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The “Children Are Resilient” Argument

heres-another-year-staying-anniversary-ecard-someecardsWhile it’s not okay for cheaters to rely on the resilience of children and chumps — I think it’s fine for chumps to find comfort in resilience.

So many good  people feel compelled to stay in atrocious marriages because they don’t want to be the one to pull the plug and leave and hurt the children. There’s no denying that divorce is painful for children. It’s not something I ever want to be flippant about.

But modeling dysfunction is also painful to children. They see more than we think they see, despite our best efforts to protect them. Whether that’s a raging NPD, or a badly lopsided, unreciprocal relationship, or stumbling across the affair(s) before you do — kids sense fuckupedness too.

We model spackle to them. They may begin to see the world in terms of the Powerful and the Chumps. And hey, it’s good to be king! If relationships are about one person appeasing, accommodating, doing more than their share — then a smart kid is going to look at that example and conclude — it’s better to be the Winner who gets stuff, than the Chump who just gives and sucks up. Entitlement can be contagious.

There’s also such a scary view of single parenting, at least here in the States, with much moral opprobrium, which just angers the hell out of me. I know so many terrific single parents, and I’m sure you do too. Hell yes it’s a hard job, but it can also be a rewarding job that turns out some great kids, every bit as much as the Intact Family.

One of the best things about being a single parent is that you get to parent your way, with your values. If you’ve been dealing with a wing nut, it’s so freeing to not have to parent around their nonsense any more.

Chumps who are on the fence to leave — listen, it’s totally okay to think the “kids are resilient” and take the brave step to end a toxic relationship. It’s okay to comfort yourself with the thought that they will be okay and YOU will be okay, better even.

You aren’t leaving a marriage to marry a floozy, or drink yourself to death, or quit your job and become a motivational speaker. You’re leaving your marriage to save yourself and those kids. Yeah, cheaters love to say they are also saving themselves — oh, how could they carry on with the oppressive bonds of monogamy without cake! Bullshit. They’re indulging themselves, chasing rainbows. Chumps, you are actually, truly SAVING yourself. There is nothing selfish or self indulgent about the painful work of divorcing someone when done honestly.

The kids will be okay, because they have you. As I say a lot here, remember, it just takes one sane parent. A lot of kids don’t even get that.

This column ran previously.

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  • The life long fall out of living with two self absorbed freaks who hate each other follows you like a bad odor well into adulthood.

    Without exaggeration, because of the cast of doom my fighting, vicious parents spilled over our lives, both my sister and I can say- we do not remember one, not a single moment…from growing up that was not fearful, scared, angry or hyper vigilante.
    What would they do next? What was going to happen? Every memory is tainted with misery.

    The only few moments of joy we can cobble together is if we were out of their presence. We longed for someone to rescue us, to escape their constant war.

    CL’s article is more true than I can emphasize. Better off in a camper with one sane, mostly cheerful, predictable and empowered parent than in a mansion with a rotten marriage and little minds, watching and absorbing every snarl, door slam and shouting match.

    The legacy of unhappy, sparring parents haunts you forever. You are setting your children up for a life of being a door mat and usually…life long clinical depression and that whole kettle of fish. Children who grow up in chaos never get their feet under them like children with a sane parent does. It is a true handicap.

    Not being a victim…it is the horrific truth.

    • Every word of this is the hard truth. I was adopted as a baby into a home of violence, constant anger, and instability. My earliest childhood memory is of my mom screaming and holding her bloody arm from having a glass pitcher broken across it when my dad was in a rage. Lots of hiding in closets making myself small and invisible. Looking for the nearest exit to escape outside when I sensed he was getting angry. Hearing them argue late into the night as I tried in vain to sleep – hoping the yelling didn’t turn into screams of pain. Finding out about the women he was cheating with – all while he was head deacon at our church and praying to the Lord every Sunday while his perfect little family sat on the front pew. No child should ever have to grow up line that. My brother escaped into the military and then drugs. I escaped to college and rarely visited until my dad died when I was in my mid-20s. I also married a man who was as mean and small inside as my dad – just not violent (but there was always the undercurrent of fear of his temper). Have the courage to give your child a better life! Leave the cheater – cheating is every bit as abusive as a blow to the face!

      • I’m so sorry, Nicole. So glad you found the courage… My hat’s off to you

      • I feel your pain. As a Man in my mid-40’s, I was raised in a similar situation with a mentally-ill, emotionally abusive toxic Mother and a covert narc physically abusive Father…whom eventually split and sensequently married his AP/bimbo 5 years ago. The abuse continued well into my late 30’s and I’ve struggled with major depression and alcohol abuse all my life. I finally had to go NC a few years ago for my own sanity/security and it was the best thing that I ever did. Profoundly disordered Parents, one or both, together in a toxic environment has life-long negative consequences for children, don’t do it.

        • Moheymen – I totally relate to your situation. Both my parents were super toxic with my father being a Narcissist and my mom being a Malignant Narcissist out to destroy me. It was a miserable union they were in (their marriage), and it made my life hell. I had to cut off contact 5 years ago because it was leading me to severe depression and I was sick ALL THE TIME. Every since I cut off contact, I haven’t been sick at all, except for a minor cold here and there. Toxic people really do mess you up mentally, emotionally, the damage really takes a lifetime to heal. WE don’t have to live in their reality, we were innocent children who had no choice to put up with such damage, but as adults we have a choice. Good for you for going NC!

    • Yes, you described this situation well. I can remember how happy and free we kids were when dad was out of the house and then the immediate tension that set in as he drove up the driveway. We all quickly went to do something either outside or in our rooms in order to stear clear of the potential unpleasantness. Even when it was fine, we always knew that could rapidly change. Sad.

      • This exactly. My step dad was an abusive tyrant. It was very difficult a as a small child to develop a bond with him. How do you love something that is mean to you everyday? I was resilient because I was forced to be a survivor as a child. I didn’t choose that road, however, being a survivor has served me well as an adult.

        • It has it’s ups and downs… Positives and negatives. We have to find the silver lining…

    • 14 year wedding anniversary today and divorce can’t come soon enough.

      This is a good reminder that I’m doing this for my kids too, even though they are stuck seeing him against their will with the live in affair partner so as not to be a “gatekeeper.” They have no say and my hands are tied. I should be happy he wants to be a part of their lives, I’m told! He’s such a great guy, people say! Bullshit, it’s all about $$$$ – where was he for the rest of their lives? With the howorker, of course. It’s all so f’ing unfair 🙁

      • Sending big hugs Hop. This would have to be the suckiest part of it all. Having to share the people that you love, have nutured and would give your life for with some asshole and his skank. I hated that part. Both my kids are adults now and I haven’t had to deal with it for the last few years as the ex has decided not to be a dad anymore and it is really a blessing but I do feel sorry for my kids that they don’t have a “father” but in saying that they do have a huge number of “father figures” in their lives. I also try to be their everything. They even gave me a Father’s Day present this year and I cried. They thanked me for being both their mum and dad and their everything xx

      • I know exactly how you feel! How is it right that dad gets to cheat on me, leave me, and get his kids 50% when he wasn’t even around much in the first place. He acts like fucking super dad in the community and he cheated on me with a mom at our kid’s school (my friend). They are still denying their relationship after a year and a half…they are just “friends” but they live in the same apartment complex. I mean is he that embarrassed that he is with her(she’s not very attractive) but he loves to say she’s a good mom who gives him good advice! Of course she does idiot!!! She is a bartender with three kids and he makes a shit ton of money. You know the business he built from the ground up with me by his side and three kids later. Such a fucking joke!

  • Many who follow me here know that I’m now dealing with the GAL process. My girls had their first meeting with the GAL a few days ago — each spoke to her privately for about 30 minutes and showed not a speck of unease or negative emotion afterward. As we ate our lunch, the only comments/questions they had for me were (1) was the GAL a psychiatrist? (in hindsight, I can see where this question would cause them any discomfort going in); and (2) would they going to meet with her again (yes, KK has to take them once as well).

    What I hope this means, as far as the resiliency theme goes, is that despite all of the utter shittiness they’ve been dealt in this situation, for whatever reason they do seem to be holding up as best as can be expected. I of course would like to attribute that primarily to me, but in complete (and reluctant) fairness, I guess I have to give credit to KK for at least not actively poisoning them with her emotional toxicity to the point of withdrawal. It does not excuse her behavior in every other respect, and I’m under no illusions that there could be issues to deal with down the road, but for the moment I have to be grateful that I’m not in the camp of so many chumps out there who are dealing with complete physical and emotional abandonment with immediate and quantifiable effects.

    The most important thing: protect the precious lives we’ve been given by modeling sanity and stability. As long as one parent understands this, the children indeed should be able to weather this terrible storm.

  • Whenever people tell me “man, it must be so hard being a single parent,” the honest truth is that it was much harder to be a single parent WHILE married. Too much time spent being told how I was never good enough or having to concede to my ex’s demands or parent his way (which involved plugging kids in front of TV so I could dote on him).

    Single parenting is wonderful because it’s my chance to do it right and I am! (Notice I’m not saying perfect by any means, but I’m happy to parent kids with the values I cherish and be able to unapologetically do those things that will teach them those values). We get to volunteer, do crafts, have quality time together, play at the park… simple things that I took for granted because they were stifled by a narcissist. Kids ARE resilient and it WAS hard at first but they are learning and hopefully will learn that we all have a choice and do the best with what they have <3

    • “Single parenting is wonderful because it’s my chance to do it right and I am!”

      All of this sentence, every word of it! And, I might not have every felt that way if I did not land here. Many thanks to the parents who have shared their stories here. I doubt I would have had the confidence to see this as the wonderful gift it is if it wasn’t for those who urged me to play the long game, invest in my kid and wait out the scary stuff Narkles the Clown did. Last week the kid came home and all he said was “I’m glad to be HERE.” I didn’t ask. I didn’t push, I just asked him if he wanted to go out for ice cream later. Last month he made a point to drop off some school papers that needed to be signed for a field trip at my house even though it wasn’t my day with him. He texted me that he knew I would take care of it and he would pick them up in the morning. Of course I will take care of it. I always have. I always will. So take my advice, play the long game, invest in your kid and wait out the scary stuff your cheater tries to do. Eventually your kid will begin to see the truth, even if they don’t grasp the devastation of the lies and betrayal they will begin to see who has their back.

    • Exactly, MsChumptyDumpty–most of us, I’m sure, perform ANY job better when someone is not constantly undercutting us.

  • I needed to read this today, too. We’re in the process of separating, and I just discovered that my STBX has filled out an application for an apartment complex that is a real shithole. Since the kids will be living with her at least part-time, this is a real concern for me.

    I woke up this morning wondering if I should have just kept my mouth shut when I learned that the affair was still going on. Turned a blind eye to it, so at least the kids would have the stability of one home.

    Like I said, I needed to read this.

    • Having stuck it out longer than I ought to have, I want to support you in your decision to move forward with the separation. I don’t know how old your kids are, but the sooner you build a stable home for them, the easier it will be for them to manage the lousy living space their other parent provides. My kids time with the EX included horrific housing. They learned as they grew that they couldn’t have friends over there–at first because the parents of their friends wouldn’t let them spend the night, etc. in that space and later they were too embarrassed themselves to invite people in. If you secure and sustain a good home for your kids now, they’ll build habits in it that will help them as they grow. Offer everything you want them to have–invite their friends over, host the end of the season cook-out, etc. Be the stable and socially acceptable parent so that your kids and the parents of their friends know that you can be depended upon.

      • Agreed. In some ways it’s great for them to have the experience of both worlds. They kind of get to try out two lifestyles and figure out what future they want for themselves. OTOH, it may not matter whether or not it’s a shithole. A great relationship with the parent might make any environment feel like home.

    • Something breaks inside us once we find out our partners have cheated on us. No child benefits from a broken parent.

