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Dear Chump Lady, When does the pain go away?

deserveDear Chump Lady,

My question for you and perhaps more so, Chump Nation, is when, how long does it take before the pain goes away? How many days, months, years does it take until you wake up and go a day, few days, weeks without thinking about him?
What are the experiences of your readers?

I came back from a business trip to a bombshell, my husband wanted to seperate. While I was away, we spoke every day and emailed, said I love you to each other every day I was away. It was classic, “I don’t love you in that way, you are too controlling, I feel constrained, I want friends, freedom”, etc. I asked if there was someone else and of course, he said no. He left without warning and very little discussion with no desire to save the marriage. You hear these stories about women who say that they didn’t know, it hit them blindsided and think how can that be? I am here to tell you, that it happens. We were preparing for retirement, doing home renovations and I thought very much in love.

I spent a week crawled up in a fetal position, not eating and decided to go and see him with heart in hand, willing to go to counseling, do whatever to save the marriage, which of course met with rejection. I finally got it out of him a week after he left that he was in love and having an affair with his secretary, interestingly enough someone older than both of us. He slept with her in our bed while I was away and God only knows how many other times. He moved her into our properties and locked me out almost immediately and they now live as if they are husband and wife. His family, whom I was very close to, dropped me like a hot potato, as if I never existed. After 14 years.

I have a serious illness, have been in the hospital twice since this has occurred. Have lost more than 20 pounds and I was reasonably thin to begin with. I have done all of the right things, after pouring my heart out in 1 email, stopped all contact, hired a great attorney, reached out to friends and my family, throwing myself into my career, etc.

I still wake up every day with a huge pain in my heart, think about him way too much during the day and am still very hurt and sad. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want this guy back, ever. I could never trust or believe him again. That is not this issue. I lost a parent a few years back. I was devastated. For some time, I thought of my parent every day, still cried often and was very sad. Over time, hours would go by when I wouldn’t think about it, then a day, days, etc. I am anxious to get the same emotional relief in this situation, but it hasn’t come. So when does it come? How long and what have been your readers experiences?

Signed,

Hopeful

Dear Hopeful,

I get asked this question a lot — when will the pain stop? The answer I always give is “Tuesday.” I don’t know which Tuesday, I just know that your Tuesday is out there waiting.

Hopeful, the pain IS finite. I swear to God there’s going to come a day when your heart and head catch up with each other and you realize with every molecule of your being what a total asswipe he is. No one misses an asswipe. Your head is really winning on this one — you got a good lawyer, you reached out to friends, threw yourself into your career. Your head is mighty.

Heart, however, is a dumb bunny. Heart’s all “I miss his crusty chest hair and those kissy face emojis he used to text me!” Head’s like “HE ABANDONED YOU. SHUT UP!” Heart’s like, “No one will ever love me again!” Head replies, “Plenty of people love you, and many others could. He, however, NEVER loved you. People who love you don’t suddenly discard you, especially when you’re sick. People who love you don’t fuck their secretary.” Heart wails, “HE NEVER LOVED ME!!!!” and then collapses in a puddle of tears and snot.

And so the battle goes on…

Eventually Head wins, so long as Heart doesn’t get drunk on Hopium, break no contact, and start the grieving process all over again.

So that’s the first bit of advice — your healing is really tied to no contact. Starve the heart of its love object and try distracting it with other things it likes. Good friends, puppies, hollyhocks. I’m not being flippant here — seriously do a bait and switch on the ol’ heart. Think of your heart as a toddler having a meltdown because they lost their teddy bear. You’re handing the toddler different toys in an effect to soothe. “Binky the blanket? Smedley the mouse?” The toddler will wail and kick, but eventually pick up another toy to snuggle. Because, hey, you gotta have someone to love.

Feed your heart. Hand it other things to love. Yes, at first those things won’t be as satisfying as the Fuckwit, but over time they will be. You’re grieving, you will have a hard time experiencing joy at first, but still keep feeding your heart. It WILL come around. Fill your life with friends and new adventures, and meaningful work.

Next, really listen to your head. Your head knows. Sometimes the head can get over zealous untangling the skein of fuckupdness — why did he DO this, what does it all mean? Him! Him! Him! I think some skein untangling is a necessary part of the grieving process — learn about personality disorders and narcissists. Accept that normal people don’t just walk out on their sick wives. Accept that some people just have empty elevator shafts where their souls should be. Then MOVE ON.

These people exist. It’s a shock, but once you accept that monsters walk among us, you will heal. Albeit with better monster radar.

Don’t get stuck in the eternal loop of “Is he a monster or just misunderstood? Maybe his mother didn’t love him properly and he’s having a midlife crisis/sex addiction/bad coping mechanism/skin rash/brain tumor/spiritual awakening.”

He’s a monster. In a day he swapped you out for his secretary and literally locked the doors. While you were sick. Monster. No further analysis required.

Be kind to yourself, Hopeful. Getting past this kind of betrayal hurts like a motherfucker and acceptance (Meh) is the end point after a long journey. But you WILL get there. We did, and you will too. (((Hugs)))

 

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  • Yes hopeful they are monsters. At least yours left without destroying you financially. I am at $350000 at this point. They are ALWAYS already cheating because they aren’t capable of being alone… he is particularly monstrous in locking you out of your house..that will help you in court though. There is no set time to heal from the pain..love yourself like chump lady says. I find meditation helpful when I’m ruminating about him..it does get better. My Tuesday has not come yet but I feel I will get there much sooner once we have a separation agreement and I can start making plans for where I will live.. hang in there it will come

    • OMG! My monster only left me about $50,000 in debt. 20 months of promises. The 1st 10 months we were financially sound but his mental state was not. Simple differences of opinion (like me saying “need a tissue” and him hearing “eat a tissue” ended up in world war 3 with his threats of leaving and accusations of my lying. No reason, so listening, no rationale. When it was good it was great but the next 10 months his job went down the toilet and it was business failure after failure. I never complained, I stood by his side & tried to keep his “chin up”. He was working hard but nothing was happening. I paid for housing, food, cell phone, insurance etc etc.
      Well, I felt the pulling away, he made strange comments like “I feel invisible” I was so confused because he got every ounce of my attention. I lost my family & friends they hated him. I kept dreaming of all the good times & pushed the bad ones out of my head but they kept happening.
      July 22 I went on a 2 day business trip. He called 1 hour after I felt & said he was heading to the city for a men’s weekend. With what? I asked. The $25.00 I left you as spending money – It turned into again another war- He stopped talking to me within a few hours.One of the men called looking for him & his version of what was happening that weekend was very different. Who is lying & why> He would not speak with me – texts got ugly & in 2 days he was gone. I would not allow him back in the house to gather his things before he left so he went with just a change of pants & underwear. How? With what money? where did he go? An x gave him $3,500 in exchange for the promise of giving him $35,000 of what he owed me. She was thrilled to do that to me.
      After 2 weeks of horrifying, degrading, insulting e-mails, he turned everything around as if it was my fault. Accusing me of such terrible things and literally believing them. Nothing I could say would change his opinion & he spread lies to everyone!!! Suddenly, the hurtful messages turned to those of realizing he missed me, loved me & wanting to fix the “mess”. So stupid me send him an airline ticket to come home. He stayed 2 days, did not want to talk about anything regarding the “mess” and then announced things were not working. We fought then he got on his knee & professed his love for me & that this was not a breakup but just a break. He would be back next week for me & we would be together forever. he packed his car, kissed me goodbye & left for the west coast. Within 1 day the message turned again. I pulled my cell phone bill, which I was paying & there were about 30 calls to the same #. I called it & Voice mail gave a name – I googled it got onto facebook with this woman & saw 4 pictures of the two of them together that very day. He had it all planned He had her all lined up. He had chosen his next victim and went straight to her arms. The signs were all there but I ignored them. He had 4 children at the ripe old age of 44 with 4 women – owed over 1M in child support. No taxes paid for 10 years, lived all over the world – running from one disaster after another. Just always running.
      Oh, there is so much more but here I am one month after that infamous business trip I took. I can’t seem to focus on all the insanity of his outbursts. The constant reminding me of all his x girlfriend (He thought that was a positive it was certainly a negative) The 450 text messages degrading me & accusing me of things that are so farfetched that you begin to feel insane. I wake up missing his arms around me, reaching for my hand, the sound of his voice. He opened the car door for me always, when he had money brought me flowers, jewelry, designer bags. He told me to give him pics of engagement rings that I liked, sent me listings of homes for the 2 of us.
      All lies, all deceit, all from a master con artist who preyed on other women his whole life & actually told me about it & i do not know what was in my head – I am an intelligent woman with 3 business (not rich but at least I can support myself) I raised 2 wonderful boys- had a 20 year marriage which left me a widow – I cannot believe what I got into – I can’t believe I truly loved him, stood by his side, not lost my commitment to him. I cannot believe that for the last month I have actually tried to get him back with total rejection and continuous insults. What is wrong with me???? How do I get over him?

      • In love with love – you go NO Contact. You are a smart woman. You don’t need this con artist to take up any more space in your head. Yes, it hurts, but it’s not impossible. Look back at your three businesses, how scary it was to start them and all the hard work you put into getting them going. Try looking @ this as a business. He’s a liar, a cheat and has shown you he’s not responsible or reliable.

        Fire him.

        Sending lots of hugs and support your way.

  • Wow CL!!! Fantastic post! Thank you for this. Much needed today! “Empty elevator shaft…” still a favourite.

    Hopeful, I had a stone cold abandonment cheater too. Left without warning. Please pick up the book Runaway Husbands. And CL’s of course. Hang in there. I was 15 years with my cheater and reached MEH in 3. That was with contact because we have a daughter. You CAN do it!

    • Runaway Husbands is great SOSG. Chump Lady’s book is great too. I too had stone cold abandonment. 20 years together, 17 years married, two children, packed up the house while I was at work and just left without even a glance over his shoulder. Totally blindsided with no idea. I reached MEH in about 3 years too. Took a good 18 months to start to feel normal and for the pain to start to ease and then gradually happiness came back. I very very rarely even think about him any more and there is no feeling whatsoever attached to any thoughts any more. I could not care less what he is doing. It has taken over 5 years to get to this place. No contact is absolutely essential which because he has chosen to have very limited contact with the kids has been easy. Big hugs Hopeful. You will get there on a Tuesday xx

      • My x husband packed and left while I was at work too. After 24 years together I didnt deserve a conversation? The teenage kids went to school that morning thinking all is right with the world. Then come home to a half empty house. I had to tell them their dad left without even leaving a note!

        • They are all the same Abandoned! No conversations, no fighting, no anything. My kids went to school that day too thinking all was good with the world. I found him at the OWs house a week later. He still to this day denies anything was going on and that they only got together a week after he left…. somehow I don’t believe that!! Why leave a loving wife and two amazing kids for no reason!

          • They are cowards as well as liars. It’s so terribly ugly, all of it. — I was just thinking the other day (two years divorced) how he also expected me to believe his abrupt decision to leave had nothing to do with OW, how he just SUDDENLY started dating her within a week of Dday, a woman he’d worked with for over a year. Hmmmm, coincidence? I don’t THINK so.

            • I think all cheaters are fucked up mentally, but these people who pack up and leave their wife while she’s at work?!! I don’t think they are even people. They are alien pods, like Kar Marie says. And the ones with children? They would have to move up a couple of steps to be classified as alien pods. I just don’t think there is much more, other than rape or murder, that can be more fucked up than deserting your own children for no reason, without warning. There is no man in the damn universe that could cause me to desert my child. Or even all men in the universe. It’s just something normal people do not do. It takes a stone cold sociopath.

          • My STBX was away for the weekends doing his ‘hobby’ (coworker) for months, coming home less and less while telling me everything was fine – he was just working long hours and then had to do his hobby (coworker) to unwind. He did say he wanted a separation 2 months before he left, and said we’d talk about it – but he never talked about it. No – no conversations, no fighting. Except to threaten me when I did try to initiate conversation. Yes, they are cowards and liars. And oh, yeah, the family turning cold on you, too. And after saying how great you are for him, giving beautiful holiday cards to me over the last 15 years. Then I see STBX Instagram where he’s going somewhere with coworker he moved in with. MIL comments, “Have a good time.” Really? You tell your son who is married to go have a good time with his girlfriend after he blew up a family and his daughter – your granddaughter – is an emotional wreck.
            So what? Go have a good time! The poor victim needs to get away.
            Ugh.
            And he says he hasn’t been with OW as long as I think. She ‘helped’ him when he left us. Ummmm the pictures of OW in her underwear in your e-mail a year ago, and calls every weekend to the hotel . . . . . Rigggggght. Looking back in hindsight – oh, man… the lies. The lies are constant. Honesty is impossible for them. What OW has no clue about is – all the lies he gives me – he’s lying to her, too. But she thinks she’s special. No, that’s who he is. He dumped a family stone cold. The OW can’t put two and two together – he is capable of doing that to her, too. Doesn’t she think “we” were “in love” at one point?

        • I can totally relate, sadly. There is a great book called “Runaway Husbands” by Vikki Stark that I highly recommend for those of us in this situation. Not as hilarious as Chump Lady, but very down to earth and helpful.

        • I was married 33 years and came home to a 3 page letter telling me he had to find himself and happiness. They are all lying, cheating cowards. I call them LCC for short. He had been having an affair with his secretary for a long time, this is the same woman I asked 15 years earlier what was going on. Double life is what a lot of people tell me. They go to work and enjoy, then come home to a loving family. They can’t leave you until they know they have someone else to go to, because they are so afraid and are cowards of being alone. They don’t care one bit if you are alone. I thought I would never want another relationship but it has been 2 1/2 years, he is still with the same woman. I am learning to move on and enjoy life. I am dating a nice man but taking it slow and being very observant this time. He also was cheated on. I have several close friends that have come into my life since he has been gone. I may have lost a husband but I have gain wonderful friends. Hang in there light IS at the end of the tunnel even if you cant see if now.

  • Oh how my heart goes out to you! I totally understand and empathise with you.
    My husband of 15 years has just done something very similar to me whilst I’m going through breast cancer treatment – his words “there’s never a good time so it might as well be now”!
    I have 1 breast, am the wrong side of 40, have 2 boys age 13 and 11 and I hope they will never ever treat a woman this way or grow up to be a narcissist like him.
    I have an interesting story to tell and will hopefully share it with you here one day but at the moment it’s baby steps… one day at a time and being strong for my health and for my children.

    • Charlie, I am so sorry. But your husband is an asswipe, ‘and nobody misses an asswipe’.

      Hey, there is no ‘wrong side’ of 40 – I am nearly 50 and life is great up here, but it wasn’t always.

      It can get better. It really can. Chumplady is right.

      • While I’m sure there are a bunch of a’holes out there, there are plenty of attractive guys who would rather have a woman on the greater side of 40.

        I think the key is to focus on making your life what you want it to be. Now you are free from a selfish narc, you are in control. I know the saying “be the best you you can be” is trite, but a woman (or dude) who is dedicated to improvement, to designing a life is an attractive woman (or dude).

        Plus, a guy would rather have a woman with one breast that treats him well and “shares” with him in the bedroom, than a woman with two breasts that treats him like crap and neglects him sexually/emotionally.

  • While I can’t guess at your eventual timeframe for Meh, I can share one woman’s experience of grief.

    I find that the pain stays deep for a long time, but as the loss sinks in (which will only happen with consistent minimal contact and a total lack of investigative research), the periods of time where the pain is intense gradually get shorter and the periods of time between the intense waves gradually get longer.

    I also find that taking specific time to grieve deeply helps me manage the rest of the time. I know it sounds corny and even impossible, but I set a timer – 15 minutes to wail and wallow and feel crappy, then a face wash and a distraction for at least 15 minutes. It helps me deal with the fear that it’s bottomless and endless, which it isn’t, even though it feels that way.

    That is general grief coping stuff in my world. Specific to the end of the relationship with the cheating ex, the thing I most wish I would have believed when people told me is how much truth will trickle out over time. From his secret online journal of bald faced lies, to people finally sharing what they really thought, or knew, to evidence slowly falling into place, to people telling me things about themselves or others about infidelity that were shocking, I just kept getting new punches in the face that set me back because I wasn’t ready to hear them. Get ready for that probable scenario and steel yourself so each incident doesn’t knock you all the way back to square one again.

    And, keep coming here so we can support you and help you feel normal and important and worthy and sane. Hope helps. A lot. 🙂

    • Great advice above.
      My additions and points that I agree on:
      1. No contact (including social media and common friends) is essential and must be practiced every day until perfect.
      Don’t beat yourself up when you slip; just start again.
      2. Tuesday is definitely out there.
      3. You are on no ones timetable except your own.
      4. You will never understand why. The only way to live with it is just accepting that it really did happen.
      5. Give up hoping that you will ever know the full truth and try to come to peace with that.
      6. You may never stop loving the spouse you thought you had. That is beyond painful. But, you will be able to stop loving and caring about the spouse they really are. When? That Tuesday again but it will happen.
      7. You and your history will never be the same but you will move forward and be comforted that you were committed, you were honest and you were loving. Brake that same person and go be mighty!
      8. One day you will find peace with it all.
      9. Right now, put everything you have into getting the best settlement you can. That is one thing you will never regret!

      Good luck. We are always here and we understand.

      • Wonderful list and thanks so much for writing this: “You may never stop loving the spouse you thought you had.”

        I’m moving on (or as I like to call it, napalming the bridges behind me). The divorce is getting close to the end. I’m moving out of the home we shared and into one that’s only mine. I’m giving dating a shot. But the grief for what I thought I had is intense. I’m sadder than I’ve been in a long time and part of that is feeling again how much I loved him … except the him that I loved never existed. Maybe I will always love that figment of my imagination. But I hope it won’t be as all-consuming as it was … and still is sometimes at fifteen months out.

