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The Stranger

effoffUXWorld shares this powerful guest blog post with us today. He gave this talk at a storytelling event — and I give him big points for bravery talking about the chump experience in front of a live studio audience! Way to be mighty! Without further ado — “The Stranger” by UXWorld.

This is a story I never in a million years thought I’d be telling, about a stranger I hope none of you ever have to meet.

On a January morning of this year, I learned that someone was going to be coming to my house. What did I know about him? At that point, I knew his name; his job; that he was married with an infant daughter; and that he’d already been in my house twice before — once while I was in Belgium on business, and again the morning after celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary. I learned that morning that he was going to be in the area around midday, and that he’d asked whether there was any chance of coming by for a third visit. He was told yes, that could be worked out. So I made the decision that it was high time we met, face to face. At the appropriate time, I put the dog in the basement, gathered up my work laptop and backpack, and locked up the house — to all appearances, I’d gone to work, a perfectly normal Tuesday. I got in my car, moved it to a vantage point close by, turned off the ignition, and waited. And waited.

His host arrived about 45 minutes later, parked in the driveway, and entered the house. Now it was a matter of waiting until HE arrived, at which point I would enter my house, and ‘introduce myself.’ But suddenly I was wild with second-guessing my plan. Because there was one other thing I knew about him — that he was licensed to carry firearms, and that he’d bragged that he did so at all times. Call it what you will — common sense, guardian angel, God, whatever — but a voice in my head convinced me that introducing myself in the way I’d planned wasn’t the smartest thing to do, for me or for my daughters.

So, I entered the house. My first question was, “What are you doing home?” I was told that someone was coming by. My second question was, “Why?” The answer I got was, “Because we have no place else to go.”

So I insisted that we wait outside for him to arrive.

About 20 minutes later, he drove by the front of my house, saw who was standing in the driveway, and kept going. He drove to the end, parked in a neighbor’s driveway, and sat there. I waved him down repeatedly, so we could have the chat I needed to have, but he didn’t move until I started walking toward him. Eventually he moved, and stopped his car in the middle of the street. The conversation didn’t last long — I asked him how long he was planning on sitting in that driveway before finally getting the balls to face the situation. I asked him if he understood that what he’d come to do in my house that day wasn’t going to happen. I asked if he had anything at all to say about what was unfolding. In the end he had very little to say — and eventually he got back in that car of his and drove away. Except for a video I found of him on Youtube in which he’s singing into a carrot, I haven’t seen or heard any mention of him since.

But he’s not the stranger this story is about.

I spent the next five days trying to get answers that made sense. Pleading for some recognition of the seriousness of the situation from someone to whom I’d dedicated 20 years of my life. My brain was in a frenzy, I could hardly think straight; my gut was turning over and over with the nausea of betrayal; my throat started burning as I began losing my voice.

All I got in return was a blank stare. And eventually I understood that the person before me, someone to whom I’d entrusted every one of my hopes, joys, fears and vulnerabilities, was in fact someone I didn’t know at all.

But that’s not the stranger this story is about either.

The stranger this story is about is the one I came face to face with later that night, when I looked in the bathroom mirror. Staring back at me was a person I thought I knew well, but on this day, whose sense of self was completely and utterly destroyed.

It’s been almost 9 full months since that January day, and I’m still learning new things him every day. Here’s what I can tell you tonight:

He’s reconnected with people who have always been his biggest boosters, and they have welcomed him back after years of virtual removal from their lives.

He’s found a community of people in the who have lived through the same hell as he has, and the only thing better than the support and validation he gets from them is the support and validation he’s able to give in return.

He’s said ‘I love you’ to his parents and sisters more in the past 9 months than he has in the last 30 years.

He’s found that rather than gaining clarity on what it means to be a stable and present parent for his daughters, it’s just a matter of reinforcing and following the example that was set for him.

And he’s able to stand in front of a room of strangers in Jamaica Plain on a beautiful night in October and say: “My name is Paul. This happened to me. And I’m going to be just fine.”

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  • You are going to be just fine…..we all are. Hang in there chumps. Stay strong.

    • strongwoman is right. Brian Tracy is a best selling author and speaker who made a quote that I keep on my computer to remind me of how far I have come since my horrific D-Day. He said “I found that every single successful person I’ve ever met had a turning point and the turning point was where they made a clear, specific, unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this anymore. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50 and most never make it at all.”

      Every one of us chumps have made that decision. Regardless of how you define success, you have achieved it, and you should be proud of yourself for that. Stay strong indeed. It only gets better from here.

  • Wow! Great post. So similar to my story in that I became a stranger to myself, and that is the one thing that I love having back. I hated myself and became the person my XW told me I was in an attempt to “save” our marriage. I sometimes need to remind myself that my kids and I will be just fine, but I am getting there.

    • Same here, Scott. I bought all the lies, “I could love you if you just ____.” I crossed everything off the list and once I reached the end I discovered there was a whole NEW list. I was unrecognizable to myself once I realized that the problem was not mine, it was HIS. It was not that I was unlovable; it was that he had no capacity to love.

      I’m slowly rediscovering who I used to be — and realizing that although I’m by no means perfect, I’m actually a pretty great person who someone will be lucky to love someday!

      And what glorious freedom to be ME! No bells or whistles, just me. If I can’t find someone who can love me just the way I am, I’ll be happy with my pets and my hobbies and my faith.

      “My name is MehGloriousMeh. And I’m just fine.” 🙂

      • I can so relate to this!
        Shouldn’t a real relationship enhance who you already are? We don’t need to beat ourselves up, or twist ourselves into someone new. F that.

      • THIS!: “If I can’t find someone who can love me just the way I am, I’ll be happy with my pets and my hobbies and my faith.”

        Never again will I pretzel myself to become someone else’s idea of who I should be. Never again will I beat myself up for not being _____ (whatever some asshole has decided my problem du jour is).

        I like who I am. I’ve got friends and family who love me as I am. I hope someday I’ll find a partner who’ll love me as well, but if not … there are worse things than being single. As we’ve all discovered.

      • Yes, MGM,

        I was working on the “I would be happy if you would only____” list and one day he said to me”

        “All the things you are doing to save this marriage are pathetic”

        and he was right. He was also not willing to be honest or decent and handle himself with integrity or truth…he just resumed the “be assbastard mean to her until she throws me out” campaign.

        • The day X moved out of our home I followed him as he was packing his things crying and pleading with him to stay. X turned to me with a smirk and told me I was pathetic.
          This sentence from UX’s story sums it up.

          “Pleading for some recognition of the seriousness of the situation from someone to whom I’d dedicated 20 years of my life.”

      • “It was not that I was so unlovable, it was that he had no capacity to love.” That’s it right there. Ex said to me once that he “was happy by himself and that he could see himself living alone for the rest of his life.” He married his OW but I believe that just created a vacancy.

    • One of my biggest regrets and sources of shame is about how I lost myself and compromised my values in a futile attempt to make a relationship with a Cluster B type work.
      I,too,had been isolated from my support system and allowed this to happen in a cowardly effort to appease her.
      The abuse,in retrospect,was constant and relentless. I fought back,initially,but,eventually it wore me down. There were kids to think about and I wanted to keep peace at home. So,I acquiesced to some egregious abuse.

  • You are mighty Uxworld. We all are because we are all still here after the massive betrayal from the person we built our lives around,working toward meh each and every day since. .. (((hugs))) friend..

    • The deception was terrible. I didn’t have a clue that my spouse was so unhappy in our 23 year marriage. I thought that we had a solid relationship. I was completely blindsided with the news that he hadn’t cared for me in years. The other part of this sad story is that he left me the day after my mom’s funeral. My dad had passed just a year before my mom. All of the anchors in my life, gone in a short period of time. It has taken four years to reach a settlement. His belief was that I would cave under his tremendous pressure. I didn’t give in but it was not easy. The best thing that I did at the beginning of the divorce process was to hire an account that specializes in the financial aspects of a divorce, a forensic accountant.
      It’s been a long four years of constant emotional unheavel. Losing mom and my spouse at the same time brought me to my knees. Now, that the process is over, I can truly start to rebuild my life.

      • Mary, you are an overcomer. I think we all know that knee-buckling pain you are describing. Kudos and hugs to you for finding your inner strength and making it out to the other side. I hope your new, cheater free life is as awesome as you are.

      • Mary, that is an exceptionally cruel thing your ex did to you.

        I understand what it feels like to hear “I’ve been unhappy for a long time,” when you never had a clue. My ex left at the same time my kids got married and moved away. Multiple losses compound the grief. You are amazing to have survived such tragedy. I wish you a new life of peace.

        • I started going to a therapist not long after he left. She helped me to understand that my husband didn’t just turn into an evil person, he was that person all along. I compensated for his emotional distance, a lot, and he’s a master at deception. I have also been on neducation, which I totally believe in. Some people think that you turn into a zombie if you take medication for depression and anxiety. If the medication is monitored and dosed right, it’s very helpful. Im am believer in the Medes.
          My ex married two weeks after our divorce. She’s 25 years younger, the same age as his daughter. She’s so far from the kind of life that we had. We enjoyed fine wine and listened to (some) classical music. Now, he hanging around the a sleazy bar where his new wife was the resident bar fly, drinking piss beer and following a band called mule face. He’s fallen as low as you can go.

            • I couldn’t get in a car and drive down the street I was so upset and fearful. My daughter’s boyfriend had to drive me to the psychiatrist who prescribed meds.

              • Libra – ‘I couldn’t get in a car and drive down the street I was so upset and fearful. ‘

                You were smart to get a ride, unlike me and probably many other panicked spouses after D-day and you don’t know what the hell is going on.

                I was one that got in my car.
                In a real ‘fog’; a chump fog, and I tore out of the garage and took out the side of the car and the side of the garage.
                I didn’t notice.
                I just drove, passing through stop signs, I didn’t see until too late.
                Just awful to do that to other drivers.
                Obviously, I was definitely impaired with grief and that’s a good reason to pull somebody over and get them off the street.
                I’m so freaking glad I never killed anybody or got in an accident.

                When in horrible grief, please do not drive!

          • Mary – After all the posts I’ve read on this site, it’s hard to believe I can still be astonished by behavior such as this. I’m sorry for what you went through and know you will find joy in your new freedom.