      Michael–I’m sorry both for your trauma, and for your STBX’s poor choice of apartments. Perhaps there is some place else you can suggest to her before she signs the lease?

  • Yes, I stayed too long because I was afraid. In the end I was a single parent anyway and the influence I had on them was good. The bad they carry now is from the years that I stayed.

    and yet I still wish a pox on all the cheaters who use “the kids will be fine/resilient/happy when they see me happy” as an excuse to be selfish and hurt people.

    and Im working on forgiving myself for underestimating the toxicity that I saw in my latehusband/family before I married him and thought I could overcome.

    • “Im working on forgiving myself for underestimating the toxicity that I saw in my latehusband/family before I married him and thought I could overcome.”

      This. I’m there as well.

      • Forgiving myself for bringing Dr. Crazy into my children’s lives despite the red flags has been impossible. When I told my teen daughter I’d filed for divorce and asked her if she had any questions, she stunned me with the following: “you always told me to trust my instincts about people. Why didn’t you trust yours?”

        She and my little dog had never liked him.

        • Same. My daughter (19) tells me all the time she never liked her dad. When he left I thought my kids would be devastated, they were relieved he was gone but worried about me. We all landed on our feet. Both my kids and I are no contact with him and this is a happy home,

      • I saw it, too, but I thought I had “the sane one.” And I so wanted it to work out. Damn.

        • Gotta start working on that forgiving, but first I have to identify exactly what happened.

  • After he no longer lived with us, my kids said our family was more peaceful, and my oldest actually said, “Mom, you can do much better than Dad. I’ve thought that for quite a while.” Lol

    • My 18 yr old daughter said that to me too! She also said she’s proud of how strong I am for finally standing up for myself and kicking STBX out. It was wonderful to hear those words from her.

    • I don’t have children, but my CheaterX’s brother has two very fine daughters–my very first nieces!–and they were raised largely by their mother and maternal grandparents. XBiL is also a cheater. And, for what it’s worth, so was his father! Yes, CheaterX’s parents stayed together, modeling dysfunction and showing both their sons that they were entitled to feel entitled.

      If you listen to XBiL, you’d think he was the model father. He talks about his “girls,” and how they need to be protected and cared for, especially once he dies (he does have MS, though it’s currently in remission, and he’s still ambulatory). This is all well and good, but his daughters are in their 20s. They’re professional women with their own careers–not little girls!

      Also, neither of them are Facebook friends with their father. That stopped as soon as they passed the age where he was still responsible for child support. Apparently he was extremely erratic in adhering to the visitation schedule. His kids would be all psyched up to spend time with their father, only to have him stand them up at the last minute. Then, when they were visiting him, if they dared to have a different opinion, he’d get so angry that he’d drive them several hours to return them home early.

      When Father’s Day rolls around, both daughters post their thanks to their mother on her Facebook page, since she was the one who took on the burden of being the sane parent.

      Yes, the kids do know who has their backs.

  • I wish he had left earlier. My kids were exposed to some truly toxic stuff. However since my stbxh was rarely home it helped. Daughter has some anxiety. Son was discarded by his dad at birth really. My own parents were toxic and all 3 of their girls ended up with toxic men so leaving is far far better…

  • I’ve commented in another column about the awful effects of parents who stay together for the children in spite of the obvious need to part ways. It leaves a stain on children that does follow them into adulthood. All of the horrors I’ve witnessed have turned me into someone who is:
    Mistrusting of others
    Always waiting to “back someone off me” by showing that I’m tough (with words)
    I now have to watch for things that trigger me to fight or flight mode (human nature, but also very destructive when it comes to so many triggers)
    Be aware of behaviors/traits I may have picked up from years of absorbing bad behavior
    Hating myself when I do exhibit those behaviors
    Struggling between forgiveness toward my parents and hatred for what they put us kids through
    Watching my siblings (and me in small respects, thankfully) repeat the same cycle as my parents
    Years of counseling to come to terms with it all because a Narc parent can never apologize, tell you they love you and work to have a real relationship with you
    Learn how to communicate about something that bothers me without getting upset
    Learn how to not to become anxious when I see someone yell/become angry
    Try to remember the good memories of my childhood and not all of the horrible things
    Hope that they can model good behavior in front of my children
    and so many more things I could mention….
    I so wish that my mother would have had the strength to say enough for herself and her children. Our lives would have been so much more carefree and full of good memories. This is a good reminder for those of us striving to give more for children than we may have had. There are some positives that did come out of all of this, but sometimes, I wish I didn’t have to struggle so hard to see the beauty of what’s in front of me…

    • Peakyblinders, thank you, well said. We deal with it every single day. I truly believed that I was “putting up with so much” for the welfare of the kids. Welfare, right. Not an excuse but I was trying to navigate the possibility that he would have one of them alone when they were too young to fend for themselves. For so long I thought I was doing the right thing. I can just take the weight. Looking back. No, not at all. If I could go back in time it would have ended the first time he acted abusive. I want to say physically but that is what you tend to remember. Things were sporadic so there was always the “hope” he would grow out of it. And the charm. No.

      Living every single day that I put myself in this position. Living every single day to be the best parent I can and to learn from my so many mistakes. Living versus existing. Laughing instead of crying. Dancing on a floor that was once covered in eggshells and broken glass. It has taken me some time to accept the gift – this whole thing – the gift to LIVE again. To any person going through this, with kids or without, put value on yourself and your life.

      “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Rand.

      • “Living versus existing. Laughing instead of crying. Dancing on a floor that was once covered in eggshells and broken glass. It has taken me some time to accept the gift – this whole thing – the gift to LIVE again. To any person going through this, with kids or without, put value on yourself and your life.” That’s it right there, Glinda. I’m glad you were strong enough to look toward the future and a life without abuse!!! I’m so happy for you!

        • There was the wonderful commercial to recruit foster parents in Florida back in 2000, and it showed a woman giving a little girl an Olgive Home Perm, or one of those awful rotten egg perms.

          They blow dried it, and the little girl looked like she had a big tumbleweed on her head. They both looked horrified and then they burst out laughing and the woman said, We will fix it! And they went to eat french fries or something.

          But then the Ad said something like: You don’t have to be perfect. Just be there.

          And I think that captures the essence of it.

          I am *NOT BRAGGING*….(I feel like a failure most days) but children always gravitate to me. I always wondered why. Was it my French perfume? All the dog hair on my clothes? And I had this wicked smart girlfriend who said:

          No, it is because you are 100% present with them. You focus on my children like a laser beam and ask them questions like they are the *most important person in the room. You ask them all sorts of follow up questions about what they say and their interests that day.

          But- when two adults are in a war, or one has to play marriage commander or Sherlock, the parent just does not have the bandwidth to be “present” for the children. They are fighting for sanity, money or their life.

          • Don’t we know it, Sylvia… These man children that call themselves fathers have no idea how they rob their own children of happiness. SELFISH

              • True words, Peaky. But let’s not forget the women children masquerading as adults too. Disorder covers both genders. Sadly it is the children who pay.

      • Pure strength and beauty, Glinda. You are a poet. I know the ability to say those words was forged in the furnace of pain. Your truth shines now. Thank you for writing this. I too, shall dance on the floor that was once covered in eggshells and broken glass! Here’s to continually gaining a LIFE! The best is yet to be!!

        • Yes, Glinda. Your words here today and in the forum have really struck a chord with me. Well said.

    • Peakyblinders, you can not fail. The degree of thought put into your life will inevitably be rewarded.

      In some teachings, examination is the whole point of living. It takes courage and you have that in spades (like so many commenters here).

      • Thanks Virago, made me cry. Awareness is the key to change and growth and that’s what life is all about…

  • My heart imploded on D Day, it was like someone had detonated a bomb inside my chest, with shrapnel slicing through every fiber of my being as the realization set it, hurting me more as I kept breathing, the hurt amplified each time I was faced with more irrevocable evidence that lying and gas lighting had become my then-husband’s preferred problem solving strategies.

    I was left with no “good” options. Either I got out and would break my kiddo’s family, or I would stay and shatter my own soul into a million pieces for condoning his cheating. But it was the wrong comparison. I did not break my kiddo’s family, he did by introducing his adultery as a reality for our family. My marriage died when he did so, and it was time to get the death certificate. It was a long drawn battle, because my now-X in typical Cluster B fashion went all out in his passive aggressive mindfuckery. But I endured, and the divorce is now final and I have been NC except for logistics about our kiddo going on two years now.

    Did the divorce hurt our kiddo? Absolutely. When she asked me why I divorced her dad, I tell her that he lied to me about grown up stuff that I will explain to her as she grows up. But she is no dummy my little one, she has witnessed her dad move in with his new girlfriend a couple of months after we separated (did I mention I live in the building next door?)

    The day I had to let my kid go and get introduced to that tramp was one of the most painful thing I have ever done. That day, I searched “introduce kid to OW” and found CL’s Cool/bummer/wow post. I devoured post after post, and my detox from mindfuckery started.

    It’s been a year and a half that she moved in, I have perfected my “cool/bummer/wow” approach. Don’t get me wrong, it is extraordinarily painful to endure shared custody with a cheating X, but thanks in large part to CL/CN, I am at peace, leaving my X was my best chance to create a joyful and saner future for our kiddo.

    • Agreed! I thought that I could sacrifice my self-respect to save our family. But that was never the actual siuation. We had nothing left because of his choices. There was nothing left to save. His betrayal destroyed our marriage, and he had no trouble deciding to forsake our family for cheap thrills.

    • Wow, spot on, Chumptitude. “I was faced with more irrevocable evidence that lying and gas lighting had become my then-husband’s preferred problem solving strategies.” Right out of the cheater handbook. When people would say to me, “Oh, but there are no perfect people. Everyone brings problems to a marriage.” I would reply, yes, but only one of us used lying as his primary form of communication. I get almost none of that talk any more. I believe that when we are free of the cheaters and truly trust that they suck, we give off different vibes and stop attracting cheater apologists. Nothing like internalizing the power of the truth and the strength of CN.

      I’m so happy you got your power and love back. Fellow chumps inspire me.

    • Chumptitude,

      That same pain you described was my D-Day. Three separate D-Days actually, over the course of our 13-year marriage. Yes, I truly was a slow-learning Chump. But it was when I finally realized that those painful betrayals would be nothing compared to a lifetime of constant marriage policing, the grim apprehension of the eventual next D-Day, his mistreatment of me and wanting to keep me as his “rock” in the background while he did what he pleased, with never a concern for my happiness or well-being. And the worst realization of all, having my daughter grow up believing this is how she should allow men to treat her. I knew I could never allow that to happen. I knew that no matter what fucked-up decisions he made in his life, I had to make sure I was her constant in life. I was always HER rock.

      I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again. Thank the Gods I stumbled upon this site and all of you. I still have struggles every single day but I know I can come here and find my strength again. Bless you all!

    • My children are older,my baby is now 26. I threw the crap weasel out on January 7, 2010 a the second and last D-Day. My daughter and I touch on this every so often, usually when she is going to or has met with her father – usually every 4 to 6 weeks.
      A few months ago, we were having a conversation about the crap weasel and his current unhappiness in his second marriage with the OW, when I said that I should have left him the first D-Day when daughter was 10 years old.
      Her reply started me, “I know it was hard for you, Mom, but I was glad to have Dad for 10 more years. He was a great father and I am grateful you stuck it out with him.”
      Sad, because daughter knew what it took and took from me, glad that she is grateful and got good stuff from the mess and recognizes it as such.
      I also note that when she speakers of her father fondly, it is always in the past tense.

    • ChestnutMare

      Great post! I wished I had the courage and CN the first time he cheated.