        • I’m 15 months from abandonment and feel the same way. Divorce is marching to the end as well. I’ve had some really special, happy, cheater-free times this summer … But not yet at meh. Intense feelings of sadness and grieving this week.

        • I found that I re-experienced a certain level of trauma after the completion of each step. What I thought I would feel was delayed. For example the divorce becoming final. I thought that I would want to tap dance in the street. Instead I felt alone and sad. I actually had to sit and reflect on what I was feeling and why. The tap dancing came over the next couple of days as the other feelings loosened their hold.

          I’m saying this because you may anticipate moving into your own place and feel gleeful at the prospect, just be aware that as you close the door on each step of the process, at least for me, there were feeling I did not anticipate. I just let them in and experienced them with the understanding that this was part of it and I would put them aside when it was time. It may not be that you’re sadder because you’re feeling again that you loved him, but that you are going through a series of steps and each one causes grief.

        • I’m 5 yrs out. The pain is still there but it’s very different.
          I’ve changed so much from my husband affair that I’m no where near the person I was the day up to finding out. I miss the person I was very much, and as I’m much much better than I was, I still am not happy w where I am.

          I was 58 when the affair took place, I’m 62 now, had a long term in what I thought a pretty good marriage, never worked & was a sahm. We are separated, and since, he has done everything humanly possible to get the marriage back. The problem is… He’s not the man I married.

      • Great post! This is all very true.
        ‘You will move forward and be comforted..’ Yes, I believe forward movement happens for all of us, we just go along for the ride at first, when we’re in shock, and then the light slowly comes back. One of the positive things that comes from being alone- you can do whatever you want or need to, and on your own timeline! Since we are the sane ones, life gets better.

      • These two posts above are spot on. SO spot on. I just have to add that after taking one tiny baby step at a time and climbing back from the lowest place I have ever been in my life, I have found new love when it was completely and utterly unexpected. I am a 51 year old lesbian living in a country town and thought I had .00001% chance of meeting anyone special here, but it has happened. Good things happen to people with good hearts. And best of all, I now realise what a healthy relationship looks like! My god, I spent so many years in a toxic one and had no idea what good love is like. Keep believing, keep walking down that road and you will get to Tuesday. Promise.

    • CL – GREAT post and great reminder! Even after ~ 2 years since DDay, I still needed this today. You often say “this kind of betrayal hurts like a motherfucker”, where my version of that is “the rejection is CRUSHING”. That’s exactly how I felt for so long, rejected and crushed. I was mighty, I did all the right things yet my heart took a long time to catch up. But it did! I knew I was flirting with meh when I stopped being happy when bad things happened to XH (didn’t get a promotion, credit card rejected at a restaurant, etc.). The day I told the kids that they really didn’t need to report back to me every detail of their time with him, I knew it was possible to survive. But as Amiisfree points out above, there are still small aftershocks now and again. I feel that hot rush of emotion flash over for a second, but it dissipates much faster now. (Coworker told me he saw on FB that XH took his girlfriend to a place I had always said I wanted to go. XH got a part time job at a place I like so now I don’t want to go there anymore.) But these little aftershocks help us heal. Each one is something that can’t hurt us anymore. The biggest one for me was when his sister, my dear friend for 25 years, liked the girlfriend on FB. I was rejected and crushed all over again. It hurt for 2 weeks, and then it didn’t. I had healed from that, too. And sweet, sweet meh was finally mine – at least 99% of the time. And I can live with that!

      • New Here,
        I could of written this. Here’s the thing, I was like this for a long time…. great when we are no contact, But when I did need to deal with him it’s like a wave of something bizarre and indescribable came over me….panic mixed with a feeling of something familiar…..almost comforting.
        At first I would talk to him and get so nervous like I was getting a chance to talk to my dead husband and I didn’t want to fuck it up. It wouldn’t take long to realize it wasn’t the husband I knew.Then as time went on and I would go longer and longer without having anything to do with him it got better. I stopped looking at their social media, asked friends to not speak to me of him or her…..met a GREAT chumpy guy that I love.
        Now I roll my eyes if he calls me….like “ugh…..wtf does he want?”
        It’s nice.
        In the beginning of this I would look for ways to speak to him, now the thought of having to interact with him on any level just makes me feel annoyed.

        • I want to feel annoyed when he makes contact. Right now I feel dread. I don’t like it and annoyed will be much better. I can’t wait.

        • ^^^THIS Paintwidow! Exactly this.
          You’re essentially grieving a death…the death of a person you you loved, but was all a figment of your imagination. Took that a WHILE for my mind and to accept. Bit the truth shall set you free, but first ours going to piss you off. My suggestion? Make a lost of all the shitty annoying crap they used to pull…then whip that puppy out whenever you feel heartbroken. I promise you’ll start to catch the giggles reading it thinking, “OH yeah; NOPE..never have to put up with that shit ever again!”. I’m definitely to the,”Groan..Wtf is it NOW??” phase. You’ll get there. When I was forced to see him and wifetress (aka the pick-me-dance reigning champion, you know, the in-your-face-gloating, slap-able special type of bitch), my blood used to BOIL. I would have fight club fantasies in my head..no joke. And now? Now they just look like pathetic circus clowns that get zero rise out of me. No inner feelings of any kind. Nada. You’ll get there. Know why? These shenanigans get TIRED. You’ve seen one Key a Springer episode..you’ve seen them all…yawn. I promise, it will become boring and annoying.

          • Omg, my typos! Sorry! Why do typos always happenon the important words..gah!
            List, not lost
            Jerry Springer
            ..many more

            • I recall a cheating ex texting me woth a sort of booty call, several months after d-day– a BF not an ex husband — and I had moved on and was feeling particularly happy, out for the day with a new man. I remember getting the text while I was in the ladies’ room thank goodness, because new man didn’t have to witness my disgusted meh reaction. I just looked at the text, said F*** you, and deleted it. I then blocked the number. Later that day, I had an attempted call from an unknown number, which was obviously the ex trying to trick me into answering. I blocked that number too. It’s amazing how reaching meh can turn a previous ‘obsession with love’ into simple nuisance.

    • Totally agree, the best for me was to limit my “whine time” to 15-30 minutes at a time or I’d stay in bed all day. Yes there were plenty of those in the beginning too.

      Ex-fiancé moved on beautifully like I never lived there with him. When I would get sad and reach out; he was perky, condescending and too busy to talk to me, but he always answered so he could rub that in. Then I’d kick myself and be back at square one. NC is very hard, it’s like a part of me was missing, but it’s key. I began to wonder less, remember less and burst out crying less.

      Another thing that really helped was educating myself. I read this site inside and out, plus learned all about NPD and BPD. This helped with the “why” and made me see it wasn’t about me. His ugliness was about him and the deep rooted issues he had.

      For me, letting go of the illusion he created was the most difficult. The loss of dreams, ideas and other things he put in my head to pacify me, were just air. It was hard to rely on my own mind and thoughts especially when I was so sad, but also empowering as time went on.

      • I dont think the pain ever quite leaves us i think it crawls in a hole and hides to help us. No contact time and distant helps it stay in that hole. Im only letting the past pain hang around a bit hiding to help protect me in the future.

  • Hopeful, you are right: betrayal is the most painful hurt. I lost a parent in childhood and had a stillborn baby, but X’s cheating – also with his secretary – hurt more than those other losses. Tracy is also right, that time, no contact, good friends and self-care will lessen that pain, until one day you realize you just don’t care about him anymore. I thought that day would never come. I promised to love only him forever! How could I live without him? I too was a mess. I plodded along mostly because my kids needed a sane and stable parent, but after I stopped engaging with X and had some distance (and also learned that secretary was #6, not including hookers) I was able to look back objectively. How could I live without him? The better question was how could I have continued to live with him? Two years ago I didn’t believe I would ever hurting, but I did. I promise, you will too.

    • Rose Red – “The better question was how could I have continued to live with him?” Everyone needs to ask themselves this. I did and it is what catapulted me to divorce.

  • No contact is a life saver, It truly is the only way to heal and move on. After a year of NC, I did see a picture of the old grandpa and his beautiful 20 something true love, along with the photo I was sent (from a friend) and the information that the young beauty was a true step down with drug and legal problems, My Tuesday became like Christmas morning. I no longer felt sick to my stomach thinking of them or go into a complete tailspin.
    Fucked up people that wear a mask do not change, they take that shit storm with them and their new hostage has to deal with it.
    When he left I felt like someone forced me to bungee jump off a cliff, I was frightened of what the unknown held for me and my children, I clung to the side of that cliff refusing to let go.
    Family members and friends kept telling me he threw me off the cliff when I wasn’t looking and to let go.
    Some days it felt like rocks crumbling under my feet, other days I would spring back a bit then quick grab hold, until No communication !!! It gave me a chance to silence the noise and fear in my head, until I could let go and free fall.
    My world has become lighter, in the sense, that my money is mine, my time is mine. I never have to deal with a mother in law again. I thankful everyday I am no longer anyone’s hostage, I no longer have to live up a image in another person’s pretend world.
    Stay strong..sending good vibes your way

  • When my divorce was final I posted something on FB about the moment when you realize the monster you were afraid was outside in the dark was actually sitting at your dinner table. Shortly after that post my ex’s stripper girlfriend called me at 1:30 am to ask if he is really a monster. I said yes. Once you make that mental leap – that the person you loved so much, for so long is a monster, the rest will fall into place. It takes awhile. I went through all the apologist shit – he’s a sex addict, it’s his mom’s fault (she’s a malignant narc), it’s because his dad died when he was young, etc. Eventually it will dawn on you as it did on me that no matter what the root cause of his “problem” is, he acted with the knowledge that he would be hurting me and our kids. He didn’t care. That makes him a monster in my book. I still have the random moment when I wonder if any of the love we supposedly shared for over 30 years was real for him but it’s only a passing thought. My heart is indifferent to him now. I don’t care what he does or where he goes or who he does it with. The only ache in my heart where he is concerned is for my children for having such a shitty father.

    I’m glad your hopeful, Hopeful. You’re on the right track for healing. Keep the NC going and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll get there. {{hugs}}

    • “no matter what the root cause of his “problem” is, he acted with the knowledge that he would be hurting me and our kids. He didn’t care.”

      THIS

      • yup, even when you directly communicate your pain and suffering to the cheater in your most vulnerable, truthful hour, even if witnessed by a marriage counselor, moments or days later, the cheater is back to their old, cheating ways.

    • Beth

      Re: your comment about “…the moment when you realize the monster you were afraid was outside in the dark was actually sitting at your dinner table.”. Not many people seem to notice this and if they do, they don’t say it. I remember early on after D Day, realizing that I had done everything my whole life to protect myself from harm – paid premiums to “insure against all perils, stayed out of dark alleys, did not click on any emails that might have viruses, saved against a rainy day, set the alarm every night after locking all the doors…and there was the enemy, the person who was capable of causing more harm to me and my daughters, lying beside me in bed…and I did not know…for 22 years. That shook me to the core. People ask me why I am not dating, two years after D-Day. This is why. But I don’t explain it because, unless you have lived this horrible experience, you don’t understand, and if you did live this experience, you wouldn’t ask me why I don’t want to date, you would understand. To the depths of my soul, I know that his actions were deliberate and that he did not / does not care about the suffering he has caused. Accepting this has helped with the pain. It took about a year for the feelings of grief to pass, maybe a bit longer. I cry sometimes now but it is only out of frustration over the difficult and costly legal process to get financial support from this low-life and for the pain and loss that my children experience.

      • I have been in many dangerous situations over the years. I talked a man into laying down the shotgun he held on his 3 year old, I prepared to kill another who was entering a restricted area in a third world country I cannot name and thanking all the heavens when he gave himself up. I’ve cleared buildings after burglar alarms, chased suspects down alleyways, have been spit at, punched, and kicked. I have responded to situations where my officers were yelling that they were being shot at. I arrested a guy who looked at me in the eyes and said that when he got out of prison, he would find me and rape me and I knew he meant to try. I knew that I might have to give my life for my country and then for my fellow citizen. Nothing has ever shattered my sense of safety or my awareness of my abilities until I learned the man who I trusted implicitly was the only one capable of causing me the greatest harm I’ve ever experienced.

        I know what is out there. I deal with it daily. I also know that my perspective is tainted by all the bad in this world and I need to find the good. I want to date again and meet men who are kind, honest, loyal, funny, exciting, and sexy. I know they are out there, the men on Chump Lady proves it. I just can’t let the bad be my last experience because it would seem like I no longer have hope and hope is what keeps me chasing those bad people who willing to harm others down alleys.

        • AnnieGetYourGun, I’m so damned grateful for people like you — who are beyond brave, wanting to make the world a safer place, doing exactly that … and in your case, who are also brilliant and wickedly funny and kind and generous. You wrote:

          “Nothing has ever shattered my sense of safety or my awareness of my abilities until I learned the man who I trusted implicitly was the only one capable of causing me the greatest harm I’ve ever experienced.”

          And no wonder. NO ONE decent is prepared to be terrorized, blindsided, and maimed by a partner, by someone who KNEW you trusted him. “Partners,” especially in the line of duty, protect one another! Spouses (and equivalents) protect each other! Except, unthinkably …. some don’t. Some ARE the line of fire. Their victims, whether fearful or brave, will suffer. I pray the sufferers, I included, at some point will decide what you have: cruelty and savagery don’t get to win over hope.

          That kind, loyal, funny, exciting, sexy man? Who deserves a you, and more important, is deserving of you? He’s already looking, I think. Just a matter of time before your paths cross. Hell, you radiate on a SCREEN. That will be one lucky guy.

        • I want to date…I want to believe there is someone who will love me as much as I love them. My problem lies with the fact that I had that – and then I didn’t. If it can change once, how do I know it won’t change again? It’s been 3.5 years and I don’t know if I can ever trust – really truly trust- ever again. That’s such a lonely feeling.

          • It’s Tuesday. But not my Tuesday. I’m 15months in and still in the thick of the pain too.

            I believe there’s a better life for me once I find myself again. That I deserve love and conversation and attention and affection and, and, and…

            I think that’s true for all of us Chumps. We have loved losers who don’t deserve us.

            I can’t wait for my Tuesday to come.

    • For over 36 years I had the same nightmare over and over again…sometimes more than once a week… I was being chased by a ‘dark man’…couldn’t see his face, it was just dark, just his cold eyes that were filled with hate… It was an exhausting and terrifying dream that would wake me up…and, for comfort and safety, I would cuddle closer to satan and put his arm around me (shudder)…reading your message Beth brought all those memories back…and you know what…I realized I haven’t had that nightmare for over 3 years! …my subconscious was screaming at me to GET AWAY FROM HIM!

      • That’s powerful. When I was younger, I once had a dream about a man I was seeing, not yet seriously; the dream was that his “vacation” was really a trip to see another woman. That subconscious knows a cheater when it sees one.

        • “That subconscious knows a cheater when it sees one” — so true! On a conscious level I had no clue, but I discovered the affair by following my intuition that told me to snoop. Plus during the time of the affair, I started having recurring dreams that he was cheating. I will never again so easily disregard a dream as “symbolic”! (And will never forget him looking right at me and saying with ease “you know you never have to worry about that with me” when I brought up the dreams the day before D-Day)

          • Almost 20 years ago, two years before my then husband confessed he’d betrayed me, we were in bed during the day. I was large and pregnant. As I performed a certain act I had a flash image appear out of the blue of a woman with a certain look doing this same thing to him. I dismissed it as a wierd mental blip. But it was something I remembered because it was so odd.Turns out he had been picking up hookers with this look for oral sex and somehow some part of my psyche picked up on that. I am much more apt to pay attention to intuitive flashes now!!!

      • I used to have a recurring nightmare that then-H was berating me, and criticizing me. I would open my mouth to protest, but nothing would come out. In the dream I would feel helpless, and silenced, and desperate.

        Haven’t had a single instance of that nightmare since I initiated divorce.

        • I had debilitating stomach pain. Enough that I went to numerous physicians who performed many tests with (thankfully) negative results. One such bout left me on the floor unable to move for an hour. I called H asking him to come home right after work. No answer – for 3 hours.

          Stomach pain mysteriously disappeared when I kicked the bastard out.

          • I think of myself as a very self aware person…I never thought I had a wide “subconscious” side, BUT…in about 2000 (5 years before the first DDay) we had just moved to a new town where H1.0 was in graduate school. I had all sorts of physical ailments that were odd and mysterious (including a lack of libido) and I went to the MD.

            Much later I learned that he was a serial cheater and looking back on that era, my now trained eyes see that there were clues and signs that I missed. It never cam across my conscious mind that he would cheat, it was wildly out of the question. I now think my guts were trying to tell me something that I was not willing to see.

            That era, grad school, was complicated in that we really struggled to find a place to live …it was a genuine crisis at the time…there were 5 of us and all the available dwellings were for couples. I bust my ass to try to find us a place to live and he acted very casual…repeatedly sabotaging my efforts. I realize now that he wanted us to give up and leave…to live in some other city while he played college boy and fucked whoever.

            The idea that he manipulated us into being in that crisis to drive me away…Im just bereft at the depths to which it now seems he sunk to get what he wanted.

      • It’s almost been two months since my EX told me he cheated and i’m struggling with everything (especially no contact). I had a dream a while ago that my ex was cheating. I woke up, slapped him and went back to sleep. I probably should’ve trusted my dream and gut instincts then.

        • Weird, I had a dream long before I caught him that he was kissing and holding another woman. I woke up crying and he comforted me. My subconscious knew! I ignored it as just a bad dream. I will never ignore my intuition again.

