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Dear Chump Lady, How do you get through the middle of leaving?

goneHi Chump Lady,

I have a question for you: how do you get through the middle of this leaving-your-cheater process, as in, not the terrible realization you’ve been cheated on and the immediate pain, and not the signing of the divorce papers moment, but the in-between part after you make the decision to end things?

I’m in the house up for sale, packing, deposit on an apartment stage and wavering already because this pain hurts like a motherfucker — worse than when I discovered he’d cheated because at least he was sticking around for cake, no matter how awful the relationship an ever-growing D-Days, so many, in fact that I lost track and thought I stopped caring. I was OK with being treated like shit as long as he stayed because I felt I could somewhat control my pain levels — I knew who he was and what to expect. What’s happening now is uncharted territory.

Anyway, over the course of a year, I saw a lawyer, paid his retainer, got the financial paperwork, even bought furniture for my tiny apartment and booked a celebratory holiday alone. But now I’m desperately sad and am feeling like an unwilling participant, even though I’d initiated the whole separation after a decade of lies and unfulfilled promises. It’s the do or die moment and I’m choking.

Right now, contractors are tearing down the wallpaper we chose together and it’s like my life is being dismantled before my eyes. Furniture we bought together is disappearing into storage and it’s a surreal, horrible, heart-breaking feeling. My dining room table is missing — the place where my visiting family shared pizza with my spouse and I, the place where my cats hang out every night while I make dinner (even though they’re not supposed to).

My husband was on board with everything until he realized I was serious this time about leaving. Now he’s making half-assed, last ditch efforts. Because I’m feeling vulnerable and afraid, I eat up every crumb like a newly-minted chump. Suddenly, I’m in love again.

I don’t want to get divorced. I now want everything back the way it was — even though I knew with complete certainty a week ago that I was 100% doing the right thing. My thoughts are clouded with emotion and my heart is shattered by immobilizing grief. I’m not ready for this.


P.S. He slept in the bed for the first time in two years just the other day. And, he told me I was his best friend.

Sad in Seattle

Dear SiS,

The problem is you’re not no contact. You’re trying to kick a drug and you’re sleeping in an opium den. (Or hopium den, that is.)

You miss the lie. Love, domesticity, and wallpaper. A husband, a place in the coupled firmament. Belonging. But every time you try to rest upon the comfort of this life, reality intrudes with more D-Days.  

I was OK with being treated like shit as long as he stayed because I felt I could somewhat control my pain levels.

Listen to yourself — you were okay with being treated like shit so long as he stayed. You would accept any kind of degradation so long as he didn’t abandon you. You felt like you could control it.

The fact is, you can’t control him. He’s going to keep cheating on you — he’s made that clear through a decade’s worth of actions. You can either numb yourself to that, or you can leave. But him becoming a different person is not on the table. Fact is, he already abandoned you. He rejects you over and over and over. That’s what D-Days are. Every day you stay with him is another Groundhog Day of abandonment.

Get your head in the game. You’re either divorcing him because you mean it — you’re truly sick of his shit and know you deserve better. Or you’re “divorcing” him because you want him to respond to your distress signal and Really Care This Time.

I’m worried it’s the latter. Look, we all flounder and grieve. It’s staggeringly unfair that cheaters eat cake and force their loving, committed chumps to put a bullet in their marriages. But it’s a lot easier to fire that shot once you realize you’re killing a figment of your imagination.

What marriage? What commitment? What love?

What are you staying for? The intact dining set?

Oh, but there were Good Times. Oh, he’s not All Bad. Sure. Okay. Everything is fine until the cycle of abuse wheel spins and hits “D-Day.” He walks out for one of his new fuck friends. Spin! But then he hoovers you back. Spin! And the sex is really great! Spin! And he sleeps at home again! Spin! And then he compares you to his fuck friend. Spin! And ignores your sobbing. Spin! And fails to see what your problem is. Spin! And rages at you for not getting over it. Spin! But is really nice the next day. Spin! And has pizza with you and your friends at that dining room table. Spin! And then fucks one of the dinner guests. Spin!

You have a choice, Sad. You can walk away from that crazy, or you can keeping spinning the wheel and hope it hits “Happily Ever After.”

I can tell you that “Happily Ever After” is not on that wheel. You might stay at that table and keep spinning, but I really hope you realize you’ve got better ways to spend your life. Outside that casino is a nice little apartment waiting for you, and a lawyer with his paid retainer. Please realize your worth and move toward a new life.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Sad in Seattle, it will pass. Those feelings of your life being dismantled in front of your eyes…it will pass. Promise. He’s also scared that his cake is coming to an end and is hanging on for as long as you will let him. Go no contact and gettng to the other side will be much easier/faster.

    • “Now he’s making half-assed, last ditch efforts”…
      Yes, just like my students. The semester ends next week and suddenly people I haven’t seen in months are showing up, turning in overdue assignments, asking if they can do extra credit. They cannot maintain a facade of good studenthood over time but they see the end is in sight so try to sprint through it.
      Your POS knows his semester is almost over.

      • 4 years later…. holy shit that’s my life. Apparently he thinks I’m the extra credit he can “do”. I’m a teacher as well. So you know what… fuck him and his “missing assignments”. Just like my students , they always try the hardest at the end… but it always ends up being sloppy and full of mistakes. Meh. Bastards. Find another teacher.

  • Chumplady is spot on! Once you pay the retainer on a lawyer you realize that a part of your brain knows it’s over! You will falter, but that’s just the Hopium! Keep moving! It gets better!

    • You’re far more likely, I think, to realize the right thing to do intellectually first. Emotionally, not so much, but the emotions **will** “catch up” to the intellectual realization. You need distance and time, both of which No Contact will give you.

      • sephage, yes! Her heart and her head are not on the same page yet and it can take a long time for that to happen. I was there too and occasionally still but much quicker rebound time now.

    • Yes, my head and heart are on different pages! I went to a lawyer but couldn’t bring myself to start the process or retain his services. I know I need to, but it still hurts. I know my STBX doesn’t love me, not sure if he knows what love is, and I don’t want him back, even if he breaks up with his latest OW. I just can’t get my stupid heart to catch up with my head!

      • You can still file (at least in my state). If you change your mind, that’s okay, too. But take it one step at a time.

        Also, find a way to sustain your anger into forward action. Keep a list of what you know your cheater did. Refer to it. Make sure that you put down the times he lied to you about what he was doing, so that when he pulls similar stuff, you know that he’s lying.

        File. Then start to take your life back, one step at a time. Remind yourself of the things you stopped doing because your STBX didn’t like doing them. Start doing them again. That’s freeing, and you’ll start to feel more like yourself, and you’ll start to see that life on your own is better than the lie you have with him.

        • That has been difficult for me too, waiting for my emotions to catch my intellectual knowledge of the situation. One year and 20 days later we are divorced. The great dismantling takes place over the next few weeks and he is being difficult about items he thought were “stupid, or meaningless” suddenly they mean the world to him….NOT. Only another way to exert control. I guess what I’m saying, is that there is and ebb and flow to this, the emotions sometimes come in so fast and knock you on your butt, however, when they recede, you can see the “bottom of the barrel” so to speak, and there is some nasty shit down there! Hang in, your emotions will catch up, and yes, go no contact…BEST TOOL EVER in this marathon called divorce! HUGS!

      • // , Your heart isn’t stupid. It sounds strong, and it has reasons that reason knoweth not.

        They just see different pieces of the same picture, I think.

        I’m not sure what’s going on in there, but as for me, I have worked out at least one example of the above.

        My reason knows that I *need* to slowly build indifference a certain category of people, especially one in particular.

        However, my heart knows that I *need* to love someone, and doesn’t yet trust my reason to find one.

  • Realize your worth! Those are strong words. CL’s on point again! Don’t waffle – move forward and save the rest of your life! I know it hurts and I know it’s hard, but there is light @ the end of the tunnel. You are on the path of growth. Every time your near the precipice of growth, fear sets in. – Embrace it, and move forward. You’ve got this!

    • During the worst days, I repeated a phrase from on of my kids’ favorite childhood books, ‘(We’re going on a bear hunt) Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it.” There is no pain free way to leave a marriage. There just isn’t. So you have to go through it. Recognize the pain for what it is, a necessary part of the process.

      • So, so true. “No way out but through.” During that hell in between dday and divorce, I kept repeating that to myself over and over and over. Those months were so terribly awful. And when the divorce came, I felt free from that hell. Sure, there was still lots of pain while my heart was slowly catching up to my head….but it was so much better after getting through the purgatory of “My husband is sleeping with someone else and I am still married to him.” That was absolute torture for me because I still was determined to be faithful to him and honor my vows until divorced. And it was awful to be the only one in such pain and the only one upholding the vows we both made. Once that tie was legally broken, I felt so much better and felt like I could begin healing…

        • The only one *in my marriage* in such pain. (Or ANY pain…?) Obviously I know CN gets it. 🙂

  • I feel your pain girl. I told myself that the only way I am going to get through this divorce is to have each emotion, allow myself to really feel it without having an action of trying to reverse the situation. Once I did this, each emotion took time but I came out the other side with more resolve that I was doing the right thing. It took time, a lot of tears, feelings of dread but I am so much happier now.

  • Boy SIS – I completely understand what you are saying. It is just sad knowing the man you once loved has turned into a complete ass wipe – you want the man you married back! Unfortunately, He’s not coming back…. I too wanted to just go home and wanted everything to just go back to ‘normal.’ But It can NEVER be normal again with the knowledge you have. You’ve been betrayed, lied to, disrespected! And as CL said, “Happy Ever After” is not on your Spin Wheel. The wheel has spun out of control – thanks to your cheating assface, and it can’t stop until you stop it.
    The other night my son had graduation. My stbx cheating SOB texted me and asked if I wanted to sit with him during the ceremony. I texted back and said my parents are going to be there. (Basically saying NO – I am sitting with my parents!) The next day he texted and said how nice I looked last night. WTF? Of course I looked nice dumbass – this is what you threw away and guess what, someone ELSE gets to enjoy me now. I never asked for this – I was happy and loved my husband, my family, my home to bits – he’s the one who tossed me out like garbage… I did not respond to his text…
    It’s hard, I know. Change is always hard. You are worth more. We are all worth more!

    • SIS–this is my story too. 35 yrs. marriage, last 15 virtually “loveless.” He blows up everything-retirement plans, kids, grandkids, everything. About the 5th time I offer reconciliation, he agrees to “think about it.” My lawyer recommends splitting property now as “chump insurance.” He goes ballistic. Meanwhile he tells me he is still texting, talking, giving monetary bonuses, and going to lunch (but only in a group-so give him a medal) with his ho-worker. But just a little, teeny, tinsy bit. He was fighting for $$ and cake. I was fighting for the marriage. So I revisit the lawyer and we are back on the docket. And to tell you the truth, I’m close to “meh”. I do dread seeing my lovely home deconstruct. My daughter recommends I sell everything and start over. Very tempting. Stick with me, SIS. It’s sobering but necessary.

      • happily–I just received the e-mail from my x at 11:30 last night (hours past the court deadline) on the property my x is expecting to remove from the marital home. And boy does he have something coming. He absolutely is cherry picking, taking all the valuables under the auspice that “My parents bought this for us”. We were married for 19 years and yes, his parents bought a lot of stuff for us (the old material goods (his fan) vs. love (my fan). Anyway, I know what items I would like to retain and I am fighting for them; however, I disagreed with several that he wants to buy bargaining chips….and again, I know this is so not about the stuff, just his last chance to get me going and get kibbles to “choke on his way out”. Selling everything sounds great….hold on to a couple of things that are meaningful just be strategic about it.

          • My ex wanted everything valuable too, it’s not about memories or anything they care about, once you file they just want to fuck you over. Just don’t end up fighting over things in court, judges generally find that crappy behavior. You might want to do a spreadsheet with stuff and monetary value then respond that you are happy to give him what he requests if he gives up the dollar amount. Obviously don’t do this for the things that are meaningful to you, fine line. Jedi hugs!

