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Toxic Shame — Or Just Being a Jerk?

TimidCheaterOn yesterday’s “Enough Divorce Shame” post, UniquelyMe posted a quote from Brene Brown:

For those who find out I am divorced and judge me, I always think of Brene Brown’s line in her book:

“…research tells us that we judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we’re doing. If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived shaming deficiency.”

Now, from what I’ve seen of Brene Brown on TED talks, I like. But I have to say I disagree with her on this one. Or at least as a generality.

I do think that people who are insecure go on the offensive with others because it detracts from their own inadequacies. Or as Brown explains it, those actions arise from feelings of “shame” about their vulnerability. However, I think other people are just assholes. They are mean for the joyful spite of it, for the power trip.

It’s an important distinction, one that chumps fail to make at their peril.

If you read over at Dr. George Simon, you’ll see he’s pretty skeptical of this whole idea of “toxic shame” being a motivator for bad behavior. In Simon’s parlance, not everyone is a “neurotic” full of insecurities. Some people really do believe they are that splendid. We have zero evidence of toxic shame, and he argues that we project what we think we would feel (shame) on to others. If I did that, I’d feel terrible! So somewhere, deep down, YOU must feel terrible about that!

That shit keeps chumps hooked. Keeps us untangling the cheater skein of fuckupedness.

Folks, if someone is being an asshole to you, it’s not your job to figure out WHY they’re being an asshole, it’s your job to have a boundary. It’s not okay to treat me like shit. Why they treat you like shit, whether that’s judging you for being a chump, or cheating on you, or saying your hair looks funny — that’s not for you to puzzle out. That’s for you to get away from.

It’s a popular notion that narcissists have deep down issues with vulnerability and shame. That they overcompensate. They put on airs, because somewhere inside they feel small.

Okay. Maybe. I don’t know Brene Brown’s feelings on this.

I think it’s more likely that they actually DO think they are superior to you and feel entitled to do as they please.

That’s a much scarier notion than Cheaters Are Timid Forest Creatures. It’s not that they’re sad sausages who struggle with inadequacy, and they’re acting that out, and feel very vulnerable when you call them on their shit — it’s simply that they’re PLAYING you. They like the one-up position. They truly, without hesitation or self reflection, ENJOY cake. What you see is what you get. That person who has no remorse? It really isn’t there! It’s not hiding under a bushel of shame and vulnerability — it DOES NOT EXIST.

At the end of the day, arguing about whether or not jerks feel shame is like arguing about how many cheaters can dance on the head of a pin. Pointless. If someone’s treatment of you is unacceptable? What are YOU going to do about it?

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  • It has been my experience that they actually DO feel superior and entitled to do as they please…regardless of who is hurt by their actions.

    Remorseless cake eaters need to be banished from your life…or they become your life. Self respect and boundaries! Hold your head up and walk away! Take the fork!!!!!

    • Walk just as fast AWAY from those apologistic ,asshole, blame shifting & quick to give an alibi mother fucking in laws too.

              • I’ve gone nc with her – and as a Narc, she is losing her mind about this. She’s the victim, of course. I really detest her. And she’s very young, and her people live entirely too long. Maybe an awkwardly placed candle might precipitate your desired outcome….?

      • “The sooner you realize that you caused this too, the better off you will be” – ex father in law who happens to be a member of the CLERGY! Never mind those pesky Ten Commandments, those laws don’t apply when it’s your kid who fucked another woman.

        • Yep mine said “Well you must not have been all that and a bag of chips or he wouldn’t have left” Bunch of fucked up assholes!

          • Absolutely no remorse…and truckloads of entitlement.

            …unbelievable…all of em!

            • My Inlaws entertain Bishops and Cardinals of the Catholic Church, yet they argue that my ex husband, their brother and son, “has a right to happiness and that blood is thicker than water.” Excuse me but aren’t our three broken hearted children BLOOD? For the past five years, before the cheating began, to my knowledge, I was asking for counseling for better communication during our mid life issues. He said we didn’t need it and now he is with a woman 22 years his younger. My kids hate his sin and they are repulsed by her. 50% of my in laws, who refuse to enable him, are the ones I now call my In-Loves. The rest enable because it is easier and they are entitled cowards. Their problem….not mine. My kids are sticking up for themselves beautifully, despite the faux- christian relatives.

              • Lots of parallels here too…catholic…in laws support xmr…wow…

                I am 2 years old and 1 month divorced and on my knees grateful for this chance to feel the sun!

              • This ^^
                What part of blood is their grandchild, niece ? Life is too short for HIS unhappiness. So he abandoned us on our only daughters sweet 16th birthday. But that’s OK after all” she’s almost grown.”
                ASSHOLES !!

              • Traditional Catholic Latin mass here. No help from priests of the church I attended for 9 years. Only one person called me to see why I wasn’t attending mass. Stbx is so pious. Did all the rituals called for. Required children to be perfect little Catholics, with the threat of losing God’s grace and going to hell. But, at home, a pervert who whacked off to teen porn, even during Lent. Of course he is forgiven with every confession, and has a clean slate with which to sin again. Arghhhhhh. What a crock of horseshit. As soon as I kicked his stupid ass out, I cut my hair, got a nice pair of jeans and found a Catholic church that taught God’s love for us, not that He hated Levi’s.

                His mom is an ostrich. Happy to have her big diamond rings, And pretend to be a Franciscan. And her husband predilection for molesting young girls? Including her own granddaughters? Well, we must forgive. God says so. And if you don’t, well then you are not a good Catholic. Divorce her son?!?! For constant porn surfing, financial malfeasance and neglect of family? You will go to hell. Sure thing. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh! Makes me want to scream. And hit something.

              • Irish–you should hit something, you deserve it. With hope, your loser will suffer collateral damage from the swing.

                I have to ask though, when your STBX was jerking off to teen porn during Lent, did he give up his meat on Fridays ; ) ?

              • Nope, he never gave up his meat!! LOL.

                We gave up meat EVERY Friday during the year. During Lent, fasting 40 days, meat only once a day, but none on Wednesday’s or Fridays. He never missed a Holy Day of Obligation either. And went to Confession weekly.

                He also had a beautiful picture of Mary above his computer monitor. He is unbelievable.

              • Hey Irish… you really think he had the guts to confess to the priest that he wacked off to teen porn?!! Wow, Wow!!!

              • IDK. I do know I dragged his ass to the church, while 8 months pregnant (for those who know my story, this was child #4, DDay# can’t remember, not my first DDay when I was pregnant with #3)
                I made him tell the priest what he was doing. Mind you, this was the third time I dragged his ass to the priest! The priest said, well Mr. XXX, you need to stop doing this. And you should do some penance and cold showers and fasting. And no, Mrs. XXX, STRICTLY SPEAKING THIS IS NOT ADULTERY. It is immoral, yes. He should do whatever it takes to stop. But not adultery.

                So Fr. XXX, why does this feel like adultery???? Answer me that! Why do I feel like my heart has been torn from my chest for the umpteenth time? No answer. Just fingers steepled and a sad, concerned look while slowly shaking his head.

                I can promise you, none of that freaking worked. But asshole did make a point that had I kneeled down and prayed with him, he could have stopped. But because of my stubborn pride, I would not do this ONE thing that would have cured him of this horrible affliction: LUST for teenage girls.

                What a crock of horseshit.

                Don’t get me wrong. I believe in Christ, and his forgiveness. And in the power of prayer. But I could barely look at this horror that was my husband, never mind joining hands and praying with him. Not. Happening.

              • Irish……of course, it was your fault!!! Darn you! He woulda stopped!


              • Great. If it wasn’t your life, Irish. You couldn’t write this shit, and if you read it you’d think someone had been at the communion wine!

    • I agree they DO believe they are better, entitled, smarter. You name it and they are more superior. For the 30 + yrs I ave been married that’s all I heard. “I deserve better… I am smarter, man am I good looking, I deserve better, they are wrong, it was your fault, it was their fault, I am perfect etc” . Never realized what a master at blame shifting he was and still is. NOTHING was his fault ever. Not in his professional life nor his private life. Never apologized for anything ever.

      • Mine either. Everything was my fault…and I now realize all that xmr accused me of was exactly what he was doing. That realization neither helped nor hurt me…it just helped my resolve that I was doing the right thing and had to keep pluggin on tryin to get to meh…for my own well being…

        • Nothing was really my fault in the marriage until ex decided he deserved the OW. Then all shit broke out about how his life was my fault

          • Same here hurt1. Same here. I was the best wife ever till OW. everything he loved about suddenly was all wrong. Screw him. We both deserve better. Big hugs!!!!!!

            • hurt1 & kar marie…….wow! must be a pattern! I was so great too in his eyes (or at least he bullshited that the whole time), then OW stripper and IHaveHate was NO GOOD. Nothing I said or did that he USED to laugh at or like did he laugh at or like anymore. Everything was irritating to him. Fucking asshole! I hate his guts!

          • Yep…same here…right down to him wonderin what great things he would have done had he not married me…??? Kind of invalidated my life in one sentence. He was doing exactly what he is doing right now when I met him…drinking, chasing women…only now he has a real job.

            • I was told that she had missed out on too many things because she knew I wouldn’t enjoy them. In the last year I said no to a lot of things due to money concerns, but previously I always encouraged her to do anything she wanted (Hell, at one point I was going to pay for her and her sister to go the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – I knew her sister was a big fan as well, so she’d have more fun that way. This would have cost thousands of dollars).

              As she was leaving it was suddenly my fault that she didn’t do things. I should have never physically restrained her or guilt-tripped her about wanting to have fun. Oh, wait, those things never happened.

              • Same here…he has been telling people that I wouldn’t leave the house…he is neglecting to tell them the only place he wanted to go was a bar…so, yeah, I didn’t want to go to a bar…no…the only vacations he wanted to take me on were to see his family…not to spend the time with me…alone…we both worked constantly…no alone time…before the insanity that is him now struck we took camping / fishing trips all the time and had a great time…alone… Hell, I don’t know what happened…I quit tryin to figure it out cause his only explanation was that it was all my fault.

                …sigh…this loneliness is crushing…but…as I said, I was alone with him here…

              • Hmmm, I was always up for an adventure in the twenty plus years before he cheated. When “in recovery” I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere with him – I was too humiliated (other than the hysterical bonding phase where we were going to kick this shit’s arse!) I still don’t like to go out anywhere where anyone knows me. This is not who I used to be. Taking a long time to lick my wounds here…

      • Yes, this is narcissism 101: blame shift, sense of entitlement. I still see in everyday life.

        The hard part for the general unaware public who aren’t aware of these narcissistic creeps, is the false image of wholesome goodness portrayed, to make them look like the’re the victim. We’re all well aware of this stuff. We’ve learnt the hard way. But when I see one of those creeps do “their thing” in everyday life, whether it be work, shopping , in the media, I find myself thinking “Noooo! Don’t buy that bullshit!”

        Does anyone else find that?

        • kraft, I remember watching the whole Tiger Woods’ marriage blow-up thing a few years ago, and people talking about his sincere apology and his sex addiction ….. Yeah, nah. Narc, narc, narc all the way. Entitlement, fake remorse, the whole bundle.

          And he had seemed like such a nice man prior. Sigh. Just another asshole.

          • The night the Tigers Woods marriage blow up came on the television I was sitting with my now-ex. I remember saying it appears as if he was a dirty dog & people who cheat are awful. If I trace back the timeline, ex was in early days of pursuing OW at that very moment.

            • Yes Karen. Tiger woods is a good example. I remember reading Lance Armstrong’s first novel, the classic best seller where he survived cancer and went on to win Tour de France. The part of the book where he and his wife “decided ” to separate, was brushed over so smoothly, like it was this amicable separation on good terms.

              Well, no. He was a cheating arsehole, and he she dumped his cheating narcissistic arse! Funny, that never appeared in the book!

              • Kraft–I am laughing. I live in Austin (Lance territory), and was at a half-price book store the other day checking out the $1-$3 bargains. There were TONS of Lance Armstrong bios. I told the checkout clerk they should really reduce those from $3 to “free” as you just can’t give them away now.

                That man has an ego as big as Manhattan. A**hole.

              • Tempest. Those books would probably make great firewood at a campsite. Like “bullshit” , the aroma of the smoke would keep the mosquitoes away

              • So many people who saw Lance Armstrong’s TV interview where he finally admitted to doping and lying called me to tell me that he so reminded them of my ex. It must have happened shortly after my D-Day. Same way of speaking, same body language. I watched it after that and it was stunningly similar.

              • Interestingly, Tiger’s game fell apart after his family crisis. I remember telling my husband, who’s an avid golfer, and religiously follows the PGA that Tiger’s time at the top of his game would be over post family debacle. Golf professionals claim that his physical ailments keep him from playing well, but I think that’s bullshit. Tiger’s ailments reside between the ears at this point. He lost his mojo – his brain was fried after all the negative press.

                When he #1 golfer, his home life was taken care of by his lovely wife. No worries, while he was away on the pro tour, Elin would take care of the kids and warm the house fires in his absence. Now a divorced man, he gets the kids, at least part time – no more free weekends to practise golf. And they’re little kids who require tons of energy. Tiger’s mind is cluttered with single dad thoughts – less time to ponder his swing.

                On the other hand, he does have a new woman in his life, professional skier Lindsay Vonn. Curious that she’s hooked up with him – just the thought of Tiger makes me shudder. I think it’s a narc/narc relationship. We’ll see how long it lasts.

              • Kristin Armstrong had a book out after her marriage blew up, Happily Ever After, Walking with Peace And Courage Through A Year of Divorce. I am pretty sure she viewed her divorce as a blessing.

        • Even before D Day, I had started becoming disgusted with the way my STBX would “portray” himself in public and with family.I remember saying once, “You are the fakest person I have ever known.” And you know what? He thought it was a compliment. “Why thank you,” he said. Anyway, that “image” is alive and well still for him, as I understand in his newly acquired involuntary transfer position at work, he is charming the socks off everyone and boy do they feel sorry for him all he endured. And isn’t it so sad how he’s lost all that weight, and he can’t sleep at night, and his wife was so mean to him. He has taken to telling the neighbors I verbally and emotionally abused him so much that he became ill. Oh brother. Sorry is as sorry does and he’s a sorry dude.

