the way, but at least realize it could be amusing to others! When I get screwed up, I never seem to hurt anyone else. I hope in the future I can keep my head twisted on in the correct fashion and take my licks in life without the use of a debit card.
      PS: I have cornered the market on earrings too, if you must know. I wish I would have been inspired to paint or grow something. I did get back in shape again, but still like pulling teeth to get myself there.
      Jeep; I wish for you a good and rewarding job soon.

  • My main vice for pretty much my entire known life is my art. I’ve always done this as a side-hobby to whatever I was doing in life – be it studies or work. I’ve always realised that whenever I’ve been stressed or upset, my ability to create pieces was essentially zero – I had to be inspired somewhat to make stuff.
    Dealing with the double whammy of an abusive relationship and an abusive workplace at the same time kinda had me sandwiched to the point where I didn’t know what was up or down anymore – and as a result I created very few pieces then.
    Culling both of those things within two months of each other kinda gave me my mojo back – and its full steam ahead!
    Thing is though – I create just for the love of it, not to sell them (though a couple of people have suggested I sell prints of my stuff – but kinda lazy to do so, and don’t think my stuff’s good enough, really).

  • I read books, made quilts and rugs and recovered furniture, grew vegies and canned them for the winter for my family, computers – I love my computers :D, I worked all the time…once I realized xmr was not where he said he was…I lost all interest in everything I loved also.

    I am 3 weeks out of a 2 year divorce – 5 years of hell all total and I am looking for a new home and I have started a new quilt and 😀 enjoying the tasty vegies I canned last fall 😀

    We can all do it. We were all awesome people before they tried to suck us dry and we will be awesome again!!!!

    Rock on Chump Nation!!!

  • This is interesting: Pre D-Day and Post D-Day, two different things entirely. I was cheated on for over 2 yrs without a clue but felt the detachment in a horrible way. I couldn’t identify what was happening. So, I started taking my dog all around the NW showing her. 60,000 miles in 12 mos. Every other weekend, I’d be 1000 miles away and into the fantasy of showing dogs where ppl never really talk about anything real about their lives. With all the driving, I never thought too deep about anything. Just felt so lonely and confused so I listened to Dr. Laura (ugh) for hours to see if somebody felt like me. An affair never once crossed my mind. Loved the dog shows and loved the solo driving time.

    Fast forward to D-day, and I find out he’s been cheating on one of my better friends from…guess where? The dog shows. Someone he met 3 yrs ago when he used to attend with me.

    The hard part for myself to get back was going back to dog shows without getting triggered. I didn’t for a year – just sat here with a zillion thoughts and I sure didn’t want to think about dog shows again. Never even thought people actually thought of those things with everything else going on with shows. duh- me. He worked out of the house so he didn’t have a chance to meet women other than there.

    He ALMOST stole my passion from me. Almost.
    I’m back to dog-showing again. Woot!

    p.s. I’m also one that could no longer read a book or watch a movie for an entire year. I quit watching all news and t.v., and before I was a news junkie and now never care about it at all. Used to love movie biographies but went to the true-crime shows, obsessively, for months, like another poster did. I want some of that back again, except maybe the true-crime stuff, as I’m not quite at Meh. I buy books OCD and intend to read them. I will soon.

    • How funny! I was a true crime addict too! 20/20, forensic files, investigation ID channel, 48 hours around the clock-you name it, I watched it. Interesting that many have cheating as a motive for murder! Or money, or both! I learned that:
      Cheater + Chump = you get to live, Cheater
      Cheater + other Disordered ass = Fatal outcome for someone!! At least I will be one step ahead if Narc all of sudden wants to “help” feed me, ahead of the Green Jello or Gatorade trick (antifreeze poisoning) or the “I just want to see you one more time” trick.
      I am a smarter Chump, I am a graduate Chump.

  • I probably don’t need to add that every time I was at a dog show, he had schmoopie move into my home with him. Must have been many occasions since I was gone so much. She even landscaped MY YARD when she was here. POS.

    • My girlfriend’s husband at the time moved his tramp of an AP into her house while she and the kids were away for March Break and the woman painted her bathroom!

      Cannot make this shit up!

      • Lisa – the funny thing about this ‘new renovation’ is, they said *they* did it. I’m like, when do you ever landscape in your life? I was truly astonished when I returned from a lengthly trip to Canada to visit family. He mumbled about taking a course in college years ago. ha. 36 yrs and he never landscaped a damn thing? I’m sure your friend’s X never painted a room in his life and probably claimed HE painted it. The gall of these women who want our homes! If it weren’t so disgusting, I could actually laugh. I have since kicked down all her cheap landscaping. pooo- went into the pooper scooper.

  • While my cheater obsessed with leading a double (well actually quadruple- he was cheating on the women he was cheating on me with) life I traced my family history back 300 years, wrote a book, and got a masters degree.

    • LOVE this and I know from my own experience in genealogy that it was worth way more than anything I ever had the chance to be part of, I would NOT trade it for my XH now that I know what he isn’t and I know what my family are worth!