          • Outwet, my ex packed everything while i was at work that he wanted and just left. No discussions, no fighting, no talking, no anything. Anything he didn’t want (including cards made by the kids for him for birthdays etc) he just left behind. I have subsequently sold nearly all of our married furniture and bought my own. It does make things better having your own stuff and have tossed anything that reminds me of him in any way

        • It’s a little like the George straight song Give It Away. Not much meaningful. But what I am taking is items that I picked out, shopped for, that are <6 mo old

    • LadyStrange, mine just did a similar thing. We were both at a cookout for our daughter’s team – he hung out with the dad’s and I was with the mom’s. Afterwards we had planned to talk about an asset we need to split. He started by saying that I looked good. Lol – the look on my face had to be pure shock! He hasn’t said that to me in over 20 years. I simply said thank you and kept right on talking business. Actually, I felt a little creeped out by it!

      • Its the divorce-a-cheater-makeover…once you go back to taking care of yourself and liking the new and improved version of you, you will lose weight, your skin will look fresher, you will sleep better…cheaters cause an enormous amount of stress (even when we don´t know they are cheating) and stress is the number one trigger of aging and disease. So Sad, look at it this way: after you finally leave him and work on yourself, you will not only look and feel better, you will begin attracting completely different types of people: people who share your values and are good for you.

        My view is that we attracted cheaters because at that point in our lives we were insecure, not completely emotionally available, or did not feel lovable enough to aspire for better. After such an experience, many times after decades of abuse we have to learn this lesson or our lives will suck worse if we continue to let someone abuse us. It is also a form of abuse to let an abuser continue. He gets the message that its OK to do it, because you have allowed it so many times. Please teach him a lesson and learn the lesson yourself and put an end to this!

        • For me I suffered from gastrointestinal issues, migraines and general malaise. I think because I was intellectually tamping down my intuition there was no other outlet than my physical health. It’s like I put emotional spanx on to deal with my X and the excess “fat” popped out as physical distress. I have been suffering physically for so long and two days out, I feel my body easing up, my stomach feels better, my skin is clearer….I agree with the other comments as well, as we take care of ourselves and lose the crap in our lives we looks better and attract a different type of person! Many of my friends have commented that I look 10 years younger…though I doubt my ASSHAT will ever give me another compliment….

      • I didn’t even ‘thank’ the jack ass. He’s probably just trying to get me into bed – that’s about the only time he ever complimented me. Dick.

        • Regarding the compliments from the ex, I think that’s just part if the cheater default mindset. Schmooompies are so impressed by compliments, texts, trinkets, etc the cheaters expect you and everyone else to be floored when they grace you with one. The insecure cheaters fall right into bed over that kind of shit. Losers.

      • If I got a compliment like that I’d have to respond by saying, Of course I look better I lost XXXlbs of pure ugly and be laughing when I say it.

  • Sis, the pain that you feel is real and its a mother fucker… The pain that you dont feel is the one that is killing you. You are so accustom to the other pain that you dont even realize its eating away at you like a slow growing tumor… A ten year tumor. This new pain may be white hot in its intensity but it will pale and set you free. The other will eat away at your soul.
    You have made the first step… Put the other foot in front and keep moving forward… As they say ‘ you aint going that way anymore’

    • This ^^^^^ is so, so true. The most dangerous pain is the one you’ve become numb to. It is soul-crushing pain, and you won’t know your soul is *dead* until you stand in the middle of your kitchen, or in the grocery store, and you can’t get your mind off of how to act or speak around your husband to make sure what you do or say is “right”.

      Fuck that….

      She’s right – this WILL pass. Take the opportunity to work on *you*. See a therapist – one that specializes in divorce. It will help immensely.

      • I second the notion to see a therapist. They can objectively listen to your circumstances and reflect them back to you to help you 1) see the other person for who he really is based on his actions and 2) to help you with a consistent, healthy, congruent course of actions and decisions.

        They can also let you know that what you are experiencing is 100% normal, not that we should let “normal” get in the way of progress and action 🙂

    • TheClip, I am cutting and pasting this into my journal.

      Yes Yes. Spot On.

      This This This is why us chumps need to take action, need to learn to take care of our selves, need to create a life, for the alternative is a “pain that you dont even realize its eating away at you like a slow growing tumor”

      This is why we need to “leave a cheater, gain a life”

    • “. . . the pain that you feel is real and its a mother fucker… The pain that you dont feel is the one that is killing you.”


      You do have a way with words. The pain that you don’t feel eventually kills you because it is the one to which you have become accustomed and it has become a part of who you are. You don’t even realize it is pain and so the disease that is causing it eats you up on the inside until who you are no longer exists. I will be pasting these beautiful words of wisdom everywhere. Thank you so much for sharing your this.

      • “The pain that you dont feel is the one that is killing you.”

        This is so true. Once I got out of my marriage and had time to work through the grief, I realized that my depression had lifted for the first time in I can’t remember when. In fact, I didn’t even know I was chronically depressed! When I was in my marriage I completely numbed myself for the last 5-7 years to cope with the troubling distance between me and my husband and my fears about the relationship between my ex and his coworker.

        SiS, you were abandoned long ago, you just don’t realize it. You shut down and denied reality so you could keep your fears of being alone at bay. In some ways the horrible pain you’re is describing is the first step in coming to life again. All those repressed emotions start welling up and it’s impossible to keep a lid on them any more. They demand to be acknowledged and worked through.

        Hang on SiS, we’ve all been where you are. I promise you’ll get through this terrible time. You are making the right choice. What you’re going through is very similar to withdrawal from a powerful addiction. Surround yourself with support because you can’t do it alone. Join a support group like Divorce Care, find a counselor, talk to family and friends who are empathetic and will support you, and of course come back to Chumplady to realize you’re not alone.

        • Yes, the death of the life and marriage we thought we would have has to precede the new life after. And it is awful. But it does indeed get better and there is a nlife to be gained on the other side…

        • So very true. All the pain you were trying to avoid by staying can no longer be suppressed. You’re going to have to feel it. The difference is you will experience it and HEAL, and go on to a beautiful life full of peace and contentment.

    • Clip is right. The pain you carry every day, but have numbed yourself to? It will eventually take you down and not probably not in a good way. It is a soul destroyer. It is also a destroyer of heart and life. I spent the week before last in the hospital. I learned that at 47 yrs old I am in heart failure. My heart is incredibly weak. The doctors are more than perplexed, because I have ZERO heart disease risk factors, no plaque in my arteries, no high bp, no bad cholesterol. I have almost always exercised regularly and tried to eat (mostly) healthy. So, they could find nothing to explain it……except the devastation and unrelenting grief and stress I allowed to dwell in my life by continuing to live with this cheating, lying POS for two years while he trickled truthed, manipulated and gaslighted me. I forget who said it (I’m sorry!) and I don’t quite recall the topic, but something that really stuck to me was reading the words another chump wrote, as she was coming out the other side (albeit slowly she admitted). Anyway, she said, “hope dies a slow death.” I read it weeks ago, but it gave me chills at the time.

      I had no idea that all of this bullshit was literally killing me. The first night I spent in the hospital, I found myself dragging my exhausted, numb, naked, exposed behind and IV pole to the bathroom – it was like I was 90. I paused at the sink because I was dizzy. I looked up and stared at the woman in the mirror for a long time. I didn’t recognize that person. It was a shell. I had allowed that cheating fucktwit to steal the literal life from me, because I didn’t go no contact, because I didn’t want to be the one to end it, because I was embarrassed, because I was afraid, because I was immobilized by all those things and more. I didn’t want a broken home for my kids. So, I continued to live in torturous emotional conditions that nearly destroyed me physically as well. Obviously I’m no good to my kids if I’m dead.

      The doctors don’t know for sure if my heart will recover or if it does how much it can recover. They said recovery of heart function happens only in some specific cases, as in when there is severe stress and the heart kind of goes into shock (there’s a Japanese word for this, but I can’t remember except it starts with a T). They said maybe my case is one of those, but it wouldn’t matter unless I fixed what was wrong, what was killing my heart, immediately. I decided I’m not wasting one more second giving a shit. Whatever time I have left on this earth, be it many days or few, I’m not spending it in angst and grief over this lying, cheating loser. My kids are young and still need me and I intend to be as healthy as I possibly can be for them. And, it is unbelievable, but check your calendars, because it was May 12th when meh dropped in my lap like a brick.

      Don’t do what I did. Get on with your lives, because cheaters show you they ARE more than willing to hurt you. Repeatedly. It really sucks and it makes me angry in a different way than I was angry before, if that makes sense. This anger is indignant. This anger ain’t cryin no more. This anger is pushing me up and out, out of this limbo pickin hell I’ve been living in for two years. I don’t feel sorry for myself even if it is unjust and sucky, because I’m STILL far better off getting out, finally. It’s a shame it took me so long to pry my eyes open and really look at this ugliness in the light of day. What it really was and not what I wished it was or thought it had been. What it really is or was? A complete waste of my time, my energy and my life.

      Love to all you fellow chumps and pray you find the road up and out more quickly and easily than I did. Thank you for all the encouragement and support you’ve given me since I found the website about a year ago.

      • Here’s to a swift and full recovery. Thank goodness you discovered the etiology and are starting the treatment pdq. (((((((Hugs)))))))))

        • Thanks. I’ll take those hugs and raise you two! ☺️ I’m going to be ok. I’m a tough cookie to put up with all the shit I have this far (we ALL are!) – the rest no matter how bad it feels, is still by comparison (before/after my diagnosis) going to seem all downhill. I’ve struggled most with not knowing if there was a PA. It doesn’t even matter, because I know God doesn’t want me to believe I’m a sinful person who ended a fucked up marriage inappropriately, when the reality is I’m simply responding with lifesaving measures to the cheater’s barge load of bullshit. I don’t believe for one second that God expects me to continue to live with someone who is killing me, literally. PA or no PA, there were multiple EA’s and a magnificent and overwhelming amount of mindfuckery that put me into heart failure to start with, and it’s way past time for me to cut and run. I’m simply responding to the reality that I don’t, and never did, matter to Mr. Cheater Asshat.

          He can try to blame me all he wants for breaking up the home, wringing his dirty hands and whining on about the poor children, and how sad and and how he tried to say he was sorry, and oh how bitter I was/am and blah blah blah. I don’t even give a shit if other people believe him. If they believe HIM? I don’t need THEM in my life either. Things became really black and white to me in the hospital as I spent all week in and out of various machines and going through test after test. I’m not happy about my heart problems, but I’m very grateful for the holy amount of clarity it provided me. Yes I meant to say holy. It felt God-given that’s for sure.

          I’m not worried my kids won’t figure it out. The only one who can sustain normalcy and stability for them is me. He will let them down and neglect them, like he always has, especially when he thinks himself “free and clear” of me and feels justified (bc I’ll be the one filing, not him) and finds himself a young, blonde replacement. It’s clear from many past experiences that once he gets focused on someone else, we cease to exist. I used to hate the thought of that, but now it’s a welcome relief.

          Chins up fellow chumps. Your Tuesday will come, maybe like mine did, when you least expect it.

          • I feel exactly like you feel right now. I have had extreme illness during my marriage, and had finally been getting healthy, back from the brink of death, when I found out about all of my STBX’s secret life. I tried to forgive him, but he’s so unrepentant and didn’t come through, as usual, with what he’d promised to do, just expected me to change and go on as if nothing happened, with virtually no changes to improve our marriage. And I was trying to hold on until I got a job so that we could separate, but a week ago we had a fight and I got so angry and he tried to stop me from leaving and he ended up tripping and falling on our slanted driveway. He lay there and refused help from me and our son, and I thought he was being a drama queen, until I heard him call 911 on his phone. But it was so he could get protection from me, not to get medical help. From his story I could’ve been taken to jail, and it is only through God’s grace and deputies who saw what a sneaky jerk he was being that I wasn’t. But they told him it would be best if he left. He asked me two days later if he could come back until our finances improved enough to separate, but I said no. I can’t trust someone like that, and he’s clearly driving me over the deep end, and I need to stay calm because I have three sons here to care for, one of whom is a toddler. And I almost thought, once some people in my family found out, that I was being too hasty, but then I saw he reactivated his Facebook and made sure to change his password so that I wouldn’t see what he was doing. But I saw enough, and the pain of his betrayals rushed back over me, but I’m done with that now. It may hurt, but I’m going NC as much as I can from now on (visitation and separation/divorce business only). And I feel peace most of the time now. Almost none of the digestion problems that have plagued me again lately.