            • Well, get ready to be more astonished! He dropped the “I’m leaving tonight” bomb while we were sharing a fine bottle of wine. He had a prepacked suitcase which was conveniently close to the door. BUT….he wanted to finish his glass of wine. Nope, that’s not happening. AND…..he wanted to know what we were having for supper. I had him repeat that because I was sure that I didn’t hear it right. I don’t know, maybe it was the steam coming out of my ears, that made him realize that he had just said the most ludicrous statement, ever.
              And off he went…but, oh my, he forgot his cell phone. I didn’t let him back in but I did give him his phone which I unfortunately had stepped on. I, at least, put it in a ziploc bag. Fancy phone it was, broke up in quite a few pieces. Pity shame.

          • Same- covered and settled for his lack of any involvement or commitment in our marriage. Just always made things work for him. He expected me to just make everything workout for him in the divorce. Nope. Done. My ex is seeing a woman completely opposite of me and it really is okay. Her values and morals are a nightmare. They are perfect for one another. Both are a trainwreck and I am free. It truly gives me encouragement and peace. Time has helped and knowing others have gone through and have better lives. I can now say (after two years since day) that my divorce is not a tragedy. I am no longer married to a man who does not deserve my love. I am better without him and so are my children. Way to go Mary!

          • Hi Mary,

            Who the heck is Mule Face. It’s a band right? My stbx listens to this band all the time – now. Took his slut to one of their concerts. He never mentioned this band before. Love your post. After the first month of finding out my husband was having an affair – blaming me for everything to my children – my 15 year old son said to me – “Mom – he didn’t change. He was this way all along. Now he doesn’t have to wear a mask anymore.” He was right. It took my son to make me understand this. So sad.

            • Wait, are you saying that your ex knows about the band mule face? I don’t what the chump lady website regulations are about revealing personal information. But if he knows this band you must be somewhat close to me.

      • Mary,

        I’m so sorry that you had to endure such evil. I know exactly how you feel. My XH left me 6 days after my mother’s funeral. You walk around in a fog of grief, not knowing if you’re still grieving your parent or your marriage and spouse. It is a hell no one (except cheaters) deserve.

  • That’s inspiring, UX, thanks. You’re right that the person we need to really get to know is our own self.

  • Thank you for sharing. I was January this year as well. I have just started dating someone, a lovely man 8 years younger than me.

    I thought I was doing really well until after I was happily intimate with my new guy I got a cold sore and then a UTI. My mind is trying to protect itself by getting my body sick. I have acknowledged the fear and am reassuring myself that even if it happened again I could handle it. It pisses me off that the betrayal of my ex is still affecting me, but it will not defeat me.

    • I’m so sorry. My ex gave me so much “Stuff” to remember him by. After being faithful to him for 32 years I certainly had a variety of STDs.
      Don’t let the “reminders” defeat you. Talk to your dr. Lots of people have STDs.

  • Powerful. Yes.

    “Pleading for some recognition of the seriousness of the situation from someone to whom I’d dedicated 20 years of my life.”

    I will never forget that horrible feeling when I was faced with the exact same thought. I thought at that moment, what I felt, was the beginning of her betrayal. In retrospect, this moment was the end.

  • Thank you for that. I think we (and I know I certainly have) spend a lot of time talking about the pod person our cheating spouses became. The dead stare, the disdain on their faces when they would look at us. But you addressed something I have never been able to articulate before, but has bothered me since months before DDay. I no longer recognized myself when I would look into the mirror.

    Who was this pathetic creature? The one looking up names of PI’s and checking out prices on key loggers and gps trackers? Who was this person who begged not to be left alone? No one I had ever known before, and certainly no one I respected or even recognized.

    You UXWorld are a mighty man. You can look into the mirror with pride and compassion. You see yourself reflected in your daughters eyes, and god knows the wonderful support and advice you have given here.

    Now I for one am off to look for ‘guy singing into a carrot’ on you tube 😉 color me intrigued….

    • Thank you, UXWorld! Beautiful. Calm, ^^^this^^^. Who did I become? “NO one I had ever known before, and certainly no one I respected or even recognized.” Thank goodness on DDay #1 I had enough and threw him out that day. I must say I even surprised myself and thought who is this woman that finally grew some kahunas!

    • UXWorld, your story brought tears to my eyes this morning. It touches each and every one of us, even if their cheating was discovered in different way than you.

      Calmafterstorm, you are so correct. Cheater was a complete stranger to me but I had become someone I didn’t recognize as well.

      nomoreskankboy, like you, I grew kahunas and threw him out right away and even better, didn’t let him back in. That, along with a few other things, allowed me to clear my head (over time) of the lies and gaslighting that led me to not recognize myself.

    • I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror for a long time without bursting into tears.

    • I see pictures of me as he got worse and worse…I was a frog in a pot, the abuse was incrementally increased slowly enough to not notice until I was living under tyranny with a monster. I looked awful…old, bedraggled, miserable.

      Now its years later and I am happy. One day I had a thought pop into my head that shocked me…I saw my youthful, vital self in a mirror and I thought “If he had been put in a room with a hundred women, he would have picked me” he did choose me, I was great. He, however was a terrible spouse.

  • Beautiful xworld just beautiful. It was brave you are mighty and an inspiration to all. Hugs to you!

    • Geeze Kar, I dont ever think I seen that shade of green in your avatar, hehe. It’s all Wordpress’ fault. Just wishing you a Happy Thursday!

      • Aw thanks sure chumped happy thursday to you too. Didnt realize my avatar had a strange green. Leave it wordpress! Happy friday to you too! Hee hee!

  • Very powerful and unfortunately recognizable story. Love the way you told, really hit home!
    Standing ovation to you 🙂

  • Thanks to everybody for your kind words.

    A couple of postscripts:

    I found out about an hour before I left the house that KK’s now main squeeze, Creepy Writer, was going to attend this event to do his own story tell on the “Stranger’ theme. (His story ended with the words “…and I ended up peeing in a cat litter box. Needless to say I was never invited back.” But I digress.) I was seriously worried that telling this in public would cause me problems with the ongoing court case, and it being a Sunday, I did not get an immediate reply to the email I sent my attorney. After talking it out with 4a.m. 4ever on the drive to the venue, I decided to go forward with it, but I asked somebody in the room to record it on my phone, for my own protection. I sent it to my attorney the next day, and he replied, “So far, what I have watched if it has been totally fine. I am impressed that you were able to do that.”

    Moral — our stories are are own and they absolutely need to be told, for our own well being — but we need to be careful and strategic about how we do so.

    I paid no attention to Creepy Writer as I did my tell, so I did not notice that he apparently recorded me telling the story on his own phone. The next day, as I was sitting at the kitchen counter doing work and and as a song I was listening to was ending, KK entered the room and said, “By the way, I liked your story. You need to work on your presentation though — way too much fidgeting with your hands as you were speaking.” Pause, then: “Deplorable. Just deplorable. I can’t believe …” and the rest was drowned out by the next song coming on.

    • I am just stunned. That feeling ‘who are you??’ Was exactly how I am still feeling. In some ways the two people he is still both live in my head. Automatically the man I thought I knew 22 years comes to mind first and then a half second behind that the warning bell telling me to remember who he is now. It’s so hard still, I guess because I am still only approaching four months out from the first D-Day. Struggling to readjust all my automatic behaviours towards him to account for the complete betrayal.
      When I read your speech I felt it all so deeply. Only the chunked will get it and when they do they can appreciate your courage and applaud your refusal to accept any shame or blame, keeping it firmly on the two people it belongs to. I raise my hat to you! ??.
      Thank you.

        • Ha! You’ve got to love autocorrect sometimes! I knew what you meant, but chunked is good too. I pictured a log cabin builder taking an ax to a log and hacking out a “chunk.” That would be our hearts. So chunked is descriptive too.

          • Hahaha. Thanks! One thing I have really noticed on this site is that because we are all genuinely nice people who have come together we always try to help each other and be sweet from typos to mending broken hearts ?

            • Capricorn, I found one of the little, goofy things that my friend did helped me change my way of thinking a lot. She switched his contact info in my phone so he shows up as FF. Which is short for Fuck Face. I got so used to saying and seeing and writing his name that this became a good visual reminder of who he really is. (We have kids, so I can’t go no contact.)
              I also programmed my phone so that I hear a deep, foreboding knell when he calls or texts. I know to either ignore it or psyche myself up to deal with it.
              And, I removed every trace of him from my house!

              • HA! I did the same thing on my phone and changed his contact name to ? “BeelzeBob” ? and found a notification of that demon’s name being chanted. Cracks me up every time I hear it when he texts me! I also set his ring tone to play “Tubular Bells” from the movie, The Exorcist, when he calls me.

                At least now I can laugh at the incoming idiocy, and it puts me in an amused state of being even before I read or answer the phone. That little evil ringtone and notification tone helps me put it all into perspective. Laughing feels good ? and its been a long time in coming to hear the sound of my own laughter again. I missed that sound, but each day gets a little bit easier than the last day!

                Hang in there, all, and stay strong through this craziness! ? We will get through this and will be all the better for it. It just helps knowing you’re not alone in feeling like this…hearing others voice your thoughts is cathartic and completely freeing.

                And you’re right, Capricorn, there are so many supportive and caring “chunks” on this site… ? genuinely nice people ? …that I would love to meet face to face, and to thank for lending me their strength and courage to keep me moving forward towards the day when I’ll be free to have my own life again!!

              • I set up a “rule” so that all the emails he sends me automatically drop into a folder called “scumbag”. Its helpful for me so I can read my other emails as often as I want and I only open the “scumbag” folder once or twice a week and never on the weekends so he can’t ruin it with his accusations and rambling. When he calls my ringtone is the “Dexter” theme song.

      • I remember screaming ‘who are you?’ ‘who are you?’

        Dead stare. God, I was being so inconvenient.

        • I asked my now ex, “Who are you?!!” and he replied back, “I don’t know.” That’s pretty sick if you ask me.

          • I think the truthful answer is “I don’t wish to discuss it with you.” Whenever my STBX said “I don’t know” to something, he DID know.

