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Dear Chump Lady, How do I heal my “kindness flaw”?

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treatmeDear Chump Lady,

How do I stop caring about my husband of 22.5 years — his health and state of mind? He has significant anxiety and struggles with remembering things correctly. Revisionist history is a part of it, but there is another whole issue perhaps caused by Affair Fog. He has not planned well for any part of the divorce process and his move to Maine to be with his affair partner. (He didn’t even get prescription refills! I’ll have to mail the refills to him!)

How do I heal from this Kindness Flaw my doctor told me I have? My doctor said, “Most people would have nothing to do with a spouse who decides one day to cheat on them, walk out of the relationship with no discussion, no attempt at marriage counseling, and giving you no say in the matter.” (Obviously implying healthy people, non-codependents, write these people out of their lives.)

For me, I have regular therapy, medication management, and monthly primary doctor visits to monitor and manage severe PTSD and major depression. I was disabled and unable to work for three years and worked extremely hard over these past 3.5 years to heal the long-term damage caused by being raised by narcissists. I’ve recently returned to fulltime employment out of need — since I have filed for divorce and need to support my son and myself. I have a vocational neuro-psychologist I meet with also on a weekly basis to help to juggle the new job stresses with divorce and husbands affair stresses. And, oh yes, his affair partner does know I’ve been disabled by PTSD and that her contacting him caused a significant trigger, as well as findng out about the affair. She sent me email that my grief was “a pity party. Divorce happens — deal with it!”

It’s almost seven months to the day that my husband received a love bomb email from a woman he knew in the 1970s. She lives on the other coast and recently flew out to our city to accompany my husband on his drive to Maine — to shack up with her. He left a job with great benefits and pay for one that pays half of what he was making and far fewer benefits. His state of mind has been all over the map. He has planned poorly for everything and he struggles with memory issues. One minute he shares his struggles and stresses via email and text then ignores me and blows me off. I delayed the divorce finalization to put him on my health insurance for three months out of concern for his mental and physical health. His health insurance won’t kick in for 90 days at his new job.

How do I heal my kindness flaw? It started in childhood with my needs being literally beat out of me. I know it’s not uncommon for someone who was raised by narcissists to marry a narcissist. How the hell do I divorce one? And will I ever heal my kindness flaw?

April

Dear April,

Well, you can begin by stop thinking of it as a “kindness flaw” and start thinking of it as a codependency flaw. You’re doing a grave UN-kindness to yourself every time you try to control what your ex does.

Codependency is the “pick me dance” as total lifestyle. I’ll show you this consideration, and you’ll notice me! You’ll be nice to me, right? RIGHT? Don’t you feel guilty when I do this nice thing for you and you don’t reciprocate? You should NOTICE and feel guilty, but you don’t. What’s up with that? Oh. I think I just need to TRY HARDER!

Ugh. April, please un-chump yourself. Your doctor is totally correct — healthy people REJECT people who treat them like shit. They don’t refill their prescriptions.

The only person who is in an “affair fog” here is YOU. Your ex knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s driving to Maine with his affair partner. He’s abandoning his marriage. Stop spackling this shit as “forgetful” and start seeing it for what it is — DELIBERATE behavior.

When your ex writes to you, that’s cake. He’s throwing out some kibbles so you’ll keep being of use to him. Putting him on your health insurance, sending him prescriptions, probably negotiating yourself out of a proper divorce settlement. Whatever. You see it as evidence that He Cares. He doesn’t. The reality is he left.

Start getting ANGRY about that. And let that anger fuel you into self-protection and developing some healthy boundaries around people who treat you like shit.

To grow up codependent probably means you learned to spackle at a young age. The warning sirens that go off for other people hum quieter for you. You don’t protect yourself the way healthy people do because accommodating disordered people was your normal.

I’m not a shrink, but I’d hazard a guess that your psychological ailments have a lot to do with simply not knowing, or giving yourself permission, to have boundaries. You feel vulnerable because you make yourself vulnerable to freaks. When you stop doing that, and start trusting yourself to say no, and enforce boundaries, you’ll feel a lot safer. How do you do that? You START. And each time you enforce a boundary, the impulse gets stronger, and you reinforce it.

Think of it like those old melodramas. The villain is your ex and you’re tying yourself to the railroad tracks and sparing him the trouble. Then you’re expecting that he’s either going to untie you or stop the train because He Cares. Why not clue into his black suit and twirly mustache and notice he is a villain? How about stop standing anywhere near him or railroad tracks? Maybe carry a frying pan to clobber him with?

Start thinking of your husband as a Bad Guy. He did Bad Things (not forgetful things). Go no contact with him. Instead of a frying pan, consider a bad ass lawyer.

I’m glad you filed for divorce — that was an awesome boundary. You found a job and support your family. Mightiness! YOU CAN DO THIS. You asked me how do you divorce a narcissist? Hey, you’re DOING IT. Just KEEP doing it, quit being nice to the villain, and stop second guessing yourself.

 

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Yes! Exactly! I am at Level Infinity of anger these days, I DON’T want to be, but it’s what’s keeping me sane and focused!!! April, get angry- embrace it, you don’t have to stay angry, but let it fuel you for now.

    My parents/upbringing was jacked-up too, and I too became the “enabler” or “rescuer” – in both my marriages!!

    BOTH husbands have Mommy/family/abandonment/rejection-from-family issues, and I spent years paying for their sins— and the sins of their previous wives/girlfriends– NO. THE. FUCK. MORE!!!

    What neither one of those jack-asses ever got through their heads was that despite their issues- I CHOSE to love, honor, be faithful to them— despite that, they cheated and left anyway— FUCK THEM!!!

    • Fuck them indeed! You’re what I wanted my ex to be. I was working like hell (and still am) to get through my recently-realized FOO issues, and she bailed. I’m sorry that your exes were asshats. And thank you for being willing to stick it out (not for the cheating, obviously, but the other stuff), even if they ultimately proved not worth the effort.

      I know that some folks on here aren’t too fond of the notion of codependency, and I think that likely comes from the sometimes too-broad way in which it can be defined. I don’t recognize myself in the type that tries to manage an addict. What I am is someone who was traumatized in a dysfunctional FOO that has spent his entire adulthood hoping and searching for someone to love me the way my parents should have. I’ve recently discovered that the only person capable of even approaching that gargantuan task is me. But the urge to farm the responsibility out is still overwhelming at times, hence my work on codependency issues.

      • Exactly!!! I knew he/they had these damn issues before I married them, and I kept saying things like, “You and me against the world…as long as we have each other..having grown up without love/affection/genuine support, I understand what it’s like…as long as we stay true to each other, we’ll be fine…”

        I chumped-chumped-chumped my way up the Chump-Mountain, giving all I had- my money, my times, sacrificed myself- my needs, my desires, my will, my wants for THEM to be happy…and what did I get in return??? A big ‘ol heartache!!!

        I’m A-OK…I cut ties with my Narc Mom about 5 years ago- don’t miss that horse-shit!!! Before my father died, I hadn’t spoken to him in close to five years- I did get to see him just before he died, the last thing I ever said to him was, “I love you” but even cancer couldn’t kill his narciness!!!

        Like I said, I moved away to college in 1990— getting away from my family was the best thing I could have ever done for myself…I found myself strong, independent, and able!!!

        Getting back there a little more every day, but I am still so damn angry these days!!!

        • I am NOT one of these too NICE chumps. Im available to step in anytime FOR FREE and tell your X to go to hell, get his own RX filled (wtf), get his own health insurance, tell his fuck buddies to fuck off. You sound like such a nice person, but these people deserve NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! NOR should you give anything else to him. Good Luck

      • “I’ve recently discovered that the only person capable of even approaching that gargantuan task is me. But the urge to farm the responsibility out is still overwhelming at times, hence my work on codependency issues.”

        This is where I’m at in my recovery. This is why I come here everyday still. Today’s post reinforces the notion that I am responsible for my choices and reminds me to just keep trying. I have adult children living with me in my home and even they want to test my boundaries. Don’t care if you are an adult, don’t care if you are paying “rent” it’s still my house, my rules”. My adult children spent way too much time with a Narc Aunt who wanted to be my replacement and did all the nasty tricks in the book to turn them away from me. Consequently, they developed “fleas” and I spackled.I still fight through the anxiety when I call them out on their behavior. I have to keep reminding myself that no one died, LOL!

        “The warning sirens that go off for other people hum quieter for you. You don’t protect yourself the way healthy people do because accommodating disordered people was your normal.”

        Ugh, yeah when I’ve been around both toxic sis and x (who consequently HATE each other) its so subtle that something is off. It’s gotten a little louder over the years but I still don’t trust myself enough to act on it immediately like a healthy person would. I have also found that the longer I ignore what my gut is trying to tell me I develop severe depression and anxiety. Walk away and don’t worry about it. In time the truth seems to reveal itself in greater depth. My toxic sister started grooming starting when I was a toddler.

        April, we really are groomed and brainwashed. Chumplady is another form of brainwashing that’s good for us. Let go girl and you’ll see the depression, anxiety, and poor health improve immensely.

        • Yours Chumpy as well as whichway and unsinkable posts resonate very much with me. Some days, I tell myself that this divorce is just the next step in my healing process that I dove into 3 – 4 years ago. A logical step. A Natural Consequence of healing and getting healthy. But, I keep needing to separate the two for some reason. With an adult child college student at home, I am hoping to undo some of the healthy patterns caused by our son having us for parents. My son had used for several years the excuse of “Well, you know – I AM Dad’s Son.” As an excuse to not follow through, be truthful, open to discussions and sharing information. I’ve got to years left before he graduates from college so I’m hoping to guide him along a healthier path.

          • I meant – undo UNhealthy patterns…and sons Not being truth or open to discussions, or sharing information…behaving like his Dad.

      • Go–learning self love is tough. I keep reading here and it seems to be a common thread. FOO and love. It sounds like you are on the right path and that in itself is a mighty big step!

    • Thank you whichwaydidshego and unsinkable Molly. There’s a lot for me to work on. I couldn’t see the codependency very well when we were still under the same roof – swimming in it. NO.THE.FUCK.MORE. should be how I list his phone number in my smart phone. Condition myself into No Contact and breaking out of the codependent dance.

    • Ahhhh yes…….the anger, the hate, the venom, the evil thoughts. But ya know what? It feels good for now. It feels so much better than the sorrow and the anguish.
      Hence my CL name and I’m rockin’ it!!! 🙂

  • I was raised by a narcissist. I didn’t realize it until I was cheated on by one though…don’t get me wrong, I knew I was fucked up and that my upbringing was too I just didn’t know they had a term for it.

    I have always been codependent. Always bending over backwards to accommodate people who will fuck you over in the blink of an eye. Growth comes from setting boundaries (as CL said)…the more you do it, the more empowered you become, the easier it gets. Just start setting boundaries and have faith that SOMEDAY you will begin to see the results. The fact that you have a doctor who has said this to you and the fact that you are here in this community shows that you too know this is not okay behavior. So what are you waiting for? You can do this April.

    • Thank you for the encouraging words. The irony is that I had been working on setting boundaries in the marriage around his unhealthy anger issues that would trigger my PTSD. I do know the difference between health and unhealthy anger and it was only the unhealthy anger and passive aggressive driving issues that triggered my PTSD. He refused to stop behaving in ways that would trigger me. As the divorce process started, he told me that by requesting that change, I was wanting him to be be someone he’s not.

  • April, read CL’s words again:

    “Putting him on your health insurance, sending him prescriptions, probably negotiating yourself out of a proper divorce settlement.”

    Here you are, forcing yourself to work, doing everything you can to care for your fragile mental health and by doing so much for your husband, you could be affecting your divorce settlement. The courts are going to end up seeing him fragile and needy and not you! Do you want to be court ordered to support him?

    I paid for my ex-husband’s cell phone bill for over six months after he ruined me financially and dumped me for a much younger woman. Why? I convinced myself that if I stopped paying his bill he would not have the ability to talk to his young daughters in the UK. What a bunch of B.S. He just loved having me pay for his phone bill!

    I hadn’t worked full time for well over 10 years and I only recently got hired. It’s very difficult for me at almost 58 to get used to the 8-5 routine. I finally ran to the courthouse to get the divorce because it was entirely possible that that loser would SUE ME FOR ALIMONY!