          • xmr said something similar to me, how he could absolutely look someone he hates (he was raging at me that he hates EVERYBODY) and that they wouldn’t even know that he hated them cause he can hide it so well (guess he can hide lots of stuff real well)…anyway he absolutely hates my sister in law – always has called her the c word (I hate that word! …it became the only way he addressed me after I found out about OWs…ugh…immature disordered asshole)…so yeah…if my sister in law only knew what he thinks about her…well…I’m sure he thinks that about most mortals !!!!

            • @ Jeep “well…I’m sure he thinks that about most mortals !!!!” LMAO…. you got that right…. stupid assholes really do think they’re “special” don’t they??? Such ASSHOLES, seriously wtf??

              • LOL!!! Yes they do!!!! Assholes!!!

                My little lawyer…little blond bombshell bout all of 4 feet tall relieved xmr of his balls at the contempt hearing (he filed contempt on me for filing my taxes single…?????) …he was amazing to watch…he hates women anyway (else how could he use and abuse them so easily????) I am seriously thinkin of getting her a little pink ‘wife beater’ tee shirt with ‘I kick little cake eater’s asses!’ on it!!!! LOL!

                I SO appreciated seeing him leveled!!!!! Cowardly asshole!

    • My stbx used to yell at me all the time “I’M PERFECT! YOU WILL NEVER FIND ANYTHING WRONG WITH ME!”
      So, yeah…I’d call his view of himself pretty f*****g superior!

      • Mighty Mite–that is hysterical!! I am amazed these cheaters can have their head so far up their asses that they think they are the best thing since sliced bread. Did you laugh at the time? I’m sure the only reason mine didn’t say that out loud was because he knows I would have rolled around on the floor in uncontrollable laughter.

  • Yep another post I need to tattoo to the insides of my eyelids. Chumplady you are just the best.

  • Ahhh, it’s probably some of both. I think the scariest combo is being arrogant and insecure, all at the same time. And probably some are one, some the other.

    Here’s the thing–it doesn’t matter. Their behaviors matter. If they act like assholes, they’re assholes. Most probably compartmentalize, even if they feel badly, and they don’t feel badly about you, but about themselves. I think my STBXH is terribly ashamed, but it didn’t change anything, caused him to behave badly toward me, trying to tear me down, and ultimately doesn’t matter. And at some level, they feed off the drama.

    After you spend years nurturing and protecting your family, including your wayward partner, it is hard to shift toward putting that energy into a different form of productive. I figure it’s like exercise–baby steps, do a little every day. You get better and stronger…

    • PhiSJM–well-put. Their actions wreak havoc on people and families (and sometimes finances, and health, etc.).

      And I agree, many of them are addicted to the drama. I noticed about that about my X when we first started dating–he was addicted to the fight + makeup afterwards. I just felt exhausted by it. I guess once I threatened to leave enough because of the drama, he took it underground and got his drama by seducing and screwing other people. The deception was a stand-in for the drama.

      • My ex took it underground. Whenever I wanted to pursue something he wouldn’t outright tell me NO but would subtly sabatoge me. For example, taking a few college classes. He would volunteer to take care of our kids and then halfway through the semester his work became the priority. I was a classic Chump, isolated and far from family. I did everything by myself and was content with crumbs tossed my way. One time the kids and I journeyed south to visit my parents and my ex paid someone to finish my tile project. On the day we married he went and partied with our friends and left me at the hotel suite with our new baby. WTF, right?!? Who does stuff like this!?! Yes, signs of his crap behavior were there, I was just naive, raised by an alcoholic and used to making excuses. I find it hilarious that he’s married to his AP. That right there, Karma.

  • I would go along with you, CL, on not quite agreeing with that generalized statement. Although I know myself enough to know that when I see people do things that I do that bother me? It definitely irritates me.

    In my own experience with my Narc X, his vulnerabilities came out more in demonstrated hypocrisy.

    Looking back into my journal, when he was having his EA, he was accusing me of having affairs. Whenever I decided to go get in shape, he was convinced I was doing it for “other” reasons than just being healthy. I could never understand why he “went there”. In fact, one day I was working in our home office. Around 10 am, he burst into the house and ran back into the bedroom. I was wondering “what the hell is he doing!!” I heard the closet doors fling open and slam shut. As he was leaving the house, I said, “Hey honey, you OK?” He just said a deflated, “Yeah”, and left. It dawned on me he was looking to “catch” me in something.

    When he would get on his soap-box in a more vehement way about how someone was doing something, or, an opinion that someone had, it was not too long I would notice him doing or saying something similar.

    • …wow onthehill…xmr did the same thing to me…??? I never thought about that was why…wow…I guess that would make what he was doing okay in his messed up mind…

    • I found myself ‘projecting’ how I would feel if I were the one in his shoes…I wouldn’t be able to hold my head up…I would be forever trying to make it right with him…it only served to keep me stuck for another year of horrible abuse…xmr had no remorse other than his ‘image’ and assets…he didn’t want his image tarnished or his assets divided! To hell with me and my crushed emotional state! He just surrounded himself with new people and changed the story to fit his actions – that I was the reason he had to move on cause I was ‘crazy’ and depressed and…wow… They have no remorse…tis true…

      • I actually tried to picture myself in cheater’s shoes, too–having a sweet young thing attracted to me, meeting for coffee, etc., heading back to her apartment for a shag on the twin bed….and that is when it hit me–NO WAY I could have gone through with that knowing I had a spouse back home. Putting myself in his shoes mentally was the final straw in trusting that he sucks.

        When I asked him, at any point did you have a pang of conscience and think, “I can’t do this, I have a wife?” he said no, the lust just took over. Remorseless narcissist. He sucks and sucks BIG.

        • Unfortunately with men – and maybe this is why cheaters tend to be men more than women – they can compartmentalize things in their brain. We don’t typically do that. It’s natural with them.

            • Yes only the assholes!!!!

              And if they can compartmentalise their cheating, they can compartmentalise us when we no longer meet their needs. I don’t think they even realise there is a problem with their actions, which is why they so quickly see themselves as the victim.
              In there thinking our reactions do not corilate with their actions.
              Stay strong chumps.

        • i am right with you on that. i had many good looking guys hit on me when i was married. and Hell YES i was flattered but not once did i ever think to actually kiss or fuck one of them. i had made my choice and he was at home waiting for me (or at least at home sleeping). i could never bring myself to take it to that next level with other men after i was married.

          i never asked boyman that question. i already know what he would say, his excuse would be “of course i was thinking of you. but i thought you didnt want/love/need me anymore by the way you been acting. i thought we were getting divorced and it hurt me so much that is why i had to be with her, to help me feel not so bad because you were leaving/divorcing me”

          he will NEVER own up to his actions that lead me to kicking him out on new’s years day and that lead me to fill out the divorce papers. he pushes to the point that i have to do something then he will blame me for doing that one thing instead of all the things he did that drove me to that point. he plays the victim very very well.

      • Once during the 6 mos before I went NC, Ex said to me in a text: “what would you do, re you, if you were me?” First off, the phrase “re you” made me sick to my stomach, to be so objectified as if I were just a problem of his to be solved. I answered, “I can’t answer that because never in a billion years could I ever have done to you what you did to me.” His answer? “ok.”

        • Muse, our twin exes strike again! Narc was trying to get my sympathy and help after he neglected the kids so badly that they started to refuse to see him. He said ‘put yourself in my shoes, how would you feel?’. For a moment I almost bit that hook, but I managed to think for a moment and reply ‘I would NEVER be in the situation you’re in’. At least he looked sheepish and didn’t push it or rage, that time. Knew it was true. (Later of course I got the accusations of being ‘harsh’ and having ‘no compassion’.)

        • Muse, I told my ex I could never have done to him what he did to me either. Here’s a good quote I found: “If I wouldn’t do it to you, I won’t take it from you.” I think those are good words to live by going forward…

      • Mine left and never looked back, not a tear in his eye…. I think the asshole skipped to his SUV. He is living his life…. meeting new peeps at the gym…. being the super awesome muscly super bodybuilder trainer dude…. every day… “training” at 4:00 PM sharp. Traveling…. competitions…. fitness expo’s…… any function that has ANY thing to do with stupid fucking bodybuilding. If you ask him?? “My life isn’t all peaches and roses like you think it is… that has always been your misconception.” Really asshole?? I thought I, me alone, was the root of ALL that is “negative” and evil in your world…. squashing your mojo……I have been eliminated (“you ARE the weakest link”) and therefore YOU should be “HAPPY”….. oh…. wait…. your life still sucks poor little sausage….. I thought the selfish twat-waffle was going to make it all fabulous?? Not so? Isn’t that just too bad eh? Pretentious f*ckwit!!

        His Mother blamed me too the first time I caught him… asshole chump that I am…. I blamed myself too. Glad I pulled my head out of my ass this time. Good Grief!!

        As for questions…. I’ve asked many…. I get the same response….. you hear that chumps???? Yes… that… that big BLANK space of nothing…… that’s what I get…. nada….nothing… NOT. ONE. WORD. He couldn’t possibly be a more callous asshole if he applied more effort, he is a perfect asshole already.

        • The last time I saw my ex, a week after she left me (surprise!) she was happier than I had ever seen her. I mean, she was down right giddy. So, I was left with the idea that escaping me was true freedom, that she was elated to be rid of me.

          You mentioned him practically skipping to his SUV. Did you take that personally? If not, I’m jealous! If so, did you eventually get over it? How?

          • WWDSG, my ex actually smirked at me as I stumbled around in confusion and bewilderment after the revelations of D-Day. When I told him to get out and not come back, in my mind, his shiny dress shoes skittered on the hardwood floor like in a cartoon, so happy was he to leave.. After that, in the few interactions we had to have, he’d try to act superior, calm, benevolent and polite, like a distant uncle with whom I’d somehow managed to have 3 children. He never explained why he had cheated and lead a double life for at least 15 years (we were married 25). He admitted that he was planning to marry one of his AP’s within days of him leaving. It was mind blowing and impossible to digest since he had acted like he adored me and told me he loved me every single day up to that point.

            You get over it by realizing that you will never understand it, that there is no explaining it, and that they are profoundly disordered. You realize that your mind will keep trying to figure it out, but you never will. I also realized at some point that I would probably go to my grave stunned by what he did. I accepted that.

            I also decided that I’d be damned if that was going to be the last story in my romantic life. I did not know whether I would find anyone I wanted to date, let alone marry, and frankly thought that was not in the cards for me again, but I was going to give it a try. And so I decided to move on and started dating pretty early after the divorce. I am now remarried to a much better man and cannot believe what I hadn’t know I was missing in the 25 years of my first marriage.

            So I think my recommendation is accept that you will never understand, and move on as best you can and in the best way possible for you.

            Ex is marrying AP this summer, but I will never wish him happiness after he abandoned me and our 3 children. Our children do not speak to him, and he is persona non grata to our family and community, and he moved away with AP. Whether he knows it or not, and whether he cares or not, karma has visited him already.

            • Superior, calm, benevolent, polite, like a distant uncle with whom I’d somehow managed to have 3 children – Wow, perhaps your cheater ex is a long lost twin of my cheater ex, because those words so accurately describe mine as he was making his exit. It was beyond scary to be treated in that neutral, dispassionate way in a volatile emotional context. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Like you, Kelly, I also remarried a better man. They did us a favour by leaving – we were free to enter a new, healthier relationship.

              • Kelly and Tflan…….feeling a lil envious of both of you getting a fresh, better start. I won’t; not with an STD X bastard gave me. So sad to be alone; never wanted to be, I like having a significant other. ;(

              • Within a week mine had all kinds of young grad students hanging around, and had died his mustache from gray to dark brown. He couldn’t wait to be free of me. He acted like a complete stranger, like he’d been let out of his cage. E

                I agree with Kelly that you will never understand it. It doesn’t make sense to chumps. Eventually you come to accept it’s just the way they are. It gets easier as your build your own life. I’ve been NC with my ex for 3 years. I’m sure if I saw him in person it would be harder to deal with, but luckily no one ever tells me anything about him, and I never look him up on social media. It’s like he’s dead to me. That’s the only way I know how to deal with it. Things might change when our grandchildren enter the picture because I’ll most likely see him more often, I don’t know.

                It’s really strange when your heart recognizes this person a source of comfort, but your head knows he’s the one who almost destroyed you. Very dissonant experience.

            • I think the smirking is his way of Charlie Sheen “winning!” Obviously Charlie Sheen did not win the escalation of sins that cost him his job. But he took to the Internet and pretended he did. It’s a defend your ego thing.

              I am guessing your ex wasn’t happy to be caught being a sleeze, so he pretended he was winning.

          • Not sure how my name got posted wrong… but stevie729 is me…. anyway….

            @WhichWayDidSheGo 😀 Don’t be jealous…. I don’t know if I actually took it personally, but I was completely devastated by the entire destruction of what I thought we had. He carried on with his affair, while living in our home, for 3 months after D-Day. It was torturous living like that, him sitting there texting…knowing he was talking to her… then he’d leave the house every night to go call her. When he finally left, it was hard…. but it was also a relief. I’ve shared in previous posts that he left 6 days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer…. so I had a LOT going on besides just him. At one point I told the heartless asshole that he ripped my f*cking heart out and then got pissed off at me for bleeding!!

            As for that “happy” face, it is all bullshit…. fake as f*ck… just another of the many masks they wear in their little game of “Look At Me”. He and most of his family are all a bunch of enabling & pretentious assholes. They all PRETEND he is absolutely perfect……. his life is in the toilet and I’m the only one that knows the 100% truth, well he knows it but pretends not to (magical thinking) and sooner or later (probably sooner) it is all going to come crashing down… on him and only him.

            Funny thing…. I was thinking today… his grown kids and his parents actually KNOW the truth and they care more about just bumbling along and not confronting him with his own bullshit. How SAD is it…. that the people who are supposed to LOVE you and be HONEST with you about yourself…. would stand by and watch you go down in flames rather than ruffle your feathers or rock the boat? And he tells me I’M the one who is f*cked up.

            I don’t know if I’m “over” it…… or “over” him completely….. I love, or loved him very much (the person I thought I knew). There is just SO much damage… so much pain….. so the hurt is still there but he has just done so much that it feels different… irreparable. In my heart I just know that he is not redeemable, not without an act of God of some sort… and it would have to be a miracle in comparison to the resurrection of Jesus Christ to scare the asshole out of him.

