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Dear Chump Lady, The Zoloft Isn’t Helping

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zoloftDear Chump Lady,

Approximately, five weeks ago, on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I learned that my husband of 19 years was having an emotional affair with a co-worker. (The OW is 21 years-old and in an open relationship with her fiancé.)

The EA began this past November and would have gone beyond sexting and kissing had she not put the brakes on it, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying on his part. He was trying to get her to commit to a hotel date, but his manic episodes at work were giving her pause.

My STBX and I had never had issues like this in the past. He was diagnosed with bipolar and NPD, but we mostly struggled with his manic episodes and his chronic job hopping; monogamy was never an issue before. We were best friends since I was 19. I stood by his side thoughout all his health issues including in our 20s when his apnea was so bad, it escalated to numerous instances of incontinence.

I know they were in the process of recalibrating his meds, but it was like November rolled around; he turned 40, and he just snapped. Prior to this, all of his friends would tell me how much he loved me/the kids, but this past November, he started acting erratic even when discussing our family with them and not wanting to spend any time with us.

In the sexts I found, he refers to me as a cockblock at times because apparently I was (unknowingly) interrupting their sexting on numerous occasions. He even stole our teenager’s Soft Kitty pins and gave them to her. (The OW didn’t know they belonged to my daughter.) He also told her he would leave us for her. He used the same pet names on her that held only specific meaning only for us.

The oddest part is that I gained a significant amount of weight from our dating years back when I was 117 pounds to weighing about 235 pounds a few years ago. But this past year, I managed to lose to 149 by clean eating. I even encouraged him to do the same and he lost 30 pounds. I’m probably looking the healthiest I have since we got married; I also got a second job, so he wouldn’t feel the pressure of providing for our family all on him, yet now is when he decides to cheat? He would also get so angry when people would compliment me. He’d ask why he wasn’t getting any compliments. Looking back, it must have been his NPD, but I just shrugged it off as insecurity at the time.

I only learned of the EA because I discovered his fake Facebook account with their sexts. Shell shocked, I instinctively contacted a friend of his from his work whom I knew would not lie to me to confirm the validity of these messages. Not only did this particular friend confirm my nightmare and was so disgusted by his lies, she went ahead and contacted the OW to let her know she had been lied to as well since my STBX had told her we were separated. The OW (who is only four years older than our daughter) immediately broke things off with him, wrote me a lengthy letter of apology and informed me that she was going to be filing a sexual harassment claim against him at work because he was essentially stalking her as she is a subordinate. She made good on her claims, but he was only given a slap on the wrist (extended probation) and they avoid each other like the plague these days. He blames her for everything that happened between them now in true NPD fashion.

That same week of D-Day, I was able to remain calm enough to obtain a lawyer. I got a separation agreement that gave me primary physical and legal custody of our two kids (17 year-old daughter and six year-old son). It also included a stipulation that stated he cannot introduce our minors to anyone of the opposite sex; I also set nothing in stone about visitation other than a statement than it must be mutually agreed upon. The lawyer recommended this because it would give me the advantage since I have primary custody. I also enrolled my kids and I in therapy that same week and we moved into my parents while I save up for a home. (Our old family home was a rental, so we don’t have many assets.) I separated our bank accounts. And for the first time in my life, I went on Zoloft because I don’t have the option to miss work or I will lose my jobs. (I’m an adjunct English instructor and an item bank writer.) I applied for life insurance and placed my mom as the beneficiary, so that my children will have some stability if I die, and I’m in the process of looking into a will.

I’m trying to keep NC as much as possible, but there are times we have talked such as this past Saturday for the division of the tax return where he spent the entire time pleading for reconciliation because of course (lack of CAKE).

I can’t believe this is my life now. I’m struggling in both my jobs. The Zoloft isn’t helping with this. I joined a church group for divorced parents that meets weekly; I’m attempting exercise again, but I can’t seem to concentrate. I have this indiscernible anxiety in the pit of my stomach all the time. I liken the experience to having this condition that feels like waking up every day battling a virus that has chronic flare-ups. How did you function? How did you work? How did your brain stop long enough for you to do that?

I keep thinking …
“WTF happened in November? Why’d he do this now? He just got a supervisor position. We were finally turning a corner as a family.”

Do the triggers ever end?! I invested so much if my identity in being a wife/mother/the family dream that I feel so lost.

Cass

Dear Cass,

The pain is finite. Yes, the triggers end, you learn to function, and life does return to a new kind of normal.

But that’s not what I wanted to say, Cass. What I want to say is: YOU DID ALL THAT IN FIVE WEEKS?

Seriously?! You lawyered up, you divided assets, you got your kids in therapy, you got on anti-depressants, you changed your life insurance, you’re changing your will, you moved in with your parents, you joined a church support group, and you exercise? AND YOU WORK TWO JOBS? And you HAVE THE KIDS? Did I forget something? Oh yeah, you lost nearly 100 pounds.

Please put the cape away, Super Cass. Gotham will live another day. I think you’re entitled to a breakdown, or at the very least an uninterrupted flop on the sofa.

I’m not a pharmacologist, but I don’t think they make anti-depressants strong enough for all the shit on your plate, okay? Zoloft isn’t doing it for you? Chemicals have limits, dear. (Of course if you have concerns about Zoloft’s efficacy talk to you doctor. Usually people have to cycle through a few anti-depressants to find one that fits.)

From where I sit, you’ve been carrying one hell of a burden propping Mr. NPD-Can’t-Keep-a-Job-Pees-His-Pants into respectable adulthood and you just laid that burden down. Yeah, it’s going to feel weird and disorienting. You’ve let go of the lead balloon. What possibly could fill his place?

I dunno. Sanity?

You can’t concentrate because IT’S BEEN 5 WEEKS. You’re still in shock, okay? Give yourself a break. Most of us are still babbling idiots at the 5 week mark. I know I was. How did I function? How did any of us? I had a kid to raise. I had deadlines. Nothing like 32 empty newspaper pages coming at you every week to fill. I somehow went into autopilot and I did it.

We do what we have to do. When in crisis, we rise to the occasion.

You’ve more than risen to the occasion, okay? Look Cass, now’s your time to take care of YOU. To grieve, to be kind to yourself, to surround yourself with loving support. Quit expecting perfection. Don’t even expect an attention span until at least a year. You’re going to slog through this shit like everyone else, until one day (it’s a Tuesday), you feel lighter. You’ll look back and go “OMG, that was my LIFE? I put up with that shit? I lived with that chaos?” and you’ll marvel.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2016 ? — “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, free at last.”

Keep being mighty, Cass. You’re doing just fine.

(Was looking for the Soul Stirrers version of Free At Last, but Paul Foster rocking this one out will do nicely.)

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Cass, I would only add — to the question why did he do it now? Why did he do it at all? That’s untangling the skein of fuckupedness. Fact is he did it. Just focus on you and what next. You know it was a deal breaker for you, and that’s what’s important here. Rebuilding.

    Most of us wonder if our exes are NPD or what flavor of fucked up they are. You had an actual diagnosis. He’s a narcissist, that’s why.

    • Cass I want to tell you that I admire you for having so much courage. You knew it was a deal breaker and you followed through in everyway. You did not take his worthless ass back. He does not deserve such a great person. You put up with so much throughout the years and never judged him but he would have left you at the first strumpet Young enough to be his daughter! Keep it up you are an inspiration!

      • “You put up with so much throughout the years and never judged him but he would have left you at the first strumpet Young enough to be his daughter!”

        Thank you for saying that … I needed to hear that today.

        • No problem Cass thinking of u and understand what u r going through it’s incredibly selfish to want to leave his relationship because he wants to feel 20 again. Very superficial and shallow. The guy sounds like a basket case u were his rock watch him unravel now

        • Cass, you’re awesome and mighty! Pat yourself on the back for realizing what this situation was and getting out quickly.

          Also, don’t feel bad about the meds. They aren’t working yet because SSRIs take about 6 weeks for you to start feeling the effects. After 2 months+, you should get a good feel of how they work for you.

    • “Why’d he do this now? He just got a supervisor position. We were finally turning a corner as a family.” Tracy, my deepest apologies for trying to untangle the skein of fuckupedness, but Cass needs closure.

      Here’s my take: Crazy people seek a constant level of drama and crazy because that’s what seems normal to them. I had an ex-gf years and years ago who had addiction issues and *just* as she’d start to get well she’d suddenly – out of the blue, it seemed – have some inexplicable setback that would put her back right where she started. I realize now she could no more deal with normal and calm and organized than I could deal with crazy and drama. It would feel as weird to her as the crazy felt to me. So when things were just about to get on track… he just couldn’t board that train to Normal Town.

      Maybe it makes me a copycat, but I second the praise for your five week miracle sprint back to a safer, saner plane of existence! That’s hauling some serious ass. I am BEYOND impressed. You are mighty and YOU ROCK. You’re a mama grizzly bear and I mean that in the best way possible!

      • “So when things were just about to get on track… he just couldn’t board that train to Normal Town.”

        Sometimes, I wonder about that … when I let my thoughts go there, I can’t help but think it was self-sabotage and that was his way out.

        • Cass, I agree. My EX’s dream was to live in a warm climate. He up and left to find a job 6 months ahead and was going to send money for our mortgage. Ten months later I lost my house to find he was shacking up. He couldn’t find a job because the do drug testing. He thought I was going to support his ass. Their magical thinking doesn’t include stepping up it is usually stepping out.

        • And nothing tweaks a narcissist faster than someone in their vicinity being strong, powerful, successful, and competent. Hard to watch kibbles go to anyone but themselves…

  • Free at last ,
    When it finally struck me after D’day that my battling to spakle over the cracks in my marriage was over I felt releived. Unfortunately the shock of his lies and the deptavity of is adultery left me feeling like someone had ripped open my chest cavity which made breathing difficult for about 6-8 months. As the pain eased my mind came into focus.
    Hugs to you Cass. It will get better.
    Look after you.

    • I could have written this! I felt exactly the same way…relief, but then waves of shock. Then the anger came and it has been empowering for me. The anger motivates me to be better, do better, and find meh as quickly as possible!

    • o yes. i remember the “Not. Being. Able. To. Breathe.” stage. it is beyond painful. literally have to tell myself, “Just Breathe”. then the “Ripping. Out. My. Heart.” and “Just. Let. Him. Go.” or the “Let. Her. Have. Him.” stages were the most painful thing i have ever had to go thru in my life. the devastation left behind as they walk away without a care is mind blowing and equal to a magnitude of 9.9 on richter scale (An earthquake with a magnitude greater than 9.0 is an extreme natural disaster and are very rare). a year later i am still picking up the broken pieces and clearing a pathway to move forward.

      • “the “Not. Being. Able. To. Breathe.” stage”
        Right after d-day – still in our vacation home I literally lost the ability to breathe normally. I thought a run in the woods would help, but I could only sprint until I had to inhale, puke and cry simultanuously. There were yoga classes… I got stuck in a pose, forgot to breathe, horrible experience. Only thing that worked was swimming, in breast stroke, forcing me to breathe with regular intervals.

        It’s impossible to explain to people, the physical hurt of having your heart ripped out. And I’m happy for those that do not know what that’s like (unfortunately you run across people who don’t even try to empathize and I’m sure my ex thinks I faked the whole utter-devastation-stage).

        • I was fortunate to have the summer off after DDay. I had to sleep over my daughters house on weekends because it was so painful to be in my house. Thankfully, I had her support and we went to the gym everyday. Dutch-Chump you are so right about others being incapable of understanding unless they have experienced this pain. Sometimes I feel guilty because the expectation is that I should be moving on by now. I started telling myself-you have your cars, a place to live, your retirement, a job, all the furnishings, the respect of your children and he has………a sleazy pig. Its probably silly but it makes me laugh and move on a little bit more.

          Today when I was shopping I found a journal that says, ‘She turned her cants into cans and her dreams into plans -kobi yamada.
          I decided to start planning for myself and writing in it every night to help me focus on my future.

        • Right there with you on the Not. Being. Able. To. Breathe. Stage. I still have my moments more than five and a half years later, moments of sheer panic where I freeze. The agony has never really dissipated for me much.

          Cass, you are a legend. Utter legend! And I know you and your kids are going to thrive. Do you have any leave owing at either job? Some bereavement breathing space?