    • So well said Beth, especially the ongoing regret re: this is the lying, crappy father that our amazing kids ended up with – ugh

  • What Tracy said about the heart and the head being out of sync is exactly right. My head knew something was not right in our relationship for a long time but my heart wouldn’t listen. When I eventually found out he was cheating, my head took over and kicked him to the curb. Then my heart showed up and tried to fix everything. There was a battle between the two of them for quite some time until I realized I was the only one trying to make our relationship work. Then I was done for good.

    My heart still aches at times now even though I’m 3 years out and NC. A part of me still wants him to be the person I thought he was, probably so I don’t have to admit to myself that I made such a poor choice and ignored the red flags. My head knows he’s not that person. He’s an evil, twisted, shell of a person and always will be. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll eventually treat his next victim the same way. I am thankful that he’s out of my life but he is in our daughter’s life so there will always be that connection. Someday, Tuesday will come for me too and it will be a perfect day.

    • Hopeful, as some others have already mentioned on here, the pain of this betrayal is unlike anything else. I thought that losing my mother (to breast cancer at 51) was the most painful experience of my life so far. I was wrong.

    • I think this is where anger can play a positive role. The head knows something isn’t right. The heart wants to make it right even though making it right (reconciliation) is irrational. Anger can step and say “F’ you. Get out of my life. I’m better off without you, forging my own way.”

      Sometimes the rational mind is not enough to take action.

      • Agree. My oldest daughter asked me to find some baby pictures for a school event last weekend, which entailed going through the old scrapbooks. I had a little tremor as I realized how many pictures of Hannibal Lecher were in the books. I braced myself for pain or grief, but realized I hate him so much, I am shielded from any sentimentality.

        • yup – “trust that they suck”

          “Cheaters suck. A person who betrayed you and endangered your health and well-being and your children’s? They suck! A person who is so selfish as to eat cake and fuck around on the side? They suck! When you internalize that they suck, and realize you are pining for a flaming dog turd? Then you will heal.

          Why would you pine for a flaming dog turd?”

  • I realized last night that my Tuesday has come. The karma bus showed up and has taken my ex of 33 years for a nice tailspin of a ride!

    I will never say it’s been easy. I still think about him but I don’t grieve any more. I consider him a soul-less coward, who, on his journey to find “happiness”, has abandoned his daughters and everything he treasured. At age 59.5 years he has come full circle and moved back to mommy & daddy (85 & 89) and brought his Schmoopie (excuse me, fiancée) along for the ride.

    I don’t miss him and don’t want him in my life.

    However, there was a point when I would have done anything to get him back. But it wasn’t until I realized that I was worth a whole lot more that I finally got angry. I think the anger really helps to stay NC. From anger, the pain lessened and I start to focus on me and our daughters. I felt more pain for what they were going through than I did for myself. e are now coming out the other end and enjoying time spent with family and friends.

    I couldn’t have done this with CL and CN — the best therapists I know. My story is so similar to so many and that helps begin the healing process. Stay here and be encouraged to do what you need to do to reach your Tuesday!

    • I agree, Mom 9193. It wasn’t until I looked at every awful thing he had done to me and our child and became enraged about it that I was able to stop with the nostalgia. Anger definitely diminishes the pain.

    • I hope anger also helps to diminish humiliation, depression, and feeling pathetic; nostalgia isn’t even on my map yet.

  • Hopeful, Pick up CL’s new book and read a chapter every morning before anything else. I find it gives me the helpful reminders I need to start my day by putting “him” back in his Pandora’s box. Like many here, I was married to a monster who hobbies included pathological lying; screwing his ex-wife after marrying me; and repeatedly placing personal ads looking for women/groups/couples. In his spare time, he would act like I was the love of his life OR the meanest person in the world.

    It’s been almost two years since the final D-day when he announced he was leaving me for someone new (younger) with some money. He wrote off his 5 adult children and uses our 10yo son as his pawn for girlfriend as she has two kids of similar age.

    In spite of ALL of that – there are moments when I still “miss” him. But, that’s just it – in the beginning it would be days/months… now, it is truly just moments. My Tuesday is just around the corner… I can feel it.

    Hang in there. Go No Contact. Stay off of social media. Do everything your lawyer tells you and document everything you can (I’m sorry to tell you this, but his secretary wasn’t his first affair – if it were, you should go play the lottery with your “luck”.)

    You will survive this. We are here for you. You are enough and you are worthy of so much better.

    Rock on Chump Nation!

  • For me, the panic attacky, barfy, howling stage lasted about 2 months. The skeletal abject depression stage lasted about 3 months. The shaky back-on-my-feet but don’t know what to do with myself and drink too much stage lasted about 6 months. I turned a corner about 6 months ago and have been on high burn since then, probably workaholism, but as coping mechanisms go, there are worse. I haven’t cried or gotten drunk in months. We parallel parent, but he is barely a blip on my radar these days. He just doesn’t really matter anymore.

    Hang in there sweetie, it gets better. No contact is key. CN and CL are the guiding lights.

  • My tuesday is coming i can feel it not quite there yet. Thanks to trimp nation for all your support! Love you guys!

  • Grief is an emotional process that we all have to go through…you can’t just think your way out of it. And the more we were invested in a relationship, the deeper the wound when rejected and discarded. It does get better…but like any deep wound, this wound to the soul will take time to heal. I think a big step in such healing is realizing and believing what happened DID happen and that one is NOT to blame for being victimized here. Be kind to yourself…the sharp pain does not last forever! -DM

    • Divorce Minister, you said this so well…
      The biggest hurdle in my healing was that I couldn’t/didn’t realize and believe that what happened, DID happen.
      My brain could not get it. My heart was broken. I was totally stuck. And the pain, oh the pain…..
      My denial combined with the projection of my values and beliefs that I assigned onto him were so deeply ingrained, that it took me years to finally get it.
      I was so invested in our marriage and the wounds were very deep. We had been together for 31 years, 29 of them I thought were very happy. The last 2 were after DD (and actually believed him when he said this was the 1st time he had “strayed”) and I was dealing with his trickle truth or truthiness. Then, after discovery that he had been a cheater out entire time together. I had enough sense to leave him, thank God.
      The ensuing denial that this had indeed happened to me stems from FOO issues and it is a coping mechanism that I continue to use. I know I need to address this. I have removed myself from toxic friendships in the last while and have come to acceptance of finding myself on a totally different path. I am grateful that I can live my life with integrity and that I am no longer in a marriage where I was hoodwinked into believing it was great. In the last year I have found the Serenity Prayer gets me through daily life with an adult child who is struggling with anxiety and depression (which started when Mr Cheaterpants had the affair with her friends’ mother) and am at peace with being single and where I am. I have come a long way in fixing my picker. It is becoming clear that I seem to attract narcissists into my life and am trying to look at me and the reasons for it. It’s so nice to be focussing on me and not still trying to untangle the why’s of the behaviour of an asswipe!
      The pain is finite and I only wish CL was around when the shitstorm happened. Thanks to CL and CN – it is the voice of reason.

  • I was a super chump for almost 3 years. Heartbreak, separation, counseling, more fucking heartbreak, reconciliation.
    At some point, I realized I was numb to it. Nothing that he did surprised me anymore. After the numbness, I started realizing that okayness was taking over. I no longer got teary when talking to acquaintances about my divorce. I drove past the restaurant where Fuckface had told me – while we were out on a “date,” that he had found his soulmate, and it wasn’t me -without having a panic attack. I stopped carrying my Xanax prescription bottle in my purse. And okayness is pretty awesome compared to misery.
    Okayness is now being usurped by happiness.
    My advice is to relish the okayness.

  • Your heart also projects your thoughts, feelings, and qualities onto your spouse. After all you’re married, so you must have the same outlook on what a marriage should be, right? So you hold on, thinking he/she will change. They’ll snap out of it, feel remorse, work to change back into the person you thought they were — like you would. The affair will stop, the lying will stop, the backstabbing will stop, the gaslighting will be over. So you’ll wait and wish, and be hopeful.

    But eventually you’ll finally figure out that they’re not you. They’re not changing, they’re not coming back, and they’re not the kind of person that you thought they were when you married them. The head will start to see the projection (and your counselor can help you get to this conclusion faster) and you’ll see that waiting for them to come back is just a waste of time. It took me a long, long time to realize that.

    The sooner the head wins the war, the sooner the heart will recover.

    • That was beautifully put, Blindside! My experience exactly. I finally came to the conclusion last week that despite all his pretty words that he’s just “not sure yet” (after 11 months!!), he’s never going to change and it’s time for me to take charge of my own life. CL and CN have been a life-saver for me! Time to file and start gaining a life.

  • Hopeful- there is a chump here that preaches that No Contact is the path to truth and light. As much as you can pull it off, go as no contact as possible.

    No children or adult children are the easiest way to find that path. Minimal contact works too.

    No pain shopping allowed either. Block him and all those in his orbit from all electronic media including social media.

    I am a little over 2 years divorced and every year becomes infinitely better than the one before it. I promise you that the pain is finite just like CL said.

    You are rocking all of this beautifully so far so keep taking steps every day and before you know it, Tuesday will be on the horizon!

    Jedi hugs

    • Oh, hey there, that’s me and I truly believe that No Contact is the path to the truth and the light. Just try it for six weeks, no contact, or if you have kids accept only emails and a text for a true emergency. Only handle the emails once a day, when you are at your calmest, and most composed. This will allow your brain to let the toxic soup you have been living in ooze out of your brain. You will begin to see this person you loved much more clearly, and as time goes on the image gets clearer and clearer. It’s also harder to lie, manipulate, gas light, obfuscate and minfuck via email, where you can read it, pause read it again and start to see the BS.

      I am 15 months out from D-day and though I have not reached meh, I am circling Mehville, just looking for the correct street on which to turn. It still hurts sometimes, like yesterday when I found out about yet another AP. The first time I realized there was more than one I couldn’t get out of bed for hours. I just layed there like a bullet ripped through my heart again. This time it was like getting hit by a bullet but while wearing a Kevlar vest. It knocked me down for a moment, I had a few minutes of not being able to breath, then I got right back up again and trusted that he sucks.

      CL’s advice is spot on. I worked hard to keep busy, out with friends, repainting the entire house, and cleaning out the crap left by Narkles the Clown as he was a bit of a hoarder. I got into therapy with a pretty good therapist. She explained that to get from point A to point B I was going to have to work hard, so I buckled down and did just that. The hard work of therapy can take a lot of time. I joined a PTSD support group. I met a guy I that group. He hasn’t been through this shit show we call chumpdom but he understands the PTSD and that helps a lot as we very intentionally attempt to have a healthy relationship. How long will it take you? I don’t know but I assure you if you embrace No Contact and work hard in therapy it will be quicker than you think.

      Good luck on your journey me keep coming by here. This is an awesome place filled with awesome people!

  • Tuesday comes when the need to ask Why becomes less important than thinking about what positives Today and Tomorrow may bring.

    3 years from D-day and my ex wife has become nothing more than an email address and a text message address for anything about the kids.

  • I can only tell you how long it has taken me…..it’s been 4 years. It’s been 4 years since my D-day, 3 1/2 years since he moved out, 3 years since the divorce……

    And I’m mostly not feeling the heartbreak any more. I have hours, days, without thinking of him. But since we have kids I do see him every week. And sometimes with his girlfriend. It still brings a twang to my heart, but it’s different now. It’s manageable. It’s almost like a feeling of pity for what a loser he is. And a slight sadness that the person I used to love never really existed. It was a facade.

    I’m so glad to be rid of the fake life. I’m so glad that I have taken the time to get to know ME. I learned to honor myself, learned I’m worthy of respecting myself.

    My advice to you is to keep up the no contact, and start learning who YOU are. Don’t allow your brain to say mean things about yourself. Only talk to yourself like you would a friend.

    • Kharless73—you nailed it by saying: like a feeling of pity for what a loser he is

      That is the stage I am at–the forgive him for he is too stupid/loser/idiot/moron to know what he has done.

      I’m at Monday night before Tuesday arrives.

  • The pain stops when you finally get to see the thoughts in your Ex’s head and exactly how they feel about you. How they don’t think like us, and even have no problem badmouthing us to others.

    And here we are, thinking good thoughts about them, thinking they want to be with us. But once you get to see their reality, their thoughts and what they actually think of you, that’s when you start healing. You come to understand that they don’t want to be with you, are attracted to someone else, want to have sex with someone else, but not you, and their intention is to move away from you at all costs.

    And the final healing point becomes, realizing that you are worthy, valuable and actually deserve to be treated with love, kindness and caring, but that your spouse does not feel the same way about you.

    • Kellia-
      This is so true. I kept thinking that because we were having contact, we were “working” on our relationship. But then I focused on what he said – and realized that my cheater’s contact with me was all about him (help with insurance info, help knowing what to do with kids, questions about buying something for his new apartment) etc. As for what he “did” after I asked him to move out 6 mos ago (12 mos after D-day when I realized MC was a waste as he was still seeing AP) – he told me he needed more time to figure out which relationship he wanted (had been with AP for three years and me for 30). WTF? Even then I did not accept the fact that he only wanted me for my competence and to keep in good standing with the kids – not as a wife or life partner. Essentially, he was still using me.
      That is the hardest part – to realize they have no feelings for you at all – and that they will keep using you if you let them……

      • There is the stickler for me. I was living in a place where he didn’t love me and kept me around for convenience (but was ready to bolt any second) but I refused to see it.

        He used me and I let him.

        And I didn’t/ couldn’t see it until recently…so all the “work” I did for the 10 yrs after d day was really just a huge, giant, industrial spackeling job. I thought I was so advanced in this and really I was clinging to the cliff (like the poster above described)

        I end people here who describe how they were better in a year or 2…I’m 11 years post d day and having experienced a 10 yr “trickle truth” I’m filled with more self loathing over having been duped than I am willing to admit to people in my life.

        • Oh, honey, don’t feel bad. I talk about being a little over a year out from the final D-Day, but the FIRST D-Day was ten years before that. I’m another decader, like you.

          I spent a lot of time beating myself up, but now I’ve stopped. I had reasons for my decisions — although knowing what I now know about him and infidelity, I wish I’d made different decisions. But I did the best I could and so did you. The important thing is we’re out NOW.

          I don’t even really regret that decade. As someone else said here once, he wasn’t the sum total of my life. I did what I could then, and now I’m doing better things. So are you.

          • Decader…yes that is what we are…and folks talk flippantly about how “people give up marriages too easily these days”(I got that twice at a dinner we went to in June I was so pissed)

            To not regret the decade…that is a really good goal.

            Fixing my marriage was THE goal of the decade (as if I had that power) and it was a bust, but during that time, I parented my kids (very hard task with 2 of them in mental health crisis and one in deep grief). I had huge successes in my career where I positively impacted hundreds of people. I was a success, but Im still reeling from the truth I finally let myself see

            • That “giving up on marriage” comment. Seriously? I’m sorry that happened – people are thoughtless with opinions that cost them nothing.

              • I got a little thorny after one of those comments and I said “Oh you got married in 1986 too then, yes…so did I …I would likely still be married if not for that death thing”. (the fact that my H1.0 was an asshole and I should have divorced him is not the issue here)

                For me, the thing is that whether he died or we got divorced, but if, in fact, people have had long, loving marriages, then they were truly blessed. Im not sure why they insist on rubbing it peoples faces. Yippie for them, but they already get all the benefits, Im not sure why they need the attention too. I will admit Im a little sensitive on this topic but I think people should be mindful

        • This is heartbreaking. It sounds like you are experiencing a lot of shame. I am working on this myself. I am a smart person, and great at reading people, but I was lied to and cheated on for years! Who knows how long it would have gone on if HE hadn’t told me!?!?
          Have you heard of Brene Brown? She has some great TED talks free on line and some really good books that have helped me a lot. See if her words resonate with you.
          In the meantime, sending you strength and love.

          • Mine would have never told me… It sounds like a “saying” that he would ‘take his secrets to the grave’, but he did just that.

            Really hard stuff to work through.

            Oddly enough.. Brene Brown and I have a mutual friend in real life but not close enough for me to ask her to lunch or something .. Will rewatch her Ted talks with my new worldview maybe.

            • I love her work on vulnerability and “daring greatly.” She has a great explanation of how unplugging from a marriage–i think she uses the term “disengagement” is a tremendous betrayal. And that isn’t even about physical infidelity.

          • I’m good at reading people too, but I missed all the signs, until I didn’t. I think it’s because we weren’t on our guard with them. Why should we be? We trusted them. Who dissects every word or action of someone you trust? You just take them at face value. It’s hard to admit being thoroughly hoodwinked, but we were.

            • Before DD#1, I never looked into anything. Ever. It was purely an accident, stumbling on the first thread that lead to everything else – I trusted him blindly. Then I thought back and realized how “not there” he had been.

        • Boy do you write for me too. It took me THE LONGEST TIME to accept that he felt nothing for me, and that the bond I felt was entirely on my side only.

          I went on a girls holiday, where after too many mojitos I cried so hard with grief over him I burst something in my eye. Him? At exactly the same timeline? On the phone to his new soulmate, arranging the surprise holiday that would completely devastate our children.

          But “I did what I could then, and now I’m doing better things.” This is true for all of us. Everything happens exactly as it should. Thanks UNM.

          • Patsy – It’s unbelievable isn’t it, when you realize they aren’t bonded to us the same way we are bonded to them. And that they really don’t like us, aren’t fond of us, the same way we are of them. And I wonder if they were ever bonded to us in a healthy way to begin with. They really aren’t normal. Which has made me understand to mute their words and turn on the volume on their actions. Their actions really do speak the truth unequivocally and clearly as to how they feel towards us. If they loved us, they woudln’t have had sex with someone else and kept her around. Could it really be that clear, I’m starting to think quite possibly so.