              • I know why he ‘didn’t know who he was’ !

                Because he knew who he was and didn’t want to admit it.

                A cheat, a thief and a liar with a great degree of non-empathy, although he still looks in the mirror and likes what he sees.

        • I also told my husband he was like a stranger to me. Honestly, I think he’d become a stranger to himself too.

          • I 100% agree too. He still says he can’t believe he could do that to me. He said what kind of person could do that to someone he loves? Well a fucking terrible one! That’s the kind of person. A fucking cheater! AND you want to just keep going! Abandon your wife and life for some whoremat because you think it’s “love” let me tell you it’s all sparkles and lies you dumb fuck! But he’ll find out soon enough

            • I told X that it was like an alien was walking in his skin. I looked in his eyes and saw someone I had never seen before.
              All my passwords were his name with a number, now they are FuckHead with a number.

      • I must admit that,unlike some others,the discovery of the cheating did not cause me to begin to question ” who is this person, etc?” I knew she was an abusive,lying asshole long before I found out about the cheating.
        Some folks are surprised when I tell them that when I got the call and report from my PI at 3 in the morning when he busted her,that my reaction was one of euphoria: I had my ticket out! I had not lost my mind with paranoid suspicions.
        No,by the time I found out, I had just been waiting until my kids were older. Then,I was out.
        I have never for a moment missed either of my cheating XWs. Both were self centered NOds.
        I do not say that casually or to defend myself. These women were monstrous abusers,lying and manipulating like crazy.

    • I am speechless, UXWorld. She actually thought she had the upper hand in having Creepy Writer record you? And then critique your presentation as though she was an expert? My word. You are all kinds of mighty. First, for speaking your truth and sharing your vulnerability with a public crowd, second, for posting it here to encourage all of us, and finally, for the ongoing strength and restraint you show in enduring her taunts. Thank you for standing strong under this crushing test. You encourage us all.

    • UXWorld thank you so much telling your story, it touched me deeply..

      Isn’t it a shame that as the wronged party we have to sensor what we say and how we say it?? We have to record, document, check with lawyers for consent before making a move so that our future’s (and that of our children’s) aren’t further damaged?? Meanwhile, the culprits continue their path of destruction without a care, and it is the injustice of it all that angers me…

      When all is said and done, I too do not recognize the person I was married to for 23 years, and I am beginning to accept that perhaps I never did. But I happily look at my reflection now, especially after visiting this sight everyday, and say “You’re doing great, keep going!” and I am thankful to all of you for that..

    • UX-

      I have always mentioned to you that your story resonates with me…. at least the 1st year after dday. Time will tell the rest. I hope that your story doesn’t progress into my story. I say a prayer for you and your girls.

      Your calm-cool-collective approach on this dysfunction really shines your leadership qualities. Running for President soon? Hehe.

      The part of your story that gave me the chills was, “that he was licensed to carry firearms”. This was the moment that your calm-cool-collective approach really showed your leadership qualities.

      When I was faced with the exact same 1st confrontation with the AP (in my case it was my little sisters husband who also was licensed to carry firearms and also bragged about it). What I did was opposite of you, I drove over to his house in a bit of rage – lunged out of my car – popped the trunk – grabbed my young sons wooden baseball bat – marched to his door – knocked on the wooden door with a wooden bat – no answer – knocked harder – no answer – knocked even harder – no answer – got back in my car and drove home.

      I later found out that my then wife texted my little sister’s husband and warned him that I was coming over to “shatter his bones”. Turns out this coward was home all the while I was knocking on his door. He texted her back, “He’s coming to a gun fight with a bat, hahaha, idiot!”. I lost my shit. From that moment on….calm-cool-collective for me also – it’s the only way. You did the right thing UX, you did the right thing.

      • So glad he didn’t answer the door! Sometimes, it is our thwarted plans that save us. Glad you’re still here and not behind prison bars or dead, SureChumped. God knows your children need you.

        • 😉 Thanks Bliss – Anyone that knows me, knows that I wouldn’t harm a fly – no joke. I’m not proud of that moment. That was the one and only time in my life that rage superceded my common sense.

          In retrospect, I believe my rage was so uncontrollable at that moment because I was acting more like a big brother defending my little sister’s honor. Either that or I have watched the Godfather too many times, hehe. I am also glad that God knew my children needed me. No triggers for me – back to being chipper – thanks again Bliss 😉

          • Not sure why my keyboard gave you winking smiley face bliss. haha – Wordpress is not my friend.

          • SureChumpedAlot, while reading your story, for some odd reason that scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” between Indiana Jones and the Middle Eastern Swordsman popped into my head. After much show off swirling and swishing his swords about, Indie pulls out his pistol and calmly blows the swordsman away! I broke out in a cold sweat ? hoping to read a far different ending to your story!

            I can’t tell you how relieved I was that the “little” man ? armed with the sidearm ? (he’s compensating for something, right?!?) was too afraid to even open the door!! ??? I sure hope he was wearing his best brown pants that day! ? Buh-wah-hahahaha! ?

      • SureChumpedAlot, your little sister’s husband is a cowardly worm! “He’s coming to a gun fight with a bat, hahaha, idiot!”. He believed his gun made him such a tough guy… yeah, so brave he was afraid to answer the door and confront the truth about sneaking around with his brother-in-law’s wife. This really got me infuriated. Cheaters have no integrity. They can’t face the truth about their actions. Calm-cool-collective is the best and safest approach, and thank God you still have your life. On my DDay, I ripped cheater’s cell phone from his hand after overhearing his intimate conversation with his Howorker. I picked up a heavy blunt object from the tool kit (metal file?) and threatened to smash his phone if he didn’t confess. I really wish I never did that. He’s still not confessed 2 years later even after being presented with evidence.

        Thanks, UXworld, for sharing your story. You are such a brave soul to be able to go through with telling it at that event while your wife’s AP was in the audience. You are an inspiration to all of us here in CN.

    • UxWorld: I read through your story twice, just to be sure that I got the scene correctly laid out in my mind. On your behalf, I’m grateful that you only spent 20 years with your SO and your future is still wide open.

      Now double that time period and that’s when my own “January day” happened… I spent 40 years as an oblivious chump and transitioned from a vibrant, funny, loyal, trusting, enthusiastic and shamelessly positive young woman of 19 to a pathetic, one-dimensional, monochromatic cardboard cutout of a 60-year old someone I didn’t recognize. And it all happened, one day at a time.

      Then D-Day happened, and miraculously, I somehow snapped out of it. I began the long, grueling crawl back to ME; I’m now four years into this journey, and today, I can honestly say “I’m back”! The new life I was forced to create under extreme duress has turned out to be such a gift; although I’m not currently sharing it with a partner, it’s nothing short of robust: creative, expectant, entertaining, relaxed, happy and all-in-all, it has great meaning. And the fact that my grown children (33-year old triplet sons + 2 DIL’s) regularly tell me they’re proud of, and amazed by, just how far I’ve come confirms that I’m on the right path and the only way to go is forward.

      You’re correct – you WILL be fine! If you don’t quite have your footing back, you will! You are a warrior, you are focused and you know where you need to go. Just keep moving forward and all the pieces will fit into place. Your children are blessed to have you as their anchor. You are not alone, and you carry with you the strength of all who have walked in your shoes.

      • MyRedSandals, your post was so moving, and something I can so relate too. Vibrant, optimistic, smart, funny—where did she go? Oh yes, into early retirement so she could work full time at trying to make a disordered person happy. But nope, that didn’t work. I remember especially how he convinced me that I was so, so stupid. I recall asking myself over and over, now how did I get so stupid? When did I stop being intelligent? I graduated top of my class and went to college on a full-ride academic scholarship–studied pre-med. How then did I get so utterly ignorant? Living with a calculating, gaslighting, disordered person does this to you, one insult and lie at a time.

        Welcome back to your vibrant self, MyRedSandals. And welcome back to all of us who finally got free of the projecting, empty cheaters’ version of reality. Thanks for your post, MyRedSandals. It was confirming and encouraging.

        • Bliss: Thank you for your affirmation!

          For the first time in a very long time, I feel authentic and powerful! That dazed and confused, painfully introverted, empty shell of a person I’d allowed myself to become as a result of 40 years of deception, emotional abuse and gaslighting has been left behind.

          Like you, I asked myself, where exactly did that smart, funny, effervescent college-educated person that I used to be go? Well, she got bamboozled into thinking she wasn’t enough, she wasn’t worth it, she wasn’t valuable. So she got small, she retreated and she was on the road to disappearing altogether.

          But then my ex did me a huge favor: he looked at his married coworker, saw greener grass, and moved out to go and water her with his garden hose. I was left behind to pick up what was left of my shattered life and wondered if I’d ever be able to pull out of the death spiral I was in. Every single day was filled with grief, anger, shock, betrayal, denial, sadness, fear, panic… did I leave anything out?

          What followed that dark and desperate period was miraculous: I woke up to find my family, my friends (99% of them being OUR friends) and coworkers not only telling me that I was going to be OK, but that I was going to be sensational! And, they were right. My only regret is waiting until the age of 61 to get to Wonderland, but now that I’m here, I’m not leaving.

          Though it’s been 4 years since D-Day (October 2012), I often find myself having to face yet another challenge (read: fear) that’s been standing between me and feeling completely competent. Case in point: just the other day, I learned how to open the hood of my car AND how to add windshield wiper fluid. Boom! Now I realize some people might laugh at my complete lack of prowess in the car maintenance arena, but tasks like these were always handled by my ex (along with using an electric drill, fixing a leaky faucet and mowing the lawn; learning to use a mower is my next challenge), so I never had to worry about any of that; in that regard, I was very well taken care of.

          My victories, big and small, continue to mount… taking over the archaic system he used to manage our finances and completely revamping it to work for me (i.e. yikes, imagine paying bills online!), buying a house in my name with my money and remodeling most of it to fit my life, rekindling old passions I used to love (before kids), taking up new hobbies, traveling alone, taking much better care of myself physically/mentally/spiritually, building into my relationships, volunteering my time for worthy causes, transitioning into more of an extrovert and actually looking forward to meeting new people, etc. I look in the mirror today and see a different woman; a happy, independent and grateful woman. While my new life is not even close to the one I thought I was headed for, the life I’d imagined living with him – i.e. we were discussing retirement, selling my small business, downsizing to a cute little bungalow, taking long road trips – it has actually turned out to be so refreshingly, so unexpectedly, so magnificently better that my original plan!