  • I can see both sides staying or leaving it’s up to the the individual. I chose to stay after my first d-day after seeking legal counsel to get a clearer understanding of my rights. There are many good single parents and children that come from those situations but kids just fare better in my community in a two parent home. Not an abusive home mind you. So after seeking counsels advice the support I would have received was neglible. I wanted my kids to get all they were entitled to and the courts just wasn’t the place to do it. So I stayed to make sure they got what they deserved. They didn’t ask to be born.
    X went undercover until the kids were out. He was bitch but certain shit was just not allowed in my home. I surrounded my family with good believing people and today I am proud of my kids. If this were the only way I’d do it again. I have NO regrets.

    • I respect your decision. The truth was my kids knew much more of what was going on than I ever would have expected, and I didn’t feel comfortable modeling that kind of dysfunction.

      Also, I felt I deserved more – you only get so much time in this earth and I did not want to endure one more moment of compromising my morals and my beliefs for someone who didn’t value our family the way that I did. I needed to live a life of integrity, not pretend in a fake marriage or uneasy truce. It is such a difficult place to be in either way.

      A woman I know stayed like you only to be left unexpectedly in the end anyway. She was not prepared and did not have a lot of control over the process. I think she thought her husband would wait until the youngest was 18, but he did not.

      • I am so sorry for your friend. In some areas laws are not favorable at all to children and divorcing women, so maybe that is why she stayed. Other than being connected to a man child I thought x was working on the marriage. To put it bluntly my kids deserved his money and no way was I going to allow him to ride off into the sunset and spend his doe on some hoe, or start another family while I took on the duties of full time parenting. I weighed my options. Belive it or not x was an ass but that ass possesed some good qualities and it wasn’t a total loss for me either.

        Right now I sort of vascilate between if I want to date, or remarry, or just enjoy my freedom. Sex is so easy to get and marriage at my age takes on a diferent meaning. I just do not want a bed warmer or human vibrator. Companionship or marriage, the truth is most women according to statistics will out live their mates and be alone, so live your best life regardless of your situation. If God blesses me like he has done my elders, I’ve got another 30 years of good health and a good mind. This is just the beginning of chapter 2.

        • You sound so healthy and strong and positive. Good for you! Wow, the inspiration from other chumps today is amazing!

          • Thanks FB but I can’t take credit for the wise and strong elder women God put into my life. Many times I heard their voices and I had a visible, hard set goals set for my family. I would often go back and re-examine those goals. About the time when those goals were met I had another series of d-days. I left.

    • Renewed

      I too stayed. At first I had no regrets. However, there is something to be said about sacrificing yourself for your children. I didn’t want my children to be raised by a whore. After seeing what he ended up with I believe I made the right decision.

      This was modeled by my mother who stayed with my narcissist father. I saw the price she paid. I decided to get an education because I didn’t want to be dependent on him.

      Once I did he was so threatened he made sure I lost my home and then expected me to support him. It was downhill from then on with multiple hookups and porn addiction.

      My regret is that I stayed in to long. I loved him right up to the end. He had total power and control over me.

      Knowing what I know now I would advise chumps make a plan and exit as soon as possible.

      • There are days when I cry…for myself..for not standing up for myself..for not living an authentic life. Not for my marriage or asshole cheater.

        • Snowflake,
          But you will learn to stand up for yourself. It is hard when you do not know how, or even that you had a right to do so.

          One “bill of goods” Americans are sold is the American Dream, or this idea that life is supposed to be almost perfect, or that hard work or self study can fix any problem.

          Russian people know that life is, by nature, hard and often disappointment. A slog and struggle. We accept this as life. When moments of happiness come…it is a gift. What is an authenticate life? I am asking honestly. Just that you ask the question…perhaps you are farther than you seem.

          You will take action to fix it. Baby steps will walk you out of hell. I hope you feel better. ?
          I sent you a cookie. Now, go have a real one! Treat yourself like you would the person you love the most in the world.

        • Snowflake

          Make a plan and get the fuck out. Every single year they get worse. Put yourself first, decide what you need to do, and do it.

          If it’s getting a degree, take courses. Get Out! Fuck the baby steps, take giant leaps! You can do it.

      • Each person has to decide if they will stay, how long they will stay or at what time they will leave. My X was an ass and toward the end he just could not contain himself. Divorce is death and remarriages statistically do not fair any better. There are some real screwed up cheaters of chump nation. Staying allowed me to get a send degree as well as start my own business. life for me and my kids didn’t stop because of x. There is more than one way to live.

      • There’s times I wonder if I had stood up for myself in my marriage maybe I wouldn’t here. I wonder if I was too eager to do anything to make the marriage work and X lost respect.
        I was married to a “special” Cheater who used Parental Alienation and turned our son against me.
        During the marriage my son and I were close, while Cheater and our son had a distant relationship. Once Cheater decided to move out he changed his attitude towards our son and suddenly showed and “interest” (not paying child support is one) he manipulated our son into living with full time while demonizing me. My son would tell me from an early age that he’d feel tension with X being home and relieved when he was gone. I couldn’t believe it when he made the decision to live with Cheater and lie for his father. My Cheater is a special kind of evil who deserves to rot in hell.
        There’s nothing like the pain of losing a child. Parental alienation in some ways is worse than death because my son has chosen not to have a relationship with me and has been convinced I’m a despicable creature and is ashamed of me. I’ve done nothing to deserve this treatment. I was a devoted wife and mother. My son was everything to me, I was a involved mother from the day I found out I was pregnant. I would say waking up to him was like having Christmas morning every morning. I have wonderful memories of being a mom unfortunately those memories for him have been poisoned and erased with his father’s sordid lies and insinuations. I’m the source of entertainment for his father’s cruel jokes and ridicule. My situation isn’t common but it exists. I can only keep my chin up and carry on hoping that someday my son will be a part of my life but as it is today I’m not very hopeful.

        • Looking back I was a single parent until X decided to leave. My son would have had a better life if I had been a single parent without the negative influence of his father in the home.

          In “normal” circumstances a child raised by a loving, single parent is a healthier environment than in a home with a narcissist.

        • Brit, I’m so sorry about what has happened with your son. My friend went through something very similar with her slime ball ex alienating their only child. It took several years but eventually he did see through his dad’s bullshit. They now have a very close relationship once again.

          Her ex sounds a lot like your ex; he couldn’t keep the mask on forever and it began slipping whenever the kid had an opinion different from his. I hope your son is able to see behind his father’s mask sooner rather than later.

  • For some chumps (male and female), leaving the cheater means losing their children to parental alienation. Not all kids are resilient, and not all of them see through the chump right away, or sometimes, ever. It’s still not a reason to stay, but it’s a very real possibility.

    • I agree that this always remains a terrifying possibility. But staying also incurs risks in regard to the chump’s lifelong relationship with the kids. Part of the reason this decision is so scary is because we invest so much in our kids, and we cannot control aspects of the relationship.

      But we can control our own lives. Kids grow up. A chump needs to factor his or her own life (now and 20 years down the road) as well as prioritizing the kids.

      None of the choices are easy.

      • Yes, the choices are all tough. My husband currently has no relationship with his 16-year-old son, who has been completely alienated by his cheating ex-wife. But he still thinks he made the right choice in leaving her, and hopefully it shows his son that there is a way out.

        But it may not, and he may never again have a relationship with his son – some of these cheaters are truly toxic and intent on causing harm. Sometimes you have to save yourself and hope for the best.

        • I’ve never posted here before, though I’ve been reading for months, but finally feel compelled to add something:
          If your ex has successfully alienated your kids DO NOT GIVE UP! Try calling, send birthday cards, contribute to a 529 if you can, ask siblings, grandparents to pass along your love and that you are always happy and hoping to hear from them. If you can get mandated visitation do it! Two of my friends (sisters) growing up had a crazy mom who completely turned them against their dad (he may have been an actual jerk, I don’t know) after divorce. They wanted to be adopted by their mom’s new husband (who was a nice guy) and dad agreed and signed off and faded away. Tragically, one of them died a few years ago in her early 30s from cancer. He desperately wanted to see her at the end of her life when he found out but she wouldn’t have anything to do with him. I guess my point is that he thought he was doing what they wanted by letting them have a new family, but they saw it as confirmation he didn’t really care.

          As many of us chumps know, the sparkles always wear off but often when they do, we feel so shamed and guilty and isolated that we don’t believe we can reach out to people who love us. I bet many of you have narc exes who wouldn’t think twice about saying “don’t go crying to your mom/dad now, after you ignored them for years they won’t want anything to do with you.” Have empathy for your kids and make sure you do everything you can to let them know you’re only a heartbeat away if they ever need a hug.

          • My husband does the best he can to stay in touch with his son in a positive manner – texts, emails. All are ignored, but he keeps trying. There is no mandated visitation at 16, if he refuses, there’s no way to enforce it, and repeated trips to court are not good for anyone. I’m sure now that my H is not fighting in court, it’s spun as “he doesn’t care enough to fight for you”. There is no winning, but I agree that staying in touch is important, so that if/when he does wake up, he knows he still has a father.

  • Some days I feel like a chump for staying and some days he’s actually ATTEMPTING to make it work, but it’s flip flop flip flop. He had an emotional affair 18 months ago and still in contact with her via social media. I have discovered yet another social media account to use to keep in touch with her and HER only. She’s a manipulative witch who has never married and never had kids. She thinks he’s beyond hope and she is his only saving grace. It’s a delicate path since she is his boss’ best friend and she works on the other side of the world making sure she messes with every married man she meets. He’s at fault for falling for her and making her the center of his world. While it may never have been physical it he fell for her big time. I have the screenshots, searches, but it doesn’t do ME any good to keep reading them. 2 kids have moved out and are doing well, but 3 teens remain at home and they call out our bullshit. So yeah, that old excuse of ‘can’t afford to move out’ is real. For both of us. We’re paying for TWO college tuitions (they couldn’t get loans and one is part of a GI Bill) So yes I’ve put my kids educations first. While there is no intimacy we are cordial and sometimes affectionate, but the kids probably see through that anyway. I have a much better relationship with the kids than he does. My saving grace LOL.

    I really don’t want to be judged but that’s what people do. Judge others without knowing the situation. Go right ahead. This is how it has to be right now. Until we can get in a better financial situation, we have to stay together. I know when she is coming back and I’ll be prepared. I read these articles for advice and glad I’m not alone. I don’t hang out with anyone so it’s not like everyone knows. In fact very few do and it hasn’t gotten to his work yet. I’m not looking to vilify him publicly but I’m always observing. If word gets out I will be looked at as the bad guy. he isn’t violent, abusive but just bitter for not being in a better place professionally, of course that is where she chimes in that he should look for work in HER company. I was blindsided yes, after 26 years of what I thought was a good marriage he fell for her and I don’t trust him worth a shit. He knows this and some days he really really tries to be a good husband. He just doesn’t show it. I checked out long ago and stopped wearing my ring when I found out.

    I don’t have a parent to talk to and just a handful of online girlfriends that know. I just need to know what options I have at this point. I depend on him financially and I HATE IT. Sorry to ramble just tired of being tired.

    • Alice C, sometimes all the options suck. It’s a permanent “between a rock and a hard place” situation – and our cheater has put us there.

      You do what you have to do – no one can (or should) judge you for it. The suckitude of the situation that we never asked for and have unfortunately inflicted upon our children is huge. Bide your time, do what you can to make it through every day, use whatever strength you can muster, and hopefully, in time, things will all work out.

      Best of luck.

    • Alice 2,
      I have stayed thus far. Financially dependant but still saving. Kids are doing well. We still do family things. My kids are doing well and thats what matters now. I KNOW who he is. A liar, cheater, a fake. Call it burying my head in the sand, putting on the blinders. I’m not ready to leave YET. I keep reading here. I keep dreaming about a cheater free life!

    • Alice, can you visit with an attorney in your area to find out what options you may have? It sounds like you’ve considered your options pretty thoroughly. I felt so stuck because I was so financially broke that I didn’t have money for an apartment rental deposit plus the shared house mortgage. X really amped up his verbal and psychological abuse when I ran out of money during the recession, when he knew I didn’t have options, and I wasn’t as useful to him anymore. It sounds like you are separated while living together, yet also deeply angry about the whole pretense.