          I admit I felt fairly strong and capable in the beginning, I was dying, but knew the ropes, it got harder and harder as the heartache never left. I function. I am employed and full time at uni. But there is not once ounce of joy in my life anymore, just functioning for my family, and pretending-like-fuck that I’m okay. No drugs, no therapy can fix broken, you can learn better ways of pretending, but you can’t fix it really. I used to get really annoyed when they played with medications, telling them I was not depressed, just grief stricken. Don’t think they have a pill for that! I know I will never be fully okay again. Functional, operational, yep. But joyful, thrilled with life. Nope. Que sera….

          • Four years out, I completely understand. I am not sad, not depressed, but I will never regain a certain happiness, a certain joy. Something was lost that can never be regained. It is as if I have lost a limb. I keep thinking it is there, only to realize it will never return. I have made a conscious decision to move forward in my life and I would never to back to my old life, but many times I feel as if I am sleepwalking through life. I am so thankful for my work and my kids, but I still mourn the loss of the person I was. I can forgive alot, but not that…

            • Violet, yes, my whole life changed too and sometimes what hurts most is the damage it has done to my family. What a legacy to leave your children….

            • Horsesrcumin, Violet, I too feel functional, operational and unable to regain that joy I once had in my life. It has been ten months. I spent three months crying and not eating. I went through and continue to get help from a therapist and took meds. No, there is no medication to help with the pain or to make one feel whole again. I struggle to find that happy, confident, independent woman I used to know. The truth is that at some point people in our lives just don’t want to hear it anymore. The effects of being disregarded and abused stay with us I am sure of that. The feeling I have many times is that I am the walking dead. I go through the motions of trying to be whole again. When I finally realized I spent my entire life forgiving an asshole and I finally found a therapist that helped me see that I was abused for my entire relationship I was devastated. My role in this was that I never gave him consequences for his actions and was a selfless, loving person. I had to look at my FOO and see how I developed this pattern. My mother spent her entire life with a narcissist who abused her daily. My grandmothers dying words were, “Take care of your mother”. I became a caretaker in fifth grade. How fucked up is that? The point is that I could never help this beautiful, loving, selfless woman who lived a horrible life. She died in my arms in February. I wear her ring to remind myself daily that I WILL change this pattern. She is my guiding light. Within months I lost both my husband and mother, the two most important people in my life. I was told that I have Stockholm Syndrome. Yuck! On top of all this other shit here I am struggling with the knowledge that this is something I will have to work on for the rest of my life. I am determined to put all that caretaking and forgiveness I used to give to others so freely into Donna. I have learned to set boundaries, say no, and to part company with my narcissistic EX, father, and brothers. I train myself to think not about what he didn’t appreciate, rather what I do appreciate. I look for people who inspire me as role models and I recognize I cannot FIX disturbed people. I once wrote a poem in the 80’s and part of it was- “In search for all that is wanted, my thoughts did not oversee, the spiteful chains of my destiny”. I was told in August, that he took my soul. I will fight every moment of my life to get it back and be truly free. I will do this for myself, my beautiful mom, and my lovely daughters, and granddaughter.

              • It’s hard to face how much they took from us; I was pondering tonight just how long it has been since I felt real joy. Three years – since he first began to devalue me. And then I discovered why in May of 2013.

                I hear what you’re saying.

                I have found a lot of help through my EMDR therapy. You really were traumatized, losing your mother and then your husband and any sense of normalcy. I’m so sorry. Have you had any PTSD therapy?

                Sometimes I drive around with “You Took My Joy (I Want It Back)” by Lucinda Williams on my car stereo, hitting replay over and over until I feel a bit better. Sometimes I pray. All and all, we can’t give up trying to regain it. That would be relinquishing too much.

                I saw a photo today from a few years ago, where he had just said something really hilarious, and I had thrown my head back in abandoned laughter. I don’t think that version of me will ever return, but I really hope to progress way beyond how I feel now.

                Hugs ~

                FR

              • Donna, I’m sorry, I just reread and realized that you lost your husband and then your mother. I’m so sorry. I think it’s beautiful that you wear her ring to remind yourself to break the chain. You will, and your daughters will take note and apply the lesson to their lives, and your granddaughter will benefit enormously. That’s a beautiful purpose.

                My condolences.

                FR

      • The “Not. Being. Able. To. Breathe.” stage was the worst time of my life. Worse than losing loved ones to death. Worse than watching while my mother got a horrible diagnosis. Worse than facing a potential cancer diagnosis.

        Cass, all I can tell you is you have done everything you needed to do to save yourself and your kids. That adrenaline rush that pushed you through the first 5 weeks is just wearing off. Once I broke my arm in a sports accident. I felt OK and decided to drive myself to the hospital, which was about 5 miles away. I got within a block or two of the hospital and my body started going into shock. When I got to the emergency room, I was in shock and started to pass out. My point is that every part of you–mind, emotions (heart) and body–has undergone a traumatic injury. And you got up during that injury and did the equivalent of lifting a car off another victim. Now that you’ve done all you can do to save and protect yourself and your kids, you’ve gone into the shock stage that comes after trauma. There all kinds of symptoms–big weight loss, inability to sleep, inability to sleep in bed (hello sofa! hello “Law and Order” reruns all night!), crying every time you don’t have to keep up the facade of “normal,” your brain running full tilt like a hamster on a wheel, terrific pain in the chest as if your actual heart was literally breaking. And so on. There are threads here on the CL blog describing many chumps’ individual struggles with this stage, as well as the many ways we worked to get through it. But that’s the most important thing to know: go all the way through the pain. Try not to medicate with drugs (other than those your doctor or therapist might suggest to help you through early days or to deal with structural depression or anxiety). I mean–don’t numb out with twinkles or wine or (even worse) a rebound relationship. This pain is so terrible that you don’t want stuff it down and have it come back some point in the future when you get triggered by some other experience. The thing I held onto and still work on every day is my decision to build a great big happy life for myself, to love the people who matter in my life, and not to allow a hollow, narcissistic Jackass to rob me of my happiness.

        • “The thing I held onto and still work on every day is my decision to build a great big happy life for myself, to love the people who matter in my life, and not to allow a hollow, narcissistic Jackass to rob me of my happiness.”

          I’m writing this down. Thanks.

  • Cass,
    I did exactly what you did. I found out my Ex of 30 years was having an ongoing long distance (emotional and physical) affair with an old classmate for three years. I sprang into action. Lawyered up, rented my own place, divided (took) half the assets, bought all new furniture and left his ass without saying a word. I did so much in such a small amount of time I did not have time to think. When the dust cleared, I felt as you do, confused and kinda lost. I got a therapist at that point because I knew I had done all I could on my own. One thing I had to learn, it is okay to ask for help.
    Let me say this, you are very strong and amazing and know that each day will get better. I was separated the mandated year that my state requires and my divorce was final in November. I have adult boys so the NC really helped me but I know that is not an option for you. Just put one foot in front of the other and “this too shall pass”. CL is right, one day you will just wake up and things will be lighter and brighter. I wish you the best on your journey. It is not easy, but worth it and you deserve the best.

    Mamaooch

    • Every time I hear about a government mandating a wait period for a divorce, my blood boils. It’s no business of anyone else’s whether I get a divorce or not, bar maybe my children’s. And they frankly don’t get a say.
      Ugh!

      • Yes, Miss Sunshine, that year of waiting was quite frustrating but rewarding. I spent the year looking for and buying a house along with a lot of travel. My boys all live in different parts of the state and we all made it a point to visit each other often. They were such awesome support. I spent that year getting my act together.
        NC has another little thing called alienation of affection of which the OW (married with 3 kids) can be sued. I did not go that route (lawyer said I had great proof for a case) but the EX did see it as a possibility so he signed the separation agreement without contest.

  • Same thing here. Wife of 12 years (we were together 16 years) and mother of 2 children sits down and calmly tells me she no longer loves me, has been ‘living a lie’ for the last 18 months and also met a guy (she knew him for 5 days on a school trip) and slept with him in a hotel. Lived with me for 4 months (all the time texting and sexting this guy) until she left. I have gone NC (apart from dealing with child issues). However 6 months down the line I still have bad days and that feeling (chest cavity from Thankful) is still very real. Just looking to divorce asap and move on but the worst anchors are the memories. The holidays we took, the events we attended etc all leak back and put a break on my recovery. In addition, the emails and txts between them clearly show that 16 years together meant nothing to her. All thrown away for somebody she barely knows. However, I have made a decision to move on and NEVER engage in any conversation with her apart from children and finances. I just think that it is all so unfair and sad.

    • brendan53: I agree that the memories of vacations and events are SO difficult. It’s the damnedest thing; when I think of going someplace we used to go (that I like, independent of my loser XBF), I start to feel like I’ll be physically sick. I have to fight very hard to calm myself and let the feeling pass. I hope that reaction goes away eventually, so I can go to those places again and make some new memories.

      • Me too. It’s crushing. My most favorite place in the world is now lost to me. I can’t even have that. The list is endless. I have so many triggers I fear becoming agoraphobic.

        • Me too, I lost the beach near the lighthouse in Rhode island after seeing the pictures she posted on Facebook of her and my husband there, SAD and MAD!

          • It’s funny how the OW thinks she is so special and he takes them to the same places. My EX told me that whenever he goes places with her he thinks of me. Are these OW really that stupid to think they are ‘special’. He has taken many OW to the same places. Next……Funny simple people who kid themselves. He told me what he likes the most about his latest is how ‘easy’ it was to get her to sleep with him. Next… They kid themselves to think he loves them. My EX loves the beach, always there when the OW is working. Prowling. I am so grateful his latest has no clue he has someone to replace her at a moments notice. She has no clue he is calling other women and telling his children how fucked up she is with her disturbed son and weird black hat. He said she didn’t need to try hard to look like a gothic witch at a party. At first it bothered me that he left me for someone ugly, his reply, “I know she’s ugly, I just need sex”. Yes, she took the good guy, narcissist, serial cheating, porn addicted, alcoholic, drug addicted loser off my hands. I am so glad I never have to sit on a beach with him while he looks at young girls through his dark sunglasses.

        • I took my favourite places back. At first it was really hard to go to some places but finally I grabbed the kids and went and made new memories. We also found a few places that are ‘ours’ that we have gone back to several times and now the ex is quite bitter about this.

          • Absolutely. No chump should give up anyplace forever. It doesn’t mean you have to go there TODAY, but don’t mentally write them off. Give yourself time, but start setting the mental placeholder in your mind to say, “One day, I WILL take that place back!” Once you start formulating it in your mind, like elite athletes, when you eventually go back to that once loved place, it won’t be as bad, because you’ve already been formulating that in your mind.

            • I absolutely agree, Chris! Never give up someplace (or something) you love for a cheater!

              My cheater has a vacation home in a place I absolutely fell in love with. He stalked me from afar for a year after I dumped him (the minute I had proof). He would even travel to my town to stake out my house, ring my doorbell and leave crap on my front doorstep. It was very unnerving.

              I’ve since remarried, and of all the ironies in the world, my new husband has a young son within 15 minutes of my cheater ex’s vacation home, so we are moving there. You better believe I will walk that stretch of beach, I will eat in all the great restaurants, I will go to all the quirky street festivals. I will not seek him out, but you better believe I am not going to let that idiot keep me from enjoying a place I love.

              • “In addition, the emails and txts between them clearly show that 16 years together meant nothing to her. All thrown away for somebody she barely knows. However, I have made a decision to move on and NEVER engage in any conversation with her apart from children and finances. I just think that it is all so unfair and sad.”

                YES. Because (as Tracy said in an earlier post) we know were the Barbies are buried.

          • There’s a great thread from back in the fall (I think) about how we took back places that mattered to us. I’ve been to “our” movie theater, places where we used to eat, places to which we traveled…I bought the muscle car we had talked about and have a great time driving it…I keep my clothes in the dresser he painted. He’s a dick. A colossal dick. He lied, cheated, gaslighted and had the arrogance to smirk at me in my own bedroom. He stole my money. He broke every promise. He broke my heart into a million pieces and then dragged it for weeks behind his truck. So he get nothing more. Nothing. Not one damn thing that matters to me.