            And I pray in Jesus’ name that God creates in you a brand-new heart, and that your health is completely restored. Thank you for sharing, so that I no longer feel quite so alone, knowing that someone else does understand exactly how I feel.

  • The casino analogy is a classic already. Coin that. What a powerful get through. Amazing the way Chump Lady can clear up mind, heart and soul fog like a thief in the night.

    • For years I’ve seen my ex as a slot machine I kept feeding, naively expecting a payoff to make my efforts worthwhile. Now I know the house always wins, and that was wasted time, money and effort. It’s harder to see when they have you invested in the game.

  • I felt all of this too when I was going through with my divorce. IT WILL PASS. One day i would feel like superwoman and the next a helpless child. I was scared. I was sad. I was angry. Every emotion felt like it was so strong and raw. I too had to put our home up for sale and get it cleaned out. BY MYSELF. He wouldn’t help, he was too busy making a new life with OW while I was cleaning up from our old life. I went through 22 years of memories and possessions that some days left me so exhausted and overcome with emotions all I could do was lay down and go to sleep!!!! It was the most exhausting time of my life.

    But……it was cathartic and much needed. Painful but a re-birth. I believe I needed to feel all of that so I could get to where I am now. I am in my new home with my teenage daughters and we LOVE it. We made it our own and we are happy. My divorce is final and I am beginning my new life. I feel blessed that I have the chance to make my life happy. Staying with my cheating husband was NOT going to make me happy. It’s not that I didn’t love him……it’s that he didn’t love me! He didn’t love me enough to remain faithful.

    This is what you need to think about and get yourself moving forward so you can be HAPPY!!! Everyone deserves THAT! Please call upon friends when you are feeling especially low and get out of the house even for just an hour. Take it one moment and one day at a time. Your life isn’t over…….it’s just beginning!!!

    Good Luck!!!!!

    • “Painful but a re-birth”, interesting point. We die to the old life and are born to a new one. Death and birth are painful passages.

      • What’s with these idiots! Why must the cheated upon be the one to clean up the cheater’s mess? It’s not enough that the faithful spouse gets the humiliation of betrayal, but then you’re such an awful person that you are stuck standing in the aftermath of their affair and you have to plow through their crap, pack it up or whatever. Like the faithful spouse deserves this situation?! It’s like they’re a tornado. A tornado doesn’t care what it destroys, it operates without emotion or humanity. Your life just feeds it’s fury. I know the feeling of that exhaustion you spoke of Kimmy. I moved myself (I hired movers) but I had to do all the packing. I was full of bruises, not to mention the emotional bruising. All I wanted to do when I got to my new place was sleep!

    • “It’s not that I didn’t love him……it’s that he didn’t love me! He didn’t love me enough to remain faithful.”

      ^^^That says a lot for me. Thank you Kimmy! I often wonder if he really ever loved me.

  • First, he has the gun but you keep giving him the bullets to shoot you.
    Second, I hope you realize that the amount of stress you are dealing with is going to shorten your life! This is very serious. Stress is cumulative and you will pay the price for it. There are chumps on here who can agree.
    The best thing you can do is turn your back on that man and get on with your life. If you have the time then join Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, mentor a teenager, become a foster parent, volunteer to help clean up your local streets and roads, feed the homeless.
    If you have children or grandchildren be a good mother and grandmother by being a good, strong role model.
    You are letting him own your life. You need to take it back.

  • SIS, CL is right and if you do a little exercise and allow yourself one minute to imagine yourself back with him and take it in, you’ll realize that nothing will have changed and you feel certain you should have left him and you’ll have to go through a whole ton of shit to just get to where you are now.

    Don’t stop. Keep going. Get through this and get on with your new cheater free life. If it would help, make a list of all the reasons you have retained that lawyer and found your new apartment — all the incidences where he betrayed you and discarded you and took you for granted. Write them down. Refer to it often.

    Go as NO CONTACT as humanly possible — it truly helps healing. You can do this. You’d be disappointed if you went backwards now. Now distract yourself — go to and keep on planning your new home and better future.


    • Another exercise that was useful for me is you write down all their negative behaviors, then ask your self, “If I behaved this way, what would my wife’s friends and family advise her to do”.

      – I didn’t help raise the kids
      – I didn’t have a job and spent us into debt
      – I fucked other people

      So, imagining that I didn’t help raise the kids, didn’t have a job, spent us into debt, and fucked other people, what would my wife’s friends advise?

      Of course, they would say, “That man isn’t worth your while. While you take care of him, he selfishly does what ever he wants, doesn’t contribute to the family, and blatantly disrespects you and fucks other girls!!!. Get out! Run! There’s nothing to save here!”

  • 1. No, you are not in love with him again. You are afraid and sad. He’s just the drug of choice that makes the sadness and fear go away for a little while–until there’s another DDay.
    2. Like many, many chumps (myself included) you are capable of love for not only people but a shared way of life. That is what you see being dismantled in front of your eyes. You are smart enough to know that the marriage is over (having filed and done the apartment hunting, etc.), but you didn’t realize that you also had to live through the death of the way of life that you built and loved in the times before and between DDays.
    3. So your eyes are squarely on the painful parts of what you are losing, rather than on what you are gaining.
    4. If you are moving from a house to a “tiny apartment,” that is an immense loss and change for anyone, but especially for a woman who lovingly built and home (and thought she had a partner in doing so because he helped pick out the things. When I first thought of leaving my alcoholic XH (not the cheater), I looked at apartments, and the thought of leaving my house was devastating. I compared every apartment to that house. (I can say, though, that keeping the house, as I did, has its own downside as home maintenance as a single woman is tough, time-consuming and stressful–so divorce is no picnic even if you get the house and the wallpaper stays up.)

    As CL points out, you are living in the exactly wrong place to build, appreciate, and love a new life. Here’s my suggestion. Leave now. You’ve got the apartment? the furniture picked out? Are you just waiting for the house to be sold to start over? Borrow some money against your share of the house and move now. You’ll need the rent deposit, 3-4 months rent, and enough cash to buy the furniture if you haven’t already. If you don’t go nuts at Pottery Barn, and the apartment is not a 3-BR palace, you might need $6-10,000. If you have a job and can afford the rent on top of your share of the house payment, you’d need less. If you like being creative and re-purposing and re-furbishing stuff, you’d need less. If some of your old stuff is really your own and not joint, you’d need less. I tapped my retirement and am not one bit sorry I did that. It’s my money. Even in my 60s, I have time to rebuild that account but I don’t have time to waste in an unhappy life. (If you do tap the retirement, have 30% sent to the IRS. You should get a decent refund next year but you won’t have to worry about coming up short on taxes.) You can also borrow on your retirement fund and just pay it back. Set up a quarterly payment and you can punt making payments down the road. It may be that your parents (if they are living) can loan you the money. If the money is not doable, move in with someone until the house is sold.

    If you can’t move now (and really can’t, as opposed to “I’m afraid to” or “He won’t like it”) at least re-focus on the new life you are building. Start a Pinterest board for the new apartment. Start new routines and take up new interests that will be the foundation for your new life. If you think now that you want the old life back, it’s because you are used to “the Groundhog Day of abandonment” and that shit sandwich. You’re afraid of starting over.

    Yesterday, I saw the stupid wrens who live at this address during the summer start to build their new address in an ornamental ceramic birdhouse, instead of the amazing, wonderful, sturdy wood and metal-roofed palace I put up for them last year. I was alarmed by that poor choice. But I thought to myself that there is no man in the known universe I would trade for the joy of watching that bird sing every morning. There is life after the wallpaper comes down. There are many people, places and things to love. You don’t have to live a life addicted to or dependent on an abusive relationship. As you say, he’s only making a half-assed effort, and you know that will only last until you give in. Again. So be bold. Get out. Go no contact. And start building.

    • LovedAJackass-this is just what I needed to hear. In an absence of good news, I connected with a person who has some rental properties and I am quite excited about the possibilities. Let’s hear it for the
      60+ plus crowd! We are strong, we are invincible.

    • If one has to tap a 401K retirement account, a 401K loan program, assuming you can afford the loan repayments, is far preferable to the early/hardship withdrawals.

      The loan has no taxes taken out, but you do need to repay the loan over something like 48 months.

      The early or hardship withdrawals come with both regular taxes and a 10% penalty in most cases (if you are over 59 1/2, then check the rules with withdrawals).

      For example, if your have a marginal federal tax rate of 25%, state taxes of 7%, then the penalty of 10%, your total taxes on a $30K withdrawal would be almost $13K, leaving you with just over $17K.

      If you just take out a $17K loan, you’re 401K balance will remain $13K larger and you’ll have monthly payments (back to you) of about $400.

      But over those 4 years, the $13K that you didn’t have to take out might now be $18K, and you will have repaid yourself about $19K total on the $17K loan, so your 401K balance will be about $37K higher than a hardship withdrawal. (Not an apples to apple comparison since you don’t repay the hardship withdrawal, but you get the idea).

      • Yes, tapping retirement is much easier if you are over the age for penalties, as I am. At this point, I figure I am better off living well now than worrying overmuch about a future that I might not see. But I surely appreciate your expert analysis, which is very helpful for those who are younger. I will say, however, that managing the money would not be my first concern if I were living in an abusive situation. But, given that, it is always better to choose the financial option that is less painful. Just don’t value the money more than your own life.

    • Damn. I so admire you. Wish my fucked up mind is where you are. Getting there I hope – but it is a looooooong haul. Love your words – “Get out. No contact. Start building.” Simple. Love it – and hope it’s true. Still holding on to kibble bits (I realize now) but they’re less and less satisfying. I want to be ready to demolish and rebuild. Like you. Inspiration.

      • Remember that you are not the one demolishing. Your unfaithful partner already did that. The only thing you can do is decide that you deserve better and won’t accept that, mourn the death of the relationship and dreams, and then slowly begin rebuilding your life and finding new dreams…. A new life and new dreams are out there! It just takes time to get there….

  • SiS, you’re going to get through this! Please try to reframe your new life, that new apartment as an awesome adventure. Because that’s what it is! Imagine all the peace you’ll have! Imagine all the freedom! Particularly freedom from sadness & oppression.

    Oppression, SiS is what you’re feeling right now. The real you is being held down by years of dysfunction and lies. You need to get your head out of the sand and see the world as it really is. There’s SO much beauty for you to see with fresh eyes!

    You’re afraid, we all get it. Just take that leap, SiS! What’s waiting to catch you is indefinitely better than the life you’ve been living.

    • SiS, What you are experiencing is grief. Something HAS died. Even if it is only your illusions, the love YOU felt was real. This was the most painful experience of my life. Read about the stages of grief. 1. denial. 2. bargaining. 3. anger 4. sadness and finally 5. acceptance. You can cycle through these stages and back and forth indefinately. It seems to me that you were in sadness, but because it was so painful, you have switched back to denial and bargaining. If you can work through the sadness with the absolute truth, and and not resort to bargaining, you will survive this and come out with a happier and more peaceful life. No contact expedites acceptance….or Tuesday, and meh. Please don’t prolong this grieving by running from the pain…all that is, is a shot of hopium, and it won’t last long. Then you’ll have to suffer through the process all over again.

      • Kim, what you said reminds me of what my doctor told me. The day after my husband left I went to my doctor and asked for something to help with the tremendous emotional pain I was in. I couldn’t stop sobbing. He was so kind, he talked to me for a long time and told me that although there were drugs that would numb the pain that it wouldn’t be good to do so. He said if I repressed it that it would resurface later and be even more difficult to deal with. He did give me some Xanax for the panic attacks but told me only to take it on the most difficult days because it was highly addictive. I only used it a few times but it helped me sleep so I could gain a little control over my emotions again. His advice proved to be spot on.

      • SIS, I am at exactly the same stage you are now and it is incredibly painful because, as others are saying, it is a death. And you are in mourning, the stage where you think you’re past the worst and getting on with your life when you get hit by a trigger and suddenly find yourself having to ditch the appointment with the eye doctor because the simple question, “How are you doing?” from the receptionist sets off tears.

        This happened to me the other day, but what was triggered was my grief over father’s death nearly a year ago, and that’s when the parallels to the death of my marriage really struck me. My father died after a long illness, after living with progressively worse dementia. I knew for years that the death of his old self and, eventually, his physical death were coming and I thought I was well prepared for both–in fact, I thought that the death of his old self had prepared me to more easily accept the death of his physical self, but I was so wrong.