    • My heart goes out to you Alice. I am glad you have online support, but I hope you can find someone to confide in that lives near you as well. I hate that you think you’ll be blamed if word gets out. You probably will be by some people, but I think a lot of us have been surprised by the support we received, sometimes in unexpected quarters. And I cannot tell you how much of a relief and release it was not to be covering for my EX once I made the decision to separate. You are carrying so much, and you deserve to have people who will listen to you grieve and worry and then make you a cup of tea and help you laugh. Best wishes.

    • Absolutely no judgment. You are a dedicated parent putting your children first in the best way you know how. I hope some day in the future you can have the peace that comes from being away from a cheater, but getting your kids through college and launched into life is a noble and good goal. Hugs.

    • Alice,
      Start taking money from him every chance you get. Squirrel away a nest egg that is hidden. Tell no one!

      I can’t remember the FAFSA deadline, but I believe it is March. Apply for financial aid FOR YOU and start researching going back to school FOR YOU. What would your dream career be? Age does not matter. Older students do super in University.

      I am not judging you, but I do want you to explore this. Men do not seek out women for just friendship. They just don’t. If your husband has a dedicated social media conduit *just for this woman*…it has to do with sex. I am not saying that to be ugly or cruel. I am saying it because it sounds incredibly short sided and naive to believe anything else. Men who are married and the myth of the “emotional affair” is about as silly as “I didn’t inhale.”

      The logistics do not matter. They are doing something sexual. *He would not go through all the hassle* so they could rap about the stock market or their careers. That is what men in the office are for. His best friend you referenced.

      Stay as long as you need to, but be prepared for the rug to be jerked out from under you. Start stocking YOUR pantry. If he is that worried about his women’s feelings, and her life…he jeopardized your marriage for this woman. There will be nothing left over for you when he believes he can make his escape. You stated she is manipulative and sly. You have no idea what they are cooking.

      Get proactive about making sure you have money. You are going to need it for all the therapy that comes living with a man devoting his energy to another woman while married to you.

      Best wishes.

    • Alice, I am sorry you feel you would be judged harshly, and probably for whatever decision you make. You are thoughtful and are considering your children’s needs and the reality of the financial situation. You have every right to be tired of the draining job of always wondering what you should do next. As others have said, only you get to decide. Sending you hugs. So sorry you have this weight on your heart. It is so draining.

    • I wouldn’t judge anyone in your situation. I was “lucky” in that my cheater eventually left but was still decent enough to continue to provide some financial support to the household, even though it’s mostly because he continues to feel it’s still HIS household and he’s always been concerned with that image of his. I’m sure that will change once the divorce is finalized but I am seeking alimony and he knows it. I don’t feel bad about that because I supported him for many years. He has much now because of me, including his law degree and a much bigger salary. I figure I probably deserve a share of his money more than those whores he hangs out with now.

  • My kids were adults when DDAY happened and X ran off with the OW, so I didn’t have to make the decision of staying for them. But the effects of my spackling have had a big impact. X never put forth any effort into a relationship with them. I was very involved in their lives growing up and with their kids. Now that he is putting in minimal effort he is the best person ever! They are so grateful for the crumbs he is finally throwing their way. Suddenly they have forgotten all the times I have spent playing with their kids while he sat on his self absorbed ass. He actually visited and played with the kids and is grandpa of the year! Somehow I am now a bad grandmother because “he came to see us and you haven’t “. Everything I have done for the past 34 years has been wiped out because he finally decided to give them some attention. It’s such a mindfuck and I am tired of never being able to be good enough. They expect the world from me and are happy with just being in his orbit. Guess I unknowingly trained them well to think it all revolves around him.

    • Newday-
      I’m in a similar situation. My kids were adults/late teens when the shit hit the fan. I was the one who took work off to got to school functions – good ol’ dad never did….he had to save up his vacation time for pool tournaments ya know. When my son was in a major car accident 5 years ago – I was the one who took FMLA through work and was at the hospital every day for 15 days. I think dad visited him 3 times. (My son was airlifted to a Trauma 1 hospital an hour and a half north of us).
      Now, for whatever reason, my kids barely talk to me. I don’t get it. I’m quite certain their dad has poisoned them with lies. He is a fabulous manipulator and it took me over 20 years to figure out what an lying piece of shit he really is.
      My middle son (the one who found his dad’s fuck phone) told me to stop saying shit about his dad. So I bite my tongue. My kids have NO IDEA how abusive their father was toward me for so many years. I guess I didn’t really realize the extent of the abuse until I filed for divorce and started to see a therapist. My therapist told me Judas definitely had some sort of personality disorder. I have kept the emails Judas sent to me so I can show them one day how bad he treated me. But as for now – I guess I am the bad guy who caused him to cheat.
      I’m sorry Newday-I feel your pain.

  • The part that pisses me off more than anything is my ex’s flippancy about our son’s (and my) resilience. It doesn’t occur to him that his choices might have traumatic implications for our child, or that I might struggle with being a single mom 500 miles away from my family and support system, or that being forced to move 3 times in a year might be hard on us. “You’ll be fine, and kids are resilient,” he said casually, as though we were discussing transitioning the cat to a new litter box. Then ex couldn’t wrap his head around it when our son started exhibiting behavior problems, and mostly ignored me when I told him how much we were struggling with behavior issues. He made no attempt to get involved when I started the long process of getting him help, and acted like I was being histrionic. Now that our son has a dedicated support team that works with him twice a week, suddenly ex wants to begin talking directly with the occupational therapists to find out “what he can do” to be involved, even though he blew me off for over a year that there was an issue. Now that there’s the potential for kibbles, he’s in! Evidently our resilience is commensurate with the kibble quotient.

    • Same here, Free Vixen. Cheese Fries was utterly flippant about the kids’ resiliency. In the immediate aftermath of him blowing up our lives, I expressed concern about the kids and he shrugged and said, “Kids go through this every day.” We had a couple of family sessions with the kids’ therapist in the early days; the kids and I were devastated — absolutely devastated — and he would say things like, “I’m a little sad, but mostly I’m really happy. I’m loving my new life.” We ended the whole-family sessions, the therapist told me he dissociates, and he told me that if the kids were having problems it was only because they were picking up on MY sadness.

      Kids are resilient, but it took time and effort to create a safe space for them to process their feelings. Even though the nights of my holding their hands as they cry themselves to sleep are over, I’m still surprised at the kinds of fears and worries they have. And they carry sadness with them always, since they always are missing one parent. Cheese Fries sees none of this — I’ve stopped telling him about it, but his opinion was that since they’re always happy around him, Disney Dad, that either I’m lying about their difficulties or causing them.

      I’m glad they’re not exposed to the toxic dynamic in our marriage. But having to coparent with a fuckwit … there are no words.

      • The verdict is in: Cheese Fries just needs an old fashioned ass beating.
        I read all of his punch you in the gut lines he says to you, and he simply cares about no one but himself. Not his children. Not you. Just him.

        A scary person.

        • Thanks, Sylvia. 🙂 It’s been so helpful to me to be able to post these things here because seeing them in black and white makes it impossible to keep spackling his behavior. Before the marriage ended, he would occasionally say these whackadoo things but I’d never fully believe them because he couldn’t possibly mean that. He meant it. He was showing me who he is and I was refusing to believe it. Once the mask slipped, he said crazy things a lot more frequently — which is why the first months after we split I thought he was manic. Nope. He just sucks.

          • Yes. He does. I read everything you write about him. He is a monster. A terrible thing I learned about the X was, when he said crazy things…part of it was…he was just too lazy to keep track of the lies. Or he was saying something to deflect his shitty behavior. He did not even care enough to evaluate if what he was saying was sane.

            It does help to type it out and read. Know this: You had nothing to work with with that mean freak.

            This statement in therapy: “I’m a little sad, but mostly I’m really happy. I’m loving my new life.”
            The utter horror of saying that in front of you and your children? It is vicious and cruel.

            When a therapist, those ultimate diplomats, tell you that he is disassociating…..this is huge. She was waving a North Korea size red flag to you…!!!

      • I don’t understand how they can even think like this. My ex has made similar statements to yours (“I’m a little sad, but mostly I’m really happy. I’m loving my new life.”). The sad part is that my ex thinks this kind of thing is modeling GOOD behavior, that he’s showing our son how to not settle and to create his own happiness. It is totally disassociative, though, your therapist is right. It just boggles my ever-loving mind.

      • Boy. When I hear these things repeated by these people I really wonder if some evil spirit does not possess them. How is it possible that they all come up with the same drivel. My said the children will be fine. For a year and some my son cried every night. In the early days I said to stbx that our son was not faring well. He cut me off to snap that I did not need to tell him how our son was doing. From that day I never told him another word about their emotional well-being or otherwise. Of course now he accuses me of alienating him. What I am is not giving a shit about what he wants.
        My children near two years later think about this rupture every single day several times a day. How can they not? These idiots were part of their lives from birth. Children know parents are to stay to raise them. Only these idiots don’t.

    • Free Vixen! That you said he treated the upheaval in your family “as though we were discussing transitioning the cat to a new litter box” is so funny! My STBX expressed the same amount of concern towards the demise of our family. He is passive/aggressive and stoic, but, really!!! I expected regret, guilt, remorse, something. He just wasn’t feeling any of those. At all.

  • I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father and co-dependent mother. The female role-modeled to me was to be a strong “single parent” in a married household. Mom believed in unicorns and miraculously Dad found sobriety… so to me, they beat the odds.

    My son was 3yo on my first D-day. Leaving was not an option because giving him up every other weekend to Mr. Sparkles was not an option. End of story. Instead, I insulated myself and my son and built us a “single parent” life within the house.

    Unfortunately, my stepchildren, who were teens and living with us, got caught in the middle of that… feeling alienated from their Mom who lived in another state and refused to work and parent… come to live with their Dad who basically acted like they were invisible… and didn’t feel comfortable engaging with me because it would be a “betrayal” to their Mom. It is them that I feel like I failed most by staying.

    My stepchildren are off on their own now. None have functional relationships with their parents. I pray that some day they each get counseling and start to unravel the damage done being “raised” by narcissistic parents. They still stay in touch with me.

    My son and I are together. Mr. Sparkles walked out on us for an OW – who has subsequently dumped him. I’m the “Primary Parent of Residence” and every day away from the evil that comes from living as a Chump is another closer to true peace and freedom.

    My son is thriving. He excels in school. He has healthy relationships with his peers. We still have tickle fights and most importantly, we communicate… case in point: Mr. Sparkles is already onto dating someone(s) new – no, the divorce isn’t final yet after a year – and my son asked me if I ever plan on dating. I told him that it wasn’t a priority for me right now. I’m focusing on giving him a good, stable childhood and focusing on my career so I can enjoy a good, stable retirement. He smiled. That’s enough love for me.

    Do I regret not walking out on D-day #1? Truthfully, no.

    Am I grateful to God for redeeming me and removing Mr. Sparkles from my life for the OW seven year later? Hell, yes.

    If I could back and do it over? Probably not.

  • There were a lot of issues and uncertainties that kept me in limbo chump condition for two years, but worrying about the effect of a divorce on my child was number one. And I have to be honest here … what worried me most was not whether he would be distraught but rather whether I would lose having him with me 50 percent of the time. It was a purely selfish concern … I love this child with all my heart and I have dedicated every waking moment to him since he was conceived. He will be grown and gone all too soon and even now I resent having to turn him over for two weekends a month. Had I known for certain I would have him 80 percent of the time, I would have pulled that divorce trigger much faster. And had I known for certain I would lose 50 percent of my time with him, I believe I would have gutted it out until he was through with high school even though that would not have been ideal for either of us. My child is the ONLY lasting good thing from my 30 year marriage. So yes, they are resilient, but maybe I was less so.