            • Stevie…oh Honey. I didn’t know…I hope you are well…I hope you have loving caring people around you! Do you have enough support and help?

              …what a cowardly asshole! What a WORTHLESS MAN! He just left you while you are dealing with breast cancer! Oh Honey! I hope you are getting better now!

              …these people are monsters…cowardly, hide in the dark monsters…

              • No worries Jeep, I am ONE tough piece of work 😀 and I am doing well as a matter of fact, thank you. I had 2 surgeries, one in December (one month to the date that he left) and the other was last Wednesday (my final reconstruction). I could have gone another route… but I wanted to take the route that would best insure no recurrence since I have a young son to think about. I opted for the double mastectomy & reconstruction. I am one of the lucky ones, my results came back low risk… no radiation or chemo… just meds for the next 5 years. There was some previous discussion about this in yesterday’s comments.

                They are most definitely cowards. Zero integrity.

              • I am so glad to hear you are well! Oh!!! Thank goodness!


                Oh Honey I am so glad you are ok!

                We are all Blessed with such miracles!!!! Like when those cowards walked away! 😀

                I am so glad you are okay!

        • STEVIE!!! LOL!!! That was the first belly laugh I have had all day!!! THANK YOU! LOL!!!

          …crap…MY asshole said the same thing about his life!!! Just workin, workin out and comin home and workin more…no bed of roses here!!! LOL!

          My lawyer advised me to meet with that asshole and try to work out the particulars so we could get the divorce over with…that asshole actually wanted to sit and complain about this ows!!!! WHAT! AND he cried! Tears! …they didn’t quite fall down his cheeks but…there they were! I was AMAZED! He said he wanted to move home if I could let it go cause he is too old to start over…WHAT!!!! …I asked him if the shoe was on the other foot if he would take me back…he just hung his head and said no…asshole…ugh!

          • Glad you got a giggle 😀 those are my favorite…. I just LOVE it here!! I look forward to reading all the comments because some of these posts are priceless!! So glad to see that so many of us can still have a sense of humor in the midst of such anguish and horrible circumstances.

            My asshole hasn’t given ANY hint….not even a morsel… that he might be regretting what he has done (he has only been gone 3+ months). He SAID he is “sorry for everything I have ever done to you” and “I know I did everything the wrong way”… but his EGO would never allow him to admit that he f*cked everything up. He will NEVER admit to being a LIAR and a CHEATER and he will follow this ride straight into hell before he would EVER jump off and admit he was WRONG.

            That bodybuilding bullshit is a recipe for destruction, it became his new addiction. He truly just stopped caring about everything else, every single moment of every day revolves around that shit. No matter WHERE we were or WHAT the conversation was about…. he would always find a way to start talking about his “training” or his “dieting”. It was SO obvious to everyone but him… that nobody gave ONE SHIT about hearing it over and over and over. I don’t know HOW they can all stand to be around each other…. have you ever been to a competition?? They have a thing called a “pose down” where they are all posing and stepping in front of each other to show off for the judges…. reminds me of a bunch of kindergarteners trying to push in front of each other at the drinking fountain. Simulates their existence in life too…. always pushing everyone else out of the way to be the attention whore…. look at me…. look at me….. aren’t I amazing???

            • xmr is an attention whore too…his penis…the day I saw that…I just got up and left…

              The beauty of life, the wonders of nature, the amazing feeling of being truly loved by others…these disordered assholes have no idea what they are missing!

              …THEY would be SO jealous if they even FELT 1 second of what WE KNOW, FEEL, SEE AND ENJOY!

              Don’t waste another minute of this WONDERFUL LIFE on them! As CL says GO BE AWESOME!

            • Stevie, mine got into his body too. He was buying some kind of diet supplement from OW that kept him with the runs all the time. He was in the bathroom so much and I was so sick of cleaning up after him. He got thinner than I’d ever seen him, but kept saying he’d never felt better. He got even thinner than he was as a teenager and to me he looked awful. Everyone in our community noticed too, I seriously thought he had some kind of brain cancer or horrible disease but he refused to go to the doctor. It seemed to me he was trying to turn back into a teenager.

              • The similarities with these disordered assholes is endless… even the crap they say… they all say the same crap…. think the same crap…. act the same.

                I swear… if I ever get involved with another man… I’m checking references…

        • Stevie729…….I hear ya on the nada, nothing, zilch etc…… Me too! I can’t tell you how many verbal talks before split and emails/texts after split of me just practically begging for some kind of answer and to this moment got nothing too! Yes, back in the really foggy days!
          Now days…….Hate hate and more hate for him. I wonder when this will end?!!!

          • THAT shit is all about control…. it’s just another way for them to say “F*CK YOU” to us. Pure unadulterated mindfuckery!! Who does that?? as CL said last week “Assholes. Vile people. People with shit for character. Cowards.”

            I’ve heard it said that the opposite of love is indifference. I believe that. That is when it will end, when you have finished wading through the shit and the muck and worked it all out in your head and your heart and you no longer “feel” pain about the demise or the asshole…. chumps here call it “Meh”.

    • The ex accused me of cheating on him several times in our relationship. One time he even left our children home alone after 11PM (they were 8 and 11 at the time) to “catch me” cheating at work. He tore into the parking lot where he found me with 3 other women gossiping on a Friday night after a hellish work week. We were all wild sitting on that picnic table drinking water!

      He would routinely go through my purse to find ‘evidence’ of me cheating and as soon as cell phones came on the scene if someone called my number accidentally he would call it back and ask them why they were calling me.

      I put up with that for a long time, mostly because I was dependent on him financially. As soon as that was no longer the case, I put my foot down and told him it stopped immediately or I was out.

      For the longest time, I thought it was because he was so insecure but I now I realize without a doubt it’s because he was most likely cheating all that time. He was projecting the behavior he assumed everyone had. I kind of giggle when I think he’s hitched his wagon to another cheater. If I wasn’t so comfortably on the road to meh, I’d be almost interested in getting out the popcorn to watch that shit show unfold!

      • I never wanted to believe that the cheating went back before we were married, but I too used to wonder at my ex’s “insecure” behavior. I was a flight attendant. After almost every trip he’d say, “did anyone try to pick up on you?”, “did anyone try to get your number?” ” did you meet any rich cute guys?” I wish I would have known about projection back then 🙁

  • I like Brene Brown’s work. And I think Dr. Simon has some good points as well. It is likely a case of both/and as opposed to either/or. It depends on the cheater. However, as CL boils it down, the behavior tells you what you need to know. Can you live with it? If not, then it is time to leave. If you decide to stay, then figuring out whether it is shame or something else becomes very important.

    • Yes indeed–whether a person is abusing you out of their shame or because of their narcissism, it’s still abuse.

    • I’m with Dr. Simon and CL on this. Their personalities are not a function of low self esteen, insecurity, self-loathing…..their problem is there focus on self and complete lack of empathy. When I finally ‘got’ that, I got out. Believing there was a forgivable reason for that kind of behavior just kept me stuck.

  • After being married to a very opinionated and controlling man who was also PA and probably a narc, I can say that I am changing how I live the second half if my life.

    I no longer try to view people in the best possible light or give them the benifit of a doubt.

    If it looks like a dick, acts like a dick, and talks like a dick – it’s most likely a dick or an asshole.

    People who insult me, are rude and nasty and act like bad people are BAD PEOPLE!!!

    No need to figure them out.

    I was a minister’s wife, so I used to try to find the good in everyone.

    Nope – it’s just not there.

    I am going into this half of my life with my eyes wide open! B

    • I feel the exact same way Lisa. I feel like I’ve lost my innocence at 43 years old because I thought almost everyone was a generally good person. I thought the bad people were in prison or living on the fringes of society and everyone else was basically good. My elder of our church, abandoning cheaterpants opened my eyes to the secondary evil that is hidden behind good appearances. Dr. George Simon opened my eyes to judge people’s actions, not words . I, too, will be skeptical of all people from this point on. This is a great article about overlooked red flags that show bad character: .

      • One thing I’ve noticed after surviving infidelity is that NOTHING surprises me any more. For instance, I used to would have been shocked when I heard the allegations about Bill Cosby, but now I just shrug. It doesn’t surprise me to find out our idols have feet of clay.

  • I like a lot of Bene Browns too. I can’t identify with that particular statement. I would side more on the asshole trait.
    I have mentioned before that my Idiots favorite book is ” 48 Laws of Power. ” He coveted that book. He hilighted points that he identified with and put into practice a lot of the “rules.” I initially thought it was due to the nature of his work… Undercover Narc … but a lot of the lingo and traits began to ooze into our lives. He was always very good at the duplicity and seemlessly moved from our family life into street hood…. hanging with prostitutes gang members and punks. There were times when he told me we couldnt be seen in public together. ( I now questions a lot of those motives) I had a private cell number and our address and other identifiers were off the grid. Strange world… But I supported him through it. Even endured a drive by shooting at our house because his UC car was parked in front. He was marked by a local gang and soon had to abandon post.
    And thats when our lives took a turn… He took a regular post… But somehow the clandestine lifestyle was still hanging on… And thats when my suspsicions grew. My own detective work outed his affair and the rest is history as they say…
    When I started asking questions and calling him out on his double talk is when he became hostile, agressive and finally violent toward me.
    Most days I feel like I have been duped for most of my marriage by a man who can and does live duplicitiously. And i try not to sit and unravel the skein… I often wonder WTF happened? Wired differently…dangerously.
    No shame in his game.

    • Clip, my stbx was an undercover narc too! I think it takes a special kind of pathological liar to be a sleazy drug guy, and a family man at the same time. The whole worry of being made, and he would never sit with his back to any door. He drove a fancy car, and dressed the part. Trolled all the sleazy parts of town late at night. Crazy way to live. Even had an alias. Then he went to beast officer. DWI enforcement. Great. Drunk women he pulled over, and had to deal with, I shudder to think of what he was doing to them. He used to find a lot of underage teens and would drive them home. Hmmm.

      Before he met me, and I know y’all are going to ask how stupid could I be, he told me that the girl living with him made him mad while he was getting ready for work. So he handcuffed her to the refrigerator and left her there. For an hour. Till he had one of his buddies go by to uncuff her. At the time, I told him that was horrible! But he said it was a joke and she wasn’t mad. She didn’t leave him, she stayed. *Facepalm*. Just typing this makes me feel so stupid. WTF was I thinking. And what is wrong with me that I did not run like hell away from him.

      Rereading this, I almost did not post it. It made me so angry with myself and feel like I must be either incredibly stupid or incredibly damaged to not have seen that for what it was. I deserve this hell because I’m an idiot.
      But if this helps one single woman snap out of it and pay attention to her gut, run like hell away from the crazy, and for God’s sake don’t have kids with these psychos, then I’ll put this out there.

      • Irish–I’m glad you posted that. I struggle with feeling stupid everyday for not connecting the dots of my X’s fuckedupedness (or fuckupedness?). I even had a well-meaning friend ask, “Didn’t you suspect anything?” which I translated as “Everyone else has known for 8 years that your H banged a grad student and flirts ostentatiously at parties. How did you miss this?”

        I used to interrogate kids in a drug rehab center about their misbehavior (and I was good at it), but still didn’t detect even a fraction of my X’s duplicity.

        The only way to explain why we intelligent people miss the signs for so long is “schema.” It’s a term from cognitive psych to explain how we organize small pieces of information into a larger, more coherent representation. Our schemata were stuck on “trusting.” As pieces of information would come in, we just explained them away and incorporated them into our schema. Not until switches started flipping do we alter our schemata and then start to see deceptive acts for what they are.

        What was the alternative? Go into marriage with a non-trusting schema? Then you risk interpreting every ambiguous act as deception, and may ruin a perfectly good marriage with accusations. And who wants to live not trusting the people closest to you.

        We need to let ourselves off the hook. But, I know, we still feel stupid. I told my daughter that it’s as if I was some innocent toddler skipping merrily through dangerous territory.

        • Truth. I always questioned things, but brushed them off as being too untrusting. And could be charming, helpful, kind. As a person who grew up in an abusive alcoholic home, ending up being taken away by thre state for abuse And cruelty by both parents, and growing up inthe foster care system, I was so fucking grateful for crumbs. I thought I was so LOVED by him. Not so. I believe you are right about our schema. Spot on again ,Tempest.

          • Trust schema, crumbs and fear…no more!
            Self validation, for me is what I need everyday as my journey has been long.
            It started Sept. 1998, the first DdAY and the 2nd Dday Nov. 2014 – I say NO MORE!
            I have taken my power and life back!
            The opportunity costs that my investment in this 30+ year relationship blows my mind.
            My 28th wedding anniversary will come before the divorce.
            He took advantage of my loyalty and trust and that is unforgivable!

            • LAJ…..I relate on the crumbs too! Very sad for all! My friend has always pointed the crumb thing out to me, even when I really don’t want to hear it! Yea……thanks friend! 🙁

          • I was so overwhelmed when I realized I spent a total of 41 years with a disturbed man. The paralysis, self loathing , and emptiness consumed many months following the final discard. I felt so fucking stupid. At the four month point I understood how narcs prey on loving, selfless, forgiving partners. Chumps are not stupid. They are tolerant. We struggle to row the boat through the storm as they sit across from us making shit sandwiches and ask us to pass the mayo. They are in fact idiots.

            • “Chumps are not stupid. They are tolerant. We struggle to row the boat through the storm as they sit across from us making shit sandwiches and ask us to pass the mayo. They are in fact idiots.”

              THAT ^^^ Well put Donna. i know I’m not stupid…. but I sure feel stupid. It’s even worse when you know how stupid they are and realize how bad they’ve been getting over on you….. wtf? It really has been such a shitty existence….. can’t wait for “meh”. I’m close.

              • I wasn’t stupid, but I was naive. It never crossed my mind that people like that could exist. Nobody does until they encounter one, and that usually has to be in really close quarters.

            • Donna…..first off, 41 years!!! wow. just wow.
              When you said we’re not dumb…….we’re not and it brought to mind what I posted a few days ago on my facebook. It says:
              Soft hearted people are not fools. They know what people did to them, but they forgive again and again because they have beautiful hearts.

            • Donna, I remember telling my ex on D-day that I felt like the biggest fool in the universe. It was like I’d put all my money in the stock market just to have is crash right before retirement. I think forgiving myself for sacrificing so much to someone who didn’t understand or care was the hardest part. Some days I still struggle with that.