          Yesterday, I saw this wonderful quote online:

          “I asked God, ‘Why are You taking me through troubled water?’… He replied, ‘Because your enemies can’t swim.'”

          Yep. So true; my ex is still swimming in the filthy muck and mire with the OW (whom, by the way, incredibly shares the same first and middle name with me… not very creative, Hon); she is now divorcing her chump of a husband (I thought about calling the poor guy and suggesting we go to coffee, but I don’t want to upset my own equilibrium). And from what people who know us both tell me, my ex has changed so much – and not in a good way – that he is almost unrecognizable. Meanwhile, I am swimming with Esther Williams in the deep end of the pool, doing beautiful swan dives and winning gold medals!

          Being a person of strong faith, I know that God is sovereign over everything and He has a plan and purpose for my life. The Bible tells me:

          “Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” ~Ephesians 3:20.

          Sufficed it to say, I am extremely grateful that things didn’t work out the way I once expected them to… what God had in mind for me was so much better than I could have ever dared to ask for or imagine!

          Now that I have higher standards and healthy boundaries for what constitutes acceptable behavior between a husband and wife – behavior fitting the commitment of marriage – I hope that someday I’ll have the opportunity to meet someone new and have a do-over. But if that doesn’t happen, I know I will be just fine on my own.

          And Bliss, if you’re not already firmly planted in Wonderland, you will arrive there soon and plant a stake that no one can remove without your permission! Just keep moving forward. You’ve got this!

          • Regarding those seemingly impossible car and household maintenance items, just remember that guys who can barely keep their pants pulled over their butt crack when they lean over have figured out how to do those things … so we can too. Usually, it is more a question of owning (or borrowing!) the proper tool for the job. And watching a youtube how to video!! We can do it!!!

            • I can honestly say I have to hand it to my X for my ability to take care of the cars and household maintenance. He was perfectly capable and talented enough to do that stuff around our house, but was just a lazy asshole who had better things to do – like drink beer and go to the bar 5 nights a week. Therefore – you know the saying, “If you want something done right when you are married to a lazy piece of shit, you’ll just have to do it yourself.” (Or call an expert – like my dad :-))
              Thanks asswipe!

          • You are amazing MyRedSandals. You brought tears to my eyes and I love this >>”I asked God, ‘Why are You taking me through troubled water?’… He replied, ‘Because your enemies can’t swim.’”

            I truly with all my heart believe that God woke me up from a sound sleep the night I caught my now ex out his former ho-worker. As I’ve told my now ex tons of times, “God has seen it all.” He has seen it all. He’s seen everything that’s he done to me over the years. All the lies. All the cheating. All the emotional affairs. All the stuff that I don’t even know about. He’s seen it all and one day He decided I needed to get woken up from a deep sleep so that I could finally catch him in the act.

            What you wrote was so inspirational! Thank you!

            • Martha, you and I are in agreement before the Lord. I also believe that He sees it all, and that’s why you and I don’t need to stand in judgment. The Master of the Universe will handle this for us when the time is right.

              • Amen! I’m trying so hard to not stand in judgement. I guess that why I love coming to CL and CN to vent and to see what others have gone through and are going through. It makes me feel less alone in all this and then I’m reminded by fellow believers that I’m in God’s hands and He has a purpose for my life. I truly thought my purpose was to be a great wife and mom. I tried so hard to be both, but it just was never enough to keep him from cheating. And now I realize I never could have done enough. He’s a bottomless pit of neediness. Thanks for the reminder to hand all this over to God. I keep handing it over to Him, but then I take it back. 🙂

          • MyRedSandals,
            Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so beautiful and really, really touched me. My final DDay was only 3 months ago, so I am not quite to Wonderland yet, but I can already feel God’s presence and protection as I travel the road that will eventually get me there. Like Martha, I always thought my purpose was to be a great wife and mother. When the wife part of that equation was shattered, it was really heartbreaking for me. But I trust that what God has planned for me will surpass anything I could ever imagine. And as He promises, I know He will restore to me the years that the swarming locusts have eaten. I rest in that promise. And while God is with me in all this, giving me the strength to do it and lighting the path I need to follow, He has not forgotten what my STBXH did, and I firmly believe that God will set things right. My favorite verse on this topic is Jeremiah 20:11:

            But the Lord is with me as a mighty awesome one.
            Therefore my persecutors will stumble and will not prevail.
            They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper.
            Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.

            And I will now add to this, the great quote you wrote:
            “I asked God, ‘Why are You taking me through troubled water?’… He replied, ‘Because your enemies can’t swim.’”
            I love this!! Thank you!!!

          • I don’t think I really had a chance to grieve for my mom because I was thrown instantly into divorce mode. I just never knew he had the capacity to be so cruel, telling me that his obligation to me was over. Obligation?? What is this obligation that he speaks of? I never considered marriage as an obligation, it’s a commitment.
            I’m not where I want to be emotionally or even physically. I don’t think the pain of mom’s passing and his leaving will ever really go away. It’s not as crippling as it once was. I think that you learn to live around the pain. You simply can’t go through a death of a parent and being deserted and not have it change you.

      • I travelled at different road but ended up chumped at 62. And like you, I’ve found parts of me that I lost years and years ago–some long before I made “being in a relationship” the centerpiece of my life.

    • Very brave UXworld. I too am re-finding myself. Thank you to CL for this wonderful site to help with moving forward.
      We should have meet-ups in each city. A face-to-face support group. Would anyone ever be interested?

    • Luziana, (tearful) coming from YOU, and all you have been through, I KNOW I will be fine! You are the APEX of CN! xoxoxoxoxox

  • You are certainly brave! First, confronting them both and making them squirm and secondly, standing in front of an audience! What you did and are doing is mighty. You also have a lot of self-control not to harm either of them. You will be an inspiration to new chumps! Keep the course and remember the final goal. A cheater free life!

  • The stranger is me.

    I know for many months I struggled with trying to figure out who this man was that I allowed in my bed, in my heart and my very being. How could I have allowed someone to deceive me this way and for so long? Why was it acceptable to me to let him criticize my appearance, withhold affection for months at a time, betray me over and over again and create distance between people and things that I loved?

    But with all of that confusion about the stranger I had married it took me longer to figure out what you just pointed out. He was who he always had been, I had just blinded myself with years of spackle and wishing thinking.

    The truth is, years later I was the stranger. Someone who spent hours on the Internet trying to figure out ways to track his phone and text messages. Imaging ways of humiliating him and the OW. Daydreaming of them both careening off a cliff into a fiery explosion. Finding myself going from extreme hatred and anger one minute and pitifully begging him not to leave me the next.

    So many brave things UXWorld that you have accomplished. Confronting the AP, speaking about your experience in public and coming here to share your story.

    You and the rest of us, are going to be just fine. Your strength and perseverance are proof of that.

  • Great job UXworld!

    The actual stranger (love the twist by the way) was the part that resonated with me the most too, just like calmafterstorm. I think many of us feel the same way but haven’t been able to articulate it.

    Your story is one that all chumps need to hear but I think it will be especially important for new chumps. Look how far you’ve come in 9 months; all the while navigating a hellish divorce with KK! You do chump nation proud! Just awesome!

  • Fantastic. And the post raises the ultimate question that we’ve all had to face, and that is: What is it that we want out of the rest of our lives?

    Then we make a choice – (a) continue with the status quo and live with a liar, or (b) move on to make a better life. When we get from (a) to (b), we’ve made it.

  • I can really relate to this talk, UXWorld. Thank you so much for sharing so bravely.

    I’ve had so many “What was I THINKING?” moments since my D-Days, that “chumpy me” really does seem like a stranger. The idea that you were so snowed by a narcissist that you allowed them to cloud basic good judgment, common sense, and clear and obvious red flags is unsettling. It’s helpful to know that others feel the same way.

  • I think one of the worst parts of betrayal is losing yourself and becoming someone you never thought you’d be.Never in my life had I felt so powerless and pathetic.I doubted my own judgement for having loved someone who wore a mask of normalcy but behind that mask was a callous,cold hearted monster.I doubted my own intelligence for having allowed myself to be manipulated in the aftermath of betrayal.
    I felt stupid for having given my heart and soul to such a person.
    It took a long time to find myself again.
    Bravo Uxworld.

    • Me too. I’m still trying to find that person but each day I look in the mirror I see a little bit more of that person I was before he came into my life. I’m looking forward to the day that I can finally say “welcome back stranger!”

      • I kept telling the traitor over the years that there must be something wrong with me to be with someone who had had those two crazy ex wives… I was right. BTW he never commented on that, just stared.

  • Three strangers (affair partner, cheating spouse, and yourself). The latter stranger is the most difficult to deal with, in my opinion. Years after DDay I’m still struggling to put myself back together. But I’m doing it. I’m tired of being broken.

    I’m very impressed that you were able to confront them in such a calm manner. Seeing them together would have rendered me overwhelmed with emotion, and I likely would have cried or just been unable to form coherent sentences from the hurt. Shows how much of a coward the OM was, too.

  • I wish I had found all of you 18 months ago. This is my first response to a post, as I have been reading on here obsessively for the last three weeks. First, let me say thank you to all of you for your honesty, support and kindness towards each other. What unimaginable hell we have all been through. In regards to this current topic, yes…my now ex husband, whom I spent over a decade of my life with, turned into a complete stranger. It was terrifying and confusing and gut-wrenchingly sad. He cheated on me with his married co-worker, ten years younger than me, while I was pregnant. I lost the pregnancy. She is now divorced as well (we went to her wedding) and they are together. And we all worked together. I did everything all of you did…obsessing, fantasizing about horrible things happening to them, piecing together dates, times, phone calls, emails, texts, pictures, events. It was utterly consuming my life. And yes, I no longer recognized myself either. I never knew I was capable of such raging hatred, and as many of you have also said, while also feeling completely pathetic because you beg them to stay with you. Beg them to remember all of the “wonderful” things you had. How angry I am at myself for that. But…I tried. I loved him and thought I could save my marriage. Which is why I wish I had found all of you first, instead of “Hope-Now” and “Marriage Builders” and half-assed counseling….all of that fucking bullshit. All of it. Thank you to all of you for your bravery in telling your stories. I wish we did not all belong to this “family”. Sometimes I don’t know whether to feel better to have so many to relate to, or more pissed off that this happens so goddamn often. But, almost to the one year anniversary of divorce, and I have come a long way. I have an AMAZING family and friends. And now that I have found all of you, you’re helping even more. Thank you!