    • I’ve lost my kids 40 percent of the time and 50 percent of holidays. It’s absolutely the worst part of divorce. I HATE it. No amount of keeping busy and building my own life has lessened the pain of missing them and missing out on chunks of their childhood. My married friends will talk and laugh — the way I used to — about the relief of having the kids gone for a night for a sleepover, of how quiet and peaceful the house is. And I bite my tongue to keep from telling them to count their blessings because when the kids are gone regularly, the house is quiet as a tomb.

      So yeah, a lot of why I stayed had to do with not wanting to lose them.

      • Dixie and BetterDays, both your feelings alike touched me as my feelings are the exact same in regards to losing time with the kids.

        I remember doing the little things like having my young son on my lap at home for the entirety of King Kong (2.5hrs might I add) which included my goofy narration and crazy sound effects. My boy was in King Kong heaven for that moment. Or having my young daughter on my shoulders every.where.we.went. In her mind she was the tallest person in the world. Or my other son that would always want me to go outside and play baseball with him (I think I played baseball with him in a suit and tie more than not). I know he felt like Derek Jeter playing in the World Series at that moment. The kids are older now and we are still creating equally coming-of-age memories and we laugh, boy do we laugh.

        Makes me want to untangle the skein of how a cheater can’t value the past or future memories with their spouse and kids over a piece of strange. We know the clinical reasons but maybe the answer is that they never DEEPLY valued what they had. One has to be noble to value. Cheaters are not noble. They are empty. Their desire to fill their empty void trumps everything.

        There is NOT one piece of ass in this universe that I would trade 50% of my time with my kids for. Not one!

        • That’s what makes you such a great father. You and the other chump dads of CN keep my faith alive that all men are not cheaters who value only themselves.

          • Thanks so much FB. You and the women on CN have restored my faith in the inner beauty in *real* women. Cheating women aren’t *real* women. You CN ladies have taught me how to decipher between the two. Thank you

        • Your love for your kids makes me cry. I so wish my STBX was half the man and father you are.

          • Aww Dixie, that means so much to me. You are such a beautiful and caring woman. Your stbx is a shit for letting you go.

        • SureChumpedAlot – I love this: “…maybe the answer is that they never DEEPLY valued what they had. One has to be noble to value. Cheaters are not noble. They are empty. Their desire to fill their empty void trumps everything.”

          I have been driving myself crazy trying to understand how the Cockroach could just walk away from everything we have here. We have so many memories, really great kids with whom I treasure each and every second. How can you leave that and not look back? It is baffling to me. He was here with us full time, until one day, out of the blue, he wasn’t…. I can’t imagine how that would feel. Like when he showered that day, did it occur to him that that was the last shower he would ever have here, or when he ate dinner the night before, did he realize that it would be the very last family dinner he would ever have? The last time he would ever say goodnight to his kids in THEIR house? The last time he would ever pet, or even see, the cat? The last time he would sleep in our bed and kiss me goodnight? The last time he would be in the house in which so many memories were made? It is as if he was one person for a long time, and now he is someone completely new with no memories, no feelings of obligation, no empathy. When people use the term “pod,” I completely agree! It is so strange and unexplainable that it doesn’t even seem like it can be real. It’s like a bad science fiction movie. I think you must be right that they never really valued what they had. Because if they did, how can any of us ever understand it?

        • SureChumpedALot – Your love for your kids is so touching … and enrages me at Cheese Fries all over again. He spent the first seven years of our kids’ lives resenting them, until he got medicated for a mood disorder. All those moments of parenting joy I experienced alone, with a resentful twat husband trying to ruin every outing, holiday and vacation while I convinced myself he just needed HELP. Well, I guess he did. He became a decent father on meds — Disney Dad, anyway — but continued to resent me.

      • Been thinking about this thread since yesterday and wanted to add to my comment above. Although I feel all the things I said about missing my kids, that’s not the totality of what I feel. Over the past few months, I’ve finally begun to accept the situation for what it is. No, this is NOT what I would have chosen. But this is reality. There’s no way I’d go back to Cheese Fries, not even for my kids. Logically, I know they’re better off with two separate homes than living in our toxic dynamic, but what’s happened over time is that I’ve become secure emotionally in that knowledge — and when your head and heart align, you’re much stronger.

        So for any chumps wrestling with the decision to stay or leave … know that even missing your kids becomes something you can accept even if you don’t like it. That you’ll look back at your soul-crushing marriage and wonder how you ever stayed. That you’ll find peace, even if it’s not the rainbow-and-unicorns kind.

    • And it’s an entirely different shit sandwich knowing you are without your child due to their selfish actions. That is by far the greatest injustice.

  • All the dire consequences of having been raised in a “single parent” home are SOOOOOO confounded with income and educational level as not to be relevant to 99.999999% of us. The stereotypical ‘single parent home’ that experts warned would lead to juvenile delinquency, inability to graduate high school, drug addiction, etc. is largely based on teen mothers, who themselves did not finish high school, nor were they steadily employed. In addition, they typically had poor parenting skills because they themselves had been raised in dysfunctional homes.

    The children of the average chump in CN will, of course, have emotional upset either from the divorce itself or their cheating parent’s betrayal (because cheaters betray their children, too). But they will not end up in the prison system just because their parents divorced. The only significant consequence to children of divorce comes from cohabitation or remarriage (which does put kids at greater risk of abuse, although that is obviously an increase in statistical likelihood and not the norm).

    • “All the dire consequences of having been raised in a “single parent” home are SOOOOOO confounded with income and educational level as not to be relevant to 99.999999% of us.”

      True more than likely CN are of a certain economic level. But stats also show that in most cases the man’s income level goes up while the women and children goes down if not to poverty levels. Childcare and housing expenses, relocating to more affordable housing, poorer neighborhoods, schools etc. We can’t ignore what happens to the average family/children of divorce, it’s influence with drug abuse, mental health, and the prison system.

      • I imagine many posters spare us the nitty gritty of their real money problems. Even spackling on here, a bit.
        Because it could seem ham fisted, or just embarrassing. (But it is not).

        But no one would want to seem like they had their hat in hand, or in anyway angling for help. Or just hesitate to clog up the theme of the day with the hard truth:
        And, by the by…I have no gas money to get to work.

        I thought about posting a thread in the Non Chump Issues Private Forum about HOW TO LIVE LEAN AND SAVE MONEY, because my X used to give me 2K a month, like clockwork.

        It helped so much. That is gone now. And I am a big time penny pincher. I wanted us to share ways to save money, stretch it, live luxuriously on a budget.

        People posting on here could be deciding between gas and their power bill, and we would not know. If I was not so handy with money and a bit ruthless about it, that could be me.

        • “I thought about posting a thread in the Non Chump Issues Private Forum about HOW TO LIVE LEAN AND SAVE MONEY, because my X used to give me 2K a month, like clockwork.”

          That’s a good suggestion, do it!

        • Yes, many people here are struggling because of the divorce, or had money problems even before the divorce. Being poor in and of itself does not make one a bad parent. It is the triumvirate of poverty-low education-low parenting skills that predict a greater likelihood that the children will end up in the juvenile court system or with drug/alcohol problems.

      • Dire consequences or not, we all still need to be aware of the research – the science – behind all of the decision making about what’s “in the best interest of the children” and how “resilient” they are.

        So, yes, children will survive, and divorce may be the better of two options, but it’s still a shitload of stress and trauma that is completely unnecessary (particularly if it is due to cheating) and the effects may not manifest themselves until 40 or 50 years down the road in a chronic disease or mental illness.

        • FWIW, Tempest has a PhD in child development and teaches at a major university.

          No one here is arguing in favor of traumatizing children. On the contrary, my advice is don’t traumatize them further by staying in a toxic relationship.

          And I freaking DESPISE the “science” arguments that children of divorce are worse off. I think the economic burden placed on single parents is unfair (see my rant about child support enforcement). Fact is, you can have intact families that produce kids with mental illness and addiction issues — and narcissists. (Everyone except me in my family has had long unbroken marriages AND economic security and we’re full of fuckupedness of the mentally ill and addicted sort. Isn’t everyone’s family?)

          I’m not saying there aren’t real costs to kids going through this. Of course there are. The gold standard is to have two involved loving, supporting parents. But the reality is MOST kids do NOT get that. I’m saying deal with the reality you’re dealt and be the sane one. Gain a life. Model resiliency.

          • CHUMP LADY-
            Her articles that she posted are stating exactly that. Perhaps you should read them before you jump to conclusions in a rabid foaming defense of Tempest. No one attacked her. I personally think she is smart as whip.

            No where is Blessing saying anything about traumatizing children. She is stating the opposite….of the effects of living in trauma.

            I know this is your site, and I will most likely be banned, as you are the sacred cow, and there is a cult like demeanor expected…..but you have a vicious little streak that comes out that I find distasteful. It is not cool. Blessings was only trying to help with resources.

            Sorry guys….but it is the truth.

            Stay sane in the face of these cheaters.

            • Sylvia, I see nothing rapid, frothing, or vicious in CL’s response. I hope you are not having a bad day and feeling unnecessarily triggered. Sincerely, Dixie

              • Silvia is not a troll. She’s legit I think. She’s posted here before and I like her comments. Also, when it comes to children, we all get triggered in one form or another. I got triggered here to day as well. We all mean well.

              • Sylvia,

                I was wondering when you were going to show yourself. I found your comment and criticism of CL as close to a troll testing boundaries as I’ve seen here.

                However powerful it made you feel, I’m sure you have lost both credibility and the respect of many chumps. Raising my hand.

              • Wow … I was just thinking today that Sylvia was rather similar to Sabine. I hope that is not true … I come here for honesty. I would much rather we honestly and respectfully disagree than tear each other down.

              • I too think Sylvia is SabineSavoy.It was pretty evident from the day when emotions ran high the other day and Chumplady eventually pulled down the post.There were many indicators, as many of us would have noticed as did Surechumped.However, being chumps, it takes a lot before we call out someone.

                All of us also give a lot of space to other chumps , we all have been damaged a lot and are on different stages of healingWe get constantly triggered and can relate when one of us gets triggered and reacts in an unbecoming manner.

                All of us believe in supporting fellow chumps on their path to recovery and that is why this site is a safe haven for all of us.

                However, this site is also a much needed 2x 4. All of us have spackled to the highest degree in our former lives and we know the irreparable damage that has done to us.There is a very thin line between empathizing and spackling.

                We expect that CN and CL will always be alert and render the requisite 2x 4 when the line is crossed by any of us.

                All of us have been on the receiving end of unwanted nastiness in our lives.we do not want that here.CL has devoted her time , energy and resources to ensure that there are no ” street fights “or ” bar room brawls ” here.All of us here can vouch that she is not at all trigger happy , in fact is gun shy, where banning is concerned.

                When I state this , it doesn’t make CN a cult or me a groupie.It is just my gratitude towards CL and Tempest for creating this sanctuary for chumps.

                And finally , CL responded to the content and put forward her views.There was no personal attack on the earlier commentor.

                Chumps DO NOT ever personally attack people who disagree with their views.It’s only our disordered EXes who did that.

                Let’s leave that out of here.

                n fact , she is gun shy where banning is concerned.

            • Sylvia — you can disagree with me without saying I run a cult-like outfit and insulting me.

              If I’m a cult then WTF are you doing posting as often as you do? Trying to succumb to my mind-meld are you?

              No need to get nasty. And I don’t ban people lightly.

              • I agree no need to get nasty here. And ChumpLady does not run a cult, in fact, this website has been one of the most healing sources I’ve ever seen. I support Chumplady on this one.

              • English is not Sylvia’s first language. I read the comments too, and saw no rabid defense of anything. Just a clarification on CL’s part. I think Sylvia might just have missed a subtle cue that we native speakers take for granted. Sylvia is such a sweet and encouraging member. Not a troll. I hope she doesn’t get banned.