            If you think about it, probably the real drive and energy behind the things we loved from that part of our lives came from us anyway, because cheaters are never plugged in the way we are. They are a bunch of hollowed-out hyenas, masquerading as full human beings. That trip to the beach that was so meaningful to you? Probably just a memory of some kibbles for the narcissist X. Because life is all about kibbles and cake for them. So take those memories back. I’m getting to the point where I can’t remember any of the great feelings I had for Jackass–when I think about something we did together, I think about what I liked about that and realize I can have that same feeling alone! Or with a friend! And perhaps someday with a kind man who won’t pick up his dead buddy’s married sister at the memorial service.

            • “If you think about it, probably the real drive and energy behind the things we loved from that part of our lives came from us anyway, because cheaters are never plugged in the way we are.”

              This is spot on!!

              • LovedaJackass and Vermillion, I hadn’t really thought of it that way before. I think it must be true.

                Every thoughtful thing he ever did for me, all of our special places – he was big on things like “our bench” overlooking the Sound, our benches in other places. We had our little traditions like cider and apple donuts from a certain little country orchard, then coffee from the country store nearby, which we’d then make into a tail gate picnic at our picnic spot down a winding road, an old inn in the Berkshires and a wonderful hotel Rockport, which he took me to twice in 2011, and told me, “This is going to be our most special place, that we return to every year until we die” (two months before he started flirting with her online), even just little places where we used to sit by the river to talk and dream…..

                I cherished every one SO much…I thought he did, too, for years and years. I spent my childhood and much of my adulthood moving. It was wonderful to have special traditions and “secret” places that belonged to us.

                How it shocked and seared my heart to find all of the photos he took of her, standing at the sea wall, at the square, on the boat, in our both at Pepe’s, in front of the little shop where we had the funny encounter, where we always returned and relived the memory, etc.

                And the receipts from the hotels where the staff knew us! The waitress at breakfast that we always looked forward to seeing…and the receipts from that aforementioned hotel at Rockport, our “most special place”. Well, I will die before I return there to view the scene of their romantic interlude.

                I asked him if he’d taken her to our bench at the Sound, and he said indignantly, “Of course not! I’ve done a lot of bad things to you, but I never did that. And I wouldn’t!”

                Then I found the email summing up one of their rendezvous: “We got a lot done that we had planned to do. There never seems to be enough time, though, does there? At least we worked in time for a meal at such and such and such and etc (all of our favorite local spots). I really do regret that we never managed to get to the bench overlooking the Sound, though. But I guess we can’t do everything, unless we spend less time in bed, which will NEVER happen! Heh heh!”

                I would like to think that I could take back all of these places, but I don’t see it happening. Simply too painful. And the mountain of old memories – ripped out of my heart and mind and presented to her. I have an image in my mind of him grabbing them from me and falling all over himself racing toward her.

                At this point, I realize that I was never the only girl he created many of those memories with, even before she came along. I imbued everything with so much deep significance because I am an appreciator to such an extreme degree.

                When I was a kid and constantly uprooted, I went back to visit my best friend in one of my homes, and we took a walk to a shop we used to go to when we were younger, and bought popsicles for old time’s sake. On the way back across the overpass, she grabbed the stick from me and tossed it onto the highway below.

                “I’m trying to save you from yourself,” she laughed. You were going to take that home and write “Walk to the Dairy Bar with Janey – July 27th, 1969” and then put it in your trinket box for safekeeping.

                She was right.

                I have returned to two of those places he ruined for me, but I couldn’t eat my food.

                I guess I should try it with someone nice for company. Sometimes I’mto really tired of all of the uphill work just to try to get back to normal.

                My therapy IS helping, and especially reading here. But this afternoon I guess I’m having a little set back.

                I sure do applaud those of you who are finding ways to regain your holidays and traditions. And to those who, like me, aren’t there yet, I hope we will get there in time, too.
                The fiestiness and pluck of so many here in CL really encourages me. Those qualities were always dominant in me and I will bring them back.

                Love to all on a very snowy afternoon.

                FR

      • SixYearChump, if it helps at all, though I’ve never been back to my honeymoon destination, I have been to several places where X and I vacationed or gone to events/done things we used to do since the divorce and had a good time. I started editing him out of the book of memory, so when I talk about past vacations to friends, its, “That trip where I went hiking.” He was there. Or, if the kids were there, “Oh, yeah, I took the kids to Vacation Destination, we did X, Y, Z, they had a good time!” He was there too. But the more I talk about it like he wasn’t, the more I focus on the memory of the things that I did, or that the kids and I did. It’s not like I’ve erased it from my mind that he was there and was a pain in the ass the entire time, look I just called up THAT memory, LOL, but I’ve refocused the place or the event to better memories.

        • that is how i deal with it too. because we went a lot of places and my kids remember going. so when i talk about it, i only talk about the things the kids and i did. But yes sad little boyman went with us and usually acted like an a$$. we still managed to have a good time even thou he was always complaining about something or just trying to make everyone miserable. by just not focusing on him when he was there or not focusing on his B$. so it is nothing new now to pretend he wasnt there at all.

          • Thanks mrsvain and Kira for the reminder that vacationing with stbx was awful. He always made at least one day completely miserable – outburst followed by silent treatment as a result of some perceived slight or minor comment. Then I spent the rest of the trip on pins and needles. I remember when we took the kids to Disney World, he walked in, looked around, and said “is there anything here for me?”

            • What is it with these nut jobs. EVERY.SINGLE.VACATION started with some sort of eruption from him. It was devastating. I ended up not going on any vacation with him, just took the kids, because who needs that shit.

              • OMG THANK YOU ringing my own bell!! I quit going on vacations with my ex for the very same reason!! He was a total ass on vacation. I used to think it was his mental illness (bipolar) that erupted on vacation because he was out of his schedule. You know, like a toddler gets when they don’t get enough sleep. He used that as something to justify what I bitch I was to his friends. He used to rant all the time about how selfish I was to take the kids and go on vacation without him. He never mentioned how his behavior necessitated him being left out though. Looking back, I wondered if he did it on purpose because he used the time I was gone with the kids to hook up with his mistresses. He had the best of both worlds! He got rid of me so he could hook up with nasty hoes AND he got to blame me for it!

              • I have this awesome picture from our last beach vacation. We go with my entire family, so their are 20+ people in the picture. Sunset in the background. We all jumped, pumping our fists in the air, everyone smiling and screaming, so happy. And there is STBX, standing on the side with his hands in his pockets, no smile on his face. You actually have to try hard to be unhappy in that setting, but he did it!

            • One trip we took was to a wedding at a dude ranch. I asked cheater to watch our your son so I could do something, since I had done all the caregiving up to that point. His reply, “You’re ruining my vacation.” What an asshole. Everything was always about him.

        • Brilliant!! “editing him out of the book of memory”. Must try this. I have also started to refer to place I went with the children not WE

    • Brendan53, this was my experience and continues to be my experience as well. My STBX had an affair with a coworker who is married with children that began before we were married. He basically lived a double life, calling her his wife in public, buying her a ring, while I assumed we were happy with our three children. My d-day was our anniversary when the OW sent me screen shots of all his sexting, emails about how much he hated me, and lots and lots of colorful photos of their life together. Basically, my whole marriage with him was a lie. There is no photo from our time together that does not send pangs of sorrow through me. Even if you throw stuff away, the images are burned into your psyche. Two things I tell myeslf when I am reeling in this disbelief and sense of betrayal: 1) better that I know now and 2) time to make new memories.

      You are on your way to healing!

      • I do believe that getting rid of photos, gifts etc is extremely important in the recovery process. There was a very expensive set of photos taken of all of us. I threw away the one with the 4 of us on and kept those with just the kids on. The wall is a bit empty now but I have made a conscious decision to take a photograph of the 3 of us (me and my 2 children) and put that on the wall. It is not to upset her (I bought her out of the family home – I have still have a family but there are 3 of us now not 4) because I do not allow her in the MY house. As has often been said on this site – do NOT look back ONLY forward. She is part of my past not my future.

    • Brendan53,
      Yes – the memories are truly anchors – but in every sense of the word. They do weigh a chump down when trying to move on and get past the fact that our spouse devalued every single one of them. You never know what was “real” and what was “being chumped?” My ex and I loved to travel – it was a shared interest that I thought was just between us. Finding out about the OW and an affair that was four years running, beginning in 2006, made me essentially throw out every memory of us together after that date. Goodbye, Williamsburg, goodbye, Florida and Disney World for two weeks and the the beachfront two weeks in 2009 that turned out to be our last vacation together. Goodbye to upstate New York. Goodbye to every holiday in those years.

      But then I realized that my elephant like memory allowed me to start viewing these anchors another way – as rooting me in reality instead of whatever blind fantasy I was living with him. I started to remember that every vacation during that double life period was marred by at least one big blowout fight between us. That I had questioned without knowing why he was on the cell phone SO much and not enjoying just being with us. Why he had to go over to the NEA convention in Orlando when we were in Disney World and trying to get AWAY from work – not run towards it. And I started to realize that I’d been sensing everything that was wrong about him even then. My brain still functioned in spite of my heart’s huge chumpability. My reality WAS reality – not just sunny memories of laughter and holding hands and being so happy to be together with our beautiful children while he was planning his next step out to call his whore. It was his storyline that was false as hell.

      I’d been true and honest and trusting – and that’s what those memories anchored me to – reality and love and decency and my children. Yes – I was chumped, but my douchy ex is the one who is anchored to memories that will turn caustic long term. My daughters said that – when he tried to press the case to accept his whore (now wife number 3) – he told them that “All I do is sit and talk to her about all the great things we used to do together and the wonderful times we had as a family.” Tell me – how twisted a fuck is he if THAT’S what he does in his new life? And how insecure is she that she lets him? He’s trying to recapture the past he threw away by incorporating it into his new relationship. There is no reality in that scenario.

      So the anchors and all his choices have cost him are rusting all around him and will eventually poison him. I think that’s appropriate. I still find memories hard, at times – because I was so happy for 25 years. But as long as I cling to the fact that my life is real, that my relationships are good and honest and that I was not in the wrong in his destructive actions – I can live with them and hoist them along with me as I move on into this new future of mine. And you will too – guaranteed.

      • I’ve always had a crap memory, which is why I’ve always kept pictures to trigger my memories of good times. Thanking my lucky stars for this now, I just put all those pictures away where I never look, and all the pain subsides dramatically. I’ve got new pictures now.

  • The issue, among many, that jumped out at me is that he is bipolar. Just as your medication is not working his may not be as well. My daughter has a neighbor and during her manic stages she travels. The problem is no one knows where she is. This might be the cause of some of his behavior.
    What you are finding is that giant hole in you that used to be filled with being his mother. Unless your description is off that is exactly the role you were assigned early in your marriage. Well, Mom, you put down your burden and now don’t know what to do with yourself. I say take a deep breath. Thank goodness for your parents. Be the mom to your real kids and the daughter to your parents. One foot in front of the other while you grieve because you will. These Chumps are the best therapists you will ever communicate with.
    The very best of luck to you.

  • Cass, you are amazing! It has only been 5 weeks and you have totally got your shit together! THe anxiety DOES go away. I agree with what CL said–you may have to try a few different ones before you find one that is right for you. I do not have personal experience with those types of meds. Just know that you did the right thing. KNow that there are better things lying ahead. YOu have a 17-year old? She is basically grown for all intents and purposes so make sure she helps you with the 6-year old or whatever chores you need help with. I swear, it gets better. Whatever you do, don’t stop working out! And use some thought-stopping techniques when those pesky repetitive thoughts come your way.

  • Reading Tracy’s response and all of your comments made me burst into happy tears this morning — as if I have found my tribe! Like I told Tracy, her site is saving me hourly and reading everyone’s kind words is a huge balm to me during a time where every last bit of me feels like part of a festering wound, so you guys are the ones who are mighty in my eyes. Thank you. Thank YOU all so much. (And yes, his therapist used to tell him all the time that it was not my job to reparent him; he then stopped going to her because he claimed that I had somehow turned her against him. This is also the excuse he used to validate his reasoning behind playing fast and loose with his meds during that time.) The temptation to continue trying to untangle the skein of fuckedupness is intense, but I do realize that it’s ultimately futile.