        • Unicornnomore

          Raising my hand to clinging to the cliff. I went away for a month to visit my daughter in California three years ago. It was the happiest I had been in years. What struck me was the fact that didn’t miss him, at all. It bothered me at the time. I didn’t love him. I hadn’t in years. I bonded with an abusive monster who never once attended to my needs.

          The ‘why’ I stayed bothered me more once I saw him as the serial cheating narc. Now I’m at the point where I’ve forgiven myself, mended the gaping hole of brokenness, and refuse to torture myself over someone I could not control.

        • I discovered my STBX was telling very big lies to me 20 years ago. How I managed to spackle over that and carry on, I will never be able to explain. The lies became very evident again 10 years ago. More spackling. Finally, January 2014 another big hit …another D day. Worse than all the others. Followed by over 2 years of misery as a limbo chump. TWO YEARS when I knew everything I needed to know to leave. So I finally get a spine and tell him it is over. Two weeks later? I finally learn what all those decades of lying were really about (gay lover) and that devastating revelation has been a blessing. It made me ANGRY and canceled any second guessing I was prone to doing. So, 10 years is nothing honey. I want to be you when I grow up! I honestly cannot imagine any of us will truly reach 100% meh. Not even sure that I want to as it would seem like writing off the majority of my adult life. But steady progress towards more peace is what I am working towards. Some days are better than others, but it definitely seems just a bit better each month that passes. September 1 will be four months and I am light years from where I was at 1 month. Hang in there Hopeful. It truly does get better.

        • I feel the self loathing too but we must not give in to this. I try to remember that this feeling is also one of the traitor’s projections. Or that if I hadn’t felt some self loathing originally, I wouldn’t have fallen for his bullshit. It’s part of our baggage that has made us chumps? Anyway it’s something we must cure ourselves of. Easier said than done but still….

      • One weird thing about this type of cheater is that they think they are entitled to bring our lives to a halt for YEARS while they “decide” who they want. That’s why I say even if you want to save the marriage, kick the cheater out (even if just out of your bed) and FILE. Go no contact and get your life untangled and start working on your own life while cheater pants ponders his dwindling options for cake. The only way to know if a cheater has remorse is to cut that cheater lose and see what happens. A person who hurts you and regrets it will move heaven and earth to make amends–and not by moving back in and buying a car or taking you on a vacation where he isn’t texting a Schmoopie. But the questions with cheaters are always: Is what he is showing real? And how long will it last?

    • My friend sent me this message a few years ago. At the time it was something I needed frequent reminders of, so I kept it readily accessible in the notes of my phone.
      I don’t need to read it much anymore, but I will keep forever.

      No. The point is that he is a dick all the time. He makes it harder to see that when he is upset- but in neither instance is he EVER considering you. At all. It doesn’t matter what his outward behavior is- his internal behavior is the same. He is using you. In both cases. All the time. Without consideration of you, or even really seeing you as a person. It doesn’t matter if he’s outwardly nice or outwardly a dick. The inside intention is the same- to take care of himself only.

    • Spot on! I didn’t understand that until I heard my spouse badmouthing me to other people. This was right before I discovered the affair. Saying things about me and us that were ridiculous, absurd, or flat out false. I thought I must have been living in a different marriage. And as it turns out – I was.

      • Blindside – What a blessing for you to have discovered the badmouthing. It sucks at first, but when I found out my ex was badmouthing me, it was hurtful but very empowering. It was then I knew exactly how he felt about me. And then I knew exactly what was left for me to do.

  • For me, the pain has been caused by the cheater’s acts and by my own denial, continued contact and “hopium” that reconciliation could occur.
    So please listen to other chumps, when they say no contact and no “investigative” research. It is the only way for your heart to catch up to your head. I wish I had followed CN’s advice.
    For sure, the cheater ripped out my innards by having a three year affair with his assistant – 26 years younger – and “stealing” time, attention and money from our family.
    However, I caused even more pain for myself by denying how deliberate and depraved his choices were – and by continuing contact and hoping for reconciliation after D-day, which was 18 mos ago!!!!.
    I was in denial – because I just couldn’t believe what happened – not to someone I had been married to for 30 years. I had “hopium” because I couldn’t imagine any other life than our “intact” nuclear family. And I continued contact with my cheater husband ostensibly to coordinate getting our two younger kids off to college, including freshman year for the 18 year old – however, I really just couldn’t “give him up” IN THE SAME WAY THE ALCOHOLIC CRAVES THAT DRINK WHICH SETS THEM BACK.
    It’s been a struggle — even after kicking him out 6 mos ago because the affair was continuing – but I filed for legal separation in July (we had postnup), will drop my youngest off at college this weekend, and will FORCE myself to file the divorce papers upon return.
    Cheater does not want divorce and wants to move back in – but he is still in contact with the ho-worker.
    My head is smart (got postnup right away, found CN, fired the MC and found an IC) but my heart is oh so SLOW…..
    For me, the pain has only stopped intermittently – when I minimize contact and when I think of ME, not HIM.
    So please, Hopeful – go no contact, no contact, no contact…and “meh” will come.

    xo, Tired Chump

    • “Cheater does not want divorce and wants to move back in – but he is still in contact with the ho-worker.”

      Of course he doesn’t want to divorce, it will ruin his cushy arrangement and physical environment. You are of use to him, he needs to maintain the status quo in his environment, so he can continue porking his ho-worker. He doesn’t want to be with you emotionally, but it suits him fine to keep his physical environment intact. And rest assured, the minute he has the means to leave his home, he’ll bolt and be with the ho-worker, leaving you high and dry. It’s all about what is convenient for *him*. Nothing about your well being.

      • And you have a post-nup!!! So, Tired Chump, be your mighty self and levy those consequences. You can do better than this, even if all you do is adopt a gerbil.

        • Tired divorcing him means consequences. Once you file he will have some!

          There are two reasons Nowhere Man wanted to stay. I paid his taxes and health insurance. He got slammed the first year with taxes because he couldn’t get financed to buy a home and had to show income.

          • My financial justice came when I got to claim oldest daughter, including the education deduction (for the tuition that X pays). Ha! Now I’m “head of household.”

            • Me too Tempest. I can’t use my granddaughter or son as dependents. Filing as head of household saved me 3000 a year so far. My accountant zapped him good as he couldn’t write off the expenses because I threw his shit out of the house.

          • Fucktard is so stupid that he told me to take him off my health insurance. He was pissed that I told him he could no longer come over to the house to get his belonging unless he contacted me and gave me proper notice, as per our settlement agreement. He threw such a temper tantrum that my kids almost called the cops (I texted him as I wasn’t actually home).

            He then sent me the text to get him off my health insurance. He knew I was legally obligated to keep him on my plan until the divorce was final but he didn’t want to pay me 1/2 of the $360.00 monthly premium. I also had my youngest on the insurance so I had the family plan. His employer paid him the cost of my health care for him not having any with them. He got $360.00 extra added to his salary. He paid me $180.00 and kept $180.00 for himself. I had to show proof of him having insurance before I could drop him so he got insurance. I don’t know how much he paid, but he paid that, plus the loss of $180.00. I of course immediately dropped from the family plan to the single plus dependent and paid $220.00 instead of $360.00. So I was punished for enforcing boundaries by paying an additional $40.00 per month. He showed me. It must really hurt to be him.

  • He, however, NEVER loved you. People who love you don’t suddenly discard you, especially when you’re sick. People who love you don’t fuck their secretary.” Heart wails, “HE NEVER LOVED ME!!!!” and then collapses in a puddle of tears and snot.

    This was so exactly me in my therapy session yesterday. Lol. I was rehashing his confession that the first time he had sex with OW was the SAME DAY I told him I was pregnant with our second child (why he confessed to this is beyond me). The therapist gently but firmly reminded me that this is not someone who loved me or was capable of being a good partner. “He never loved me?!?” Ugh?

    It’s barely been 4 mos. I’ve filed for divorce, NC as much as possible with two small children. I have days I think “oh, yes! I didn’t think of him 1st thing in the morning. I must be healing!”… Then the next day I cry all day thinking of nothing but him. I know it’s early, it’s a process. I read here everyday so I can get my head on straight. It’s my daily kick in the right direction.

    • “People who love you don’t suddenly discard you, especially when you’re sick.”

      This is a classic sign of someone who is disordered. To bail on your partner when they are sick is someone who is mentally disturbed. People who love you stick to you closer in times of need. But narcissists and other psychos will kick you when you’re down. I experienced this with my very own mother, who would wait until I was weak to pounce on me and destroy me. And these people are incapable of loving someone else, they simply love themselves, and expect everyone else to cater to them. And they never GIVE. They are the worst partners anyone could end up with. They are cowards.

      • Yes, this. I too had a cruel disordered mom and followed it up with a cruel disordered spouse… Recipe for misery and no way to fix any of it… Distance from the disordered is the only remedy.

        Cheater died and mom is demented and close to penniless (she refused to work and lived beyond her means) and expects me to care for her. That would be a “no”.

        • Oh my gosh. Same pattern here.

          I used to lie awake worrying that my brothers would leave me to care for her when she was old and frail, because that would mean she was in my power and what would I do to her.

          Luckily that never panned out.

        • Yep, cruel disordered mom, cruel disordered spouse. Mom died, we’ll see how STBX ends up – penniless maybe, demented likely.

          You’re so right that distance is the only remedy.

          • ” But narcissists and other psychos will kick you when you’re down.” Narcissist = predator. Most predators are opportunistic feeders who will feed on the wounded and the sick rather than take the risk of hunting and not catching anything and maybe getting injured.

      • Well think of it: there are precious few kibbles to be had from someone who is sick or has just had a baby or has a sick parent or child to look after. You aren’t focused on giving out kibbles and being the narcissist’s mirror. The only thing more predictable is that if you get stronger, healthier, wiser, that’s another time for them to bail because you might see through the mask. And if you’ve been with the jackass long enough, they bail because they can’t keep up the pretense any longer. It’s all about them.

  • Oh, Hopeful. How I can relate to you… I too, understand your question of “how long..?”. Similar circumstances and blind-sided in the same way that you were. I’m not ill, however he left me one night after this dumping, alone with our three babies (all under five, one <1 and still being breastfed).

    Oh, how I grieved. No one truly understood me and what had just happened to me. Friends and family supported me logistically, but I realise the awkward silences I endured in my one-sided conversations with them because none of them could believe it either. Not their fault.

    I was too caught up in my pain to think about anything else at all for a time. This eventually gave way to anger and the imagined sensation of revenge, and oh, did that help!! So, I got to work. And it paid off. 🙂 Pain caused by grief feels visceral and is the worst when you're experiencing it. It has come to me with some hard lessons though, which I may now recognise as tough love. I know I'm now better, as well as better off without that shit-head in my bed.

    Today, over two years on, naturally I'm still in contact (young kids). But I'm cool as a cucumber with him, call him freely on his bullshit and domineering parenting practices and concentrate on being the best role model to my babies that I can be. I am very much mindful of not being the alienating type. In fact, I'm my situation, I believe I'm today a better mother as a single one to my kids than I was when I was married to that fucktard.

    All of us commenters are here to support CL's assurances that you WILL feel better some Tuesday, in the future. The vague times implied by all of us may not help you with the answer you currently seek, but it's great to know that we're all here to relate to you and support you emotionally with words, wit, wisdom and the benefit of hind-sight.

    • ChocLemonGelato – Beautifully written. You are so mighty to have survived all of that with three little ones. I hope you feel proud and invincible!

  • I posted this in the Forums yesterday — I’m constantly seeing things through the eyes of my chumpdom and this one seems timely given today’s Dear CL letter.

    From the movie Brooklyn (2015) — at the movie’s end, the main character is advising a new immigrant to the US on how difficult it will be to adapt.

    If you interpret “homesick” as “longing for the relationship you thought you had but now you know is never coming back,” I think these final words speak to Chump Lady’s point about getting to Tuesday in your own way, in your own time:

    “You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it.

    But you will, and it won’t kill you.

    And one day the sun will come out – you might not even notice straight away, it’ll be that faint.

    And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Something or someone who’s only yours.

    And you’ll realize… that this is where your life is.”

    • Great analogy.

      One I used the other day in a response is that of swimming in the ocean. On D-day, we were dropped into the middle of the ocean without a lifevest. Sharks circle, we gulped down huge mouthfuls of seawater, were convinced we were going to drown (perhaps even wanted to). At first, the best you can do is tread water and spit out the seawater. Eventually, you start to swim slowly, tread water some more, but you’re making progress toward the shore. Rather than fight the waves, you learn to ride them, until eventually you can feel your feet touch down. Waves might still knock you down, but you’ve emerged a stronger swimmer and can get back up again more quickly, more defiantly each time. Then you’re home.

      • A very good chump friend of mine made a similar analogy and said…

        “Imagine you are swimming across a lake, in the beginning its cold but strangely invigorating, you keep swimming, at times you will tire, when you’re not quite half way and you are freezing and tired…the easier option might be to turn round and give up. But taking the tough option to keep going and eventually reach the other side is far more rewarding”

        Even today nearly three years after d-day he still asks me if I’m across the lake yet?

        I’m not, but I’m certainly passed the halfway point.

  • One last thought/ inspirational quote – and then off to work….

    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

      • I teach this (in Lit class) but hadn’t thought about how it applies to my current circumstances so thanks for taking the time to share. I have spent a lot of time looking at this particular closed door. Inspirational.

  • I’m 5 years out from DDay and although I wouldn’t give back my children for anything in the world, I really wish I didn’t have to coparent with him. it would make detaching so much easier. But overall, things are so much better. He dragged me through court for over 2 years, and our financial messes are still not cleaned up, but our divorce was just granted. So I’m counting on being at meh soon…

    I look at him almost with pity as when we do our switch-offs with the kids he can barely look at me…always scrolling through his phone as if he’s so busy….What he doesn’t want to see is what everyone has been talking about….that I look damn good, the kids are happy and secure and life is basically good now…in fact BETTER than when I was married to him.

    I agree with the others, keep up the no contact, concentrate on YOU. What do you want? What do you need? What dreams did you have that you put on the shelf for your marriage can you go after now? You will get there…maybe sooner than you think

    • Pity is a good way of putting it. Many of my chump friends say the same…I guess we are good hearted and natured souls and even after all they’ve done to us we pity them because we’ve discovered that we are the ‘normal’ ones, with a good heart, clean conscience, morals, respect blah, blah, blah…what do they have?

      I pity my stbxw when I look at what she’s lost. But she did what she did, and I have what I have.

    • ” But narcissists and other psychos will kick you when you’re down.” Narcissist = predator. Most predators are opportunistic feeders who will feed on the wounded and the sick rather than take the risk of hunting and not catching anything and maybe getting injured.

  • Hopeful, what you have suffered would be a gut punch for anyone. It’s bereavement coupled with insult. So many of us here have experienced it in a variety of ways.

    If you get a fair settlement from your divorce, at least you have the groundwork for a new life. I think the advice already given about starting with baby steps is right. Take it 15 minute increments, but do see it as a grieving process that cannot be rushed. Exercise and eating healthy, cut yourself a lot of slack, and pamper ypurself. I remember my sister saying to me “now soon you need to draw in a big breath, go out the door, look at the sky, and say to yourself…today is the first day of my new life, and I’m looking forward to new adventures”. I thought she was nuts, but it worked for me.

    Recovery comes gradually. Keep yourself busy, distracted. I remember feelong good the first time I realised I hadn’t thought of Cheater once in a whole day.

    You can say all you want about how awful and nasty the cheaters are. At the end of the day, there is nothing to say about them. Enjoy waiting for the karma bus to run them over. I recall that warm fuzzy feeling I had when I saw that revenge and anger were not the way to win. Patience is.

  • There are many stages of grief and acceptance, at least there were for me. Like so many people here, I have suffered significant losses in my life, but nothing came close to the destruction of my long term marriage. My first emotion was anger and lots of it, which I had to learn to control quickly for the sake of my children. Then came what a friend of mine calls “active grieving”, when each day seems like a mountain to climb while carrying a 200 pound sack. The pain was almost physical. My family and my work were my salvation.

    Five years out, I no longer grieve at all. Sure, I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different, but it is more idle speculation than anything. As with every significant injury, scar tissue still remains and always will. But I am proud of that scar tissue. Why? Because it is proof of how strong I am! I survived the unsurvivable! I made it through to the other side and I have an entirely different perception about the world and my place in it. All those things that at one time seemed so important have been left behind. I now live an authentic life, a life of my own choosing, a life I am proud of.

    I would never wish the pain I experienced on anyone, but having lived through that pain, I realize that it is part of who I am. I think true healing begins when you can look back at what happened to you and realize it did not defeat you. He did not defeat you. While he will always be mired in lies and self-destruction, you are now free to live a meaningful life on your own terms. The opportunity to live such a life is a gift, even if it is one you never wanted to receive. Tuesday is just around the corner. I promise.

  • “As You think so You shall Feel”
    I imagine garbage bags full of refuse.
    Whenever I catch myself thinking about the many Shit Sandwiches which I have ingested I imagine throwing them into a Dumpster.
    I say to myself ” I have been with this garbage and am done with it”
    I then force myself to think about the wonderful things about my life, past present and future.
    I started doing this a few Months ago and it has been a game changer.
    The pain is a fraction of what it was.
    There are less and less bags of shit to throw out every day.
    Consider getting a Dumpster Hopeful !!

  • Hopeful,

    Getting to Tuesday takes more than a minute. It’s a process, and a necessary one. If you can maintain No Contact, you will realize bit by bit just how many little parts of yourself had been put away to appease your Monster. He didn’t like your family or friends? He didn’t approve of you wasting time doing things you enjoyed? He hated your favorite food?