              • “and there is a cult like demeanor expected…..but you have a vicious little streak that comes out that I find distasteful. It is not cool.”

                That looks pretty deliberate to me. I didn’t think it was an English problem. It appeared to be an entitled deliberate, demeaning asshole statement. She was well aware as she MENTIONED getting banned. Like I said, testing the boundaries.

              • I was referring to her take on CL’s post, not her response. I was trying to avoid that land mine.

        • No one is saying divorce is not traumatic to children. But so is staying in an abusive household. In fact, the worst predictor of childhood outcomes is the amount of conflict experienced by parents (not divorce itself).

          Furthermore, the ACES score counts divorce as one trauma; it is mothers with 3 or more traumatic childhood events who later go on to be less effective parents to their offspring. And being in a high-conflict home, or with an emotionally abusive parent, also counts as a trauma. In fact, here is the first question on the ACE Quiz: “Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…
          swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you?
          act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?”

          Certainly my children’s life with Narc Cheater was far more chronically stressful than the few months of acute stress of the divorce followed by relative peace in the family. And I suspect that is true for quite a few people here.

          Here’s the link:

    • Quite honestly I think quite a few of us here at CN have experienced some pretty dire consequences. I’m not a teenage mother and also have a good education BUT Ex has shirked all obligations – he does not pay child support regularly, has not contributed a penny towards college costs, and had basically walked away from all responsibilities. Out family home is in foreclosure and I’m probably going to just walk away myself.

      I have knocked myself to keep my daughter from getting completely derailed by his abandonment – she graduated high school and got into a good college with some scholarship money. But I spent way to much time and stress deciding whether we needed electricity, heat, or food more any given week.

      • Chirral

        However difficult we step up as they step out. My children appreciate my struggle. I no longer buy my granddaughters clothing. I shop at consignment stores and cut and color my own hair.

        I am the resilient child of a narcissist father. I knew the type of man I wanted to marry. I ended up with a covert narcissist, serial cheater who never loved me.

        I was repeatedly broken and would not have made it without my two daughters’ love and support.

        Asshole reinvented himself. He’s a cuntfucker who lost the respect of his family.


  • My father was a malignant narcissist, my mother was raised to be co-dependent — although she made choices in her life that were not available to her mother, and grandmother in the times they lived in. My mother always appeared strong to me, and my father was mostly despicable — but as a child I didn’t understand the dynamics and had no words for the experience. There were five children, I was the oldest. I saw it as my job to care for and protect the others to the best of my ability. I dealt with a lot of guilt when I left home at 17 to go to college. I knew I would never move back, and I promised my sisters (the two youngest) that I would come for them if they ever needed to call me. I got the baby out of the house when she was 16. I am the only one of the 5 children who had children.

    I married two narcissistic men. I thought each was different from my father. They were different in some ways, and the same in others. One thing that I benefited from by surviving my father’s MN ways was that I developed a great capacity to tolerate and survive. I don’t think anyone can ever know the full extent of damage done growing up in a home with a narcissistic parent — and I worried about it with my children. However, their father travelled a great deal with his work and his general irresponsible behavior — and I was predominantly a single parent even when I was married.

    When I finally learned the words I needed to express my feelings and anger, and when I finally learned enough about the qualities of dysfunctional people to understand my world, I became determined to break the cycle of abuse to the best of my abilities. My son’s are grown now, and they have graduated from college and are working. They have not married, yet. I do not know if they will have children. But early in their lives I started teaching them the words to define and understand things like alcoholism and narcissism and type B personalities. They know about being an enabler and a co-dependent. I tried to explain things to them in an age appropriate manner — usually they were way ahead of me in observation and understanding. They still have a relationship of sorts with their father, but no delusions about what to expect from him. They had very little contact with my father, by my choice, and always with me present at family gatherings. He doesn’t have their addresses or their phone numbers. My father is a lonely, sick, miserable old man who lives by himself now, and still tries to control everyone’s life. My mother and my siblings and I all know just who and what he is. I’ve only told my children he has mental problems.

    The only hope I had of stopping the cycle of abuse with my generation was to have as low contact as humanly possible with my father and as little contact as the law and his own selfishness allowed with their father. I don’t know if it worked, but I do know that my children had a much happier childhood than I did, and they seem to be well adjusted young adults. I have been much happier as a single woman than I ever was as a married woman — my picker was really defective, and after I divorced the last mistake I made, I vowed to never, ever, EVER be in that situation again. Maybe I was a slow learner. Maybe old habits are hard to break. Certainly I was a grown woman before I ever really understood what was going on in my parents home, and their parents home. Fortunately, I was able to stop a great deal of that from going on in my home. I try not to feel guilty, because even though I knew there was something wrong, I didn’t know what it was or what to do about it. You know what you know when you know it. I do believe in survival and healing. I do know what joy and happiness is. All in all, I feel lucky. Thank God that children are resilient!!!

    • It is the repetition compulsion.

      Repetition compulsion is a psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats a traumatic event or its circumstances over and over again. This includes reenacting the event or putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again. (Wiki)

      You wrote this:

      “I have been much happier as a single woman than I ever was as a married woman”

      Randoms, my hospice patients I read to and people I ask for advice….all much older, with years of experience tell me this so much: Do not get married. Have a man for company and “treats” 😉 but you will be much happier if you just have a “room of your own.”

      It is advice I do not relish, but I hear it so much I am starting to examine it closely.

      • Think of it from another angle. If you do not have someone to share your space, you may at times be lonesome. You can also be desolate while sharing your space. If it is your own space, you can do what you want to when you want to — whatever that is. That is freedom. Freedom is delicious. You will never expect the “other” to take care of you or make you happy or fix something for you. You will not be disappointed in anyone’s behavior, you will not be lied to, you will not be cheated.

        If you go to places you enjoy, and choose to participate in activities you enjoy, you will probably meet other people you enjoy. You can choose to spend time with them, or not — and you can have great times with them. They have interests in common. They choose to be there — they are not drug along because of your interest or trying to (pretend to) please you. If you are a good friend, you will probably make good friends. Understand they are not the unloading dock for all your problems, and they are not taking you to raise. Don’t tell them anything you care for them to know. Friendship grows over time. By following my interests I have made good friends of both sexes. I have found men I could date, if I wished to. Mostly I have not wished to, but I have some men friends I enjoy very much. I do not look for forever, or expect it. I look for good treatment, right now in this moment.

        It is a different life than I expected, but it is a good life. Being “alone” and happy is much better than being married to a narcissist. I will not rule out ever living with someone again, or maybe even ever be married again, but I don’t think it is likely. I’m fine with that.

    • That was beautifully written. Here we are to break that cycle one chump at a time…

  • Excellent and resonates so much with my life. My only regret is taking so, so long to make a change and my children enduring the pain of the life I seemed to remain in for such a length of time. But your totally right, life becomes sane and pleasant to be in. I sometimes plague myself with worry that I fucked up for them not being stronger in the past. I have only recently stepped away from the sad and lost period and moved into the, ” I am actually fucking raging” stage.

    Anyway, life is getting better and we are all finding happiness in our home which I’m sure, like many of you chumps, I often wondered if we would ever feel that happiness. But we do and we all love and support each other, unfortunately I can’t change the past but I can make the future better.
    Much love to you all x

  • Not to rain on people’s parade I’m not so sure how resilient children are. First time I found out about hubby’s infidelity 15 years ago I did everything to save our marriage and our 3 children grew up with 2 parents. Yes Dad was moody and seemed to pursue his hobbies to the detriment of the family but I at least had a modicum of support, whether it was picking up a drunk teenager from a party or having 2 parents to watch a school show. And I have to say that the children have grown up to be wonderful children.We then went on to have a 4th child and he was 11 two years ago when we had to tell him that Daddy was leaving because Mummy had been told that Daddy had had two girlfriends for the previous 5 years. I told my husband to leave and now I am having to deal with a broken, hostile, moody child with severe behavioural issues. The school are on the verge of expelling him. His father lives in the next town and never puts himself out to support me. I put my child before everything but I am worn out by the verbal and physical abuse I receive from my child and to be honest I often wonder if I did the right thing throwing his father out.

    • Is your son getting some kind of therapy and counseling? You shouldn’t have to tolerate abuse! It’s very hard when the teen years converge with divorce. It’s really, really hard stuff. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      • Yes all I do is spend time and money and constant phone calls trying to get all the support we can. Before at least the husband witnessed it when the older children were difficult and we shared the burden. Now I have a child who is ten times more difficult than the older 3 and I have to cope with it on my own whilst also dealing with my grief. I really am beginning to think I should have let the cheating bastard stay.

        • Lelibelle

          We cannot predict the future or the impact infidelity has on children.
          Leaving an abusive spouse is overwhelming and painful. You are doing everything humanly possible to support your son.

          You are not to blame. Don’t beat yourself up as you are modeling strength to your son. I found my therapist to be helpful in supporting my teenaged granddaughter. It’s a fight worth all your efforts. Hang in there!

    • I hear you. It’s not that I don’t think children or chumps are resilient, I do. In fact I think both kids and chumps are amazingly resilient. In my own case, both my daughter and I are still standing and are making our way which is really saying something as Ex I think hoped at least myself would vaporize off the face of the earth.

      However, I for one think there is a heavy toll for that resilience in some cases, not all, and I think it’s important to not paint with too broad a brush. I know my teenage daughter basically went off the rails (way beyond just being a teenager), And yes she has grown and yes she has survived but that doesn’t take away from the fact that growth through trauma involves TRAUMA. She will likely be dealing with some lifelong issues due to the past 4 years – and that pisses me off.

    • Lelibelle–I’m sorry you’re dealing with a very difficult teen. I can empathize, as there have been many times I have told my 15-year old daughter she cannot continue to live with me if she continues to behave disrespectfully. The adolescent years are the hardest for kids to adapt to divorce, and it’s made worse when the cheater is the the same-sex parent. The poor child has just lost his key role model for how to be a good man.

      Don’t underestimate the amount of modeling your son is doing–chances are he saw cheater devalue you, and son is doing the same thing because that is what he learned, and it may provide a sense he still has his father with him. (And that is why still having cheater Dad in the house may not have been the better option.)

      You should not have to tolerate disrespect. Period. But don’t try to reason with your son, issue consequences that are (a) predictable, (b) fair, and DO NOT BACK DOWN once a consequence is issued. The research shows that doing so actually encourages worse behavior. When things were at their worst with my daughter, I tried to approach each tense situation as if I were the case worker at a child rehab center–be professional, calm, do not take the child’s behavior personally, but do what is in the best interest of teaching the child long-term positive behaviors & coping skills. I would have to remind myself that having a psychologically healthy child is my ultimate goal, not having daughter like me. It is sometimes very hard to follow this, but the calmer & more predictable I am, the better my daughter behaves over time.

      This is not to say you are not in for moments of sheer HELL. It’s an extra dose of crap to eat on top of betrayal. But parenting is a long-game. Just make sure you have social support & someone who can talk you down when you want to drop-kick the teen. Hugs!

  • My 14 year old daughter is in a crisis care mental hospital as I write this having exhibited suicidal thoughts, she’ll have to go into intensive outpatient therapy for months. While some of this is teen pressure and school stress she attributes the majority to her fathers unrelenting criticism, rages and emotional abuse. She reported him as an abuser to social services and now he is under investigation.
    I’m incredibly proud of her for speaking up and so sorry I couldn’t protect her more, sweet girl doesn’t even blame me, telling me I was just as put down by him as she was, that I told him all the time he was behaving badly and it just rebounded on to me. She’s been asking me to hasten the divorce for months and I kept putting it off as I just wasn’t strong enough.
    Kids are smart. They didn’t choose these people so they view them in a very different way to the way we do as they don’t have to justify their choices. My kids don’t sparkle.