    • I am jealous of how much you have accomplished in such a short time. I think you are where I was at about 9 months after D-day. You are obviously an amazing woman and reading how you are already making a plan for buying a house when most of us were still losing focus while tieing our shoes is phenomenal! Keep up the great work, you are headed in the right direction

    • You have done amazingly well! I think a fellow chump posted this before, you might ask your doctor to give you a test to help to determine the best depression medication, see: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/two-takes-depression/201407/genetic-testing-better-depression-treatment

      It helped me to stop untangling when I realized that I had enabled my ex to avoid treatment by taking care of him. Mental illness like all other medical conditions requires the person to manage their own health. Also, I spoke to my ex’ therapist once and he told me he couldn’t see her anymore because now he couldn’t trust the therapist. BPD paranoia… Ask your therapist for methods to stop obsessive thoughts, mine gave me one that really helped lock the thoughts away until I was ready to deal with them.

      Jedi Hugs and it will get better!

  • Cass, if you haven’t already, read CL’s book. I saw so much of myself in there, the spackeling, the pick me dancing, the Unicorn (failed reconciliation). Whatever you do, don’t take him back! I did and had to start all over six months later. You have moved so far along in a very short time, don’t look back! Run…
    All the best to you and your children! Stay Strong!

  • Everyone is right Cass, you are WAY ahead in your game…awesome. One simple saying that I read over and over from fellow chumps and Tracy is…
    “Trust that they SUCK! ” It really is that simple, and they do. Welcome to Chump Nation, you will find an invaluable amount of support and shared/similar experiences.

    Be fierce! You’ve got this 😉

  • Cass,

    CL is right. Cut yourself some slack. You are only five weeks removed from this. I remember that period as a time where I had to consciously remind myself to eat (my response to shock is to stop). You’ve done great and are doing great! Glad to hear you found a group at your church, and I hope you are finding it supportive. I did DivorceCare through my church for two cycles (during and after the divorce from Ms.. Cheaterpants). Just having people who lived this stuff and hearing the educational pieces helped tremendously.

    Blessings,
    DM

  • Cass, I am so impressed with how you were able to protect yourself and children in such a short time. I too supported my NPD EX in every way imaginable. My bed wetter blamed me for not being able to have and orgasm. He was addicted to porn. His cycles became predictable. In the spring he went shopping and started dating women and told them we were separated. You put yourself in a position to live a better life and did all the right things. I would suggest getting tested for STD’s as a precaution. Your life is difficult now but it is so much better when you have NC and take care of yourself.

  • Wow! It took me 5 weeks with no sleep and barely eating just to decide I had to get divorced! You are mighty indeed!

  • Cass, you did a lot in 5 weeks. It’s ok to feel like falling apart. We have all felt that way upon discovering out spouses cheated.
    Just stay the course you are on. Focus on you and your children.
    Our cheaters will never really understand or realize exactly how destructive and devastating their actions have been.
    You will be better off without him.

  • Cass… Give your self a pat on the back you are on the fast track outa Chumpville! Now you are waiting for the shoe to drop… Thats where the anxiety kicks in. You did your mental check list… Aligned your ducks… Now what? The Doldrums. That bleak period where everything stands still and you wait for the next storm. Just batten down the hatches…. Make ready the sails… You rode out one storm… You have been there. You are now the captain of your own ship. Sail on. Leave Mr. Sexual Harassment for shark bait. Lets see how well and fast he can swim with out you.
    I caution you about the medication. While effective for most some just cause more side effects. Keep talking and reading. You dont need to be mighty everyday. Allow your self to grieve.

  • Thank you, everyone!! It feels good to know I’m not alone. I’m gaining strength just from reading your stories, and Tracy, that song made me chuckle. (I’ve also been repeatedly checking out Madea’s Let it Go since you linked that in an earlier post.)

    Yes, I did get STD tested, and thankfully the results were clear. I was petrified until I received the results because I got a Mirena implant back in October, so we had stopped using condoms during that entire three month spree.

  • Cass,

    You’ve done an amazing job. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back and catch your breath. And try to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. A year to get your concentration back is about right. Sleeping well all through the night might take a couple of years, or more. Finances could take 5 years, or 10.

    That’s. O. K.

    You’re moving in the right direction. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Wishing you strength for the journey!

    • I’m into 18 months (counting the gaslighting and discard phase prior to DDay) and still don’t sleep through the night.

  • Cass — You will come through this just fine and as CL says some Tuesday in the future you’ll find yourself singing and laughing and thinking to yourself that are enjoying life again! You are mighty and have done wonderous things in 5 weeks. I know when I was at that stage all I did was cry. I too went on medication because I had to be able to function at work without crying. Trust me, my STBX always seemed to know when I was low because I’d get a text from him and the hairs on my neck would stand up and I’d silently cry at my desk. Nowadays, as we are finalizing the divorce, seeing him does nothing to me. I pity him. He’s lost his rock and his family and for what… “true love”? Focus on your kids and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Trust your faith and the love of your family and friends.

  • Seriously, you’re the biggest badass this side of Daryl Dixon having a baby with Melinda May. Give yourself a break, sweetheart. Being that awesome has to be freaking exhausting.

  • Cass,
    I’m joining in on the cheerleading; you’re a freaking rock star!

    At 5 weeks I was a puddle on the floor going through an identity crisis and hopeless was a constant state of mind. I damn near couldn’t make it through the filing for child & spousal support without throwing up.

    You are mighty!

    I might suggest Cymbalta, btw. I did a low dosage for 2 months, I’m very sensitive to medication, but it was the right fit for me. It was highly recommended by other females in my position.

    • Cass, I’m going on two years since the first dday and still haven’t accomplished what you accomplished in 5 weeks. Amazing. Your are my hero!

      I don’t even want to admit to chumps in chump nation on an [anonymous] forum that i have taken this long in my journey, but it is the truth.

      I probably need some amphetamines, cocaine, red bull and adrenaline injections.

      Cass is my inspiration!

  • I just wanted to chime in and echo my fellow Chumps – you are utterly amazing Cass! To be fair, you must have had to have the amazing gene to survive 19 years with someone diagnosed with BPD and NPD. That must have taken some fortitude!

    Like Tracy said, many of us have wondered if our exes are NPD (I know I certainly believe ‘The Great I Am’ is – with bells on) – but you are ‘lucky’ enough to actually know he is. That piece of information would have saved me months and months of ‘untangling the skein’ and questioning myself and my own perceptions – over and over and over again. What a waste of time and emotional energy that was – but, you know us Chumps – we like to try to be fair and evenhanded whenever we can – so, much like I searched for proof that the affair had actually happened, and to what extent, I searched and searched for explanations for why he turned out to be such an utter, utter bastard. If I’d have had a diagnosis for him it would helped me get to the ‘it’s not me, it’s him’ stage, so much quicker!

    I wish you peace and a speedy recovery. You are MIGHTY 😀

  • Hi Cass. Your story is a l little like mine, including trying to manage my husbands mental illness for 20 + years. I just want to say that that you sound like you need some down time. When everything is first exposed, and you are in a constant state of reaction, there’s no way to process your own emotions properly. I had a great therapist who really emphasized radical self-care. Quiet time for yoga, massage, pedicure, a hobby, or just crying if you need to was not something I was used to. When I started coming out of crisis mode, I was less stressed, but every emotion I’d pushed aside wanted to come up. Maybe you could take a long weekend to just focus on you and pampering yourself a little? It felt really weird to me at first, but I see the benefits now.

    Like everyone else has said, you are doing so well. Super Cass indeed. Just be Cass for a while! Good luck.

    • DoneNow, “Radical self care” is what I did, and encouraged my children to do every day after our old world fell apart. It’s a valuable lesson…. We all still mindfully work on ourselves daily because “you will always be your own greatest support and advocate.”

  • Cass, add me to the choir of people singing the praises of your mightiness. I’m seven months post-D-day and I’m still on anti-anxiety meds (Lyrica, which works really well for me). Sending karmic hugs.

  • Cass; figuring it out is the worst possible waste of your time. Before CL & CN, I did this for a couple of years because I wanted so badly to forgive and move on even though knowing simultaneously that cheating was a deal breaker for me. You will never figure it out, and this rumination is what makes it so hard to function, work, etc. I know you will do it for awhile, but give it all you’ve got to put that part behind you & turn to the future.

    You are doing great, much better than I did. Your life in the future will have a new level of sanity. Life with a BP and NPD has not much hope of that. Some people are self destructive and ruin their lives at the juncture where they are just getting it together. That is what my cheating X said, “I can’t believe I would ruin everything I have for sex, it just makes no sense.” But once trust is gone, there is very little to build upon. Don’t look back & congrats on your quickly traveled journey towards a much better life!!this

    If only I discovered this blog sooner. I am sure I would have seen the “light” a lot earlier, but am so glad I finally did!! There is so much wisdom here. Best of all to you and your kids.

    • “I can’t believe I would ruin everything I have for sex, it just makes no sense.” <–This. It appears that your ex had a brief moment of clarity with this statement. Because WHO, in their right mind, blows up all that is good in their life to get their rocks off? I have to wonder if eventually these f-idiots all reach this conclusion, or if only an enlightened few. Like you stated though, trying to figure it out is a waste of time.

      Mine ran away, far far away, and blew up our 24 year marriage and family for a ho-worker 24 years younger than him. Yeah, she could be our daughter. He drank the kool-aid and bought into his porn addiction. Time will tell how that works out; I hope it all implodes on him. My youngest hasn't had anything to do with his father in almost a year-and-a-half. So glad that he and Tinkerbell ran off to Never-Neverland.

      • “Because WHO, in their right mind, blows up all that is good in their life to get their rocks off?”

        ^^^THIS^^^

        Actually all of it, very well said Bye Bye Asshat, awesome name choice as previously stated 🙂

      • Who in their right mind blows up all that is good in their life to get their rocks off? Pathetic serial cheating Narcs I would imagine. It’s like saying I know what your thinking so I will avoid giving you an answer, rather pose the question to fuck with you further. Assholes.

    • that is kinda of what i was going to say.

      1. you will probably never find out the “why he did it”. most like HE doesnt even know why.

      2. even if HE did know why and told you verbatim, you STILL couldnt forget it. it will ALWAYS be on your mind, every single day just like it is now. so in essence you would still be feeling and thinking the same way even if you knew WHY he did what he did.

      “Some people are self destructive and ruin their lives……” PERIOD. nothing you could’ve, should’ve or would’ve done differently would change the fact that he blew up your marriage, your family and your faith in him.

      i struggled with this WaaaAAAAaaaayyyy longer then i should have but you have to struggle with this on some form so you can move past it. why did he do it? because he could! because he thought you wouldnt find out! because he thought that even if you found out you wouldnt leave!

      no matter what the “WHY” is……the end result is that he just didnt love you ENOUGH. i say “ENOUGH” because you will most likely focus on the times he did show love for you. i believe that the sad little boyman i was married to DID love me at the beginning and thoughout MOST of our marriage, at some point (i couldnt even tell you when) in the last 4 or 5 years he just didnt love me ENOUGH. he didnt love me enough to come home, he didnt love me enough to answer my calls and texts, he didnt love me enough to get help for his alcoholism, he didnt love me enough to change the things he was doing that were hurting me. he didnt love me enough to tell me what was going on. he didnt love me enough to tell her to leave him alone and not have sex with her. he didnt love me enough to save our marriage.

      focus on that

      God bless all of you going thru this kind of pain.

      • “…why did he do it? because he could! because he thought you wouldnt find out! because he thought that even if you found out you wouldnt leave!

        no matter what the “WHY” is……the end result is that he just didnt love you ENOUGH. i say “ENOUGH” because you will most likely focus on the times he did show love for you.”

        So MUCH wisdom in everyone’s responses much like this one … I carry them all with me for strength. Thank you!