    Well, he doesn’t get a vote anymore. See those people he disliked. Do those things you used to enjoy. Eat that food you’ve missed. Can’t sleep? Turn on that light and read. Reclaim your life. Feel free and empowered. Feel your righteous anger. Make this time about you, and you’ll have less and less time to care about his worthless entitled self.

    And be strong and prepared if he decides to circle back around and expects you to be waiting for him. Fuckwits try that shit fairly often when their replacement part needs more maintenance than the old dependable chump did. The correct answer is No.

    And one day when the sun shines a little brighter and the air feels a little sweeter and the birds sing a little louder, you’ll realize it is Tuesday.

    • Survivor, this is the only good part so far for me – that I want to reclaim my life. Your description is exactly how I am beginning to feel – when I am not drowning in tears of grief and sorrow. Little by little, I get excited that I am in charge and can stop pretending to be less than what I truly am to make him feel more secure.

      And I’ve always liked reading at 2am. 🙂

    • Survivor,

      “And be strong and prepared if he decides to circle back around and expects you to be waiting for him. Fuckwits try that shit fairly often when their replacement part needs more maintenance than the old dependable chump did. The correct answer is No.”

      ^^^This^^^

      And you’re absolutely right, I can freaking read at 2 a.m. if and when I want.

  • It’s been a little over 2 years and this past month I noticed the daily thoughts have evaporated…despite seeing a blocked call show up on my caller ID last month. Someone recently asked if I would attend his funeral as he was in poor health. I could honestly say no I would not without any feelings behind it. Not sad, not mad, indifferent. Why would I attend a stranger’s funeral?
    Hopeful, I took a leap of faith from CL and CN on what to do as well as how things would play out for me and they have pretty much on the same timeline as those before me. You survived a tsunami and now it’s time to embrace “okay”.

    • I wish every day that I will at least get to go spit on his grave and the whore ‘s grave. But I am 10 years older than the whore so it’s a long shot… Still she’s in much worse shape than I am, has rotten teeth, still on a restricted driver’s licence at 42, bad driver and stupid so maybe I can outlive that slut. And may they both drop dead of some nasty STI. Spit and dance on their graves I may…

  • Hopeful – I’m 2.5 years from D-Day and a little over 1 year from Divorce. I’m not all the way to Meh yet, but I have it programmed into my GPS and I cover a little more ground getting to it every day. I’ll be there soon…

    But I wanted to touch on what you said about losing a parent. I lost my Mom young, I was in my early 30s. At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything hurting worse. Finding out my husband was living a double life visiting prostitutes during his lunch hours for years was much worse. With all due respect to my Mom, who I love and miss dearly, there was no trying to understand WHY she died. I know exactly why she died. I also know she didn’t WANT to die, she didn’t want to leave me. She cared about me, loved me, and wanted only the best for me until her last breath. I certainly don’t have to re-write my entire relationship with my Mom and try to forget our good times. With infidelity, none of that holds true. It was an intentional world explosion, detonated by the person I thought loved me the most in this world, maybe even more than my Mom did.

    So yes, IMHO, infidelity hurts a shit ton worse than the death of a parent. I don’t feel like I’m minimizing the life/death of my mother to say that. I’m sure if she was alive and knew what was happening, she’d understand and agree. I’m also sure that if she was alive and knew what was happening, my ex-husband would be walking around with two less balls, but that’s another story.

    Wishing you strength…

    • I lost my mum at 30 too, I’ve had 9 miscarriages, 6 with the traitor. All this was acceptable as part of life’s tragedies, bad luck that everyone has to face to some degree. Betrayal by your life partner, who in my case was my only family is nearly unbearable. I came within a few hours of killing myself. That thought never crossed my mind before. He nearly killed me. Thanks to finding CN I found my rage and survived. You bunch of strange yanks saved me.

  • I think you answered your own question, Hopeful. It’s like grief and the average adult takes two years to grieve so that might be a useful guideline provided the meaning of average is remembered. I stopped sobbing about 5 months after. I stopped feeling angry most of the time maybe 18 months after that. Mix with good friends and family who understand. Congratulate yourself for doing so well thus far – not everyone does.

  • I lost my Mom last December, 3 days before Christmas, and the pain from losing her paled drastically in comparison to my ex-husbands betrayals. in fact the pain and grief cannot even be measured on the same scale. Because although you only get one mother, and I loved her greatly, her love wasn’t fake.. And she didn’t choose to die.

    The ex……If I looked up “wolf in sheep’s clothing” his face would be in the definition section. What hurts so much is that whether for 3 days or 30 years, they CHOSE to lie, cheat and steal from us…every single day. And they have no remorse about doing it, which shows that they really never loved us at all….Actions truly speak louder than words.

    • Oh Kurleegirl-I am so very sorry for the loss of your mom. I lost my mom last December the week of Christmas too…..
      Yes, the pain of infidelity was crushing but in combination with losing one’s mother-it felt overwhelming. I miss her terribly.
      Couldn’t care less about stbx anymore-definitely approaching meh on Tuesday. Once her estate finally closes, I can take my inheritance (and my son) and be off into the sunset.
      My mom told me that was her parting gift to me…..my financial freedom from the assclown

    • I had 2 family members murdered and had a stillborn child. What that pig did to me nearly broke me because he did it on purpose

  • It helps if you stop picking at the scab on the wound. I thought about Jackass for a long time, considering that we hadn’t been married for 20 years. And I was almost non-functional during the big discard lead-up to D-Day. That was 3 full months of misery in itself. It’s bad to be blindsided about the affair. It’s different but just as bad to endure the discard with no explanation (lies, but not explanation) and then get hit with D-Day. Anyway, I found it was worst when my mind wasn’t busy. Driving in the car was an endless loop of things I wanted to say to him or untangling the skein. Bedtime was just as bad. What worked for me was breaking the cycle. In the car, I used music playlists and talk stations on satellite radio and forced myself to sing and to really listen to what people were saying. If my mind drifted to Jackass, I would yank it back. I’d switch stations if I had to. HLN was great because it runs “Forensics Files” a lot. That’s a TV show about forensic experts solving tough crimes that is available on sat radio but lacks the visuals. So I had to really pay attention. And CN has heard endlessly about my “Law and Order” habit late at night. I like that show anyway but it runs in marathons on many basic cable stations. I could lie down, turn it on, and fall asleep.

    So developing routines that are soothing to replace the “hamster on a wheel” thoughts was helpful to me. The best long-term solution for me was consciously re-thinking my life. If I had to start over, I wanted a clean foundation and I wanted to build something strong and vital for the long term. I was committed to the idea that any man who came into my life would have to accept me–and that life–as he found it. Of course, relationships do change us. I don’t mean that I expect a new partner to endlessly watch “Law and Order” every night. But clean diet, exercise, spiritual development, therapy, yoga and meditation are given. Service to others is a given. My career is a given. The care of my home is a given. Financial independence and forethought–given. Working on myself to develop confidence, gratitude, empathy and end co-dependence–given.

    I had lunch with an old friend yesterday. We were talking about her (mild) regrets that she gave up a promising career in a field she loved to raise kids and take a job to supplement family income. Now, with her financial situation well in hand and the kids grown, she can start to dream again about what to do with this next part of her life. We all, chumps or not, have things that get set aside or are out of our reach as we move through life. I was a pre-Title 9 female. I did not have a chance to play organized sports in school and have felt that loss forever. Who knew that I could join an adult league and learn at my age? It was like finding a huge lost part of myself.

    The opportunity that lies in the rubble of betrayal is self-discovery, without the need or seeming requirement to compromise our deepest selves to serve others. This part is no doubt more difficult for chumps who are raising kids or caring for elderly parents. But the idea of finding ourselves and living lives that are express more of ourselves can be a goal for anyone.

  • Hopeful and Anyone in Pain,

    All of this advice is critical and essential. No Contact being paramount.
    But, I am going to push the envelope a bit or a lot, and some might tell you this advice is wrong. But, I am going to share with you what helped me the most.

    Just so you know, when I discovered my X fiancee was cheating, I wanted to die. As in…was exploring ways to do it and how to liquidate my assets so my dogs and cat would be provided for after my death. This is pathetic. But true.

    But, here is the problem. There was no one….repeat No One, I wanted to spend time with more than my X. It is just a horrible joke from the Universe. He could be a delight, in every way. Was it all fake? I think, in the moment, he meant some of the things he did and said. But, he has the impulse control of a two year old, and the ethics of a baboon. And he simply does not give a damn that I am suffering.

    One factor that seems to make this pain exquisite, like a hot blade of steel in our gut, is *they are not alone*. We are the ones that are alone. They are with their secretary ho, or whatever bitch/skank that partnered up with an attached man. And so we are told to meditate, or knit or take deep breaths or garden while they are fucking their brains out.

    It is a poor, sad substitute. I say: Get out there and date like crazy. Go and find someone else. ASAP. This advice will be scolded, you need time to heal, etc.

    Nope. I have wasted enough time. I wasted three years. This advice has been pushed on me by a group of people with a unique perspective: the Hospice Patients I read to. They are incredibly good advice givers: they have nothing left to prove.

    And everyone of them, from the wealthy white woman to the elderly black gentleman tell me, emphatically, unequivocally while gripping my hand and giving me the REAL death stare: Get back up on that horse. We are not meant to be alone. Go and find someone else. Forget that loser. Start dating!

    You see…the hounds of death are not nipping at their heels. He is sitting in the corner, patiently waiting. (Thanks Emily Dickenson). Should you do therapy? Of course. Should you take time to recalibrate your picker? Maybe. But maybe you did not have a bad picker. Maybe he is just a fucking asshole who hid it a long, long time. Many people have been fooled by an asshole, the best and brightest. (See Madoff).

    Could you find an another asshole? Yes. But, you may not. You might find someone who goes down on you for an hour (raising my hand) and brings you medicine when you are sick and tells you over and over…this guy was a fucking dumb ass to leave a woman like you.

    And Hopeful, that feels better than any deep reflecting and analysis while walking on the beach alone does any day of the week. Meet someone. Find someone else. We were not meant to walk through the earth alone. “He” is not alone. He is probably happy. Now, everyone on here (ME INCLUDED) can’t wait for them to crash and burn, but guess what? You could waste years of your last, watching Netflix alone, waiting for that to happen. Will it? I don’t know.

    But what I do know is this: Your life is running through your hands like water. You have to grab some happiness where you can. HE is not concerned if you feel like hurling yourself off a bridge.

    Not worth it. Some may say, learn to be by yourself. I have been by myself enough. I want to hold someone else’s hand, someone who is not a pathological liar, and laugh, kiss, talk, text, be delighted when I see that phone number, have sex.

    A burden shared is a burden lifted. This website is magnificent, but I can’t be there to go to the grocery store with you, and no one else can either. It is the loneliness after a life spent with an “other” that makes it so horrible. Find someone and have fun. Go crazy. Take a risk (with proper protection). Don’t run and give away your treasure to some random. I mean…go out there and be IN the world, and that includes flirting, dating and having sex…IMMEDIATELY.

    Part of him being with someone else IS rejection, anyway we sugar coat. I, too have a incredibly hard time accepting this. But it happened.

    There is someone out there who will think you are the bees knees. Go and find him/her. It is the best medicine I have found.

    *It takes you out of the story: I was cheated on and duped and into the new story: I am with a man who stares at me like I am Goddess. You have the change the story, Hopeful.

    Fake it if you must, but “get out there amongst ‘um” -Thank you, Hospice Patient Robert.

    • Sylvia,

      As always, your posts make me smile and tear up. Your advice is wonderful for some. Not for me though. I don’t have it in me to be someone else’s “other.” Not yet. Maybe never. The difference for me is, I feel liberated. I don’t feel sad that I’m alone. I don’t know what that means exactly.

      • Dearest Done4Good,
        I think it means you are so tired, emotionally and physically, that you don’t have anything to give anyone….yet. Honestly, Done4Good….I have to force myself to go on these dates.

        Sometimes I cancel. I would much rather curl up in my soft nightgown, get some peanut butter ice cream, give all my “children” yummy treats and we can binge watch something and then drift off into blissful sleep. I did that for a while.

        But, I think I am missing my life. As sad as it is, I will not be able to compete with 40 years old when I am 70. I still have some youth in me. I truly love having sex and all that entails. I don’t want to miss that because of this motherf*cker blowing up my life! I have love bursting out of my pores to give someone. I wanted to give it to my X. But….not to be.

        But here is the magic-when I force myself to go, I always feel better. I was on a date, and one woman at the grocery said, “You have a good spirit!”….??? This was great for my date to see, by the way.
        Then, we were at a Redbox, moments later, and another woman, said, “You are so pretty.”

        It is because I was glowing. I am not some great beauty. I was actually NOT thinking about the fact that the man I craved like a crack head craves his pipe, was not foremost on my mind and it was making me giddy, happy, excited. I was like a light stick. It felt so free to be with someone, and not stewing in all that grief, loss, ANGUISH, as you said.

        Secretly, I was ready for a couple of the dates to be O.V.E.R. And the man that spent the night, I was so ready for him to go. I could NOT cook him breakfast, because that was my thing with my X.

        But…while he was here….I felt energized, and half way normal. It might be another version of watching Law and Order. Which is okay, too. But maybe….maybe…I will meet someone that grabs me.

        If you are okay being alone, that is what your mind is craving. It might be want you need right now. Being with someone might feel oppressive. When I first starting dating, it made me long for my X.

        But, when that despondency comes, with the realization that someone you adores is in bed with some f*cking bitch cunt, sometimes a hand to hold onto can be like….a miracle. Someone holding your gaze and and saying, That man was a fool, can feel like a shot of morphine when we have been cruelly discarded.

        I hope it is not “never” because the way you write, the insights you have, the vibe I get…you are too wonderful to be alone forever. I wish you lived close…we would go out to eat. Heck, we could get into all kinds of trouble. 🙂

        Fun is lacking when an ass clown shits all over our lives. We need to have some fun.

        Kisses and hugs.

        PS
        While you are alone, check out this movie. I watched a movie last night that was a masterpiece of acting. It is “Julia” and stars Tilda Swinton. I literally sat there is awe of her. Watch it! It will take you out of your life and you will be transfixed. (It is NOT about cheating in anyway.)

        • I would LOVE to get into some trouble with you Sylvia. I think you would be a kick-ass friend to have and that M-fcker of yours was a complete moron to walk away from something so special.

          You know what else? I think deep down, even the worst NPD and other types of PDs realize on some level what they had and completely destroyed but they are so fucked up they can’t get out of their own way to make one g-damn good decision to make their lives worthwhile so the only thing they can do is to keep making fucked up decisions. I’m speaking as someone who’s seen these types live their lives this way only to reach the end heavy with regrets and no one left around to comfort them. You can rest easy knowing, you won’t end up like that.

      • I think the decision whether or not to date or seek another mate is a very individual one and depends on the situation. Personally, I would rather stick a hot poker in my eye than seek a relationship. Why? Because I am experiencing a freedom I have not felt in almost 40 years! I love, love being alone. I cherish letting my needs come first. I have spent my entire adult life in a relationship. I now want a relationship with me!

        Now, I do not claim that my path is for everyone or that I somehow have greater insight into what is the best way to heal. For me, though, I have so needed this time of peace. As a woman of a certain age, I see this time alone as my gift to myself.

        • I’m with you Violet. I feel exactly the same way. I finally own my own life, and I finally have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and how I want. It’s a totally delicious feeling.

        • About taking time to fix your picker or dating ASAP. I was alone for 3 years before I deliberately started dating again. I thought I had taken time to sort myself out. I thought I went into the dating thing carefully. Look where that got me. This time right after the traitor left I tried dating just to remind myself that normal is out there, I just have to go and meet him. But I am empty, every man makes me suspicious and I have no patience. Really I’m not even interested in getting to know someone. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to do that without being really invested. I hate thinking that no one enjoy my sexy self and I don’t enjoy anyone. But that’s how it is. I wish I could do what you are doing Sylvia.

    • Wonderful advice, really. I am one month post divorce but the first D-Day (there were 4, all about him cheating with the same OW he left me for) was six years ago and I do want to find another ‘partner’ (he really wasn’t my partner). But I am sapped of energy, having danced so hard to get him to pick me (which he didn’t). The last D-day was a year ago in May, and I have used the year to get my career and money in order, as much as i could. I still have trouble understanding and accepting that I just didn’t matter. I have trouble understanding and accepting why I gave everything and i was the one left alone. I have trouble understanding and accepting (although I now do believe) that he wasn’t at all the person I loved for 35 years, and that he was intentionally cruel. At the end, he completely abandoned me financially and stopped talking to me, running away to a new life he thought would be ‘a breath of fresh air’. The only problem is, that air must be rancid as it is being breathed by two habitual liars and cheaters. I am still vulnerable. So NC, while very very damaging as it is total silent treatment, is better for me. I am sad that I am alone. I feel like I wasted so much of my life as he had been cheating (as least with this OW) for at least 9 years (I found out 6 years ago). But I do feel peace in my home as no one is criticizing me and lying to me. I am not desperately hanging from that cliff, trying to convince him to stay with me. I am no longer afraid but I am in limbo. Sylvia, I would so much like to date and find a real person to love, not like this bs lying piece of crap who purposely wasted my time. But maybe I am just not there yet.

      • Dear LostandFound,

        That’s right and understandable, because you have been through a life and brain emergency. Your brain is trying to process this nightmare and it cannot find any reason or logic to grab. Your post leapt out at me, when you wrote about “I don’t understand….” and “I am having trouble understanding…”. Sister, I am so there with you. I actually go on walks and talk out loud…Why did this happen to me? I don’t understand.
        That is my mantra…I Do.Not.Understand.