    • Welcome, Integrity. We do try to support one another. You said it well though. It sure is a stunner to learn how often this stuff happens. We all wish it was as rare as a unicorn sighting.

      Glad you found us.

      • On a completely unrelated note, I miss my previous avatar so much. She really had the lipstick thing going on. I called her Hotlips.

    • Welcome, Integrity. What a fabulous and self-empowering name. I too lost a pregnancy during my 30 years with cheater … I will never know if his sleeping around with men caused it but I sometimes wonder. Thankfully, we had another child who is now the only good thing to come out of 30 years. I hope you continue to post here as your first contribution is full of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

      • Made me teary when I read you lost one, too. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate your kind welcome!

    • Welcome. So sorry this happened to you. As you know we all understand. Let the healing begin. Post often. Read often. We are all here for you. Hugs.

      • Thank you so much. Happy to be part of something that can help make us stronger and help heal all of the self-doubt and anger and hurt. Hugs to all of you and I am beyond sorry to all of us that have had to go through it…believe me, I am tired. Time to feel happy again!

    • Hello and welcome, Integrity. 🙂 I’m so sorry about you losing your baby and all that happened to you.

    • Welcome, Integrity. GREAT choice of name. I’m so glad you’re doing better! And you’re definitely in the right place. I’ve said here before it’s been amazing to be lifted up by perfect strangers when the one who was supposed to love you most did his/her best to tear you down.

      • Thank you! Agreed…amazing how complete strangers offer so much support, and your “best friend” inflicts the worst damage and pain. I really appreciate your welcome!

      • Thank you for your sentiments. I still get incredibly sad about it…but, also realize there is nothing permanently connecting me to him, which frees me. It is a very, very sharp double edged sword for sure. I am in my late 30s, so I am faced with the realization it may never happen again for me. Hopefully it will! But…hard to get passed the anger that he took those years from me, while the OW is ten years younger and they planned their own “family” while I had already become pregnant. One of the delightful emails I found…regardless, thank you for your welcome! I hope I can offer all of you some support and good thoughts in return.

        • Never say never, Integrity! You just don’t know where life will take you, or what opportunities will find you along the way.

          Life isn’t a destination, it’s a journey…so sit back and enjoy ride while being thankful for all the blessings you’ve received so far, and spread your arms wide to gather in close all those blessings yet to come your way!

          Like you, I’m new to this site for reaching out and corresponding, but I love the camaraderie, encouragement and support that ChumpLady and the great ChumpNation offers to one another! Be brave and stay strong! ((((Hugs!))))

  • I’m glad that you were able to tell your story in such a way removing the rose colored glasses from betrayal. People risk their lives and the future of all those involved because of these acts of betrayal.
    I for one would have put my foot up both my x and ow ass if I would have seen them together. Emotions, rage, betrayal can be a deadly mix. The self talk, all of the negative barbs by the cheater come flooding in when the realization sets in about the betrayal.

    Great job in telling “your” story instead of the Hollywood version we hear do often.

    • Bleecch Hollywood! I can’t no longer stomach those “unrequited love” cheater movies. Even when there’s a hint of infidelity I get really uncomfortable and have even turned a movie off if I felt like they were making light of it.

  • I read this poem last night by John O’Donoghue.
    Off topic but I thought it might be of help to those who are having a bad day.
    It’s called Beannacht ,a Gaelic word that means blessing.

    On the day when
    the weight deadens
    on your shoulders
    and you stumble
    may thd clay dance
    to balance you.
    And when your eyes
    freeze behind
    the grey window
    and the ghost of loss
    gets into you,
    may a flock of colours,
    and azure blue
    come to awaken in you
    a meadow of delight.

    When the canvas frays
    in the currach of thought
    and a stain of ocean
    blackens beneath you,
    may there come across the waters
    a path of yellow moonlight
    to bring you safely home.

    May the nourishment of the earth be yours
    may the clarity of light be yours,
    may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
    may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
    And so may a slow
    wind work these words
    of love around you,
    an invisible cloak
    to mind your life.

    From Anam Cara ( soul friend).

    It helped me in the dark days.

    • deedee- many thanks for this. Lovely. I copied this into my recovery book. ❤️

        • deedee. I’m a notebook addict! Any excuse to buy a new notebook and pen. I had an angry notebook for all the rage filled texts I wanted to send but didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of receiving. I have a night thoughts notebook for all the crap that comes to me at night. I have an ‘affair’ notebook for all the analysis, thoughts, reasons, conclusions, and ideas I have about what the hell happened. And I have a beautiful notebook for everything that I find healing. Only rules are it can’t contain anything but positive stuff. So many posts from here I have printed out and pasted in, I have poems, odd words I like, pictures, what I dream I could be etc etc. As time goes by it’s good to see I spend more time on this one than the others.
          No where near ‘meh’ but that’s what this notebook has written on the cover!!

          • Meh is always a work-in-progress. Won’t ever be complete because of the long history but it is an achievable state. Must keep working at it else your life is not your own. Here’s to everyone no matter where they are on the long and winding yellow-brick-road to MEH.

            PS To newbies–I never thought I would get there. Believe!

    • Very nice, thank you. Great thoughts, analysis, books, poems, insights and healing are why I come to this blog everyday. I’ll be putting this in my quotes and poems notebook.

    • I love this poem, Dee Dee! Thank you for sharing it with us here. I am writing this in my notebook where I keep all positive quotes, song lyrics and poems that have struck a chord in my soul…Like this one has! I pull it out and read it when I need to hear words of encouragement and hope for the difficult days ahead. ? ?

  • While trying to figure out all the manipulations in my life, there was something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on. You pointed it out. Who am I? As usual I was spending my time thinking of others. My inner self was screaming what about me? What happened to me? How did I get so caught up in these other people that I lost track of my needs, my hopes, my dreams. When did I lose my sense of self and become a chew toy that is just tossed around by a pack of Rottweilers. Instead of trying to figure other people out, starting today I am going to focus on who I am and find that hopeful, confident person that started this journey with X 35 years ago. I know she’s still in there and has been waiting to come out. Now that he’s gone she can. Thanks Ux

    • “A chew toy that is just tossed around by a pack of Rottweilers.” Great description. Blessings on your journey back, Newday.

      • I’ll make some tea, or Crown Royal, whatever you would like. Sit in front of the fireplace, with candles lit, shrimp for appetizers. I will ask to share your story, express our feelings, then offer a Death By Chocolate Cake! I can see the bonding! HUGS!

    • , YELLING in your right ear….NEWDay…come out.come out, wherever you are!!!!! HUGS!

  • Bravo, UXworld.

    I know that once I discovered CheaterX’s adultery, I had to look at myself in the mirror and realized that I was unhappy with who looked back. I needed to spend quite a bit of time lining up my ducks, but during that time, those closest to me have remarked that I remade myself.

    I did. I reclaimed myself. I’m not back 100%, but I’ve made great strides. Now that I’m out of the same house as CheaterX, and now that I’m No Contact, I’ve started to settle in my own head space even more.

    Part of being a Chump is learning to come to grips with the fact that we’ve been betrayed by the person we trusted the most, but another part of being a Chump is looking at the kind of impact that living with someone who so casually tosses our faithfulness aside has on us.

    Thanks for posting this.

  • Wow! A very heartfelt post that totally hit home. I too found myself staring into the mirror trying to figure out what is is too much to write here.

    “All I got in return was a blank stare. And eventually I understood that the person before me, someone to whom I’d entrusted every one of my hopes, joys, fears and vulnerabilities, was in fact someone I didn’t know at all.”


  • UX, thank you for sharing this in writing.
    I was so intrigued when you spoke of this at the chump meet, I had wanted to go the next night and see your live performance. Unfortunately that venue is a bigger trigger for me and I have been avoiding it for years now.
    That moment of realization after decades of service to a relationship when one’s identity no longer applies… it is a truly powerful moment. I remember my moment three years ago when the old me no longer applied, what now, I am a husk of the former me…
    Getting to know oneself for real can be such an empowering experience.
    By nature, chumps are so resilient and tend to rediscover themselves and their strengths in such positive ways.
    Again, UX, thank you for sharing your experiences and creative talents with this group.

  • Bravo, Paul. I’m so proud of you and grateful for your presence here, where you’re helping so many others to understand and rebound. Bravo.

  • I admire you for standing up and telling your story. Societal norms prefer the chumped to stay silent and keep our story to ourselves, or churn out the “we grew apart” mantra. We are almost forced to hide this horrific thing that happened to us.

    The challenge is how to speak out in a way that doesn’t make us look crazy, and that’s what you’ve achieved. Thank you for sharing.

  • This is an amazing piece of writing, UXWorld. Like many others, I was brought to tears as you utterly captured the out of body experience of finding out that “the person before me, someone to whom I’d entrusted every one of my hopes, joys, fears and vulnerabilities, was in fact someone I didn’t know at all.”

    What a long, strange trip we’ve all been on.

    And there is a special place in hell for those cheaters and their affair partners who violated the sanctity of our home. My cheater actually bragged to me that he had brought his affair partner into our home while I was at work. He was defiantly proud of having gotten away with bringing a total STRANGER – someone none of our friends or family had ever met — into my home while I was out earning the money that fed Cheater and paid for the mortgage payment for 12 years.

    • “He was defiantly proud of having gotten away with bringing a total STRANGER”

      That reaction – is something that still haunts me and what I’ve struggled with the most. It was like I was suddenly staring into the eyes of a monster.

    • Mine brought the AP into our home as well, more than once. I suspect he brought her to our home (and had his tryst with her) while I was out of town visiting family. When I returned, I could tell something with off, but couldn’t place my finger on it. It was such a weird feeling.