      • As a matter of fact he used to badger me about looking up dead people, well in truth is he was dead, and I was bringing them to life. I rather like the outcome, lol

        • Now that you mention it I realize that while Cheater was still living with me, genealogy was my escape. He used to make fun of me, he’d say, “did you trace your family back to the caveman days yet ha ha ha.” It was something I did for my kids, and because after my father died in 1999, I found the tree he started and I felt compelled to continue my Dad’s work. Yes, my laughable hobby of genealogy was thrown in my face as a reason that he cheated.. that and my “paying too much attention” to my kids. While HIS hobbies were fucking other women, phone sex, little girls he fantasized about, and playing Magic The Gathering and making beer in the basement.

  • I taught myself, my children and the neighborhood kids to play piano with Ina Mae’s Step by Step books. My house always had a kid practicing and my Krackauer piano made beautiful sound. I would open my windows & let light & the breeze come into my home through gauze curtains that fluttered. I practiced for hours every spare moment & after my last baby was born, he came into the world knowing beautiful melodies.
    I have significant hearing loss, and I couldn’t even read notes when I started this hobby seven years ago. Fortunately, my young children could play by ear tunes from movies like IronMan and Tarzan with very little effort.
    I kept my beautiful piano polished and tuned. I would rather play piano than eat cookies. I have not found a piano in the last three years that made such beautiful music. I can practice a bit on other people’s instruments, but I long for my old piano back.

    • aww…Friend. Please take my 1920 Steinway off my hands. X quit playing his beautiful jazz 3 yrs ago when he decided he had a new love in his life. No more piano, that he was very good at. What’s with that? I don’t play myself. How unfair is this that you play and don’t have a piano. And, I do and don’t know too many notes, but I do play by ear a little. Good for you playing and teaching your children these ear tunes!! You’re mighty!!

      • 🙂 God bless. Life goes on. I cannot even hum my baby’s favorite songs anymore without, you know, my allergies kicking in.

  • This makes a lot of sense to me. In the height of his MLC phase I owned 10 horses!

    I taught riding lessons, ran a summer camp and managed a barn of about 40 horses. My kids were with me – we did pony club and local shows.

    I was not a horse nut, I was a whole bag of nuts!!!
    I loved it, the kids had a great childhood up until BD and we found things to do with our time, because he was not there.

    In fact, I think he secretly hated horses and loathed the people more.

    I now realize that I have always had horses in my life, but this was magnified a million times over. I had no attention, no kibbles of my own – so I threw myself into this frenzy of sorts.

    After BD I have managed to keep my Daughter’s quarter horse at a friends farm. He is fat and happy as an occasional trail mount/ lawn orniment.

    I still love horses. I would like to ride a bit more one day down the road, but I don’t feel that pull like I once did.

    In fact , I had the chance to date a guy with his own horses and farm and I actually realized that I am happier in the city where I live now.

    Back then I could have supplied a lot of good soil for those 80 rose bushes!!!

    On a side note my Mother had award winning roses and stunning gardens.
    Dad was selfish with his time , possibly a narc himself.

  • Wow. It seems to me all these supposed chumps were pretty great, smart, talented people. Much more interesting than the cheaters. I hope we can all find our creative, artistic, inspiring talents again. I had so many but like I said, my mojos gone.

  • TryingHard – stop that right now. Your MoJo will come back to you in spades. What we’ve learned after a year or 3 or 10 of deep pain, makes us much stronger. Suddenly, I feel a little better than yesterday. You will get there too, I promise you in SPADES.
    Life does get better. The vacuum they left gets filled with new people eventually. No vacuum lasts for long and you have much more support in this world, and CN that you even know. Keep your chin and mojo UP!

  • Yes, I did everything. Aside from always supporting him (not financially though) in his studies, career, and hobby goals, I was superwoman with everything else. Kids, house, yard, volunteer work, youth sports, 4-H, and then later, my job. (Nothing beats working with kids.) I read too as it took me away from my crap life with POS ex. I loved him for a long time. We had a great life together but there was always a nagging voice at the back of my skull. After Dday I could not read one novel but must have read a thousand self help books. Probably one a day. I stumbled upon Sudden Endings and then Stark’s Runaway Husbands. I discovered Hulu and then Netflix and curled up like the wounded animal I was for the two years it took him to drag us through court and watched whole series of shows. Damages, Mad Men, The Walton’s (my youngest were in their last years of high school and loved this show). I went to concerts, music I liked. I walked. I swam in my lake. My marriage, children, and home were what I prioritized but I now realize it takes two people present in a marriage to make it work. At about year 16, the year of our son’s accident, he was verbally abusive, devaluing, and spending lots of time away from home. He wasn’t even a good father. I was so busy spackling and eating…. I fucking didn’t know what was wrong with my marriage. I just kept trying to ask him! Lol. Early red flags. He dated any one. No discretion there. Had trouble with commitment. Went through an 800 number phase, and a visit to Nevada with his guy friends. All stuff I overlooked (it was the eighties!) Took him seven years to propose. Could not deal with life challenges (I did not have in laws as they both died while we were dating, should have fucking run then!)and took off when these occurred or was his usual disengaged self), saw women as objects… I was definitely not his type. He had no beliefs, was a bit like a chameleon, set him on one woman and he was that flavor of the week. It’s funny at some point in our marriage I stopped wearing my ring, and our sex life, while abundant, had that ICK factor. His performance became all consuming. He never supported me. In work. In pursuing school, or my hobbies. And I could not participate in his, as he really compartmentalized his life. Who the fuck doesn’t take their kids to the tennis club? Yes, looking back I would have been better off marrying the guy stupidly in love with me and not the stable aloof competitive Sparkly one. Oh, that shopping thing I had that too. That behavior apparently lined up with the last affair partner. Cheaters change our stories in so many ways. I love thrifting, always have, and had discovered this beautiful all wood Spanish Armoire hidden in our little town’s warehouse, 400 bucks and it was a steal. It was too much so I just kept returning to look at it whenever I was in town. When I went in next, it was sold, it wasn’t picked up by the due date though so I offered the store a hundred and they sold it to me. When I returned home for the truck, my ex was livid. I guess when your whore’s your priority nothing else matters and you certainly don’t want to waste money on your wife. I don’t for one minute regret our divorce but I sure as hell wished I’d never met him. My kids, all in their twenties, are really struggling now. They are trying to make sense of a man they thought they knew. I think they are old enough to look back and see WHAT he did, just as I now do. His crap behavior really impacted our lives. Chumps, All we can really do is move forward. Keep busy. Be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with kindred spirits, and have fun. Life is so much better without shit in it every day.