        The same is true of my marriage. I’d known for years that it was in decline, and once I realized that it truly was dying, I had plenty of time to prepare for the separation and divorce. So much so that by the time I finally moved out, about the only people in town who didn’t know that I was leaving my STBX were my STBX and the check-out clerk at the local grocery store. Like you, I retained an attorney, bought some furniture, and set up my new place thinking I was ready. Then BAM! about two months post-move and into the divorce process, I find myself crying over the death of the marriage I thought I had as if the pain was brand new.

        The only advantage I have over you is that my STBX is gay, so that makes it easier to keep reconciliation off of the table, but still, I have to will myself some days to take the next step I need to in order to finalize the divorce, and there are many days where I’m sad, terrified, and feel totally paralyzed. CL and CN have been keeping me sane and on track–keep reading here, you’ll find so much wisdom and support to help you through the muck and onto greener pastures.

  • Sad in Seattle,

    I completely relate to what you’re going through, and you described the emotions so perfectly. Getting out of my marriage was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took strength that I didn’t technically have. I remember resolving myself to move forward *despite* my feelings of love, hurt, and sentimental attachment, hoping that my heart would catch up.

    The pain was tremendous, and he pulled me back into it many, many times before I steeled myself to leave. I remember fearing that I would never recover- surely the intense, seemingly bottomless pool of love and hurt and the good memories could never run dry. Surely I was dooming myself to a lifetime of loneliness and pain.

    But here’s the honest truth: when given time, no contact with the cheater, and a genuine life- your heart will heal in ways that will astonish you. The sooner you put yourself on that path, the sooner that healing will come. You are standing on one side of a mountain and wondering if you can do this. You can. And when you get there, you will not only feel at peace and even happy– you will have a lifetime to marvel at your own strength.

    I can sense from your writing that you are a strong, smart person. Don’t let him make you doubt that.

    Be Well,

    • Hi LilyBart!

      Sad– Everyone here has really good advice. You really do need to just experience the pain and keep going. It’s very much a one foot at a time kind of thing. Today I did (X) shitty thing to end that part of my life (that I thought gave me so much meaning.) Tomorrow, it’s (Y) thing.

      Eventually, you take enough steps that you notice the tears have stopped trickling down your face, or at least, not quite so often. And you’ll begin to look for new ways that you are fulfilled, and you’ll also begin to realise how much time, energy, spirit, and emotion work you were putting in to your marriage, and into propping up your sham-spouse.

      I promise, that really does happen, if you keep chugging along. (I didn’t say it was easy, or not painful–or even sometimes financially inexpensive.) But so very worth it.

      Best of luck to you.

      • Yes, one thing at a time. Six weeks post dday., I was ready to take down all photos of ex. I must have vomited four times while doing that because I was crying so hard. I almost stopped because it was just so painful. But I knew I would have to go through the awfulness of that step again if I didn’t push through and I knew I would be okay and so I kept going until the pictures were all down and in a box. And I replaced some things with quotes I found inspiring. Same frame with quotes inside to encourage me. (I don’t want blank spaces on the walls, so I replaced things instead.) And when I finally (almost a year later( finished the last thing on the list of tasks to detangle our lives and I had all his paperwork out of the house…I felt relief…. But it was one painful step at a time, and each was hard, but after each I felt better and was a little furter along on my journey of healing and rebuilding….

  • SiS, I haven’t been in your shoes. My STBXH went no contact with me from the get-go. He never tried to played me. He just left. Abandoned us.

    But I am writing to tell you this: You have forgotten what it feels like to have someone REALLY love you. I’ll tell you because I try to remember every single day what that is like because that is where I can allow myself to hope and leave that cheater behind. Someone who loves you does not cheat. They give ALL their affection to YOU. They HATE to see you hurt. They don’t take advantage of you when you are weak. They make plans with you. They dream with you. One of their favorite things to see you laughing. HAPPY. And you don’t have to earn their love. They just love….you. All of you. They choose YOU. Every. Single. Day. Day after day after day after day.

      • And, I might add that we don’t have to rely on someone else to provide real love because we can love and respect ourselves.

    • Beautifully put, conniered. It’s so important to remind ourselves what healthy love looks like. And it doesn’t have to be a romantic partner either. Move toward the people who love you back, who reciprocate, who make you feel safe.

    • Thanks Ali Rose and Chump Lady. And, yes, putting all the energy and love into people who love you back is incredibly healing. Even if it’s not the romantic kind. Love freely given is what we have lost when someone cheats.

      Even now, while I am starting to date a little, I am looking at how men treat me. Do they make plans to see me? Are they making space in their life for me? Do I feel valued? Are they worthy of my attention? Even ff they are “nice guys” and they are not doing those things, I have to move on to protect myself. Nothing personal. Just….I know what I want.I want to be loved. All the way. No holds barred. I have survived the worst destruction of my life and I won’t endure that again. Ever.

      • Well put, conniered!

        If the person doesn’t want to take time to see you, then that means they have other priorities. Even if they can meet you only over coffee, there should be some kind of desire to see you. If they want to meet you for sex, then you know right where you stand.

        After 17–now officially 18–years of marriage to STBX, I am aware that he never really took the time to be with me. I was around, but he didn’t want to do things. Stupid stuff like a couple of hours of putt-putt golf (which he said he liked)? Nope. He was too busy, too tired. Going out to dinner on my birthday or on our anniversary or on Valentine’s Day? Too busy, too tired. We never took any vacation that did not involve visiting family members, and most of our vacations were the obligatory Christmas/Thanksgiving with the family sorts.

        And now he has a Schmoopie. And Schmoopie is unhappy because STBX doesn’t take her places.

        Yep, they have a special love. 😀

    • conniered, yes, real, genuine love. I have forgotten what that feels like. I will give myself some time, but oh, that sounds heavenly, someone who loves and respects me…

  • SiS,

    Living in lies is worse in the long run than living in reality. You have seen what he has done over a DECADE! Accepting the lies might stem the pain now, but it does not change who he is. You are describing the grief process…it is hard and hurts. But it better to “bury the body” than live with a rotting corpse. Maybe write out for yourself why you are leaving/divorcing on a card when you are questioning it? It is okay to feel sad about loosing the house and things. YOU valued the marriage. YOU were faithful. But it is just a shell and not the real thing as fidelity was not there from your stbxh.

    Blessings and hugs,

  • Sad in Seattle, I understand your emotionally state. You have to grieve, its legitimate and HE is responsible for 100% of it. You gave 10 years of your life, remind yourself contantly how he treated the treasure that you are! AND HE WILL DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. ;WTH are you snuggling up to him in bed for?? You’re prolonging the pain. STOP!! Perhaps he is kissing up for image management. Don’t fall for it.

    CL is absolute dead on. Im ending 31 years FINALLY, I should have been brave like you and did it at the 10 year mark. Im sad too, but its not the same sad I felt with 30 years of DDays. Following through on my threat to divorce if i found out anything else was empowering to me. Im in control now of my future. STBXh is angry at ME for WANTING this divorce. (blame shifting) like I choose this shit for my life. I believe we allow how ppl treat us, and Im not allowing it anymore. NC is best. We are living together, (separate ends of the house) I ignore the hell out of him and he hates it!

    Stay strong sister, and please take the NC advice, it has been huge help for me to get through these days and tough emotions. YOU cannot control, change or reverse any of it! Love yourself, you deserve better than you got, just like the rest of us.


  • SiS,

    You have already “over the course of a year, I saw a lawyer, paid his retainer, got the financial paperwork, even bought furniture for my tiny apartment and booked a celebratory holiday alone.”

    That is amazing progress!!! Even if you don’t feel a sense of accomplishment, I am sure all the readers are proud of you and see that you are a person of action – you instigated actions that are healthy and right.

    The sadness you are feeling is true, but it has always been there. The actually losses occurred long, long ago, and you are just feeling them now. I struggled with this – in the moment, the sadness seemed to mean I wanted to rehabilitate and rebuild and be with my wife again, but with deeper reflection, every time I realized that the sadness was for something that was already fully lost, and I realized the rebuilding was not feasible or viable.

    If you want to keep some memories for an occasional indulgent, nostalgic and sad trip into the past, that is fine, but that doesn’t mean you should suddenly trust this person, or restart the sham of a marriage just because it feels good right now.

    Respect yourself. You can do better. MUCH better.

  • You will become different. I haven’t “gotten over” it. I miss my old house, i miss the memories of my kids growing up in a safe home, all the pictures, vacations, all of it. BUT i am making new memories of my new place. take it day by day. Leaving our “family” home was excruciating for me. I moved 3 miles down the street. I try and avoid going past my old house at all costs. I now live in a significantly smaller house, but I have the paint color I WANT, pictures I WANT, pillows, carpet, etc. The less I have of my old life the easier it is. DAY BY DAY MY FRIEND. DAY BY DAY. and Tuesday is just around the corner.

  • I wrote down all of the terrible things my husband said or did to me like when I colored my hair and my husband told me that my son only said he liked it to be nice. It wasn’t enough for my ex to just say he didn’t like my hair but he had to hurt me at a deeper level. Whenever I felt sad about the good stuff that would never be again, I reminded myself about the bad stuff that would no longer be. I have cut people out of my life for lesser infractions but for some reason I let my ex get away with murder. I can still have my dreams for the future. With my ex in the picture they more than likely would have never come true, at least now I have hope.

  • Today’s post reminded me of this song. I went through the whole miserable emotional stage a few months back while being disrespected by my XH, in regard to pretty much everything. I packed all his shit by myself all 20+ boxes of it, then started packing the house in the hope to sell but I am still here.
    A few months ago I was lamenting to my XSIL about all the crap. A few days later as she and my XH’s brother left to go over seas they sent me this little gift of encouragement. I hope the link works. And yes the missing word in the second verse is “Mothetf$&ker”

  • Stay Strong, Sad in Seattle. Join the forum here, or just read responses to CL’s wisdom. We’ve been through this; we’ve doubted ourselves. We can discuss with you and you feel and what you’re going through.

    But DON’T go back to a cheater.

    People don’t change…especially one that’s been cheating for 10 years.

    I’ll just reiterate what CL wrote about abandonment:

    During my 9-month divorce process, my wife said that she “felt abandoned” when I left her. I replied that it was SHE, not I, who did the abandoning. She abandoned our marriage by ignoring boundaries and developing feelings for another man. She further abandoned our marriage by carrying on an affair with him for 6 months and counting. She further abandoned our marriage by lying about it–to me, to our family and friends, to her psychiatrist, and to our marriage counselor.

    With all of my wife’s abandoning, there was really nothing left for me to abandon. What we had wasn’t a marriage (despite my chumpy belief to the contrary).

    Your cheater abandons (and re-abandons) you with each f***, each fib, and each manipulation for you to stay. It’s up to us chumps to realize that.

  • Chump Lady is on fire today! So powerful. Painfully true. I love the whole “Spin” paragraph. Perfect analogy.

  • You have entered what I call the Death of the Dream phase. It is painful. You probably had dreamed of what your life would be like when you grew up and married and had a family of your own, your own place. So it is an old dream, based on your family of origin, fairy tales, love stories and chic flic movies you saw when you were growing up. It is a fantasy. The dream is as much of a mirage as your wayward husband is. You are not thinking about the actual man you married. You are thinking of the dream version of a man who courted you and asked you to share the rest of your life with him. We all have our own version of the dream, maybe several versions, depending on which fantasy prince we actually marry. All your wishes and expectations are in this dream.

    Your husband morphed from being the Prince into being the Destroyer of the Dream. He is not the man you thought you married, because he lied and cheated. Be glad he only destroyed the Dream. You have survived the battle with the Destroyer, and now you have to start from scratch and build a new dream for yourself and your children. My advice is to be more realistic in what your life will be like in your new dream. Disappointment is a stepping stone to heartbreak.

    You may be pleasantly surprised when time has passed, and you begin living the new dream. It will be much more pleasant, because you don’t have someone telling you lies and cheating on you in the new dream. You get to make your own choices, and it may be hard at times. However, the freedom you have to live in the real world without the constant pain of dealing with the Destroyer is priceless. It takes time and effort, but it really does get much better. Don’t fall for any of the hopium the Destroyer will try to sell you. You know who he really is, now. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and move forward. You cannot go back to the old dream, it was never real, anyway. Good luck on your journey to Meh.