    Your husband just may be confused and unable to care for himself as you fear, but he also knows which buttons and strings to pull to get you to CARE. He’s blatantly taking advantage of you and also he just doesn’t care what happens to him. STOP paying for him and caring about him. He’s entirely undeserving!

    You CAN do this.

    xox

    • Yes, he knows – yet one minute he’ll deny he’s behaving in ways they trigger me then the next saying certain behaviors were done to NOT hurt me. A ROYAL FUCKING MINDFUCK !!!! UGH! He comes across as entitled to my accommodating him as ell. I really do care about his health and well being because he’s not himself. (Or perhaps I’m now seeing the REAL him ?) Oh I wish I could afford to put my hourly Lawyer on Retainer – and let her have her way with him! I do absolutely need to steer my ship around and get moving in the direction that takes care of me an my son, first. The timing of soon to be ex’s departure could not have come at a worse time for us. My (our) son just got accepted into the program of his dreams at the University he attends. Son’s signed up for one Summer class to get the ball rolling. Problem is Summer tuition and his Program tuition are higher than regular tuition. That – and I have nothing left in Savings due to being disabled and being a Single Mom for the past six months.Fingers crossed for Summer Financial Aid!

      • Chump April- the timing, it’s not an accident. Your son is spreading his wings, and achieving, so that’s when the craptastic spouse decides to bail. It makes it all about him, again. My X did that, too. I was going into the home stretch of a degree (at 55!) and he started vanishing to the neighbor’s house at all hours of the day, and night! Thanks for the loyalty, that was great. I graduated in spite of him, I was not going to let him trash my dream.
        The thing that jumped out at me about your story, is the urgency of his leaving, that’s very weird.
        Good luck to your son! Tell him to focus on his own activities, he needs to keep moving forward, that can add to your joy. Keep the faith, Sister!

        • Thank you so very, very much. I was wondering the same things. The timing of it all. How Husband couldn’t put off leaving for just six more days in order to be a part of son’s big 21 birthday party. WTF ! Who the FUCK chooses their Affair Partner and HER Birthday over their son’s 21st ? We had fun without him. Probably MORE fun because he wasn’t there.Yes, son is Getting FOCUSED. He’s stepping up and understanding he’ll need to put in more hours at work while going to school at the same time. I wish he didn’t have to do that but his fathers poor planning and poor choices have put us in this position. We will prevail and be joyous. Thanks Sis! Will do :o)

  • April,

    My heart goes out to you. It took me a bit longer to reach anger, as well. I felt sorry for my STBX for a long time. I kept trying to figure him out, trying to understand why he was doing such horrible things and making such obviously bad choices. But after enough abuse and the info on this site I began to see my ex through realistic glasses, he’s a narcissistic sociopath who doesn’t have a diagnosis and I’ve got a target on my back with his name on it. So, I’m going to give you a pep talk! Here it goes:

    But of course your ex didn’t “prepare” for this divorce properly…honey, he didn’t prepare for your marriage properly either! If he were prepared to for the longevity and prosperity I’ll have to assume he pledged during his wedding vows do you think he would’ve had an affair, left his wife to move across the country with a woman he barely knows and lose his lucrative job? That’s not well thought out behavior and guess who’s problem that is- HIS.
    He has fired you from giving a shit. He has fired you as his personal life coach and servant and hired your replacement, let her have the position! He needs insurance? Drop his ass off yours and let him wait out the 90 days like everyone else! He needs meds? Let him and his girlfriend figure out how to obtain those without prescription coverage. Shit, let her pay out of pocket for them!
    April, he thinks he’s entitled to this special treatment from you because you give it so freely. He believes he’s better than waiting those 90 days like the rest of us because you make him believe it’s so. But he’s not special, he’s not some super human that deserves a personal slave to gather his prescriptions, insurance coverage and supply him with friendly emails to validate that he’s “in the right”. He’s a cheater, a liar and a scammer. You don’t subscribe to spam emails, do you? Then stop replying to his, that’s all they are, someone scamming you.

    Just try to muster up some self love until you fully believe in yourself and cut this mooch off, please. Let him try his hand at reality, let him live the life free from you that he so clearly desires without catching him when he falls. Let him make the mistakes he’s so inevitably destined to make. You are not his savior…even that is TOO MUCH for a wife who’s husband is fully invested to be, let alone a wife who’s been left behind for some 1970’s fling. NO ONE should be dedicating their life to saving people who should be their equal. He’s NOT your equal. Maybe OW is, maybe she’s a shitty, poor planning cheater who uses people to her benefit- see? Match made in heaven.

    You’re too good for this, April. Please cut him off and focus for the first time on YOU. It feels good, I promise you. I’m doing it now for the first time, too. Disordered family history puts me right where you are, I do get it, but we can be rehabilitated into self loving, self respecting individuals. Your husband has fired you so that you can begin your self discovery, the starting line is just one step ahead! Good luck!

      • April – listen to Chump Lady and ass-kickers on this site! TheBetterJamie is absolutely right on this! We don’t see it because we don’t walk through life bumping into people and things completely disengaged from reality, empathy for others, and emotionally inept. THAT’s why it hurts us so badly. But, use that knowledge of yourself to self-protect! These fuckers are emotionally FLATLINED and they are NOT worth a single dime, care, or tear that we throw at them. Save yourself money: cut off his cell phone, the insurance you’re paying on him, and all other expenses that aren’t for you and your son. Seriously – that fucker obviously has PLENTY of time on his hands. It’s time he figures out how to “adult.” And we know that, because they don’t like responsibilities, that whore will have to be the one to figure it out for him. GOOD! That whore wanted this shithead?? Take him!!

        Please understand -this attitude and energy is 21 months out from DDay, and almost 6 mos post-divorce. I only knew the X douchebag; I was with him from 16 to 40, and so 23 years of my life, youth, love and loyalty was completely WASTED. I busted the whores (she was married, too), and he abandoned me and our 13-year old daughter almost immediately. Fucking morons. I WISH I had found this site and had mighty men and women pushing me in the right direction b/c I was too numb and also suffering PTSD. I’m telling you – EVERY time you pay for that fucker’s crap and are “nice” to that f-tard, it KEEPS YOU STUCK in that trauma because his actions are screaming at you that he finds your love, caring, and life worthless. Your “nice” and “caring” keeps you stuck in the shit he’s created for you and your family, and you will not mentally or emotionally move forward.

        Drop that fucker in every way you can financially and emotionally like the smelly piece of shit he is. FOO issues?? Hey – we’ve all got them, but you can be mighty and stop this cycle. Your son is watching and absorbing all that negative energy and codependency from you. You’re the only sane parent he has, and the only example of self-love, self-respect, and migty that he has. Be mighty for him.

        You WILL thrive.

        (((hugs, girl)))

        • Thank you and WOW you are one Mighty Mom and Tough Lady ! I’m so proud of all you’ve done and how far you’ve come. Congratulations ! I’ve just started to get in touch with my healthy and righteous anger. It started on Father’s Day. I am vowing to remain the Sane Parent for that has pretty much been my role to keep all along. Ironically, when my husband and I got together, our relationship was about creating a Happy Family. It was something neither of us had growing up and it was our number one goal. We vowed to break the cycles of abuse on all levels and had done fairly good for a long while. Husband cheating was not something I ever expected this late in the game. His own mother married and divorced four times and there was cheating involved. I never bailed on my vows, promises, commitments and I’m not going to start now! I vow my son and I will be even happier and healthier. Not only will I Thrive, my son will too. He’ll learn from the mistakes his father and I have made and hopefully carry that wisdom into his current and future friendships and relationships.

      • BetterJamie HITS NAIL ON HEAD!! You are sooooooo right in everything you wrote. Thank you so much. I am taking it to heart, soul and mind. Yes, he does feel entitled and because I have given him everything so freely and continue to do so. This is where I imagine Dr. Phil saying, “And How’s THAT working for ya?” My own mother is a narcissistic sociopath so I feel your pain on that. I went No Contact years ago. I guess No Contact with cheater hubby is next. He and the OW are a match made in Hell. I know enough about them both to see a horrific disaster for them on the horizon. Thank God they are 3250 miles away!

    • Me too, TBJ. I have been struggling to NOT feel sorry for him- to NOT try to figure out why he flipped the switch on me and did EVERYTHING that he swore all these years he would never do!!!

      He has spent the last 13 years bitching about my EXH and how wrong he did me and how he could never do me wrong like that– April Fools’ on me!!!

      Here’s where it gets WEIRD:

      BOTH EXH#1 & STBXH announced they wanted a divorce in April, spent May trying to play nice making me think our divorce would be “amicable” and “equal” when in reality they were/are just trying to play me then sucker punch me when it’s time to sign the papers…just like this summer dealing with this divorce, I spent one summer long ago grieving and crying over my first divorce…

      The big difference in these two, is ME. I learned some hard, hard lessons with my 1stXH, and STBXH should know better- he’s been with me since 1st divorce was six weeks old, but he thinks he’s smarter than 1st husband, and that he’s got me wrapped… joke will be on you, dumbass!!!!

      • what is with all that swearing they are better then the last guy? exhole used to always throw it in my face how my babies daddies were not paying child support. and how he was taking care of not only his kids but the other guys kids too. now he fucks me over, cheats on me. and i divorce his ass but now he is not paying child support for his 2 kids. i cant figure out that crazy.

        you would think he would know me better now too. he spend 14 years with me but i dont think he really ever knew me. he thinks that i am not going to do anything because i did not do anything to the other dads. he thinks i am just going to be sitting there waiting for him to come back to us. he thinks that i am jsut going to roll over on decisions with the kids. but he has another thing coming to him. i already started the child support enforcement process on his. i am going to court today at 1:00 to get permission to change the 2 boys last name to my maiden. (it was in the divorce papers only not in the one place it needed to be where judge signed). after all if he is not going to support them emotional, psychically, mentally or spiritually i dont see why the boys should have his last name.

        exhole is worst then all my past boyfriend put together.

      • unsinkableMolly, you wrote: ” I have been struggling to NOT feel sorry for him- to NOT try to figure out why he flipped the switch on me and did EVERYTHING that he swore all these years he would never do!!! ” I still default to this same struggle – What the FUCK is going on with him ? It’s GOT to be a BRAIN TUMOR or something ! My soon to be Ex was always unhappy but told me that’s just the way he is and that NO, he was NEVER going to leave the relationship or divorce. He was HAPPY with the relationship and there was NO WAY he wanted to start over with a new job much less a new partner ! He’d hug and kiss me and reassure me every time. He even did when my PTSD was triggered after the OW contacted him back in November. YOU FUCKING LIAR!!!!!!!!! O-kay – guess I’m letting out some of that anger CL was talking about.

    • TheBetterJamie is nailing it on so many levels. My FOO consisted of generations of morally strong, super-compassionate women, who married men with various issues (addictions, Narcissist tendencies, etc…though not infidelity, surprisingly). These women (who I love with my whole heart), were/are first-class enablers and co-dependent to the core. That’s what was modeled for me. I too was the fixer and peace-keeper of my generation. Those neural pathways were deeply entrenched. It was my “normal” set point.

      April, your kindness, empathy and compassion is wonderful and noble – something to be proud of. However, those are the very traits that morally-deprived (and depraved) people are drawn to – not women who act like high-maintenance Divas. Discerning who is truly worthy of your trust, support, friendship. and love is the hard part. Loving YOU, and changing from being “self-less” to “self-more” is harder still, BECAUSE IT JUST FEELS WEIRD – like trying to write with your non-dominant hand.

      Receiving guidance and support from the people you’re already working with, helping you with your fears, anxiety and overall health-related issues (and to dial down your Nice-O-Meter), is an excellent way to start your journey. It’s going to be a marathon. but look at what you have already done to rid yourself of your STBX. You really are mighty and amazing! You have the strength to do this (even when you feel weak, and it feels scary). I, and the rest of CN will be here for you – cheering you on.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement…and Cheers!!! Wow, so Generations upon generations thought they were doing the good and noble thing? That was a huge change for your brain to deal with. I bet you had major headaches at times as you were etching new pathways. You wrote: “Loving YOU, and changing from being “self-less” to “self-more” is harder still, BECAUSE IT JUST FEELS WEIRD – like trying to write with your non-dominant hand.” Yes. It. Does. And honestly – I don’t know what it’s like to be in a truly equal, loving, balanced, healthy relationship where/which both partners Love and Care for themselves in healthy balanced ways. While reading through the responses to Chump Lady’s response to my letter – I realize I was NEVER going to find out what it’s like by staying in our marriage. Now, I actually have a shot at it since I still have 30-40 years left on this planet – at least!