      • X brought ow into our house to. My neighbor told me after the divorce. It was while I was at work. Apparently ow spent so much time here that she had a hankering to live here. Sorry that didn’t work out for you. Not!

        • X brought girl-child to my house while I was out of town. She left a souvenir–a black push up bra. It was presented to him at the end of the mediation, where he got fleeced, by the mediator, a middle aged former judge woman. Would love to have seen the look on his face. B/P probably went up sky high.

    • Mine had his OM in our house while I was caring for my dying mother in Italy for 5 weeks. She got better. He did not.

  • Thank you, UXWorld, this was so sad and so true. When the dust settled for me, I didn’t recognize myself. I had become a shell of my former self from living with this narcissistic bully for so many years. The great thing for me was that I could get back to myself but could get rid of the things about me that made me vulnerable to someone like my X. I cured myself of the “disease to please”, took off the rose-colored glasses, and started telling myself the truth about me, my parents, siblings, friends, etc.

    It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m living an authentic life for the first time ever. I know myself better than I ever have. And I measure myself by MY standards, not someone else’s. It’s been four years – a long road of hurt, pain, surprises, delights and now calm.

    I love to see how all the chumps here have evolved from the devastation. Mostly while their cheaters are still floundering, going from relationship to relationship looking for someone to save them. We saved our selves. There are so many beautiful Phoenixes here rising from their ashes.

  • UxWorld, your words are brave and beautiful. You are so right … so many strangers are dancing around in my head even five full months out from D-day. I am slowly learning to accept that who he is or is not is totally irrelevant to where my life goes from here. Did he love me at one time? If so, at what point did he stop? Do I even cross his mind now? All those questions are a total waste of time.

    As you have so eloquently pointed out, the important questions are who am I now? How did I become this stranger to myself … someone who spends so much time worrying about the past 30 years instead of the next 30 years? When I met STBX, I was a smart, motivated, funny girl who laughed and loved easily. Now I am an angry, bitter, hurt woman who is essentially hiding from the world and totally confused and frightened about what I even want going forward.

    I honestly feel like your post has powerfully nudged me in the direction of getting on with MY life. Thank you for that and feel free to keep posting “booster shots” of your good advice for when I inevitably backslide! I am so thankful for the people here … such lifesavers, all of you.

    • Ciao Dixie,

      Well let me be the first to say Dixie that I can *easily* see that you are a smart, motivated, funny girl who cracks me up and still has the ability to love. Please don’t hide Dixie, the world needs you!

  • UXWorld, what I would give to have watched the audience listen. Warning: I start this post by engaging with the narrative itself. I don’t mean to be esoteric, clinical, or presumptuous. I just love stories. And words. I end the post on a more emotional note – and with questions.

    From a writer’s / reader’s perspective, I was gripped by your deft manipulation, and hence rearrangement, of the concept of stranger.

    You presented what most of us understand as the generic stranger FIRST, which disarms us. You later in irony. This is the familiar stranger, oxymoronic. But we’re comfortable, mostly; this is indeed the way we usually understand “stranger.” But you complicate that comfort zone slightly. No, you did not know him in the typical sense, so that fits. But you knew a few empirical things in a “factual” but not ordinary sense. There’s nothing ordinary about someone you don’t know coming into your home.

    Your next layer, involving KK, deepened the inversion. There isn’t even a pronoun. You don’t ever use the word “she.” Not once. She is almost a potently present but not-quite-visible stranger. On one hand, YOU deprive her of agency, strip her down to an ALMOST tangential actor in the story; at first all we know is that the second person is the “host” for the first. Brilliant. A host for a parasite. Then, on the other hand, you couch her agency in a verbal exchange with YOU. That makes it clear she, too, is a parasite. When you ask, “What are you doing home?” you wallop the listener with what seems impossible; you live with this person, you should know why this person is out of routine on an “ordinary” day that is anything but. You don’t know. You have to ask.

    You flip the crazy with the ensuing dialogue. You drive it with questions, and report the answers as if the speaker were at a distance. Your interlocutor both has voice and seems muted.

    “I entered the house. I was told that someone was coming by.” Here, you stiff-arm her out of the picture and refuse to let her get away. She has explaining to do.

    “My second question was, ‘Why?’ The answer I got was, ‘Because we have no place else to go.’” Boom. In eight words you give her enough voice to inform your listeners, for sure, about gut-wrenching betrayal by someone who is familiar, who is not supposed to be a stranger.

    Her matter-of-factness is seriously twisted honesty. She doesn’t panic. She doesn’t collapse in remorse. She’s a shameless parasite. Who the hell, I thought, IS this person?

    We get a few more details about him and her. They are strange strangers. Singing into a carrot? After 20 years of seemingly deep intimacy and children, in response to the most basic of your pleas for understanding, all you got was a blank stare?

    No, in the way that human beings need, you did not get any sort of mirroring back from her. You did not get some acknowledgement that she would actually see you at all, which in itself is to care, let alone to care about your suffering.

    So you reckon with the only mirror left, the symbolically “neutral” reflective glass, into which you peer. There is only you. What a searing, brave, reckoning it is. Beautifully done.

    And I’m so sorry it ever got to that place. You deserved and deserve so much better. Given the kind of man this story describes, and its concluding sentence, I have no doubt he is already on his way to the life he deserves. The stranger recedes.

    How did it feel to tell the story? How does it feel now? What prompted you to do it? (You mentioned “telling your story,” but I’m not sure what drove this *particular* timing and presentation, I guess, and I’m curious.)

    I’m also curious about two other details you posted later.

    You found out “an hour before that KK’s now main squeeze, Creepy Writer, was going to attend this event to do his own story tell on the ‘Stranger’ theme.” Holy shit. Did he know you would be there? What was it like to have him there? I can’t tell whether or not his story was about being the OM, but pissing in a cat litter box just about sums it up.

    And what did KK mean by “deplorable, just deplorable….”?

    Sorry for the long post. It’s a little cobwebby, too. My fogged WTF brain came alive. Of course, feel free to ignore it all. And — Damn, you are mighty. I’m sending a big hug your way.

    • ClaireS,

      Please promise me you will never come to any book club I might attend … you will make me look blazingly stupid!!! 🙂

      • Dixie Chump, not a chance. You are smart as a whip, and like many here, you can be intimidatingly funny. Ask me how I know about the intimidating part. 😀 The whole Velveeta cheese exchange above is typical. You all have something my southern grandma used to talk about, which I encountered in my African-American studies work. It’s called mother wit.

        Standard definitions don’t convey its richness. It’s kinda like wickedly funny, clever, and instructive wisdom, often drawn from living, not books. It’s an astute ability to tap into collective yet personalized savvy that you just can’t teach.

        UXworld just happened to “hit” on something that fascinates me (identity). And his theme coincided with my college degree in philosophy … I wrote a 100-page senior thesis on Albert Camus. Camus wrote, among other things, “The Stranger.” So my love of words and stories dovetailed with all kinds of things today. That’s all.

    • @ClaireS — how can I possibly ‘feel free to ignore’ after such an complimentary analysis? If you took the time and mental effort to give it this much thought, the very least I can do is give some answers:

      – It has always felt GREAT to tell this story. In the beginning, when I shared it only with a few people, I prefaced it by saying, “This is the only part of this sordid tale that leaves me with any dignity.” The pick-me dance had taken its toll at that point. Now that I’m further along, and given how it seems to speak to others (see these comments) it feels even better. I sat at a table with two women I didn’t know at this event, and when I came back after speaking, one of them was crying. That tells me there’s something universal in my tale that has the capacity to move people.

      – Storytelling is something I picked up a few weeks after the encounter described at the top of the story. My youngest sister has been active in the local storytelling community for many years, and I’d watched her do her tells many times and thought to myself, “I can do that.” After the confrontation and subsequent ‘calling off’ of the marriage by me (another story altogether), I got wind of a local event, went, and actually won a prize and a spot in the end-of-season “Grand Story Slam.” I fashioned that first story into an essay that ran in the Boston Globe on Father’s Day. Got paid for it, too. 😉 The new season started in September, and this latest event called for stories under the general theme of “Stranger.” The rest fell into place quickly and easily.

      – Hang on to your britches. Not only did Creepy Writer know I would be there on Sunday — he was there in September when I did my first tell of the season, and the Kunty Kibbler was there as well, “supporting him” as he did his first ever tell. Apparently he decided to take up storytelling at some point over the summer — whether or not he is mirroring me is anybody’s guess. But I had this particular event blocked out on the Our Family Wizard calendar about a month in advance. About 4 days prior to the event, KK informed me that “a friend of mine is going to be speaking at the same event that you are attending, and I am going to be there to support him. I assume that you are okay with the girls being alone for a few hours…” I had a lot of people weighing in on both sides — “do it” vs. “don’t do it” — but in the end, I understood that KK was going to get her kibbles in this situation no matter what I did. I decided that this was going to be Public Demonstration #1 that what she chooses to do does not impact me.

      – “Deplorable” means whatever it means. I’m sure she’s upset that I’m airing this sordid bit of my life in public, not ‘letting go of the past’ and ‘moving forward for the good of the kids.’ Her informing me that CW was going to be there came at the end of a very long string of verbal insults and taunts, typical of what she does when I give her the gray rock treatment: “what a truly miserable life you must lead”; “your anger is taking a toll — you look bad”; “It’s not natural for a 52-year old man to be spending so much time with his pre-teen daughters — you really need to find some adult friends and start dating”; etc. It never occurs to her that I’d have nothing deplorable to talk about were it not for her behavior. There’s a whole lot more to it, but you get the gist.

      • I joined Toastmasters a couple of years after my divorce and have found it a very supportive place to write and tell my stories. It’s been healing, and I even won a few speech contests! I would highly recommend joining a storytelling association or speaker’s group like Toastmasters for those who enjoy writing.

      • Oh, and UX…I want to kick your ex in the a** for continuing to say those things to you. No way should you have to put up with that. I would invite her to keep her comments about you to herself.

      • Thanks, UXworld, for answering my questions!

        “…one [woman] was crying. That tells me there’s something universal in my tale that has the capacity to move people.” YES. Your ability to move people makes me think yet again of how frustrated RIC makes me. How come they don’t listen to THESE stories?