    • It is interesting how the chump sees the dream as inclusive of the marriage, inclusive of their spouse, inclusive or real life circumstances, and the cheater sees the dream as outside of the marriage and the spouse, preferring a fantasy for the dream rather than real life circumstances.

      Cheaters are troubled by real life responsibilities and feel entitled to something better, something easier, something more to feed their empty hearts. Leave the peasant spouses to do the chores and try to build something with hard work. The cheater is too special for such a mundane life, but of course not too proud to consume all that is produced by the boring loyal spouse.

      If if the loyal spouse wises up and imposes consequences, the cheater need merely pull one of their psychological mind-fuckery tricks out of their back pocket to prey on the chump’s good nature.

      • What was strange for me was that I never saw my FOO marriages as anything I would want, and yet I always thought it was “the natural thing to do” to grow up and marry and have children. I never expected that life would be easy — I saw my family struggle to live on a budget, and handle things like illness or unexpected misfortune. But I was never a pessimist, I never thought there were “other people” who would pay my way, or do my chores. I never believed the rules of life were for “other people”. I am sure my mother knew that she had married a man who was odd in many ways — but he never crossed the line to do physical damage, like beating her or drinking or gambling or cheating. His abuse was more passive aggressive behavior, and verbal . It took her 40 years to realize that she just could not live that way forever. Her grown children all had to tell her she needed to divorce him, that it was ok.

        It took me 20 years to get out, but my ex did do physical things like drink too much and cheat. I am glad I didn’t wait another 20 years. My getting out was the best thing I ever did for myself. I hope my sons learned enough not to ever wait that long to disengage, if they ever find themselves in that situation. I really hope they never go there in the first place!!!

        Being alone is hard, but being in a bad relationship is harder. That is why you have to let the old dream die and find a new dream. No one should feel they have to stay once they find that their dream has been ruined by an uncaring, selfish partner. It is courageous to leave, and to start a new life. If forewarned is forearmed, it should be a better life. The reward for leaving a living Hell is being out of Hell. The fact is we can try again, we can start over. If we never find another partner, we are better off alone.

      • My ex once said to me “love should be easy” and of course he is delusional! Yep, full of crap. I agree Portia a lot is the narrative we spin in our own head of dreams. I always enjoy your posts!

  • Let’s add a little perspective, which I had to remind myself of frequently (and still do on occasion). You are so overwhelmed by pain, confusion, disillusionment, and a whole rash of other negative emotions, that when the tiniest thing feels positive, its significance is skewed way out of proportion. When you really mull it over, you realize that you are doing emotional back flips over things that a good husband would consider “just another day.” I fell into this trap, too. The morning after D-Day #1 (which I caught before it turned physical), my stbx left me a piece of chocolate next to my coffee mug and a piece in my car. This little act flooded me with joy because I attached WAY more meaning to this tiny piece of positivity than was deserved. It was a piece of chocolate, but my pain-soaked brain decided that it must mean this: “I have finally realized what you mean to me and will begin valuing you the way I should. This chocolate next to your coffee mug symbolizes that I was thinking of you and that forever more I will always think about you and make you a priority.” (D-days #2, #3, #4 and beyond confirmed that the chocolate meant jack diddly.)

    You are attaching a similar level of his significance to small actions that do not mean what you want them to mean. He slept in your bed? THAT’S WHAT HUSBANDS ARE SUPPOSED TO DO. Do not attach extra meaning to it, and do not cling to the crumbs of affection that he gives you. When you’ve been in the dark for years, a candle seems like the brightest light in the world. Walk out the door and you’ll see that there’s a bright world waiting for you.

    • Really important point! Yes, the whole kibble inflation index. He GAVE ME A KIBBLE! OMG.

      Of course you’ve been flinging them at him, but you got a tiny one BACK?

      It’s a half ass, counterfeit, naugahyde kibble. Reject!

        • I got all exited because mine sent round a slice of christmas cake that his sister had made…that gesture had me ignoring that he had announced the OW existed 6 days before christmas, that I had felt desparate enough to go round and search through the bin of his rental for “clues”, that he told deliberate and calculated lies to me and our kids and behaved like a louse….he gave me CAKE so he must care. I guess he had plenty of cake to spare.

          • How could smart women like us have been so easily snowed by confections? Repeat after me: You and your ho may crush my soul, but sweets will never heal me.

      • “. . . kibble inflation index”

        This is definitely a new term that needs to be added to the ever-expanding “Chump Lady Cheater Dictionary, Thesaurus and Definition of All Things Related to Chumpism.”

      • I think you should add a product to your line CL. A kibble deflector. It would be a big shield that we chumps could whip out when the kibbles start again. Be they big or small we could deflect them all! It would make this stage of separating much easier.

      • I train dogs. I understand the importance of intermittent rewards. If he didn’t reward you with kibble, you’d soon stop caring because there would be No Point. However, when you get the treat, you think, “hey! I did something right!” And you feel good.

        In dog training, you’re more honest about these. You reward the same behavior every single time until your dog knows that this is the behavior you want. Then you start rewarding intermittently. However, if you stop rewarding, then the behavior goes away because the dog doesn’t get anything out of it.

        What’s manipulative about your situation is that the chocolate is so random you don’t know why it’s there, so you start to create reasons why you deserve chocolates on your pillow. Now, you totally deserve chocolates on your pillow, but since you’ve never had them before, you start to invent reasons in your head as to why your POS cheater started leaving you chocolates.

        So, instead of thinking, “boy, my cheater must think I’m really stupid if he thinks that a cheapo piece of chocolate is going to make me forget that he exposed me to STDs,” Chumps think, “wow, how thoughtful! My Cheater isn’t a POS after all. They must love me anyway, no matter how many people they screw around with!”

        • Yes, I think you have to remember when you are dealing with cheaters that they are used to getting very large rewards for very little effort. An offhand compliment or funny text or “trinket” gets them an easy lay or blowjob. In a lot of instances they have even trained their spouse to do this, I know mine did.

        • I read a theory about an experiment done with caged rats. When the rats activated a lever in the cage a treat dropped.
          After a little while the mechanism was adapted – in one cage a treat continued to be supplied each time, in another cage the treats were cut off while in the final cage the treats were delivered occasionally at random intervals.
          The rat whose treats ceased soon gave up and lost interest in working the lever while the one that still got the treat just now and then spent lots of time working the lever in hope of some return.
          Some of us could learn from those rats.

        • The kibble inflation index. I’ve had red roses,champagne, an inflatable baby pool, stupid a stupid ass diamond ring. Awwww! I must be special. Pfffttt!!! I had an aunt who got furs, diamonds, and trips to Hawaii. That is some serious kibble. Sadly, when he died he left her broke and in debt at the ripe old age of 75. Poor woman had to sell the jewelry and furs to pay off his gambling debt. She did live to regret her decision to stick by him.

          OMG, had I not been here a year ago when I got the art work (on my birthday no less) I would have fell for it one more time. Instead I promptly donated that thing to a worthy cause and remained no contact. A young mother with terminal breast cancer got the proceeds from it’s sale. Take that cheater!!

      • Oh man, the Kibble Inflation Index has thrown me for a loop so many times over the years it hurts to think about it. The absolute worst are the penny stocks STBX used to throw my way–we’re going to take the kids on a cross-country road trip this summer just like you’ve always dreamed! NOT. He would string me along talking about our plans, put off doing anything to make them a reality, and then come up with an excuse about why they couldn’t become a reality after realizing that I was working on doing just that. But the Index would keep me believing that the stock was actually worth something and that he really cared.

    • Positive signs ? Cheater was suddenly the perfect partner. He was eager to do his part of the work, watering plants, bringing plates, opening the wine, etc. So much good will. My parents left in the evening, with the belief that everything was fine between us. As for me, I had the weakness to think, he finally realized that I am his most precious ally.
      But as I posted earlier, there was an ugly true motive. The next morning, he suggested that I take some vacation days to drive one of his Russian online lovelies who would be visting. Reality hit very hard: 1) He knew how to behave all along but was consciously choosing to let me do all the work 2) He would do his part only to get me to an accepting mood 3) He does not care about my emotional well-being because last year he cheated with another Russian 4) He proved without a shadow of a doubt that he has been using me 5) Her visit was organized months ago because I recently changed my travel plans and I am at home when she arrives on a weekend so he came up with the best arrangement = let me deal with the airport roads, meet her so it looks innocent, and since I will not use up all my days off, he will have plenty of time to screw her.
      Do not consider the small nice actions that they make at this point. They probably want something. To control your mood for instance.
      Suppress the source of stress. It is killing you day after day.

  • “You miss the lie. ” great truth in those words, CL. I RELATE TOTALLY!

    Time, lots of time. Reality checks. Grieve the pain but stay No Contact and know we all heal eventually.

    Missing the lie is a trigger. It is dangerous to allow your mind to dwell on what you thought was true. Tell yourself it was a lie! Don’t let its twisted fingers grab you and continue to abuse you.

    • Even when I knew it was lies I missed the illusion, the dream, the comfort blanket. I guess that we choose to go along with things if we want them to be true.
      I read a quote that choosing truth over comfort sometimes finds comfort but choosing comfort over truth finds only soft soap, illusion and despair.

  • That’s the thing I really like about Chump Lady and the people here. Unlike everywhere else, people realize that the Cheater and fuck buddies are not mysterious, glamorous creatures like they are portrayed in fiction. They are low rent losers, all of them. Chumps are a billion times the person these creeps are. What keeps you with them are those Sunk Costs and the thought of starting over. It’s really an opportunity for an authentic life, not a punishment. One day you will wonder WHAT the hell you saw in this jerk.

    • Haha, the famous “Sunk Cost Fallacy” that we talk so much about in computer projects, also applies to our sentimental journey ! Proper remark

  • When I look back now I realize I was way more invested emotionally than his supreme dickness ever was. But I’m good, honest and moral. He is not and never was. Boy how some of us wear blinders. Since he moved out I’m slowly redoing the house on his dime and loving it! Here where I live he moved out effectively “abandoning” the property so he has no say. I love it!! His whore gives him no say. His slong in her purse, one ball in each back pocket on her fat ass. He suffers way more than me. It hurts damn it hurts I will go days and weeks just fine and something will set me off. I invested 30 years in this relationship and was blindsided and left. I takes a long time when you are married so long. I am so much better than last year and the year before. You will get there. Traci and the chump nation have saved my life and sanity.

  • Sad in Seattle, reading all these posts by the people who care about you on this site, and relating my own experience, I emphasize with you that this is the most painful part of the process. From the first D-Day, to finally packing my stuff and secretly moving out one day – 175 miles away (really helped with the NC), to selling my home (we lived in his home after the marriage, renting the place I owned nearby – thank God I didn’t get around to putting his name on the title!), to now shopping for an apartment or cottage while I stay with family, and starting a new life. This has been the scariest part for me. Yes, at times it feels exciting…little nano-moments, but mostly scary.

    I believe, and agree with CL from her book – you’re grieving because you’ve lost your story. Gone is your vision of sitting in a porch swing on a warm day with your husband in your golden years, holding hands and laughing through the wonderful memories of your life together. Your story is now coming down, along with the wallpaper, and that is excruciating. Going No Contact Will Be Your Very Best Option. Ever. Really.

    What has helped me to get through this is to believe that my now-ex husband is actually a hologram – and a sick one at that! In other words, I was in love with the FACADE of a wonderful, faithful man. I had loved a man that didn’t really exist.

    Please trust CL and most everyone who has posted here. Trust that he sucks – ETERNALLY. However, please also trust that the pain, uncertainty, fear…all the emotions wrapped up in this will abate. Tuesday will come to embrace you someday. Then, you’ll be able to write your own, new, fresh story – full of amazing possibilities.

  • One thing I do when I feel low is get lost in music. I love many types of music but hard and alternative rock gets me feeling better the loud the better. “I got a dance, ain’t got no steps, I let the music move me around” by the late billy Preston. It works wonders for me I just lose myself in the music!

  • One thing that helps me when I am weeding out my possessions is to ask myself “if this item were for sale and not yours, would you buy it in its CURRENT condition?”. Not what it once was, or could be, but what it is at this exact second.