        In the meantime, I got to find my legs, stand-up tall and yell, “I’m as MAD as HELL and I’m NOT going to let you Gaslight me anymore!

    • Thankyou for this straight talk. Though my Fuckwad is DEAD, I see how much I need to learn. To set limits. To pay attention to actions, not words. So I grow and change. So I live clear and responsible for my choices, and leave all those living-as-if-asleep habits behind .
      “To grow up codependent probably means you learned to spackle at a young age. The warning sirens that go off for other people hum quieter for you. You don’t protect yourself the way healthy people do because accommodating disordered people was your normal.

      I’m not a shrink, but I’d hazard a guess that your psychological ailments have a lot to do with simply not knowing, or giving yourself permission, to have boundaries. You feel vulnerable because you make yourself vulnerable to freaks. When you stop doing that, and start trusting yourself to say no, and enforce boundaries, you’ll feel a lot safer. How do you do that? You START. And each time you enforce a boundary, the impulse gets stronger, and you reinforce it.”

  • April,

    This is a letter I wrote to myself as if my husband were writing it to me….perhaps it might resonate for you?

    Dear Valkyrie (wife)

    I married you because I loved you and knew you loved me. I trusted you and felt safe with you sexually and more importantly emotionally and expected you to heal all my wounds and attend to all my needs. You validated all my experiences even when I was sad, entitled or felt worthless you affirmed, and appreciated me and I expected you to gratify all my unspoken needs. I needed you to always do what I wanted when I wanted it and be the woman I needed you to be for me because your represented me and my worth depended on you and our children being an extension of me….my humor….my intellect….my power my attractiveness to all other women. I want you to read my mind and without me asking give me everything that I needed (and even when I didn’t know exactly what that was) you needed to figure this out without me ever asking…… you must read my mind….. or I become outraged….. for me…..because you vowed you loved me unconditionally, and your my mommy, daddy, Jehovah, Allah and baby Jesus, Mary and (I will find myself hiding some faceless whore and further resenting you because you didn’t figure out what I was doing behind your back all these years that made me so angry you didn’t catch me I needed you to stop me)…..And if you don’t read my mind or do what I want I will be really-really angry, or depressed, You can’t get mad at me (I hate female emotions), I may have to destroy you, even leave you, but certainly blame you and cheat on you I need constant attention and validation, because my needs are more important than yours. I need you and the children to be constructs and other people act as my objects in order for me to do what I ever I want when I want to. I don’t want be anybody’s doormat. The only way to stop me is by catching me. And Even Then, everyone will Blame You for everything that’s wrong with me.

    P.S. I Don’t want to hear about your needs and who you really are.

    Your Hard Working husband

    • I think you just threw up the truth in this letter, Valkyrie. Wow.

      Excuse me while I get the mop.

    • We were married to the same man. This should be posted on my bathroom mirror to remind me that he is mental, always was and always will be.

    • OMG, Valkyrie, that just flipped a switch for me. I ask why he’s angry, what he has to be angry about and he says “I don’t know” now I get it! He might not know, but now I do. Going to take me a bit to process this but, wow, you added a new dimension to the thought process for me.

    • Yep, “I don’t want to hear about your needs or who you really are.” That’s for damn sure!

    • Oh WOW. That letter is loaded. Very well written, Valkrie. I’m sitting in my living room having flashbacks of what it was like when soon to be EX was living here. I was ignored frequently. I catered so much to his needs of things to be certain ways. I’ve relaxed so much since he moved out that I’d forgotten. This was the underlying story of our relationship, for sure : “I don’t want to hear about your needs or who you really are.”

  • Excellent advice as always Chump Lady! Half the battle with these cheaters is convincing yourself that the nice person you loved is dead and gone. This isn’t a phase or a ‘mid life crisis’ making them hurt you, this is who they are and they are absolutely 100% doing it on purpose. They do not care, so you must reflect this back on to them. Nobody is saying it will be easy, nobody sails through it unscarred, but just keep moving forward, The Land Of Meh is waiting for you and it’s lovely here this time of year! To quote Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through Hell, keep going!”. Mighty hugs xxx

    • “The nice person you loved is dead and gone.” Yes! This is the hardest thing to accept and see or it was for me. What happened to the man who did countless romantic things for me? What happened to the man who said his family was his whole life? He was a phoney and this cruel, lying, cheating, thieving abuser is the real him. That’s a lot to swallow after 20 years but accepting that is the key to healing and moving on. It took me a while to get angry but wow it has served me well. Hang in there April. You can do this!

      • Thank you. I’m just finally starting to allow the potent, justified anger come to the surface. I feel VERY relieved once I let out a load. I feel like a got rid of a large weight from my mind and spirit.

    • Jacqueline, “Half the battle with these cheaters is convincing yourself that the nice person you loved is dead and gone.” It caused, and still does cause, utter disbelief in my soul. But there is a strong collective consciousness in this site that has given me immeasurable strength to believe the truth.

      Nicole S, I asked those questions you listed countless times. The best thing is I can feel some movement into acceptance. I have felt stunned with those questions for the past year (Happy one year anniversary survival of DDay to me). I realize how stunned I have been because I am starting to move a little: planting flowers, decorating my place, having a great relationship with teenage daughter (who lives with me full-time and is starting to accept that her dad sucks). I did not realize how deep my state of shock was; as you have all said, it’s so difficult to accept who they really are and in my case a 24 year investment of hopium. But to give myself credit: I always had a little nagging feeling and that little nagging feeling finally grew and grew and integrated into my consciousness, and voila here I am and I credit it greatly to CN.

  • I totally agree with what has been said. I was a co-dependant enabler too. I was also the peacemaker between my parents when they would fight. I hated conflict. Period.

    The only caution I would give is don’t drop you stbx from your health insurance until his kicks in, unless you are divorced. As his spouse, you would be responsible for medical debts he doesn’t pay. My stbx moved to another state. I will cover him until he gets himself covered. He rides a motorcycle so there’s that. In my case it’s worth it since I’m still legally married to him. I look at it as just another insurance policy. Insurance to protect me.

    For everything else he’s on his own. I can’t wait to divorce him. Asshole.

    • Yep, my STBXH is on my medical/dental insurance, and piggy-backed onto my car insurance when he went out and got himself a nice, shiny truck, while my car crapped out more and more every day…when I would bitch about my car’s problems, he would say he “would take care of it”, but never did.

      Just got myself a nice, shiny, nicely-used ride— ALL BY MYSELF. When STBXH saw it, he was like, “Rental???” WTF?!?!?! He couldn’t BELIEVE I went out all by myself and got myself a car with good payments and no money down— YAY ME!!!

      As soon as our divorce is final, he is losing all of the insurance- FUCK HIM— let his obese, diabetic, sleep apnea, bad back ass get by without it!!!

      • As soon as our divorce is final, he is losing all of the insurance- FUCK HIM— let his obese, diabetic, sleep apnea, bad back ass get by without it!!!

        Just have to ask, are divorcing him -in total or in part – due to his adultery? If so, what kind of women was he able to attract?

  • I’ll bet a lot of these Chumps got better physically and mentally once the creep was out of their lives. A psychologist once said it takes a week to drive someone crazy. Welcome to the psych ward. Be glad to see the back of him and tell him not to let the door hit him in tha ass!

  • Definitely spot on advice, IMO.

    If CL didn’t say it, I was going to say it: “Affair Fog” is pure BS. Could he be infatuated with this new lay? No doubt, but he didn’t stop knowing he’s treating you like crap, etc. He abandoned you, and that was deliberate, and he knew exactly what he was doing.

    Hanging on to “well, he didn’t even think to pack his medications” as proof of mythical “affair fog” is just confirmation bias at work. You are working backward from a conclusion somebody fed you and looking for evidence that proves its existence.

    Cake I believe in. Affair Fog, nope. Chumps are the ones in a fog usually. And then along comes some con man who sells you “affair fog”, perhaps if you just by “coaching” lessons at 100 bucks an hour, or this series of books at 89 bucks, they can tell you more? Or worse, you came across one of those cults that have sprung up on the internet where people who have read those books, etc pose as gurus or a “pro-marriage community who have had similar experiences”. Hang around one of those long enough and you are going to see real dysfunction and BS and denial on an epic scale. So sad.

    You begin to move on by admitting he knows what he’s doing, and knowing that it’s not within your control. All doing these little tasks is doing is feeding him cake at-best.

    Time to look after yourself and kids if you have them, get the best separation agreement possible while he’s still focused on obtaining and possessing his new toy and before he’s had time to think about how to really screw you over.

    • Yes, and it’s quite possible he just didn’t bother to refill his prescription because it’s just not fun and he didn’t want to waste time/energy/effort dealing with it when he could be with or thinking about or texting his Twu Luv. Besides, he could always just ask someone else to take care of it for him….like his wife… Talk about entitlement!! Some people seem to think they are above dealing with the unfun, adult things of life… I figure a lot of our ex’es–probably most of them–were the types to let their chump spouses handle the vast majority of the unfun tasks of life.

      • Yep. yep. yep ! When my PTSD got so bad I could barely function and ended up choosing the hospital instead of ending my life, I had to beg him to take over – and on, the responsibilities that were his or ours to share. My brain would not work right no matter how hard I tried. But No, HE just wanted me to heal up and get back to normal so that I could be the Social Planner, the Wife, the Chef, the Chauffeur, etc. I was in such rough shape I had Depressive Pseudodementia upon entry to the hospital. (Initially one of the diagnosis was dememtia then later classified as Depressive Pseudodementia)

          • Thank you. It was the most difficult thing I’ve been through. Even more difficult than dealing with chronic Lyme disease and this divorce process. I experienced not knowing what was real and not real due to sleep deprivation – on top of it all. I truly thought I had lost my mind. It took until the fall of 2013 for doctors to finally find a medication that knocked out the Night Terrors. It was a very long and difficult process. In my opinion – husband did the bare minimum as far as being any kind of support. He was not the husband I had at the beginning of our marriage. I was treated like an inconvenience – not a wife. There was so much he could have done to help me on this journey/healing process but chose not to. I cringe at the thought of how KARMA may visit him in the future. I hope he gets some serious therapy soon because he will need that support to deal with the Natural Consequences and/or KARMA coming his way, as if the first waves haven’t started to hit him already.

            I had the best doctors in the hospital who found me incredible doctors for my post-care. I’m Thriving now…..even while dealing with husbands affair triggering my PTSD and this long drawn out divorce process. I’ve been feeling pretty darn good this week. Slowly getting organized, getting rid of stuff he left behind, cleaning, continuing therapy, doctor visits, financial counseling, etc. I feel better about my future now – more than I have ever! There is so much to look forward to. No, I’m not dating, don’t have anyone new romantically – not even remotely interested. I’ve promised myself these next two years are dedicated to my healing #1 and helping my son heal from all of this while getting him through these last two years of college – then graduate!

  • I want to thank you for these words of wisdom Chump Lady! Yesterday, I found myself feeling sorry for my STBX and it was such a comfortable and familiar place that I was enjoying it and thinking of ways I could help him. Thank you for these words today as I needed to hear them. I’ll harden my heart once again.

    • Me too, be positive, we were signing final stipulations and retirement docs for a very generous settlement. He is planning to move to eNVy to be with CFMily in two weeks. I thought about writing him a note saying I will always be there for you if you ever need any help. Then I thought about the way he ‘helped’ NOT his sister when his dad was dying and the way he moaned and complained about helping when we were married and I decided, fuck you… what I am seeing here is just your public mask. You are on your own adn CFMily is getting what she has coming to her.

      But you know, I think he is having some second thoughts about moving up there… that is never a good thing for him.

  • Please go to infidelityhelpgroup.com and read the 6-part series explaining what BS “affair fog” is.

    I was once like you, believing that affair-related dopamine had somehow overruled my wife’s mental capacities. I now know better.