    I look at my husband and feel pity for him as he becomes beleaguered and it annoys me, he doesn’t deserve it. We had a family meeting, my daughter became stressed when he started to slackly hi behavior to her and she asked to leave. He does the poor me sad face to the social worker stating that he doesn’t understand what he did wrong and I listen to him lie and minimize and gaslight and I just remember to Trust That They Suck. His rages become “arguments” in his words (assuming mutual blame), his constant berating becomes “name calling once or twice that he instantly apologized for” and his criticism of their every move becomes “just trying to support his wife who works so hard”. All in a soft sad voice done for best impact and all lies.

    Yes kids are smart and resilient but dealing with the disordered is a minefield. All I can do is support my kids and hope someone is savvy enough to see through his utter bullshit.

    • “While some of this is teen pressure and school stress she attributes the majority to her fathers unrelenting criticism, rages and emotional abuse.”

      I agree with your daughter 100%. My mother is exactly as your husband is. He’s mentally disordered if not mentally ill. My mother lead me to the brink of exactly where your husband has lead your daughter. I was on the brink of suicide, contemplating thoughts of killing myself. 3 years of intense weekly therapy saved my life. And it was then I realized that that’s not how a mother should act towards her daughter. I literally did not want to live anymore, because my mother’s abuse was so horrible. The only thing that saved me was to cut off complete contact with my mother. It’s been 5 years I’ve been no contact and there are days I shudder at how I would have ended my life, had I continued interacting with that bitch I called mother. Your daughter needs to get away from your husband. People like him (and my mother) lead you to end your life.

    • “I look at my husband and feel pity for him as he becomes beleaguered and it annoys me, he doesn’t deserve it.”

      Why would you pity someone who is cruel, nasty and abusive towards your own child? Why are you not thinking of the well being of your daughter, instead of sympathizing with your own child’s life which is at stake? Your husband is evil. You really need to see what is there.

      “She reported him as an abuser to social services and now he is under investigation.”
      Why didn’t you do this? Why do you have an innocent child who was born into this situation have to exercise that much power and strength, to the point it’s killing her. Why aren’t you protecting your own child? Animals in the wild protect their young with all their might, why are you making your daughter stand up to a bully when it’s you job. Sorry for being so angry, but you really need to start looking out for your daughter’s life. You’ll regret it if she ends her life one day.

      • Hi Kellia I think sometimes people don’t express themselves clearly and we need to be kind here. She says all I can do is support my kids, so maybe she is doing everything possible. Getting aggressive with someone on the Internet isn’t going to make them think ” do you know what I never considered that, I’ll do what you suggest”

        • There have been a number of uncharacteristically unsupportive comments today … I think this speaks to the fact that our children are the most important people in our lives so we feel a LOT of emotion when considering issues so critical to their happiness and well being. I think we each would literally die for the well being of our kids even if we each choose different paths towards supporting them the best we know how.

        • Yes my message is based on tough love and the situation is very severe. I completely sympathized with the daughter wanting to kill herself because of the father’s extreme abuse. I got angry because I was looking out for the daughter, who is an innocent minor, is 14 years old, and who based on the recounting of the facts in the post was put in a situation having to defend herself and to go against a huge bully, when it’s an adult parent’s job to do so. Who wouldn’t get angry when reading this? I sincerely had the best intentions and was looking out for a 14 year old minor, innocent child. And if I was aggressive, then I apologize.

      • Kellia, based on your previous comments you are here because you left a six month relationship with a not great guy. And you LIVE on here, posting obsessively.
        Try 22 years, a marriage, 2 children, immigration multiple times cutting you off from resources and support. Try half a life of on/off, good/bad and a liar and master manipulator leading a second life and don’t forget that personality type tends to target the highly empathetic.
        There are many people here who have experienced similar, who have had to juggle multiple issues while digging themselves out of a life they didn’t know they were living. Look up thread and you’ll see lots of decisions made, both with good and bad consequences, all made with difficulty.
        It may be time for you to stop obsessing, lose the judgement and get out a bit more.

        • Oh, and services can’t really deal with subtle emotional abuse, no bruises, nothing to show. Throw in the fact that the.disordered will frequently deal out what they see as “retribution” for perceived disloyalty, are great at manipulating situations and appearing reasonable to outsiders and can usually turn on the charm when the status quo is threatened.
          Many women specifically STAY in difficult situations in order to protect the children, rationalizing that it is better than leaving them to be alone with the offending parent for days at a time where they are more exposed to manipulation (again, see up thread).

          The moral is – take the warning, learn the lesson and don’t breed with a fuckwit. At that point there are no easy answers and judgemental busybodies mouthing off don’t help.

          • Finally Awake, I’m sincerely sorry if I offended you in any way. The situation triggered rage I had towards my father who stood by and let my mother be cruel to me during my entire childhood. And I realized this after I posted to you. And maybe I should have toned it down a bit, as I’m not sure what your exact situation is and we all deserve to be supportive towards each other. I don’t want to cause anyone any hurt, as we’ve all been through a lot already. Everyone’s situation is different and again, I hope you will accept my apologies if my post came across as aggressive.

            And I realized that I shouldn’t post here as much, if it is being perceived as obsessive. Thanks for pointing that out.

            • Appreciate it.
              Understand – this has just made him go into hovering mode, he’s just spent several hours making her different variations of stress balls. The case worker at family meeting thinks he is “trying really hard”.
              The most likely scenario is he will be sent for counseling and unfortunately cluster b’s don’t legitimately do counseling and frequently learn how to manipulate better through it. There is no winning here.

              I understand you had a rough childhood. What you’ll find is that a lot of chumps did, it primes us to accept less than perfect behavior and ignore red flags – we married for love and people don’t reveal all of their issues on the first day. Chump Lady is very therapeutic but I highly recommend getting real therapy, abstaining from relationships and doing the hard slog of working through your issues until you are truly comfortable with who you are.
              Worst thing you can do is breed with a fuckwit because that is the point of no return. Short of murder or kidnapping the kids and becoming a fugitive there is no going back and no fixing it.

  • After Dday, I tried to throw him out several times. The first time, he used the kids as the excuse why I couldn’t throw him out. Then, one day my daughter who was only 4 asked me “Where is daddy’s bed? I have a bed, my brother has a bed and you have a bed…daddy sleeps on the couch.” And in that moment I realized that I was hurting my children more by allowing him to be there at all. Ultimately, I want my daughter to have the strength to get rid of a cheating spouse if needed, and my son to learn what not to do in a marriage (and vice versa) . I know that ultimately they will respect me more for making the choices I had to at the time, both for my sake and theirs. We are since divorced and he continued with the OW who he brings around the kids. They do not know that he was cheating with her….yet. I have been told not to worry and they will figure it out.

    As much as single parenting is tiring, it is still less stressful that parenting with an absent partner. At least when things aren’t done around the house, I know they are not done and are in my to do list. And I have sole custody of the kids so parenting is on my terms and they see their dad every other weekend for their play dates…

  • We don’t need to justify that our children will be ok if we leave our cheaters. The children are not ok – they do suffer, and the fault lies with the cheater. Divorce has been terrible for my children. The fault lies with my STBXH who cheated with the nanny and ran off with her.

  • Sadly, I consider myself the sane parent, yet the kids are with him. My boys are now 23, 21 and 18. I haven’t seen or spoken to them in more than 3 years. They ignore my emails, texts, and phone calls. They cash my checks though when sent for birthdays and Christmas! Ex and I were together 26 years; 23 too long. I was a SAHM for 15 years; active in my kid’s schools, my community, and my church. Ex was active in only what suited him. I stayed for all the wrong reasons. Ex bad-mouthed me at every chance he could. I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes … from laundry to grocery shopping to making dinner to sex … I was never good enough and an “embarrassment” to him. His comments and behaviors were subtle at first, but as the years went on and his hatred and entitlement intensified, I retreated more and more into myself and became a shell of the woman I once was. I suspected for several years that he was cheating and in 2013 those suspicions were confirmed. That was the deal breaker. I lawyered up and had him served. He was blindsided and did not take it well. I lived in our marital home for the next seven (7) weeks, my youngest and oldest sons tormenting me physically and emotionally on a daily basis, all with their father’s encouragement and approval. My ex said I “deserved it for what I had done to HIS boys.” I had the police out to the house 11 times. On the last visit, I was told by 5 officers that they feared for my safety and urged me to live elsewhere. Under police escort, with 20 minutes to pack what I could, I moved out. The divorce took 15 months to finalize, and the ex abused me during the process at every opportunity. I overheard his lawyer once say to mine … “I think this guy has something really wrong with him.” Ha!, ya think so??!!

    I’m out now, and that’s all that matters. It’s been three years and I’m getting closer to a “State of Meh” regarding the ex. As for the boys, our future remains to be seen. I miss and pray every day for them. I get that they’re mad at me … I’m the one that pulled the trigger and ended our family. I know deep down they know the truth. Fear has them hostage, as it did me. I hope they can one day understand why I had to leave, and that we can begin to mend our relationships.

    I certainly never would have predicted this outcome with my boys. I wish I had been stronger to fight the narcissist that rages in my ex.

    • I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through but glad you at least got youself out. I hope you are able to reconnect with your kids in the future and that eventually they will work out a way to be OK. It’s a scary story though.

    • I am so sorry. There is nothing worse your ex could do to you than turn your boys against you. I encourage you to continue to reach out to them gently at birthdays and christmas in the hopes that as they mature, they will be more open to a relationship with you again.

    • Sue_W-
      I am so sorry! That just bites. I have an issue with my 19-year old daughter. For some odd reason, she ignores me as well. Doesn’t call, doesn’t text – nothing. You’d think I was the one who destroyed our family. My two older boys are still around. What kills me is my oldest still hangs with his step-dad, even after what he did to me. BUT – I think that is due to alcohol. My X is an alcoholic and I’m quite certain my son is too. The loyalty is to beer, not to family when you are an alcoholic.
      My daughter decided to move 5 hours away to go to college. I’ll probably see her at Thanksgiving. I’m getting so angry and upset that she won’t talk to me, I’m thinking for Christmas I’m going to give her 6 more months of paying her cell phone, then I’m done. I am paying her cell phone, yet she doesn’t talk to me. Fuck that shit. One thing I can say about my daughter is she is very entitled. She expects people to do things for her because they are her parent. Sorry honey – I owe you nothing! She has (and always has) a hard time saying “Thank-you.” For graduation – when I had her write out “Thank-You’s,” OMG was that just asinine. All she did was bitch about it and I explained that people took time out of their day to come to her party and/or send her $. The least she could do is say thanks.
      -Unfortunately, I think she inherited her piss head attitude from her asswipe father. I actually blame my X Mother-in-law for my daughter’s attitude. She was a horrific grandmother who obviously favored one grandchild over the rest (and that grandchild was not any of my kids.)
      Anyway Sue_W – I am sorry for what you are feeling. I’m in your boat 🙁

      PS – what do you guys think about me cutting my daughter’s cell phone off? I’m tired of paying for her phone when she never talks to me – never responds to my texts, nothing. I think I am a terrible mother (because I paid for my oldest’s cell until he was 28) if I cut her off. But I am tired of the attitude. Last year she called me cuz she needed her SS card for a job. I sent it to her along with $20.00. After a week went by and never hearing from her, I text her and ask if she got the card and money. Her response was “yes.” That was IT! NO – hey thanks mom for sending me my SS Card or thanks for the 20 bucks mom. NOTHING. Her ungratefulness certainly did NOT come from me!

      • I take it she is over 18 so an adult. Stop paying because she is grown up and responsible for her bills and her actions.