    Do this with your spouse as well. Would cheater look so good if you just met him? Doubtful. Liars and cheaters aren’t that attractive. I sure as hell wouldn’t have dated a lying cheating adulterer, much less married one. Let the whore have him. You were sold counterfeit merchandise. Return it.

    • Not Juliet – you’re right! I would NEVER buy a bald-headed, major comb-over obese fat faced alcoholic. I want a refund! I wonder if he’s ever actually met these women he sexts and flirts with on his Yahoo account. I bet once they meet him – they’d be asking to return the shit for brains too! HA. Dick.

      • This made me belly-laugh! I, too, want a refund! Dammit. Since he shaved his head, bought a new fancy sports car and is eating far too much without exercise….I think he would make me puke if I saw him trying to be ‘charming’, while he sips martini after martini..

      • // , Not sure where all this hate for male-pattern baldness comes into play, but you definitely got the thin end of the stick, there.

        • Hah! Nothing wrong with male-pattern baldness! Or even a bit of paunch to go with it! I mean, after a certain age, that’s the sign of living a rich and varied life. 🙂 There are a lot of sexy guys out there without a full head of hair!

          But there is something pathetic about the middle-aged man or woman who tries so obviously to hide their age and retreat back into their college days. STBXH actually has a full head of hair, and it’s only just starting to show a bit of gray. But to be cool, he grew a soul patch, and then a Van Dyke. The hair came in completely white! He tried to dye it, and the dye went everywhere and looked really fake.

          His Schmoopie? Yes, she’s younger than him and definitely younger than me, but she’s in her 40s and trying to look 20. She, too, drinks martini drinks and dresses as if she’s an anorexic model instead of the 5’3, 200 lb woman that she is in real life. And that red hair? Go look at the roots! It’s more of a brown, and going pretty gray.

          What a pair!

  • Reminds me of that country song, When you’re going through Hell keep on moving, don’t look back! I know exactly how you feel! We all do here at Chump Nation, but keep going. It is very much “baby steps”! Cleaning out a house that was at one time a happy home, or at least we thought it was! It’s the hardest thing ever, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Your new story of life is about to be written. It’s going to be great. I just went through all of the cheaters trash and packed it up last week. He actually came and picked up this miserable pile of shit. My daughter and I looked at this relatively small stack of crap standing in my garage and concluded that 1) he was never that invested in his family after almost 41 years of marriage and four great children. And 2) all the crap in that pile was like a monument to the ONLY person he ever really loved and served…… Himself. I say, Good Riddance!!! You can do it, a step at a time!

  • Being 4 months from dday i can say it does get easier. I spent the first month doing the pickmedance while my wife cotinued to sh!t all over me.
    In that time i got legal advice, secured a new place got a car and made plans
    So 3 months on in my new smaller but equally as good home, have my daughter 50% of the time have my family, friends, job and I’m slowly rebuilding my life. Only communication is about our daughter. Anything sentimental i just left behind. It means nothing. I have everything i need for right now
    I can feel my confidnce coming back. Im more outgoing, upbeat and friendly than i have been in years.
    Even in my small timeframe i will go for lengthy periods without thinking about her and the shit she has put our family through.

    BELIEVE , it does get easier.

    • ontheup, you are moving at warp speed! Good for you to be 4 months from DDay and already building a new life!

      • WTG ontheup! Yes, great progress. When I started looking around at everything in the home, I wanted none of it all.
        Not one reminder. Not one chair!

        But then, neither did he. He left behind a small stack also I had left for him, of personal photos of his favorite framed dogs and even me.
        Just left them sitting there like junk and never asked for one photo album.
        I’m not sure I’ll ever look through them again. But, I guess I am sensitive about the past and hold the few albums precious as a part of my past. But, that’s all. Everything else doesn’t matter.

        • It doesn’t feel like it some times!! The piece of shit she is with drove past me this morning. First time I’ve seen him since I found out!! ………Strength.

          My wife still has all the our stuff. The wedding photos all our family photos, household belongings, cat, everything. I want nothing. Before I left she was still harping on that our wedding day was the best day of her life. loves her rings blah blah Fucking laughable. Its meaningless. we just lived a lie.
          I turned 40 last year, doesn’t everyone says life begins at 40?? well mine is without the dead weight in my life. Id go completely NC if it wasn’t for our daughter.

          I spent many months over at DB site who to be fair helped me a lot. There are though way too many people just stuck in limbo over there. Doing the pick me dance for months even years.
          I think its only when you realise you’re worth more that you can start to gain some self respect and confidence back and start to move on.

          CL has definitely changed my perspective on how I see things.
          Thanks all

  • Not Juliet mentioned sunk costs and she’s right. I had 27 years of sunk costs and I was so afraid of leaving. His affair happened in the middle of year 24 and I stayed. I saw things that weren’t there; I made more out of the slightest gestures but the reality is that cheaters stop loving their SO the day they decide to cheat.

    Your husband killed the marriage already. Now it’s time to bury the corpse. I propped up my dead marriage so the outside world could continue to see the lie. It was just like weekend at Bernies without a young Andrew McCarthy to make it endearing.

    The sooner you go ‘no contact’ the sooner you can begin the healing process. It hurts like hell I won’t lie or try to sugarcoat it but you WILL get to the other side and eventually it gets better. It’s harder to go through that journey with the person that killed the marriage in tow. Drop the dead weight. You will feel so much lighter. I promise

  • This will pass, but these are the moments that make the death of the marriage so apparent, so you REALLY feel it. It hurts so much right now because you cared at one point and this is undeniably hard. Give yourself permission to be absolutely feeling awful.

  • Do you need to be there for the dismantling of your former home? If not, then please stay away. Can you move to your new place yet? You gotta get outta there. That is torture!

    That jerk doesn’t CARE about you–if he did, he never would have cheated on you. But it sounds like it’s seriously pathological for him. And he loved the stability. He loves being able to pull your strings. He might be feeling sad, but not enough to stop fucking other women.

    Time to get mad.

    Make that list of all the ways he’s hurt you. Refer to it. Add to it. Edit it. Refer to it again. All the humiliation of all the lies?

    You know what is going to be super therapeutic? Creating your own space just for you. You’re really going to love that.

    Make us a promise that you won’t let him cross the threshold of your new front door. He made a choice. Now let him have it.

    • Me too. That’s yet another reason Why I love this site. When I needed to learn about something I could find it here. When I’m feeling something, you guys have the answer I need and you understand why I need it without me saying why. My divorce should be final in About a month. I’ve been procrastinating packing my things. I really needed to hear the encouragement about my new life waiting on me.

      • Sketch – this is me too. Can so relate because I’m about to move to a new place in a new neighborhood. I always seem to open C/L first thing in the morning, and it seems everybody is talking to ME and only ME. Creepy, huh? But, so much of it relates to what I’m going through. I will really miss my old house. I’m not sure I love my new little guy yet but it is the memories that you make of a home, and I and determined to make my own memories in my new HOME and new life ahead – damn right.

        I have no other choice that just going for it anyway. Charging on!

  • Sis, I can relate so much to your situation. It’s like jumping off a cliff and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out (emotionally!). I spent many months preparing to move out and the day I finally left was very difficult, indeed. So much pain. So sad. I just kept moving one foot in front of the other and I made it through. That was 8 months ago. I am so much better now – still grieving but feeling more peaceful all the time. Lean on your friends and family – talk to somebody every day about how you are feeling. It won’t stay like this forever. You will move through this. You can do this. You are mighty!

  • Thank you, everyone, for your words of encouragement. They have been a much-needed reminder. It’s so funny how we ascribe so much significance to the cheater’s actions – we’d all been trained to accept so little – so normal gestures that would be crumbs to anyone else are signs of something better to come. He’s an expert manipulator who knows me so well – they all are!

    Thanks for reminding me that he’s just a hologram and not really the person I thought I knew. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I guess I finally feel the grief that had been a long time in coming.

    What I will do now is buy a bed, some dishes and a shower curtain so I can be officially ready to move into my place. Then I’ll go NC. I just want to finish cleaning out the house and get an offer in because he is so lazy and destructive that he’ll sabotage any attempt to sell, as he has been already.

    I feel like I’ve come really far lately and it’s these final steps that are the hardest. Thanks for the push over the finish line, friends.

    • BIIIIIIIIIIG hugs!!

      It’s going to be so nice to not have to babysit a saboteur. That’ll be an incredible preservation of your energy.

    • Sad in Seattle,

      You will get there and it will feel good. Right now, you are in the hardest place, which is disassembling a life you invested heavily in. A life you sacrificed and compromised for. The next step is where the fun starts. You can create exactly the life you want. Surround yourself with people and things you love. Do things that make you happy. Set your own schedule. Play the music you enjoy. Eat what and when you like. Make your own rules. If you are like most of us chumps, you may find it difficult at first to make yourself a priority, but with a little practice you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll reclaim your spirit. And you’ll heal.

      • Yes, Sis, and I note that even in your distress you are taking the lion’s share of responsibility for getting the house sold. So even when he’s trying you are doing all of the work. Good luck.

    • I hope you find a bed, bedding, a shower curtain and dishes that you LOVE. New bedding and a new shower curtain and one new set of a towel, wash cloth and hand towel (all white!) did WONDERS for me. It made me feel like I was making a fresh start and the white was really calming and soothing for me…

      Good luck in your next steps! You are doing great and will come out strong on the other side of all this!

    • “What I will do now is buy a bed, some dishes and a shower curtain so I can be officially ready to move into my place. Then I’ll go NC. I just want to finish cleaning out the house and get an offer in because he is so lazy and destructive that he’ll sabotage any attempt to sell, as he has been already.”
      SIS, now that’s the voice of Smart in Seattle, Strong in Seattle, soon to be Sensational in Seattle because that’s who you really are. High five!!

  • Indeed, Flowerlady, you just have to turn off the emotion or push it down and keep one foot in front of the other in a forward fashion. There is no easy way to do it! It SUCKS! But once it’s done, life starts to get better. Time is a chumps friend and a cheaters enemy! Get distance between you and a cheater,go NC. It’s worth the pain, almost like a rebirth!

  • SIS, this phase was so hard for me, I think the only thing that kept me strong and on the right track was knowing I HAD to leave, for my kids. I couldn’t let them grow up watching the pathology of their parents’ marriage.

    Making and re-reading the list of his ‘crimes’ reminded me of why I was leaving.

    I had to learn to recognize and accept what I was feeling. I WANTED him to love me, to value me, to honestly try to make our relationship work. I MISSED him, I still loved him!

    AND to recognize and accept that the reality was, he didn’t care about me (or his kids), if he ever loved me it, it was in a very shallow and self-centered way. And there was no possible way our relationship could work.

    Accepting that I could feel and think these two contradictory things reduced the ‘struggle’ feeling for me. Yes, I want X, but only Y is available. Ok, I can deal with that.

    And of course, with time and NC, all that love and longing does fade, and only the wisdom of the decision remains.

  • Sad, Winston Churchill said it best: “When you are going through hell, keep going.”

    I remember so well feeling the way you are feeling right now. And WC had it right — the only way to get through it is to keep slogging on until you eventually reach the other side. There is no easy way out, no quick cure and no good solution.

    You are already on the right path — you have an attorney taking care of the divorce, you have a new apartment, you are getting rid of things you won’t need any longer (and your STBX is number one on that list, believe me.) It hurts beyond imagining right now because you are being torn apart. But listen to CL — your STBX is NOT sorry and is NOT going to change. If you fall for his act, you will eventually have to go through all of this pain once again, but you’ll feel a lot more stupid the next time.

    Just keep on doing what you are doing, and see it through. After all, if your STBX ever has a genuine character transplant, he can look you up, right? But that won’t be happening. Still, I can assure you that if you keep on moving forward and you allow yourself to feel the grief and battle it through, you WILL feel better eventually, and you will thank God you are out of that mess.

    • Churchill had so many great quotes that I compiled several of them onto a printout which I pinned to my bulletin board, during my darkest days.

      “Never never never give up.”

      “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

      “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

      “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”

      “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

      “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”

      One of my favorites?

      “Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.” Guess who’s the monkey, and guess who’s the slutty organ grinder?


      Goo read some Churchill quotes. Not all of them are appealing, but so many are.