        I am now going on a hunt for your piece in the Globe. Congratulations on awards and recognition for your writing!

        OMG – CW and KK were at both of these tells? She needed to tell you that she was there to support him? Talk about transparent, bullying mindfuckery plays. Just ICK.

        I agree. She was going to get her sick fix either way. So glad you are able to extricate yourself at hard moments, and in this case, staunchly to defend and define YOUR reality.

        I’m with Lyn. My foot is right behind hers, aimed literally at an ass. What KK says are textbook examples of verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. Your handling of that “horrible woman,” as kiwichump notes, is so admirable, so strong.

        My Creep taunts, too, but it’s really subtle at first. It gets worse as I don’t react (or, in some cases, see below, I have to try to fight back). While I plot my escape, which attorney and therapist and I believe will be seriously endangering, I can only go so far with gray rock. A couple of times, from my silence, he has almost figured out that I am only pretending to reconcile.

        My silence is out of character. I don’t stay quiet in the face of cruelty generally, professionally (e.g. as a civil rights activist), or personally. So I often have to fight back at some point. It’s a necessary exercise in futility. It’s exhausting and dehumanizing. By the time he gets to the end, he deploys the “nugget of truth” attack, twists the logic so crazily that I literally can’t answer because I can’t track, revises history, shifts the blame, and worst of all, uses psychobabble to pathologize me.

        He’s one of the few Cluster Bs who has been in IC a lot. He’s now “weaponized,” a more controlled, erudite, and subtle abuser. I now realize he engaged with therapists (and BTW bamboozled 3 of 4) in part to get into my psyche. I now see he’s been obsessed for years with me and with winning. With conquering me. I’m sure that sounds patently absurd and paranoid. I refused to believe it for too long. It cost me dearly. After reading Simon, Bancroft, Hale and others; after finally finding a trauma therapist; it’s the only answer.

        He’s also done lots of IC to get plausible cover for parts of himself he cannot always control, such as venomous and scary rage, which he directs only at me, and which I resisted vigorously for a long time. It’s impossible to wall all that poison out, as you seem to be able to do. Maybe in time …

        In any event, UXworld, you are an inspiration.

        Lyn, thanks for the heads up. I had never heard of Toastmasters. I’m going to look into it. Congratulations to you, too, for achieving recognition with your writing!

  • I have nothing unique to say other than thank you to Uxworld for this beautiful story that each of us have experienced in some way. So many of the responses have underlined that the most important part of Chump Nation is that getting a life thing. I echo the thanks to all members who have helped us all in getting to the other side. After going through the fear that Dixie Chump talks of I can honestly say I am excited about what Tim McGraw sings of — the next 30 yrs.

  • Wow…..Thank you (Universe) for this post!

    I’m 18 months out from my divorce. She choose her co-worker over me and suddenly she’s done a 180. I’m like what? Is this the same person? I just finalized the final part of the division of assets as well. She’s telling me she wants to get back together? I’m like what? I think she just wants me to fix her roof and paint her house….LOL

    This post ” The Stanger” has given so much clarity! It’s me that’s changed so much! New place, new job, reconnected with friends, family and new activities…..

  • UX, way to make me cry in the dining hall. Powerful, perfect. I am filled with admiration.

  • UX, completely splendid. I find myself longing to see/hear it as the attendees did. Reading a play or interview vs witnessing. Although this written word was very satiating.

    I find myself dreaming about chumps all over the world registering their stories in podcasts. Identity concealed or revealed, but the brutally honest story told. No hiding the true experience. Teaching everyone what it is really like. Busting the myths of ‘dalliance’, ‘liaison’, ‘LOVE affair’, ‘mistake’, ‘fling’, ‘extracurricular activity’, etc.

    In the moment where MoFaux slightly revealed his ‘just friends’ day in the park I suddenly remembered who I was. I hung up the phone. I knew instantly the Truth. I did not doubt myself. I knew he had irrevocably altered our lives by deception and premeditation. And everything previously confusing was suddenly bathed in light. I rather suddenly experienced the relief of finding , not Nemo or Dory, but Virago. Name for my podcast perhaps.

  • Thank you UXWorld for reminding me to be braver in telling my story, first to myself and then to others. I can’t imagine how awful this public storytelling felt, but I felt the anguish in your story, and it left me in tears, with heartburn. After reading most of the comments, I realize the unbelievable strength in our community of kindness here. Thank you all. We are finding ourselves again through each other.

  • Thank you for sharing that with CN, Paul. What an awful experience you had to suffer through. Sounds like you handled it with rationality and good sense. I’m glad I was never presented with the same sort of opportunity. I’m not sure I would have handled it as well as you did. Your daughters are very fortunate to have you as a father. Wish the best for you and your family.

  • I’m speechless; the story and the comments are all amazing. How lucky I feel today to have found you all – Thank you!

  • UXWorld – so poignant and true. I didn’t recognize myself – the frantic, scurrying-around trying to please everyone, woman I had become in my marriage. Where Mother’s Day and my birthday became NON-EVENTS. Where I was the last person sitting at the dinner table each night, after having worked all day and come home to prepare dinner, and left to do the dinner dishes. Where I felt invisible and unloved and untouched each day and night by the man I thought was my “forever”.

    What’s been most curious to watch now that I am two years out from D-day #4 and his leaving me for the OW is that I have returned to woman I was BEFORE I met him. I’m funny and irreverent. I’m loving and loved. I’m surrounded and supported by loving friends and family. I’m thriving in my career and my son is blossoming in his own way. I remember this woman – this “pre” woman. And, I missed her. And, I feel, because I was authentic when I met Mr. Sparkles and I had something real and solid to return to – my core being, morals and all.

    As for Mr. Sparkles, his relationship with the OW ended after two years. Guess she got tired of waiting for the divorce. And now he looks lost. When I see him (at our son’s events and for visitation drop off), his eyes are vacant and he seems “unsure” of how to behave or engage with me. He stutters and is forgetful, repeating conversations we’ve already had. His only “purpose” is to find his next victim. Because he was never authentic, he has no “Self” to return to being. So, like a ghost, he ambles between personas – not my X and yet not someone else’s present.

    It’s eerie and sad. It’s like driving by a horrible car accident and praying for the people stuck in the smashed car (my STBX)… and knowing there is nothing I can to help by stopping… so I drive on.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It was brave – you are brave. You are mighty.

  • I know the stranger was familiar. She seemed like me but so confined, controlled. Before D-day, I was an echo but since… I am remembering. I used to be more. Each step closer to freedom from this lie and enslavement to compensating, I see more of who I used to be.

  • UXWorld, thank you for sharing this with the rest of CN. All of us here can relate. As I told you in our last meet-up, your talk gave me goose bumps after you shared it with us. My favorite poem in this journey is by Derek Walcott, Love After Love:

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    • UM

      That was beautiful.

      I was told he robbed me of my identity and soul. That was 27 months ago.

      I’m getting stronger thanks to our mighty meetups. I am thankful for the courage of chumps who keep me on the right path. I have no idea how I could have done this alone.

      Thanks to all the amazing NEMighty Chumps.

      UX great heartfelt post, your journey is a mighty one.

  • Yes, I remember it vividly. In my search for the truth, which I was constantly being denied even after having confronted my ex multiple times about her lies but with no proof, I had become somebody that I didn’t recognize. I was a person that hacked her phone to install spy software on it, something I would never have dreamed about doing before I met her… except here I was. The thing is, I quickly found that all of my suspicions were confirmed and while I was completely crushed and devastated, I also had this moment of complete peace and clarity. At that moment I knew that I wasn’t a crazy person, and I could begin the process of returning to my normal self again. I didn’t need to hack her phone to know the truth; instead, it was something I needed to do to find myself again. Deep down I knew the truth but simply couldn’t accept it as being real. After reading this site for the last year I now realize that this is very common, but at the time I had no idea, and it was a process of self-discovery.

  • I have tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing angle inspiring.

    I remember looking in the mirror last year and barely even recognizing myself. Today I’m rediscovering myself, building new friendships that weren’t posssible while married …

  • Powerful piece, UX, and rings so true.

    I didn’t even know who I was anymore either. My once take-no-shit personality had turned into tiptoeing through eggshells lest they turn into land mines.

    Post divorce relationships might be a little harder because I am calling out shit from the beginning, and dudes may not be too cool with that, and I may lose them. But if I do, I haven’t lost at all.

    But outside of that, I am watching the TV I want, listening to the music I want, driving what I want, living what I want, adopting any rescue dog I want, and living with myself. And that’s better than okay.

    • My once take no shit personality had turned to tiptoeing through eggshells lest they turned into landmines.
      Perfectly put.

  • UXWorld, brave and beautiful and poignant. Thank you for sharing your story.

    The stranger being ourselves … wow, that hits home. I remember a few months after we separated, I found a journal entry from ten years before when everything had gone to shit. (His dysfunction — not just cheating but his mood disorder and childhood trauma — went into full force when we had kids.) Reading that journal entry, I was stunned by my own strength and clarity. My ten-years-younger self was a force to be reckoned with. I had been getting my ducks in a row ten years before, making plans to leave him, but a variety of circumstances months later led me to stay. Ten years later, I felt like a weak shell of my former self. My therapist told me it was like I’d crawled into a hole and never come back out. I also remember, about a month before D-Day, crying in her office because he’d ripped into me again about how awful I was and how I never met his emotional needs. My therapist listened quietly, then asked, “And what are YOUR emotional needs?” I couldn’t name a single one. I’d never asked myself that question.

    I’ve been struggling a lot lately to reclaim myself and my life. How I gave up my own power and became a stranger … mindboggling.

  • UXWorld, bravo! You are a great storyteller! My heart was pounding as I read how you sat in your car waiting for the shitshow to unfold and as you contemplated your grave personal danger from a surprise confrontation with a man-whore with a loaded gun.