            • Donna, I also had almost 41 years invested in my marriage and I feel totally used by my ex! I wonder how I could have been so duped! I feel totally used! These fuckers use is for nearly our entire lives then want is to just “suck it up” and move on! Well, okay fuck face, I am sucking it up! The divorce is all but done and is aged to get everything! I feel that is just compensation for devoting entire life to eating his shit sandwiches!! Screw him and his Schmoopie!!

          • This is so true, Donna. On one hand, I realize this was not my fault. But a large part of me feels like a huge idiot. I mean, really? I look back, and it’s all there. Easy to see now. And earlier I meant HE could be charming, helpful and kind. I am trying so hard not to regret, because I feel it is a useless emotion. But it drags me down. I feel suffocated by the hot mess I find myself in. And so trapped. Like an animal.. I’m to the point of chewing my own damn leg off to get away.

            • …I am feeling the same way right now Irish…crap…so lonely…but…I was alone even when he was here…sigh…

              …what I tried to say before is I am 2 years OUT (not old) and divorced a month and I still keep feeling this way every now and again…I guess it is the intense loneliness…

              I need a vacation…if I could afford it I would go see Regina and snorkel the reef!! LOL!!

              • Jeep–say where your general area is and some other chumps might be interested in meeting up for coffee (I’d say use the forums but not everyone reads those). By setting up a new “CL” gmail account, I could post it anonymously here. It was helpful to me to meet up with one person nearby over New years, and we have plans to meet up again.

              • Tempest that would be wonderful! I am in Ohio…how do I set up a CL gmail account?

              • I just set up a new gmail account incorporating my CL moniker (e.g. [email protected]). You could post it in the forums under “Ohio chumps” and see if anyone was interested in a get together.

              • Tempest… the idea! I’m in Kansas City. Anyone out here?!!!

              • Ha ha… too funny…. assholes first rendezvous with the whore was in Kansas City and he is on his way to Ohio for the Arnold Classic. I’m in good old STL.

              • What is STL?

                LOL! I lost what I was going to post…guess you got part of it…Grapes of Wrath…Wizard of Oz…Kansas Wow!!!

              • NC Stevie…..yep, unfortunately there are whores here in KC too! lol
                Jeep…….STL= St. Louis

              • But of course there are IHH, although this one lives outside of Springfield, MO….they “met” there.

                Cheater Assholes & Whores…. no shortage of those anywhere unfortunately. Just like a f*cking cockroach infestation or some kind of epidemic.

  • “It’s a popular notion that narcissists have deep down issues with vulnerability and shame. That they overcompensate. They put on airs, because somewhere inside they feel small.

    I think it’s more likely that they actually DO think they are superior to you and feel entitled to do as they please.”


    I have believed the above for YEARS. My ex-cheater was heavily into self-help, especially when it came to abusive relationships. In fact, we met on a forum for abuse ‘victims’, and he claimed that his ex-girlfriend was an abusive narcissist.

    I think at some point he suspected that HE was the actual narcissist. At one point, he even asked me out-of-the-blue, if I believed that narcissists have a “core of shame”.

    I said, “No.”

    He didn’t like that.

    I went on to explain what I quoted above. Some people REALLY DO believe that they are superior to others and that they ‘deserve’ whatever they want. They seem to believe this because they either grew up WITH a silver spoon (I have always gotten what I wanted when I was a child, therefore I should CONTINUE to get what I want as an adult) or WITHOUT a silver spoon (I NEVER got what I wanted as a child, so I should ALWAYS get what I want as an adult.)

    Just my “2 sense”


    • Absolutely. My ex is diagnosed NPD. I’ve written this before, but right before leaving the house the morning after Dday, he told me, “I love myself just the way I am and I would never want to change.” That’s a look right into the head of a narc. That’s how they REALLY feel. Bullshit on the “core of shame” or insecurity. They don’t feel those types of emotions.

    • You all are completely spot on.

      STBX talked & cried his way through his core of shame during reconciliation.

      All was great…..till DDay#2.

      They truly have no shame. They are entitled to whatever they want whenever they want.

      And they will play “Cheaper to Keep Her” as long as you will stay in your seat at the table.

      Homie don’t play that no more!!!!

      • Oh the crying. Constant. Huge racking sobs. I swear he almost rent his shirt.. he would have pulled his hair out if he had any. LOL. Oh and I bought it, the first 2 DDays. After that, it just did not move me. Actually pissed me off. But I still tried to “help” him. I still smoked that hopium believing maybe unicorns are real. Nope. They’re not. But they sure can cry.And look so darn sad. And learn how to not get caught next time……….

        • Irish, same with mine. Weeks of uncontrollable sobbing. So uncharacteristic I thought he was seriously ill. I’d hardly seen him shed a tear in the 36 years I’d known him!

      • The first time we went to MC cheater cried nearly the whole time. Later I realized he also lied the whole time. It truly was an Oscar winning performance. He said he felt such shame and had to go for a few days to deal with it. But he came back because he promised me he would go to this appointment. Turns out he spent four days with the AP.

        • Lady jane……ha! of course! Mine told me after DDay 1 that it’s best if we don’t talk on phone, see each other or any of it for 2 weeks and then when we meet again, we can evaluate what we both might want to do. (we saw each other every other weekend faithfully (well, one of us was ‘faithful’ for 10 years).
          Sick fuck! I have never used such ugly foul language for someone in my whole life as I have for him!!!
          The other day I told my friend that if he was on fire and my spit would put him out, I’d walk right past him. Wow! I’m not a happy camper.

          • Oh sorry, got caught up in it. But meant to continue to say and those 2 weeks he of course was with his stripper!

  • Great topic and insight CL! In general, I try not to generalize (sorry!). In my VERY STBXW’s case (the divorce is imminent), I could see in her face that she felt no shame. On one occasion I lost it and yelled at her about her affairs. This was only one of two times in our 25 years together that I ever yelled at her. I just lost it in response to her saying what was wrong with me (I think she was baiting me now that I think back). During the time I was yelling she was just smiling! No shame at all, in fact she was like a cat that swallowed a canary. It was a turning point for me because I realized that I don’t know this person. She is an alien. Creepy.

    • “During the time I was yelling she was just smiling! No shame at all, in fact she was like a cat that swallowed a canary.”
      Wow, TwinsDad, you just put into words my experience with my STBXH. I could never pinpoint what was going on during these episodes. You did that for me. All I can say is it was terribly unsettling. That smile, and the hurt I was exposing to him, just made me stop breathing for a second trying to understand what was happening. I am not going to miss those times. The memories still make my stomach turn upside down.

    • TwinsDad…..yes, alien and creepy for sure! I know what you’re saying about yelling 2x in 25 yrs. I was with X less that half that time, 10 yrs, and I raised my voice a couple of times ONLY as well. Of course, this was at the end as he continued to lie and lie. It’s sickening and unbelievable…..STILL!!!

    • Twins dad, yes I can so relate. Near the end of my divorce withSTBXW also. They do bait to get us angry. I haven’t taken the bait in years. Only in the early confusing post Dday era. My ex would entice with the most horrible comments. And when I responded, she would calmly stand there and smile. She’d portray an image of her being the angel.

      I quickly learnt what she was doing and eventually just gave her inert responses. She then accused me of emotional abuse for not engaging in her abuse.

      It was only when I discovered material about personality dissorders, narc. and borderline that I felt a huge sense of relief that my instincts were right. That she was a manipulative disturbed person. All our life, I new she had psychological issues, but we’re not psychologists, I didn’t know that. Her over compensating “niceness” for about 30% of the time kept me stuck into thinking she really was a good person who will get past her “problems”.

      Thank god for the Internet and sites like Tracy’s CL. And don’t get me started on the psychology profession and its lack of action against these people. Talk about “asleep at the wheel”. In my profession, inaction, where your professional obligation is to do something is called “supervised neglect”.

      • You are so right about the ‘niceness ‘ they display! He would be on the phone with customers and laugh and smile as he spoke with someone. The minute he got off the phone his affect changed. When I called him on it he responded by saying everyone thinks I’m nice except you! He bragged about what a nice guy he considered himself. He would also brag about my job and talk about me with customers as if he was so fortunate. I never got one compliment directed to me personally.

        • OMG Donna! xmr did the same thing with his clients on the phone…right down to talking bout me and all that I do…ugh…we were all abused by the same person…!

          • I saw a friend of his within his presence and he told me all the nice things he would say about me. This friend was the single friend who my husband practically lived with for four years. So gut told me he was a bullshitter and they had so many secrets. I knew when he made that comment that he probably really said nice things ( I’m a chump so naturally i am pretty nice) it was more of a reflection on how great he was somehow, if that makes sense? I was just a thing. He never said a nice personal thing to me or my kids but when he did speak it was to try to convince us of what a good guy he was and how talented he was. Uuggghhhh this happened years ago and it is burned in my eyeballs.

            • Ugh huh!!! It baffles me why…but xmr’s comment on how he can smile and play nice even with people he hates (and he said he hates everybody – you would have to to treat people he supposedly loves the way he does!) Tempest is correct…we should all be celebrating that we are free of their deception and emotional abuse!

    • Once, during bogus reconciliation, ex was ragging on me for moving out of marital home and “wasting” money by renting an apartment. I reminded him that I had moved out due to his telling me he didn’t want to be married to me anymore and because he was cheating. Well, despite the fact that he was driving us down the freeway at 80 mph, he went into a rage like I had never seen before. Screaming in my face, “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” Ranting and raving, swerving on the road. I finally got him to calm down enough to drive safely.

      Later that night, he told me that the rage was “the most passion he had ever felt for me” and that it was “very exciting.”

      I am ashamed that I continued with the bogus reconciliation for several more months after that.

  • Some little kids are jerks. And its not because they have toxic shame. Then they grow up to be jerks. Some of its learned, some of its inherited. I don’t think you can claim that every act of meanness comes from shame. For some people, meanness is just a way of life, and they enjoy it. If you pick an area you’re vulnerable to shame in to make someone else feel bad, it might be because you think it gives you a good chance of to land a punch. That’s my two cents! We aren’t all nice people underneath it all.

    • “Some little kids are jerks. … Then they grow up to be jerks. Some of its learned, some of its inherited.”

      I think this is an important point, DoneNow. We grow up, get married and have children. But I think that too many parents are ill equipped to raise them.

      It seems that as a society in general, we have gotten away from actually TEACHING our children about selfishness, ego, self-control, and hurting others. It’s as if some parents expect their children to either learn this stuff on their own, or they should be *born* with that knowledge. We often TELL our children not to be selfish, but we don’t TEACH them. It’s an on-going lesson.

      I have wondered if my late husband had received better parenting if he would have STILL turned out to be a narcissist.



      • I know that may have sounded harsh, but it’s true! I’ve seen it with my children’s friends, and as a teacher. For the most part, children are good and want to do good. I love them. But then there are a few….and it’s even worse when they have been raised to believe they’re the sun and the moon. Its not because they’re being treated badly at home. They’re mean because they see their family be jerks to everybody else.

        • DoneNow……YES to “they have been raised to believe they’re the sun and the moon”. My X mother (I never knew her, only from what he said) thought that of him. Anytime he referred to his mom, he’d use what he thought of as her voice, and speak very soft and sweet. I always thought how sweet that he thought so much of his mom. BUT as time goes, my friend used to point out that she thought that’s where his trouble began! Because mama thought the sun and moon rose and set because of him!
          Also, whenever he’d imitate my voice, he’d always make it sound like a mean, hateful person! Very sad because I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I used to point it out to him too and ask him not to make his tone like that when he referred to what I might have said, etc. Did no good; he continued. Sickens me and shocks me.
          The damage these people do is atrociously cruel! I’m not sure I’ll ever get through it!!

          • Ah, yes. THE VOICE. The whining sneering hate-filled voice that they attribute to you. I hated it almost as much as the screechy, Edith Bunkerish voice he would use to make fun of me when I sang. I finally figured it out – he didn’t like me when I was mad, he didn’t like me when I was happy. He just didn’t like me.

  • This post beautifully illustrates the point of how important it is for chumps to take a step back (or hold ourselves back!) from “untangling the skein” as Tracy puts it. Sadly for me, Chumplady wasn’t around for my divorce almost a decade ago. (You newer chumps just don’t know how lucky you are!) But thankfully, somewhere along the way I noticed that the more I tried to figure STBX out, the sicker I felt. It may have been that I was doing (and still do) some spiritual work using a dumbed-down version of St. Ignatius’ practice of the nightly examen (ie: what one thing today brought me closest to God? What one thing today took me furthest from God? — For the nonreligious, “God” could be substituted with “Health” or “Truth” or “peace” or “Sanity” etc.) Over time, the pattern that emerged for me was anytime I tried to “understand” my loved one the more confused, crazier and physically ill I became – almost like the evil was infiltrating and poisoning me. I came to a point where for my own health (and the health of my newborn son and pre-school age daughter) I had to pull back. I remember telling my therapist “I realize now I don’t have to understand him. I just have to accept that this is how he is.” My old fashioned version of “Trust That They Suck.” Whatever the issues of the Person In Question – whether it be a cheating partner, a toxic sibling (got one of those too), a “friend,” etc — it is not for me to figure out or even to help them through it. It is up to that person and their therapist if the person chooses to work on him or herself. Good for them if they get help! But it is not my business. My job is to avoid bringing people like that into my life/family, and to minimize any involvement with those whom I might be “stuck” with occasional contact due to family matters. It is just amazing the difference this makes in my energy level, my outlook on life, not to mention the great example it sets for my kids.

    • My. Father’s name was Ignatius. I am going to follow your lead. Thank you for sharing your faith and experience.

      • Dear Princess, check out Margaret Silf’s book Inner Compass — she takes St. Ignatius’ ancient Spiritual Exercises and makes them easy to understand and implement in today’s world. Also, a really great and very short book — especially if you have children — is Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn. It focuses more just on the daily examen. These practices stem from the Christian faith but can be implemented by those in any faith and also the non-religious. Wonderful, gentle way of looking within ourselves for the truths already there and that have been with us all along. A traumatic time such as divorce is an excellent time to take up this practice. It sustained me and my children through my divorce almost a decade ago and hardly a night has passed since that we haven’t practiced the examen together as a family, through good times and bad. My current hubby (the good one) is working in another state right now and he joins the children and me via speaker phone every night at bedtime to share this practice. Blessings to you, Princess, on your journey.