    • Did they steal ideas from CL ? Articles are fairly recent and have pretty much the same content as CL’s posts.

      • I wouldn’t be able to answer that. IHG has similar stances to CL on some arguments (self-worth; dignity; not excusing cheating). However, they have a few different perspectives from what CL says, as well (for example, IHG tends to avoid explaining cheaters as “narcissists” or “disordered.” I found both websites very helpful.)

  • When you are raised in a dysfunctional family — you don’t know what is wrong, but you instinctively know something is wrong. You know your family does not do things the “normal” way. Other families may be screwed up too — which makes you even more confused. You know your family is not what you see on TV and the movies, or what you read about in books. Sometimes your family seems like freaks, other times, in comparison to super freaks, your family doesn’t seem so bad. Conflicting messages = Confusion.

    At some point, as an adult, you have to decide what you really believe, and why you believe that way, and decide what you are going to do for you. This decision will rock your world as you know it, and everything, EVERYTHING will change. You will grow, and learn to be the person you long to be, the person you deserve to be. It will take some time and lots of hard work, but it is so worth it. By setting boundaries and refusing to take responsibility for things you did not cause, and cannot change, you will become happy with yourself. That happiness will lead you to be a much healthier and much more pleasant person. I thank God that I started this process before I had children, and was learning and developing myself while my children were learning and growing up. I was not the enabler mother, but became the boundary mother. I taught my children to take responsibility for their actions, even when it would have been much easier for me to just “fix” their problems. I had to fight my basic instincts but it was worth it. Thank God I did not pass that particular type of trouble on to my children. Not saying I was a perfect mother, that would be a big laugh, but I was a much better and stronger woman as a result of my dedicated efforts to fix what was wrong with me than I would have been if I hadn’t worked to overcome obvious deficiencies in judgement.

    You can do this. You can harden your heart against a person who is literally sucking the life out of you. He is squandering resources you and your children need to survive. He made his choices — be thankful you will not have to carry his sorry ass around any longer. In a few years, you will be amazed at how much saner and how much more peaceful your life is when all his drama is out of your life. The payoff for you will be tremendous — you will wake up content instead of freaking out wondering what the disaster of the day will be. Good luck to you on your journey, those who truly love you will help you find your way and will rejoice at your success. Meh is just around the corner . . .

    • Thank you so very very much for your kind words of wisdom and support. Really looking forward to meh.

    • “By setting boundaries and refusing to take responsibility for things you did not cause, and cannot change, you will become happy with yourself. That happiness will lead you to be a much healthier and much more pleasant person.” This. This. THIS of what you wrote is one of those hard etched-in-my-brain long term patterns to finally break. There was always a way for my family to twist things and make something my fault and my problem to fix. There was an assigned Role in both my abusive family and marriage. I’ve resigned and walked out of those roles. There is still more work to do so that I don’t fall into that/those roles ever again. “Not my circus, not my monkeys”

  • When you are raised by the disordered you become bait for those of a similar ilk, they don’t have to train you to hide their shit you are already a pro. But rebel against their mind fucking behaviour and they won’t hesitate to twist the knife they have slipped between your shoulder blades.
    I don’t know if my mother was a cheater but knowing that she moved a man into out home and into her bed less than a month after my father died without any conviction indicates a disorder that is way up their. XH always had my back where my mother was concerned and we have been NC for almost 20 years, part of which I now realise being his need to keep this little bunny focused on his needs.
    Being kind is not a flaw. But being that way to someone who thinks it is their entitlement is unhealthy. Your STBX does not deserve what you are doing. So for your sake please stop it.

    In the past for the disordered in my life I have taken beatings both verbally and physically, I have been left to go hungry, and pinned down and spat on. I have been used as a codependent crutche and when no longer of use have been totally disregarded. I have been left at times feeling guilty, unworthy and ashamed because I have not meet the disordered’s expectations somehow. This is a sickening cycle to break but with the right support is possible.

    Focus on you. You are your primary concern now. Do you show the same level of kindness to yourself? I hope so.

    • I’ve been diligently working on self care, being patient and being kind with myself for 3.6 years now. I’m much much better than I was but the divorce process has triggered nearly every form of self abuse I’ve ever used on myself in all my life. All my doctors are kept in the loop and so far, I’ve not got stuck on any one thing. I keep moving through things then sometimes cycle back. The best thing overall is that I have not felt suicidal again except on our 22 Anniversary which was D day for me.(January) I contacted my doctors right away and we knocked that right out of my system. That was great self care in action and I trust myself now more than ever to continue on the road to even better self care and kindness.

      • Good for you! I often think the depression and self harm impulses are from having mismatched realities. Our brains can’t distinguish between what is real or not because we have been surrounded by delusion.

        • I agree. The gaslighting one endures growing up in an abusive household as well as having a spouse who frequently lied and gaslit me – really does a number on the mind and brain. My TRUST in my self, my gut and my intuition – it gaining more and more strength – daily. I feel pretty darn good about what I’ve accomplished so far.

  • April,
    YES! CL said it all! It’s about boundaries! I could have saved myself sooooo much gut-wrenching pain if I’d just listened to that advice sooner. But, like most co-dependent chumps, I was completely tuned in to HIS needs, flaws, ailments, etc. and ignored my own radar for protecting myself with boundaries. The crazy thing is, you can bet that your stbx has boundaries … hell, you know them better than he does, which is why you probably walk on egg shells so as not to cross him or set him off or lose him forever. Why not give yourself just a little of that same protection and respect? Set just one tiny boundary a week if you have to, like texting him directions on how to walk in to a Walgreens with his prescription bottle for a refill. Believe CL; he is NOT the helpless-in-a-fog-confused Mr. Magoo. He’s using you as his chump. Get mighty girl! You can indeed gain a life much blessed! Boundaries and big hugs to you!

    • Up until recently, I kept asking HIM where HIS boundaries were. Fucked up, I know. He would say – “Whatever you are comfortable with”. No more tying myself to the Railroad Tracks – that’s for sure.

  • Affair Fog?? I just want to know, who comes up with this shit?? Even in my Reconciliation days, I couldn’t buy into that one.

    • That is just another name for the first roaring impact of infatuation, illicit activity and new sex… the fog evaporates like that, when you realize you could be stuck with this person for life.

      • Absolutely, ringmyownbell, they can’t live without them, till they have to actually live with them, lol.

        • And THAT is the Karma Bus that hit my X, he’s stuck with her, living in her basement! I must be approaching Meh, because- who cares? He chased her ass for 3 years, and now they see each other daily, and I am back in my home town, far, far away! A peaceful life for me. And, I just got a new job I really wanted, so that’s MY Karma, for being a good, loving, Chump, and trying to live life my way!

  • One other thing, I used to be nicey nice too, to everyone. I finally realized this made me an open target for the dysfunctional. Now I meet everyone on their Interest Level. No more bring nicer to people than they are to me. However cool towards me people are, they get it right back at them.

  • April

    You can’t fix what ails him. Maybe he has a brain tumor I thought as he was spending his money on a worthless whore while I was paying for his health insursnce and taxes year after year. No I was chumped. And he had all these things wrong with him he constantly complained about his back, neck, and stomac problems. That’s what fucking whores and being a slime does to a man. The lamest thing I did was to offer to keep him on my health insurance after my lawyer said he would lose his benefits after the final order. She said we could sign the agreement and hold off on the final order indefinitely to keep his benefits. I in my Stockholm syndrome state agreed. My therapist said NO let him be a man and pay his own insurance. I was able to keep him on and file the final irder after all. Guess what asshole came up with? I would have to pay the yearly difference. Yes that’s right, the asshole cheater gets free healthcare until I switch jobs or remarry. I married an entitled prickl that’s what they are April, wenniebabies. Wean him off your sence if goodness and recognize you lost a toddler. By the way get him to pay your life insurance keeping you as the beneficiary. That way if he dies hitting a moose you’ll have a safety net.

    • I am SO glad I read this ^^^ !!! I too, told my STBXH that as long as he re-paid me for his share of my premiums, I would keep him on my medical and dental— thank God I didn’t put that shit in writing!!! As soon as I get the divorce decree, he’s getting taken OFF!!!! I might be able to go ahead and do it during Open Enrollment period- that way I won’t have to pay for the higher premium come October…

      • Unsinkable

        It would be different if we both decided to get a divorce like adults. I owe him nothing. As chumps we have to remind ourselves they walked away from all the kindness and love we provided. Instead they want and expect us to roll over. My kindness in keeping him on my insurance was to make ME pay. Don’t be kind. Fuck the assholes.

    • “And he had all these things wrong with him he constantly complained about his back, neck, and stomac problems. That’s what fucking whores and being a slime does to a man.”

      I swear I brought this up in my confrontation when I told him, think how much better you will feel now that you’re not leading a double life. Maybe you can get rid of your daily headaches and stomach problems.

      I swear he just glared at me and said “I’m not living a double life!” All I could do was stifle the laugh because serious a 3 year plus bicoastal affair *is* pretty much a double life and he couldn’t bring himself to understand how much stress that was putting on him.

      Are they all the same?

      • Yes, pretty much all the same. I vividly remember a trip down to my brother in law’s house (before I knew about the 3+ year affair). The cheater had been particularly antsy and uptight on the drive down, and we were sitting out on the porch, drinking wine (they live on the coast – lovely, relaxing spot) and he acted like he was about to explode. Finally took at offense at “nothing”, bolted up and went out to the “office” in the back yard (which I now know was to email the OW). But I digress. I remember my brother in law looking astonished, and he said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but if he doesn’t get it fixed, it’s going to kill him”.

        Ha! The OW claimed to have mafia ties and was apparently always threatening to have him, me, and/or the children killed if he ever dumped her. Although at the time, I really do think it was just the stress of living a double life 24/7. She lived out of state, and I found out after D-day would text him dozens of times a day, all day and part of the night, and call several times also. 5 hours of feeling his phone buzz when she texted on the drive down, and being desperate to respond but unable to since I probably would have noticed (finally!) if he had done so in the car or in front of his brother. Gotta love duplicity!

        • God, what is it with the whores and the excessive contact ?? It’s bizarre. It has to be some kind of ego thing cause there is nobody I want to talk to that much.

            • I don’t think it has anything to do with actually having something to talk about it. My opinion is that the OW knows she’s dating a married liar and she’s insecure in the relationship. She has to keep checking in with him to make sure he isn’t doing anything meaningful with the wife.

              • Me, too, Be Positive. I think a lot of the talking is forced, or put on, like when you are trying to act like you are better friends with someone than you are. And also like you say, insecurity. And, lots of the attraction is the secretiveness of it and the competition with the affair partner’s spouse. NOT any special connection like they want you to think.

            • She Chump, I think a lot of what they talk about is actually complaining. The very first thing I noticed off with the cheater was his overwhelming Negativity. I just thought maybe he had been like that all along, but it was really when he was affiliated with the whore. I’m sure she encouraged it. Also, they don’t usually have legitimate complaints so they can’t confide them with anyone else. That’s why they “understand ” each other so much.

      • Yes they are all the same!!I If he were an animal I would have put him out of his misery. The glare, yes I’ve seen it before. That dumbfounded look. And realistically look at what they end up with. I am finally making peace with losing a loser. We waste so much energy on them. The truth is that if I met someone and was told they are a serial cheating, narcissistic, sociopath, I would RUN. That is what I’m grieving for? No more. I’m done. In his absence I have peace. No more detective work. He is happy with her and where he is living. Hooray. Just came from the therapist and he said, “He cant get an attractive intelligent woman”. That was the answer I needed to my question of why he is with a skank. Equals attract. They are both disordered. I have bigger plans for my future. I cant have happiness unless I stop obsessing about two twisted fucked up people? Ok. I choose happiness. Today, is my official Tuesday. I thought I was there before but today it is official. Onward to get coffee with my daughter and going to the gym. Its all about me from now on.

        • “I cant have happiness unless I stop obsessing about two twisted fucked up people? Ok. I choose happiness.”–Thnx Donna, Everyday it is a choice. I’m sitting here stewing b/x shithead is an hour late bringing my son home. Today he is once again screwiing with the divorce settlement…but, my pissy mind set can be changed because—I can choose not to let his shit drive me nuts. I will note he was late and when I need extra time with my son I will take it and remind him of his behavior. I will hold tight and let my lawyer deal with his asshose maneuvers….I will choose…thank you!