        • i think that was what i struggled with the most. knowing he did love me but that it wasnt enough. knowing i could have got him back if i just lowered my standards once again. knowing i could have him right now.

          but for me. i had enough. i just couldnt live like that. every single time life was finally gettin good. he would somehow sabatoage it. and then while we struggled (usually because of something HE did) he would use that oppunity to fuck up more. i just couldnt or wouldnt lower my standards for him anymore.

          on bad days i have to remind myself that. yes it hurts like crazy watching someone i love so much on the path of distruction, knowing i could have done something to stop it. he told me i was hbis anchor. i just couldnt do it anymore. i felt like he was drowning me. i see pictures of him with her. and it is like a stab in the heart. i start thinking i could of had that with him. but again i have to remind myself of the price that comes with his “love” was too much for me to pay. (on the other hand she doesnt have any morals or standards so they will probably be together forever and that kills me too)

          but slowly but surely i am getting over that struggle. coming to terms with it. she can ride that crazy train with him. it is not my favorite ride anyways.

        • This! As a friend of mine said to me today, ” Some people are just bound and determined to destroy themselves and there is nothing we can do about it!”

  • Note the analogy in the last sentence. Off topic for this column but probably a good stand alone for comments. The pervasive mentality of blaming the victim. It’s everywhere!

    Speaking exclusively to Newslo, National Security Advisor Rice said “mutual understanding is crucial in these types of situations.”
    “I’ve already said that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s secretive address is very damaging to the relationship between our two countries, but we are prepared to exert a certain level of understanding, and even forgiveness. On the other hand, the same is expected from him – he needs to understand that, although the relationship between the US and Israel has been traditionally prosperous, the US will still need to support its best friend in the Middle East, which at this point in time happens to be Iran. It’s sort of like a threesome – the wife should not get angry at her husband for focusing on the other girl; after all, the wife is the reason the other girl is there.”

  • Cass –

    That was the best decision you ever made for yourself and your children. They won’t think they have to go through life making it safe for an a-hole.

    You left quickly and did what you had to do. It was a window of opportunity to get out from under
    a very oppressive environment living with a NPD/narc.

    Keep on trucking…

  • Five weeks on, all I’d done is move out and file for divorce. I was a zombie–walking through life, waiting for the emotional crash (which occurred 2 months later).

    Cass, you’re doing everything you can. Emotions take time to cycle through. Don’t rush them, or you’ll end up ignoring them.

    Good luck!

  • Cass, I agree with everyone here that you’ve done an amazing job! I think what’s happened is things have slowed down a bit now that you’ve got so much accomplished and you’ve got more time to think. It’s rough. I remember moving out of our family home, packing 36 years of memories by myself, and moving in with a friend the first month after he left. It was so disorienting to become somebody’s roommate after all those years of being a mom, wife and running household. It felt like I’d been abandoned by everyone I’d sacrificed and worked so hard for all those years.

    I stayed with my friend for a year and looking back it was a wonderful time of reflection and healing. It was hard, it sucked, I felt so lost and disoriented. I think what you’re feeling is very normal considering all you’ve gone through. We all wish we could speed up the healing process, but unfortunately it just takes time. For me it’s been 3 years and I’m just now waking up without a huge lump of anxiety in my chest. There’s still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened, but for the most part I feel pretty happy these days.

    • “It was so disorienting to become somebody’s roommate after all those years of being a mom, wife and running household. It felt like I’d been abandoned by everyone I’d sacrificed and worked so hard for all those years.”

      THIS. SO. MUCH. THIS … <3

  • Cass, you are an amazing woman. Amazing. 5 weeks out, you say? Good God, I couldn’t recall my name at that point. I still can’t remember the first few months accurately.

    It took me 2 years to start to feel “less angry”, let’s put it that way. Angry, depressed, cycling through “WHY” and “HOW COULD YOU!”, it’s my fault/what can I do to make you happy. And I consider myself to be a pretty independent, self sufficient person–I had to raise myself and my younger brother at ages 10 and 6 respectively, when my mother “checked out” and my father was constantly absent….so I’m pretty solid in the “do what you need to do to get the kid fed” department. YOU, however, have the maddest skillset I have ever encountered.

    The meds. I did Lexapro, Zoloft, Wellbutrin and Lyrica. I was told that each one is different–SSRI vs. SNRI vs. whatever—and they work in different ways, so it depends on your own body chemistry if it is effective for you. Five weeks isn’t enough time, according to my PCP, to know if a drug like this works. It can take up to 6 months. Some work right away—but I wouldn’t recommend cycling through meds before you know for sure it doesn’t work for you. There are downsides, physical ones, to doing that.

    You are so lucky to have your parents—lean on them. They are giving you permission to lay down the mantle for awhile–do it. Let them take care of you. Two jobs? Can you take PTO from both of them just for a week or so? I would do that–if for no other reason than to sleep in for a week and REST YOUR SOUL.

    Cass, you are utterly inspiring and amazing. Good luck to you (although, I have a sneaky suspicion you make your own luck!)

  • Dear Cass, I was somehow able to fast track most of the logistical/financial/legal issues as well after my d-day. My therapist was constantly amazed, but for me it just seemed like the only option at the time, so I didn’t even realize that I was “ahead of schedule.” I was married for 16 years and my divorce was finalized 3 months from D-day. After all was said and done, I would have moments of great anxiety when my mind played the most painful worse case scenarios in full hi definition. What helped me through those moments was to think, “well if that happens, am I still ok right now?” The answer was always a soothing “yes.” Ironically, all 3 of my worse case scenarios came true. My Ex got the OW pregnant, moved her in, and then married her. Every time I would hear about these events (all within 8 months) I would ask myself the same question but adding: “has anything really changed from a minute before I found out?” Nope. I was still breathing, the world kept turning, I still had myself and daughter to take care of, and most importantly, I still had my hopes and dreams for the future. I realized then that his actions did not dictate or change my life, because it was “MY” life.

    • Nocake4u, that is brilliant. I’ve tried something similar too, to cushion myself from feeling worse. I hoped that Cheater and OW would not move back to the city where I live (she was living 2 hours away when he started cheating w/her), but I forced myself to imagine them here, living together, and they did… It also kept me from wasting any energy focusing on what they were doing, or hoping for a particular outcome… And you are right, it shifts the focus back you YOU, which is really the only way to survive.

      • A question that really helped me was “will this help me or hurt me?” I would ask myself this every time I was tempted to call him after the separation, or look up what he was doing on Facebook, etc. Almost every time my answer was “it will hurt me,” so I didn’t do it. Asking myself that question was a HUGE part of learning to take care of myself. It also helped take the focus off him and put it back on me, where it belonged.

    • First of all Nocake4u, love your name because it always makes me think of the soup Nazi from Seinfeld so in my head I’m saying “No cake for you” with his accent too.

      Your advice for getting yourself through the worst case scenarios is absolute genius! The ex already moved the OW woman in our house. The ink on our divorce wasn’t even dry yet. That was tough to take but I will remember that for when they eventually get married because I’m sure that’s coming.

      Thanks

      • Thanks Cheaterssuck! Great name too. I am actually from NYC and never thought about that before but, wow you just made me laugh. 🙂 That technique worked each time I used it and I remember the last time (when they got married), I actually felt relieved because there was nothing left to worry about. It was like that channel in my head mysteriously went off the air.

        • I still worry a little about how I’ll feel if my ex gets married again. I’m going to remember your “if that happens, am I okay right now?” question. It’s perfect! Thanks! Also, loved “there was nothing left to worry about. It was like that channel in my head mysteriously went off the air.” I’ve spent a lot of time worrying in my life about the worst case scenario, but every time it happens I survive. The more I experience that lesson, the less I worry. I’m finally accepting that whatever happens I’m going to be fine.

      • when i was stuck on the “How. Could. He. Do. This. To. Me” and “WHY” i used to think about (fantasize) how the conversations would go IF he would talk to me. i would start with what i wanted to tell him or ask him. THen i would think about what he would say or have him say what i wanted him to say and go from there. in a way, it helped me get thru that because you fight in your own head so much. what if he said that or what if he does this.

        then when you really think it thru, ok lets say he comes home, crying, begging me to take him back, saying he didnt love her and was sorry for f*cking her……well ok. i can still see how that is not going to change anything.

        or you think it thou being able to tell him everything it is that you wanted to say to him….well ok. got that off my chest and well it still doesnt change anything.

        that is how i got over wishing and hoping that he would just do something, or i could just tell him. i played the scenerios out in my head and discovered even IF those thing i wanted so badly did happen, it STILL wouldnt change anything.

        • Mrsvain, you and I have had a lot of parallel experiences; you just made me realize that I did this too! in those first weeks and months after I kicked him out, I longed so much for there to be some way to still make this work, to not break up my kids’ family, to live happily together. I kept thinking of scenarios or conversations that could happen. I might do this, he might say that …. And each time I realized; nope, still wouldn’t change anything.

          Eventually I clicked that the only way that things could change would be … a time machine. Some way for him to go back and un-fuck that woman, un-tell her he loved her, etc. Slowly acceptance set in; I did want what I wanted, but it was simply not an option in this reality.

          Ironically, he did eventually do and say many of those things I’d thought of (in his own narc way). And guess what? They didn’t change anything. And by that time, they also meant very little to me.

          • A couple of my friends have wanted to so much to hear their exes say they were sorry for what they did, but both of them said it didn’t really help when it happened. It doesn’t change reality.

            Replaying traumatic scenes but changing them in your mind does help. One of the most traumatic scenes I had was when he was looking out the door, getting ready to leave, and he said “when I look in my future, you’re not in it.” That scene replayed over and over in my mind and kept traumatizing me. Finally I envisioned the scene again but with both of my grandmothers standing on either side of me. One of my grandmothers loved me and played with me as a child, the other was a strong woman who survived being abandoned with 5 kids. For some reason envisioning them standing on either side and giving me their support during this scene helped. I imagined one grandmother saying “We will always love you, and the other saying “you will survive this.”

            • OMG Lyn! Both of my grandmothers were cheated on and deserted, during the Great Depression in small towns in the South, before television, when gossip was one of the favorite past times and entertainments.

              In fact, I have their photos on my wall, which I am looking at at this moment. They had much hardship and bitter disappointment, but life went on, and they found their joy again.

              Thank you for this visual! My grandmothers would certainly understand my pain, and they would help me to get back on my feet and hold my head up high.

              You’ve helped me so much with this visual.

              And Cass! I was a sobbing, trembling mess at five weeks, an automaton at work, stealing a minute in the rest room to type:

              “Hurthurthurthurthurthurthurthurt” about a hundred times on my cellphone and then back on duty.

              My poor little cat has had to adapt to my talking out loud, a habit that I don’t even realize I’m doing until I see his worried little face. Poor thing!

              I would stumble around the park trying to walk out the trauma, then sit in my car talking the ears off of the only friend I had told at that point, a fellow chump (it happened twice to her.)

              I only Wish that I had responded decisively like you have!

    • This is the best advice ever. I’m writing it down and putting it on my cork board in front of me so I am constantly reminded of it. THANK YOU!!!

      • Sunny, I hope it helps you. I know I must have gotten that from one of the zillion self help/meditation books I was reading at the time. Can’t remember but it might have been Susan Piver’s Wisdom of A Broken Heart.

  • You’ve put up with a LOT from your stbx over the years. You’ve built your whole life around his idiosyncracies (to put it mildly) and have sacrificed much over those years.

    Look at you! You’re amazing! You get shit done!

    Listen to CL–the pain IS finite. And it is painful. And it will abate. It took me many months. But I remember telling myself to take it all in, because in order to heal and to get stronger, I had to FEEL the pain. It meant that I was human, and it was authentic. Every hurt I felt meant that I was one step closer to the other side.

    I also took comfort in knowing that many, many other people had been through it–many of them in the public eye!

    I threw myself into work and into being there for my kids, to support and facilitate their growth, to laugh with them and to guide them, to show them that we were going to be better than ok. Though there were interruptions by intrusive thoughts about the coward and the troll hag who sullied my family, more often my job gave me emotional and financial support that was vital to maintaining my self esteem. I gave myself permission to take a pause to feel pain from time to time. But most days I concentrated on what I had to do at work, and it felt great. Every time I helped someone or taught someone something, I grew, and I celebrated. That had nothing to do with the coward/troll complex–it was ALL me!

    Your trip will take time, and you will have so many revelations along the way. You will help other chumps. You will be a better, more whole person. You will have new wisdom that you never wanted–but you will be wiser nonetheless–for the better.

    Take it all in. You are doing everything right.