    • I have been doing something similar lately. STBX is dragging things out, and keep us entangled, so I’m going with that. In the meantime, I am continuing to live my life, doing what I do: living in my house, using the joint credit card, and money from the joint account, etc. We should have a court date in a couple of months, and until then, This is what I’ll do. Continue to live my life, with as little reference to him and as NC as possible (have young kids together).

      And though his bad behavior continues, I have decided to stop letting him see any reaction/emotion. He feeds on it. Time to stop feeding the animal.

  • Love this, CL! I think it’s especially important, because if we believe in the whole ‘toxic shame’ and ‘deep insecurities’ stuff, we ALSO believe that by showing love, support, consistent caring and appreciation, and perhaps encouraging them to read or get professional help, we can help this person become happier and more secure, and therefore less difficult to get along with.

    THERE’s the problem, to me. I think my ex does have deep insecurities (no shame at all, though!). But the important thing that I had to learn was that he totally felt entitled to all that love, support, caring, etc, without giving much of anything in return, and that all that good stuff had ZERO impact on his insecurity and unhappiness, and that he was NOT interested in doing anything to get better himself, because it was much more enjoyable to him to just blame others for everything and for every bad thing he felt, and to keep taking with both hands.

    The whole idea of ‘shame’ or addiction or FOO issues or whatever tugs on our compassion strings, feeds hopium and can keep us stuck in toxic relationships for a long time.

    In the end, we have to know what our boundaries are, and recognize that in general, people don’t change. Only strong motivation and willingness to put in the hard work long term leads to personal change, and these people show us very quickly that they have neither.

    And THAT is what makes them assholes. They see the damage their behavior causes, and the DON’T CARE.

    • Agree, KarenE. W has some real insecurities, and hence her constant need to flirt, to be the center of attention, to have new and different men tell her how hot she is, etc., etc. She also has some diagnosed, objective mental problems.

      But none of that excuses infidelity. And truth is, she has no desire to change. The cake tastes good. So what if it blasted apart a loving family who had been nothing but good to her and supportive of her. And so what if she leaves, as therapist aptly put it, a debris trail behind her. Ehh, whatever, fair trade from her point of view.

      • well said karen. and chumpguy.

        “and so what if she leaves, as therapist aptly put it, a debris trail behind her” boyman apparently doesnt look behind him and there is ALWAYS someone who wants to “make him feel better”

  • Well said CL – well said!

    I used to be stuck in that trap – believing that underneath all the shitty things my EXH-The Cheating Narc did to me, that he truly was a good person making bad decisions.


    He felt zero remorse about lying and swindling me — ZERO. He got off on having the upper-hand all the while leaving me in the dark.

    • add me to that club…..i alway thought better of him then what he really was…..

      poor little boyman, doesnt really know or understand how much he is hurting me and the kids. he is just making a REALLY bad decision (AGAIN)……


      • MrsVain…..isn’t it amazing what happens when the ‘fog’ lifts?!!

  • The work on toxic shame has helped me, as a child raised in a household with addiction and massive dysfunction, to begin understand the “perfectionism” and codependency that made life so painful for me in my 20s and 30s. This work provides interesting ways to look at how children take on roles in such families–the “hero” kid, or the kid who acts out, etc. It was the first time I thought that my drive to be perfect and bullet-proof might be part of my problem. It explained, in part, why it never occurred to me to tell anyone what went on in our home until I was in my thirties. It was a helpful theory but not a complete explanation; it didn’t help me identify the narcissistic behavior of my mother or the reason I was afraid of her, for example.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that shame drives many peoples’ choices. My thought is that shame is a hidden factor in chumpiness, making us vulnerable to the kind of thinking that keeps us stuck with cheaters. The notion that people should stay in marriages or relationships to avoid the stigma of divorce of failure is a shame-based idea, whether fueled by religious belief or fear of what others will think or perfectionism. People keep terrible secrets of being abused because of shame or the fear of being shamed. In regard to what others have to say, I like Brown’s point that unless someone is willing to get down in the arena with us, to get dirty and bloody helping us fight our battles, we shouldn’t be interested in their feedback about our decisions.

    I think that criticizing other people always comes from a place that puts the criticized person “one-down.” And I say that as a former “problem-solver” who used to always know what other folks should do, even as my own life was less than perfect. I see that behavior in my life as (1) arrogant (not necessarily narcissistic), (2) intended as helpful but misguided, and (3) shame-based, a kind of stance that keeps the gaze moving outward to critique others rather than inward to solve my own issues. Even here, I have to rein in my tendency to “know” what a fellow chump ought to do or to think that my solution and timetable is better than someone else’s. I also see that the behaviors were modeled by my narcissist mother, who ladled out critique and advice with a full serving of judgment and shaming. So in my view, this is a complex and thorny issue. But I come back to what a fellow chump mentioned the other day in another thread–how we get to a point where we can stand outside and see our behavior somewhat objectively and then change it.

    Perhaps the most important thing I learned when I did reading about family systems and shame is that relationships are dynamic. That, for example, to be in a relationship with a narcissist is to be in a position where shame will be used against you and where we might internalize that shame and the paralysis it produces. For me, it comes down to paying attention to what I’m feeling and doing in relationships and trying to keep that healthy.

    • LovedAJackass, I really wish my post immediately below yours had been in reply to yours, but I didn’t see yours until after I posted. Follow that? I’m not sure I did.

      My world was rocked at the age of 34 in the summer of 2013 when I realized that enmeshment with my mother was the root of my emotional issues. I had always attributed my failures to a lack of character or willpower on my part. I got extremely angry with my parents and went NC with them for six months to sort out how I felt about my upbringing and the effects it had on me. I went through an intensive outpatient program for cognitive behavioral therapy. Nothing made any sense until I read about toxic shame.

      I’m struggling mightily with my sense of loss, as being codependent the loss of my partner has shaken me to my core. I think it was you who commented on another thread that you wouldn’t be dating again until it was for the right reasons – I don’t just understand your words, I feel them. How I’ll ever feel complete within myself is a mystery to me, but I know that I have to find the answer.

      • I deeply know this journey. I was 33 when I understood the codependency–but focused on alcoholic dad instead of narcissist mom. Here I am 30 years later walking the chump journey, too, because I didn’t understand that I had to be a complete person before I got into a relationship. Or as my therapist said yesterday, “You will go about your happy, fulfilled life, and perhaps someone wonderful will come along and you will decide to spend time with that person. Or not.” I am focused on breaking all of that old “you will complete me” stuff. What I do know is that the work we do on this board to help ourselves and each other heal will likely mean that it won’t take you 30 years to dig out. And I also know that the process can be very fulfilling and beautiful.

        • LAJ, it’s when we are happily independent that we attract others. Mature people value competence and resiliency and fortitude and humor more than fake tits. Take a pass if they don’t interest you, but stay in the driver’s seat in that vehicle that is your life. You never know when someone might pass your intensive screening process and require a second look.

    • LAJ, it’s an interesting point, if anyone’s got toxic shame, it’s us chumps. (And oh hey, I can relate to your “telling people what to do” fault… uh, I run an advice site. 🙂 ) Dr. Simon also points out that in order to manipulate someone, to blame shift, that person (he calls them neurotic, I say chump) has to feel shame. It has to exist in them, that conscientiousness, and if you’re codependent, that sense that hey, your problems are MY responsibility!

      Disordered people by contrast, don’t really do shame. They can manipulate, but they themselves aren’t easily manipulated, except by kibbles. Like, you can’t say to a true NPD “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Just bounces off them. They’re teflon.

      Back to toxic shame, it makes sense too that if chumps have it, we project it on to cheaters. We see others through our own moral lens.

      • I completely agree–shame is specific to chumps, and we simply project morality and shame onto the cheaters. When cheaters do “shame” it is for effect and typically faux shame–to win back something that they have lost, for impression management, etc.

        Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are remorseful or they will simply use it for manipulation.

      • I think we are in agreement here. I do know that Jackass never felt a moment of shame, even when he told me about car theft in his youth. (Oh, those pesky red flags…)

    • “…to be in a relationship with a narcissist is to be in a position where shame will be used against you and where we might internalize that shame and the paralysis it produces.”

      Thank you for these words. LAJ. I raise my hand to this. Yes, this is me.

    • I have known for quite some time that I am somewhat “broken”, I knew the antics and behaviors of my dysfunctional upbringing had left an imprint on my life. My Father was an alcoholic, he was verbally & physically abusive, a serial cheater… he was just a mean, drunk asshole for the better part of his life (his father, from what I understand was the same, maybe worse). My Mother divorced him before my 4th birthday… but she quickly found a new alcholic, sex-addicted Narc…. and I got a little sister. The 2nd one was such a bastard that one day when we arrived home (after school, work for Mom) we saw tire tracks in the yard…. he had moved out… EVERYTHING while we were gone…. So, co-dependent Mother…. alcoholic Narcissistic Father…. years of living in the middle of dysfunction…. and here I am 😀

      I can remember beginning to start questioning things in my early 20’s, I KNEW this shit was affecting my life. I understood that my Father was broken… disordered…. but it didn’t undo the damage that his neglect inflicted on the little girl I once was. I can remember wondering … WHAT was wrong with me that my Dad didn’t come visit me or spend time with me…. at that age I just didn’t understand that he was just drunk off his ass every night. I finally let go of the anger towards him, and the injustice of it all…. because I was the only one that was still feeling shitty about it and I accepted that I couldn’t change it.

      As for shame…. I’m more guilty of the opposite… oversharing…. not to humiliate anyone but just because it doesn’t BOTHER me if people know. I have to live with it…. I don’t really give a shit if other people can’t. As for being able to look at our “issues” objectively… this is something my daughter and I have talked about many times recently….. it all boils down to character and empathy. WE, or I at least, have the ability to reflect on the things that other people might say “to” or “about” me and ADMIT that there might be some truth in it…. OWN my SHIT so to speak…. to accept that I am “flawed” and that it is okay…. think about WHAT part I play in the dysfunction and where and how I might be able to improve my life, and indirectly the lives of those I love…. because THAT is what good people, loving people do.

      You toss a stick of dynamite over your shoulder on your way out the door with both middle fingers in the air when WHAT you are blowing up is the only thing that REALLY matters in this shitty world…. your LOVED ones…. especially your children.

      • Oops…. I meant “DON’T” …. you don’t toss a stick of dynamite….. blah blah blah

      • Within the last few years I’ve converted from living in the shadows to over sharing. I really need to find a happy medium; I’m sure people I’ve come into brief contact with don’t care about my enmeshment or OCD issues.

        • Me too WWDSG, I think that some of it…. at least when we are SO overwhelmed in the beginning is in some part a necessary release….. to keep us from imploding!!! The mindfuckery causes us to question our own judgement & sanity (at least for me) and I absolutely NEEDED someone to confirm that I was not a lunatic…. that he was. And, in some part… I just want people to know what an asshole he is… I WISH someone had warned me… or told me the f*cking TRUTH when I asked. Amazes me how people play ostrich… they truly just don’t give a shit if it doesn’t affect them.

          When the pain subsides… the oversharing probably will too. Had I found CL sooner…. I might not have needed to confide in any others…. all the support we need is right here 😀 OORAH!!

  • Reading Healing the Shame That Binds You was revolutionary for me. I’ve tortured myself for years with understanding why I did some things I did in my early 20s, and this book finally gave me some relief and the room to forgive myself.

    That being said, I’ve never been proud of my behavior and vowed even at the time to never act the same way or to take my frustrations out on anyone else – my problem is with me. I built the ex who walked out on me up and made it very clear that my depression and lack of self-esteem had nothing at all to do with her. In fact, what little self-regard I did have came from the codependent need for her to need me. Now that she’s walked out on me, I’m hoping this is rock bottom and I can get my codependency under control.

    I guess I’m trying to say that while toxic shame definitely exists, in my case at least it was directed inward after a very early attempt to take it out on others. It’s flabbergasting to me that people much older than I was at the time have yet to figure out that it’s something in them that’s off, not something that punishing the people you love and who love you will resolve. And that it’s ongoing! My one experience was quite enough pain inflicted on people who didn’t deserve it for me to vow never again.

    • That is the self “reflection” that I’m talking about. Being able to look at the big picture and figure out your part of the skein. I know that I have issues with my co-dependency and abandonment…. it isn’t a secret.

      Honestly…. not sure what wrecked me more… the affair, and the fact that he wasn’t willing to stop…. or him walking out? There is some comfort in knowing and accepting that he is disordered…. but the heartache is still there. It is still grieving.

  • “However, I think other people are just assholes.”


    Love ya, CL!

  • I’ve heard the argument between nature and nurture all my life, and I think it may be useful for social issues. We cannot walk away from things which act as negative social influences, and which can be improved with education and effort. So we attack poverty, and hunger, and homelessness, and unemployment, and domestic abuse and on and on. That may be our social duty — to try to address issues which we may be able to “fix” as a society. Ultimately, whatever good we can do will improve our society in general. Also, it is impossible to avoid all negative influences and live in the real world, so self preservation dictates that you have to decide how to deal with these negatives.

    However, what we are talking about here is an extremely personal choice. Even though I can understand all the negative social and genetic and abusive influences which caused my Dad to develop into the type of abusive jerk he is, that does not make him any less a jerk. He had siblings who experienced the same type of life, and they did not choose to act as he did. So at some point, he made a choice.

    My siblings and I were raised with his malignant influence — and all of us have problems we can directly link to the way we were raised. However, none of us developed into the overbearing control freak he is. We made a choice NOT to live that life. So if you, as an individual, can think and observe, and you see things within yourself that you do not like, you can choose to change you. You cannot do that for anyone else. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is damaged, and is damaging you, just realize you cannot fix that person. You have to get away from that influence, because that influence can harm you, maybe even kill you. Add children to the mix, and it becomes even more important to get away. Minimize the influence to the extent of your ability.

    I know several survivors. The one thing we all have in common is that we regret the amount of time we wasted trying to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. All of us eventually came to the same conclusion — get away from the jerk. Most of us figured out that the jerk didn’t want to be fixed, and had no intention of ever changing.