      • “Are they all the same?”!!!!! Uh, yyyeeaaaahhh. My ex started grinding his teeth at night “for some unknown reason,” most likely because he was fucking his skank whore and his wife-me-for two years, you know, while he made up his mind to abandon his family. I didn’t even know I was playing the pick me dance much less that my husband of twenty years was seeing and dating another woman. I did immediately jump into the shower after sex though and couldn’t reach orgasm with him those last two years–TMI-but go figure! My gut was screaming, I just was not listening. All those hours patrolling and hitting the racquetball club, poor sausage, it must have been hard to be saddled with a wife and three kids. He told me that his life was great, all except for me. That was my Narc’s truth and you can bet I did not waste a minute more of my time trying to “save” that train wreck of a marriage. My ex still won’t admit to his double life, even though his AP posted her pics on his social media. Barf. That’s one way to get your man!-OW- because once I figured that out, it was ‘Goodbye, POS!’ Not that it didn’t suck (I loved him once! Lol!) but his choice to screw me over pretty much said it all. Anyone see that movie Men In Black? My ex was Edgar, that fool farmer an empty soul both literally and figuratively after he began leading his double life, and he was not waylaid by an alien. April, you don’t owe that STBX bastard anything. Let him figure out how to refill his prescriptions. He is not without agency!!! He is making choices, by all means let. him. live. with those consequences! I realize that the second, minute, hour, and day my ex chose to be in a relationship with someone else was the day our marriage died. One of my best friends told me that sometimes there are seasons in a life and it’s just good sense to move on with them. It really is a better life. 😉

    • Donna _ Yes, ALL of us were on Husbands insurance which will end next week. Beginning July 1st, all of us will be on my insurance. And to clarify it all –
      this is how Co-Dependent I am. 1. I WANTED to put him on my insurance because he was going to go without any. He said he couldn’t afford COBRA. 2. It was ME who suggested he get a 90 day refill on his prescriptions (when he was already in Maine) and I would mail them to him – so that he would be covered for three months. I thought his answer would be that he had already done that before he left. I didn’t expect to hear he was almost out of one of his prescriptions. I don’t understand how anyone can plan a move – to the other fucking side of the country – without making sure they have refills BEFORE embarking. It takes a while to find health care providers once you move some place new. 3. I’m STILL worrying about his health and well being….he’s just not well in Mind, Body or Spirit.

      • Realistically, you would be better off if he died anyway.
        Secondly, he could get his prescriptions transferred. It would be a pain, but that’s what life is when you act irresponsibly. What’s next? Will he ask you to help plan OW’s birthday party?

    • “By the way get him to pay your life insurance keeping you as the beneficiary. That way if he dies hitting a moose you’ll have a safety net.” My brain completely blocked out the hitting a Moose part – today it made me laugh. Hopefully stbx will sign up for Life Insurance and have our son as beneficiary. I recently uncovered more lies and information he withheld from me so I don’t know if I can trust that he’ll follow through with getting Life Insurance. I truly can’t ever believe a word he’s says or writes – again.

  • I just had to do a “nice” thing that I shouldn´t have done but I did for my kids: my X is travelling for the first time without me on an international flight with our kids. I was checking with him (through skype) that he had all the paperwork, passports, etc. (because this was what I used to do). Then I asked him if he had checked in for the flight so they would have good seats. He had not. When he started doing the check in he realized that the flight was leaving at 2 am (which was four hours away) instead of 2 pm! He almost had a heart attack and started screaming and almost scared the kids out of their minds when he woke them up. If I hadn´t gone through the process with him, he would have missed the flight and had to buy very expensive new tickets. Did he thank me? Of course not…but I enjoyed every minute of watching him histerical and freak out when I used to be the one that was responsible for everything that could go wrong on a trip (if we were late to the airport, if we forgot something, etc, etc). I realized, once again, how good narcs are on blame shifting and gas lighting everything! What a relief not to be a part of that, and now all my travels are stress free!

    • Similar scenario with my ex. I wonder whether he realizes how “useful” I was, now that he screws up so often. Besides, he actually had the new ambition to change careers and become a travel agent. Ha ! His ass would get sued into oblivion after the first trip: wrong tickets, wrong hotel, wrong city, tourists lost.

  • The trick is to let your head, not your emotions or gut feelings be in charge of the boundary setting. When you grow up with disfunction, your emotional radar can be all messed up. Don’t worry, you are in therapy and eventually that will get healed. Right now, though, in all situations think of what you would advise a friend to do with a husband who was treating her as shitty as yours. Then act on THAT, no matter how crazy it makes your gut feel. Trust your brain right now to drive things, not your emotions.

  • Absolutely true, Chumplady . . . “You’re doing a grave UN-kindness to yourself every time you try to control what your ex does.”

    I gained a lot of ground when I swallowed the harsh truth that I was trying to control the behavior of others by being nice to them. Nicing a narcissist is like negotiating with terrorists – it never works.

    • Ali Rose, Spot On! “Nicing a narcissist is like negotiating with terrorists–it never works.” I wish my lawyer (and his!) had understood this. It is worth repeating, for sure.

    • Ali Rose, well said. “…I was trying to control the behavior of others by being nice to them.” This has been a hard thing to swallow because it is cloaked with good intentions. But I am beginning to realize that it actually is a way to control people. And even though controlling things like passports or what you know is good for someone, it is still controlling. It is robbing a person of their choice and potential to figure things out on their own. I will really be thinking about your statement Ali Rose and appreciate it.

  • April, you are stronger than you realize. You need to cut the cord with this man and go no contact. Then you won’t be influenced by your emotions as much as you are now. I can relate to your story because for a long time I couldn’t get mad at my ex. My mother was the one who finally helped me see that my ex was “confused,” he knew exactly what he was doing. He just didn’t care that he was hurting me. In fact, he resented me for making him feel horrible about what he did.

    Your husband fired you from the job of caring about him. Your new job is taking care of yourself. Go no contact. Let him deal with his own mess. People have to take responsibility for their actions and you have to stop helping him. Help yourself instead. You, more than anyone else in the world, deserve your own love and compassion.

    • You are right. In Husbands mind – he’s a good guy because he could have left without saying anything. He told me a list of things he could have done and I should be happy because he didn’t do any of those things. He even quoted the song “50 ways to leave your lover” He hadn’t moved out yet and I’m not sure if that was before the full truth of the affair came out – or after – but I distinctly remember feeling HATE towards him for the very first time – ever.

      Just a day or so before the OW flew into town beginning of this month – Husband sat in his favorite chair, a recliner he’s had for nearly eight years now, and said once again “I don’t know WHAT I want. I’m confused”. He took back a bunch of hurtful things he had said to me and about our relationship and said he really DID mean it when he said things like he loved me/wanted to stay together/he never wanted to leave/ start over anywhere or with anyone else, etc. That cycle has repeated itself a lot over these past six months.

      Thank you Lyn.You hit the nail on the head with: “In fact, he resented me for making him feel horrible about what he did.” Loads of truth in that there sentence. If we are anything less than 100% supportive and/or not giving them what they want, how and when, then we are “punishing” them. (In their minds)

  • “(He didn’t even get prescription refills! I’ll have to mail the refills to him!)”

    This one hit a nerve. Sounds like something my ex would do. My cheater would travel out of town for work and take exactly the number of pills he needed for the number of days he would be gone. If he had to stay longer than that, it was my job to chase down a pharmacy for him, get the prescription transferred and have it ready for him to pick up at his convenience. He LOVED that crap. Free kibbles for him!

    April, my favorite phrase when I was getting over my care-taking role was “not my job.” It was not my job to make sure he took his medication. It was not my job to be his mother or his babysitter any longer. It was not my job to hide the truth about his narcissism or his cheating.

    Heck, he even asked me what to tell people about why we were getting divorced. I honestly believe he thought we were going to come up with a public story about how we grew apart. I told him that I was telling people he was emotionally abusive and had an affair, but that might not work for him.

    • My stbx, in one of his compassionate moods, began rambling about how young we were when we got married, and that we never really developed our own personal identities. He told me “we grew up together, we’ve been through a lot together, and I’ll always love you and want the best for you”. I wanted to buy it, but realized that he was trying to control the narrative. He would really like for me to agree with his “we grew apart” version. Not gonna happen.

  • April, Chumplady is right: look how mighty you are! You’ve gone back to work full-time, you’re supporting yourself and your son (and doing it all alone since your stbx has fled to the opposite coast), you’re in therapy, your taking care of your health–these are all tremendously good things in your plus column. Do not downplay the fortitude it takes for you to manage this level of self-care.

    All you need is a little extra tweak to start letting his consequences befall him. Please let that nasty OW deal with his problems now. He sends you an email talking about his struggles? Forward to OW with the note, “I believe this was sent to me in error.” Think of it this way: if your employer fired you, would you continue to show up to work everyday just because you’re worried about the office being shorthanded? Heck no! It would be your employer’s loss, and it would be their job to figure out how to go on without you. Your stbx has fired you. Stop working for him.

    You can do it. Look at everything else you’ve done!

  • I am avoiding so much crap by reading this site. Thank you ChumpLady 🙂

    My pick me dance only lasted 6 days, I revel in no contact, even with almost daily visits from the stbxh to see our 2 kids, and 29 days after Dday, which is TODAY, I have a 130 meeting with an excellent lawyer. I hesitate to claim to have reached meh so soon after 19 years of marriage (2 nd affair-reconcile? What a miserable 3 years THAT was), and yet I am happy. I would venture to say if money wasn’t an issue, I would be perfectly content.

    I’ve redone the bedroom. I sleep perpendicular now lol. No one complains CONSTANTLY that he NEVER gets any sleep because I snore. I cook what I like for dinner, on my own schedule. No one yells, cries, walks on eggshells!

    Life can be very sweet for us chumps if we let it!

    • morndew247
      I applaud you! We’re on about the same time frame.
      I no longer walk on eggshells and I can’t wait to redecorate my room. (My STXH won’t leave the home)\
      And, yes, if money wasn’t an issue I would be perfectly content!
      Stay the course and join me on my voyage, I call it: “Journey of ME 2015, the trek to meh”

      • And a beautiful team we will make! Mine keeps threatening to move back in, but so far I’ve guilted him out of it (I also informed him he will NOT sleep well here. I promise.) Lol. He probably will at some point (shudder), but if it happens I will deal for a time…and do a lot of 2am vacuuming 🙂

      • I was no contact in my own home for a year. It was stressful, and yet simultaneously peaceful. He is gone now, screwing with the settlement but, what else would I expect? my new furniture for my bedroom arrived saturday…beautiful!

    • Way to Go! MornDew, AllOut, and SheC, you are all kick ass Chumps! Those early days, months, years are hard but you all recognize your worth! Oh, don’t wait for STBX to move, redo your room. Painting is so healing!

      • And so annoying, if you use a high-VOC paint and start work in the room he’s sleeping in at 6 a.m., and dribble a little paint on the new clothes he bought to impress OW.

        My thoughts exactly. Don’t wait.

  • April,

    To be blunt -you have way too many cooks in the kitchen. You have ONE thing wrong with you at this point. You are still emotionally attached to a man who is delightfully, glibly and effectively using you for what he needs and treating you like shit.

    The PTSD? The depression, the Neuropsychologist for your job stresses? A stinkweed by any other name would still be him. He’s the issue – not various and sundry “syndromes.” Somewhere deep inside, your psyche knows that you are essentially bending over and saying to him “Yes, may I please have another?” while he emotionally manipulates and maims you without a second thought. And your innermost psyche doesn’t like it – not one little bit. It has respect for you – even if you don’t on the surface.

    Affair fog? Chump Lady is correct – it’s not his problem – he is clearheaded as a bell. The fog is on you as you continue to diminish and debase yourself for him. Do you really think that he or the OW respect you for putting him on your insurance? For mollycoddling him? For FILLING HIS PRESCRIPTIONS???

    They are laughing at you, April – they are having a right old good bellylaugh at the Chump who they have dancing just as they want her to.