  • The OW (co-worker) and her Fiancé are in an open relationship.

    I’ll bet OW’s Fiancé hasn’t been informed of that yet!

    • I’ll bet that too!

      I also found it interesting that the friend told the OW that she had been “lied to” as the STBX had told OW that he and Cass were separated. And yet:

      “He also told her he would leave us for her.”

      How is he leaving Cass and daughter for OW if he’s already separated from Cass and I guess daughter? (I never get how that seems good to OW – you’re leaving your kid – that I’m only 4 years older than!!!! – for ME!)

      Which makes me think he and OW were selling a story at work that both knew were untrue – “Oh, Cheater and Cass separated a while ago.” “Oh, my fiance and I are in an open relationship.”

      • The lies he told her were that we were in an unhappy marriage and living together for the kids but that technically we were legally separated (which of course was not the case at all). In their private sexts, it’s clear that she, too, didn’t realize that was not the case. When he said he would leave us for her, he meant that he would leave the marriage officially via divorce and move in with her. (This was not unusual in her eyes because she presumed he was not lying about the separation). I’m not trying to defend the OW by any means because she still believed we were married with children (regardless of the BS he was feeding her, so that’s on her), but to her credit, she did cut all ties with him upon learning the truth and instructed her superiors to place a restraining order on him in the office, so on D-Day, he lost all his cake at once.

        • I just love that, that she filed for sexual harassment and that there were consequences at his work (even though minimal, as you’ve described).

          • I agree, Muse. My lawyer said I could have come after him for loss of spousal support and child endangerment because of that. (I could have also gone after the OW for alienation of affection). However, custody was the issue that was most paramount for me, so I chose to refrain from following through on that and other possible infractions because he conceded primary custody over to me without the hassle of putting my children through unnecessary litigation.

        • OW’s alleged open relationship with her Fiancé would be an agreement with rules, ( go figure ) and I doubt they include moving an older coworker lover in with her.
          I doubt the open relation exists. Just a cover up so you won’t tell the Fiancé about the affair. Your Husband is likely lying to avoid having OW’s Fiancé kicking his old ass. Every man who cheats with an attached female weighs that risk but in the end decides he can win the fight or won’t get caught. He knows the risk is real and lives in fear. I never disappointed any of the OM’s. It was fight on and they expected it! They bit off more than they could chew. Dumb ass’s!

          • The OW claims she was just “having fun flirtation” with my husband because she thought we were separated. She also states both in her private sexts to him (and in the apology letter to me) that she was never going to leave her fiance for him. I honestly don’t know what to believe or her true agenda (if any) but the sexts, her apology letter, and her subsequent actions upon learning the truth do seem to align somewhat with her view that she wasn’t seriously interested in him as she did create and uphold some clear cut boundaries almost immediately afterward — would have been nice if she had done that from the beginning, but oh well. Ultimately, I chiefly blame him because his is the name on our marriage certificate though.

            As far as her relationship with her fiance, I’m certain he knows because she is now also in a relationship with the female mutual friend (who originally confirmed what I read in the sexts — true story; can’t make this stuff up) and they are very open about it yet she is still with her fiance. I’m a monogamist, so I truly can’t claim to understand the inner workings of other types of relationships because an open relationship is something that would never work for me, so I wouldn’t even know what would qualify as acceptable in those types of arrangements. (Who knew my life could be script material for a potential Lifetime special?). Truth is stranger than fiction.

            • My guess (and that is what it is, of course) is that the OW in your situation may also be on the narcissist side. She may have been in an “open relationship” but if she knew he was living with a spouse and children, she had to at least wonder if he was lying (as the “we are not really married, just living together for the kids” is the oldest line in the world. The move to file the harassment charge (upon finding out that the flirting was with a married man) and write a “sorry” letter to you looks like a pre-emptive strike to make her the aggrieved party/ And (not to take your STBX’s side) a “fun flirtation” with a man who talks about divorcing his wife and moving away from his kids is a pretty selfish act.

        • It’s highly uncommon for the OW to show any remorse or integrity, at least in my experience. In my case she knew about me and my son and did not give half a crap, she was married 14 years and had 3 young boys herself. Coward wouldn’t answer the phone or respond to my text.

          I say kudos to the OW in your case Cass for apologizing to you and going No Contact with your X.

        • i am sure that is the same B$ story that the sad little boyman told his married slut. how he was in a unhappy marriage to this horrible wife who didnt treat him right. I call bullshit because i never knew WTF he was thinking. all i knew was he was “out” drinking more and more and had started not coming home and sh*t. one time she told me that “misery loves company” so i am sure they started out swapping how sad and miserable their significant spouses were. and found out just how much they had in common (they both hate their spouses and love to drink/drugs) “A shoulder to cry is a dick to ride on”

          but i also know that she friend requested him (i added her myself thinking she was a cousin) on facebook. i am sure she went thru all his pictures and posts and i was still putting how much i loved him and how lucky i was to have him on all the pictures and posts. so she knew about me. i would post pictures of us as a family going out and doing things. i would say how the boys loved their dad and shit. so no matter WHAT HE WAS telling her, she would see it on his facebook the other side of it.

          thing is she just didnt care that she was messing up our family. she saw how much of a family we were. how much the kids and i loved and needed him. but she wanted him. she saw my life and she wanted it. and of course he was telling her how unhappy he was. i hate people like her. she is a true homewrecker. yes, it was his fault also but she knew, saw and read my side of the story. she still didnt care. when i told her that he had kids at home that loved him and needed him. she just shrugged her shoulder and say “of course his kids love him, he is their dad.” with no further excuse. she still didnt care. she wanted a man so bad she didnt care if she took him away from his young children and apparently neither did he.

          the OW will excuse ANYTHING the man says and does depending on how much she wants him. i have ran into very few woman who tell a man no because you are married. if he is handsome, and charming, and gives her some kind of attention….the women could care less if he has kids or a wife or whatever. they dont even care about their own kids or spouse. why would they care about someones elses kids or spouse?

          i have lost faith in humanity. i know i will never trust another man to give my heart to. i am super worried about my children finding decent people to love. it is all so super super sad.

          • “…the OW will excuse ANYTHING the man says and does depending on how much she wants him.”

            I agree with this. This is also why I believe that the OW in my situation (despite ultimately making the right choice in the end to NC my STBX) was quite culpable in her own right because she knew he was using a fake FB account, yet she still chose to believe him without question when he lied to her and told her that his true FB (with our family pictures plastered all over it) was solely for appearances and the kids’ sake.

            I also understand the residual trust issues. Infidelity has made me rethink and revisit everything in memory land.

            • That might be another skein of fuckuppedness for another time, Cass. It will take time to process, but you do get the beautiful skill of living in the present. Eventually.

              Mrsvain, I feel that. I am from an NPD family constellation, and I worry so that the Offspring will make the same choices and mistake abuse for love. I am just trying to lead by example, neither taking nor giving any B$.

              As to the Downgrade? Mr Fab’s Schmoopie? She was his bro’s ex, beloved Auntie to Offspring, round our place with her own kid most evenings, but on the morning shift after kiddo and I were at school and work. Some of thoughts I have about her would make Crone berg puke, and the karma bus can’t arrive fast enough. But then I realize being a homewrecking ho is punshment enough, and now she has to carry that dead weight of Ego…….(cheering myself up-they are shacking up officially next month.)

              x-Meh.

              • like my daddy always told me “You are better then that” so dont let it get to you. somedays i have to remind myself that i DONT want to live that way. i want more from life then just drinking every day and passing out on the weekends.

                Who does that! get with the auntie? seriously fucked up in the head people.i am so sorry for you and your kids. that is so NOT okay on so many levels. How can he be okay putting his kids in that kind of wreck? no justification can make that ok. i hope you are doing okay and your kids can see for themselves how selfish their dad is. so sad.

                the xbil left his wife and started living and sleeping with his wifes sister. i remember when ex boyman was telling me that story. i was horrified, and disgusted. and i told hi how messed up that was. how wrong. so he agreed with me but looking back i remember he was laughing and talking with some kind of sick glee in his eye. he THOUGHT it was funny until i was appalled by it. i couldnt put my finger on it but felt something was “off” with that story until way later. then i realized that it was a sign of my disturbed the ex boyman was. it sickened me to see inside HIS character.

                i guess he found someone who is just like himself. i am sure would have acted the way he was expecting me to act. sick sick people.

                jedi hugs to you.

              • sorry *how disturbed he was

                you deserve better then that and i hope you and you kids get away from his kind of crazy

  • You’ve done amazingly well. When life falls apart suddenly, it’s like a puzzle, and you work on each piece to build a new life. It takes time, which is lousy when you’re in hurry to get back to a new “normal”.

    And as for understanding the “why”, be prepared to never know. In time, it won’t matter as much. It won’t gnaw at you. You get to accept that it happened, and you’re not responsible for their choices.

    —-
    I’m 18 months post d-day, and I still sometimes ask myself why. And I cry sometimes, because my children are living a split-existence that I never wanted for them.

      • I cry every time my son cries and tells me he misses Daddy, then I wipe my tears and curse him for still breathing. I hate what impact it has had on my son more so than anything else. It’s so painful to see your kids hurting when there is nothing you can do to take their pain 🙁 I only wish I had caught on sooner and left when he was younger so it wouldn’t be so hard on him.

        • I cry every time my son cries and tells me he misses Daddy, then I wipe my tears and curse him for still breathing. I hate what impact it has had on my son more so than anything else. It’s so painful to see your kids hurting when there is nothing you can do to take their pain 🙁 I only wish I had caught on sooner and left when he was younger so it wouldn’t be so hard on him.

          OMG……..Every.Single.Word.Of.This!!!!

          But it does slowly get better. My little guy cries less & now when he asks where his dad is or if his dad is at home & I say “No, he’s gone” or “No, your dad isn’t home” My son tells me “Ok mommy, it’s just me and you again” I remind my little buddy that I will always be there for him, that we are a great team, and that we will go on to have many great adventures & see many wonderful things in our lifetime together”

          • i remind my boys that this was their fathers choice. it wasnt because of anything we did.

            i had some problems with both ny boys at the beginning. the oldest had anger issues. the youngest would cry at the drop of a hat. plus i was struggling with so much pain too. but one time after the littlest one broke down, i told him i would always love him and i would never ever leave him. that he was stuck with me forever. amazingly it was just what he wanted to hear. of course he questioned it but i answered honestly and that was the day he started to bounce back. i guess when his father (sperm donor) left, bhis little world was insecure and he needed to hear me tell him i would never leve him. i thought he KNEW how much i loved him but he still needed to hear the wordss said outloud.

            i tell them all the time. and now they are coming up with their own opinions of their dear old dad. i never had to bad mouth him. they figured it out themselves

          • @ Current Chump.. I know in the long run my son will be better off, I also make sure I constantly tell him I will never leave him. He is struggling with separation anxiety already and I’m worried about the impact the changes we will have to make are going to have on him. I can’t afford the house we rent so we are going to have to move….change schools….his best friend lives next door to us. Just so incredibly unfair that his life has to change in so many ways in such a short time…and STBX just continues with his magical thinking with zero regard to the pain he has caused to his beautiful son. Selfish pig. I will likely never forgive him for the pain he has caused my son. We had just returned from a family vacation when he started his affair, I caught him almost immediately and started sleeping in another room. ..3 months later he was gone. Things were always “off” with him…but we never really fought, he was unforgivably selfish. He promised to go to counseling but would never follow through, he just couldn’t face his fuckedupness.

      • As heartbreaking as it might be right now, in the long run your children are MUCH better off without constant contact with a narcissistic parent. Over time, they can do a real number on their children. They’ll fare much better emotionally without his toxic presence, not to mention the poor example he’s setting.

  • My comment is about the term “emotional affair.”

    I think trying to distinguish between physical and emotional affairs just muddies the waters at best and feeds delusion in the end.

    Affairs are affairs. The person is lying, cheating and hiding things. I think that there really is no such thing as “emotional affairs.” I think most are physical and the cheaters just say that to try to smooth things over. Well, there really is no way to smooth over a betrayal or get over being lied to, is there? If the affair is not physical yet, you can trust it will be.

    This is just my pet peeve. And, FTR, Wellbutrin is terrific.I took Zoloft for a while for anxiety, but for depression Wellbutrin has been very effective with no side effects in my case.