    • Oh I highly recommend taking art classes at the local junior college. When our lives turned upside down, my son and I took ceramics and that semester he made a bowl the professor loved while I made about twenty masks. Hmmmmmm, 😉 Cathartic to be sure and a great way to meet people.

      • Thanks for sharing your story, Drew. Boy, you really went through it, didn’t you? How interesting that you made masks in your art class. My cheater had a fascination with masks and had them up all over the house. Now that I’m out of the relationship, I see how truly prophetic that was.

        • My cheater had a fascination with Day of the Dead skulls. Actually, it was my hobby, and he ran with it and pretty soon we had skulls everywhere. It got creepy. Needlesstosay, I left the skulls behind.

  • If there is one good thing about being a chump, it’s being a chump that’s an artist, as the experience can provide a wealth of material! Since ridding my home of the stench of digested alcohol and cheap perfume, I have been inspired to work on a series of paintings, something I have wanted to do my entire life! More recently, I have begun working on a comic strip “adventures of dickhead” and can’t stop drawing comics. I’ve always been a fan of black comedy – and I am feeding this into the comics – yesterday I did three of them – my favorite is the one about the time he took my son to the home of the town nutcase and lush, to introduce him to her. it took my son (9 at the time) a year to tell me about it, and only after I threw out the dickhead, because my son didn’t want to hurt my feelings. So, I drew the woman, with three inches of gray roots growing out of her black hair, (she really looks like this) with a glass of wine in her hand and the look of disgust on my son’s face as the dickhead (drawn literally as a dick with a face on the head) says “this is your new mother.” This truly is black comedy as the actual event was not funny at all, my son tells me that he was so disgusted by what his father did and the disgusting woman that he ran out of her house and all the way home (over a mile away and with needing to cross very busy streets.) luckily, he did not get hit by a car, but he will always be scarred by the poor judgement of dickhead.

  • I read the Outlander series over and over the last couple years. I realized later I was imagining myself and ex as the characters (Claire & Jaime). I was escaping into another world. Like others I could not read for over a year after DDay, zero concentration. I think that’s when I became addicted to Advice Columnists. Wasn’t all bad, the addiction brought me to Captain Awkward, who taught me boundaries better than any therapist. And then to Chump Lady who validated my choices, supports us all in our new lives, and is a voice of reason (and humor) in opposition to the Reconciliation Industrial Complex.

  • An aquatic turtle. Its called a red-eared slider named Rocket. My ex and I bought it for my son years ago.

    My son never really took care of it so I thought it would be an interesting distraction to get my mind off of things so I took it over for him. I have learned a lot about turtles over the past two years, bought it a better pond, a top of the line filter, basking lights and even installed ceramic heaters to make sure she is comfortable and healthy. Feeder fish, wax-worms and shrimp and vegetables to improve her diet. I’ve bought 100 pounds of top of the line substrate on Amazon and a huge grow light. I’m researching now what type of aquatic plants I can grow in her pond.

    That turtle will probably outlive all of us!

      • I love these stories with crazy pets. I wanted a burro (small donkey) or mule for the longest time. Checked everywhere to get one. Oh how I longed to give the burro, “singing canaries of the desert”, a home.

        There are feral burros from miners (so the story goes) all over our desert in California. Their braying gave them the name, “singing canaries of the desert”.

        Fortunately, no one would give me one. I probably would have had a collection by now.

        They knew a nutter when saw one.

        • I wanted a burro (small donkey) or mule for the longest time.

          But CJ (who’s been thrice chumped), you ended up with three asses. I’d say that’s a collection.

          • HAa ha hah ahh LMAO, belly, roll on the ground, I can’t breathe funny, ha ha hah ah ha thanks KA.

            I woe you one.