    Time to pull on your big girl panties, quit blaming your parents (or whomever the narcissists were who raised you) for your chumpiness (it’s deliberate action on your part- it’s not like you are in a trance, here) and follow the good path you began with the divorce filing. For your self, for your son and most of all for your own self respect. Quit trying to look like the “nice girl” and start being the strong woman who deserves more out of life than being shit on by a loser and his new Maine squeeze.

    You are paying way too much and leaning way too hard on a bunch of syndromes to excuse why you are deliberately being such an immense chump. Chuck the psychobabble. You don’t need a neuro-psychologist. Do your job, work hard and do it well. That’s all you need to feel good about it. Maybe keep one good therapist to tune the mental engine once in a while. But you don’t need a battery of therapy – you need to get a divorce, get great alimony and child care (it doesn’t matter if he’s working for less – the key in court is that you be able to live close to the standard you had before) -that’s all the therapy you need. Quit looking for new ways to be your husband’s biggest patsy.

    Good luck and GET ANGRY/STRONG!

    • So true. Char. My “A Ha Moment” was when I realized the cheater IS THE DAMN TRIGGER. Not a song, or a place, or the phone, or whatever. They just all linked back to him. We would just be eating dinner or something, and I would look at him, and just instantly hate him for the shit he did. You can’t be married to one, and get away from the thoughts the person evokes. That’s why reconciliation doesn’t work.

    • Char, love this bit of tough love. Chumps want the fairy tale but that frog is never going to be a prince!

    • Yeah, they’ve been laughing at me calling me the crazy wife for months. Maybe by now, I’ve been promoted to Crazy Bitch. Looking most forward to that random Tuesday down the road when I’m just ” Meh”. …. as CL states.

  • One of the things that helped me was the realization that XH just doesn’t care. Not about me, probably not about OW, not about anything. I don’t even know if he TRULY even cares for himSELF! So all those things I did all those years to pick up after him and make sure his life was posh, well, I doubt he even noticed. — It’s possible it was contrived and manipulated and all “cake” to him, but …

    Well, here’s an example. He gets a lot of parking tickets because he doesn’t manage time well. And then he forgets to pay them (ibid). (And I use the present tense here, because a year later I’m still getting his late notices in the mail from the parking ticket guys.) So when he would get a late notice, he would just call the company and charm whatever young hippie was there working the phones, or just pay them. But, here’s the thing, it NEVER occurred to him to just not get the ticket in the first place: set an alarm to feed the meter, park in a longer zone, etc.

    Same with your husband’s prescriptions. If they show, Oh, Hey! Great! and if not, well, darn, I wonder what ever happened to those prescriptions I was supposed to get? — There’s no connection between action (yours or his) and consequence. No accountability. — Explains a lot, right?

    For me, this perspective is preferable to the idea that XH intentionally designed his life to suckle off the teat of my generosity. It gives him too much credit for being intelligent and conniving. I think it was all more oblivious than that, which is also how he just stood up and walked out of my life without a backward glance. — To me, that’s much more insulting, that I meant nothing.

    Save your energies for reciprocating friends. — Oh, and believe me, it does get better. Hang in there.

    • (not “hippie” — stupid autocorrect — I LOVE hippies! Some young “chippie” is what I said, a condescending term for a young woman that my mother used to use. — Rock on, Hippies!)

      • It was speeding tickets for mine. It was all “the mean policemen’s fault”. I tried to tell him that if he wasn’t speeding “the mean policemen” couldn’t give him the tickets. Then I was mean for “taking the policemen’s side”.

    • “So all those things I did all those years to pick up after him and make sure his life was posh, well, I doubt he even noticed.”

      NWBiblio, I so relate to this! My ex traveled for work ALL the time, from the first summer we married when we were 20 and 21 years old. He was very driven and always focused on rising up the corporate ladder. My dad was much the same way, so I didn’t think it was unusual. Anyway, my ex was gone for weeks at a time when our kids were young. They both had asthma and I spent many nights rushing them to the ER, getting no sleep as I alternated breathing treatments all night. I tried to keep working too, although sometimes the kids were just too sick. It was important to me to contribute to our family’s income even though I didn’t make nearly as much as he did.

      When my ex was out of town I’d watch the calendar and count the days until he was home to help. Guess what he’d do when he got home? He’d decide he needed some time for relaxation after working so hard and he’d take off with friends for the weekend.

      I seriously daydreamed about the speech he’d give some day when he was retiring…I imagined him thanking his wife for making so many sacrifices for his career. Even after 31 years of this I believed he truly understood how difficult his long absences were and how hard it was on our relationship.

      His sudden abandonment after so many years is proof that he didn’t notice and didn’t care. That’s what’s so hard…that I sacrificed so much for someone over YEARS and he didn’t notice.

      Well, anyway, when mt ex was trying to low-ball the maintenance payments I got my nerve together and gave him a speech to explain my worth. I told him all the reasons he needed to support me. I explained how many sacrifices I’d made and told him he wouldn’t be where he was without my help. He actually said “Name a number” which sort of made me sick because it was so calculating.

      In the end he gave me a decent amount of maintenance “for life.” To this day I don’t know whether he did so out of guilt, or because our sons would have hurt him if he didn’t. Either way, I know I’ll never get the speech of gratitude. At least he put his money where his heart should have been.

      • Lyn, my heart twisted when I read that part about your daydream of the speech he’d give upon retirement. My ex always put in crazy hours at work. I remember going to a company function with my ex when we were much younger, and his boss came up to me specifically and said, “I know it’s hard on you; it will all be worth it some day.” Of course, that never panned out. Ex never acknowledged any of the sacrifices or support; I think he figured he was working just as hard on the job as I was managing every other aspect of our lives, so why should I get any credit?

        Anyway, I guess it’s easier for me to swallow that explanation than to believe that he never noticed. Either way…it’s sad.

        • Stronger, in the end my ex even said I didn’t support him enough. I remember thinking “If what I did wasn’t enough, then I give up.” I’m sorry to hear you were in the same boat. The hardest person to forgive myself for investing so much in him when I could have been investing in myself.

    • NWB, are we sure you weren’t dating Gollum? Lol. The parking tickets are his trademark. I also still receive these in my mail and many go on for so long that they’ve tripled in cost and been sent to a collections agency. Good grief, man. Just think it through for a moment before you park!

      Funny addition: he loathed so much that I acknowledged his unpaid tickets and bills by forwarding them to his address that he claimed to his lawyer that this was me “harassing him”. He claimed that I was trying to control every aspect of his new life without me and his time with our daughter because I worried that he might 1. Get his car booted when she was with him in the shady areas of the city where he visits or 2. Have his unpaid car repoed while she was with him. Legit concerns for a mother of a toddler, IMO. But did I harass him about it? Nope. Just pointed out the obvious consequences in writing on both the parking tickets and the car loan.

      So my not absorbing his mail was a calculated terroristic move made by me to gain what, exactly?

      Idiots, mostly. Their mainly ignorant.

      • Lol. How perfect that I’d misspell “they’re” in a sentence about ignorance. Forehead slap.

    • I’m so co-dependent I’m the one who OFFERED to pick his prescriptions up and mail them to him.

  • Hi April:

    Your letter sounds a lot like the letter that a couple of my colleagues might write, and a bit like a letter that my STBX Brother-In-Law might write. All of these people have FOO issues, and all of these people lack boundaries in allowing adults to take consequences for adult decisions.

    You cannot control your STBX. No one controls anyone other than themselves. Your STBX is an adult. Trying to manage his life for him takes away his agency and disrespects his ability to make his own choices.

    Your first boundary is this: live your life and let others live theirs. Note that you can’t control their lives. You control only you. At this point, the greatest kindness you can do is to Let. Go.

    Look, I get the desire to help out the Poor Sausage! I’ve been there. My STBX has a high-stress job. He has loads of FOO issues. I felt sorry for him and tried to reduce the stress of every day living. How did he repay me? By CHEATING!

    Fuck him.

    My kindness to him is to initiate a divorce. This is the first time he will have to face adult consequences for adult actions.

    • Kb, isn’t this

      “This is the first time he will have to face adult consequences for adult actions.”

      what sums it all up. My gift to you is your very own inevitable karma, sir.

  • The concept of codependency came up here in several posts. It has some validity and definitely perpetuates the patterns of dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships. It is unfortunate for some of us that have to crack the code of codependency and built enough self esteem to be able to establish the boundaries we need to set so desperately and it takes a lot of energy but we owe it to ourselves. I finally have realized there is nothing I can do to fix this mess of my relationship. My STBX has been having affairs as long as I know him and has been a selfish a-hole feeding of my „niceness“ or to give it a label, on my „codependency”. I remember the day vividly when I came to realization that my disordered fuck just doesn’t give a shit about me. It was a shock and all the excuses I had made for his behavior lost validity. It is still very raw but so much more authentic and with that insight I finally found a platform from where I could move on and away from the dysfunctional pattern in my relationship. April, If you need to keep him on your health insurance for 90 days longer, do so by any means, especially if it could have bigger financial problems later, as foolmet2wice had brought up, but don’t loose track of the big picture and keep marching forward, loud and boisterous.

    • Regarding health insurance and divorce
      If he was on your health insurance you must keep him on when you file for divorce. However, if he had his own health insurance through HIS job and quit to play fuck-me with his whore in Maine, I would not put him on your insurance. If you do this you will have to keep him on until the final order. Is he still confused or plotting? Hmmm. That 90 days may end up being a year or more. If he was NOT on your insurance and discarded you to downgrade to be with a whore those are HIS consequences. Let him take responsibility for his own actions. Do NOT put him on your insurance. Suggest he get COBRA through his previous position. If his health insurance was so important he should have kept it. Beware of men who discard and want you to keep giving. WTF

      • Very relevant, especially as STBX has downgraded to a lesser paying position (probably to avoid child support, maintenance, and an equal playing field).

  • April,
    I was released from caring about Loki the day that I realized that he does not care squat about me. He would leave me dead on the street! after years of genuine tender-love & care from me. Do not give your loyalty to someone who has no loyalty for you! When your chips are down, you learn who your true friends are. Life is too short for the rest, seriously.

    (My whole life, I have been motherly and kind. My life’s dream was to have & raise children. Loki stopped caring about the desires of my heart… unless it was to ‘bull’s-eye’ hurt me… so now, I am alone and I cannot even see my children or talk to them on the phone without narc repercussions. Can you believe I ever trusted that jackass?) Never trust the man who left you with PTSD. You really needed him… he does not care.

    • “Do not give your loyalty to someone who has no loyalty for you!” You are so very right. Thank you.

  • Chump April here….thank you for answering my letter. Oh my gosh…. So much to think about. You are so spot on – Rail Road Tracks and all!
    Since I am at work, I will log in and reply to what you wrote and what you lovely supportive people have written – when I get home this evening. Thank you so much.

  • The only way to help him with his confusion is to have no contact, ask for more than what you want, and communicate through lawyers. Suddenly, there will be clarity, name calling and threats.

  • April, as a former (hopefully) co-dependent, raised by a malignant narcissist and a covert malignant narcissist, I was trained well.

    Like one of the other posters, I started early to change the conditioning, (and believe me it IS conditioning….just like Pavlof’s dogs.) I went to counselling, and more importantly, I went to Alanon.

    One of the most important lessons I learned was that I needed to take my hands and eyes off him and put them on myself. It was an eye opener, that’s for sure. All those wonderful ladies (and a great guy or two), helped me learn good boundaries. It was NOT up to me to save cheater exs’ bacon. As an adult THAT WAS HIS JOB, NOT MINE.

    I know it’s tough to let go of the lies, especially the ones we have told ourselves, but it is necessary. I echo the notion that he does not love you. His actions prove it. Would you abandon someone you loved? Of course not. Yet that is just what he has done to you and your son. Worse he still expects you to cater to him after he dumped you and your boy. He has absolutely no regard for either your feelings or those of his son. Reality is….you or his child do not matter to him. His actions prove it.

    You and your son deserve better. The only person who can insure that….is you, Girlfriend. Anyone who says different is not your friend

    Time to get rightfully mad, and to use that energy to start taking care of yourself.

    You can do it.

    You deserve it.

    You GO girl!