    Yesterday I was listening to a past episode of the modern love podcast: Estranged Spouses Episode 25, where a chump man meets the OM’s wife in a therapist’s waiting room. I was daydreaming and listening to the rich voice of the reader when all of a sudden an outline of a novel came to me. I quickly dictated it. The opening scene is based on my DDay, some of the events follow what happened thereafter. The second half will be a fictitious Life 2.0 (post Divorce) when the protagonist will move from an urban area across to the eastern side of the state into a rural community. She leaves her job as a business professional in the city and takes a job at a small community college as a contracted non-tenured instructor with her 4th child, abandoned by douche , in tow. There they start a whole new life. Yes folks this novel will have a happy ending (meh). I’m planning to write it as part of NaNoWriMo, which I’ve successfully done before, and which starts at midnight on Halloween.

    In real life, my divorce trial is in one month and I can think of nothing better than to be focused on writing a novel loosely based on my experiences through this horror.

    You have further inspired me Paul! ?

  • @ChumpedbyLoser

    “He said “I found that every single successful person I’ve ever met had a turning point and the turning point was where they made a clear, specific, unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this anymore. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50 and most never make it at all.”

    Paul that was your point in time, the icing on the cake was clarifying the “narrative” put out there in the world by KK & CW. Hum and those them there don’t like that too much. Liken it to Spring Cleaning of your soul and heart! Bravo to you!

  • UXWorld,

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    I remember looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror for the first time after my discovery of XH’s infidelity. The person looking back at me was definitely hurting. I remember at the time, that I had never felt older, fatter or uglier in my life.

    I read that narcissists erase your personality by constantly criticizing and belittling you. They turn you into an empty shell and then they occupy the shell. I was married to a narcissist for nearly 30 years and we dated 7 years before that! Of course, I wanted so much to please that narcissist that I allowed him to make every decision for me – what clothes I bought, what clothes I wore, what food I bought, what food I ate, how we would spend every waking moment that we were together. I was the breadwinner but every dime that was spent was spent with his input and direction. Being divorced meant, now I must decide what to wear, what to eat, how to spend my day. I found that I was indeed that empty shell. Being completely in charge of myself, after I had abdicated control over myself to the narcissist for decades, was exhilarating and terrifying. I can remember leaving the grocery store and driving away only to have a panic attack, thinking that I had left my purse at the store and stopping in the parking lot, only to find that it was on the floor right next to me. I can remember driving to visit my brother in another state, hands sweating on the wheel, thinking of all the times that narcissist told me I was a terrible driver and that he was scared to death to ride with me.

    Regarding what KK told you about your presentation and fidgety hands. It is just like a narcissist to not acknowledge what is most important – the story of your betrayal by that narcissist and the resulting pain – and to focus on a detail like fidgety hands. And after the abuse and betrayal suffered at the hands of a narcissist, no one would blame you for having fidgety hands! The trauma of infidelity is soul-shattering! The abuse is soul-crushing! It is their way of minimizing the significance of your story and of their treachery. The narcissist increases their self-esteem if they can decrease it in someone else. It reminds me of the time that I told XH how his physical abuse had devastated me and he replied, “Your teeth need cleaned.” Also, what is deplorable is not you telling your story, what she did to you was deplorable.

  • Exactly the kind of insight and bravery we have come to expect from UXWorld. Bravo!

      • I know, I have lost my little blue avatar with the tongue sticking out (which was quite apropos)!

        Perhaps the pink belt on the new avatar signifies my gentler nature now……

  • Beautiful! Just Beautiful. I hope I have the opportunity to get to know the stranger that inhabits my body right now….

  • What a powerful piece depicting just one aspect of the horrific abuse that chumps endure, a traumatic loss of identity. In my case, the new strangers included a subset of our network of friends and family. Almost three years since D-day, I am still distracted by the fact that so many people knew what was happening and gave it approval. It was shocking to discover how many disordered people there are in the world (and how they find each other!). Some of these cheaters are surrounded by cheerleaders, enablers, and co-conspirators who think that abusing a partner is OK. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I guess it was fun to watch a woman and two kids be duped into believing they were a part of a real live family when all along they were instead living on someone else’s sick movie set and surrounded by props. Pass the popcorn. As I slowly glue the pieces of myself back together, I am grateful that I am not one of these heartless aliens.

    • Chumpiestofchumps,

      You know, the most chilling part of this is, had it not happened to me, I think I am Switzerland friend myself and try not to side with anyone. To each their own I will say… Or, sooner or later the other party will find out – I’ll let that person decide for themselves when shit hits the fan. I’m not going to be the first to tell…


      Obviously now that I had become a chump myself, I can now emphathize how chumps feel.

  • OK, must have gotten some dust in my eyes, or it is allergy season?

    Wow, so well written, and how true that this chump experience reveals the identities of three strangers. I really think the most profound revelation, if you are lucky, is getting to know yourself. Funny how jarring that is.

  • So many comments hit home. Nothing original in my cheaters story. I was once a strong take no bullshit woman, but slowly over the course of my 12 year marriage of destruction I had become a parady of my former self. My needs became less and less for him, I remember even being paranoid about putting dishes away, I tried to do it without making any noise because it would be another reason for my husband to bitch “do,you have to be so damn noisy” so the quieter and quieter I tried to be until i was almost invisible.

    I explained how my life felt to my therapist the other day as this “Imagine walking around with a bomb tied to your back every day. You never know if it will go off so you try to carry it as gingerly as possible and you hold your breath all the time”. This is not how life should be. These narcissist cheaters degrade and devalue us until we are nothing more than vapor. One year out from DDay and one wreckonciliation attempt later (to only be cheated on and devalued more) I am trying hard to find my old self. To all my fellow warriors here your strength keeps me going most days. Thank you for holding me up when I cannot do it on my own.

    • “Imagine walking around with a bomb tied to your back every day. You never know if it will go off so you try to carry it as gingerly as possible and you hold your breath all the time”.

      That’s a good description of how it feels to make your needs smaller and smaller until you just disappear from the person you used to be!

      • Well said. I gave myself a head smack and asked me….where the hell did i go?

      • I love your comment on “making your needs smaller and smaller until you disappear’. Wow – that describes me to a tee. I was just going through tedium of the days – with everyone’s needs getting met but mine. I am slowly realizing I am a good person, a worthwhile person and am not defined by my soon to be ex’s affair and his narrative of my blame in it all. If I hadn’t found Chumplady’s book – I would still be blaming myself. The book made it crystal clear who was to blame and that I was hoping for an apology or remorse or anything. So instead of my ex having the control – I have taken it back. Thanks – ChumpLady!

    • One year out from DDay and one wreckonciliation attempt later (to only be cheated on and devalued more)”

      Only to be devalued more…

      This was what happened to me. This is why I am no believer in giving cheaters another chance.

    • “These narcissist cheaters degrade and devalue us until we are nothing more than vapor.”

      25 years of putting him first. Putting him first after so many devalues. I look back on our life and marriage together. Post D-Day I thought of all the good times and wondered WTF was going on and why was this happening?! He totally blindsided me, but did he really? No, he hadn’t. The signs were all there from the beginning, but I failed to truly notice them, those nasty red flags.

      First red flag is that he cheated on his college girlfriend who he was having sex with — with me (no sex with me, just kissing. And I convinced myself that it was okay, because “they weren’t married.” Really bad of me and I now know.) He was just this innocent snowflake of a man. A good “Christian” man. His mommy, aunties and cousins all said he was just soooo good! I believed them! He wasn’t. He was a cheater from the beginning. He was the one to ask me if he could kiss me. His charm was hard to resist. I can now see why he’s had dozens and dozens of women over the years. I fell for it and so did they. Little do they know what kind of “fun” they are in for after the vows are taken.

      I won’t go into anymore of the red flags. I’d love to rewrite them again and again here at CN. One red flag should be enough to call it quits with someone.

      I used to be a beautiful, smart, not afraid (I moved 650 miles from my family and wasn’t afraid), trusting of everyone kind of person. My ex has turned me into someone that I no longer recognize. I seriously don’t want to ever date again, but the Sad Sausage of our marriage dated throughout our marriage (I guess he didn’t get the memo that you should stop dating once you are married) and I’m sure is already dating either a former or current ho-worker. The Sad Sausage is the victim of our marriage. He’s convinced his ho-workers, co-workers and family that I’m crazy, because narc “nice guys” are so great at that! I do hope there is a special place in hell for people like this. People who lie and cheat. People who have a beautiful son of a year old and a pregnant wife who take care of just about everything! But they still cheat. And when all is said and done, they blame wife for why they cheated.

  • Ux,
    Sorry I missed yesterday I was on the road for work.
    This is awesome, a good reminder for those of us who are liking that person in the mirror more and more each day as well as an into to those in the beginning days who can’t even make it to the mirror yet.
    Thank you.

  • UXWorld – thank you for sharing your story. You are mighty! I am fighting hard not to cry in the office as I read it.

    After DDay I realized that I actually cried *more* for myself than for that person who betrayed me. It’s as if I’ve let myself down so much because of focusing on the happiness of the SBTX too much . Total sadness and devastation. I’ve never felt so sorry for myself and what I have been through.

    Never again will I neglect myself like that.

  • Very inspirational, UXworld! Yes, my close friends all said I must have had temporary insanity when I fell for and married my STBXH. One remarked that the friend she knew (meaning me) would never have put up with all the emotional abuse and craziness from a man. I realized that I did have to change myself a lot just to be with him and not in good ways. One of the eye-openers for me was when I realized I was walking on eggshells, in my own house, that was mine even before I met him. Also, I noticed he had no respect for many of my core values that are highly important to me and I was compromising so much of the real me, for him. Now, that I am on my own again, it feels so good to start finding myself again and growing into a new, better, stronger me in the process.

  • Thank you so much for all the comments, I can see myself and you describe me so accurately! My D/D was 9/11/2016. I have filed for divorce, don’t know how I found the courage or strength but knowing that something was off for so long and ignoring it but finally, finally, finding out the lies upon lies upon lies was too much. I have been married for 33 years and durning that time completely and utterly LOST MYSELF. I lost all of what I believed in and all of my values. I am slowly understanding how this excuse for a man nearly destroyed my life! Sometimes it is unbearable but I know and I actually make myself FOCUS on ME. It is PREPOSTEROUS that I nearly sold my SOUL to this person. I don’t know how I am going to be ME again but I KNOW I AM ENOUGH.

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