    The past influences don’t really matter, because you cannot change the past. The choices you make to save yourself, and perhaps your children, are all you can control. Whatever the label is on the bottle, if the contents are poisonous, you don’t need to try to find an antidote so that you can still use the product. You need to dispose of the product in the nearest toxic dump — and get as far away from it as you can.

    If I had been able to do this earlier in my life, I may not have been drawn to such a dysfunctional partner in my personal life. It may have seemed weirdly “normal” to me because of the dysfunction that existed in my own family of origin. But figuring out that it was not normal, and that putting up with the behavior was having a further negative effect on me and my children, led me to getting out and getting away. It was a blessed moment of clarity in my thinking. It was MY choice to save me (and my children), and stop worrying about why he was so determined to live a dissolute life. That is HIS choice.

    • This is a wonderful post. I like your metaphor about the poison in the bottle. Perfect! Thanks, Portia

  • Isn’t it possible–common, even–that both things can be true? That you can be toxically ashamed of yourself AND addicted to a grandiose sense of your inherent awesome? I think for some of us that cognitive dissonance leads to repressing the grandiosity, but in others it leads to repressing the shame. And some of us (many?) flip-flop between them, or repress both at the same time, or even *show and feel* both at the same time.

    I’ve related to both sides of the neurotic-vs-narcissism coin so much that I really can’t tell which is which, at least in my own life. I don’t particularly care at the moment that I’m writing this (intellectualizing is a great way to get a breather), but when it comes down to actual ethical considerations and decisions I get very balled up and insecure about whether I’m ‘really a narcissist.’

    This isn’t to invalidate anyone’s common sense about boundaries: regardless of why they’re doing it, you need to take action to protect yourself. But I don’t think the underlying situation is as simple as “some people are neurotic and some are just jerks.” It’s totally possible to be both.

    • DC, I don’t think it’s true that people can be both neurotic and jerks. Well, maybe jerks, but not real assholes. (There’s a great book about a ‘Theory of Assholes’ that discusses the difference.) I think neurotic people do want to do right, do care about others, and about how their own behavior impacts others, as well as themselves. They can certainly be misled in how to do that or get off-track. But assholes DO NOT CARE about other people and the impact of their own behavior on others. No real shame, no guilt.

      I spent a long time thinking my ex was a neurotic jerk. Finally finally paid real attention to his consistent behaviours, and what he was ACTUALLY saying, rather than what I projected onto him, d realized, nah, he’s just an asshole. Even recent declarations of realizing how badly he had behaved and how he wanted to be a better person and was working towards that were just a result of his not liking the consequences of his asshole behavior, in his own life. While those consequences were entirely born by me and our kids and his mom, he was FINE with that. And while he may never cheat again, his other behaviours now are still very asshole ones.

  • Some people really do feel so special, so superior, that they don’t believe rules written for mere mortals apply to them. They are the deeply entitled and have no shame. And yes, they are assholes.

    • Survivor…….The X always said……well rules are made to be broken (always when it came to what he wanted to do, of course!).

  • I guess it is important to remember that CHEATING IS ABUSE! And the cheating itself is just the beginning of the abuse! Then you have the lies, the blame shifting, the making you think YOU are the crazy one, the talking up of the affair partner, the abandonment emotionally, physically and mentally. Then you have the effect it has on your mind to your ability to move forward and do your day to day chores, job, etc. Then you have the effects on the kids if you have them, being abandoned & YOU are the one left to pick up the pieces for EVERYONE in a state of devastation!!
    Then there is the grave disappointment for some having friends and family jump on “Team Cheater” to make sure you don’t have a mindfuckery stone left unturned! And on, and on, and on ad nauseum.
    Hey-Maybe CL could make “Team Cheater” T shirts we could send to these people! That would be fun to feel like you are at least getting one jab in. However, they have already cost us too much. It might be worthwhile for the one friend who kept there secret or for a nasty MIL!

    • ooooh, love that! I could send a ‘Team Cheater’ to my ex, one to Schmoopie, to ex’s dad (the king of all cheaters, and king of the assholes too!), one to his mom (68 years old and currently proud to be the OW to a 50 year old man, disgusting!), one to his friend who tried to tell me maybe cheating was just a guy thing that I should put up with ….. Then they could take a group photo with their t-shirts and post it on FaceBook!

    • Wow Regina, so true, it is the multiple list of abusive things and when all delineated like you just did it is amazing to see what we go through and survive and ultimately get away from so we can thrive. Mighty indeed!

  • Narcissist and Bullies are not necessarily the same type of people in my opinion. Bullies are the ones who will put others down based on their own insecurities. They lash out as a means to protecting themselves as they are hurting and feel weak. They feel as long as they are keeping others down no one will catch on to how vulnerable or weak they feel they are. Bullies may actually feel bad about their behavior but are too insecure to own that and make amends. Bullies are not necessarily cheaters.

    Narcissists simply lack empathy and remorse. They are MEAN just for the sake of being mean. What hurts a normal person doesn’t even phase them. They don’t lay awake at night feeling guilty about their behavior or anxious about others hurting them. They go through life with an attitude of superiority and zero regard to those they step on.

    Your cheater is likely a narcissist. Maybe you heard of Heinrich Himmler? That is the type of personality a Narcissist has. That is NOT the type of person you need in your life.

    • @FRED: You should read the book by M. Stout: The Sociopath Next Door. She discuss bullies and in most cases bullies are sociopaths without one shred of conscience. To that end, I am not sure I buy into that Bullies are hurting and feel insecure, maybe some are; however, I think there are some high-functioning bullies who get off on what they do for the sheer pleasure of it… why? Because they can.

      • I would probably disagree with M. Stout. It sounds like Stout’s definition of bully is different than mine.

  • I had the luck and luxury of finding a great therapist after I got massively chumped. He had done years of research work and had interesting things to say about narcissists in general.

    I think at one point I asked him if my ex-wife actually had to put extra brain cycles into her lying and blame shifting mental calisthenics. He said that after a certain developmental adult age that if you think that way, it is simply hard wired and is simply how you see the world. Period.

    His response really convinced me that I should stop wasting my time trying to “understand” her, this was a gateway to “meh”. In her case it was a five year long affair, not and isolated indiscretion. It was simply her weird way of seeing and operating in the world. She had to have lied to me at least three times a day for five years… about 5,400 lies. Sometimes you can separate the person from the behavior, but in this case she is her toxic behavior and

    • yes. i believe that is the way boyman thinks also. i never could understand “WHY” he would lie about small and stupid and insignificant issues/things. but he just HAD to lie to me. it is almost that if he didnt have something to hide and lie about then he would lie about something that didnt need to be lied about.

      my mom told me something at the start of all this (so a year ago) when i was in the “How Could he do this”, “why” and “does he know how much he is hurting me” stages and i was making all sorts of excuses for his behavior. She told me boyman has been with me for almost 15 (14.5) and that by now after all that time, some of my good behavior, some of my love lessons, and talks SHOULD have by now sunk in. If after all this time (longer then he was with his own mom and dad) hasnt changed him in even just the tiniest of ways, then he is never going to change. She also said he was set in his ways, and to old to change who he was now.

      i believe that to be true. no matter how much i loved him, this is who and what he really was. he was never going to change because he never could really see how much his decisions and choices where affecting me and his children. he was so selfish that he never did see the needs, emotions, and pain of other people. he will always be toxic.

  • They way I read this: research tells us that we judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we’re doing. If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived shaming deficiency.”

    Toxic shame is about judging… like all of the Divorce shame we were talking about yesterday. My marriage is crappy, so I will attack you on your divorce so I can feel superior about my crappy marriage compared to your certified crappy marriage as defined by the divorce decree.

    I don’t see where toxic shame… generates shameful behavior in this line of reasoning… I am insecure about my weight, so I judge you and make unkind comments about your weight… but the toxic shame line of reasoning should lead me to go around stuffing people like a fois gras goose. But what we have going on here, with most of us, is not I feel shameful, in someway, rather I am going out and do something that is so frowned upon in society, and do it flagrantly, something I know will hurt my partner whom I have made romantic commitments if not life commitments and expose my partner and myself to diseases that creates shame… Toxic shame and cheating are apples and rotten oranges.

    What we have here are people who do exactly what they want to do no matter the cost and then when caught, wrap it up in so much poor sausage me, they look like a scotch egg, a shit covered scotch egg.

  • What a great post! I spend a lot of time on this in therapy, and to her everlasting credit, my IC has told me (many, many times) “there are just a lot of terrible people out there.” And then I’m usually crying by then, and she often says something like, “I know it doesn’t feel fair, but they’re just mean. Let’s work on how you can learn to spot them.” Or something. So great!

    I do think some people say mean things from time to time without thinking, or out of some kind of reactivity….but that’s not the same thing as the persistent campaigns of cruelty that the “mean” people inflict. When it’s deliberate? I’m with Dr. Simon.

    Then, I think, the challenge for for me and other chumps like me (raised by a severely narcissistic parent; hence trained to say, “how high?” when they say, “jump!”) is to learn to identify them, rather than be seduced by the patter; learn how to get away without incurring retribution when possible, or learn how to coexist without becoming a target (as in a work setting) …. yeesh.

    NB. My IC has recommended Alice Miller’s book the The Drama of the Gifted Child, which is about how children of narcissistic parents are groomed to fulfill the parent’s warped needs.

  • I feel in my case my husband’s disorder started in the shame of his father abandoning him and not feeling good enough for him. I think instead of choosing forgiveness and learning from that pain, he covered it with layers and layers of narcissism so shame could never be felt again. I don’t feel sorry for him. Other people have been dealt tough blows in their childhoods and have not gone on to inflict pain on the people around them. I was bullied in junior high a lot and I think it made me a more compassionate person. I think Dr. Simon is brilliant and is right when he says these character disordered individuals choose their behavior and know exactly what they are doing when they manipulate us and treat us badly. My children are learning at an early age not to tolerate bad behavior and to set boundaries, I wished I would have learned it earlier.

    • I agree, because he basically told me he was an asshole. I absolutely believe he knew what he was doing was evil/wrong/nasty and he admitted that he knew what it was doing to me, but it didn’t stop him. It was so F’d up, all interspersed with crying, “I don’t know why I did that”, blame shifting, and cruelty. He is messed up for sure (abandoned by his father and raised by a narcissistic and controlling mother) but in the end he made a choice.

      • Yes, our choices define who we are. Mine was raised by a narcissistic mom too and admitted he was not a good person. It’s interesting how evil looks the same once you talk to other people.

        • The scariest part is the further along I get the more I realize he’s just like his mother. Judgmental, controlling, and selfish. I wonder how on earth I missed it. Although to give myself a break it didn’t become completely evident until the discard. The things that came out of his mouth could have come straight from her. Maybe they did. Who knows what was being said behind my back.

  • ‘The Great I Am’ and his narc sister are both utterly, utterly shameless, but BOTH insist they are ‘timid forest creatures’. More so ‘The Great I Am’ but both, definitely, believe they are ‘special’ and ‘entitled’ to getting whatever they want at whoever’s expense.

    In 1999 I finally walked out of the extremely dysfunctional relationship that was my first marriage. In November 2000 I went on a blind date with ‘The Great I Am’. I was still suffering from depression due to the break down of my first marriage and felt certain my ‘picker’ was completely rubbish. In many ways ‘The Great I Am’ was totally unlike anyone I would ever have bonded with prior to meeting him at the age of 37. His right-wing politics (that he insisted were left-wing, but I used to joke must have been so left-wing they were coming right), his shallow and superficial criticisms of other people based on such stupidity as their weight or looks (had I not been so unsure of my own picker, this tendency of his to denigrate people over such triviality would definitely have previously had me consigning him to the ‘shithead’ bin , however, because I’d lost complete faith in my own ability to wheedle out the keepers from the binners, I ‘allowed’ him this despicable tendency), his attitude towards his previous common-law wife and mother of his two children (this attitude bothered me throughout our 15 year relationship, it was utterly alien to how I felt about any of my previous lovers and, despite how dysfunctional my first marriage was, I always thought well of my first husband – a complete passive aggressive, but a good man, just utterly shite at being my husband/life partner)!

    There were ‘red flags’ with ‘The Great I Am’ – the problem was, 1) I’d lost faith in my own ability to figure out what a good person was or wasn’t, and 2) I’d never, in my whole life. wasted any time on a person so obviously stunted in their empathy development – so the Right Wing tendencies, the denigration of the Ex, the shallow judgement of his fellow human beings – this was all new to me – I was blessed up until 37 to have met / associated with folks who had more ability to feel shame / empathy / introspection and this was a WHOLE NEW EXPERIENCE for me! What kept me stuck was the expectation that a decent human being would eventually cut through his bullshit!

    So, I guess I’ve learned – arseholes are arseholes – that despite having a poor picker that resulted in a failed first marriage – it wasn’t so far off that it deserved being abandoned completely! Sadly, that leaves me now thinking WTF? I either fail because I go for the character I’ve always been attracted to, or I fail for going for the character that is the antithesis to what I was attracted to before! Think I’ll just get a couple of cats 😀

  • I’m having a hard time following this part:

    “Some people really do believe they are that splendid. We have zero evidence of toxic shame, and he argues that we project what we think we would feel (shame) on to others. If I did that, I’d feel terrible! So somewhere, deep down, YOU must feel terrible about that!”

    Do you mean, I, the chump, believe that the cheater really does feel terrible about their actions, so I see them as a wounded, hurt soul with true remorse lurking just below the surface, and thus stay to help them?

    • Yes, you got it. The chump assumes the cheater really feels horrible about hurting them, because the chump WOULD feel bad if the situation was reversed. The chump is projecting onto the cheater. In reality, however, the cheater doesn’t feel remorse at all.

    • Bingo–GladIt’sOver is correct. Cheaters don’t feel remorse; they PLAY ACT at remorse to keep you hooked, because chumps want to help others feel better. Don’t be sucked in. Their vulnerability is a strategy, not a true feeling.

      I just got to the page in “The Sociopath Next Door” where the author says the BEST way to spot a sociopath? Use of pity–they use pity to get other people to do what they want (to screw them–“My wife/husband doesn’t understand me (sad face),” or to reconcile with their chump, “I can’t believe I did that or hurt you (sad face).”) Don’t attribute animacy to a robot just because it can talk.