  • “I was OK with being treated like shit as long as he stayed because I felt I could somewhat control my pain levels — I knew who he was and what to expect.”

    “But now I’m desperately sad and am feeling like an unwilling participant … It’s the do or die moment and I’m choking.”

    “it’s a surreal, horrible, heart-breaking feeling”

    “Because I’m feeling vulnerable and afraid, I eat up every crumb like a newly-minted chump. Suddenly, I’m in love again.”


    Don’t think your husband was not fully aware of the likelihood of your responses listed above. The Cake-eaters are full aware that they can ‘get away with it.’ That is one reason they do it. They aren’t as naive as they make themselves out to be when minimizing their betrayal. They know you care and know they can take advantage of you, and, worst of all, they do.

    If that isn’t the biggest sign of disrespect and emotional abuse, then I don’t know what is.

    • Great post, Buddy. and so true. They cheat because they know they can get away with it. And they know they can get away with it because they know you trust them. SO SO SELFISH and abusive.

    • Buddy, minimizing the betrayal on the serial cheaters part kept me stuck for so many years. Knowing we lived in different worlds pushed me into facing the pain I had avoided through forgiveness of his actions and accepting the blame. The pain for me was accepting X couldn’t love anyone (only himself), that he could never change, and all my memories of our life were fake. Facing the fact that I was used for supply and discarded in such a sadistic torturous way was unbearable. These scars remain after a year as I await the final order. Facing that pain and having no contact was necessary to find peace. The scars remain and propell me forward toward an authentic life. This is the world I chose over the disordered. I have control of my life and for the most part my emotions. This Monday I celebrate the first year anniversary of the final DDay that led me to sever my ties and take controll of my well being. It was a living hell for the most part. The truth lives on the other side as the pain lessens. The scars of exercising the toxic abuser fade as I build a new life and take pride in all I have accomplished in one year. Meh is no longer a distant abstract concept. I see it partly as regaining the power and control over your life. Thanks to CL and CN for the clarity. hope,and strength that carried me through the darkness toward Meh.

      • I think it is OK to have scars. The pain and sadness is deep and real and beyond description. That is because we have hearts and were vulnerable to love and share. Unfortunately, all of us here at CL share that indescribable pain.

        But over time, I go there less and less. I know what happened was sad, but it can’t keep me down. I still have some nice memories as well, but overall it is what it is (and they are who they are), and the healthy choice, the clear path, is to move on.

  • Sad in Seattle,
    You write:

    “But now I’m desperately sad and am feeling like an unwilling participant, even though I’d initiated the whole separation after a decade of lies and unfulfilled promises. It’s the do or die moment and I’m choking.”

    Find your courage SiS or before you know it, it will be two decades or three, or like me, almost four. Trust that he sucks and will never change. Yes, it will be hard for you to start over now. Just imagine what it’s like to start over when you’re in your 60’s.

  • Thank you for writing this letter, SIS. I am in the exact same phase as you and the pain is incredible. Enough to make me question divorce. I honestly thought I was a horribly weak person to think about staying with him. But Chump Nation once again showed me that I’m not the only one going through this.

    That’s why I visit Chump Lady every day- to hear from the people who went through the same thing and made it out the other side. So, thank you EVERYONE, some days your voices are the only thing keeping me from going back.

  • Look at it this way. The sooner you are no contact and on your own, the sooner you will be freed up to taste life away from his cycle of abuse. Learn to prefer your own company over his shitty treatment.

    He is a liar and manipulator. Get away, and love yourself. Take time to mourn and heal. Then you will be ready for a healthy relationship.

    Yeah, I miss my dining table and its memories too. Get a new one and build new memories.

  • SIS,

    If there was ever a Whitney Houston of Hopium Addicts, it was me. My STBX could reel me in with barely a nibble on the hook, so anxious was I to believe that what was going was an aberration and that my “real” life would return.

    Cheater McAsshole knew it – he could read me like one page pamphlet. I was so transparent to him, I didn’t even rise to the level of a book. Little by little, revelation by revelation, painful crush by painful crush, I started to see that EVERYTHING he did was about him. It was never about me, it was never about us, it was never about the family we had created. When he was nice to me or offered me a crumb of niceness or affection? It was because his rage had failed to move me and actually had me being completely no contact with him. When I caught on to “niceness” being manipulation, he went the “poor me, pity me” route. Each time I got sucked in and each time he would attempt to screw me over on some issue pertaining to the divorce. During the same time, revelations of things that had gone on during the marriage, particularly in relation to our children, had the scales completely fall from my eyes. The combination forced me to see him for the really vile, duplicitous, reprehensible waste of human skin that he actually is. There was too much there and I had enough time and distance from him (with help from CL and CN and my therapist) to be unable to live in denial another moment.

    With distance comes clarity. Get away from him, go no contact with him so you can gain some clarity. I have lost both of my parents and it was not as painful as this. Many times I thought I would not make it through this experience the pain was so intense. I get you SIS. But you can do this. (((HUGS))) to you.

  • Geez, I so needed this today. My ex finally turned the Facebook business page over to me after I emailed him step-by-step instructions (he’s an idiot when it comes to computers, like many other things). Then in the response email he says he is going to be coming to the US to pick up some equipment in a few weeks and can he see me? gggaaahhhhh………..torment I tell you, it is absolute torment.

    • catdance62, just say no. If he doesn’t like that, he’ll probably remind you why he is better off as an ex.

    • Catdance–book a trip out of town that weekend, so there is no temptation to see him. Even small doses are hazardous.

  • YES, THIS!!!! Once again, my “daily dose of Chump Lady” has delivered in spades!!!

    SIS: You are NOT alone, sister!!!! Everything you have described is almost exactly what I have been experiencing these last few weeks. Some day soon I know this will all be all over and I will be so much better!!!

  • oh how i wish i knew Chump Lady when i was going through your stage. it would not have lessened the pain of loss ( nothing does, it is normal) but i would have had knowledge…and not been detoured by his continued manipulations. for years!

    SIS…all this Chump Nation knowledge is power. let it fuel you forward. it is much more nutritious than eating shit sandwiches!

    Cry, pack, cry, talk to friends, cry, jog, cry, pick out new dishes, cry, read CL everyday. this is forward movement. and that’s how you do the middle part of this hell.

    That, and no contact. i didn’t believe it till i did it.

    • There was no Chump Lady when I did that. It was a very confusing time, because like many, my cheater didn’t want to “lose” me, he only wanted to move me to Plan B status while moving his ho into the home and life we’d built. I was reeling at the time. Got through it with a few devoted friends and family members, and an excellent therapist, but never understood what kind of evil I was dealing with.

      I can assure all of you who are still wading through those muddy waters that there is land on the other side, solid land on which you can build a better life. And when you get to that shore, the sky is bluer, the air is cleaner, the sun shines brighter. A load is lifted. And once you are living well, you still need to guard against a disordered ex who will see you regain your strength and find you suddenly desirable again. Maybe it’s because he or she found that other pasture not so green, or maybe because he or she wants to break you again after feeding off your newfound mightiness. So go forth and prosper, and don’t let the asshat ex get a foothold in your new life. They deserve to be left in the dustbin of history.

      • “but never understood what kind of evil I was dealing with.”

        me either. i see it now…after no contact, and months of real peace. it was evil. it still is.

  • Sad
    Unfortunately there is a beginning when your cheater tells you everything you need to hear. Everything is wonderful until the middle stage when you are undermined and you feel like something is wrong. You try harder and he becomes indifferent to your needs. Then finally you find out there is another woman and the dance begins. If he has been cheating for 10 years you are probably familiar with this repetitive narcissistic pattern of cheating. You filed because no doubt you’ve had enough. For me this pattern lasted for 36 years. You know what you will never have with a serial cheater? Respect. You are changing and your life, home, and dreams were pulled out from under you in one swift disregard. The spinner will always point to repeat because they can’t change. You can! No contact. Decorate your apartment and never look back. The pain will be unbearable at times but it is finite as CL states. Going back with the cheater temporarily dulls the pain but it compounds annually. Sad,you will find happiness. It takes time and a lot of support. Surround yourself with those people who nourish your soul.

    • Sad,
      So much love and wisdom in these comments, today and they are all rooting for you. If they can do this for you it says what is on the other side of that pain. If you had babies in your lifetime you know you’ve endured worse pain than this. It hurts like a mf’er but at least you have human beings to fall in love with. Do you remember that love? So worth that pain and if you do it right you become a better person

      What you’ve been doing is “marital life without hope for parole and no time off for good behavior.” I don’t see the justice in serving someone else’s sentence. I might be a Chump but I’m not that big of a Chump. That’s not love baby girl. Not by anyone’s definition. It is a self imposed life sentence we serve for another person’s crimes. While we’re inside they are out there committing the same damn crimes over and over again. They learn that crime pays.

      Seriously, No Contact is a biggie. So what if you leave him for six months, officially via divorce? See how you feel about yourself and him at the end of that time. That’s if he’s not a freak and won’t wrap it up in a 3 month period. I guess I was very blessed with quick divorces. 3 of them. I’m learning not to stick around as long. I’ve learned so much here in 9 months than I had in the 45 years spanning my history with relationships. Dating, married, living with…doesn’t matter. Just kept falling for the same damn guy and scratching my head afterwards. How did I get here?? I stink at math, too. The “time” spent here along with no contact has taught me so much. I do feel worthy. I am worthy. I feel better, too. Think of it as doing jail time for yourself. Sounds like you’ve done a really long stretch for him so a six month extension should be a breeze. It’ll go by quick. His actions are already telling you that he’s afraid to serve any stretch. OMG, don’t leave me! He’ll live.

      Right now the only clue I have about real love is “happy wife, happy life”. I could make a wikipedia page about what it isn’t, LOL! You got this.

  • This is such a sad time. One of the worst periods, I think. The memory of hastily packing my stuff into boxes, while my daughter was at school, is still fresh in my mind even though it was nearly three years ago.

    CL is right, though. You are afraid because things are finally really changing. Don’t go back to this loser – he is going to keep cheating. Forget his “best friend” bullshit. He’s saying that to make himself feel better.

    My ex’s life is a mess. Her AP remains married. They have to sneak around. Can’t be open about anything. Her health is suffering.

    I live an honest life with someone I love very much and our kids. It’s not perfect, but we’ve got nothing to hide and I wouldn’t trade places with my ex for anything.

    Before I met my partner I learned to live and enjoy my own life.

    What’s happening to you now is temporary and you will be able to reflect on it from a better place in the future. Just don’t get sucked back in to your husband’s shady life.

  • Oh damn, I’d only add that your stbx is a habit, a bad habit, you are used to that habit. All habits are hard to kick, especially the ones that are really bad for you, chumps rationalize too. Move now, stop hanging out watching the things that trigger you being destroyed, and being in your own place that only you control will make you stronger. The thing that comes across the most strongly is your fear of change. Write down what made you happy in the marriage and what did not, write down the things you want to do and you can do once his shot is over. You’ll be surprised at how much the good of leaving out weighs the bad of staying. Unlike Spock you are not in a situation where the good of the many outweigh the good of the few. Jedi hugs Sad in Seattle

  • Saiken–mine lived like a teenager this past year. Out all night, averaged arrival time was 10:30. Vacations, business trips that took him away from his kids for weeks. I documented every time he took a shit. Believe me, hold your silence, document his crappy parenting and then you are well positioned for the parenting agreement! Of course my x refused to leave, he knew it was the only true thing I wanted….and it SUCKED. He is court ordered out end of May and I can’t wait! Hold your tongue and mark your territory, your kids will be stronger for it! Good luck1

  • Sad, two things come to mind.

    Firstly, I remember very well, being in the place you are at right now. I was there first with cheater ex # 1. (Yep I married two of them…..Didn’t yet resolve my foo issues before #2 came along when I was 22) I met #1 at 16, married him at 19 and dumped his cheating ass at 21. He moved the last OW into our place less than 2 weeks after I took our 18 month old son and left. Yep, he wanted us back reaaaaly bad…..

    God, I loved that man, or who I thought he was. I wanted to go back so much. I knew I could not, for both my son’s sake, and my own. It helped me to think of him as poisoned candy. Yes, it was so pretty, seemed so sweet and appetizing, would taste soooo good, and would certainly make me either deathly ill or kill me even if I took so much as a tiny little taste.