        Now, this is going to sound bonkers. But, do you know what has helped me understand? Watching Forensic Files. (Stay with me). It helped me understand that….SOME PEOPLE ARE EVIL. They are bad news. They can smile and give you a second portion of mac and cheese and they are planning to murder you next Tuesday for a 50K life insurance plan. Just think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. People can be vile.

        So, why did he discard you? He thinks he is missing out on something. He wanted to have sex with someone new. He did not value what he had. His repulsive “breath of fresh air” (what an original thinker he is! he should have his own Ted Talk…Not).

        But, I don’t believe in universal justice, but I do know this. Someone cited it the other day: Wherever you go, there you are. He is who he is. A cheater. A LIAR. A trickster. Dangerous.

        I do not believe people lie in only one area of their life. He will lie to this pond scum bitch OW.
        He will probably cheat on her. It is a habit in their lives, not a one off aberration. Further, we will never find understanding with a pathological liar. It will not come. I have to accept this. So do you.

        So, I lost 3 years. You lost 35 years. This…it is incomprehensible. But, maybe we frame it different. You did not lose them. I don’t think it was ALL false. These cheaters are not capable of true bonding. In the moment (like an infant) they meant some of what they said. But it was a promise written in snow. They are fake. Hell, they don’t even know what they want. We could not please them because their hearts have a hole in it. Like a bucket. All the love we gives them just pours out onto the ground.

        All stories are not meant to last forever. This is over with this Shithead. And I will never have that wonderful sex, laugh and look into the eyes of my X again. It is over. (I have been discarded as well. The silent treatment is horrible…but never try to contact them. The pain is unbearable).

        But…what if…when you get your energy back, YOUR life, and you have a lot left…could be the masterpiece? IT COULD BE. You have achieved peace in your home. You escaped a pathological liar.

        What’s next? Anything you can dream up. I believe you will get there. The true defeat would be letting these cheaters steal the joy for the rest of our lives. My X gave me an STD. He jeopardized my safety and my health. He made me feel like I was having a heart attack. I wanted to kill myself.

        He does not get one more drop of me. Found (because you are not Lost!) you may have to act first , and then the feelings will follow. But, for a fellow chump, put up a dating profile. It is fun, (if you ignore the morons who send you photos of their dicks!) and just see what happens. What’s a coffee with a man after the hell you have been through?

        We have this one precious life. Let’s grab it by the balls and get after it!!! Fuck these cheaters.

    • I’m so glad to see someone giving this advice. I’m so not ready yet (2 months from D-Day, haven’t filed, etc.), and I don’t think I’ll be ready for another relationship for a long time, BUT in the past sleeping with a new person after bad breakups was the final act I needed that would finish severing emotional ties with the ex. It’s different for everyone I guess, but maybe something to consider for those who are mostly done grieving but not ready for a new relationship.

    • Sylvia, you do not SOUND sad, and I love it!

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me, with us. It’s particularly accepting and life-affirming which is where I am (2yrs out) but still need some reminding.

      A little story: A year after Dday, I made up my mind I was going to do something on “that date” so I didn’t wallow, so I booked a cruise in Scotland. And onboard I met a handsome chef, and after the cruise we hung out (never left his flat) for about a week, and it was AWESOME!! After many years of a sexually unsatisfying marriage, I was finally ME again, and it felt so amazing! — It didn’t work out in the long run, but if nothing else, I can remember Chef and get a little smile on my face. — That was over a year ago, and dating has re-become drudgery, so I’m sort of out of the loop, but I flirt now and then. It’s fun!

      I also wanted to say this — I don’t remember where this was above, but this particularly resonated with me:

      “It is the loneliness after a life spent with an “other” that makes it so horrible.”

      I loved my husband. In truth, I didn’t always like him, but I built a very happy comfortable predictable life around him. And then, Poof! He disappeared. — I like being with an “other.” It’s more fun that way, to share the little things in life. I mostly feel like I divvy up my neediness among friends, trying not to overtax them. But no one wants to listen to the story about my grocery shopping trip, and XH used to, we’d laugh about it together, y’know? Even just last night, as a going-away dinner for a coworker, a part of me noticed that every single person at the table of about twenty people had a partner… except me. It made me clench for a minute but, well, that’s on me to fix that, if I want to. But that “being a part of other,” yes, that’s a hard thing to get past.

      Bad things happen. But all you can do is soldier on. And eventually you make & find things that dim the influence those things have over your current life. As my sister says, “If you must look backward, try not to stare.”

      Thanks again, Sylvia.

    • That is part of it to me too. It’s bad enough he’s left and apparently doesn’t love me. But he wants to be with that whoremat. I’m a far far far superior person and it doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t care. NOBODY would choose her over me! NO ONE! And yet he has. I deserve a happy ending. He deserves AIDS and death by house fire. That’s the shittiest part. I did everything right. He was an unethical piece of shit and he’s getting everything he wants. Some slut whore piece of shit to live with and I get a divorce. Yay me. Got my morals to keep me warm at night. I’m sure my goodness will make me happier and wealthier and make me laugh when I’m lonely. Woo. I rule. ☹️??

  • A few years ago, I went through what I thought was the worst emotional pain and anguish of my life. Ironically, that situation was experienced along with my now STBX. He wasn’t the cause of that pain, but we went through it together and because we both remained at each other’s sides, it should have made each of us stronger as a couple and individually. But the sad truth is, it revealed how strong I was and just how weak he was, which says a lot about both of us.

    That experience, while traumatic, was nothing compared to what followed years later with his infidelity and abandonment. Did that trauma have a direct impact on his poor behavior and decision making? It probably contributed to it, but as an excuse for lying and cheating? I think those character traits are more attributed to his poor life coping mechanisms, lack of empathy and the fact that his feelings of entitlement are stronger than any pain he might cause me.

    My Tuesday is coming. This I know for sure because I’ve survived before. I know I can survive this. I’ve learned to ignore those, even with good intentions, who try to put a time table on my grief and moving forward. I’m filing for divorce. I’m in minimal contact. He no longer has access to his cake which is outwardly upsetting him. CN is helping me. The rest is just a waiting game.

  • DDay: May 23, 2013
    Final Move out date: 5/1/2015
    Divorce Finalized: 4/6/2016
    Tuesday: Hasn’t happened yet. I still cry. I’m still angry and pissed off.
    I think once I have another companion in my life, Tuesday will come. It’s hard when my friends are married or taken and don’t have single friends to go out with to meet anyone.
    I know I’ll get there one of these days…. You will too.

    • You don’t need single friends to go out with–you need to figure out what you love, what feeds you, what makes you happy and then go do that. And when you do, you will meet new friends, sometimes of all ages, and they have friends and relatives, and so on. My life changed because I made a friend 30 years my junior, and a year later, she invited me to an activity where I met someone close to my own age. A bit younger but not outside my comfort zone.

      I don’t see anything wrong with dating, although I was one who needed to learn how to be happy outside of a relationship. About time, since I was over 60 on D-Day. And I deeply believe in fixing the picker before and during any adventures in dating.

  • Ladystrange,
    Like you, I found myself alone and didn’t think I had any single friends to go out with. I had the added complication of being new in a foreign country! I literally had no one to put as my emergency contact on my forms at work. Talk about scary.

    There are thousands of people like us out there. The smart ones just take the plunge…book a short getaway with one of the many singles travel groups. They are not meat markets, if you just go to make friends. You could start with a weekend getaway. They usually involve travel to another city, some sightseeing and dinners together in a group. Just take the first step, book it, take a cab to the airport or meeting place, and see if it doesn’t work, for fun, or making friends. Everyone else is just as nervous or shy as you might be.

    I met my current chump partner that way. We were both 55 and had given up hope of new relationships. We took it really slow, three years until we decided to share a home. That took negotiation, but the process of setting the ground rules teaches you a lot about a new person.

    • Thanks for putting your age in!! I’m 55, leaving a 25 year marriage with a narcissistic husband who, it turns out, has been cheating for at least 12 years! You give me hope that it’s not too late for me.

      • I am 52 and left an 18 year marriage (22 year relationship) with a narcissist who preferred to take prostitutes and sugar babies to lunch and hotels in the afternoon as opposed to going back to his office. We spent all our evenings and weekends together so I was oblivious. How could he have an affair when he seems happy and is with me all the time, except when he is at work??? He told me all the time how much he loved me …until the day that I came across his special email account by accident (thank you google and Apple for the gift of my new life). Shortly after my own D Day, my neighbour, aged 74 reached into her semi-retired husband’s briefcase to get his car keys and found the evidence that led to her discover that he is gay and has had a secret life with young male prostitutes for the entire 44 years of their marriage. His response? “Yeah, so?”. She tossed him out and has started over, alone, but mighty and not wasting a minute of life.

        • Indomitable,
          All the double lives. It worries me greatly. There is a Russian novel: Above All Things, the Heart is Treacherous. (rough translation).

          I am sorry your husband was having this repugnant double life. Paying for sex. How are you doing?

          So now, what is this 74 year old might woman’s secret? How is she so tough? Because a 44 year lie that he preferred penis to vagina would have me lying in bed for a very long time.

          Please tell me.

      • Shattered,
        It’s never too late. After I met my new chump friend, I went on another singles holiday (while chump friend was climbing hills, something I don’t do!) and I witnessed another chump woman our age meeting and befriending a widowed detective. They were both so sweet and I could see the mutual attraction. She wrote to me a year later and said they were still dating each other! I am a real fan of such groups…romance not guaranteed, but friendships, yes. I have retained and re-visited several other woman friendships from these trips. We have a group now that has quarterly reunions all over the UK…just about eight of us who met on a trip to Germany in 2013. we have so much in common but never would have met otherwise.

        • Can I ask how you found these groups? I’m always more interested in “doing things” than just a meetup group that has dinner once a month. Travel sounds cool. Or scuba-diving. Or hiking. Did you just Google “singles scuba”? How did you not end up with a bunch of twenty-year-olds?

          • NWBiblio,
            I live in the UK, but I just sat googling “solo holidays” and “single travel” and took a dice roll on one company that described itself as “for solo travellers, without single supplement” in other words, not particularly cheap, but definitely meant for people on their own. It turned out to be a riot…when I got to Heathrow check-in for the first trip, I met up with the guide, and about four other women all in the 40-60 range, all by themselves and nervous as heck about meeting new people. Within a few minutes, we were all yakking, laughing, and planning hijinks in the week ahead. I have done solo cooking trips in Italy, hiking and walking in Germany, wine tasting in France, botany in England, scuba in the tropics, and recently, pilates boot camp. All alone, meeting new friends, female and male.

            Just make sure the travel company has some good feedback on independent review sites. Some of them even have forums you can go on to chat with people who have travelled with the companies before. It is a booming industry and well worth a try.

  • This is so amazing. My favorite is “Feed your heart. Hand it other things to love. Yes, at first those things won’t be as satisfying as the Fuckwit, but over time they will be. You’re grieving, you will have a hard time experiencing joy at first, but still keep feeding your heart. It WILL come around. Fill your life with friends and new adventures, and meaningful work.”

    Such good advice. I’m at that stage where my heart no longer hurts (maybe an occasional twinge) but he still invades my head like those Ceti eels from Star Trek. I want him out of there too, but I guess that just takes time and in the meanwhile, I will feed my heart.

    • “I’m at that stage where my heart no longer hurts (maybe an occasional twinge) but he still invades my head like those Ceti eels from Star Trek”.

      I will also add that my head no longer hurts now either.

      AGYG and CN, I am no expert by a long shot but the pain, grief, hurt and sadness does start to fade and one day we wake up and it has all but gone. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would stop loving and grieving for my ex husband but I have. He chose to kill “our” love whilst in reality it was only “my” love because he never cared about me for one moment. I was the dirt under his shoes now that I look back when in fact he is the dirt not me. NC has proven to be so therapeutic for me and I have absolutely no desire to look at or hear anything to do with him and the prostit-tot. He has made his bed and so be it. My life is actually very nice now and I am starting to enjoy life just like I was doing before I started dating the predator and that was over 40 years ago. I am lucky to still be around and very healthy to be able to enjoy the sunshine again. My head and heart are now on the same page, finally.

  • Keep at that No Contact, and the pain will subside.

    Slowly. Quickly. In fits and starts. Two steps forward and one step back.

    But it does occur. As time went by, I could feel my head retraining my heart–teaching my heart what love really was, and how little my ex wife actually cared for me.

    Now I have a wiser heart. Some scars, yes, but that’s part of how wisdom is gained–it’s earned. And the women who are interested in me don’t care that I have scars. They see how I’m stronger for what happened to me. The same will happen for you.

    Good luck to you!

    No contact was best for me

  • Omg, am I happy to have found you! Someone on Daily Strength mentioned you and I fell into this post that I really needed to hear. I love your delivery too — humorous, but razor sharp.

    What resonated for me was the “your heart is like a toddler — it needs a distraction.” I had a very brief online romance — he pursued, I responded (ok, I got a bit swept up,) he freaked and bailed. I’m hurt and disappointed — his attention and our sexting sent shockwaves through my heart and body. (After literally years of neglect, I am delighted to find out that my 55 year old body still wants SEX!!)

    Ok, so I need to see it for what it was — a shiny new toy that met my heart’s need for distraction. I know I need to see it as a gift and that’s There are others out there who will find me attractive and give me affection and lust after my body.

    My heart still aches from grief and regret, but It helps to understand that I don’t need to wait until I’m healed to move on — that moving is what will help me heal.

    • Hi Mo,
      Bingo! Sometimes you have to act and then the feelings will follow.
      I am stealing your line! ” Idon’t need to wait untill I am healed to move on-Moving on is what will help me heal”.

      Do NOT feel bad. I can come on too strong at first, too. LOL! But, normally it is because I am being Sherlock Holmes. I jump right into character analysis. I have not met anyone yet that I was zoning on, but if I did, I know I would have to say, Whoa Bessie. Because I am chomping at the bit.

      I need to calm down at that. But, yes, sex is healthy and healing and someone will want to eat you up!

  • Mine doesn’t want to come back. Mine is happy if I move on and get a life. It relieves his guilt, it makes him think I’m hurting less (he likes to ask, “So, are you feeling better now?”) and he’s free to play house with his whore and her money without worrying about me. Gosh, golly, he’s taking care of me NOW … he’s so concerned for my welfare, and what will happen to me. Isn’t he a great guy??? Well, where the fuck was he when I needed him the most? That’s what I have to keep telling myself … he has no desire to be with me but he still likes me, he’s all nicey-nice now while we still share assets, he’ll be fair or generous with anything I get from them, and a lot of people with nastier narcs might like that, and I should count myself lucky. But it’s still rejection … it’s being put in the friend zone, not worth living with, and that hurts. It’s almost like if I make a better life for myself, I’m making him happier in the process, so his consequences from having his affair are zero. But I know I can’t sit around and be miserable just so he feels guilty.

    I like the comment above about not wishing for karma, but moving on and being patient. I’m trying to do that.

    • “it’s being put in the friend zone, not worth living with, and that hurts.”

      Of course it hurts. He is attracted to someone else, is having sex with that person, and doesn’t want to be with you physically or romantically. He is no longer attracted to you, but wants to keep you around like you’re a family member, like a sister or a cousin. You’ve been downgraded to a platonic friend and that is so rejecting and hurtful. That’s not what you signed up for when you married him. But that’s how cheaters see us, like platonic friends or family members they care for, but have no more romantic feelings towards. Their dick has already moved onto to someone else, hence the reason they want us to move on. They certainly have. That’s why NC is awesome if you can do it, it foils their plans and it signals that they’re not a good person, hence the no contact.

      • Kellia, I read ur comments from different sites. I must say I never miss it. You have ways with words…….straight to the point and so true…Don’t stop…I love it…

    • Hey Champ-
      Can you do me a favor?
      If there is ANY WAY you can…go hard core no contact with this cheater.

      He does not get the benefit of hearing your voice if he cheated on you. Go stone cold no contact, or gray rock if you have children.

      When reading your post, my stomach knotted up for you. Do not make it so easy for his faux guilt. He asks “are you feeling better now?”…after he stabbed you? No. No. No.

      If you do have to talk, be curt and say: “I have to go. My date is waiting.” Create another man in your life. Don’t let him think you are just waiting for him to call. He does not get the pleasure of your voice.

      Dignity is important! Do NOT talk to this ass clown. Not to play games, but to protect your heart, your soul.
      It will make him wonder.

      Champ…if I had any contact with my X, I would not be able to post on this site, take of my pets, cook or work. I would be slobbering in a mental care ward, being fed soft foods and wondering when my next does of anti psychotic meds was coming. I am not joking. Or in prison.

      There is no way I could make ANY progress if I heard his voice. Seeing him? FUGET ABOUT IT.

      Protect yourself. GO HARD CORE NO CONTACT! I *know* it will make you feel better.

      • You guys are right … I did get to 30 days of NC and was feeling okay, and then he contacted me … I actually don’t initiate contact, but we do share a few things still which I’m slowly taking over, but it involves dealing with him from time to time and then it digresses a bit … not as much as it used to when I was doing all the pick-me sobbing. In fact, now that I’m not bringing anything up of a personal nature, he is trying to. I don’t let him know he’s getting to me.

        It’s when that contact is over that I have to regroup and eat chocolate and get back into NC… so yeah, when I finally take over everything financially, then he’ll be out of the picture.

        By them revisiting your life, it’s like they’re leaving you over and over … not just the faux reconciliation, but dropping by to sign a form … and then they’re gone, back to Twat-face. I don’t know how you people with kids do it.