      • Tempest, The Sociopath Next Door was my summer reading on holiday last year. (I am such a fun gal.) As she was describing these creatures…all I could think was yada yada yada, how do you figure out who these people are? How to you see them coming? She said one of the first things they will try on you is a pity play. It doesn’t have to be about their ex’s either. My XH was 17 and just about the first thing out of his mouth was that he had been terribly depressed, hated his parents, abusive rotten parents (all very true) and with my Xlover, the first thing out of his mouth was that he was a poor sausage because he had lost his job because he had had a mental breakdown as an attorney… when he told me this… he sort of held his breath… I thought he was waiting to see if I acted with compassion and empathy or not…It never would have occured to me that he was TESTING me for compassion. I am getting so jaded about people… but I will never go down this rabbit hole again.

      • Yes, yes, a resounding yes to “use of pity”…

        Mother fucker.

  • “It’s a popular notion that narcissists have deep down issues with vulnerability and shame. That they overcompensate. They put on airs, because somewhere inside they feel small.”

    I personally don’t believe the idea that narcs are filled with deep-rooted shame, not at all. Personally, I think if you could open them up psychologically, what you would find is a whole lot of emptiness surrounding a small, hard, inner ball of RAGE. True narcs are nothing more than an empty shell surrounding jealousy and anger. That is why they are like black holes of need…. they are always trying to fill their emptiness, but they never can. It is what they are. Many of them excel at pretending to be good, normal people, but if you get close enough, you will eventually see the inner rage bubble to the surface. Their facade, however, absolutely believes that they are superior to other people, although some also try to hide that under a slick veneer of fake humility or self pity. Stick around a narc, and you will eventually see that as well.

    But not every asshole is a diagnosable narc. Many are just assholes. Either way, these people are not going to enhance your life, best to stay away from them both.

    • I’ve seen two stripes of narcissist parents. One is competitive with their offspring and will belittle, manipulate and demand servitude from them. The other lives through them and sees them as an extension of their own perfect self. Has anyone else noticed this dichotomy?

        • Probably odd to see both in one person unless they treated their children differently or cycled back and forth. I think the first category raises chumps. Accommodating people groomed to avoid conflict and used to having few of their own needs met. The second sort is more likely to raise a full blown sociopath with a built in cheering section as they plow through life exploiting others.

          • She was very controlling and manipulative but lived vicariously through the children and grandchildren seeing them as extension of herself. All their good qualities came from her and the bad from their father. All the children are terrified of her. My SIL was in her forties and afraid to tell her mother that she was living with her boyfriend.

            • Yikes, Lina! That is a double dose of crazy. What is a swarm of crazy called? A gaggle? A herd? A stampede?

              • Yes. That’s not even half of it. She would say jump and EH would say how high. He had a third degree burn scar on his arm from an incident he could never really explain that happened when he was a child. I felt so sorry for him. But he’s run back to the bossom of the crazy now. My family treated him like gold and they treated him like a second class citizen. Cut him out of their weddings, etc. It doesn’t make sense. MIL never liked me because I wouldn’t kiss her behind. Good luck to the OW.

          • Actually, I think my ex MIL is both too. This would possibly explain why my ex, the firstborn, grew up primed to be the Son of God, always spoken of proudly for his business acumen and material success even though his parents did not understand that world , and the fourth of their five children, the sister he molested, is a chump. She has never confronted him, or told her parents as far as I know (and my ex does not know she detailed it all to me) and her husband left her for a three year affair partner after two children and 13 years of marriage.

            There’s a lot that my ex MIL did in the 34 years we were married that was despicable and just plain petty , some things even dividing the whole family in their reactions, and I am very thankful to not be dealing with that anymore. Perhaps my ex-I laws cutting me off completely is a little added gift from God, and I am thankful.

      • Survivor, some stuff I’ve read about Narc parents says that if they have multiple children, they’ll often chose one or more (often a sensitive/empathic child) to be to be the scapegoats, who are always inadequate and criticized. Then they’ll chose another, often more like them, to be the Golden Child, who is amazing and can do no wrong. The scapegoat provides the contrast to their wonderfulness, while the golden child reflects glory onto the narc parent.

        Not surprisingly, kids who are pushed into either of these roles are badly damaged by this, with the scapegoats often drafted into being caregivers for the psychologically abusive parent, while the golden child becomes a narc and the cycle continues. Bergh!

    • GladIO–you’re right. Know one way to tell? Put down a person or issue a criticism. A narcissist will turn his/her fury on you, and the outcome will not be pleasant (think Donald Trump or Kanye West). A non-narc will be offended, or hurt, or ask for further explanation, without the vengeful behavior.

  • Irish & Tempest…The blind trust that I genuinely gave that POS…..makes my stomach turn over on itself. I know that he relishes the fact that he always held on to the truth. It was his power….and for what? I was not “in power” I had none. I was a fucking housewife and mother. Soccer games and birthday parties.
    I was just feeding his need…and the more he got away with the more it empowered him..until the day I questioned him.
    I was his alibi. I made him look good.Normal.I kept normal moving along. The outside facade that allowed him to slip between worlds. He was /is shameless.
    The building blocks of my schemata are irregular shaped puzzle pieces that can never be assembled…as much as I want to shove them together to make some sense of all this bullshit…Minecraft it aint.

    • TheClip: “I was his alibi. I made him look good.Normal.I kept normal moving along. The outside facade that allowed him to slip between worlds.”

      I am having trouble breathing after reading what you wrote. What I now realize is that X not only had the 1, no 2! affairs I found about, but was screwing around behind my back at conferences and graduate student parties for a long time. I had asked for a divorce almost every year the past decade; why wouldn’t he let me go if he wanted to be a man-whore?

      Because I was his face of legitimacy. The wife everyone liked at dinner parties. The one who gave him a sense of normalcy–going to kid’s violin concerts, walking the dogs together–as he was surreptitiously undermining every value important to me and our marriage. He turned me into one of those stereotypical 1950s wives, holding down home & hearth while the Husband has all the freedoms in the world, without my consent.

      • Exactly. Those shits look for someone to cover for them. I was one too. Your goodness covers/spackles over their shittiness. Not a good job title.

        • Clip, Tempest, Survivor……Yes yes yes!!! I say that ALL the time! I was his ‘frontman’ for 10 years so that he looked to have the ‘normal’ healthy relationship! That mother fucker!!

          • I truely believe that we were needed….they chose well…all of us educated… well spoken( typing skills aside) a trophy wife of sorts. They pick us for a reason. We are the respectable business front for all the fucking dirty work and money laundering.

        • we are selected and groomed for these,positions…. I have no doubt about that motive. They know what they are looking for… After all we represent them…

      • TheClip, I was telling a friend of mine today at lunch that I was there for cover… to make him look normal. I had never thought of it in the terms you describe. “I was his alibi. I made him look good.Normal.I kept normal moving along. The outside facade that allowed him to slip between worlds.”
        They are desperate little toadstools aren’t they. And as they slip between their worlds, you slip in and out of quicksand. I am so glad I am not alone, that I have found this place.

        • I am glad I found this place too…it gives me hope that I will reach and stay in meh 🙂

          • Instead of using us for a front to project normalcy, i wish he would have reached into his vigina and tried to find his balls and ask for a divorce. It would be so much less humiliating than being asked how many partners you have because of STDs and the yearly biopsy to test for cancer from the shit.

            • OMG! There should be a LAW! There are no balls on these cowardly cake eaters!!!! I hope that asshole is suffering too!!! God Bless you Informal! Hugs and GIANT hugs!!!

              • Jeep……you know what……..there really ought to be a law and imprisonment! Besides all the shit we get left with, to have an STD is the biggest fuck you from cheater that could be and they oughta pay for it!!!
                An STD you can NEVER escape!!! You can get to meh in time with everything else but I know for me, the STD, has destroyed my life and any ‘meh’! And daily it exacerbates for me!!!!!

              • Oh Honey!!! Shit!!! There should be a LAW! I hope you are WELL COMPENSATED in the divorce! BUT EVEN THAT will NEVER BE ENOUGH!

                I don’t think ENOUGH HUMANITY is brought into this breech of infidelity!!! SUCH SUFFERING!!! FOR NO REASON! An ADULT would sit down and SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES of their actions!! Not hide and use others for their own ends and blatantly DISREGARD another person’s VERY LIFE!

                …there needs to be a law…level the flippin ‘playing field’ COME ON!

      • Tempest,
        I cant begin to tell you yhe anger that welled up in me when I had that revelation … I was a tool in a mad mans box.

    • “I was his alibi. I made him look good.Normal.I kept normal moving along. The outside facade that allowed him to slip between worlds. He was /is shameless.”

      Add me to this list. I was my ex’s beard, the woman who made him appear to be a devoted family man, instead of a closeted gay man. Even now, three years after our divorce finalized and basically NC, I still play this part, because although people probably all suspect ex is gay when they meet him (he’s kind of a flamer, actually), once they learn he was married for 20 years and has a son, they assume they were mistaken and he’s straight.

      And even outside the whole gay issue, it’s pretty obvious that I was the only thing keeping that freak hole even slightly tethered to the earth. All I have to do is look at his life since our separation — he went from a very successful career, a beautiful home, a devoted wife and son, a great life, to being homeless, no car, no job, no money, is in tens of thousands of dollars of debt to many people including IRS. And those videos! LOL!

      My ex was very good at portraying himself as a wonderful Christian family man the whole time he was married to me. Now he’s as far from normal as he could be. But he is still as shameless as ever, and still considers himself to be a big success.

  • I think there is sometimes a compartmentalization element here as I think that fear of being vulnerable due to toxic shame is independent of ability to be empathetic. So I do see cheaters as having toxic shame and being afraid of intimacy and vulnerability, while at the same time lacking empathy and just generally being assholes, especially to those closest to them. If so, I don’t know why toxic shame in some leads to more empathy and more compassion, and in others, cheaters, lead to no little empathy and high entitlement.

    In any case, untangling the skein of compartmentalization is also a lost cause (unless you are Esther Perel and make a living off from it.)

    • Buddy–I don’t know if their intimacy problems are really due to toxic shame so much as a need for power. Intimacy requires giving up some power to the other person. Many/most cheaters can’t do that–being vulnerable puts them at risk of being toppled off their self-made pedestal. Can’t have that. I doubt there is “shame” brewing beneath the surface. Hot bat guano, perhaps, but not shame.

  • Wow! Yesterday’s and today’s posts are sparking a monumental amount of those “aha!” Moments with me…. Like mind bending moments, like suddenly recalling mountains of incidents and things my ex said all the way back to the beginning, and suddenly there is the telltale recurring theme in neon letters! I have been writing non stop for hours, starting with reading all yesterday’s posts again, to delving into a few more pages of Estes’ book Women Who Run With The Wolves, my required reading from my therapist, and then rereading today’s posts so far. The understanding, and I mean really, completely absorbing the concept that nothing I did or didn’t do in all these years to try to deal with, understand, compensate for, or fix things going wrong with my ex made any difference when I finally “get” that he is the way he is by choice. Regardless of what I suspect might have happened to him as a young child to set him on this course, he has, for the subsequent fifty plus years, CHOSEN to put himself first at any cost, to gratify his desires as quickly as possible, to be publicly sparkly for his own advantage, and to justify using whatever and whomever he feels necessary to do this. While I was complacent and useful, I was kept, but when no longer useful, was discarded the final time. I was a big surprise problem when I took control of my life and filed, and demanded fair settlement and produced embarrassing documentation supporting my stance, and won significant assets which appear to be what actually aggrevates him, but ultimately, Chumpness in Seattle is immaterial in his equation… It could have been , and is now again, any woman that will unwittingly further his course of action and make him look good to the world, ok, besides waiting on him hand and foot. I cannot tell you all how freeing this is for me!! And such a one-eighty from yesterday’s low point….

    • It has been said that “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Chumpness, this is YOUR time!

    • Wonderful insights.. I just cut and pasted your words to save in my journal…

      You said: “The understanding, and I mean really, completely absorbing the concept that nothing I did or didn’t do in all these years to try to deal with, understand, compensate for, or fix things going wrong with my ex made any difference when I finally “get” that he is the way he is by choice. Regardless of what I suspect might have happened to him as a young child to set him on this course, he has, for the subsequent fifty plus years, CHOSEN to put himself first at any cost, to gratify his desires as quickly as possible, to be publicly sparkly for his own advantage, and to justify using whatever and whomever he feels necessary to do this. ”

      Powerful words! Thank you Chumpiness!

  • You just have to know one of our ex-cheaters to know that CL is right. (Maybe somewhere there is some toxically shamed timid forest creature being a serial cheater out of deep insecurity and FOO issues, but I haven’t seen one yet). What so many of us have experienced is a serial adulterer who Did. Not. Care. AT ALL. My ex has never shed a tear, expressed one regret, suggested he had a problem or insecurity, or in any way acted like his (ex) wife of 25 years and three children were ever on his mind, ever a concern, ever anything other than props to be used….and props that post D-Day outlived their usefulness. It’s all in the manipulation, the thrill of fooling us, of having us be the hypotenuse in their beloved triangles. How droll it must be to waive the AP’s under our noses and we are too stupid to figure it out, or even better yet we become suspicious and they are clever enough liars to convince us not to believe what we see and know to be true.

    And of course the utter “fuck you” they give us when they are finally caught, and either shrug their shoulders and walk away without a backward glance (like my ex did), or successfully manipulate us into staying with them post D-Day while they abuse us even more.

    It is a profoundly sick character and incredible sense of entitlement which drove my ex. Sadly, I know that many of our cheater-exes share those traits.

    • You described my ex to a tee Kelly. I can’t emphasize enough how his behavior became more disturbing over time. I have been giving it a lot of thought and there are a few behaviors I never recognized until I saw through his false self. He never recognized I had emotional needs. When I needed him the most he cheated.rather than being there for me I had focus on his needs because he had an affair. When I graduated and got my MS he became combative, feeling entitled to my money. While he never displayed regret, he started to draw more attention to his ability to meet other women. He would calmly state, I’m dating. As CL stated it was spiteful. He enjoyed my pain. He left poems in his car and phone numbers in his desk. To his SURPRISE I filed. He was enraged.

      • WHY do they do that!!!! xmr kept tellin me he wanted a divorce and so finally I went and filed – I couldn’t take anymore! – and when they served that asshole he absolutely told me that he didn’t think that I could actually divorce him!!! WHAT! So, apparently he felt that no matter how he treated me it would just be ok with me!!!!!