  • Dear April,
    I can so relate to your situation. I, too, was conditioned by my family of origin to tolerate unacceptable behavior, love “unconditionally,” loan money, co-sign credit cards, set people up in “business,” provide health insurance, bail people out of messes they create for themselves, etc. “It is just what family does for family.” By comparison, my now X husband, aka El Jefe, was so much less work and so much “kinder” to me than my FOO, that for two decades I thought I had hit the “jackpot” of wonderful spouses!!!!!!!!!!! That is until he stunned me a few days after I had given birth to our second child with the announcement that he was leaving me. In fact, earlier that same day, I had taken out a cash loan on my personal credit card in the amount of $40,000 to cover some “business expenses” to which my husband professed.

    After getting hit with “the news,” I was in shock and desperate to preserve our little family and keep our marriage intact for our kids, I kept trying to do things to protect him — and us — from these crazy devastating choices he was suddenly making “out of the blue.” But everything I did to “help” him went unreciprocated and in fact only served to endanger the security and well being of myself and my children, whether potentially exposing myself to the “clap” or eroding our financial resources. But just because X had put an end to our relationship, my love for him didn’t instantly die. April, I personally know what an odd and disorienting feeling to be wandering around in the world still loving and caring for someone who has voluntarily disappeared from your life as you knew it.

    Through the loving guidance of a support group that I was attending at the time, I came to see my codependent ways. I came to see all my years during our marriage of spackling, covering, bolstering, helping, supporting, etc. I thought working hard at my corporate job to provide for our family’s daily bills so El Jefe could pursue his dream of having a professional practice was just what a loving, supportive spouse does. I was proud to provide health insurance for him and for our family in order to “take the pressure” off hubby so he could focus his “creative energy” on his business. When El Jefe’s business partners in his first practice “screwed him over” because they were upset (rightly so) about some secretive business deals El Jefe had cut them out of, I agreed to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of our assets and my own money to buy him out of his non-compete and set him up in yet another practice, this time completely solo. During my marriage I thought was being the good wife. I was determined to stand behind my man.

    The reality: my actions — just like the actions of his mother years before — protected him from the natural consequences of his own choices. I came to see that my continual “supporting,” “enabling” and “rescuing” was denying this person I loved of his dignity, the dignity to fully experience life on his own terms. I came to see that even though I still loved him, I could “let him go” in a spirit of love. By maintaining my own dignity (i.e. not enabling) I am treating him with the dignity that he so deserves. After all, when he left, he told me, “All these years, Delta, I’ve done what YOU wanted to do. Now I want to do what I want to do.”

    By granting him this dignity, and pulling back from him, and KEEPING THE FOCUS ON MYSELF, my own dignity, and caring for my children. I moved forward. I was always polite to El Jefe, operating on the “kind side of neutral.” But I did not enable him. I did not protect him from himself. After all, his greatest wish was to “do what I want to do.”

    That is fine, El Jefe. You go do what you want to do. I’ll do what I need to do for myself and my children.

    So, April, consider this. Letting your husband go in dignity is your final act of love. You are simply respecting his wish to start a new life, one without you and the children. You are giving him the dignity of living his life on his own terms. You are giving him the opportunity to learn and grow. If he is capable of learning and growing, then great! If he is not capable, then he and schmoopie get to live out the consequences of that. Either way, you and your children will no longer be held hostage to his “learning process.”

    Delaying the divorce for three months?????? APRIL. You denied your husband the dignity of starting his new life without having to rely on you. Plus you exposed yourself and your children to three more months of liability for him. WTF??????

    Let him go out of love, April. And I promise, once the divorce is done, you will begin to heal. That is great he has moved out of state. The less contact the better. Your love for him won’t just suddenly die Your need to “earn” approval and enable won’t die suddenly either. But, if you take the steps to heal yourself, I promise both will wither and eventually die. The hold on you will lessen. And you will be able to create a new life for yourself with new, healthy patterns. And your kids will know what a healthy adult looks like. If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for them! You are all they have by way of the one sane parent. Do you want them to grow up to be enablers too?????

    And I promise that one day, in the not too distant future, you will find yourself on Chump Lady.com writing a virtual bitch slap to some poor chump who can’t seem to stop enabling her STBX . . . . . . .

    Sending great big virtual hugs your way, April.

    All my best,
    MissDeltaGirl

    • April – Enough is Enough. Your STBX sees you as weak and easily manipulated.He is his stupid OW’s problem now. He’s a grown man and as delta girl said it’s time for him to deal with every single consequence of his actions. You owe him nothing. Be kind to yourself.

      THeir is such a thing as righteous anger. YOU have grounds for righteous anger – use it. Do not give him or his pathetic inability to take care of himself any more of your time or thoughts. Don’t allow your mind to think of all the what if I did this or that. Stop the toxic loop that goes on in your thought process that allows you to allow them to mistreat you for the sake of your trying to be kind. Be kind to yourself. Kindness is wasted on him and his loser OW.

      Please don’t let him walk all over you. Stop taking care of him. He doesn’t respect you. It’s his loss.
      God Bless. I hope you find peace. You need peace. And you are never going to have peace with that jack ass. I promise you it gets better. I’ve been where you have been. All of us have.

      Take care of yourself. DO something new and fun to take your mind off the asshole. Something that builds your confidence. Don’t stay home and wallow. I did this too. For years during marriage. Didn’t realize I was in depression. Force yourself to get out of the house!! You owe it to yourself and your son. You owe nothing to your STBX. Nothing!!

    • “…I personally know what an odd and disorienting feeling to be wandering around in the world still loving and caring for someone who has voluntarily disappeared from your life as you knew it.”

      So true. That is such an awful, horrible feeling. Living rthrough that phase was so difficult for me. So happy to be past that! (And for those of you still in that phase…it gets so much better once you get to the other side. Keep going, one step at a time!!)

  • When do you plan on stopping filling his prescriptions? If not now, when?

    I struggle with being too nice, also. But it’s hurting you on the inside, and it’s not helping him. despite what you think.

    • Very true. Brain science is absolutely fascinating, but we come to our personal decisions very uniquely. Cheaters do seem to share many character traits and it does seem as if they are missing good coping skills (even those successful will totally blow up some part of their lives). My ex is now missing out on being a part of our children’s lives–his choice though. House of Cards. Not worth any time untangling though. Why?!! Shit just happens, lol. That was the part I had no control over.

    • Also, the things we DO (or don’t do) can alter brain physiology. This isn’t a one way street of causation. Experiences, the choices we make (violin or percussion?) help determine how the brain re-wires itself. If narcs and cheaters have huge underdeveloped chunks of cortex, it could be because of how they are living.

  • April, I was you for over 20 years with a serial cheater. As Tracy said, your behavior has NOTHING to do with kindness. Like you, I used to confuse my codependency and pick-me dance with kindness. You know what I figured out after I went to individual counseling and divorced the asshole? Kindness starts with being truly kind to myself. That translates to extreme self-care and establishing healthy boundaries, and ensuring that people who harm me will never have the opportunity to harm me ever again. Your STBX is not at all confused. Far from it. He knows exactly what he is doing. And those moments that you think he’s confused? He’s only confused when he thinks he might “suffer” consequences. You asked how you can stop this “kindness flaw?” You stop doing it. He is using you because you are allowing him to use you. End of story. It doesn’t matter what you have done to win him back – what matters now is how you move forward. Divorce him and go no contact. Block his emails, calls and texts. He wants to communicate? Go through your lawyer. That’s why you have one and that’s why you have to pay those big bucks. Let your lawyer deal with someone who believes that you and your son are acceptable collateral damage to his “happiness.” You need to focus on you and distance yourself. Only then will you heal, learn to love yourself and surround yourself with people who truly care for you. It’s not an easy journey but you can do this. We are here for you.

  • I prescribe a health dose of anger.

    Also, just a reminder – get a good lawyer. Take advantage of the fact that your husband isn’t planning well.

    As for his meds, let his affair partner take care of it.

  • You cannot nice him into investing in a marriage that he has abandoned April – I tried that too and found that it lessened his already low respect for me and gave him a licence to walk all over me.
    These days I am mostly past strong emotion which is useful in getting a divorce accomplished. I am polite but treat it as business as that is what it has come to. He chose another life so its up to me to look after me now – being really good and showing him what he was missing did not influence him to consider my feelings in return. His affair fog was another name for my denial. You do not need to get angry but running around after him is just keeping you stuck and he will not appreciate your effort. Its you doing this to yourself.
    Please try to focus on your own needs and start up some self care and let this guy take charge of his own prescriptions!I
    I am now in the thick of financial settlement process and suddenly my ex is displaying some of the traits that I felt at separation. Fear and uncertainty. A need to know what is happening. A loss of control.
    Someone said to me a few years back ” Mary, for God sake grab the reins and get your head out of the sand”. It took me a while.

  • He didn’t prepare because he knew you would take care of everything for him. The Ex once told me he knew that I would take care of him forever, because that’s just what I do. I had to consciously stop myself every time I started to do something for him and tell myself not to do it. I would tell myself that if I really needed to help someone, that I could volunteer with a charity and help someone who deserved it The asshole ex did not deserve my care. It was a bad habit that I had to break.

  • How is doing favors for someone you know betrays you and harms you not just another form of a person cutting themselves? Seems to me it isn’t. Seems to me it’s self harm dressed up as service to others.

    Break the cycle. Go NC and work on yourself an why you think you deserve pain instead of love. Because whatever the answer to that question, it’s a lie. You don’t deserve this.

    (((April)))

  • “He didn’t even get prescription refills! I’ll have to mail the refills to him!”

    He’s a grown up who has made his own choices. Stop trying to control him.

    You can learn to attend to your needs instead.

  • April-I concur with CL and everyone else. Just go no contact with him. The exhole I used to reside with would send me texts and emails too until I told him I was done being used by him. I allowed him to use me for almost one month past our visit to divorce court and that month of liberation was all I needed to see what an entitled freak he was and always will be.. As soon as our divorce was final, I dropped him from my insurance too. I told him it was because my company wanted him off, but that was a total lie. I just didn’t want anything to do with him anymore.

    It’s been crickets ever since so I got lucky. I hear some of the true narcs will turn their rage meter up a tad when they are cut off from kibbles but I got lucky there too. The OW stepped back in after I stepped out and she provides the kibbles now, so that asshat is out of my life for good.

    No contact is the best ever and it helps you get to Meh so much quicker. I highly recommend it. He fired you from the job of caring about him anymore. He adds no value to your life so cut him out of it. The sooner, the better!

  • I have just received another text from ex at well after midnight UK time – its my own fault for not keeping contact to absolute minimum.
    He is anxious now that I have lawyered up big time and is trying to unsettle me with a little dig about the costs. What he really wants is the names of the actuaries that my lawyer recommends and will be discussing with his lawyer. I was foolish enough to say that I had looked at their websites and now he is chasing me for their names.
    He is going to have a say in it anyway so will find out but its kind of creepy the way he is suddenly in frequent contact when he used to field my calls and ignore texts.
    I guess he is used to running this show and the loss of power is getting to him. Well, I have no intentions of replying to him at this hour so let him stew!

      • Good question I feel the old co dependant tensions when in contact. I think I worry about his next sneaky move as he is like a rat when cornered.

    • Mary, you say, “He is going to have a say in it anyway..”

      He is going to have a say in YOUR choice of lawyers? Hell to the no. And he doesn’t need to know who they are. This is more manipulation; you don’t owe him an answer, and if he gets mad enough about not knowing, perhaps it will cause a coronary and save you lawyer costs. Win-win.

    • You owe no answer whatsoever to disordered fucktards. Stop giving him answers.
      In fact, if he calls, don’t answer at all. Its none of his fucking business.

  • JC – what a great series of articles: Please go to infidelityhelpgroup.com and read the 6-part series explaining what BS “affair fog” is.

    As I work through this long passage, I have now figured out that there WERE problems in our marriage. duh. I just overlooked them/accepted them/tolerated them for the good of the marriage. When they talk about Affair Fog, it is really nothing but them showing their true colors of who they always have been.
    Personally, I put up with 1) a lack of sex as a means of control, 2) a huge ego with superiority complex, and 3) and huge dose of self entitlement. And more.
    No fog about it.
    They were always this way and I see it now.
    There is no 1) MLC, 2) Wayward/fog/mental illness, 3) anything we did wrong

    Except, learning the why’s to me finally helps me on this journey. He was ALWAYS this way, but rather cleverly hidden.
    Now it’s time for me to work on why I put up with it for 35 yrs.