    Cass, I think you have been running on nervous energy for 5 weeks. As the details are managed you will start to have time to process your emotions. That is going to take time. Way more than five weeks. So be gentle with yourself and take the time you need. And please don’t waste any of your time and energy on the “why” of it all.

    You can’t make sense out of nonsense.

    • “Affairs are affairs. The person is lying, cheating and hiding things. I think that there really is no such thing as “emotional affairs.” I think most are physical and the cheaters just say that to try to smooth things over.”

      Sam, I absolutely agree. It’s a peeve of mine, too.

      If it hasn’t been consummated yet, that’s only because the complicating obstacles haven’t been removed yet. You should never give anyone points for keeping it “only emotional”. It’s a soul betrayal and given time and opportunity, it will be a physical affair, too.

  • Cass–

    You are MIGHTY!

    Count me among your fellow Chumps who admire you for your decisive actions! Just wow!

    Look, I think your anxiety is entirely natural. What’s probably different about your situation is that you were able to stomp on the very normal Chumpy reaction of initial paralysis. Most people, when they realize their spouses are cheating, get caught up in their own emotional whirlwind to the point where action is difficult. It takes a few weeks/months (or repeated Ddays) before they can act.

    Not you. You acted decisively.

    You are now at a point where you no longer need to focus your efforts on action. However, that means that you still have to deal with all the emotional crap. Cut yourself a break and allow yourself to realize that you’re now working through the emotional separation. It’s great that you’re in therapy, but let that process work. It’s not going to be instant.

    If you read Terry Pratchett, in one book, all the witches say that you can’t magic iron, yet Granny Weatherwax appears to do just that, stopping a blade. However, at the end of the book, you see that she’s sitting down with a needle and thread because now she has the time, and there’s a price to pay. I propose that you saw that you could not afford to deal with the emotional dimension of cheating when you first learned of it. However, now you have the time, so it’s time to get out the needle and thread and allow yourself to bleed.

    You’ll heal just fine, but it’ll take time.

    Massive hugs.

    • Good old Granny Weatherwax – she’s an inspiration, isn’t she? 😀

      I love Terry Pratchett and I love the witches collection – he’s a fine feminist!

  • Cass, Our stories are eerily similar. D-day for me was October 8, 2014 and I divorced the cheater on January 28, 2015. We were married 15 years, together 18. I separated all of our finances and didn’t stop until we signed the papers on December 14, 2014. All I have left is to refinance my house to get his name off of the loan. I have finally took some time to breath. It is hard because once you slow down your mind has a chance to catch up…it is terrifying. I am now on my own, raising two kids and my future is not what I envisioned. I know deep down I will be alright but sometimes it is overwhelming. Everyone says it will get easier. I have to trust in those that have gone through this before me and believe that it will all be for the best. Just breath and have faith in yourself.

  • Cass, I agree with everyone here that your ability to make tough decisions and take action is awe-inspiring.

    The fact that you are so strong and efficient also makes me suspect that 90% of what held your EX together was you. So, not only should you gird yourself for more whining and pleas for reconciliation, but you should also expect your EX to either collapse spectacularly or to start going down hill rapidly. This may make you feel guilty. He may try to blame you, others who don’t want to pick up his shit may ask you to step back into the role, your kids may find it difficult to watch. Be prepared to tell everyone (including him) that his problems are now all his own. You have jobs to keep and kids to raise.

    You are doing great!

    • Thank you. Yes, he tells my eldest all the time that he’s going to have to live in his car for two weeks until he can find an apartment. It’s deplorable what he will do for kibbles.

    • Totally agree with Eilonwy. I was also keeping my EH from going off the rails and staying employed the last 20 years. Now that I don’t do that anymore, he’s been unemployed for almost a year and living exclusively off the OW. As a 50 year old, long stretches of unemployment probably means he’ll have an even tougher time ever finding a job again. My theme song in fall, 2014 during my divorce proceedings was Yelawolf’s “Till It’s Gone” (apologies in advance that it’s explicit):
      “Just because you got yourself in some shit
      It doesn’t mean I have to come deal with it
      You handle your own when you become a man
      And become a man when you handle your own”

      This would always remind me that I don’t have to handle his shit any longer. How many hours/days/weeks did I spend job hunting for him (because he’s another NPD/sociopath who can’t keep a job, primarily because he steals from his employers. )

      You go, Cass! You’re going to be just fine.

  • Cass, you’re doing great!

    I too woke up with that horrifying, anxious feeling that everything was wrong and nothing made sense for weeks – it’s called dysphoria. So many of us went through it, and we couldn’t eat, had constant vomiting, racing heart and a complete inability to turn off the pain spigot. Thank God for my neighbor who kept me upright and functioning; she brought me soup, forced me to eat and took care of my kids when I was overwhelmed.

    When I finally emerged from the extreme pain, I was OK for a few weeks, then would slip back into it from a trigger or bumping into the OW. This would make me feel worse – like I would never be OK. A friend who was also betrayed told me this was completely normal, that there would be backslides and it didn’t mean I was permanently damaged, it meant I was NORMAL. I came to view it a little like a brain injury; you really need to give it some time to heal because even gentle jostling when you think you’re feeling OK can trigger a painful relapse. It just takes time.

    The cornerstones for mitigating damage for me have been lots of sleep (I did lorazapam when super stressed, then buspar or melatonin when less stressed), daily exercise of some kind (even just a walk), a couple real friends and staying well hyrdrated…. and CL’s book and this forum 🙂 Hang in there. Be kind to yourself and know that this low point is not permanent. You will NOT always feel this way.

  • Wow! Look at you! Simply amazing. I agree with Chump Lady– You need some rest. You just need time to hurt. You are on Zoloft. Are you seeing a therapist? I did therapy for a while; I found it was helpful to manage the stress of everyday life, which could not slow down, and dealing with the way I felt. Like you, I had no room to slow down.

    The triggers eventually stop. There is no expiration date; it’s just one day, they don’t hurt as much, and another day, you’re indifferent.

  • OMG! Are you kidding me! You are AMAZING!!!!! I am so impressed. It is extremely, extremely, extremely hard. You are mighty. You are amazing. Chump lady is right on. One day at a time. One day at a time. Know that you have impressed the heck out of Chump nation.

  • You are truly amazing. The first thing that came to my mind is that you must be a combat veteran. You’re a triage ninja! The way you forged ahead with determination is admirable. I was still stunned and confused at 5 weeks out. Heck, I was stunned and confused at 5 months out! Sounds like you’ve got your shtuff together. Give yourself a break, and allow yourself to process the feelings you’ve been batting down.

    Your story inspires ME to forge ahead like a good soldier and do what needs to be done with out wallowing in doubt. If you knew the details of my marriage you’d think I was crazy for staying (pragmatic Me says I am). For all the work I’ve done, and as far as I’ve come, I still find it difficult to leave (lots of “but what ifs”). At this moment…today, I’m thinking “the marriage is dead, trust is gone, husband is warped…forge ahead with the divorce, and handle the fallout as it comes.”

    Girl, you’ve got grit! You deserve a medal.

  • Cass,

    You are so far ahead of the game you don’t even realize it. You will get through this – you are over halfway there. But don’t kill yourself trying to figure out “why” he did what he did at 40. CL is right – it’s a skein you can never untangle. Things like “mid life crisis” and “boredom” and “fear of aging” are all thrown around as excuses for cheaters and their incredibly bad and destructive behavior. But it’s all bogus. The bottom line is a person of character will stand by commitment – a douchebag narcissistic will bail when things get “hard and not fun.”

    I thought for a year or so right after D-Day that my ex had truly had a mental breakdown. He’d begun having seizures in the few years before the OW (at least the one that ended us) came into the picture. He’d lost both his parents within 6 months of each other. My mom then died 6 months later. My oldest child was truly in a monster stage of pre-teen and teen years and we were having trouble trying to parent her effectively without losing our minds. AND he’d just turned 50. So I thought “Hey! It’s a mid-life crisis with heaps of tragedy on top – he’s looked at his life and decided he doesn’t want to just do this until he dies – it’s a breakdown emotionally!” I told him as much at one of the meetings we had in the year after we separated. He said there might be something to that,……but that it didn’t change anything.

    And that’s when I realized that none of my diagnosis of emotional breakdown was even remotely true. He was just a lowlife coward who bolted when our life got hard and his dick didn’t. That was it – all my efforts to figure out why had only given him another excuse to hang his hat on and help make him not look like the asshole SOB he was. He just was that bad. And he’d have done it again if he didn’t get caught this time. If it hadn’t been the OW I knew – it would be another. Women in his life are disposable commodities – of value as long as they supplied him with the emotional kibble he needed. I’d wasted my time chasing a phantom illness.

    So don’t waste your time – and look to your future. The harshest truth is infinitely better than the most beautiful lie. You are an amazing woman – carpe diem, Cass!

    • “The bottom line is a person of character will stand by commitment – a douchebag narcissistic will bail when things get “hard and not fun.””

      Here here!

      Commitment and fun are not mutually exclusive. But the former is more important than the latter. And the former is the foundation of marriage. The latter is the icing on the cake. If someone can’t sustain the former, he has no right to expect the latter.

    • Char, I suspected a nervous breakdown as well, and was very concerned. Turns out he WAS losing it; he had 3 women on the line, and was scrambling to finance goodies for all of them. Poor baby was very stressed out.

    • OMG Char “And that’s when I realized that none of my diagnosis of emotional breakdown was even remotely true. He was just a lowlife coward who bolted when our life got hard and his dick didn’t.” If that doesn’t sum up pretty much every cheating coward we’ve all been married to, I don’t know what does. Awesome quote!

    • well said!!! everything you wrote!!!

      and after all once the harsh truth is revealed, you just cant go back to the beautiful lie no matter how much you want to.

    • OMG, Char!!!

      “He was just a lowlife coward who bolted when our life got hard and his dick didn’t.”

      I am going to have this embroidered on a couple of throw pillows. Thanks for that so, so, so true little gem!!!

    • Oh wow, “He was just a lowlife coward who bolted when our life got hard and his dick didn’t.” would make an awesome piece of subversive crotchet!

  • First, I’m w the comment re emotional affairs. I think it’s always horseshit-people have sex, it’s an affair, and they LIE about it. Period.

    Second, you got an APOLOGY (in writing, no less) from the other woman in your short five weeks. OMG! You are MIGHTY.

    It’s really, really hard to let them go-they’ve been the center of our existence, BPD, narcs & all, for years, & if you are like most of us, you gave it your all, left it all on the field. We all loved them, discovered they were character-disordered, & cratered for at least a while. You just didn’t have a choice; you did what you had to do. Your feelings will catch up.

    Just finished Crazy Time (third edition). Recommend it and Chumplady’s book, which is how I learned to stop unraveling and trust he sucks. CT says divorce takes two years for the boat to stop rockin’. Be as gentle w yourself as you would a friend or family member.

  • Cass,
    Way to go! When you get out of this prison of adjustment (and you will), remember those of us who weren’t as successful. 🙂 🙂

  • Cass- or should I call you “Super Cass” You.Are.Simply.Amazing!! And what an awesome role model for your 17 year old daughter!!
    Wow-I could only dream of doing the things you just did in 5 weeks!! At 5 weeks I was a barely functioning, sleepless zombie with an endless supply of tears. Don’t waste another second on the Why’s or What’s with your stbx-deep down you know it’s a dead end and you acted in survival mode for yourself & your family. Sadly, there is no miracle drug out there that can quash the herculean pain that you are feeling right now. If you feel Zoloft isn’t working for you, then please contact your Dr. to try something else. I had tried Paxil & Prozac in combination with Ativan for the really bad days/episodes when they would happen. A year out & I don’t take anything anymore. The meds are just to help you keep your emotions at a functional level so that you don’t become overwhelmed while you are working through them. You have probably been running on adrenaline for the last 5 weeks and now that everything is in motion for the start of your new life, you are feeling exhausted and that overwhelming feeling is creeping in. Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself & your children. If at all possible, take a Friday off for a long weekend. Get some sleep and try to do something that you enjoy…….even if only for a short time.