    He hoovered like crazy when he figured out I was gone for good. I was tempted, oh so tempted, but my mantra became “Poison candy, poison candy, no more poison candy for this girl.” It worked.

    Secondly, as scary as it is to be alone and have to deal with all the shit of breaking up, you are the definition of courage, as you are, right now. Courage, in my book, is being scared to death, grieving with tears streaming down our faces, dragging out broken hearts along with us, but gritting our teeth, wading in, and doing the hard stuff anyway. Do not underestimate yourself Girlfriend. You are there already, Sweetie. You just need to keep on keeping on.

    Chump nation has your back. You have your own back, cheater never did and never will.

    • You’re right. This is an excellent definition of courage. Moving ahead when it’s scary as hell…

  • “Courage, in my book, is being scared to death, grieving with tears streaming down our faces, dragging our broken hearts along with us, but gritting our teeth, wading in, and doing the hard stuff anyway.”

    ^^^^^^^ amen, Tessie! ^^^^^^^

  • “Best Friends” seems sneakily similar to “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”

    • “Best Friends” seems sneakily similar to “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”

      So true!

  • SIS, you are on the right path. Listen to Sara Evans, A little Bit Stronger! You can do this! XO Irene

  • I read and reread this post and all the comments over and over again today. I was so angry today I almost called the lawyer back to reschedule my appointment to file. And he texted just as i was dialing and I put it off. Again. But SIS and CL and CN, your words fall like water on parched ground. I am desolate. So used to being trod upon that I can’t even muster anger for myself. But today, I felt anger. For my children and a glimmer of it for myself. And SIS, and all of you give me so much courage. I have been reading here for almost two months. I am 1 year post D-day. Soon, and I am determined it will be soon, I will make that call. And take back my life. So thank you, SIS. You are brave.

    • WakingUpDragons, you are brave. Believe it. Set a date and a time to make that call to your lawyer. How about first thing tomorrow morning?! It’s one of a series of cliffs you have to jump off. And so scary. Use your anger as gas in your tank to fuel your forward motion. Once you do it and feel the momentum, you’ll start to see the future.

    • WakingupDragon–time to wakeup. If you are a year from D-day, and are surviving emotionally on poorly-thought-out texts, you have slot-machine syndrome.

      Ask yourself–are you HAPPY? Is this how you envisioned marriage? Do you trust the mother fucker?

      Right–so call the lawyer and file. Think of it this way–you can always back out later. Or file yourself–I filed pro se then called a lawyer to get me through settlement (as I knew the custody issue was easily determined, so didn’t need legal advice). Small steps, one at a time.

  • Leaving my marriage, or at least trying to, after just 3 months. It may sound crazy to give up this early (still wracked by anxiety about it) but I have been enduring emotional devastation, betrayals and gas-lighting since the relationship began 3 years ago. I practically planned the wedding alone and still I have no idea why he proposed. I had enough recently when he stopped caring that I was seriously ill (when I called him out on it: he didn’t know?? heartless, ugly SOB). When I left, he only tried getting back with me through a one-sentence email–this makes me so angry and miserable. I feel so worthless sometimes. And to think that I was so happy before we met and like a leech he sucked out all the goodness in my life. I’m still fairly young, but I’ve noticed a pattern of attracting men like this. Any of you have advice for me please? How to move on this early… How to know if I’m doing the right thing… How to get my things which are still in the apartment that he kept…?

    • Starlight. you already know the answer here. You are aware that you have been making poor choices. You practically planned the wedding alone, you went ahead with that wedding in spite of the writing being written large throughout the entire relationship, you got no support through illness and a one line email to show that he still cares!!!
      You tell us that you were happy before you met him and are still quite young….well go back to being happy after you left him as you sure as hell wont be happy in the middle bit.
      I am a chump who is no longer quite young and I planned my wedding alone too….35 years ago! Yes, those three years will get to five, become ten and, if you do what I done, wind up decades. He will not morph into a loving partner and you know it.
      So why not take a look at why guys like this attract you? Get theapy….just do not waste your youth on this shit as it will pass without you noticing and sooner than you think.

      • Thank you. I really needed to hear that. It makes me strong to hear an advice from someone WHO KNOWS. After so many years of mind-fucking, I’m not sure of anything anymore. I know he’s a piece of shit, but I still flip-flop sometimes.

    • Get in and get your stuff from the apartment before he twigs. Then, use your anger to fuel you to file. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.
      He saw you probably as a meal ticket or a means to ‘use’ you, thats why he proposed. You were of use to his ego/impression management – he is a sick disordered fuck, and you’re far better off without him! Better to get out now with only 3 months, than to endure 40 years of it, and breed with the fucktard.

      • God, I forgot to get the key as I stormed out of the apartment. We had 3 sets of keys in the beginning and all got “lost” except for 1. Now I know better because on the day I was planning to leave him I borrowed the key, but when I got home he’s already there. So he let himself in. He had another key all this time, after all that shit about him “not trusting” me enough to not lock him out of the apartment so he had to keep THE key. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. I emailed him politely about the most convenient time to drop by to get my stuff. I think we all know how that ended up: silence.

    • Starlight–you are *smart* to get out this early, before you have a life & children invested with the jerk. Bravo to you for your courage!

      Yes, therapy to fix the need to be with men like that. Do you still have the key to his apartment? If so, go in when he is at work and take your things. If not, threaten a court order. Perhaps show up on the doorstep with a police officer.

  • Ok SiS, this hurts….so what is the option? Let that apartment go? Cancel the lawyer? See if that wallpaper is still in production and order some more?
    I spent a long time – and still have moments – thinking “what if this time it really is different and I threw away the chance”. It was not different any of the other times spanning back years but, hey…maybe this time.
    I now go no contact as much as possible and stay emotionally disengaged when I am in contact. Best friend he is not.
    If your ex is being half-assed now then what are the chances that he will offer you anything other than more broken promises, DDays, and a steady feed of that same old shit?
    Are you really ok with that as long as he stays? Please let him go as it does get easier and you will grow stronger by the day. Its like an amputation – but that leg you are losing is green and gangerous and the poison is killing you.
    I spent a long time with a strange fantasy that somehow and somewhere along the way we would call off this stupid divorce nonsense….we would fall in love all over…we would renew our vows with our kids as witnesses. we would take that cruise. That happens in films but rarely in real life.
    My father died recently and it has brought into focus my own mortality. I have maybe 30 years left on this earth…perhaps a little more or, maybe, a good deal less. I still have health, family, some money, friends, a job I like and roses in my garden.
    It hurts like hell but I have said goodbye to the man I married because he no longer exists.

  • Sad, unfortunately, I was stuck in your current frame of mind for over twenty years by choosing to stay with a “remorseful” serial cheater. You see, the current state of things became “acceptable” because I justified it and the abuse was gradual. Cheater ex was not an axe-wielding man who had “cheater” tatooed on his forehead. He had a decent side to him, like most people. So suddenly, the good in the marriage far outweighed the bad, not because it did, but because I wanted it so badly to be so. The mind is a powerful thing. We can convince ourselves of anything. In the meantime, a slow death was in the works, but I was too busy believing that “this isn’t so bad” that I no longer knew what “good” looked like. Extricating myself from that mindfuck took years. I took the initiative to seek individual counseling a few years before the final OW because I could no longer deny that my life really sucked. So when the next OW came along (which, by the way, was inevitable), I simply threw him out and filed for divorce. It hurt like crazy but I knew staying would even hurt more. The difference? I found my true worth. I knew that the only way I would have the life I deserve is to get away from a person who wittingly hurt me to pursue happiness in the form of OWs.

    The only way you will gain a life you deserve is to leave. It is going to hurt and, as a lot have posted here, you need to get through it. Nothing I have experienced before hurt like going through this. But you know what? Now that I’m at meh, it’s been worth it. Today, I love my life so much. Each day brings joy that I never even knew existed. Do I have bad days brought about by being chumped? Not many. Just some bad moments but I welcome them because they are gifts that show me that I need to work through stuff to bring me to an even better place.

    Have courage to give yourself the life you deserve. Your life is the only one you have. Don’t hand it over to a piece of garbage.

  • Ah, memories of the past and projected dread of the future is a double whammy. Be strong and know like everyone has said that it gets better with time. Time and distance will make you see your future in a different light. He is not the man for you. He demonstrated that by his actions, not what he is telling you now. He says that you are his best friend but look at how he has treated you in the past. People leave friendships for a lot less….

    A few things that helped me were to go on walks and enjoy nature and being outside. I started walking daily and it really made a difference. Also, I kept the household goods that would make me sad in boxes. I wanted to feel separate from ‘us’ and ‘our live’ before I went back to them. I needed distance from them so that I could be far enough from us as a couple before I used them again. Dishes, Christmas ornaments, sentimental things, etc. don’t trigger me now like they used it. The other thing that I did was meet people in public places instead of having them to my place or going to theirs. This was to keep me out of being in someone’s home who is in a couple (sad) or wanting peace in my home and not wanting comments that would make me feel off in my house. So many people said the most bizarre things to me and I decided that I would just make it a plan to keep all of that negativity out of my home. Plus, meeting in neutral places kept my girlfriends out of comparison of what I was doing in my post-divorce life with my home. I did all kinds of things like move patio furniture inside and make the dining room an office and I just didn’t want to explain all of my reasons why I did those things. I wanted tables and work spaces in every room so that I could live and work at home and move around to different tables to work instead of being stuck in one little corner. When I was married, he was in the military so between all of his uniforms and equipment and desks for planning and his ego, he literally took over the house spaces/desks/tables/closets and I had a corner. So, in my home, I now get to spread out and move around to lots of seating areas that are set up for one person or two. Didn’t feel like explaining why I didn’t want to make seating areas for larger groups, etc. Lastly, meeting in public places helped me to hang out with people and the conversation did not get as intimate and couple-like since I was not in their homes or them in mine and with single girlfriends, it didn’t move toward sex discussions. I also walked afterwards which helped with any sadness or anger, etc. Time and distance will make you feel so much better. You have to figure out some coping strategies that nurture you and keep any stress managed as best that you can, and manage that stress in healthy ways.

    You are going to have to go and stay NC with him. None of us are that strong that they don’t affect us UNTIL we have a lot of time to get to meh. It is just too hard to get yanked and get hooked by him right now when you are dealing with tons of change, you should not be hearing things that confuse you, and you know who he is. You can not trust him so cut the communication. That is huge and it will keep you from getting hooked. It is also where your sadness is coming from when he says things and you think about how you had some good times together and you see the wallpaper being dismantled, etc. You can’t go back and un-do things. And, you can’t go forward with him – he is not trustworthy and it will hurt the next time way more than the pain that you have now. You want him to be different but he had that change and did not want it. I am sorry. It does not mean that you won’t be in a couple later on. You may find the man who is there for you, all the time, and not just when it is not too hard or inconvenient for him, or not really there at all. That sucks worse than going into the unknown and believing in better things for your future. And, if when you are alone, you will see how nice it is to do what you want without all the energy going into him and what he is doing/not doing. That is when the real healing begins but you have to take it one day at a time now and just take care of the things that are in front of you. Don’t let him take up as space in your thoughts. You will heal and be OK. Keep reading the posts here and be reminded of who he really is.

  • SIS, I am several months out from D-day. Recently retained a lawyer to help end this madness. I went through all the PTSD like symptoms. It was truly hard to think straight for a while. I felt like my intellect had pressed the manual override (a.k.a. panic button), while my emotional insides were in shock. I was blamed and raged at one minute, being told I got what I deserved, and within 24 hours there was the familiar two word apology and the implied, “You’ll just get over it. Continue on like this never happened.”
    I found a good therapist and just being able to talk to a neutral party was such a relief. Having lived with my spouse for so many years I think I had lost a sense of who I really was and what I stood for. The therapist asked me to describe myself one day and I think it brought me to the realization that I was not being true to myself. I had pushed my true self down for a whole bunch of wrong reasons. I value honesty, integrity, kindness and love.
    In life we make our own choices. To stay with the familiar discomfort or go into the fear of the unknown. My choice is not to continue in a relationship with someone who would willingly and repeatedly do such great harm to me and my children.
    I wish you the best. Huge changes in life are difficult and sometimes scary, but you can make it happen.

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