        • Jeep; Here I am again! I heard those exact words. He thought he could keep throwing up the “D” word, and the 3rd time was the charm! He was SHOCKED! I was just supposed to keep lowering the bar.

          • REGINA 😉 We ALL missed you!

            See! They are all alike!

            IHaveHate and I have decided there NEEDS TO BE A LAW…these assholes need to be held accountable!

      • Donna; Maybe some will disagree, but I believe they know we are better than them and when we achieve, they are threatened. May never admit it but…..Mine sure didn’t pick anyone with class to have as his AP, and this does seem to be a pattern with Cheaters.

    • Kelly, you know our ex’s are kindred spirits. No shame, no tears, no remorse, no humanity at all. Too bad we can’t have them dropped on a deserted island somewhere. Or send them back to their home planet.

  • I’ve had plenty of shame in my life and I don’t remember being a jerk without a conscience. Someone once told me the difference between me and the disordered is I had humility versus EGO. I’ve always been baffled by the toxic behaviors and attitudes of the entitled regardless of whether or not they are cheaters.

    CL if I’ve learned one thing from your blog is not to bother with jerks. Just walk if not run, run, run away.

  • Stevie,
    He is in a long line of perfect assholes.
    My best friend Ex did the “gym thing” All of a sudden at 43 he is competeing and juicing ( the illegal kind) His whole life became the gym…and he walked on a 15 yr marriage and their 3 children a week before Christmas. Drained the bank account and bounced. Never looked back. He picked up with a transgender male-female dancer and has been MIA since.
    What did my Idiot say to that?…”well, you don’t know what his side is”
    I said ” Do you really see a side to that?”
    Mother fucker!!!
    Shameless…absolutely shameless.

    • The gym….. Right before he left I found tons of diet pill and “fat burning” supplement samples he’d brought home from the gym. I often wondered if he was doing steroids. I almost feel sorry for him. Genetically he’s never going to look the way he dreams of, but I loved him just the way he was. Always telling him how handsome he was, not fat, etc. I meant it but I realize now that it didn’t matter because he didn’t value my opinion.

    • I can honestly say that mine looks fabulous, body like a 20 year old, I hate it and wish he didn’t…. asshole. He is more of a covert narc, his own worst enemy. If I were to be honest… I’ve had suspicions for years about him possibly cheating… could never figure out if it was just the need for attention or if he took it “there” (not much opportunity really, during the day? works for himself). The addiction to bodybuilding and self, compounded with severe ego bruising last year (no recognition/placement in competitions) and possible mid-life crisis @ 46….. it was all just a recipe for disaster. The whole thing became tiresome…. the eating on schedule, breathing on schedule, training on schedule, EVERYTHING revolved around HIM and this “lifestyle” change. If I drug my feet at the grocery store, or stopped to speak to a neighbor… and it made him TWO minutes late for “training” he was such a terrific asshole about it. EVERYTHING had to be a BIG DEAL about him. The $$$ he was pissing away…. supplements (minimum of $5-700/month) plus the competitions…. the suits….. the tanning…. buying more gym equipment….. new laptop…. anything and everything HE wanted … while bills struggled to get paid and were put on hold time and time again.

      I don’t think he can honestly digest his own filthy flaws…. I believe for the sake of his own existence when his bag of tricks is unearthed into the light of day he puts his fingers in his ears and just starts screaming “lalalalalalalalala” and RUNS…. as fast as he can….. away… just away… to wherever feels better. He was always completely self absorbed…. and I truly don’t think he sees it that way….. entitlement. He was never outwardly malicious or abusive, he would just sort of disappear in one way or another (he could actually do it right in front of you, act like you weren’t there) when he didn’t want to “face” anything. Once when I questioned his best friend’s wife, asking if he had cheated on previous wife… and if he had always taken money for trips for himself only……all she had to say way “He is always going to do what HE wants to do, simple as that.”

  • Yup…the joke is on you for having a conscious. Cause even in your darkest moments you couldn’t imagine that someone would ever be as evil as that.
    Reality….they are.

  • Tracy, this may be the best blog post you’ve ever done. “It’s your job to have a boundary.” I need to repeat that 25 times every morning when I first wake up.

    • Sunny…….yes, I hear ya! Just like I’ve listened to the Bishop TD Jakes video every day since someone posted it on CL. If someone can walk away from you, LET THEM WALK!!!!!

  • I never believed for a minute my XH felt ‘toxic shame.’ What a laugh. I have no idea why he turned out the way he did . I gave up untangleing the skein long ago because it made no sense. He was the much wanted only child. He grew up in a beautiful resort town and his parents had a summer cabin on the lake with a boat. He learned how to water ski in the summer and snow skin in the winter. A childhood I could only have dreamed of. He adored his mother and his dad was a cheater who embarrassed him beyond words. So what’s he grow up to do? Cheat on all his wives and girlfriends and embarrass everyone.

  • one of the dangers of research in the social sciences is that we ( us humans) use conclusions from group research to explain individual behavior far beyond the parameters of the original study. we over generalize. sometimes the explanation will be true for an individual. sometimes it won’t be.

    for this individual chump, what is resonating the most in this post for me today is that i let my compassionate heart make excuses for bad behavior too often. i will learn from this going forward, whether people are assholes or not. i will take better care of myself

    this leaves me with the sweeping empirical observation..bad shit happens. it happened to me. i will heal. part of what i love about brene brown’s teaching is that whole hearted people get that way THROUGH their vulnerability. i would add there is a lot of moral character mixed in too!

  • I think Brene Brown has the heart of a chump. I recall listening to one of her talks (my favorite of her audio books is “The Power of Vulnerability”, a collection of her talks) where Brene talks about a chumped friend. She said something “there’s a special place in hell for these kinds of people”. She was referring to the cheater. So I see that statement as applying to non-cheaters, “normal” folks like Chump Nation. But assholes? They’re a different league and should all be sent to an island so they can have a pissing contest on who wins the asshole gold medal. Even then they’ll still find a way to cheat just to win.

  • Although this idea strikes me many days after reading the comments on CL, today it especially resonates after the current crop of stories–we were all married/attached to one of the biggest collections of cruel, heartless losers on the face of the planet. Every chump should be cracking open a bottle of bubbly tonight that we are free of their deception and emotional abuse. Cheers to all my fellow chumps.

  • Yup, I think I will have a drink too… to the assholes, who know nothing and will never know about the most wonderful gifts that humanity offers, love and faith, compassion and empathy… that in itself is a karma bus… bottoms up Chumps.

  • Cruelty exhibited to a person who professes to love us is nothing less than abusive behavior, and continues to run rampant from in-laws, friends, and even family members who may never understand our plight. Being cheated on is “100% the fault of the cheater”. – Lundy Bancroft So when society offers up sites like Ashley Madison that proudly tells people how to cheat and feels good about it, more madness is around the corner. We suffer, simply wanting a committed marriage and to be treated kindly. Not too much to ask and it’s FREE.

  • Actually, I buy the issue that Narcissism is rooted in issues with shame. The “issue” they have with it is, they never learned to incorporate dealing with shame, as healthy and maturing people do. Shame is a natural emotion that we all feel, and it has a purpose: to keep us from doing (or doing AGAIN) something that is NOT GOOD. (…I’m setting aside here the other side of the coin, people who feel shame all the time. Also problematic, but not what I’m addressing.) And I don’t buy that NPD types feel that way deep down, either.

    We all do things we shouldn’t as kids, and if of normal mental health and if parented well and all that stuff – we learn that the BAD FEELINGS that come after doing things we shouldn’t, are the internal red flags we must heed in order to become functional people in society, in intimate relationships, and to be at peace with ourselves. Shame has an important role in our emotional lives, even though we experience it as a negative emotion – it’s the natural consequence for doing something offensive. G-d willing, we don’t feel it very often, because we healthy types learn to avoid the behaviors that make us feel that way.

    I’ve read some compelling stuff that says NPD types never learned to cope with shame as children. Either they are disordered from the start (quite possible), or they were coddled and protected from the natural emotional consequences of Bad Choices early on (probable, as well.) I believe my own ex fits the latter in particular, he was brought up to believe he was brightest, best-est, handsome-est, etc. I don’t believe he was taught much about his own emotional inner life, nor expected to bear the consequences of his early childhood misdeeds. He grew to believe that other people exist merely to make him Feel Better, and he absolutely uses people for sympathy (that’s his own word for what he was looking for in affairs, lies, etc. – and I think it’s apt, given that healthy people seek and offer EMPATHY from other.)

    I know some of this falls under Untangling, but it actually helped me feel better about Getting Away From the giant pile of crap my ex turned our lives into, to understand that it may indeed have had a root cause, that it didn’t spring out of nothing. I can see that it all had nothing to do with me indeed, which has been an important piece of my recovery from chumpdom.

    • As you can see from my story below, I am also guilty of some “untangling” (I have found it a hard habit to break) but following through on the idea that some kids never learn to deal with shame…my MIL told me that H used to rage way back in childhood. She didnt “warn” me until days before our wedding and even then she was very polite about it.

      I think my H never learned to cope from the get some pivotal moment when he could/should have learned that the icky feelin gin him was an indicator to not repeat the mistake he had just made, he went on an emotionally unhealthy tangent which compromised his ability to cope later and led him to use blame as a life long crutch—narc.

      My mom had Borderline Personality disorder (yes, I found someone who I felt familiar with, accepting blame was something I got very good at). They say that BPD and NPD often arise from childhood abuse, but I would add “percieved” abuse. My mom and H were both raised by working class parents who loved and valued them and treated them quite good. They both seemed to have felt very very cheated at growing up poorer that others in their spheres even though they had everything they needed and were loved and nurtured. They felt cheated and put-upon that is all it took.

  • Discerning the difference between his behavior being caused by toxic shame or assholeness has been at the core of my life for a bit over a year. It feels really big to me because I thought I was a unicorn…”reconciled” after a whopping affair and bomb drop.

    The reconciliation started out shaky (?fake remorse to facilitate cake eating) with him minimizing all of it and refusing counseling. He never seemed to appreciate me keeping our family together when he went insane and fled for a good while then let him back in. He still blamed me for logistics that resulted from his chaos. (This isnt looking good, is it?) and his selfishness was coming back full force with him telling me he was moving away to get a cool job (never mind our upsidedown mortgage, struggling children, my job that kept us afloat).

    Then one day he dropped dead.

    I was so sad, I was the grief stricken widow…gave him a hero’s send off with full Masses in our home town as well as his home of origin. ….but about 4 months after his death I suddenly realized how much easier life was without his constant criticisms and endless blame.

    but he was suffering from depression, Im sure of it. All those rages were from his depression (denial not being a river in Egypt…yea, here).

    he acted like a person who had toxic shame from something big…like he had burned down a nunnery while playing hookey from school or something. But I knew his family well and he was treated like a boy prince in his FOO …they were pretty coping folks except that his dad – who was seen as a great guy to all – was forever really nasty and difficult with his wife (red flag emogee here).

    But one day, I was trying to clear out some paperwork from his military career (he retired 7 years earlier…OW was an invited guest and sat in row 3 at his retirement) and I found piles of travel receipts & military orders…all perfectly in order…didnt take long to find March 2005 – the month of THE TRIP with OW that launched them for real. He had claimed them being at the same place was happenstance and a last minute change of plans for weather. Except the orders and hotel receipts told a VERY different story.

    our whole 7 year reconciliation was based on more lies

    that asshole

    I put up with WAYYYYY too much shit for WAYYYYY too long. We had been married for 26 years and he actually treated me pretty shitty for most of it, but he was an expert at throwing me JUST enough crumbs of hopium to keep me smoking the pipe that he would one day have an epiphany and we would be THAT couple, the one who triumphs and gives marriage retreats to struggling couples.

    One of my regrets upon realizing that I seriously needed to divorce him years earlier was that he wasn’t there for me to leave. I wanted him to have to watch me leave.

    Up to the point of his death, we were sort of OK financially but had teetered because just any old job wasnt good enough for him, he had to have a super-cool job (yea, OK, I see this NOW) and we were looking at some serious financial problems in our immediate future. But when he had a split second of guilt during his affair and had been planning his escape to Seattle with OW, he bought a million $ life insurance policy. (You cant make this shit up).

    He was gone and I was flush with cash…what a deal, huh? Problem was I wasted my life (worth a hell of a lot more that a million bucks) on him and I was never for sale…my love, commitment, devotion and fidelity were priceless.

    I was scared that I would never be able to love again because most single middle aged men are single because they suck and finding a chump like me would be nearly impossible. I couldnt risk my finances on some guy. But I found an old boyfriend who was chumped himself 13 years earlier and was so hurt he never tried again at love. His wife dumped him for greener grass (which didnt turn out so green) and he hadnt hit his peak earning years yet. He has long since finished paying alimony and he has way more money than me. Im now safe like I was never ever safe before.


    I am trying to finish processing the whole bizarre thing that was my marriage. I need to finish and put the ashes of it in an urn that get put on a way back shelf of my life so that I can go out and live the best life I can for as long as me and sweetman have until one of us drops.

    Which led me to this post. I really thought for years that his stuff was shame and depression but maybe now, really for the first time ever, Im maybe brave enough to admit to myself that (to me at least – he followed through his dads tradition of being a great guy to everyone and horrible to his wife) he was an asshole. Its really hard for me to face and admit. Im frustrated and angry with myself, I feel stupid and used and tricked.

    Thank you for reading my wild, extreme yet very true (if quite abbreviated) story

    • What a 7 year “reconciliation” taught me is that if a person says to you “I don’t love you and don’t want to be with you” you should believe them and let them go. No arguing, minimal questioning, no trying to talk them out if it. Once they get to the place of saying those words, the horse is out of the barn.

      I can say that 10 years later, but I would never ever been able to say or do it 10 yrs ago. At the time I had a boss who got the bomb dropped on her after 30 yrs and divorced immediately..I always projected that she envied me for refusing to “give up” on my marriage. She likely pitied me for refusing to get into a life boat when my marriage sunk.

  • Thanks Unicornnomore….that’s one heck of a story. So nice to hear you have sweetman boyfriend and at least the asshole left you some money. It’s a heck of a lot more than a lot of us got.

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