  • Dear Hopeful

    You listen to Chump Lady. She is giving you good advice. Print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror. On D-Day, my anger about the waste of the “best years of my life” was matched by my rage in knowing that it would cost me another two years that would be applied to grieving, processing all that had happened, mucking my way through the legal process and helping my children adapt to a “new normal”. I was right. It has taken that long but really, the intensity of sadness and grief subsided pretty significantly after about a year. Everyone is different and be very kind and patient with yourself. No contact is essential. Stay strong with the support of your fellow chumps. You are already well on your way.

  • Dear Hopeful, I’m 4.5 years out from D-day after a 36 year relationship with my ex. We met at 16 and 17 years old, and I have to admit that I wasn’t sure I could survive being discarded so callously. Just yesterday a memory from D-day flashed into my mind and I started to tear up, then I forced myself to think of something else to not “go back there.” Most of the time I feel pretty happy, though.

    I’m a bit worried about having to see my ex more after my first two grandchildren are born soon, however. When I stop to ask myself why I’m so afraid of interacting with him again it’s more a fear that the intense pain and overwhelming emotion will come back. However, I’m not the same person I was when this first happened to me, and I’ve had several years to work through the pain. Hopefully having to interact with him won’t bring it back up because a lot of it has been resolved.

    Unfortunately, my mind still seems to search for him like some sort of “lost object,” because occasionally I’ll see someone who looks like him and it’ll cause me to have an anxiety attack. At the same time, however, my heart seems to wish it was him.

    Sometimes I do still miss the person I once loved, but I know he’s not there any more, if he ever was to begin with. I have no desire to talk to him or hear anything that’s going on with his life.

    I don’t find that a new relationship has replaced the one I had with my ex. After all, how can someone else take the place of a person you spent most of your life with? It is nice, however, to discover that I can enjoy another person in a different way.

    For the most part I’m happier to be captain of my own destiny. I enjoy living life on my own terms instead of trying to pretzel myself to fit into someone else’s.

  • Each small step will lead you to Meh, and that special Tuesday!

    1) Step 1 – No Contact (it’s really hard – shot for 60 days – it took me 5 months to get a soild 60 days of NC)

    2) Step 2 – Each small step you take you will feel better.

    3) Step 3 – Keep a journal and write your pains out (never write him/her – never want a response) I failed many times.

    4) Step 4 – Remember step 2

    5) Step 5 – Care for yourself and family

    6) Step 6 – Move your divorce forward (you’ll never feel free until the chain is broken) – Though I’m divorced, I still have to deal with my x for child support and college – It’s hard, and sets you back each time you have to deal with them on divorce issues.

    7) Step 7 – go back to Step 4 and Step 2

    8) Step 8 – Burn the journal you kept for a year about your pain and thoughts and say good bye.

    9) Step 9 – Start a new journal and write about your future, hopes and dreams why your grateful!

    10) Step 10 – I don’t know – I’m here repeating Step 2 & 4 and 7….LOL

    Hope this helps someone.

    This site has help me get closer to my Tuesday… I feel it coming:)

    • That’s a great list and shows how progress is not a straight line forward. We have a setback and start again.

  • I am 5 years from DDAY. We co-parent, but I kicked him out of the house and am NC except for issues about the kids. I have a full life – great career, 4 kids, lots of volunteering. I go through the motions of going through my life, but am nowhere close to meh. I still cry almost every day. His betrayal left a hole in my soul. I fear I will hurt the rest of my life.

  • I am 6 years out and still not at meh. I agree with topshelf…his betrayal left a hole in my soul that I’m not sure will ever go away. BUT, things are so much better than when it first happened. There were days that I’m surprised I didn’t die because I was so consumed with grief. He poofed on me so NC was easy. Even though we had a minor child, I never once had contact with him.

    Now, I’m mostly done with the tears but they can still come. And I probably still think about him every day. So even though I’m not at Meh, I’m a 1000x’s better than what I used to be.

  • Chump Lady mentioned in this post about “No one else will ever love me”. I’m stuck there. I can’t get that out of my head. 3 years since D Day, 1 1/2 years since divorce. And no one has expressed any sort of interest in me. I’ve fallen back to being all weepy about the ex. Wanting to be with someone so badly that I would almost go back to the crappy relationship we had, even before he had a 3 1/2 year affair before I found out. (They’re still together and happy as larks) Can anyone tell me how to get over that feeling of worthlessness..that no one will ever love me? I’m 47, live in a rural part of Iowa..and have no dating prospects. I’d love to hear other others have gotten through this!

    • Side note..I haven’t posted here for awhile. We were married 25 years, together for 26, and have 3 kids.

    • “And no one has expressed any sort of interest in me. ”

      Sandy, please don’t feel bad. It’s normal to feel this way. I live in NYC and I have tons of single friends and they all state the same thing. If you really want to meet people then you can online date or sign up for meet ups for events. It’s not by staying at home and doing nothing that you’ll meet someone. You really need to do something about it. And if you are in a rural area, than you need to put in more effort. It’s really all up to you.

      • Kellia..I am a bit wary of online dating. I’ve heard a ton of bad stories! And yep..rural part of northwest Iowa here. Not a lot of prospects..the majority of men here are married!

          • Sandy,
            If you have a passion, like riding horses or growing orchids, join clubs that focus on these passions. Then, you can meet people, but there will not be all that pressure, as there can be with online dating.

            Online dating is like life: hit and miss. But it is a numbers game. Sometimes, I log onto my dating site and I have over 500 messages. It is just too much and I become overwhelmed. But, my non responsiveness does not deter most of them. They keep right on emailing.

            You will find after what we have been through…our “red flag” antenna are very good. Like the man who got mad when I would not IM him right away…you know quickly who are the freaks.

            I do think the Internet is still a good way to meet someone. Just be careful about sharing address, personal info for a while. I bought a pre paid disposable through Straight Talk just for my online dating. I can change the number so easy.

            Also, (I am going to sound like Betty Freidan or some 50s dating coach) but if you TRULY want to meet someone (and it is okay for people who don’t) throw on some make up when you go out. I used to slop around and it did not make me feel too great.

            Confidence is sexy. Flirt. Make eye contact. Someone will flirt back. Who knows who is lurking by the Doritos?

            And then you are off to the races. Hell, I just flirted with a man in Dollar General. I don’t want to marry him. It is just about feeling attractive and desired.

            • ***Important to add: I flirted with a man in Dollar General AFTER sobbing in the car over my X on the way to DG.
              Fighting the urge to call him.
              Fighting the urge to email him.
              Fighting the ache that I want to be with him, after all his lies from hell.

              Yep…you see….baby steps.

    • As trite as this sounds, I think it starts with loving yourself, being good to yourself and making plans for the future you want. What is it you always wanted to do but couldn’t because you were so busy doing for others? Do that! I will be 59 years old this year and many folks see an old granny when they look at me. I don’t care one bit because I don’t give a flip about what other people think of me. My work is very rewarding and certainly has helped me stay occupied. But more than that, in my spare time I garden, read, paint, and yes, walk alone on the beach. I do things that keep my head in a good place. Yes, there are times that I am lonely, but I accept that loneliness as a part of the process. Finding ways to live a meaningful life has been my cure for those times of darkness and self-doubt. “Swim toward the light ” is my mantra.

      • Violet..I really don’t love myself right now. That would be a start, I know. I’m 47, divorced, single Mom now, overweight, thin hair..the list of negatives could go on and on. I am busy on some nights..my daughter just started her freshman year of high school and is heavily involved in sports. But then again just going to games brings me down. It’s tough seeing all of the families, and married couples. It’s just a vicious circle!

        • On not loving yourself … I had to work on that too. I’ve talked about it a lot here, how I had to deprogram myself from all his nasty opinions of me. I call it brain weeding. When a “you’re terrible and no one will love you because X” thought pops into my head, I yank it out and examine it. Usually it’s something from my time with Cheese Fries and I compare his opinion to reality. Mostly his opinion was crap or he made feel terrible about something normal people would accept in a spouse.

          For example, I’m a morning person and he’s a night person, but as the years went by he decided it was a major crime on my part that I went to sleep at 10 (because I got up at 6 to start the morning routine with the kids while he slept in because he was so tired from “working late” aka playing video games and whacking off to porn until 3am). So … being a morning person does not make me unloveable to normal people. Yet, sometimes his opinion was accurate and now I’m working on those issues.

          The more I brain weeded, the better I felt about myself. And like CL said, I “fed my heart.” This began as very simple things — like drinking lemonade in the summer, eating Haagen Das White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream, wearing my grandmother’s perfume because it reminded me of her, getting massages, watching movies that make me laugh and laugh. Even that much nourished me and healed some of the places he broke. I think feeling better about myself and accepting myself was a by-product of all this.

          Not that I don’t have my moments. I’m overweight too and rarely make an effort beyond jeans and a T-shirt. Sometimes I feel like crap about it, but I’m trying to reframe and work on exercising more for health … and because it’s good to take care of myself. Something most of us chumps don’t do enough of.

          • To try to beat the sadz, I found that a modified diet helped … I had been cooking for him for years and eating what he ate, and yet his dietary needs were probably the opposite of mine, because when I switched back to how I used to eat, I felt better. Also, sometimes if you’re still sad after a period of time and you can’t shake it, it can be thyroid problems or adrenal fatigue, or even lack of B12, iron and/or vitamin D. We might have depleted our bodies during the years from hell and not even known it, so it’s worth looking into. I’m no naturopath, but I do know that B12 before bed makes you remember your dreams, which I don’t like. And be careful with iron. Oh, and chamomile tea is lovely before bed. And staying hydrated (it’s free!) All those things can help with the sadz. Also, a good breakfast with protein … I started one morning with a coffee and doughnut, and was crying by noon! I never thought I’d cry because I ate a doughnut.

            Maybe we should write a CN Narc-bustin’ Cookbook.

    • I’m 64. I have a Very Kind Man I’m dating, but it took 2 full years to be ready to do that. And I was not coming off a long-term marriage with kids.

      It’s true, I think, that there are generally more women than men in the population, so there is likely some truth to the idea that it is harder to meet men. When my aunt died, my uncle was besieged by single women. Here’s how I think about it: I had a very specific career objective when I finished my doctorate. I wanted a particular type of college in a particular city and I wanted a very specific type of position that not all colleges have. I was told I was too old to get any job ,and there were only 2 schools in the city and maybe 1 more within an hour’s drive that met my criteria. But I knew what I wanted and I spent my time in grad school networking and preparing for that job. And I got it. Now, I would say I am both fortunate and grateful. But I made my own luck. You don’t need a lot of men. You need a particular kind of man who will fit with you and whom you will find attractive. Then you get busy working on being happy, productive, confident and kind. You work on doing things you love with other people who are like-minded and then your world opens up a little at a time until you find yourself either on a date with a nice man or too busy to care if you aren’t.

      CL says, “Feed your heart. Hand it other things to love.” There are thousands of kids who don’t have homes or true families. There are animals living in cages in shelters. There are old people far more lonely than we are. There are veterans trying to rebuild lives. I met someone today whose young daughter has ALS. Those people and animals need your love. Why is it that the only love we think really counts is “romantic love”? I may be in a minority position here but I was far lonelier being married to an alcoholic than I am in my life right now.

  • Hang in, Hopeful! It took me a solid 3 months of strict NC to feel some relief. I admit I did look at his social media profile a few times, to “remind” myself what a self-absorbed asshole he really is. Yes, he was on a yoga retreat and living it up while I was crying myself to sleep every night, but I wouldn’t trade places with him. To heal, the heart needs to be sad, to feel, to release. The measure of your pain is directly proportional to the depth of your love and commitment (same for him!). It means you’re a loving, caring human being. As CL says, trust that he sucks, but trust that you’ll heal too. You DO come out the other side of this darkness, even if some days it barely feels that way. On my worst days, I just went to bed really early, so at least my mind and body could rest if I couldn’t use the time more productively. Take strength in the numbers here. There are many of us chumps, male and female, and we’re mighty. We rebuild every day. Many hugs to you, your sister in the struggle, K

  • For me, the pain is not completely over but, this is what I tell myself daily; my heart gave up on you and your broken promises. My heart no longer knows you. When it looks at you now all it sees is ugly. I don’t want ugly. I want a beautiful heart to match my own.

  • My dday was the day after Christmas 2009 & ex-asshat fled 3 weeks later. Almost 7 years later I still have pain but it is deep down. Unfortunately being together for over 26 years, my past is full of him, full of us. I’m struggling financially even with a college degree+ & that pisses me off on a regular basis. (I will retire in 15 years & I will be ok thanks to my divorce settlement). I have a second job at a big box home repair store & everyday I see couples of all ages buying home improvement products & I get a pit in my stomach because that used to be us but can’t be me now. Tears are welling up as I type this. I don’t have a good support system (deceased parents & a brother overseas) so I think I haven’t bounced back sooner but I am making it. I didn’t find this site until after my divorce but it has been a godsend. He sucks but I’ll be ok.

    • Why is 25 years “Give or Take” such a common time to crash and burn ????
      My 25’th Anniversary would have been this coming week.
      Maybe I am seeing the world through my lens.
      But it sure seems like there is really high percentage of people on this board whose world imploded at or very close to the 25 Year mark.
      I’m 9 months past D-Day.

      • In my case, I think the older my ex got, the sloppier/more careless he was about covering his tracks… And I was not too keen about tolerating cheating on top of all of the other BS I had put up with over the years.

        • This! “And I was not too keen about tolerating cheating on top of all of the other BS I had put up with over the years.”

          We hit the 22-year mark too. In our case, we had kids at the 12-year mark and all his asshattery rose to the surface, including D-Day #1 (answering sex ads when I was nine-months pregnant). I hung on another 10 years, progressively shutting down emotionally and developing health problems. Now I think the final D-Day saved my life! Despite all the horrific pain of the last year, my health problems resolved and I’m more present in my life than I’ve been in a long time.

          • I think one reason is that sustaining the mask gets harder and harder. I think also that many of these people were having affairs of one type or another for a long time and just didn’t get caught. Then there ‘s the possibility that they think your “sunk costs” will keep you in the marriage, no matter what, so why bother to be discreet? And finally, some of them can’t hide their contempt for us any more.

          • Having kids is a big game-changer. That’s when I really noticed that my ex wasn’t “all in” the marriage… It was all very subtle, be he couldn’t pretend to be excited about the responsibilities of parenthood. He dumped all of that on me — because kids require attention and are needy. Narcs can’t be bothered with that stuff…

            • Mine too. But he excused himself under the guise of having a demanding job (doctor). Turns out he considered screwing nurses and dietitians part of his job!
              I had worked so hard – big time chump – to keep him connected to our kids. I constantly sent texts and photos when he was “working.” No that we are divorcing, I no longer enable him. He can communicate directly with the kids if he chooses. Turns out he has no real relationship with them. And, if it didn’t make him look bad, I don’t think he would even care.

              • Exactly! They check out, but take care to protect their “shiny” image while doing so.

          • Glad You are healing Better Days.
            In many ways this has been a very positive thing for me
            A wake up call.
            I see clearly that I lived with a Woman for a very long time who didn’t value me.
            The discovery of he affair and her shitty behavior in t time since clarifies a lot.

            Better Days Ahead !!

      • Mine left at the 25 year mark also. Some times I think that he was always searching for “happiness” by buying things…..boats, cars etc. Or by changing jobs. One year he had 5 W2’s. But still the happiness was elusive so maybe he decided that I was the problem? And all of the things he bought he left behind when he escaped to be with schmoopie. From what I understand, his over spending ways still continue.

        • This is mine exactly. In their search for better they toss aside what is right in front of them.

  • CL is spot on as usual. The hardest part of moving on is eliminating the monster from your head. I have been No Contact for years, but the remnants of his mindfuck still get to me at times.

    We were de-humanized. The lies, abuse, and betrayal are so overwhelming and incomprehensible… It’s hard to imagine, let alone accept the reality that we fell in love with someone who did not value us as a person and someone who went to great lengths to project the image to the world that he was a nice guy.

    I was used and discarded by someone I loved and trusted, and I lost my trusting and loving self as a result. “Hotel California” comes to mind.

    I am MUCH happier without my ex. I know that I am a genuine person. I don’t know what the future holds for me now (still trying to figure that out and overcome some insecurities/fears), but I am absolutely sure that I escaped a future of hell with him.

  • Hi, Hopeful –

    I don’t know if sharing my timeline of healing will help or be discouraging. It has been over 9 years since D-Day #1 and 5 years since I filed for divorce. The daily pain is no longer there, but my heart still feels different. I really don’t know if it will ever completely heal. While I no longer think about my cheater, sex addict ex on a daily basis, the post traumatic stress and triggers are still present. At times they come out of nowhere.

    What I do know is that becoming friends with fellow chumps has been a lifesaver. They understand when I have hard days after all of this time. By witnessing their hard days, I can see that pain after all of this time is normal.

    What has been baffling for me is how much chaos and pain my cheater ex can still cause with no contact. He has left the country with no forwarding address and stopped paying all alimony and court ordered expenses. Without an address, I can’t even file contempt charges. While both of my kids (23 and 20) have chosen to go no contact with him, he still emails them every few months causing pain and chaos for them. The emails usually include pictures of him tan, in shape, waxed chest on the beach. My kids are disgusted. Most recently he emailed my son on his 20th birthday thinking he was turning 21. The result was my 20 year old son crying in my lap on the porch swing for a half an hour. The continued chaos and pain appears to have no end.

    What I do know is that healing does happen surely but slowly. Tears have become infrequent. I have started cautiously dating this past year. I am in graduate school to become a counselor to help others who have been betrayed like we have been. My heart is different from this experience, but also more compassionate and open.

    Keep moving forward with life knowing that this is not a pain that heals quickly!