      • Please back off and be patient a little longer. Students in their first year of college are dealing with real grown-up issues for maybe the first time in their lives. Many gain weight (freshman 15!), carry around tremendous stress because their not confident in their ability to be an adult, have to learn time-management skills etc. Is she being a jerk to you? Most likely and it sucks but pulling the cell phone guarantees it won’t get better. And while you’re waiting for it to get better – instead of sending texts that “ask” for a response, try sending her funny memes or a picture of something from home she liked with a comment about how it made you think of her and you hope she is doing well at school. And send them without expecting a response so you don’t get angry on the inside when she doesn’t. Hopefully she will realize you are there for her as she matures and because you kept that door open while she learned to find her wings just maybe she’ll walk back in. Hugs for the pain you are going through and stay mighty.

        • Kiwi and Who-I appreciate your responses. I seem to get the same mixed responses from friends and family. My daughter is actually in her sophomore year, but decided to take the semester off apparently. I found that out from my mother. She doesn’t text me back regardless. My oldest son’s house burnt down yesterday morning. I notified my other 2 kids about the fire. My other son texted back right away, my daughter on the other hand – nothing. I don’t know what to think.

    • So sorry, this is awful. It sounds like your boys have been totally influenced by your X. Glad you are out of there and safe. I hope your boys will change when they get older or have kids themselves.

  • There are so many sides to this issue.

    I grew up with an abusive narc mother. Dad worked hard and stayed out of her way as much as possible. We kids prayed that our parents would divorce. When Mom’s rages turned physical, we kids were threatened that if said a word about it she would take us out of school and we would never see our friends again, or we’d be broken up and sent to foster care. We believed her; she was a teacher at our school. So we looked after each other as best we could and got out of that nightmare as soon as we could.

    Years later, I finally asked Dad why he stayed and whether he knew just how bad it was for us kids. He said he knew it was bad, but he really didn’t want to know how bad because he couldn’t do anything about it. Pretty astounding, right? Then he explained. He could not leave us behind, and he could not take us with him. No court back in those days would award custody of four girls to their father. He figured the best he could do was to be there for us and show us he cared. And, get this, we seemed to be getting along really well under the circumstances.

    Well, we kids mostly did alright. We all worked our way through college and graduate school. We all have good jobs. We all went NC with our maternal egg donor. We all cared for Dad through terminal cancer. Three of us married, two chose well. I married a man who turned out to be my mother, and a cheater at that. No children, thank god. (Chose better the next time after a long sabbatical from the dating world to get my head on straight.) The youngest has maybe had the hardest time; never married, no long term close relationships.

    So anyone worried that divorce has a negative impact on children needs to look at the other side of the scorecard and notice that there is a column titled “Staying with a Super Toxic Person with Children Present.” Sometimes there is a lot of negative stuff in that column. As a kid present in that environment, I didn’t care about money or where we lived or if I ever saw another Christmas present. I wanted to stop trying to anticipate what should be done next to keep a crazy person in check. A very good therapist much later had to show me that having excellent skills at that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

    • “As a kid present in that environment, I didn’t care about money or where we lived or if I ever saw another Christmas present. I wanted to stop trying to anticipate what should be done next to keep a crazy person in check. A very good therapist much later had to show me that having excellent skills at that isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

      I 1000% agree with this. I didn’t care about presents or material things, when I was trying to survive on a daily basis. When my other friends were thinking of marrying prince charming one day and what their wedding would look like, I was battling for my own survival and from ending up losing my mind.

      I too had to anticipate every single move by a crazy person, just to make sure I didn’t get pummeled. I had to stay one step ahead of the game every minute of every day. Anyone who has lived like this knows it’s crazy making. I’m amazed how most of us kept our sanity. And it’s no wonder I entertained suicidal thoughts. Who would want to interact with a mental lunatic on a daily basis, when you’re a child, innocent and your home is warzone.

      • I think the idea is to never ever replicate that situation or allow anyone you care for to live it. If kids in a bad place gets counselling early, the likelihood they will end up a victim of that bad family life is reduced largely. So you with kids, hug them, encourage then, and get them to a good therapist to set them on a good road for a better life if they’ve had to walk those hot coals.

  • This article gives me the chills, when I think how my baby was crying the first few times I left him with the “sitter”. I can’t describe his reaction, it was so vivid. Why didn’t I take him seriously???
    Or when his father came to take him for the weekend, to the place where he supposedly lived alone. Poor baby, he was crying and trying to hide.
    Ugh, why, how could I have known? What could I have done differently to protect him, to protect me as well?
    These are the thoughts that torment me.

    • Enraged, you did not know. You trusted, as all good people do. What you can do now is to have that talk if it comes up again. And you can cut yourself a break because you were not given all the facts you might have liked at the time. Let the light shine on you and give you freedom from the dark. Open the door to your new life. It will be better.

    • Enraged

      Your child will have an amazing bond with you, regardless. It’s so heartbreaking. Hugs to you.

  • Just want to say well done to the chumps who leave and struggle but give their kids a stable single parent home AND well done to those who stay and grit their teeth until the kids are grown. It’s hard for all of you and I respect your choice. Those who stay, please protect yourselves too.

  • My children are young teens to early 20’s. All of them are having problems with the divorce or more accurately their father abandoning them while he gets his life mulligan. They are all in different stages of depression. They all are very angry.

    But you know what not a single one of them has done? Asked me to get Dad back. Not even once. They have never begged their dad to come home again. Not even once.

    I think kids are resilient. But I also think they see our marriages more clearly then we do, sometimes. I think they are relieved he is gone, but feel guilty for feeling that way. I know they have expressed frustration that I am still sad about him leaving.

    It says a lot, doesn’t it?

    • Maybe throw on a pot of spaghetti and have them in and hug them and ask if they have any questions? Let them know you are open and interested.

      • I’ve been open with them from the get go. Or, pretty much so.

        What I have said again and again is that I will never regret loving or marrying your Dad because through that I have you guys. All the pain now I would have a thousand times for you. It was worth it.
        And then I add (sliding for age of course) something to the effect that I am not jealous if they have a relationship with Dad, it’s OK to have fun with him, to love him, and it’s ok to be mad at him One day they may want a closer relationship and that is OK too.

        I hope that they understand that. I have given up saying how much he loves them when he doesn’t give enough of a shit to be with them.

        Sigh. What a fucktard.

    • Calm

      I so agree. My daughter says I’m the strongest woman she knows. The other one said, “Your life is better.” When I was asked why the Limited didn’t pick up a registered letter, I replied, “Its either he got married, got a job (lol), or that he’s an entitled asshole.” My child said it’s the third one. My granddaughter tells her friends I am the one who understands the most.

    • Hi Calm, it sounds like you’re handling it well!
      I used to be quite mad at X, and it’s fun to knock his insane behaviors here, but I now actually speak well of him to my ‘kids’, for a couple of reasons. He stopped getting drunk! I am glad he finally made the effort, before he killed himself :/ Also, we have all sons, and I didn’t want them thinking that they got some kind of curse, by being the offspring of a complete loser, and addict. I know that they get some of their manly identity from him, so I try to focus now on his good qualities, and speak not much at all anymore about how he broke my heart, and slept around for years, it’s common knowledge anyway. My sons need to be able to be around him. We are all trying to have some kind of decent relationship (me from a distance). I am still shocked and sad, he wrecked what we had, but to me this is one way of moving on.

  • One of the best things about being a single parent is that you get to parent your way, with your values. If you’ve been dealing with a wing nut, it’s so freeing to not have to parent around their nonsense any more.

    This is SO true!!! So many times since The Evil One left I have seen so much more progress in our Autistic DD than in the years we were together. I havent had to keep her quiet, appease her so she doesnt stress him out, etc. The best thing he ever did was leave us alone to do as we please and every other weekend I get a break which is something i didnt get when he was here.

    I was then and always will be the sane, responsible parent and he will forever suck.

  • To all of you who shared your stories of the emotional and physical pain suffered at the hands of parents, partners, loved ones that have been left with deep and lasting scars from that trauma:

    Thank You for feeling safe enough to share your thoughts, experiences and the wisdom you gained here with the entire Chump Nation community!! I stand in awe of your bravery and strength of surviving those experiences, your courage to move forward, and your ironnclad will to NOT repeat those same choices in your own lives with your own loved ones! I’m so very proud of each and every of you that stepped out of the vicious cycle and refused to repeat what you learned and observed in your own childhoods!!! It’s easy to fall into and just move through the familiar patterns of behavior. HOWEVER, it’s so much more difficult to break out of that mould and make different choices. To open your heart to the unfamiliar, and new patterns of behavior without benefit of knowing the expected outcome.

    BRAVO & KUDOS!! You are ALL my new heroes!! This chump is sending you cyber hugs and lots of love for being simply AMAZING PEOPLE!! Stay strong for those young souls who need you to defend them. You are raising the next generation of Amazing People and YOU are a precious gift to us all!!!

  • Not everyone who stays with an evil is weak or selfish. I stayed with my abusive (sociopathic) cheating now-STBX to physically protect our young kids from him. (I knew that I didn’t have enough evidence to get full physical custody/supervised visitation. I still sometimes worry about the kids when they are with their father.)

    Life is much harder in some ways for me as a truly single parent now as I work so much at a highly stressful job that I don’t ge to see my kids more than a few minutes/day. My employer has mentioned firing me although I work over 70 hours per week and try hard to do good work. I took this job because I had no other offers and, at 50, noticed some signs of age discrimination, although I am healthier than most people my age. I have no other job offers and do not receive enough child/spousal support to be a stay-at-home mom, so I feel permanently stuck. I have a wonderful boyfriend (fellow chump) now, but in many ways, life sucks much more now than it did when I was married and living with my STBX. I am significantly poorer, noticeably unhealthier, more depressed, more worried in some ways. I don’t get to parent the way I want because my STBX, with whom I share joint legal custody, tries to prevent me from doing even reasonable things to help the kids. Moreover, I have so little time and energy for the kids that I do NOT get to parent the way I want to or even should. I didn’t have a choice about whether or not to get divorced. My husband left and tried to take our kids away from me forever although I was always loyal to him.)

  • Staying or going, that is the question. In my case the only option for me and my kiddles was to get the hell out of Dodge, so to speak. If we hadn’t, we would have been a statistic along with being very, very dead. When a raging cluster “B” tells you with all seriousness that they are considering murdering you and your children and then killing himself, that is a good time to take your kids and run like your hair is on fire. When that same raging cluster “B” is newly diagnosed bipolar and has dumped his lithium down the toilet because he LIKES being manic and thinks that YOU are the problem, again, run like hell.

    The sad part is that they are very good actors and liars. At the divorce hearing, the judge bought his great father act and refused to grant supervised visitation despite the fact that I had a restraining order against cheater ex. Four months later, cheater ex kidnapped and murdered my youngest son, and then killed himself a week later in another state. It took me a long time to stop beating myself up because I couldn’t protect my child.

    Bottom line, if there is even a hint that you or your kids are in danger, get yourself and your family safe first and pick up the pieces later. At least you will have a later. Dangerous people don’t come with a warning tatooed across their foreheads, unfortunately.

    • Tessie, you are in a terrible place yourself, but a most perfect place to make a difference. That never should have happened and never should happen again. When you find your voice to speak of this, take it to Congress and tell this country how to protect children. Your story will help a lot of people. xoxo

    • How about that judge? He ignored restriction orders! It’s like he put your child in harm’s way on purpose! These people get to decide on other people’s lives, for our children! I hope his ass is on fire AND fired!!!

    • Tessie,

      I am sorry that your family suffered this tragedy. Thank you for contributing to this board and taking care of others.

  • I know exactly how you feel! How is it right that dad gets to cheat on me, leave me, and get his kids 50% when he wasn’t even around much in the first place. He acts like fucking super dad in the community and he cheated on me with a mom at our kid’s school (my friend). They are still denying their relationship after a year and a half…they are just “friends” but they live in the same apartment complex. I mean is he that embarrassed that he is with her(she’s not very attractive) but he loves to say she’s a good mom who gives him good advice! Of course she does idiot!!! She is a bartender with three kids and he makes a shit ton of money. You know the business he built from the ground up with me by his side and three kids later. Such a fucking joke!

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