    No more, yes, master, yes, sir, yes yes yes. Fuck that.

  • Number 1 and 3. He made sure his wants and needs were always addressed, mine? Not so much, although I could do plenty all by myself. Which is a lot of us, looking back. I don’t regret giving. I just regret giving to somebody who could not and did not appreciate me.

  • No further advice for you, April, except to say I hope that you read these comments and take them to heart. I stand in awe of the combined brainpower, life experience, and wisdom of Chump Nation. If you were paying for this expertise, this is the equivalent of high-powered consultants whom most of us couldn’t afford. And it’s all yours for the taking.

    I think the one thing most of us have learned is that we are capable of being our own worst enemy. When my young adult children have taken it upon themselves to tell me how I messed up in the raising up of them, my stock reply was, “It might be my fault if you’re this way, but it’s your fault if you choose to stay this way.”

    Okay. That’s where you are with this. You’ve gotten enough advice and wisdom here to fix what’s still broken in this relationship. By tomorrow, your life could be changed forever, for the better. What are you going to do with your one precious life?

  • Hey April… I dont think u have a kindness flaw. I think u are just on autopilot. Your life with him was a pattern that u depended on and it made sense. You did the laundry on tuesday nites and folded his socks over this way. Trash day on thursday. Groceries on saturday. You walk thru these steps in your life because they are what u know… And u feel safe there. Then Bozo pulls the rug out… when the world rights itself … U go back to folding his socks. U go for what is familiar and safe. Then one day u are standing neck deep in socks and u say’ fuck it I aint folding these fucking socks’ and you regain u.
    Its scary and there are no guarantees that its all gonna turn out well for u. But its better than the alternative… Trust us. Until u have that fuck it moment u will be paralyzed in yr kindness. Dont lose the kindness. Just redirect it at yourself. Treat yrself kindly. When u realize that u have worth… U wont be folding fucking loser ass’s socks.

    • TheClip, very awesome post! I am smiling and shaking my head up and down in complete agreement! Loved how you put it in that practical/comfortable thing we used to do.

  • My dearest April,

    You do not have a kindness flaw…it’s a virtue! A virtue that you are wasting on someone that does not care about you or your son.

    Until I found CL and the wonderful people here, I was you-times a bagazillion! I fixed everything, solved the issue before it became an issue, etc. I spent 7 years after my first dday trying my damnest to be a better wife, mother to our three girls, lover, supporter, whatever have you, only be chumped again!!! Second dday happened. I don’t remember much other than the vomiting. Those were some horrible three months!

    Then I found CL. I read, read and reread. CL said to get angry. I got angry! CL said to let the anger fuel me. The anger fueled me! Seriously, I couldn’t wait to wake up each morning. I anxiously awaited for the business day to start to see how I can rid him of my life. I made a plan, stuck to it and filed for divorce. It took me almost two years to get out but I was determined! Health insurance paperwork to remove him – filled out, printed, signed and pre-dated for when divorce would be granted (61 days after filing). Same for house, car, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, that had legal ties to it. Separated finances almost immediately, notified neighbors he no longer lived with us (he was mortified). Oh well!!! Drop him like a fly, see him squirm at the slightest bind he gets in. It’s comical once you see this from the other side.

    I filed for divorce on what would of been our 16th wedding anniversary after being together for 20 years. Divorced for one year and my life is mine. Funny how I have time for myself now.

    There was nothing wrong with me (OR YOU, I can assure you that!) I had no FLAWS!!!! None!!! I only had virtues! A lot of them, might I add.

    Once you go no contact, you will begin to see yourself for the beautiful, smart, loving caring person that you are.
    The only thing to do now is to live an honest and authentic life.

    Hang in there and begin no contact ~yesterday~.

    • TodoVa, I agree. Kindness is a virtue. And it’s one we Chumps seem to have in abundance. It is when you direct it at undeserving others that it becomes unhealthy. I have to agree with giving yourself a license to feeling anger too… I had to as it was such an important part of grieving, and healing, and it did move me righteously forward. So much of the legal process is scary, especially under these circumstances…it is so adversarial and with a Narc it’s ten times worse. It is a challenge to deal with splitting assets (and dissipation), and support when only one of you is engaged in “fair.” My ex didn’t want custody of our children, they were in their last years of high school and into their first years of college at the time, and he “was [apparently!] at a different point in his life” than I was in mine. Kindness? Ex did not have any at all.

      • Yes Drew, they are all so much more “evolved” than the rest of us (in their own mind only).

  • Anxiety and trouble accurately remembering the past, rewriting history, is a result of lying continuously year after year. It’s hard to remember which lie you told to which person. Living multiple lives. Keeping track of the persona you use for each person in order to keep manipulating them… it’s not mental illness, it’s image management. If he can keep you believing that he’s ‘sick’ than he has an escape plan in case things don’t work out in this new play life. He’ll just come home to ‘mommy’ and you’ll make it all better.
    Don’t fall for it.
    He seemed to be perfectly capable of manipulating some OW to come across country and move him. Perfectly capable of walking out on you. Obviously doesn’t need the meds that bad if he couldn’t take care of it himself. He’s not your child.

    • You are not the first person to say this about the lying!!! With all that I know about him and the different versions of events, his history, etc. – it is crazy-making for me to try to follow it all. I am aware of some of the false story he has given the OW. He’s behaving like the Fraudsters he most despises.

  • I’m working my way through responding to the wise words of wisdom and encouragement. It’s late and now I’m tired and need to get to bed but will write more responses after work tomorrow. Thank you, Chump Lady and friends.

    The somecard meme is perfect, by the way. If I treated him like he treated me – holy crap !

  • Kindness is not a flaw – its a beautiful thing. Do NOT waste it on a fuckwit. And continuing on the path to appease him is wasting it on a fuckwit.
    Let the man-child go. You’re wasting valuable mental (and physical) real estate on someone who isn’t worth it – mental real estate which you could spend on yourself.

  • This is SO where I was in the first months, and I Thank God I found CL and CN because I was convinced it was my responsibility to make sure he was OK from the damage HE caused. I love my life now and although I occasionally feel lonely for the first time in my life I am making informed and healthy decisions that put me first. Hang in there, and my big ongoing health problems? Well they slowly disappeared the longer no contact stayed in effect. Love to you.

  • Hi April, tell me you didn’t mail those scripts to him…I’m pretty sure he’s capable of managing his own medications. After all he’s managed to walk away from you. Take one small step and the next one gets easier. Each time you put yourself first, each time you set a boundary you get stronger. It takes a while to overcome years of conditioning. I was not/am not codependent but the shit my ex manipulated me into over years definitely shows this kind of behavior can be learned when you live with a lying asshole long enough. In the beginning it’s a two quo reciprocal relationship, then ever so slowly the reciprocity ebbs, it ends and you don’t realize it. Until you do. Now you do.

    I don’t know what type of therapy you do, I will suggest you look into EMDR for your PTSD issues. I was hopelessly stuck for a long time until EMDR was recommended to me. In a year I was able to process so much and felt so much better! I am not completely “over it” as they say but I am in a much better place.

    Jedi Hugs!

    • Datdamwuf, I don’t think we ever “get over” the complete betrayal so many of us experienced. Like yours, my ex was loving for a great many years, until he wasn’t. There were signs of his poor character though even when we were dating but he was Sparkly, and aloof, well liked by our group of friends, and I just kept hoping he would choose to do what was right. Nope, every time he had to choose, he placed himself first. First above our marriage and then our family. I believe both people in a partnership should respect and support one another. With my ex he subtly maneuvered our life together to revolve around him. When I got a job or pursued school it was all I could do to carve out time for myself and then the kids grew up and started becoming their own selves…. I don’t believe my ex is capable of loving someone else, he will always be acting. It is all about impression management. When he was young he tripped over those 800 numbers, phone sex, and then on a dare went to the local whorehouse. He was young but it was definitely one of my first red flags. If you respect women you just don’t do this. I think sketchy decisions define you, those decisions you make on how you treat others every day. I just should have seen it sooner.

  • This weekend I’ll log in and write more responses. I’ve read what everyone has written- finally and thank you all SO MUCH for sharing your stories as well as wisdom, encouragement, butt kicking and kindness. I need to get to bed for I have another long day tomorrow. Working full time takes a lot out of me.

    I want to clarify (As I’ve written in some above comments) that I am SOOOO Co-dependent that

    1) I OFFERED to put Cheating Husband on my Health Insurance. He didn’t ask me to. He said he didn’t have any plan to get a plan and couldn’t afford COBRA.

    He will be on my plan starting next month. I know – many of you will tell me I’m crazy for doing that. I’m not doing it to be nice or to somehow control his behavior. My doctor and I spoke at length today about what of my behavior was co-dependent and what was not. We went through all the reasons I chose to cover Cheating Husband. After we walked through it all – at the end- my doctor said he didn’t believe covering Cheater Husband was Co-Dependent behavior. The boundary will be me taking him off my insurance once his insurance kicks in.

    2) Another Boundary violation on my part – I’m the one who ASKED Cheater Husband about his prescriptions. I suggested he call his doctor to get a 90 day supply before his insurance runs out and he thought it was a good idea. And it was at that time he said he was almost out of one of his prescriptions so he was going to call it in. I was dumbfounded that he didn’t plan AT ALL. Who moves to the other side of the country without asking their doctor to call in refills prior to leaving so that they have 2-3 months worth? And I’m so co-dependent that I offered to pick them up and mail them – and it doesn’t bother me to do it. What the FUCKS wrong with me ? It must be ingrained deep that he’s MY husband and therefore my responsibility still…somehow. I hope to change this pattern by the time the divorce is final.

    Our divorce should have been final a month ago. I know – it’s my fault it’s going to be three more months before it’s final.Please try to understand where I’m coming from. After what I’ve been through these past 3.6 years dealing with first hospitalization for Severe PTSD and Major Depression then a lengthy and intense healing process – I recognize the symptoms Cheater Husband is displaying. He’s had some complex medical issues all this year so far. I just don’t want him to be without the resources to take care of himself. I want my son to have his father on this planet as long as possible. I hope Cheater Husband gets medical care and treatment if and when he needs it.

    Every single one of you is correct when you say it’s not my problem to solve or responsibility to take care of Cheater Husband. Co-Dependency IS my problem. Lack of healthy boundaries…….caring a lto more than I should and losing myself, and my energy, in the process.

    • Stop blaming things on labels. Nothing will change until you grab those woman-balls of yours and get medieval on his arse.
      1. You make your boundaries on what someone else says (ie. your doctor)? That shit needs to stop. And now. Your cheater is that – a cheater. Fuck what he thinks, says or does – its his problem to do everything in his day to day life. Not yours. Of course he will be grateful if you pick up the slack – it means he doesn’t have to do stuff. And he’ll delay getting his own insurance as long as he can, because he knows damn well you’ll pick up the slack. Cake eating at its finest. Lets fast forward 5 years and see him still on your insurance, shall we?
      2. Cut out the ‘woe is me I’m so damn codependent therefore I can’t help what I’m doing’ crap. Cue the first line I wrote in the post. Mental illness, PTSD, none of this is an excuse for the ‘poor sausage’ routine.
      3. Once again, fuck him. He obviously doesn’t give a fuck about anything including his personal health – thats on him.
      I’m hitting you with the clue-by-4 because the last thing I want is this fuckwit further ruining your life. And thats what he intends to do – be it with the poor sausage routine or otherwise. He’s not a fucking timid forest creature!! (Theres a post by CL about this – somewhere – I don’t know the exact link)

    • I’m sorry, let me understand this: You and your therapist discussed it in great detail and you decided that putting your cheating betraying abandoning husband on your insurance out of the goodness of your heart wasn’t co-dependent behavior? If I were you, I’d get a new therapist.

      Cancel that bastard off before it even begins – if he’s unhealthy let his new girlfriend take care of him!!!

  • When my ex and I were beginning mediation, it had just snowed. Now my ex doesn’t drive because of a genetic visual condition, so I drove us all the time. I felt like I should offer him a ride to the mediation because of the weather. I asked my therapist, and she said something wise: “That’s something you would do for your friends. He is not your friend.”

    Be good to your friends. Your cheating ex-spouse is not your friend!

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