    I’m sorry for how you had to join the group but I am so glad that you found your way here. I can’t express to you how thankful I am everyday for this site. It has helped me and countless others on their way to a new, cheater free life.

    You are a mighty mama bear and an iron strong woman.
    I see nothing but an amazing future for you & your family with you at the helm!!
    I know it doesn’t seem like it now but someday you will smile again, you will be happy again, and you will feel love again.

    Big Hugs!

  • Cass-you are mighty! You got out, didn’t do the pick me polka and you’ve separated your finances, filed for divorce, taken care of your kids! Like everyone else in CN I am truly impressed. You didn’t get stuck in inaction and that makes you mightier than mighty!

    Couple of things bear repeating:
    1. Don’t try to figure him out. It’s a waste of your time and space in your mighty brain!
    2. You’ve been so busy the last 5 weeks you didn’t have time to stop and grieve and now is the time to do that. Cut yourself some slack and grieve because this is a loss. As one very wise chump said (can’t remember who). You have to go through the grief-you can’t go under it or around it.

    You’re awesome!

  • I am truly amazed of all you have accomplished. You deserve to slow down, breathe, and process. I was not allowed to speak of the affairs or any personal emotions so being out (of prison) for the past five months has been about grieving, allowing anger, and crying. Some days are hard. I have never felt anxiety to the point i felt i would pass out until now. It is crazy what feelings I go through but its great to be in a safe place away from their drama to allow the healing to occur.
    He was never a part of our lives so i am lucky that i don’t have places that trigger memories. The few pictures he is in, i know he did not want to be there so i just shake my head that he could be so self absorbed and miss the short time you have with family. Kids grow and move on. They are not crumb snatchers forever.
    We are different yet the same. I would encourage you to find your safe and soft spot to land and process your experience.

  • Cass I just want to chime in and cheer you for being so decisive… there is no roadmap for this recovery process but your survival instinct is intact and you can now focus on yourself and your children. One thing that struck me about your post was your comment that after you lost all that weight, took on a second job, he chose now to cheat? Without delving too much into untangling the skein of his fuckedupness (which you already have some diagnosis on), it is obvious that he felt threatened by your accomplishments, even jealous! You rock! You rocked before and you rock now! This is truly his loss.

  • I wish I had been this hardcore when dday hit but finding out about the serial cheating knocked me over so hard I didn’t get up for a very long time. So Cass, kudos to you for being tough and strong and taking care of yourself. Fuck the idiot (no, don’t) – leave him behind and KNOW that you will be ok.

  • Obviously with my screen name, that is exactly how I felt when I left my cheater. I never realized how suffocating he was until I was rid of him. The only way I could describe it is, I was free. Free at last. I could breathe again.

    Cass you are amazing! CL is right, you have accomplished so much. I was a blabbering, telling everyone I knew, crazy person for the first several months. You have done so much in such little time. You deserve a break. Congrats on your new freedom.

    • While I understand and am trying to get past the pain without medication this time, I have to admitt 20 mg of Lexapro daily made a big difference in my depression several years back. It takes two weeks to kick in, and will zap you of the ability to have an orgasm, but you probably don’t need that as badly as you need to function.

      I felt happier, and kind of forgot about my stupid ex. It was easy to see he was a jerk, and now I didn’t have to deal with it. I think it helps with OCD and ruminating thoughts. When we get burned, we keep going over it, trying to come out with a better outcome in our heads. Lexapro can help you let go of that and just enjoy the present. At least it did for me, so I thought I would mention it.
      Jen

      • I’ve been on a small dose of Xanax ever since this happened. It is definitely helping, and have a plan set up with my therapist to eventually be off of it. I never had anxiety before my cheater. But over a decade of abuse and something had to give, guess it was my nerves and sanity. I am getting them back though. One day at a time.

        • Be careful. It is HIGHLY addictive and you could experience panic attacks when trying to wean yourself off even the smallest amounts of it. If you find yourself “concerned” about running out of it…you are already addicted.

          • Oh I am well aware of that. Fortunately I don’t have the withdrawals, and I have run out before, I’m on the baby dose, they call it.

  • Cass, I think we lived parallel lives…..mine occurred several years ago though. I married my high school boyfriend after 5 years of dating. We were happily married (or so I thought-stupid me!) for 24 years, had 2 daughters (10 & 15 at the time), had a new home in a golf course community, great neighbors, and we both had great jobs. We both turned 40 that year (that seems to be the magic number) and that’s when the rug was yanked from under my feet. How I managed to stay standing as this happened still mystifies me. My ex had not one, but two affairs one after the other with female co-workers. Turns out he was telling people at work that he was separated and going through a divorce, therefore openly dating his co-workers didn’t look suspicious. Well Karma is a biotch! Karma came to visit him……I found out about the first affair. He swore it was over and I took his word.

    Several months go by and I receive a letter in the mail with no return address. It was from affair partner #1 telling me that he broke things off with her (ah….he didn’t lie to me) and immediately began an affair with partner #2. These people all work together and see each other daily. Is he stupid?! After many blow ups, me kicking him out (he moved in with #2 because I left him no choice) filing for divorce, selling the house, and dealing with my own emotions (in my case Cymbalta was my best friend) and my two devastated daughters Karma came back for another visit. #2 was messing around with a couple (not one, but two-she kicked it up a notch) guys at work, therefore cheating on him. Waa Waa….he was devastated! Oh my!!

    He’s now re-married to someone he knew for 9 months and met on match.com. I’m seeing a co-worker of his that was his close friend and golf buddy (there’s karma again). He’s a wonderful man that i’ve known for 20+ years.

    He really doesn’t have a relationship with either of our daughters-one is getting married this year, the other starts college. Life is good. Every now and then to make myself feel really good I sit down with a glass of wine and watch Tori Spelling’s show- Truly Tori. Nothing makes me feel better that to see how Karma can F-up a cheaters life !!!

  • Cass,

    If you feel like spending a few moments trying to figure out WHY he decided to cheat “when everything was just starting to go so well”, perhaps I can offer a thought from my own personal (ongoing) experience…you can try it on for fit or disregard it.

    After observing my husband for the last 10 years, I have come to the conclusion that living a “quiet and peaceful life” (without drama/excitement) is totally unacceptable to him.

    It was during this peaceful time for us also, that he decided to pursue another woman “just as a friend”. He said she was “fun and exciting”…same goes for the many affairs that he has had in his prior marriage. When his life with his ex wife was settled down after having two children, then his cheating started in earnest…as did his verbal abuse of her, stupid weird (failed) business adventures, drinking ect.

    Looking back with detached observation, I easily see that my husband HAS to be doing something that he ought not to be doing…something DESTRUCTIVE to himself or others. His “dopamine fix” is ongoing and never quenched. He did Porn, gambling (lost $40K with the click of a mouse), drinking out of control, pot, cheating on taxes, lazy irresponsibility, flirting and more… anything and everything that he KNOWS is wrong, immoral, on the edge or illegal that he thinks he might get away with.

    NORMAL simply does not feel good enough for him. He plays on line Poker from the time he comes home from work till midnight…then goes to work and plays more between customers (instead of keeping the business organized and running smoothly). He is REBELLIOUS to the core…all the while making sure that what a wife offers to him stays within his guidelines for what he wants from a marriage (he wants security and “goodness” while he gets to be the Bad Boy).

    This man is 62 years old!! So my conclusion: If his life is not filled with something to stimulate a “rush” of excitement, then it is not worth living. Hence, this is why during the times when we are doing well, he will start doing a rash of shit to disturb “us”. He will start arguments out of thin air just to get some kind of “rush” going…or become passive/aggressive to create an “issue” between us. It is all about getting a dopamine rush.

    It is all about the THRILL of the forbidden…normal is so…………………..flat and uninteresting.

    • That is similar to how my life was. We never had a conversation but he would always talk and tell me about others and drama, drama, drama. It was like a high. He is a user of people. One day they are useless to him but if he needs them, they are the best.
      He could make excuses and blame everyone else for ignoring clients and basically losing his business. Yet he found time to abandon us for his single friends for years and cheat. I think its about control and the high from living on the edge. Losing $, going 150 mph on a motorcycle to outrun a patrolman just for the heck of it. He acted proud of that. He did eventually stop so he felt it was his decision he was not actually “caught.” Who the shit thinks like that?
      Destructive to self and others, illegal and immoral activities provide the high. I like your summary!

    • That’s an interesting observation, Sweetz. Thinking back my ex was also a person who was always pushing the limits and liked excitement. At times trying to keep up with his pace was just exhausting for me. Never thought about it from that perspective before. My ex definitely had something like ADHD, and he was definitely “you’re not the boss of me” type.

  • Holy Cow, Cass! You did in 5 weeks what took me 9 months! You are mighty. Truly a force. Cut yourself some slack. See what AD may work for you. Take very good care of yourself.

  • That is the logical conclusion.

    Cass, I tip my hat to you-in five weeks, you did what took me two years-falso reconciliation, the pick me dance, more manipulation throu therapy and a total headfuck for the kiddo.

    You STBX has an NPD disgnosis. That is solid evidence, and you have the advantage of not having to convince your friends and family-and yourself-that, yep, he REALLY IS that person. After Dday, the mask slips, and after you are no contact for a while, your perception will catch up with the realities. It is kinda like the warp special effect on Star Trek-whoosh-twang. Your ass will catch up with your head.

    As to the meds…I had to try a few before I got the right combo, and I got off them quickly. Prior to that, I thought long and hard about taking even an aspirn, so I understand your anxiety about them. But they worked for me.

    All the best, Classy Cass! You are in good comoany here, in the club nobody ever wanted to join.

    love to all Chump Nation
    x-Meh

  • Cass,

    It’s easy for you to take charge and handle all the responsibilities. I suspect that’s something you have always done without realizing it. I could check off the tasks that needed to be completed (move, find attorney, file, get kids therapy), but I was lousy, absolutely lousy, at finding a way to control my thoughts and stop asking “Why?” and “What am I going to do?”. I’m sure I took years off my life with the sleepless nights and self-beatings. Medication took the edge off, but the pain and the never answered questions get me in a loop of loss and despair for way too long. Benefit from my pain and counseling and know that…”There’s nothing you did or didn’t do to cause this. It was never about you. It’s about him. It’s always been about him. You are the kids are collateral damage.” God only gave us one path and that’s forward. Don’t waste any more time looking back, Cass Move forward – and as hard as it is – love and take care of you and your kids.

  • Cass, seriously, you are mighty. I wish I could have channeled you two decades ago when I took back the cheating ex after his first affair.

    Be good to yourself. Look for books on self-compassion. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do to feel better. You are the center of your life now. This crap is so painful but you will get through it.

  • everytime you catch yourself thinking “how could he do this” remind yourself that YOU couldnt and would do it. you couldnt live with it and that is why things went the way it did. sometimes good people (chumps) forget that not evryone is good or have the same values as we do. and those are the people who trick, lie, cheat and betray. you just cant stay with a person like that and be able to live with yourself.

    We,all are mighty in our own way. but Cass you are awesome. so sorry your asshat did not see your value but i can see it and i admire you for it.

  • Hi Cass,

    I really, really appreciate your hard work as an adjunct, teaching in an English Dept. while all of this other stuff is going on-thank you for teaching young minds to write better and think more critically. I’m a lecturer at a university teaching a 4/4 load and there are occasional days walking to class when I struggle to keep my emotions in check after the fallout of the cheating narcissist in my life.

    In solidarity and awe of your mightiness!!

  • I am joining the standing ovation,Cass….you are one kick ass woman. And what a good role model you are for your kids. Be gentle with your self, it will take you some time to simply get used to all the changes in your life, It is a journey, but you will get there. Speaking from experience, we get there. It just takes time.

  • Two things:- yes it takes time to get the attention span back. I’m on 2.5 years and there are moments when I drift back to “then” d-day and just after and just before and being slammed with the horribleness of it all, but now I can pull myself away from that. That took ages.

    Also, Cass, I wonder the aame thing as you. I wonder why they do it when everything seems to be going right? It’s a weird thing. Mine was the same, our kids were finally teens, we had time to spend together, financially we were in a good place. I guess he thought he could have it all….and now he has nothing. Oh well. Lucky I was in that good place. You too by the sounds of it! You’ll get there. Just keep swimming!

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