  • Hopeful, I wish there were some pat formula out there but there is none when it comes to healing. I know that I needed to go through the pain to heal. Ignoring it just lengthened the healing process. Self-compassion was key to my healing, in addition to no contact, strictly enforced. Please check out the works of Chris Germer and Kristin Neff. Self-compassion truly teaches you to love yourself and be patient with your healing.

    I can’t recall now how long it took me to get to 100% meh. Maybe two years but the pain was definitely decreasing. I am now out about 3 1/2 years and I hardly think of the cheater ex, and when I do, I feel grossed out thinking that I procreated with that loser. It’s so weird. I never thought I could ever think of him this way since he had my heart. Someone here put it best: I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire. And I know I won’t.

    The key truly is to focus on yourself, feel the pain, be kind to yourself and focus on rebuilding a new life and KNOW, truly KNOW, that a better life after a cheater is 100% guaranteed. But you have to do the work. The time I spent healing were the best years of my life because I am now at a place where I truly care and love myself, and this self-love has allowed me to be more loving, more compassionate to myself and others. While I wish I became who I am today by sunning on the Riviera, I am grateful that I was able to turn the most painful experience I into a joyful (not problem-free) life.

    • Hi Uniquelyme..you mentioned you felt grossed out thinking that you procreated with that loser. I have to tell ya..I felt the same way! He was around for one reason or another, probably picking up our daughter (the few times he sees her) and I took a look at him and thought..WTF? I was attracted to THAT? Grossed out is the perfect term! I’ve often thought something weird..if he died, would I go to the funeral? This is the man I spent 26 years with..more than half of my life. Would I go? I know his skank ass whore would be there. What would you do? Just a curious thought!

      • Hi Sandy R. Oh, I wouldn’t waste my time going to the cheater ex’s funeral. Why? I have better things to do, like watch my toenails grow. I’ve wasted enough years on that loser. Why waste another minute?

  • I get the emails from Chump Lady when a new post goes up. I saw the topic this morning, and I have been waiting all day to get back here.

    I am nine months from D-Day. Within hours after I found out she cheated I left, and I haven’t seen her since. I went full no contact around two months. There has been a few grey rock emails and copious legal wrangling. Last week she sent me the first personal email since she went silent treatment in January after her namesake event at the gas station. Her email in its entirety: “Are you okay? Just checking in.” Ten years and all I get is two sentences. It’s so good to have my Chump Lady training. I just remained no contact. Wait and watch the channels change perhaps. So far we’ve got charm. If you can call it that.

    But to you, Hopeful. Esperanza… I can say that the constant hole in my chest is gone. It left about five months out. The mind movies stopped around the same time. The nausea and starvation stopped about three months out. I don’t wake up thinking of her. Mornings were the worst. The worst. Now I can go hours without thinking of her. We are still getting divorce, so I am realistic about purging her from my mind entirely.

    Now I find myself having experiences that remind me of her. Like – “oh, we were waiting for the next season of Project Runway to come out. I sure loved watching that with her… God I fucking hate the fuck out of her. Now I have to watch that show and think of the years of good times we had together.” That’s something like the internal dialogue. It’s a dull ache and sharp pains of anger.

    Or, a lot recently, people start to let their guard down around me. “Well it’s better now because y’all were so wrong for each other.” That’ll get my blood boiling. But, you know, I try to be tolerant. If they aren’t cheaters or chumps they don’t know. Switzerland must be a nice place.

    So, Hopeful, the pain is finite. That is another Chump Lady axiom you can take to the bank. Getting chumped sucks. He sucks. But its finite. And you rock. So make the best of it.

    • Ian
      I’m Nine months out since finding out my wife of 25 years is in an affair.
      Man, Your time line and circumstances sound really close to mine.
      For me at 7 months things got considerably better.
      Not at Meh but heading that way.

  • The most painful aspect of it all is the life I DIDNT have. Yes, I did what mattered to me, traveled alone, and got an education. I was robbed of an authentic life. I wanted another child and to have couple friends. I wanted to have adventures and just once have him look at me with love, kindness, and appreciation in his eyes. That for me is the deepest pain. This is why it takes so long to recover. I never knew him. I lived with a stranger.

    • DoingMe,
      But, you CAN have that with someone else. I am sorry. I know that feeling. I am not sure I ever knew my X either. He hid so much from me.

      Trying to have a relationship with someone who is disordered is impossible. Does it help to say you did the absolute best you could, with a shitty, no win situation? I hope so.

      You can still have friends, you could adopt, have a child, and you can find someone who will look in your eyes with kindness, appreciation and LOVE.

  • Chumplady’s response was so dead-on, here. No contact is the key. Then take time for you and find some things that you love. The pain seems bottomless, but it truly is not.

    Just an example: I just went for a jog around the Public Gardens in Boston. My ex proposed to me there, so for a long time, when I was still in the thick of the pain, this was a spot to be avoided. D-Day was a little over 7 years ago. I moved out 3 years ago and went no contact in every way. Divorce final about 2 years ago. Started dating 1.5 years ago.

    Here’s what I felt, running past that spot: Enjoyment. I enjoyed the sun, the ducks swimming in the pond, the kids playing on the grass, the podcast on my headphones. I remember that this was the engagement spot, but this no longer registers as a painful trigger.

    Everyone’s timeline and situation is a little different, but you will get there.

    • For me, too, these kinds of memories are now simply historical facts. They no longer hold the emotional attachments they used to have.

  • Hi Everyone,

    Hopeful here. I’ve been busy all day at work and anxiously waiting to respond. First and foremost, thank all of you for your kind words of encouragement and sharing your experiences. It speaks volumes of the strength of the women and men who write on this blog.

    Tracy, Thank you for your response. It is a reconciliation of heart and head. Unfortunately, I am a very strong “F”, Feeler on Myers Briggs, so I feel deeply. I don’t trust easily but when I do, I am all in. I definitely was duped by him. One of the responses said that this probably not the first time he cheated on me. I suspect that is right and my career which takes me out of town frequently on business trips, provided him with the perfect opportunities to do so.

    I’m trying to focus on reality, what he did to blow up the marriage and his actions post separation, the lies and insults, even to responses to discovery, the exaggerations and the half-truths. The human mind has an amazing capacity to rationalize behavior under the guise of seeking happiness and the brevity of life.

    One post suggested that I date to move on. I appreciate the suggestion, but don’t want to do that right now. I’ve spent most all of my adult life married and in my heartest of hearts, feel that the healthiest thing that I can do, is to remain alone and sort out my life, my needs and my future. I don’t want to be like him, needy and incapable of surviving without someone else. I want to stand tall and strong on my own two feet, without someone else, at least for now, to have the chance to rediscover me.

    It is a painful process, but knowing there are others who have come out on the other side stronger and resolute is very reassuring.

    In the meantime, my very best to all of you who have been through horrific experiences that no one should have to experience in a life time. Keep supporting each other and providing encouragement. This is my first time posting and won’t be my last. Thank you strong and resolute Chumps. Godspeed.

    Hopeful

    • Dear Hopeful,
      I’m so glad you checked in to follow up on today’s post. You really sound like an intelligent person who appreciates truth. Since you are a feeling person, it makes perfect sense that you can’t just turn off your hurt. I think your current focus is a healthy decision – to be on your own for awhile in order to rediscover yourself. You sound very mighty and even though you’re still feeling the trauma from what your husband did, I can tell you made a lot of good progress under terrible circumstances. The rest will just take time. It’s a process, as someone here said earlier.

      For me, the stages were: shock at the discovery and I went no contact with him, then grief and depression at being discarded and lied to, next was the rage (this was the turnaround stage). Finally, acceptance of what he is, how I ignored all the red flags, how I won’t get some of those years back. I’m starting my life all over again, yet again. Instead of regretting, I want to be open to whatever opportunities come next .. but I’m way more careful now about people. All people. This isn’t a bad thing for someone like me.

      CL is right about feeding your heart. You are doing many adult and responsible things so don’t forget to fit in some fun to balance things out (hobbies, interests, entertainment that makes you laugh or inspires you). Keep looking after your health (mental, emotional, physical .. spiritual too).

      Although I don’t post here often, I read this blog nearly every day and I’ve gathered so much strength, understanding and clarity from doing so. A couple weekends ago, I was caught by surprise when I felt JOY while I was doing something I enjoyed with a nice group of people who shared the same creative interest. The moment of happiness felt great and long in coming, two years after the betrayal. I know I can look forward to more moments like this if I keep surrounding myself with good people only (this is absolutely key) and doing the things I really want to do.

      Take good care, Hopeful. Even if you don’t have time to post, just keep reading here so you’ll know you’re already on the right path. Sending my love to Tracy and Chump Nation. Thank you for all your wisdom and kindness.

      • Keep Narcs away,

        Thank you for your response. I’m sorry for what you have experienced and appreciate your post. It is a struggle for me each and every day and it is nice to hear that struggle is normal and it will get better over time. Frankly, I’m still in a bit of shock over all of this and trying hard to stop playing back events of the past in my mind. When I lose that battle, so many past events and instances take on a different meaning. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I see now the distance he put between us. I wasn’t looking for it before because I trusted him and believed that we would grow old together and spend the rest of our days, together.

        I’m so happy for you that you are beginning to find joy in life again. The saying is trite, but true that life is short a day getting shorter every day. I try to remember that if I find myself overwhelmed with grief. I force myself every day to take off the rose colored glasses and to see him for who he really is, not the image I thought he was.

        The question that haunts me that I have the most difficult time pushing out of my head is how he could do these things to me and look himself in the mirror every day. I know that I will never get a satisfying answer to this and I shouldn’t care, but it haunts me. I try to tell myself that there are many bad people in this world who do horrible things to others. They find reasons to justify their behavior and actions. They will always blame others and never take responsibility for their actions. There is no sense of accountability or empathy, only a sense of entitlement. He is one if these people. I made the biggest mistake if my life ever getting involved with him. I will regret that decision the rest of my life.

        For now, I take it a day at a time trying to adjust to my new normal and trying to sort through this mess and figure out the rest of my life.

        My very best to you. Hopeful

        • You will read many suggestions here of how he can look in the mirror every day. Initially some of the angry accusatory explanations were helpful to me, to help me hate him. But ultimately, I think my own particular XH (who never beat me or threatened me or took my money — I got off with a “light sentence,” as CL says) is just a flawed human being, like so many of us. It just so happens that his flaws allowed him to negligently run over my life with a steamroller. Talk of narcissism and personality disorder and all that… ultimately, to me, it doesn’t matter anymore. He did what he did. I’ll never really know why, and it doesn’t change anything. There’s no trophy at the end of this. He’s living his life (about which I know nothing) and I’m living mine — and my life WITH him is over.

          I spent a lot of my energy early on waiting for the Karma bus. “Oh, just you wait! He’ll pay! His life will fall apart!” But it never did. And then I started looking around at all the people I know whose fathers or husbands or friends abandoned their partners for someone else and those people are still together, sometimes decades later, and very happy. So watching him and waiting for him to fail seemed a bad idea all around.

          I’m about two years out. I, too, was impatient: when’s it gonna happen? when does it stop hurting? It’s different for everyone, but I will say that it has, over time, consistently gotten better. For me, it’s been about two years until I finally feel like I can shake off the dust that has settled on me and say, “OK, now, this Life thing. How do I get back to that?” — And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’ve been trying all along: meetups and hiking groups and … anything I can think of. But these past few months I finally FEEL more like it’s genuine instead of a forced way of making myself build new memories and relationships, which has felt like such drudgery sometimes. Now I’m excited about some possibilities.

          You may ultimately realize it wasn’t the biggest mistake of your life. Like me, you may realize you had some good experiences in those many years, regardless of how they ended or the horrible things he said (oh, I know — I really do know — If you don’t believe me, pick up the latest edition of “Runaway Husbands,” my own story is in there “Digging New Neural Trenches”). YOU were genuine. YOU were in the relationship. It mattered to YOU. And that’s all ultimately any of us have control over, sometimes not even that. But give that time, too. Don’t force it.

          How long does it take? However long it takes. By all indications, you’re very early yet in the recovery process. Yes, no contact — try not to snoop. When thoughts of him pop up, picture a giant stop sign: “Stop!” You can train your brain. REtrain your brain.

          The pain is horrible, but it lessens. You are strong. You can do it. Just one foot in front of the other.

          • This is a very thoughtful response. Thank you. I’m working on pushing the what if’so out of my head and over-analyzing history. The facts are the facts. This happened to me. I didn’t deserve it. I will never know why. In the final analysis, he is a dishonorable man who only cares about himself and his needs or perceived needs. There is a new shiny toy. She is the one who can finally give him what he needs until her polish fades and a newer, shiner toy comes along. I’m working on me for now sorting through this mess and focus on the next phase of my life. This chapter with exception of finances and logistics is closed. It is a process but I am getting there, one step at a time. Hopeful

  • don’t date to move on.

    the memories will always be painful, but the immediate feelings will fade over time.

    you want the pain to go away quickly because it feels so bad, but it’s not going to. it takes time and it’s a good idea to try and balance out the time you spend fretting over this horrible situation with some time spent doing good things for yourself. this worked well for me.

    i’m not convinced that there’s a formula beyond wanting to move on and being prepared to devote a lot of painful time to the process. doing good things will remind you that life is not all bad and that you can find ways to appreciate and enjoy it.

    the only other suggestion i would make is to maybe try not to pigeonhole yourself as a certain kind of person who reacts in certain kinds of ways. many people paint themselves as highly empathic and as a result they sort of prescribe themselves a way of responding to everything that happens. maybe you are empathic, but maybe you can also be tough. maybe you’ve got a dark sense of humour which you can draw on to pull yourself through. maybe some days you can just forget about everyone else’s needs and focus on your own. it doesn’t make you a bad person to not feel things deeply sometimes. sometimes you might feel insanely angry. so long as you’re not hurting anyone i reckon it’s a good idea to spend time having these negative feelings and finding safe ways to express them (i had access to a punching bag in my apartment block – i loved that thing).

  • The only advice I can give is that when you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness, remember to “HATE”. I mean H.A.T.E.
    Ask yourself “Am I Hungry? Angry? Tired? or Emotional? These items will compound any loss you may be feeling.

    I find that I’m usually overtired when I’m most prone to crying over divorce. Rest usually brings me a much better view of things.
    Keep yourself rested, fed well (nutrition) — separate your emotions and try to untangle what you really are really being bothered by.

    Hope it helps.

  • The head vs heart battle is intriguing. My background is in addiction and the parallels are similar – battles between the logical frontal cortex (e.g. “Alcohol is ruining my life”) and the primitive reward centres that crave pleasure and security (“go on, you can have just one drink!”). I guess it’s a deeply ingrained survival behaviour to be with someone, and those emotional memories of better times are so deeply ingrained.
    For that reason I found the list of things I disliked about my ex helpful. Whenever I felt weepy or sad, I’d read my list of 40 plus cold-hard facts about how disrespectful, obnoxious and flatulent he was.

    • Vastra

      Thank you. Your advice to focus on reality and the hard facts is very good. I am trying to do that.

      I am learning to be alone after being married essentially my whole adult life and to find solace and joy in that alone time.

      I listen to a lot of music and have always been drawn to lyrics. Indulge me to share one of many favorite lines by Fiona Apple, “I want your warm, but it will only make me colder when it’starts over so I can’t tonight.

      No, not Baby anymore. When I need you, I’ll just use your simple name. Only kisses on the cheek from now on and in a little while, I’ll only have to wave…”

      The evolution of a breakup…..once your Baby and love of your life to eventually just another nameless person who walks the face of the earth. Someone you used to know.

      Still Hopeful

  • I think you can control your head and heart to an extent, but the thing I have a problem with is my subconscious mind. It’s powerful and it’s irrational. The only thing you can do at least in my case, is see it for what it is and deal.

    My first boyfriend was a huge cheater. I was in love with him, thought he was my soulmate, blah, blah, blah. This was 40 years ago, by the way. I have not had any feelings for him in at least 30 years. I never think of him.

    YET, on a fairly regular basis, like maybe a couple of times a year, I will have a dream about this guy. The last time was a couple of weeks ago. I forget the dreams quickly but the feeling they leave lasts a day or two.

    I live in the neighborhood where we grew up and dated so I pass by places we were a lot, even his old house occasionally. I found I work with his cousin, and located him on fb a few weeks ago, by chance. Saw photos, including from the time we were together. Even one he gave me that I used to carry in my purse.

    The dream was strange, and the next day I was carrying the feeling that being with this guy felt like “home”. I was actually down a bit, even though I knew this was an illusion. I know he is a horrible creepy turd person and he was never there for me. But it felt real.

    Just realize that this can happen. It passed and I’m back to normal. It’s disturbing but it’s not anything I can control. I never dream about any other ex’s. My younger self would have thought there was a meaning to this, but my mature self knows there is not.

  • I just want to say thanks to CL and CN for this post. Not all the posts resonate with me, as each of our stories are different. And I think each variation carries with it its own trauma. The Runaway Husband/Abandonment is different from years of hookers or the gaslighting kibble-seeker. — This story is my story.

    I already responded to Hopeful above, but I wanted to add that, at some point, I was tired of thinking and reading and explaining and trying to fix my own feelings and understand his feelings, and I stumbled across a book called, “F*ck Feelings,” which has been great. It lists multiple scenarios where you may feel a certain way (about a husband or a boss or a neighbor or a daughter) and you aren’t making any headway, so how do you cope? What can you do? — Basically, it’s like, “OK, you just got hit by a Mack truck and are lying in the roadway bleeding. Do you really want to try to figure out how & why that guy hit you? Or do you want to focus on patching up your wounds and getting the hell out of the road now?” — for me, it has been very refreshing to finally be, like, “Wow, XH really blew up my life and that sucked. Like, really, OUCH sucked! But I’m not going to dwell here or expect anything from this situation.”

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